I'm pretty sure you don't have to believe in ghosts to enjoy a ghostly romance, but the fact is that twenty-seven percent of Americans do believe in ghosts (disproportionately women and young people). The figure is even higher for Brits. I can't find a recent figure for Aussies (MCP says "Why don't you ask your spirit guide?") but I suspect it's in the same ballpark. It would take more than one blog post to list all the many things I don't believe in, but today I'm here to state that I don't believe in ghosts.
While I don't find stories of hauntings and the like remotely interesting, I do find it interesting to look into why people interpret certain very real personal experiences as "I see dead people."
This article by Richard Wiseman from New Humanist (UK) summarizes some research (oh nose! science!) explaining why people may have ghostly experiences. A brief excerpt:
In one study [researcher James Houran] took over a disused theatre that had absolutely no reputation for being haunted, and asked two groups of people to walk around it and report how they felt. Houran told one group that the theatre was associated with lots of ghostly activity and the other that the building was simply undergoing renovation. Those in the “this building is haunted” group reported weird sensations all over the place, while the other group experienced nothing unusual.Blame psychological suggestion. Even I've been known to scare myself silly, alone in a dark house. Mind you, I always attributed the strange noises to someone trying to break in, which I think you'll agree is about a million times scarier than a bit of wandering ectoplasm.