This article about the halting of land development in Scotland because of “fairies” under a rock is illustrative. When comparing nations in regards to belief in the paranormal we often assume that “modernity” and education have banished magical thinking. I don’t believe it is so, rather, magic is still there, ready to surface when given an opportunity. Many would commend Europeans on their acceptance of evolutionary theory, but it is important to note that surveys of public opinion on the other side of the Atlantic suggest a folk far more demon-haunted imagination than one might suppose (search within the PDF linked above for “astrology”). I have noted before that cognitive anthropologists have long posited that our mental biases are synthesized in a fashion so that we are predisposed to see ghosts, believe in supernatural gods and the existence of an afterlife. The difference with Creationism in the United States is that a strong streak of intellectual populism taking strength from organized evangelical Protestantism has rejected the elite counterintuitional consensus (in this case derived from established science), and has generated a counter-paradigm which strongly appeals to preexistent intuitions. This is why I suspect that the fight against Creationism in the United States is going to be the work of generations, the counter-paradigm is evolved toward being intelligible because of the cards evolution has dealt. In contrast, moving beyond a belief in evolution (i.e., simple acceptance of the legitimacy of scientific specialists) to understanding the process requires mental output, putting evolutionary theory at a psychological disadvantage in a world where time and energy are finite. This may explain the obfuscation I have observed amongst the new Creationists, the more technical they can make the discourse the greater skepticism they can engender in the public until finally they simply accept their intuitions as the default option, which strongly biases them towards Intelligent Design or one of its iterations.1
1 – Humans possibly possess an agency detection mechanism, so any design based theory starts out with an advantage since design intuitively implies agency (The Blind Watchmaker explains why design does not necessitate agency, but most people have neither the time nor inclination to read 400 pages of exposition that will throw cold water on their ‘common sense’).