Magical thinking

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Trying to make a devil out of me

Magical thinking is a form of reasoning that learns causative relationships through correlation alone. Science and the scientific method are designed to elucidate causal relationships through careful controlled experiments; magical thinking, given a correlation with an observed effect, pulls a causation out of thin air. For example, coming to believe that a particular piece of jewelry is lucky because a few good things happened when it was worn.


[edit] Alternative medicine

Another common example of magical thinking emerges in alternative medicine. Many diseases have a natural progression and will go away on their own. If someone gets a headache and swallows some water provided by a homeopath, when the headache goes away, they may assign the cause to the water rather than natural progression. This form of magical thinking combined with the placebo effect explains a large amount of supposedly positive anecdotal evidence.

[edit] Skinner

B.F. Skinner's studies of how pigeons reacted to stimuli shows a similar phenomenon, in that the birds frequently repeated the same actions they had been making at times when food was released, as if seeing a pattern, when in fact the food was released at random intervals. This suggests that superstition and behaviours often characterised as "magical thinking" may be more closely connected with blind instinct than with sapient thought.

[edit] Psychiatry

Patients diagnosed with Schizotypal personality disorder are said to have "magical thinking" as a common thought process.[1]

[edit] See also

Si vous voulez cet article en français, il peut être trouvé à Pensée magique.

[edit] External links

[edit] Footnotes

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