A recent study shows the different conspiracy theories espoused by the two US political parties. While belief in these conspiracies isn’t restricted to partisan lines, there is a marked tendency for each camp to go one way or the other. First, there were some statistics on things voters believe in general:
- 51% believe that there was a massive conspiracy surrounding JFK’s murder. Only 25% believe Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone.
- 29% of voters believe in extraterrestials. 21% believe that an alien spacecraft crashed at Roswell, NM.
- 20% believe there is a link between childhood vaccines and autism.
- 15% believe that the media and/or government are using secret mind-controlling technology through television.
- 15% believe that the pharmaceutical and medical industries are in league to create new diseases so they can profit.
- 14% believe in Big Foot.
- 14% believe the CIA distributed crack cocaine to inner city populations across the US in the 1980s.
- 11% believe that the government knowingly allowed the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
- 9% believe that the government adds fluoride to the water supply, not for dental health, but for other sinister purposes.
- 7% of voters believe the moon landing was faked.
- 6% of voters believe Osama Bin Laden is actually still alive.
- 5% of American voters believe that Paul McCartney died and was secretly replaced in 1966.
- 5% of American voters believe that the government is spraying the country with chemicals through airplane exhaust for sinister purposes.
- 4% of voters believe that shape-shifting reptiles rule our planet. (7% were undecided!)
Here are some tidbits from the study when broken out by political party.
- 33% believe that Saddam Hussein was involved in the 9/11 attacks. Surprisingly, 22% of Democrats also believe this as do 28% of Independents.
- 58% believe that global warming is a hoax. 77% of Democrats don’t believe it is a hoax. This is a big dividing line.
- 20% of Republicans agree that Obama is “the anti-Christ”! Weirder still, 13% of Independents and 6% of Democrats agree!
- 35% of Independent voters believe there is a New World Order, a secret cabal of powerful individuals furthering an unknown agenda across multiple nations. 34% of Republicans also believe this, while only 15% of Democrats do – another big dividing line.
- 72% believe that Pres. Bush deliberately misled the public about Weapons of Mass Destruction while 73% of Republicans do not believe this.
Let’s see how many of our readers also believe in these conspiracies with a little poll. First, some quick demographics of our readers:
And now, let the theories roll:
This got me thinking about some of the Mormon conspiracy theories out there. I wondered how many Mormons believe the various theories that exist.
What conspiracies or theories can you think of that should have been added but weren’t? Are there some you aren’t sure about, but wonder? Are there some that you think are more common among certain groups of people?
How about a “None of the above” option for the conspiracy theories?
It won’t let me vote without selecting an option. We definitely need a “none of the above” choice.
Well, the UK gov definitely use TV (via advertising) to change behaviour and ways of thinking, the whole nudge ideas were discussed recently in respect of this. Nothing secret about it though.
Also, the long running radio soap The Archers was originally introduced as a means to keep farmers up to date with new developments,and encourage good practice. Again, no secret.
I voted that drug companies market drugs with invented “syndromes” and I offer this in defense of the opinion:
“However, critics note that not every new disease for which the pharmaceutical business provides a drug is necessarily a major public health problem, but rather a venue for drug companies to increase revenues. Pharmaceutical companies research, develop and exploit drugs to prevent, control and cure diseases and treat symptoms. Companies then market these medications to recoup their investments and reward shareholders. It would seem to serve the interests of society, but some critics characterize it as a vicious circle in which businesses invent new diseases to match their existing drugs. Increasingly, industry has found itself under fire from detractors who contend that, in the pursuit of profits, companies are in league with medical doctors and patient advocacy groups to ‘disease monger’: convince people that their usually mild ailment urgently needs drug treatment.”
I believe Obama lied about his intentions to get elected and the lied again to get re-elected and I believe to many gullible Americans bought his lies.
And global warming is a bunch of Bravo Sierra
I felt a little silly agreeing with the “New World Order” one, because I don’t know how well-organized it is, but I certainly think that there’s a great deal of pressure worldwide to make stupid and self-destructive decisions at the level of national governments. If it had been phrased as “Do you believe that there are Gadiantons at work behind the scenes in the world today?” I would have been pretty comfortable saying yes. Maybe we could call it “Crazy Eddie Syndrome.” It seems that a great deal of what happens politically in the world today is in keeping with the concept Niven and Pournelle put forth in The Mote in God’s Eye:
“”When a city has grown so overlarge and crowded that it is in immediate danger of collapse … when food and clean water flow into the city at a rate just sufficient to feed every mouth, and every hand must work constantly to keep it that way … when all transportation is involved in moving vital supplies, and none is left over to move people out of the city should the need arise … then it is that Crazy Eddie leads the movers of garbage out on strike for better working conditions.”
And I’m still up in the air on the JFK thing. I don’t know about “broader conspiracy;” frankly, the most credible theory I’ve heard other than “lone nut” is that the Mob had him knocked off for not reining in Bobby.
Is the political affiliation “independant” meaning the Independant Party, or those not affiliated with a party? (non partisan)
Frank – I believe it means not affiliated.
I’ve added the option “None of the above.” Good call. Some of these are ones that I would say either “not sure” or “partly true.” For example, I don’t think global warming is a hoax, but I also don’t believe some of what is said about it. I don’t really believe there’s a sasquatch currently living, but I suspect that the yeti is a now extinct species that was real.
Even controversy is controversial
The most believed conspiracy theory on this blog is: GWB lied about WMD???? The only reason this should have any traction at all is that it is nearly impossible to prove a negative about someone’s intentions. All 4 subsequent Secretaries of State agreed with President Bush, including two major political opponents.
There is far more reason to believe some of the much lower ranked theories than that one. One example is the very low percentage on Polygamy being the norm in the eternities. There are plenty of past prophetic statements and some (possible) logical conclusions from clear principles in the plan of salvation that support that.
I think the 6,000 year old earth is easy to say no to for even the most staunch of believers. Based on the other answers, I think a number would have said yes to the question of man being on the earth 6,000 years. Almost every president of the church has said that is the case and that usually trumps common sense.
“The three Nephites and John the beloved are walking the earth and people have seen them. (38%, 23 Votes)”
This is the most surprising answer to me.
Brian, that’s because 15 of the votes are from the 3 Nephites, JtB and their sock puppets.
I think the generalizable point is that those who question authority, who actively seek after truth, who are able to take in information from disparate sources, are willing to tolerate some level of cognitive dissonance, and are not as easily swayed by peer pressure, are more mentally healthy and socializable than those who trust in men and reject voices which undermine their preferred narratives.
In fact, phrased that way, one might say the second group is damnable. Or damned.
Actively seek truth.
Actively take in information from disparate sources.
Tolerate cognitive dissonance (or, be slow to judge).
Don’t give in to peer pressure.
Trusting in men is bad.
Refusing to listen is bad.
And they get damned.
Or, in sum:
The anger and hostility is because they lack a foundation of knowledge.
Indeed, this topic is one of the messages of Lehi’s vision.
Log, the article you cite only researched people’s online comments in digital environments where non-conspiracy theorists are a beligeured minority. But in real life, conspiracy theorists are the minority.
Also I don’t thing there is any virtue in questioning authority for the sake of questioning authority. Paul tells us to “be subject to the powers that be, for they are ordained of God for thy good.”
Rather, it is prideful to adhere to your own minority conspiratorial views in the face of so much evidence, so many witnesses, and so many experts who know much more on the topic than we do, just because they give a mainstream or “lamestream” opinion. To say, “I’m right, and everyone else is wrong” is pure pride.
It demonstrates not simply “questioning” authority, but an antagonism against authority, an innate distrust, and a choice, first, to disbelieve anything you hear from a mainstream source, and to prejudiciously prefer conspiratorial explanations. This is not the way of the Lord. Jesus said we are to become humble like little children, trusting, believing. Joseph Smith said, “we believe all things…” which to me means that we are trusting and freely believe anything that can be demonstrated to be true beyond reasonable doubt. (Only when it contradicts revelations God has given, do we put our trust in a higher source. But God has not given revelations on the moon landing or the like.)
There is no virtue in embracing views from “disparate sources” when those sources feature extremely partial, prejudiced, and non-expert opinions. There is no virtue in embracing “cognative dissonance” when that dissonance does not allow you to see the nose in front of your face, and takes you further and further away from normality into the no-man’s-land of self-delusion.
Trusting in men is only bad if the wisdom of men contradicts God’s revelations to you. Otherwise, why would you trust in your own puny mind, when an army of people more intelligent than you can give you wisdom on a particular topic?
You do have a certain point regarding not giving into “peer pressure.” We do need people to think outside of the box, find new explanations and ask questions. But there is a big difference between that kind of productive mental work, and categorically denying global warming because of an inate distrust of the “mainstream.”
The movers and shakers of the world are not “conspiracy theorists.” Rather, they are doubters, who asked questions. They are scientifically minded, and followed evidence. They doubted the mainstream, and they also doubted themselves, first running expiriments to see if their hypotheses could really be true. But conspiracy theorists deny mountains of evidence because of their antagonism to authority. They are patently unscientific in their approach to truth.
Nate, that’s an interesting post idea, similar to some others you’ve done. I disagree BTW. I believe there is virtue in questioning authority. Obviously, there was virtue in questioning authority when the Nazis came to power. Was there virtue in questioning authority when church leaders were promoting racist explanations for the priesthood ban, essentially claiming their own racist views came from God? I think so. There’s a saying in Buddhism: “If you meet the Buddha in the road, kill the Buddha.” One meaning of this is that there is grave danger in elevating the teacher above the teachings, in elevating the truth-bringer to the truth itself.
I tend to agree with Hawkgrirl that at times it is wise to question someone in authority as long as it is done with the right tone and in the right spirit. Most of the time those in authority know more about a situation than you do as they have all of the salient information. This is true in business for sure – always, always, always respect your bosses’ authority. This is the time to heed the advice my mother gave me ‘it is better to be thought of as a fool, than open your mouth and remove any doubt’
Doing it the wrong is self-defeating. Look for example at the environmentalists that spiked trees or the occupy Wall Street crowd. Both conjure up images of hemp smoking hippies with love beads cutting of circulation to their brains.
Hawkgrrrl and Will, I agree that questioning authority can be a virtue. But that’s not the same thing as having an innate distrust and antagonism for everything coming from authority.
I think it’s good to live by the principle “innocent until proven guilty” and “beyond reasonable doubt.” If someone tells me something, I’m going to automatically believe them unless I’ve seen evidence “beyond reasonable doubt” to the contrary. We should weigh things in the balance and consider them without prejudice. We should give people the benefit of the doubt. We should value expert opinion, eye witnesses, and collective wisdom. I believe these are all part of the call of a Christian, to be trustful, believing.
I’m not talking about questioning the authority of Nazism, if you are in Nazi Germany. Nazis are to be mistrusted, because they themselves are conspiracy theorists. They burn all the collective wisdom of millions in giant book burnings, and worship one single misguided theory. They are not a true authority of the mainstream of mankind, but rather a usurper of that authority by an extremist minority. Authority in America is entirely different. Government authority is democratic and represents the ideals and values of the majority of Americans, and their collective wisdom. While it’s not perfect, and it’s good to question things, its not the same as having a mistrust of Nazism.
Nate: “If someone tells me something, I’m going to automatically believe them unless I’ve seen evidence “beyond reasonable doubt” to the contrary.” I am having a hard time following your line of reasoning on this one. We all hear contradictory statements from various sources. Which sources do you believe unless it’s proven beyond a reasonable doubt? I do think you have to consider the sources, but that those in positions of authority are not inherently more trustful. Sometimes they have the most to lose. You have to consider the motives for people to assert what they assert.
“innate distrust” Nate, would describe me. Even as a child I was deeply suspicious of motive. Personally I take the injunction to become as a little child as an invitation to question and be curious. I often wonder how and why so many seem to take it as the opposite.
Hedgehog, I think it’s good to question and be curious, and yes, that is compatible with childhood certainly. But to live in a defensive manner, to constantly question motive, to be suspicious of everything, and see everyone as having a hidden agenda, I think that is a somewhat diminished way of living. The extreme example is a hypochondriac, whose suspicion can be very debilitating. But I think it also applies to a lesser or greater degree to conspiracy theorists and others who are innately distrustful. And I think it implies a lack of trust in ourselves, which sometimes manifests itself in being overly controlling.
I believe trust is an important spiritual principle which we don’t give enough due. Awhile back I collected some Hermann Hesse quotes on trust.
“To be pious is nothing else than to be trustful. Trust belongs to the simple, healthy, harmless man, the child, the wild creature. Those of us who were not simple or harmless had to find trust by roundabout ways. Trust in yourself is the beginning….Not to be at war with yourself, to live with yourself in affection and trust—that was the thing….But there was another kind of peace, to be found within your own self. Its name was: Let yourself fall! Do not fight back! Die gladly! Live gladly!…All life was a breath exhaled by God. All dying was a breath inhaled by God. One who had learned not to resist, to let himself fall, died easily, was born easily. One who resisted, who suffered dread, died hard, was born reluctantly.”
These quotes relate to trust in ourselves, and in God, but I think they apply to trust in general. In a way, we have to accept the possibility that people are wrong, that they are evil, but we don’t worry about it, because we are content with our life, and we see the value in challenges, even challenges that bring death upon us, to “die gladly, to live gladly.”