Chapter 19 of my book delves into one of the more fascinating aspects of human nature – Silly Mind Tricks. Silly Mind Tricks are what I call the little errors our minds make as they take in an overwhelming amount of information and try to make sense of it. Often we can trust our senses but there are times when they fail us. And there are times our mind just can’t figure out what our senses are telling us, and revert to a fail-safe mode where our mind fills-in the gaps it can’t figure out. When they do this, there is no alarm or warning.
For example there are many times where our minds simply make up memories. They piece together bits of real events with stories we read about or saw in a movie, and add in information from someone else who implanted it in our mind during some discussion. This happened to Ronal Regan when he was president of the United States when he confused his life with movie roles he played. It happens to everyone.
Silly mind tricks are part of being human. They can be silly, embarrassing, and dangerous. Find out why we all experience them, and how they have been used by religions the world around to trick people into thinking God had something to do with their life. They are not evidence of God, but play a part in why people believe in God. Tricks of the mind have been potrayed as proof of God’s hand in our world, but when you understand the mind better, you will realise that the normal tricks our mind plays on us are all-to-human. Not God.
Briefly, here is a list of silly mind tricks that most all people experience. These are normal parts of being human:
- Auditory Hallucination (Hearing Voices). Sometimes this happens as we are falling asleep or awakening. Sometimes when a loved one passes away, we’ll hear their voice as if they were in the room. Sometimes people hear voices for no particular reason – they just do. Its not a mental problem, its a normal part of life. For a very few, this happen so much it disturbs them and they need professional help. So when you hear a story about some religious prophet hearing God, there is a good chance he really did believe he heard God.
- Visual Hallucination (Hearing Voices). Again, sometimes this happens as we are falling asleep or awakening. Visual hallucinations are less common than auditory ones, but they do happen to many people. During grief hallucinations, people will have conversations with lost loved ones. It’s a common reaction, and for those with a hope in an afterlife, a great comfort.
- False Memories. Anyone who has raised children has seen this happen many times. When our brain recalls a past event, the memory it brings up can be inaccurate, exaggerated, and missing information. Our mind also will adds additional images and notions that never occurred and fills in memory gaps on its own. And when it does this, sometimes we don’t know it. A false memory and a real memory feel just as real. Psychologist have found it is easy to implant false memories into people, even specific details can be unknowingly planted into people’s mind, and later, they will not know that some vivid memory they have is not real.
- Need to Help Others. People feel a need to help others – which is a great human attribute and helps build a wonderful world. But at times, this need can cloud good judgment and the desire for truth. By embracing a God and supporting His religion, many believe they are helping others. The are helping by save others from eternal damnation. The are helping to feed the hungry by praying to God. They loose their will to be reasonable in the same way a hero does when he or she charges into a burning building, collapsing mine shaft, or toxic environment to save a child. It’s understandable why a person is happier knowing they can save the world with their God and a prayer instead of having to face the realities.
- Fortune Telling. For thousands of years, fortune tellers have been around making a living off telling people what they want to hear. Using ambiguous statements, deflecting blame, leading questions, and many other mental tricks, they are able to convince gullible people of their supposed abilities. These same tricks are used by our religious leaders and work well on many people. If there was a real ability to tell fortunes, we could never have something like a Stock Market. Fortune tellers would wipe it out. But because fortune tellers charge money for their service, we know they don’t have any supernatural abilities to predict fortunes.
- Priming. When you are in a good mood, you are more likely to say “yes”. Salesmen know this. Spouses know this. Children know this. Religious leaders know this. Our mood clouds our judgment, or at least it affects is. If we are in a bad mood, we will be more likely to say no to something. Should mood play a roll in judgment? In the courtroom no. When making life-or-death decisions, no. In most cases it should not, but it does. That is so many religions go out of their way to get people in a good mood before asking them to believe.
- Autosuggestion and Hypnotism. Hypnotism is one huge mind trick. It essentially bypasses the conscious mind and plants ideas into people’s heads much like subliminal advertising. By weaving certain things into conversations that you don’t notice going in and which direct your thought process, your mind embraces new ideas. These are called ‘suggestions’ and these suggestions are very powerful and versatile ways to get people to do things they would not normally do. Religious services can be very hypnotic.
- Associations. Like Pavlov’s dog, our minds can easily be made to associate one thing with another. This helps us make quick decisions, and these gut feelings are an invaluable part of life. But when other manipulate our associations, or we ourselves begin to associate good emotions with bad ideas, we can end up tolerating bad ideas. In church music can create a Pavlovian response. Priests,evangelists, and ministers know this. Say something wise, get a halleluiah!. Praise God, get a halleluiah!. Mention a great deed, get a halleluiah!. Soon all one needs to do is hear halleluiah!, and most any action will feel good, even it it normally would make you uncomfortable.
These silly mind tricks may be a normal part of life, but to many people, they are troubling. We like to believe we know what is going on, have good judgment, and clear thinking. These mind tricks are often associated with serious mental disorders such as schizophrenia. So we tend not to discuss these experiences, and for people who believe in Gods, demons, angels, life-after-death, and the supernatural, they are a personal religious experience. For religious leaders who believe God speaks to them, these are a part of their conduit to the heavens. It is easier to dismiss them as evidence of God instead of admitting such embarrassing mistakes.
Take the time to learn about how your sill mind works. They are fascinating. And when you do, you will learn why God does exist – in people’s minds. We created God and these silly mind tricks make so many feel certain God is real. He is really in their mind, and Why Adam and Eve Created God will show you how He got there.