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Vol. 54, No. 3, 2011
Issue release date: July 2011
Section title: Original Paper
Human Development 2011;54:126–143
(DOI:10.1159/000329129)

The Ghost in the Machine: Why and How the Belief in Magic Survives in the Rational Mind

Subbotsky E.
Lancaster University, Lancaster, UK

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Article / Publication Details

First-Page Preview
Abstract of Original Paper

Published online: 7/22/2011
Issue release date: July 2011

Number of Print Pages: 18
Number of Figures: 4
Number of Tables: 0

ISSN: 0018-716X (Print)
eISSN: 1423-0054 (Online)

For additional information: http://www.karger.com/HDE

Abstract

Since the time of Galileo (1564–1642), Western civilization has increasingly fallen under the spell of science. Despite this fact, anthropological and psychological research has shown that magical beliefs are present in both children and adults in modern industrial cultures. How can a belief in magic coexist with a belief in science in the mind of a rational, educated adult? A possible explanation is that magical beliefs survive in the rational mind by going into the subconscious. The following hypothesis is considered in the series of studies presented in this paper: in modern industrial cultures, magical beliefs appear in preschool children as a legitimate, conscious form of belief that coexists with children’s belief in physical causality and is supported by social environment. In older children and adults, under the pressure of scientific and religious education, magical beliefs descend into the domain of the subconscious. Experiments examining this hypothesis will be reviewed; theoretical and practical implications of the existence of subconscious magical beliefs in modern rational adults will be analyzed.

© 2011 S. Karger AG, Basel


Article / Publication Details

First-Page Preview
Abstract of Original Paper

Published online: 7/22/2011
Issue release date: July 2011

Number of Print Pages: 18
Number of Figures: 4
Number of Tables: 0

ISSN: 0018-716X (Print)
eISSN: 1423-0054 (Online)

For additional information: http://www.karger.com/HDE


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