Break out the tinfoil hats. A new poll reveals that a large number of Americans believe some pretty wild conspiracy theories. According to the survey by Public Policy Polling (PPP), 37 percent of American voters believe that global warming is a hoax, 28 percent believe in a secret agenda to create an authoritarian New World Order, 13 percent believe that President Obama is the antichrist, 7 percent think the moon landing was faked and 4 percent believe that shape-changing alien lizard people from another dimension secretly control our government. (Yeah, you read that one right.)
The telephone poll surveyed 1,247 registered voters during four days at the end of March and was released on April 2. According to PPP, the poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.8 percent.
Digging into the numbers, PPP said in a press release (pdf) that there is "intense partisan divide on whether global warming is a hoax." Of the voters who identified themselves as Republicans, 58 percent said they believed that global warming was a hoax. On the other side of the aisle, only 11 percent of Democrats had the same response. More than 60 percent of the people who said they voted for Mitt Romney in the last presidential election believed that global warming is a hoax.
The partisan lines remained evident on other questions as well. One question asked if respondents believed that "the Bush administration intentionally misled the public about the possibility of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq to promote the Iraq War." Of Democratic respondents, 72 percent believed in that statement, while 73 percent of Republicans did not.
Regarding the supposed authoritarian New World Order, 28 percent of all respondents said they believed it existed. That number jumped to 38 percent for Romney voters.
PPP president Dean Dehnam said in the press release that "Even crazy conspiracy theories are subject to partisan polarization, especially when there are political overtones involved. But most Americans reject the wackier ideas out there about fake moon landings and shape-shifting lizards."
Dr. Jeff Masters, co-founder of Weather Underground, said the poll results illustrated the results of a misinformation campaign directed at American voters. "So, who is more likely to be correct — the 97 percent of all publishing climate scientists, who view the evidence as showing that humans are primarily responsible for global warming? Or the 37 percent of the public who view global warming as a hoax, who have been subject to a massive PR campaign by the richest industry in human history, to make them believe just that? I'll go with the 97 percent of climate scientists."
Like all polls, the results of PPP's survey should be read with an open mind. By comparison, a different poll by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press was released on April 4 and found that "69 percent say there is solid evidence that the average temperature on earth has been getting warmer over the past few decades." That poll was conducted in mid-March and reached 1,501 adults in all 50 states. The margin for error for Pew's poll was plus or minus 2.9 percent.