Are You a ‘Truther’?by David Pinar on Jan. 18, 2013, under Pol. & Govt.
A surprising poll was released today by Fairleigh Dickinson University, polling Americans on whether they believe any of the four most recent conspiracy theories:
- President George W Bush knew in advance of the 9/11 terrorist attack, and the attack was planned by the U.S. Government
- President Bush’s supporters committed significant voter fraud to win him the 2004 Presidential election in Ohio, and accordingly, reelection
- President Obama is hiding information about his background and early life, including possibly his place of birth
- President Obama’s 2012 reelection was the result of voter fraud by his supporters
Sixty-three percent of registered voters in the U.S. believe at least one conspiracy theory is true: 56 percent of Democrats and 75 percent of Republicans say that at least one is likely true. That President Obama is hiding information about his background and early life is by far the most popular conspiracy, with 36% of all Americans thinking this is likely true. But that total is skewed by 64% of registered Republicans believing this is true; only 14% of Democrats believe this. Dan Cassino, a professor of political science at Fairleigh Dickinson University offers the theory that this conspiracy is the most believed because it’s been so widely covered. “This conspiracy theory is much more widely believed mostly because it’s been discussed so often,” says Professor Cassino. “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.” The birther nonsense certainly was covered ad nauseum after Obama’s election in 2008, and even repeated often as recently as last year by people as well known as Donald Trump.
Believing in political conspiracies is not limited to those on the political right, however – 25% of registered voters think it’s probably true that President Bush knew about the 9/11 terrorist attacks before they happened. Thirty-six percent of Democrats are “truthers”, and 37% of Democrats believe that President Bush’s supporters committed significant voter fraud to win him the 2004 Presidential election in Ohio. Overall only 23% of all voters believe this. And 23% of Americans think that President Obama’s supporters committed significant voter fraud in the 2012 elections. Thirty-six percent of Republicans think this is the case, but only 4 percent of Democrats do.
So, the “surprise” in this poll? Republicans tend to believe in conspiracies involving shenanigans by Democrats, and Democrats tend to believe in scams done by Republicans. Is it any wonder we’re so polarized as a nation? Although I wasn’t born in Missouri, I’ve always been a ‘Show Me’ kinda guy. As a pre-teen I told my Methodist parents that I didn’t want to go to Sunday School or Church anymore because I’d decided it was all just a bunch of nonsense. So I also don’t believe that in 1961, when lunch counters and public drinking fountains across the South had “Whites Only” signs, that Stanley Ann Dunham (Obama’s mother) was so convinced that the half black child she was carrying that she planned to give the name Barack Hussein Obama would one day be President that she carried out an elaborate hoax so that people would believe he was born in Hawaii instead of Kenya. And while I do believe George ‘Duya’ Bush was one of the worst Presidents ever and he was hopelessly under the influence of neo-conservatives in and out of government, I think the 9/11 attacks were planned by Osam bin Laden and carried out by his supporters, and Dubya didn’t have a clue. And while I believe former political mastermind (see 2012 elections) Karl Rove did some pretty dirty tricks in the 2004 election, including putting constitutional ban on gay marriage on the ballot in Ohio to turn out religious conservatives to the polls and then also getting Ohio election officials to short change voting machines in heavily minority precincts, that was political maneuvering and dirty tricks but NOT fraud, voter or otherwise. And I don’t believe any amount of political maneuvering or dirty tricks could result in a 5 million vote victory in 2012.
This poll only tested recent, mainly conspiracy theories. It would be interesting to see how many folks still believe the 1969 and subsequent moon landings were all a hoax by NASA and was actually filmed in Area 51 in the Nevada desert. And I’d be very interested in seeing how many folks believe in the one conspiracy theory in which I do believe: I will never be convinced that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in the assassination of John F Kennedy. I think his assassination was the result of either retaliation by right wing elements over Kennedy’s failure to support the Bay of Pigs invasion, or retaliation by the Mafia for Attorney General Robert Kennedy’s aggressive prosecution of Mafia leaders. Oswald was exactly what he said he was” a “patsy”.
Well, we all have to believe on one good conspiracy theory. So what do you think? Chime in!