Days before Halloween, a new poll has found almost half of British Columbians believe in ghosts.
Of those surveyed, half said they had witnessed “something supernatural” and over a third said they “believe the being was trying to tell them something,” said a spokesperson for BC Hydro in a press release.
Meanwhile, more than a third of respondents have encountered a supernatural being, such as a ghost or spirit.
“That doesn’t surprise me,” said Sabina Magliocco, a professor researching ritual, religion and magic at the University of British Columbia’s Department of Anthropology.
“When you talk about spooky things, belief in ghosts is probably the most common form of supernatural belief... because it’s experienced-based. ”
A belief rooted in loss
Magliocco says modern beliefs in ghosts have deep roots in personal loss.
“It’s very, very common for someone who has lost a loved one. It’s really common they’ll see, hear or smell them, especially between six weeks and six months after they die,” she said.
Magliocco says cognitive psychologists believe humans have a hard time adjusting to the absence of someone who has passed away. In processing that absence, our brain tricks us into smelling their perfume or hearing a car pulling into the driveway.
“A lot of belief is rooted in experience,” she said.
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