Wishful Thinking Causes Bad Luck

Contrast to BeliefsCreateReality.

It certainly creates your perception of reality. If reality doesn't change but your perception of it does change, then I don't think anyone hears a tree falling in the woods.


"Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." -- PhilDick


More important: the world is full of phenomena that persist only because everybody thinks they persist. For example: stock rates, good manners, selling food for money, bus lines, style, ideologies (and their consequences), etc.


Belief in reality, itself, takes a bit of WishfulThinking. Due to the nature of perception, reality cannot deductively be proven to exist; there is at least a small gap that must be bridged by faith. The philosophy embracing this truth is called Solipsism.

However, as a counterpoint to 'WishfulThinkingCausesBadLuck', it's often the case that WishfulThinking is the only sort of rational thinking... not because it leads to truth, but because its rejection will lead to other negative consequences. (Rationality requires valid reason, but truth is only one sort of valid reason.) I haven't found words to express this concept more eloquent than those from Second Hand Lions:
"Sometimes the things that may or may not be true are the things a man needs to believe in the most. That people are basically good; that honor, courage, and virtue mean everything; that power and money, money and power mean nothing; that good always triumphs over evil; and I want you to remember this, that love... true love never dies. You remember that, boy. You remember that. Doesn't matter if it's true or not. You see, a man should believe in those things, because those are the things worth believing in." -- Hub from Second Hand Lions, by Tim McCanlies
Is this WishfulThinking? Yeah, probably. That doesn't make it wrong, or irrational. I'd also add: "The future is not fixed." "One determined man can make a difference." "A man might not be able to change who he was, but can change who he is and become a better person."

WishfulThinking can cause problems when it blinds someone to truths of consequence. Example: If someone proves that all observed futures are fixed (which is vacuously true at the moment), then believing contrariwise is irrational; however, one could still hold hope that unobserved futures aren't fixed. WishfulThinking causes blindness when, as a consequence of a belief, you close your eyes and refuse to observe the observable futures -- you reject truth. Is it a truth worth rejecting? That depends on the strength of your reasons for rejecting it and on the consequences of accepting it, of embracing it emotionally. WishfulThinkingCausesBadLuck, but what of the negative consequences of hurtful truths?

Reject WishfulThinking entirely, if you wish, and if you are capable. Embrace Solipsism.

I can't do it. I accept Solipsism intellectually, and I have an enormous respect for truth. But, emotionally, I require the comfort provided by certain beliefs and ideals that I accept with faith. These might be consequence of WishfulThinking, but I won't reject them on that basis.




Often, reality turns out to be stronger than your beliefs. The medicine man gave me a talisman which makes me invulnerable to bullets. He says that if it doesn't work, it'll be because my belief wasn't strong enough.

On the other hand, there are said to be some aboriginal tribes in Australia who have total belief in the powers of their medicine man. When he curses a wrongdoer to die, the wrongdoer's belief in the powers of the medicine man is so strong that his heart fibrillates or stops, and he does indeed die. That's one case where the belief creates the reality.

Firstly, can you really back this up? I've heard similar stories before, but always in the urban legend mode. Secondly, if the shaman fails to kill a non-believer, it shows that the shaman has no power to kill. The victim killed himself.

If everyone besides the victim believes that the shaman can kill with words, the victim will be dead. At least in their reality. The victim, of course, might claim that he is not dead; everyone just ignores him. Or that someone else murdered him. But the reality that gets written down is probably the one believed by the majority. This reminds me of some Science Fiction stories, where a person gets declared 'dead' presumably by a computer error and now has a hard time, since everybody believes what the computers say. (I do not know whether the story about medicine men who kill with curses is an urban legend. Could be. Then again, I am not the person who wrote that paragraph. -- MarkoSchulz

Ever heard of 'placebo'? -- MikaelNordfelth

Refer to the cases of alleged zombification and recovery that filter out of Haiti. One case where a young man was recognized as being the dead son of a villager. He was welcomed back, and told a story of being killed by a bokor and made a zombie. A Western investigator took DNA from the man and his mother, and found out that he was not genetically related to her at all (while the son was). So the story, no matter how much the villagers believed it was false. The man was most likely run through the zombification, but he was not the same man as they believed. -- PeteHardie

I have heard that in the USA, people have such faith in their village shamans that if they say certain dreaded power-words, such as "cholesterol", those people will soon die. --PhlIp
In my opinion, the quote on the RichardFeynman page is particularly relevant here.

In deliberate contravention of OAOO it is repeated here:

"For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for Nature cannot be fooled."

How is it relevant? Well of course we know how much the marketeers like to change peoples minds, it's their job after all.

I wonder what the advocates of GlobalWarming being a non-issue would have to say about this.

In a manner of speaking, the conscious mind is a window through which you look outward - and looking outward, perceive the fruits of your inner mind. Often you let false beliefs blur that great vision. Your joy, vitality and accomplishment do not come from the outside to you as the result of events that "happen to you". They spring from inner events that are the result of your beliefs.

Given GlobalWarming is a real threat, regardless of whether CO2 emissions can cause it or whether it has already started, I'd say advocating it's a non-issue can be safely categorized under human's rambunctious and creative ability to generate false beliefs... ;-)


"The nature of your personal beliefs in a large measure directs the kinds of emotions you will have at any given time. You will feel aggressive, happy, despairing, or determined according to events that happen to you, your beliefs about yourself in relations to them, and your ideas of who and what you are. You will not understand your emotions unless you know your beliefs. It will seem to you that you feel aggressive or upset without reason, or that your feelings sweep down upon you without cause if you do not learn to listen to the beliefs within your own conscious mind, for they generate their own emotions.

"One of the strongest general causes of depression, for example, is the belief that your conscious mind is powerless either in the face of exterior circumstances thrust upon you from without, or before strong emotional events that seem to be overwhelming from within.

"Psychology, religion, science - in one way or another, all of these have added to the confusion by stripping the conscious mind of its directing qualities, and viewing it as a stepchild of the self. The schools of "positive thinking" try to remedy the situation, but often do more harm than good because they attempt to force beliefs upon you that you would like to hold, but do not in your present state of confusion."


It might be more accurate to say BeliefsCreatePerception?.

How about BeliefsDistortReality? or BeliefsInfluencePerception??

Everyone is familiar with the psychological phenomenon of "filtering"...

See http://andstuff.org/InnerSenses, ToTry.


One of the problems with "reality" is that the reference is to "reality" today. The "beliefs" (or "agreements" if you prefer) may not have occurred any time recently. Although it presumes that life is more than a 4-decade accident of chemistry and electricity, I can conceive of a scenario where the "reality" we have is the result of agreements made according to beliefs (or even just desires) an absurdly long time ago.

Changing the reality would require a "quorum" of agreement among people (beings?) who have long since forgotten they had anything to do with the way things are. And who will argue bitterly that life is just such a 4-decade electro-chemical accident and clearly they could have had nothing to do with the establishment of reality.

What a sweet CatchTwentyTwo - you're in this reality until you change it, you and all the other guys who made it up, but all the guys caught in this reality have convinced themselves that it's the only possible reality and, if you wake up and realize all you need is enough agreement to change the reality, and act on that revelation, the rest of the guys lock you in the loony bin for questioning "the" reality.

On second thought, I guess denial is better. Thinking about that stuff will give someone a headache.

See WizardsFirstRule.

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