What percentage of Americans believe in ghosts? Forty-one percent, according to a YouGov study in 2021. Twenty percent polled were unsure if they believe in ghosts. (Comparatively, 43% of Americans polled believe demons exist.)
Eighteen percent of adult Americans claim they’ve seen or been near a ghost, according to a 2009 Pew Research Center survey. Twenty-nine percent claim they have been touched by someone who died.
Why do Americans believe in ghosts?
CNN reporter Harry Enten tackled this question in his podcast, Margins of Error. Harry takes a statistical approach as to why so many Americans believe in ghosts. Ultimately, one conclusion is, many who believe in ghosts see them as friendly reminders of someone they’ve lost.
That’s not the case for Marie Hurley, who joined the team at CSNH in 2021 as an administrative assistant. Marie shared her long history with spirits for this blog post:
The Tickle Monster
“My first memory is from when I was three or four. We lived on an army base in Texas. I don’t remember much about living there or the house, but I remember when I would go to bed at night and my parents left the room, the door would close (by itself) and something would just start laughing and tickling me. I called it the Tickle Monster. My parents would come running into my room and turn the lights on; then it would stop. My parents thought I was just having nightmares, but this happened quite often. Once we moved, I never got a visit from the Tickle Monster again,” Marie said.
A visit from grandfather
“When my grandfather died, many years ago, he came to me that night. He was trying to tell me something, but he only spoke in Korean. I couldn’t understand all of it, but I was quite frightened, so I made him go away. To this day I wish I would’ve sat there and listened because I don’t know what he was trying to tell me.”
“The last apartment I lived in had a few spirits. My son and I both had experiences; my daughter did not. My son had the most and he would tell me there was one in particular that he would know was in there because he would suddenly smell cigarettes (we don’t smoke). He would open his eyes and would see the figure standing, usually by the bureau. He said they never interacted, but he did not get good intentions from it.”
“There were other experiences where the shower curtain would move, or the cats would not go up the stairs for a period of time, or would hiss at something out of nowhere. We would constantly see dark shadows. I actually had my boyfriend take the door off of my walk-in closet because one of the spirits closed the door on me and I couldn’t get out.”
“I set boundaries for the spirits in this building. I told them to leave my son alone and if they needed something to come to me. It helped and more spirits would come to me. I would see them or get little whispers.”
Do spirits follow people?
“The house we live in now has a spirit that roams outside. It doesn’t bother anyone. The dog sometimes stares up the hill or into the woods but doesn’t bark. There have been a couple times in the night where the dog will look at the door and bark or I’ll sense something. A couple nights ago, I opened my eyes because I heard the dog growl, and I saw a female spirit standing on my boyfriend’s side of the bed. I was surprised and screamed because I didn’t expect to see someone there. My boyfriend woke up but the spirit was gone. He thinks I’m crazy.”
“I set boundaries and always tell spirits I am fine with living among them, but don’t look at us naked (lol), and don’t ask me to do anything. Maybe I’m a weirdo but it’s been part of my life,” Marie concluded.