The Boston Phoenix
August 14 - 21, 1997


What we believe

by Ellen Barry

Galileo's excommunication has been recanted by the Pope. Darwin has gained a cultlike following of born-again evolutionists. And in the age-old battle between science and mysticism, it looks as if the victor has arrived -- glasses taped, calculator in hand -- and claimed our concrete, computerized world as the prize. But a recent Gallup poll found that beneath the physics books and silicon chips, belief in the supernatural is still thriving.

  • Percentage of Americans who believe in God, as of December 16, 1994: 96

  • Percentage of Americans polled who believe that UFOs are real, as of September 3, 1996: 48

  • Percentage who believe that UFOs have visited Earth in some form: 45

  • Percentage who believe "there are people somewhat like ourselves living on other planets": 38

  • Percentage who believe the US government "knows more about UFOs than they are telling us": 71

  • Percentage of Americans who believe in the devil, as of September 3, 1996: 56

  • Percentage who believe in demonic possession: 43

  • Percentage who believe in angels: 72

  • Percentage who believe in ESP: 48

  • Percentage who believe in ghosts: 30

  • Percentage who have felt they were in touch with someone who has died: 18

  • Percentage of Americans who attend church or synagogue at least once a week, as of March 27, 1997: 30

  • Percentage of Americans who believe that a spacecraft from another planet crashed in Roswell, New Mexico, in 1947: 31

  • Percentage of Americans who do not believe the US Air Force report that people in New Mexico witnessed weather balloons and crash-test dummies, rather than UFOs and the bodies of aliens: 65

  • [All figures from Gallup polls of at least 1000 adults]

    -- Liz Goldhirsh

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