The 7 Laws of Magical Thinking

The 7 Laws of Magical Thinking

How Irrational Beliefs Keep Us Happy, Healthy, and Sane

Additional Formats
  • Ebook
  • ISBN 9781101561737
  • 304 Pages
  • Plume
  • Adult


In this witty and perceptive debut, a former editor at Psychology Today shows us how magical thinking makes life worth living.

Psychologists have documented a litany of cognitive biases- misperceptions of the world-and explained their positive functions. Now, Matthew Hutson shows us that even the most hardcore skeptic indulges in magical thinking all the time-and it’s crucial to our survival.

Drawing on evolution, cognitive science, and neuroscience, 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 make 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 rational sense.

With wonderfully entertaining stories, personal reflections, and sharp observations, Hutson reveals our deepest fears and longings. He also assures us that it is no accident his surname contains so many of the same letters as this imprint.


 “In this wickedly funny and deeply clever book, Matthew Hutson makes a radical claim: All of us, whether we accept it or not, believe in magic. Without these intuitions, he says, we would hardly be human. Through vivid examples and cutting-edge science, Hutson presents a provocative new theory of how we make sense of the world.” — Paul Bloom, Ph.D. author of Descartes’ Baby and How Pleasure Works

 This is a book that you pick up, but can’t put down. Hutson, intelligently and entertainingly, gives us the best kind of book: one that gives us insight to our very core. Highly recommended!” — Ori Brafman, co-author of Sway and Click

 “Matthew Hutson promises to convince the most hard-core skeptics and rationalists that they believe in magic, and he succeeds—with wit and clarity and scientific rigor.” — Sharon Begley, author of Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain
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