Claude M. Bristol’s 1948 book, The Magic of Believing, introduced audiences to the concept that they could achieve anything they desired simply by believing so strongly that the wish became a reality. Bristol subscribed to philosopher William James’s statement that “Belief creates its verification in fact.” Although skeptical at first, Bristol came to believe that we all summon the magic of believing when we desperately want something to come into being.

When the believer only wants good things for themselves and others, all is well. Bristol warned that the mental technology associated with strong belief and suggestion should be used constructively, not to achieve dominance or negative results.

The darker side of believing became powerfully obvious to me this week. Three incidents were examples of how the magic of believing can go horribly wrong. In each situation, the believer was so thoroughly convinced that what they believed was true, they completely let go of all rational thought and commonsense. They blinded themselves to the truth.

Republican Congressman Todd Akin told a Missouri news station: “First of all, from what I understand from doctors [pregnancy from rape] is really rare... If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

Long an anti-abortionist, regardless of the circumstances, he allowed his hard core belief to take over rational thought. Strong desire allowed him to create a belief that the human body could defy the laws of nature, a scenario that was utterly false and recognized by most humans as absurd. Could a man so capable of deluding himself make a good congressman?

Todd Akin does not stand alone in the mire of believing something that defies the laws of nature. In the film, “The Impostor,” a family in San Antonio, Texas whose son disappeared three years earlier, learned that he had been located in Spain. When he arrived in the United States, the family quickly drew him into their circle, totally accepting that this stranger was their blue-eyed, blonde-haired, outgoing 16-year-old son, brother, cousin. The man, however, was a black-haired, brown-eyed, heavily bearded 24-year-old con man with a French accent. He regaled the family with horror stories about his abduction by military agents who changed his hair and eye color, sexually molested him and kept him enslaved. No one questioned his identity because everyone wanted so strongly to believe that this was their boy, miraculously returned from hell. When the truth came out, they were stunned. After being incarcerated, the impostor brazenly accused the family of killing the missing boy.

The third incident strikes closer to home. When I told a friend at my office that I was attempting to become a vegan (after being a vegetarian for over 20 years), she questioned my abstinence from milk.

“Cows aren’t harmed by milking,” she said.

I told her about the horrors of dairy farms, how the cows are impregnated endlessly and that their babies are taken away from them soon after birth. “Male calves that are taken away from milk producing cows are put into veal crates.”

“I’d never eat veal.” She was indignant.  “A cow doesn’t have to be pregnant or nursing in order to give milk. My uncle has a dairy farm, and they never have babies.”

Stunned and realizing I was making her angry, I waited. After passing the incredulity phase, I sent her a link to an impartial article, http://www.ehow.com/info_8612502_can-make-milk-having-calf.html, which states:

“Cows, similar to other mammals, can produce milk only after giving birth. The cow’s body automatically produces milk to sustain the calf and stops producing once the calf is weaned. Most dairies remove the calves shortly after birth to harvest the milk to sell.”

This short, impersonal statement did not convey the bawling of calves begging for their mothers, the mothers calling for their babies, the growth hormones that are given to the mother to swell her udders and make her produce tons more milk, nor the fact that non-producing cows are sent to the slaughterhouse. It did prove my point.

Once again, a human being had created a belief system that completely bypassed the laws of nature. Guilt, fear of  changing lifelong habits or having to think logically about a nightmare situation caused her to manufacture a magical scenario. Reality was too painful to contemplate. These fabrications, however, do not change the facts.

Women who are raped cannot help it if they get pregnant.

A French con man cannot be the 16-year-old American boy missing for three years.

Cow’s milk is produced with the birth of a calf, not in response to human beings’ perceived need for it.

No matter how hard one might wish or believe it to be otherwise.

Paige Singleton’s novel and diet book, both titled Diary of a Dieting Madhouse, are available at Amazon.

http://amzn.to/O9g4t9 - The Novel

http://amzn.to/Phv1bi - The Diet

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