Branislow Malinowski

In Branislow Malinowski’s classic essay, Magic, Science and Religion, he studied Trobriand Islanders who turned to magic when they have reached the limits of their practical knowledge. This is not an observation that has faded into obscurity as we march in modern times. As defined by the Mental Health Dictionary, magical thinking isThe belief that thinking equates with doing. This occurs in dreams of children or primitive people. Characterized by lack of reasonable relationship between cause and effect (www.aboutourkids.org)One simple example in time for the Christmas season that shows magical thinking still persisting in contemporary North America is the unwavering belief in Santa Claus. Adults, even with the knowledge that Santa Claus does not exist still continue to pass on the lore to their children. Children then, in simple cause and effect, attempt to base their behavior in the belief that a jolly old elf will give them gifts in exchange for being good. I believed in Santa when I was younger, and that somehow dictated my behavior during the holiday seasons, until I discovered he was not real.Sometimes magical thinking springs up on its own, when we correlate patterns that we see every day. I believe that Sports is an arena where magical thinking thrives. Players have superstitions they follow to ensure winning their game. The different traditions that they participate in before a big game all points to lack or reasonable relationship between cause and effect. Recently a video of a child cheering for the home team at a dinner table was shown during half-time at a football game; the home team won. People immediately associated the child cheering with the football team winning; they therefore decided to play the video every game that the home team plays.Magical thinking will continually flourish, because belief has many layers, and people turn to instinct when faced with patterns that they see and connect with each other. People are also hesitant to change their beliefs, even when faced with facts contrary to it.WORKS CITEDMalinowski, Branislow. “Magic, Science and Religion and Other Essays 1948.” Montana: Kessinger Publishing, 2004.“Mental Health Dictionary.” NYU Child Study Center. 12 Dec 2008. http://www.aboutourkids.org/families/disorders_treatments/mental_health_dictionary