Thursday, September 01, 2005

The demon-haunted USA

Just received the new issue of the Skeptical Inquirer. It looks to be a good issue, with nearly everything on the cover seeming interesting (Einstein after 100 years, green tea vs. red wine, obesity: epidemic or myth, etc.) But none of those were the first thing to catch my eye when I flipped open the magazine. That's because I haven't got past the first page, yet. On page 1 is a section summarizing the results of a Gallup poll conducted between June 6th and June 8th. The results are disheartening: 73% of Americans believe in the paranormal (the figure was 76% for the same poll conducted in 2001, however.)

The poll presented participants with a list of ten potential paranormal beliefs. The percentages of people who acknowledged belief in each of these were as follows:

Extrasensory perception - 41%
Haunted houses - 37%
Ghosts - 32%
Telepathy - 31%
Clairvoyance - 26%
Astrology - 25%
Communication with the dead - 21%
Witches - 21%
Reincarnation - 20%
Channeling spiritual entities - 9%

Gallup also polled 3 other potential beliefs which it did not categorize as paranormal (which was defined as requiring the belief that humans have more than five senses):

Psychic healing - 55%
Demonic possesion - 42%
Extraterrestrial visitations - 24%

27% of those polled believed in none of the items.

1 comment:

John Lombard said...

That final statistic is hopeful -- 27% who believe in NONE of it. That is, they don't disbelieve in magic but believe in ESP or something along those ines. So, there's a strong bloc of sensible people.