This book is much more than an authoritative and compelling look at the cultural history of the supernatural over the last century in America—it also explains why we want to believe.
Gallup polls have consistently shown that a majority of Americans believe in the paranormal or supernatural. Recent research suggests humans are hardwired to believe in the supernatural—that acceptance of things that science cannot prove could be biological, and simply part of who we are as a species.
The supernatural—psychic phenomena (telepathy, clairvoyance, or ESP), communicating with the dead, and the sighting and tracking of ghosts—has played an integral role in American culture across the last century. In fact, attention and interest in the supernatural has increased, despite our society's reliance upon and enthusiasm for science and technology. Even some top scholars, officials from the military and police, and public figures in places as high as the Oval Office have believed in at least some aspects of the supernatural.
Supernatural America: A Cultural History is the first book to examine the cultural history of the supernatural in the United States, documenting how the expansion of science and technology coincided with a rise in supernatural/paranormal beliefs. From the flourishing of "spiritism" in the 1920s to the early 21st century, when the paranormal is bigger than ever, this entertaining and educational book explains the irresistible allure of the supernatural in America.
• Shares hundreds of real-life stories, and uses hundreds of sources, many of them forgotten
• Provides a bibliography of authoritative books and articles, both in support of and arguing against beliefs in the supernatural
• Examines how the opposing forces of science and the supernatural appear symbiotically connected
• Traces the contentious relationship between "sheep" (believers in the supernatural) and "goats" (nonbelievers)
• Investigates the relationship between the supernatural and another leap of faith—religion
• Presents a cultural history of the supernatural as a whole, rather than just a contemporary explanation of one dimension of it
• Provides a balanced examination of the subject instead of a one-sided approach