I’m looking at some interesting data. Those on the political left are more likely to believe in the paranormal than conservatives. There is a deeper story to this.
So why do members of the political left leave traditional religions and pick up the belief in Ghosts, ESP, Astrology, UFOs, talking with the dead, Psychics, etc?
A 2005 Gallup Poll found that 42% of Liberals believe in ghosts and only 25% of Conservatives believe in ghosts. The numbers are similar for a range of paranormal beliefs.
Is there a tradeoff here between traditional religion and New Age beliefs? I’m sure we’ve all met New Age twits who say they aren’t religious, they’re spiritual. So do Post-Christian New Age nuts just substitute Christianity with UFOs and ESP?
Apparently no. They are still Christians who also believe in astrology, ESP, and UFOs. These polls are showing that roughly 90% of the public believes in God and traditional tenets of Christian faith (like Jesus’ birth and resurrection, souls, Heaven, etc).
This Harris Pollin 2003 found similar results.
Belief in God –
Republicans 93%, Democrats 90%, Independents 87%
Belief in Astrology –
Republicans 19%, Democrats 40%, Independents 29%
The slight difference in traditional Christian beliefs doesn’t acount for the change like I thought.
Women most strongly believe in traditional religion and paranormal beliefs. Men are more skeptical in general. Perhaps this helps explain the correlation?
It gets more intriguing the deeper you look. As expected, less educated people have higher levels of religious belief, but they are not the ones who believe in paranormal nonsense. Education increases belief in the paranormal. The Skeptics of the world became depressed when they found this out.
Higher Education does not lead to abandoning anti-scientific beliefs.
Contrary to researchers’ expectations, a poll of 439 college students found seniors and grad students were more likely than freshmen to believe in haunted houses, psychics, telepathy, channeling and a host of other questionable ideas.
While 23 percent of college freshmen expressed a general belief in paranormal concepts—from astrology to communicating with the dead—31 percent of seniors did so and the figure jumped to 34 percent among graduate students.
“As people attain higher college-education levels, the likelihood of believing in paranormal dimensions increases,” Farha and Steward write.
Poll data is here. It is compared to Gallup’s survey of the general population. College students are less inclined to disbelieve superstitions and paranormal beliefs. I’d like to see a greater breakdown. I imagine that very stupid beliefs are strongly concentrated in English Departments, while Engineering students are more skeptical.
While it is always fashionable to make fun of right-wing Christians, I think we should point out that the left-wing has truly absurd beliefs of its own.
Perhaps traditional religion helps science. Paranormal beliefs are a psuedoscience more than a religion. Religion, if properly used, is metaphysical and shouldn’t interfere with science to the same degree.
More importantly, there are religious and psuedoscientific beliefs about social-science that are very damaging to society. This includes Left-wing beliefs like viewing the mind as a “blank slate” or the belief in the noble savage. It also crosses into economic and political nonsense that is actually dangerous and deadly.
But who the hell knows.