Angus Reid Institute poll reports nearly half of Canadian respondents say it's likely that extraterrestrials visited Earth

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      Barring major forest fires, outbreaks of youth crime, plane crashes, or coups in foreign countries, there's generally not much news in late August.

      And that can leave a pollster scrambling for topics to keep the company's name in the news.

      Perhaps this prompted the Angus Reid Institute to release one of its more unusual surveys this morning.

      It asked if certain things on Earth cannot be explained by science.

      The poll found that 79 percent of respondents believe that there is "definitely" or "probably" intelligent life somewhere else in the universe. The percentages who believe this were remarkably stable over all age groups: 29 percent from 18 to 54 saying "definitely" and 30 percent of those 55 and over saying "definitely".

      Eleven percent of respondents declared that extraterrestrial life had definitely visited Earth. Another 36 percent thought this was "probably true". Only 18 percent said it was "definitely not true" that creatures from somewhere else in the universe dropped by our planet. Those with a university education were most likely to be among the skeptics in this regard.

      In an amusing twist, the poll reported that those who considered themselves to be "huge fans" of the X-Files were most likely to believe that extraterrestrials had visited Earth. Those who knew nothing about the show were least likely to accept this.

      Fans of the X-Files were more likely to believe in extraterrestrial visits than people who knew nothing about the show.

      Meanwhile, 37 percent of women "definitely" or "probably" thought that people who die with unfinished business become ghosts. Only 30 percent of men said this.

      Forty-seven percent of women and 24 percent of men thought it was likely that people could communicate with the dead.

      More than a quarter of respondents said it was either "definitely true" or "probably true" that unproven animals such as the Loch Ness Monster or Sasquatch are real.