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Magical Thinking

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“Magic is a cognitive intuition or belief in the existence of imperceptible forces or essences that transcend the usual boundary between the mental/symbolic and physical/material realities, in a way that, diverges from the received wisdom of the technical elite, serves important functions and follows the principles of similarity and contagion” (notes slide 29)(5). Magical thinking acknowledges essence as it is the things that cannot be accounted physically (try to give example). Magical thinking is two identical things but one is considered better than the other. For example- natural(pure) things are considered authentic and real whereas artificial(impure) things are considered fake and bad. There are 2 forms of vanilla, real vanilla and fake vanilla, both are chemically same but real vanilla is considered to be better than artificial vanilla. In reality both are exactly similar(write something). Sympathetic Magical thinking is broken down to two laws. Law of similarity states that “the premise that things that resemble one another at a superficial level also share deeper properties” (3)(from slide 21). Individuals share special connection with objects that are non living.

For example- if you tear a paper it is not wrong but if you tear a photo of a loved one which is made on paper or out of paper it is associated with anger and bad behaviour. Scientifically it is the same thing which is tearing of a paper that contains no emotions and feelings. Whatever we do to an object will affect equally the person with whom the object was once in contact. Law of contagion is defined as “one object as a source and another object as a target or recipient” (3), “physical contact between the source and the target results in the transfer of some effect or quality (essence) from the source to the target” (positive or negative; when negative we can speak of contamination, pollution) (3), very often the transfer results in sympathy between two objects (aka. law of similarity) (3), transference tends to be dose insensitive, route insensitive (“holographic property of essence”) (14)(from slide 24). According to the law of contagion if we touch or come in contact with an impure object their essence and qualities comes into us. For example- if someone wears a jacket which was worn by a criminal it is said to be that the person who wore the jacket will become a criminal too just because he came in contact with the jacket of a criminal which contains the essence as the negative energy of the criminal’s bad deeds and the person will be affected by the essence until it is purified. Sympathetic magic consist of Law of similarity and Law of contagion. According to the law of contagion there is a“sympathetic connection between the target and the source”(the making of magical mind pg-4). If a person is in contact with an object that has essence that contains all the qualities of the owner which can be positive or negative transfers to the person permanently who touches the object. A sweater was worn by a person who had aids and several people were asked to wear that same sweater.

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Majority of people refused to wear the sweater which was worn by the person who suffered from aids even if the sweater was washed and cleaned. It is scientifically proven that aids can only be transmitted through direct contact not by touching or wearing clothes of the infected person but still people refused to wear the sweater because they thought they would also get infected because the sweater was in contact with an infected person. This shows that sympathetic connection between the source and the target exist. According to the law of similarity “like produces like” and “appearance equals reality”,(making of the magical thinking, pg-3). Rozin and nemeroff demonstrated reactions that consists of law of similarity among various people. People were presented with a piece of fudge and fudge shaped like dog feces.

They were asked what would be their preference?. Majority of people preferred a piece of fudge over fudge shaped like dog feces recognizing that they are both made of the same material which is chocolate. An expression of disgust was shown when people saw the fudge shaped like dog feces. This explains that image of an object impacts our decisions of how to feel and express our emotions. Magical thinking is everywhere. Magic does not make sense in the world of science because magic involves assumption and in science everything is based on solid proves. Magical thinking is satisfying as it puts our mind at ease. Why do people not like when a black cat passes their path because it is considered to be a bad omen. People feel uneasy and disgusted and that is an emotion of aversion. When a black cat passes our path we feel like something bad is gonna happen and that is an emotion of danger. It is superstitious as there is no scientific explanation behind it. Danger and aversion are the by product of magical thinking. Disgust is an aversive emotion.

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