Millions of Americans – in fact one-third or 34 percent of the US population – believe in ghosts, according to pre-Halloween polls conducted by The Associated Press and the group called Ipsos.
No, Virginia, it’s not because many of the American soldiers in Iraq are returning home as floating ghostly figures for the Halloween.
And it’s also not because Georgie Boo-sh looks like Casper the Dim-witted Ghost to the anti-war critics and some Democrats.
Well, of course, ghost-sighting is not just an American preoccupation. People the world over tend to believe that souls live on and manifest themselves after death.
In the same AP and Ipsos polls, 34 percent of the respondents also expressed belief in unidentified flying objects while 19 percent accept the existence of spells or witchcraft. Forty-eight percent believe in extrasensory perception, or ESP.
The same polls also showed that 37 percent believe the U.S. made the right decision to invade Iraq, and the 31 percent approve of the job Casper, I mean President Bush, is doing.
A smaller but still substantial 23 percent say they have actually seen a ghost or believe they have been in one’s presence, with the most likely candidates for such visits including single people, Catholics and those who never attend religious services.
Fourteen percent — mostly men and lower-income people — say they have seen a UFO.
Spells and witchcraft are more readily believed by urban dwellers, minorities and lower-earning people.
The polls showed that single men were more superstitious than unmarried women, 31 percent to 17 percent.
The most admitted-to superstition, by 17 percent, was finding a four-leaf clover.
Thirteen percent dread walking under a ladder or the groom seeing his bride before their wedding, while slightly smaller numbers named black cats, breaking mirrors, opening umbrellas indoors, Friday the 13th or the number 13.
Generally, women were more superstitious than men about four-leaf clovers, breaking mirrors or grooms prematurely seeing brides.
The poll, conducted Oct. 16-18, involved telephone interviews with 1,013 adults and had a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.
I used to believe in scary ghosts and other spirits. But after finding the eternal “ghost” inhabiting my mortal body, I don’t get scared anymore. I could walk a dark, eerie path on a cold windy moonless night without feeling the creeps. Except if a rat springs out of the gutter and scurries past my feet. Yikes! Rats! The scummiest of them all.