A STUDY OF ATTITUDES TOWARD MYSTICISM AMONG COLLEGE STUDENTS
It is a well-known fact that popular interest in occult subjects such as "spiritualism" and "telepathy" is considerable at all times. It is also well known that such interests are likely to increase markedly when people feel fearful and insecure under social tension, as in wartime or during a period of major economic crisis. This tendency is not explained by ascribing it to "ignorance," a term which is often as meaningless and vague to the psychologist as "laziness." For beliefs in the occult may be held with equally uncritical credulity by people in all walks of life and by the educated as well as by the uneducated. The list of believers includes eminent physicists and physicians, and occasionally even college professors, as well as other types of ordinary and extraordinary citizens.
It is beyond the scope of this chapter to attempt to account for the persistence of such beliefs in an "enlightened modem world," or for the fact that they occasionally swell to the proportions of a major fad. We are concerned with the fact that "evidence" favoring the occult (i.e., the mysterious, the unknowable) is often presented as though it were "scientific," although the conditions under which it was obtained are scarcely comparable to the controlled situations of a scientific investigation. We are also interested in the frequency with which "mystics" encourage their audiences to believe that occurrences which baffle their understanding and seem to defy any attempt at direct explanation are truly occult and "beyond the limits of scientific explanation." Writers such as Houdini,11 Thurstone,22 McComas,33 and Dunninger,44 who were____________________
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Book title: Recent Experiments in Psychology. Edition: 2nd. Contributors: Leland W. Crafts - Author, Theodore C. Schneirla - Author, Elsa E. Robinson - Author, Ralph W. Gilbert - Author. Publisher: McGraw-Hill. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 1950. Page number: 1.