Twenty Percent of Americans See Dead People: Study - NBC4 Washington
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Twenty Percent of Americans See Dead People: Study

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    FILE: Person wearing a ghost costume.

    A spooky report from the Pew Research Center reveals that nearly one in five U.S. adults has seen or been in the presence of a ghost.

    An even larger share of people - 29 percent – say they have felt in touch with someone who is no longer living, according to the Pew study, "Many Americans Mix Multiple Faiths," released in Dec. 2009.

    Halloween may lead to an increase in ghost sightings, as the holiday season boosts belief in life after death, according to Claude Fischer, a professor of sociology at the University of California, Berkeley.

    "As we approach Halloween, note that most American adults in the 21st Century say that they believe in life after death and in the devil," Fishcer said in a 2013 blog post on Americans and the occult, citing data from Gallup and other sources.

    "Over one-third say that they believe in the spirits of the dead coming back; about that many also say they believe in haunted houses," he added.

    Spooky, Scary, Funny Haunted House ReactionsSpooky, Scary, Funny Haunted House Reactions

    However, a 2005 Gallup poll suggests that this belief in ghosts and hauntings declines with age: "Young Americans are about twice as likely as old Americans to say they believe in ghosts haunted houses."

    One country where a belief in ghosts apparently isn't declining: Sweden. A new study found that 16 percent of Swedes believe in ghosts while 37 percent said science can't explain some "paranormal phenomena," up from 12 and 33 percent, respectively, in 2008, according to Swedish news site The Local