Guest Post: DO YOU REALLY BELIEVE IN GHOSTS? by Randy Overbeck
Updated: Apr 3
Howdy, As someone who does not believe in ghosts but does enjoy a good ghost story, I found the sheer number of people who, according to today's guest post, actually believe in ghosts surprising. Maybe I shouldn't be surprised at all. Aren't we all a little bit afraid of things that go bump in the dark and intrigued by the glimmering apparition at the periphery of our vision?
DO YOU REALLY BELIEVE IN GHOSTS? by Randy Overbeck
“Do you really believe in ghosts?”
During my author talks and book signings for my new ghost story/mystery, BLOOD ON THE CHESAPEAKE—at least, before the pandemic—this is the most common question I’d receive from participants, sometimes offered with an inflection that conveyed the speakers’ incredulity. It was almost as if the person were saying, “Only children and idiots believe in ghosts.”
The short answer to that question is yes, but I prefer Shakespeare’s eloquence, “There is more to heaven and earth, Horatio, than is dreamt of in your philosophy.” (That’s from Hamlet, by the way.) For those not fluent in Shakespearian English, he is simply saying there are just a great many things we simply can’t explain…and ghosts are one of these.
My skeptics are surprised to learn that the belief in ghosts is quite widespread among Americans. According to two studies conducted in the last few years (Harris Poll,2003 and Huntington Post, 2017) approximately half of Americans report that they believe
in ghosts (48%). And an amazing one in five confirm they’ve experienced an actual encounter with a spirit from the other side. BTW, the percentage of believers worldwide is even greater.
In fact, if you are born into a faith community anywhere across the globe, your belief system includes a belief in ghosts and spirits of the dead. For example, Catholics preach that ghosts are “evil spirits that lead you to sin.” Judaism includes the belief in several ghosts including the “dybbuk,” a ghost of a dead person who can possess another for malevolent reasons.
Muslims believe in mischievous ghosts called “jinns”—which are better known in the Western world as genies. Buddhists subscribe to the belief in “hungry ghosts” who exist on another plane, and should be treated with compassion rather than feared. The religions of all Native American tribes include the belief in ghosts such as the evil “Skinwalkers” of Navaho mythology. Of course, this is a partial list, but you get the idea.
These skeptics are even more surprised to learn that a number of famous scientists, inventors, statesmen, and celebrities openly profess their belief in ghosts. Marie Curie, the only woman to win two Nobel prizes for her work with radioactive elements—and was the subject of the recent Netflix film, Radioactive—also believed in ghosts and attended seances.
Thomas Edison, who holds more patents than any other American, confided to a reporter he was working on a “spirit phone” so he could talk to the dead. Dale Earnhardt, Jr, (known in racing circles as simply Junior) has won more NASCAR races than I could name, but almost died more than fifteen years ago. In 2004, he wrecked in the LeMans Race in Sonoma, CA and was trapped inside a burning car. He says a ghost pulled him from the wreck and saved his life.
Also, Presidents Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan were very candid about their belief in ghosts. These are merely a few examples.
Overall, I’d say I was in pretty good company.
So as I imagined, drafted, and created the novels in my new series, the Haunted Shores Mysteries, I was intrigued enough about the possibilities of the spirit world to wrap each cold case murder mystery inside an eerie ghost story. Of course, readers don’t need to believe in ghosts to enjoy these narratives as there is so much more to savor.
In each novel, they encounter a perplexing whodunit, a captivating romance, spectacular scenery, and a compelling social issue—all this in addition to an eerie ghost story. The first entry in the series, BLOOD ON THE CHESAPEAKE, was published last year by the Wild Rose Press and earned rave reviews and even picked up two national awards.
The second installment in the series, CRIM
SON AT CAPE MAY, was released last fall and it has garnered several ★★★★★ reviews and a national award, the Gold Award from Literary Titan. CRIMSON follows our hero, Darrell Henshaw—teacher, coach, and paranormal sensitive—to the incredible resort town at the tip of New Jersey. There, he is stalked by the Haunted Bride, who is desperate for him to seek justice for her, and many more victimized girls.
Dr. Randy Overbeck is an award-winning educator, author and speaker, capturing state and national accolades for his work. As an educator, he served children for more than three decades in a range of roles captured in his novels, from teacher and coach to principal and superintendent. His thriller, Leave No Child Behind (2012) and his recent mysteries, Blood on the Chesapeake (2019) and Crimson at Cape May (2020) have earned five star reviews and garnered top awards and recognition from sites such as Literary Titan, ReadersFavorite.com, ReaderViews.com and N. N. Lights Bookheaven. As a member of the Mystery Writers of America, Dr. Overbeck is an active member of the literary community, contributing to a writers’ critique group, serving as a mentor to emerging writers and participating in writing conferences such as Sleuthfest, Killer Nashville and the Midwest Writers Workshop. When he’s not writing or researching his next exciting novel or sharing his presentation “Things That Go Bump in the Night,” he’s spending time with his incredible family of wife, three children (and their spouses) and seven wonderful grandchildren.