July 12, 2005


Great Caesar's Ghost! Gallup finds 1 in 3 Americans Believe Houses Can Be Haunted (Staff, Editor & Publisher, 7/12/05)

Gallup reports today that its latest poll found that one in three Americans “believe in ghosts.” The numbers: 32% of all adults say they believe that “ghosts/spirits of dead people can come back,” while 48% do not, and 19% are unsure. . . .

There's an ideological twist, with 42% of liberals saying they believe in ghosts--but only 25% of conservatives and 35% of moderates saying this.

It's OJ's line, but one of the great things about being a conservative is that every daily newspaper confirms our beliefs.

Posted by dcohen at July 12, 2005 1:51 PM

Isn't there a John Hiatt lyric somewhere that goes something like: "I know our house wasn't haunted/'Cause nobody said 'Boo!' to me?"

For a while, we lived in a decommissioned Lutheran parsonage. My wife convinced herself that the thermal creaking from the attic meant the house was haunted. My response: "If it's haunted, it's haunted by Lutheran ministers. What're they going to do, preach to us?"

Posted by: Mike Morley at July 12, 2005 2:15 PM

Which conservative belief is being confirmed here?

Posted by: Brandon at July 12, 2005 3:50 PM

So they serve the purpose Pravda would for a Soviet commissar.

Posted by: Al Cornpone at July 12, 2005 4:19 PM

I think, Brandon, the conservative belief that people are stupid enough to fall for conservative beliefs.

Which is true enough.

Today, Romenesko has a link to an East Chicago story about a streetlight that was shining a shadow of Jesus on a tree, and hundreds of people were spending all night looking at it, until the cops switched the light off.

Deicide? You decide.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at July 12, 2005 4:26 PM

Harry: Close, but opposite:

42% of liberals saying they believe in ghosts--but only 25% of conservatives and 35% of moderates [say] this.

Posted by: David Cohen at July 12, 2005 4:51 PM

The principal is that if you don't believe in God, or have some sort of well established belief system, then you will believe in anything.

It's easy to make fun of the people who see Jesus in a tortilla, but that's only because it's so out of the ordinary that it becomes mockable. Those people who believe in ghosts probably also believe in crystals, feng-shui, shamans (shamen?), neocon conspiracies and the X-Files. But because there so many more of the ghost believers, they don't get mocked because the mockers might accidentally hit their friends, neighbors, colleagues and employers, especially in the circles that people like Romanenko travel.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at July 12, 2005 5:31 PM


As one of the resident moral freeloaders here, I will tell you that I could tell what it was before the TV report began. The Virgin Mary was on a nearby tree as well. I guess I'll believe my own lying eyes.

The one under the expressway viaduct in Chicago I wasn't buying, however.

Posted by: Rick T. at July 12, 2005 5:32 PM

Who knew there were so many Scientologists?

Posted by: ghostcat at July 12, 2005 5:56 PM

Weren't angry Scientologists putting rattlesnakes in various mailboxes about 12-15 years ago? Has Matt Lauer checked his?

Posted by: ratbert at July 12, 2005 5:59 PM

Russell Kirk was a big believer in ghosts.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at July 12, 2005 7:35 PM

Raoul, where do you live that seeing Jesus in a tortilla is out of the ordinary?

Besides, I'd say that if you'll believe in the god of the Bible, you will believe in anything. As evidence I offer today's 'To Every Man an Answer' program of the Calvary network, where 'all this strange weather' was attributed to Satan.

Then again, there may be something to that. At my house today, it's nice and sunny, temperature in the mid 80s, with just a misting of rain over night to keep my pumpkins thriving. Old Patch comes through for us sinners.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at July 12, 2005 9:13 PM

If it's not out of the ordinary, then why do so-called journalists waste time on such stories? So-called journalists sure don't seem to be interested in other ordinary stories, like, for example, anything about Iraq that doesn't include the word "bomb" in it.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at July 12, 2005 11:10 PM

I don't believe in ghosts, but I do believe and in the communion of saints and in the holy souls. Not the same thing as ghosts, for all that the separated brethern get the concepts mixed up. There are all kinds of Gospel stories, e.g. the rich man and Lazarus, that point in this direction.

Nothing in Christian belief supports belief in haunted houses and other such pagan nonsense. Now demonic possession--that's a different matter.

Posted by: Lou Gots at July 12, 2005 11:50 PM

Too subtle for me.

Besides, most Catholics believe in ghosts, including the class you would exclude.

I was raised half by Irish Catholics, half by Italian Catholics. Once I reached the age of discretion I understood there was a difference between them: Irish Catholics are afraid of sex, Italian Catholics are afraid of ghosts.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at July 13, 2005 6:44 PM

"If you don't believe in God, you'll believe in anything".

I think God is a subset of anything. To rephrase, people will believe anything.

Posted by: Robert Duquette at July 14, 2005 2:14 PM

I grew up in East Chicago,IN.I no longer live there but visit quite often.I couldn't believe what the rumors were and the newspapers were saying about Jesus and The Virgin Mary on a tree.I thought "yeah right"!I NEVER been a person of a church and at one point in my life didn't believe in GOD either.Well,I went to see this tree.Let me tell you it was amazing.It was indeed the real deal.Even when they truned the lights off I still saw Jesus,The Virgin Mary and indeed a Rosary hanging from the middle of the trees.It was the strangest thing I ever saw yet it was beautiful.It has given so many people faith again in that town and it is something they all need.So many famiies have been unfortunate to lose loved ones to gangs and other violence.How dare the city turn those lights off!The system is so corrupt out there and money hungry for money the city doesn't have.The residents of East Chicago finally have faith again and some politicans want to stomp all over it.
- A Believer

Posted by: linda at July 24, 2005 1:22 PM