There is a kind of paradox, at least in the case of the United States, that the establishment clause of the U.S. Constitution, along with the tremendous growth in scientific achievement and high income growth, is creating a kind of individualism in religious and spiritual beliefs. The paradox is that this development might well parallel that of Paleolithic hunters who, some anthropologists believe, espoused highly individualistic beliefs. This is evidenced by the multiplication of recognized sects and New Age forms of religion, some of them animistic in nature, in which the independence of individual beliefs becomes paramount. In the Encyclopedia of American Religions, 2,630 U.S. and Canadian religions are described and broken down into twenty-six groups or "families" of faiths.52 The author finds, for example, in addition to the majority of Christian faiths, distinct groups of 325 Pentecostals and 224 Spiritualist, Psychic, and New Age groups. Distinctive forms of individualistic spiritualism are emerging in advanced countries. Where relative income levels are low or nonexistent (as in primitive nomadic hunting groups), religion was by all accounts a highly individualistic matter. In high-income, wealthy societies, where highly structured, time-consuming ritual is shunned, spiritual individualism again becomes a principal mode of keeping existential dread at bay.53
With these considerations in mind—that is, that forms of animism appeal to both low- and high-income individuals in high-income societies— we have constructed a test of the determinants of animistic practices in the United States. There is no reliable data source for psychics or New Age religions by state for the United States.54 We have therefore constructed a data set of psychics, mediums, spiritual advisors, and "consultants" for the United States by surveying the Yellow Pages in these categories. Calculations were made for the three most populous cities in each state plus a random sample of five cities and towns with less than fifty thousand in population. From these data, psychics per ten thousand in population (LPCC) was calculated with complete data for each of forty-six states.55 We regress variables against our constructed dependent variable—psychics per ten thousand in the population—and use an ordinary least squares (OLS) technique (in log form), a technique widely used in economics, social sciences, and other sciences as well. OLS is a basic statistical practice for testing the validity of some theory about the behavior of a particular variable. A variety of forms of the technique are used, but the central principle of OLS is called the Best Linear Unbiased Estimates, meaning that the regression technique fits the best possible relationship between the explanatory variables and the variable to be explained. In the case at hand, the following explanatory variables were regressed against our constructed dependent variable:
LINC = log of per capita state income for forty-six states; LHSG = log of the high school graduation rate for each state; LPCTHIS = log of the percentage of Hispanics in each state; DCAP = a dummy variable for the state of California. Our test equation is
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