Who Believes, Why They Believe, and Why It Matters
By Erich Goode
(Prometheus Books, Paperback, 9781616144913, 335pp.)
Publication Date: December 20, 2011
Ghosts, psychics, communicating with the dead, UFOs, angels, ESP, astrology: These and other astounding phenomena are accepted as valid by a substantial proportion of the public. Why do so many members of our scientifically sophisticated society believe in assertions that scientists have roundly and almost unanimously rejected? And what does expressing such beliefs mean for the lives of those who do? Unlike many books on the paranormal, which are focused on debunking or verifying such beliefs, this author is interested in explaining paranormal belief as a sociological phenomenon: Who believes, why, and with what consequences?
Erich Goode is the author of ten books, including Deviance in Everyday Life. He is Sociology Professor Emeritus at Stony Brook University.
"Goode’s unique and outstanding work directs an illuminating sociological beam of light on one of humanity’s most fascinating riddles: the paranormal. His integrated analysis provides a straightforward and clear examination of who believes in the paranormal, and why. Such an integrated and significant approach has never been presented before. Goode offers truly fresh insights and a persuasive new perspective. . . . It is the one book you simply must read if you really want to know and understand what the paranormal is all about."
—Nachman Ben-Yehuda, professor of sociology and former dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences, Hebrew University
"It’s easy enough to make fun of bizarre claims about the paranormal and supposed alternative realities, from UFOs and astrology to ghost hunting and pseudoprophecy. What Erich Goode has done, though, is to examine such claims seriously from the point of view of an experienced sociologist, showing how [such] deviant ideas arise and spread. This highly readable and rewarding book tells us a great deal about the mass media and our educational system, and how contradictory ways of understanding the world coexist so uneasily in a postmodern society."
—Philip Jenkins, Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of History and Religious Studies, Pennsylvania State University