About 90 million Americans believe aliens exist. Some 66 million of us think aliens landed at Roswell in 1948. These are the things you learn when there's a lull in political news and pollsters get to ask whatever questions they want.
Update, October 31: We've figured out who the government reptilians are, using science.
Public Policy Polling has raised weird polls to an art form. During last year's presidential campaign, the firm earned a bit of a reputation for its unorthodox questions; for example, "If God exists, do you approve of its handling of natural disasters?"
Today PPP released the results of a national survey looking at common conspiracy theories. Broken down by topic and cross-referenced by political preference, the results will not inspire a lot of patriotism. If you need to defend your fellow countrymen, be sure to note that the margin of error is 2.8 percent.
We took the findings and arranged them from most- to least-believed. And, just to inspire additional shame, figured out how many actual Americans that meant must believe in things like the danger of fluoride in water. (28 million, if you're wondering.)
View the full question asked for each conspiracy.
|Conspiracy||Percent believing||Number of Americans believing|
|JFK was killed by conspiracy||51 percent||160,096,160|
|Bush intentionally misled on Iraq WMDs||44 percent||138,122,178|
|Global warming is a hoax||37 percent||116,148,195|
|Aliens exist||29 percent||91,035,072|
|New World Order||28 percent||87,895,931|
|Hussein was involved in 9/11||28 percent||87,895,931|
|A UFO crashed at Roswell||21 percent||65,921,948|
|Vaccines are linked to autism||20 percent||62,782,808|
|The government controls minds with TV||15 percent||47,087,106|
|Medical industry invents diseases||15 percent||47,087,106|
|CIA developed crack||14 percent||43,947,966|
|Bigfoot exists||14 percent||43,947,966|
|Obama is the Antichrist||13 percent||40,808,825|
|The government allowed 9/11||11 percent||34,530,544|
|Fluoride is dangerous||9 percent||28,252,264|
|The moon landing was faked||7 percent||21,973,983|
|Bin Laden is alive||6 percent||18,834,842|
|Airplane contrails are sinister chemicals||5 percent||15,695,702|
|McCartney died in 1966||5 percent||15,695,702|
|Lizard people control politics||4 percent||12,556,562|
Just to further inspire conversation, PPP broke down belief in each theory by whom the respondent supported in the 2012 election. This yielded some genuinely interesting results.
For example, only three conspiracies were more commonly believed by Obama supporters: that Bush intentionally misled America about Iraq's WMDs (a massive 69 percent of his supporters believe that one), that the CIA launched the crack epidemic, and that the moon landing was faked. There are two theories with equal support among Obama and Romney supporters: that aliens exist and the one about fluoridation. Everything else, from lizard people to vaccines and autism to global warming being a hoax? Believed by more Romney supporters.
No conspiracy was less commonly believed than one suggesting that the government is populated by lizard people. But that's mostly because only 2 percent of Obama supporters believe the theory while 5 percent of Romney supporters do.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.