Paul-Is-Dead Cover-Up Fools 95 Percent of America

Please allow me to introduce myself, I'm a man of wealth and taste...PPP has a new poll out on the popularity of various conspiracy theories. The firm's write-up highlights the differences between Democrats and Republicans on these issues, which doesn't strike me as the most enlightening information here. (Republicans are more likely than Democrats to believe Barack Obama is the Antichrist! Who could have predicted that?) More interesting to me is how this compares to past polls on the subject.

Take the JFK assassination. This is the most popular theory in the survey, with 51 percent of the country believing a conspiracy larger than Lee Harvey Oswald was behind the killing and just 25 percent saying he acted alone. (The other 24 percent aren't sure.) That sounds pretty overwhelming, but 10 years ago an ABC News poll showed many more Americans -- 70 percent -- blaming a conspiracy for the president's death. Similarly, PPP shows 11 percent of the country believing the U.S. government knowingly permitted the 9/11 attacks to happen, with 11 percent unsure. In 2006, by contrast, a nationwide Scripps Howard survey had 36 percent of the people polled believing it either "very" or "somewhat" likely that U.S. leaders either allowed 9/11 to happen or actively plotted the assaults.

Comparing polls is a tricky business, and it's possible that the different numbers just reflect different methodologies. People might, for example, be less inclined to embrace JFK and 9/11 theories when they are proposed alongside such obvious kook-bait questions as "Do you believe Paul McCartney actually died in a car crash in 1966 and was secretly replaced by a lookalike so The Beatles could continue?" and "Do you believe that shape-shifting reptilian people control our world by taking on human form and gaining power to manipulate our societies?"*

But it's also possible that these changes reflect a greater distance from the events being discussed. The number of JFK conspiracy believers was even higher in 1983 -- 80 percent, according to ABC -- so we may be seeing a steady decline in those theories' popularity as the assassination recedes into the past. And the anger that led many people to blame 9/11 on Washington may have cooled somewhat since George W. Bush left office. I'm going to go out on a limb and predict that in 2023, there will be far fewer birthers, because there will be far fewer people who care whether ex-President Obama was qualified to hold office.

Obligatory advertisement: Preorder my book The United States of Paranoia today!

Yes, Prime Minister.(* In case you're curious: The Paul-is-dead theory is reportedly embraced by 5 percent of the population -- far less, no doubt, than believed it in 1968, though you might expect all those mediocre solo albums to make the theory more popular rather than less. The Icke/Slitheen thesis about reptilian overlords was endorsed by 4 percent of the country. I figure a bunch of those "yes" answers were only trolling, but some of the "no" answers surely came from people who just DIDN'T WANT THE LIZARD MEN TO KNOW THEY WERE ONTO THEM, so let's call it a wash.)

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  • John Thacker||

    Thanks to trolling and other things, you can get a 4-5% "Yes" rate to nearly anything in a poll. Hence the 5% of people who voted for Obama in 2012 who also think he's the Antichrist. Voted for him in 2008 would be one thing ("I wuz fooled!") but voting for him again?

    At least some 9/11 people presumably gave up the theory on the basis that Obama would have exposed the conspiracy. (People who still believe must think that he's in on it too.)

  • Jesse Walker||

    Hence the 5% of people who voted for Obama in 2012 who also think he's the Antichrist.

    If we could find out the number of Romney voters who thought he was the Antichrist, we could estimate the size of the Satanist vote.

  • $park¥||

    What will it take to get Emily on that?

  • Auric Demonocles||

    I will not stop bugging her for alt-text.

  • PapayaSF||

    Don't forget the Satanist communist and libertarian voters!

  • B.P.||

    I suppose you can be consistent if you vote for Obama and think he's the Antichrist if you're pulling for the rapture.

  • BakedPenguin||

    ...you might expect all those mediocre solo albums to make the theory more popular rather than less.

    I came here to say this.

    Also: "Use all your well-learned alt-text, or we'll lay your soul to waste."

  • Zeb||

    I don't know. The solo albums are weak, but I like the Beatles much better after 1966.

  • ThatSkepticGuy||

    Still better than anything Lennon did post-Beatles.

  • Franklin Harris||

    The president is an impostor. He is, in fact, a Cobra agent named Zartan, and Cobra is a front group for an ancient race of reptilians from a subterranean civilization called Cobra-La.

  • Sandman||

    Another theory: when a democrat is president, democrats are less likely to believe conspiracy theories, even about events that occurred under Republican presidents. In the case of 9/11, democrats have decided that since their guy is in office, and he hasn't uncovered some extra information, that there wasn't a conspiracy, while Republicans still remember that it was a Republican president, and as such, haven't decided that it was a conspiracy.

  • PapayaSF||

    Except that under Clinton and Obama, Democrats have not been reluctant to believe conspiracy theories about Reagan.

  • John Thacker||

    Doesn't disprove it; we need to compare whether Democrats were less likely to believe in the CIA crack theory under Clinton and Obama than under Bush.

  • ThatSkepticGuy||

    But Reagan spoke out against Big Government. Ergo, any conspiracy committed by Reagan is representative of draconian limited government and radical individualism, and only serves as further proof that we need Big Brother to wipe our asses for us.

  • $park¥||

    What's the book about, Jesse? Is it a novel?

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    "The Icke/Slitheen thesis about reptilian overlords was endorsed by 4 percent of the country. I figure a bunch of those "yes" answers were only trolling, but some of the "no" answers surely came from people who just DIDN'T WANT THE LIZARD MEN TO KNOW THEY WERE ONTO THEM, so let's call it a wash.)"

    I know that if someone called me to ask about lizard people, I would at least be tempted to pretend to believe it, or say "how did you find out?" or claim to be a lizard person myself. I expect that the number of trolls is greater than the number of lizard people believers, but of course I can't prove it.

  • PapayaSF||

    When I was in elementary school in the mid-'60s, in a totally white-bread suburb, we were given a "confidential" survey about drug use. The survey listed many things we had never heard of, and struck some of us as hilarious. I wonder if they looked at the results and really thought there was a band of opium smokers in the school.

  • Jesse Walker||

    I expect that the number of trolls is greater than the number of lizard people believers

    I'm actually kind of surprised there weren't enough trolls to push the lizard thesis into double digits.

  • $park¥||

  • Jesse Walker||

    Sorry about that. Book info here.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Do you believe that shape-shifting reptilian people control our world by taking on human form and gaining power to manipulate our societies?

    Do you really believe New York City couldn't get a handle of its rat problem if it had the will. The Big Apple is just a breeding ground for our secret overlords' food supply.

  • Tonio||

    Ultimately this says as much about the inherent flaws in surveys as about the number of crazies in society. It's impossible to know how many people are deliberately fucking with the pollsters. This is something the pollsters don't want to know because it might impinge their credibility.

    Also there is an unknown number of people who never, ever respond to polls or surveys.

  • ||

    Lizard People and Paul is Dead come together in a wonderful song by Southpaw Jones ("The Last Remaining Beatle"). Google it, it's free for streaming. Trust me on this one.

  • Loki||

    "Do you believe that shape-shifting reptilian people control our world by taking on human form and gaining power to manipulate our societies?"

    "Put on the glasses!"

  • some guy||

    A bunch of loaded questions in that poll...

    Do you believe a UFO crashed at Roswell,
    New Mexico, in 1947, and the US government
    covered it up, or not?

    Well, something can be a UFO without being extraterrestrial in nature (or even interesting.)

    Do you believe global warming is a hoax, or
    not?

    Is a mistake the same thing as a hoax?

    Do you believe President Barack Obama is the
    anti-Christ, or not?

    Do you mean literally or figuratively?

    Do you believe aliens exist, or not?

    What if I believe they exist, but have not yet visited earth or contacted any humans?

    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?

    I want to meet one of the 4% who said yes to this and was serious about it.

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