Paranormal Beliefs Then and Now
I was interested in Harvey Richman and Courtney Bell's essay, "Paranormal Beliefs Then and Now" from the North American Journal of Psychology because I'm researching about paranormal life and I thought that since paranormal life is a subject that has such uncertainty to it (it is not fully accepted in the scientific world that paranormal life exists) I thought that I should find out how much people believe in paranormal life or experienced it.
I'm learning more about paranormal life right now, and in particular what I'm wondering about is: Where do we go in the afterlife? I was researching this question online, and this article caught my attention because it was the first link that came up it was the most recent article written so I thought it was the most up to date.
"Based on data from a variety of sources, Smith (2010) concludes that between 73 and 76 percent of people have at least one paranormal belief that is not based in traditional religious belief'
Citation: Harvey Richman and Courtney Bell, (2012). Paranormal Beliefs Then And Now. North American Journal of Psychology, pages 197-206.
The quote I chose here is basically saying that 73-76% of people have experienced at least one paranormal belief that is not related to religious paranormal life.
I think this is interesting because it shows that many people do believe in paranormal life and take it seriously. It makes me wonder what makes people believe in paranormal life. Is it from movies, books, pop culture, their own experiences or stories from their family. For me, I believe in paranormal life because of movies, my own experiences and partly it gives me a little reassurance that after you die you don't just rot in the dirt, you go somewhere. It's a pleasant thought for me.
Another sentence RIchman wrote that stands out for me is: "Skeptics maintain that there is a costly and sometimes dangerous side to belief in the paranormal. Modern day psychics, like the early spiritualists Houdini so despised, extract large sums of money from grief stricken individuals desperate to make contact with their departed loved ones (Hines, 2003, Smith 2010)" I think this is a strong point here because it shows the other side of believing in paranormal life which is a lot of lies, money and greed. Since paranormal life is such an uncertain topic, many people can fake that they can connect to the dead, and this in return hurts many people. It not only hurts their wallets but it injures their hope and pride and desires to connect with the dead.
A third sentence that I liked was: "In the present research, we addressed two primary questions: (1) Are levels of paranormal belief among young adults declining? and (2) are some beliefs more persistent than others?" This stood out for me because these are 2 very interesting questions that one could think about for hours. To answer question 2, I believe that people who are faithful to some sort of religion are more likely to believe in paranormal life. People who believe purely in facts and nothing else (these kinds of people are usually atheists as well) tend to share the belief that we don't have spirits or souls. To answer question 1, I do believe that younger generations seem to decline in the belief of paranormal life. I think a reason for this could be that there's so much technology always being produced around us and that there's always some sort of scientific explanation for everything that happens in life.
I do agree with RIchman that African Americans have been shown to report higher levels of belief in spiritualism, superstition, and witchcraft (Tobacyk, Miller, Murphy, & Mitchell, 1988)". One reason I say this is because I personally have watched a lot of shows on Discovery Channel about superstitions and paranormal life, and the episodes often are taken to New Orleans where there are many African American residents there. It's part of the New Orleans culture to believe in voo doo magic and connecting with the dead and going to witch doctors to cure your problem. So I would understand why African Americans seem to believe in paranormal life more, simply because it originates from their culture. But I also disagree with some of the things Richman says such as, "How can we help decrease belief in potentially harmful paranormal phenomena such as psychic readings, faith healing, and psychic surgery? Education, and in particular, courses that teach critical and logical thinking skills should be helpful". I disagree that education is the answer to stop paranormal beliefs and I believe that we don't need to stop people from believing in paranormal life. It gives people reassurance of the afterlife.
What I appreciate about this writer's work is he states the facts in a way that is interesting and easy to read. He collects the data and clearly states the results without making it boring. I look forward to seeing what he writes next, because it will help me find out even more on the topic I'm researching of paranormal life. He explains the results of tests and experiments done on the topic of paranormal beliefs that I can read with ease without racking my brain with definitions of words and what not.