1/3 of Brits are gullible? Can't be.

By Phil Plait | July 31, 2008 4:18 pm

Would you believe that more than 1/3 of British adults are incredibly gullible, willing to believe in utter nonsense with no evidence at all?

I don’t believe it. But then, I don’t believe in anything.

And certainly not this. My buddy Chris Lintott points out a recent survey — sponsored by 20th Century Fox to promote the new X-Files flick — that lists a bunch of conspiracy theories, and the percentages of British adults who believe in them. The problem here is two-fold: the questions weren’t listed, and neither are the error bars (though 1000 adults were surveyed indicating a Poissonian standard deviation of about 3%).

But among the standard goofy CTs, you just know they had to stick in the Moon Hoax. Their percentage? 35%.

But what does that mean?. The Guardian article doesn’t even say if that’s the number of people who think Apollo was faked, or if they thought the idea had merit, or if it was just their favorite CT. And that number is suspiciously high. I know that lots of kids might buy into it: I’ve given plenty of talks about the Hoax, and kids seem more susceptible than adults to it. Maybe it’s because they weren’t around in 1969, but I suspect teh intertoobs have more to do with it. I’ve seen surveys done in the US that indicate the number of people who think the landings could have been faked is as high as 20% and as low as 6%, but that lower limit is suspect. If you ask 1000 people if they are dead, 6% will say "yes".

But either way, I’m with Chris on this: 35% is way too high to be believed. I have a lot more — ahem! — faith in our friends across the pond than that.

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Comments (88)

Links to this Post

  1. News From Around The Blogosphere 7.31.08 « Skepacabra | August 1, 2008
  2. Bad Thinking | August 2, 2008
  1. Captain Swoop

    Well, if it was to support the X-Files it would produce the results that the sponsors wanted, if it doesn’t you don’t publish it. (or you spin it to produced the results you want)

  2. Cusp

    From my experience, yep it’s true. Lack of science education = believe any old bull that comes along without question.

  3. Hoonser

    Those conspiracy theorists.
    I think Rex Murphy says it best.

    http://ca.youtube.com/watch?v=5u_4B6JDcgE

  4. Nemo

    I’m sorry to say that I don’t think 35% is unrealistically high at all.

  5. Spacehamster

    Love the X-Files, but it is just fiction. And besides, I don’t think any Government in recent memory is competent enough to cover up an Alien conspiracy to colonise the planet using alien black oil. :) As for the UK, a recent survey reported by the Guardian newspaper showed that 30% of UK citizens believed in Creationism and Intelligent Design.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2006/aug/15/highereducation.students

    We all naturally assume that the UK must have an excellent education system (eg. Tom Brown’s Schooldays). Apparently that isn’t the case anymore.

  6. Nic

    35%? No.
    But (and I’m a UK citizen) I do know a few people (say 5% of the the people I know) who don’t believe the Apollo Moon landing happened.
    Not so long ago, when the Phoenix lander landed on Mars one of these guys was really into that – so I asked the obvious question “You don’t believe anyone has gone above low Earth orbit, but you believe in high fidelity pictures from a few hundred million kilometres away, of pictures of the lander on the way down, which were themselves taken from many hundred of kilometres from the action?’
    His reaction? He still doesn’t believe Apollo landed. He – actually an interesting an intelligent guy – is I think more fascinated by the idea of the hoax.

    How is not landing on the Moon more interesting than landing on the Moon?

    Nic

  7. sandswipe

    >If you ask 1000 people if they are dead, 6% will say “yes”.

    I can confirm that I would say yes.

  8. darkkosmos

    You should try it out, it’s spectacular how stupid people are in the USA and UK.

  9. Would you believe that more than 1/3 of British adults are incredibly gullible, willing to believe in utter nonsense with no evidence at all?

    Doesn’t surprise me, when “gullible” isn’t even included in the OED. 😉

    As for kids’ susceptibility to the “moon hoax” conspiracy theory, I personally suspect it’s mostly “because they weren’t around in 1969.” Specifically, it’s the incredulity that we’d ever *stop* going to the moon. But that’s just pure speculation on my part.

  10. Maybe it’s because of the type of people I know, but I’ve only ever had ONE person say they doubted the landings (though admittedly I don’t ask everybody I know) – and even then, I think I managed to changed his mind by pointing out the flaws in the standard arguments that he inevitably regurgitated. Thanks for the ammunition, Phil! :)

  11. Philip

    its not only the Brits, several people here in Germany are die hard moon hoax believers.
    Scientists and Engineers, who are well educated and usually of the sceptic kind.

    Best one I met is convinced only Apollo 11 was faked because of the end of decade goal.

    Nonetheless it shows how easily people fall for fallacies. The Brain is a fscinating chemical machine. And if not treated wisely it plays some neat tricks on its owner.

    And doesn’t the survey suggest to fund a little trip to the moon by a camera overflying the landing sites?
    How much would it cost to fly a tiny HD camera to the moon for some low overpasses of the landing sites? Shouldn’t weigh more than 2lb or 3lb. Science is not the only reason to go to space, curiosity of the more mundane kind may also be a driver. It may even pay for itself.

    Philip

  12. Colin

    It wasn’t specifically about the Moon Hoax CT, but Charlie Brooker (also in the Grauniad) had an entertaining swipe at the whole conspiracy mindset the other week:
    So, you believe in conspiracy theories, do you? You probably also think you’re the Emperor of Pluto

  13. John Keller

    You missed some important words. This is an online poll.

  14. Maura

    The first fold of that two-fold problem is enough to toss the baby out with the bathwater. No questions published, no telling what the response bias is = effectively no information contained in the results. Of course, the fact that it was commissioned for promotional purposes should be enough to invalidate it anyway.

    Still, it’s annoying that some people will accept the claims without question.

  15. Daniel

    ……………………………………..”Guardian newspaper showed that 30% of UK citizens believed in Creationism and Intelligent Design.”……………………………………

    Thats crap! creationism is laughted at in the uk, we consider it an american thing. From my experience most brits are non believers.

    The reason why the 30% believe the moon landings are fake is because….

    1. We are fed stupid hoax documentaries on tv, where they use bad science to fool people, and they succeed.

    2. Most uk citizens just aren’t interested in science to do the research, landing on the moon does look far fetched to the uneducated, and due to lack of education and/or unwillingness to do any research, they are also far more likely to believe reason 1.

    Saying that they are still educated enough to realise creatisnism is b******

    Dan, England.

  16. Kevin

    A. It’s The Guardian for frack’s sake. Isn’t it just a rag paper?

    B. It actually wouldn’t surprise me that kids don’t believe the moon landings. It seems that with today’s massive information onslaught from the interweb, kids are more gullible than ever, because they don’t know who or what to trust.

  17. Logan

    I’ve said it before elsewhere: I think people become stupider when filling out a poll.

    I remember hearing about a poll done by a British newspaper that found that roughly a quarter of Brits thought Winston Churchill was a fictional character, and about the same percentage thought Sherlock Holmes was a historical person.

    Also there’s Sam Harris’s article about the survey which found a minority of oxy-morons who said they were both “atheist or agnostic” yet also “believed in a personal God.”

  18. JT

    Sorry Phil, but there is no way on earth that you will convince me that only 1/3 of Brits are gullible.

  19. Grebion

    The thing with conspiracy theories is that they’re actually somewhat compatible with critical thinking, at least to a greater extent than religion (which is fundamentally irrational; that isn’t to say it’s wrong to have faith, but it isn’t compatible with critical thinking).

    They start out with being skeptical of authority and official/mainstream truths. That’s actually not a bad thing.

    Then they re-evaluate the evidence available…or more commonly, defer to – here’s the trap – an even more questionable authority for an analysis, which usually has mistakes that aren’t immediately obvious.

    After they become convinced that there must be something to it, confirmation bias takes over. But wait…hasn’t critical thinking gone out the window now? Actually, no. Confirmation bias is in many ways the worst enemy of objectivity…but it’s actually also useful to an extent. It’s also related to the reason scientists don’t continually re-evaluate everything. The statement “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence” is, in a sense, an expression of confirmation bias. The thing with a conspiracy theorist is that in his mind, what is extraordinary was “flipped” when he accepted the theory.

    Note that in this sense, modern creationism looks a lot like a conspiracy theory; my earlier comment on religion referred merely to having faith in the first place (usually based on zero evidence – that’s why it’s called “faith”).

    Some conspiracy theories are probably even somewhat true, but the moon hoax (or creationism for that matter) certainly isn’t the one, as the counter-evidence is clear enough that it should fulfill even the demand for extraordinary evidence.

  20. I have it on good authority that fully half of Americans are below average in intelligence.
    I’m just sayin’…
    Rich

  21. Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter will reck havoc on Moon hoax theories, like a knife through hot butter!

  22. Davidlpf

    Umair they will just claim that the pictures were doctored so that it will look like somebody has been to the moon.

  23. andyo

    I think 35% is about right. Don’t have any data myself, but it seems less unbelievable than the 95-or-so percent of American god-believers.

  24. Eddie

    “If you ask 1000 people if they are dead, 6% will say “yes”.”

    Heh.

  25. @Davidlpf: But I am not resting. I am working on a spacecraft that will enable people to ride to the Moon and tour around the landers. Besides, the Kaguya has taken pictures which directly prove Apollo.

    Here: (http://www.universetoday.com/2008/07/16/japanese-selene-kaguya-lunar-mission-spots-apollo-15-landing-site-images/) Phil, I hope you post the comparison images.

  26. Electro

    @Hoonser,

    Thanks for that link.

    I’ve always known Rex was good,but I’d never seen that one.

    To all the non-Canuck BABlogees out there, that would have been a feature piece on our national news. ( Government funded no less )

  27. Robert Krendik

    Facepalm…How can someone still believe in that…sigh…oh well LOL, across the pond, interesting perspective.

  28. @Robert Krendik: I love the phrase that Phil nailed down, “across the pond”. I love phrase in a genuine sense. Not being sarcastic.

  29. Ginger Yellow

    The specific moonlanding number doesn’t sound right (I’ve only ever encountered one hoax-believer), but the number for general gullibility on a similar scale is probably far higher. Bear in mind that one of our major newspapers has spent most of the last 10 years claiming that the Royal Family had Diana Spencer killed because she was pregnant with Dodi Fayed’s baby. Day after day after day. And the second best selling newspaper in the country regularly pimps (on the front page) the Bible Code, crystals, MMR-autism conspiracies and a huge variety of anti-scientific woo.

  30. Mark Hansen

    Phil,
    The truth is out there…
    …unfortunately, it won’t be in the poll results.

  31. Ginger Yellow

    Also, note that this was an online poll, organised by Fox to promote the X-Files. If we’re talking an online poll of X-Files fans, then the numbers aren’t surprising at all.

  32. Autumn

    Ummm…
    Most obvious answer to me is that the poll results were never consulted at all, but some marketing hack decided that “35%” tested well with the core demographic (did I get my advert-speak correct?).
    When it comes to an orginization quoting a statistic, I always assume it’s balderdash until shown otherwise.

  33. StevoR

    Well 1/3rd of Briuts and maybe 1/6th of us Aussie may be guillible but I’d reckon about 2/3rd of you Yanks (“Americans”) fall into too guillible category! 😉

    PS. Did you know 45.37 % of all statistics are made up on the spot! 😉

    PPS. To gauge a democratic nation’s stupidity level just look at who gets voted into power “by the people for the people” That USA-ites could ever elect a moron like Bush the lesser & that *anyone* in the US of A could even contemplate voting for the Retardican party speaks volumes about exactly how stupid and ignorant Americans are.

    If they want to show the world they’re not as dumb as much of the Western rational world thinks they are – well Obama simply has to win in a landslide & the Neocon Relig. Wrong side of US politics (the extreme lunatic Wrong rather than merely than Wrong wing as opposed to the (non-existent in the United States) Left wing.) needs to be kicked out hard and permanently! 😉

    No insult intended to the bright people here – this is just the sad, stark truth. :-(

  34. Cory Meyer

    I don’t want to sound boring, but I think I have a good grasp on why teenagers are more susceptible to conspiracy theories in general. For one, because they are still transitioning from their biologically wired instinct to believe everything (because, like Richard Dawkins says, we can’t have children being skeptical of staying away from crocodiles) to applying critical thinking and thinking for themselves. But secondly, because teenagers tend to have an external locus of control in their life; i.e. little control over their social activities, lifestyle choices, occupational opportunities, and educational prowess; and this conflicts with their desires to be masters of their own domain, thus the greater susceptibility to believing in conspiracy theories. (I credit Michael Shermer for pointing out how external loci of control correspond with belief in weird things.) Teh intertoobs just makes it easier to be exposed to unqualified nonsense.

  35. SCR-stats

    Lies, d*mn lies and statistics – but I’m NOT suprised.

    Given the facts that so many USA-ites* believe in Biblical literalism, Creationism / ID / Iraqi WMDs / the Neocons & Retardicans actually being in any way truthful and somehow “Good”, ad nauseam .. I expect the percentage of USA-ites that believe in such BS woo is very high.

    Is it really as high as 2/3rds? Well maybe. :-(

    Go on prove me wrong – surprise me & the rest of the Western civilised world. I’d love to see that – but I’m not holding my breath.

    —————–
    * Being Geographically accurate -“Americans” includes Mexicans, Canadians, Peruvians Argentineans et al .. You’ve really got to get your mob a proper name because saying your “Americans ” is arrogant and wrong. USA-ites or the more commonly used nickname Yanks is about the closest to an accurate term I can get. .. 😉

  36. Deepak

    Dear Phil, Why have you lost your way? Dump the Moon Hoax, UFO’s, Astrology and Witch Craft. Give us some great news, great articles about science. Educate us on the skies and universe. Lets not waste our life time trying to prove the creationist wrong…..

  37. Dave Hall

    Deepak Says:
    Dear Phil, Why have you lost your way? Dump the Moon Hoax, UFO’s, Astrology and Witch Craft.

    WHY do you think the blog is called “Bad Astronomy??”

    If you want happy space cadet news without any critical thinking involved, try the Coast To Coast AM’s website. Or Google Art Bell George Noory or Richard P Hoaglund and look them up. There they don’t try to prove any new age sap stuff wrong. In fact, they are highly supportive of Moon Hoax UFOs Asstrology, Witchcraft and creationist mythology.

    If you want actual science or astronomy information, there are plenty of places you could go where your sensibilities won’t be bruised. But be warned: No REAL science blogs will support pseudoscience.

    Cory Meyer Says: . . .”I think I have a good grasp on why teenagers are more susceptible to conspiracy theories in general. . . . and this conflicts with their desires to be masters of their own domain,”

    Reminds me of an episode of “Seinfeld.”

    OH–and about this topic: “Would you believe that more than 1/3 of British adults are incredibly gullible, willing to believe in utter nonsense with no evidence at all?”
    Why should they be any smarter than we? Weren’t they our main ally looking in Iraq?
    When you were in Blighty, did you happen to read “The Guardian” or “The Sun?” The quality of those two papers should offer a clue.

  38. madge

    I think (as a Brit) that it isn’t gullibility it’s that we don’t believe ANYTHING that ANYONE in authority tells us. It’s our default position :)

  39. Dave Hall

    madge Says:
    I think (as a Brit) that it isn’t gullibility it’s that we don’t believe ANYTHING that ANYONE in authority tells us. It’s our default position

    Knee Jerk Scepticism? I’ll buy that–but only if you are in no position of authority . . .

  40. Ad Hominid

    madge says:
    I think (as a Brit) that it isn’t gullibility it’s that we don’t believe ANYTHING that ANYONE in authority tells us. It’s our default position

    The Taliban supported the Moon Hoax and they rate themselves as major authorities, but I guess they don’t carry much weight in the UK.

    Remember, CTers argue from authority (usually their own) while attacking a strawman of authority represented by people like Phil or James Randi. The latter have genuine credentials, and a huge reservoir of experience, but they typically argue from facts and logic. The Moon Hoaxers for the most part cite their own (generally fictitious) credentials and experiences almost to the exclusion of anything else, and this is true of others CTers as well. “He seems credible” is almost a magical incantation in the UFO culture, for example. It is a classic case of rhetorical projection and inversion.

  41. I read some time ago that a significant portion of Brits never heard of Winston Churchill, and an almost equal number thought Adolf Hitler was British PM during the War.

    So I think anything can be expected.

  42. Ogg

    The whole point of ‘surveys’ like this is to get the film advertised for free by gullible blog owners…

  43. drewski

    I post a lot on a British based messageboard and those numbers don’t surprise me at all.

  44. Ad Hominid

    Imagine how bad it would be if the accursed French had gotten to the Moon first.

  45. Mick

    Speaking as a Brit, I’m sorry to say that it’s not totally unbelievable. I’m surprised how many people I meet who think the landings might have been faked. We don’t have the same problem with Christian fundies that you do in the States (probably because the Church of England is now a toothless old dinosaur that nobody takes seriously) but there’s a depressing amount of magical thinking in many other areas.

  46. Richard Eis

    We weren’t gullible of the latest American fad until it got imported over here. We always get the same stuff a few years after the americans and bull is no exception.
    1/3rd I can believe. The important question is whether that percentage used to be higher or lower.

  47. madge

    Totally OT but I just came in from watching the solar eclipse, partial from uk but still a very cool sight. My daughter said it looked like the sun was singing which I thought was VERY cool :)

  48. Daniel

    StevoR Says:

    PPS. To gauge a democratic nation’s stupidity level just look at who gets voted into power “by the people for the people” That USA-ites could ever elect a moron like Bush the lesser & that *anyone* in the US of A could even contemplate voting for the Retardican party speaks volumes about exactly how stupid and ignorant Americans are.

    ……………………………………………………………………………………………………….

    Lol.

  49. Al

    Given the national propensity for mischief-making, I’d take any UK poll, particularly on-line ones with a large bucket of salt…

  50. Rand

    I agree with Mike Torr, above: I’ve never met a single moon hoax believer. I know it’s a lot of fun to pretend to be very smart and look down your nose at everyone, and I’m sure those people are out there, but anybody who believes the 35% is pretty gullible.

  51. David

    Pfft….
    Like the Yanks would scrore any lower on gullibility…..look at their President for a start….then there’s the 911 Conspirasists etc etc !!

    Teasing aside, I think any nation has a percentile of muppets who will beleive anything “some bloke down the bar said last night”.

    Reading UK

  52. bob

    Comparing the Guardian and the Sun? The Guardian is a serious left wing paper. The Sun is a right wing paper focusing on sports and boobs, famous for calling for the hanging of peadophiles while simultaneously counting down the days until they can publish topless shots of .

  53. bob

    Hmmm, nice filter, chops anything in angled brackets, do you want me to rewrite that for you?

    My previous comment should have finished: famous underage girl of the moment.

  54. Bas

    The vast majority of online polls is useless anyway. I mean, look at the results when Pharyngula crashes one of them.
    Let’s say this poll was the number one result on Google if you searched for “evidence against the moon landing”, then there you go.

    Beyond that, results from any poll/questionaire don’t mean anything to me without demographic information and other relevant information.
    I used to be one of those telemarketer types (hate me for that all you want, I certainly do).
    If I learned anything there, it’s that phone survey results aren’t particularly representative of the population (I’m not sure if online polls would fare any better). The only people that consistently take part in these things are the old, who just want to talk to someone, and the ‘gullible’, for lack of a better category. The rest tends to say they’re not interested and/or hang up.
    Now, technically, there’s nothing wrong with that, but when you report the results only with the sample size, you can get a skewed view of the entire population if the sample was not representative of it.

  55. OK, I’m British. This is what I think of that poll:

    · 1 Area 51 exists to investigate aliens (Oh, come on!)

    · 2 9/11 was orchestrated by the US government (No, although there are some intriguing unexplainable aspects. Bush couldn’t orchestrate a piccolo solo.)

    · 3 Apollo landing was a hoax (SMACK!)

    · 4 Diana and Dodi were murdered (No. I fully accept the verdict of the enquiry.)

    · 5 The Illuminati secret society and masons are trying to take over the world (First I’ve heard of it.)

    · 6 Scientologists rule Hollywood (No evidence.)

    · 7 Barcodes are really intended to control people (Ha ha! That’s a good one!)

    · 8 Microsoft sends messages via Wingdings (Even better! Who thinks these things up?)

    · 9 US let Pearl Harbour happen (No, although they were “asleep at the wheel” at the time)

    · 10 The world is run by dinosaur-like reptiles (Yes, and I’m one of them.)

    As for 6% of people claiming they’re dead, simply take a look at my Myspace page (link on my name).

  56. RobG

    Agree with Gingey Yellow above – if this was an online survey alongside Fox poblicity for the X-files film, it’s got selection bias all over it. Do I believe 35% of British believe the Apollo Hoax? No. But I am prepared to believe that 35% of X-files fans do.

  57. Stephen

    As a Brit myself, I’m sceptical of the 35% figure. But it wouldn’t surprise me if there were more hoax believers here than in America.

    One reason for this is that it feeds into a general anti-american attitude. Certainly all those who have tried to convince me of the moon hoax, have had a particular obsession with the US, and would believe anything that showed how evil the US government is, or the gullibility of its citizens.

  58. DrFlimmer

    Don’t trust statistics you haven’t faked yourself!

  59. 4111

    about exactly how stupid and ignorant Americans are.

    Wow! Bigoted much? Bush lost the popular vote in the first election and had a slim margin in the second against a complete tool of a Democrat.

    If they want to show the world they’re not as dumb as much of the Western rational world thinks they are – well Obama simply has to win

    Yeah, the only way to prove intelligence is agree with you. Drop dead you self righteous, hatemongering, bigoted a**.

    No insult intended to the bright people here – this is just the sad, stark truth.

    Maybe in the tiny, micro-reality of your the thick, political sludge in your mind. You’re a bigot, plain and simple.

  60. Spence_UK

    Well, I’m from the UK as well. There are definitely some loons over here, moon hoaxers, 911 troofers, you name it, but I would have said much, MUCH less than 35% of people. There are creationists in the UK as well, but you have to search really hard to find them, and they would stand very little chance of getting near levers of power if they were evenly remotely honest about their views.

    More importantly:

    1. Did you know the word gullible doesn’t actually appear in the Oxford English Dictionary? (made you look!)

    2. 88.2% of all statistics are made up on the spot (quote Vic Reeves, UK comic)

    3. Over 95% of UK citizens have more than the average number of legs! (true! check it out!)

  61. Eddie Janssen

    The only fake landing I know of is the one from Snoopy (who beat the Russians, the Americans and even the cat who lives next door).

  62. Jeff G

    C’mon it’s a believable result. The Brits believe a guy can travel in space and time in a phone booth!

  63. Ade

    35%! That’s the same amount that British Gas has just announced our bills are going up by – coincidence or alien lizard overlord conspiracy?

  64. Robin

    StevoR, your comments are really unconstructive.

  65. 4111

    Bad Astronomy: now with political censorship. StevoR can spew anti-American bigotry, but if I criticize him, my post gets deleted.

    BA Blog. R.I.P. Fun while it lasted.

  66. KC

    I think Grebion comes close to it, but most of this may be due to unwarranted suspicion suspicion (I also disagree that religion isn’t compatible with critical thinking: in my experience it seems that about the same proportion of atheists and agnostics haven’t thought very hard about what they believe and why, which makes me suspect that the proportion of critical thinking among the population as a whole cuts is roughly constant in each subset, but that’s another topic). Unwarranted suspicion is when someone, having decided that Group X cannot be trusted without any evidence in that regard, and then cherry picks data to support that bias.

    There were moon hoaxers who, through a distrust of government, didn’t believe the landings actually took place the very moment they were happening. Some believed it wasn’t technically possible. Distrust of government really set in during the early 1970s. If we look at US culture at that time, it doesn’t seem all that surprising. Just a few years later, Capricorn One hit the big screen, which pretty much pandered to the moon hoax idea.

    The main idea was the theme that the U.S. government could not be trusted. It’s the same meme found in the 9/11 conspiracy theories.

  67. 4111, I have a spam filter that catches comments. I don’t censor. But thanks for the support anyway.

  68. Ade

    It’s amazing how fast posts seem to decend into muck slinging based on what country you’re born in, isn’t it?. I’m a Brit and I know loads of dumb Brits as well as some very smart ones. I also know and work with several Americans – yes, one of them does badly embody the worst stereotypes, but the others are just regular and decent, no different from anyone else I hang out with. One of them, a systems developer, is probably one of the smarter people I know. We’re basically all the same folks, regardless of where on this pale blue dot we were born. I’d rather hoped people reading an astronomy blog would be more prone to tolerance of others, given their (hopefully) better unstanding of how small and fragile our shared home really is.

  69. Ade

    Agh… typo: replace unstanding with understanding 😉

  70. Captain Swoop

    Unfortunately the UK is very anti US at the moment. As the moon landings were American then people will think they are fake, same with 911.

  71. the questions weren’t listed

    There would a big difference in the response to “do you believe the Moon landings were faked”, “do you believe the Moon landings could have been faked”, and “do you believe that NASA was really able to overcome all of the obstacles and unknowns to land a man on the Moon in only 8 years, using such primitive equipment available to them back in the 1960’s”.

  72. Captain Swoop

    As the moon landings were American then people will think they are fake, same with 911.

    I can assure you that “911” is very real. I’ve used it first-hand when my wife’s asthma kicked in really bad one day and she couldn’t breathe. :-)

  73. Quiet Desperation

    It’s amazing how fast posts seem to decend into muck slinging based on what country you’re born in, isn’t it?. I’m a Brit and I know loads of dumb Brits as well as some very smart ones

    Well, it’s to be expected when you have people here continually trying to define “Americans” as any one thing when we have one of the most diverse populations ever assembled. Like someone said above, it’s plain old bigotry. And then to imply that we’re worthless and stupid if we don’t accept whatever brand of precious, precious (in Golem voice) political poop the poster has fallen prey to, well, there ya go.

    Personally, I’m voting for Obama because I can’t wait to see how some folks react when it’s all just the same old crap with different drapes and carpeting. But this spectacle of people in Europe falling over themselves for the New Messiah was embarassing. There were some good critical articles over there, though. I was hoping Pat Condell would chime in.

    Maybe, just maybe, people will at least learn (a little) to stop looking to the snake oil salesmen for salvation.

    Remember the busty astrologer a few posts back? There is no difference between her and most politicians other than the sad fact that when the politicians indulge in idiocy, we all have to pay. The astrologer only bilks her *voluntary* customers.

  74. Quiet Desperation

    Unfortunately the UK is very anti US at the moment. As the moon landings were American then people will think they are fake, same with 911.

    That’s insanity, though. Just because they dislike what our government is doing at the moment, that’s no excuse to start accepting woo. All that means was there was an intrinsic gullibility under the surface that didn’t need much of a stimulus to activate, so Phil’s conclusion stands.

    He, we didn’t hate the UK for the Spice Girls. :-)

    Well, OK, maybe a little.

  75. Gareth

    Just to add my bit, which has probably been said several times before, 35% definitely sounds wrong to me.

    Should be more around the 60 to 70% mark! Lots of very gullible, really quite stupid people in this country! :oD

  76. KC – I think that Capricorn One was partially (if not totally) responsible for starting the moon hoax myths – there were none before 1978 when the movie was released. The myths would probably have started up sooner or later anyway, people being what they are, but I reckon the film had a big effect in starting up the whole hoax phenomenon. A huge amount of people must have watched it and thought “Hey – this might be true…”

  77. Quiet Desperation

    Should be more around the 60 to 70% mark!

    You want the ultimate truth? It’s about 75%, and it applies to the whole world.

    Trying to claim any one country as having a lock on it is bigotry and ideology, two completely useless things that humanity really needs to shed.

    The other fundamental human number is 5%. There is almost no poll question you can concoct, no matter how outlandish, that won’t get about 5% of folks claiming to believe it.

    I think that Capricorn One was partially (if not totally) responsible for starting the moon hoax myths – there were none before 1978 when the movie was released.

    Sort of. The screenplay was inspired by existing hoax myths (I vaguely recall Peter Hyams saying that in an interview), but the film probably did popularize them.

    Fun fact: Hyams also directed and co-wrote (with Arthur C. Clarke) the movie 2010.

  78. paul childs

    Of course it’s true; this is a country where the anti-vaccine nut jobs have caused immunization rates to drop below herd immunity levels for things like measles. Mad cow? How about dumb as cows?

    And some years back a person was threatened and almost driven out of town because of the shingle on the lawn advertising their profession; pediatrician. Seems they don’t cotton much to child molesters and literacy in some parts of England.

    I think these numbers are probably low. And I’ve got UK citizenship: convenient for travel in Europe but !@*$ing embarassing sometimes.

  79. Daniel

    Quiet Desperation Says:

    Unfortunately the UK is very anti US at the moment. As the moon landings were American then people will think they are fake, same with 911.

    That’s insanity, though. Just because they dislike what our government is doing at the moment, that’s no excuse to start accepting woo. All that means was there was an intrinsic gullibility under the surface that didn’t need much of a stimulus to activate, so Phil’s conclusion stands.

    He, we didn’t hate the UK for the Spice Girls. :-)

    Well, OK, maybe a little.

    …………………………………………………………………………………………………..

    Oi whats wrong with the spice girls :D……

    I am British and im far from anti american, infact im borderline anti british, we have lost our identity.

  80. Sounds like you’ve found the Crazy Third in Great Britain. Congrats.

    (FWIW, “Americans” only refers to people from the only place in the world called “America.” People from the continents are “North Americans” or “South Americans” respectively. If you want to take in the whole bunch of them, you might try refering to them by hemisphere. *shrug*. Georgians, on the other hand, do have a problem of nomenclature.)

    QD: The problem with representative democracy is that the only qualification for office is electability. This means that a system such as ours can only be run by lizards. As someone once said, democracy is the worst kind of government, except for every other kind that’s been tried.

    I remain amused by your misuse/misunderstanding of the term “ideology.” (for example, you identify it as distinct from bigotry. Bigotry is a type of ideology. So is skepticism. So is naturalism.) One of these days, I may figure out what it is you’re actually trying to reject, aside of an internally consistent policy position.

  81. IVAN3MAN

    Hey Phil, is this thing working?

  82. Nik

    Of course we brits know the moon landings weren’t faked. They were the first thing you Americans did with that alien technology you got at Roswell!

  83. Torbjörn Larsson, OM

    If you ask 1000 people if they are dead, 6% will say “yes”.

    LOL, BA FTW.

  84. Cas

    People don’t like to feel small. The internet and globalisation makes a lot of people feel insignificant, so they try to get the attention of celebrities and other public figures using the direct access of the net to make themselves feel like they have an influence on the world around them.

    Challenging authorities and experts over the Moon landings, to the extent that people actually deign to reply to the accusations, makes the theorists feel good about themselves. Add this to the fact that any conspiracy theory is superficially attractive – since by acting a reflex against conventional views, they seem to be a noble/reasonable response to apparent confirmation bias – and you get a large % of the population buying into the idea, at least in casual conversation.

    There are a lot of arguments, not just regarding conspiracy theories, where someone decides on a whim to take an opposing view because it feels more interesting and seems more appealing than blindly accepting the prevailing view. More importantly, when someone does this they automatically “score points” in arguments against their everyday friends and family, because unless they’ve married Patrick Moore, an astronaut or the former director of NASA, no one around them has the tools to comprehensively dissolve their theory.

    The truth is that most of us don’t know nearly enough about the Moon landings to have anything close to an informed opinion on whether they happened. But we accept they did because of what we hear/read of others’ experience and we add a dose of common sense. If someone challenges me on the landings, I’ll refer to the laser mirrors installed on the moon. But have I pointed a laser at the Moon and recorded the reflection? No. Was I there when the mirrors were installed? No. So, do I truly *know* that the mirrors are there, for myself, first hand? No. I also don’t know if I was *really* born on my birthday, but that doesn’t keep me up at night challenging my “mere belief” on that point.

    The problem with contrary views is that they end up blindly accepting a smaller but apparently more interesting set of “facts”, for no other reason than those “facts” rebel against the prevailing facts. In an attempt to struggle against confirmation bias of the landings happening, people adopt confirmation bias of them not happening. It’s fun because on a small scale you haven’t made yourself any worse off than those aorund you who follow the established consensus. However, woe betide anyone who takes this view when faced with someone who does in fact have the right arguments, tools and first hand knowledge to smash their trendy argument to tiny bits, because the fact is there are human footprints, mirrors and buggies on the Moon, it’s just not all of us have been allowed to play with them.

    Those NASA meanies :)

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