Ghosts, Aliens, And Apocalyptic Destruction: Top 10 Superstitions That Refuse To Die

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As ancient as old wives tales may be, a new study by PsychTests indicates that many people still believe in paranormal phenomena and the potentially adverse effects of superstitions.

Most people will scoff at the idea of vampires and zombies being real, but belief in witches, aliens, and ghosts may not be so easily dismissed.

Crop circles and the like may have been debunked, but belief in the paranormal is still going strong.

It’s precisely the unknown nature of the paranormal that draws us in.

With the resurgence of sci-fi smash The X-Files and the enduring popularity of paranormal reality shows, people of the 21st century have a ceaseless inquisitiveness for anything outside the ever-stretching boundaries of “normal”. We can’t help it; we are curious creatures, drawn by the dizzying excitement of the unknown.

The fear of what lay in distant waters did not deter early explorers and to this day, people are still determined to, as Captain Kirk put it, “boldly go where no man has gone before.” However, despite our technological advances, research from PsychTests indicates that there are still some old – even ancient – beliefs that we just can’t seem to let go of.

Analyzing data from 13,951 people who took their Paranormal Beliefs Test, researchers at PsychTests revealed the most common superstitions/paranormal beliefs.

Men and women shared 9 of the top 10:


  •     73% of women and 51% of men believe what goes around comes around. Those who do harm to others will allegedly need to repent and make good for their wrongdoing, either in this life or the next.


  •     72% of women and 52% of men believe that death is not the end of existence. With advances in paranormal investigation tools, many people are finding it difficult to dispute the potential for life after death.


  •     70% of women and 45% of men believe that if two people are meant to be together, no force on Earth - or beyond - can keep them apart. Tying into this is the belief that people do not simply show up in our lives at random. Case in point: 77% of women and 51% of men believe that we are destined to cross paths with certain people, whether it’s through law of attraction or fate.


  •     64% of women and 45% of men believe that future events can be predicted in advance. Even though, for example, most of Nostradamus’ prophetic visions, were quite convoluted and cryptic, and doomsday premonitions continue to come and go, many people are still intrigued and fearful of prophecies of destruction.


  •     58% of women and 70% of men believe that we are not alone in the universe. It almost seems like a mathematical certainty, given the infinity of the universe and the number of new galaxies being discovered. PsychTests’ study also revealed that 58% of women and 40% of men subscribe to the conspiracy theory that aliens have not only visited us, but that their forays to Earth have been covered up by governments.


  •     51% of women and 38% of men believe that our thoughts are not private, and that some people are born with the ability to send and receive messages telepathically. Author N. G. Meyers encapsulated this belief quite eloquently in his novel, Elysium’s Passage: The Summit: “In the infinite field of consciousness, there can be no secrets in the higher spheres, since there is nothing to hide.”


  •     The witch trials in Europe and America were a dark time in history. In Salem, Massachusetts alone, 200 people between 1692 and 1693 were accused of being witches – that’s about 16 people a month – and 20 of them were executed. Although those days may be behind us, 49% of women and 33% of men still believe that real witches with actual powers exist.


  •     Despite many counter-theories dispelling the mysterious nature of the Bermuda Triangle, 42% of women and 39% of men still believe it poses a danger. A number of airplanes and ships are said to have disappeared without a trace in this area of the Atlantic.


  •     The end of the world has been predicted many times throughout history. In fact, Wikipedia has an entire page dedicated to the list of dates in which the apocalypse was supposed to have occurred, along with future “end of days” dates. While many people brush off doomsayers and their “tin foil hats,” 36% of men and women are still convinced that an apocalyptic end will occur at some point. According to Wikipedia, the next prediction for the end of the world is set for the year 2020.

Although men and women shared nine of the top ten superstitions, here is where they differed:

  •     41% of women believe that horoscopes are real and can offer warnings and predictions for the future.
  •     30% of men believe that the fabled lost city of Atlantis existed.

“The idea of believing in superstitions may seem silly in modern times, but I would wager that many people still habitually knock on wood, cringe when a mirror breaks, or think twice about booking a flight on Friday the 13th,” explains Dr. Jerabek, president of PsychTests. “I think one of the reasons why paranormal belief is still strong in modern times is because we now have specialized equipment that allows us to explore the unknown. In the 1970’s and 80’s, experiments were being conducted in Russia and the US to test the possibility of collecting foreign intelligence with ‘psychic spies’ or remote viewers. The Search for Extraterrestrials Institute developed a radio telescope that listens for alien communications, while NASA sent a probe into outer space with a record that contained a message about Earth, should any intelligent life form come across it. It’s precisely the unknown nature of what we call the ‘paranormal’ that draws us in. And it’s the reason why a great deal of time and money has been spent and continues to be invested in exploring paranormal phenomena.”

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About PsychTests AIM Inc.
PsychTests AIM Inc. originally appeared on the internet scene in 1996. Since its inception, it has become a pre-eminent provider of psychological assessment products and services to human resource personnel, therapists, academics, researchers and a host of other professionals around the world. PsychTests AIM Inc. staff is comprised of a dedicated team of psychologists, test developers, researchers, statisticians, writers, and artificial intelligence experts (see The company’s research division, Plumeus Inc., is supported in part by Research and Development Tax Credit awarded by Industry Canada.

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Ilona Jerabek
PsychTests AIM Inc.
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