Scott Hardie | April 3, 2013
Anna Gregoline shared an interesting link today: Conspiracy Theory Poll Results, measuring how many people believe in the most common conspiracy theories. The numbers will be either amusing, saddening, or reaffirming depending on your perspective.

Some of these are so outlandish that you can't imagine anyone anywhere agreeing to them. It's pretty common for 4-5% of people to say "yes" to any poll question asked, so that explains the "lizard people" and "Paul is dead" believers. Feel free to subtract 4-5% from any of these totals if it makes them sound more sensible.

The only result on here that really surprised me is that 29% of people believe that aliens exist. That number actually seems low. People are generally aware that we have found fossilized bacterial microbes on meteorites originating from Mars, right? And that more or less proves the onetime existence of alien life? Even if people aren't aware of that news event, you'd think that with the "billions and billions" of solar systems out there across "billions and billions" of galaxies, as Carl Sagan put it, people would figure on the chances of at least one of them containing some form of living being, however microscopic. The Judeo-Christian perspective that man is the center of God's universe and thus aliens cannot exist is an influence, but not a 71% influence, or so I would think. I guess from the vague wording "do you think aliens exist," people must assume that the question means either intelligent life or life that has visited earth, which indeed should be about 29%.

Do any of these numbers surprise you? How many of the items on this list do you believe?

Anna Gregoline | April 3, 2013
I was a little surprised too, but I think it has to do with the high rate of religiosity in this country. Different sects of Christianity often teach that we are unique and special on this planet, lovingly created whole by god.

This one is interesting too: American's Scientific Knowledge and Beliefs about Human Evolution

Samir Mehta | April 4, 2013
[hidden by author request]

Scott Hardie | April 4, 2013
Hussein was our national bogeyman for a few years. That, combined with his geographic proximity to the origin of the 9/11 attacks, made him a prime suspect in the eyes of many. Subsequent reporting that he was or wasn't involved would make little difference.

One item on the list that I could almost get behind is the idea that a shadowy group is plotting to overthrow governments and establish a new world order. There are seven billion people on this planet; you have to figure that some of them somewhere are plotting this, even if it's just lonely, Unabomber-style lunatics hiding in a remote cabin somewhere. I don't know how closely the wording of this page matches the wording of the questions as asked, but the link here specifically asks whether a "power elite" is planning this global takeover, which is what makes it implausible to me.

Anna Gregoline | April 5, 2013
I was raised Catholic but I am not now. Christianity is bizarre to me - the idea that god made man in his own image was certainly created by man, not by a divine being - it's just so self-centered and precious, it feels to me that men created it. I certainly don't believe that every person is specially created - we are all random animals, and life is cheap. I don't believe that this planet will last long enough for another animal to reach our level of intelligence though, and humans aren't going to last much longer anyway. Geologically speaking, we're almost to our extinction point.

People barely know geography even, much less political events - people like Bush knew that if they mentioned Hussein in connection with 9/11 often enough, people would believe it. Sad and evil, but it works.

But the level of ignorance in this country, particularly willful ignorance, always bothers me.

Tony Peters | April 5, 2013
I hate to say this but people, especially American people are generally stupid. That has been the goal of our economy for some time now, exploiting that stupidity to make money is how the rich continue to make money after they have exported much of the manufacturing offshore

Scott Hardie | April 5, 2013
So you're saying there's a conspiracy to keep Americans stupid so the rich can profit? The survey didn't ask about that one...

Tony Peters | April 6, 2013
I saw an interesting Meme about education comparing Scandinavia (all 4 countries) and the USA, interestingly in the last 30 years the rise of for profit education and the ballooning of student debt the US economy seems more interested in making money off of educating people instead of educating people to make money. Not to say that it's universal across the country but in general there is a serious skills gap that is promoted as a the reason for taking manufacturing overseas.

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