What statistics can tell us about Americans' skyrocketing belief in ghosts

Numbers can help us learn about things in our society that might not be readily apparent. In the case of ghosts, I was shocked to learn that Americans’ belief in them has skyrocketed 400% since the late 1970s.

A number like this is merely the starting place, a reason to explore a topic. The number is interesting enough, but I wanted to find out why people are more likely to believe in ghosts than they used to be. That’s why it’s the subject of my first episode, called “How the Paranormal Became, Well, Pretty Normal.”

I ended up speaking to believers (like Chase) and experts. This journey led me to discover that the rise in ghost believers was linked to a lot more in a society than just whether someone thinks Casper (or someone like him) really exists. I learned along the way that while ghosts are often thought to be scary, many believers see ghosts as a friendly reminder of friends who have left us. No wonder a quarter of Americans have reported not just believing in ghosts, but seeing them too.