Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Wright Show - Robert Wright and Matthew Hutson - The 7 Laws of Magical Thinking

This is a nice discussion - wide ranging - on Matthew Hutson's new book, The 7 Laws of Magical Thinking: How Irrational Beliefs Keep Us Happy, Healthy, and Sane - from this week's edition of
The Wright Show on

Here is the publisher's description of the book:
What is so special about touching a piano John Lennon once owned? Why do we yell at our laptops? What drove the Yankees to dig up the Red Sox jersey secretly buried beneath their new stadium? And what's up with the phrase "Everything happens for a reason"?

Psychologists have documented a litany of cognitive biases—misperceptions of reality—and explained their positive functions. Now, Matthew Hutson shows that all of us, even the staunchest skeptics, engage in magical thinking all the time—and that we can use it to our advantage, if we know how to outsmart it.

Drawing on cognitive science, neuroscience, psychology, and anthropology, Hutson shows us that magical thinking has been so useful to us that it's hardwired into our brains. It encourages us to think that we actually have free will. It helps us believe that we have an underlying purpose in the world. It can even protect us from the paralyzing awareness of our own mortality. In other words, magical thinking is a completely irrational way of making our lives make sense.

With wonderfully entertaining stories, personal reflections, and sharp observations, Hutson has written a book that is entertaining, useful, and ever so slightly alarming.
Wright and Hutson engage in a lively and entertaining conversation.

Robert Wright (, The Evolution of God, Nonzero) and Matthew Hutson (The 7 Laws of Magical Thinking)

Recorded: May 11 — Posted: May 19
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