Millions of Americans, particularly women, share paranormal beliefs and experiences "that don't fit under any religious umbrella," says Christopher Bader, one of the Baylor University sociologists analyzing the Baylor Religion Survey.Overall, 52% of people surveyed say they believe in prophetic dreams. More than 40% agree that places can be haunted and that ancient advanced civilizations, such as Atlantis,once existed, just as writers from Plato to psychic Edgar Cayce have described.One question, however, drew such wide agreement that Bader suspects researchers' intent was unclear.
"We asked whether 'Some alternative treatments are at least as effective as traditional medicine,' " and 74.5% said yes. "We were thinking of crystals, aromatherapy. ... But people may have read the question to mean acupuncture, vitamins or herbs," which have been scientifically studied and are widely used. About 25% use the Internet or books to research the prophecies of16th-century astrologer Nostradamus, ghosts, yoga, astrology and UFOs, the survey found. Findings don't surprise Matthew Gilbert of the Institute of Noetic Sciences, which promotes research of "the frontiers of consciousness." "People are embracing a larger reality of what it means to be human. ... Maybe those who have unusual experiences recognize that while their religion didn't explain them, it doesn't mean they didn't happen."