As famed American philosopher H.J. Simpson once so eloquently put it, “facts can be used to prove anything that’s even remotely true.” Well, join us today as we discuss 10 studies showing that a not insignificant percentage of the American population believe in everything from lizard people running to world, to HTML being an STD…
10. 7% of Americans think chocolate milk comes brown cows
In mid-2017 the American blogosphere erupted with jeers and mockery following a study released by the Innovation Center of US Dairy showing that some 7% of adult Americans believes chocolate milk came from brown cows. As others have pointed out, this amounts to around 16 million American citizens (roughly double the population of New York City) being unaware that chocolate milk is just regular milk with chocolate in it. Something you think they’d gather from… well, the name.
As the Washington Post points out, though, the really shocking thing about this statistic is that it isn’t higher. Studies have long shown that Americans are remarkably dense when it comes to basic agricultural knowledge, with studies variously showing that upwards of 20% of American respondents don’t know that hamburgers are made from beef or what foods common farm animals eat. The answer to the latter, of course, being other farm animals.
9. Thousands of Americans believe they’re being systematically harassed and stalked by groups of people, for no reason
Gang stalking is the term used to describe a very specific form of paranoia that affects an unknown, but not insignificant number of Americans. In short, those who believe they’re being gang stalked believe that they’re at the center of a systematic, targeted harassment campaign involving hundreds, if not thousands of individuals. A fear needlessly stoked by internet echo chambers, victims of this bizarre conspiracy quite literally believe that everyone is out to get them to the point experts studying it have found individuals who believe their dog has been replaced by an exact double that is trained to nip at their balls.
According to the New York Times, the support network of individuals claiming to be victims of this supposed phenomenon is “conservatively estimated to exceed 10,000 members,” with the true number likely being way higher due to gang stalkees naturally shying away from the internet and people in lab coats with clipboards. Described as a “mishmash” of conspiracy theories, reports of the phenomenon understandably spiked following 9/11 and those who believe they’re being stalked have blamed everyone from the Jews to aliens. When in reality we all know it’s most likely Jewish aliens.
8. A quarter of Americans believe God has a role to play in who wins the Super Bowl
According to questionnaires doled out shortly before the Super Bowl one year, a sizeable percentage of quizzed Americans pray before the big game to ask whichever deity they believe in to sway the result in their favor. This, in and of itself, is pretty normal, right? We mean, people probably pray to God asking for mundane stuff all the time, why wouldn’t they pray asking for their favorite team’s kicker to have a good day. However, here’s the weird part…
You see, an impressive amount of quizzed individuals who admitted to praying for their team to win believe that prayer actively sways the result of the game. Which is amazing, if you think about it, because surely these people know the other side is also praying in roughly equal numbers to the same God for their team to win. In other words, another way to look at the results of this study isn’t that around a quarter of Americans believe prayer actively impacts the results of the Super Bowl, but that a quarter of Americans believe that, for some reason, God just so happens to support their team.
7. 12 million Americans believe lizard people secretly run the US
Oh boy, oh boy. This is going to be a fun one, so let’s just get right to it. According to multiple studies conducted by a range of establishments, it’s been suggested that anywhere upwards of 12 million Americans (about 4% of the population) believe that interstellar lizard-men secretly run the world. Ignoring the fact that’s it not really that big of a secret if 12 million people are supposedly “in” on it, and millions more are aware of the theory via pop-culture osmosis, let’s unpack this.
According to research conducted by the Pew Research Center, depending on your definition, anywhere between 4 and 8 million Americans are Jewish, meaning proponents of the Lizard-people-running-the-world theory outnumber the total believers of one of the biggest religions on planet Earth by a factor of several million in the United States. Believers in the Lizard also handily outnumber the total number of American Muslims, Hindus, Mormons, and Buddhists combined if percentages provided by Pew are accurate. This means more Americans believe that our world is run by Lizards than believe in established religions that have existed for millennia. At this point followers of the Holy Lizard should just start their own religion. At least that way they’d let the Lizards know they’re onto them and weaken their overall lizardy-grasp on humanity be ensuring they don’t get any of their taxes.
6. A bunch of Americans HTML is an STD
According to a poll of America’s less tech savvy residents aged 18 and over, some 11% reported that they thought HTML was the name of a terrifying and hilarious-sounding sexually transmitted disease. But we’re not done; the study also found that a decent amount (of the people quizzed) were almost hilariously computer illiterate, reporting, among other things, that MP3 was the name of one of the robots in Star Wars.
The poll also found that 18% of Americans thought Blu-Ray was a kind of weird sea-creature and a further 12% assumed the acronym USB referred to a country in some long-forgotten grey part of Eastern Europe. Not all is lost, though, because more than 61% did report that they felt having a good knowledge of technology and computer jargon was an important life skill. So, yeah.
5. As many Americans believe in Bigfoot as the Big Bang Theory
In 2014, Chapman University conducted a study to gather hard data on the ubiquity of irrational beliefs in regards to the American adult population. The results of the study, which are quite illuminating on their own – revealing among other things that 20% of polled Americans believe fortune tellers can predict the future – were then compared to similar studies conducted on a similarly representative cross sample of American adults. The results, as you’ve probably guessed by now, are kind of hilarious… in a terrifying sort of way.
As the Washington Post and the title of this entry note, about as many Americans (about 30%) believe in Bigfoot as their are Americans confident that the universe began with a Big Bang. In a similar vein, just as many Americans believe that ghosts and spirits can haunt specific rooms as responded positively to the statement “childhood vaccines are safe” (about 50%), while slightly more Americans agree with the statement “Satan Causes Most Evil in the World” (about 45%) than agree with the theory of natural selection, which only 40% of representative American adults admitted to believing in.
4. Almost 50% of Americans believe major news outlets make stuff up about Donald Trump
According to a 2017 poll conducted by Politico, some 46% of respondents believed that major news organizations simply make stuff up about Donald Trump. The results, which were understandably skewed along party lines, found that an overwhelming majority of polled Republicans (76%) believe the news regularly published or reported on untrue stories about the president. For comparison’s sake, only 11% of Democrats agreed with the same statement.
Most worryingly of all, 28% of those polled reported that they’d be happy if the government had the power to revoke the broadcasting licenses of news organizations it “believes” is spreading fake news, while a further 21% said they were unsure if they’d be okay with this. Meaning at least a quarter of polled voters would be happy for the government to have the power to instantly silence criticism it doesn’t like. Luckily we don’t count as news, so it won’t affect us. But jeez, the guy who wrote this is English and even he thinks that’s government overreach.
3. A significant proportion of Americans believe dinosaurs and humans coexisted
Dinosaurs are awesome and it’s a shame that they lived so long ago that the DNA locked inside their bones has long since withered past the point of us being able to use it to clone them. As such, it’s understandable that some people – let’s call them “heroes” – have steadfastly ignored science and facts to assert that, actually, dinosaurs roamed the Earth a couple thousand years ago.
While hard numbers are difficult to obtain, one study asserts that some 41% of adult Americans believe that dinosaurs and humans roamed the Earth at the same time during some period in history. In addition, thousands of children in the US are currently attending schools that teach a fundamentalist curriculum. Along with teaching these kids that the Earth is only 10,000 years old, some go further and assert that Adam and Eve chilled in the Garden of Eden alongside cool-ass dinosaurs. Which, as adults, we find horrifying. But as big kids, we find that kind of awesome because nothing was more disappointing as a kid than learning that our ancestors never drop-kicked a T-Rex.
2. Half of Americans believe Global Warming will harm America, but not them personally
In recent years, more and more Americans have come around on the idea of Global Warming being, well, a thing, with the latest figures suggesting some 58% of Americans believe climate change is both real and man-made. As an aside, over 97% of climate change scientists believe the same thing.
Curiously, though, although more than half of polled Americans admit that that climate change is real and poses a tangible, credible threat to humanity as a whole, only 40% think that it will harm them “personally.” Which is, well… it’s an impressive feat of mental gymnastics, if you think about it. Imagine having the mental capacity to understand the harm global shifts in weather patterns can have on a macro level, but having no idea how said changes would ever impact your own life. We mean, these people know that they live on Earth too, right? LIke, any changes that impact the day-to-day running of America will inevitably impact the lives of its citizens, right? This isn’t us being sarcastic, we genuinely need to know because we’re kind of baffled about the results of this study.
1. Barely anyone in America knows anything about the Constitution
America is a country founded on the principles of personal freedom and responsibility to the care of your fellow man. Or at least, most people assume it is, because multiple studies have shown that a shocking amount of Americans know almost nothing about the documents that formed the bedrock of modern American society. We are, of course, talking about the Constitution and the first of many subsequent amendments made to it in the Bill of Rights.
Countless polls and studies have shown that the average American citizen knows almost nothing about the Constitution or has even the most basic understanding of how the country works. For example, one study found that a third of respondents couldn’t name a right protected by the First Amendment, and a similar amount couldn’t name a single branch of government. Another study conducted way back in 1991 found that a third of Americans couldn’t recognize the Bill of Rights, with 1 in 10 having no idea why it was drafted in the first place. Further back still, in the 1950s a reporter walked around on the 4th of July with the Declaration of Independence strapped to a clipboard, telling people it was a petition. Of 111 people he asked to sign it, only a single person recognized that the petition was actually the Declaration of Independence and agreed to sign it. Meanwhile, 20 people accused the reporter of being a communist and at least one person asserted that the document was actually the Russian Declaration of Independence.
A fact we think we’re just going to let sit for a while.