Dumb things Americans believe

“Americans are often misinformed, occasionally downright dumb, and easily misled by juicy-sounding rumors,” Alternet writes. “But while the right wing is taking full advantage of this reality, the Left worries that calling out lies is ‘rude.'”

“We’ve gone far beyond Stephen Colbert’s “truthiness” into a more “truth-be-damned” environment; what Rick Perlstein described in the Daily Beast as a “mendocracy. As in, rule by liars.”

The article, with links to the supporting documentation, is here.

Here are some examples, according to Alternet.

•Polling data during and after last week’s midterm elections suggested that many Americans genuinely believe President Obama has raised their taxes — even though the reality is that our president actually lowered them for most of us.

•Half of new Congressmen don’t believe in the reality of global warming.

•”The new Congress will probably try to restore millions of dollars of funding for scientifically inaccurate, largely disastrous abstinence-only curriculum in schools, many of which have been shown to spread lies like ‘condoms don’t work’ and ‘abortion causes cancer.'”

•Nearly one-fifth of Americans think Obama is a Muslim.

•One quarter of Americans “don’t believe in Darwin’s theory of evolution while less than 40 percent do.”

•”Earlier this year, nearly 40 percent of Americans still believed the Sarah Palin-supported lie about “death panels” being included in health care reform.

•”As of just a few years ago, about half of Americans still suspected a connection between Saddam Hussein and the attacks of Sept. 11, a lie that was reinforced by none opther than Dick Chaney.”

•”A majority of ‘young Americans’ cannot identify Iraq or Afghanistan — the places their peers are fighting and dying — on a map.”

•”Two out of five Americans, despite the whole separation of church and state being a foundation of our democracy thing, think teachers should be able to lead prayer in classrooms.”

•”Many Americans still believe in witchcraft, ESP and other supernatural phenomena. Does that explain why Christine O’Donnell was so quick to deny her ‘dabbling?'”

•Twenty percent of Americans still believed that the sun revolves around the earth. “That’s just sad, considering that even the Vatican has let Galileo off the hook for being right,” Alternet writes.

•”Only about half of Americans realize that Judaism is the oldest of the three monotheistic religions. Other examples of wild misunderstanding about religion and the separation of church and state can be found in this fall’s Pew survey on Americans’ religious knowledge.”

• “In 2006 more Americans were able to name two of the ‘seven dwarves’ than two of the Supreme Court justices. And that was before Kagan and Sotomayor showed up.”

Author: jeffpelline

Jeff Pelline is a veteran editor and award-winning journalist - in print and online. He is publisher of Sierra FoodWineArt magazine and its website SierraCulture.com. Jeff covered business and technology for The San Francisco Chronicle for 12 years, and he was a founding editor and Editor of CNET News for eight years, among other positions. Jeff has a bachelor's degree from UC Berkeley and a master's from Northwestern University. His hobbies include sailing, swimming, and trout fishing in the Sierra.

13 thoughts on “Dumb things Americans believe”

  1. Without reading anything above, just the headline, the dumbest thing Americans believe is that tax cut for the rich will create jobs. If that were the case, we’d be arguing for no taxes on those making over $500,000 per year, in hopes of full employment. Don’t see us doing that, do you?

  2. Sorry Douglas, but all tax cuts do create jobs. The issue is whether the additional tax revenue from those new jobs makes up for the revenue lost from the tax cuts. Where is that inflection point? It certainly isn’t zero.

    Just as important, when are taxes too much. We are already at 45 percent (state and federal) just on income before we add in property and sales taxes. Isn’t that enough redistribution.

    1. “Isn’t that enough redistribution.”

      Cute numbers, but when the biggies, number-wise, who own what, from 1980 to the present, the wealthiest used to own 8% of the country. Now they own 20% of the country. It may look like redistribution, but when the dust settles, it’s concentration of wealth at the top, and a huge increase in homeless folks at the bottom.

    2. “Where is that inflection point? It certainly isn’t zero. ”

      How do you know it isn’t zero?

      Where is the science and research that allows you to make such a claim? How do you know that repealing the Bush cuts doesn’t get closer to the “inflection” point?

      We will assume that “inflection point” indicates optimal return to government, from maximized increase in employment.

      The 49’ers are hot today, 7 – 3; 49’er – Rams

  3. “Sorry Douglas, but all tax cuts do create jobs. ”

    Please show data.

    “We are already at 45 percent (state and federal) just on income before we add in property and sales taxes. Isn’t that enough redistribution.”

    Please show data.

  4. We just saw nearly a decade of tax cuts where the top bracket got over $100000 and the corresponding economy nearly turned into financial meltdown. Where are the magic jobs? If tax cuts create jobs this should never have happened. Tax cuts only create jobs for PR people selling the idea that Tax cuts create jobs….

  5. Bruce,
    The higher tax rates apply to wage income, not capital gains which is what the wealthy live off of. Capital gains is still 15%. This is what Warren Buffett pays, and why he notes that he pays a lower rate than his secretary who (presumably) has a marginal rate of 15% (or maybe 28%) to start with, and then kicks in 7% for Social Security and Medicare, and Nebraska whatever Nebraska asseses.

    It is only for the wage laborers that rates can approach 45%, and that rate actually drops once you go past the limit for Social Security which is about $106,000. It goes up again above about $250,000. The bottom line is that very very few people pay a 45% marginal rate.

    The other point to note is that the upper reaches of the tax codes are marginal rates. Everybody pays the same rate on the lesser amounts they earn, has exemptions, and a variety of deductions. Thus someone making 100k might begin the 28% bracket, but still only pay 6-8% of their income after they are done at H and R Block.

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