Who Doesn’t Believe in Big Foot?

A review in the Washington Post Book World picked three new books about UFOs, and it led off with a review of our title:

UFOs exist — about that we all must agree. As long as humans have gazed heavenward, we have seen inexplicable objects. In the early 1800s, scientists debated the nature of what we now call meteors. In 1947, Kenneth Arnold saw nine objects darting about Mount Rainier, the report that gave birth to modern stories of flying saucers. In Paranormal America: Ghost Encounters, UFO Sightings, Bigfoot Hunts, and Other Curiosities in Religion and Culture (New York Univ.; paperback, $20), we learn that almost one in five Americans claims to have seen something in the sky that they could not identify.

Despite the prevalence of such sightings, though, witnesses are usually the butt of jokes. Christopher D. Bader, F. Carson Mencken and Joseph O. Baker, the authors of “Paranormal America,” offer a possible reason for our dismissive attitude. Believers tend to be unmarried men of limited economic means — the stereotypical yahoo, seeing the world through beer-bottle glasses. But this fascinating book calls into question that easy explanation. The authors convincingly show that believing in flying saucers or some other paranormal subject — Bigfoot, ghosts, astrology, psychics — is not fringe at all. More than two-thirds of Americans accept the reality of at least one such phenomenon.

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