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US Demographic Trends / Skeptics vs. Believers

Date Wednesday - July 10, 2019
Host George Noory
Guests Kenneth GronbachScott S. Smith

Demographer and generational marketing expert, Ken Gronbach, looks into the future using the tool of demographics which serves as a GPS to navigate the many landscapes that will define what the United States will look like over the next 30 years. Using this information, he shared his forecasts, and offered tips on where to live, which careers to work in and what investments might pay off. He cited affordable housing as a critical issue for the 88 million millennials, who are the new labor force and talent pool. As more Boomers retire, they are moving away from cold weather climates-- he expects Florida to rise in population from 23 million to 35 million in the next 10-15 years, but the state will need to build more affordable housing to support the growth. Millennials are also bailing on the Northeast, he added.

Currently, there is a labor shortage for management positions in the US, Gronbach reported, as Generation X (aged 35 to 54 years old) has a smaller population. He named three underserved sectors that will become even more so, as the Boomers continue to age-- health care, elder care, and death care. "We don't have enough cemeteries...funeral homes...[or] crematoriums to handle the volume that's headed toward those categories," he detailed, as the Boomers are twice as populous as the generation before them. Cannabis will prove to be a huge state tax windfall as it continues its path to legalization in more states, but Gronbach expressed concern over the cognitive issues from people that are high, which will not benefit the workplace, especially equipment operation and driving. He foresees women moving into more and more leadership positions, as they now outnumber men in college and law school. He also talked about demographic problems for countries such as Japan, Russia, and China that have lower birth rates.

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In the latter half, journalist Scott S. Smith discussed his work exploring the debate between atheism and religion, and paranormalists and skeptics. In his study of various religions and spiritual practices, he has sought to figure out who has the best description of the "cosmic elephant" that each touches a part of. He has found that many skeptics or materialists are irrational about the evidence for the supernatural or paranormal and often refuse to even look at it. However, he doesn't blame them for "not subscribing to orthodox religion because there is a lot of superstition and nonsense," and it can be challenging to separate the wheat from the chaff in the paranormal field. In one interesting instance, Sam Harris, a well-known atheist author, published a book called "Waking Up" about how Buddhist meditation gave him inner peace, and "he's trying to get atheists to understand," he said, "that they need more of a spiritual inner life."

What people don't seem to understand, Smith continued, is that "the divine realm has a hard time interacting in this realm. That's why the Virgin Mary isn't appearing on the White House lawn...There is intervention; there are ghosts...there are saints and gods appearing occasionally but not often." He delved into his research of such topics as UFOs, ESP, and the Vatican exorcist Father Amorth (recently featured in a documentary by William Friedkin, the director of The Exorcist). Smith also shared evidence for the idea that our beloved deceased pets may survive in the afterlife, and can sometimes make themselves known to the living.

News segment guest: Dr. Tim Ball

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Bumper music from Wednesday July 10, 2019

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