In today’s spotlight I would like to discuss the notion of ghosts and ghouls. Defining the difference between ghosts and ghouls may not be as straightforward as one might at first blush think. A ghost is generally defined as an apparition of a dead person that is believed to appear or become manifest to the living, typically as a nebulous image. Now, does that include a master, a guide, and/or an angel? The matter is unclear here. In other words, does a person have to be dead in order to be a disincarnate being appearing to you? As for a ghoul, they are defined as an evil spirit or phantom, especially one supposed to rob graves and feed on dead bodies. So any being, disincarnate or dead, can easily fit within this definition and as such, there is less ambiguity for they are simply evil manifestations. I do suppose then that a poltergeist with evil intent is also a ghoul—albeit they are not typically defined as such.
One Third of Americans Believe in Ghosts
Okay, here’s an interesting statistic. According to Gallup, approximately 1/3rd of Americans believe in ghosts or disembodied spirits and 22% believe in witches. “Men were more likely than women to say they believe in witches (24% to 20%), while the opposite is true about ghosts (women were more likely than men to say they believe in ghosts—34% to 27%).” 1
As interesting is this finding, “Most of us have considered the possibility of the paranormal before—was that creak a ghost or the house settling in? Was that a shadow or Bigfoot? And who was flickering the lights—the Hash Slinging Slasher or Nosferatu? But according to sociologists at Chapman University, a sizable 52% of America actually believes in this spooky stuff.” 2 The fear of ghosts is sometimes referred to as phasmophobia but perhaps surprisingly, more people are afraid of clowns then ghosts or ghouls. 3
Skeptics, of course, argue there are no ghosts! That said, according to a poll of 1000 adults over the age of 18, a new poll conducted by Huff Post, discovered that 45% believed in ghosts. Now, one might fault the polling method as compared to that of professional pollsters like Gallup, but that said, in an interview with Brad Steiger published in the Huff Post, Steiger had this to say about ghosts, “After more than 60 years researching the paranormal, and nearly that many investigating haunted houses, I spend little time these days theorizing about what ghosts might be. I completely accept the existence of such phenomena.” 4
The skeptics are quick to point out that the number of believers in ghosts and goblins is rapidly diminishing as our culture becomes less superstitious and more educated. And indeed, again according to pollsters, this appears to be true. However, I have had my own encounters with disincarnate beings and whether in fact they were real or imagined, I have no doubt about their genuine nature and for that matter, contribution to my well being. So what do you think, are ghosts real or imagined? Is it superstitious mumbo-jumbo from historical failures to grasp the real world, and simply inherited or passed down by some to those of us in our time? In the alternative, do we propagate the idea every time we see a scary ghost movie or celebrate the custom of Halloween?
Again, where all of these factors and more may account for some of the reported ghost sightings and much of the belief among believers, for me, just me, ghosts are real! At least, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it! How about you?
- Carlson, D. K. 2000. “One Third of Americans Believe in Ghosts.” Gallup. October 31, 2000.
- Aran, I. 2015. “What Does America Fear More—the Government or Ghosts?” Splinter. October 14, 2015.
- Ingraham, C. 2014. “America’s Top Fears: Public Speaking, Heights and Bugs.” The Washington Post. October 30, 2014
- Spiegel, L. 2017. “Spooky Number Of Americans Believe In Ghosts.” HuffPost. December 6, 2017.