4 Facts on Human Belief in Magic

For video version go to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T0TCcslwopw
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Do you believe in magic? Well, the belief in magic has been around since times immemorial, though it has decreased in industrialized societies. However, you will be surprised to hear actually how it has mightily influenced the development of society for good and bad. So, let us now explore the historical and psychological processes behind primitive man’s ideas on this topic.

1. Similarities between Magical and Scientific Thinking
Two objectives are similar across magic, science, sorcery and necromancy. That is, they all want to secure insights into the future, and favorably influence the environment. If you think about it, it makes perfect sense that we find this link. History develops gradually, with new developments being incremental evolutions of precursors. Scientific method did NOT develop in a vacuum in the 16th century. NOTHING develops in a vacuum… this cannot be understated… NOTHING!

2 Curiosity is the Mother of both Magic and Science
Of course, magical thinking and methods are very inefficient ways to quench that curiosity. The big problem with magic is that it drastically overcomplicates causation by assuming the influence of all kinds of natural and supernatural effects. Beyond this complete lack of parsimony (i.e. using as few explanatory variables as possible), it was also allergic to another key element of scientific thinking, i.e. falsification. The cure for defective magic was more magic.

3. Belief in Magic Delayed Understanding of Natural Death
Primitive man usually had some magical explanation for any non-violent death. Since most died in combat or accidents in those days, it really struck our forebears as absurd that someone could just suddenly die without any injuries. Bear in mind, that average life expectancy was much lower in those days, so they were not familiar with the visual degeneration of the body.

4. Fear of Magic can Actually Kill
Fear can KILL, and many primitive men died in terror if they learned that someone had put a spell on them. There are many cases of fear killing in modern times as well, e.g. arachnophobias suffering heart attacks etc. Further complicating the olden belief in magic was the use of real natural poisons in powder and liquid spells. This reinforced the status of the magician, even though there was nothing supernatural going on, only chemistry.

So, there you have it, 4 facts about the human belief in magic. There is much else unsaid about this topic, so feel free to share your own thoughts and opinions in the comment section below.

Book: The Urantia Book
Music: “Rites” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
Video background: The Unfinished Swan, by Giant Sparrow


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