(Photo : Reuters)
Americans have always loved conspiracy theories - some more than others - and with the rise of the "anyone can publish" internet, anyone can devise and spread any conspiracy theory with ease. But the question remains, how many people believe in these theories? More importantly, how many of those people exercise the power of the vote? Public Policy Polling released a poll today giving us an up-to-date picture of the answers.
Of the most popular conspiracy theories, the UFO crash in Roswell is one of the most indelible, having stuck around for half a century now. And according to Public Policy Polling (PPP), a "healthy" minority of 21% still believes it. 27% of Romney voters believe it; while a sizable 16% of Obama voters also thought the government was still covering up the arrival of little green men to a desert military base in 1947. Also, "29% of voters believe aliens exist", which is kind of an ambiguous figure - are we talking "existing" on other planets or on our own?
Another long-running conspiracy theory is that a secret, powerful elite runs the world, or at least has designs on creating a New World Order. Of those who voted for Romney, 38% believe in the New World Order, while 35% do not. Almost the same percentage of Romney voters, 36%, still believe Saddam Hussein was involved with the 9/11 attack - a (sometimes officially sanctioned) fiction which has since been widely denounced. A larger minority, 41% of Romney voters, believes that isn't true.
Speaking of the Iraq war, 72% of Democrats believe George W. Bush intentionally lied about Iraq's non-existent weapons of mass destruction, while just 13% of Republicans think the same. In total, voters were split 44% in favor to 45% against on that question.
One more hot button partisan issue is global warming, which 37% of voters, total, believe is a put-on. A majority of Republicans believe it's a hoax, at 58%, while only 11% of Democrats believe the same. 61% of Romney voters won't be worrying about the polar ice caps anytime soon.
PPP's offbeat poll included many other conspiracies - 20 conspiracies in all (some of which come straight out of the X-Files), the rest of which are listed for your amazement and amusement.
- 6% of voters believe Osama bin Laden is still alive
- 20% of voters believe there is a link between childhood vaccines and autism, 51% do not
- 7% of voters think the moon landing was faked
- 13% of voters think Barack Obama is the anti-Christ, including 22% of Romney voters
- 14% of voters say the CIA was instrumental in creating the crack cocaine epidemic in America's inner cities in the 1980's
- 9% of voters think the government adds fluoride to our water supply for sinister reasons (not just dental health)
- 4% of voters say they believe "lizard people" control our societies by gaining political power
- 14% of voters believe in Bigfoot
- 51% of voters say a larger conspiracy was at work in the JFK assassination, just 25% say Oswald acted alone
- 15% of voters say the government or the media adds mind-controlling technology to TV broadcast signals (the so-called Tinfoil Hat crowd)
- 5% believe exhaust seen in the sky behind airplanes is actually chemicals sprayed by the government for sinister reasons
- Just 5% of voters believe that Paul McCartney actually died in 1966
The pernicious "Truther" conspiracy of the early 2000's, brought on by the "Loose Change" video and others (that "9/11 was an inside job") seems to be losing favor, at least among the voting public. 11% believe the US government allowed 9/11 to happen, while 78% do not.
Check out the full polling results here. But here's one thing to remember, especially you conspiracy minded folks. Public Policy Polling is generally seen as a Democratic friendly or Democratic-leaning polling group - even by the great and objective Nate Silver of the New York Times.
So beware! Maybe this whole conspiracy poll was just another conspiracy!