Science itself can be spooky enough, yet millions of people believe in ghosts: a 2005 Gallup poll found that over a third of Americans reckon houses can be haunted, while some 32 per cent believed specifically in ghosts. More recently, a 2013 HuffPost/YouGov poll indicated that 45 per cent thought ghosts exist.
According to some, a ghost is the spirit of a dead person that either has not moved on to the ‘afterlife’ or has returned from it. The definition of ‘spirit’ can also vary: some describe it as a person’s soul, while others believe it is an energetic imprint that a person leaves on the world.
Although many people genuinely believe they have experienced a ghostly encounter, scientists argue that there is usually a more prosaic explanation. So what’s really going on?