Paranormal America

February 17th, 2011 § 0 comments

Paranormal America by Baden, Mencken and Baker

Paranormal America

If you think you’re alone in believing there might be something to this tarot, astrology and psychic stuff, you’re wrong.

According to sociologists Christopher Bader, F. Carson Mencken and Joseph Baker, two-thirds of Americans have paranormal beliefs.

To write their new book, Paranormal America, the researchers camped out in haunted houses, joined hunts for Big Foot and dug through the 2005 Baylor Religion Survey to explore who it is that believes in the paranormal, and how it shapes their lives.

What they found was that the average American holds two paranormal beliefs. By that they mean a belief in ghosts, Bigfoot, UFOs, psychic phenomena, astrology, or the ability of mediums to speak with the dead.

alleged UFO Passoria, New Jersey. 31 July 1952

The research suggests that people with no religious beliefs are in the same camp as religious fundamentalists in rejecting the paranormal. For different reasons I expect.

And those who are interested in religion, but don’t attend regular services, have a greater likelihood of believing.

Of the believers, men are more into hunting down Bigfoot or searching the sky for UFOs. Women are attracted to tarot, astrology and psychics.

According to the researchers, for women the paranormal tends to be an opportunity to improve themselves. For men, it’s a chance to capture something, to prove it’s real.

Big Foot

Unmarried people are more likely to have had paranormal experiences than married folk.

And Republicans are less interested in the whole business than are their Democratic and Independent brethren.

Overall, the study finds that the level of conventionality in one’s lifestyle and an individual’s stake in conformity are strong predictors of paranormal beliefs.

Given that two-thirds of Americans are believing in the paranormal, America might not be as conventional as it thinks.

“Statistically, those who report a paranormal belief are not the oddballs,” write Bader, Mencken and Baker. According to them, whether it’s real or not, “the paranormal is the normal.”

I haven’t read the book yet, but I’m looking forward to it.

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