If you guessed something about how the moon landing was faked or if you think it has to do with reptilians, the JFK assassination or fluoride sapping our precious bodily fluids, keep guessing…
In a new nationwide survey of American voters, Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind project took a look Americans’ belief in political conspiracy theories. The researchers asked respondents about four relatively common-held conspiracy theories: Birtherism (which 36% of all Americans believe in); that the government had advance warning about 9/11 (25% believe that to be true); that Obama stole the recent election (only 19% believe this one, which is surprising); and that George W. Bush stole the 2004 election via rigging the vote (23% believe this).
It was hardly news to read that 64% of registered Republicans voters were “birthers” but so many of them still are? Nearly two-thirds of GOP voters—64% of ‘em—believe that it’s “probably true” that Barack Obama is lying about his birthplace. Remarkable! It’s like it hasn’t abated at all.
Belief in conspiracy theories is not unique to Republicans — 56 percent of Democrats believe in one of the four popular myths researchers asked about — but it is more common. Among registered GOPers, 75 percent said at least one of the four theories was likely true. Moreover, researchers noted: “Generally, the more people know about current events, the less likely they are to believe in conspiracy theories — but not among Republicans, where more knowledge leads to greater belief in political conspiracies.”
THAT’S pretty revealing, isn’t it? Read that last bit, in bold, a second time before continuing, won’t you?
“There are several possible explanations for this,” said Fairleigh Dickinson political scientist Dan Cassino, who helped conduct the poll. “It could be that more conspiracy-minded Republicans seek out more information, or that the information some Republicans seek out just tends to reinforce these myths.”
I can name a bunch of “possible explanations” off the top of my head: Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Sarah Palin, Fox and Friends, Michael Savage, Glenn Beck, Donald Trump and so forth. If you fill your head with shit all day, don’t be surprised when you turn into a complete shithead.
...Republicans are more likely to believe that Obama stole the 2012 election, while Democrats are more likely to think the same about 2004. Thirty-seven percent of Democrats think Bush or his supporters engaged in significant voter fraud to win that year, compared to just 9 percent of Republicans and 17 percent of independents.
9/11 conspiracy theories were also more popular among Democrats, with 36 percent believing that Bush knew the towers would be attacked, while young African-Americans are particularly likely to believe this myth — fully 59 percent believe it.
Dan Cassino from Fairleigh Dickinson has a plausible reason why “birtherism” is still so prevalent (aside, of course, from standard run-of-the-mill American idiocy):
“This conspiracy theory is much more widely believed mostly because it’s been discussed so often. People tend to believe that where there’s smoke, there’s fire – so the more smoke they see, the more likely they are to believe that something is going on.”
I think that’s being a little too kind, but he does have a point. As Robert Anton Wilson once told me “People just tend to believe the last darned thing they heard.”
Below, the “Conspiracy Theory Rock” animation by Robert Smigel that was “mysteriously” cut from SNL, obviously at the behest of Lorne Michaels’ puppet masters!