How to Live With a Ghost

Oct 26, 2022 · 670 comments
John (Connecticut)
Okay. Apparently, it has come to this. For those of you who need a refresher, ghosts, goblins, Super Man, the Phantom of the Opera, Jesus, and the Easter Bunny don't actually exist.
David Williams (San Diego county)
@John, Now hold on, I saw the Phantom of the Opera at the Auditorium Theatre in Chicago with my own eyes. Now as to the others...
Q Frost (Boulder CO)
@John There are more things on Heaven and Earth, Horatio.... But in America you are free to NOT believe.
McRumi (Richmond VA)
@John exactly.
The Accidental Flyer (Silicon Valley)
How is religious beliefs different than believing in ghosts? It's essentially the same thing, that some supernatural beings can defy physics and do things that so far science has said impossible.
AG (Tallahassee)
I don’t know about that. Holding to a superstition is not quite the same as holding to a religious creed. For one, it must be emphasized that not all religions are focused on the supernatural or on man’s ability to influence events through mystical means, but lean towards more earthly matters like one’s moral development. Indeed, some faiths like Buddhism or the more fundamentalist interpretations of Christianity, Islam, or Judaism actually discourage such practices, believing that only God can influence the universe, and God’s will is unknowable. On the other hand, I’ve known plenty of people with hardly a spiritual bone in their body who nonetheless believed in “luck”, some mystical or indescribable force that they could control through little rituals, however mundane, which is in and of itself not backed by any scientific evidence. Where these people crazy? I don’t think so. I truly believe that these rituals held power and significance for them, however contrived or illogical it might seem to an observer or in many cases even to the participants themselves.
Tony (Delhi)
@The Accidental Flyer how is physics different from religion either? Taken to an extreme level berry belief is same.
Lissa (Virginia)
As long as we don’t make policy based on either of them, I’m cool with both of them.
Heather Matson (San Diego)
I was a young professional in my late 20s eating dinner for the first time with the CEO of my large company and a group of other executives including my boss. I was nervous and to break the ice, I shared how I had recently seen a ghost. My boss stared at me with a look that said, “Shut up - you are ruining your career!!” The CEO, however, lit up. He had grown up with a female ghost who regularly sat on the edge of his bed and pulled pranks on everyone in his household. We talked for over an hour and he told some of the best ghost stories I’ve ever heard. This led to a good relationship between us over the years. Not exactly great career advice - but it always makes me laugh thinking how lucky I was that night - and gives me comfort that I wasn’t the only one with these experiences.
Cat (New York)
I don't mind seeing ghosts. But do ghosts see me? Should I only ever undress or take a bath in the dark?? Scary thought!
Eva Lockhart (Minneapolis)
I keep hoping to experience a ghost. Does that count?
j m (midwest)
To the skeptics...Then I saw her face, now I'm a believer....they were singing about love, but it can apply to ghosts, too.
Jill (Midwest)
I firmly believe in science. And yet… My husband and I have lived in, restored, and sold three historic homes. We lived in the first one only one year when someone knocked on the door and asked us if we would consider selling it. My husband and I looked at each other and immediately said “yes.” Only after we moved out did we share stories with each other about the inexplicable slamming of doors upstairs when there was absolutely no wind and other strange noises. So I say, don’t deny the possibility of ghosts if you’ve never lived in a very old house.
Tom (San Diego, California)
I understand the desire to entertain on Halloween but it's human nature to rush to judgement and mistake strange events for ordinary ones which is, of course, the reason for the scientific method. The typical media ghost hunters have no background in physics, forensics, electronics engineering, or any serious investigations. Some example questions are: if ghosts can be seen in the dark, why not turn on the lights to get a better view? Darkness only leads to human misinterpretation of what the eyes are really seeing. Do you have any clear photos? Fuzzy ones are poor evidence. Walking around or talking to a spirit is not as productive as determining the exact direction of a sound and going to that location. A scientist might use a simple process: with two microphones. Then did the sound actually come from an empty corner or is it a faint TV sound from next door? Ghosts do not exist.
Louisa (Golden, CO)
For all the scientific method evidence disbelievers, you may want to look up the University of Virginia Division of Perceptual Studies, founded in 1967. They are investigating paranormal occurrences and perception. More in near death experienes, esp, and possible reincarnation occurrences. But there's some "ghost" research, as well. Several hundred years ago microscopic organisms, subatomic particles, and humans being able to fly would've been considered heresy or impossible. I would think it rather arrogant to think current scientific method can answer or explain all phenomenon. I do think a considerable amount of paranormal experiences may have very plausible explanations, such as high emf, excessive carbon monoxide, rodents in the walls, wind, hallucinations, etc. But others, remain unexplained. Doesn't mean they didn't happen. It may mean we're not advanced scientificly enough yet.
Joy Mars (Provence)
I’ve never lived in an old enough house to warrant ghosts until now. Certainly in my present maison du village, built in the early 19th Century, there would have been a few residents who died here. But not a peep. Were they given tight Catholic burials? Our graveyard is pristine. Or were they scared away (or disgusted) by the maison’s extensive remodel? I think it’s this: because my French is so deplorable they don’t want to talk to me.
Susan (San Diego, Ca)
I had a bit of a time selling my father's house; lots of Chinese nationals were interested, but every single one of them wanted to know whether anyone had died in the house. Both of my parents did. Apparently, it is not good luck to buy a house with spirits living in it.
Lin (LA)
A girl I went to school with posted photos from her wedding. Her mother had died of cancer many years ago. When her father gave his father-of-the-bride speech, he mentioned her mother, his late wife, and began crying. His daughter, the bride, held his hand to comfort him. The photographer snapped a photo of this touching moment. In the photo, a blue hand can be seen pressed against the window behind the bride and her father. The bride firmly believes that was her mother in that moment. I saw the photo. It’s a blue handprint. It was gone a moment later. What’s the scientific explanation for this?
Marie (A2)
My great-grandfather was a civil war vet. At the age of 47 he married and bought property in upstate NY. It is extremely rural even today with the closest neighbor almost a half mile away. He and my great-grandmother farmed the property and raised 6 children, 4 boys, 2 girls. My parents bought the property from 2 of the boys who had inherited it after their father died in the 1930s. My parents retired and built a home with a barn and had what would be a gentlemen's farm today. The original house was torn down. All the children of the couple had died except for my great uncle Al. Al never lived more than 5 miles from the farm. One warm spring evening. The kind of evening where there is still snow in clumps on the ground, but the air is warmer, and the sun stays a little longer in the sky my father came into the house after feeding the cows. He told my mother he heard a group of boys playing in the field, they were laughing and talking but he couldn't make out what they were saying. At that point my mother said she had just gotten a phone call that Uncle Al had died that day.
Dairy Queen (Cleveland Heights)
This American popular belief in ghosts is not funny. It goes hand in hand with lack of trust in science and poor STEM education. NYT does us no service to normalize it and treat it as a matter of personal preference. It crosses the line between faith and superstition, way into obscurantism.
Lin (LA)
The non-believers are so smug and condescending.
Cat72 (OR)
I’ve always wondered how many hauntings can be explained by a carbon monoxide issue.
Susan (San Diego, Ca)
Another spooky story—a 100%, swear-upon-a-stack of bibles story. When I was 13, my dad got me a puppy named Candy for Christmas. Months later, I had a realistic dream that I was asleep in my bedroom, my dog just outside, running and playing. Suddenly, Candy began to yelp in pain—I was jolted out of bed, ran to my window, opened my curtains and was frightened to death by two figures staring at me. One was an elderly woman, and the other was a middle-aged man with dark hair. I began to scream, “What did you do to my dog?!” They just faded away. I woke up to my parents, who had heard my screams and were steadying me. Ten years later—my parents, who had taken over my dog as I went to school and work, brought Candy to a pet boarding business, as they were going on a trip. It turned out that the owner of the place was Ruby Mae Brown, a notorious animal abuser. She had kept Candy out in the cold, where she caught pneumonia and eventually died. Many months after Candy’s death, I happened to be reading the newspaper when I came upon a report detailing the ongoing investigation into Ms Brown’s cruel business. In the paper was a photo of Ms Brown in a courtroom; a seemingly familiar-looking elderly woman, and standing next to her was her partner, a middle-aged man with dark hair….
Joy Mars (Provence)
It’s called premonition. There’s a book out now about it, “The Premonition Bureau.” An article about its subject appeared in The New Yorker a few years ago.
Cat (New York)
@Susan Very sorry about Candy.
George Fleming (Mount Vernon OH)
"...The house was originally built in 1910..." When was it built next? Reminds of the Car Talk guy, Tom Maliozzi, making fun of those who say a car has x number of "original miles."
LF (Here)
We have a microwave that turns on occasionally by itself. Ya’ think it’s a ghost?!? Uh, no.
Gremlin 👹 (Georgia)
Years ago a young child was killed in a nearby subdivision. A mentally ill man was wandering through the neighborhood and shot at a house, killing the little boy, who was standing at the doorway with his grandmother. Several years later, I met the man who bought that house. He would see a full-bodied apparition of a child walking up and down the stairs and hear footsteps all night. His kids were terrified; his wife was in denial. One night, lying in bed with his sleeping wife, listening to the footsteps up and down the stairs, he woke her up and asked, “Don’t you hear that?” to which she replied, “It’s the dog!” At that moment, the dog - who had been lying in bed with them - began wagging her tail.
Michael Houseful (Bloomfield NJ)
The previous owner died in the home we purchased in 2019. Upon moving in we noticed objects turning up in strange places, Bobbie pins found in the middle of the floor (we are both bald), the dog jumping up at night and growling at nothing and the biggest jolt was an Easter dinner when, while telling my sister about all this, the French door to our porch flew open by itself. We never had a more dramatic ending to a dinner party. My sister returned with a statue of Our Lady of Lourdes and since then no more apparitions. This is all true.
Susan (San Diego, Ca)
Oh, forgot to tell of a cool event Grandma witnessed. She lived alone on the 23rd floor of an apartment building in Boston, on Clearway St. One stormy night, as she sat watching TV, a sudden flash of intense light came through her sliding glass patio door. It slowly creeped around the perimeter of the door’s aluminum frame, alternately flashing and fading. Grandma was transfixed. She recounted the story to her son-in-law, who was a physicist. He told her it was Saint Elmo’s Fire.
Passion for Peaches (left coast)
I hear strange things in my house all the time. It’s usually rodents. People believe what they want to believe. But Shane Booth is a photography professor. You’d think that if he wondered why odd things were happening in his house, he would post… cameras!…everywhere. He might discover that a weird neighbor is sneaking into his home and punking him. The broken window could be as simple as his dog putting his paws on window glass that had a stress fracture, and the pane blew apart. I’m not debunking the idea of spirits existing in the world. I’ve had my own “ghost” experiences. It’s just that I think many people try to avoid looking for more rational explanations because blaming ghosts is exhilarating.
Susan (San Diego, Ca)
People say that spirits can’t exist, due to laws of energy and matter. But how to explain the spark of life that exists in our own bodies, which would otherwise be inanimate slabs of useless flesh? Does science have an answer?
JC Guy (USA)
Years ago I worked in a 100 year old haunted building in Jersey City Heights.The company owner kept a cat in the building to chase rodents, the cat hung out in my office and my assistants office, when the cat would start to whine we knew one of 2 ghosts was near us. The ghost was mischievous but not threatening and would move things around in my photo studio, hiding our props in different places. My assistant had mediumship abilities and was able to communicate and "see" the spirits, she said these were former workers from years ago when the building was a factory. I drove by the building last year and noticed it had been converted into an apartment building, I often wondered if the ghosts were still there or if they had moved on.
Huh 👻 (Upstate)
The attic apartment, in a huge Queen Anne Victorian, painted in black and grey, was advertised as “unique.” The landlord, a quirky English professor (and former member of the Alaska Ballet) at my undergrad school went on summer sabbatical to Burma, leaving his German shepherd, Torch in my care. At least twice daily I’d enter from my maid’s quarters apartment via inside steps to the third floor. One day a glowing orb with (of course) a walk-in-freezer-cold chill greeted me at the end of the long hallway. It was, well, chilling. Scary. Unnerving. Torch trotted out, tail wagging and tongue hanging as usual. When he saw the 18” diameter orb he barked loudly as his hackles rose in fear. He then bolted into the professor’s library and knocked over an expensive antique standing lamp, destroying it. Six weeks later professor just smiled upon hearing what had happened, noting simply, “Ah, yes…this house has ‘presences.’” And that’s why the rent at the “unique” apartment was so cheap. I stayed over 2 years. I’ll go with “presences:” Ghosts seems so…silly.
Susan (San Diego, Ca)
Is the supernatural any more unbelievable than the lives of the living? Just the idea that there are intelligent beings who do and create all that humanity does and creates is pretty amazing, as well as a little weird, after all. Try to make sense of that!
Greg In NYC (New York City)
I’m surprised this article met the NYT editorial standards. Folks, there are no ghosts. It seems amazing that deep into the 21st century, anyone would have to say this. Yet the people interviewed in this article, countless commenters, and indeed the author of this article, take it for granted that they do exist. The existence after the death of some incorporeal being that can nonetheless be sensed by the living, let alone make noises and move things about, violates pretty much everything we know about physics, chemistry, biology. That is, science. You know, the discipline that (unlike necromancy or seances) got us out of dwelling in caves. Carl Sagan once said, “Extraordinary claims required extraordinary evidence.” Sorry, anecdotal evidence, no matter how heartfelt and sincere, doesn’t cut it. Every attempt to document ghosts, poltergeists, etc. - and there have been many such efforts - has failed miserably.
Joseph (Northborough)
@Greg In NYC Apparently you are new to the NYT. There are often articles, particularly in the "Living" section where you say to yourself "why would anyone want the public to know this about you". And the answer is always: To get your name in the NYT.
Desire Trails (Berkeley)
@Greg In NYC I agree with most of your comment. However, “…violates pretty much everything we know about physics, chemistry, biology. That is, science.” As a scientist I can tell you we have really only scraped the surface of what we “know.” Physics comes to mind immediately. Spooky Action at a Distance, for example. Quantum mechanics, infinite dimensions, I could go on. I am not so quick to discount the experiences of others, although I do immediately hope they have working carbon monoxide detectors.
Blee (IL)
I am curious if people with spiritual beings in their houses try smudging to get the spirits to leave...
Sixofone (The Village)
I've had the eerie feeling, increasing over the past several years, that my country is haunted by the ghost of the Weimar Republic, warning us not to follow its fate. Now THAT'S spooky.
DoPDJ (N42W71)
I was a math-degreed, STEM-worshipping scientist, agnostic (atheists being as rabid as evangelicals imo), and oblivious to these “issues”. I was head-smacked when my precious Dad died suddenly eleven years ago. Only then did raise my head and wonder what, if anything, science had discovered about death. I’ll condense reams of reading to offer this. I stumbled onto an essay at NLM.NIH (!) by an M.D. (!!) To protect his license, the doctor waited years before sharing his experience, but magnanimity prevailed as he neared retirement. Rational, Science-Uber-Alles, navel-gazing smarty-pants (as I was) might read the Doctor’s essay, and google interviews of him on YouTube, etc., and pay attention. More work led me to call an utter stranger, hundreds of miles away, who conveyed to me communication from my father eight years after he died; an exchange that only my Dad and I could ever have shared. Ever. Now I’ve read all submissions at NDERF and ADCRF, dismissing any involving book selling, medications, mental instability, etc. It still left 5-7% that were profound. There are people desperate to know the why and how of their experiences, begging Science to explain. I’m off the Smug-Train now and forever grateful to the Good Doctor (interviewed by Oliver Sacks no less!) for his transcendent altruism and bravery. Note, millions out there don’t read NYT/Comments, and will never share their experiences with us.
Porcelain (St. Louis, MO)
@DoPDJ Thanks! That was an interesting read.
Michael McBrearty (New York, NY)
"There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy."--Hamlet
Susan (San Diego, Ca)
I took care of my grandmother for the last year of her life. Grandma had been very independent for most of her life, having built a business of her own, as well as having lived alone for many years. She insisted that she be allowed to cook her own meals, even though she had become forgetful and distracted. Several times she had left the burners on after preparing a meal—I would get upset and warn her to be careful. It made her cry one time. She passed away several months after the last burner incident, and I had forgotten completely about it. The morning after she died, I was in her kitchen clearing out some things. Suddenly, I had a strange feeling for a moment, and turned to see the one burner grandma had always favored was alight, flames burning brightly, I turned it off, thinking I must have turned it on somehow, left the kitchen and came back later to fetch some items. It was back on, burning brightly. Maybe I’m a bit slow, but it took me a few days to remember that I had lectured her about leaving her burners on. It was just like her to have that last word…
Robert B (Berkeley)
I lived in an old industrial building with four ghosts. One, was a gay queen, about 22, from the 1980s, one a little girl, about 8 y.o., one was a big giant cat that looked like Garfield and my favorite was a man who I call Mason, Portuguese looking, from the 1930s, about 35 y.o.. He became a friend. He would talk to me, via ESP, give me a hug, stole my tobacco when rolling a cigarette, (they rolled their own then), then years later visiting the building, he came to me, produced an old mask my daughter left behind, then followed me out. I sent him back to the building with his friends. I learned a lot about the possibilities of life then. I’m a strong empath. I read people very well. I think that as an empath, it’s much easier for me to see spirits than others whose take on the world is more guided by rigor. I receive the most push back by those that don’t read social cues from the living very well. How can they read signs from the dead when they can’t even read people in the real world. I am blessed that I have the emotional sensitivity to see the other side.
Lizzie Turner (London, UK)
Many years ago I had my fathers house exorcised but mMy our local priest. He didn’t bay an eyelid at me asking him to come and rid the house of an evil spirit (cannot believe I am writing this). Anyway, when he arrived he had a whole kit for exorcism in a wooden box. He said the main activity would be sprinkling holy water. His holy water, he told me, was extra holy because he took it from the dehumidifier inside the church!! It was double holy water he said, drawn from the very fabric of the building. I still get a kick out of it now. What a strange day. I paid him with a bottle of scotch.
Jonathan Hutter (Portland, ME)
@Lizzie Turner As long as he shared some of the bottle with you it's a good deal.
Matthew (Sweden)
@Lizzie Turner Brilliant! Did it do the job?
Deering24 (New Jersey)
@Lizzie Turner, aw, man. Best sales pitch ever...;)
Lupus Yonderboy (The Sprawl)
The phantasm in my kitchen pantry said we need to keep the threads open and comments rolling through Halloween. Or else.... it will...
Sixofone (The Village)
In a country beset by the cancer of widely held unverified and preposterous beliefs, I assumed the paper of record would be above encouraging them. Looks like that was MY preposterous belief.
K. King (Houston, Texas)
My college friend told me a happy story about a ghost, her grandmother, who had died suddenly. The grandmother had been looking so forward to seeing her first great-grandchild. Deborah's brother and sister-in-law moved into the grandmother's house after she died. Six months later the baby was born. The baby slept through the night from the start. The only thing Deborah's brother said was that they would sometimes hear the rocking chair moving slowly on the wooden floor at night through the baby monitor. She and her brother both thought the grandmother's spirit was looking out for the baby. This lasted for over two years. Believe what you will, everyone got a great night's sleep. That is a lovely story.
alice (Texas)
@K. King My grandmother, who I was very close to, died when I was expecting twins. One is named after her. I am convinced I heard her, also over the baby monitor, soothing the babies in the middle of the night.
Veronica Monet (Nevada City, CA)
I suspect that most everyone has had some sort of paranormal experience, whether it was knowing something was going to happen before it happened (precognition) or feeling the presence of someone or something unseen (we call these ghosts but I prefer to refer to them as disembodied entities). I have had many such events in my life. And some have been heartwarming such as conversing with my stepdad after he died. Others have been frightening, like the menacing spirits that taunted me before and shortly after I got into recovery. Learning to have healthy boundaries on both sides of existence has been very helpful for me. And raising my own vibration through prayer and meditation works to filter out the negative and attract the positive.
Toni (CA)
I've lived in my home for about 13 years. The one strange occurrence was a night at the dinner table with my husband and our 3 kids. Our dog, Dodger had died months before and we'd had a new dog for a few days. Lily and Dodger were both mutts but similar in breed and size, In my peripheral, I saw Lily run into the kitchen, which I thought was strange because she never went in there. Glancing around I realized Lily was still lying on her bed back in the living room. My daughter, with eyes saucer-wide, said, "Dodger just ran by." We both saw a dog, in the same spot, doing the same thing, at the same time. My belief is, there's a great deal more in existence than what humans have yet been able to prove.
Rose Farm (DC)
I didn't believe in ghosts. Then I had a ghost. There was no mistaking it--even the sounds it made had an electromagnetic quality to them. It used to wake me up in the middle of the night when I was dead asleep, and my heart would race so fast that I had a hard time getting back to sleep. At first, I didn't have the nerve to speak to it, so I wrote it a note and tacked it to my bedroom door. In the note, I told the spirit it was welcome to be there but to please stop waking me in the middle of the night because I needed my rest. It complied for the most part, but we still had incidents. By then, I was less afraid and more capable of asking it to stop if it woke me up. That ghost eventually moved on. Then my neighbor died and she moved in for a few months, then moved on. I considered it a compliment by then that ghosts found me welcoming. I renovated the house and haven't had a ghost since. I'm fine with that too.
BrendanC (NY)
Most people would not be able to tell shades were around. A Meyers/Briggs ENTJ would'nt, in my opinion. As for that 44% guessing their abode is haunted, they're just wrong. Many times I've walked past a specific suite at the Rye Town Hilton, scene of a multi-fatality fire many years ago, and can assure you there is remainder of person/persons at doorway. Why am I able to tell? Not into paranormal, but am a Meyers/Briggs INFP or ISFP. So when a ENTJ speculated about their 150 yr old home being haunted, I was able to assure her otherwise. "Its not - I'd know".
Kathy (Corona, CA)
Sort of along the lines of what LD said, I feel these 'ghosts' are looking for a way to be released into the next 'level' if you will and when I sense these things, I call to a higher power (or Jesus) to assist them, as I don't feel that is my job. I wonder about this being residue substance that hasn't been able to move on, perhaps carried with me from fear or grief. But, I must admit through various situations I have felt and seen, that this isn't my job to receive them, and I set up loving barriers around me., with a loving wish for them to move on.
Ron (Portland, OR)
I suspect that there is indeed at least the possibility of some kind of existence after death. But who knows what it might be? To those people who think they have all the answers by way of religion or whatever they believe in---you don't. The universe, and whatever may lie beyond it, is far too unknowable to us with our current level of knowledge. And it might very well always remain so. There is one thing for certain, however. People are going to believe what they want to believe. Whether it's the truth or not doesn't really matter.
thirteen (Maryland)
I didn't believe in this kind of thing until I ran into it myself. My best advice is to try to take it in stride, if and when it happens to you.
jfp2525 (NY)
@thirteen same for me. I didn’t believe until I ended up living with ghosts. I’d rather not experience that again.
Barbara (Myrtle Beach)
I have questions. Was Mr. Booth drinking at the time. Does he have a verified mental illness that includes hallucinations? Have others seen the phenomena that he claims to have experienced? I've lived in at least two 100 year old houses, neither of which had any strange phenomena, unless you count the time my 1 year old fell against the upstairs baby gate and managed to ride it all the way down to the bottom with not a scratch. (That was scary!) When things move, it's usually because I did it. Then I forgot I moved the items. It's fun to tell a ghost story or watch the current TV show "Ghosts," but they don't exist.
Ray (South Carolina)
@Barbara Unless or until you experience a ghost, most will react as you have, wondering if the person telling of encounters is "crazy" or under the influence of substances. I had always wondered. Friends had told me of encounters they had and like yourself, I silently wondered. At the tender age of 29, I had my first encounter with a ghost. It was at a job site that I was providing security for on night shift. In an instant, I went from wondering if such things existed to knowing they do. Since that time back in 1987, I have had too many encounters to count. At first, I was terrified. I had a lifetime of conditioning (comic books, books, movies, TV) that ghosts were all bad and they were all "gonna get you". The truth of the matter, at least in my rxperience, is that most are cordial, friendly, even loving. Most can be mischievous, hiding objects like keys, even drinks or food, then putting it back where you had already looked a dozen times. As with any person, they like to be acknowledged. I do so with friendliness in my voice and in my heart. Yes, they can read your thoughts. If I have an idea who they are, I address them by name as was the case of my first encounter, whose name was on a dedication plaque on the front of the old home he built in the 1920's, or the grandmotherly elderly lady who was the first resident of the previous house I lived in to this one. Uh oh, out of space...
Jane (PA)
We have a very old and atmospheric house in the UK. A writer friend heard footsteps at 3am in the attic above her room and moved to a different room to escape the racket. A worker was in the attic one day and heard footsteps (in heavy boots) stomping up three flights of the oak stairs when there was no one else in the house. When we were away, a caretaker came by to check on the house one morning—he had locked up the night before. In the kitchen he found a saucepan setting in the middle of the slate floor. It was filled to the brim with water. It had been on a pot rack across the room. It did not fall, the roof was not leaking, the pot was placed upon the floor upright and filled with water. No explanation was ever found. No one else had had access to the house. On another occasion, a young cleaner exited the master bedroom and saw a woman wearing a long black dress and apron descending the stairs. The woman vanished when she reached the landing. That cleaner continued working for us, but a previous cleaner refused to be in the house alone. Two sturdy doors with box latches have sprung open at 3am in one part of the house. Someone visiting a bathroom in the middle of the night (same section of the house) was unnerved when a heavy lock on the door rattled and the knob twisted. These are not my stories—they were told to me directly by those who experienced them. I have never seen or heard anything particularly ghostly in the house, but I do feel the presence of the past.
nerdrage (SF)
Why can't there ever be a ghost that will fold scattered clothes rather than the reverse?
J (Brooklyn)
@nerdrage when was reading, I thought he had come back to folded laundry. How helpful!
Charles Denning (Cookeville, TN 38501)
Hey, a phenomenon is a phenomenon, meaning that if there’s an explanation, we don’t know what it is and may not be able to find it. But does that prove that the explanation is supernatural, that it is or is caused by some imaginary entity from the dream world? Huh-uh. But let’s have fun anyway. I’ve waited all my life to see a “ghost.”
Paul (Earth)
I have had two very close friends of more than fifty years, my mom and my brother that lived with me for twenty years all die. Everyone of them promised they would reach out from “the other side” if they could. Years later I have heard from none of them although I would welcome it. Also not a single of my beloved departed pets have ever contacted me either.
BrendanC (NY)
@Paul Thanks for sharing.
Rafael (Mexico)
@Paul so, the ghosts… ghosted you?
Patrick (NYC)
@Paul They would probably just tell you to water the plants before they die too.
Bright (is the Dungeon)
I just visted the house of 7 Gables in Salem before everyone else got there Everyday i'm blessed with so many spirits when a strange one comes I say : Come I am your temple and i will bless you with holy spirt love juice I say : I know nothing except love juice Bath in my holy spirit love juice Having an army of very powerful angels of protection everywhere I go there is an angel on Every tree I need not know the deetails of the spirits bathing in my love juice Blessed are they if they are finally filled with Divine love juice and all sorrow is wiped away
Burning Tarot (Central Oregon)
For many people it's a relief to discover— hidden among all their smartypants, science-believing, intellectual friends— that many folks experience phenomena that aren't adequately explained by a rationalist/materialist worldview. That we've been visited by dead relatives, found ghost cats in our houses (one commenter attributed hers to a UTI, but this isn't the case for everyone), or had premonitory dreams. It's very common among my clients. Some, too, have noticed that the mid-20th-century-style hyper-rationalist mindset feels very dated. It's the worldview set on dissecting everything and destroying the planet. The worldview that decides to go ahead and drop a nuke on Hiroshima. Cut down most of the old-growth forests on the continent. Etc. We little humans are part of something bigger, more mysterious, wilder than all that. Even scientists comprehend that. Thus we have Einstein calling a phenomenon "spooky action at a distance." Thus we have ecologist Suzanne Simard figuring out that trees communicate. Sounds woo-woo, right? It was. Now it's just research, science, information. What we happen to call "paranormal" today may well be explained by science in the future. Until then, we can learn to work with these entities and energies without science's interference. And if people laugh, call us woo-woo? Witches just don't care.
Observer 47 (Cleveland, OH)
@Burning Tarot Exactly so, on all points!
Louisa (Golden, CO)
@Burning Tar Yes, this. Not that relatively long ago, the concept of invisible viruses, bacteria, molecules and atoms would have been considered heresy. And humans being able to fly, nonsensical. According to regular western medicine, acupuncture to block pain during surgery shouldn't work. But it has been and is used successfully in China to do so. Just because current science theories or instruments can't detect something doesn't mean it doesn't exist.
AGeo (Houston)
Look up Ghost Tracks in San Antonio.
MelaninMagic🖤 (Brooklyn)
I am here hopefully for a few good 👻 stories in the comments.
Veronica Monet (Nevada City, CA)
@MelaninMagic🖤 Here's one that warmed my heart: My stepdad died from cancer and I was tasked with caring for my mother afterwards. She has Alzheimers. Months after his death, my mother asked me to turn the VCR on so she could watch a DVD. This was not as simple as it sounds. My stepdad had connected the TV and VCR and a stereo in such a way that it required pushing very specific buttons in a very specific order on three different remote controls. I was lost. So I began to ask him for help. His instructions showed up as thoughts in my head and it was one instruction at a time. First he told me to pick up a specific remote control. Then he told me which button to push on that remote control. Then he told me to put that remote down and pick up a second remote control and push a different button on that remote. None of this was intuitive to me. And the next instruction he gave really surprised me as he told me to plug in a cord at the back of the console. I didn't even know anything was unplugged until he told me to do that. I plugged it in. Then he told me to pick up the third remote and push yet another button. The VCR came on when I did that. I was worried I would forget my stepdad's instructions so I hurried to write down the long list of steps while my mother pulled out the DVD she wanted to watch: a Green Bay Packer video. My stepdad was a HUGE fan and that's when I knew why he helped me with the VCR. This was how he was reaching out to connect with my mother.
MelaninMagic🖤 (Brooklyn)
@Veronica Monet thank you for sharing that definitely gave me goosebumps. 😱
POV (Canada)
The good news is that belief in religion -- which has caused the abuse, suffering and death of millions throughout the world -- has declined. The bad news is that the most bizarre superstitions are filling in the blanks via QAnon, cults, conspiracy theories etc. Seemingly many humans are unable to face the fact that only they -- as a comunity, a country and a world -- and not mythical beings, can ensure their and the world's survival.
Jim (Charlotte)
Religion has indeed been the source for much violence and bloodshed over the last millennium. Yet the two greatest mass murders of the 20th Century — Mao Zedong and Stalin — were avowed atheists who gleefully went about slaughtering their fellow countrymen as part of their crusade to rid society of its bourgeois belief in organized religion.
Jennifer (WA)
Who needs the paranormal? Humans are scary enough!
Dave (Illinois)
It is funny how many scientists profess to be on a systematic and unbiased journey to explain the unknown, and then when they hear a ghost story they dismiss the storyteller as a kook.
Sixofone (The Village)
Do you think it might be because there's never been a systematic and unbiased proof of the existence of ghosts?
Laughing Party (Anywhere Else But Here)
@Dave... it's also funny how scientists adhere to the scientific method - you know, the closest thing humans have devised to be "systematic and unbiased" about discerning verifiable truth. And, as long as we're here, I'll note that while there are plenty of hypothesis about what natural or neurological or psychological events people might experience when they deem something supernatural, there are no replicated observations that will add up to an actual theory. Then again, the burden of evidence is not on those who profess to know no evidence. Technically, a well conceived experiment seeks to disprove an hypothesis. But, what do you offer for the collection of data? Stories in this comment section?
Amazing (Troy, NY)
My husband, my daughter and I lived in an old Victorian house. There used to be noises like steps. Once I was talking with my husband on the phone, and I heard someone walking. My daughter was in school. I thought my husband had arrived. But then I was like a second ago he was on the phone, and he couldn’t have come home in a few seconds. Then another time, my daughter and I were cooking. We both heard steps. Somebody was walking on the second floor. Again, no one else was at the house. My daughter who was around 12 looked at me, and I looked back. Without speaking, we both knew it was something strange. I didn’t want her scared to be at the house. So we talked about and agreed that whatever it was, it was harmless and should not be worried about. I must confess it was eerie. When I heard the noises on my own, I thought it was my mind that interpreted a noise like steps. But then when we both heard the same thing, it was hard to deny it. My husband who is very pragmatic said the house is settling. Then he heard steps and started saying that our invisible roommate was around. We used to joke about it and went in with our lives. We loved our house and lived there for about three decades. We will never be able to explain the steps and the doors closing on their own. I would like ti believe I am a practical person who doesn’t believe in none sense, but we could never find a logical explanation. So we gave up on trying to explain it and went living with the noises.
Margaret (The Woodlands, Texas)
I doubt that the absence of religion leads people to believe in paranormal activities. Quite the opposite, when you experience the paranormal, it’s natural to search for explanations in religion or science. My house is not old, but paranormal activities happen in it all the time. However, the “other-worldly” beings who exist in that realm follow me wherever I go when I stay with other people and have been witnessed by many people and members of my family. It began when I was a young child. I turned to research of religion for answers and ended up writing books on religious history. Science cannot explain the paranormal. What I can say with certainty is that there is an invisible world that shares the same space that we inhabit. At certain times, they choose to make themselves visible or to speak so we can hear them. It is what the Quran refers to as “the world of the unseen.” It is a privilege, a gift, that enables us to tap into that world.
SH (St. Paul, MN)
Two out of our four homes have been haunted. One was in an old hospital building from the early 1900's and the other was an 1882 home built near a Civil War camp. In both locations multiple people witnessed sightings of ghosts or experienced weird happenings, but none were as creepy as the day my young daughter and I walked through the front door and heard a crystal-clear little voice say 'Hi Mommy'...!
D. Wagner (Massachusetts)
I have seen things in our house—our dog running down the stairs months after she died, the linen-clad shoulder of a tall man passing the bathroom door as I brush my teeth—but I never felt afraid. I find it comforting. I heard a fragment of a song from a 1950s playlist I was making in the stairwell half an hour after I had closed Spotify and shut off my Bluetooth speaker. I checked that everything was indeed turned off, and then I heard it again as I went back downstairs. It was like walking through a tight band of sound, an 18” wave of music. The visions are always during the day and are glimpsed obliquely, out the corner of my eye when I am busy doing things. The house is 1820s, and these things happened in the second floor landing and stairwell, within 6 or 8 feet of each other, and never anywhere else. I think they are hallucinations, a visual/auditory malfunction, or a time shift.
Kath (Minnesota)
@D. Wagner I doubt they are hallucinations. They are probably what’s called residual ghostings. An event or a moment that replays over and over. I used to live in a house in Providence, Rhode Island, built circa 1850s. When I was in the kitchen, I would often see what seemed to me to be kids running past me. I’d see them out of the corner of my eye. I never saw them anywhere else. It hasn’t happened in the subsequent houses I’ve in. I think it was just the house remembering.
Adam (New York)
The folks in this article should check their homes for things like gas leaks. There is a not-insignificant connection between reports of hauntings and things like carbon monoxide leaks, etc.
Christy (Iowa)
@Adam yes, absolutely. Number one, for safety, and two, it's basic investigation. Rule out the physical.
AlO (New York)
Mold, gas leaks, sleep deprivation, mental health crises, the odd electrical gremlin short-circuiting for a moment in our brains...while I'm sure there are rational explanations for every 'sighting' there is, it's much more fun this way.
Jann (GA)
Lived in an 1810 colonial in MA with a ghost named Blanch. She had died not long before we bought, he body had not ben found for several days by which time her invalid husband was near death. She was with us for three years, slamming doors, throwing plates, and scaring houseguests. The last time she acted out was three days before I saw her widower's obituary. She was apparently just biding her time.
MLeeP (Chattanooga)
My cousin’s house is haunted. I stayed there with her, her husband, and their grandson for several months during Covid. There were several odd occurrences over the months but the one that stands out is the night I heard her and her husband arguing in the family room. I was watching television in a different part of the house and they were getting so loud I heard them over the tv with the door closed. They argued for several minutes. Then I heard their grandson come down the hall into the kitchen for a snack. They continued to argue- even in his presence. I opened the door anticipating them to get quiet. Finally, after a few more minutes, I sent them a text saying, H— is awake and can hear you! Knock it off! Finally it got quiet again and I went back to my show. Well, it turns out I was the only person awake in the house at that time; everyone else was asleep and had been for hours. Husband woke up at 5am and read my strange text message. It must have been a residual haunting. But this incident was not a blip or something out the corner of my eye- It went on for about twenty minutes.
I moved into my house a few months ago. Every so often, the kitchen lights flicker, most often in the evenings. A few days ago, when it happened, I closed my eyes and silently said, "It's ok. Be at peace. Your work here is done." The lights haven't flickered since.
S. Milligan (Coloma)
I've lived in a few very "active " houses. Doors and windows opening and closing on their own. Lights going on and off. Disembodied footsteps. Things thrown about. Translucent "people" walking through closed doors. I'm not sure how the more scientific minded could explain those away. But I know that there is way more out there than we understand. Ghosts are one possibility
Abrão Lacerda (Timóte, Brazil)
The stories seem true, but the ("scientific") explanations provided, frankly... Paranormal events have always happened, but only a few people can experience them. I'd be grateful if my died mom came around again, but I live in a small downtown appartment and ghosts have their caprices. Never mind.
CS (Orlando)
I used to laugh at the idea that folks believed in ghosts. And then I had a series of completely unexplainable events in my home that creeped me out. I called a friend that was a believer and followed her directions even though they felt hokey. The strange events stopped. I'm now on the fence as to what I do/don't believe. I'm a science nerd and so the fact that I just might believe really bugs me, but I cannot discount the unexplainable experience I had.
Janine (Jersey City)
To the skeptics. Be that. No worries. I was not a believer. I don't want to be a believer. I was forced to be a closeted believer in light of the situation that occurred in my home 20 years ago. I went to therapy after to adjust to the realities people would put me down and disregard the situation. I moved. All is well now. But my spouse, an absolute skeptic equally was forced to believe. There are people like us who don't want to have it happen. I still would like to thing it's something magnetic or absolutely scientific that occurred and we'll learn what it is when technology advances. In the interim, I wish all you skeptics could trade places with me.
Jane (PA)
@Janine Now I'm curious, Janine. What happened?
Old Frat Guy (Chicago)
My old college fraternity house was haunted. The ghosts of members who had died, would come back to party between school terms, when the house was empty. They were always happy partying ghosts, not malicious at all, reliving happier times of their previous lives. After returning for classes, we'd have empty beer cans and trash to clean up from their ghostly party.
Doug McDonald (Champaign, Illinois)
I recently was worried by unexplained sounds of things falling in my apartment. I could not account for it, and never found anything broken. This went on for two days. After two days I found the culprit: the icemaker in my freezer. A ghost had turned it on. This was really worrysome: what would have happened if the whole freezer filled with ice cubes?
Cassandra (Lalaland)
I lived in a 1901 “haunted house” for 5 years and experienced many of the things mentioned in this article- doors opening and closing on their own, footsteps on the floor above when no one was there, actual “ghost” sitings - I’d never had any of the other-worldly experiences before living there or never had one in the 30 years that have followed. Were my husband and I just delusional or “mentally ill” for those 5 years only?
caphi (Oregon)
Science mocks what it can't explain. But it would be awfully nice to have a scientific explanation for what so many of us have experienced. Daresay a few rules would need to be rewritten.
mnewmenewmail (usa)
There is no such thing as the supernatural. That is a word used to explain what we simply do not understand. Look at the history of science over the centuries. As we have learned more we have understood more. Sometimes we backslide a little, but always the movement is forward and things become clearer every day. Look at the history of electricity. It always existed and always caused things to happen which people found inexplicable. Now it has a name. We have learned to use and, to some extent, to control it. Once it was supernatural, controlled by the gods. Now it is part of our daily lives.
Aux Arcs (Midwest/Appalachia)
My mother is a religious individual not prone to superstition or flights of fancy. After my father died she sold our farm and moved to a new town. One day in the dining room she felt a breeze caress her cheek and she suddenly smelled my father’s distinctive cologne. The windows and doors were shut, the air off, and she did not keep any of his old cologne bottles. Although she doesn’t believe In ghosts (except the Holy Ghost!) she has no explanation for what happened.
Alusru (Tampa)
I've experienced some unexplained things over my lifetime. However, these past few months items have moved on their own in my bedroom, living room and kitchen. Socks would be on the floor in the morning, kitchen gloves in the sink that were on the mat next to the sink, an unframed standing up picture lying down. I have taken pictures each time. Does not feel threatening but wish there was an explanation.
John (Port of Spain)
Someone stole a tombstone from an old German cemetery near Oregon City and kept it in the house where I lived while at college. The deceased old man made his unhappiness known in various ways; once he turned on the water in the sink after closing the drain, flooding the kitchen.
Mark (Ca)
There is no physiological basis for the existence of ghosts. It's fairy-tales. Nor is there any ethereal basis as our minds are in the neural synapses of our brains and those die when we die. there needs to be life to sustain biochemical processes. If things are moving about in some peoples' houses, there must undoubtedly be other explanations for it, some prosaic, some mischievous, some fluky, it's just that the inhabitants haven't discovered what they are, so they blame ghosts. I think pretty soon all these ghosts are going to need an anti-defamation league, because they are being exhumed from the fantastical world of Hallowe'en and subjected to undue blame and harassment due to ignorance. It's almost as scary and ridiculous as The Big Lie.
Carolyn (Victoria)
@Mark It's quantum physics, dude. Check out Lynne McTaggart's magisterial work "The Field", which describes all the discoveries about quantum physics in the last 50-60 years. Even the quantum physicists were upset by what they found. Energy never dies. It just changes form. You are not alone in your chagrin: the editor of a leading physics journal was so upset that he wrote a fake research paper to disprove what scientists had discovered. It did not go well for him, as you can imagine. Oh, and there is no such thing as "absolute zero" because energy never stops moving. Read "The Field" and let your mind be blown in the best of all possible ways.
Eleanor (CT)
@Mark I can never understand the hubris exhibited by people who think they know definitively exactly what is and isn’t. You are not your body and the day will come when you find that out. You need to do a little research before you claim to know that it’s fairytales because you are so wrong.
Woody Wazzo (Skillman, NJ)
There are things we cannot know.
Deering24 (New Jersey)
@Woody Wazzo, and as Ghostbusters II's Peter Venkman so aptly noted, there are things most people don't want to know about. ;)
Gretchen Siegler (Salt Lake City)
The belief in ghosts has more to do with a belief in the supernatural, ie, life after death, then any correlation with the decline in religious beliefs in our culture. I taught about paranormal belief in my anthropology of religion classes for many years, even bringing in ghost investigators from time to time who would often conjure up strange sounds and feelings in "haunted" college buildings. I would always compare believing in the paranormal with why we know what we know by making use of the scientific method. When students found out I didn't believe in ghosts, even after knowing I was an atheists, they would become very upset with me. They were the students who did not want to question their deeply held beliefs about magic and the supernatural in their lives. Yes, unfortunately it does seem to be increasing in our culture, but not because of the decline in religion, but maybe a decline in critical thinking skills.
Annie (Florida Maine)
Those who firmly say that they do not believe in ghosts have not seen one or experienced the presence of a spirit or ghost.
Phil (DC)
@Annie I think you've made our point here. Why believe in the absence of evidence. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, and yet there is absolutely no critical evidence for the existence of ghosts.
Daphne (Petaluma, CA)
Thanks for pointing out how unsophisticated and gullible we humans are. We want and need explanations for things. We are woefully uneducated in science, and to our detriment, it causes us to self-medicate, often following rabid politicians, and drinking poison Kool-Aid. Perhaps as the article states, we're missing religion which in the past gave us explanations for virgin births and communion with spirits. Also, we get a great deal of attention and publicity if we announce a belief in the world of wandering spirits. Halloween is almost here.
Paul (California)
Human beings like many animals are constantly taking in incomplete information from their environment and making judgements about what that information means. It’s natural for us to assume agency (some bad actor) behind strange noises or patterns that are out of the ordinary that can be difficult to explain, where the information we have to go on is incomplete. It’s to our benefit to assume agency, because it provides us with an advantage to do so when we are correct, and provides us with only a minor inconvenience when wrong. To not assume agency, when there truly is a threat could put our safety in peril. Cognitive Psychologist’s call this hyperactive agency detection. It’s a useful survival mechanism, just not a very truthful one. Essentially, we are like airport baggage scanners stumbling through life, assuming threats when there are none. The best thing to do is recognize the thought process that is taking place, investigate and gather more information if you can and you’ll find a perfectly natural explanation. If not, just conclude that you don’t know enough and just say, “I don’t know what that was”, and move on.
LM Marsh (New York NY)
When I read the mention of Henry moving shoes, I got goosebumps. In the mid-1990s, I lived in a gorgeously rehabbed rowhome in Columbus, OH with a friend. Our shoes were often moved around while we were sleeping. We dubbed our ghost Emily and she ultimately interacted with us, blowing out candles, making noises and always the shoes. We loved it.
Sonnchill (Revelstoke, BC)
@LM Marsh I was hoping for ghost stories like yours in the comments! (Instead of all the logic musings.)
Brent (Woodstock)
My wife and I once had fun by starting the rumor of a ghost at a B&B. We wrote about our fictional ghost, a child playing in the parlor, in the guest journal. A few years later we returned and found in the journal sevearl more acounts of guests sighting our ghost-child. I'm not certain if other guest played along with our game, or if the power of suggestion came into play.
Doreen Meyer (Volcano, CA)
Great. Drinking bleach, taking animal medications, following an anonymous 'leader' through bizarre conspiracy theories, and now a nation-wide obsession with ghosts (which I posit are related to those contrails some see as government plots). I'm waiting for us to believe that epidemics - or pandemics- are spread not by virus/bacteria but by 'bad humors' -notably, that would get this post(er) flagged for the next witch burning. Are there too many of us - so many that we are going bonkers? Are we (in the US and other 'first worlds') too fortunate, do we have so little reality about which to worry that we need to invent these other items? Not to worry - a cull will come, and the survivors will have so much to worry about none these will matter. Nature's way. (Spoiler: I do believe the deceased are 'with' us, but more that they live on in us...we can call on them whenever we want.)
Susan (San Diego, Ca)
@Doreen Meyer People believe whatever they want to believe, but believing in spirits helps some to confront the fact that they will die, and that their death very likely will be the end of all consciousness for them.
Daphne B (US)
I grew up in New England where so many houses have old energy. In 2019, when visiting my hometown, I stopped by my grandparents previous home ( that they built ) to show my daughter where I had been the happiest in my life. The house with all the stories about gardens, clam bakes, and being forced to watch Lawrence Welk every weekend. The owners had bought the house the previous year from the people who bought it from my grandparents. This owner asked me if I thought the house was haunted. She said she has had multiple guests sleep in the front bedroom and claim to have seen a young girl with long blonde hair sitting on floor with a blanket. There have been no children in the house since my grandparents sold it- only retirees. That front bedroom? That was where I stayed and the only place I ever felt happy and safe in my childhood. As a child I had very long strawberry blonde hair and always carried a patchwork blanket with me. I sent the owner a photo of myself from that age and the womans son said that I was the girl he sees in the room. I tried to contact them again and asked if I could go inside to the room and they don't return my emails. Maybe ghosts are not just people who have passed? But the energy or imprint we somehow leave?
@Daphne - what a story to have left a manifestation of your childhood self! This is remarkable amongst so many other retellings of perception and experience, and I do think your conclusion may be correct.
Jurretta (VA)
@Daphne B Fascinating, and thoroughly plausible to those of us who feel that we still have much to learn about the links between the human spirit and the physical world. I have often wondered whether some "ghost" sightings might not be phenomena of this kind, but your remarkable experience is the first confirmation (if one is open to accepting it as such) that I have come across. Thank you for sharing it.
Louisa (Golden, CO)
@Daphne B There's a theory that some "hauntings" are residual. There was either enough "energy" created, or something about the location that allows a "bleed through" in time, so to speak. These may include repetitive sightings were there isn't any obvious consciousness of the apparition. Or sometimes when people hear what sounds like a party with no one there, or music from no apparent source. You stated you had felt very happy at your grandparents, how cool is it you left that imprint at that location!
Elisa (Philly)
Who knows what is really going on, we live in one plane of existence- a very materialistic one. perhaps we need to be more open to the way other cultures accept spirits and ancestors into their lives.
Elisa (Philly)
The most convinced I have ever been of spirits and light and dark forces was when I stopped late at night to camp in the Chuska mountains - On Navajo land in Arizona, I was 22 living out of a camper truck. I heard static and noises and I felt something was very wrong. Something very dark and disturbed - negative. When we woke the whole place was vandalized and it was a strange place. (I found an abandoned skinny dog and named her Chuska). I was on my way to live in a small town in northwestern NM. I met a woman who taught on the Navajo reservation who said she camped there one night and had to leave in the middle of the night. I worked at a bar in the small town, there were many Navajos ( treated absolutely horribly by all- the worst racism I’ve ever seen). I became friends with a young Navajo man who said that was the site of a great battle where the shapeshifters gathered ( people who can turn into animals) , he said there was a slaughter of Native people at that location . He later pointed to an old Navajo man walking down the street, and said “ he is a shapeshifter”. Imagine all the ghosts left behind of the North American Holocaust that took place on every square inch of this land we call America. imagine if the Europeans had been open to learning from the people who live where the veil of life between the spiritual and everyday is thin. Imagine what the spirit of the Earth is feeling with all of this destruction of her.
Rjnick (North Salem, NY)
Having lived in a old haunted house for over 30 years I can attest ghost and sprits exist and are real.. Started soon after we moved in to the house with our then 3 year old son who would be alone in his bedroom and talking to someone, we would ask him who he was talking to and he would respond the man and we would ask what man and he would say that man and point at his empty closet.. Shortly after these events other strange thing began to happen such as car keys set on kitchen counter top would disappear only to reappear later in the same place. As time went on even more strange things would happen such as slammed doors when everyone was sound asleep in the house.. and even a ghostly sprit of an older woman with long gray hair in an old fashioned long gingham floating down our hallway and dancing in our living room only to disappear in a mist and was seen by multiple people... Thankfully nothing ever evil or really scary but more just a playful presences in our lives...
B. (Brooklyn)
That's some nice room Shane Booth is sitting in. As for ghosts, well, who knows? I've had some odd, inexplicable experiences myself. I do actually think someone is looking out for me, maybe my late grandmother, gone since 1970. It's nice.
Carl Ian Schwartz (Paterson, NJ)
In the late 1940s, Arthur Schwartz wrote the melody and Howard Dietz the words to a lovely song entitled "Haunted Heart" which speaks to this matter. Here's Jo Stafford's 1948 recording of it, with a wonderful orchestration by Paul Weston: Loves past live on in our hearts and minds, and their expressions come out of our mouths. Charles Trenet wrote an amazing lyric in the depths of the Occupation whose subversive nature was never realized by the German censors; it became a hit in the fall of 1942 and has remained one: "Que Reste-t-il de Nos Amours?" I guess we prefer to be haunted by the loves we knew, rather than by strangers--unless you learn to live with them and (perhaps) learn from them?
Christy (Iowa)
@Carl Ian Schwartz big fan of Jo Stafford!
Keith Shelton (San Diego)
I am very much in the market for a haunted house I can get for a discount, since ghosts don't actually exist. Ideally, where the owner died or a murder committed. The better the story, the bigger the discount. Does a website exist for this?
Joseph (Ireland)
I tend to think there are not many problems that can't be solved with kindness. So when ghosts started disturbing the quietness of my old Irish let, I thought "What could they want? What manner of scheme might I offer?" I thought a bit of my Connemara peated would be grand altogether. But with the Irish and their drink, what way might that turn? So I've just been putting out a hot cup of Barry's and a digestive and now it's all sorted. There is one bit of oddness: I'm just after putting a cup of Lyons out and there seemed to be no notice. Strange...
Erasmus Brennan (Chicago)
"Researchers attribute increasing belief in the supernatural to the rise of paranormal-related media, a decline in religious affiliation and the pandemic." Uh, okay, one theory is that belief in the paranormal stems from psychological factors. And "researchers" analyze the causes. But isn't it another possibility that some of this stuff is . . . real?
Sara (SC)
How come the only ghosts people ever see are “old” period ghosts—it is never a ghost from the 1980s for example. I think because that is because that is what fits their imaginations.
Elisa (Philly)
yeah, I guess we rarely hear of Ghosts from the 1980’s who wear leg warmers and have feathered hair- except in the movie Ghost.
Christy (Iowa)
@Sara I have a former co-worker who says she sees folks from all ages and times. At a party at an old mansion, she said she ran into a guy wearing 70's clothes in the 3rd floor bathroom, mustache and all. Said he seemed surprised she could see him. It was my party, and there was no one looking like what she described for sure. Was she putting me on? Maybe.
Chase (NJ)
@Sara That's such an interesting question. Possible theory - later on, more people died in hospitals and nursing homes than at home? Also "explains" why so many ghosts are old. Maybe we don't notice the haunted hospitals because the lights are always on. :-)
Kranich (Wisconsin)
There is zero scientific evidence for "ghosts". Stop this nonsense, it is dangerous. If you can believe is ghosts, what other nonsense can you believe. Its all fun and games untill somebody gets hurt.
Elisa (Philly)
Couldn’t you say the same about The concept of God ?
VG (Los Angeles)
@Elisa Too late, somebody already got hurt. Millions of 'em.
Kranich (Wisconsin)
@Elisa For sure. I'm an atheist.
John (Roswell, GA)
Good grief. 99% of these encounters are not "inexplicable"--they're eminently explicable. A guy's dog breaks through a window; he strews laundry in a rush to see what's the matter. Boy howdy that's inexplicable. I suspect the accounts of "vases being moved to new locations" are either fabrications, bad memories, or just general human confusion. Please stop humoring these people.
Kam (Nc)
I know Shane. I know his dog. It probably weighs 35-40 pounds. I think it would be hard pressed to break a window. Especially without any damage, cuts etc to the animal.
Kam (Nc)
I know Shane, and his dog. The dog only weighs around 35 pounds. Even if it went through the window, how did it not get cut up?
Camshaftman (Canada)
Most paranormal experiences are provoked by brain confusion on how to process certain weak or abnormal perceptions, such as of a gas leak, sounds or vibrations. That so many “believe” it is ghosts is just another reflection of magical thinking, also present in religion. Take creationism, satanism, heaven/hell. Some profess no religion, but take that baggage with them too.
Brent (Woodstock)
@Camshaftman I believe that my home is haunted by the Spaghetti Monster.
Erasmus Brennan (Chicago)
I'm not one for "ghost hunters" shows, but oh for a show where a team of qualified, skeptical scientists -- especially physicists -- go to some of the most "haunted" places around. And hopefully are faced with inexplicable phenomena. Now THAT I would watch!
Erasmus Brennan (Chicago)
Totally agree! But you forgot to include UFOs in the list of things that we know are not real. Oh, wait a second …. A little humility about our epistemic abilities, please. (And please, no straw men: I am not arguing for the reality of the Easter Bunny. Ha!)
Lala (Md)
If I knew I had a ghost I certainly wouldn't hang shotguns from the wall!
Ray (South Carolina)
@Lala I have always had guns in and around my home. They were one of the very few things ghosts did not mess with. I appreciate their respect for gun safety.
Carlyle T. (NYC)
I live with a ghost in a loft where famous singers sang from 1880's to 1915 ,my wife once saw her and descibed her to me with such exactitude ,at one time several singers who knew the history of my building visited and told me who stayed in my place then went to my computer and showed me visuals of that singer from Gibson Girl days, it was exactly as my wife describer as our ghost. The ghost has always taken items and hid them from me ,more so after my wife's recent passing, Truly no one belives this in my family, but me and the ghost feel that is expected. Really though ,when people see or live as I do with ghosts they know for sure it's real ,but don't dwell on it . I have a relative a very professional scientific soul who is still searching out an answer for me to an incident where my trumpet taken apart to dry out the valves,flew from a table across the room ,I said "the ghost did not like what I playing", he said that's crap" it has to be something physical,"I said OK you tell mewhat happened he has never came up with a explainationin these last 25 years. Many years ago I spent a residency as a guest of a Priest at a Catholic Monastery in Conyers Georgia USA if I understood it correctly when i was there it was titled "The Monastery of the Holy Ghost" one of the faithful there told me the reason for the change in the title from of the "ghost "to the present "Monastery of the Holy Spirit " Was the feedback from the movie "Rosemary's Baby."
Doreen Meyer (Volcano, CA)
@Carlyle T. Somehow I think the change in name had more to do with estrangement from prevalent evangelism than a film...
Carlyle T. (NYC)
@Doreen Meyer Could be . still a profound name change from ghost to spirit.
MLeeP (Chattanooga)
That’s where my family plot is!
Howard G (New York)
To quote The Cowardly Lion - from the movie "The Wizard of Oz" -- "I do believe in spooks - I do believe in spooks - I do believe in spooks - I do I do I do!!" ...
Cathy Gately (Chicago)
I do believe in ghosts because I actually saw one when I was approx 12 yrs old! Appeared to be a woman ( at least the figure of a woman) looking at my mother as she slept . Could not believe what I was lookin at, tried to move and talk but was frozen with fear. Coward that I am, I put my head under the covers until I heard footsteps walk away from the vision. My father thought I was dreaming, my aunt is the only person who believed me because she saw the ghost too shortly after her mother died in 1948 of a heart attack . She believes it was their mom coming to look in on them. Whatever it was, I do believe in ghosts, ,I do believe in ghosts!
E (Philly)
I was a bit younger when I saw dark a silhouette frequently that I believe was my Late Uncle who died in the room I would sleep in. he died far too young.
Chevy (South Hadley, MA)
"Many experts also attribute a decline in religious belief to fostering a belief in the paranormal." Wow, just in time for Halloween! If anything, the opposite is true. The "non-religiously affiliated" - or what are now referred to as NONES, are more likely to accept rational explanations for spooky occurrences - or coincidences, if you prefer. It is those who believe in the One True God and his One True Faith who have invented a whole book devoted to super natural events: virgin births, walking on water and similar "miracles", angels, devils, and Holy Ghosts. So called "experts" need refrain from using PEW survey results to prove cause and effect among the gullible!
jack (new england)
Sometimes my wife will think I said something when I didn't, and she'll brush it off. The other night she thought she heard our bedroom door jiggle when it didn't, and now our house is haunted.
Bronco Pete (Great Midwest)
When I was a young man I lived next to the Mississippi River and had a fishing dingy. Across from us was a huge river island that used to have farms, stores and a school. During high waters a channel ran through the whole island and provided ample opportunity to hunt, fish and explore. One old farm house had been taken over by beavers and me and my buddies went in to investigate. One of my friends took a picture while I was entering it. Haven’t seen the picture in 30 years and recently pulled it out. To my amazement, it looks like there is a large woman in a wedding dress standing behind me looking directly at the camera. It’s a black and white photo, bc I was experimenting with film, some people see it, some don’t. I do and always felt funny going through the old homes. I keep the picture on my phone for kicks.
SP (Ontario, Canada)
Many years ago I had an apartment that was upstairs and at the back of a funeral home. It was a beautiful old Victorian house with cheap rent. I was laying in bed trying to nap one afternoon when there were footsteps across the floor at the foot of my bed. I couldn't move for about 10 minutes (my choice). I didn't roll over to look and see if there was an actual ghost, but there were definitely footprints (I lived alone). A nursing home I have visited in the past had a "ghost". Many of the residents would say that they had seen a young, red-haired boy running around. We always assume that we have superior knowledge and know everything because of the advancements in science in these times that we live in. We still have a lot to learn and it's important that we remember that.
Lori (Md)
@SP I think quantum entanglement could have something to do with this. But I don't mind not knowing.
Cathamand (Philadelphia)
We are made of cells, which are made of atoms, which are formed by energy. Energy exists in and outside of us.
agonyFranck (hudson ny)
Besides the TV shows that are credible, I know too many just-the -facts type people ,with first hand ghosts stories not to believe there are worlds withins worlds that we live next to or within. It is truly annoying when I ask people to look at the evidence and they dismiss the concept of ghosts with a wave of the hand. I say to these people you might want to study these issues for your own posterity, you might be dead a long time, and it would be a shame to enter eternity with willful ignorance. I believe that spirits that remain on this plane do so for a variety of reasons, but for the most part they are not happy. I believe some do not accept their death, some were surprised by death, others have unfinished business, some may not grasp they have died. Whatever the reason, though contemplating one's mortality cannot guarantee a happy eternity, it may help us appreciate the moments we have been allotted, and make us better, more responsible mortals. We are not more than dust, but we are a unique dust. The show The Dead Files is a favorite.
Cassandra (Troy)
I lived in a house built in a Nashville suburb in 1980. We lived there peacefully for years, then a haunting began. Cabinets opening and closing on their own. Knocks on the wall in the rooms where we sat and slept. Electric alarm clocks that were unplugged going off at the same time each night. My pets visibly watching something invisible cross the room. My husband, an extreme skeptic, became a believer when the ghost kept him up all night, banging cabinets in our master bath—just feet from our bed. We eventually asked the ghost to please simmer down; it was scaring us and we couldn’t sleep. It gave one knock on the wall, then either left or kept her peace. Why her? We came to believe it was the spirit of our neighbor, who died suddenly, leaving a widower and two small kids. When the kids went to college and the husband moved away, their house say empty. I think her spirit moved in with us. Interestingly, that house sold a few years later. Within weeks the new buyers suddenly moved out. No explanation. The house remains empty. Or not….
Christy (Iowa)
@Cassandra a friend of mine moved into a house that had been owned for years by an old woman who by neighbor's accounts was kinda grumpy and particular about her house and property. After he moved in, he experienced knocks, things moving around, doors slammed. After he found out her name, he sat down one evening and told her about how much he liked the place, the upgrades he planned, said he would take care of it for her. Went to bed, next morning a photograph of her was laying in the middle of the living room floor. Framed it, put it on a shelf, never a noise out of her again.
John Weston Parry, (Silver Spring, MD)
While I do not know of any survey research studies that have examined the role of having strong religious beliefs in being susceptible to manipulations when it comes to other beliefs without any earthly proof to back them up, it seems logical that those who reject such religious beliefs for scientific or logical reasons would be far less likely to believe in ghosts, or Q theories for that matter.
Keen Observer (NM)
@John Weston Parry, This argument assumes that all religious people reject science or logic. I've found that people who're rigidly anti-religion have as narrow a field of vision as those they accuse of the same. Science and logic can't explain everything. A closed mind is a closed mind whether it belongs to a scientist or a minister.
mary (connecticut)
There is no definitive proof of the existence of a ghost nor is there proof that this phenomenon does not exist. I do wonder about the power of the human brain. Are we capable of manifesting a 'supernatural' illusion that our senses confirm is as real as the physical sensation of pinching one's finger ? What if this mysterious universe we remain to know so little about supports the metaphysical nature of ghosts and there are those that are opened and sensitive enough to experience?
William (Alberta)
I have lost someone I loved very much, more than anyone in the world. I know that if there were a way for him to somehow stay here, or to contact me, he would. He has not. That’s why I don’t believe. I can’t. Houdini and his wife had a secret signal he said he would give her if he was able to, after he died. He didn’t. If love cannot transcend death, even despite the fervent wishes of both parties, then there simply can be no life after death, ghosts, spirits, souls, etc.
Ladd (Forestburg TX)
@William Perhaps your loved one is communicating with you, but in a way you have not yet recognized. I have not experienced the image or the voice of my loved one, but I have experienced familiar objects in unexpected places. We loved cats. When one of our favorites became more affectionate and became my bedmate, I asked if his spirit was moving in her. Of course it was, he had cared for her since the day she was born. When three years ago a beautiful "once in a lifetime" bobtailed cat appeared, I took her in and the second night she joined us on my bed for the night. Was she a gift or is she a vessel of his spirit? I like to think so.
Mary (Waterloo, NY)
Our house sat empty for two years before we bought it, and prior to that had been through many owners, most staying a max of two years before leaving. After moving in, we were told the reason no one stayed was because it was so haunted no one could live in it. There were many experiences, too many to recount here, but things settled down after a couple of years and we peacefully cohabitate with our ghosts. They only seem to get riled up when we have guests in the house, and then the shenanigans begin. My favorite was when a young science minded skeptic had a cookie cutter fly right past her head in my kitchen. She "noped" right out the door and wouldn't come back in. Made a believer out of her! Just last night I was teaching yoga to a friend's daughter and she insisted someone had touched her shoulder while we were in a pose. Just the ghost saying hello.
MH (Cambridge MA)
It sounds like the first guy just has a rambunctious dog! Also, please don't blame American's rejection of religion for contributing to increased belief in ghosts. I grew up in a Catholic home with a mother who constantly talked about poltergeists in our house. My rejection of religion was in part a rejection of belief in the paranormal that religious people are already primed to believe in.
CZ Marks (Georgia)
"He stepped out to find a shattered front window and his dog sitting outside it. He was confused, how could his dog have jumped through the window with enough force to break it?" I guess there is no similar question about how a ghost could have broken the window? I assume most dogs are actually heavier than a ghost. Although, I guess it depends on the breed of the dog and the size of the ghost? Could a ghost dog break a window? "Mr. Booth came back to his room, where all of the clothes he had just folded were scattered and strewn about..." Almost as though someone had rushed out hurriedly to investigate a loud noise (like a dog crashing through a window). "Pictures that he’d hung on the wall he’d later discover placed perfectly on the floor..." As if they had been guided straight down, toward the center of the Earth, by some invisible force. Admittedly, this one is hard to explain. I mean, let's face it, the dog probably broke the window. But, is it even plausible that this guy might not be great at hanging pictures?
Dandelion (Toronto)
My late mother was the only person who ever saw ('saw'?) a ghost in our Elizabethan house in England. A little old lady in a plain dark Victorian dress walked into the cupboard in Mum's bedroom, right through the cupboard door. I was sceptical. A year or two later, the carpenter building a bigger cupboard in the same spot called me upstairs. The back of the cupboard looked like solid wall, but was in fact painted and plastered plywood. Underneath was a door leading into the rest of the house.
Danielle (Lansing, MI)
I like the part that dogs barking while “staring at nothing” means there’s a ghost around. It’s not that I’m a complete skeptic, but this really proves nothing since dogs have amazing hearing compared to our own, and they surely just heard something outside their people couldn’t and responded by barking, as dogs do. I also think that people underestimate how much old houses shift and make noise all on their own. Then if you add in a pet or two? It can get quite noisy when they’re upstairs playing, and if their people don’t realize it’s their pet creaking around the house, knocking things down - suddenly you’ve got a ghost or two…
Doug (Pennsylvania)
I don’t believe in ghosts, but after my wife died, I said If she became a ghost, you could just put out a cup of tea and the books on her list of books to read so she could complete her unfinished earthly business. Of course, she would probably never run out of books, so it would be a long haunting.
Greg (Texas)
I was singing for a neighbor’s funeral in a small funeral home anteroom designed to be heard from while remaining hidden. Just as I began to sing, the door to the room opened slowly and closed by itself. This fifty years ago and I still wonder if the decedent wanted to be in the room with me as a comfort.
Soracte (London Olympics)
As Wilde said, when people cease to believe in organised religion, instead of believing nothing, they'll believe anything.
LB (Virginia)
@Soracte Citation?
LB (Virginia)
@Soracte Found it. Not Oscar Wilde, and not G K Chesterton, as often misattributed. Wikipedia: 'Émile Cammaerts is the author of a famous quotation (often mistakenly attributed to G. K. Chesterton) in his study on Chesterton: "When men choose not to believe in God, they do not thereafter believe in nothing. They then become capable of believing in anything."'
Sirharryflashman (Ottawa)
Some people will believe anything.
Philippe Egalité (Le Monde)
Who are these “researchers?” Primarily, they seem to be “dismissers” in this case. But as Hamlet once observed to Horatio, “There are more things in heaven and Earth . . . Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”
Starr (District Heights, Maryland)
In the immortal words of the Cowardly Lion from the Wizard of Oz: "I do believe in ghosts!" "I do believe in ghosts!"
SA (Cornwall NY)
@Starr “Spooks” not ghosts
Marty Dogwood (Ontario)
Would you agree there's energy in the world, the universe, yet to be understood? For example, the everyday feeling we are being watched, or watching someone. Sure enough, either you or they react? How about in physics something called "entanglement". Why changing the spin on one atom will cause one two miles away to spin opposite direction. There's stuff out there.
Lori (Md)
@Marty Dogwood Having experienced strong, vivid bouts of what might be called "deja-vu" for four decades, I've long wondered what might someday be explained by quantum physics, quantum entanglement and the like. Particularly with what some people call spiritual "imprints" or residual ghosts. So has the Nobel prize-winning physicist Brian Josephson.
Elliot Frank (Newton Centre, MA)
Scientists DO keep an open mind about these possibilities, we are just waiting for some objective evidence that would allow us to move these hypotheses from "so improbable that we can call them false", to "small amount of evidence calls for further search for objective evidence". Magical thinking is rife among small children, and we like to think that people grow out of it, but mostly they don't. They don't seem to understand the difference between their instinctual responses, which tend to interpret all events as intentional, and actual evidence. Living with the miracles of science, but still thinking in the Middle Ages.
E (Philly)
I thought I saw ghosts when I was young. Some think children are the clairvoyants.
Sequel (Boston)
The phenomena are real. Explaining them requires a tedious debate. But they do seem to be a universal and fundamental part of human and animal perception.
Anastasia (Beaverhausen)
@Sequel So is religion. Doesn't make any of it true.
Sequel (Boston)
@Anastasia There is no empirical agreement on the reality of religious experience. None is needed. As an atheist, I don't see any conundrum in that either.
MBEE (Boston, MA)
Anything is possible-but I don’t think it is a coincidence that Halloween is approaching and ghost stories abound.
Marie (A2)
I don't believe in the ghost, a god or humas exist after death. But I was visiting a friend in DC. We were walking across the mall, and I saw a man that looked exactly like my friend's former boyfriend. His boyfriend, Larry had died 2 years ago due to a cardiac arrest where my friend was present and did CPR. The man walking in the opposite directions slowed down and slowly turned his head looking at us. The man was ghastly pale but had the same red hair. Later that night I mentioned to my friend that I thought I saw Larry on the mall. My friend sheepishly said he did too. And then he said you know today is the anniversary of his death. Yes, it is a coincidence but a good story non the less.
E (Philly)
What about the inherent reincarnation of all life ? I believe in it- in science - in that magic of ecosystems- why isn’t that enough for us? We have to make up humans to worship. It’s surreal: we are one of the youngest species on this planet. I just see spirits in the trees, plants, rivers and animals- as humans did for thousands and thousands of years.
Bodger (Tennessee)
@Marie "and slowly turned his head looking at us" Maybe he saw both of you looking at him as though he was the walking dead?
kabuki (texas)
I know plenty of deeply religious people who fully believe in spirits and have been visited by them I know plenty of atheists and agnostics who fully believe in spirits and have been visited by them. All these people are over the age of 40 and all prior to the pandemic. When a very close friend or loved one passes, the lucky people left behind get at least a brief visit.
Marie (Brooklyn)
Please think again about publishing the image of a (photogenic) black cat in the context of a ghost story on the eve of Halloween. I get that it's tempting but it's reinforcing a tired stereotype that makes them the last cat to be adopted from shelters.
hedy havel (North Florida)
@Marie or the first cat - for unholy purposes. some humans can be very cruel.
Maureen Duffy (Columbus, Ohio)
Ghosts don’t exist. Take it from me, I’m a probate lawyer and nobody wants to talk to dead people more than I do. Twenty-four years of practice and nothing. Not a peep.
Person of interest (Anywhere,usa)
@Maureen Duffy thank you for the laugh, funny,very funny
Bruce Belknap (Monschau, Germany)
Great fun to read this, and especially the comments, first thing in the morning, while drinking tea. Please, NYT, do one on UFOs, if only for the comments! As a sceptic, I nevertheless believe that things occcur which we don't understand, but I think they are within the realm of nature and science, not anything metaphysical. And, as one commenter here stated, quoting from Stephen Jay Gould, extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.
Robert (Out West)
I’ve never really understood why the universe we actually inhabit ain’t mysterious and beautiful enough for folks.
My TV is haunted by Medicare Advantage commercials.
Texas Yardbird (Houston, Texas)
@GW Good grief, yes. Every 10 minutes or so.
Michael Houseful (Bloomfield NJ)
Wow and mine by people who may have lived at Camp Lejeune…
Borntalkingback (ROTW)
I went with an Irish friend to view Hampton Court Palace one day. We strolled around happily until we came to one room (a named woman's bedroom, queen, I think,but I forget which) and my friend stopped dead in the doorway as if she'd walked into a glass door. I turned back to see what was happening. She was covered in goose bumps and said she couldn't enter the room as something malevolent was in it. Every room in the palace has a guard, and I went over and told the guard what my friend had said. I asked if anything every bothered him. He said, "Well, we rotate this room. No one does more than an hour at a time here." I was told something similar by guards at the British Museum: they take short shifts when patrolling the Egyptian mummy rooms. He said, "You can feel their eyes on you, and they aren't happy." And Samuel Pepys haunts his own old house in London, now a venue for various meets and training. One of his favourite tricks is stealing paperwork. He stole mine one day when I was meant to be lecturing. I looked absolutely everywhere for one sheet which only turned up after I'd finished. The old lecher also hung out in the women's first floor loo. You could feel him there.
Deering24 (New Jersey)
@Borntalkingback, among the many places I would never work, a museum is in the top five. Especially the British Museum, which has enough stolen items and bad karma to fuel a million ghosts. 😳😳
God (Heaven)
The purpose of this sliver of physical existence at the beginning of eternal existence is to allow us to freely choose who and where we want to be for eternity. Many people die without clearly choosing between good and evil and end up in limbo, dependent on prayers of the living to help them pass on.
Barbara (VA)
Being earthbound can happen for many reasons, including in sudden, unexpected deaths; in some suicides who feel unworthy to accept entry into a heaven; and in some guardians who feel such a tremendous duty to their charges that they fear moving what they consider to be further away from the ones for whom they care. || When it is your turn to make this transition, please first go to the light/your heaven and save all other considerations for after making that first choice.|| Stay safe in the meantime.
Mark (South Carolina)
Why exchange religious beliefs for belief in ghosts? The Enlightenment is supposed to move forward, not sideways.
Jasmine Armstrong (Merced, CA)
Those who think their home may be haunted should check carbon monoxide levels first. Studies show carbon monoxide leaks cause an increase in the sense of dread or emotional oppression, seeing things in one's peripheral vision, and auditory disturbances. Carbon Monoxide exposure could quickly leave you joining the ranks of the truly departed.
Andrew Wender (Victoria, BC, Canada)
The abundance of flippant (and dare I say, often self-righteous, to the tune of, "All these foolish people believe in the supernatural, but not science!" -- as if "science" itself denoted a singular body of truth) comments in this thread underscores the demographic phenomenon described in the article. A distinctly unscientific analysis might suggest that New York Times readers are relatively more likely to pooh-pooh the possibility of the supernatural than, say, National Review readers. But this does not negate the possible existence of the supernatural; rather, we simply cannot know, at least in a manner demonstrable by naturalistic experimentation. I myself am not sure what I believe, in a doctrinal sense; indeed, I am gripped by a pervasive sense (as it were) of unknowability. But I do strongly suspect that I have experienced spiritual encounters with deceased people close to me. Maybe it is my own neurons responding to quantum entanglement, or some such naturalistic explanation. But again, who really knows; and who can safely presuppose that they do definitively know, without its becoming an exercise in hubris?
Dave (MN)
I don’t believe in ghosts but only because I’m confident that to believe in anything is a ridiculous notion. That said I lived in a house in which the architect died. my dog would bark at nothing and on several occasions I could hear footsteps on the stairs. My sister also had a very disturbing event while dog sitting for us. This would all make sense if we are living in a simulation. Problem is, there’s no way to know if we are in a simulation.
seulgi (seoul)
why aren't there no kind and nice ghosts reported yet? i'd like to have a ghost to fold my laundry if I scatter them all over the floor, like reverse-haunting.
Julie (NH)
@seulgi I once had a towel that I'd accidentally left in the dryer in the basement, appear the next morning draped over the top of the laundry basket. I lived alone at the time. Does that count?
John (California)
Capitalism (presumably rampant) contributing to a rise in the belief of ghosts and/or paranormal activity. That is an original new one.
Juin (California)
The systematic intrusion of supernatural presence in movies and TV series has been bothering me hugely for quite a few years now. I am watching "Public Enemy" on N... a series which is quite good but now I see the main character talking to a deceased sibling. Obviously some sizable segment of the audience must love those silly tricks. Enough for me to stop watching.
jta (brooklyn, ny)
Can someone please ask them why they can walk through walls but still have to take the stairs? I'm dying to know.
Brucer In Brighton (Brighton. MI)
I’ve rarely discussed this over the stretch of years since 1968. In late summer of that year, my brother, a First Lt. in the U.S. Army, and I were pallbearers for an uncle’s funeral. As we performed that solemn task, my brother whispered to me over his shoulder “I’m going to be the next customer in the family and if there’s a way to communicate, I will.” You see, he was soon being sent to Vietnam as a combat platoon commander. I of course told him to shut his mouth and promptly erased his statement from my memory never giving it another thought. Two months later we buried my brother in that very same cemetery. He was KIA and was “awarded” the Bronze and Silver stars, after just three weeks in country. But even then, my brother’s cryptic comment didn’t reenter my mind, that is, until the first events, written, visual and auditory began to occur. Still, I blocked belief, but over the years it has become impossible to ignore the obvious. I’ve documented much of what has transpired since, but so far have lacked the courage to attempt to publish. If that were to occur, I would certainly insist the final chapter would include the results of a polygraph attesting to the validity of my brother’s story. It has been a blessing and a curse that I live with every day.
WA (Portland)
@Brucer In Brighton Thank you for sharing your story. I hope you will publish it. I recently learned about a therapy called Induced After Death Communication, developed (accidentally at first) by a VA psychologist named Allan Botkin. His book is very interesting. It's possible that if you used this modality it would allow your brother to cease his other efforts to communicate with you.
Ray (South Carolina)
@Brucer In Brighton I would enjoy reading your book if you decide to publish!
RH (New York)
After my parents died, we rented the house to a single mom and her college age daughter, who swore that she saw a woman in a nightgown at night. My mother would have been mortified to be seen without a robe on! Nevertheless, I assured her the house was not haunted.
Ruby O'Dent (IN)
@RH the people who bought our family home not long after my father's death called my mother to tell her they thought his ghost was in the house. They described hearing footsteps. My mother assured them it wasn't Dad. As a child in a home with adults who worked nights, he'd learned at an early age to walk silently in the house to avoid harsh punishment. As an adult, he had some heft to him but still walked so lightly his footsteps were soundless. We've no idea who they thought they were hearing. In all the time we lived in that house, we never had reason to think it haunted.
Emile Myburgh (Johannesburg)
I'll be sure to include mention of the ghosts haunting my 142 year old house whenever I put it up for sale.
Shulaka (Waban, MA)
I was reading this article in the wee hours of the morning, and I suddenly heard eerie music, seemingly emanating from nowhere. Yikes! Humming sounds. What could it be? Then, I realized my iPad was resting on TV remote. A firm push to the off button, and my room is quiet once again. Phew!
Jeff Shindler (Portland, OR)
It’s funny that these places that are “haunted” are always creaky old houses built in the 1800s. Why aren’t there downtown apartments haunted by people who died in 2019? You never hear about those.
Ruby O'Dent (IN)
@Jeff Shindler, I've wondered the same thing. You never hear of a haunted mid-century modern or a 1970s split-level house.
Maureen (South Hempstead NY)
There are plenty of newer homes with spirit activity.
MJ (Tallahassee. FL)
@Jeff Shindler When I was in high-school in 1975, my best friend's brother died when hit by a car while riding his bicycle. My friend's family sold the house they lived in a short time later due to the memories. The family that moved in reported strange happenings in the deceased boy's bedroom (a wrist watch being thrown against a wall, a guitar being unstrung while being stored under the bed, etc.) Apparently, the deceased boy was not happy that someone was living in his room.
Scott R (Charlotte)
Ghosts, UFOs, Big Foot, Jesus, Santa Claus…all devices for man to explain and entertain their minds.
Therion boston (Boston)
Better say my prayers tonight — In the name of The Father, Son, and the Holy Ghost, Amen!
Elle Tea (NYC)
I don’t believe in ghosts - although I LOVE a truly good ghost story! I still think “The Innocents” from the early 1960’s (based on Turn of the Screw) is one of the scariest movies I’ve ever seen. Marley’s ghost in the Alistair Sims version of “A Christmas Carol” is delightfully terrifying to me. But here’s why I don’t believe in them: I have never experienced anything that made me think they existed.And in the absence of evidence, I have a choice - to believe in them, or not. I choose not to believe in them. Why? Could anything being crueler than being stuck on another plane, tormented and unable to leave this world?! I think that’s awful! I don’t want to believe that something so mean could happen to anyone! It would be terrible! Now, if I ever experienced anything that might indicate a presence, that might change my mind. But at the moment I choose not to believe it and it’s interesting to me that so many other people, in the absence of evidence in their own lives, would choose the opposite!
B. (Brooklyn)
Maybe it's not a torment. Maybe it's grandparents and other deceased family members casting an eye over their shoulders from wherever they are to make sure their living, lively descendants stay alive until it's time to go. The rest of the time, they're in the family room having cocktails.
Halley's Comment (CT)
@Elle Tea I feel the same way. One of my favorite scary movies is Poltergeist, and there's this scene of everyone watching the video just recorded of the poltergeists in their house. Beatrice Straight, the lead ghost hunter, says quietly, with tears in her eyes, "They're so lonely..." Always gets me!
Barbara (VA)
This comment doesn't recognize the difference in those who are earthbound, and thus unhappy, and those who successfully crossed to their heaven.
Matt (California)
How about the decline in education and critical thinking skills as reasons? This place is a mess.
B. (Brooklyn)
More Americans believe in ghosts than in the Law of Gravity. An unsettling statistic from an unsettling book entitled The Age of American Unreason.
Phil (Minnesota)
As my cousin once said of his fiance's grandmother, who saw a man hiding in her room and other strange things, "The house isn't haunted. She is." A childhood neighbor also has a funny ghost story. Her grandmother and aunt moved together into an old house in Minneapolis. One day grandma casually told her daughter she would really like to switch bedrooms, she liked the view better or something. So they did and one night the daughter saw a little old man in a tee shirt and suspendered pants walk out of her closet and disappear!
Well, at least for hallucinations, home owners and renters should get their indoor carbon monoxide levels checked. Some hauntings have been due to CO intoxication strong enough to cause hallucinations but not death.
sheikhnbake (Cranky Corner, LA)
I ain't 'fraid of no ghost.
Carlos (Mexico)
I have serious health problems, so these months I tried to accommodate my few belongings and a couple of real state. I frankly would be glad if I could inhabit in my property as a ghost, maybe I will still have access to internet, and the NYT ?
Sarah Eckhart (Boonville, California)
“Researchers attribute increasing belief in the supernatural to the rise of paranormal-related media, a decline in religious affiliation and the pandemic.” How do these researchers explain the relation between a decline in religious affiliation (eg, belief in a life after death, heavenly spirits, angels, Satan, eternal damnation in a lake of fire, etc) and a rise In supernatural beliefs (eg ghosts, spirits, etc)? Are not religious affiliations, by definition, social groups who hold supernatural beliefs?
DMS (San Diego)
Funny that this is attributed to the decline in religious belief when religion itself is based on the biggest ghost story of them all.
Marjorie Summons (Greenpoint)
It was probably the ghost who put a spotlight on him.
Rashawn (Atlanta, GA)
Between these poor people and those that continue to drive around alone in their blue surgical masks - I weep for the future.
Suzanne (SW US)
@Rashawn I drive around alone in my blue surgical mask because I prefer it to wearing sunscreen. But I do fear that people will think I'm a paranoid idiot, and always hasten to explain that I have a fresh surgical scar that requires sun protection. ;)
Barbara (VA)
I drive in a surgical mask not only for sunscreen but for those I might encounter at my next errand, even if it is outside, who are unmasked. Because I believe in science. Stay safe.
chrispy (San Francisco, CA)
How and why would anything like a soul or ghost evolve? How would it exist in a physical universe? It wouldn't. There would be no reproductive advantage even if the laws of physics didn't already rule it out. That's a double whammy. The idea violates two of the best understood theories of science - thermodynamics and evolution. It's a non-starter, and a ridiculous topic.
Emile Myburgh (Johannesburg)
@chrispy Don't come ruin a good story with facts here.
Ray (South Carolina)
@chrispy Do yourself a favor. Read some books by Edgar Cayce and others. Reincarnation is a common path to spiritual advancement.
Albert Fischer (Florida)
I studied the paranormal and the supernatural for over 20 years as a parapsychologist and anthropologist of religion. I really wanted to believe, but unfortunately, other than a few strange “synchronicities”, I have never seen any solid (or even suggestive) evidence of the afterlife.
Lupus Yonderboy (The Sprawl)
The Legend Of Sleepy Zillow
lee (nyc)
"But nothing has felt aggressive, Ms. Asbury said. Just attention-seeking." The article answers its own question.
Mick (New York City)
A study was just published showing that the brain is a quantum computer. Another study was recently published showing that quantum coherence could be maintained in a quantum computer using lasers pulsed at frequencies determined by the Fibonacci Sequence. It is known that the CIA used psychics to spy on Russia during the cold war and likely still does. The physicist, Russell Targ gave a TED talk (which was banned) about his involvement with that at the Stanford Research Institute. There is a preponderance of circumstantial and some direct evidence of reincarnation. The US government has admitted officially that UAV's exist and released (unexplainable) data and video. Reports by Navy pilots are that these encounters occur on an almost daily basis. Scientists need to study these phenomena with an open mind. I've had one unexplainable incident at a music rehearsal studio, Complete Music (when it was in Manhattan). A very loud banging occurred late at night in a room that was locked and alarmed on a floor directly above where I was standing. It sounded like a sledgehammer on metal! The studio manager said it was the ghost, Roscoe. I thought that was absurd and asked him to check if someone was up there. Nobody was there, and the alarm was set. There were no radiators and it was not heating season. It seemed impossible for that banging to have happened, but two of us heard it. I was there installing phantom power (+48 VDC) and 24 switches on their mixing console!
God (Heaven)
Trapped spirits need the prayers of the living to allow them to move on to heaven.
boston doctor (a logical world)
uggh, swap one ridiculous belief (religion) for yet another absurdity (ghosts). reality is far more interesting than nonsense folks
Kathleen Lynch (Olympia WA)
@boston doctor Uggh is right. Have people forgotten the concept of fun. This was written in the spirit of amusment in celebration of Halloween. Remember casper costumes, trick or treating, ringing strangers doorbells. The normal rules were suspended for one night and children could lawfully misbehave. Stop taking yourselves so seriously and have some fun.
Paul (Brooklyn)
Wait: a DECLINE in religious beliefs = a RISE in supernatural beliefs?
Mike (Colorado)
I think the comments are more interesting to read than the article.
They always are.
Paul (Toronto)
I am a little confused, with hundreds of thousands killed in Flanders Fields in the Great War, you should be running into ghosts every few feet.
B. (Brooklyn)
Ah, but that's why the intelligentsia in those after-days got into seances and why Arthur Conan Doyle became a laughing stock.
John (California)
Not only that, over 100 billion anatomically modern humans have walked the earth over the last 150-200k years. 100 billion . If the principal applies where ghosts can exist under certain scenarios, with a "source" population of this number (again, 100b ), we should be seeing tens of thousands of ghosts including (one would assume) ghosts from the medieval period and earlier.
Ed (Colorado)
Who you gonna call? Ghostbusters!
RichPFromDC (Washington, DC)
People today have easy access to nearly all human knowledge, and they're dumber and less informed than ever. Willfully.
hello (there)
Beliefs based on ignorance. It should certainly tell us some thing about the state of our education
Trey (Richmond)
The irony those who look down on the religious but believe in ghosts is astounding.
Nelson (New England)
Darn, sounds like they'll be no peace and quiet in the hereafter either.
Michael (Barcelona)
I ain’t afraid of no ghost.
David (Cazadero California.)
There are things for a stranger in life that can be explained by science alone, but this… Is not one of them it’s fun for people to have these beliefs, but when I read this, I actually remembered that it’s April 1 because it’s gotta be with an article like this in the New York Times!
HAL (Jupiter)
Well I’ve been ghosted on texts so it makes sense that you can’t be ghosted unless ghosts exists.
John D (San Diego)
The ghost in my house is afraid of UFOs.
Susan (Paris)
“He likes to play pranks. He’ll move shoes around, she said.” In our house, it’s my keys.
Pamela (anywhere)
@Susan Mine too!
Irene Brophy (CT)
Question is, can you train them to fold the laundry?
Grgeory Adams Rotello (Ridgefield Ct)
"Many experts also attribute a decline in religious belief to fostering a belief in the paranormal". ? Kiddin ? ... Prey Tell. ... What the difference??
Liam (PacificNorthWest)
@Grgeory Adams Rotello Bingo!
Jen Mareck (Washington DC)
Lou (Michigan)
When one dies, one is dead. End of story.
So, exasperating! How, pray tell, do you know? Apparently, one can be educated and ignorant all at once.
Barbara (VA)
Based on experience, sir?
morpheusz (Salt Lake City)
We believe in ghosts but not vaccines. Reality is now satire.
Addicted (NYC)
I don’t see how a decline in religious affiliation can lead to an increase in supernatural beliefs considering all the major religions (all the religions?) also require a belief in the supernatural.
Sb Brightman (Belmont Ma)
When this many people tell you about x, instead of insisting that x isn’t x but is the result of y maybe the most reasonable thing to think is that they are telling you about x.
jsfraisier (MA)
I could never live in a modern house without ghosts. My 11th century house in the South of France has seen many happy and sad spirits (marriages, births and deaths, reunions, graduations, peace and wars, etc.) It surrounds me and I live with these past lives and am adding mine to the collection.
Liam (PacificNorthWest)
@jsfraisier Gonna party like it's 1399!
chickpea (California)
I once lived a a marvelous old Victorian house and people always asked if it was haunted. I told them it was, but only the cat could see the ghosts. She certainly appeared to be chasing and playing with something!
Thomas (North Central Florida)
When I was in the U.S. Army some fifty years ago, I was stationed at an Army hospital in Pennsylvania. Civilians who worked there for decades told me that some wings were haunted. Being 19 and skeptical, I dismissed their chatter. Not long after that, working the midnight shift in Psychiatry, I had three separate experiences that convinced me those old civilians weren't kidding.
Cert (Central California)
A video of what are clearly human and then other phenomena makes me believe that when my cat was hissing at my front door, was not because he is going crazy in old age, but because he saw what the video captured. I did not discover the video until sort of late. As you might know, security home video takes an inordinate amount of time to scan, visually. Where I live there are stones embedded about two feet from my front door. Nothing unusual. It was when I was digging up the dirt in their area that the phenomena emerged. Probably, the property where I reside is located on what had a grave site, not necessarily a church. The city I live in goes back prior to the State of California becoming a state. It is where many people from different areas of Europe settled, way before the 49ers. Knowing this, I don't disturb the ground around my dwelling and try to be as polite as possible to my residents.
Dm (Missoula Montana)
I once bought a haunted house. I consulted a work colleague who claimed to be a psychic, and he advised me to sand all the floors. He claimed that would break the hold the house had on the ghost. I was planning to do so anyway, so moved that task up in the construction schedule. The paranormal activity ceased once the floors were sanded.
B. (Brooklyn)
In my family, every new apartment or house gets the holy water treatment. Not a particularly religious Greek-American family, but old habits die hard. Now that all the old folks are dead, I guess if I ever bought a new house I'd have to go myself to church to get some.
Hank (NJ)
My hypothesis is that ghosts are the product of psychological dissociation and transient amnesia as a result of unprocessed/unacknowledged trauma, especially around death. People actually do these weird things but don't remember doing them. Think of it as like sleepwalking while you're awake. Also, as the late, great neurologist Oliver Sacks noted, hallucinations are also quite common amongst those without an underlying mental illness.
Ben (New York)
The waning of religion hasn't necessarily made eternal oblivion any more attractive than it was to our less scientific and more superstitious ancestors. There's still a desire to believe that our existence continues in some way after death. But when you compare heavenly glory as depicted in fresco on the dome of a typical Italian Baroque cathedral, the prospect of stomping around an old house breaking windows and scattering laundry does seem like a bargain-basement version of the afterlife. Another example of "shrinkflation" not accounted for in the Consumer Price Index.
Tom H. (Boston)
I think we underappreciate the power of human imagination and its connection to self-interest. Most of us don’t want to believe that brain death is the end, and it’s exciting to believe in forces beyond our mundane existence and our own importance to such metaphysical forces. Our emotional tendency to engage in this kind of wishful thinking is exactly why we must be skeptical of it.
hank rango (sydney)
i'm not too surprised at people writing - almost increduously - that otherwise intelligent and learned people have reported seeing ghosts. the same can be said for people who believe in gods and other wildly supernatural figments of our cultural imaginations. of course, the more skeptical among us ask for one simple, easy thing: proof. man, do i miss james randi.
Sarah (NY)
In England, researchers proved that many of the oldest homes have problems with the electrical wiring and sometimes gas issues. People will actually get psychological issues (ie hallucinations) from breathing the tainted air. And the flickering lights are electrical issues at work.
linh (ny)
@Sarah in england, many of the oldest homes have neither electric wiring nor gas lines. let them check those.
Virginia NYC (Manhattan)
I wonder if the sellers of the Saint Denis, an office building on Broadway that was built as a fancy hotel around 1860, told the buyers about the ghost, and I wonder if the ghost has moved into the new building that replaced the St Denis when it was torn down. I didn't encounter him until a visit to the building after I had basically moved out of my therapy office: in the hallway I bent down to pick up some flyers that had been stuck under my locked office door, and he yanked them in. I found out many people had seen him over the years, always dressed the same way, and that it was believed that he was probably the spirit of a mobster who'd been killed there at some point.
Robert Salm (Chicago)
A few years ago I stayed at an Airbnb home in the Irvington neighborhood of Indianapolis scheduled for five nights and was scared so badly I called the owner after a couple evenings of unexplainable things falling, bangs and thumps in odd places around the kitchen and upstairs bathroom. The owner told me her father made the baskets that fell in the kitchen and that she thinks he sticks around to make mischief. I thought it was cute and lived with it for a third night. The final straw was a photo I took around 4am of an amorphous shape in a floor-to-length bedroom mirror that could not be explained. The owner understood, I canceled my contract early without penalty (thank you Airbnb), and I left for a hotel the next day. I will never ever stay in another old house listed on Airbnb as having "quaint" or a "solitary" feel.
Maggie (Las Vegas)
The night my Dad died I dreamed that all of us kids were sitting on chairs in a semicircle facing the back door to the house. My Dad opened the screen door and popped his head around and said, I'm ok. Then he went back in the house. He's ok and wanted us to know. He was a good guy.
Chris (DC)
I understand that skepticism should be the first response when presented with claims of paranormal occurrence, however, there are certainly a number of individuals who've undergone these experiences who are conscientious and respectable people of good will who have no wish to mislead or deceive. If such a person were to tell me that they were witness to such events, I would extend good faith to them and accept what they were telling me. I only wish there was an individual of unassailable credentials - someone like a Ken Burns - who could document this phenomena.
Ben (New York)
@Chris Long ago a classmate whom I regarded as the most acidic of skeptics told me that while lounging poolside one evening in his modern secular suburb of San Diego he had the customary UFO encounter: bright lights and motions then impossible for aircraft. (This was before drones spoiled everything.) He tried to ignore the celestial display, but all the dogs in the neighborhood were barking, and in the distance across an empty field (his was the outermost neighborhood in SD at the time) he saw the flashing lights of emergency vehicles parked along the county highway. My friend was neither terrified nor excited. He was annoyed. His comforting skepticism had been ruptured.
Isaac (Seattle)
@Chris You're assuming that there are only two options: either (1) those people were stupid or lying, or (2) that the claims are true. In fact, there is a much more plausible option (3): the people reporting paranormal events were wrong. Given what we know about optical illusions, selective attention, selective memory, and the limited of perception, this is the likeliest option. Our brains are much more frail than we imagine. This is why eyewitness testimony isn't given nearly as much credence as it once was. We routinely misunderstand and misinterpret things we see and hear.
Predson (New York)
Recent recognition of this phenomenon is probably due to growing consciousness of our connected quantum electronic sensitivity. The sense of electronic emissions is only now becoming substatiated by quantum thought. Our common electronic sensibilities have been served by words which have not been up to describing electronic emissions. For centuries we have been sensitive to but unable to explain these subconscious sensibilities. The future knowledge of these experiences and their reality is exciting to anticipate.
chrispy (San Francisco, CA)
@Predson Only people who have studied quantum physics have the knowledge necessary to discuss the ramifications of quantum phenomena. It's a mistake to use buzz words (i.e., entanglement) to justify irrational beliefs. We live in the macroscopic world.
N Marie (Mpls)
I think because for years we have told these stories, some find them in their experiences. This could be why younger people dont report this type of experience. Not in their stories, so not in their experiences. Our stories make them seem real, but our stories are just stories. I have had such experiences, but now, just see them as stories built on stories. Yet, I still love a good ghost story.
Kathryn (Colorado)
@N Marie Did you read the article? More younger people report having ghost experiences than Boomers. About twice as many.
Brooke (Portland)
I live in a condo built in 1983. (I moved in in 2013.) Haven't seen ghosts yet, but looking out for random humming of Culture Club songs, crimped hair, etc.
A Aycock (Georgia)
We had a farm - 70 acres - with a hill that was solid rock - you could look down as the land gradually fell to a bold creek - where we could find arrow heads, pottery - all manner of proof that people had traveled thru that property for many, many years. As you stood on that had the definite feeling that something was standing there beside you - nothing threatening - just a presence of some spirit that admired the land along with you. We got old - sold the farm to a young couple - and, the young man said he loved sitting on that hill looking down - and, had the same feeling that someone/something was there with him - admiring the scenery. Never have believed in ghosts - but, that made me wonder.
B. (Brooklyn)
Then you must read Puck of Pook's Hill by Rudyard Kipling. It is as you say.
Aux Arcs (Midwest/Appalachia)
@A Aycock My parents purchased a 160 acre farm that had almost a mile of creek frontage on it. Beautiful crystal clear stream in a big creek bottom with tall, towering limestone bluffs. The previous owner would grow crops and after plowing people gathered arrowheads by the bucket. I, too, found arrowheads and other signs of Indigenous peoples. A kooky great-aunt visited once; she believed there were Indian burials in the bottoms. My parents built a house on the farm; I always felt (and visitors as well) there was a malevolent, oppressive feeling in the basement and the southern end of the farm. No evidence of disturbing any burials or archeological sites. I always wondered if there some residual imprint of something that had happened there.
When a rubber coaster flew from the granite topped table while my friend and I were sitting around conversing, we didn’t know what to make of it. Neither one of us had touched it and no drink was on it. There are things in the world that are not easily explained with the knowledge we have, so far.
NH (Culver City)
For many years I spent summers on Nantucket with my family. The house was originally built in the 1600s. It is still standing on upper Main Street. Strange things happened in that house. My wife of that time was awakened one night by the white figure of a woman in her/our bedroom. I didn't see it but my wife, a non-believer, did and was terrified. Often we would feel a presence in that house and the owner said she had "experienced" things many times. I wrote a novel in 1995 about the house, or set in it, titled simply "Ghosts." Since then, scores of people have told me about their experiences in their homes. Something goes on that we as humans do not understand. There's something "there" at the edge of our consciousness and occasionally we glimpse it. I don't feel that it's good or bad. It just is there.
chrispy (San Francisco, CA)
@NH I "saw" a demon in my bedroom. I was aware enough to know I was experiencing sleep paralysis and was projecting a dream image "outside" of myself - something our brains do continously when we're awake. It was an interesting experience but not "supernatural".
Lori (Santa Monica)
It always amazes me when I hear people who otherwise I had thought of as rational beings talk of ghosts. But I guess it may be more fun or comforting (after all existence of ghosts = life after death) to attribute unknown phenomena to the supernatural rather than the more mundane likely causes.
Pamela (anywhere)
@Lori And it always amazes me when seemingly rational people who have never experienced something dismiss other people's lived experience as sheer nonsense.
Pamela (anywhere)
@Lori And it always me when seemingly rational people who have never experienced something dismiss other people's lived experience as sheer nonsense.
Lori (Santa Monica)
@Pamela There have been numerous studies by scientists on these phenomena. No evidence for the existence of ghosts exists. Plenty evidence for those darn raccoons causing the sounds of footsteps do, however. :-)
Cynthia starks (Zionsville, In)
I am Catholic and, interestingly enough, the Church acknowledges one can see a ghost - the spirit of an individual who is still "earthbound," and has not "crossed over." The Church recommends saying prayers and having Masses said for the deceased individual to help him or her reach their appointed destination.
DoPDJ (N42W71)
@Cynthia starks And must one pay for such Masses? Hmm.
dark brown ink (callifornia)
Great article. For most of human history in most cultures on the planet, beliefs like this and stories like these were normal. My grandmother vividly came to see me 2 weeks after she died, 60 years ago, and I've seen angels and another dead relative. This is my normal, human normal, if you ask me. It's reality, when we pay attention.
Lin (Australia)
Ghosts are a very practical matter in other parts of the world. I think, like our strange eating habits, this is another side-effect of colonialism and being separated from our cultures. The Irish and Scottish cultures that many of us came from to the US and Australia have ways of managing ghosts. The Indigenous cultures that were here long before us also have cultural protocols for dealing with spirits. In Japan getting an exorcism for your house in summer by the local Buddhist priest is a kind of yearly chore, like washing your curtains. I put out food and incense for the ghost in my new apartment (built on top of public housing). It does the trick. In Korea, according to a movie I watched recently, not only do they put out food but sometimes have a whole party to encourage a resident ghost to leave or calm down.
I had an exorcism, which was a total normal practice, in Taiwan.
Antonia Barnhart (Hilo HI)
A couple of months after we bought our house, built in the 1880's, a man came to the door and said "I just wanted you to know this is a happy house, and there are no ghosts in this house" and then he left. I never saw the car so I thought he walked up the road... He never introduced himself, just said his piece and left. We got the vibe that it was a "happy house" on the first walk through. It is a happy house so he was correct. And no ghosts.
Di (California)
A friend of mine used to run the front desk (at night) at a hotel that's been on one of the ghost hunter shows and made the top haunted hotels on Yelp list this month. He said people either really wanted or really didn't want "the" room. If guests were into it, he'd go into the history. Ghost(s)? He said nobody knows for sure, anything is possible, but the place did have a really weird vibe and odd things did happen, so if you did believe in them you were in the right place.
red state indie (Idaho)
When I had my first good professional job in my 20s, I went out for a team break and was startled to discover that I was the only one of these educated, seemingly rational people who didn’t believe in ghosts. It’s not just that I’ve never believed in them, it’s that it’s never occurred to me to believe in them. I always just thought it was superstition. Clearly my opinion is not the popular one! I also don’t believe in life or consciousness after death, God, the Devil, or angels. Again, I can’t make my brain believe something. I tried as a kid because my friends believed in God, but nope. I do believe that there is a lot we are still learning about the brain. For example, i read a study recently that some kind of consciousness remains for a minute or so after death. And hospice nurses will tell you that hearing is the last sense to go, so talk to your comatose in-hospice loved one.
AD (Lalaland)
There's a connection between mold and paranormal experiences. Some species of mold (and the mycotoxins they release) can cause visual and auditory hallucinations and other sensations. Areas that have a lot of water damage in buildings often have a lot of "haunted" houses, like in New Orleans. There are thousands, if not millions, of species of molds and we know only a tiny fraction of them, and even less about how they interact with our sensory and nervous systems.
Plant Lover (Iowa)
I had an experience after my father died of an orb or round sphere of light next to the ceiling that lingered for several minutes and never came again.
Jane Air (Sandia Park, NM)
I’ve had two paranormal encounters in my lifetime. One at The Inn at Halona, Zuni Pueblo and one at a VRBO I rented this August in Santa Fe. It is also interesting to take the ghost tours in Old Town Albuquerque and in historic Santa Fe. You learn a lot about the spirit world.
Daniel (Manhattan)
When we met 30 years ago, my husband told me that he had been visiting an AIDS patient in the hospital, woke at 3 in the morning, and saw his friend walk through the wall to the foot of his bed. The young man asked him if he loved him, my husband said yes, and the young man told him he was ready to go. In the morning, he learned that the young man had died in the middle of the night.
Maureen (Vancouver, Canada)
A few years ago, I was devastated when my 21 year old cat died, she was just the best. For a couple of months after she died I would hear her meowing in my apartment. I thought it had to be my imagination because I missed her so much, but one evening when my friend was over for dinner, she came into the kitchen and said she keeps hearing a cat meowing in the living room and it sounded like Sophie. I believe.
Markatrob (Italy)
Oh! This touched my heart. As a child growing up in Toronto I had a calico cat named Sophie. Her last name was Montagou. She didn’t reach old age like your Sophie, but like yours, she was the best. No after cat life visits though.
Ooo (SF)
I love the halloween episode from this American life from 2005 or 2006 about a family that experienced lots of paranormal activity in their house - like plants suddenly dying, hearing loud rushes of sound, hearing doors slam, feeling a body sitting on their chest while they were sleeping- only to eventually learn that it was all hallucinations due to carbon monoxide poisoning. it’s such a rational explanation - sort of satisfying and disappointing at the same time.
Ray (South Carolina)
@Ooo I wonder how the carbon monoxide theorists explain hauntings in total electric homes. 🙄
Michael (Barcelona)
The closest I’ve come to a ghost story is watching my dad die in my home. Cancer, we brought him home in hospice care. I spent the last night of his life listening to him talk to my grandmother. He was born in England and my grandmother had never been to the US, much less our house. Maybe it was the medication he was on to ease his pain, but she was “there” for both of us, and that always makes me feel better.
PTB76 (NJ)
This is highly speculative - and I personally have never experienced anything so-called paranormal and remain very skeptical - but could some of this phenomena be not paranormal but rather quite natural where we have not yet developed the technology and theoretical construct to observe and explain this kind of thing?
earl (chicago)
Is my house haunted? I am not sure but I think that might explain why my the levels in my bottles of bourbon and scotch keep dropping. Has to be ghosts because I don't remember drinking that much.
SouthernView (Virginia)
@earl I’m overjoyed to know someone besides me experiences this phenomenon!
hank rango (sydney)
@earl a quandary, sir, because if you were to imbibe a few extra nips of your libations, you would more than likely sight these dastardly culprits.
JCinTX (Dallas, TX)
I believe. I experience things in my current home. Just minor things and they do not make me uncomfortable at all. Most common are electrical. The other night, my tv came on 3 times in 15 minutes. After the 2nd time, I moved the remote far away from me in case I had touched it, but it still came on for a third time. I said, “Come on, that’s enough”. Nothing more so far. I am an atheist, by the way, who believes in the continuity of the spirit and a full afterlife, but not a deity of any kind.
chrispy (San Francisco, CA)
@JCinTX When I was a child, many years ago, my dog turned the TV on with the tags on her collar.
Everly (Calabasas, CA)
I’ve never been religious but I’ve had a ‘ghost’ situation for years in the house I grew up in. One certain room I would pass and it would give me the creeps, I always had to run by it and I could never look directly in it. I had knocks on my bedroom door when nobody was home, heard my name being called from a voice and other in the house heard it, dark shadows up the halls. I could never sleep with my back to the room and had dolls protect me at night. This happened since I was 4 til I moved out at 19. I’ve never had another instance with a ghost since then or at any other place. I don’t know many people that have had ghost experiences and I swear Im a very normal, intelligent person. As scary as it was growing up I feel fortunate for having the experience because it’s a reminder on how mysterious and unknown life really is and it keeps me open minded and curious.
Si Seulement Voltaire (France)
Every group of humans around the world and throughout history have created religions, values and beliefs for themselves from Greek and Nordic Gods to African, Australia, Asian and South American people and indigenous tribes. The young also have a natural tendency to reject, reinvent and replace whatever came before - the hubris and limitations of youth (entitlement, influencers and TikTok, etc.). That too is human nature. I conclude that humans need to "believe" something so when they reject whatever local religion and values might be there, they create others for themselves. Sometimes they do better for society in general, certainly not always and most of the time to no real avail or value.
Happy Witch (Washington State)
Writing as someone who used to be paid to help calm down haunted houses before I retired: Salt and Frankincense are a haunted house owner's best friend. Especially if a house has an unpleasant haunting, strewing salt on the floor, leaving it to sit, and setting a small brazier of frankincense to burn in the affected room will help clear the atmosphere. Deaths in old homes are natural events, and so are the mild hauntings that stay behind. They are not problematical, and generally don't need to be cleared unless the shade is breaking things, or frightening children. The problem hauntings are the ones left over from violence, especially from murder. Murders tear time, and can lead to very unpleasant atmospheres, even many years later. Houses adjacent to the battlefields of yesteryear sometimes present problems, too, even when the houses are recently built. House clearing is a magical specialty these days, with trained practitioners available for hire in many parts of the nation.
Judith (Boca Raton FL)
@Happy Witch We lived in two different houses in a neighborhood established in the mid 1980s in Franklin Tennessee. I believe the land was an area where the Battle of Franklin occurred. We experienced activity in both homes. I wish I would have asked friends who lived there if they experienced anything in their houses but I don't recall the subject ever being discussed. We didn't question if we believed or not, we just accepted it.
TyroneShoelaces (Hillsboro, Oregon)
Beginning as far back as 1959 with television shows like "One Step Beyond,", we've been conditioned to entertain the possibility of other worldly phenomena. With the advent of shows like "Ghost Hunters", "Ghost Adventures" and "Paranormal State," this sort of acceptance has gone mainstream. While I enjoy these shows, I take them with a grain of salt. The one word that comes most readily to mind is "suggestibility." People want to believe, so they do. I'm not discounting the examples cited in this story, but as recently as a decade ago, these folks would have been classified as eccentrics and screwballs.
Aran M (Boston, MA)
Where is the research saying a decline in religious support increases belief in the paranormal? I’m not buying that at all; why would we be trading one fairytale for another? And as gen z, I can confidently say that that sixty five percent figure is way skewed or potentially just joke responses.
Adam (Virginia)
I have often said: I don't believe in ghosts because there's no evidence, but I definitely do NOT want to be the person to discover that evidence. Best of luck to Shane. Spooky stuff!
Carl Ian Schwartz (Paterson, NJ)
My partner of 34 years--and husband for the last 13 of them--died at home (as he wished) of ALS on May 3 at age 85. In early September I went to sleep with the internet radio playing the evening show on KUSC (three hours earlier, so three hours more music in the morning!). It's been my habit since high school to fall asleep to classical music on the radio. I was awakened by a work familiar to both Allen and me--Richard Strauss's "Death and Transfiguration," an early tone poem which concerns the mindset of its protagonist as he was dying of a febrile disease. The fever episodes are portrayed by the brass section. Near the end of the piece the brass stops and one hears a kettledrum solo played with the brushes: that's the transition from life to death. After the kettledrum solo, the strings soar--out of the clouds into a starry night and full moon?--and then soar further to the next plane of existence. Just then, Allen spoke to me: "I am beyond the beyond, even beyond what can now be seen by the Webb Space Telescope. Existence is different from anything we have known. Time doesn't exist as we knew it, and I can wait for you to join me. Find happiness and enjoy it for the rest of your days--you'll find someone to be happy with. Then when you're ready, you'll join me and everyone you have loved who is here." These are words of love to live by--and believe in. Love transcends death: amor vincit omnias.
Mary Jane (Oslo)
Thank you so much for sharing this beautiful experience with us. It gave me chills—in a good way!—and a lot of hope.
Flotsam (Upstate NY)
Oy. It’s fun to pretend these things exist. But that’s all it is: pretend. We enjoy attaching meaning to things we sense but can’t explain - that’s mostly fine, and often harmless — until the magical thinking invades our body politic, and vast swaths of people begin making inane and dangerous decisions based on superstition and scant evidence. I’m more willing to believe this is all just a simulation, and I’m some immortal being experiencing the height of entertainment: getting to experience a virtual existence that is finite. What a story. The suffering! The joy! Oh my. My goodness people are bored and need meaning. I get it, and I empathize, but it’s pretty sad. In the end, we simply die and return to the universe. Nothing more. There’s nothing to hold onto. It’s beautiful. I’m sorry more people don’t find it so.
Bronco Pete (Great Midwest)
Didn’t I read somewhere that the pandemic saw a sharp rise in alcohol consumption? I think that, boredom and isolation could have a lot to do with many of these supernatural encounters. Good Halloween article.
unreceivedogma (Newburgh NY)
We bought an 1875 fixer-upper farmhouse in upstate NY in 2000. One evening, after we went to bed, I and my wife are awakened by a pounding on our bedroom door by my sister-in-law who was staying with us. She breathlessly says that something brushed against her cheek, and then she smelled a smell of dirty children. Many months later, on a Sunday morning, we are painting the bedrooms. A pearl white Cadillac pulls into the driveway, and out pop two 80-something women dressed to their Sunday nines. They insisted that we come down to speak to them. They were sisters, and their great grandparents built the house. It was once part of a 128 acre farm. They said that their mom sold the house in the 50s, it broke her heart to see it get run down, and if she could only see it now. Her mom died 2 months before we bought the house. Then they showed us two pictures. One was of a milk store on 4th Avenue near 10th Street that their mom and dad owned. The store was a mere 4 blocks from our Manhattan address on Cooper Square. The other was a picture of the front of the farmhouse, with over 40 children sitting on the front porch. Between the two world wars, their grandmother ran an orphanage there for runaways and orphans between the ages of 5 and 15.
BP (Hudson valley)
I don’t see how a decline in religious affiliation is relevant. The Victorians were extremely religious people and equally obsessed with trying to contact and communicate with spirits. I think the rise in this phenomenon is due to people not being embarrassed or ashamed to share their experiences anymore. To any of the smug “skeptics” on this thread, you probably know multiple rational, educated people in your daily life who have had these experiences and never told you about it. Once I started asking people for their ghost stories I found it was shockingly commonplace. These experiences have been part of the human condition for thousands of years across all cultures. I have never had an experience myself but I have become comfortable with the idea that others have, even though I have no way of understanding how it’s possible.
Nico (Boston)
I heard weird sounds my attic too, that is until I relocated the raccoons that had gotten in up there.
Vesuviano (Altadena, California)
My house is less than a hundred yards from Mountain View Cemetery in Altadena. Every once in a while, our five cats see something that my wife and I cannot. They all gather and watch in unison, sort of like they are watching a tennis match, only the movements aren't regular. It's very strange to see five cats moving their heads in the same direction at the same time when there is nothing there to see.
Beth (Waxhaw, NC)
@Vesuviano Cats just do that to freak people out... they laugh and laugh when they hear people talk about ghosts!
Laughing Party (Anywhere Else But Here)
Scary indeed. I’m spooked by how many of my fellow readers believe their own hooey. Interesting how often people seem to get “food poisoning.” It’s never overeating fatty foods or any of a hundred explanations that may imply personal responsibility or a combination of boring circumstances. And it’s never chance or simply unknowable. It’s so often something that is evidence of victimization or specialness or determined design by an other. Always externalized. Always “explained.” The stuff people are stating as fact here illustrates how little we understand about perception, the brain, and consciousness, and a sorry lack of education about what is actually and currently known. I think we have a deep discomfort with the essential randomness and chaos of what we think of as reality. Not knowing is scary.
SW (Jersey)
My parents' house in Upstate NY is absolutely not haunted at all. Nope, not even a little bit. Completely free of ghosts. Only inhabited by the living. Nobody has ever died there whatsoever. That's just the sounds of the house settling. It's a perfectly normal building. And that's how it'll officially be since New York State requires that homeowners disclose whether their house is haunted or though to be haunted by other people in the community. Then again maybe the creepy factor would make it more valuable in this day and age?
Matt S (Maine)
I lived in a farmhouse in Maine when I was young, built in 1813. We had a female spirit living with us, and while at first it was startling, it became quite a normal way of life. My parents experienced her. I experienced her My older brother experienced her. Together as a family we experienced her. We literally would hear her walking up the stairs every night, down the hallway and into my bedroom, which a kitchen in the 1800s. It was quite normal. There was no loss of faith, no pandemic, no unusual things that our collective family was experiencing. And then later in life, my husband's mother who had passed one week prior visited us at our home. We had cared for her in our home for many years as she battled Alzheimer's. We believe it was her way of saying. thank you and that she was at peace. It was very real, quite emotional and also quite beautiful. Science is not equipped to truly diagnose all the mysteries of our existence.
Sarah (NY)
@Matt S I agree these things can happen. A dear friend of mine committed suicide many years ago. I had become schizophrenic and his personality had drastically changed in the last few years of his life. I was very upset for a month. Then, strangely, one night he appeared in my room and said that I don't have to be sad anymore and that he was at peace in the afterlife. I felt a strong sense of a presence and a peacefulness then. It was something I never thought I'd experience.
AK (Tulsa)
@Matt S Thank you. Lovely.
Giovanni Ciriani (West Hartford, CT)
@Matt S, I would explain it as hallucinations. What we we experience is what happens in our brain. The late Oliver Sacks, a neuropsychiatrist, wrote a very interesting book by the title "Hallucinations", in which he told of innumerable episodes of hallucinations that happened to his patients and himself too, all explained by the functioning of our brains.
Beel (Boston)
It seems as though almost all ghost stories involve old houses, native burial grounds, old-timey Civil War guys, old ladies in colonial garb, etc. So did the spirit world just cut back on ghost production around 1950 or so? They don’t like modern homes?
Robert (Out West)
I have been haunted by Ziggy Stardust for years. He wants an autograph.
Carlos (Mexico)
@Beel That is a good point, I did not realized that. Maybe we have to wait for generation Z ghosts for this to happen? I am just a boomer hoping to inhabit newer homes from the 80's as an eventual (would-be) ghost.....
Stephen (Athens, NY)
@Beel Often wondered the same thing. On the side of the ghosts, the 1950s is around the time that folks started dying in hospitals instead of at home, and the newer homes haven't had as much time for people to live and die in them. Personally, I've heard a number of stories about recently deceased family members and friends.
Kim (Oakland, CA)
Really, NYT? What should we look forward to next…a hard-hitting piece on leprechauns or an investigative journalism project on unicorns?
Macaroninonni (FTL)
@Kim Just a bit of Halloween inspired fun. What’s wrong with that?
Reluctant Jedi (Earth)
C’mon. It’s Hallowe’en! Great story.
JerseyGirl (Princeton NJ)
It's Halloween. Lighten up. The New York Times carries much much worse stuff than this.
David (Tasmania)
Nancy Connelly (Portland Maine)
I Have experienced paranormal happenings on occasion in every house I’ve lived in as an adult. In all instances I have attributed it to occasional family members who visit. I feel you need to be enlightened enough to notice the happenings. Sometimes it might be coincidence but when the instances pile up over a short period of time, I feel it’s a message being sent. Once I receive it, and acknowledge the messages, the occurrences stop. One of my daughters is also very sensitive to it as well. In the beginning it scared me but now I am comforted by it. The universe is full of spiritual brings and energy. Maybe it’s wishful thinking but I’ve had an awful lot of instances. I believe in physics and science too. However not everything can be explained in concrete ways.
Socrates (Downtown Verona, NJ)
A few details for skeptics might be useful in enlightening us, Nancy Connelly.
chrispy (San Francisco, CA)
@Nancy Connelly Science isn't a belief system. It's the opposite of belief. Energy is the ability to do work. "Spiritual" energy doesn't make the cut.
Anne (Portland)
My husband and I moved into a home four years ago. He had a room upstairs that was his personal space (books. musical instruments, etc.) I rarely went up there. About a month after we moved in, he asked if I had been reading his bible in that room. This was surprising as he's Jewish and I didn't even know he had a bible. I said no, and asked why. He said then he went into the room that morning and the bible was in the middle of the doorway, opened up. The foorwar was far from the built-in bookcases where the book had been. Unfortunately, he didn't look to see which page the book was open to. (I am not religious, but would still be interested in what might have been a message.) We also heard someone that first month walk down the hallway and stop outside our bedroom. It woke us both up. Of course, after searching the house and making nervous jokes, no one was there. He also heard someone call out my name one time when I was not home. A cat-sitter mentioned a 'muddy little blonde boy [she said he was 5 or 6 years old] running across our back deck' one evening. We do not have kids in the area that fit that description. That was all in the first month. Nothing has happened in the four years since. Spirits? Maybe, maybe not. But it was curious.
honeywhite (Midwest)
For a few years I was lucky enough to live in the Church Hill neighborhood of Richmond, VA - which is most definitely haunted (see: Civil War hospitals, site of a battle called Bloody Run, Edgar Allen Poe and his sweetheart Elmira, a fatal tunnel collapse that spawned the legend of the Richmond vampire - and this is just a tiny sampling of the goings on of a neighborhood that dates back to pre-Revolutionary War times). My house was about 120 years old, and I'm quite certain it too was haunted -- but with a most wonderfully warm spirit that welcomed me and any visitors (who often remarked on the vibe upon entry), and that kept me feeling safe and protected during some difficult times. I keenly miss that house (and that magical neighborhood).
LucyDog (Boston MA)
If this is what preoccupies people more and more, then I'm okay with that, I guess. I personally draw comfort from my faith, the rituals, and my Saints, etc. I like the foundation of having a faith, reading and abiding by sacred texts as best I can, taking inspiration from my faith icons that came before me. And I often pray to my late parents and some dear friends and relatives no longer with me. But I guess I can understand too why people believe in ghosts. I firmly believe there are places and homes with bad vibes out there that need some kind of spiritual cleansing to address the bad that might have happened there in the past. I acknowledge there may be some restless souls out there among us, but more good ones too -- like the many celebrated by the world's diverse faiths. And I can imagine that souls might want to hang out in the home or lands where they once lived while mortal. Who knows! Whatever floats your boat.
Carol (Green Valley,CA)
I work in a hospital. I have heard voices, seen full size dark figures. I am not the only one to experience this. There are spirits that don't pass on and let themselves be known. Due to the number of deaths where I work, it does not surprise me. By the way, I am a baby boomer.
Lupus Yonderboy (The Sprawl)
Coincidently big and small physics, the research of reality as a mathmatical model, is gravitating to what you see as being "real" information artifacts. And interesting that off-campus "paranormal" research centers are again getting funding, thinking about Duke. Duke cannot directly fund the work for obvious reasons. They are putting out big pushes for research volunteers after nearly going defunct 6 years ago. Easily found online. Bill Murray's tests in the intro to Ghostbusters is again getting real funding. We just can't go back to the lack of ethical requirements he was mocking in the 60s.
@Carol I've heard similar stories told by nurses about a hospital in my area.
Carlyle T. (NYC)
@Carol I think you have a sensitivity to this spiritual phenomina , I was sceptic about an afterlife neither beleiving in a heaven or hell as one's destiny, till my ghost touched me softly on my back a few times after my wife's recent death from Parkinsonism. I know feel that we can live on with out deceased spirit, ain't no one can tell me different, that she is with me and is sad when I grieve for her in my lonliness telling me "it's alright, I am alright" somehow a half century of living together can't in some instances be broken just by death especially when one cares for them for their medical condition when illness makes them helpless.
I once heard someone say that the phenomenon known as ghosts is definitely real, but our explanation for the phenomenon is most likely false. As I hear more stories over the years, I lean towards this. People aren't just making up these stories. Something is going on; it just may not be what they think it is.
Michael (Barcelona)
I’ve heard something similar. We have no idea where consciousness comes from. We know it’s electrical impulses between synapses (or something like that, I’m not a brain surgeon). I’ve heard theories those electrical impulses continue after death and that’s our concept of a ghost. I don’t understand it, but an ancient Greek philosopher first came up with the idea of atoms some 2,500 years ago. And he was so terrified by his theory he was afraid to walk on the floor fearing he’d fall right through these unbound atoms. He was right about the atoms, wrong that nothing’s holding them together. Just because something doesn’t make sense doesn’t mean it can’t be true (That said, insane theories shouldn’t be believed just because “they could be true,” there needs to be some evidence and a plausible explanation). Sorry if i butchered any of my explanations, again, I’m not a brain surgeon. But that’s an approximate explanation for the scientific theory of ghosts.
chrispy (San Francisco, CA)
@Michael Electromagnetism is a fundamental force. It isn't going to just "keep going" without energy inputs. Once the brain cells are dead, the EM stops. It isn't going to somehow float through your skull and wander around the room like a helium balloon.
@RVC Science is now postulating the existence of parallel universes occupying the same space. Time and space are being redefined. Universities are studying paranormal activity and reincarnation. Check out the University of Virginia's Division of Perceptual Studies. They have videos on Utube. The government acknowledges UFO's which are operating outside our known laws of physics. There are things happening we don't understand. Now that we are moving beyond superstition and religious definitions like angels, ghosts and demons, we can at least begin to ask intelligent questions and set up serious investigations.
Angela Linneman (Lower East Side)
These are simply things that happen. How people characterize unexplained phenomena can be colored by spirituality, as when a person who believes in evil considers an unexplained set of occurrences to be "a demon," or purposeful-seeming activities by unseen forces to be "souls." Or relatedly, when those who consider unexplained aerial phenomena to be the work of extra-terrestrial life forms (or gods). But we genuinely don't know what these things are, so to suggest that people are not really experiencing them because you assign these things a supernatural explanation is like suggesting that UAPs don't exist at all because they are assumed by some to be extra-terrestrials. UAP sightings and "ghostly" phenomena are widely documented. They are likely experienced by more people than these surveys suggest. If we set aside supernatural explanations, I believe that we can and must accept them as true mysteries. I've stumbled on totally different-looking apparitions in different countries three times since early childhood and been in apartments with what seemed to be invisible "humans." But I believe ghosts to be an as-yet-misunderstood, totally natural phenomenon. Not "just a wind," but rather a measurable event with a novel scientific explanation that is not being sought. UAPs, which would seem a clear potential security threat, have been ignored because of a stigma around "belief in aliens." We fear a stigma that's created by fear, so we're stuck in the dark. Now THAT is spooky.
Tony (Delhi)
@Angela Linneman spirits and ghosts are literally unknown beings or things. The net is wide.
Private Citizen AU (Sydney, Australia)
I was dubious when my bf told me he saw an apparition in my mums 100yr old house. I mentioned in passing and my mum said that she an apparition of an old lady and her cat who would look out the window. Visiting children have noticed the cat and others have noticed the woman. But i have never seen it. The house was relocated from over 800km away. Mum feels the woman is content watching my mums garden grow. While I am a skeptic I have never doubted my mum or my grandmothers sensitivity. They are not card carrying mystics but there have been occasions that my scientific brain just has to put in the unexplained section.
cse (LA)
i am an extremely skeptical person. and after living in a "haunted" apartment for a year, 100% believe in the supernatural.
Ellen (Oregon)
I’ve heard that in order to dispel ghosts and the like you get a can of puréed pumpkin (not tricked up with pie spices) and make a double circle of it where you last saw the spirit and then sing “Teddy Bears’ Picnic.” Sends those ghosts packing.
View from here (New Zealand)
@Ellen Oh of course, good point - halloween cometh. Not a big deal here, and I had forgotten.
Elle Tea (NYC)
I’ve heard the same except you have to sing the entire soundtracks from A Sound of Music and Hello Dolly.
Di (California)
@Ellen My singing would send any entity, living or ghostly, packing!
Warren Bobrow (NJ)
We just bought an 1805 home and I’m excited about all the former inhabitants. They liked us from the first showing. There were no other bids. We heard others felt uncomfortable there. I felt welcomed. Happy to share
Publius (USA)
@Warren Bobrow or perhaps you were “selected” :O
Roger Shih (Richmond, VA)
There's probably a significant and positive correlation between the growing belief in the paranormal and our nation's declining academic standards.
Borntalkingback (ROTW)
@Roger Shih I think you are confusing 'non-rational' with 'irrational'.
Carlyle T. (NYC)
@Roger Shih What would you then say about my Physician in major hospital in NYC ,the head of his departmet that is a Hindu and belives in fantastic principles like the soul reincarnated Would you not trust him in during open heart surgery?
KM (GreatLakes)
@Roger Shih Let us return to funding State University and Colleges and crack down on predatory loans for questionable institutions. Just taking my chance to tangentially push my agenda for the future of America; an educated populace. That said, I have seen some weird and frightening things paranormal and, unfortunately, real. What man can do to one another is heart rending. One hopes with higher critical thinking skills and the ability to understand others who are different from them maybe some people won't be so darned cruel as they become enlightened.
It's physics, not metaphysics. Or, maybe, glitches in the program. Same same, in any event.
Mtnman1963 (MD)
So belief in ghosts is an irrational thing driven by external forces. Ghosts are supernatural. So is God. Can we have a dissection of the irrationality of religion too, please?
Antney (NYC)
Sorry folks, but me thinks that there's more of gravy than grave about these "ghosts". No gods, no masters; no ghouls or ghosts either. But Halloween sure is fun.
Carlyle T. (NYC)
@Antney Geez, You mean you don't believe in the ghost of Christmases past?
Be Of Service (Red state)
Now wait! A decline in religious beliefs causes more people to believe in ghosts? But isn't Christianity all about the Holy Ghost? Seems like just trading one ghost for another.
KM (GreatLakes)
@Be Of Service My Uber-religious relative who raised me believed in ghosts. She claims the Bible called them 'lost souls'.
expat (Japan)
Belief in an invisible omniscient force that created life, dwells in the heavens, and guides human destiny? Check. Ghosts? Not so much...
hawk (New England)
Call the Ghost Busters
LA Native (Pasadena, CA.)
"Attributed to the decline in religious beliefs." Religion-- where people rise from the dead, change water into wine, and mysteriously bleed from the palms of their hands. Seems like religion is pretty much all about paranormal activity.
DZ (Wyiot Ancestral Territory)
Supernatural is a one word oxymoron.
I agree. Only, why is it so hard for us to accept that we don’t know everything there is to know about nature?
Michael (Barcelona)
Nature isn’t super?
chrispy (San Francisco, CA)
@QQ Scientists base their lives on finding out more, which means they understand we don't know everything. We do know a lot, though.
Jer (New York)
You mean like how the pentagon has acknowledged the existence of UFOs? As has the director of national intelligence?
Ellen (Oregon)
This same thing happened at the end of the 19th century. Bunk then, bunk now.
AK (Tulsa)
@Ellen You will likely change your opinion once you are dead...or shall I say "dead."
Elaine Taylor (New York)
We are ALL eternal souls inhabiting temporal (temporary) physical bodies. Bodies die. Souls never die. Also, this salacious, unserious story -- unserious in reporting style, not unserious in topic -- comes right before Halloween. Come 'on, NYTimes, serious news-reading adults expect more of your journalism. Ghosts are merely souls who've completed a life-cycle but forgot to return to the spirit world where everyone they love is waiting for them. Just politely ask the souls to go back to the spirit world and be patient with them.
Laughing Party (Anywhere Else But Here)
Paul (Toronto)
@Elaine Taylor You may have faith but you don't have proof.
andy (portland, or)
These people might want to check for carbon monoxide leaks. And so might whoever okayed running this article in its current form.
DBR (Los Angeles)
Really, another case of climate crisis denial.
ultimateliberal (New Orleans)
Paranormal---spiritual---haunting--- Must be God calling humans to their senses........awwww....
I really didn't seriously believe in ghosts. My mind was changed when I became a real estate agent (several years ago before the ghost hunting shows on cable). There were many times when I definitely felt a something in a some of the homes I showed.
Carlyle T. (NYC)
@HLH You were born sensitive to them,the ghost disbelivers have no sensitivity to phenomina and mock people that feel that "feeling something".that's ok it's human to do so.
Johnson (NY)
I lived in an old house in which noses and voices emanated from inside of the walls. It never freaked me out, but I decided since ghosts don't exist, I needed to figure out why. It ended up that the house had so much old and abandoned wiring in the walls (abandoned copper, knob and tube, etc.), it was actually picking up random signals (maybe abandoned radio wires?). Also, old houses have old windows that have melted and create weird reflections, shapes, light dancing, etc. If anything, old houses are haunted by generations of ever-changing building codes and random contractors.
Socrates (Downtown Verona, NJ)
Superb insight, Johnson.
Jessamine (SC)
A lot of people have ghost stories. If you tell them yours, they'll tell you theirs. My friend Grant was 8 when his father died late at night, in the hospital, after heart surgery. Grant has a vivid memory of his father coming into his room, sitting on the end of his bed, saying, "I have to go away, Buddy. You're not going to see me again. Be good for your mom." When his mom came into his room early the next morning, John said, "I already know about dad."
I’m You (Everyone)
Same thing happened to me as a child when my grandma died.
seattleguy (Seattle, WA)
@Jessamine who is John?
Borntalkingback (ROTW)
@Jessamine Wow.
Stevie Lee (West Valley City, Utah)
Around a hundred billion people have lived and died. Does that mean there are a hundred billion ghosts? And if there are a hundred billion ghosts, is there a way we can harness that energy to generate emission-free, renewable power? Let's not pretend we wouldn't be doing them a favor. I can barely stand to live with 8 billion people, I couldn't imagine spending an eternity with a hundred billion.
Carlyle T. (NYC)
@Stevie Lee Perhaps ghosts when they appear only involve people in their immediate vicinity that they know are responsive to them ,these people are very few, and of course in your statement you are being logical. In my case, I have many theories about death ,the afterlife or not. I will only know when die in a few years I am over age 80 ,what's what I guess that to is logical .
@Stevie Lee Green ghost energy. I like it.
Linda (OK)
I would like to mention something I found out today. I can't explain windows breaking or pictures falling, but a week or so ago I started seeing cats walking or sitting around my bedroom. I'm seeing a doctor Friday because it turns out hallucinations can be caused by an undetected urinary tract infection. If you suddenly start seeing ghosts, consider seeing a doctor. It could be an infection causing the sightings.
@Linda Sounds like Charles Bonnet Syndrome, a benign syndrome where people see animals and formed figures caused by an eye problem. Recommend seeing your ophthalmologist.
Elle Tea (NYC)
The way you would know that those cats are really ghost cats would be if they started knocking things off onto the floor. If they’re not doing that, yeah, they’re in your imagination.
Juniper (New York, NY)
@Linda My mother had a UTI which caused her to hallucinate. In the hospital she kept telling me how cute the kittens on the ceiling were. Cats and UTIs, hmm.
Patrick (NYC)
My apartment has a very low keyed ghost that manifests itself not very often, mostly as the smell of fresh cigarette smoke without any obvious source as if someone is smoking in the same room, but other things as well on occasion. I think “belief” is the wrong word to describe something that happens as incidentally as a car driving down the street past the building. Do people actually say they believe a car just drove by? Of course not. In my case it took me many years to finally figure out there was a ghost or whatever. It is not a big deal or even spooky. But someone did commit suicide about 40 years ago, but I seem to remember that it was in the apartment next door. Who knows.
Lupus Yonderboy (The Sprawl)
Reminds me sadly of the waypoint and endless processing loop for souls that put fate into their own hands in the movie Beetlejuice. I haven't found that processing facility for souls on Zillow yet. Maybe in a metaverse construct someday. It was built a lifetime ago in villa starlight on a second life server instance.
Lupus Yonderboy (The Sprawl)
On the edge of black holes, both ingested and leaked information is coded. There are alot of black holes. Mathmatically the big bang could be the point in which a black hole was created and the transfer of time delinated events since then are the aftermath of a white hole, the expression of information from the point of view within a black hole when it happens. It is entirely reasonable that with computational inclusion of worm holes that we are surrounded by what is described as interdimensional projections given the sheer number of interlacing with what we describe as multiverses using structured asyncronous rhythm to organize the rules of local reality, our so-called universe, thus eliminating quantom chaos commundrums. In other words, ghosts certainly can be personal experiential artifacts of information around us. But debating if they are real isn't at all relevant which kind of funny. Ghosts happen.
milagro (chicago)
I once bought a hand carved bed frame that knocked. One night, I knocked back. It knocked back at me. I called my dad who told me it was a poltergeist. I bought the bed frame in an antique store. Anyway, I asked maintenance to remove it from my condo and lo and behold, on the back of the frame were words announcing the death of some woman in a bed with that very frame. I don’t know if she wrote it or the people who owned it after her. I gave it away to a friend who didn’t believe in ghosts. She wanted to give it to a relative as a wedding gift and she did. It was so beautiful. But can you imagine making babies with that bed frame?
KM (GreatLakes)
@milagro This is a great story! Life is wonderfully odd. Thanks!
Carlyle T. (NYC)
@milagro It would produce wooden soldiers.
What you focus on expands. If you spend lots of time focusing on the possibility of your house being haunted, that possibly will continue to expand in your mind.
Lupus Yonderboy (The Sprawl)
And your mind is a personal construct based on the shared parameters of human experience. Some say that by adapting your mental model around the concept of a ghost is tuning into the real nature of things. Other would say it is a consentual hallucination of the greater gestalts ( memes! ) of the cultural context for which an individual finds themself, imagination or non-optimal western mental health. Going with the former makes life far more interesting.
HereandThere (US)
I've been hearing noises in the attic, but rat traps defined their source as natural.
AK (Tulsa)
@HereandThere I hope they were humane traps.
Mark (Atlanta)
Seriously? The comments are all about how people have really seen ghosts? If I saw something weird happen, that would not be the explanation I would reach for. I’d just chalk it up to something weird happening for which there must be an explanation. A bird appearing? Spots on a photo? A picture falling off a wall? None of this proves that there are ghosts. Conveniently, they never say anything, or tell you their names, or show up in photos. Which would be what I would do. I can’t imagine anything worse than spending eternity being able to see and hear my loved ones, but not being able to communicate with them except through subtle things like making a butterfly appear. That sounds like utter torture! An eternity just making little “signs” which can be chalked up to the wind! I hope, for the sake of my loved ones, that they are at peace and not aware of what’s going on here, unable to show it or help.
I think where you err is your definition of a “ghost”. If you substitute the word with “paranormal” phenomena would you feel more inclined to accept their existence?
GC (West Coast)
And yet no real evidence of the existence of ghosts? or Sasquatch? or Aliens?...despite cameras and video available to everyone now days. Humans can convince themselves of anything is the only thing we keep proving...over and over again.
Alex (USA)
@GC no evidence of aliens aside from spherical craft with no means of lift or propulsion that navy pilots have seen with their own eyes while tracking on radar and picking up on infrared cameras that hover and fly at tens of thousands of miles an hour. And that nasa and the pentagon are investigating. And that the pentagon released videos of in 2017 and this paper reported on. But ya know, aside from that..
B (Vermont)
@GC I have the 1890 Canadian coin that suddenly appeared in the middle of my living room floor with no rational explanation. There’s no way to capture the smell of bacon and coffee the whole family has smelled, though, on different occasions, even though we’re vegetarians. Very weird things happen - as many of us attest.
S (J)
I live with a ghost; only thing is that this ghost is a walking, talking, and at times an infuriating human who happens to be my husband :(
cate (vermont)
@S at least he is around!!!!
Beth (Waxhaw, NC)
@S And my "ghost" husband snores!!!
MonicaM (Chicago)
So let's see.... people accept the laws of physics that can put people to the moon, send probes to Mars, and make their smartphones, but don't like that same science about the states of matter that point out a "ghost" couldn't move through walls while also having the ability to move photo frames and shoes. It's surprisingly similar to how people accept the science that cures a kid's ear infection or puts cancer in remission, but not the same science behind vaccines that will keep you from getting a deadly virus. I was recently taken on a Denver 'haunted house walking tour' and noticed how all the stories of supposed ghosts were conveniently in interesting old houses from the 1800 or early 1900s. Nothing past ~1920. Odd how hauntings are only in *old* houses that tend to be noisy and drafty and weird but none from modern tract homes, suburban subdivisions, or new condos. And only historic hotels or legendary saloons and never new shopping malls or modern restaurants or hip craft distilleries. What's up with that? Do ghosts only like old wood and plaster and have a distaste for steel and drywall architecture?? Also, how is it they have the ability to unfold laundry and move pictures but can't move a pen to write you a note expressing what they want. Are all ghosts illiterate??? Blame it on the media, or decline in religion, or COVID, but it's really just a decline in critical thinking skills.
Doc (Georgia)
Sadly that lack of critical thinking skills has existed as long as humanity and will persist, to our soon to be end in climate disaster. Cause and effect.
@MonicaM Aziz Ansari has a great joke about this in his stand-up, where he talks about living in a 10-year-old building, which means there should be no ghosts... or if there are, that they will wake him one night to demand the Wi-fi password.
Jeffrey (Maine)
@MonicaM YES, I want a ghost with some taste! Maybe a ghost that likes a modern bar with comfortable seats and a view of the ocean...or a ghost that likes the 31st story of a 2009 sky scraper....heck, I'll even take a 1980's shopping mall as you suggest! And I gotta grandfather LOVED to talk, he LIVED to talk...and now...all these years since he's been gone, not one word to me? Or any of us? What's up with that? But on a serious note, I will not be sharing this story with my brother. The slightest electricity bump, door slam, whatever...and he gets a smile on his face. He's convinced it's a relative. I want to say, "Grandpa would not waste his time FLICKING THE LIGHTS...if he could talk, he'd be doing a 30 minute monologue. You know it, I know it." I do miss him...I think he would have appreciated all this! Maybe that's the real value of this story, it's helping us remember dear, dear family we sincerely miss. And that's not a bad thing.
Lisa (NYC)
"Many Americans believe that their home is inhabited by ghosts, a conviction that researchers attribute to the rise of paranormal-related media, a decline in religious beliefs and the pandemic." Oh, the sheer irony of the above sub-headline. I guess the implication is that the only reason why people would believe in 'ghosts' is because they are being 'influenced' by online media, and/or because of pandemic-related stresses, or else it's because they are not religious (which, across wide swathes of the USA, makes you a Bad person). So in other words, if only more people participated in formalized religion, they'd stop with their silly beliefs.... about ghosts?
Miguel Mejia (Los Angeles)
@Lisa YES LISA,,,,,,,yes, that's the truth, repent woman.
Seamus (CA)
Given most Americans' education, they know more about the supernatural than science. And trust it more.
I know. Look at how many of them believe we have a fully functioning man in the Presidency. Talking about magical thinking.
Aaron (Baltimore)
Maybe Gen Zers are more likely to believe in ghosts because ghosts are more likely to be offended by Gen Zers attitudes and lifestyles and, therefore, make themselves known?
Lord Melonhead (Martin, TN)
>>Many Americans believe that their home is inhabited by ghosts, a conviction that researchers attribute to the rise of paranormal-related media, a decline in religious beliefs<< WHOA! Stop right there. Religious beliefs are - BY DEFINITION - already beliefs in the supernatural. That part of the theory makes no sense whatsoever.
Bill White (Ithaca)
Frankly, I suspect the cause is a decline critical thinking ability. Maybe also an increase in mental health issues?
Upstate New Yorker (New York)
The cat has that guilty look - like it recently scattered some laundry.
View from here (New Zealand)
@Upstate New Yorker But given that it already scared the dog right through a closed window - I think it must be possessed.
denise falcone (nyc)
There have been many ghosts in my life but one I’ll never forget was in Hampton Court… while waiting to enter the royal tennis courts I was pushed so violently that the wind was knocked out of me. Later I found out that there was indeed a ghost there who went around pushing people.
Sunshine (California)
There are no unnatural or supernatural phenomenon, only very large gaps in our knowledge of what is natural... we should strive to fill those gaps of ignorance. ~ Edgar Mitchell, Spaceman
Steve Beck (Middlebury, VT)
Burn some white sage if you want to remove them. Just walk around with it and talk nicely to them and ask that they leave. It worked in our 12-bedroom lodge built circa 1850.
Burning Tarot (Central Oregon)
@Steve Beck Indigenous Americans/ Native people have asked that white folks stop using white sage this way, and that everyone be careful about how they acquire sage. has more info. Many witches around these parts are using other herbs, especially learning about cleansing techniques and plants from their own heritage. People of Irish and British descent, for example, have gone back to using mugwort. Lavender and rosemary are said to have similar qualities.
HOUDINI (New York City)
The most interesting thing about this article is that it made the paper at all. I have a lot of experience with stuff like this and while I've been roundly criticized for what I claim to have experienced; does it matter to anyone else? Here's what I get from having an open mind (but not so open my brains fall out--two quote Mark Twain): a discerning critical sense of what "might" be real. The actual work done by the "parapsychologist" (do NOT think Mulder and Scully) is laborious to define phenomena, and then possibly analyze it without ego or passion. Carl Jung's writing from 1928 "On Synchronicity" which was finally published in 1952, tells me he did not want to be laughed out of the room for being an eccentric. There is probably more we do not understand about the world than we do. Me, I hear voices and then pennies start showing up— I know, I know, grandstanding, right? Wrong. I'm so sure this occurs and that i am not "crazy" that I submitted the phenomena to a pro team who studied this for over ten years (among other things). The book written about all this is titled, "The Trickster and the Paranormal." By George P. Hansen. “There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” HAMLET, Act 1. sc. 5.
Brucer In Brighton (Brighton. MI)
There is a vast difference between projection and perception, as I feel you must be aware. Projection involves some measure of wishful thinking, while perception, as in these cases, describes events the mind struggles to process, much less dares to describe to skeptics. Paranormal being the operative term and believe me, you know it when you see it.
HOUDINI (New York City)
@Brucer In Brighton It is language I think like birds in a flock flying. How does the last know the direction the front takes in a split second. It is all thought as one expressed. Elephants running to higher ground before the 2005 tsunami. Birds entered the biosphere 30M years ago, humans 10M. Evolution adheres to mixed development. Archetypes are not fluffy poetic creation IMO. They are real. We who hear them are cursed and blessed.
Brucer In Brighton (Brighton. MI)
@HOUDINI MI Interesting that I ended my original post with the same thought as you have here. On top of the experiences I alluded to there, I've also come back from two vivid near-death experiences. The second time I strongly refused to go. Best to you, my friend.
Socrates (Downtown Verona, NJ)
Humans are famous for believing almost anything, no matter how far-fetched, illogical, implausible or ridiculous. Organized religion is based on elegant fairy tales and have lots of 'believers'....even though organized religion was clearly invented by man. Many people 'believed' that the sun rotated around the earth....until we informed them their beliefs were nonsense. Some people still believe the earth is flat or that it's only a few thousand years old in spite of a mountain of evidence to the contrary. Some people believe that the loser won the election in spite of all the evidence refuting that fantasy. Human nature is weird.
RQ (California)
Socrates: There it is! I had to scroll really far today to play my “find the invocation of Trump” in the comments section for this article. NYT commenters can be just so… predictable.
Medicare For All Would (Save 68,000 American Lives Annually)
My friend bought a house 60 miles from where he had it moved next to his father's place. Big, expensive deal; lots of trouble. He and his family got settled in. Everything was fine until he removed a large plywood sheet from over the attic's opening; then the paranormal hit the fan. They couldn't take it, moved out, and sold it at a discount. He moved into a trailer house about a block away. He was once walking to his father's house and passed his old house, where he saw the owner in the yard. He asked him how he liked the house. The new owner said that his teen-aged daughters were having nightmares and all sorts of problems with weird sightings until he put a piece of plywood over the attic opening.
Doc (Georgia)
Huh, that proves ghosts are real I guess.
@Doc - No, it proves wildlife can get in through holes in the attic.
Medicare For All Would (Save 68,000 American Lives Annually)
@Doc I don't know about ghosts, but the existence of disrespect, impertinence and worse are very real. Q.E.D.
Joseph (Northborough)
Belief that phantoms are breaking your dishes? Absolutely reasonable. Climate change? Oh, not until we have "more data"
Ben (Long Island)
I have a ghost in my house, it usually ignores me and doesn’t bother me, unless- I shut the Wi-Fi off, then it goes full throttle poltergeist on me.
Doc (Georgia)
Are you sure thats not your 14 year old...?
KM (GreatLakes)
@Ben Have you seen those old internet vids about the people who had a scary random girl living in a crawlspace/attic/cupboard?
Bill (Midwest)
I'm not a practicing religious anything. This article cites..."decline in religious beliefs" as one reason for promoting Halloween ghost 'n' goblins. How can the holy ghost be bunk... while the others continue to go bump in the night?
Alex (USA)
Call them whatever you want because we don’t know what they are. But there are interdimensional beings right here on earth that can interact with us. See: Skinwalker Ranch. They are somehow related, though we don’t yet know how, to the aliens that are flying around in our skies and buzzing our Navy fighter pilots while going as much as 70,000 mph, which is confirmed by radar, infrared cameras and pilots visual sightings all at the same time. This unfortunately is real. See: Nimitz tic tac encounter.
CatPerson (Columbus, OH)
@Alex If we don't know what they are, how can we be sure they're "interdimensional" or related to the aliens?
expat (Japan)
@Alex The "experts" who appeard on that program were a bunch of imposters.
Alex (USA)
@CatPerson they can fly at tens of thousands of miles an hour with no visible means of propulsion, no exhaust, no air intake. They aren’t shaped aerodynamically - cubes inside of translucent spheres, triangles, and cigars. They are sometimes invisible to the naked eye while being picked up on radar and infrared heat signatures. Those who research this and have access to the government’s classified reports almost universally believe they’re interdimensional and not just from another planet. When these ufo sightings happen they often coincide with the witness experience high strangeness. That can be bizarre occurrences in their home for weeks or months afterward, and the nature of the strangeness suggests there are invisible beings. They’re on earth but we don’t see them necessarily when they interact with us. Hence interdimensional. When I say alien I mean a non-human intelligence that is here on earth with us, but we have no idea if they came from another planet or evolved here or something else entirely. We just know they are here. The government ufo report confirmed as much, and countless government officials at the highest levels have too. NASA is now studying them. The next UAP report is due out on Halloween, I suggest you tune in. Ghosts of deceased humans may or may not be related. It’s all part of what we consider paranormal but is in fact as real as the hand in front of your face.
Jim McGrath (West Pittston PA)
For centuries people have believed in ghosts and the paranormal. If your Roman Catholic you visit shrines built to honor apparitions with pilgrimages and documented miracles. Most religions have holy places with rocks, tombs, trees or whatever with possible otherworldly attributes. Are ghosts real? No one truly knows. People are sometimes labeled as odd who claim to see or experience ghosts. Or their vision is attributed to media, the pandemic or medications. But frankly why not ghosts? Now if they just did chores and maintenance…
Ski bum (Colorado)
Christianity has long supported a life hereafter. Many religions do as well. Now is a ghost existence the life hereafter? Or are they lost souls wandering the earth until they’ve found their way?
David Williams (San Diego county)
So much scientific ignorance in this country. (Though I guess it's world wide.)
Margaret H. (Carmel, CA)
Well, #1. Jesus rose from the dead. I'm confused, lol. #2. I lived with 2 ghosts in an old house in Santa Monica, CA. (It's now torn down) but an elderly lady woke me up to say hello while my dog was growling at a corner in the same room (at nothing?). No big deal. I simply told her to go away and she did. Btw, her presence looked like an electrical current. I know, we can't see electricity. #3. I was awakened by feeling "spooned". Now that freaked me out. Thereafter, I insisted my 120 pound Rottweiler sleep with me. A deterrent that worked. Only in that house has it ever occurred, no where else.
SSEden (Ky)
Oh my. A spooning would send me spinning!
WhiteBearLake (US)
I think there are some places that are haunted, just like there are some UFO occurrences. However, these are rare and not everyday. Most people's sightings are not true hauntings. However, with phone camera's so prevalent, and the number of people who claim they are haunted (or see UFOs), one would expect to see more visuals posted by people.
I posted here about my own kind of flying saucer, which was a coaster that flew off the table on its own accord. Of course I didn’t capture it. I had no idea it would happen and it only lasted a second. However, two people witnessed it, I and a friend of mine. Stunned us both.
Erica Manfred (Deerfield Beach, Florida)
As the co-author of Demon of Brownsville Road with Bob Cranmer, about a demonic haunting in a Pittsburgh house, I would like to finally see a ghost. I just write the ghost stories.
Ehillesum (Michigan)
CS Lewis (or Chesterton) said when people cease to believe in God, they don’t believe in nothing; they believe in anything. That truth explains a great deal about the increasingly secular and therefore more gullible Americans. And it is no surprising that progressives are more impacted by this—conservatives are by their very name more traditional and holding on to traditional religious and moral values. Watch Libs of Tik Tok, then go to a college town evangelical Church and compare what you see. The former believes pretty much anything that emotionally moves them.
Anne (Portland)
@Ehillesum: Some people in the comments that gullible religious people believe in ghosts. Others believe that non-religious people are not likely to believe in ghosts. I bet there are religious people, spiritual people. agnostics, and atheists who do and who do not believe in ghosts. There is not clear direct correlation. Likely because a wide swath of people have experience ghost-like experiences.
Bill Camarda (Ramsey, NJ)
@Ehillesum My own hypothesis is that it is the utter collapse of authentic religious faith amongst conservatives that leads them to believe in stolen elections, racial replacement theories, microchips in vaccines, and so forth. It is the collapse of *conservative* religious faith that explains why -- instead of following the biblical injunction to have no fear -- they fear everything, and follow the very worst and most vicious human beings who promise them temporal power. As Ross Douthat likes to say, if you don't like the Christian right, just wait 'til you see the post-Christian right.
Themis (State College, PA)
Why can’t ghosts fold laundry for a change?
Huh 👻 (Upstate)
Exactly. Contribute to the household you’re haunting, ghostlies.
Ghost Dansing (New York)
More articles like these would be fun. I'm tired of talking about Republicans.
C. Whiting (OR)
@Ghost Dansing Yeah, that's far scarier.
reader (Washington, DC)
@Ghost Dansing But maybe we're still talking about that. Shane Booth claims he's being pestered by homophobic Baptist ghosts.
Maureen (The Desert)
@ghost dansing Let's "ghost" them!
Steven Hether (Mesa Arizona)
How is this any different then religous belief.
Bailey (Washington State)
Oh, and the internet.
theresa (ny)
Jim (CT.)
I had a dream last night that I was trying to eat a huge marshmellow. When I woke up in the morning my pillow was gone! Ghosts?
Brio (Northeast)
@Jim That joke is at least as old as the 70s. Nothing new?
J. (Boston, Mass.)
@Jim Well, I've never hear this one and I think it's hilarious.
View from here (New Zealand)
@Brio I don't care, it was a really good laugh. Thanks Jim.
Chip (Wheelwell, Indiana)
"Many Americans believe that their home is inhabited by ghosts, a conviction that researchers attribute to the rise of paranormal-related media, a decline in religious beliefs and the pandemic." Religion is belief in the supernatural. Blaming belief in ghosts on lack of belief in ghosts is ridiculous. We are an uneducated lot, stupid as we wanna be, and that is the entire explanation needed.
ultimateliberal (New Orleans)
@Chip Thank you for the best comment of the day! [[[We are an uneducated lot, stupid as we wanna be, and that is the entire explanation needed.]]]
WhiteBearLake (US)
Oh, rats. My homeowner's association does not allow ghosts.
DJS (New York)
@WhiteBearLake My condo association allows guide ghosts but does not allow emotional support ghosts. I've tried explaining that to my emotional support ghost labradoodle , but he's in love the emotional support Pomsky ghost who lives next door, and isn't about to move because board rules.
Deering24 (New Jersey)
@WhiteBearLake, yeesh. I’d rather go up against ghosts than a HOA any day.
Non (US)
So why would a dead person want to hang around living persons, especially strangers. Pretty boring, after you’ve gone and died. Funny that people who mock religious people for believing in angels or heaven stuff are okay with believing in ghosts. Just like it’s cool to believe in Hindi or Buddhist reincarnation and karma but dumb to believe in Islam or Judaism or Christianity spiritual beings or stories.
Bill (New York)
Really? What is happening to this country? Between the conspiracy theorists who claim the election was stolen (without one shred of verifiable evidence) and 44% of those surveyed believing in ghosts (without one shred of verifiable evidence) I’m feeling alienated from my fellow Americans. Are we ever going to grow up and stop living in what Carl Sagan referred to as the demon-haunted world? Life must seem so overwhelming to some people that they give themselves over to their wildest imagination. When I was a kid I knew a few people who believed in the Loch Ness Monster and Abominable Snowman, and I just sort of smiled and nodded. Currently, I have an otherwise rational and well educated friend who’s certain (without a shred of evidence) that 7 WTC was a controlled demolition likely perpetrated by a deep cabal within government. And somehow the hundreds of people who would have had to be involved in the coverup have successfully kept it a secret. He’s also thinks the jury is still out on whether the U.S. landed on the moon. Where does it end? What happened to common sense? How did we get to the point in which a publication like the New York Times gives space to delusional people and report as if they’re making sense? We as a people and a nation need to grow up and get real. Fantasies are fun for children but adults should know better. Is the randomness and occasional cruelty of life turning everyone into a science and evidence denier? I’m scared — but not of ghosts.
Ron F (california)
@Bill Pompus of you to suggest "without a shred of evidence" even though you haven't experienced paranormal activity your self. A bit arrogant wouldn't you say to deny others reported experiences ?
ultimateliberal (New Orleans)
@Bill And let us be assured that Demons were created by God....who else can really "create from nothing"?
Laughing Party (Anywhere Else But Here)
“Reported experiences” are just that: anecdotes. Science is testing and replicable data. Experiences are not evidence if they can’t be observed and repeated many times.
Nigel G (New York City)
Here I was thinking that allowing unlicensed gun ownership in some states was the the most troubling issue today,,,or are your ghosts “carrying”? Maybe they can take out the Tooth Fairy?
Ghost Dansing (New York)
Attributed to a decline in religious beliefs? There really is no religion without some sort of belief in the supernatural (yeah even you nature worshippers of all sorts). Failure to believe in ghosts is just denial.
nom de guerre (Kirkwood)
"Researchers attribute increasing belief in the supernatural to the rise of paranormal-related media, a decline in religious affiliation and the pandemic." What "researchers"? And blaming it partly on a decline in religious affiliation?! Well, lets get out the rocks and stone those heathen witches! I'll bet few, if any, science believing atheists think their homes are haunted. This is shoddy reporting a.k.a. clickbait.
Ron F (california)
@nom de guerre The article was worthwhile and important. Narrow minded thinking has no purpose but to deny others experiences.
nom de guerre (Kirkwood)
@Ron F This is the NYT, not the Enquirer. They have minimum standards to meet. When "research" is cited the source must be shown or linked. Believing in proven science isn't narrow-minded. I don't deny other's experiences, only question the cause of them.
KEM (Maine)
Funny thing about this subject is that if you believe your house is haunted then every creak, pop and groan is proof of it. If you don't believe in ghosts, Casper slapping you in the face won't change your mind. For the record, I believe I have lived in haunted places and experienced ghostly phenomena. It was interesting and occasionally startling, but not terrifying.
Howard G (New York)
"Calpurnia here, my wife, stays me at home: She dreamt to-night she saw my statua, Which, like a fountain with an hundred spouts, Did run pure blood: and many lusty Romans Came smiling, and did bathe their hands in it: And these does she apply for warnings, and portents, And evils imminent; and on her knee Hath begg'd that I will stay at home to-day." Julius Caesar Act II; Scene ii "For night's swift dragons cut the clouds full fast, And yonder shines Aurora's harbinger; At whose approach, ghosts, wandering here and there, Troop home to churchyards: damned spirits all, That in crossways and floods have burial, Already to their wormy beds are gone." A Midsummer Night's Dream Act III; scene ii
Fight4FreedomGirl (USA)
@Howard G : bonus points for quoting the Bard of Avon. It is easy to see in his work, which is very much of its time, that this whole ghosts and spirits stuff -- witches -- supernatural powers -- were as believed in back then, the 16th century! -- as today.
Richard (Montana)
Seeing that the Times publishes columns by Douthat and Tish Harrison Warren touting religious nonsense, it's of little surprise that you give anecdotes about ghosts credence. I searched this story for the names of famous paranormal investigators and skeptics who investigate nonsense like this -- Michael Shermer, Ben Radford, Joe Nickell -- and found none. So much for your credibility.
Michelle (Various)
I don’t understand how adults can be so gullible and frankly stupid. There are no ghosts, obviously. Anyone who thinks they have seen one either needs to have their head checked out or needs some serious remedial education.
B (Vermont)
@Michelle or you just haven’t experienced what they have? The arrogant lack of curiosity by skeptics in these comments is the truly scary thing (science believer here - and know that science brings us to really wild places.)
mja (LA, Calif)
Oh, this won't bring out the kooks and nuts.
MJB (10019)
Not one of The NY Times better articles.
Ron F (california)
@MJB One of the better articles.
Gary Johnson (Cazenovia)
Did not read this, Did not have to. Those who believe in this sort of stuff, and apparently they are many, are the low information types that are helping to drive civilization into fatal decline. Shame on the Times for publishing this tripe.
Brio (Northeast)
@Gary Johnson You didn't read it, yet you refer to "low information types". Ha! Maybe it's open minded types.
McRumi (Richmond VA)
Complete and utter nonsense.
Patch Faa (Lucerne)
I'm not sure that my son ever forgave me for telling him that WWF wrestling was all fake. He was 13 at the time. He really, really, REALLY wanted it all to be real, that men could really throw other men around, jump on their stomachs and whack them with a metal chair. Nor am I sure that my mother ever forgave me for telling her that I didn't believe in ghosts, goblins, spooks or that my dead nephew came back every Thanksgiving and knocked on the door. That blasphemy eroded into a discussion on the "soul", didn't I believe in Heaven? Hell? Souls??? No, Mom, sorry. What you call "soul", I call attitude, some are good, some are rotten, but none of that has anything to do with a pre-life or a post life. The Gen Zer's are young. They are looking for a thrill. If they weren't the largest group of atheists and Nones then they would be seeing signs and omens everywhere, giving Herschel Walker a standing ovation and joining up with the Proud Boys just to get a thrill. Odd how all of those ghosts never tell anyone to go volunteer at their local food bank....... Oh --- and I have been atheist for over 40 years now. Why is it that atheists never get visited by any of these spooks...?
susurrus (Bendigo)
I've seen and heard things in different homes over the last 27 years, starting when I was 16. Odours, whispered voices and footsteps, an apparition, the sense of being watched - in one house we had a room I couldn't even enter due to the sensations it gave me. Over this period of time I've shared stories with some close friends and strangers (in context) and heard similar things back from them. My belief that this has happened and is unexplainable is not associated with faith/loss of faith, or making sense of the world, or looking for escape. I don't seek it out but nor do I refuse to let it in. I feel what I feel and have seen and heard things. I don't know how to explain the events, but they happened.
Bea Durand (Planet Earth)
My husband passed away in the Spring. We were childhood sweethearts and he was fond of telling people we met that, "we came out of the womb together!" After being together for 62 yrs, death did not separate us. The day he was pronounced dead, a bird whose natural habitat is in another hemisphere appeared in my garden; Bill loved birds. On the day of his cremation, the male of the species paid me a visit. Since then several photographs with strange colored shapes appear in photos close to me only even when others are part of the image. I've stopped counting these "visits" because they happen so often as much as three times a week. I don't care if it's only in my head but I don't want them to stop. I've always said Bill would end up on a cloud dancing in the galaxies. I see a star every night and what's strange is with binocular magnification various designs appear in the sky. I asked for a heart-shaped design and two days later I was overwhelmed with hearts. Bill was an artist and his designs still continue to WOW me!
Roberto (Massachusetts)
@Bea Durand I'm sorry that your sweetheart is no longer so physically present, but it's clear that his spirit is living on for you and comforting you. How wonderful that your love for each other continues to endure, in one way or another. As you say, these manifestations may be in your head, but they are also in your heart. Let's hope forever.
Suzanne (Charleston SC)
it's not"in your head" I am a retired psychotherapist; and a psychic medium who still works with clients. in 1986 my brother Richie, passed from an AIDS related illness, one night a few months after he passed in August, while driving home, crying from my grief about missing him, my car flooded with the intense scent of the cologne Richie wore all the time, Polo, by Ralph Lauren. I knew it was him visiting to comfort me. Our world is full of skeptics, but who cares, there is a great mystery about what happens after we leave our bodies, but one thing most of us know for sure, love, never, ever dies.🙏💕
Astrid (Canada)
@Bea Durand Many of us have never known that kind of love and loyalty - not even for one year, much less for 62 years! Even in 'death,' he continues to show that he cares. I daresay there's a huge void in our life now. Even so, you are a lucky woman.
Livonian (Los Angeles)
I have no doubt that there are spirits. I've seen one on Topanga Canyon Road in Malibu, about a half mile from PCH, in the early morning about this time in the early '90s. There are too many sincere sightings and other experiences throughout history which cannot easily be debunked to completely disregard this phenomenon. Just because science can't measure it - yet - doesn't mean it's not possible.
Richard (Montana)
@Livonian I KNOW there are spirits. I have a cabinet full of vodka, wine, whiskey, gin, ... And the odd thing is I've never seen a ghost, whether I was drunk or sober.
Medicare For All Would (Save 68,000 American Lives Annually)
@Livonian The burden of proof, however, is not on science: A negative cannot be proved. The onus is on the person putting forth the claim. "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof." ~ Carl Sagan (But I still enjoy these stories.)
Why is so hard to believe that spirits walk this earth? Nearly every other culture believes it so. It's not that we're going crazy, it's that we're just listening better. Or that we better shape up or ship out. I also read deeply sobering article about climate today.
Ron F (california)
@JD Takes one....
Coots (Earth)
@JP Because here in what the rest of us like to call "reality" life just doesn't work that way. Life is a random creation in absolute terms. There's no deity(ies) involved. And when you die, there's no mystical afterlife. About the closest we get is reincarnation in that out constituent atoms go on to be incorporated by other things. I never understand why people are so terrified by that. That somehow people say it makes life meaningless. I find it quite the opposite in fact. The fact - and it is a fact - that we only go around once makes life the most special thing these is. The reason so many people treat it with such disdain is because they're been brainwashed as children into believing in the supernatural and have a hard time letting go of that as adults. The world would be a much better place if people understood and accepted that. Plus it's just wrong to brainwash children into cults.
sharon (worcester county, ma)
A decline in religious beliefs? Maybe. But how about spirituality? Some people are just more connected with the world around them (and us) whether we understand that or not. "And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music."
em (Xanadu)
@sharon My dog becomes quite alarmed when I dance and looks at me like I've lost my mind. But then, so did my daughter, she said I dance like Baloo.
Ron F (california)
@sharon Thank you. Well said.
Chazcat (NYC)
My house is 110 years old. We've lived with them for years. Seeing the occasional cat ghost (I also have 2 living black cats that would be, pardon the expression, dead ringers for the one in the photo in the article) and items disappearing never to be found again is the usual type of thing we deal with. The only time it got a little weird was before my husband died (at another location). We had lived with the occasional smell of perfume for years but it got much, much stronger before his death. Then bells, that still hang on the wall, started chiming for no reason. No wind, nothing to have set them off. Shortly after his death I had a conversation with a shaman who suggested lighting candles to help my husband's journey through the afterlife. As I wondered what kind of candles to buy I walked into the hallway and there on the floor out of nowhere was a white candle. I remain convinced that my "housemates" sent it there to comfort me in my grief.
Tournachonadar (Illiana)
Anne Rice put into one of her famous vampire’s mouths the truth that someday humans will discover that there is indeed an undeniable supernatural. But that its eventual confirmation would never enlighten humans in any monetary or spiritual way. She also had the same creature posit that whenever mortals have a brush or even a prolonged contact with the supernatural, they became strangely boring. Especially to the other world.
Eric (Tokyo)
People are searching for meaning in life and an understanding for the cause of events in their lives, as we as humans have since the dawn of creation. Rather than saving the correct action for the last act after everything else fails us, we need to look to our Christian heritage for those answers and constructs on how to lead a good life.
@Eric , not everyone is Christian.
Richard (Montana)
@Eric "Christian heritage"? How on Earth would belief in an imaginary friend help one understand the world? And what makes you think Christianity teaches people how to live a good life? You digress.
Anne (Portland)
@Eric: That may be what you 'need' to do, but there are many paths to the Christ, the Divine, the Is-Ness.
Mike (Brooklyn)
I know ghosts exist. Over the decades, I've lost many beloved family members and friends. Some were lost far, far too soon. I think of them often, and without prompting. Recalling conversations had, experiences shared, probing the depth of relationships from even subtle interactions reveal a substance just as substantial and real as when they were alive. I've learned we carry ghosts with us. They encourage us to connect, build more deep relationships, and pass on the beauty of those we carry. Not doing so will leave us haunted.
Anne (Portland)
@Mike: Beautifully written. I love that last line.
Richard (Montana)
I didn't see a reference for the statement "Researchers attribute increasing belief in the supernatural to the rise of paranormal-related media, a decline in religious affiliation and the pandemic." The United States is the most religious country in the developed world. No wonder so many Americans believe in ghosts. If you believe in The Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost without evidence, you'll believe anything.
Anne (Portland)
@Richard: Ah, the atheist kill-joy. Some of us aren't religious and have nonetheless had 'ghost' experiences.
Riley (California)
@Richard Yes. Did anyone in this article provide proof? Videos are easy to make these days. The world is governed by laws of nature.
Therese (MA)
I’m an atheist, skeptic. Never considered any “paranormal” until I had 2 experiences in NYC after I moved there in the late 90s. Something pressing down on my bed as though they were sitting down or a cat or dog jumped on and settled in. I was alone in the apartment. Once after a neighbor who was an original tenant from 1915 passed away, me and my neighbors experienced knocking on our doors late night when it was quiet. You could def hear if a person was walking around the halls and there was nobody there, people came and went enough for us to know. My cat started staring at the door with her hair on end, which had never happened before or after. I’ve had “crones syndrome” experiences in my life so understand the science behind that and those experiences weren’t that. I’m not a believer but can’t explain any of those experiences and whatever they were doesn’t matter. Those who say people like me are mentally ill or searching for something seem pretty angry for no reason.
Rich (Hartsdale, NY)
Judging from the article and the comments it appears that I’ve been incredibly lucky (or unlucky, I guess that depends on perspective) that none of the homes I’ve lived in have been haunted. Unfortunately the same hasn’t been true as far as being abducted by aliens.
Errand Boy (NYC)
I had ghosts in my house which was built in the 1880s. I never saw anything, but I had friends that visited, who said the saw and felt things in the house. I did feel that one room was different to the rest of the rooms in the way that it felt but again, never saw anything. My girlfriend and I were in the house one night and she said she saw someone in the next room. I went to the room, and no one was there. Many crazy things happened that night which are too painful, for me to go into detail right here. To make a long story short, I was scared about what happened and a few days later, went and found a Catholic exorcist in NYC. The exorcist came to the house. and he performed an exorcism in the house. The next day, the house felt like a completely different place. It felt light, airy and new again. I am not sure what was in the house. I did a lot of research on the former owners going back around 100 years but found nothing that stood out.
Patrick (NYC)
@Errand Boy Ghost hunters, or whatever they are called, caution against ever trying to interact with a spirit or ghost as it might not be a human entity or it may have evil intentions.
Geoffrey Graham (San Diego CA)
As one who has enjoyed a career for fifty-four years in church music, I will comment that I've experienced a few odd things while in historic buildings. I've never gotten past my usual reaction, "what is going on in my alleged mind that this has manifested itself in my experience?" And that, dear friends, is that.
Hope Lindsay (South Burlington, Vermont)
@Geoffrey Graham I think you are on to something here. While others' experiences may be more profound, or have other explanations, your comment reminds me of Dr. Carl Jung's observation. (Not a direct quote.) The human mind, the subconscious, is extremely powerful. It's energy can be made manifest— especially restless, anxious, worried energy—in ways we cannot measure.
Medicare For All Would (Save 68,000 American Lives Annually)
@Hope Lindsay So if we can't measure it in any objective way, we are free to just use our imagination? A scientific theory or claim has to be objectively proven or at least falsifiable. Crazy people have been seeing ghosts, demons, witches, vampires, and werewolves since time immemorial. Yet no hard evidence to show for any of it. Whereas we now have some undeniable evidence regarding Unidentified Aerial Phenomena. They could be man-made, but that would be very strange and difficult to believe, too.
Hope Lindsay (South Burlington, Vermont)
@Medicare For All Would Carl Jung, as you probably know, was a renown psychiatrist who "delved" into the subconscious and the more mysterious aspects of the human mind, including dreams. One of his earliest successes was "solving" episodes of strange phenomena at the home of a well-to-do family. Glasses were breaking, objects moving by themselves, etc. He rightly "diagnosed" that an adolescent girl was being abused by a family member. Her anger and fear were the propellants of the phenomena. When her abuse was revealed, all the phenomena stopped. I do not dispute anyone else's experience. As a wise physicist acquaintance said to me, "It is unscientific to say something does not exist."
Q Frost (Boulder CO)
Having had to live in an apartment that I came to realize was haunted, I guess it depends on your experiences. When you rationally sift out all the possible explanations, you are left to decide how to consider your own responses and beliefs. But I'm hear to tell you, sometimes science lacks an explanation.
MB (New York)
No supporting evidence, strange feelings, things don't seem right. Sounds like this article belongs in Politics.
CPL593H (Brooklyn)
@MB !! A+.
Daisy (Michigan)
@MB Seriously, everybody feels strange sometimes. It means nothing. If you play tricks with your mind often enough, it'll play some back at you.
BSD (America)
@MB Bingo!
Ian (NY)
WIth the housing market these days, I don't mind having ghostly housemates if it knocks down the price of the property by a couple 100k.
linh (ny)
we live in a 'spirited' house. various incidents include: footsteps in the living room unaccompanied by a body; the smells of my late mother's perfumes of which neither are here; the smell of my late father's shaving cream; scent of bananas and none here; sounds of genial gatherings in the added room in the basement; a customer to our inhome business - rock crystals et al - declaring that the house was built over a long-gone longhouse thereby forming the sign of the cross; another seeing (and i feel) a vortex in the hall; a figure there-but-not-there at the property line. it's a 1957/67 ranch which behaves as an antique! and as we are all vibrations, why shouldn't previous ones remain?
Medicare For All Would (Save 68,000 American Lives Annually)
@linh I live alone, yet I often smell the putrid stench of flatulence, especially after dinner. I search the house, but never find anyone. And often my phone rings, I pick it up, and no one's there!
linh (ny)
@Medicare For All Would you need someone to care for you - apparently your duet mirrors a mean spirit. and perhaps the hang-ups are yours.
Medicare For All Would (Save 68,000 American Lives Annually)
@linh Dost thou not appreciate ribald humor when thou seest it? Or wouldst thou prefer rank animosity? I much prefer mirth to wrath.
Allan (Virginia.)
My wife grew up in a haunted house. She doesn't try to convince anyone. She gets irritated when people say that ghosts don't exist. She just says "I know what I experienced". There was no real discernible reason for why weird things happened, but we sometimes wonder if somehow there might be an intersection of parallel dimensions. It's refreshing to know that others are now coming out about their experiences. We have to be open minded enough to know that we can't always explain everything.
Smug Guy (Boston)
@Allan I tend to believe people like your wife more, who have no need to persuade or overly convince; it's the others who barrage you with story flourishes, embellishments and over-justifications that make me roll my eyes ....
Joe (USA)
I have never thought any of these stories proved true in the end. But I can relate that once when staying in Vilnius, Lithuania, I toured the former KGB interrogation cells in the basement of the Justice building and there was a definite aura about that place of all the poor people who had suffered and died at the hands of the KGB. Upon entering, my wife immediately said " I'm not doing this" and left to sit outside in the park while I went through the place. It was eerie and sad.
Samsack (Philadelphia)
@Joe I experienced this same thing at the "Hanoi Hilton". I ended up sobbing in the courtyard.
Livonian (Los Angeles)
@Joe Interesting. In the early '80s my family and I went on a road trip that brought us to Panguitch Lake, Utah (amazing trout fishing). On the edge of the lake was the remants of an abandoned settlers' cabin. We all explored it, but my mother could barely get near it, so overwhelmed with nausea and a sense of something horrible. (We thought she was just being a bit nuts, frankly.) We learned later that the settler had killed his whole family before himself in the late 19th Century, at that very spot. There must be something to do with "residual energy" and the like.
Butterfly (CA)
@Joe I experienced this twice—the Colosseum in Rome and the battlefield at Vicksburg. It was like hitting an invisible wall that made me turn and leave both places.
Jsutton (San Francisco)
I'd guess that a rise in superstitious beliefs is in tandem with the rise in conspiracy theories and a distrust of facts and reality. I was just thinking this morning how stark is the difference between Republicanism and Democratic thinking: Admittedly this is a simplification, but it seems to me that Republicanism represents a willingness to believe in lies, and even to like and prefer lies, similar to their "faith," completely non-factual, in religious absurdities. Democrats, on the other hand, believe in the truth of facts and evidence. Democrats have real policy ideas that can be implemented, instead of faith in and reliance on superstitious lies.
Anne (Portland)
@Jsutton: I am a Democrat. As liberal as they come. I am engaged in science professionally. And I have had paranormal experiences. There is so much we do not know or understand. I embrace the mystery.
BSD (America)
@Anne Yes, but do you beleive the election was stolen?
Patrick (NYC)
@Jsutton Superstition is a completely differently topic that has nothing to do with ghosts. There are actually serious scientific studies into the paranormal. And it is well known that police agencies sometimes use psychics In investigation. Superstition is just one instance of a paranormal phenomenon. I actually picked up a book called Real Magic by Dean Radin that was mentioned by John Cleese in the NYT By The Book column.
Kmkeel (MN (formerly of NE))
This story caught my eye becuase I went to college with Shane. But the subject of the article reminds me of my favorite Halloween related case--Stambovsky v. Ackley, 169 A.D.2d 254, 572 N.Y.S.2d 672 (1991). Purchaser of house didn't know it was supposedly haunted, and as such, the subject of a walking tour in the Village of Nyack that held the house out as haunted. So, the plaintiffs had a lot of foot traffic by their house. Justice Rubin had a little fun writing the opinion.
apple annie (NYC)
I lived in a 150-year old house in London. In the morning when I went downstairs or in the evening when I came home from work, all the typical ghostly things had happened - lights left off were turned on, taps were running water, drawers and cabinets were opened. Exasperated, I finally yelled, "Look, I just want to live here in peace. I promise you I will take good care of this house!" Never happened again.
A (Seattle)
Funny. I have a kid, never imposed religion on him and he does not believe in ghosts. He's also not afraid of the dark, traumatized by horror movies or searching for meaning in coincidences. I think this premise is strange.
David D (Central Mass)
We live in a winterized cottage that my spouse's family built back in the 1930's. Weird things to happen and I'll never be comfortable with it. My only coping mechanism, since I assume it's her ancestors doing the haunting, is to scream at them "Leave me alone or I'll tear this place down!" It seems to chill them for a while.
Charlie Messing (Burlington, VT)
There are houses with atmosphere. There are people sensitive to psychic levels. There are apparently spirits in some places, at some times. For people who have never experienced anything of the sort, anyone who sees or feels things they don't must be crazy. Some doubt Astrology, ghosts - and unfortunately, science. It's good to keep an open mind, but if you feel a draft, by all means close it up.
Ron F (california)
@Charlie Messing Well said
It used to be UFOs, but now that everyone has an HD camera at all times, the storytellers prefer to witness invisible things.
Ron F (california)
@QxQ And if if the invisible is witnessed?
Daisy (Michigan)
@Ron F Unless it's documented with actual evidence like raw unedited high resolution video, "witness" anecdotes, especially of just one or two people are worthless. People see things that aren't there, hear things that don't exist, and just plain make things up (sometimes subconsciously). They can also manipulate or use suggestion to get a second person seeing phantoms that don't exist. Given how the mind works, people can talk themselves into almost anything. Alien abduction was once the popular thing to have happen to you. They were just a social phenomenon with the same details in virtually all cases, like with "ghosts". This strongly suggests that some measure of social contagion and media narrative writing is involved in both. The whole alien abduction thing faded after the loss of social interest in the late 80's and pretty much vanished with the advent of high resolution cell phones and a better understanding of lucid dreams and sleep paralysis. Now it's ghosts and this will die down too when the next socially contagious faux supernatural fad comes along.
Bach (Grand Rapids, MI)
There is the physical… all the matter, energy, forces, potentials graspable in reality. Then there is the metaphysical… from God on one end of the scale to a rabbit’s foot on the other. 1. I concede that the metaphysical exists/the physical doesn’t exist position is nonsensical. Similar to neither existing. 2. Both physical and metaphysical realms exist but are incapable of communication between the two. 3. Only the physical exists. The metaphysical does not. (One cannot differentiate from #2 from #3) 4. Both exist and the metaphysical is capable of intrusion into the physical realm. If #4 is our current situation, then I ask “where is the proof?” Are there elements or molecules not yet explained by physics? Undiscovered perhaps, but not unexplainable.
Doc (Georgia)
To a lot of us there is little to no difference between your "ends of the scale".
Thad (Boca Raton)
I am haunted by real estate agents. The real horror story is passing a deteriorated building off as haunted in order to sell it for over it’s value.
I would say for sure what possibly increased due to the pandemic: loneliness and mental illness(es). If there are ghosts, why are there so few? They should be everywhere.
Patrick (NYC)
@MG According to the literature, ghosts are stuck between this world and the next, unable to fully transition into death, unfinished business maybe. In other words, ghosts are the exception rather than the rule.
Daisy (Michigan)
@Patrick "The literature"? What literature? There is no such thing as ghosts. It's an elaborate social storyline that people with fevered imaginations or untreated grief feed into.
Patrick (NYC)
@Daisy That is true. There is no such thing as ghosts in the sense of a corporal being. But there is also no empirical evidence, some prominent philosophers argue, that the mind exists either. Or even that anything exists outside one’s own consciousness.
Michael Kennedy (Portland, Oregon)
Ghosts? Real? Fiction? Who knows? Not me, and I'm not going to worry about it. I'm in my 70's. At some point - with any luck 20 years from now - I'll be a memory. If there are ghosts, I'm pretty sure that's when I'll know. So, if there are, I'll come back and let you know, ok? (boo)
Suzanne (San Diego)
Lived in a haunted house in my tweens into my early twenties, haunted by a man, who we would see moving through the house into the backyard [my bedroom was a converted porch to said yard]. My best friend saw him and asked who he was. Many people who visited had "experiences". Our ghost did a weird "cloaking" thing, where you would be looking for something and it would be gone and then reappear, in situ, or moved to an entirely new place, like my removable car stereo front [remember those?] put in the refrigerator. Strange. Made me feel nuts many times, but then my own reason told me "you'd never put the car stereo front in the fridge!!" Playful or curious? My oldest daughter feels that our current house is haunted, but I've only experienced one strange thing there, which was nothing like the vibe in our old house, where strange things happened regularly. I've always felt that it was encouraging, that sometimes, things don't end here. "Energy can't be made or destroyed", which is an interesting thought. Where does it go?? So much more than our limited minds can conceive of currently.
Thomas (Los Angeles)
@Suzanne "Where does it go??" It dissipates in the form of heat.
Sam (Seattle)
@Thomas But to where does it dissipate?
Daisy (Michigan)
@Thomas Seriously, it just dissipates. People are WAY too bored. If some creeper is "haunting" your house and doing weird stuff, leave.
Miguel sanchez (Mountain view, ca)
As much as I'd like to find proof for ghost, there is one aspect that my analytical brain struggles to grasp: The lack of evidence for a ghost population explosion. If we count the amount of living things that have died over the years, and we believe that they can persists as ghosts, wouldn't there be an overabundance of spirits all over the place? Wouldn't there be multiple generations of death people in houses, hospitals, old homes, cemeteries, and not just one or two here and there? And don't tell me that spirits reincarnate, because that is another problem. At any one moment in time there are more people alive than there have even been (billions more over the years). Not only would you have to repopulate all the death people, you'd aso have to constantly be generating millions more souls. Anyhoo, this is all confusing to me.
Hoping For Sanity (In An Overpopulated World)
“Researchers attribute increasing belief in the supernatural to … a decline in religious affiliation…” Where is the evidence to support this statement? In my opinion, belief in religion and their holy ghosts (gods) is the ultimate in fear-mongering fantasy ghost stories. I’ve yet to meet a fellow atheist who believes in the fiction of ghosts, but I’ve met plenty of religious people of all stripes who do. Religion and ghosts go hand-in-hand in terms of suspension of disbelief and a willingness to believe in irreality.
Ron F (california)
@Hoping For Sanity Keep hoping. Some peoples experiences are different than yours.
Christopher (KCMO)
so ghosts haunt houses from the 1800's on? why no caveman ghosts? is there some kind of expiration on ghostly "energy"?
Riley (California)
@Christopher Ha, ha! Exactly. Ghosts only in old houses. None in Starbucks or Old Navy?
Lee (California)
@Christopher There's a caveman ghost in the BBC comedy Ghosts and he's the best part of the show!
Small Town (New England)
"Researchers attribute increasing belief in the supernatural to the rise of paranormal-related media, a decline in religious affiliation and the pandemic." I attribute to a decline in education and critical thinking skills.
Daisy (Michigan)
@Small Town And the rather newfound obsession with feeling special without having to do or achieve anything.
Herb (Washington DC)
It's refreshing to see an article that mostly but not entirely described peoples experiences without value judgments.
Blazing Don-Don (Colorado)
Sixty-five percent of Gen Z'ers think their home is haunted? Seriously? How many of them, who are never more than a motion away from their cell phone cameras, have any video or audio evidence of paranormal activity? One percent? One-quarter of a percent? There seems to be a weird disconnect here. More Gen-Z'ers believe their home is haunted than believe that Republicans are a threat to the survival of democracy in the U.S., apparently. Think about that. Doesn't provide a lot of optimism for our future.
Daisy (Michigan)
@Blazing Don-Don I don't think that anywhere near that many truly believe it. It's just something that they think makes them interesting.
cate (vermont)
ok- well- the minute we walked into the house in the woods of pennsylvania- appliances broke- dishwasher/dryeretc- we bought Indian corn- hung on all doorways- e would tell the ghost we were ok with them- just want a country ifew kids- there was a small stream o the property- rumor was that the high point was a burial ground for native Americans- when the chimney fell down in the middle of the night- someone was telling us to find another location! We treated the unseen w respect- - now- when they came to inspect the chimney damage- the workers said they do not know how we survived because the chimney was blocked w stones- so there was carbon monoxide going thru the house- thank you my ghostly friends for your warnings!! I wondered about those headaches
Pam (Maine)
We lived in an 1810 house in Maine. To this day my son says it was haunted, specifically in one room. I have no doubt.
Lavender Moon (Austin, TX)
I’ve lived in a couple of haunted houses, and now my unhaunted house seems pretty boring. The first house was a very old house in Houston, and was haunted by the spirit of a housemaid who’d been murdered there years ago. She’d move furniture around and ring a desk bell that we had by the sofa. Another place I lived in near San Antonio was haunted by a man in a Civil War-era army uniform, accompanied by a tired-looking woman in a long dress. They would just pass through silently. Living with ghosts probably isn’t for everyone, but I have to say I kind of enjoyed the experience.
Dr. J (WH)
@Lavender Moon, I’ve always wondered how ghosts manage to take their clothes with them — are those ghost clothes? And sometimes they carry items — ghost items? And were they buried in those clothes, with those items, or did they pick them up from — where, home? — and change their burial outfit for their day clothes? and then, if they have them, pick up those items from — where, home again? Maybe there’s a ghost shop? I wish someone could explain it to me.
dguet (Houston)
@Lavender Moon Which house in Houston? I live here.
Kitty Wumpus (WI)
@Lavender Moon Boy I find it very curious that you lived in several houses you claim were haunted, when millions of people will never do so. Co-incidence? I don't think so.
Matthew (NJ)
"Researchers attribute increasing belief in the supernatural to the rise of paranormal-related media, a decline in religious affiliation and the pandemic. " LOL. Really? A decline in religious affiliation? As if religious affiliation is a some sort of preventive something or other? Good lord, christians believe in a "holy ghost". So now we're all spotted to do what, exactly? Run to church to avoid believing in ghosts? Who CARES if anyone believes in ghosts? What difference does it make. And, gosh darn it, Mr. Booth is CLEARLY living with a ghost.
dguet (Houston)
@Matthew I think it suggests that people have a default setting to believe in nonsense. When belief in one form of magic declines, it is replaced by another?
Petaltown (petaluma)
His folded laundry was scattered? Oh, he owns an indoor cat. Mystery solved.
Coots (Earth)
@Petaltown And he doesn't have indoor cameras recording any of this because? It's not like the technology doesn't exist to prove his wild claims. Personally I think he should be interred for psychiatric evaluation. Then again, I feel that way about anyone who belongs to a cult, er religion.
Ben (New York)
@Petaltown Why don't ghosts ever do useful things like changing the litter pan?
Cat lover (New Jersey)
@Petaltown I used to attribute all these things to the cats, but they both passed from old age. So now who is doing these things?
S (NJ)
But, soft: behold! lo where it comes again! I'll cross it, though it blast me. - Stay, illusion! If thou hast any sound, or use a voice. Speak to me. For we are neither in New York nor New Jersey and I need not disclose thee.
Linda hoquist (Topsham, Maine)
I like a good Halloween article, thanks NYT.
Geoffrey Graham (San Diego CA)
@Linda hoquist Me too. they are doing very well this year.
Gerard (Dublin)
We were plied by religious to believe in the spawn of Satan's possession, which even required exorcism
Patch Faa (Lucerne)
@Gerard Supreme Court Justice Scalia absolutely believed that Satan was an actual man going around tempting people. According to Scalia, you just couldn't tell that he was Satan, he was that tricky. I guess that's why the Court we have now doesn't surprise me at all. Alito thinks he a Witch-hunter of the Inquisition and his 5 other minions think they are doing God's Work. We'll need to burn a tonne of sage after they are gone...
lulu roche (ct.)
I have experienced this since I was a child. I sensed it driving by houses and inside of them. There were heavy footsteps in the attic at night for about a year after we moved to our present home. Although I am not religious, I believe in the spirits now...the energy of persons past...what can we learn from them?
CalypsoSummer (Virginia)
I think they just want a place to be. A familiar place, if they can; a welcoming place, if there is such a place.
jimmyboy (manhattan)
In the 1990's I lived in a dark basement apt in Albany NY. After a few months I came to believe the place was haunted; bursts of cold (cold) air, doors opening on their own, dragging sounds. My dog hated the place. He would go from sleeping to standing and staring into a corner, slightly growling. I came to address the 'incidents' by saying "Hello Tom, nothing to worry about I'm not here to bother you." After moving out (not due to these issues) I read about a murder that had taken place in the apartment upstairs a few years prior. Who knows what was actually going on, but I am pretty convinced that place had some spirits, harmless but clearly restless.
A.N.H. (Harpswell, Maine)
A decline in religious beliefs is a cause of belief in paranormal activity? Wow. The belief that someone rose from the dead sounds pretty paranormal to me. The world is full of things we don't understand. A lot of good research is now being done on things that happen outside our normal sensory perception. Check out IANDS, the International Association for Near Death Studies.
Erik Jensen (Oregon)
@A.N.H. Yes, the world is full of things we don't understand. So we use science to try to figure things out, including things that happen outside our normal sensory perception. Scientific instruments can be used to see outside our visible spectrum and even look deep into the cosmos. That's science. IANDS publishes credulous articles on near-death experiences; they've been around for 40 years and haven't progressed our understanding of anything at all.
nom de guerre (Kirkwood)
@A.N.H. And yet science tells us near death experiences are caused by failing faculties until a person is resuscitated.
Sunshine (California)
@A.N.H. Harpswell is beautiful. That being said. To rise from the death is to realize you are not just the body but God personified as the body, as humankind, for the purpose of Love.
mbl14 (NJ)
People have believed there were ghosts far, far, far before the pandemic, or ghost shows, or a decline in religious belief. The belief hasn't waned or suddenly gotten more popular, it's just now people have social media to share their experiences so it seems like more people are reporting it.
Richard (Montana)
@mbl14 If memory serves me correctly, at least a decade ago Free Inquiry did a study and fund that there is no correlation between religious belief and belief in other forms supernatural nonsense. I think belief in ghosts is as rampant in the "I'm not religious but I'm spiritual" crowd as well as weak-minded believers.
Chip (Wheelwell, Indiana)
@mbl14 Highly suggestible people easily believe just about anything.
@mbl14 There was a wave of seances and paranormal interest belief during the 1920s after the Spanish Flu pandemic as well. (These beliefs, of course, go back much further.)
Mamie Watts (Denver)
For centuries people claim to see ghosts or feel or experience the paranormal --can they all be wrong? I never believed one way or another, beloved dog had to be put to sleep. Returning home that day, in the evening, out on the front porch, I saw from the left side a grey tube of what looked like smoke move across the floor, it went over my foot, I felt what seemed like the feel of her little paw, and the tube of grey smoke moved away and down into the bushes. I believe my little back Schnauzer came back to see me. True story, now I believe.
Beffus (SC)
@Mamie Watts I agree. Shortly after my first cat, Duncan, died I would feel something light jump on the bed and walk over to the lower left corner, which is where he slept. I stopped feeling that lovely experience when we moved from our house. He was my first true love!
Proud Progressive (Charleston, SC)
@Beffus I am so sorry for your loss, but I am sure he is OK now, and has a lot of company.
Kate (CT)
@Beffus I never owned a cat, but swear an I apartment I had in an old building in Chicago was haunted by a ghost cat. Many nights just after turning off the light, I would feel something land on the bed. I also often saw movement in the hallway close to the floor out of the corner of my eye and a friend who always has cats told me she thought she saw one in my apartment when she visited. We didn't have mice or rats, so it seems like a ghostly kitty lived there!
A.David (New York)
Vivint's haunted house survey leaves out Generation X entirely? If I were a ghost haunting a Generation X home I would be greatly offended by my homeowners' lack of interest in reporting my activities.
Roberta (Greenfield MA)
@A.David Seems we Gen X'ers are too boring for even the ghosts!
@A.David Ah yes, but Gen X is usually left out. I'm honest surprised any time I find an essay or opinion piece in this publication from the Gen X viewpoint, but it does happen on occasion.
Vesper (Seattle)
Here's a crazy thought - perhaps people hold these beliefs because they are true! I've never seen a ghost but have credible, intelligent and sober friends who have had UFO sightings - I believe them as well.
See also