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Digital Subscriptions > Skeptical Inquirer > Jan Feb 2017 > Survey Shows Americans Fear Ghosts, the Government, and Each Other

Survey Shows Americans Fear Ghosts, the Government, and Each Other

Every year, Chapman University tells us what we fear the most. While “What’s your biggest fear?” might seem a psychological riddle, these researchers have got it down to a science, using rigorous polling methods to ask Americans about the most common fears and suspicions that plague them. The project, which is in its third year, offers telling insights about fear of government control and terrorism. For readers of Skeptical Inquirer, the survey covers something else equally compelling: Americans’ seemingly unshakable beliefs in the paranormal and in conspiracy theories. And things are looking … well … pretty bonkers.

According to the new research in the 2016 survey, issued in October, 46.6 percent of Americans believe places can be haunted by spirits; 27 percent believe that extraterrestrials have visited Earth in “our ancient past” (we no doubt can thank the History Channel, in part, for this result); 24.7 percent say aliens have come to Earth “in modern times; 13.5 percent are eating tacos, answering email, and all the while believing that Bigfoot is real; and a whopping 39.6 percent believe that Atlantis, or something like it, once existed.

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