tions have proven to be hilariously or poignantly wrong. Un-fortunately, the authorities’ declarations do not merely pro-vide historical entertainment, they have also significantly im-peded scientific progress as very few scientists are willingto risk the wrath of the mainstream. As a result, in the edu-cated Western world we find ourselves in the bizarre stateof affairs where the mere study of certain common experi-ences is essentially forbidden. Of the approximately onethousand departments of mainstream academic psychol-ogy around the world, fewer than twenty have one or morefaculty members engaged in the serious study of psychicphenomena. In other words, less than 2% of mainstreampsychology departments have any interest in experiencesthat perpetually fascinate a solid majority of the general public.Of course, there are plenty of academic psychologistsinterested in
about psychic phenomena, becausethey assume that such beliefs are based upon scientificignorance. But is this assumption supported by actual data?In 2001, the US National Science Foundation (NSF) con-ducted a survey on the public understanding of science andtechnology. Among many questions, the NSF poll asked:‘Some people possess psychic powers or ESP. Do youstrongly agree, agree, disagree, or strongly disagree?’ Thesurveyors were shaken to discover that 60% of adults agreedwith the statement. This figure was used to demonstratethe deplorable state of science education, except that animportant qualification was ignored: When the respondentswere split by educational level, 46% with less than a highschool education agreed, but 62% with high school or greatereducation agreed. And of the “attentive public,” defined asthose indicating that they were “very interested” in the is-sue, ‘very well informed’ about it, and regularly read a dailynewspaper or relevant national magazine, 59% agreed.These percentages were confirmed by a recent Gallup poll,which also revealed that the high level of belief in psychicphenomena has been stable for many decades.
Thus, incontrast to the skeptic’s ‘ignorance hypothesis’, those who
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