How delusional is the populace?


If you’re ever wondering how the American electorate can be so ignorant, consider these observations.

I would like to live in a world where those percentages more accurately reflect reality, and are a lot closer to zero.

Comments

  1. Doubting Thomas says

    And all that other stuff that people believe because they want to, it’s comforting or that’s just the way they was raised. Or they saw it on the internet.

  2. yoav says

    Speaking of ignorant loons, I just received a personal piece of spam from Harun Yahya. Yay me.

  3. Pierce R. Butler says

    Of the ideas shown, Bigfoot would seem the least improbable, yet gets the lowest score.

    I wonder what answers they’d get if asking, say, “T/F: Egyptian civilization under the pharaohs lasted almost 3,000 years” or “T/F: Humans share most of their DNA with most other animals.”

    The more factual, the more incredulous the reaction?

  4. says

    I notice they left off angels and demons, which would have resulted in a much higher percentage. The amount of people who believe in angels and demons is scary.

  5. says

    “People can move objects with their minds” gets 25%? Really? That’s one that I’d think everyday experience would tell you is definitely not true. It’s not like you’ve ever met someone with actual Jedi powers, or that by thinking about it hard enough the the beer in the fridge will come to you. Everybody has tried that and knows it doesn’t work.

  6. microraptor says

    Area Man @7:

    They probably believe that there are special people who can do so, not that everyone can.

  7. says

    I had to roll my eyes at one of the commenters to Colavito’s post, who blamed people believing this stuff on the social sciences, “junk economics,” and Marxism, yet referenced Hayek.

  8. robro says

    Yeah, a couple of commenters on the Chapman site noted that they omitted asking about some obvious “paranormal” phenomena like gods, angels, people coming back from the dead, and the weird idea that random people writing a couple of thousand years ago have meaningful insights into how to live in the world we inhabit…people who were almost certainly promoting a particular point of view for their time.

  9. says

    @8: Of course, but unless all these people are hidden away in a secret government lab (and maybe people believe that), everyday experience still tells you such powers don’t exist. Telekinesis is observable in a way that ancient aliens or precognition are not. You’d have to know about it if real-life Jedis were out there.

  10. chrislawson says

    I can move things with the power of my mind….
    like my hands…
    oh, that’s not what they meant?

  11. says

    @#11, Area Man:

    What’s sort of interesting is that if you take the existence of demonstrable psychic powers under the control of the government as given, then it automatically implies a huge batch of conspiracy theories. Any single psychic power — mind reading, telekinesis, pyrokinesis, whatever — would be either usable to prevent bad things which have happened or cause bad things to happen while looking like accidents which have indeed happened. Which means that if you believe the government has psychics in a lab somewhere, you automatically believe that the part of the government running those labs is evil.

  12. Larry says

    If you simply cannot fathom how voters in the US can possibly cast their ballot for Trump, please refer to the chart. There is a vast cess pool of people, nominally educated and somewhat literate, who believe in BS. Further, they simply cannot be dissuaded from their beliefs, however logical and eloquent the arguments against. I am of the opinion that this started during Reagan’s campaign where educated people, teachers, scientists, engineers, were ridiculed and denigrated and made to be evil in order to appeal to the less educated, religious folk. However bad that plan has been for the country as a whole, it has been extraordinarily successful. So successful, it is basically tearing the country apart. What is so discouraging is that, a scant 10-15 years before, the scientists and engineers were held in awe for their ability to create machines that put men on the moon.

  13. archangelospumoni says

    All unsurprising. Spend 10 minutes (I know–it’s hard) talking with a confirmed, truly believing Drumpfheteer and realize how dooooooooomed we are.
    The latest ruckus with his Iran tantrum–nearly all his Drumpfheteers believe we “gave” Iran the money. Drumpfh told them we gave them the money, so they believe. When you explain it was THEIR money sequestered, it’s a total brick wall. Doooomed.

  14. microraptor says

    Area Man @11:

    Of course, but unless all these people are hidden away in a secret government lab (and maybe people believe that), everyday experience still tells you such powers don’t exist.

    Everyday experience tells you that the Earth is bigger than the sun. Appeals to confirmation bias aren’t compelling evidence even when it happens to be true.

  15. microraptor says

    archangelospumoni @15:

    And it was all done electronically. No one flew a plane full of money anywhere. It’s ridiculous.

  16. robro says

    microraptor — Difficult to find out how many in the US believe in a flat earth. Or England for that matter. The modern flat earth idea got it’s start in 19th century England. An American took over the International Flat Earth Research Society in the early 70s and claimed 3,500 members. The society declined after that. The latest incarnation claims about 500 members worldwide. This includes the musician, Thomas Dolby, who is English I believe. I guess she really did blind him with science.

  17. says

    @16: “Everyday experience tells you that the Earth is bigger than the sun.”

    Um, I don’t think that everyday experience tells you anything like that, but never mind. I agree that naive observation can mislead people into believing wrong things. The Earth is flat would be a legit example. Spontaneous generation is another. But my whole point is that telekinesis isn’t like that! It’s not as if it seems that people can fling objects around with their minds, and the ignorant just don’t know the correct explanation. There isn’t even a phenomenon to misinterpret here.

  18. leerudolph says

    Area Man @11: “You’d have to know about it if real-life Jedis were out there.”
    Maybe if they were plain ordinary Jedis. But Jedis who have gone the extra mile, and mastered the Shadow’s “power to cloud men’s minds”? No way, man.
    And there’s certainly no shortage of clouded minds here in these United States.

  19. Owlmirror says

    @Area Man:

    It’s not as if it seems that people can fling objects around with their minds, and the ignorant just don’t know the correct explanation. There isn’t even a phenomenon to misinterpret here.

    Sure there is: Uri Geller, and other prestidigitators, illusionists, and sleight-of-hand experts. Skeptics will look at the bent fork or whatever and say that it’s just a trick; believers will believe.

    Heck, it might not even just be deliberate illusions. There may also be those who think that at least some of those who succeed in sports and games of chance are not just using their minds to co-ordinate their bodies; they may additionally think that the players are using their minds to manipulate the motion of the ball or other objects at a distance. The Hot-hand fallacy given a psychic cause.

  20. chigau (違う) says

    saw some chem-trails a few hours ago
    they were bright pink
    i guess they were super-dangerous

  21. vucodlak says

    Trump is in the White House because people believe in aliens and ghosts? Please.

    See how many USians believe these fairy tales:
    The free market is the fairest way to distribute wealth.
    Capitalism has been a net good in society.
    Regulation is strangling the free market.
    Christians are the most persecuted religious group.
    White people are victims of systemic racism.
    Police work is the most dangerous job in the country.
    The majority of the populace of the United States is free and/or brave.
    The free market exists.

    Trump is in the White House because we indoctrinate our children with a bunch of jingoistic lies. Trump is in the White House because white supremacy is rampant. Trump is in the White House because the far-right has sabotaged democracy through voter suppression, judicial malfeasance, and outright sabotage.

    16% of people believe in bigfoot? Who gives a shit. It has nothing to do with why Trump won. You want to blame TV for Trump? Great! Blame the MSM who went on and on about Clinton’s emails and treated Trump like a loveable scamp. Blame the nice, respectable propaganda that is the ‘crime drama.’ Blame the sports media who start every game off with a bit of nationalistic dick-waving.

    People don’t vote for scum like Trump because they believe in lies about psychics, flying saucers, and chupacabra (how is ‘chupacabra’ not in the spellcheck?). People vote for thin-skinned sacks of syphilis drippings like Trump because they believe in lies about the US, wealth, and authority.

    Sure, people learn a lot of stupid crap from the Ancient Aliens, but the lies that actually matter they learned everywhere else, especially in school.

  22. unclefrogy says

    what the survey indicates and the last general election proves is that there is a very sizable proportion of the US population that is not very rational and is very susceptible to bull shit and believe in fantasy as truth.
    It is not a new development at all and might even be an endemic condition of human populations in general. The US is now living with some very difficult results of that tendency right now. We are not alone in this how ever it seems rather a common thing world wide

    uncle frogy

  23. says

    Ah! Homo stultus!
    I’d have thought that Bigfoot would be by far the most likely one of those to actually exist (depending on how you defined Bigfeet)

  24. laurian says

    Bigfoot was real. Every Pacific Northwetter worth their salmon knows that. I mean, how else do you explain grunge?

    But seriously, I do believe there once was a large bipedal primate that eked out a living in the primeval forests of the Northwest Coast of El Norte. A century of industrialized logging drove the final coffin nail of a species already well down the path of extinction. Ironically, it was that logging that exposed sasquatch to white folk.
    Also too, the Pattison film has never been convincingly debunked. Whatever Pattison filmed it moved in ways that couldn’t be faked at the time and in the place the film was exposed. Harrumph! I’ll take no further questions.

  25. cybis says

    I can’t help but wonder whether the results of this survey is simply due to the way the questions may have been phrased to respondents.

    Ancient advanced civilizations, such as Atlantis, once existed? – Rome was relatively advanced for its day considering the civilizations that came afterward in Europe. The legend of Atlantis may have its roots in some city-state that once existed long ago.

    Places can be haunted by spirits? – If you take a rather poetic definition of “spirit”. Ever visited the empty house of a close relative that recently passed away? The way memories and emotions come flooding to you – the way you can almost still hear your lost loved ones in the next room – can be sort-of described as ghosts / spirits.

    Aliens have visited Earth in our ancient past? – Isn’t this the Panspermia theory? Even microbes that hitched a ride on a meteor could be considered “aliens”.

    Aliens have come to Earth in modern times? – If Earth could have been seeded with life long ago, why wouldn’t it continue today? Of course, whatever alien microbes there might be would perhaps either be indistinguishable from Earth’s own organisms, or wiped out by them.

    Some people can move objects with their minds? – I can move my hand with my mind, and I can move objects with my hand, so isn’t that technically the same as moving objects with my mind?

    Fortune tellers and psychics can foresee the future? – Meteorologists can “foresee” what the weather will be tomorrow, based on what the weather is today and known weather patterns for the area. Many aspects of the future are predictable.

    Bigfoot is a real creature? – Gorillas?

  26. woozy says

    What the heck does “Ancient Advanced Civilizations like Atlantis existed” mean?. You mean like Sumer, Timbuktu, Rome, the Aztec Empire, Egypt, China, etc.

  27. Pablo Campos says

    @9. I Only visit Colavito’s site once in a while now because it’s full of Republicans/Trumpers. There’s even one guy that believes Fox News is a reliable source of information. I prefer Skeptoid, Friendly Atheist, and Rationalwiki to get my dose of rationality and skepticism.

  28. Nemo says

    @robro #19: Thomas Dolby had a song an album called “The Flat Earth”, which apparently inspired the guy who ultimately revived the Society, hence they gave Dolby honorary membership. But, I don’t think this means he’s actually a flat earther.

  29. says

    I would like to point out that “Ancient advanced civilizations, such as Atlantis, once existed” and “Aliens have visited earth in our ancient past” are not paranormal beliefs, just ones which are extremely unlikely to be true. Either one of these could have happened without requiring any exceptions to the nature of reality as we understand it; we just have no reason of any kind to believe in them.

  30. KG says

    I can’t help but wonder whether the results of this survey is simply due to the way the questions may have been phrased to respondents. – cybis@31

    I can’t help wonder whether you are able to read for comprehension.

  31. Owlmirror says

    I was thinking about this, and I wonder if Ken Ham’s Ark Park has anything to do with increased belief in ancient civilizations (39.6% in 2016 vs 55% in 2017). The Ark Park depicts the ark being built with technology similar to modern machines. So if people believe in some version of the Noah story, and visited the Ark Park, seeing the antediluvian society as being depicted as having high technology might make them more likely to answer yes to the question about belief in ancient civilizations.

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