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In a 2021 poll of Americans, slightly more people believe in demons (43%) than in ghosts (41%).
However, when we include those who answered “not sure” (as opposed to “don’t believe”), the numbers are equal… 65%, whether the question is about demons or ghosts.
That’s a lot.
In other words, the majority of Americans are willing to believe that supernatural beings exist, even if they’re not 100% certain… yet.
Of course, those were American studies.
People in other countries may have different views.
For example, an informal study of British people suggested that 50% of Brits believe in ghosts, and – interestingly – only 23% are afraid of them.
A more reliable – but older – British study [PDF] showed that 34% of Brits believe in ghosts… but 39% believe a house can be haunted. (I’m not quite certain how that would work.)
I tried to find statistics for France, but that led to generalizations that “the French don’t believe in ghosts, and pride themselves on their rationalism,” while – at the same time – finding plenty of reported ghosts in that country.
However, statistics suggest that 46% of Canadians believe in ghosts or supernatural beings.
What would make you a believer?
If you’re reading this article, you probably believe – as I do – that something odd is going on at haunted sites.
And, at many of those places, there’s no reasonable explanation for the ghost-like phenomena. We have to consider ghosts as a legitimate answer.
Some people don’t take a “good scare” seriously. They’re more comfortable laughing it off, if they can.
However, an encounter with a deceased relative can lead them to believe in ghosts… but not always.
In addition, some refer to the latter as a “spiritual” experience, while rejecting the idea of ghosts and hauntings.
Is that a matter of semantics, or religion, or something else?
Is science the answer?
In my decades of paranormal research, persistent ghost hunting – even by the most skeptical – seems to lead to a belief in ghosts.
By contrast, nearly every snarky non-believer I’ve met has been on just one actual ghost investigation, or a few light-hearted ghost tours.
In the light of day, it’s easy for them to dismiss anything baffling or alarming they’d encountered.
While I maintain that the best ghost hunting experiences are those that have a personal impact, it’s also clear that ghost hunting equipment is important.
We need EMF devices, EVP recorders, weird photos, and so on. Then we can analyze anomalies and see which of them can be explained.
The ones we can’t explain take us to the next steps:
- Seek more results.
- Look for patterns that may result in normal (but unusual) explanations.
- Identify those that defy explanation.
- Follow-up with more research efforts at the same locations or similar ones.
Then, with enough evidence that we can’t explain, we’re led to the next level of research, and so on.
Start here: Yes, ghostly “oddities” exist.
At this point, most will agree that ghost-like “oddities” exist outside mainstream science.
Whether some of them are actual ghosts… that’s another matter.
For now, an open-minded scientific approach can be helpful. (Of course, remain sensitive to the possibility that what we’re encountering may be sentient beings, and could be ghosts.)
Keep investigating. Keep gathering – and analyzing – evidence.
That’s the best way to find answers, whether or not you’re among the apparent majority who already believe.