Are we living in a Paranormal America? Dr. Christopher Bader is here to enlighten us

“Whether future authors wish to bemoan or cheer the ascension of the paranormal, their arguments will be strengthened by a clear understanding of who believes in and experiences the paranormal, and in what ways. This has been the goal of our project.”
— Dr. Christopher Bader (et al.), extract from Paranormal America.
“Myself and my co-authors just believed that we didn’t want to study or try to write about something that was so experiential in nature without going out […] and actually exploring it.”
— Dr. Bader, interview extract

Dr. Christopher Bader is an all-round paranormal expert; and by all-round, I really mean just that. Bigfoot, ghosts, psychics, he’s explored it all – and luckily for us, he gave us the opportunity to pick his brain on the show this last Sunday.

  Paranormal America , a social exploration of paranormal beliefs in America, authored by Dr. Christopher Bader, F. Carson Mencken, and Joseph O. Baker.

Paranormal America, a social exploration of paranormal beliefs in America, authored by Dr. Christopher Bader, F. Carson Mencken, and Joseph O. Baker.

Intrigued by all things strange and paranormal from a young age, Chris’ approach is probably not that which you’d expect. Though he has a strong interest in exploring alternative topics first-hand, the primary focus of his research is the people that are interested in paranormal topics; not the topics per se. A Professor of Sociology at Chapman University (Orange County), as well as principal investigator of the first two waves of the Baylor Religion Survey, Chris has been researching the sociology of paranormal interests for over two decades now. With an endless supply of interesting anecdotes and a fantastic range of survey data, this was hands-down a fascinating interview – it was a first for WoTR dipping its toes into the field of sociology, and it’s definitely not an interview to be missed.

 Dr. Bader speaking to members of the Haunted OC team prior to investigation at Chapman University, October 2015.

Dr. Bader speaking to members of the Haunted OC team prior to investigation at Chapman University, October 2015.

“[…] we can talk about the paranormal and think about who is willing to risk their reputation to believe in the paranormal; and the more someone is tied to conventional culture, the less willing they are to (at least) say out loud they’ve had a paranormal experience.”
— Dr. Bader, interview extract

What types of people are interested in the paranormal? Are different kinds of people attracted to different types of paranormal beliefs? Where do psychics, Bigfoot hunters, UFO abductees fall? What about Christians, believers of ancient civilizations, or even your casual horoscope reader? Though hugely varying types of beliefs, they all have one thing in common; namely, that they all exhibit a belief in the paranormal, at least of some kind. It’s Chris’ job to find a connection between these beliefs and people’s social circumstances. Is there a specific reason that leads people to have certain beliefs? Do financial background, ethnicity, gender, age play a role? Perhaps social standing or education? We discuss all of these question, plus much more, in our interview. If you haven’t had a chance to listen to it yet, and are intrigued to first find out more about Chris’ research (or if you were listening on Sunday, and would like to find out more now), then we definitely recommend having a look at Chris’ book, Paranormal America – it’s available as an eBook as well as hard-copy, meaning the beauty of having a Kindle sample prior to purchasing.

Of course, we couldn’t let Chris get away without providing us with a Top 5. So, here we have it, Christopher Bader’s Top 5 paranormal-related books; doubling up as a great starting point for anyone newly venturing into the study of the paranormal.

Dr. Christopher Bader's Top 5 Paranormal Books

 A selection of paranormal-themed books and decorations line the shelves of Dr. Bader's office at Chapman University.

A selection of paranormal-themed books and decorations line the shelves of Dr. Bader's office at Chapman University.

  1. Bigfoot: Life and Times of a Legend - Joshua Blu Buhs
  2. The Discovery of Sasquatch - John A. Bindernagel
  3. Bigfoot Casebook - Janet and Colin Bord
  4. Passport to Magonia: From Folklore to Flying Saucers - Jacques Vallee
  5. Gods, Spirits and Cosmic Guardians - Hilary Evans

Honourable Mention:

Remembering Satan - Lawrence Wright

Without further ado now, here’s our interview for your listening pleasure:

If you’re interested to get in contact with Dr. Bader for any reason, perhaps you’d like to contribute a paranormal story to his research, then be sure to hit him up at bader@chapman.edu. For any further information, plus a list of all of Chris’ recent publications, check out his Chapman University profile right here.

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Posted on January 2, 2016 and filed under SUM2.