March 28, 2014

Who Believes in the Paranormal?

This will be my last blog post before diving into the A to Z Challenge. In case you missed the announcement last Friday, for this April my theme will be the paranormal, again. I know that surprises no one since it's kind of my thing in my fiction writing. I also have written about the paranormal quite a bit in the nonfiction sense, which has required me to gather primary resource information for my articles, blog posts, etc. In other words, I've spoken with quite a few people who claim to have experienced paranormal phenomena.

When I first started writing about the paranormal, I had no idea it would alienate me from some people, but it did. I've had "friends" essentially tell me that studying the subject is "evil" for any number of reasons, or that it isn't "healthy." Other people have questioned how I can believe in science, since I write about science-based topics regularly (like automotive technology and energy). I've been perplexed at these responses.

Recently, I've been reading through data from Baylor's Religion Surveys and feel validated by the picture painted by the data. As sociologists have pointed out, the American public has an uncomfortable relationship with the paranormal. Different questions in the surveys ask if people believe in any phenomena on a list of several paranormal topics. Most people respond that they believe in two of the items, but it varies which ones. Almost nobody responds that they believe in all of them. Interestingly enough, very few people respond that they believe in none.

People who are well-educated professionals are much more guarded about their belief in the paranormal, because they know that even though most other people believe in it to an extent, the public distrusts anyone who makes a big deal about their belief. I'll be honest, many people I talk to who believe in "everything" paranormal often seem to be rather gullible. I've actually pretty careful about believing anything, because scams and even delusional people abound.

So who believes in the paranormal? Most people do, but to varying degrees. Those beliefs vary dramatically when it comes to the subject. The majority of people would not describe themselves as paranormal "believers" yet they think aliens exist, or that mothers have a sixth sense that helps them protect their children, or that praying or fasting can heal people. All of that falls under the purvey of the paranormal.

We will go down the rabbit hole again this April and explore 26 different paranormal topics. I don't expect anyone to believe in all of them, because quite frankly neither do I. Still, I find studying paranormal topics to be interesting, and if nothing else they make for some interesting topics for my fiction writings.

As an added treat, I wanted to show you all the trailer for a creepy Aussie movie called The Babadook. It showed during Sundance and releases in the U.S. this year.

See you all in April!


Annalisa Crawford said...

I believe, sometimes! I'm naturally cynical, so I feel confident in my ability to weigh up the evidence. Usually, I come round to the logical opinion, but every so often, there's enough 'reasonable doubt' to warrant further research.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

That's a creepy trailer.

I don't believe in everything, but after growing up in a house that was haunted, I do believe in ghosts.

mshatch said...

Ooh, lovely trailer - can't wait to stream it!

My dictionary says that paranormal means "not within the range of normal experience or scientifically explainable phenomena." So, does believing in God or angels or Heaven count as a belief in the paranormal? After all, who has actually seen God? Spoken with angels? Been to Heaven? And yet, people believe, completely.

I'll be looking forward to your posts; I love the paranormal (especially in light of the fact that my current wip includes all three of the above mentioned...).


Robin said...

Interesting stats on how people think about the paranormal. I think that I am more open than others about it, but I certainly don't believe in every myth or belief that exists. I find it most interesting how your writing about the paranormal has caused some of your friends to distance themselves from you. Do they think it is contagious? Very strange.

Now that trailer is scary. I am not sure I could watch that. I might not sleep for days.

VR Barkowski said...

I don't understand how anyone can say he or she doesn't believe in the paranormal. That's akin to saying that scientific knowledge of our existence is whole and complete. Paranormal refers to that which lies beyond what we understand to be normal. And to dismiss something simply because we don't understand is less a point of hubris and more a sign of ignorance. That said, I do believe there is a scientific basis for everything.

Looking forward to your posts.

VR Barkowski

Dianne K. Salerni said...

I suppose it depends on the part of the country you live in. I live in southeast Pennsylvania, where people don't tend to be really religious. I mean, some are, but most of the kids in my class rarely, if ever, attend any kind of church service.

So nobody tells me that my interest in the paranormal is "evil." Some people find my books interesting; others shy away because they are "scary." However, I expected to get religious objections from parents of my students when I published a book about spirit mediums (and armed myself with the defense that the girls are portrayed as frauds), but I never got a single complaint.

Steven said...

Annalisa, out cynicism gives us confidence, doesn't it? I hope it's not a false confidence, though, but that's how I approach things as well.

Diane, living in a haunted house certainly is a mind-opening experience.

Marcy, if the movie is half as good as the trailer, it will be a masterpiece. Good point about religion, but some people take issue with that being labeled as "paranormal."

Robin, I think some people do think writing/thinking about all kinds of paranormal phenomena is a form of social deviancy. Strange, I know...

VR, humans dismiss things they don't understand all the time (even in science). Sad, but true.

Dianne, I'm sure the area where you live makes a huge difference. I'm actually reading a book written by sociologists about that very subject -- such a fascinating read!

randi lee said...

It's amazing really, what some people will alienate you for. Faced some of that after my last book release and ended up having it unpublished.

I'm a believer in the paranormal. Too many unexplained ongoings in the world, to me!