A 2019 YouGov survey says that 20 percent of American adults "definitely" believe in ghosts; another twenty-five percent believe they "probably exist."
And, while no data yet proves it, there's a good chance that quarantining at home during the pandemic has led more people to wonder where those nighttime creaks and groans are coming from.
Some skeptics say that seeing ghosts is part of the human experience and far too common an occurrence for everyone who thinks they see a ghost to be crazy. But there are a lot of reasons to explain why we sincerely believe we're seeing a ghost. Yet, it's hard to convince people otherwise - even when confronted with evidence to the contrary.
In the end, psychologists can offer explanations but no one can definitively prove ghosts don't exist.
- “Danielle” is a lawyer in British Columbia. She chose not to have her full name used.
- Chris French is a professor of psychology and head of the Anomalistic Psychology Research Unit, Department of Psychology, at Goldsmiths College, University of London. He’s a former editor of The Skeptic Magazine (@chriscfrench)
- Deborah Hyde is a cultural anthropologist, and a fellow of “The Committee of Skeptical Inquiry.” She recently retired as editor of The Skeptic Magazine. (@jourdemayne)
- Elizabeth Saint is an electrical engineer, paranormal researcher, and president of the streaming platform VidiSpace. She was a researcher on Discovery’s “Ghosts of Shepherdstown” (@ElizabethSaint)
Colin McEnroe and Cat Pastor contributed to this show.