Posted by: Craig Woolheater on October 29th, 2006
While this is not intended to be, nor will it be allowed to turn into, a discussion about religion or politics, I did find the following article interesting. This article from The Christian Post website mentioned the following:
Time additionally measured Americans on weird beliefs including their perception of UFOs and Bigfoot. The report showed that 25 percent agree some UFOs are probably spaceships from other worlds and 18 percent agreed that creatures like Bigfoot and the Loch Ness monster will one day be discovered. Also, 41 percent agree that ancient advanced civilizations, like Atlantis, once existed, and 37 percent agree that places can be haunted.
Doing some digging, I found that the survey was in fact sponsored by Baylor University. While the survey was mainly about religious beliefs, it also included questions about nonstandard beliefs.
Christopher D. Bader, an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Baylor University, was one of the principal investigators of this study. Chris and I have corresponded over the years about the subject of Bigfoot, something he has had a keen interest in since his childhood growing up in Washington state.
I called Chris Saturday morning and we talked about the survey. He shared with me the following about their findings:
The Baylor Religion Survey (BRS) is planned as a bi-annual study of religious attitudes and behaviors in the United States. Every two years we will administer the survey to a random, national sample with the help of the Gallup Organization. While the survey is focused on religion, every wave will included "topical modules," batteries of questions about a particular topic of interest that will not appear in every wave. The first wave of the BRS was collected in the fall of 2005. The topical modules on this first wave included trust of other people, consumption of religious books, movies and other products and the paranormal, very loosely defined. As part of the "paranormal" set of questions, two items were asked of interest to cryptozoologists.
First, the BRS asked respondents their level of agreement with the statement "Creatures such as Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster will one day be discovered by science." More than half of respondents (56.3%) either strongly disagreed or disagreed with this statement. About 27% (26.9) were undecided. The remaining 16.9% agreed or strongly agreed.
Some interesting patterns emerge when breaking down this item by demographic characteristics. For example, males are on average more skeptical about cryptozoology, with 61.3% of male respondents disagreeing/strongly disagreeing with this statement, compared to 49.8% of females. On average, whites were more likely to disagree (57.5%) than African Americans (47.7%) and those of "other races (34.2%). Catholics were more likely to believe in the existence of Bigfoot/Nessie (23.9%) than Protestants (18%). Age had no significant effects, but Kerry (22.4%) and Nader (25.1%) were much more likely to find merit in cryptozoology than Bush voters (14.3%). Respondents generally become more skeptical about Bigfoot and Nessie with higher levels of education. For example, a third of those without a high school diploma (33.4%) agreed with the above statement, compared to 18% of those with a B.A. degree.
A second question gauged levels of interest in cryptozoology. Respondents were asked "Have you ever read a book, consulted a Web site, or researched the following topic. Mysterious animals, such as Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster?"
About a fifth (21.3%) of U.S. citizens have researched Bigfoot/Nessie. Despite their skepticism, males are more likely to have done such research (24.1%) than females (18.9%). Those of "other" races (non-White, non-African-American) were the most likely to have done such research (32.2%), compared to Whites (21.6%) and African Americans (11.9%). Religious preference had no impact on researching mysterious animals. Neither age nor education had significant effects. For example, respondents between 18 and 30 were much more likely (35.1%) to have done such research than those over 65 (12.4%). Nader voters were also more likely to research crypto (29.3%) than Kerry (21.1%) or Bush voters (20%).
The survey, along with the initial findings are available on The Association of Religion Data Archives website.
Baylor Religion Survey, 2005.
Chris also shared with me the fact that the current issue of Time Magazine, October 30, 2006 Vol. 168 No. 18, out on newsstands now features this study in the cover story, America by the Numbers. He said that there is a still from the Patterson/Gimlin film used in the article.
Read Chris’ thoughts regarding the comments from the Cryptomundo readers here at: Survey Investigator Speaks Out.
Baylor University. 2005. The Baylor Religion Survey. Waco, TX: Baylor Institute for Studies of Religion [producer].