Are you human?
Then at some level you believe in magic.
Specific beliefs about miracles and other kinds of magic may get handed down within a religious or cultural tradition but we all are prone to magical thinking – even the most rigorous scientist or die-hard skeptic.
At least that’s what psychological research suggests.
In carefully structured experiments people who don’t consciously believe in magic behave as if they unconsciously do.
Our tendency toward magical thinking derives from the structure of human cognition.
Types of thinking that help us survive and thrive—like pattern matching – seeking cause-and effect-relationships and attending to unusual events—also incline us to specific glitches in rationality.
Understanding these flaws in human information processing makes it easier to understand why so many people see miracles and other kinds of magic in the world around us.
Snap judgments about cause and effect – When two things happen close in time or close in space without an obvious external cause – we tend to assume that one caused the other – instinctively equating correlation and causation.
Our brains are constantly scanning for causes and effects and we pair them up quickly – often before conscious processing can take place.