Do you believe in things that go bump or eek or ooooh in the night?

Do you believe in things that go bump or eek or ooooh in the night?

Apparently a frightening number of us do.

It’s Halloween, and many of us find math to be scary, so let’s review some of the chilling data.

Start with the easy stuff: One-third of us believe in UFOs. One-third believe in ghosts – and almost a quarter say they’ve seen a ghost. Maybe they’re confused and have merely seen the movie “Ghost.” One in five believe people can cast spells or do other forms of witchcraft.

And 48 percent – almost enough to elect a dog catcher or a president – believe in extrasensory perception. That, as I understand it, is the ability to know things you cannot know, such as the highway close call or winning poker hand your cousin three states away will have tomorrow.

And to the one-quarter of the populace who believe in astrology, allow me to summarize basically every horoscope ever written and apply it to all 12 signs, good 365 days a year: “You are likely to shake a new hand today. It could go well or go badly. Your relationships and finances need your attention. Be bold, but know when to be prudent.”

Or we could boil that down to a Chinese fortune cookie because that seems to work for some people: “New things are always afoot, so be aware. The open but cautious soul prospers.”

And you’d reach even more people with a bumper sticker: “Get a clue. And be nice.” Who needs the stars to teach us common sense?

More than 30 years ago, an episode of “Nova” – the PBS science show – was so good I had to laugh. It offered one perfectly plausible explanation after another for the famous “Bermuda Triangle” incidents.

Flight 19? They were simply lost. The leader of the fighter squadron thought they were over the Gulf of Mexico and headed east to Florida, but they already were east of Florida so they were headed for Africa. They didn’t make it.

Running out of gas does not require a supernatural intervention.

Let’s not forget urban legends. The good folks at snopes.com track and rate the most persistent of them. The current top 25 include that old standby that our cell phone numbers are about to be sold to telemarketers (false), that atheists are petitioning the government to ban religious programing (false) and that onions laid about the house will stop the flu (false). But some people believe it and forward those e-mails with the desperate plea to “forward this to as many people as possible” lest the republic fall tomorrow.

The point is not that some people will say or imply anything just to let the germ of falsity and fraud loose in the public bloodstream. Those jerks are always with us.

It’s that so many people are so eager to believe the most outlandish things. That’s where we get in trouble, folks, when the jerks get taken seriously.

I believe this. It’s Halloween, which was a harmless minor holiday for kids until sometime in the last generation, when adults took over and turned it into a watered-down Mardi Gras. I believe little children – and some not so little children who ought to know better – will come to my door tonight for candy.

If some is left over and I eat it, I’ll get a little fatter. No incantation can make that go away. Later I will go to bed. The house will be dark and quiet. There might be a strange noise that my foggy brain cannot explain. It’s likely a stray cat looking for dinner or a tree branch scraping against the garage. Whatever the phenomenon, it probably falls short of needing its own cable TV special.