What exactly is magical thinking?
Magical thinking, according to Roger Kimball, is the “irrational belief, rampant among primitive peoples and those exposed to too many woke college seminars, that our thoughts influence or ‘constitute’ reality.”
In the present case, we see Biden’s supporters telling us, and through telling us, telling themselves, that their candidate is ahead in the polls and is therefore likely to win the election in November.
They omit to say that their polls are fantasy polls: that they are of registered, not likely, voters, that they oversample Democrats or suburban women, that they fail to factor in the phenomenon of the shy Trump voter, who fully intends to vote for the President but is not happy about advertising it to random pollsters.
Among some architects of this fantasy, there is a strategy. The idea is that by claiming something is true one can influence opinion, at least at the margins, and up the odds of its becoming true. In itself, this is not irrational. If you hear something often enough, not only do you remember it, you also begin to believe it.
Unemployment, which skyrocketed under the shutdown from the “Chinese virus”, is falling fast. Among Donald Trump’s “huge accomplishments,” is the President’s path-breaking diplomacy resulting in Israel, the UAE and Bahrain normalizing relations, continues Mr. Kimball.
But the headlines have been filled with, for instance, a story from the Atlantic that the President avoided visiting a French military cemetery because the soldiers buried there were such ‘losers’.
The ink wasn’t dry on that wretched column before it was refuted by several eyewitnesses. Yet it will be sedulously circulated. And it will give aid and comfort to those building cloud- castles about the results of the 2020 election. Once again, the Democrats are setting themselves up not only for major disappointment but for staggering disillusionment.
That’s the trouble with magical thinking. Sooner or later, reality intrudes and destroys the web of fantasy that the spurious magic has spun.
This article is in The Spectator’s October 2020 US edition.