You probably already know that lots of Americans believe in conspiracy theories, but it might surprise you just how many believe some out-there things. And the most widely believed conspiracy theories in America might surprise you, too — because of how not out-there they are. Personally, I have a lot more faith in my fellow Americans now that I know we are more likely to believe that the official government story is suspect than to believe the world is run by lizard people. I mean, a disturbing number of people do believe in the lizard people, but overall, we seem slightly more grounded in reality than that.
To figure out how many Americans do believe in various conspiracy theories, and to determine the most popular ones, Mic looked at data from multiple national surveys, sampling a total of 2,000 people. Which isn't a big sample size for a country of 300 million, but is still decent enough to give us a snapshot. And it turns out that conspiracy theories are pretty popular. In fact, more than half of all Americans believe at least one, according to these polls.
Of course, it's also worth pointing out we don't know how strongly most Americans might hold these beliefs, based just on this data. There is, after all, a difference between someone who casually believes aliens are probably real and someone who is building a shrine to them in the desert, or keeps talking about them in the national press.
So what are the most popular conspiracy theories? Here are the top seven:
7. The New World Order
Probably the most classic conspiracy theory on this list, 28 percent of Americans in these surveys believe in the New World Order, aka that the whole world is run by a select and secret group of the elite. Some believe that this shadowy organization are secretly influencing major world events with the aim of taking over, while others apparently believe they already rule the world in secret like a global puppeteer. Either way, the presumed end goal is for them to openly rule the entire world.
6. The CIA's LSD tests
Twenty-nine percent of Americans surveyed think that the CIA tested LSD on American citizens. I'm actually not sure why the researchers decided to class this one as a conspiracy theory since declassified documents actually indicate that they really did do just that (as did the US Army). So really, the question should be why 71 percent of Americans don't know this.
5. Aliens Exist
Twenty-nine percent of Americans in these surveys believe aliens are real. Which...could be true. We don't really know one way or the other, I suppose. Though it's unclear how many of these people believe they have interacted with aliens.
4. Obama Lied About His Background
Whether it's the birth certificate rumors that just won't die or the story that Obama's a secret Muslim. As of right now, 36 percent of Americans believe Obama lied about his background. There's a whole entry about it on Conservapedia and everything.
3. Global Warming
This one is incredibly depressing, actually, seeing as how it might kill us all. Thirty-seven percent of Americans believe global warming is a hoax. Needless to say, when you sample scientists, those numbers are very different.
2. Bush Lied
Forty-four percent of Americans believe President George W. Bush deliberately lied about there being weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. While this is not the most unreasonable thing to assume, it's never been proven, however.
1. JFK's Assassination
Fifty-four percent of Americans surveyed believe the official story behind JFK's assassination is covering up a conspiracy, making it the most popular conspiracy theory in America. I have a feeling this is one that will never die, either.
You can find out what other popular conspiracies Americans have faith in here.
Image: Wikipedia Commons