BERMUDA TRIANGLE’S FACTS AND MYTHS

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Bermuda Triangle – Facts and Myths

About Bermuda Triangle

Bermuda Triangle is a strange triangular area on the Atlantic ocean where many ships sailing through it or planes flying over it have apparently disappeared without a trace. In few of such cases where wrecks could be found, the crew had vanished. And such incidents have been happening since centuries.
More than 1,000 ships and planes have disappeared in the triangle area over the past five centuries and such mysterious incidents on the Atlantic continue to take place even at present days.
So getting excited already? Well, the facts however are quite far from what is generally known or believed to be true. Many stories and myths have been created by writers through sheer imagination which they used rampantly to draw publicity to their books. In many cases, the facts got blurred. Many theories, controversies and counter arguments have come up over the years challenging the mysteries that created fear psychosis among people since ages.
So what is the fact? Is it at all true? Partially true? Or all nonsense? Let’s dig deeper to understand that while keeping in mind that far too many incidents have taken place in this area for it to be ignored.

How did it all start?

It all started by authors who were novel writers, and the mystery was initially perpetuated by them. But don’t jump into a conclusion yet. While we all know that novel writers are good in wild imaginations, but many of these writers were actually popular and well respected authors of their times.
The abnormalities on the sea was first noted in 1950 by Edward Jones in the daily newspaper Miami Herald published in Florida. However the mystery started catching wide-scale attention in 1952 when George Sand wrote in Fate magazine about incidents like Flight-19, a training flight of five torpedo bomber planes, all of which went missing during a routine training session in 1945 and never returned.
Subsequently several authors wrote about various other mysterious incidents in the triangle area. While some of such reports were dubious or without much substance, several incidents had actually occurred and remained unexplained. The words around the mystery started spreading fast, and soon Bermuda Triangle was a reality, at least in the minds of millions all over the world.
Visit History of Bermuda Triangle to know more about its genesis.

Where is Bermuda Triangle?

By the simplest of all definitions, Bermuda Triangle is located off the South-Eastern coast of the United States and forms a triangular zone in the Atlantic Ocean. The three corners of the triangle are: Miami (in Florida); San Juan (in Puerto Rico); and Bermuda (a north-Atlantic island on which it has been so named). The American author Vincent Gaddis was the first to define this boundary in 1964 in an issue of the magazine named Argosy and called the area ‘The Deadly Bermuda Triangle’.
However over the years, several other authors kept extending the area beyond its original boundary because they seemed to identify mysterious incidents in nearby areas as well.
Visit Triangle Location & Map to get details about the area, how it is actually laid out on the Atlantic, understand if it actually has a map to identify the location (i.e. latitude / longitude), and whether you will ever know when you are entering the dreaded area as you take a cruise or flight.

Disappearances

Below are some amazing stories of planes and ships that disappeared or met with ill fate while crossing the triangle area. As you visit the links, you will also see my findings behind such great mysteries of all times. In most cases I have discussed and explained the possible causes, in some cases I have also given excerpts from official reports that were produced by US Navy, US Air Force or US Coast Guards after completing the search operations. And in several cases, I have given updates on further findings.
Flight 19 
The Avenger planes of Flight-19 took off from the U.S Naval Base of Florida for a routine training session on an afternoon of December 1945, but strangely this time they never returned.
PBM Martin Mariner 
When all hopes for the above Flight-19 planes were quickly fading, two Martin Mariner planes (flying boats) were sent by US Navy to search them out. After extensive search, one of them returned, but the other didn’t and disappeared forever.
Tudor Star Tiger 
Star Tiger, a Tudor Mark-IV aircraft disappeared from the radar while flying over Bermuda Triangle and shortly before it was about to land at the Bermuda airport.
Fight DC-3 
The aircraft disappeared when it was only 50 miles south of Florida and about to land in Miami.
Flight 441 
A Super Constellation Naval Airliner disappeared in October 1954.
C-54 Skymaster 
Apparently it seemed to be a sudden thunderstorm that had disintegrated the plane. But there was much more to the story of Skymaster.
Mary Celeste: The Ghost Ship 
Known as one of the ghost ships of Bermuda Triangle, Mary Celeste had many misadventures even before her mystery voyage in 1872. But this time, although the ship could be salvaged, none on board could ever be traced.
Carroll A. Deering 
This is another ghost ship of Bermuda triangle which created one of the biggest maritime mysteries of all times. While returning from Rio de Janeiro of Brazil to Portland in Maine in January 1921, it was found abandoned and derelict at Diamond Shoals, off Cape Hatteras in North Carolina. But all the 11 crewmen including the captain were missing. They vanished for ever and never to be found again.
Marine Sulphur Queen 
This 524-foot carrier of molten sulphur started sail on Feb 2, 1963 from Beaumont, Texas with 39 crew. It was reported lost in Florida Straits on February 4, and lost for ever.
Ellen Austin 
The Ellen Austin, an American schooner, met with another ship in Bermuda Triangle. The other ship was moving in full speed but strangely had nobody on board.
USS Cyclops 
Disappearance of the carrier ship in Bermuda Triangle has been one of the greatest mysteries of the sea. The Cargo ship was scheduled to reach Baltimore on March 13, 1918, but it never did.
USS Scorpion 
USS Scorpion (SSN-589) was a Nuclear powered submarine of United States Navy that disappeared in Bermuda Triangle area in May 1968. Know the full facts behind USS Scorpion
List of all major Incidents 
The above are only few cases of disappearances. There are many more.
Visit Bermuda Triangle Incidents of Disappearances for a list of all the major indents in the triangle area that took place over the past centuries including the latest ones.

Theories explaining the mysteries

So what caused the ships and aircraft to disappear mysteriously? There have been many research and explorations done to uncover the mystery. There is no single theory that can explain all the incidents of disappearances. The ships and aircraft could have been victims of different circumstances, and things would have happened quickly and unexpectedly. While many theories have come up from researchers and scientists trying to explain the various incidents, here are few of the most popular ones:
Methane Gas 
The gas trapped under sea floor can erupt, and as a result can lower the water density and cause ships to sink like a rock. Even planes flying over it, can catch fire and get completely destroyed during such gas blowout… Read how methane gas could be the culprit behind so many tragedies
Sargasso Sea 
It’s a strange ocean area that has no shores and bounded only by water currents on all sides. Many ships passing through it have been stranded and made motionless. Many were found derelict and without a soul… Know how Sargasso sea became a deadly trap for boats
Electronic Fog 
A strange thick cloud appears from nowhere and engulfs a ship or a plane. Instruments begin to malfunction, and finally the ship or the aircraft vanishes without a trace..
Hexagonal Cloud & Air Bombs 
From satellite images Meteorologists have recently discovered strange hexagonal clouds that are capable of blasting winds to the ocean below at huge speeds. And such wind storms on the ocean can create waves as high as 45-feet. Planes and ships under such cloud can sink in no time.
All Major Theories 
There are many other theories that try to solve or explain the mysteries of Bermuda Triangle and try to identify factors causing such incidents. Visit Theories of Bermuda Triangle to know about them all.

Conclusion – The Facts & Myths

Since a magazine first coined the phrase ‘Bermuda Triangle’ in early 1950s, the mystery has continued to attract attention. When repeated mysterious incidents of such large scale take place in the same area, it’s quite understandable that it would spread like fire, draw large interests among people across various interest levels including researchers, scientists, critics and of course the general mass, and eventually take a mammoth shape over time. Indeed Bermuda Triangle has become a living legend. But what is the real truth behind all this?
First, there is no denying that many of the incidents reported on Bermuda Triangle have actually taken place. Because a plane or ship not returning or reaching its destination is clearly recorded with official agencies concerned including US Navy, US Coast Guard etc. And there have been hundreds of such incidents. In few cases oil leakage, floats or wrecks could be found while in others, there were no trace of anything…. this is a fact.
So the question is not about whether the incidents took place at all or not. It’s about how they took place. This is where explanations start getting blurred, as sometimes facts get mixed up with speculations, even with imaginations.
However there are certain facts which are clear and beyond anybody’s doubts.
One such known fact is about the water area around the island Bermuda which forms one corner of the triangle. Bermuda island is located about 650 miles off the east coast of the US. It is known that over 300 shipwrecks lie on the seafloor surrounding Bermuda that includes prominent ones like The Constellation, The Cristobal Colon, The Mary Celestia, Montana, Xingda and lot more, many of which have now become popular scuba diving sites. If you are interested to know about these wrecks and the stories behind them, read Shipwrecks around the islands of Bermuda.
So what could be the cause behind so many ships finding their graveyard around Bermuda island? The reason is simple… In fact about 200 square miles of water area surrounding Bermuda is full of dangerous underwater reefs. These reefs had created severe hazards when the pilots had to mainly depend on compass and charts to navigate ships. The reefs rising from the bottom of the sea and remaining hidden below the water surface tore apart the hulls of numerous ships that passed over them. These days however with advanced GPS system, pilots can easily navigate around hidden reefs and such accidents haven’t taken place for long many years since the invention of GPS.
Here is one more… Scientists have found some unusual geological formations on the seafloor within the Bermuda Triangle area. The ocean floor at some places suddenly drop to huge depths. In fact, some locations within the triangle have deepest trenches in the whole of Atlantic. And within this area many vessels were seemingly lost.
Another strange natural phenomena is the whirlpools with strong tidal currents that are found in the waters of Bahamas (a cluster of over 700 islands, islets and cays) that lie near the western corner of Bermuda Triangle and about 50 miles off the coast of Florida. These are formed due to the large underwater caves known as Blue Holes and have the potential of sucking in a ship that pass over them.
If you want to know about all the facts, scientific explanations and even speculations behind unexplained disappearances, then read The causes behind the Bermuda Triangle phenomena.
So at this point it is fair to say that many disappearances in the triangle are real… while some have probable explanations and some do not. However there are still some questions that spring up. For example… are there any other ocean areas on earth where similar such incidents take place? Are the numbers of such incidents similar or even more than Bermuda Triangle? So if the numbers are similar or more, are such incidents actually normal on any ocean routes?
Let’s explore this, because this can throw some lights on whether we are believing something imaginary or real when it comes to speculation….
Larry Kusche, a librarian in Arizona State University was a big critic of Bermuda Triangle and made a deep research into the incidents and finally published his book ‘The Bermuda Triangle Mystery: Solved’ in 1975. Most of his research was based on referring newspapers of the times that reported the incidents, checking out the meteorological (weather) reports of the days the incidents took place.
He concluded that the total number of such incidents in the triangle area is nothing unusual in a place where tropical cyclones or hurricanes are quite common. His study also showed that number of incidents in Bermuda Triangle is not significantly more compared to several other ocean areas.
Kusche further clarified that several authors wrongly reported some of the incidents and created juicy stories out of them. He pointed out a case where an author misreported a ship disappearing three days after it left a port in Atlantic while the fact was the ship actually left a port of the same name from Pacific ocean which was over 3,000 miles away.
In another case Kusche showed that an author described a ship getting lost in calm sea while the meteorological report showed a strong cyclone was passing by.
Now read this… Lloyd’s is a London based insurance body and active in marine insurance market since long. They insure ships on voyage. When Lloyd’s was asked by a UK television channel if they noted unusual number of ships sinking or getting lost in Bermuda Triangle, they answered ‘NO’. They further confirmed that they do not even charge higher insurance rates for ships passing through Bermuda Triangle area because they consider it safe.
The US Coast Guard also supported Lloyd’s observation that the number of reported missing cases in Bermuda Triangle is nothing unusual.
Here is one more… A study conducted in 2013 for WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature) reported the 10 most accident prone ocean areas in the world for shipping. And that does not include Bermuda Triangle. In fact based on accidents recorded, the most dangerous water areas are South China Sea, the Mediterranean and the North Sea.
Now the food for thought… So does it all mean the notion of Bermuda Triangle being dreaded is baseless? Is it all hunky-dory out there?
Well, there are several questions which still need to be answered before we can come to that conclusion, if at all. Hundreds of ships and planes were actually lost in that area, and many such cases are not yet explained with evidence. It is a fact that authors fanned the fire to take commercial advantage of the situation. But it is hard to believe that a legend of such gigantic nature is just a baseless myth that continues to engulf the world for so many decades. Despite thorough and sustained investigations, numerous incidents continue to baffle the investigators.
It is well known that marine and airway channels across Bermuda Triangle are some of the busiest and most commercially used routes in the world. They are used extensively by numerous cruise lines and airlines connecting The USA, Europe, Caribbean islands, Bermuda, South America and even Africa.
Think of what may happen to billions of dollars of thriving international business and its impact on economy if the area gets to be known as dreaded? Will anybody want such flourishing economy to get jeopardized by officially calling out the area as dangerous?
Many conflicting possibilities exist to keep the Bermuda Triangle mystery alive. But that does not deter anybody these days to visit the Island of Bermuda (one corner of the triangle) which is one of the top island destinations in the world with lovely pink sandy beaches and lovelier people. Millions of tourists visit Bermuda by cruise ships and airplanes crossing the triangle area and return safe and hearty.
But, what about safety within Bermuda island itself? If you plan to visit the island or want to know about safety issues in Bermuda, if there are any, suggest you read Is Bermuda Safe?
Raj is an avid traveler and a full-time travel blogger. He has traveled to numerous countries across the world and loves to keep travelling. His mission here is to help viewers like you visiting Bermuda or seeking insights into related matters with the most comprehensive content compared to any other online resources. Since years now he has been helping countless viewers by posting quality articles on this website, answering questions and sharing experiences. Launched in 2008, this website is Bermuda’s leading source of online information since many years.

SCANDALOUS FREEMASON SECRETS !

Top 10 Scandalous Freemason Secrets

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The Freemasons are one of the most secretive and controversial religious groups in the world. Masons have existed for centuries – and if we are to believe their claims, they’ve existed covertly for even longer. Whatever their history, speculation has always been an enjoyable pastime – and this is especially true in the case of the Masons’ more scandalous secrets. Having passed down traditions and secrets from one generation of initiates to the next, they make it difficult to know what’s outdated and what’s still practiced. Consider these ten masonic activities as provisional facts – we don’t know for sure, but it’s always an interesting exercise to imagine what might be going on behind our backs.

10

They will not testify truthfully against each other

Gavel
Freemasons are commanded not to testify truthfully when another Mason is on trial. They admit that it may be perjury, but to them, it is a far greater sin to not protect one of their own.

Want more scandalous secrets? Discover them all in 101 Secrets of the Freemasons: The Truth Behind the World’s Most Mysterious Society at Amazon.com!

9

They have a secret handshake

Pope Blair Mason Handshake1
Though some members deny it to the public, the Freemasons have at least one secret masonic handshake. Supposedly, there are even phrases a Freemason can utter when facing grave danger – causing other members to rush to their aid. The founder of Mormonism, Joseph Smith, is said to have uttered this phrase in the last moments before his death.

8

They have several secret passwords

Masonic French
This is one of the best-known facts about the Masons, but the general perception is that they have just one password. In fact, there are several passwords for various occasions and reasons. As the one person with the final syllable for the ultimate secret word was murdered, they substituted “mor-bon-zi” for this word, and only very few people know the actual secret word. This secret word is used only for ceremonies: “tu-bal-cain” is the more common secret password, on the tip of every Freemason tongue.

7

Their rituals involve a noose

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The initiation rituals- though described by Masons as beautiful ceremonies – include a noose. It’s hard to tell whether this is meant as a threat, a call to maintain silence, or simply as the symbol of an umbilical cord (as they claim), but in any case, it’s unusual enough to warrant a mention.

6

They’re obsessed with the sun

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Freemasons believe that the east symbolizes rebirth. They sing the sun in its flight – marvelling at its passage through the sky. Masonic lodges tend to be built in the east and in the west, as an attempt to control solar power for their own purposes.



5

Masons exclude atheists

Russell-2
It’s impossible to become a Freemason if you’re an atheist. The first requirement is that potential members must believe in a higher power of some sort. They claim not to care what higher power that is, but you must define it for yourself. You can lie about it, but religion seems to be a point of honor among them. On the other hand, traditionally excluded groups – such as gay men – are included in Masonry, so long as they behave in the same moral manner as other groups. The temple still excludes women, but some groups are currently challenging that fact.

4

They work to control politics and finance in various countries

Handshake
The official corruption of Masonry is well-documented, but often covered up. Half a million Masons in England are disproportionately involved in banking, politics, and government. Even hospitals and universities are often controlled by the Masons.

3

Their symbol is on the dollar bill

Dollar Ase
If you’ve ever looked closely at the US dollar bill, you’ve probably seen the All-Seeing Eye above the pyramid. This symbol is a Freemason symbol, and the Latin underneath is a Freemason motto, meaning “new world order”. Many say that the decision to include this masonic symbol was not influenced by Freemasons – Benjamin Franklin being the only Mason on the design committee – but the coincidence remains fascinating all the same.

2

Anders Breivik was a Mason

Breivik 2194965B
Breivik – responsible for the 2011 mass murder in Norway – was a member of the Lodge of St. Olaf in Oslo. He was promptly excluded – but his degree of involvement within the organization is open for debate.

1

Masons played a key role in space exploration

Buzz Aldrin 01
Some say that Masons have an agenda to take over the world – but some Masons seem to have their sights set on the moon. Astronauts in the Apollo program – including Buzz Aldrin – were self-professed Masons. Their rite flags have been to the moon and back, and Aldrin seems to have claimed the moon for his Masonic lodge in Texas.

Some of these strange and scandalous secrets of the Freemasons are obviously urban legends, and should be taken with a grain of salt; but others seem to contain a degree of truth. One thing’s for certain – Masonry is by no means an outdated cult. It still has many active members who seem to be working for some purpose – even if we can’t all agree on what that is.

THE POOREST TOWNS IN US STATES

50 million Americans live in poverty — here are the poorest towns in every US state

Hillsville Main businesses va
A view of Main Street in Hillsville, Virginia. 
Brian Stansberry/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 4.0

  • Currently, close to 50 million Americans live below the official poverty income of $25,100 a year, or less, for a family of four.
  • Poverty is the most extreme example of financial hardship, but the official poverty rate fails to capture tens of millions of additional Americans who also struggle to make ends meet.
  • Low-income Americans often struggle to afford even the most basic necessities — the towns on this list often have a high SNAP recipiency rates.
  • Centreville, Illinois is the poorest town in the United States, with a town median household income of $16,715.
  • New Square, New York has the highest poverty and SNAP recipiency rates of any town in the United States — 70% of the population lives in poverty.
  • In over half of all towns on this list, more than one in every four residents live in poverty, well above the US poverty rate of 15.1%.

Income inequality is a growing problem in the United States. Perhaps more evident now than in any time in recent memory, conspicuous consumption is juxtaposed with abject poverty in cities and towns across the country. While the rich and poor often live side by side, in some American towns, serious financial hardship is a daily reality for most who live there.

In every state, there are towns where the median household income falls well below the state and national median incomes. In over a dozen states, there are towns in which the typical household earns less than half the income that a typical household statewide earns.

24/7 Wall St. reviewed the median annual household income in every American town to identify the poorest town in each state. Even in wealthy states like Maryland and New Jersey there are towns that rank among the poorest in the country.

1. Selma, Alabama

Main_Street_Facades_ _Selma_ _Alabama_ _USA_(33594656114)
41.4% of Selma’s 20,000 residents live below the poverty line. 
Adam Jones/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 2.0

  • Town median household income: $23,283
  • State median household income: $44,758
  • Town poverty rate: 41.4%
  • Town population: 19,650

The poorest town in Alabama, Selma also ranks among the 10 poorest towns in the United States. The typical household in the town earns just $23,283 annually, about half the income a typical household in the state as a whole earns. Some 41.4% of Selma’s 20,000 residents live below the poverty line, more than double the statewide poverty rate of 18.4% and the US rate of 15.1%.

 

2. Ketchikan City, Alaska

Ketchikan,_Alaska,_Estados_Unidos,_2017 08 16,_DD_67
The typical Ketchikan household earns $53,937 a year, in line with the typical American household income. 
Diego Delso/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 4.0

  • Town median household income: $53,937
  • State median household income: $74,444
  • Town poverty rate: 13.6%
  • Town population: 8,189

With a median annual household income of $74,444 — nearly $20,000 more than the median income nationwide — Alaska is a relatively wealthy state. Even in the state’s poorest town, Ketchikan, the typical household earns $53,937 a year, in line with the typical American household income. Ketchikan’s 13.6% poverty rate is below the 15.1% US poverty rate.

 

3. South Tucson, Arizona

South tucson arizona
South Tucson is the fifth poorest town in the United States. 
Rgper22008/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

  • Town median household income: $20,241
  • State median household income: $51,340
  • Town poverty rate: 48.9%
  • Town population: 5,627

South Tucson is the poorest town in Arizona and the fifth poorest town in the United States. The typical household in the town earns $20,241 a year, and nearly half of all town residents live in poverty. The town is one of only three in the United States in which over half of all households receive government assistance to afford groceries in the form of SNAP benefits.

 

4. Camden, Arkansas

Downtown_Camden,_Arkansas_002
The median home value in Camden is $70,900. 
Brandonrush/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

  • Town median household income: $25,581
  • State median household income: $42,336
  • Town poverty rate: 34%
  • Town population: 11,515

The typical household in Camden earns $25,581 a year, the least of any town in Arkansas. Property values in an area often reflect incomes, and the median home value in Camden is just $70,900. In comparison, the typical American home is worth $184,700, and the median home across Arkansas is valued at $114,700.

 

5. Clearlake, California

Clearlake,_CA,_USA_ _panoramio
9.1% of adults in Clearlake have a four-year college degree. 
Marthlu ParkerV./Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

  • Town median household income: $25,426
  • State median household income: $63,783
  • Town poverty rate: 38.1%
  • Town population: 15,070

With a median annual household income of $25,426, Clearlake is the poorest town in California. Higher education can open doors to higher paying jobs, and areas with fewer college-educated adults often have lower income levels. Just 9.1% of adults in Clearlake have a four-year college degree, less than a third of the statewide bachelor’s degree attainment rate of 32.9%.

 

7. Willimantic, Connecticut

Downtown_Willimantic,_CT_19
In Willimantic, the typical household earns $34,211 a year. 
JJBers/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 4.0

  • Town median household income: $34,211
  • State median household income: $71,755
  • Town poverty rate: 29.7%
  • Town population: 17,339

The median household income in Connecticut is $71,755 a year, well above the income the typical American household earns. Not every town in the state is high earning, however. In Willimantic, the typical household earns just $34,211 a year, less than half the statewide median. With a large low-income population, a disproportionate share of Willimantic residents rely on government assistance to afford groceries. Over a third of Willimantic households receive SNAP benefits, well above the recipiency rates for the nation and every other town in Connecticut.

 

8. Smyrna, Delaware

Smyrna_ _panoramio_(1)
Smyrna’s income levels are comparable with the US as a whole in terms of income. 
Patrick Nouhailler/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

  • Town median household income: $53,941
  • State median household income: $61,017
  • Town poverty rate: 8.3%
  • Town population: 11,081

The typical household in Smyrna earns $53,941 a year, the lowest median income of any town in Delaware. Despite ranking as the poorest town in the state, Smyrna’s income levels are comparable with the US as a whole in terms of income. The median annual household income in the town is only about $600 less than the median income nationwide of $53,322.

Compared the poorest town in most states, a smaller than typical share of Smyrna residents live in poverty. Smyrna’s 8.3% poverty rate is below the 15.1% poverty rate across Delaware.

 

6. Sterling, Colorado

Sterling_Public_Library_(old)
The Sterling Public Library is located at 210 South 4th Street in Sterling, Colorado. 
Jeffrey Beall/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

  • Town median household income: $36,282
  • State median household income: $62,520
  • Town poverty rate: 20.4%
  • Town population: 13,976

In Sterling, the poorest town in Colorado, about one in every five residents live in poverty, nearly double the statewide poverty rate of 11.0%. The typical household in the town earns just $36,282 a year, or about $26,000 less than the typical Colorado household and $19,000 less than the typical American household.

Income levels track closely with education levels. Just 15.5% of adults in Sterling have a bachelor’s degree, less than half the comparable shares nationwide and statewide.

9. Brownsville, Florida

brownsville miami florida
Brownsville, Florida is a census-designated place within the Miami metro area. 
Rodrigues with an S/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 2.0

  • Town median household income: $19,796
  • State median household income: $48,900
  • Town poverty rate: 42.4%
  • Town population: 15,860

The typical annual household in Brownsville, Florida, which is located within the Miami metro area, is just $19,796, or less than half the comparable median income of $48,900 across the state as a whole. Likely because of the low incomes, a relatively large share of area residents rely on government assistance to buy groceries. An estimated 48% of households in Brownsville received SNAP benefits last year, more than double the 14.8% of Florida households.

10. Cordele, Georgia

McCollum_Building,_Cordele georgia
In Cordele, the typical household earns $23,294 a year. 
Michael Rivera/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

  • Town median household income: $23,294
  • State median household income: $51,037
  • Town poverty rate: 49.6%
  • Town population: 11,015

In Cordele, the poorest town in Georgia, the typical household earns just $23,294 a year, or less than half the statewide median income of $51,037. With the lowest income in the state, Cordele also has the highest poverty rate. About half of the town’s 11,015 residents live below the poverty line, well more than double the comparable 17.8% poverty rate across Georgia.

As in many low-income regions, a relatively low proportion of adults in Cordele have a college degree. An estimated 11.5% of adults in the area have a bachelor’s degree or higher. In comparison, 29.4% of adults in Georgia and 30.3% of American adults nationwide have a bachelor’s degree.

 

11. Wahiawa, Hawaii

Dole_Plantation,_Plantation_Rd,_Wahiawa_Hawaii
Wahiawa’s median household income is still slightly higher than the $55,322 the typical American household earns annually. 
Robert Linsdell/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 2.0

  • Town median household income: $55,744
  • State median household income: $71,977
  • Town poverty rate: 15.4%
  • Town population: 17,696

Hawaii is one of only half a dozen states where the typical household earns over $70,000 a year. Even in Wahiawa, the lowest income town in the state, the median household income is $55,744 a year, which is slightly higher than the $55,322 the typical American household earns annually.

The high incomes across the state are partially offset by a high cost of living. Goods and services in Hawaii are about 19% more expensive on average than they are nationwide.

12. Rupert, Idaho

Rupert,_Idaho_ _panoramio
The median household income in Rupert is $35,011 a year. 
Jordan W./Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

  • Town median household income: $35,011
  • State median household income: $49,174
  • Town poverty rate: 27.4%
  • Town population: 5,702

The median household income in Rupert of $35,011 a year is about $14,000 less than the median income across Idaho as a whole. Less education in Rupert partially explains the town’s low incomes. Fewer than 75% of area adults have a high school diploma, and just 11% have a bachelor’s degree. In comparison, 90% of adults across the state have a high school diploma, and 26.2% have a four-year college degree.

13. Centreville, Illinois

centreville illinois
Centreville is the poorest town in the United States. 
Paul Sableman/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

  • Town median household income: $16,715
  • State median household income: $59,196
  • Town poverty rate: 50.1%
  • Town population: 5,127

With a median annual household income of $16,715, Centreville is not only the poorest town in Illinois, but also the poorest in the United States. The median household income in both Illinois and the United States as a whole is more than three times the median income in Centreville. The town is also one of only four nationwide where more than half of the population lives below the poverty line.

 

14. Brazil, Indiana

West_National_in_downtown_Brazil Indiana
About 31% of households in Brazil receives SNAP benefits. 
Nyttend/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

  • Town median household income: $29,531
  • State median household income: $50,433
  • Town poverty rate: 31.6%
  • Town population: 8,105

Brazil has the lowest median household income of any town in Indiana. The typical household earns less than $30,000 a year. Likely due to the area’s low incomes the population is relatively dependent on government assistance. About 31% of the town’s households receives SNAP benefits, well above the 12.2% statewide recipiency rate.

 

15. Lamoni, Iowa

Lamoni, Iowa
In Lamoni, more than one in every four residents are below the poverty line. 
Melissa Johnson/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

  • Town median household income: $33,393
  • State median household income: $54,570
  • Town poverty rate: 26.1%
  • Town population: 2,616

The median household income in Lamoni is $33,393 a year, the least of any town in Iowa. Lamoni is also one of only two towns in Iowa in which more than one in every four residents are below the poverty line.

In most poor towns across the United States the share of adults with a college education is relatively small, but Lamoni is a notable exception. Some 32.9% of adults in the town have a bachelor’s degree, a larger share than the national college attainment rate of 30.3% and the statewide rate of 27.2%.

 

16. Belleville, Kansas

Belleville Kansas
The typical household in Belleville earns $31,885 a year. 
shannonpatrick17/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

  • Town median household income: $31,885
  • State median household income: $53,571
  • Town poverty rate: 13.9%
  • Town population: 1,831

The typical household in Belleville earns just $31,885 a year, the least of any town in Kansas. Despite the low incomes, relatively few residents earn poverty wages or depend on government assistance for basic necessities. Just 13.9% of area residents live below the poverty line, compared with the 13.3% state poverty rate and the 15.1% US poverty rate. Similarly, the 9.2% SNAP benefit recipiency rate in Belleville is in line with the 9.1% statewide rate and below the 13.0% national recipiency rate.

 

17. Glasgow, Kentucky

North_Race_Street_HD_in_Glasgow Kentucky
Glasgow is the only town in Kentucky where the typical household earns less than $30,000 a year. 
Nyttend/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

  • Town median household income: $28,362
  • State median household income: $44,811
  • Town poverty rate: 26.9%
  • Town population: 14,338

Glasgow is the only town in Kentucky where the typical household earns less than $30,000 a year. Glasgow’s 26.9% poverty rate is also higher than any other town in the state and well above the 18.8% poverty rate statewide — itself one of the higher poverty levels compared with other states.

A high school diploma is a prerequisite for almost any job. In Glasgow, 78.2% of the adult population have a high school diploma, compared to 84.6% of adults statewide.

 

18. Ville Platte, Louisiana

bank Ville Platte Louisiana
Ville Platte’s median household income is nearly a third of the national median income. 
Jerrye & Roy Klotz, MD/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 4.0

  • Town median household income: $18,679
  • State median household income: $45,652
  • Town poverty rate: 38.4%
  • Town population: 7,338

Several towns in Louisiana have a low enough median household income to qualify as the poorest town in most other states. Ville Platte is the only town in Louisiana where the typical household earns less than $20,000 a year. The town’s median household income is nearly a third of the national median income of $55,322, and less than half the statewide median income of $45,652.

 

19. Eastport, Maine

Boynton_Street_Historic_District,_Eastport,_Maine_2012
Eastport is third poorest town in all of New England 
Ken Gallager/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

  • Town median household income: $33,836
  • State median household income: $50,826
  • Town poverty rate: 18.8%
  • Town population: 1,390

Eastport is the poorest town in Maine and the third poorest town in all of New England. The typical area household earns just $33,836 a year, or about $17,000 less than the median across Maine as a whole.

As is the case in most poor American towns, a relatively large share of Eastport residents depend on government assistance to afford food. Some 23.5% of the town’s population receives SNAP benefits compared to 16.3% of people in Maine as a whole.

 

20. Cumberland, Maryland

Cumberland_Maryland_Station_WM_Rwy_2003
Maryland is the wealthiest state in the country, but Cumberland earns less than half the statewide median income. 
Caseyjonz/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

  • Town median household income: $31,855
  • State median household income: $76,067
  • Town poverty rate: 24%
  • Town population: 20,290

With a median annual household income of $76,067, Maryland is the wealthiest state in the country. However, not all parts of the state are high income. In Cumberland, the typical household earns $31,855 a year — less than half the statewide median income and well below the $55,322 the typical American household earns.

The area’s low incomes are reflected in low property values. The typical home in Cumberland is worth $87,700, or less than a third the median home value of $290,400 across Maryland.

 

21. Webster, Massachusetts

webster massachusetts
Compared to most towns on this list, Webster is not especially poor. 
Doug Kerr/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

  • Town median household income: $44,846
  • State median household income: $70,954
  • Town poverty rate: 16.8%
  • Town population: 12,122

With a median annual household income of nearly $71,000, Massachusetts is a relatively wealthy state. Compared to most towns on this list, Webster is not especially poor. The typical Webster household earns $44,846 a year, or about $10,500 less than the typical American household. Additionally, the town’s 16.8% poverty rate — while considerably higher than the 11.4% statewide rate — is only slightly higher than the 15.1% poverty rate nationwide.

 

22. Hamtramck, Michigan

St_Florian_streetscape_ _Hamtramck_Michigan
About half of the population in Hamtramck lives below the poverty line. 
Andrew Jameson/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

  • Town median household income: $23,609
  • State median household income: $50,803
  • Town poverty rate: 49.7%
  • Town population: 21,985

In Hamtramck, the poorest town in Michigan, about half of the population lives below the poverty line. Hamtramck is also the only town in the state where most households earn less than $25,000 a year. Due to low incomes in the area, a relatively large share of residents rely on government assistance to afford food. Some 44.0% of area households receive SNAP benefits, the largest share of any town in the state and more than double the comparable 15.9% recipiency rate across Michigan.

 

23. Bemidji, Minnesota

Bemidji_Carnegie_Library Bemidji Minnesota
24.1% of Bemidji residents live on poverty level income. 
McGhiever/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

  • Town median household income: $33,680
  • State median household income: $63,217
  • Town poverty rate: 24.1%
  • Town population: 14,664

With a median household income of $33,680 a year, Bemidji is the poorest town in Minnesota. A disproportionately high 24.1% of area residents live on poverty level income, more than double the statewide poverty rate of 10.8%.

In most of the towns on this list, educational attainment rates are relatively low, but Bemidji is an exception. An estimated 30.2% of adults in the town have a bachelor’s degree, in line with the 30.3% of adults nationwide.

 

24. Indianola, Mississippi

Indianola_First_Baptist_Church
Indianola, Mississippi, is the poorest town in the poorest state. 
Nicholas Brown/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

  • Town median household income: $26,479
  • State median household income: $40,528
  • Town poverty rate: 31.8%
  • Town population: 10,047

Indianola, Mississippi, is the poorest town in the poorest state. The typical area household earns just $26,479 a year compared to the median income in Mississippi of $40,528 a year and the median income nationwide of $55,322 a year. Because so many residents live on so little, many depend on government assistance to afford food. Some 32.3% of households in Indianola receive SNAP benefits compared to 18.0% of Mississippi households and 13.0% of American households nationwide.

 

25. Mountain View, Missouri

Stone_gas_station,_Mountain_View,_Missouri_LCCN2017707541
More than one in every four residents of Mountain View live below the poverty line. 
ohn Margolies Roadside America photograph archive (1972-2008), Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division/Public Domain

  • Town median household income: $23,484
  • State median household income: $49,593
  • Town poverty rate: 26.5%
  • Town population: 2,694

More than one in every four residents of Mountain View, Missouri’s poorest town, live below the poverty line — well above the 15.3% statewide poverty rate. Across the United States, poor towns tend to be home to relatively small shares of college educated adults, and Mountain View is no exception. Just 8.9% of adults in the town have a four-year college degree, one of the smallest shares nationwide and less than a third the comparable 27.6% bachelor’s degree attainment rate across Missouri as a whole.

 

26. Deer Lodge, Montana

Deer Lodge Montana   the grant kohrs ranch national historic site
Deer Lodge has a median annual household income of $37,917. 
Ken Lund/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

  • Town median household income: $37,917
  • State median household income: $48,380
  • Town poverty rate: 11.4%
  • Town population: 3,062

With a median annual household income of $37,917, Deer Lodge is the only town in Montana where the typical household earns over $10,000 less than the typical household in the state. With the state’s lowest median income, Deer Lodge also has the highest SNAP recipiency rate. Some 16.6% of households in the town receive government subsidies to afford food in the form of SNAP benefits. In comparison, 10.6% of households statewide receive SNAP benefits.

 

27. Red Cloud, Nebraska

Red_Cloud_SW Red Cloud Nebraska
The typical home in Red Cloud is worth $48,500. 
Ammodramus/Flickr/CC0 1.0

  • Town median household income: $34,395
  • State median household income: $54,384
  • Town poverty rate: 15.5%
  • Town population: 1,115

The typical household in Red Cloud earns $34,395 a year, about $20,000 less than the typical household in Nebraska. The area’s low incomes are also reflected in the low property values. The typical home in Red Cloud is worth just $48,500, less than a third of the median home value nationwide of $184,700 and less than half the median home value across the state of $137,300.

 

28. Laughlin, Nevada

Laughlin,_Nevada_(17083329150)
Laughlin is best known for its gaming, entertainment, and water recreation. 
Ken Lund/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 2.0

  • Town median household income: $32,758
  • State median household income: $53,094
  • Town poverty rate: 18.8%
  • Town population: 7,641

In Laughlin, the poorest town in Nevada, the typical household earns $32,758 a year, more than $20,000 less than the median income across the state. Lower-income towns in the United States tend to be home to relatively small shares of college educated adults, and Laughlin is no different. Less than 15% of adults in Laughlin have a bachelor’s degree or higher, well below the 23.2% of adults with a four-year degree across Nevada as a whole.

 

29. Berlin, New Hampshire

Berlin New Hampshire
An estimated 21.1% of households in the town receive SNAP benefits. 
David Wilson/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

  • Town median household income: $38,863
  • State median household income: $68,485
  • Town poverty rate: 19%
  • Town population: 10,154

The median annual household income in Berlin, New Hampshire is $38,863, nearly $30,000 less than the median income across the state as a whole. The large share of low income households means that a larger share of Berlin households depend on government subsidies to afford food. An estimated 21.1% of households in the town receive SNAP benefits, nearly triple the comparable statewide recipiency rate of 7.8%.

 

30. Crestwood Village, New Jersey

Crestwood_Village,_NJ_entrance
Crestwood Village is a census designated place in Manchester Township, New Jersey. 
Mr. Matté/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 3.0

  • Town median household income: $28,282
  • State median household income: $73,702
  • Town poverty rate: 9.8%
  • Town population: 8,135

New Jersey’s median household income of $73,702 is nearly the highest of any state in the country. However, not all corners of the state are high earning. In Crestwood Village, more than half of all households earn less $28,300 a year.

Higher education can open doors to higher paying jobs, and areas with fewer college-educated adults often have lower income levels. Just 13.7% of adults in the town have a bachelor’s degree, well less than half the 37.5% of adults statewide with at least a bachelor’s degree.

 

31. Deming, New Mexico

Deming,_New_Mexico,_Deming_National_Bank_bldg_from_E_1
32.8% of households in Deming receive SNAP benefits. 
Ammodramus/Wikimedia Commons/CC0

  • Town median household income: $26,044
  • State median household income: $45,674
  • Town poverty rate: 32.1%
  • Town population: 14,582

The typical household in New Mexico earns just $45,674 a year, nearly $10,000 less than the median household income nationwide. In Deming, the poorest town in New Mexico, the median income is just $26,044 a year. Due to low incomes, a large share of town residents rely on government assistance to afford food. Some 32.8% of households in Deming receive SNAP benefits, well above both the national and statewide recipiency rates of 13.0% and 16.6%, respectively.

 

32. New Square, New York

ramapao, new york   village of new square
The village of New Square is located in the town of Ramapao, New York. 
Famartin/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 4.0

  • Town median household income: $21,773
  • State median household income: $60,741
  • Town poverty rate: 70.0%
  • Town population: 7,804

New Square is by far the poorest town in New York. The median annual household income of $21,773 in New Square is nearly $5,000 below the that of Kiryas Joel, the next poorest town in the state, and only about a third of the median income across the state as a whole.

Not only is it the poorest town in New York state, but New Square also has the highest poverty and SNAP recipiency rates of any town in the United States. Some 70.0% of New Square residents live in poverty, and 77.1% of area households rely on SNAP benefits to afford food. In comparison, 15.1% of Americans live below the poverty line and 13.0% of households nationwide receive SNAP benefits.

33. Mount Olive, North Carolina

mount olive north carolina pickle festival
Mount Olive hosts the annual North Carolina Pickle Festival. 
NC Pickle Festival/Facebook

  • Town median household income: $26,099
  • State median household income: $48,256
  • Town poverty rate: 33.3%
  • Town population: 4,734

North Carolina is one of the poorer states in the country. The median annual household income in the state of $48,256 is well below the national median of $55,322. As is the case in most poor states, the poorest town, Mount Olive, is not just the poorest in the state, but also one of the poorest in the entire country. Mount Olive, which is located in the eastern central part of the state, has a median household income of just $26,099 a year, just slightly more than half the national median and lower than the median income in all but 25 of the 2,668 towns considered for this list.

 

34. Ellendale, North Dakota

Downtown_Ellendale,_North_Dakota_6 11 2009
In Ellendale, the typical household earns $42,744 a year. 
Andrew Filer/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 2.0

  • Town median household income: $42,744
  • State median household income: $59,114
  • Town poverty rate: 12.8%
  • Town population: 1,432

There is a great deal of diversity in wealth across towns in North Dakota. The richest town is Williston, with a median household income of over $90,000 per year. At the other end of the state, and the income spectrum, is Ellendale, where the typical household earns $42,744 a year. While the northwest part of the state — which is where Williston is located — benefitted from the shale oil boom that started in the mid 2000s, Ellendale, in the southeast part of the state, largely missed the economic upswing.

 

35. East Cleveland, Ohio

East_Cleveland_City_Hall ohio
Ohio is the nation’s seventh most populous state. 
EurekaLott/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 2.0

  • Town median household income: $19,953
  • State median household income: $50,674
  • Town poverty rate: 41.8%
  • Town population: 17,413

As the nation’s seventh most populous state, several of the nation’s most populous metro areas are located in Ohio, including Cleveland. As is often the case with major metropolitan areas, Cleveland has areas of both extreme wealth and severe poverty. Hudson, Cleveland’s wealthiest suburb, has a median annual household income of $126,618. Meanwhile, East Cleveland, just a 45 minute drive from Hudson, has a median annual household income of just $19,953, less than one-sixth that of Hudson.

 

36. Arkoma, Oklahoma

Arkoma_School, Oklahoma
The Arkoma School is listed on the National Register of Historic Places in the US. 
Valis55/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

  • Town median household income: $26,352
  • State median household income: $48,038
  • Town poverty rate: 34.1%
  • Town population: 1,912

At $48,038, Oklahoma has the 10th lowest median annual household income of any state. To compare, the median household income nationwide is $55,322. The small town of Arkoma is the poorest in Oklahoma, with a median annual household income of $26,352, barely half the state’s figure. More than one-third of the town’s population lives below the poverty line, one of the highest poverty rates not just in the state, but in any American town or city.

 

37. Reedsport, Oregon

Railway_bridge_at_Reedsport,_Oregon
The Umpqua River runs along Reedsport, Oregon. 
Finetooth/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

  • Town median household income: $32,677
  • State median household income: $53,270
  • Town poverty rate: 23.9%
  • Town population: 4,088

Oregon has one of the widest disparities between the richest and poorest towns of any state. The state’s richest area, the Portland suburb Bethany, has a median annual household income of $117,056, which is nearly $85,000 greater than the median income in the state’s poorest town, Reedsport. The low median income in Reedsport is underscored by the high share of residents receiving financial support. More than one in four households in Reedsport receive SNAP benefits, compared to the national recipiency rate of 13% of households.

 

38. Johnstown, Pennsylvania

johnstown pennsylvania
38.8% of Johnstown households rely on SNAP benefits. 
David Wilson/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

  • Town median household income: $24,075
  • State median household income: $54,895
  • Town poverty rate: 37%
  • Town population: 20,169

The typical household in Johnstown earns $24,075 a year, less than half the median income of $54,895 a year across Pennsylvania as a whole. Because so many live on low incomes, a relatively large share of Johnstown residents rely on SNAP benefits. The town’s 38.8% SNAP recipiency rate is nearly three times the statewide rate of 13.0%.

 

39. Central Falls, Rhode Island

Central_Falls_Mills_District_Rhode Island
8.7% of Central Falls’ adults have a bachelor’s degree. 
Kenneth C. Zirkel/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

  • Town median household income: $28,901
  • State median household income: $58,387
  • Town poverty rate: 32.7%
  • Town population: 19,366

Central Falls is the poorest town in Rhode Island. The $28,901 median annual household income in Central Falls is less than half that of the Newport East area, the state’s next poorest town, where the typical household earns $59,680 a year. Educational attainment across a population can be an indicator of incomes as a college degree tends to lead to better-paying jobs. Just 8.7% of Central Falls’ adults have a bachelor’s degree, compared to 30.3% of the nation’s adults and 32.5% of adults in Rhode Island.

 

40. Belton, South Carolina

Belton_Standpipe South Carolina
The concrete water tower Belton Standpipe stands 155 feet high near the downtown area. 
Bill Fitzpatrick/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

  • Town median household income: $29,329
  • State median household income: $46,898
  • Town poverty rate: 24.3%
  • Town population: 4,296

A high school education is often a prerequisite for any full-time job, high paying or otherwise. In Belton, the poorest town in South Carolina, about one in every five adults do not have a high school diploma. Perhaps not surprisingly, Belton. Belton is the only town in the state where over half of all households earn less than $30,000 a year.

 

41. Vermillion, South Dakota

VermilionSD_PrentisPark South Dakota
Goods and services in the South Dakota are the fourth cheapest of all states. 
Magicpiano/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 4.0

  • Town median household income: $31,155
  • State median household income: $52,078
  • Town poverty rate: 35.7%
  • Town population: 10,778

Of South Dakota’s 18 towns and cities with a population of at least 1,000 residents, 13 have a median annual household income below the national median of $55,322. None, however, has a lower typical household income than Vermillion, where the typical household brings in $31,155 annually. One positive for residents of Vermillion and of South Dakota’s other poor areas: money goes further than it would in most other parts of the country. Goods and services in the South Dakota are the fourth cheapest of all states.

 

42. Lafayette, Tennessee

Lafayette Main tn1 Tennessee
68.8% of Lafayette’s adults have a high school diploma. 
Brian Stansberry/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 4.0

  • Town median household income: $30,586
  • State median household income: $46,574
  • Town poverty rate: 16.4%
  • Town population: 4,909

Educational attainment among a population is often a good indicator of income levels. Lafayette, Tennessee’s poorest town, has one of the least educated populations in the country. Just 68.8% of Lafayette’s adults have a high school diploma, and only 10.1% have a bachelor’s degree. For context, 86.0% of Tennessee’s adults have a bachelor’s degree, while 25.4% of state adults have a four-year college education.

 

43. Fabens, Texas

Our_Lady_of_Guadaloupe_Catholic_Church_in_Fabens,_Texas_LCCN2014630979
Our Lady of Guadaloupe Catholic Church in Fabens, Texas. 
Library of Congress/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

  • Town median household income: $24,612
  • State median household income: $54,727
  • Town poverty rate: 48.8%
  • Town population: 7,168

Fabens is the only town in Texas where over half of all households live on less than $25,000 a year. Fabens’ 48.8% poverty rate is also the highest of any town in the state and nearly three times the 16.7% poverty rate across Texas.

The area’s low incomes are reflected in area property values. The typical home in Fabens is worth just $61,600, less than half the median home value in Texas of $142,700 and about a third of the national median home value of $184,700.

 

44. Brigham City, Utah

Howard_Hotel_Brigham_City_Utah
The Howard Hotel is a historic building in Brigham City, Utah. 
Ntsimp/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

  • Town median household income: $47,675
  • State median household income: $62,518
  • Town poverty rate: 9.7%
  • Town population: 18,586

Utah is one of the wealthier states in the country. Of the state’s 35 towns and cities with populations between 1,000 and 25,0000, all but four have median annual household incomes higher than the national figure of $55,322. Of those, the median income in most is greater than $75,000. Brigham, one of the state’s few low-income towns, the median income is below the national figure. However, with a median income of $47,675 a year, the city is wealthier than all but four towns on this list as well as wealthier than one-third of the towns and cities with between 1,000 and 25,000 residents.

 

45. Bellows Falls, Vermont

Bellows Falls Vermont
In Bellow Falls, 32.5% of households receive SNAP benefits. 
VtWayne/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

  • Town median household income: $31,963
  • State median household income: $56,104
  • Town poverty rate: 22.6%
  • Town population: 3,032

Vermont’s median annual household income of $56,104 is in line with the median income nationwide of $55,322. However, not all parts of the state are as high earning. In Bellows Falls, the poorest town in the state, the typical household earns just $31,963 a year. Due to low incomes, a relatively large share of households rely on SNAP benefits. The 32.5% SNAP recipiency rate in Bellows Falls is more than double the statewide recipiency rate of 13.6%.

 

46. Hillsville, Virginia

Hillsville Town Offices va
In Hillsville, more than one in every four residents live below the poverty line. 
Brian Stansberry/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 4.0

  • Town median household income: $30,943
  • State median household income: $66,149
  • Town poverty rate: 21.1%
  • Town population: 2,683

Virginia is one of 18 states with a town that has a median household income less than half the statewide median income. In Hillsville, the typical household earns just $30,943 a year, while the typical Virginia household earns $66,149 annually. The poorest town in Virginia, Hillsville is also one of only four towns in the state where more than one in every four residents live below the poverty line.

 

47. Chewelah, Washington

Chewelah Washington
16.1% of adults in Chewelah have a bachelor’s degree or higher. 
DJG/Shutterstock

  • Town median household income: $30,998
  • State median household income: $62,848
  • Town poverty rate: 17.6%
  • Town population: 2,601

In Chewelah, the poorest town in Washington state, the typical household earns $30,998 a year, less than half the median income across the state as a whole of $62,848 a year. Poor parts of the country tend to have fewer residents with a higher education, and Chewelah is no different. Just 16.1% of adults in Chewelah have a bachelor’s degree or higher, less than half the 33.6% of adults who do statewide.

 

48. Weston, West Virginia

Weston_West_Virginia
West Virginia is the third poorest state in the country. 
Tim Kiser/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 2.5

  • Town median household income: $31,739
  • State median household income: $42,644
  • Town poverty rate: 26.2%
  • Town population: 4,085

West Virginia is the third poorest state in the country, with a median household income of $42,644 a year — $12,678 below the national median. Generally, the lowest-income states tend to have the poorest cities in the country, but West Virginia is an exception. The typical household in Weston, the state’s lowest-income town, earns $31,739 each year. While this is certainly low, it is far from the lowest in the country. Well over 100 towns and cities across the country are poorer than Weston.

 

49. Whitewater, Wisconsin

Whitewater_Wisconsin_Downtown_Looking_East
The typical Whitewater household earns $30,934 a year. 
Commonist/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

  • Town median household income: $30,934
  • State median household income: $54,610
  • Town poverty rate: 38.2%
  • Town population: 14,840

Whitewater has both the lowest median household income and the highest poverty rate of any town in Wisconsin. The typical Whitewater household earns $30,934 a year, significantly lower than the median income across the state of $54,610. Additionally, 38,2% of Whitewater residents live in poverty compared to 12.7% of Wisconsin residents. Despite the low incomes, a relatively small share of Whitewater residents depend on government assistance to afford food. Just 12.6% of Whitewater households receive SNAP benefits, in line with the 12.7% recipiency rate across the state.

 

50. Thermopolis, Wyoming

Downtown_Thermopolis_ _panoramio
12.7% of the Thermopolis population lives below the poverty line. 
charkes/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

  • Town median household income: $45,668
  • State median household income: $59,143
  • Town poverty rate: 12.7%
  • Town population: 2,918

Though it is the poorest town in Wyoming, Thermopolis is not as poor as many other towns on this list. The median annual household income in the area of $45,668 is about $10,000 less than the national median household. That income is more than double that of some of the poorest towns in other states, however. Additionally, just 12.7% of the town population lives below the poverty line, slightly higher than the 11.6% state poverty rate but well below the 15.1% US poverty rate.

 

Detailed findings & methodology

For every state except Alaska and Hawaii, the Department of Health and Human Services sets the official poverty income at $25,100 a year or less for a family of four. Currently, close to 50 million Americans live below that threshold. Poverty is the most extreme example of financial hardship, and as such, the official poverty rate fails to capture tens of millions of additional Americans who also struggle to make ends meet.

In 45 of the 50 towns on this list, the poverty rate exceeds the poverty rate across the state as a whole. In over half of all towns on this list, more than one in every four residents live in poverty, well above the US poverty rate of 15.1%. In New Square, the poorest town in New York state, 70% of the population lives in poverty, the highest poverty rate of any US town.

Low-income Americans often struggle to afford even the most basic necessities. Partially as a result, the low income towns on this list often also have a high SNAP — formerly known as food stamps — recipiency rates. This rate measures the share of households that receive SNAP benefits. Only three towns on this list have a lower SNAP recipiency rate than their respective state as a whole. In more than a dozen towns on this list, more than one in every three households depend on government support to afford food.

The low incomes in the towns on this list also often are reflected in property values. People live where they can afford housing, and in low income areas homes are often relatively inexpensive. New Square, New York, is the only town on this list with a higher median home value than the state as a whole.

Both on an individual level and across broad populations, income is closely linked to educational attainment. Earning potential tends to increase with education — those with a bachelor’s degree earn considerably more on average than those with just a high school diploma. Additionally, major companies that offer high-skilled, high-paying jobs are more likely to establish a presence in areas with a well-educated labor pool.

Not surprisingly, educational attainment levels are relatively low in the towns on this list. In 46 of the 50 towns, the share of adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher is lower than the corresponding share across the state as a whole. In 22 towns on this list, the share of adults with a four-year degree is less than half the college attainment rate nationwide of 30.3%.

To determine the poorest town in each state, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed median household incomes in every town with a population between 1,000 and 25,000 in each state from the US Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. Our list includes Census-designated places, which are unincorporated regions that are treated as towns for statistical purposes. All social and economic figures are based on five-year estimates for the period of 2012-2016. To control for potential data errors that can arise in low population areas, we did not consider towns where the margin of error at 90% confidence was greater than 10% of the point estimate of both median household income and population. We considered the percentage of adults who have at least a bachelor’s degree, the share with a high school diploma, the towns’ poverty rates, SNAP benefit recipiency rates, and median home value — all from the ACS. Regional price parity, or cost of living, by state is for the most recent available year from the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

IS LIFE AFTER DEATH ?

Is There Evidence of Life After Death

REAL LIFE. REAL NEWS. REAL VOICES.
Help us tell more of the stories that matter from voices that too often remain unheard.

To listen to skeptics, only the gullible masses believe in an afterlife, desperate to be reunited with loved ones.

As we have shown, however, skeptics are so convinced of their intellectual superiority that they are incapable of examining evidence objectively that contradicts their strongly-held viewpoints.

Unlike the cases for ESP and UFOs, however, the evidence for survival after death is by its nature less measurable and more subtle and complicated.

Militant skeptics would have everyone believe that this is merely anecdotal and easily explained away by the biochemistry of the dying brain, pumped up by morphine and stress, with the particular hallucinations the result of a combination of wishful thinking and religious preconception. But as we shall see, this view ignores some inconvenient facts.

While looking at several types of relevant experiences, I will only focus on the issue of immediate survival after death, not theological assertions about what happens beyond that, such as whether there is a heaven or hell or reincarnation. Nor will we try to resolve here exactly what it is that may survive death.

One way to think about the larger picture of reality that the so-called supernatural presents is like the difference between the world of ordinary objects we interact with daily and the invisible quantum world that underlies everything. It is difficult for our minds to get around the fact that what seems like solid reality is mostly empty space. Skeptics are invited to imagine that the paranormal world is something like the theorized other dimensions of the “multiverse.”

Death-Bed Visions

Let us begin with something that should be a perfect test for the skeptical case about hallucinations of the dying: death-bed visions. It is not uncommon for people who are about to die to imagine that the heavens open up and relatives appear to welcome them to the other side.

In What They Saw at the House of Death: A New Look at Evidence for Life After Death by Karlis Osis, a noted physics professor, and Erlendur Haraldsson, a clinical psychologist. Between them, they had carefully examined 5,000 cases of death-bed visions for nearly two decades starting in 1959. These were culled from observations by 17,000 physicians and nurses. Most were medical personnel in the U.S., but some came in from a separate study about patients in India, to check to what extent cultural and religious beliefs influenced the experiences.

Investigative journalist Michael Schmicker, in Best Evidence, summarized the remarkable conclusions:

Biological-Pharmaceutical Factors

*Patients who were given painkilling drugs were not more likely to have such visions than those who were not.

*Brain malfunctions were more likely to reduce such visions.

*A history of using psychoactive drugs did not increase the likelihood of these visions.

*There was no evidence that a lack of oxygen induced the visions.

Psychological Factors

*Stress played no role in predicting which patients would see “the dead.”

*Whether the patient believed in an afterlife did not matter.

*In some cases, the death-bed visions came to people who did not know they were dying.

Cultural Factors

*The visions often did not fit with the religious preconceptions of the individuals. Christians saw no evidence of hell; Hindus had no visions that confirmed they would be reborn.

*There were 11 aspects to these visions that were shared by both American and Indian cases, so they are likely common to many cultures.

Schmicker cited a compelling example. In 1919, Horace Traubel, a friend and biographer of the poet Walt Whitman, was dying in Bon Echo, Ontario, Canada. With him was Lt. Col. L. Moore Cosgrave. Cosgrave reported that at 3 a.m., Traubel stared at a point in the room three feet above the bed.

“A light haze eventually resolved itself into the form of Whitman…wearing an old tweed jacket, an old felt hat, and had his right hand in his pocket,” which Cosgrave could see. The apparition nodded twice to Traubel, who said, “There is Walt.” As the ghost brushed by him, Cosgrave felt a slight electric shock.

Near-death Experiences

Near-death experiences” (NDEs) was the term coined by Dr. Raymond Moody, a physician who wrote the first popular book on the phenomenon, Life After Life, in 1975. He studied cases of patients who were pronounced clinically dead, but claimed they could see and hear things that seemed impossible, according to the materialist understanding of reality.

A 1982 Gallup poll revealed that one out of seven Americans had at least once been close to dying and 35% of these reported having the NDE. These experiences would seem fairly common, but were not generally reported by physicians, which is explained by the fact that only 32% of doctors at the time believed in an afterlife vs. 67% of the public.

While the specific details of the experience would be interpreted by the person who was supposedly dead, based on his or her cultural and religious background, the most common stages occurred in this order:

*A sense of dying as a release from cares and pain.

*The patient feels he or she is rising from the body and able to look down on it

and the attending medical personnel.

*This self or spirit is compelled to pass through a dark tunnel with light at the

end.

*Beings of light greet the spirit at the end of the tunnel—often these are deceased

family or friends and sometimes a person understood as a founder or leader of their religious tradition (atheists reported an abstract figure of light).

*As many as 29% recalled having their life’s events flash through their memories,

as if reviewing them before judgment.

*Many wanted to stay in this disembodied state, but were told they needed to return.

*Consciousness returns to the body, startling medical personnel, who had pronounced the patient dead.

Moody’s initial report has been confirmed in thousands of cases investigated by others. The International Association for Near-Death Studies www.iands.org was founded in 1978 to encourage the serious study of the phenomenon.

Skeptics are quick to argue that all of these things can be explained by incorrect judgments about clinical death and by the combined effects of a sick brain and the drugs administered at the time.

Among the most notable books to take a more systematic scientific approach to anecdotal evidence were by medical doctors Kenneth Ring, in Life at Death, and Michael Sabom, in Recollections of Death: A Medical Investigation.

Sabom in particular was skeptical. He accepted the critics’ theory that NDEs were hallucinations due to heightened brain activity and was surprised to realize that they occurred most commonly in patients who had been unconscious for at least 30 minutes, when neuroactivity was reduced.

He believed that claims that these “dead” patients had accurately described what was happening around them were easily explained by hearing medical personnel discussing them or that they were educated guesses.

Sabom set up a control group of cardiac patients who had not reported having NDEs. He found the NDEers’ accounts very accurate, while the guesses of cardiac patients were way off, and he was able to rule out the possibility in many cases of the “dead” picking up the information by hearing it.

Doctors at Southampton General Hospital studied 3,500 patients and concluded that cases of NDEs being reported involved “well-structured, lucid thought processes with reasoning and memory formation at a time when their brains were shown not to function,” contradicting the materialistic view of how the brain works.

Dr. Eben Alexander’s NDE

The most famous of modern NDEs was recounted in the 2012 bestseller by Dr. Eben Alexander, a neurosurgeon, in Heaven is Real: A Doctor’s Experience with the Afterlife (a good example if skeptics’ inability to state the facts in their rebuttals can be found in a response to an article in Esquire: http://iands.org/news/news/front-page-news/970-esquire-article-on-eben-alexander-distorts-the-facts.html). He went into a seven-day coma after suffering from microbial meningitis in 2008 and had an experience that ran counter to his expectations. He recalled:

I did not believe in the phenomenon of near-death experiences…I sympathized deeply with those who wanted to believe that there was a God and I envied such people the security that those beliefs no doubt provided. But as a scientist, I simply knew better.

When I entered the emergency room, my chances of survival in anything beyond a vegetative state were already low, but they soon sank to near nonexistent. For seven days I lay in a deep coma, my body was unresponsive, my higher-order brain functions totally offline.

All the chief arguments against near-death experiences suggest that these are the results of minimal, transient, or partial malfunctioning of the cortex. But mine took place not while my cortex was malfunctioning, but while it was simply off. This is clear from the global cortical involvement documented by CT scans and neurological examinations. According to current medical understanding of the brain and mind, there is absolutely no way that I could have experienced even a dim and limited consciousness during my time in the coma, much less the hyper-vivid and completely coherent odyssey I underwent.

_______________________________________________________________________

A 2001 study reported in the British medical journal The Lancet reported that the NDEs could not be explained by reactions to medications, a lack of oxygen to the brain, or fear of death.

Perhaps most convincing is that patients are able to report events outside the room where their bodies were. For example, some claimed that their spirits went into the waiting room and heard conversations between family members, which they recalled accurately. Given the skeptics’ position on ESP, this should be impossible.

In 1990, Seattle pediatrician Melvin Morse’s Closer to the Light examined the cases of 120 children who had NDEs. In most cases, they would have been too young to have absorbed a well-grounded religious expectation of what might happen. He made a point-by-point refutation of the skeptics’ arguments about the biochemistry of death and hallucination, compelling enough to have persuaded some skeptics to take a more open-minded position.

In Beyond: On Life After Death, Fred Frohock attempted to weigh the evidence objectively and concluded:

The problem with the materialist explanation that NDEs are a purely neurological reaction to the stress of death is that we would have to stretch the powers of the brain to new and unproven levels of achievement. The weight of the likelihood, of possibilities, seems to be in favor of transcendent experiences, although NDEs could be both transcendent and part of the physical world.

The brain may be the instrument that guides the self into a realm of existence as real and empirical as the dimension we currently occupy. All we have to do is move the perimeters of physical reality out to more comprehensive dimensions. Death is as ordinary as birth, and may be the same kind of portal to another empirical stage of life. Physicists tell us there must be more dimensions to reality to explain the reality we sense and know.

In Dr. Andrew Newberg’s Teaching Co. course The Spiritual Brain, he cites the impact these experiences have on those who go through them: “People come away from a near-death experience with a radically altered set of beliefs about themselves, the meaning of life, relationships—everything. They no longer fear death and are more spiritual and less religious. Many say things like, ‘I don’t think there is a God; I know there is a God.’ One said that the experience was ‘bigger’ than religion, which was not sufficient to help encapsulate the NDE.”

Out-of-Body Experiences

But some aspects of the NDE mimic other experiences, such as the phenomenon known as an out-of-body experience (OBE). While the NDE is involuntary, the OBE may be a spontaneous occurrence or it could be something the individual wills.

While this is not a direct indicator of survival of death, it does provide evidence that humans consist of something other than a body: a “spirit” that can separate from it under certain conditions while the body remains alive.

Such experiences have been recorded around the world throughout history, often by shamans who claim to have gone into the “spirit world” to receive guidance. In a study of 70 non-Western groups by D. Shiels for the Journal of Psychical Research in 1978, the core experiences of being able to leave the body voluntarily were very similar, despite major cultural differences.

I interviewed Scott Rogo, the highly-regarded parapsychologist, in June 1990. Two months later, he was murdered and my interview appeared in the December issue of Fate magazine. I particularly admired his hardheaded approach to the field, always skeptical about easy explanations for so-called paranormal phenomena. He had his first book published at 19 and by the time of his death at 40, had written 29 others.

One of these was Leaving the Body: A Complete Guide to Astral Projection (another name for intentional OBEs). In addition to recounting many credible experiences of people able to describe distant events as they hovered over them, Rogo had lots of personal knowledge. He had trained himself to leave his body and once while out of town, returned in spirit to his home to find his roommate had someone visiting. He confirmed this when he came back from the trip.

In his Psychic Breakthroughs Today, Rogo reviewed some of the best anecdotal collections by people who had repeated experiences with this, such as Sylvan Muldoon’s The Case for Astral Projection and Dr. Robert Crookall’s The Supreme Adventure. It appears that 10-20% of the population almost anywhere in the world has had at least one OBE.

Rogo also discussed lab experiments to induce these experiences. Noted psychologist Dr. Charles Tart at the University of California at Davis, for example, in the 1960s had subjects fall asleep and try to prove they had left the body by viewing a number that was placed out of sight.

In some cases, Tart found that when the individual later reported being out of the body, brain waves showed strange activity that indicated he or she was neither asleep nor awake.

One of his most notable clinical subjects was Robert Monroe, who went on to write the classic memoir Journeys Out of the Body. During one experiment, Monroe’s spirit went into the hallway and accurately reported that the lab technician who was supposed to be monitoring him was there talking to someone else.

Another set of experiments were conducted at Duke University by Dr. Robert Morris. His most outstanding subject was Keith Harary, who would later become a parapsychologist himself. Rogo called the system of testing him “ingenious” and the results “stunningly successful.”

A study of those who claimed to have undergone OBEs was supported by the University of Kansas Medical Center and the renowned Topeka-based Menninger Foundation. They compared these who had these experiences with those who did not claim to have had them. “They could not find any specific personality characteristics differentiating people who experience the phenomenon from those who do not,” wrote Rogo.

Finally, Rogo also considered the credible anecdotal evidence that some saints and mystics of a variety of religions have had the ability to be more than one place at once, known as bilocation. This could be either as an apparition or seemingly having their body in both places at the same time. In Miracles, Rogo (who had no religious affiliation), provided the thought-provoking documentation. But it is not likely a lab will be able to test this phenomenon.

Ghosts

The most commonly reported evidence for human afterlife is the encounter with apparitions of people who are dead.

“Ghosts are a universal phenomenon, seen again and again without end by people of every culture, religion and country,” wrote Schmicker in Best Evidence. “They have been reported for thousands of years by people from every economic, educational, and social strata. They have been seen by kings and peasants, hamburger-flippers and nuclear scientists, aborigines and bank presidents, doctors and laborers, by famous people and by average citizens, by men and women and children of every age and sex.”

In 1882, the Society for Psychical Research (SPR) was founded in England to support a scholarly investigation of such phenomena.

Four years later, its first report was published, a two-volume, 1,400-page summary of 700 cases (edited and updated by Eleanor Sidgwick in 1923 in the revised edition of Phantasms of the Living).

One of the cases occurred on Dec. 7, 1918, involving a Lt. David McConnel, a pilot trainee who was flying to an airbase when he crashed and died at 3:25 p.m. At about that time, his roommate, Lt. J.J. Larkin, claimed to have him in the pilot lounge and reported that McConnel told him he “had a good trip,” then left.

Fifteen minutes later, a friend of the two came into the lounge and wondered when McConnel would be back so they could all go to dinner together. Larkin informed him that McConnel had already returned, but they could not locate him.

Later that night, they learned of his death and informed their commander of the experience, as well as writing his family a detailed letter about it.

The best example of a ghostly haunting of one location cited by Schmicker is Borley Rectory in Essex, England. From 1863 until it burned down in 1938, there were some 100 persons who were witnesses to seven different ghosts and a variety of related phenomena. Harry Price’s The Most Haunted House in England: 10 Years’ Investigation of Borley Rectory details the strange happenings.

Mediums

One of the most sensational books on evidence for the survival of the human soul after death was the 2002 bestseller The Afterlife Experiments: Breakthrough Scientific Evidence of Life After Death by Gary E. Schwartz, Ph.D., and William L. Simon. Schwartz is a professor of psychiatry and medicine at the University of Arizona, a graduate of Harvard and former director of the Yale Psychophysiology Center, with 450 published scientific papers. His credentials did not make his report any less controversial.

Schwartz and his colleagues conducted clinical tests on a handful of so-called psychic mediums, including Allison DuBois (the inspiration for the TV series “Medium”), John Edward (who also had a TV show), George Anderson, Suzane Northrop, George Dalzell, Anne Gehman, and Laurie Campbell.

The 374-page book details not only the precautions taken to prevent fraud and statistical analysis of the possibilities of chance in the results, but his responses to the charges of professional skeptics (including James Randi and Ray Hyman, whose criticisms of ESP experiments we cited earlier).

In the early 1990s, I was trying to find a legitimate medium—someone who could “channel” messages from the dead for the living—for reports in Fate (which was making an effort to avoid printing just any psychic’s claim and was counting on my experience as a business reporter to screen for the better ones). Frankly, I could not find many, but there were a few.

One was Bevy Jaegers, a St. Louis psychic with a particular skill known as psychometry. That is the ability to handle an object and psychically pick up information related to it. For example, she would touch a piece of clothing a victim had been wearied when murdered and would have images of the crime flash before her. In its peculiar way, this was receiving “messages from the dead.”

When I visited with her, she set up a number of meetings and phone calls with law enforcement officials who had worked with her on 50 murder cases. We began to collaborate on a book about her work, but my more mundane career was skyrocketing and we did not have time to finish it before she died (and yes, mediums do not generally get warnings about their demise). But the experience did convince me that she had been largely accurate and was certainly not a fraud.

I had read what the skeptics had to say about the medium James Van Praagh, who had a TV show at the time, so I went to his “group reading” very well-armed (for the same reason that I prepared to expose Uri Geller).

I took careful notes on whether his information, allegedly from the dead for loved ones in the audience, was accurate and was surprised that most of it did seem to be. There appeared to be a few misses and there were some things that could not be verified at the time.

In our follow-up interview, we discussed the views of his critics. I cannot say for sure that he has never cheated, but as I mentioned previously, there is evidence that some seemingly genuine psychics have tried to “improve” their results.

As part of my research, I also went to a “séance” conducted by Edward one Halloween. I was convinced he was a fraud at the time, not because I could prove it, but what he did seemed like nothing more than a parlor trick in the dark. After reading The Afterlife Experiments, I had to have a more open mind about his achievements.

I also had studied George Anderson previously, including watching him in a TV documentary and reading his 1989 bestseller, We Don’t Die. I think it is fair to say that if there is one medium whose accuracy has been repeatedly confirmed by thousands of readings, Anderson is it.

Of the others in the Schwartz book, I had two personal readings by Laurie Campbell. The first turned out to be surprisingly accurate in looking into my past and forecasting the future, while the second, five years later, did not even hit the target. This was, I had learned, not atypical of even the best (as Rogo observed, psychic talent seems to operate like an unreliable electrical connection that frustrates those who claim to have such abilities).

I do not put much stock in getting reliable information from any medium, but for those who want comfort without being gullible, it is worth getting a reading from any of those purported to be the best, without thinking it will be infallible revelation.

Another interesting source on mediums is Victor Zamit’s A Lawyer Presents the Case for the Afterlife. It pulls together a huge amount of information for every kind of “evidence” of the hereafter, although I am a skeptic about the New Age channeling examples. Spirits, I have become convinced, love to promote specific belief systems that contradict each other.

Animal Apparitions

Finally, I would like to consider something that would not seem to provide much promise of credibility, but is one of my specialties: encounters with animal ghosts. I recounted 125 cases in The Soul of Your Pet: Evidence for the Survival of Animals After Death (dozens of others that came in after the third edition in 1998 will be included in the next version of Animals and the Afterlife by Kim Sheridan).

The understandable skeptical response to this notion is that anecdotes that claim that people saw their dead pets are clearly based on wishful thinking. That would make some sense, since many people grieve severely when they have bonded with a companion animal for 10 or 20 years.

The trouble with this theory is that it does not explain most of the stories I reported. I really had no idea what I would receive when I sent a request for information from readers of veterinary professional journals and publications about the paranormal.

The most striking thing about most of the stories was their credibility:

*Many witnesses were not the owner of the pet encountered, so a desire to see it

played no role.

*Other cases involved multiple witnesses, so the events were not simply one

person’s hallucination.

*Some involved more than one sense—the witness not only had a sustained view

of the dead animal, but could hear or feel it, making it less likely they were simply imagining the event.

*Some witnesses were veterinarians, doctors, psychologists and other

professionals who would be expected to take a more objective attitude than most people.

*Many stated they had never had a paranormal experience of any kind before or since the event and others said they were not religious in any way (virtually no one said their religious background taught that animals have spirits, although an ABC News/Beliefnet poll showed that 43% of Americans believe animals go to heaven, while 17% are unsure; 40% disbelieve, including both those who religious views deny that any animal has a spirit and those who do not believe in the supernatural at all).

*Perhaps the most intriguing cases were those that involved the reactions of other animals, making it apparent that these incidences were not simply figments of human imagination. For example, one evening a witness reported that she was at home with her two cats, watching TV on a couch. Suddenly, what appeared to be her recently deceased third cat came out of the kitchen and walked across the living room, then went right through the closed bedroom door. The two living cats had gone to the edge of the couch to stare at the ghost as it walked by them, then when it disappeared, they ran up to the bedroom door and stood there briefly before running away. They refused to go into the bedroom for months thereafter.

The point is that if there is evidence that even some animals have an afterlife, that makes it all the more likely than humans survive death.

The likelihood of human survival of death does not explicitly provide evidence for God or any particular religious philosophy. However, it would be evidence that the global phenomenon of belief in the supernatural has a grounding in some kind of alternate reality that deserves more study.

In the next section, we will look at whether nature and history provide evidence for the benevolent God of traditional religion.