75% of Americans follow paranormal activity


10:38 am - August 21st 2010

by Newswire    


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About three in four Americans profess at least one paranormal belief, according to a recent Gallup survey. The most popular is extrasensory perception (ESP), mentioned by 41%, followed closely by belief in haunted houses (37%). The full list of items includes:

Believe in

%

Extrasensory perception, or ESP

41

That houses can be haunted

37

Ghosts/that spirits of dead people can come back in certain places/situations

32

Telepathy/communication between minds without using traditional senses

31

Clairvoyance/the power of the mind to know the past and predict the future

26

Astrology, or that the position of the stars and planets can affect people's lives

25

That people can communicate mentally with someone who has died

21

Witches

21

Reincarnation, that is, the rebirth of the soul in a new body after death

20

Channeling/allowing a 'spirit-being' to temporarily assume control of body

9

* * * * * *

A special analysis of the data shows that 73% of Americans believe in at least one of the 10 items listed above, while 27% believe in none of them.

A Gallup survey in 2001 provided similar results — 76% professed belief in at least one of the 10 items.

Number of paranormal items people believe in

Percent

Cumulative percent

10

1%

1%

9

2

3

8

3

6

7

3

9

6

6

15

5

7

22

4

10

32

3

11

43

2

14

57

1

16

73

None

27

100

More at the Gallup website

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Reader comments


I’m always leery of these “Dumb Americans believe dipshit concept (x)” polls. The United States isn’t a nation of intellectual titans, but neither is Britain, or anywhere else for that matter.

Mind you, here’s one poll of Yankee attitudes that British lefties would do well to note – one fourth of Democrats believe that Jesus will return to Earth within their lifetimes. http://tinyurl.com/2cfhlye

That should be a good kick in the balls for the idea that the Dems are a party of rationalism and enlightenment, as opposed to the provably insane Republicans. It’s a lesson that people hoping that the present US government will be a vast improvement on the previous one should learn early and learn well.

Sorry, but ‘witches’ aren’t a paranormal item. They’re people, and they definitely exist. So believing in them (or not) is a bit silly.

Believing in their professed powers is, of course, another matter entirely.

That the vast majority of people – in any country – are irrational comes as no surprise, though. Still, never mind. Zombie Jesus will save us all.

No one is rational. You just have to look carefully enough at their beliefs. And some things are irrational to believe on the evidence, but rational to believe on the outcomes such beliefs can produce, and vice versa. Irrationality is often underrated.

4. Cynical/Realist?

And this has what to do with what? Appart from a traditional chance to have a giggle at Americans? If this poll was on any other country in the world you wouldn’t have touched it, but then its not racist to point and laught at Americans is it. If I’m wrong I look forward to your piece on ‘stupid’ religious/paranormal views from around the world so we can have a good giggle at all those less rational than us.

I’m pretty damn sure that you would get similar results from a UK poll too. How many of us reading this can truly say we absolutly, positively don’t believe in any thing paranormal? Even if we do suspect anything we do is just ‘normal’ stuff we haven’t properly explained.

I hope mocking others oin their irrationallity makes you feel better next time you hear a bump in the night!

5. Cynical/Realist?

@2 – I suspect the ‘witches’ the poll is alluding to is more the ‘hubble bubble’ variety than that bedded in reality!

6. TuringMachine

@ 3 “No one is rational. You just have to look carefully enough at their beliefs”

That’s a pretty bold statement. Can you prove it? Of course you can’t. Can you present any evidence to support it? I doubt it, but you’re welcome to try.

“And some things are irrational to believe on the evidence, but rational to believe on the outcomes such beliefs can produce, and vice versa.”

Really? Go on, provide a few examples to back that up.

I’d just like to echo Nick’s comment (#3). This poll might provide a giggle and a mild sense of superiority to those ignorant of their own irrationality, but aside from that it’s just background noise.

#6 TurningMachine. Track down and read Gregory Bateson’s lecture “Pathologies of Epistemology” (it’s in his collected works, ‘Steps to an Ecology of Mind’) for a discussion of the basic irrationality of the human mind. Unless you’re completely denying the existence of unconscious drives, then it’s just a nonsense to suggest any human can be a completely rational being.

9. TuringMachine

@8 so no evidence, at all, then? That’s what I thought.

@9 Such abrupt dismissiveness! The fact is, I don’t consider the comments section of a blog I occasionally visit to be an appropriate forum for an academic discussion of epistemology, which is what your demand for proof would require. I stated my opinion and suggested some further reading if you wished to follow it up. If you want to close your mind to the possibility that my position has some validity merely because I don’t ask “how high” when you shout “jump”, then you are pretty much demonstrating the point yourself. Have a pleasant weekend.

11. TuringMachine

@10 ” If you want to close your mind to the possibility that my position has some validity merely because I don’t ask “how high” when you shout “jump”, then you are pretty much demonstrating the point yourself.”

Ah, the “closed mind” argument. Now I see the problem; I’m not challenging the statement that “no one is rational” on the basis that:

a. You haven’t produced any proof (neither has Nick who originally made it)
b. You haven’t produced any evidence to support it
c. The reference you quote also doesn’t do either of the above

It’s because I’ve closed my mind. I understand.

So, have the aliens abducted you again recently, or has that problem cleared up?

IMO almost anything is credible of a nation with a democratic constitution which could elect George W Bush as its President for two terms.

Great American literature and movies have portrayed a variety of closely modelled, credible character types based on observation. I have in mind Elmer Gantry, Citizen Kane, the Flim Flam Man and the Grifters as well as the characters inhabiting such movies as Martin Scorsese’s The Gangs of New York and Goodfellas or Francis Coppola’s The Godfather Trilogy.

Anyone for Snake Oil?

@11 Yes, the aliens have abducted me again. That must be what it is. Well done you.

14. TuringMachine

@13 While you’re on the Mother Ship, maybe you could ask them to give you a crash course in scientific method and/or mathematical logic. It might clear up that problem you have with making unsupported statements then sulking when someone asks you to justify them.

Just a suggestion.

@14 I don’t need to. I’m a qualified psychoanalyst and currently preparing a PhD in collective psychodynamics and the philosophy of mind. I’m pretty comfortable with my level of knowledge on this subject, thankyou.

That I choose not to engage in an in-depth exposition of the topic on a blog is simply down to my belief that this is an inappropriate forum for such a discussion and that the time and effort I would have to expend trying to communicate my position here isn’t worthwhile, especially given the abrupt and aggressive manner in which you chose to demand “proof”. Your initial statements did not suggest a willingness to engage in an open debate, but rather a desire for someone to say something you disagreed with so you could twist and debunk it. I offered a place to read about it, because I have an intense dislike of the sort of attitude that asks “Can you prove it?” and then immediately assumes the answer, “of course you can’t”.

That’s what I meant about a closed mind. The implied statement is that “of course you can’t because I already know everything there is to be said on this subject”… a profoundly irrational position given that I don’t know a fraction of what’s to be said on this subject and I’ve been researching the topics of rationality, psychosis and epistemology for the best part of 6 years now.

It’s worth pointing out, however, that my statement about the essential irrationality of the human mind was not speculation about aliens or ghosts or God, but about the fallibility of the sense data we receive about the world, the epistemologies we then build upon that data and the inherited and unexamined assumptions we absorb while our mind is developing. The Adelbert Ames experiments demonstrated clearly that our senses can be, and are regularly, ‘tricked’ into misperceiving the outside world by a variety of interpersonal and environmental factors. Furthermore, it is pretty uncontroversial to suggest that we base our beliefs partly upon those misperceptions.

But as I say, this isn’t the right medium to discuss this… perhaps a short lecture series might suffice. There’s a possibility I might be giving one at some point next year and you are welcome to come to Dublin to attend if you so with.

Before you do that, however, you might want to look into taking a course in social interaction. Your snide sarcasm towards a stranger who merely chose to express an opinion is really quite unpleasant.

Just a suggestion.

Going slightly OT, I read an article several years ago (be buggered if I can find it on the internet) about peasants and the notion that they acted in a non-rational way – choosing to pray for good crops rather than applying good husbandry such as fertilization. The conclusion of the writer was that the peasants were, in fact, acting in a rational way, because of the consequences of acting otherwise (attempting to change god’s will) would have been dire.
The conclusion:- the term ‘rationality’, when applied to behaviour, was as helpful as the notion of ‘good’/’bad’ within a cultural context.

#16 Indeed. It’s not unlike David Kidner’s discussion (in ‘Nature and Psyche’) of some of the various taboos in pre-literate cultures. He talks about certain African nomadic tribes who have a strict taboo against the feeding of animal remains to their herbivorous herd animals.

“For example, the taboo — which would not until recently have been regarded as having any rational basis — would very likely have prevented the BSE crisis in Britain during the 1990s. In some situations, then, the attentiveness to associations exhibited by Mednick’s “high risk” group might be a positive advantage, allowing insights and awareness that are more than rational, and that may integrate the individual into social and ecological context”. (p.72)

There are numerous other examples in the book.

And it’s not a million miles away from the problem I have with Richard Dawkins and his approach to the issue of religious belief. When Dawkins tells a religious person that their faith is “superstitious nonsense”, he is not merely saying “your beliefs are wrong” (itself a very difficult thing to convince a person). He is also, on an unconscious level telling that person “your parents are fools and liars”. In the vast majority of cases, such a claim coming from a stranger will provoke a hostile response. We may view that response as “irrational”, but to expect a human being to accept an attack upon their family without hostility is itself an irrational expectation.

5 – probably, but the poll doesn’t make it clear at all. Even the “hubble bubble” types are recorded fact, anyway – 17th century criminal records make fantastic reading.

I just like making fun of statistics done badly, I guess.

19. Shatterface

‘@14 I don’t need to. I’m a qualified psychoanalyst and currently preparing a PhD in collective psychodynamics and the philosophy of mind. I’m pretty comfortable with my level of knowledge on this subject, thankyou.’

Those of us who did actual psychology like to point at *psychoanalysts* and laugh.

Psychoanalysis is to psychology what astrology is to astronomy or homeopathy is to medicine.

What’s interesting about that survey is that a belief in reincarnation (which is a key belief in many Eastern religions) is classified as belief in paranormal activity. You wouldn’t expect a core Christian belief (such as Jesus’ resurrection) to be in such a list, so why reincarnation?

21. Shatterface

‘“For example, the taboo — which would not until recently have been regarded as having any rational basis — would very likely have prevented the BSE crisis in Britain during the 1990s. In some situations, then, the attentiveness to associations exhibited by Mednick’s “high risk” group might be a positive advantage, allowing insights and awareness that are more than rational, and that may integrate the individual into social and ecological context”. (p.72)’

That’s not an explanation for the taboo, that’s a post hoc rationalisation about as convincing as the idea circumcision is ‘rational’ because it decreases your chance pod knob-cancer.

22. Shatterface

‘What’s interesting about that survey is that a belief in reincarnation (which is a key belief in many Eastern religions) is classified as belief in paranormal activity. You wouldn’t expect a core Christian belief (such as Jesus’ resurrection) to be in such a list, so why reincarnation?’

Why *isn’t* resurrection on the list? It’s no less ridiculous than any other superstitious belief.

@19 Good for you Shatterface. And those of us who were raised properly like to point at your level of rudeness and shake our heads sadly.

Psychoanalytic theory has a huge amount to offer in understanding the world, particularly in the realm of group psychodynamics. That’s my opinion. I suspect you haven’t actually studied the subject in any depth and are being gratuitously insulting merely because you identify with an opposing faction within academia.

That’s fair enough and I’m sure you sleep soundly. But it displays, in my opinion, a lack of intellectual rigour on your part, along with the aforementioned rudeness. But that seems to be par for the course in online discussions, which is why I tend not to get involved in very many of them any more. The tendency to resort to outright hostility as a first, as opposed to a last, resort is very saddening.

Having spent the early part of my career in engineering, I’m currently engaged in transdisciplinary research (group psychodynamics, ecological science and systems theory) and the petty tribalism one constantly encounters — perfectly illustrated by your unprovoked snide remarks — makes one realise that academia is as much about pointless point-scoring as it is about the search of knowledge. Nonetheless, I consider my work important enough to persevere, despite this nonsense.

See, it’s always seemed to me that we better ourselves when we consult a myriad of perspectives rather than entrench ourselves in one. But hey, that’s just me, and you clearly know better as your ability to point, laugh and name-call have ably demonstrated.

That’s a pretty bold statement. Can you prove it? Of course you can’t. Can you present any evidence to support it? I doubt it, but you’re welcome to try.

How about this…

In this article we argue that self-deception evolved to facilitate interpersonal deception by allowing people to avoid the cues to conscious deception that might reveal deceptive intent. Self-deception has the additional advantages that it eliminates the costly cognitive load that is typically associated with deceiving and it can minimize retribution if the deception is discovered.

This…

In this essay, I have cited a wealth of evidence that biased research interpretation is a common phenomenon, and an overdetermined one, with a variety of intentional, motivational, and purely cognitive determinants.

This…

We find that responses to corrections in mock news articles differ significantly according to subjects’ ideological views. As a result, the corrections fail to reduce misperceptions for the most committed participants. Even worse, they actually strengthen misperceptions among ideological subgroups in several cases.

More where that came from. Try Stuart Sutherland’s Irrationality.

I point at Jim’s rude patronising passive aggressive replies and shake my head sadly.

@22

Resurrection shouldn’t have been included because it is a religious belief, and this survey is about paranormal beliefs. The two are generally considered to be in separate categories, whatever folks like yourself might think about them both being “superstitious”.

Which still leaves the question of why a belief in reincarnation has moved categories.

Hm, I just noticed that the original article is dated June 16 2005. Why is LibCon dredging up a survey from five years ago?

@25 Why is the expectation of a certain level of civility is seen as “passive aggressive” or rude in some way?

Because you yourself are not being civil. That you don’t recognise this, is why I label you as “passive aggressive”.

Hm, I just noticed that the original article is dated June 16 2005. Why is LibCon dredging up a survey from five years ago?

Damn, I didn’t even realise this. In which case I shouldn’t have posted it. I saw it linked from Politico, and assumed it was a recent poll (which else would they link it)… and posted it because I thought the bit about witches and reincarnation was amusing.

I doubt 1 in 4 Britons would believe in reincarnation, though if they did Hindus would be very happy!

@17 Jim Bliss

*And it’s not a million miles away from the problem I have with Richard Dawkins and his approach to the issue of religious belief. When Dawkins tells a religious person that their faith is “superstitious nonsense”, he is not merely saying “your beliefs are wrong” (itself a very difficult thing to convince a person). He is also, on an unconscious level telling that person “your parents are fools and liars”. ”

Unlike you, I actually have a lot of time for Richard Dawkins, and think your characterisation of his approach is not just inaccurate, but simply wrong. From what I have read, and the interviews and TV programmes with Dawkins I have watched, he has seemed unfailingly polite. He has never claimed to have all the answers, whether about evolution or religion, but is often fairly adept (often unintentionally by giving the other party enough rope to hang themselves) at showing up the basic lack of evidence underlying their beliefs.

Of course, some people of faith will be offended by the (often novel) experience of being challenged to justify their superstition of choice. If so… tough! They’ve had a free ride for long enough. The recent programme he did on “Faith Schools” was a case in point.

32. Charlieman

@4. Cynical/Realist?: “And this has what to do with what? Appart from a traditional chance to have a giggle at Americans?”

As others have noted, it is good to be reminded that irrational beliefs are so widely held. We cannot assume that everyone who holds one crackpot belief is unable to form rational decisions about other things.

31
Richard Dawkins may have the ability to smile politely whilst giving offence, I’m not sure that this is a positive characteristic, I suppose that’s a matter of opinion.
And I doubt if people of faith find it novel to be attacked for their beliefs, you’ll find that there is a long history of that behaviour.
But I think you have missed the point completely, ‘irrationality’ comes in many disguises, I happen to think that it is irrational to believe that a number of producers can second guess the demands of millions of consumers spread over thousands of miles and reach a state that is called ‘equilibrium’, whilst ‘the invisible hand’ might be a metaphor, what does it symbolize? We seem to not question it, which is equally irrational.

@33 stevie b

I didn’t say it was novel for them to be attacked, I said it was novel for them to have to justify why they should always be treated with kid gloves. Dawkins is quite happy to defend people believing whatever they want… he just doesn’t see why that should be imposed on anyone else, or why it should be used as an excuse to deny others their rights, or discriminate against them.

Of course irrationality comes in many forms, and if it does no harm for people to believe in the healing power of crystals, the beneficial effects of homeopathy, the invisible hand of the markets, etc, etc…then fair enough. The issues arise where irrational beliefs start to impinge on real life, such as using taxpayers money to fund homeopathy for example, or in support of faith schools teaching creationism as a valid “theory”.

Belief in the paranormal may be something we can laugh off…but it behoves us to be aware and wary of (for example) religious nutters being in control of policy, whether mullahs in Iran, wahhabis in Saudi Arabia, or fundamentalist christians awaiting the rapture in the USA.

As Voltaire put it: “Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.”

34
And you forgot to add, in your list of nutters, those who believe in inferior/superior humans, imagine what they might do if they became responsible for policy. I did say that ‘irrationality’ comes in many disguises, but you are still making reference to tooth fairies and the like.

36. Anirudh Kumar Satsangi

SCIENTIFIC AWARENESS OF REINCARNATION : BASES FOR A NEW UNIVERSAL RELIGION

According to Dr. Granville Dharmawardena of Colombo University reincarnation may be defined as the re-embodiment of an immaterial part of a person after a short or a long interval after death, in a new body whence it proceeds to lead a new life in the new body more or less unconscious of its past existences, but containing within itself the “essence” of the results of its past lives, which experience goes to make up its new character or personality.
In the seventeenth century Rene Descartes divided everything in the universe into two realms as “Res Extensa” (matter) and “Res Cogitans” (mind). Gathering knowledge within the realm of Res Extensa was called Science and the phenomenon of reincarnation got pushed into the other realm Res Cogitans which was not considered suitable for scientific probing. Science developed in the framework of Res Estensa is known as “Classical Science”. Classical science had tremendous material achievements because it helped all round growth of technology which brought about prosperity to mankind. The air of frame work of Classical Science was blown out by Henry Becquerel in 1896 by the discovery of Radioactivity. The discovery of Theory of Relativity by Albert Einstein in early 20th Century gave it further blow. The advent of Quantum Theory and the Uncertainty Principle did the rest. It is significant to note that Einstein’s discovery fall entirely within the frame work of Res Cogitans as it did not involve any experiments or measurements. Gravitation Force Theory of Newton is also an example of such observation and intuition work involving no experiments and measurements.

Modern Science enhanced man’s knowledge surpassing the restrictions imposed by the five senses and took us to hidden areas of nature and profound changes had been introduced in procedures of science. Our ability to understand everything by way of perceptible mental pictures is reduced and it became necessary to imagine models with components which behaved in ways that had no counterparts at all in the world familiar to us. In most cases mechanisms involved in these models not only are imperceptible but also consist of elements that operate in ways never known in the world that we actually experience through sensory inputs.
Modern science tied up the two realms, Res Extensa and Res Cogitans and made us to understand that they are not independent and cannot be completely studied independently. Within the establishment of modern science some of the aspects of nature that did not strictly adhere to the realm of Res Extensa, which were therefore earlier condemned as unbecoming of scientists to talk about have become respectable. Reincarnation falls into this category
Reincarnation is a very old belief and a large fraction of the world population believes it. For example Rene Descartes’ statement “What I have said is sufficient to show clearly enough that the extinction of the mind does not follow from the corruption of the body and also to give men the hope of another life after death” in 1641 confirms his belief in reincarnation. About 20 percent of those in the Western World whose religions shun reincarnation nevertheless believe it. According to opinion polls this percentage is rising.
Lisa Miller, Religion Editor of Newsweek says that Americans are becoming more Hindus. According to 2008 Harris Poll 24% of Americans say they believe in reincarnation
Steven J Rosen writes in The Reincarnation Controversy, Uncovering the Truth in World Religions (New Age Books) that belief in reincarnation allows us to see ourselves as architects of our own future. Rosen raises certain queries,‘ what is it that reincarnates from one body to another? Is it the soul? the mind? the intellect? To understand this we should suggest answer to these questions. We all know that there are four fundamental forces in the universe viz., gravitation force, electromagnetic force, weak nuclear force and strong nuclear force. I have written a paper entitled ‘Gravitation Force is the Ultimate Creator’ and presented it at the 1st International Conference on Revival of Traditional Yoga held in Lonavla Yoga Institute, Lonavla in January 2006. In this paper I have defined soul (individual consciousness), mind and body. According to this every point of action of Gravitational Force Field is individual consciousness or soul, electromagnetic force as the force of mind and weak and strong nuclear force as the gross material force which constitute physical frame of body.
Consciousness is All Intelligent and pervades everywhere. Although all other remaining three forces are also intelligent but they are subordinate to Gravitational Force. THIS DESCRIPTION WILL HELP TO UNDERSTAND ‘WHAT IS IT THAT REINCARNATES FROM ONE BODY TO ANOTHER.
According to Buddhism this is not the supreme atman or soul that ties one life to another, instead it talks about past lives as evolvement of consciousness, emergence of a new personality from the same stream of consciousness.
Reincarnation is not an exclusively Eastern precept. It is contained in some form in almost every major religion and mystical philosophy. Research indicates that it was an accepted doctrine, at least in some quarters, at the time of Christ, and is still an integral part of some sects of the Jewish tradition. The Bible contain no condemnation of the principle of reincarnation, and in fact, when Christ was asked when Elijah would return, he answered that Elijah had returned, referring to John the Baptist.
Sakina Yusuf Khan writes in an article A Night Of Forgiveness published in The Speaking Tree: “It (Shab-e-Barat) is also a festival associated with the dead. It is believed that the souls of the dead are set free on this night to visit their relatives.” What this indicates? This is a belief in reincarnation, of course in subtle body.
Unaccomplished activities of past lives are also one of the causes for reincarnation. Some of us reincarnate to complete the unfinished tasks of previous birth. The is evident from my own story of reincarnation:
“My most Revered Guru of my previous life His Holiness Maharaj Sahab, 3rd Spiritual Head of Radhasoami Faith had revealed this secret to me during trance like state of mine. This was sort of REVELATION.
HE told me, “Tum Sarkar Sahab Ho” (You are Sarkar Sahab). Sarkar Sahab was one of the most beloved disciple of His Holiness Maharj Sahab. Sarkar Sahab later on became Fourth of Spiritual Head Radhasoami Faith.
Since I don’t have any direct realization of it so I can not claim the extent of its correctness. But it seems to be correct. During my previous birth I wanted to sing the song of ‘Infinite’ (Agam Geet yeh gawan chahoon tumhri mauj nihara, mauj hoi to satguru soami karoon supanth vichara) but I could not do so then since I had to leave the mortal frame at a very early age. But through the unbounded Grace and Mercy of my most Revered Guru that desire of my past birth is being fulfilled now.”
I am one the chief expounder and supporter of Gravitation Force Theory of God. This is most scientific and secular theory of God. This is the Theory of Universal Religion. I have given Higher Theory of Everything. Sometimes back I posted this as comments to a blog on:
‘Fighting of the Cause of Allah by Governing a Smart Mathematics Based on Islamic Teology’
By Rohedi of Rohedi Laboratories, Indonesia. Rohedi termed my higher theory of everything more wonderful than which has been developed by Stephen Hawking. Some details are quoted below:
rohedi
@anirudh kumar satsangi
Congratulation you have develop the higher theory of everything more wonderful than which has been developed by Stephen Hawking. Hopefully your some views for being considered for Unified Field Theory are recognized by International Science Community, hence I soon read the fundamental aspect proposed by you.
I have posted my comments to the Blog of Syed K. Mirza on Evolutionary Science vs. Creation Theory, and Intellectual Hypocrisy. Syed Mirza seems to be a very liberal muslim. He responded to my comments as mentioned below.
“Many thanks for your very high thought explanations of God.
You said:
“Hence it can be assumed that the Current of Chaitanya (Consciousness) and Gravitational Wave are the two names of the same Supreme Essence (Seed) which has brought forth the entire creation. Hence it can be assumed that the source of current of consciousness and gravitational wave is the same i.e. God or ultimate creator.
(i) Gravitation Force is the Ultimate Creator, Source of Gravitational Wave is God”
Whatever you call it, God is no living God of any religion. Yes, when I call it “Mother Nature” is the God generated from all Natural forces and Gravitational force is the nucleus of all forces or we can presume that Gravitation is the ultimate guiding principle of this Mother Nature we call it non-living God unlike living personal God of religions. I can not believe any personal God would do so much misery created for its creation. Hence, only non-living natural God can explain everything in the Universe. When we think of any living personal God, things do not ad up!”
I have also discovered the mathematical expression for emotional quotient (E.Q.) and for spiritual quotient (S.Q.).
Austrian Scientist Rudolf Steiner says,
“Just as an age was once ready to receive the Copernican theory of the universe, so is our age ready for the idea of reincarnation to be brought into the general consciousness of humanity”.

I vote for the first commenter, flyingrodent.&his link was interesting too.

Yes;it’s easy to laugh at the “dumb beliefs” of “those weird other people over there”,isn’t it? But how comfortable would this site feel in chuckling over a poll that said: “X per cent of Indian nationals believe in reincarnation” or indeed “90% of Hindus believe in reincarnation &many gods”: it is after all their religion/culture.

But – what of modern, Western people who “persist” in doing this – many being high achievers, not a few not “conventionally” religious. There have been quite a number of people, some who worked for left-wing causes, others whose work/s have been held up as championing the “rational” viewpoint, who have indeed had a “spooky” side, often quite openly.

Examples: Arthur Conan Doyle, literary creator of the first detective to work by scientific methods and forensics – yup, Sherlock Holmes, big hit still with socialists and many others. But Sir Arthur definitely believed in the paranormal (there are hints

even in the detective stories) and, at least later in his life, “went as far as” belief in fairies, to the extent of embarrassingly being taken in once by a rather famous hoax.. And no it wasn’t just bcos his son died in WWI. It was bcos he was Irish, and from a spiritual family. Those sort of ideas are in the Celtic belief system/set. (Look up J. Evans Wentz, “The Fairy Faith In Celtic Countries”.) Belief is part of/contingent on culture. Irish are supposed to believe in fairies! (Just like Icelanders still believe in huldu-folk.) &I’m tempted to say, those that don’t, are a bad representative of their culture!

Americans: They are such a mixed bag of a melting-pot that they believe in many things; many of them modern inventions no older than the late 19thc. or the 1930s. (Rapturism, Dominionism, Scientology.) Gaiman’s novel American Gods isn’t the half of it. If it were, he’d have mentioned the sects I’ve just said – he’s a member of the last! &the fact that most of their beliefs are Christian (offshoots);

not paganism or any other religion.)

(Sorry: meant W(alter) Evans-Wentz above.)

Other examples of spooky lefties/rationalists: Upton Sinclair, biggest hit The Jungle, early piece of consumer advocacy + workers’ rights. (1906). Got interested in paranormal 1920s/30s. Jack London, socialist. (Ever read his The Jacket? Do. It’s on Project Gutenberg.)

Annie Besant – very busy woman! Things she was famous for in her long life were: Theosophist, women’s rights activist, birth control activist, labour activist, politician, writer, orator and fighter for Irish and Indian self-rule; most of this achieved before women had even won the vote in national elections!

She started as a Christian wife of a clergyman; broke up with him; gravitated towards the National Secular Society; became a Marxist; then a Theosophist, finally a (Hindu) Theosophist in India. Have a look at her bio on Wikipedia. Also entry on http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/Wbesant.htm

See? Spooky.. socialists!

Also I’d like to say that I find Jim Bliss’ comments to be possibly the most reasonable and rational here. As for TuringMachine..hmm..you wanna watch yourself..so that you don’t go all “Daisy, Daisy” like HAL, I mean! Your attitude is as babyish as a nursery-rhyming computer. (And if someone tells you the “proof” you crave is in a certain book, why don’t you go away and read it?) Splatterface, you’re as bad..troll babies! Someone above should have pointed this out.

GreenChristian made a good point. Dominant-culture beliefs, such as the “national” religion, or the “invisible hand” of capitalism, are not usually questioned within that culture’s journalism/research. And usually when scrutinized at all they are categorized outside of “fairy tales”. Thing is, when travelling between cultures, one culture’s myth is another’s core belief. Already quoted example of Irish/Celts believing in fairies. They do: hence leprechauns. Cornish have traditional cultural predisposition towards “piskies”. So do Africans believe

(in sth not dissimilar); so do Indonesians. Some people like to theorize this is bcos these peoples in the depth of time past came into contact with an actual smaller race/subspecies of human; like the Flores hobbits. Personally, I believe in other, intersecting dimensions. UFOs are part of the same spectrum of phenomena.

So, Galen10: you for one admit that the “invisible hand of the free market” is an irrational belief, on a par with “crystals”? But most “rational” American Democrats don’t think so; nor do liberals in general. Like I said: belief is contingent upon culture.

Anirudh Kumar Satsangi: you made some very interesting points involving Descartes; but lost me in all that stuff further on: bit long for a blog comment!(I should talk!)

Anyway (sorry this is so “bitty”:it’s done on a mobile phone!)If anyone really wants to read up more on paranormal stuff, they could do worse than visit http://paranormal.about.com ,which positions itself midway between the entertainment and the investigative approach.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Liberal Conspiracy

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  7. ~Jerry~ M.

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  8. Dude

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    RT @dudoleta: NORTH americans RT: @crazywtf: 75% of Americans believe in the paranormal #wtf http://bit.ly/b6a4BN

  10. The Blog for WhyWontGodHealAmputees.com » So very, very sad: 75% of Americans follow paranormal activity

    [...] 75% of Americans follow paranormal activity About three in four Americans profess at least one paranormal belief, according to a recent Gallup survey. The most popular is extrasensory perception (ESP), mentioned by 41%, followed closely by belief in haunted houses (37%). The full list of items includes… [...]

  11. Anonymous

    [...] the minority? Thought it was the opposite. Unless you mean just in the scientific community. 75% of Americans follow paranormal activity | Liberal Conspiracy Whilst the data is hard to interpret, as they lumped anyone who "believes in (At least) one [...]





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