The Truthers, Birthers, Preppers, Sovereign Citizens, Michele Bachmanns and Rick Santorums of the world are not so fringe-y as you might think. (Either that, or the poll is fatally flawed because a fifth of the respondents coincidentally reside in Gooberville, Florida. Or that the people who dreamed up these wacko questions reside in Gooberville, Florida) Some of the findings:
Twenty-eight percent of voters believe that a secretive power elite with a globalist agenda is conspiring to eventually rule the world through an authoritarian world government, or New World Order. 34% of Republicans and 35% of independents believe in the New World Order threat compared to just 15% of Democrats.
Fifty-eight percent of Republicans agree that climate change is a conspiracy, while 77% of Democrats disagree.
Twenty percent of Republicans believe that President Obama is the Anti-Christ, compared to 13% of independents and 6% of Democrats who agree.
Twenty-nine percent believe aliens exist, and 21% believe the government is covering up an alien spaceship crash in Roswell, New Mexico.But there is hope. Only 4% of us believe in shape-shifting lizard people and a mere 5% think that Paul McCartney was killed in a car crash in 1966 and then secretly replaced by a look-alike so the Beatles could continue. Similar segments of the population think the government is controlling them through their TV sets and that the white jet exhaust you see in the sky is actually a chemical the government is spraying to poison people. These poor souls probably had the bad luck to be contacted by this psycho-baiter of a polling company the same day they forgot to take their meds. They probably also believe that the polling people who always call at the dinner hour are annoying evil pod people -- and they would be right.
On the other hand, some of the answers to the questions were way too naive for my taste. For example, only 15% of respondents believe that pharmaceutical companies would be so psychopathic as to invent diseases in order to sell their drugs. How about that sudden unexplained epidemic of ADHD currently plaguing our nation, necessitating billions of dollars in sales of Ritalin and Adderall?
And while it is probably true, as 86% of us believe, that the CIA never distributed crack cocaine to inner city youth, how about those LSD experiments conducted by the Army and the Public Health Service's infamous syphilis experiment on black men in Tuskegee? There is a history here.
The paradox to be gleaned from the polling is that while we are afraid of nonexistent threats, we tend to scoff at the real deal. We are both too skeptical, and not skeptical enough.
Sometimes, they really are out to get you.