June 7th, 2016
It’s a tie as to which is more amazing; the number of wild ideas and conspiracies that exist, or the number of people who believe them. A survey released just today by Public Policy Polling of 1,247 registered U.S. voters shows a startling number of rather bizarre beliefs.
• Global warming: 37% of all Americans believe it is a hoax, while 51% do not. While the issue barely came up in the 2012 elections, 58% of Republicans believe it is a hoax, while 23% percent of Democrats think so.
• Aliens here and there: 29% of Americans believe aliens have landed on earth, while 47% do not, and 24% are not sure. On a related note, 21% believe a UFO landed in Roswell, New Mexico, in 1947 and the U.S. government covered up the landing (47% think this is nonsense, while 32% aren’t sure).
• It’s Bigfoot, or my foot? 14% of Americans believe in Bigfoot/Sasquatch, 72% don’t, and another 14% might be waiting to see what the sequencing data says.
• The reptiles within: somewhat reassuringly, just 4% of Americans believe that shape-shifting reptiles control the world by taking on human form and gaining political power (no lawyer jokes, please). Another 7% aren’t sure about this, however.
• Autism and vaccines: 20% believe there is a link between autism and vaccines (46% do not, and 32% are not sure).
• Fear the fluoride: 9% of those polled believe that the government adds fluoride to water supplies for reasons far, far more sinister than maintaining dental health. 75% don’t believe this, but 17% are on the fence.
• The pharma fix is in: 15% believe that the pharmaceutical industry and medical industry are in league to “invent” new diseases to make profits, while 69% don’t believe this. Another 16% are still wondering.
While some of the lowest percentages could be reassuring, just remember that it’s possible to extrapolate that percentage to cover 350 million people in the U.S. The survey covered a number of political and popular culture questions, in addition to the more science-related ones mentioned here. By the way, the photo is not of a space alien; it’s a NASA engine testing tank.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons/NASA
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