Yes, we want to believe

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Autumn Fahl’s stories about the spectral figure haunting Press photographer Loren Benoit have generated a surprising response. OK, so Loren’s been doing the haunting — following her around like a stalker in the dead of night. But I digress.

Most do. Ghosts are more than Halloween fun. Nearly three-fourths of Americans believe in some kind of paranormal activity, according to a 2017 Chapman University study released Oct. 11. And most believe in more than one phenomenon, from ghosts to space aliens or telekinesis.

An afterlife by another name... According to a 2013 Harris poll, 64 percent of Americans believe souls survive death (26 percent believe in reincarnation), and 41 percent believe in ghosts who can wander about. That’s more than the 37 percent who believe in creationism, but less than the 76 percent who reported believing in God.

Mild or menacing? A poll (using a 2012 survey of 1,000 people) by London-based research company YouGov similarly found that 45 percent believe ghosts or spirits of the dead can come back in certain places and situations. Thirty-two percent believe ghosts may be harmful, but 43 percent disagreed.

Haunted houses. Realtor.com’s 2017 Haunted House Real Estate Survey found 33 percent of people are open to living in a haunted house, 25 percent might be, and 42 percent said no way. Of those willing, 40 percent expect to pay less for it, and 61 percent said they’d need extra square footage or bedrooms. Whether to hide or be hospitable, they didn’t say.

Been there. According to the same survey, 28 percent believed they’ve actually lived in a haunted home. They heard strange and unexplainable noises, reported feeling creepy in certain rooms, or saw objects move or disappear.

Chills and bumps in the night? Sometimes the paranormal is normal. Realtor.com’s survey found 48 percent could tolerate consistently cold or hot spots in their home. Of night noises, 45 percent aren’t afraid; more than 35 percent could tolerate strange feelings in certain rooms or shadows over the bed.

Just don’t touch. Other sensations may be tolerable, but only 20 percent said they could handle creepy, unknown “touches.”

Ghost and spirit lore — within or without religious context — is as old as man. Why do we tend to believe in existence beyond death, in one form or another? It’s hard to accept anything else. We are drawn to, and comforted by, the idea that this is not “it,” however translated to the next emanation.

So tonight, we open doors to spirits of all ages, offerings in hand (lest I eat all this candy myself). Welcome, ghosts.

• • •

Sholeh Patrick is a columnist for the Hagadone News Network who prefers not to know. Contact her at Sholeh@cdapress.com.

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