Tag: magical thinking

An Epidemic of Magical Thinking


When was the last time you stated a thought like, “At least we haven’t completely lost our republic,” and followed that with a quickly stated, “Knock on wood,” looking for a wooden object or knocking your forehead as an easy substitute? Or made a wish when blowing out candles on your birthday cake? Or carried a rabbit’s foot or other favored item for good luck? Many of us follow these practices and sometimes even realize that we do them playfully, without an expectation for results. Mostly. These wishes and desires are a form of “magical thinking” and are relatively harmless in most situations. But I propose that in this time of COVID-19, magical thinking has infected the worldwide population.

What is the definition of magical thinking? Here is one definition:

Magical thinking refers to the idea that you can influence the outcome of specific events by doing something that has no bearing on the circumstances.

Quote of the Day: Just a Tool


“Masks are a tool, useful in the right application. They’ve become a political fetish object for reasons that have nothing to do with their utility.” Prof. Glenn “Instapundit” Reynolds

I never expected to hear this much debate over masks outside of a superhero comic convention. Posts here bounce back and forth between people who wear masks and those who oppose them. Then you have people who are constantly watching for someone to not wear their mask. It’s no longer just a layer of absorbent material worn over the nose and mouth, it is a symbol of fighting against the pandemic — a literal virtue signal.

Magical Thinking (or, Nobody Knows Nothin’)


When I was a budding novelist, I quickly learned that the publishing world didn’t care about my aspirational goals. I had to conform to the publisher, not vice versa. As many positive thoughts as I lavished on my first novel, it never saw print because it wasn’t very good. Eventually I learned, over the 20-year process of writing three more unpublished novels, how to write fiction. It’s true that I probably wouldn’t have learned if I hadn’t believed in raw talent worth developing. Positive thinking, while it bridged no gaps, at least provided a launching platform. But between the dream and the realization was a long (like, 20-year) stretch of hard work.

For some time now, I’ve had the feeling that our culture is marked, not by positive thinking, but by magical thinking. Psychologically, “magical thinking” is the belief that one’s personal thoughts, fears, and goals influence the outside world. Young children indulge in magical thinking all the time: a child who prays every night that his parents will stop fighting, for instance, could feel he’s to blame when Mom and Dad stop the fights by splitting up. This is normal for kids, but a grownup who indulges in such fantasies is called schizophrenic. Or a politician.

You remember when Barack Obama, after winning the Democrat presidential nomination, inspired his followers with rhetoric about the day the oceans stopped rising. Or Donald Trump’s acceptance speech at the Republican convention: “I alone can fix.” Trump at least had actually built things with steel and concrete, while Obama had built nothing but his own persona. But both were overpromising based on a magical (or at least inflated) view of themselves in the world.

Quote of the Day: Central Planning and Coronavirus


“The great myth of central planning is that capital can be rationally allocated through the elimination of profit and incentive. And that will just magically produce the right outcomes for society.” – Tom Luongo

The Chicom Coronovirus lockdown is a great illustration of this quote. The government is deciding what businesses are “essential” and “nonessential.” The reality is under normal circumstances (under circumstances when the government is not picking winners and losers that is) no private-sector job is nonessential. A profit-making company cannot afford nonessential employees. Too many of them and the business goes broke.

Member Post


Leave it to academics to tell us that the haruspices were basically right, if a little off the mark. Instead of wasting their time inspecting sheep entrails, the Romans should have been poking around the innards of rich white men. Because white people have racist stomachs: Can a person’s belief in racial hierarchy—for example, that […]

Join Ricochet!

This is a members-only post on Ricochet's Member Feed. Want to read it? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Join Ricochet for Free.