Mildly interesting poll results here. Roughly half the public believes in ESP, with a higher percentage of the believers found among more educated people.
Those who find credibility in ESP are more likely to be better educated and white — 51 percent of college graduates compared to 37 percent with a high school diploma or less ...
Overall, the 48 percent who accept ESP is less than the 66 percent who gave that answer to a similar 1996 Newsweek question.
I don't know any reason why there would be a drop. Chalk it up to the vagaries of polling, probably. It's hardly an exact science.
The same poll finds that 34% of Americans believe in ghosts, and 23% feel "they have actually seen a ghost or believe they have been in one's presence, with the most likely candidates for such visits including single people, Catholics and those who never attend religious services. By 31 percent to 18 percent, more liberals than conservatives report seeing a specter."
34% "believe in unidentified flying objects" - an odd way of putting it, since any flying object that is unidentified is a UFO by definition. I assume people who answered yes to this question meant they believe there is something otherworldly about UFOs - either that they are extraterrestrial spacecraft or some sort of paranormal manifestations.
The article is snarky and tied in with Halloween, of course, and somehow it manages to imply that ESP belongs in the same category of belief with superstitions about four-leaf clovers. Why be snarky about ESP, which has strong experimental support and is accepted by 48% of the public, including a majority of college-educated persons? Is it just the cynicism of news reporters? Is it a conspiracy to discredit psi?
No, I think it mainly has to do with the liminal or borderline nature of psi phenomena, as George Hansen makes clear in his book The Trickster and the Paranormal. Paranormal events have been taboo in nearly every society, and they continue to be taboo in ours. One mark of their taboo status is that they can be discussed in polite company only with a wink and a nod. Another is that they get major news coverage only in the context of a children's holiday like Halloween. Another is that psi phenomena are lumped in with traditional superstitions about walking under ladders or breaking mirrors - which are also "liminal" beliefs (though without any scientific basis, as far as I know).
Still, even in these conditions, half the country accepts ESP. That's kind of cool, don't you think?