How Magic Thinking Can Make You An Easy Prey To Manipulation

Magic thinking is a “shortcut” we, as species, used many times throughout history, and we’re still using today. When we weren’t able to generate a reasonable, verifiable explanation for a series of facts, we placed them under the “blanket” of magic thinking.

For instance, we couldn’t understand, in a rational way, how thunder and lightning happens, so we inferred there is some sort of mega-being, that we defined as a “god”, who was able to generate them at will. In our current field of expertise there wasn’t anything other than that capable to fill our mental space, and it stayed like this for centuries, until we generated enough resources to verify and put together many small bits and pieces (static electricity, sound propagation, etc).

This process of putting together various bits and pieces – also named fact-checking – is in many ways similar with the uncovering of unknown territory in modern strategy games. You know, the type of World of Warcraft and alike. As we send our scouts ahead, we start to uncover parts of the map and we get a better understanding of the territory. Hence, we’re able to make better strategic decisions.

Although we made a lot of progress in the last 4-500 years, we’re still surrounded by things we cannot yet fully explain in a logical, reasonable way. Some of them are really at the boundaries of our collective experience, like quantum mechanics, but others are just outside of our reach because of more mundane reasons: we simply don’t have time to verify all the information. Or, even if we do have time, we tend to delegate our thinking processes to “experts”. I used to quotation marks not because I don’t believe in experts, on the contrary, but because, ironically, as we don’t have time to verify the facts themselves, we often don’t have the resources and ability to verify the capacity of experts either. This may happen unintentional, because we lack experience, or intentional, because of so called “experts” are actively trying to cover the facts, with the goal of pushing some personal agenda. We may deal with crooks, trying to sell us snake-oil, or we may deal with more convoluted schemes, in which facts are hidden at a bigger scale (think communist countries, or Nazi propaganda).

The bottom line is that, despite the progress we made with the help of science, we may still end up in a strange no-mans-land between opinions and verifiable facts, a space that gets filled, for lack of a better alternative, with magic thinking.

There are at least 2 widespread types of magic thinking operating these days, both related to a global phenomenon known as a “pandemic”.

One of the theories is that there is an “elite cabbala”, trying to impose a new order, by putting 5g chips inside our bodies via vaccines, and the other one is that delegated authorities are the beholders of an unquestionable scientific truth, that will keep us safe forever, as long as we follow the “guidance”, don’t question their decisions and get vaccines as the only possible way out of the “disaster”.

Both are equally wrong, and both are stemming from an incapacity (or lack of will, sometimes) to verify the facts.

The first one seems to be easier to explain, because it seems so utterly implausible and counter-scientific. Indeed, the existence of all mighty characters, with extra powers, willing to subject everybody to their goals, is very similar to the mega-being concept of “gods”, who can summon thunder and lightning at will.

Like any other magic thinking approach, it mixes plausible situations, with impossibilities. Yes, it’s plausible to have micro-chips (or nanobots) inside our bodies. But from here to generate a planetary-scale nanobots deployment, conducted with syringes, it’s an enormous distance. The rough computing power to control these nanobots is unfathomable right now, not to mention the production capacities, etc. From this point of view, this seems easier to debunk.

But, as surprising as it may seem, the other part of the magic thinking is equally false, although a bit more difficult to understand, because it hides behind our more familiar concept of science. It still mixes plausible situations with impossibilities, just like the other one, but it appeals to an audience which is willing to accept scientific results as an absolute truth. Or, in other words, as dogma. Science works in a very iterative way: by postulating theories and then conducting experiences which are validating or invalidating those theories. The magic thinking behind this approach postulates that we already found the only possible cure, which is obviously contradicting science.

In both cases, we’re prone to be manipulated. We just didn’t uncover enough of the territory, because we didn’t send our scouts out there, hence, we’re prone to making bad strategic decisions.

There are hidden agendas for any of the two camps “experts”: some of them may just want your attention, or to sell “magic potions” that will do little, if anything, to keep you safe, should you develop serious symptoms, while the other part may need your obedience to maintain a social status-quo in which they already have the upper hand (they just want to maintain a fear-induced position of power).

Luckily, this pandemic is not even remotely as hard to understand as it’s quantum mechanics. Just by choosing the middle path, a position of equilibrium between those two tendencies, we can navigate it in a safer, more beneficial way.

There are no nanobots deployed via vaccines (yet), but authorities aren’t always working for your good either.

Just keep your scouts out there and uncover as much territory as you can.

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