As Americans head out for trick or treating on Halloween night, almost one in five believe it is possible they will see a real ghost.
A 2009 Pew Research Center survey shows that 18 percent of American adults say they have seen or “been in the presence” of a ghost. Almost one in three (29 percent) said “they have felt in touch with someone who has already died.”
It is far from the only survey to show that many Americans believe in the supernatural. A recent HuffPost/YouGov poll of 1,000 people found 45 percent believed in ghosts. About one third said ghosts can do harm to living people compared to 43 percent who said ghosts were harmless.
A recent survey from Realtor.com showed that 30 percent of Americans would consider living in a haunted house. Forty-two percent said they would not.
“Belief in ghosts is often directly tied in the belief of life after death, which is a very religious belief,” said Noah Leigh, a lead investigator at the Paranormal Investigators of Milwaukee. “With many younger people drifting away from the more standard religions and into more ‘New Age’ style belief systems it is not surprising to see an increase in belief in ghosts or that you have seen or experienced one.”
The Pew survey found people who are more religious are less likely to say they have seen ghosts, with only 11 percent saying they had. For those who attended religious services less, 23 percent said they had seen a ghost.
Leigh said that once someone starts believing in ghosts, their opinion is hard to shake.
“In my experience though, many times the experiences had by individuals occurred a long time ago and details are fuzzy,” he said. “This makes their claims nearly impossible to debunk and lends validity to them in their eyes. The experience cements the belief in them and it can be very hard to change once it is established, especially if it is tied with the death of a loved one.”