dorkbot_magic_small[1]Just did a rather enjoy­able inter­view with my friend and col­league, Dave Young over at, wherein we dis­cussed one of my favorite top­ics: Mag­i­cal Think­ing.

If you’re new to the blog, here are a few of my pre­vi­ous posts on the topic:

If you’re a lit­tle fuzzy on the con­cept of mag­i­cal think­ing, I rec­om­mend this Psy­chol­ogy Today arti­cle by Matthew Hut­son. But my short and biased take on it goes some­thing like this:

None of us are nat­u­rally, inher­ently ratio­nal beings. Our nat­ural think­ing pat­terns are “mag­i­cal” rather than sci­en­tific. It takes a con­scious atten­tion to ban­ish the mag­i­cal and rein­state a sci­en­tific view of things.

2011-12-09_1223So regard­less of how thor­oughly sound-minded you may think you are, there’s a part of you that still thinks mag­i­cally. You still believe in mag­i­cal con­ta­gion, which is why you trea­sure first edi­tion, signed copies of books, or you dad’s deer rifle, or a base­ball caught at a big league game, and so on. It’s why you wouldn’t want to live in a house for­merly lived in by a ser­ial mur­derer — or worse, a home were vio­lent mur­ders took place. And it’s why you would hes­i­tate to deface a pic­ture of a loved one.

And this mat­ters because the part of us that actu­ally affects our decision-making process is the part that still thinks mag­i­cally — our emo­tional, lizard brain. Pretty obvi­ous why every mar­keter should be inti­mately famil­iar with mag­i­cal think­ing, right?

Want to hear more?  Go lis­ten to the inter­view.

P.S.  If you think Mag­i­cal Think­ing is only some­thing other peo­ple engage in, go ahead and try this exper­i­ment — I dare you! Go print out a pic­ture, prefer­ably a head­shot, of your kid and then stick a knife through it. If you can’t, or sim­ply “won’t” do it, or even if you hes­i­tate to do such a thing and feel funny about it, then con­grat­u­la­tions: you just got a first-hand expe­ri­ence with Mag­i­cal Thinking.


  1. Bill Laidlaw on 12.09.2011

    Funny, when I looked at the pic Jeff I saw Cana­dian Flag National Hol­i­day Cook­ies and I wanted to eat them.

  2. Jeff on 12.09.2011

    Those red splotches are pretty ugly maple leafs, there, Bill. But, yes, per­cep­tion plays a big role in all of this.

  3. Bill Laidlaw on 12.09.2011

    We all see what we want to see (good mem­o­ries of said cook­ies helps) Jeff.

    If the dye was red, white and blue I would have just seen the band aids.

  4. Chuck McKay on 12.10.2011

    Jeff, your thought exper­i­ment implies that all par­ents are as enam­ored of their chil­dren as you are of yours. The knife through the photo test is biased.

  5. Jeff on 12.10.2011


    You are indeed cor­rect, sir. LOL. I guess I should have said “child or other beloved as appro­pri­ate” or some­thing, but it seemed sort of clunky and child seemed a safer bet than spouse ;)

    - Jeff

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