Monday, February 19, 2007

Belief In Bigfoots And Alien Visitations Drops Off In The US

But More Look To The Mystical Than Science To Explain Life's Mysteries

Oversized hairy men-creatures wandering the wilderness and visits from extraterrestrial life forms just don't excite the masses like they once did. At least in the United States. Some figure this is because more Americans have a basic understanding of science than they did 20 or 30 years ago. Or perhaps there are just less BigFoots and UFOs around these days.

But a widespread knowledge of basic science doesn't mean people are turning in huge numbers to rational explanations for the answers to the great mysteries of life, the universe and everything in between.

For those kinds of answers, more and more Americans are turning to the 'psuedo-sciences', including horoscopes and creationism.

Good story on all this from the Associated Press, but here's some highlights :

"What does astrology speak to? Love relationships," Losh said, noting that belief in horoscopes is much higher among women than men.

Belief in abduction by space aliens is also on the rise, Losh said.

"It's not surprising that the generation that grew up on `Twilight Zone' and early `Star Trek' television endorsed a link between UFOs and alien spacecraft," she said.

Pseudoscience discussion is often absent from the classroom, Losh said, so "we have basically left it up to the media."

Raymond Eve of the University of Texas at Arlington had mixed news in surveys of students at an unnamed Midwestern university.

The share that believed aliens had visited Earth fell from 25 percent in 1983 to 15 percent in 2006. There was also a decline in belief in "Bigfoot" and in whether psychics can predict the future.

But there also has been a drop in the number of people who believe evolution correctly explains the development of life on Earth and an increase in those who believe mankind was created about 10,000 years ago.

Miller said a second major negative factor to scientific literacy was religious fundamentalism and aging.

Crowds Flock To See 'The Jesus Tree'

The likeness of Jesus has shown up on walls, in clouds, in sandwiches, and most infamously, in a taco.

But lots of people believe they can see Jesus in trees. Not only in the knotted texture of bark, but sometimes, as above, in the main trunk and limbs of the tree itself.

I went Googling after reading about the latest 'Jesus Tree', and a lot of the ones I found...well, let's say you needed plenty of faith to find any likeness of Jesus at all.

But viewing the above photo, the Crucifixion image leaped out at me straight away. As it has done for literally thousands of people in and around San Antonio, Texas, since the story hit the local and then state news on February 12 to 14.

Apparently most of those who've visited the pruned tree in Crystal City, Texas, see the visage right away. But some still can't make it out.

Regardless, the 'Jesus Tree' has quickly become a place of pilgrimage.

People are lighting and leaving candles, handwritten messages, photos, they kneel and pray in front of the tree, and everyone takes a photo.

From Express News :

...the image of Jesus was first spotted in the gnarled limbs by Betty Jo Hernandez.

Hernandez, 31, took a photo of the tree and shared it with co-workers at an elementary school where she works. Many agreed they could see the image of Jesus on the cross, and from there, it spread across town and beyond...

Hundreds have since visited the site, leaving behind mementos and flowers, mostly roses. A row of candles sits on the ground.

...the faithful continued to come, sometimes in droves, lining the short residential street with vehicles.

"It's weird, right? It has been here forever and not until now has someone seen it."

Another 'Jesus Tree'

And Another One

And Just One More 'Jesus Tree'