For all my life, I have been inclined to believe only that which I can see or prove. And college, for the most part, has reinforced that way of thinking to me. There is one thing, however, that I will not budge on. Ghosts are real, y’all.

Hear me out on this one.

Let’s look at it from a spiritual/religious standpoint. Of all the many different religions in the world, many of them assume that humans have spirits or souls. Many of these religions explicitly state that these souls can be released from the body and roam the earth.

According to Tiffanie Wen in The Atlantic, this belief is most widely held in Asian countries where people often pray to the spirits of their dead ancestors. In return, these persons do not expect some abstract help or guidance, they believe that real manipulation of the “mortal” world can occur through the work of the spirits.

In the same article Justin McDaniel, a professor of religious studies and director of the Penn Ghost Project at the University of Pennsylvania, says, “Like in the West, people in Asia have kept their belief in ghosts despite the rise of science, skepticism, secularism, and public education. In places like Japan where secularism is very strong, the belief in ghosts is still high. Even hyper-modern and liberal Scandinavia has a high percentage of people believing in ghosts.”

And of course, we cannot discount the thousands of eyewitness events in which people have claimed to experience the supernatural. If you gather 5 of your friends together and ask how many of them have seen a ghost, at least 1 will answer a resounding “yes,” according to the Pew Research Center. Their research claims that 18 percent of U.S. adults say that they have seen or been in the presence of a ghost.

A greater share of Americans, 29 percent, say that they have felt in touch with someone who has already died. Claude Fisher, a professor at the University of California, says “As we approach Halloween, note that most American adults in the 21st century say that they believe in life after death and in the devil. Over one-third say that they believe in the spirits of the dead coming back; about that many also say they believe in haunted houses.”

As Halloween gets closer and you can feel the chill in the air grow colder, be careful where you go, you may just have your very own ghost encounter.

This article originally ran in the East Tennessean’s Halloween issue on Oct. 27.