When the British anthropologist Sir James Frazer (1854-1941) set out to study the cult of Diana of Aricia, the Roman goddess of the hunt, he eventually ended up with a continuum theory of thinking. He supposed that ways of thinking had developed from magic, through religion, to science over the course of human history. He also wondered whether this kind of development would continue in the future and concluded that “we cannot tell” (Frazer, 1922/1963, p. 827). Now, after a century, we know the answer. Scientific education has not elimi-

nated supernatural beliefs. In the country with the world’s best universities, the United States, there are far more astrologers than astronomers (Gilovich, 1991). In Finland, whose education system has been rated as one of the best in the world, nearly half of the population thinks that angels exist and that death may not be final (The Church Research Institute, 2016). The question of why well-educated individuals still believe in the supernatural is intriguing. Why does the supernatural still captivate even though an exciting and more realistic scientific worldview is available? Many scientists have been interested in paranormal beliefs, and their multifaceted

manifestations, explanations and correlates have received much research attention. Good reviews of the studies in this area are available to the interested reader (e.g., Bering, 2011; Hood, 2009; Irwin, 2009; Vyse, 2014). Books for a wider audience are also worthy of attention (e.g., Hutson, 2012; Shermer, 2011). These works discuss several issues that are not addressed in the present review, including biological and demographic variables and the impact of threat, personality, education and social environment on beliefs. The focus of the present chapter is in themes that have not been explored in

depth in previous work. Due to the advancements in dual-process theories of

higher cognition and domain-specific cognition, the focus of the research has expanded to analytical and intuitive thinking and to the content of beliefs. Because the number of such studies has rapidly increased in recent years and has offered new insight, my aim here is to review and discuss paranormal beliefs in terms of these lines of research. For purposes of simplicity, I will sometimes speak here about believers vs.

skeptics, although believing is obviously a non-dichotomic phenomenon. Several concepts have been in use to describe the same type of beliefs. Despite their different etymologies, the concepts ‘paranormal,’ ‘magical,’ ‘superstitious’ and ‘supernatural’ have been shown to mean the same thing (Lindeman & Svedholm, 2012), so I will use the terms interchangeably. The concept of ‘religious’ is slightly different. Although belief in the supernatural is the key defining attribute of religiosity, religions also bring with them non-supernatural doctrines, rituals, art and politics, as well as social, moral and emotional aspects, whereas nothing comparable exists with other supernatural beliefs. I begin negligently, without defining the beliefs, because it has turned out to be

a difficult task. Initially, superstitious, paranormal, supernatural and magical beliefs were seen simply as mistakes. This definition is unusable because, in that case, the belief that New York is a city in Texas should be classified as a superstition. Defining beliefs as that which violate the fundamental and scientifically founded principles of nature does not help either. The belief that color is an attribute of a material object contradicts the laws of physics, but it is not a paranormal belief (color is an interpretation that our brain makes about light energy). Although defining paranormal beliefs has been difficult, the difference between

them and other beliefs is intuitively easy to detect. For some reason, everyone knows that believing in ghosts is quite different from an incorrect conception of color. Some scholars even defined the paranormal as phenomena that most members of society would recognize as falling into this category (Campbell, 1996). However, the reason why identification is easy did not attract attention.