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

In year four of Dodd-Frank, over-regulation is getting old
image Halbig v. Burwell: A stunning rebuke of a lawless and reckless administration
image Beware all the retirement 'crisis' reports
image Cut people or change how they're paid
AEI on Facebook
Events Calendar
  • 21
    MON
  • 22
    TUE
  • 23
    WED
  • 24
    THU
  • 25
    FRI
Monday, July 21, 2014 | 9:15 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
Closing the gaps in health outcomes: Alternative paths forward

Please join us for a broader exploration of targeted interventions that provide real promise for reducing health disparities, limiting or delaying the onset of chronic health conditions, and improving the performance of the US health care system.

Monday, July 21, 2014 | 4:00 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Comprehending comprehensive universities

Join us for a panel discussion that seeks to comprehend the comprehensives and to determine the role these schools play in the nation’s college completion agenda.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014 | 8:50 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Who governs the Internet? A conversation on securing the multistakeholder process

Please join AEI’s Center for Internet, Communications, and Technology Policy for a conference to address key steps we can take, as members of the global community, to maintain a free Internet.

Thursday, July 24, 2014 | 9:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.
Expanding opportunity in America: A conversation with House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan

Please join us as House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) unveils a new set of policy reforms aimed at reducing poverty and increasing upward mobility throughout America.

Thursday, July 24, 2014 | 6:00 p.m. – 7:15 p.m.
Is it time to end the Export-Import Bank?

We welcome you to join us at AEI as POLITICO’s Ben White moderates a lively debate between Tim Carney, one of the bank’s fiercest critics, and Tony Fratto, one of the agency’s staunchest defenders.

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