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Rising Belief in Ghosts: A Reflection of Modern Existential Questions

Recent surveys indicate a growing belief in paranormal phenomena among Americans, with 46% stating they believe in ghosts, according to a 2019 IPSOS poll. The Chapman University Survey of American Fears this year revealed that approximately 9% of adults surveyed feared ghosts, paralleling fears of zombies. This trend prompts researchers to explore connections between the rise in paranormal beliefs and the increasing number of Americans claiming no religious affiliation.

The decline in religious affiliation, with the percentage of religious congregation members falling below 50% for the first time in over 80 years, may contribute to people seeking alternative ways to address life’s existential questions. Sociologist Thomas Mowen notes that atheists tend to report higher belief in the paranormal than religious individuals.

Despite the decline in religious frameworks, belief in the afterlife has remained steady over four decades. Paranormal-themed media, such as nonfiction television shows like “Ghost Hunters,” has played a significant role in perpetuating supernatural beliefs. The rise of online forums, particularly on Reddit, has allowed individuals worldwide to connect and share unexplainable experiences, contributing to the interactive and communal nature of paranormal narratives.

The pandemic has seemingly fueled interest in the paranormal, with paranormal investigation groups reporting increased requests during the lockdown. Some attribute this to people being at home, more aware of their surroundings, and seeking explanations for unexplained phenomena. Researchers suggest that times of existential crisis or peril, such as the pandemic, may contribute to increased supernatural beliefs.

Believing in the paranormal can serve as a source of solace during challenging times, drawing historical parallels to the spike in spiritualism during the American Civil War. Today, paranormal beliefs may offer a sense of freedom, providing a framework to conceptualize possibilities beyond the everyday mysteries of modern life.

As the landscape of belief systems continues to evolve, the rise in paranormal beliefs reflects a complex interplay of societal shifts, media influence, and a human inclination to seek answers to life’s mysteries.