ISBN-10:
0814791352
ISBN-13:
9780814791356
Pub. Date:
01/05/2011
Publisher:
New York University Press
Paranormal America: Ghost Encounters, UFO Sightings, Bigfoot Hunts, and Other Curiosities in Religion and Culture

Paranormal America: Ghost Encounters, UFO Sightings, Bigfoot Hunts, and Other Curiosities in Religion and Culture

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Overview

A significant number of Americans spend their weekends at UFO conventions hearing whispers of government cover-ups, at New Age gatherings learning the keys to enlightenment, or ambling around historical downtowns learning about resident ghosts in tourist-targeted “ghost walks”. They have been fed a steady diet of fictional shows with paranormal themes such as The X-Files , Supernatural , and Medium , shows that may seek to simply entertain, but also serve to disseminate paranormal beliefs. The public hunger for the paranormal seems insatiable.

Paranormal America provides the definitive portrait of Americans who believe in or have experienced such phenomena as ghosts, Bigfoot, UFOs, psychic phenomena, astrology, and the power of mediums. However, unlike many books on the paranormal, this volume does not focus on proving or disproving the paranormal, but rather on understanding the people who believe and how those beliefs shape their lives.

Drawing on the Baylor Religion Survey—a multi-year national random sample of American religious values, practices, and behaviors—as well as extensive fieldwork including joining hunts for Bigfoot and spending the night in a haunted house, authors Christopher Bader, F. Carson Mencken, and Joseph Baker shed light on what the various types of paranormal experiences, beliefs, and activities claimed by Americans are; whether holding an unconventional belief, such as believing in Bigfoot, means that one is unconventional in other attitudes and behaviors; who has such experiences and beliefs and how they differ from other Americans; and if we can expect major religions to emerge from the paranormal.

Brimming with engaging personal stories and provocative findings, Paranormal America is an entertaining yet authoritative look at a growing segment of American religious culture.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780814791356
Publisher: New York University Press
Publication date: 01/05/2011
Edition description: Older Edition
Pages: 272
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Christopher D. Bader is Professor of Sociology at Chapman University and affiliated with the Institute for Religion, Economics and Culture (IRES). He is Associate Director of the Association of Religion Data Archives (www.theARDA.com) and principal investigator on the Chapman University Survey of American Fears, as well as coauthor of Paranormal America: Ghost Encounters, UFO Sightings, Bigfoot Hunts, and Other Curiosities in Religion and Culture , second edition (also available from NYU Press).

F. Carson Mencken is Professor and department chair of Sociology at Baylor University.

Joseph O. Baker is Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at East Tennessee State University and a senior research associate for the Association of Religion Data Archives.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii

1 The House of 150 Ghosts 1

2 The Truth Is Within 20

3 The Truth Is Out There: Paranormal Beliefs and Experiences 46

4 Round Trip to Hell in a Flying Saucer? 76

5 Paranormal Subcultures 100

6 Paranormal People 129

7 Darkness and Light 158

8 Out on a Limb 189

Appendix 203

Notes 215

References 237

Index 255

About the Authors 264

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

“It is accessible to any reader with an interest in the convergence of paranormal beliefs and religion. The thought-provoking narrative will not disappoint experts on the topic. Highly recommended”

-Library Journal,

“The authors convincingly show that believing in flying saucers or some other paranormal subject—Bigfoot, ghosts, astrology, psychics—is not fringe at all. More than two-thirds of Americans accept the reality of at least one such phenomenon.”

-The Washington Post,

“What makes Paranormal America a fun read is that one would assume scientists would poke more fun at people who study paranormal activity. Instead, they blend skepticism with data and great details that leave readers with a sense of balance.”

-Austin American-Statesman Blog,

"This is an interesting study which is likely to be referred to by sociologists for some considerable time to come, and no doubt put to various, sometimes mutually contradictory, uses."-The Magonia Review of Books,

Paranormal America is an authoritative but extremely readable analysis of an important but often ignored subculture. This fine book explains how many people seek personally-relevant meaning in a chaotic and often alienating world. In these pages we learn much not only about believers in ESP, Bigfoot, and astrology, but also about the general ways in which all human minds make sense of our perplexing position in the universe.”
-William Bainbridge,author of Across the Secular Abyss: From Faith to Wisdom

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