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

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

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

Bad Astronomy
The entire universe in blog form
July 31 2008 4:18 PM

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

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?

Phil Plait Phil Plait

Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death From the Skies!  

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

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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.