Where have I been for the last year and four months? Oh, you know. Stuff.
Anyway, do you believe in the evil eye? A supernatural curse cast by nothing more than an unseen disgruntled glare? Believe it or not, that concept played a major role in a paranormal study published back on November 23, 2022 in the journal PLOS ONE, which involved the belief of witchcraft.
You might think that witchcraft, witches, wizards, and magic are all things we’ve put behind us by now. But you would be mistaken, friends, as belief in the supernatural is holding on, and possibly even surging.
Titled “Witchcraft beliefs around the world: An exploratory analysis,” the study looked at the number of people across the globe who truly believe in witchcraft and, by extension, magic and superstitions. The dataset they used contained information gathered by the Pew Research Center from 2008 to 2016, involving 140,000 people from 95 countries and territories, in places both big and small. What they found was that over 40% of the world’s population holds some belief in witchcraft.
According to the study, belief varies from location to location, as you’d expect. One major example of these varying rates of belief, which the researchers specifically highlighted, is the difference between Sweden and Tunisia, where belief in witchcraft rests at about 9% and 90%, respectively.
They also discovered some correlation between belief in supernatural powers and how satisfied people are with their lives, as well as with how often people experience “misfortunes.” The two strongest misfortunes were “exposure to drought” and unemployment rate. The study suggests that belief in witchcraft may actually be a “coping mechanism” for dealing with such things.
But what is witchcraft, anyway? The study defines it as “an ability of certain people to intentionally cause harm via supernatural means.” Following this definition, all of the surveys included in their dataset asked a question regarding the evil eye, a method I found particularly intriguing.
The full question was: “Do you believe in the evil eye, or that certain people can cast curses or spells that cause bad things to happen to someone?” Their reasoning for this question was that it referenced both the evil eye curse itself, as well as what they call the “concept of witchcraft,” allowing them to focus specifically on belief.
Where Are We Going?
I thought this study was an interesting one, because it comes at a time when the practice of witchcraft, and belief in certain aspects of the paranormal, seems to be on the rise.
Now, as I alluded to at the top of this article, I’ve been away for quite a while. Like a worn-out, poorly written Luke Skywalker who cut himself off from the Force, I’ve cut myself off from the Paranormal. Is that such a bad thing? Maybe, maybe not. I had my reasons.
But the point is, I have no idea where the paranormal stands in 2023. I have a feeling it’s still a mess, but we’ll see. Stay tuned for my next article where I try to catch myself up. And probably fail at it.
That said, I want to share two other articles regarding belief in witchcraft that highlight this trend of increasing interest. An article from 2018, titled “The US witch population has seen an astronomical rise,” showed that, in the United States, the number of practicing Wiccans had grown from about 8,000 people in 1990 to a whopping 1-1.5 million in 2014.
Last year, an article at NBC News likewise highlighted the increase in witchcraft and paganism in their article “Why paganism and witchcraft are making a comeback,” specifically pointing out the role social networks like TikTok (WitchTok?) and Instagram are playing in the spread of “magical practice.” Will this trend continue?
A Gallup poll that I shared back in October 2021 also pointed to an increase of belief in “spacecraft from other planets,” with about 41% of U.S. adults believing so. Perhaps this is the overall percentage of those who believe in the paranormal, around 40%?
In the end, there’s always a middle ground. And that middle ground lies in the word “maybe.” I’m an absurdist, after all; I don’t know what the heck is going on.
Is witchcraft real? I don’t think I’ve ever seen it in action, but I suppose you never know. Not to mention, things viewed as magical, if they do exist, could have scientific explanations we simply do not have, yet. For example, I’ve always thought an ability to “see the future” could simply be an ability to recognize and predict patterns better than others. Who’s to say?
As for belief itself, even here at Stranger Dimensions we’ve seen just how many people do believe in the power of curses, such as those who chose to apologize to Robert the Doll. Why take the chance, right?