Public opinion on conspiracy theories

Creative Commons (CCO 2.0)

Picture of President Kennedy in the limousine in Dallas, Texas, on Main Street, minutes before the assassination.

 

This AEI Public Opinion Study looks closely at public attitudes about a variety of conspiracy theories. This collection includes subjects such as whether aliens landed at Roswell, whether 9/11 was the work of the US government, whether Princess Diana’s death was an accident, and whether Elvis and Osama bin Laden are still alive. We also look at the persistence of the belief among a segment of the population that President Obama was not born in the United States. We begin with the assassination of Kennedy.

  • Fifty years after President John F. Kennedy’s assassination, the belief that more than one person was involved in his assassination remains the most widely held conspiracy theory in America. In an April 2013 poll, 59 percent said others were involved.
  • In the few polls we have, a sizable minority of the population believes President Roosevelt knew about the attack on Pearl Harbor in advance and used the attack as an excuse to go to war.
  • Around 20 percent embrace the view that UFOs have landed in the United States at Roswell, New Mexico, and that the government is engaged in a systematic cover-up of this event
  • In a 1976 Harris poll, 60 percent believed the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. was the work of a conspiracy. In a 2008 CNN poll, 55 percent endorsed the notion of a conspiracy.
  • In an August 2007 Fox News poll, 31 percent agreed that foul play was involved in Princess Diana's death
  • In a July 2006 Scripps Howard and Ohio University poll, 16 percent said it was likely that the “people in the federal government either assisted in the 9/11 attacks or took no action to stop the attacks because they wanted to United States to go to war in the Middle East.”
  • Around 6 percent believe the moon landing was a hoax
  • Fifteen percent told Fox News that there was a chance that Osama bin Laden is still alive, while 24 percent told CBS News that they had doubts about whether he was killed.

 

Conspiracy theories: What do Americans believe 50 years after the JFK assassination? from American Enterprise Institute on Vimeo.

 

 

 

 

Share the infographic. Click on the image to enlarge.

Also Visit
AEIdeas Blog The American Magazine
About the Author

 

Karlyn
Bowman

 

Andrew
Rugg

What's new on AEI

Defeating ISIS: AEI experts weigh-in before the president’s address on Wednesday
image Degrading, defeating, and destroying the Islamic State
image Wealth Building Home Loan: Building wealth through homeownership and retirement savings
image The $3 iPhone
AEI on Facebook
Events Calendar
  • 15
    MON
  • 16
    TUE
  • 17
    WED
  • 18
    THU
  • 19
    FRI
Tuesday, September 16, 2014 | 5:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
The Constitution as political theory

Please join us for the third-annual Walter Berns Constitution Day Lecture as James Ceasar, Harry F. Byrd Professor of Politics at the University of Virginia, explores some of the Constitution’s most significant contributions to political theory, focusing on themes that have been largely unexamined in current scholarship.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014 | 8:10 a.m. – Thursday, September 18, 2014 | 1:30 p.m.
Third international conference on housing risk: New risk measures and their applications

We invite you to join us for this year’s international conference on housing risk — cosponsored by the Collateral Risk Network and AEI International Center on Housing Risk — which will focus on new mortgage and collateral risk measures and their applications.

Thursday, September 18, 2014 | 2:15 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Speaker of the House John Boehner on resetting America’s economic foundation

Please join us as Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) delivers his five-point policy vision to reset America’s economy.

Friday, September 19, 2014 | 9:15 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.
Reforming Medicare: What does the public think?

Please join us as a panel of distinguished experts explore the implications of the report and the consumer role in shaping the future of Medicare.

No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.