Mark Frauenfelder at 10:32 am Mon, Apr 15, 2013
ADVERTISE AT BOING BOING!
From Public Policy Polling: "Do you believe that shape-shifting reptilian people control our world by taking on human form and gaining political power to manipulate our societies, or not?"
Do not 88%
Not sure 7%
(Via The Atlantic Wire)
Wow for something this crazy, four percent of the American public believing it, is really high. Than again, I remember reading that more than half of the people in the US believe in some form of creationism.
You have to factor in how many of the Lizard Overlord responses were given as a joke. Not everybody that takes a survey thinks that it is important that their true opinions become known (i.e. gives a shit about the survey).
This issue shows up in Anthropology – see the controversy as to whether Margaret Mead was hoaxed about sexual behavior or if she factored in knowledge of what her subjects would joke about.
If you assume all the Lizard responses as jokes then you can probably adjust all of the other beliefs down by 4%.
The survey should really have made up some new wacky belief with little possible reasons for belief and used that as a baseline.
I can’t think of any really good baseline examples right now.
Do you believe this survey you are answering is a harbringer of the apocalypse?
Do you believe that the Rocky Mountains were created by a Swedish Conspiracy as a tax dodge?
Does the New York Subway have a secret station in Florida?
Out of that 4% that agrees that shape-shifting reptilians control the world,
0.001% actually believe it
~3% answered “yes” as a joke
1% think your spell-checker fixed a typo for “Republicans”.
The contrails one seems like a baseline to me. Its not a common idea spread. There is both a “joke” factor and “confirmation bias” factor. when given two choices people given two choices probably give them a 50% chance of being right, and then adjust down by things they have heard and how silly the idea seems. Lizard people seems pretty silly so most everyone said no.
I’ve actually heard that contrails one told to me seriously a few times, both in the UK and US. It’s not that uncommon, though it helps to be somewhere that contrails are regularly visible, close enough to an airport for engine fumes to be detectable.
Personally, I consider myself a skeptic, but I’m mildly swayed by the fluoride one, just because there has to be *something* in the water here. And I’m not just talking about the crazies. Since moving from the UK to the US, the number of people I know who have hyper- or hypo-thyroid problems has risen from zero, to what feels like about 75% of the people and animals I interact with on a daily basis. Cats, dogs, people… the food is unlikely since they don’t eat the same thing: fluoridated and/or chlorinated water seems the most likely culprit.That said, I drink filtered water happily, and use fluoride toothpaste and mouthwash. Remineralisation of teeth is a nice thing.
there’s flouride in the water in parts of the UK
Your instincts are correct, you should not be ingesting fluoride. It is a topical solution and should only be used as such.
We’re debating flouride here in Portland, OR and I was fairly sure there was nothing wrong with flouride (I mean it’s been in use so long, how could there not be sufficient long-term studies, right?) until I discovered that a union representing more than a thousand scientists and professionals at EPA headquarters in DC had penned a letter saying that believe that the current EPA flouride specifications are insufficient to prevent harm.
Whether flouride is harmful at currently allowed concentrations seems like a legitimately open question.
I still haven’t made up my mind on the proposal here.
What seemingly goes unmentioned in the page you referenced (and I say ‘seemingly’ because, admittedly, I only skimmed it) is that the main reason the recommended levels of fluoride in drinking water had to be lowered is that fluoridation has proven so successful: When municipal fluoridation began, treated water was the sole significant fluoride source for much of the US population. Today, thanks to fluoridated toothpaste, mouthwash, and chewing gum, there’s less need for water to pack as hard a punch….
@Mazoola I think that the premise that floride hardens your teeth is beyond dispute, but the reason that the level had to be reduced is the risk of floridosis (over-exposure to floride).
What the letter addresses is the likelihood that the current acceptable level of drinking water floridation causes unacceptable incidence of floridosis, given total exposure.
Did you mean
fluorosis (in your later post that I can’t reply to directly)? One thing worth pointing out about that condition is that it’s not dangerous. (“The greatest concern in dental fluorosis is aesthetic changes in the permanent dentition” per Wikipedia, and also my dentist.)
Still worth avoiding, but good to understand the very modest risk that’s being avoided — which is very different from whatever most anti-fluoride people are thinking of, I’ll bet.
Flouride is good for people. It’s in all Australian drinking water and I dont know *anyone* with thyroid problems. It’s potential dangers (dental fluorosis) are very minor while the benefits it offers are significant.
Apparently 29% of Americans eat gluten-free foods or avoid gluten. Fuck knows why since less than 1% of Americans have celiac disease. You are living in the land of ignorant self-diagnosis, naturopathy and hypochondria so I wouldn’t worry too much about anything that anyone has to say, short of a M.D.
(PS I love that Firefox underlines “naturopathy” as an incorrect word…. couldn’t agree more Mozilla:)
It’s certainly not in all Australian drinking water, but I agree with most of your sentiment.
The celiacs thing drives me god damn mental. So many people I know or coming into my cafe who are self proclaimed gluten intolerant on the basis that they feel bloated or tired after ingesting too much bread or pasta. (Hey idiots, I’ve got a hint, both those foods are full of something called carbohydrates, those carbohydrates can take a while to break down in your body, so you might feel a bit full or tired for a while afterwards; its perfectly fucking normal).
Funnily enough it’s nearly always white people, descended from Europeans where wheat was the staple crop for the majority of the population for a good few thousand years.
If you’re on a well, you don’t have fluoride in your water.
On behalf of actual coeliacs (not me; my partner), it’s deeply annoying – though if it makes gluten-free food easier to find it might have fringe benefits.
I wouldn’t worry too much about anything that anyone has to say, short of a M.D.
So that I can gauge how seriously to take your opinion, do you have an M.D.?
You didn’t notice thryroid problems in the UK because the medical system took care of it quickly. One woman out of 3 has some kind of thyroid problem. In the US, since the medical system is so fucked up and expensive, people don’t go and cure it, so it shows. As simple as that.
Are you new to the internet? Chemtrails are one of the most popular conspiracy theories around even amongst relatively ‘normal’ people who should know MUCH better.
Atheist propaganda (says the atheist). Some atheists like to interpret “God has a role in evolution” as “a form of creationism” whereas to me it seems a lot more like “not a sparrow falls”. (Matthew 10:29) These are people who accept what scientists say about evolution, the age of the earth, and cosmology but believe that God chose to work through natural law. This is probably most liberal Christians/Catholics.
It’s significantly less than half believing in creationism when you don’t cook the books.
: Some atheists like to interpret “God has a role in evolution” as “a
form of creationism” whereas to me it seems a lot more like “not a
sparrow falls”. (Matthew 10:29) ”
Not just atheists feel that way – so do scientists. There is no room – none – for your God in the scientific theory of evolution.
As Darwin explained, it is Zeus who controls evolution.
most disturbing is that “government allowed 9/11″ only gets 11%
…since that one is factual, right? Maybe that makes me a tinfoil-hat guy too.
Well, that phrasing does sound like a yes. Maybe people thought they were saying “planned”
I’m pretty sure I would’ve said yes just because. Some people say yes just because a poll is no reason to stop Teh Funny.
It’s funny until you see the “global warming is a hoax” percentage. More than a third! My father falls into this category: I show him a mountain of scientific data, and he stoically regurgitates that it’s merely a “phase” in the environment, and that there is no way the burning of fossil fuels could have any meaningful impact.
Ask him why he believes this, based upon what evidence and reasoning, and what it would take to change his mind.
If he can’t tell you, then he’s acknowledging his mental hypocrisy. He probably doesn’t want to do that, so this should give you a basis for communication.
I know, and I’ve tried this tack before – doesn’t get me anywhere, because he doesn’t want his mind changed. Cue the argument which ends with us yelling and sloshing each others’ martinis at each other. I love the guy, so it’s tough to paint him into a logic corner. Secretly, I think he’s warming to the idea (pun intended), as the crazy weather mounts year after year.
His belief can be perfectly rational, correctness notwithstanding. He
isn’t competent to evaluate the scientific data, so it comes down to
1. People whose personal integrity and insight are validated by a special relationship with G-d (e.g. pastors)
2. Spokespeople of his ideological group (e.g. Fox news pundits)
1. Scientists his son has looked up via the internet
Same. It even got to the point where he asked me to watch a presentation by the widely criticised mining industry shill Bob Carter. The problem was that his whole presentation was seriously flawed and easily disproved with a little googlifying. I watched it throughout anyway because I wanted my dad to know that I would listen to the arguments being made by the other side. I don’t blame my dad either, because he’s not very good at using the internet to get t the truth of the matter, so I wrote a lengthy email responding to and demolishing all the main points Carter raised in his talk.
I don’t think his opinion changed, but I sure as hell let him know that the only “expert” he’s ever referred me to is a fucking pathetic joke whose arguments I (as a non-scientist) can easily disprove.
I like to argue this a different way. Question: Do you believe that humans are having a negative impact on the environment? Answer: No Question: Are you willing to walk bare foot through a city? Answer (usually) no I would step in glass, or on a nail, or in something toxic. Question: Do you believe that humans are having a negative impact on the environment?
Only valid argument if “Would you be willing to walk barefoot through a forest/field/desert?” gets the answer “yes”
Yeah, this brings up a good point. I mean nature is totally fucking up our environment.
Fuck nature! Out to kill us all, it is. It’s where the Devil lives.
I wouldn’t cause I may step on a glass, or nail or bomb, or a mofing black widow :)
Hey, don’t be hatin’ on our Sleestak-American cousins…
You know those people who insist that modern-day birds count as living dinosaurs? It’s really not that much more of a stretch to say that all mammals are actually reptiles.
Not exactly. First of all, there is really no way to avoid counting birds as dinosaurs by our current understanding — you can’t point to a common ancestor of all dinosaurs that isn’t a also a common ancestor of all birds. The last common ancestor of birds and non-bird reptiles is not however also an ancestor of mammals. See the difference?
The way to avoid counting birds as dinosaurs is not to count them as dinosaurs, same as we don’t count mammals as fish. People understood birds developed from theropods long before they started calling them that; what’s changed is the odd insistence that you can’t give even English names to anything but clades.
As for mammals, they’re outside the last common ancestor of living reptiles. But if you’re willing to remember the existence of fossils, there are what people traditionally call “mammal-like reptiles”. I know many now exclude them to make Reptilia a clade, but adding mammals would have worked too.
In short: Brainspore isn’t really wrong, because names are more flexible than you’re giving credit, and cladism is a conspiracy to make our language less useful.
There’s cladistics and Cladistics. I’m certainly not a Cladist in the Willi Henig sense of only accepting parsimony as a valid phylogenetic method nor am I a supporter of the well-intentioned, but clearly doomed attempt of replacing Linnean classification with the PhyloCode. (and I’m an Esperantist so I am partial to well intentioned but doomed causes in general).
But it’s hard to see how anyone working in evolutionary biology today can be anything other than a cladist in a weak sense of supporting only groups that contain a common ancestor and all descendants — isn’t the whole point of classification to express such evolutionary relationships? It isn’t just a filing scheme like the Dewy Decimal System
As for the “mammal-like reptiles” — that was just an unfortunate name by our current understanding for the synapsids. Just like how the cyanobacteria used to be called “blue-green algae” despite not even being eukaryotes.
Isn’t the whole point of classification to express such evolutionary relationships?
It’s a big part of the point, but the idea that it’s the whole point is new. Classifications also used to be about pointing out phenotypic similarities – why turtles were reptiles but birds weren’t – in addition to relationships.
The idea that algae have to be eukaryotic is also new, and rather silly to me. Cyanobacteria work a lot like green algae and brown algae, which aren’t close relatives either. Why shouldn’t they be algae too?
This is actually really simple. Define “dinosaur” in terms of morphology in such a way that it’s not inclusive of birds. Define “bird” in terms of morphology in such a way that it’s not inclusive of dinosaurs. Voila: birds are not dinosaurs and vice versa.
Cladistics tells us that birds are descended from dinosaurs but whether they’re the same thing as dinosaurs is an entirely semantic question that can come out either way depending on how you want to do your categorization.
This is just yet another form of the “is a tomato a fruit or a vegetable” problem. Answer: whatever the hell you want it to be. We get to decide how the categories we invent work.
The smart man knows a tomato is a fruit. The wise man knows better than to add one to the fruit salad.
i’m betting that a great number of boing boingers subscribe to #2
three words: Downing, Street, Memo
“But MY conspiracy theory is TRUE!!!“
“Iraq has on the whole cooperated rather well so far” with inspectors.
“The most important point to make is that access has been provided to
all sites we have wanted to inspect and with one exception it has been
— Hans Blix, UN weapons inspection director http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/11/15/AR2010111506015.html
By the time President Bush ordered U.S. troops to disarm Saddam Hussein of the deadly weapons he was allegedly trying to build, every piece of fresh evidence had been tested — and disproved — by U.N. inspectors, according to a report commissioned by the president and released Thursday.
The work of the inspectors — who had extraordinary access
during their three months in Iraq between November 2002 and March 2003 —
was routinely dismissed by the Bush administration and the intelligence
community in the run-up to the war, according to the
commission led by former senator Charles S. Robb (D-Va.) and retired
appellate court judge Laurence H. Silberman.
Thanks for the reminder that it was quite well documented that the White House and 10 Downing Street both had ample evidence that there were no significant WMDs remaining in Iraq.
The only valid question is whether Bush intentionally misled us, or whether he chose to disbelieve evidence that undermined his position. But that’s really only relevant for biographers.
The famously hawkish Mr Wolfowitz has been a long-time proponent of military action against Iraq.
Picking weapons of mass destruction was “the one reason everyone could agree on”, he says in the interview.
The other factor he describes as “huge” was that an attack would allow the US to pull its troops from Saudi Arabia, thereby resolving a major grievance held by al-Qaeda.
The famously hawkish Mr Wolfowitz has been a long-time proponent of military action against Iraq.
Picking weapons of mass destruction was “the one reason everyone could agree on”, he says in the interview.
The other factor he describes as “huge” was that an attack would allow the US to pull its troops from Saudi Arabia, thereby resolving a major grievance held by al-Qaeda.
- Deputy Sec of Defense, Wolfowitz
You also have to remember that the Bush 2 Whitehouse was full of Cheney’s friends from the Reagan Whitehouse and they wanted a bite at Iraq from the very beginning. Powell famously referred to Powell, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz as “the fucking crazies http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2004/se/12/Iraqandthemedia.politicsphilosophyandsociety Of course they were lying about the WMD – they had no evidence to justify any claim to the contrary.
But some conspiracy theories ARE true.
Consider the batshit-fucking-insane ‘Final Solution.’ It was real. A real actual conspiracy. It was also on a massive scale and left a mass of evidence.
How about that Brutus and Cassius want to kill Caesar thing? My dad totally believes it.
Or the conspiracy among high-ranked Nazis to kill Hitler. Conspiracies happen.
Calling something a “conspiracy theory” is like saying “don’t look behind the curtain.” You have to take these things on one by one. Compare the lizard people theory to the theory that the Bush administration misled with respect to the evidence for WMDs. One is clearly much more credible than the other. If you see someone dismiss both in the same breath as merely “conspiracy theories” you can probably disregard that person’s opinion entirely.
This raises an interesting question. We know Bush & co lied repeatedly about WMDs. We know they also used thoroughly discredited and highly questionable evidence (e.g. “this guy is a known liar; he’s our only source”), while ignoring all evidence to the contrary. At what point does that become a conspiracy theory? Is it a matter of intention? Because clearly they intended to mislead. Does it depend on one or more of those people believing some central premise (that Iraq was some sort of threat, or somehow “needed’ to be invaded), even if it wasn’t exactly the narrative being sold to the public? Even if that belief was completely irrational? Is it sufficient for Bush (alone) to want to believe that Iraq was some sort of threat for this not to be a “conspiracy theory”?
Yeah, this is very different than most of the others. We know that Bush was wrong, we know that there was a great deal of evidence that he was wrong available to him at the time. We also know that the intelligence community was pressured into coming up with intelligence that supported a certain conclusion.
That happened either because: A) the administration (including Bush) wanted to go to war with Iraq and wanted and excuse; or B) the administration (including Bush) were so sure that Saddam had WMDs that they weren’t willing to listen to anything to the contrary. Option A is intentionally misleading the public, Option B is willful blindness and might be characterized as stupidity.
The alternative theory to “Bush misled intentionally” is “Bush was incompetent” (ignoring, “there really were WMDs”). I don’t honestly believe that Bush misled the public intentionally on WMDs, but that’s not a terribly nice thing to say about him and it’s hard for me to fault people who think he is smarter than I do.
By contrast, I don’t think that bigfoot exists either, but I don’t give credit to those that do.
You could draw a comparison to how sure the Romney campaign was that the election was going to go their way. You don’t have to be stupid to convince yourself that that data to the contrary is flawed and that the data supporting what you want to be true is accurate.
It doesn’t matter if Bush believed it or not – what makes it a “conspiracy to mislead” is the fact that he (a) suppressed all contrary evidence (especially when that evidence outweighed evidence supporting his belief in both quality and volume); and (b) distorted and/or manufactured evidence to support his claims.
Whether he believed it or not is irrelevant. Whether he was right or wrong is irrelevant. The point is he intentionally conspired to distort the public’s perception by manipulating the evidence they were allowed to see.
I’m generally not one to ascribe to malevolence that can be explained by incompetence. And there was certainly incompetence on Bush’s part. But there was also a good deal of lying, and we know that now. (At the time, all that could be said is that the administration provided evidence that was simply not true.) The administration presented evidence, on numerous occasions, that had either already been discredited (and they knew had been discredited) or in some cases was wholly fabricated. It’s possible, certainly, that someone (e.g. Bush) believed that it was true and felt that providing misleading evidence was justified because they needed to convince the public of “the truth” and the real evidence wasn’t going to convince anyone. But the question is, how much misleading is required before it’s a conspiracy? And does it matter if one or more of the people, doing the misleading is also delusional?
Do you maintain that nobody ever conspires with anybody to conceal crimes, protect financial interests, etc.?
Do you maintain that no conspiracies are ever subject to leaks?
It’s either that, or agree that some conspiracy theories are probably true.
I agree! Your conspiracy is the only one on that list that isn’t crazy! Yours is special!
the Pulitzer jury, what a bunch of tinfoil hats!
I’m not arguing that conspiracy theories should be believed just because they’re conspiracy theories.
I’m arguing that they shouldn’t be disbelieved just because they’re conspiracy theories.
Sure, some conspiracy theories are crazy – dismiss them on the basis of their craziness, not on the basis that they involve conspiracies taking place. If someone presents a theory that involves people conspiring to conceal something, you can’t dismiss the entire idea just on the ground that it involves people conspiring.
Construction companies in and around Montreal were involved for years in a massive bid-fixing conspiracy. This was more or less well-known. It’s now the subject of the Charbonneau Commission, a national public investigation. Is the respected judge at the head of that inquiry a “conspiracy theorist” who can be brushed off because he’s investigating a massive conspiracy?
Today I learned that one may prompt BurntHombre to reject a theory by calling it a “conspiracy theory.”
Metaconspiracy- hide the real conspiracy(ies) behind a smokescreen of batshit alien/bigfoot/reptilian/chemtrail noise.
Believing that a politician lied? Say it ain’t so!
Yeah, shouldn’t that one read “Bush didn’t intentionally mislead on Iraqi WMDs – 56%”. That’s way more mindblowing than the lizard thing.
Usual out is, I guess, that saying something is true when you know you aren’t certain it’s true isn’t the same as saying something is true when you know it is false. Which is cobblers, at least as far as the use of the word “misled” goes.
I’m willing to give Bush the benefit of the doubt. I think that Bush may have been given the information that he wanted and didn’t really question the veracity of the data he received. I’m thinking more and more that Cheney was responsible. He’s the “unknown unknown” in other words “the man we don’t know we don’t know.”
Paul McCartney died in 1966??? Damn my childhood is all messed up now.
I was flabbergasted to see this on a list of “conspiracy theories.” I suppose it is possible that George W. Bush as an individual person believed that there were WMD in Iraq, but the fact that the Bush administration as an organization, led by Cheney and Rumsfeld did intentionally mislead the American people about WMD is a matter of historical fact. Just because this remains a politically charged topic doesn’t mean that the facts are in reasonable dispute. The absolute farthest you could take it based on what we now know about the administration in the lead up to the war is to say that they were massively, willfully incompetent.
“Do”, “Do Not”, “Not Sure”… there really ought to be a category: “Lie to Pollster for yucks”
Exactly. The last question should have been “Do you take the piss out of callers that irritate you?”
Yup. I’d probably answer yes just to mess with them. (plus, the lizard voices in my head say it’s ok)
“Aliens exist” is not unreasonable.
“Aliens exist and we will never, ever meet them because the universe is too big” is better.”Aliens have visited Earth and made crop circles / built pyramids / abducted people / crash landed in Roswell” is crazy.
…and of course, if you count single-celled organisms and the like, the chance they exist goes way, way up.
“Life on Earth was seeded from another planetary body such as Mars, which either has some form of life or did in the past” is an as-yet-unsupported-but-still-quite-reasonable theory.
Technically, if someone believes in God(s) and/or angels, they believe aliens/extraterrestrials exist. That number should probably be way higher.
But for some reason, the believers never think him/her/them as aliens. I guess they don’t like the way it sounds.
Seems like most Christians at least believe in God and angels as metaphysically distinct from corporeal beings. So if the category of “extraterrestrials” is constrained to the domain of corporeal beings then technically God and/or angels would not qualify.
Another silly semantic “are tomatoes fruit?” issue.
I find it best not to generalize about people’s beliefs, especially in metaphysical matters. I was simply commenting based on two criteria. Is the thing alive? Does the thing call Earth home?
If you “find it best not to generalize about people’s beliefs” then why did you make that comment generalizing about people’s beliefs? Suggesting that religious folk’s belief in God is “technically” exactly the same sort of thing as belief in little green men is certainly generalizing about the beliefs of others.
I, on the other hand, was simply citing established Christian dogma. “Technically” you’re wrong, by the way, and this was why I pointed out that most Christians don’t seem to think of God as being corporeal. If it ain’t corporeal then it ain’t “alive” and so your new criteria don’t seem to do you that much good either.
In Christian dogma there is one living God — Jesus Christ — and he happened to call Earth home according to the stories. So you’re wrong on pretty much all counts here.
Settle down, Attackasaurus Rex. You are making a lot of sweeping statements about ALL Christians beliefs. (btw, christians aren’t the only humans who believe in gods. They are not all the same as the Christian God. You immediately limited the narrative according to your own bias, so nice work there.) You also might need a little more learnin’ on the subject, especially on the nature of the Christian god. Not going to get baited into that conversation here, but you sure went a long way to say nothing.
Also, if you are asserting that extra-terrestrial life is only “life” if it shares our corporeal form, then you are limited indeed.
I was going to say – that one stuck out for me in that it’s not even a conspiracy theory. There is no conspiracy described. If someone on Earth knew positive information about the aliens and was conspiring to contain or suppress that knowledge, then it would be a conspiracy.
But, just “do you believe extraterrestial life exists?” – that’s a statistics question, not a conspiracy question.
True. The legal definition of “conspiracy” is an agreement to commit a crime. But “conspiracy theory” seems to have acquired a meaning of “highly implausible folk belief” or something like that. The idea that Osama bin Laden and a bunch of other people planned 9/11 is technically a “conspiracy theory” because what they did was, in fact, a conspiracy, although few people would ever call it that. The idea that intelligent extraterrestrials have visited Earth does not describe a legal conspiracy but still gets called a “conspiracy theory” because of the type of thinking that leads to the belief.
Surely “Aliens exist and we will never, ever meet them because the universe is too big” is at most equally as likely as “Aliens exist”.
What you say is logically correct of course, but note that Crashproof didn’t say the former formulation was more likely than the latter, just that it was “better”, which you could take to mean something like “less likely to give the false impression I believe in reports of alien visitations, which somewhat might easily misinterpret me to be saying given their popularity”.
Absolutely. “Aliens exist” doesn’t even make sense as a conspiracy theory. WTF?
By the way, note that logically, “Aliens exist and we will never, ever meet them because the universe is too big” is strictly less likely than “Aliens exist.”
Yes, we get the conjunctive fallacy or whatever it’s called. But we should also probably bear in mind the P(we never meet aliens because the universe is too big) > P(we have met/will meet aliens). When we phrase it in terms of those mutually exclusive possibilities it becomes clear that “never meet them because the universe is too big” is the more probable outcome.
“Aliens exist” is phrased in far too open a way. We’re all assuming they meant “extraterrestrials”, but that’s not what it actually says. In fact I suspect most of us know at least one or two aliens. (Think of Sting’s “Englishman in New York”.)
I think it may just be a poor choice of summary words. Since the actual question for lizard people was different than just “Do lizard people exist?”, I bet the question for aliens was something more like, “Have aliens from outer space visited Earth and the evidence of their visit been concealed by the government?”
Especially to a voter because you have to certify that you are not an alien in order to register.
It’s all in the follow up question, so 4% believe politicians are lizards.
Next you need to determine what percentage of people have slept with politicians. What if it’s the same 4%?
The good thing is they’d be easy to chase down and kill in the wintertime.
They probably have heated leather seats in their SUVs, though.
I hope the questions were better phrased than the summaries.
I absolutely positively believe there are aliens. Little green men visiting? Yeah, not so much. Something of at least the level of bacteria? I don’t see how that can be anything lower than a certainty given the number of exoplanets and the perniciousness of life.
Fluoride is dangerous? Yeah, yeah it is, it’s a freaking halogen, dangerous as hell. Some fluoride salts are used as rat killers Dangerous at the levels put into water supply? Nope.
Not only were they better phrased, the summaries aren’t even accurate summaries – in particular, the fluoride question wasn’t about the inherent danger of drinking water fluoridation (or its clinical usefulness now that fluoridated toothpaste is common, or whatever), but about whether the motive behind drinking water fluoridation is something other than the ostensible one of supporting dental health.
The question about the CIA and crack is also quite different from the summary.
At the very least, my high school geometry teacher was a lizard person.
According to page 6, 5% of Obama voters believe Obama is the antichrist. Methinks some jokers are afoot….
The lesser of two antichrists?
That’s my favourite finding right there – Romney only polled about 80% among people who claim to believe his opponent is the Antichrist. If ever there was a demographic you ought to be able to count on, that’s it right there – and he somehow managed to lose a fifth of them.
Well, the Antichrist gives out free stuff, how can you compete with that?
Well, you don’t get to have Jesus come back until the antichrist is in power, right? That’s how that works? I wouldn’t be surprised if 20% of antichrist believers actually looked forward to the end times…
What is meant by “antichrist”? Is it “I really don’t like this guy”, somebody escalated to metaphorical antichrist through hyperbole? Or, do a few percent of American’s believe that he’s the literal antichrist as described in Revelation?
I’d be kinda surprised by the latter. But, I’ve described Bill Gates as the antichrist before, in a fit of hyberpolic metophrical ranting, and I suspect most of the people who say that about Obama are doing the same thing.
The lizard thing is true though.
Or, do a few percent of American’s believe that he’s the literal antichrist as described in Revelation?
Yes, literally. There quite literally millions of Americans who believe that the Bible is literal truth, that we’re in the end times, that Obama is the Antichrist, etc.
Hey, not being christian and thus caring not a whit for the concept of “antichrist,” why would a bunch of people *not* answer “yes” to that question?
Lizard people, that would really explain an awful lot.
I’m just curious what percentage of Americans think lying on surveys involving lizard people is hilarious. At least one or two percent, right?
I watched a docco about David Icke in which he was declared persona non grata in Canada because the authorities assumed that his claims of “lizard people” running the government and economy were just a thinly-veiled reference to Jews.
However, when he convinced the authorities that he really did mean actual lizard people, they allowed him back in.
“Oh, you mean, you’re completely batshit insane? Well, that’s fine, come on in! We thought you were an antisemite for a second.”
Well, so far there haven’t been many holocausts against lizard people, and there aren’t likely to be. As far as I can tell, Icke is only a real threat to imaginary space lizards, and if they exist they can probably take care of themselves.
And in any case would not be protected by human rights legislation.
Who said anything about the lizard people being from space? That’s crazy talk. Hollow earth. Study it out.
The trouble with people who are a threat to imaginary space lizards is that when they develop a method to separate the people from the imaginary space lizards, you can be pretty sure that some people will belong to the latter category.
Yup. Icke is dehumanizing a vague social class rather than an ethnicity. Still not a hygienic thing to do.
It’s no weirder than believing a virgin was impregnated by her own son to give birth to himself… At least parthenogenesis is well-documented among lizards…
I do believe that’s the best laugh I’ve had today. Thanks!
Oh, this is going in my quote file. Thank you.
Very Pythonesque of you. Good job.
My girlfriend has a David Icke book on the global lizard person conspiracy. I’ll occasionally take it off the shelf and read aloud from it. I can only do so for a few minutes though, at which point my eyes hurt from roll-strain and my voice is hoarse from incredulously screaming “What?! C’mon now!” every couple sentences. It reads like combination sci-fi/alternate history with no regard to consistency or worry about self contradiction. In short: Highly recommended.
What’s it called? He has quite a few books out apparently, all with most excellent cover art.
Can you do an MST3K reading of it? And if so, can you record it and post the result?
Given that the country does appear to be run by cold-blooded sociopaths who ruthlessly manipulate the dominant institutions for the benefit of their own kind, why is it only 4%?
I always thought that the lizard people conspiracy theory worked quite well as an allegory for the idea that our world is ruled by sociopaths. The reptilian physiognomy would be a largely irrelevant detail. But I don’t think that David Icke thinks that the whole thing is some sort of parable…
I was introduced to David Icke by a friend of mine, and while I was slightly disturbed by the evangelical gleam in his eye, I thought it would be worth watching the DVD he had with him.
It wasn’t too long before I realized that the lizard people were not a metaphor after all, and my stomach did the thing it does when hitting the first drop on a roller coaster.
The idea of alien lizard species running the country/world for their own greed with total disregard for the ongoing welfare of society is what I would call an “apt metaphor”. I agree with this idea in a figurative way, but not literally.
Metaphors are not true/false in a scientific sense. Metaphors apply in a different context, and tend to have a life of their own…
Exactly what a Chinger would say. I’m watching you..
I find it much more disturbing that 138 million people, 44% of Americans, believe global warming is a hoax. I need to go lie down now.
116 million people, 37%.
But it’s the tar, oil, and coal industries who are pushing the denialism and profiting from the destruction of the environment, and paying off enough politicians and regulatory bodies to keep going.
Did they correct for joke answer bias?
“Oooh, I’d never heard of that conspiracy theory. That’s hilarious. Yes, I totally believe in that! Tell me another one.”
Let’s be honest, if you got that call, you would answer, “Yes, yes I definitely believe that.”
This poll doesn’t tell you what people believe, it just tells you what people will tell you they believe. Given that the internet has revealed a high tendency to troll when given anonymity, I am surprised this number is not higher.
Note the lack of margins of error in the list above. This is not the original data. Sociologists spend a lot of time doing this stuff and a lot of time figuring out how to do it right.
I also think you’d be surprised at how many human beings aren’t trolls. If I was asked this stuff I would answer honestly. It wouldn’t even occur to me to make shit up because that’s just not how my brain works.
“Would you say you definitely would, probably would, probably wouldn’t, or definitely wouldn’t say absolutely anything to a phone pollster to make the call end?”
Ummm… fluoride actually IS dangerous, not a conspiracy: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fluoride_toxicity
Maybe they mean fluoridated water? I believe it was during research about skeletal fluorosis that they discovered its effect on tooth health, but I may have my history wrong.
Fluoride should only be used as a topical solution and spit out. There is zero evidence that it works internally and there is proof that it causes harm when taken internally.
Every anti-fluoridator I’ve lived with both 1) drank the tap water anyway since bottled water was so wasteful/expensive, and 2) used fluoride-free toothpaste.
Since they’re drinking the fluoride anyway, why not use it topically and absorb an extra 0.1% or whatever in order to get an actual benefit out of it?
Is no else bothered by global warming and Bush lying about Iraq’s WMD being included in a list of otherwise nutty ideas?
“The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist. And like that, poof. He’s gone”
— Keyser Soze
You can interpret the WMD thing in (basicly) two ways: either GWB mislead on the issue or the whole intelligence apparatus was very, very stupid. I don’t know which is the worst.
I see a new conspiracy for the list — “they” mix plausible facts with nut propositions, making you feel guilty by association.
I made a similar point above, but you don’t necessarily have to think they are stupid exactly, but certainly willfully blind.
you’re forgetting one:
“Believes global warming is a hoax” is presented as a nutty idea.
But yes, putting “Bush lying about WMDs” strikes me as either (a) a very pointed survey, or (b) something you do early in the survey to make it look “fair and balanced”, rather than “obviously highly biased liberalism”, or (c) something to discourage people from checking “no” to everything or “yes” to everything.
Well, this explains the sales of Shape shifting lizard skin cream.
I got my mam that for Christmas.
Margin of error is +/- 2.8%. So, it is possible it is only 1.2% of people who believe. It is also possible that over 6% believe in lizard overlords.
I am much more concerned by the people who think climate change is a conspiracy than the lizard believers.
Of course, factual information like “Bush lied about WMDs” is mixed in with “the government is run by lizard people” as if both are equally ridiculous.
If you believe Bush and the neocons were telling the truth about their reasons for attacking Iraq you are more out of touch with reality than anyone who believes in lizard people. If you don’t recognize the ability of the media to manipulate public opinion, see the above list.
Some of these things are true.
I can’t read Bush’s mind, but we can be pretty sure that the Bush administration was lying about ‘weapons of mass destruction’ because they were so insistent, they used bullshit ‘evidence,’ and they were so wrong.
And we can see that the medical industry has invented diseases in the past, often by classifying healthy variation as disease. For example, homosexuality, enabling quack therapy, ambiguous genitalia, encouraging quack surgery at birth, autism, encouraging shock collars, drapetomania, hysteria…
I think the intent of that question was something along the lines of “does the medical industry engineer new viruses like HIV,” not “does the medical industry periodically develop dubious new diagnoses.”
So only 15% of Americans believe the medical industry invents diseases, only a couple weeks before the DSM-V comes out? In other news, 85% of Americans are morons.
It depends how you interpret that question. Do you think drug companies make up terms to define something they’re want to sell a new drug for (Restless Leg Syndrome)? Or does it mean “do you think Bayer invented AIDS to sell anti-AIDS drugs, and they could cure it at any time but they don’t because it’s not as profitable!”?
Even with AIDS, a large percentage of the spread is because the medical industry generally refuses to sell clean syringes to individuals, even though there is no law against it. And secondly because the medical industry neither adequately treats nor protects people who are incarcerated from infection and transmission. All while lobbying to keep the war on drugs intact, e.g. c.f. the AMA’s position on marijuana legalization.
Notice how none of that is the same as “Merck invented AIDS and its cure in a laboratory and are profiting from AIDS drugs as a result”, which as already noted is the kind of conspiracy we’re talking about.
I don’t doubt it’s true, it’s just not what’s being discussed.
Restless leg syndrome seems real enough – it has inheritability and rather well-defined symptomes, with similar descriptions of problems and work-arounds from rather diverse sufferers.
I didn’t know you can be conspiracied to death.
Isn’t that how *all* conspiracies end?
JFK was actually killed by that Mel Gibson movie from 1997.
I barely survived that film myself.
Too bad there’s no line for “believes messing with pollsters’ minds by giving outrageous answers is fun”.
Like all those sex polls they give teens that give shocking results. As a teen I would’ve had fun giving answers I knew would skew the results.
The lizard question was obviously their negative control, i.e., “How many Americans aren’t listening to the questions at this point and/or are trolling?” Another negative control was the “People who voted for Obama who also believe that he’s the AntiChrist” bar, also 4%. That 4% of 1250 people, or 50 people, weren’t listening to a phone poll isn’t hard to believe. So now we can put error bars (4% either direction) on the rest of the questions. Many of the differences between political leanings vanish if you put these error bars on (plus for a subset, so, divided by voting preference or political leaning, the error bars would get larger). It’s not a very exciting study once you do that.
It is sad to constantly see work on Boing Boing to improve scientific literacy undermined by crap like this.
Not the content of the poll (believing in lizard people), but the poll itself. Presenting it like this without further context doesn’t make any sense. Does Mark believe these statistics make any sense?
Results are from an automated telephone poll, so in 2013 it won’t be anything close to a reasonable cross section of the American people.
Lots of factors probably account for inaccuracies at least as large as some of the 5%ish positive responses:
Many of the original survey questions from the PDF could be interpreted in various ways, and the descriptions in the Atlantic Wire table that Mark chose to link to don’t do a great job of capturing the content.
In all seriousness, it would be interesting to see Maggie analyze some of the material from other contributors that is obviously dubious.
Does the US own a remote island big enough to hold 12 million people? Just wondering.
Hawai’i? It’d get mighty crowded, admittedly.
I wouldn’t do that to a nice island. Keep looking…
There are eight million people living on Long Island, which is only 1,400 square miles. Hawaii (the island, not the state) is almost three times that size.
A whole lot of that island (and the rest of the state as well) is just a bit too vertical for habitation.
Just settle them all on the southeastern part of the island. There’s plenty of open space there.
I find it scary that there’s more Americans believing in Lizard People than people living in my country (Portugal)
How would you establish a baseline control, for what positive response you would for things 0% of the population actually believes? (To handle the fraction of respondents joking, lying, misunderstanding, etc.) I suppose you would have to invent something specifically for the survey, so that you knew nobody believed it before being asked.
“All elephants can speak English but choose not to” or something along those lines.
Silly! Everybody knows that elephants speak French.
I think the classic was “have you installed a thermidor in your car” in a 1970s environmental consciousness poll… but the elephant one wouldn’t work because it’s true! I know this because there was an elephant hiding in my cherry tree, and I overheard him talking to the invisible pink dragon that lives in my garage. Perfect English with a slight British accent.
That would make sense, if it was an Indian elephant. Hard to erase all traces of colonialism, even after so long… ;)
Was he carrying a cricket bat? That’s the clincher.
If he’s carrying a cricket bat, you’ll never see it coming.
Your only hope is that he realizes it’s tea time just before he swings the bat. Otherwise, well …
Sounds like a potential political party in the making.
Why do you think it’s called the GREEN party? Wake up sheeple!!!
I’d bet you a beer that such a political party already exists.
One should recall the 1994 news report that, when called an asked the question, 12 US Senators admitted to being Space Aliens. http://www.textfiles.com/conspiracy/senators.txt
(Note that even though this was published in Weekly World News, well known for its fiction, the senators really did say they were space aliens when asked by WWN…. I definitely would have answered that question from that source in that manner myself. Here’s an AP article: http://www.skeptictank.org/files//ufo2/12senaln.htm )
I remember reading the article back when it came out, while waiting in the supermarket line, and I was particularly impressed by the Senate staffer who told them that his Senator’s response was “Klaatu barada nikto”.
PPP surveyed 1,247 registered American voters from March 27th to 30th. The margin of error for the overall sample is +/-2.8%. This poll was not paid for or authorized by any campaign or political organization. PPP surveys are conducted through automated telephone interviews.
Is it at all possible that these are just people who have read Douglas Adams (see http://wso.williams.edu/~rcarson/lizards.html ) and are taking the piss?
That Kennedy was killed as the result of a conspiracy is not a nutty idea; in fact, that was the official conclusion of the US government, as expressed by the House Select Committee on Assassinations.
I like how this comment was posted by a person who has no visible profile, or even a username.
I wish I were skillful enough to have made that happen. Unfortunately, it’s not my doing.
They were probably wrong.
I can’t help wonder if this means that 4% of Americans believe lizards run the government or 4% of Americans thought that saying they believe lizards run the government would be good for some lulz.
Actually, the percent that believe it’s true would never draw attention to themselves by answering a poll question like that. So, the answer to your question is “Yes.” :)
The fact that so many people here choose to assume that these are joke answers is why it’s so easy for fanatics to take over the government.
Coincidentally, 12 million was the approximate viewership of the TV series V.
If I understand correctly, David Icke claims that the British royal family are also shape-shifting alien lizards.
I really don’t see why people think that makes him crazy. I mean, have you ever looked at the British royals? Really looked at them?
As far as I’m concerned, he nailed that one.
Neal Gaiman’s short story A Study in Emerald is the definitive treatment of that suggestion.
Whoa! The question was whether the CIA was instrumental in distributing crack to inner cities in the 1980’s, not about whether or not they developed it. That’s really different. Of course it may be a difference without much distinction. I feel either has an air of plausibility and most likely neither is true.
well, the pulitzer jury bought it
Yeah, the trouble I guess is that even the main question was ambiguous. The CIA helped non-communist drug traffickers traffic drugs to fight communists. In that sense they did distribute crack to American inner cities.
There is also a conspiracy theory that says that the CIA distributed crack to inner cities as an attempt to destabilize black communities.
I don’t particularly believe the latter – that the CIA was trying to attack black people in America – but obviously the former shows that they saw black people (or maybe more generally very poor people) as acceptable collateral damage in the fight against communism.
The problem for the CIA the idea that they invented crack themselves with the specific purpose of trying to wipe out black americans is only a little beyond what they are known to have done. Generally any conspiracy theory about the CIA murdering americans is plausible.
This sample size is pretty tiny compared to the population size. How were the elements chosen? These are results are incomplete and are not a valid distribution. It would have been real nice to see some REAL data.
“PPP surveyed 1,247 registered American voters from March 27th to 30th. The margin of
error for the overall sample is +/-2.8%. This poll was not paid for or authorized by any
campaign or political organization. PPP surveys are conducted through automated
Why is the RSS comment feed for this page not working?
Is it a conspiracy to suppress the truth from getting out?
Even with similarity magic this transformed feed doesn’t work.
This list makes it appear as though these things are equal, they are not. Some of these are in the patently ridiculous area and others are in the possible area and at least two are in the true area. This list is crap.
I’ve actually met two lizard-people believers on two separate occasions. The first was a doctor, who clearly had a few screws loose. The second was a really nice guy, quiet, unassuming, then…BAM. Out comes the lizard people stuff. He also owns a ton of guns, including a working .50 cal Browning machine gun. Ain’t America grand?
Please tell me that you blink rapidly and make odd rumbly noises when talking to these people.
I just change the subject and make sure the zipper on my human suit isn’t showing.
Here’s a couple of conspiracies I wished more Americans believed:
1. Corporate america is controlling the minds of Americans with TV
2. Believing vaccines cause autism helps terrorists by weakening our herd immunity.
I suspect David Icke has more followers in England who embrace his reptilian humanoid theories than he does here.
It’s troubling that PPP apparently considers the fact that the Bush administration lied about WMDs in Iraq a conspiracy theory.
It is a conspiracy theory – just one that is not necessarily false.
I vote for lizard people otherwise the wrong lizard person might get in.
Bush misled about WMD’s is a something that many journalist have shown as a fact. and is quite a different sort of thing from lizard shape shifters.
I applied this simple logic to the WMD question. Either Bush lied, or he was stupid enough to believe the lies that he was being told. Given the intellectual powerhouse that Bush was, I’m going with stupid.
I’m going with both. He is a moron, and also knew that the intel was bullshit. Stupid and evil.
I would interpret that as 50 people honestly believe lizard conspiracy runs the govt, while 11,999,950 people like screwing with pollsters.
Nah – 9,999,950 are screwing with pollsters. The other 1,000,000 think that the pollsters mistyped “Republicans” and their spell-checker fixed it up to “reptilians”.
Not a single scientific paper from a verified source on fluoride and pineal gland. Yet, it’s considered absolute fact in the woo woo community. *SIGH*. Humanity…one step forward, two steps back.
fluoride at the intended dose is safe. i find it somewhat suspicious that there are no reports of the dosage being exceeded and side effects occurring, given how unreliable humans are at everything else.
of course it’s not proof, i just find it odd. i wouldn’t be surprised at all if some small towns did have serious problems with fluoride dosage in the early days, which fueled the hysteria. (shrug)
Wait–why is the existence of Sasquatch lumped in with *conspiracy* theories?! There’s no *conspiracy* to hide evidence of Bigfoot–unless you consider the Bigfeet themselves as conspirators actively hiding from humans, but…
And where’s *The* Con–The GREATEST Conspiracy of all time?!
It seems likely that 1 and 2 are true. 1 is a matter of degree. I would bet someone helped Oswald, I have no idea if it was any large organization. 2. Yeah, that one is pretty well confirmed so its not really a conspiracy theory. Thinking there were actually WMD’s would be an example of a conspiracy theory.
I believe “Medical Industry invents diseases” to be true, though in a rather more oblique sense than I suspect the list-writers meant.
The Aliens Existing theory, if you accept the idea of an infinite(or a very, very huge) universe, is not crazy at all.
The idea that we have been visited by alien life is much more unlikely however.
If you consider “reptiles” as a euphemism for members of Congress, it rather makes sense
Speaking as a shape-shifting lizard I find your comment highly offensive. Those black helicopters full of Bilderburgers hovering over your house? Nothing to worry about…
Reptilian Bilderburgers do their own dirty work, eh? I would have expected them to lounge around eating exotic insects from around the world on their plush heated rocks. I just gained a little bit of respect for the lizard people!
What I find astonishing is that there are that many David Ike supporters still. Didn’t that die out in the 80s? Do they still believe in Uri Geller, too?
I went “What?!!” until I read the last sentence of the press release:
“PPP surveys are conducted through automated telephone interviews. ”
Any sensible person hangs up on automated telephone calls. These are the rantings of those who don’t.
” That 4% of 1250 people, or 50 people, weren’t listening to a phone poll isn’t hard to believe. ” – Alice McQueen speaks truly.
This result set is much more damning on the stupid practice of extrapolating nation-wide demographic data from a tiny set of random-sample interviews than it is of what US Citizen’s do or do not believe.
This is why the first thing you should be thinking when any journalist quotes any statistics is “what is the study? what is the sample size? how was it conducted? Who paid for it?”
Not to mention that surveys remain the cheapest and least indicative/insightful methods of collecting sociological data.
I get that these results were posted as a joke, it just pisses me off that these sorts of things are what a *lot* of policy ends up being based on, rather than thorough (and therefore more expensive) sociological research.
I wonder how many of those people can get guns without a background check…
All of them. Anyone in the US can do this.
100% of lizard people are pretty sure they run politics
Well the elite do tend to act more lizards than people sometimes. I can see how people would make those conclusions.
Bad science is BAD SCIENCE. This was a hack job study with no methods section.
So I asked this of my friends:
“Quick straw poll: Do you believe that shape-shifting reptilian people control our world by taking on human form and gaining political power to manipulate our societies, or not?”
Now that’s not a huge sample size, but still…
“Yes, it is all explained in the Fighting Fantasy book ‘Isle of the Lizard King'”
“Definitely- they are in the tax department here, sending me $15,000 bills for reporting zero income!”
“You have exposed us!!! You shall be terminated as soon as The Big Bang Theory is over.”
“No, I believe an alien species called the Slitheen are taking over the government, in the form of charismatic Republicans.”
“shape-shifting reptilian aliens are taking over the corporations and buying the politicians.”
“That would explain a lot.”
“Why reptilians? Or are you thinking specifically of the Skrull? Some Tories look far too plastic to be anything other than Autons to me.”
Up until this point, the responses seemed generally in agreement that there was *something* to the story, responses seeming to be more predicated on what they thought would be the funniest response. But then…
“I was always told to never mention this in public arena”
“I will check with Agents J and K.”
“No, your governments are fine. People are in control, and there is no “alien” presence on this planet. Nothing to see here people. Move along, please, move along.”
Suddenly everyone started expressing caution, or just giving flat “no” answers. Mere coincidence? Or did They find out about my little straw poll?
In the end, I’d guess the ‘Yes” answers still beat out the “no” answers, but only just.
I’d answer “yes” to that one too. Too many people treat poll results like revealed religion especially if one confirms their bias.
Why not inform people on the Franklin report? The documented use of blackmailed paedophiles in Congress or is that too grown up for an underage topic?
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