Everyone — myself included — is guilty, guilty, guilty of Magical Thinking. I may not have an imaginary friend like some or follow rules plucked from my imagination or my ass, but I have, when Tottenham Hotspur (my footie team) is down two goals late in a game, still thought it was possible for them not to lose. They lost.
My magical thinking led to personal disappointment — unpleasant but survivable.
If I used that magical thinking though as the basis for a belief system — Spurs lost so therefore a whole host of other things (beyond football) must follow “logically” demanding certain actions and counter-actions — and if that belief system’s impact spread beyond my own disappointment (because my team lost a game) — out into everyone else’s lives — that would be a problem. I would have taken something based in unrealistic nonsense-thinking out into reality — with unrealistic expectations for it.
Gosh – should I be shocked when more disappointment follows?
Today’s ludicrous Magical Thinking headlines (among others) — Trump’s military transgender ban takes effect & there are still “thoughtful” people walking around who think AG Bill Barr isn’t desperately trying to cover up a massive, explosively far-reaching scandal that will consume and destroy the entire Republican Party.
The basis for the military transgender ban, of course, is pure, unadulterated bullshit. I would love to put all the Magical Thinkers who base their contemporary lives on the knowledge base of uneducated desert-dwellers who thought everything revolved around the earth onto an airplane large enough to accommodate them all. Then, as we rolled toward the runway, I’d like to introduce them to their pilot. He knows nothing about flying planes. But he “believes” he can do it — so off they all go…
Magical Thinking comes with being a homo sapien. Until such a time as it evolves out of our brains, it will be hard-wired into us. It’s the first thought that burps from the miasma of our uncertainty. Magic: the explanation for this wonder must be Magic. It ain’t.
I could go on and on — I recommend watching this lecture that Neil deGrasse Tyson gave a few years ago. His point: even the greatest minds in the history of science — Isaac Newton among them — surrendered to Magical Thinking when they reached the end of their knowledge base. A little while later, some other thinker solved the problem — no more need for Magical Thinking.
The answers to all our questions are out there. We may not get to them all in our lifetime — but they’re out there once we gain the knowledge or the knowledge to make the instruments we need to “see” the knowledge and the answers they provide.
America has always been fertile territory for Magical Thinking. Strange, exotic religions (lots of them offshoots of Christianity) have come and gone here. One of the first groups of Europeans to settle and (more or less) survive — the Pilgrims — were so deep into their offshoot brand of Christianity that none of the other Christians wanted them nearby. So the Pilgrims came here. Think about it: one of the foundational European groups to call North America home came here because their brand of ooga-booga was too ooga-booga-y for other believers of the same basic ooga-booga!
It’s not a coincidence that Mormonism and Scientology were American creations. Jewish mythology is extensive. By “mythology”, I mean stories that sit squarely outside the provable. They may have some shadowy echo in the historical record but the echo has been blown up into something it never was. As it’s the surviving word of these people and their times, we have no way to put these texts into a larger perspective. We can use our current knowledge base — including our knowledge of germ theory — to figure a guy like Noah could not (and did not) put every animal on the planet on a boat and did not, subsequently, live to some biologically impossible age well into the hundreds.
Magical Thinking allows a person to believe that his foundational texts appeared out of nowhere — the product of divine intervention. These tenets he lives by — they’re not his idea, their a deity’s. Therefore they must be the Truth. Yeah, but — the guy next to you has a whole other mythology in his head — with conflicting details — all based on the very same texts. Either one of these two has it wrong or their deities are terrible communicators.
Think about that: Magical Thinking can imagine a deity capable of creating the vastness of EVERYTHING — but can’t put the basics of how & why into a form two people can agree upon. That’s a deity so flawed, illogical and goofy that only a homo sapien could dream it up. And then believe that IT created HIM.
Here’s my problem in something larger than a nutshell… If you tell me going in that you’re a person of faith — and you believe in Magical Thinking and its Magical explanations for how and why we’re all here & how and why we need to live together as peacefully as we can — then I’m going to look at you with a shitload of doubt. I know for a fact because you’ve told me — given a good enough story, you can be made to believe anything.
If you believe in Magical Thinking, your judgment sucks. I’m simply going along with what you’re telling me.