Research published today by Theos, the public theology think tank, reveals a strong belief in ghosts and the supernatural across the UK.
The comparison with the 1950s is especially striking. In 1950, only 10% of the public told Gallup that they believed in ghosts, and just 2% thought they had seen one. In 1951, only 7% of the public said they believed in predicting the future by cards and 6% by stars.
A regional breakdown of the latest research (see attached map and table) found that:
· London has the highest proportion of people in the UK who believe in ghosts (50%) astrology/horoscopes (26%) and heaven (69%).
· Scotland has the highest proportion of people in the UK who believe in fortune telling/tarot (18%).
· Wales has the highest proportion of people who believe in reincarnation (32%).
The latest Theos research may point to a slight increase in scepticism about certain aspects of the supernatural. In 1998, 18% of the public said they believed in fortune telling or tarot, and 38% in astrology. 40% said they believed in ghosts, and 15% said that they had 'personal experience' of ghosts. In 2004, 42% of the population claimed to believe in ghosts, a slight increase on the 1998 figure.
Commenting on the research, Paul Woolley, the director of Theos, said:
"The enlightenment optimism in the ability of science and reason to explain everything ended decades ago.
"The extent of belief will probably surprise people, but the finding is consistent with other research we have undertaken.
"The results indicate that people have a very diverse and unorthodox set of beliefs.
"Our research may point to a slight increase in scepticism about aspects of the supernatural over the last ten years.
Notes to editors:
ComRes interviewed 2,060 adults between October 14 and November 21, 2008. Data were weighted to be demographically representative of all UK adults.