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Science explains why people believe in magic tricks

Science explains why people believe in magic tricks

Have you ever met people telling stories about ghosts in abandoned houses, miracles committed by God, and the destiny written in stars? Maybe you are one of them? Then we are happy to tell you that there is nothing wrong with this kind of thinking. More than that, it has a scientific explanation and a quite elegant name “cognitive critical thinking”.

A so-called “magical thinking” is not such a rare thing as one may suppose. While only 43% of American teens believe in Darwin’s theory of evolution, there are over 71% of Americans that believe that miracles are possible in our everyday life. 42% of American people believe that one day they can see a ghost and 29% respect astrology.

On the other hand, fantastic things that are non-magical are quite popular too. One of the recent polls shows that 21% of American people suspect that the government is hiding aliens, 28% expect a new World Order to be soon established by a mysterious elite secret society, and 16% of Americans seriously think that Obama is the new Anti-Christ.

So, one of the studies decided to find out if there is any relationship between paranormal beliefs, pseudoscience acceptance and conspiracy theories. The results showed that all these things do actually have something common, and it is called “cognitive thinking skills”.

Two researches in France made a study to investigate magical thinking among the students of the Toulouse University. First, the students were divided into two groups of intuitive and reflective thinkers. Basically, these are people who make the most obvious solutions (intuitive) and those who is in doubt if something goes too easy (reflective).

Both groups was given “astrological analysis” of their personality made of 10 characteristics, though in fact all the notes were “Barnum statements” that fit almost anyone. Something like “you want other people to appreciate what you do” or “it is difficult for you to hurt a loving person”. The results showed that intuitive people were more likely to recognize themselves in the statements.

In another experiment a different group of student were taking part in a small show of “mind reader”. The participants picked one of five cards and were asked to send their thought of what they see on it to the telepathist. And again, the intuitive thinkers believed in the “extraordinary” perception of the fake mind-reader, while the reflecting group regarded the event as a statistical fluke.

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