Paranormal Beliefs: A Sociological Introduction

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Editorial Reviews

Despite their growing popularity, says Goode (State U. of New York-Stony Brook) finds that paranormal beliefs have not received much attention from sociologists. He says that a paranormal belief system is generated as a result of identifiable cultural, social, and social-psychological forces; is linked with social institutions; and has identifiable consequences. He also suggests that exploring why such beliefs are accepted or rejected can reveal much about social structure and dynamics. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781577660767
  • Publisher: Waveland Press, Inc.
  • Publication date: 9/1/1999
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 310

Table of Contents

Part 1 Introduction 1
Chapter 1 A Sampler of Paranormal Beliefs 5
Chapter 2 What Is Paranormalism? 17
The Popularity of Paranormal Beliefs 23
The Scientific Approach 25
Absolutes versus Probabilities 27
What Is True versus What Scientists Believe 28
Sociologists, Scientists, and Paranormalists 30
A Few Concluding Thoughts 31
Chapter 3 Looking at Paranormalism 33
Four Approaches to Paranormal Beliefs 33
Why Study Pararanormalism? The Culturalist's Answer 40
Views from the Inside, Views from the Outside 44
Part 2 Science and Paranormalism 49
Chapter 4 Paranormal (and Everyday) Versus Scientific Thinking 53
Uncommon versus Common Sense 53
Uniformitarianism versus the Exceptional Case 56
Falsifiability 61
Teleology 64
The Paranormalist's Reply 67
Chapter 5 Paranormalism Critiques Science, Science Replies 69
The Fallibility and Limitations of Science 70
The Scientist's Reply 75
Part 3 Four Types of Paranormal Belief Systems 81
Chapter 6 Astrology and Psychic Powers 87
Psychic Predictions 90
The Forer Effect 93
Astrological Readings 95
Chapter 7 Creationism 99
Scientists Take Issue with Genesis as a Factual Account 103
Are All Evolutionists Atheists? What Do the Polls Say? 106
Do Scientists Believe in God? 107
Epistemology 108
Creationists: A Sociological Portrait 111
What Does Creationism Symbolize? 113
Chapter 8 Parapsychology 117
Is Psi a Paranormal Phenomenon? 121
Practical Applications of Psi 122
Remote Viewing: 1998 125
Research on Psi 127
Parapsychology as a Deviant Science 134
Two Last Points 136
Chapter 9 UFOs Are Real 139
A Very Brief History of UFOs 140
Scientists and the Public Look at UFOs 142
Are UFOs Real? Sociologically, Does It Matter? 144
Why Alien Craft? 146
The Roswell Incident 150
Alien Contact 156
Part 4 Institutional Connections 159
Chapter 10 Correlates of Paranormalism 163
Paranormalism in the Polls: An Introduction 163
Traditional Religious Paranormal Beliefs 165
Non-Religious Paranormal Beliefs 170
Chapter 11 Religion and Paranormalism 177
Parallels between Paranormalism and Religion 179
Correlations 183
A Case Study: Heaven's Gate 186
Chapter 12 Paranormalism in the Media 191
Is Belief in Paranormalism Influenced by the Media? 194
Paranormalism in Film 196
Supermarket Tabloids, Folklore, and Urban Legends 200
Paranormalism in the Media: A Summary 203
Chapter 13 Paranormalism: Politics and Social Movements 205
Conspiracy Theories 207
American Indian Prehistory 214
Creationism 217
Part 5 Conclusions 227
Chapter 14 Why Paranormalism? 229
Diversity 230
Changing the Way We Think? 231
Why Science? 232
The Entertainment Factor 235
Populism 238
Cognitive Biases and Heuristics 239
Compartmentalization 243
Chapter 15 Summary and Conclusion 247
Appendix Personal Accounts 251
Paranormalism: What I Believe 251
Cristal Jimenez 252
Tina Contorno 255
Nadyne Schneider 257
Chris Dlugozima 260
Jennifer Roberts 263
Tae Sop Choe 266
Robert Horn 268
Elisabeth Manners 271
Zaira Luz Serrano 273
Melanie McAllister 275
Soona Kim 277
Elena Pace 279
Nicole Prisco 282
Phil Salamacha 284
Amanda Bowcock 287
References 291
Index 303
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