WASHINGTON – An analysis of a new poll claims to show that a person’s tendency to believe in conspiracy theories is influenced by his or her political beliefs.
Polling exert Kathy Frankovic says the results of an Economist/YouGov Poll show “what we know as true or not true these days can depend on our political point of view.”
But the poll does not define what distinguishes a “conspiracy theory” from a “theory.”
It did not include a thorough analysis of how likely each theory actually might be true, or not.
It also didn’t analyze how the evidence for any particular theory might affect whether a person would find it credible.
In gauging political beliefs, the poll did not compare Republicans and Democrats, or conservatives and liberals, but compared supporters of President-elect Donald Trump and former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
For instance, the poll found far more Clinton supporters were more likely to believe:
- Russia hacked Democratic Party emails to help elect Donald Trump
While, even though a majority of them did not believe it, more Trump than Clinton supporters were apt to believe:
- Leaked emails from the Clinton campaign talked about pedophilia and human trafficking
More Trump supporters believed:
- Millions of illegal votes were cast in the election
Conversely, the poll said more Clinton supporters believed:
- Russia tampered with vote tallies to help Donald Trump.
Perhaps interestingly, 25 percent of Clinton voters did believe millions of illegal votes were cast in the election.
Other results showed a majority of Trump and Clinton supporters both not believing:
- Vaccines have been shown to cause autism
- The U.S. government helped plan the 9/11 attacks
Another result was intended to show the endurance of what the poll referred to as conspiracy theories. It showed some people surveyed, regardless of political leaning, still did believe some long-standing theories, while Frankovic appeared to imply the passage of time alone should have discredited them. She found a majority of people did not believe:
- President Obama was born in Kenya
- Vaccines have been shown to cause autism
While a majority did believe:
- There were WMDs in Iraq that the U.S. never found
It could be possible that beliefs in conspiracy theories, as Frankovic claimed, “can depend on our political point of view.”
But it would also seem possible that a person’s belief in any given assertion could be more influenced by the available evidence, on a case-by-case basis.
In other words, the poll analysis doesn’t appear to give people much credit for having the ability to decide the merit of each issue for themselves.
Russia vote hacking
However, the poll that showed Democrats were split 50-50 when asked whether “Russia tampered with vote tallies to help Donald Trump” does seem to show the results could be more influenced by political beliefs than evidence.
That’s because, not only is there no evidence Russia ever tampered with the actual vote, no one in the intelligence community ever even claimed that happened.
As WND reported, the CIA did not allege “that Russia in any way impacted vote counting on Election Day.”
The allegations leaked to the press by anonymous CIA sources were that Russia might have hacked into Democratic Party emails so that the contents would embarrass the Clinton campaign, once made public. No one alleged that Russia hacked the actual voting tallies.
On the other hand, there have been serious allegations of vote fraud in the 2016 election.
The highest-profile accusation came from Trump, who tweeted, “In addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally.”
The jury is still out, but, as WND reported, evidence of vote fraud is being collected by Catherine Engelbrecht of True the Vote, who waged a years-long fight against the IRS over its targeting of conservative groups. She said she’s convinced Trump is correct.
She promised reliable estimates of the number of illegal-alien voters are on the way.
“We are still collecting data and will be for several months, but our intent is to publish a comprehensive study on the significant impact of illegal voting in all of its many forms and begin a national discussion on how voters, states and the Trump administration can address this growing problem,” Engelbrecht said.
“We put out a statement shortly after the president-elect’s comments came out, and we said that we support the belief that there could, in fact, have been millions of illegally cast votes, and we are doing tremendous amounts of research to try to get to some of those answers.
“When we talk about fraud in sound bites, we often sort of get caught up in, oh, you know, the dead are voting, people are being bused in. Do those things happen, and are those all worth of debate? Absolutely. But the real problem that we face is that fraud has been institutionalized. We have set up processes that allow for non-citizens among other ways, but non-citizens certainly to flood into our rolls.”
Obama born in Kenya
Long-standing suspicions by many that Obama was born in Kenya and that his U.S. birth certificate was forged were renewed this month when a news conference was held by Phoenix Sheriff Joe Arpaio to announce the results of a forensic investigation of the document.
As WND reported, Arpaio and his chief investigator on the Obama birth certificate issue, Mike Zullo, revealed evidence they said shows the document was fabricated on a computer.
They concluded it is not a copy of any original Hawaiian document, and said they discovered nine points of forgery.
Zullo claimed his evidence showed the digital images on the document released by Obama in a White House news conference were copied from another document.
The investigator explained the investigation found that some of the images on the Obama document image apparently were copied from an original birth certificate that belongs to a woman named Johanna Ah’nee.
But Ah’nee said she obtained a copy of her birth certificate and kept it locked in her own files until the Obama image had been released. At about that time, she revealed it to WND senior writer Jerry Corsi, who was reporting on the dispute.
Zullo concluded that only the Hawaiian government, which had the document image, could have used it to copy elements onto Obama’s.
“What are the odds that two stamps in two separate boxes stamped by hand … days apart would have the exact same angle?” the investigators asked.
Zullo said the alleged fraud was an “inside job” and apparently involved the Hawaiian government.
WMDs in Iraq
Perhaps the most credible assertion there were weapons of mass destruction, or WMD, in Iraq that the U.S. never found came from Saddam Hussein’s own former number-two general, Georges Sada.
As WND reported as far back as 2006, Sada claimed the WMD were sent to Syria in 2002, disguised as shipments of humanitarian aid for victims of a dam break.
He said, “the WMDs were in Iraq,” but, Saddam “converted two aircraft, two airplanes, a 747 Jumbo, and a 727 and WMDs, raw materials, many other equipment were put in that two aircraft, by the special Republican Guard, in a very secret way and they were transported to Syria to Damascus and they did 56 flights, to make all – whatever has to do with weapons of mass destruction to be in Syria.
“And besides that, 18-wheel tractor trucks, civilian trucks, were also loaded of what couldn’t go in the aircraft, and this was also transported to Syria.”
Two years before that interview, WND reported that on Jan. 5, 2004, Nizar Nayouf, a Syrian journalist who had recently defected to France, said in a letter to the Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf that chemical and biological weapons were smuggled from Iraq into Syria before the war began, when Saddam realized he would be attacked by the U.S.
Nayouf’s claims had apparently been substantiated by the U.S. intelligence community two months before. In a briefing to defense reporters on Oct. 30, 2003, officials of the National Imagery and Mapping Agency, or NIMA, in Washington released an assessment that Iraqi weapons of mass destruction were transferred to Syria in the weeks before the war began.
The officials said the assessment was based on satellite images of convoys of Iraqi trucks that poured into Syria in February and March 2003. According to Middle East Newsline, quoted by WorldTribune.com, most of the intelligence community concluded that at least some of Iraq’s WMDs, along with Iraqi scientists and technicians, were smuggled to Syria.
Then-NIMA chief James Clapper, the current director of national intelligence, told reporters he linked the disappearance of Iraqi WMDs with the large number of Iraqi trucks that crossed into Syria before and during the U.S. invasion. The assessment was that these trucks contained missiles and WMD components banned by the United Nations Security Council.
Vaccines cause autism
There is a longstanding divide between pro-vaccine and anti-vaccine camps. As WND has reported extensively, where the truth lies is a matter of sharp debate. Parents have a choice between accepting the recommendations of doctors and the government or becoming knowledgeable enough to make informed decisions for themselves.
“Vaccines, like all medical interventions, have risks and benefits, which vary with patients and circumstances (including the disease and the vaccine,)” Dr. Jane Orient of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons told WND.
WND’s Ellen Ratner reported in 2012 that autism has increased by 1,000 percent in 40 years. A preservative called Thimerosal was a particular concern.
Ratner said John Hopkins professor Leo Kanner found in 1935 that “the rate of autism in children was zero prior to 1930. Then in 1930, Thimerosal, a mercury containing preservative, was used in some vaccines.”
“In July 1999, the Public Health Service agencies, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and vaccine manufacturers concurred Thimerosal should be eliminated, or at least reduced in vaccines,” Ratner continued.
WND reported in 2012 that America’s largest organization for pediatricians strongly objected to a proposal by the United Nations to ban Thimerosal from the world’s vaccine supply.
Commentaries in the issue of Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, stated that Thimerosal had not been found to be harmful and removal of Thimerosal-containing vaccines would needlessly jeopardize the lives and health of millions of children in underdeveloped countries.
Still, parents who believe their child has been harmed by a vaccination can apply for money from the federal government. The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, part of the Department of Health and Human Services, was set up years ago to pay for the care of vaccine-injured Americans.