I know several such people, and what characterizes them is that they fall in love at first sight with any belief that involves extraordinary theories and occurrences or unseen entities. Natural explanations are boring to them---the more fantastic the explanation, the better it is. Usually, if they believe in one such thing, e.g., in Oriental medicine, you can bet they also believe in all of them: homeopathy and all fashions of "alternative" medicine, parapsychology and telekinesis, near-death experiences, New Age beliefs, alien abduction, haunted houses, "Elvis lives,"the whole shebang. Theirs is not just a belief---it's a passion. They seem to derive great psychological satisfaction tumbling these things in their minds, and when speaking about them, they have a particular blissful expression on their faces. Steven Spielberg got it right in his movie "Close Encounters of the Third Kind"---note the Second Coming-type expression on the faces of the affected Earthlings.

But I couldn't find any English term that defines such people, be it a single- or a multiple-word term. It's a shame if there's none.

closed as off-topic by Nigel J, Scott, AmE speaker, curiousdannii, jimm101 Sep 24 '18 at 15:18

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  • "Questions on choosing an ideal word or phrase must include information on how it will be used in order to be answered. For help writing a good word or phrase request, see: About single word requests" – AmE speaker, curiousdannii, jimm101
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  • The examples seem to me quite different. Some I'd consider to be having conspiracy theorist tendencies, others simply being spiritual, others magical thinking, and others simply being uncritical or credulous. Do you mean "extraordinary" to mean supernatural or just non-mainstream? If you mean supernatural, Elvis lives, Oriental medicine and alien abductions don't necessarily involve the supernatural. – Zebrafish Sep 23 '18 at 8:31
  • Zebrafish: The point is not the different classes of possible beliefs but the tendency to eagerly adopt any or all of them. I'm not sure if these people care about the category distinctions---they just love to wallow in it. – DEL Sep 23 '18 at 8:50
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    When you say "The whole shebang", I'm inclined to think of someone who just believes in anything strange or things for which there's little evidence, in that case I'd call them a "crackpot" or credulous. However calling someone who believes in alternative medicine a "crackpot" wouldn't be fair because because I don't think the question of the efficacy of all alternative medicines is settled, let alone that there could be legitimate placebo effects. I guess I'm saying the examples are so varied I can't think of a word which would be fair to use to cover all of it. – Zebrafish Sep 23 '18 at 9:05
  • Credulous or gullible are persons who are too easily conned or led to act against their best interests. That's not what I was asking about. – DEL Sep 23 '18 at 11:29
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    You're over generalising, it is not a given that someone who believes in the efficacy of alternative treatments such as acupuncture or chiropractic also believes in aliens, auras, crystal healing, black magic, astrology, etc. Someone who believes in the supernatural and paranormal is just plain old superstitious. – Mari-Lou A Sep 24 '18 at 5:54

The closest I can get to the concept outlined by the OP is 'starry-eyed'.

: regarding an object or a prospect in an overly favorable light specifically : characterized by dreamy, impracticable, or utopian thinking : VISIONARY

Merriam Webster

If you are starry-eyed, you have a lot of thoughts and opinions that are unreasonably positive, so you do not understand things as they really are:


The descriptions 'Theirs is not just a belief---it's a passion.' And : 'when speaking about them, they have a particular blissful expression on their faces' to me fall into the category of 'starry-eyed'.

The following recent news quotes indicate the word being used in the context of people believing (or not) in things which most would regard as fanciful :

Tarter, based in California, doesn’t want her starry-eyed former intern to forget about intelligent aliens.

Wired.com 18th September 2018

No one in the Trump administration is “starry-eyed” about North Korea actually giving up its nuclear stockpile, according to White House national security adviser John Bolton.

Politico - 5th August 2018

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    I understand 'visionary' or 'starry-eyed' are overly optimistic people who practice wishful thinking. – DEL Sep 23 '18 at 11:20
  • But most of the people that the OP describes are anything but positive and optimistic. – Hot Licks Sep 23 '18 at 12:16
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    I don't think so @HotLicks. Theirs is not just a belief---it's a passion. And : when speaking about them, they have a particular blissful expression on their faces. – Nigel J Sep 23 '18 at 13:57

Somebody who believes in things that are out of the ordinary—who would prefer to not accept common scientific or accepted explanations but, rather, those that lends an air of mystery—and those things that could let them escape from the mundane, can be described as fanciful:


1 : marked by fancy or unrestrained imagination rather than by reason and experience
// a fanciful person
// a fanciful tale of a monster in the woods

// The director's background in documentaries is a bonus here, grounding the film's more fanciful magic-realism elements in cool-headed, observational naturalism.
— Stephen Dalton, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Volcano': Film Review | Karlovy Vary 2018," 13 July 2018

  • A woman I know---a former colleague---is like that. She is a down-to-earth all-business lab technician in a science-related field, not at all starry-eyed or credulous. She'd sell you a lemon more easily than buy one from you. She's not fanciful---her lab reports were realistic and matter-of-fact. Yet I once was in a tourist group with her, taken to one of those tourist traps where they hope you'll buy something. It was a Chinese traditional medicines factory. This lady got so excited: "Oh, I love it, I love it!" and she bought a $1000 worth[less] of their merchandise. How would you call her? – DEL Sep 24 '18 at 15:08
  • @del She was being fanciful at that time. People can be many different things at different times. I could be a normally down-to-earth person who is conservative and never takes risks with my money or relationships—but who still goes skydiving and Nascar racing once a month. You could say that she is sometimes fanciful or that she has fanciful elements that are not often seen. – Jason Bassford Sep 24 '18 at 15:16

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