, Volume 30, Issue 4, pp 377-387

Where have all the skeptics gone?: Patterns of new age beliefs and anti-scientific attitudes in preservice primary teachers

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Abstract

Is belief in the paranormal alive and well within preservice teachers? In this survey 232 undergraduates (including 202 preservice primary teachers) were asked to react to a series of eight statements reflecting paranormal New Age beliefs rated earlier by a faculty panel as “totally unbelievable.” Overall, the students' modal response was expressed as “no particular opinion,” although for five of the eight items the modal respónse was “slightly believable.” It was found that only four students within the sample consistently rejected all eight statements. The frequency of ‘believers’ outnumbered the ‘skeptics’ in relation to three items (beliefs in UFOs, psychic seances, and Nostradamus). New Age factor scores were not significantly related to undergraduate faculty or year level, to holding anti-scientific beliefs or to a measure of TV-viewing, and did not correlate significantly with the personality scale Need for Cognition. Females evidenced higher New Age scores than males, but attitudes to science were unrelated to gender.