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

Can Science Provide Insight into the Arts?

By Robert H. Woody Ph.D. on August 15, 2017 in Live... In Concert
Research has shown that the diehard talent myth is not only useless in explaining anything but also harmful to people who might otherwise enjoy a more musically enriching life.

What’s the Deal with “Furries?”

By Hal Herzog Ph.D. on July 24, 2017 in Animals and Us
An international team of social scientists has been studying the psychology of "furries" for a decade. What they have found is fascinating.

Wedding Madness

By Brenda Berger Ph.D. on July 23, 2017 in Hearts and Minds
At a moment of promising oneself to another, uncertainty and anxiety are masked by elaborate, and sometimes charming, strategies to secure the fantasy of a perfect wedding.

Unpacking David Lynch's Twin Peaks, The Return

By Judith Eve Lipton M.D. on July 22, 2017 in Peace and War
David Lynch's extraordinary TV series carries a serious message. It may also be the most ingenious and creative video of all time.

Matter- but Not Mind-blind—and Vice Versa

A pioneering study shows mentalism to vary inversely with mechanistic cognition as predicted by the diametric model.
Manu Praba / Wikipedia Commons CC BY 2.0

Be(lie)ve It or Not: Part One

Is belief a psychological condition? Why do we believe what we believe? What does belief mean? Is it many things?

Magical Thinking

The critical link between spirituality and science in the recovery process and the hope it offers to the addicted and the people who love them.

Americans Intoxicated

By Kirby Farrell Ph.D. on July 01, 2017 in A Swim in Denial
It’s an angry era in America. Instead of debating who’s right or wrong, let’s ask what kinds of work anger is doing for Americans now? And what's behind it?

A Possible Sign from God That He (It) Exists

By Izzy Kalman on June 14, 2017 in Resilience to Bullying
Could it be that a familiar cosmic illusion considered by scientists to be a pure coincidence is actually a clever sign from God to mankind that He exists?

Your Brain on Magic

By Jen Kim on June 13, 2017 in Valley Girl With a Brain
Do you believe in magic? Maybe you should.

Christianity Is Dying in the United Kingdom

Latest study shows that Christianity in Britain is in deep decline.

What’s Your Anti-Gravity Strategy?

By Jeremy E Sherman Ph.D. on May 04, 2017 in Ambigamy
People seek transcendence by many means. Some come bundled with belief in supernatural magic at odds with science. Scientists can do more to help resolve the tension.

Why Do People Cherry-Pick Which Science They Accept?

By Jeremy E Sherman Ph.D. on April 21, 2017 in Ambigamy
By not explaining why anything matters, science becomes dubious enough that we can easily escape its inconvenient truths.

Communicating With the Dead: Mediums, Séances, Ouija Boards

There has long been a keen interest in finding a way to communicate with the dead. How better to manage our own uncertainty about life in the hereafter?

Face-it Versus Escapist Coping Strategies

By Jeremy E Sherman Ph.D. on April 10, 2017 in Ambigamy
Do you reduce stress in ways that increase or decrease your peripheral vision?

Why Do Some Men Get Premature Championship Tattoos?

By Kevin Bennett on March 22, 2017 in Modern Minds
Why do some men get premature championship tattoos? Here are four reasons why you might go for some skin art that predicts a successful season for your favorite team.
Mooshny/Shutterstock

Thinking Away Unwanted Thoughts

Don't bother telling yourself not to worry. It will never work. Instead, do this.

Fervor and Fanaticism

By Christopher Lane Ph.D. on March 12, 2017 in Side Effects
On the parallels between Trumpism and other mass movements.

Annoyed at Work? The “Flow” Hack Transforms Motivation!

By Bobby Hoffman Ph.D. on March 06, 2017 in Motivate!
Is your job boring, tedious or overwhelming? Even the worst positions can be transformed to engaging and exciting when you master the Flow Hack. It only takes a few minutes a day!

A Really Big Question Part I

By Jeremy E Sherman Ph.D. on February 27, 2017 in Ambigamy
Buddies kick the tires on a popular explanation for life: that life energy, vital force, spirit or soul enters matter and makes it come alive. They come away curious.

What's the Difference Between Optimism and Hope?

By Utpal Dholakia on February 26, 2017 in The Science Behind Behavior
Both are beneficial, but they’re different in their effects on our life outcomes.

How Trump Takes Advantage of the Psychology of Blame

By Robert Klitzman M.D. on February 23, 2017 in Am I My Genes?
To make sense of complex problems, we often seek simple story lines. These often involve blaming someone, assigning physical and moral cause. Trump takes advantage of this trait.

How I Learned to Stop Lying, by Marcia Butler

By Jennifer Haupt on February 21, 2017 in One True Thing
I couldn’t tolerate even one person knowing what had happened to me — even my therapist. The shame was crippling.

Focus On Trump's Acts, Not His Psychology

By Allen J Frances M.D. on February 11, 2017 in Saving Normal
We must challenge Trump on his outrageous behaviors and constant lies, not on his motivations and mental status.

Voting for the Magic Wand, or Trump's Phallic Victory

By Lawrence D. Blum M.D. on January 09, 2017 in Beyond Freud
Voters are influenced by powerful fantasies that pundits don't talk about.

Trusting Your Gut: An Excuse For Not Thinking?

By Hank Davis on January 07, 2017 in Caveman Logic
You're going to have to listen to more than your "gut" to get through life's major decisions. Don't be afraid to question what you hear. It's not a sin to be intelligent.

Freedom of Dissociation

By Jeremy E Sherman Ph.D. on December 20, 2016 in Ambigamy
The freedom that many of us crave is the freedom from having to learn from our mistakes, indeed from facing inconvenient truths at all.

When Ambition Creeps Into Spirituality

By Maggie Rowe on December 14, 2016 in Sin Bravely
Spirituality and personal ambition are often tied together. Is this a mistake?

Haunted Houses: What Keeps the Legends Alive?

By Frank T. McAndrew Ph.D. on December 09, 2016 in Out of the Ooze
Whether a place seems truly haunted can very much be in the mind of the beholder.