Paranormal America (second edition)

Ghost Encounters, UFO Sightings, Bigfoot Hunts, and Other Curiosities in Religion and Culture

304 pages

April, 2017

ISBN: 9781479815289



Add to Cart Available: 3/24/2017

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Christopher Bader is Professor of Sociology at Chapman University and affiliated with the Institute for Religion, Economics and Culture (IRES).  He is Associate Director of the Association of Religion Data Archives ( and principal investigator on the Chapman University Survey of American Fears, as well as coauthor of Paranormal America: Ghost Encounters, UFO Sightings, Bigfoot Hunts, and Other Curiosities in Religion and Culture, second edition (also available from NYU Press). 

All books by Christopher D. Bader

Joseph O. Baker is Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at East Tennessee State University and a senior research associate for the Association of Religion Data Archives. 

All books by Joseph O. Baker

F. Carson Mencken is Professor and department chair of Sociology at Baylor University.

All books by F. Carson Mencken

The untold account of the countless Americans who believe in, or personally experience, paranormal phenomena such as ghosts, Bigfoot, UFOs and psychics 

Given the popularity of television shows such as Finding Bigfoot, Ghost Hunters, Supernatural, and American Horror Story, there seems to be an insatiable public hunger for mystical happenings. But who believes in the paranormal? Based on extensive research and their own unique personal experiences, Christopher Bader, Joseph Baker and Carson Mencken reveal that a significant number of Americans hold these beliefs, and that for better or worse, we undoubtedly live in a paranormal America.   

Readers will join the authors as they participate in psychic and palm readings, and have their auras photographed, join a Bigfoot hunt, follow a group of celebrity ghost hunters as they investigate claims of a haunted classroom, and visit a support group for alien abductees.   

The second edition includes new and updated research based on findings from the Baylor Religion survey regarding America’s relationship with the paranormal. Drawing on these diverse and compelling sources of data, the book offers an engaging account of the social, personal, and statistical stories of American paranormal beliefs and experiences. It examines topics such as the popularity of paranormal beliefs in the United States, the ways in which these beliefs relate to each other, whether paranormal beliefs will give rise to a new religion, and how believers in the paranormal differ from “average” Americans. 


Brimming with fascinating anecdotes and provocative new findings, Paranormal America offers an entertaining yet authoritative examination of a growing segment of American religious culture.


  • “Within the academy, it will be of particular interest to scholars focusing on the paranormal, esotericism, and the other blurred boundaries between the religious and non-religious in Western society.”

    Reading Religion

  • “Paranormal America is an excellent text for parlaying this interest into an exploration of the sociology of religion.”

    Nova Religio

  • "This is not merely a second edition of an already fine book, but a landmark in the evolution of modern culture, documenting the significant increase of public interest and richness of popular culture about possibilities that exist just outside the boundaries of science and religion.  Nicely blending research data with descriptions of first-hand experiences, it raises the possibility that secularization is actually spiritual diversification, rather than religious decline, and provides a rigorous but poetic basis for many future scholarly studies and personal explorations."

    —William Sims Bainbridge, author of eGods: Faith Versus Fantasy in Computer Gaming and Across the Secular Abyss

  • "This is a fun read. Armed with a wealth of stories and a trove of recent surveys, the authors introduce us to those who believe and experience the paranormal.  This is an engaging and eye-opening book that offers an abundance of new insights, dispelling some popular stereotypes and reaffirming others." 

    —Roger Finke, Distinguished Professor of Sociology and Religious Studies, Pennsylvania State University