Ghosts, fears turn up in poll

Associated Press/October 26, 2007

Washington -- It was bad enough when the television and lights inexplicably flicked on at night, Misty Conrad said. But when her daughter began talking to an unseen girl named Nicole, and neighbors said children had been killed in the house, it was time to move.

Put Conrad, a homemaker from Hampton, Va., firmly in the camp of the 34% of people who said they believe in ghosts, according to a poll by the Associated Press and Ipsos. That's the same proportion who said they believe in UFOs, unidentified flying objects -- exceeding the 19% who accept the existence of spells or witchcraft.

Conrad, 40, lived in Syracuse, Ind., when her family was scared from their rented house. "It kind of creeped you out," she recalled this week. "I needed to get us out."

About 23% said they actually have seen a ghost or believe they have been in one's presence. Three in 10 have awakened sensing a strange presence in the room.

Fourteen percent said they have seen a UFO.

Fears and superstitions

One in five said they are at least somewhat superstitious.

The most admitted-to superstition, by 17%, was finding a four-leaf clover. Thirteen percent dread walking under a ladder or the groom seeing his bride before their wedding, while a smaller number named black cats, breaking mirrors, opening umbrellas indoors, Friday the 13th or the number 13.

The poll, conducted Oct. 16-18, involved telephone interviews with 1,013 adults and had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

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