On magic and believing 08:10 on Wednesday

Copperfield. Tony Robbins. Both trick you in to believing. Either in magic, or yourself.

The magician is accused of fooling us (even though that’s what we’re paying him for), the self-help consultant is accused of using quick tricks (like walking on fire) to make us overcome our fears.

What’s wrong with that? We’re conditioned to think that we make rational choices, that we base our decisions on facts. Facts back up our choices.

I’m not a religious person at all, but I can’t help thinking what’s so wrong about believing, and basing decisions on beliefs? I think we do it all the time, but admitting it is not allowed. In fact, a lot of “rational business” is about making others believe — reports, forecasts, ads.. all are tools for getting people to believe in whatever you’re trying to push.

2 Responses to “On magic and believing”


  1. Tommi Vilkamo Says:

    We’re conditioned to think that we make rational choices that we base our decisions on facts

    Yes, we believe that we make rational choices – but this is mostly an illusion. In fact, there is a module in brain, that interprets our environment and our own own actions with a delay, trying to make up a coherent story to explain ourselves what has happened and why. Most of the time, the explanation for a specific course of action comes afterwards, not before the decision. And this makes us very unreliable witnesses of our own behavior.

    The rational choice is an exception, not the rule in our behavior.

    (currently reading fascinating http://www.amazon.com/Happiness-Hypothesis-Finding-Modern-Ancient/dp/0465028012, as recommended by a Symbian/Nokia VP here http://www.dw2-0.com/2008/12/best-book-i-read-in-2008.html. Seen scientific evidence about the claim above elsewhere too)

  2. Niko Says:

    I guess I’m saying that intuition is undervalued.