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Paranormal America: Ghost Encounters, UFO Sightings, Bigfoot Hunts, and Other Curiosities in Religion and Culture Paperback – January 5, 2011

4.5 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

While this [book] showcases an astounding amount of research, [i]t is accessible to any reader with an interest in the convergence of paranormal beliefs and religion... Highly recommended. --Library Journal

"Paranormal America provides an in-depth analysis of beliefs and experiences that lie outside the realm of maintream religion and science, or at least those that exist at their furthest edges, and it will serve as a seminal wok for future research on the paranormal."
-Paul J. Olson,Sociology of Religion



"Entertaining sightseeing in a world that is often trivialized by academics."  -Journal of American History

"Paranormal America presents an array of fascinating data derived from a large-scale survey on areas of human experience that are sorely in need of scholarly attention." -Journal of Religion and Popular Culture

"Paranormal Activity is the ultimate anthology of the educational, religious, sexual, and monetary factors that influence people's perceptions and interests in the parinormal . . . The book deconstructs what would normally be dry and stuffy scientific data into cleverly engaging sections."
-Kyle B. Morton,Fate Magazine



"Sociologists all, Bader and Mencken and Baker have written a solid book on an esoteric topic . . . this is the most authoritative profile this reviewer has encountered on Americans who believe in or who have experienced 'paranormal phenomena'." -S. Krippner, Saybrook University,Choice Magazine



"(The Authors) have used the data from the Baylor Religion Survey, and relevant field work, to provide a demographic profile of paranormal beliefs in the United States . . . The strength of Paranormal Actvivity lies in it's ability to avoid joining the debate on either extreme. Reporting the field work in a straightforward manner, the book allows for the statistics to stay in the forground."
-wordpress.com

“The authors convincingly show that believing in flying saucers or some other paranormal subject―Bigfoot, ghosts, astrology, psychics―is not fringe at all. More than two-thirds of Americans accept the reality of at least one such phenomenon.”

-The Washington Post

Paranormal America is an authoritative but extremely readable analysis of an important but often ignored subculture. This fine book explains how many people seek personally-relevant meaning in a chaotic and often alienating world. In these pages we learn much not only about believers in ESP, Bigfoot, and astrology, but also about the general ways in which all human minds make sense of our perplexing position in the universe.”
-William Bainbridge,author of Across the Secular Abyss: From Faith to Wisdom



"The book provides solid evidence on a number of topics about paranormal belief and practice that have been much debated by social scientists." -Andrew McKinnon,Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion



“What makes Paranormal America a fun read is that one would assume scientists would poke more fun at people who study paranormal activity. Instead, they blend skepticism with data and great details that leave readers with a sense of balance.”

-Austin American-Statesman Blog

“It is accessible to any reader with an interest in the convergence of paranormal beliefs and religion. The thought-provoking narrative will not disappoint experts on the topic. Highly recommended”

-Library Journal

“This is an interesting study which is likely to be referred to by sociologists for some considerable time to come, and no doubt put to various, sometimes mutually contradictory, uses.”-The Magonia Review of Books

About the Author

Christopher D. Bader is an associate professor of sociology at Baylor University. With F. Carson Mencken, he is Principal Investigator on the Baylor Religion Survey Project.



F. Carson Mencken is professor of sociology at Baylor University.



Joseph O. Baker is Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at East Tennessee State University and a senior research associate for the Association of Religion Data Archives. 
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: NYU Press (January 5, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0814791352
  • ISBN-13: 978-0814791356
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #633,475 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By John Guilbault on December 12, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
First I have to make something clear: This is not a book about the paranormal. It's a book about the people who believe in the paranormal. The authors go on ghost and bigfoot hunts, indulge in psychic readings, consult UFO trackers, and refer time and again to a couple of religious surveys. They do not expound on the paranormal itself, merely the people who make these things a part of their lives. Interestingly enough, most of us do just that in one way or another. That's what this book is about.

Considering it's written by a group of sociologists, the book is well-written and easy to digest. These three authors, who had to stick out like sore thumbs everywhere they went, interview dozens of people who have made bigfoot, ghosts, UFO's, psychic phenomenon and extreme religious worship integral parts of their lives. It's a curious mix, and the make up of that mix is what interests the writers. They analyze and dissect (not literally) the people they meet and try to categorize them in different ways. It's an interesting journey, even if the end result is simply to say that almost all of us believe in some sort of paranormal activity, with more joining the movement all the time.

If you are one of those that are deeply involved in the paranormal, you might not find this book very interesting. In fact, despite their best efforts to be politically correct, I think some might take offense at the conclusions derived from their data. But if you're interested in what type of people believe these things, then this is a good read.
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Format: Paperback
This book is a thoroughly engaging and well-written summary of research conducted by a group of sociologists who investigated, not paranormal phenomena, but rather the PEOPLE who BELIEVE in paranormal phenomena. Although the authors themselves are skeptics, they never pass judgment on their subjects. Instead, the researchers carefully and dutifully report, without editorializing, exactly what their subjects say about their paranormal experiences. The authors go along on a ghost hunt, a bigfoot hunt, and have their fortunes told by soothsayers. The stories of these excursions and the people who lead them provide interesting background information which breathes life into the authors' raw data, charts, and statistics. Personally, I don't believe in any paranormal phenomena, so I greatly admire the authors for their ability to complete this work without once rolling their eyes or winking at the camera, so to speak. This is a fun, interesting, and informative book.
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Format: Paperback
This book was great for the skeptic and non skeptic. Especially interesting was the chapter where the author goes to a haunted house with firm believers. They come out believing they have barely escaped with their lives and souls intact. The author, who was open to anything, comes away wondering why he didn't see or feel anything unusual, besides the behavior of the firm believers. It's all in your mind, and belief based on non evidence is quite common. Not a hard stretch when most people in the US believe in God, but troubling as TV shows now push a paranormal view of the world, from UFOs to Bigfoot, as "fact".
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