The 7 Laws of Magical Thinking: How Irrational Beliefs Keep Us Happy, Healthy, and Sane

Front Cover
Hudson Street Press, 2012 - Psychology - 296 pages
7 Reviews

In this witty and perceptive debut, a former editor at Psychology Today shows us how magical thinking makes life worth living.

Psychologists have documented a litany of cognitive biases- misperceptions of the world-and explained their positive functions. Now, Matthew Hutson shows us that even the most hardcore skeptic indulges in magical thinking all the time-and it's crucial to our survival.

Drawing on evolution, cognitive science, and neuroscience, Hutson shows us that magical thinking has been so useful to us that it's hardwired into our brains. It encourages us to think that we actually have free will. It helps make us believe that we have an underlying purpose in the world. It can even protect us from the paralyzing awareness of our own mortality. In other words, magical thinking is a completely irrational way of making our lives make rational sense.

With wonderfully entertaining stories, personal reflections, and sharp observations, Hutson reveals our deepest fears and longings. He also assures us that it is no accident his surname contains so many of the same letters as this imprint.

What people are saying - Write a review

User ratings

5 stars
4 stars
3 stars
2 stars
1 star

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - maryoverton - LibraryThing

The 7 Laws as listed in the table of contents: 1. Objects carry essences 2. Symbols have power 3. Actions have distant consequences 4. The mind knows no bounds 5. The soul lives on 6. The world is alive 7. Everything happens for a reason Read full review

Review: The 7 Laws of Magical Thinking: How Irrational Beliefs Keep Us Happy, Healthy, and Sane

User Review  - Anna - Goodreads

This book is the science equivalent of hiding veggies in muffins so your kids will eat them. There is solid scientific information buried in snark and snappy writing. I was looking for something ... Read full review

About the author (2012)

A former news editor at Psychology Today, Matthew Hutson has a BS in cognitive neuroscience from Brown University and an MS in science writing from MIT. He has written for Discover, Popular Mechanics, Scientific American Mind, and The New York Times Magazine. He lives in New York City. Visit

Bibliographic information