All About Magic

Think you don't believe in magic? Think again. Our brains are designed to pick up on patterns: Making connections helped our ancestors survive. You're not crazy if you're fond of jinxes, lucky charms, premonitions, wish fulfillment, or karma. You're just human.

Recent Posts on Magical Thinking

The Paradox at the Heart of Psychology

By Eric Dietrich Ph.D. on July 30, 2015 in Excellent Beauty
Human minds are pattern-hungry. This fact destroys any blithe confidence we have that our sciences are unearthing deeper knowledge. Yet, we cannot live our lives without this so-called knowledge. Certainly we cannot do science without it, and we cannot live our lives without science. Yet, are we doing science, or are we merely mapping the insides of our minds?

Fears: Staring Straight into the Dark of What Scares You

People have talked sense to me. When you’re frightened everybody tells you things that make perfect sense. That’s when you realize it isn’t sense you’re looking for.

What Artistic Pigeons Tell Us About Superstitious Parents

Like most first-time parents, we had a set of baby-care rules that was more complicated than the federal tax code and more sacred than the Bible. We wanted everyone to follow it to a T.

Why Some People See Ghosts and Other Apparitions

Have you ever had the eerie feeling that you were being watched? Ever seen a ghost? It appears that “spirits” visit humans at predictable times and places.

Players and Planners

By Michael F. Kay on July 09, 2015 in Financial Life Focus
Players get a rush from the action—making bets, taking chances, expecting the big score. You find them at the track, in the casinos and playing the stock market.

The Psychology of Common Sense

By Adrian Furnham Ph.D. on June 18, 2015 in A Sideways View
For many years psychologists seem troubled by the accusation that psychological findings were little more than "common sense"; that psychology was a waste of time in that it revealed very little that we did not already know. This blog reviews some of those early studies

Denial Only Makes Chronic Pain and Illness Worse

It’s better to live within the limits of what I can reasonably do than to pretend things are as I wish they would be.

Make Skepticism, Not Gullibility, Your Habit

Everyone knows someone who believes in some form of unscientific science. After all, if such-and-such helped so-and-so, it should help you, right? Not so fast.

Does Reading Harry Potter Books Reduce Prejudice?

According to a recent study, young people who identify with Harry Potter are less likely to be prejudiced against minority groups.

The Art of Art Therapy Shapeshifting

Shapeshifting, also known as transmorgrification and transformation, is found throughout the realms of myth and folklore. Art therapy, a field that embraces the symbolic world and the process of transformation, has its own shapeshifting tales to tell, too.

Ivan Denisovich vs Ants

Alexandr Solzhenitsyn admitted that Russians were occasionally like insects. But he didn't like it.

God, Humans, and the 20th Century

By Phil Zuckerman Ph.D. on April 16, 2015 in The Secular Life
More humans died from diarrhea than all genocides combined.

Food Hypocrisy

If you eat rice cakes all day, you will not be happy, especially if it’s not rice cakes that you crave. And who craves rice cakes?

Confront Your Nightmares with Lucid Dreaming

By Michelle Carr on April 08, 2015 in Dream Factory
Lucid dreaming is the process of becoming aware in a dream. Once lucid within a nightmare you realize that there is no real danger, so you can choose to safely confront your fears.

Why Are There So Many Religions?

By Eric Dietrich Ph.D. on April 07, 2015 in Excellent Beauty
There are thousands of religions on Earth today. The best explanation for this puzzlingly high number is that being religious is an evolutionary adaptation.

Atheists Love Aliens

By Clay Routledge Ph.D. on April 02, 2015 in More Than Mortal
Many atheists would argue that they do not believe in something unless there is a good reason for doing so. But is this true?

5 Epic April Fool’s Pranks and the Psychology Behind Them

There are psychological reasons why we fall for April Fool's pranks, and these 5 are among the best.

When Love Kills

By Kirby Farrell Ph.D. on March 16, 2015 in A Swim in Denial
In 1850s Rome, cloistered nuns got entangled in fraud, murder, sexual hijinks, and what the investigators “false holiness.” The Inquisition kept the scandal buried until 1998. Now the story’s out and it has much to tell us about love, hero-worship, crime, and neoteny.

5 Ways That Being Positive Can Backfire

While looking for the silver lining has many benefits, an overly optimistic outlook can actually become detrimental.

Myths and Misconceptions in Psychology

By Adrian Furnham Ph.D. on March 12, 2015 in A Sideways View
In their wonderful book Lilienfeld and colleagues list 250 myths and misconceptions from the world of psychology. In a study we tested to what extent ordinary people thought them to be true. The results are surprising.

From Industrial Hell to Digital Paradise

Electronics factories can be hell to work in--toxic, soul-killing, and life-threatening. But without them there would be no digital paradise for high-tech companies and consumers. Though the technology has changed over the centuries, the basic relationship between worker hell and privileged paradise has remained unchanged. Take a look at 19th century papermaking...

The Big Mistakes of Religion and Secularism

People have a choice about religion and spirituality: to conform more or less rigidly to accepted teaching, or to think and act independently. Both bring problems, but the issues resolve spontaneously as we grow more mature and find a true set of values to follow

Mourning – Death, Loss, Trauma, and Psychotherapy

Mourning is the process by which we heal from grief. I’ve heard people say, “What’s the point of grieving, you can’t bring a loved one back from the dead.” That of course, is true, but it is what allows us, the survivors, to return back to the land of the living and resume our lives.

Self-Regulation of Creative Behaviors

Psyching yourself to be creative.

Are People Naturally Scientific?

By Paul Thagard Ph.D. on February 25, 2015 in Hot Thought
Some social and developmental psychologists have claimed that people—even children—naturally think like scientists. I find this claim implausible because: people are naturally religious rather than scientific; everyday thinking frequently deviates from scientific reasoning; and science is a relatively recent cultural development.

Personality Disorders Explained 2: Origins

By Michael Karson Ph.D., J.D. on February 24, 2015 in Feeling Our Way
Every cognitive map of the social world also defines a role for the person to play; a personality disorder implies a limited number of acceptable roles.

Want to Damage Your Relationship? Here Are 2 Easy Ways

By Douglas LaBier Ph.D. on February 24, 2015 in The New Resilience
Troubled couples who seek therapy often show patterns of withdrawal and silent expectation when dealing with conflict; a kind of dance that deepens the damage to their relationships. New research shows how that happens.

What’s Behind Women’s Intuition?

By Audrey Nelson Ph.D. on February 22, 2015 in He Speaks, She Speaks
The ability to decode nonverbal cues is ultimately valuable and essential for effective communication. So women must ask themselves, how can we use these skills to enhance our effectiveness instead of letting them divert us? Women must not focus on others for a definition of what is “normal” or acceptable behavior; they must define it for themselves.

The Mind of the Authoritarian

By Adrian Furnham Ph.D. on February 22, 2015 in A Sideways View
It was around 70 years ago that the famous book entitled THE AUTHORITARIAN PERSONALITY was published. What was the central theory and how is it considered today