Anomalous Experiences Reported by Field Anthropologists: Evaluating Theories Regarding Religion



Content analysis of published accounts of 40 anomalous experiences reported by anthropologists allows qualitative evaluationof elements within evolutionary theories pertaining to religion .The analysis supports findings from previous studies indicating that certain anomalous experienceshave cross-culturally consistent features. Narrative and structural features within the anthropologists' accounts coincide with those gathered in northeastern North Carolina and many other areas.The data also reveal the capacity of these episodes to transform belief, supporting an experiential source theory regarding faith in spirits, souls, life after death, and magical abilities.The narratives indicate that anomalous perceptions cause some anthropologists to consider novel theories.This study supports evolutionary explanations for the origin of religion and provides predictions regarding research directions in anthropology.