The Hazards of Magical Thinking

I’ve talked about the perils of paranoia, and now it’s time to examine the problem of magical thinking – irrational causal reasoning. Like paranoia, magical thinking appears to be on the rise these days. And magical thinking can be dangerous. The Xhosa and Thembu tribes of South Africa nearly starved themselves into oblivion because some a**hole ghost told them to sacrifice all their cattle. Many an alchemist poisoned himself in his quest for gold or immortality. Bridget Cleary was beaten and burned to death by a husband who suspected her of being a malicious fairy. Belief in the efficacy of lucky talismans or rituals can lead people to take risks they normally wouldn’t even consider.

Now, there’s probably little to no harm in believing you’re an elf, wearing a QLink pendant, or practicing feng shui. But here are just a few examples of how magical thinking can go seriously, seriously wrong…

Fatal exorcisms: Untrained or inexperienced people who diagnose possession and attempt exorcisms have killed possessees, either by withholding food and water or by using violent means to dislodge the demons.
– In 1973, 19-year-old Anneliese Michel died while being exorcised by two priests. It subsequently came to light that she had stopped taking her medication for epileptic seizures.
– Father Daniel Petru Corogeanu of Romania starved a nun to death when he lashed her to a cross for days in an attempt to get the demons out of her.
– In 2000, Pastor Luke Lee of New Zealand killed Kum Ok Lee in the course of an exorcism. At his trial, he calmly assured the court she would rise from the dead. Also in New Zealand, in 2007, 22-year-old Janet Moses was drowned by family members who believed they were cleansing her of a curse.
– In 2003, 8-year-old Terrance Cottrell Jr. was smothered to death by a pastor during an exorcism.
– Last year, Ronald Marquez beat up his daughter and tried to perform an exorcism on his 3-year-old granddaughter. Police summoned to the scene by neighbors found Marquez with the child in a headlock, his daughter huddling nude and bloody in a corner. They Tasered him, which resulted in his death.
– In February of this year, Jan Clark murdered his wife after performing an exorcism on her. He claims the demons entered his body and forced him to kill her.

Baby-tossing: As reported recently, parents in India consider it lucky to pitch their infants 50 feet to the ground from the rooftop of a mosque. Do I really have to tell you what’s wrong with this?

“Reptilians steal babies”: Belief in a race of ultradimensional or extraterrestrial lizard-like entities that preys upon human beings is causing great emotional distress for some people. Kinesiologists Michael and Stephanie Relfe believe their first child was stolen from Stephanie’s womb by Reptilians (they also believe Michael worked for the government on offworld colonies). Reverse-speech analyst Peggy Kane says she has been raped by Reptilians from the lower astral plane, and that a close friend was brutally murdered by them while he was a guest in her home. Psychic alien abductee Ted Rice believes that as an 8-year-old boy he was taken into a spaceship with his grandmother and forced to watch her copulate with a tall, reptoid alien disguised as his dead grandfather. When the woman prevented this creature from raping her grandson, she was warned she would die in two days’ time. She did, Rice said. The late Karla Turner, author of Rice’s biography, thought her fatal cancer was caused by Reptilians. She also thought the reptoids had eaten Rice’s body and replaced it with an exact duplicate made from organic materials obtained during cattle mutilations! Peggy Kane also says many humans have been replaced by clones, after their real bodies have been horrifically tortured and consumed by the Reptilians.
And it gets worse. In 1999, professional scam artist Diazen Hossencofft managed to convince a clique of followers that his ex-wife, Girly Chew, was a Reptilian priestess in disguise. They abducted and murdered her at his request. Hossencofft also persuaded various women that he could cure cancer, and keep them eternally youthful with a serum he had developed. He told some his young son was a super-kid genetically engineered by NASA scientists. (This case was the basis for the CSI episode “Leapin’ Lizards”.)

Taking health advice from visionaries and mystics:
– The Conscious Development cult led by Texan Terri Keanely (formerly Hoffman) has been linked to several suicides, murders, and suspicious deaths, but one of the most disturbing stories is that of Hoffman’s third husband, Richard Donald Hoffman. He committed suicide in 1988, leaving behind a video explaining that he had been diagnosed with inoperable cancer. However, no trace of cancer was found in Hoffman’s body during autopsy. His children allege that Terri Hoffman persuaded their father he had cancer by revealing visions of his imminent death.
Keanely is currently one half of MoneyForce Press and co-author of The Colors of Money: Finding Your MoneyForce.
– Brazil’s Joao de Dios (John of God) is not a doctor, but he can channel dead doctors to perform surgery through him (unlawfully, I might add). Some of his surgeries take place only on a psychic level, but others are hands-on, invasive procedures that involve real instruments. These don’t resemble any known medical operations. ABC News reported in 2005 that one patient had forceps shoved up his nose and violently twisted. Needless to say, Joao doesn’t do follow-ups. Yet he boasts of healing 15 million people in 35 years. As James Randi points out “Working 8 hours a day, taking no lunch hour, 6 full days a week for 35 years, taking no holidays at all, he would have to “heal” ONE PERSON EVERY 21 SECONDS of every minute of every hour of every day he worked, with no time off, and no failures!” Busy guy.
Ask yourself, what would happen if Joao collapsed during a surgery?
– Mother of five Michelle Mingo starved her infant son to death in 1999 because her sister-in-law had received a vision telling her Mingo needed to purge herself of her “ungodly vanity” and prescribed a dangerous diet regimen for both mother and son.

Indigo/psychic children: Thousands of parents believe their children are the next step in human evolution, endowed with marvelous powers: ESP, telekinesis, mediumistic ability, the gift of listening to trees (shades of The Ramones), etc. How are these children going to feel when, as adults, they gradually (or suddenly) realize that they’re just plain ol’, run-of-the-mill human beings? This is much bigger than Santa and the Tooth Fairy. These kids are essentially being told that they’re supernaturally gifted, super-human, or just not human at all. That’s a huge misconception to get over.

Not to mention, magical thinking can lose you a heap o’ money:

– It has been estimated that Scientology Clears will have spent between $50,000 to +$300,000 in auditing and other costs in order to reach that level. For these prices, you can get psychoanalyzed (which is all auditing is, anyway, in a cruder form) and rent dozens of sci-fi movies. Same diff.
– Many have fallen for the Black Dollar (or Wash Wash) scam, but some have lost their life savings after being convinced by psychics that their money is cursed.
– Money spent on Kabbalah Center merchandise, QLink pendants, feng shui consultations, aura cleansing, firewalking workshops, and other dubiously effective products, treatments, and lessons could instead be invested in things that will benefit you directly. One example: Madonna spends the rough equivalent of one person’s college loans on Kabbalah Water every year.
– Psychic surgery can cost hundreds of dollars, not including travel, meals, accomodations, and bribes paid to customs officials.
– A 2-hour family session at A Place of Light, a center for “intuitive children” and their relatives, starts at $75. The day program for preschoolers costs $50 per week, though there is a discount if their siblings can speak with the dead or something. Factor in travel costs (the center is in Massachusetts) and you’re looking at some serious cash.

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9 thoughts on “The Hazards of Magical Thinking

  1. I agree with much of what you have said SME, however I know from my own experience that we humans are evolving and are capable of abilities that the average person is not. I am 54 years old so I am no Indigo Child, but over the past 5 years I have discovered that I am capable of thought transfer/telepathy. I have picked up the thoughts of people around me and I have discovered that I can also send my thoughts to other people. When this happens, I respond verbally to people who I have picked up their thoughts. It blows their mind because they did not verbally speak a word to me. When I first realized I could do this it blew my mind as well.It is my belief that we as humans are evolving in ways that are currently unexplainable. It is also my belief that because we are taught that extraordinary abilities are bogus, thus we as humans believe this and thus our mind is not open to the possibilities.Here is a phrase that I often tell people:Our minds are a powerful tool. If you THINK your mind has limits, then indeed your mind will be limited.I believe that in the future we as humans will communicate more with our mind and less with our voice box. To me this will benefit the world as a whole because then the evil that resides within our society will not be able to get away with anything. Corruption will be almost non existent within our government. I think you will hear more about people who have extraordinary abilities. I agree that so called Indigo Children are being exploited for the almighty dollar. It is my belief that parents who already posses extraordinary abilities are the ones who should be the teachers of their children and encourage them to open up their mind to the possibilities. All you need is an open mind not cluttered with false propaganda that suggests that skills like this are impossible.

  2. I, too, suspect the human mind and body have capabilities we don’t even know about yet, and that these may emerge fully as we evolve. What are they? I don’t know. I only know that there are more things on heaven and earth than are dreamt of in our philosophy, to paraphrase Mr. S. However, as you mention, such abilities are already being exploited for cash. Some New Age hucksters will sieze on any excuse to hawk books, worthless gizmos, and workshops.

  3. nah.. its bogus. all these things can be countered from a scientific and religious stand point… unless it is some new found religion (those are always real)? haha… and this telepathy, no. no. no. its called a coinsidence… ever said something at the exact same time as someone… how freaking crazy!!! -_-

  4. Consciousness can intuit anything…but it doesn't mean you "know" these things. Knowing and learning and making concepts are something the mind does. The mind is like a machine that never stops turning, which is why Yogis and those practicing ego-annilation make stilling the mind one of the first steps to understanding self and the main task of meditation for beginners.As one who has gone through "seeking" to the other side in which there is nothing to be done, I do not think there are superpowers to be claimed if you only work hard enough. If through whatever means you are able to intuit amazing things, you will still have store the data in your 3-dimensional mind and struggle to create the context so what you think you "know" can have meaning to anyone else.There are also good reasons why Shamans and magic folk throughout history and today employ psychelic drugs. The sense we make out of the chaos of the universe is simply one adaptation…and it might take experiencing other states of consciousness for someone to be able to break out of their self imposed rigidness.

  5. I'm really interested in these things because I've seen a lot of people possessed by demons and rare creatures this is truth, that's why I feel really identify with these things.

  6. Pingback: The Prodigal Witch Part VII: Bill Schnoebelen | Swallowing The Camel

  7. Some humans have supernatural abilities, excuding the ‘fakes’, either as a gift from God, or from satan (to make us think we’re psychic, or a medium, so we can loose our soul, by taking thousands of dollars from people, to tell them their future- by tarot cards, or by channeling/comunicating with unknown ‘spirit guides’, ‘dead people’, ‘aliens’, or by casting spells…All of which are DANGEROUS occult practices, and are FORBIDDEN by God, for our own good!). Sometimes satan gives us these abilities, just to drive us crazy. In any case, we should close all doors we’ve opened to demonic activity, (through sin, and occult practices). For more info, visit websites: ‘real spiritual experiences’, and: ‘real life angel and demon encounters’. Best of luck. God bless!

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