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

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Hudson Street Press, 2012 - Psychology - 296 pages
2 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.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Razinha - LibraryThing

There are two kinds of magic: 1) the imagined, fantasies of mythology and the "super"natural (I prefer the term "unnatural", for there is nothing "super" to "natural") 2) the deceptive redirective ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - dono421846 - LibraryThing

Argues that no one escapes magical thinking -- defined as attributing mental properties to inanimate objects, and treating them as having consciousness -- but also that this is not necessarily a bad ... Read full review

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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

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