Magical thinking

#1
What do you guys think of Matthew Hutson's book "Magical Thinking"? http://www.amazon.com/Laws-Magical-Thinking-Irrational-Beliefs/dp/0452298903/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1415657563&sr=8-1&keywords=Matthew Hutson

Some of the reviews/comments on amazon are ridiculous. Funny thing is a long time ago, I thought that "belief" in an afterlife, ghosts, and purpose in life were all just ways of coping with reality. But now that I look at neuroscientists like Eben Alexander, researchers ect., I'm really interested in those things.
 
#2
What do you guys think of Matthew Hutson's book "
First I've heard of it so . . .

Okay. Just took a look at his website. Another wonky preacher. His version of materialism is "of course materialism is the actuality but the errors that make is think otherwise are okay too." I'm starting to wonder just how/why there are so many well-educated idiots working in the sciences.

So you're a "recovering materialist " then. Good on you.
 
#5
Heh. There is another explanation.
Yup. One based on the belief/indoctrination that materialism is correct and that current norms in standard-state human cognizance are capable of perceiving all.

I have a question for you - how many years did you spend in formal studies in any field of science?
 
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#6
Yup. One based on the belief/indoctrination that materialism is correct and that current norms in standard-state human cognizance are capable of perceiving all.
It appears that we all have our beliefs and indoctrinations.

I have a question for you - how many years did you spend in formal studies in any field of science?
Whatever I say will either be too much or too little to avoid the Saiko snark. What's your point?
 
#7
It appears that we all have our beliefs and indoctrinations.
No"appears" involved, just yes and no. Yes we all, obviously, have our beliefs. No we don't all have indoctrinations and there are people active in the sciences that do not.

Whatever I say will either be too much or too little to avoid the Saiko snark. What's your point?
Embrace the snark dude! That said, your comment shows that you let assumptions corral your approaches. And it's silly to ask about "my point" as a response to a question.
 
#9
No"appears" involved, just yes and no. Yes we all, obviously, have our beliefs. No we don't all have indoctrinations and there are people active in the sciences that do not.
e.g.?


Embrace the snark dude! That said, your comment shows that you let assumptions corral your approaches. And it's silly to ask about "my point" as a response to a question.
Not assumptions, Saiko. Just experience of your MO.
 
#10
What do you guys think of Matthew Hutson's book "Magical Thinking"? http://www.amazon.com/Laws-Magical-Thinking-Irrational-Beliefs/dp/0452298903/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1415657563&sr=8-1&keywords=Matthew Hutson

Some of the reviews/comments on amazon are ridiculous. Funny thing is a long time ago, I thought that "belief" in an afterlife, ghosts, and purpose in life were all just ways of coping with reality. But now that I look at neuroscientists like Eben Alexander, researchers ect., I'm really interested in those things.
I think you should delve more in discovering what magical thinking is because it's something we all do, including Eben.
 
S

Sciborg_S_Patel

#11
Hmmmmm...I wonder if the kind of pseudophysics promoted by Tegmark and Krauss counts as magical thinking to Hutson:

Pseudophysics: The New High Priesthood

But the most irritating book of them all, and the best example of the new pseudophysics, has nothing to do with the multiverse. It is about where our single, known universe might have come from. In his 2012 book A Universe From Nothing: Why There Is Something Rather Than Nothing, the physicist Lawrence M. Krauss informs us that the universe came out of nothing. Sheer nothing. Nada. Zip. How does he know? Every leading theoretical physicist I have posed this question to, including the American Nobel Prize winner Steven Weinberg and the Dutch Nobel Laureate Gerard 't Hooft, have told me definitively that we have no idea where our universe came from: We can't tell what happened before, or even at, the Big Bang. If Krauss' screed is not pseudoscience, I don't know what is.
Or what about Rosenberg's claims that all our understanding is nothing but meaningless illusion?

Perhaps the most profound illusion introspection foists on us is the notion that our thoughts are actually recorded anywhere in the brain at all in the form introspection reports. This has to be the profoundest illusion of all, because neuroscience has been able to show that networks of human brain cells are no more capable of representing facts about the world the way conscious introspection reports than are the neural ganglia of sea slugs! The real challenge for neuroscience is to explain how the brain stores information when it can’t do so in anything like the way introspection tells us it does—in sentences made up in a language of thought.
"Magical Thinking" seems like a pejorative term to use against those who disagree with whatever beliefs the accuser counts as "non-magical". As Feser points out, the accusation of magic doesn't apply to assertions made via reasoned metaphysics:

Magic versus metaphysics

or it is not reasonable to object to the notion of powers or causes which are intelligible in themselves, but which we simply don’t happen to understand, or perhaps even cannot understand given the limitations on our intellects. There is, after all, no reason to think that whatever exists simply must be comprehensible to us -- especially for someone who regards our cognitive powers as the product of evolutionary processes that favor survival value rather than accurate beliefs per se. Indeed, some naturalists have insisted that there are limits in principle to what we can understand, so that certain aspects of the natural world must remain forever mysterious to us. There can be serious arguments for the postulation of such limits on our knowledge, and such a postulation can do real explanatory work -- again, for the naturalist or atheist no less than for the theist. (In an earlier post, I discussed the various senses in which different aspects of the world might be said to be intelligible or unintelligible, from either an atheist point of view or a theistic one.)

So, again, what is objectionable about magic can only be that it is supposed to be inherently unintelligible, unintelligible even in principle and not merely in practice. Appeals to magic in this sense can, of necessity, explain nothing. They are rightly dismissed as pseudo-explanations or worse -- Putnam suggests that they are actually incoherent.
 

Paul C. Anagnostopoulos

Nap, interrupted.
Member
#12
If (a) you don't know how something works, and (b) you really feel as if you should have an explanation, then you will have a tendency to make up something magical to explain it. The idea behind science is to suspend the magical beliefs and look for evidence.

~~ Paul
 
#14
If (a) you don't know how something works, and (b) you really feel as if you should have an explanation, then you will have a tendency to make up something magical to explain it. The idea behind science is to suspend the magical beliefs and look for evidence.

~~ Paul
That's what's called a working hypothesis. Scientists of the kind, who are so eager to box-in and label absolutely everything within the confines of the material world-view, jumps at everything that seem to oppose that worldview with vigorously attempts to just spout out a theory, and to "put that baby to bed" .

I know there is also and equal amount of pretty outlandish and unorthodox theories from proponents of any given subject in this field, but I for one root for the freethinkers and those who dare to expand and think about things in a new light, and challenge dogma - even though they might turn out to be wrong. They, at least, had the balls to think outside the box, instead of naysayers who try to confide and restrict.
 
S

Sciborg_S_Patel

#15
That's what's called a working hypothesis. Scientists of the kind, who are so eager to box-in and label absolutely everything within the confines of the material world-view, jumps at everything that seem to oppose that worldview with vigorously attempts to just spout out a theory, and to "put that baby to bed" .

I know there is also and equal amount of pretty outlandish and unorthodox theories from proponents of any given subject in this field, but I for one root for the freethinkers and those who dare to expand and think about things in a new light, and challenge dogma - even though they might turn out to be wrong. They, at least, had the balls to think outside the box, instead of naysayers who try to confide and restrict.
To be fair, there are lots of proponents who aren't really free thinkers at all, and their willingness to question only goes as far as finding a way to cram in their particular beliefs about reality.

Admittedly where the concept of gnosis is involved things are trickier, though I don't think anyone has given a good explanation for how any sort of ritual practice can translate to definitive knowledge about the consensus reality. Why I question the concept of yoga-"science".
 
#16
To be fair, there are lots of proponents who aren't really free thinkers at all, and their willingness to question only goes as far as finding a way to cram in their particular beliefs about reality.

Admittedly where the concept of gnosis is involved things are trickier, though I don't think anyone has given a good explanation for how any sort of ritual practice can translate to definitive knowledge about the consensus reality. Why I question the concept of yoga-"science".
There is of course always a struggle between theories - and every scientist protects their own pet-theory. But I rather have a "brain-storm" debate on theories than have a dogmatic; "no-that-can-not-be-just-because-I-say-so"-environment where theories, and new angles of thinkings, are shunned and ridiculed.
 
#17
That's what's called a working hypothesis. Scientists of the kind, who are so eager to box-in and label absolutely everything within the confines of the material world-view, jumps at everything that seem to oppose that worldview with vigorously attempts to just spout out a theory, and to "put that baby to bed" .

I know there is also and equal amount of pretty outlandish and unorthodox theories from proponents of any given subject in this field, but I for one root for the freethinkers and those who dare to expand and think about things in a new light, and challenge dogma - even though they might turn out to be wrong. They, at least, had the balls to think outside the box, instead of naysayers who try to confide and restrict.
Nothing you've written pertains to magical thinking. It does not involve thinking outside the "box". Something as simple as buying a lottery ticket often involves magical thinking. An obvious example is carrying a lucky charm.
 
#19
To be fair, there are lots of proponents who aren't really free thinkers at all, and their willingness to question only goes as far as finding a way to cram in their particular beliefs about reality.
One of the problems is that we all need some degree of stability in our lives. After going through a period of discarding trust in anything which others have said, one's life may be somewhat chaotic, like being spun around in a whirlpool. Sooner or later one will tend to grab on to one thing or another as a way of reducing the dizzying effect. Although I tend to speak in favour of my own opinions, I recognise that we each travel our own path, and uniformity or conformity among people is not a desirable goal.

Ideally, one might challenge the ideas of others, not with the aim of 'converting' them to our own beliefs, but only to point out that alternatives views are possible. Sometimes it takes others to do this as our vision may be blinkered and we may miss the obvious.
 
#20
If (a) you don't know how something works, and (b) you really feel as if you should have an explanation, then you will have a tendency to make up something magical to explain it. The idea behind science is to suspend the magical beliefs and look for evidence.

~~ Paul
The trouble is, if you start explaining people's ideas as "ways of coping with reality", where does it stop.

Is the teenage boy who is interested in science, finding ways of coping with the reality that he doesn't have a girlfriend?

Are all medical researchers merely finding ways to cope with the eventual reality of their deaths.

Did Ramanujan develop his mathematics to cope with the reality of his being poor - maybe to count his money better!

Labelling someone's ideas "ways of coping with reality" - while implicity holding your own ideas above such muddiness - is a pretty pathetic way to argue anything.

David
 
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