Page 21 - The 'X' Chronicles Newspaper - August 2019
P. 21

Monsters, Ghosts and Gods                                                                                21





              Monsters, Ghosts and                       in the Review of Religious Research, shows that promotional coverage of the paranormal, both
                                                         those who go to church "are much less likely to on the Internet and  TV, perpetuate myths and
             Gods: Why We Believe                        consult horoscopes, visit psychics, purchase folklore as well or better than any ancient

                                                         New  Age items," and so on, Mencken said. storyteller. Fiction and belief masquerade as fact
                                                         "However, among those Christians who do not and news, feeding the 24/7 appetite of the easily
                  Continued from Page 20                 attend church, there is a much higher level of swayed.
                                                         participation in these phenomena."                     Scientists are left with an impossible
                                                                                                         task: proving something does not exist. You can
          "I believe that New Orleans had a level of sin Educated to believe                             prove a rock is there.  You can't prove that
          that was offensive to God, and they are — were                                                 Bigfoot or a ghost or the god of thunder is not
          recipients of the judgment of God for that," Profiling the typical Bigfoot believer turns out to  there. Bigfoot paraphernalia purveyors and
          Hagee said at the time, reiterating the belief in be as challenging as determining the scientific  cash-cow psychics know this well.
          2006.                                          methodology of a psychic, however.                     "Many paranormalists claim that their
                 That might lead one to assume religion          "Perhaps    amazingly,    [paranormal   powers only work sometimes, or that they don't
          and paranormal beliefs are intertwined.        beliefs] are not related at all to education," Stark  work if there is a 'non-believer' in the room,"
                 But in a 2004 survey, at the researchers said. "Ph.D.s are as likely as high school     Cronk points out.
          at Baylor found just the opposite.             dropouts to believe in Bigfoot, Loch Ness              Or, in the case of the unsupportive DNA
                 "Paranormal beliefs are very strongly Monster, ghosts, etc."                            testing on Bigfoot last week, the top proponent,
          negatively related to religious belief," study         The 2006 study of college students, done  Tom Biscardi (who recently produced a film
          team member Rod Stark said this week.          by Bryan Farha at Oklahoma City University      about Bigfoot and might be said to have an
                 Another study, of 391 U.S. college and Gary Steward Jr. of the University of            interest in garnering press coverage), simply
          students done in 2000, found that participants Central Oklahoma, reached a similar             dodged the mythbusting bullet by claiming the
          who did not believe in Protestant doctrine were conclusion. Belief in the paranormal — from    DNA samples might have been contaminated.
          most likely to believe in reincarnation, contact astrology to communicating with the dead —           Money motivates even the law to look
          with the dead, UFOs, telepathy, prophecy, increases during college, rising from 23 percent     the other way.
          psychokinesis, or healing. Believers were the among freshmen to 31 percent in seniors and 34          Regarding the chupacabra "sighting" last
          least likely to buy into the paranormal. "This percent among graduate students.                week in Cuero,  Texas: "It's amazing," said
          may partly reflect opinions of Christians in the       Bader, the sociologist at Baylor, and his  Zavesky, DeWitt County sheriff. "We still don't
          samples who take biblical sanctions against colleagues teamed up with the Gallup               know what it is."
          many 'paranormal' activities seriously," the organization to conduct a national survey of             Of course his county, specifically the
          Wheaton College researchers wrote.             1,721 people in 2005 and found nearly 30        town of Cuero, has been dubbed the Chupacabra
                  Cronk, the psychologist, did a small percent think it is possible to influence the     Capital of the  World and benefits by monster
          survey of 80 college students and found no physical world through the mind alone (another      tourism.
          connection between religiosity and paranormal 30 percent were undecided on that point). More          So while a sheriff might well be
          belief.                                        than 20 percent figure it's possible to         concerned if he thinks there's a goat-sucking,
                 But a 2002 study in Canada did find a communicate with the dead. Nearly 40 percent      menace in town, Zavesky is in no hurry to catch
          correlation between religious beliefs and believe in haunted houses.                           the beast and debunk the myth. "It has brought a
          paranormal beliefs, Cronk notes. He figures that       Asked if "creatures such as Bigfoot and  lot of attention to us," he said. "We're not near
          among other explanations, Canadians may not the Loch Ness Monster will one day be              ready to put this one to bed yet."
          have the same belief systems as U.S. residents.  discovered by science," 18.8 percent agreed
                 "My guess is that religiosity has a lot to while 25.9 percent were undecided.           About the Author:
          do with how you were raised, and less to do with       In a remote Himalayan village, on the          Rob was a writer and editor at
          genetics," Cronk said. "Those people who may other hand, belief in Bigfoot's cousin, the yeti, is  Space.com starting in 1999. He served as
          have a high genetic susceptibility to 'faith-based seen by some as a sign of ignorance.        managing editor of Live Science at its launch in
          knowledge' may end up being highly religious or        The 2006 study of college students, done  2004. He is now Chief Content Officer
          may end up having belief in the paranormal by Bryan Farha at Oklahoma City University          overseeing media properties for the sites’ parent
          depending on how they were raised.  Those and Gary Steward Jr. of the University of            company, Purch. Prior to joining the company,
          people less susceptible to that method of Central Oklahoma, reached a similar                  Rob was an editor at The Star-Ledger in New
          forming beliefs may still end up being highly conclusion. Belief in the paranormal — from      Jersey, and in 1998 he was founder and editor of
          religious if they were raised in a religious astrology to communicating with the dead —        the science news website ExploreZone. He has a
          family."                                       increases during college, rising from 23 percent  journalism degree from Humboldt State
                                                         among freshmen to 31 percent in seniors and 34  University in California. []
          Religion vs. paranormal                        percent among graduate students.
                                                                 Bader, the sociologist at Baylor, and his
          Mencken, the Baylor sociologist, says sacrifice  colleagues teamed up with the Gallup
          and stigma (for holding ideas outside the group  organization to conduct a national survey of
          norm) keep the paranormal at bay among the     1,721 people in 2005 and found nearly 30
          highly religious. He has two papers forthcoming  percent think it is possible to influence the
          that are based on a national survey of 1,700   physical world through the mind alone (another
          people.                                        30 percent were undecided on that point). More
                 The first, to be published in the journal  than 20 percent figure it's possible to
          Sociology of Religion in 2009, reveals this:   communicate with the dead. Nearly 40 percent
                 "Among Christians, those who attend     believe in haunted houses.
          church very often (and are exposed to stigma           Asked if "creatures such as Bigfoot and
          and sacrifice within their congregations) are  the Loch Ness Monster will one day be
          least likely to believe in the paranormal,"    discovered by science," 18.8 percent agreed
          Mencken told LiveScience. "Conversely, those   while 25.9 percent were undecided.
          Christians who do not attend church very often         In a remote Himalayan village, on the
          (maybe once or twice a year) are the most likely  other hand, belief in Bigfoot's cousin, the yeti, is
          to hold paranormal beliefs."                   seen by some as a sign of ignorance.
                 A third group, which he calls naturalists,
          do not hold supernatural views, Christian or Media madness
          paranormal.
                 Another study to published in December Today's ubiquitous and often one-sided,
   16   17   18   19   20   21   22   23   24   25   26