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In this course I explain, how modern rational people can still hold hidden beliefs in magic while being unaware of this at the same time.I show how, in the modern world, people of power use these hidden beliefs in magic for manipulation and mind control and how a person can protect himself or herself from magical manipulation.
In our daily life, we a frequently targeted by various individuals, which offer to us their services with the aim of extracting political, financial, or social profits for themselves. These individuals come from all walks of life: This can be a political candidate, who promises to relieve us from taxes if elected, a religious cult leader, who offers to bring us to heaven if we join the cult, a businessman, who wants us to buy their product, a private medical doctor, who cures for money, a psychotherapist, who suggests that he or she can solve our psychological problems.
While in some cases accepting these offers can be useful, in other cases it can make us an object for magical manipulation without us being aware of that. In this course, I will explain, what magical manipulation is, how it works in traditional and modern industrial societies, and how modern educated adults can easily and unintentionally succumb to magical manipulation. Finally, I will explain how, by following certain rules, you can protect yourself against this hidden danger.
I based this course on my experimental studies of magical thinking and magical behavior in modern people, to which I gave over 30 years of my research. The course contains four sections, eight lectures supplied with appropriate references, four quizzes and a practice exercise.
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|Section 1: The mechanism of magical intervention|
In this lecture I will introduce the course and briefly describe the content of the subsequent lectures
•In this lecture I will introduce main concepts and draw a distinction betweenmagical thinking and magical beliefs.
•I will tell you how magical influence on people, which I call magical intervention, works in traditional tribal societies.
•We will discuss a psychological mechanism on which magical intervention is based – the placebo effect.
•I will end this lecture with discussing limitations of the placebo effect and potential dangers that this effect holds.
|Quiz 1||4 questions|
Assessing your understanding of Lecture 2
|Section 2: Magical beliefs in modern societies|
•In this lecture we will examine data from anthropology and psychology that show presence of magical beliefs in modern people.
•I will present an experiment that examined conditions under which rational adults' skepticism towards magic changes for the belief in magic.
•In this lecture, I will report an experiment aimed to compare reaction to magical suggestion of people coming from two different cultures: Britain and Mexico.
•We will see, that under normal circumstances British people succumb to magical suggestion to a significantly lesser extent than Mexican people.
•However, when it gets to the guts, British people show almost the same degree of vulnerability to magical suggestion as do Mexicans.
|Quiz 2||4 questions|
Assessing your understanding of Lectures 3 and 4
|Section 3: Intuitive forms of defence against magical intervention|
•In this lecture I will present an experiment that shows, how people's memory distorts reality in order to “out explain” observed magical events as ordinary tricks, and thus prevent the release of their hidden beliefs in magical powers.
•This distortion, which I call the cognitive defense against magical intervention, appears in older children and adults as a result of suppression that magical beliefs experience from the onset of scientific education.
•Interestingly, in preschool children, who believe in magic openly, the cognitive defense against magical intervention is absent.
•In this lecture, I will present experiments that show people's tendency to subconsciously protect themselves against magical intervention not only at cognitive level, but also at an emotional level.
•You will see that people's attitude towards magic is complex and ambivalent: they are interested in experimenting with magic and benefiting from it, yet they harbor a subconscious fear that tampering with magic might have a cost.
•To avoid paying such cost, people subconsciously distort the results of magical intervention, thus devaluating magical help and blocking the release of their belief in magical powers.
|Quiz 3||4 questions|
Assessing your understanding of Lectures 5 and 6
|Section 4: Magical intervention and magical manipulation in the modern world|
•In this lecture we will see how magical suggestion works through the mechanism of participation.
•I will then contrast two different mechanisms of persuasion: rational explanation and suggestion.
•Next, I will present an experiment that aimed at examining whether ordinary suggestion relies on the same psychological mechanism as magical suggestion: participation.
•I will begin this lecture by bringing examples of magical manipulation based on ordinary suggestion.
•I will then explain rules, which can help us to protect ourselves from magical manipulation based on ordinary suggestion.
|Quiz 4||4 questions|
Assessing your understanding of Lectures 7 and 8
|Section 5: Practice exercise|
|Lecture 9||4 pages|
Complete the questionnaire in Worksheet 1.
Next, go to Worksheet 2 and follow the instructions.
Eugene Subbotsky obtained a PhD in Developmental Psychology at Moscow State University. He taught at Moscow State University, Russia (1975-1990), Lancaster University, UK (1991-2013) and was an Alexander-von-Humboldt Fellow at Konstanz University, West Germany (1990-1991). He is known internationally for research on children's moral development, the development of children's metaphysical reasoning, and the development of magical thinking and behaviour over life span. He conducted research in Russia, Germany, United Kingdom, USA and Mexico. He published over 100 papers in scientific journals and is the author of 12 books, including those published by Harvard University Press, Oxford University Press, and Psychology Press. Eugene is an Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society, a BPS charted psychologist, a Member of the BPS Division of Teachers and Researchers in Psychology.