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February 5, 2006 3:20 PM   Subscribe

73% of American Teens Experimenting with the Occult Fundamentalist religious research group the Barna Group has published the results of a study with 4000 teens that shows that a third of American teenagers have used a Ouija board, 1 in 10 have been in a real seance and 1 in 12 have cast spells or made potions. Also here, here. I for one blame this guy and this girl.
posted by tranceformer (77 comments total)

 
Yes its exaggerated because its a christian research group, but interesting none the less, no?
posted by tranceformer at 3:21 PM on February 5, 2006


no.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 3:23 PM on February 5, 2006


No, not really.

I think it safe to say that 100% of teenagers experiment with something that they think will piss their parents off.
posted by InnocentBystander at 3:24 PM on February 5, 2006


In other news, 97% of American teens have prayed.
posted by verb at 3:27 PM on February 5, 2006


Really no.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 3:27 PM on February 5, 2006


Hey they didn't count the ones going to church !
posted by elpapacito at 3:28 PM on February 5, 2006


Are you kidding me? Ouija boards? Watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer? Hey, if you've read Snow White to your kids, have you exposed your children to polygamous non-standard family units?
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 3:32 PM on February 5, 2006


they are subverting our family values. aren't any of you shocked by this?
posted by tranceformer at 3:38 PM on February 5, 2006


H6a6r6r6y P6o6t6t6e6r
posted by digaman at 3:39 PM on February 5, 2006


73% of American Teens Experimenting with the Occult

All that praying before tests....
posted by rough ashlar at 3:39 PM on February 5, 2006


I for one blame this guy and this girl.

I for one blame this girl for doing it to prior generations.
posted by Mijo Bijo at 3:39 PM on February 5, 2006


using a Ouija board is 'experimenting' with the occult? That's not experimentation, it's stupidity...

I'm not moving it.

Yes, you are.

I am not

Well, I'm not moving it

Hey, let's experiment with something else. I have a bootleg copy of Brokeback Mountain on the computer in my room.

I wish I could quit you...



Meaningless study...
posted by WhipSmart at 3:41 PM on February 5, 2006


Palm Reading? Fortune telling? Ouija boards? They call that occult? What a bunch of lightweights. Here I was hoping that teens were performing gnostic masses, joining the OTO, and ritualistically invoking Choronzon.
posted by Ndwright at 3:42 PM on February 5, 2006


/sarcasm
posted by tranceformer at 3:45 PM on February 5, 2006


1 in 10 have been in a real seance. Ahem. Please. How many in ten were in a fake one?

My friends and I played with a Ouija board once when we were eight. It was less an experimentation with the occult than an excuse to screw with some kid's head and convince him he was going to be slaughtered by some dude with a hook for a hand.

These are the same kinds of numbers I got in all sorts of Christian literature, ranging from the why I should burn my rock CD books to those bizarre Christian comics about hell. It's little more than a fundraising drive trying to scare the choir so they cough up some more dough.
posted by jbielby at 3:51 PM on February 5, 2006


Give this guy another year or two and the numbers should drop down to 0%.
posted by Mijo Bijo at 3:51 PM on February 5, 2006


I offer my rebuttal: bwahaha
posted by mcsweetie at 3:53 PM on February 5, 2006


yes, but how many of their experiments had positive results?
posted by b1tr0t at 4:06 PM on February 5, 2006


One hundred percent of Christians have experimented with the occult.
posted by substrate at 4:24 PM on February 5, 2006


Poster has a good point:

they are subverting our family values. aren't any of you shocked by this?

I agree completely. The decay of good old American values like openmindedness and self-sufficiency, and a refusal to hide from the new - the very values that made this country great, are being subverted by fundamentalist....

...oh, wait. That's not what you meant? I'm confused tranceformer - who's subverting what? Harry Potter and Buffy are subverting our values? How's that again? Any value system that could be destroyed by a TV show and the first books in decades to get kids reading is not really a value system worth defending, is it?
posted by freebird at 4:27 PM on February 5, 2006


This study was done just to give the Christian right something else to foam at the mouth over ('cuz you know, they need to keep busy). And, yeah, the irony of the fact that Christianity is a form of occultism will be completely lost on the survey's intended audience was completlely intentional by the designers of the survey. So, no, it's not really interesting except as another example of the mouth breathing many being taken-in and manipulated by the devious few, and examples like this crop up pretty much daily.
posted by doctor_negative at 4:38 PM on February 5, 2006


Interesting that they list the movie The Exorcism of Emily Rose, which I've heard is pretty Christian in nature. Oh, wait. Catholic. It's Catholic, not Christian. That's still evil.

Anyway, does anyone else get the heebie-jeebies looking at the Barna Group's masthead? The thumbprint logo and the slogan, "Your partner for information, strategy, execution & transformation," make me nervous. Any organization with a slogan that vague just has to be evil.
posted by brundlefly at 4:38 PM on February 5, 2006


Yeah, this is kids stuff. A friend of mine opened up a gate to hell in his parent's basement. He just hung a sheet over it and pushed a couch in front of it. It's there to this day.
posted by Balisong at 4:40 PM on February 5, 2006


Next thing you know, we'll here that some teens will have sex with males and females.
posted by dial-tone at 4:42 PM on February 5, 2006


Man, these fundamentalists are pretty scary.

Good thing my Bracers of Orion add +5 to my saving roll against Chaotic Good spellcasters. Whew.
posted by ori at 4:46 PM on February 5, 2006


If anything this is a powerful commentary about how seriously "values" are taken by a certain subset of the population.
posted by Skorgu at 4:55 PM on February 5, 2006


Occult™ Totally fucking heavy ®
posted by fire&wings at 4:55 PM on February 5, 2006


Balisong is my new hero.

I have a kid with a sheet over his closet door and damn near fell out of my chair. Thank-you.
posted by cedar at 4:56 PM on February 5, 2006


This pales in comparison to the danger posed by Dihyrogen Monoxide, which our teens are exposed to in their homes, at school, and even at church!
posted by dws at 4:58 PM on February 5, 2006


Ouija board = gateway drug
posted by wakko at 5:07 PM on February 5, 2006


Yes, but how many of their experiments had positive results?
I suspect most ended rather like this:


posted by nlindstrom at 5:10 PM on February 5, 2006


Harrumph! What, teenagers have yet to explore spirit photography in the age of digital cameras? For discussion and examples--some of them credulous, one should note--see The American Museum of Photography, Beyond the Grave (courtesy of the American Philosophical Society), The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Early Attempts at Spiritual Photography, Museum of Hoaxes (on William Mumler), The Haunted Museum, and Spirit Photographs.

The report is oddly lacking in historical awareness; after all, Christians--evangelicals included--have done this routine before. In the Victorian period, my home base, Christians explored all sorts of spiritualist and psychic claims. Hence the enormous and international popularity of Elizabeth Stuart Phelps' The Gates Ajar, a spiritualist-cum-Christian account of Heaven.
posted by thomas j wise at 5:31 PM on February 5, 2006


Oh c'mon. You aren't deep in the Oh-Cult until you've been to your first Cthulhu party.

I still have the little soapstone figurine they handed out at the door of the one I went to. Cute li'l guy.
posted by JHarris at 5:43 PM on February 5, 2006


I not only experimented with the occult as a youngin, I even tampered with Christianity. Fortunately I wised up before going too far.
posted by Citizen Premier at 5:53 PM on February 5, 2006


73% of teenagers experimenting with the occult
Only 2% using proper experimental controls and double-blind tests.
Do you realize what percent submit their findings to peer reviewed journals? Zero!

The problem isn't that too many kids are experimenting, it's that they're experimenting so badly!
posted by Bugbread at 6:20 PM on February 5, 2006


Awesomely said, bugbread.
posted by Citizen Premier at 6:32 PM on February 5, 2006


Cthulhu.
posted by Ritchie at 6:34 PM on February 5, 2006


lol @ bugbread.
posted by Firas at 6:48 PM on February 5, 2006


I experimented with God once, but she's a poor loser...
posted by nosophoros at 6:59 PM on February 5, 2006


that's great, nlindstrom and bugbread
posted by b1tr0t at 7:11 PM on February 5, 2006


I know people who have talked to demons. And no, I am not talking about people with mental illness, either.

That crap ain't nothing to fool with.
posted by konolia at 7:11 PM on February 5, 2006


One hundred percent of Christians have experimented with the occult. Amongst other comments tagging Christianity as occult.

Actually, no. Occult means 'hidden', as in 'esoteric'. Christianity is an exoteric religion.

The only bits of Christianity that could be considered 'occult' would be Christian mysticism (and that's a stretch), or the idea of Rosicrucian orders (not AMORC), which rely largely on Christian symbolism to teach occult and Hermetic ideas. However, since Rosicrucianism is Hermetic philosophy, deriving (not in an unbroken line, but philosophically) from various pre-existing esoteric traditions with Christian symbolism tacked on, it's not exactly Christianity, per se.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 7:24 PM on February 5, 2006


Actually, no. Occult means 'hidden', as in 'esoteric'.

Which actually sums up this report quite nicely.

Kids are tinkering around with stuff that isn't already widely known or practiced, and people are upset.

This exhibit is closed.
posted by poweredbybeard at 7:30 PM on February 5, 2006


dirtynumbangelboy,

Good point. By that token, considering how public Wiccanism, et al, are, most of the stuff included in the survey is not the occult.
posted by Bugbread at 7:31 PM on February 5, 2006


maybe kids today are just (gasp) more open minded and see less of a difference between the stories thier told in church and the stories thier told in thier coven or science classroom...but as long as they follow the rules and do no harm what the hell is the fuss about?

oh, and props to bugbread...if only we were all taught proper logical examination of the emotions of spirituality
posted by NGnerd at 7:35 PM on February 5, 2006


My Leprechaun tells me to burn things.
posted by homunculus at 7:37 PM on February 5, 2006


I know people who have talked to demons. And no, I am not talking about people with mental illness, either.

Demons? Really? You should really get in touch with the Amazing Randi. You could become pretty wealthy with almost no work on your part.

Although this won't happen because demons don't exist.
posted by bshort at 7:40 PM on February 5, 2006


Actually, I don't think this is the kind of issue that the Randi challenge could address.

From Randi's website: "At JREF, we offer a one-million-dollar prize to anyone who can show, under proper observing conditions, evidence of any paranormal, supernatural, or occult power or event."

Here, Konolia is not claiming to be able to show anything, even under improper observing conditions.

I agree with your conclusion, that it won't happen because demons don't exist, but posit that even if demons did exist, Konolia has made no claims about knowing how to summon one, so she wouldn't qualify to take the challenge in the first place. Getting in touch with Randi would be silly.
posted by Bugbread at 7:56 PM on February 5, 2006


It seems like she could get the demons to do something that would qualify.
posted by bshort at 8:07 PM on February 5, 2006


It seems like she could get the demons to do something that would qualify.

Oh yeah, *you* try to talk a demon into doing something it doesn't want to do. They're almost as bad as cats...
posted by mkhall at 8:21 PM on February 5, 2006


I know people who have talked to demons. And no, I am not talking about people with mental illness, either.

Get behind me, satan.

That crap ain't nothing to fool with.

True, but not in the way you intended.
posted by joe lisboa at 8:28 PM on February 5, 2006


"I know people who have talked to demons. And no, I am not talking about people with mental illness, either."

Konolia, I have a healthy respect for the possible existence of non-corporeal entities, and I wouldn't lightly dally with such - even in my head.

Yet, I also I know of people who claim to be able to talk to God, but "God" tells them that large groups of humanity are evil or should be destroyed. Demons are very tricky, it is alleged.

So..... I suppose I'm a demon too.
posted by troutfishing at 8:31 PM on February 5, 2006


Meanwhile.....

James Ridgeway - in the Village Voice - wrote in 1986 :

"Morris is especially concerned with social values. In a pamphlet, "The Battle for Our Children," he attacks Smurf dolls, whose magical games make them agents of Satan
posted by troutfishing at 8:57 PM on February 5, 2006


o no not the smurfs!
posted by exlotuseater at 9:26 PM on February 5, 2006


Now we're talking about demons? Where exactly is this thread going? Oh, right, anyway, about demons:

"It is immaterial whether they exist or not. By doing certain things certain results will follow; students [of teh occultz] are most earnestly warned against attributing objective reality or philosophical validity to any of them."
posted by Ndwright at 9:42 PM on February 5, 2006


As I was reading this thread, my computer randomly played the Super Furry Animals song Demons.

iTunes is subverting family values!!!
posted by mayfly wake at 10:13 PM on February 5, 2006


(out of 6000-odd songs)
posted by mayfly wake at 10:17 PM on February 5, 2006


I, for one, blame MySpace for this.
posted by SirOmega at 10:50 PM on February 5, 2006


let us not forget the warnings we received in Hairy Polarity
posted by arialblack at 11:28 PM on February 5, 2006


arialblack gets a point for that link. Noted in the sacred book of points.
posted by JHarris at 12:40 AM on February 6, 2006


Teens experiment with things. Truely shocking.
posted by moonbiter at 3:30 AM on February 6, 2006


"It is immaterial whether they exist or not. By doing certain things certain results will follow; students [of teh occultz] are most earnestly warned against attributing objective reality or philosophical validity to any of them."

Excellent point. That's the fun thing about magick in general, and the Western tradition in particular. Whether you believe in things as an objective reality (magick really exists! I can cast a spell/do a working to get a better job!) or as subjective (this is all happening within my own head), the psychological effects are the same, and they exist. Sure, the primary effect, much of the time, is an overblown ego. But hey, not everyone succumbs to that.

bugbread, Wicca (and most neoPaganism in general) wouldn't/shouldn't be defined as occult in the dictionary defintion, true. But many of the subjects taught in many Wiccan/neoPagan traditions would be considered occult subjects. And given that most of those traditions (and many others in the Western Hermetic field) rely on personal thoughts, gnosis, etc, they'd certainly still be considered esoteric, as opposed to the exotericism of religions such as Christianity, Islam, etc.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 6:11 AM on February 6, 2006


troutfishing quotes "...'Morris is especially concerned with social values. In a pamphlet, 'The Battle for Our Children,' he attacks Smurf dolls, whose magical games make them agents of Satan'..."

So that's why they bombed the Smurf village. But why did it take them that long to organize the assault?
posted by caution live frogs at 6:45 AM on February 6, 2006


"o no not the smurfs!"

Blue pinkos.
posted by klangklangston at 7:33 AM on February 6, 2006


the occult, huh? Scary.
posted by obeygiant at 8:07 AM on February 6, 2006


I know people who have talked to demons.

Next time you get to K street, have 'em put in a good word for Metafilter , m-kay?
posted by rough ashlar at 8:24 AM on February 6, 2006


If fundamentalist kids are not allowed to experiment with the occult, drugs or sex then perhaps we should have a collection for chemistry sets? If they are going to experiment at all, better it's with something they can actually learn from.

konolia - I love you, I really do but in your heart of hearts do you really, really believe in demons? Where are they at? Hell? Where is that exactly? The Earth's core? Another dimension? How can you tell the difference between God's voice and a demon's? Does the demon sound more "on fire" or does s/he have that "English villain" accent? What is it exactly that gives the game away for these dastardly monsters?
posted by longbaugh at 8:44 AM on February 6, 2006


Thanks to "The Omen," my husband was sure as a young teenager that the number 666 was tatooed somewhere on the back of his head and he was damned.

Thanks to drugs, for several months my brother talked to a demon that lived in a seashell.

Thanks to my parents, another 12 year old and I fooled around with my new Ouija board that I got for Christmas. At one point we were convinced we were really talking to a dead nun who dwelt in hell.

Note: all of this happened many years before Buffy, The Vampire Slayer or Harry Potter.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 8:46 AM on February 6, 2006


Hell, demons, evil forces, etc are simply memes people made up in order to feel better about the evil things that they do. Literally, "I" didn't do it -- it was that really evil thing that you can't see any evidence of which slaughtered or raped or stole candy from a baby. My own culpability is minor -- I was a victim I tell ya. Oh, yeah.

It's like the old Family Circus cartoon where Billy blames "Not Me" for knocking over the lamp. 'Course, "Not Me" is actually a darkness demon from the third ring of the Pit of everlasting damnation, and he hates lamps. Duh.
posted by mooncrow at 10:16 AM on February 6, 2006


Secret Life of Gravy: Or for that matter, claims of hundreds of victims of human sacrifice buried in mass graves in Texas?

Heard the exact same thing as a kid with much the same claims. But then, it was D&D.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 10:23 AM on February 6, 2006


The occult. Yeah. Ouija boards are put out by fucking Parker Brothers.

Reminds me of the AD&D scare (as well).

Funny, I was reading the Book of the Law, etc. well before I ever heard of RPGs.
Even then, I never connected “magick” with the stuff going on in RPGs.

I just thought of the occult as a nifty prism to bend thought through.
Metaphors for deeply unconscious thought and underlying motivations, etc.

I never took it as literal demons springing up through the ground. Kinda funny that kids do.

I suppose some adults do as well. They should really learn how to connect with reality.

I will say this cheapifying of the ‘occult’ could lead some kids into hazards with it. I mean if you think of vampires only in Buffy terms, you will never realize that there are actual vampires who beguile and suck the life out of you (I’m thinking hollywood agents, Kevin Trudeau, folks who love schadenfraude, pretty much anyone who steals your ‘energy’ etc)

But that’d be part of that game wouldn’t it? Rearranging the meaning of the symbol so that it’s surfice tripe rather than a metaphor for more complex and deeper interactions?

I mean, if you were an actual ‘vampire’ or ‘demon’ wouldn’t you want as superficial a representation as possible? Wouldn’t you want to misrepresent the oppostion’s argument and distort the entire situation?

...so what does that say about the folks raising the alarms here?
posted by Smedleyman at 10:48 AM on February 6, 2006


I just thought of the occult as a nifty prism to bend thought through.

What a great way to put it, Smedleyman. Thank you.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 11:51 AM on February 6, 2006


One person's "occult" experience is another person's "angelic" experience.
posted by cass at 12:59 PM on February 6, 2006


I was exorcised, as a small child. My mother has told me the story many times. Apparantly, a demon was causing my cold sores.

/ Not kidding here, [sigh...]
posted by LordSludge at 1:40 PM on February 6, 2006


Buffy, Shmuffy. Everyone knows it was Willow who made the occult of teh hawt.
posted by Sparx at 2:10 PM on February 6, 2006


Hell, demons, evil forces, etc are simply memes people made up in order to feel better about the evil things that they do. Literally, "I" didn't do it -- it was that really evil thing that you can't see any evidence of which slaughtered or raped or stole candy from a baby. My own culpability is minor -- I was a victim I tell ya. Oh, yeah.

I always figured it was things that people thought up to try to understand why other people did the crazy things they did. "What would drive that man to kill those babies and swim in a pool of their livers? It is evil greater than a man has capacity for." Self-deception, but not self-assuagement.

I think they were wrong, of course, and that man's got as much capacity for evil as he has imagination, but that's a different issue.
posted by Bugbread at 8:31 PM on February 6, 2006


Ouija boards were found right next to Monopoly at your local toy store last I looked. What was once just a game is now a tool of evil? For Christ's sake! (Or was that last a question?)
posted by phewbertie at 4:43 AM on February 7, 2006


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