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Believe It Or Not: Religious and Other Paranormal Beliefs in the United States

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Paranormal beliefs are often divided between those that are central to traditional Christian doctrine, such as the belief in heaven and hell, and those that are commonly associated with the supernatural or occult, such as the belief in ESP and psychic healing. This study employs data from a recent nationwide random sample general population survey to catalog the social correlates of paranormal beliefs and to examine the relationships between religious and other paranormal beliefs. The results indicate that standard social background factors do a poor job of accounting for who believes in paranormal phenomena and that the importance of specific background factors changes dramatically from phenomenon to phenomenon. The results also show that the correlations between belief in religious phenomena and other paranormal phenomena are largely insignificant. These findings call into question many prevailing theories about paranormal beliefs.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1468-5906.00163

Affiliations: University of Northern Iowa rice@uni.edu

Publication date: March 1, 2003

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