A PewResearch Center survey has shown an increasing amount of Americans believe they have seen ghosts and communicate with the deceased.
The 2009 survey shows that 18% of Americans say they have nearly come ‘face-to-face’ with a ghost, twice that of a similar poll from 1996 where only 9% of Americans believed they had a sighting. Alarmingly, this would suggest that people have become less sceptical, less rational and less logical over the last 13 years.
Dr Alice Gregory from Goldsmiths University offers possible scientific explanations for the reports, citing sleep paralysis as a possible cause. Sleep paralysis can often be accompanied by vivid visual and auditory hallucinations, with sufferers commonly reporting there is an intruder or ‘spirit’ in the room. These hallucinations can be so incredibly real, Dr. Gregory says “those suffering from [sleep paralysis] may be unsure whether the hallucination was a dream or not.”
When considering the interpretation of what we have seen, Professor Claude Fischer of the University of California, Berkley says factors such as religion can affect a person’s susceptibility to defining events as ‘paranormal’ or ‘other-worldy’. On a blog post from 2013, Professor Fischer thinks it is worth considering the fact that “most American adults in the 21st Century say that they believe in life after death and in the devil.”
The report summaries that 65% of Americans have experienced an event they would describe as ‘supernatural’.