Magical thinking--typically considered an archaic mode of cognition that populates the world with animistic forces, hidden dimensions, and evocative incantations--may actually serve us well in the future as we navigate an existence increasingly mediated by digital information.
In 1937, a long-lost Vermeer was revealed at auction, heralded by experts as one of the Dutch painter's greatest works. Only it wasn't a Vermeer at all. A man named Han van Meegeren had produced this and many other expensive forgeries. Once he stepped forward, their value dropped like the jaws on his customers. Why?
My latest feature article has just been published in Psychology Today. It's about everyday magical thinking and how even the most hard-core skeptic thinks magically--believing in karma, luck, curses, tempting fate, etc. And it's loaded with coverage of studies that involved voodoo dolls, royal spoons, dart boards, and Mr. Rogers's sweaters. Check it out.
Few things annoy me more than when a writer dramatically builds up to a revelation or punchline that turns out to be already obvious. Here's an example from the Times this week:
In the drawing, a nude man and woman stand on either side of a wall. Each wears a plastic breathing mask that covers the nose and mouth; the masks are connected to air hoses that pass through the wall. The hoses attach to pouches at each other’s underarms and crotches. [OMG they're huffing each other's stank!]
It is a device that allows people — and there is no polite way to put this — [Whoa, what's he about to reveal that's even cruder than the fact that they're remotely huffing each other's stank?!] to sniff each other. Remotely.