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Do you believe in magic? Yes, you do.
In some ways, it's quite practical.
What's the Big Idea?
Stupid people believe in angels. That's one of Aaron Sorkin's go-to banter formulas that was recently repeated by Jeff Daniels's character Will McAvoy in his opening rant in HBO's Newsroom. One of the many reasons America is not the greatest country in the world, McAvoy tells a college audience, is that America leads the world in "the number of adults who believe angels are real."
Sorkin, and others who share his view, would probably be surprised to know just how irrational we all are. Not all of us believe in angels, but we regularly attribute human behaviors to inanimate objects, such as toys. We speak to animals. We yell at computers. We think that burying a Red Sox jersey in Yankee stadium will affect the outcome of baseball games.
In a fascinating 2012 book, The Seven Laws of Magical Thinking: How Irrational Beliefs Keep Us Happy, Healthy, and Sane, Matthew Hutson challenges conventional wisdom by arguing that all of us — whether we think we are skeptics or not — believe in magic. In fact, he argues, superstitious beliefs are evolutionarily advantageous to our species and can be incredibly powerful tools if we know how to use them the right way.
What's the Significance?
How can you use "magical" thinking to your advantage? Well, what are your career and life goals? Hutson says that if you can visualize your goals, it increases your confidence, as well as give you the necessary "kick in the pants" to take the necessary actions to make your vision a reality. In this way, it directly increases your chance of success.
Everything happens for a reason, they say. Say you lose your job and find yourself really struggling. Hutson argues that magical thinking can be employed to turn a setback into an opportunity, in which you can transform the way you think, and eventually the way you act. With changed behavior comes changed life paths.
Follow Daniel Honan on Twitter @Daniel Honan
"You dream about these kinds of moments when you're a kid," said lead paleontologist David Schmidt.
- The triceratops skull was first discovered in 2019, but was excavated over the summer of 2020.
- It was discovered in the South Dakota Badlands, an area where the Triceratops roamed some 66 million years ago.
- Studying dinosaurs helps scientists better understand the evolution of all life on Earth.
Credit: David Schmidt / Westminster College<p style="margin-left: 20px;">"We had to be really careful," Schmidt told St. Louis Public Radio. "We couldn't disturb anything at all, because at that point, it was under law enforcement investigation. They were telling us, 'Don't even make footprints,' and I was thinking, 'How are we supposed to do that?'"</p><p>Another difficulty was the mammoth size of the skull: about 7 feet long and more than 3,000 pounds. (For context, the largest triceratops skull ever unearthed was about <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/02724634.2010.483632" target="_blank">8.2 feet long</a>.) The skull of Schmidt's dinosaur was likely a <em>Triceratops prorsus, </em>one of two species of triceratops that roamed what's now North America about 66 million years ago.</p>
Credit: David Schmidt / Westminster College<p>The triceratops was an herbivore, but it was also a favorite meal of the T<em>yrannosaurus rex</em>. That probably explains why the Dakotas contain many scattered triceratops bone fragments, and, less commonly, complete bones and skulls. In summer 2019, for example, a separate team on a dig in North Dakota made <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/26/science/triceratops-skull-65-million-years-old.html" target="_blank">headlines</a> after unearthing a complete triceratops skull that measured five feet in length.</p><p>Michael Kjelland, a biology professor who participated in that excavation, said digging up the dinosaur was like completing a "multi-piece, 3-D jigsaw puzzle" that required "engineering that rivaled SpaceX," he jokingly told the <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/26/science/triceratops-skull-65-million-years-old.html" target="_blank">New York Times</a>.</p>
Morrison Formation in Colorado
James St. John via Flickr
|Credit: Nobu Tamura/Wikimedia Commons|
The world's 10 most affected countries are spending up to 59% of their GDP on the effects of violence.
- Conflict and violence cost the world more than $14 trillion a year.
- That's the equivalent of $5 a day for every person on the planet.
- Research shows that peace brings prosperity, lower inflation and more jobs.
- Just a 2% reduction in conflict would free up as much money as the global aid budget.
- Report urges governments to improve peacefulness, especially amid COVID-19.
The lush biodiversity of South America's rainforests is rooted in one of the most cataclysmic events that ever struck Earth.
- One especially mysterious thing about the asteroid impact, which killed the dinosaurs, is how it transformed Earth's tropical rainforests.
- A recent study analyzed ancient fossils collected in modern-day Colombia to determine how tropical rainforests changed after the bolide impact.
- The results highlight how nature is able to recover from cataclysmic events, though it may take millions of years.