There would seem to be two salient points to be taken away from Matthew Hutson's explanation of what he calls The Seven Laws of Magical Thinking. First of all you, I, we all engage in some if not all aspects of magical thinking, even those of us who would scream the loudest, "No way!" Second, that it's a good thing. Thus the tome's subtitle: How Irrational Beliefs Keep us Happy, Healthy, and Sane.
Hutson begins by defining magical thinking. "There's a world of the mind, defined by matter and deterministic forces. But we instinctively treat the mind as though it had physical properties. . . . We perceive mind and matter mingling together, working on the same wavelength." Magical thinking is the "mingling of psychological concepts with physical ones." The book that follows is essentially a collection of examples and anecdotes illustrating the author's catalogue of seven different kinds of magical thinking. The illustrations are drawn from history and current events; they are drawn from scientific experimentation and a few are even culled from the world of fiction. Some of the examples are fascinating, some less so; some are convincing, some more of a stretch—but taken as a whole, Hutson makes his points forcefully and with wit.
On the most obvious level he talks about things like the tendency of pet owners to endow their pets with human qualities and the belief that there are objects that can bring us good fortune or bad luck. More controversial, especially to believers, would be the belief in a divine being that can exert control over human affairs or the ascription of emotions and feelings to the human fetus.
Somewhere between extremes, he suggests that the use of metaphoric comparisons like angry sea and raging storm indicate a kind of unconscious ingrained magical thinking. In almost all cases he points to psychological experimentation which supports not only the idea that such magical thinking exists, but that it can in fact have significant positive value. For example, he sites experiments that have demonstrated that people who attribute events to a divine agency are better able to deal with the evils that life throws their way.