In this brief, author Lawrence Hamilton reports the results of a nationwide U.S. survey that asked respondents whether they agreed, disagreed, or were unsure about a series of statements that mixed pseudo-science conspiracy claims with well-established scientific facts.
Around 10 percent of respondents agreed with conspiracy claims that the Earth is flat, NASA faked the Moon landings, or COVID-19 vaccinations implant tracking microchips. For comparison, 58 to 83 percent agreed with statements of basic scientific facts—such as the Earth is billions of years old, or revolves around the Sun. Although agreement with conspiracy claims was low overall, it was significantly higher among two subgroups: Millennials, and supporters of ex-president Trump.
Conspiratorial thinking or conspiracist ideation has become a prominent feature of current U.S. politics, shaping how many people think about elections, the COVID-19 pandemic, and other issues. Origins and explanations for conspiratorial beliefs are consequently the focus of much research. The survey results described in this brief fit generally with previous studies, while adding new details.
Carsey School of Public Policy
National Issue Brief No. 162
Durham, N.H. : Carsey School of Public Policy, University of New Hampshire
Hamilton, Lawrence C., "Conspiracy vs. Science: A Survey of U.S. Public Beliefs" (2022). The Carsey School of Public Policy at the Scholars' Repository. 448.
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