Am I the only one who feels like Star Wars is real?

Q. So I know this is going to sound really weird but I have a feeling that Star Wars is real. I don’t know why, it’s just a feeling that the force…the characters…and alien plants are real. Has anyone else felt this feeling before?

Believing that the Star Wars Universe is real may seem a little ‘weird’, but you are not alone. The majority of Brits, Germans and Americans believe that extra-terrestrial life exists – and you only have to switch to the Discovery Channel to discover how many people love learning about UFO encounters. Nor is the belief that fictional works are true is that unusual either: in a 2008 poll, 65% of British teenagers believed that King Arthur was real and 58% believed in Sherlock Holmes. And while some of this can be explained by youngsters’ ignorance, there are a surprising number of grown-ups who are convinced that Hogwarts school of witchcraft and wizardry, the school of Harry Potter, exists somewhere in the Scottish countryside.  Only the International Statute of Wizarding Secrecy is keeping us from knowing the truth about the wizarding world.  Ah, now that explains it…

11160538144_818217068d_hThis phenomenon of believing in fictional worlds and events started a long time ago in a land far, far away (sorry). Star Wars, Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter are, among many others, simply the myths and legends of our time. The ancient Greeks ‘weirdly’ believed that Romulus and Remus were twin brothers raised by wolves who created the city of Rome. We just chalk their beliefs up to quirky religion, the need to explain things they didn’t understand, or as stories to reflect their struggles. But isn’t that what the great works of fiction do now? It is likely that you have been brought up with the movies, books and merchandise. Princess Leia and Luke Skywalker are so well established in popular culture that you don’t need to have watched the movies to know who they are. Stories, like Star Wars, are persistently popular because we can relate to them in some way. And Star Wars certainly is popular: when the latest film was announced and subsequently released, the reaction of the world cannot be described as anything less than religious in fervour.

According to some psychological studies, there may be certain personalities that have a tendency to believe in aliens, that extra-terrestrials have visited the Earth, and be open to new ideas and experiences. They are also more likely to experience hallucinations and are said to be more ‘suggestible’. Psychologists say that we tend to believe in the inexplicable because we want to, regardless of what the evidence shows. Improbable stories and myths can be comforting and may help to give a personal meaning to our lives. Many people believe in Gods, but some people find that Star Wars or Harry Potter can fit the supernatural hole.

Who knows what most people will believe 2,000 years from now? With over 250,000 followers, the Jedi Church is already half way there to the number of Christians there were in the 1st Century. So if you really do believe in the force then maybe you’re not just ‘weird’– you’re just ahead of your time.


Photo credit to Scott Smith and Photo Phiend via Flickr Creative Commons.

Article by Kate Timms

February 17, 2016

Kate Timms

Kate is a PhD student who previously studied Biomedical Sciences (because she couldn’t decide what she wanted to specialise in) and Maternal and Fetal Health (because eventually she did decide). When not working in a science lab at the University of Manchester until an unseemly hour, she can usually be found watching women’s football (usually also at an unseemly hour). She also has a peculiar habit of trying to make other people watch also her favourite sport. Seriously, have you ever watched a game of women’s football?

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