A halloween prank from CNN maybe?
According to a poll mentioned on Countdown last night, more Americans believe in ghosts (34%) than believe in Bush’s ability to lead (31%). And I’d say the believers in ghosts are taking a more evidence-based approach. After all, at least there are some unexplained phenomena that you could attribute to ghosts, if you so desired. There are no observations that could be attributed to Bush’s ability to lead
Looks like a letter to the editor of This Old House will be in order.
I once dated a woman who said she was an atheist but also believed in ghosts. Parapsychology and the like are an escape hatch from rationalism for some who have managed to resist the fables of traditional faith. Several of my agnostic, highly educated relatives believe in the efficacy of “good thoughts” (i.e. nontheist prayer), psychic intuition, “energies” from alt medicine etc. They justify these notions as features of the real world that science has simply so far failed to understand. And as long as the dualistic concept of the soul persists (probably forever, regardless of scientific advances), then there will be belief in ghosts, astral projection, spirit communication, and the afterlife.
This is not unique to the United States. Many like to think of Europe as a more rational and mature society when it comes to woolly superstition because they have far lower church attendance and God-belief than we do in the US. But a look at the polls shows that they are as least as steeped in New Age, occult, and pseudoscience woo as we are. Dawkins and other British skeptics and rationalists have lamented this state of affairs.
This is a slightly unrelated topic, but I am very glad that some scientists, while not exactly taking stories of ghosts and other paranormal stuff seriously, at least take a serious look to see if there’s something there.
Not because it will convince the true believers, but because it expands our knowledge. I think we know a lot more about infrasound that we would have had nobody bothered to investigate so-called haunted buildings. And you never know, if someone ever works out what ball lightning actually is, it might be a step on the way to practical fusion power.
Far fetched, perhaps. But I’m all for scientific investigation.
An interesting thing about that AP poll is that people with a college education were more likely to believe in ESP than those with less education. I’m guessing that this is actually due to an inverse correlation between religious belief and belief in ESP.
(cross-commented at Respectful Insolence)
You’re making the common error that CNN is a news site. They stopped being a news site/channel about 7 years ago, and have been steadily getting worse and worse as an entertainment site.
I equate them with The Learning Channel in quality (you know, the channel that shows “documentaries” with names like “The Ghosts of English Castles”).
This whole “where have all the news sites gone” conundrum has been bothering me for awhile now. Is there anyway to MAKE our news stations start reporting news again? A lawsuit for false advertising perhaps, claiming that these stations cause damage when the claim to be news networks but are really some sort of “infotainment”?
News doesn’t sell. They have to make up for it with ads and eyeballs. Britney brings in a lot more traffic than discussions of the subtleties of climate change.
How long I must have been away…
Of course here in South Africa, the main broadcast news channels are government owned and (indirectly) run. Many journalists have pointed out problems with this especially since news stories have more and more frequently been watered down. But, no plans to make it private/independent. There are a couple of newspapers here that are brutal in their investigations and reporting, especially when it comes to government employees/ politicians.
News doesn’t sell. They have to make up for it with ads and eyeballs.1045 Britney brings in a lot more traffic than discussions of the subtleties of climate change.