Three out of four Americans profess a belief in the paranormal. If you don't find that surprising, you must be psychic. And if you're psychic, where were you Sept. 10, 2001?
This is a nation that prides itself on its common sense. But, according to a recent Gallup poll, 73 percent of us lack the sense God gave a goose. That's the percentage of people who profess at least one paranormal belief.
For example, 41 percent of us believe in extrasensory perception, 37 percent in haunted houses, 32 percent in ghosts and 31 percent in telepathy.
Telepathy I get. My wife almost always knows what I'm thinking, which makes me wonder why she wants me to say it out loud.
According to the poll, 26 percent of us believe in clairvoyance -- "the power of the mind to know the past and predict the future."
Does this make sense?
Think about it, people. If psychics were for real, they wouldn't be psychics. They'd be Wall Street billionaires. They'd do business from mansions and private islands, not from back porches and carnival tents.
Not long ago, I got an e-mail from Ryan McCormick of RMC Public Relations. He's representing Lisa McGarrity, "a 20-year professional Psychic Medium living in Long Island."
"There are several opportunists actively taking advantage of people who believe in psychics," Ryan said.
We knew that would happen, didn't we?
As a public service, Ryan was offering Lisa the psychic's "Top 10 Ways to Spot a Fake Psychic," including:
You leave a session feeling worse than when you came in.
Especially after realizing you just spent money on a psychic.
Your psychic gives an almost identical reading to you and three of your friends.
One of you will leave a tip and find great fortune.
Your reader charges by the minute.
And is a really slow reader.
Your psychic is a waffler.
Or just a Democrat running for re-election.
Your psychic tells you that you have a curse on you and then offers to remove the curse for extra payment.
This is the oldest scam around. Don't fall for it!
Offering a response
Good tips, Lisa. Thanks. As a public service, I'd like to offer an addendum.
Five More Ways to Spot a Fake Psychic:
Your psychic predicted that Al Gore would get more votes and would win the 2000 presidential election because of that.
Your psychic predicted that Americans would become strangely obsessed with the Hilton, as in Paris.
* Your psychic predicted that American soldiers would be greeted as liberators in Iraq.
Your psychic can tell you how I meant to finish this sentence.
Your psychic claims to be psychic.
One of the poll's most interesting findings was that Christians are more likely than non-Christians (75 percent to 66 percent) to profess belief in the paranormal. That might explain voting patterns in recent years.
Then again, part of the poll was conducted on a Wednesday night, so the only "Christians" they surveyed were those who stayed home from church to watch "Lost."
Before this poll, Gallup's last poll on paranormal beliefs was conducted in May 2001. Since then, the number of people professing a belief in the paranormal has declined in all categories but one. This one: That people on earth are sometimes possessed by the devil.
"It is unclear how many people treat that statement literally, and how many interpret it in metaphorical terms," Gallup said in its report.
"So for purposes of this analysis, that item was excluded."
Too bad. These days, it's the only paranormal belief that makes sense.
Scripps Howard News Service