Selling Fear

A new report out of Fairleigh Dickinson University Public Mind Poll shows that the majority of Americans embrace some kind of political conspiracy theory. The full report is available on Scribd.

The nationwide survey of registered voters asked Americans to evaluate four different political conspiracy theories: 56 percent of Democrats and 75 percent of Republicans say that at least one is likely true. This includes 36 percent who think that President Obama is hiding information about his background and early life, 25 percent who think that the government knew about 9/11 in advance, and 19 percent who think the 2012 Presidential election was stolen.

What’s interesting is the political divide:

Generally, the more people know about current events, the less likely they are to believe in conspiracy theories – but not among Republicans, where more knowledge leads to greater belief in political conspiracies. [...]

Among Democrats, each question answered correctly reduces the likelihood of endorsing at least one of the conspiracy theories by seven points.Among independents, each additional question reduces it by two points. For Republicans,though, each additional question answered correctly tends to increase belief in at least one of the theories by two points.

“There are several possible explanations for this,” said Cassino. “It could be that more conspiracy-minded Republicans seek out more information, or that the information some Republicans seek out just tends to reinforce these myths.

Call it the “Fox News effect,” I suppose.

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