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Is there a physiological basis for magical thinking?

  1. Aug 24, 2008 #1
    I know that there is argument over whether behavior developed in tandem with physique. But is there a known physiological basis or impetus for magical thinking? Where the mind fails to account for things it does not understand, there is a natural inclination to explain the mysteries of life with magic or witchcraft or religion. Is there is a part of the brain that handles this area of thought? Are there any studies or books I could look for to help me understand this?
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 24, 2008 #2
    Are you asking about creativity? Children quite naturally invent their own explanations for the world around them to try to come to grips with it as well. People stop being creative when they accept an explanation for something as true (as adults in the past have even believed in "magic" and "myth" as fact when they stopped considering alternatives as they got older). Seeing as how all children seem to show this tendency to be creative when they are young regardless of culture certainly suggests that there is some fundamental biological connection associated with such behavior, but this is outside of my area of study so I can't really say too much more than that.
  4. Aug 24, 2008 #3
    like explaining consciousness with freewill?

    it seems to me to be the result of fuzzy logic.
  5. Aug 24, 2008 #4
    I don't think it's so much about creativity. Maybe. But rather the explanations humans had for what they couldn't understand in ancient times or prehistory. But that biological connection is fascinating.
  6. Aug 25, 2008 #5
    It kind of seems like the difference in personality types would account for how skeptical people are to a degree (ie whether or not they would believe in gods, witchcraft, etc) and I guess genetics and environmental influences would affect someone's personality type and also I think stress could cause someone whose normally sane to lose it/start being delusional or something. I'm not sure if "personality type" is the right word to use here..

    I mean, I know some people who are really really gullible, they seem to believe stuff in a really unscientific, careless way without much thought, like I had a friend once whom we told there were spider-wasps (an insect that was part spider/part wasp) made/discovered on the planet (This was just something from the tv show sliders) and she believed us right away and I know other people who are really really skeptical. Both her and her mom seem like really gullible, unscientific etc people but her brother seems incredibly smart, skeptical and scientific, he was actually the one who told her about the spider-wasps lol I mean, she (the girl we told about the spider-wasps) believes she's seen ghosts in the past, and believes humans were dropped off by aliens as an experiment....I could go on but both her and her mom seem to believe a wide variety of stuff in a very unscientific way...I don't know how much genetics affects that. Her brother's completely different and very scientific and skeptical, so, I don't know, but her brother's definitely related to them
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2008
  7. Aug 26, 2008 #6
    But I also know some really talented/creative people who are really really creative and talented in that regard but don't think scientifically
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