Kingdom of Priests

Kingdom of Priests

Regional Accents & the Paranormal

Last night as I was warming up dinner I was listening as usual to Coast to Coast AM with its millions of listeners and I was wondering, why does experience of paranormal activity only seem to happen to people with regional accents — primarily Southern but not always? Ghosts, UFOs, demons, remote viewing — these things apparently shy away from people like me whose accent would not link them with any particular part of these United States. It’s not only the callers on Coast to Coast who illustrate this principle but even the guests. Last night the guest I happened to be listening to (subject: demons) spoke about being a resident of the Hudson River valley in New York and he sounded like that was where he’s from.

There is a cynical explanation: that believing in such stuff is a mark of modest education, which in turn can be linked with retaining non-standard pronunciation. Alternatively, it could mean that those of us who like to think of ourselves as educated have been intimidated into thinking that only lower class types have experiences of Bigfoot etc. and so are not open to such experiences precisely because of our own class anxiety with its roots that are totally independent of such matters. Your view?

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posted August 27, 2009 at 1:02 pm

How does that account for Michael Medved believing in Bigfoot? I don’t think he has a regional accent.

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posted August 27, 2009 at 1:35 pm

I’ll be super picky here, David. You mentioned the “experience of paranormal activity … Ghosts, UFOs, demons, remote viewing” and then later on, you mention Bigfoot. Bigfoot, if it would ever be found (and don’t hold your breath, M.M, even though your producer claims he saw Bigfoot), it would not be classified as paranormal. (UFOs are a borderline case)
On a more serious note, it’s hard to make the case of “a mark of modest education, which in turn can be linked with retaining non-standard pronunciation” with people from Boston. (And listen to the thick accent of Chris Langan, the “man with the highest IQ.) I know, I know, exceptions to the rule.

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David Klinghoffer

posted August 27, 2009 at 2:43 pm

Ah, but Abigail, MM while believing in Bigfoot has not, as far as I’m aware, seen Bigfoot, and it’s the experience of the paranormal that’s in question here not belief in it.

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Gabriel Hanna

posted August 27, 2009 at 7:40 pm

One of my cousins, an accountant, is a pretty hilarious guy, and once gave me his impression of Einstein trying to convince everyone of relativity, but with a Southern, instead of a German, accent. He thought Joe Bob Einstein was much less likely to believed.
I told him that one of the most respected speakers at a conference I had recently attended had a very thick Southern accent, and concluded his presentation with “and when my grad students get that together, I can go home and set on the porch.”

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posted August 27, 2009 at 10:10 pm

One thing is that I think most of the people who have “no accent” tend to be in big cities and their suburbs, and in the middle of the city with all the people and the light pollution there are certain things, like bigfoot and UFO, that people in cities just might never have an opportunity to see.
The main thing, though, is that people with “no accent” tend to be college-educated and middle class. I’m sure there are plenty of people of that description who have seen ghosts, or had psychic experiences, or whatever, but they know that many of their friends are hard-core secularists who would look down upon them if they ever admitted to the whole world they thought they had a paranormal experience. Now, I’m sure plenty of college-educated, middle-class people with these experiences have the guts to bring up these topics with their friends in private settings, but not on national radio or TV.
Also, rural and working class people are much more likely to believe in traditional religions, and if you already believe in such beliefs, it often isn’t such a stretch to believe in other paranormal things.

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posted August 30, 2009 at 10:17 am

Perhaps it’s because people with accents are more open-minded about the paranormal.

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posted August 30, 2009 at 5:15 pm

I don’t think I’ve ever really made that observation, maybe you are lumping to many people together. For one, UFOs, ghosts, bigfoot, and the rest are seen in locations around the world, where people have different accents and different languages and wouldn’t be calling in to Coast to Coast AM. Secondly, even in America, accents can vary quite a bit. Typically I think people that are from a different area tend to lump the varying accents of another region into one accent, even though the accent may vary slightly from city to city. I think a good example are English accents. Depending on where you go in England, the accent sounds a little different…and I’m not talking about the differences in the Scottish and Irish accents, I’m just talking about the English accent itself.
Sometimes accents vary even in the same city. I’ve been told many times that I don’t sound like I’m from where I’m from (North Carolina)when I meet new people around here. Yet, if I go out of state, people tell me I sound like I’m from here. Go figure.
Now if you’re just insinuating that people who sound ‘dumb’ are primarily all that see this phenomena, then I’m not sure what to tell you. There are plenty of people that don’t sound dumb that have seen these things or research them. Typically, many ‘well-educated’ people have a tendency to stay away from these subjects for fear of being labeled as nuts. For whatever reason, the ‘well-educated’ seem to be a rather close minded bunch.

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posted August 31, 2009 at 2:33 pm

Interesting! I wish I could be taken on a spaceship to a faraway planet and not come back.

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Your Name

posted September 1, 2009 at 12:17 pm

You are goofy. period.

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posted September 4, 2009 at 3:43 pm

Where are you from that you think you don’t have a “regional accent” I wonder? Everybody’s got one. You may talk like a network newsman, but that’s still a regional accent. And it doesn’t say anything about you except where you are from. You may think your environment makes you less credulous than other people, but that’s just your attitude.

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Rhetta Akamatsu

posted September 10, 2009 at 2:26 pm

I find it fascinating that you feel that having a regional accent means that one is less educated, or that having an open mind about the paranormal mean that one is not well educated. The fact that one is willing to at least consider the possibility that we do not know everything there is to know does not seem to me to indicate less education or less intelligence. As for me, certainly I speak with a southern accent, which I cherish, but I also am an author with a degree in English and an IQ which, when last professionally tested, was well above average. I believe in paranormal phenomena, and as a paranormal investigator I have witnessed unexplainable things. I do not know what they mean or what causes them, but that does not mean that I am going to pretend they do not exist.

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posted September 11, 2009 at 5:04 am

Rhetta wrote: “I find it fascinating that you feel that having a regional accent means that one is less educated,”
Towards whom are you making that charge? I suppose David could be accused of believing such a thing, but only if one ignores the phrase he used: “There is a /cynical/ explanation”

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