Finding the Curve: Paranormal Beliefs and Religiosity

Bader, Baker, and Molle recently examined the strange relationship between religious practice and belief in the paranormal. Unlike previous work, these researchers demonstrate a curved relationship between paranormal beliefs and religious practice. Essentially, those who do not practice religion and those who heavily practice religion have low paranormal belief scores. However, those who are moderately invested in religion have high degrees of paranormal beliefs. Their study found this relationship in both America and Italy.

 

The question remains: why would paranormal belief decrease after a moderate degree of religious commitment? Bader and colleagues explain that religious institutions are invested in a central set of beliefs within their church or synagogue. As such, the more members of religious institutions attend, the more they are actively trained to not believe in the paranormal or that the paranormal is evil or wrong in contrast to their religious belief.

 

The take-home message from this research is that while paranormal beliefs tend to be private and self-determined, large amounts of religious practice tend to negate those beliefs or deem them evil.

Submitted by Brian Laythe

Reference:

Bader, C. D., Baker, J. O., & Molle, A. (2012). Countervailing forces: Religiosity and paranormal belief in Italy. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 51(4), 705-720.
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ISRAE Focus on Religion, Spirituality, and The Paranormal

Dear Readers,

For the next few weeks, you will be seeing a theme of Paranormal Facts that emphasizes research conducted on Conventional Religion, Spirituality, Religiosity and Paranormal Belief. Although we study paranormal experiences, part of the paranormal involves belief and often religion.

We want to remind readers that we try to keep a balanced perspective here at ISRAE, and some of the summaries will not have findings that are necessarily positive. When we see obvious bias, we will point it out.

Remember, we just report the research but do not necessarily endorse it. We hope it will perhaps foster a quality conversation among our growing community.

Thank you for your readership and support,

Brian

Help Us With The Paranormal Experience Registry

Ladies and Gentlemen,

If you’ve taken the time to visit our website, you know that we’ve been preparing a comprehensive study of paranormal experiences: The Paranormal Experience Registry. Our goal is to collect thousands of responses from people across the US and UK. As we collect enough responses, we will anonymously post general results so that others who have had paranormal experiences can compare their experience with others.

Our hope is that this will provide some comfort to those who have had negative experiences so that they know they’re not alone.

 

SO, if you are unable to support us in other ways, PLEASE consider sharing your personal paranormal experiences on the site. The PER takes some time, but it’s going toward a common good.  Its purpose is to serve as a comprehensive registry for paranormal encounters of all sorts.

Just go to www.paranormal-exp.org and prepare to answer several questions. Science is thorough, and so registration might take some time. Think of it as community service, but please register!

 

Dr. Brian Laythe

Religious Differences and Paranormal Beliefs


In 1996, Haraldsson, and Houtkooper conducted a test to determine how valid Tobacyk’s Paranormal Belief Scale was when testing different Christian cultures (ex: Catholic, Protestant, Baptist, etc.) For that testing, the researchers asked college students from Iceland questions and compared those answers to students from Louisiana in the United States. One of the reasons the researchers looked at Iceland was largely due to an earlier study performed by the same researchers (Haraldsson, and Houtkooper, 1991) which reported that Icelandic people have reported more contact with the dead than any of fourteen other countries. Icelandic people also reported a higher belief in life after death (76%) in the same research. Icelandic people reported that only 2% of the population regularly attend church, compared to 43% in The United States.

Tobacyk’s Paranormal Belief Scale for the Icelandic students had to have some questions rephrased and placed into a different subscale. The question about “the soul continues to exist though the body may die”, was re-categorized from Traditional Religious Belief into Spiritualism. In Iceland, life after death has become more associated with Spiritualism rather than Religious Beliefs. A second change in questions was related to the subscale of Psi-Belief, “Mind reading is not possible”, and it was moved to the subscale of Precognition (psychokinesis, and ESP).

The results showed that Tobacyk’s PBS can be used validly across cultures. Some subscales may have to be re-entered into different categories based on the culture the researcher is testing. thus, the scale to test paranormal belief by Tobacyk is valid regardless of differences in cultures.

Submitted by: Bridget Cotton

Reference

Haraldsson, Erlendur. Houtkooper, Joop, M. (1996), Traditional Christian Beliefs, Spiritualism, and the Paranormal: An Icelandic-American Comparison. The International Journal For The Psychology of Religion, 6(1), 51-64.

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Strange Handprints Between Window Panes

According to Zumwalde and colleagues, a growing trend on the internet involves the reports of strange handprints on mirrors and windows. These hand prints have been attributed to some as ghostly or alien handprints? These researchers decided to examine how and why such prints might be occurring.

 

 

Zumwald first attempted to recreate the handprints by using a variety of cleaning products and then washing them off. The goal of this was to determine if a residual handprint could occur naturally from a person placing their hand on a window or mirror while cleaning. Their tests failed to produce handprints when steam was applied to the window panes. Cleaning gloves were also effectively ruled out as the cause of the hand prints.

However, results from digital photography demonstrated that simple hand prints can be distorted to create the handprints. In the case of handprints inside a double pane of glass (and thus untouchable), the researchers were able to determine that humidity makes silver particles between the panes cluster on the handprint, thus creating the effect.

Long story short, no ghost or alien is necessary for this particular phenomena.

Submitted by: Brian Laythe

Reference. Zumwald, A., Ciriaco, K., & Allison, J. (2016). Strange handprints in strange places. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 509-523.

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Donate Differently: Help ISRAE

Dear Readers,

We know some of you out there donate to various powerful causes. After all, who doesn’t want to help children fight cancer or help organizations provide education or healthcare to the needy. If you donate your time and money to causes such as these, you should be proud.

However, we know you’re tired, and perhaps poor or struggling. This is a difficult economy. So you might ask why we ask for your help and what donating to us actually does. Consider the following points.

We are the only organization in the U.S. or Europe who supplies the general public with parapsychology research or education. Actual research findings you can rely on. Given all the shows, myths, and controversy surrounding the paranormal, this is the only place someone can go to get reliable information.

 

There are a lot of people out there who have had paranormal experiences, and many report being frightened of them. It’s hard to make sense out of a paranormal experience and people often report anxiety, crisis, and fear from these events. Paranormal Facts are here to help people with these issues, but it’s not enough.

 

 

To address these experiences, ISRAE will be opening the paranormal experience registry this spring. Our hope is that readers and the public will share their paranormal experiences using our scientifically designed registry. We can then help people who are in fear by providing them with summaries (while protecting the confidentiality of our registrants) of other people’s experiences. Often times there is a lot of comfort in knowing that your experience is not an isolated one.

Parapsychology research does not receive one dime of grant money. There are no grants for us to apply for, and there are only four privately funded parapsychology institutes left in the United States. We are the underdog, and we are the only non-profit parapsychology research institute with a focus towards you the public. Every dollar you send literally keeps us solvent.

So in closing, please consider giving. five dollars makes a difference to us. A monthly contribution of five dollars helps us fund internships for students, purchase research equipment, and keeps Paranormal Facts, our upcoming free Parapsychology Class, and the Paranormal Experience Registry open. Were here for you, but we can’t do it without you.

Best wishes from all of us at ISRAE,

Dr. Brian Laythe

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Social Rejection Because of Paranormal Belief?

Is it hard for a person to talk about religious beliefs or paranormal phenomena? Has society made it harder to claim paranormal phenomena because it has made it considered to be “unacceptable”?

In 1999, R. Thomas Dudley conducted a study about social acceptability of religious and paranormal beliefs. He explained that society, in general, is what makes something acceptable or unacceptable. A personal belief may be acceptable to the person, yet socially, it may be looked down at as being unacceptable. This is how society judges religious beliefs as well as paranormal beliefs.

The study that Dudley conducted asked college students to consider their own religious and paranormal beliefs and answer questions that were measured by using Tobacyk’s Paranormal Belief scale. The goal was to determine if religious beliefs were more socially acceptable than paranormal beliefs. They were asked to answer the questions without their own beliefs but, what they “thought” society believed to determine if society did have an effect on what was acceptable and what was not.

The results showed that it was more socially acceptable to talk and claim religious beliefs than it was paranormal beliefs. This maybe an explanation as to why some people will be more comfortable to talk about religion rather than paranormal phenomena. The stigma society has placed about paranormal phenomena maybe a reason why some people will not accept the possibility of this type of activity.

 

Submitted by: Bridget Cotton

Reference

Dudley, T. R., (1999) Social Acceptability of Paranormal and Religious Belief, Psychological Reports, 85, 255-256

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A Case of Within Family Reincarnation in Japan?

Reincarnation studies are often examined on a case-by-case basis. Such is the account of Ohkado Masayuki who recently examined a case of a Japanese son who committed suicide but was believed to come back in the form of his stepsister’s infant. Masayuki chronicles the evidence in his article, and the evidence is somewhat surprising.

 

First, the child born to the stepdaughter was reported to refer to his mother as stepsister (the previous son’s relation), while referring to his grandmother and grandfather as mother and father. There were also several instances where the infant cried on the day of the son’s death and would only be comforted by going to the dead son’s room. Other coincidences include knowing the son’s best friend by his nickname, and during an asthma attack, stating, “I can’t breathe, but I won’t die. This time, I will live”.

Ian Stevenson, possibly the most distinguished expert in the field of reincarnation studies, noted that most inner family reincarnations have a sense of unfinished business with the family. This was the case with the child, who carried his great grandmother’s ashes during a funeral, stating that his promise was fulfilled. He also carried a birthmark at the same place where the deceased son had burned himself at the age of 18 or 19.

Was this a series of coincidences or evidence of reincarnation? You be the judge.

Submitted by Brian Laythe

Reference:

Masayuki, O. (2016). A same family case of the reincarnation type in Japan. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 30, 524-536.

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Free Parapsychology Class For All: Opening Soon

 

We at ISRAE, through our research and campaign efforts, have been struggling to create a quality parapsychology class for readers who may not have a background in research methods. The good news is that, although behind, we are almost finished with the class, and we’re pretty proud of it.

So for those of you who investigate hauntings, love the paranormal, or just want to know what kind of spooky stuff has been studied, we have just the class for you. We at ISRAE believe in the oldest of sayings that “Knowledge is power.”  So we hope this class serves as a good introduction to all of the quality research conducted in parapsychology. With 14 chapters, quizzes, and links to various related blogs, we think you’ll enjoy the course.

Did we mention the course is 100% free? No strings attached. Of course, if you wish to donate, we will gladly thank you for your contributions because people like you keep us going. As soon as we launch, we’ll provide anyone interested with the link so they can get started. Take your time, and by all means, send us your thoughts and comments. At our current pace, we should open our classroom doors at the end of the month.

 

Finally, if any of our loyal readers would like us to focus on a particular topic for Paranormal Facts, just let us know. E-mail me at blaythe@israenet.org. We’ll see what we can do.

Best wishes from all of us at ISRAE,

Dr. Brian Laythe

 

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Traditional Religious Beliefs and Belief in the Paranormal

Hillstrom and Strachan (2000) conducted a study to determine if traditional protestant beliefs in the Bible would have an effect on paranormal beliefs. They categorized believers of religious writings into three sets: (a) Believers, which are those that are defined to have strong belief in biblical writings, (b) Nominal Believers, those that have accepted some, but not all of the biblical writings, and (c) Non-believers, which are those that do not accept any biblical doctrines.

The researchers conducted the study using college students. Questions relating to religious beliefs and the strength of those beliefs were measured. Those questions were analyzed based on the person’s response from their religious and paranormal beliefs

The results showed that there was a difference between those three groups. Those that were believers in religious writings were less likely to believe in certain paranormal phenomena such as telepathy, healing, reincarnation, and did not believe that contacting the dead was considered “good”. Those that were considered Nominal believers (accepted some but not all biblical writings) were less likely to believe in prophecy, psychokinesis, healing, or reincarnation than those who were non-believers.

 

Submitted by: Bridget Cotton

 

Reference:

Hillstrom, E. L., & Strachan, M. (2000). Strong commitment to traditional Protestant religious beliefs is negatively related to beliefs in paranormal phenomena. Psychological Reports, 86(1), 183-189.

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