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Longing for Ghostly Encounters
Ghosts and hauntings aren’t just for Halloween.
Ghostly matters are no longer topics simply for Halloween. The popular appeal of ghosts and hauntings is evident in the plethora of television programs such as A Haunting, Celebrity Ghost Stories, Ghost Adventures, Ghost Hunters, My Ghost Story, Ghostly Encounters, and many others. Does the increase in paranormal programming reflect a corresponding increase in belief in supernatural phenomena such as ghosts and hauntings? To the extent that self-report data reveal something of a person’s beliefs, tracking polls suggest a trend toward more widespread belief or willingness to report belief in paranormal phenomena. According to Gallup polls, 11% of Americans surveyed reported believing in ghosts in 1978, and in 2005, nearly three times as many (32%) agreed that ghosts or spirits of dead people can come back in certain places or situations. Similarly, 37% of those surveyed in 2005 believed that houses can be haunted, compared with 29% of those surveyed in 1990. On a more personal level, polls conducted by the Pew Research Center found twice as many Americans reporting that they had seen or been in the presence of a ghost (18%) in 2009 than in 1990 (9%). In 2009, 29% reported that they had felt in touch with someone who had already died, compared with only 17% in 1990.