Saturday, October 4, 2008

Control and Magical Thinking--Lack of One Leads to the Other

Mind Hacks has an interesting post about an experiment in this week's Science that found "reducing participants' control increase[s] the tendency for magical thinking and the perception of illusory meaning in random or patternless visual scenes."

From imagining images where there are none to believing a mini-mall full of virgins are just waiting for that bomb to blow so they can have their wanton way with you is a long trot. But it's on the same slippery slope.

Like Dan Quale said, the mind is a terrible thing to lose, and we're culturally encouraged to let faith leap off even the tallest buildings without ever asking ourselves empirical questions.

Magical thinking is a placebo that can be like a crack pipe full of rocks for those so inclined. I'm not concerned with what consenting adults do with their gray matter, but too often they demand that all must toke, or suffer their consequences.

I don't want to take away anyone's security blanket, but after magical thinking reaches a critical mass, it's like putting anchovies on half a pizza. The stink spreads.

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