A Summary of Survey Results
  • Science, Pseudo-Science & Technology—
  • * 84% of the subjects believed that "Reading books causes cancer" after they were told that "there is scientific proof." (Before being told about the "scientific proof," only 55% of subjects believed this.) (AIR, 2002)

    * 80% of Americans think the government is hiding knowledge of the existence of extraterrestrial life forms.(CNN, 7.5.01)

    * 78% of the subjects believed that "Venus orbits around Jupiter" after they were told that "there is scientific proof." (Before being told about the "scientific proof," only 42% of subjects believed this.) (AIR, 2002)

    * 75% of Americans erroneously think all radioactivity is man-made. (NSF, 2001, 2004)

    * A recent Gallup survey shows that just about three in four Americans (75%) hold some paranormal belief-- in at least one of the following: extra sensory perception (ESP), haunted houses, ghosts, mental telepathy, clairvoyance, astrology, communicating with the dead, witches, reincarnation, and channeling. There are no significant differences in belief by age, gender, education, or region of the country. (Gallup, 6.16.05)

    * 72% of Americans believe that science doesn't pay enough attention to moral values. (CS, 10.10.01)

    * 63% of the subjects believed that "Apes are descended from trees" after they were told that "there is scientific proof." (Before being told about the "scientific proof," only 39% of subjects believed this.)" (AIR, 2002)

    * 54% of Americans trust religious leaders to give them accurate information on stem cell research. (CS, 10.10.01)

    * 54% of Americans believe in ESP or extrasensory perception. (ES, 6.2.01) 50% (NSF 2001, 2004)

    * 54% of students entering universities in the US in 1997 had graduated after 6 years. The rest almost invariably dropped out without a degree, but often in deep debt from student loans. (CNN, 11/16/05)

    * 51% of Americans think antibiotics kill viruses (false). (NSF 2001, 2004)

    * 50% of Americans believe that houses can be haunted. (ES, 6.2.01); 42% (NSF 2001, 2004)

    * 48% of Americans think dinosaurs lived at the same time as early humans (NSF, 2001, 2004)

    * 47% of Americans are unaware or do not think that humans as we know them today developed from earlier species of animals. (NSF 2001, 2004)

    * 46% to 51% of adult Americans either cannot read at all, or cannot read well enough to understand simple printed instructions, read a newspaper, fill out a job application or understand a bus schedule! ( National Institute for Literacy, 1998)

    * 46% of Americans think the earth orbits the sun in one day. (NSF 2001, 2004)

    * 45% of Americans believe that lasers work by focussing sound waves. Of course, lasers emit light, not sound. (NSF 2001, 2004)

    * 43% of Americans oppose stem cell medical research. (CS, 10.10.01)

    * 41% of Americans believe that ghosts or that spirits of dead people can come back in certain places and situations. Note the discrepancy with the 50% quoted above.(ES, 6.2.01)

    * 40% of Americans feel that science makes our way of life change too fast.

    * 40% of Americans believe supernatural intervention will bring an end to human history, according to a recent Washington Times poll. (CSICOP, 10.31.01)

    * 38% of Americans believe in telepathy, or communication between minds without using the traditional five senses. (ES, 6.2.01)

    * 36% of Americans believe that extraterrestrial beings have visited earth at some time in the past. (ES, 6.2.01) 33% (NSF 2001, 2004)

    * 33% of Americans believe that the mind has the power to perceive the hidden past and predict the future. (ES, 6.2.01)

    * 32% of Americans believe that people can hear from or communicate mentally with someone who has died. (ES, 6.2.01)

    * 28% of Americans believe in astrology, or that the position of the stars and planets can affect people's daily lives. (ES, 6.2.01)

    * 28% of Americans believe in witches. (ES, 6.2.01) 26% (NSF 2001, 2004)

    * 26% of Americans believe in reincarnation, that is, the rebirth of the soul in a new body after death. (ES, 6.2.01)

    * 25% of Americans believe in channeling, or allowing a "spirit-being" to temporarily assume control of a human body during a trance. (ES, 6.2.01)

    * 25% of Americans think the sun orbits the earth. (NSF 2001, 2004)

    * In an effort to recognize life forms from all over the cosmos, Rep. Daniel Foley, R-Roswell, has introduced a bill designating every second Thursday in February "Extraterrestrial Culture Day." (FNMDT, 2.19.03)

    A poll which tries to indicate time-dependence of selected beliefs in the paranormal:

    Which if any of the following do you believe at least to some degree?
    Belief 1997 1976
    Spiritualism 52% 12%
    Faith Healing 45% 10%
    Astrology 37% 17%
    UFOs 30% 24%
    Reincarnation 25% 9%
    Fortune Telling 14% 4%
    (1976 N=8,709 1997 N=1,000 Margin of error = +/- 3-5%)
  • Health Care—
  • * In a telephone survey of more than 1,000 US smokers aged 18 to 89, about 94% of the respondents felt they were adequately informed of the health risks of smoking. 60% believed they could quit before they had serious health problems. (Reuters, 11.30.01)

    * 85% of interviewees used “alternative medical therapies” (quack remedies with no proven effectiveness) to “relieve” their pain. (Reuters, 8.6.02)

    * 73% of Americans polled said they would not be willing to eat one-third fewer calories a day if it meant they would live longer. (Reuters, 8.30.02)

    * A survey by Seattle's Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center found that more than 70% of cancer patients in the study used “alternative treatments,” quack remedies with no known value. (AP, 9.5.02)

    * 69% of respondents said they took vitamins, minerals, or food supplements, with a median of about 1 dose per day. No beneficial effects of such supplements have ever been demonstrated. (CHD, 4.22.03)

    * 68% of respondents mistakenly believed that the government required dietary supplement product labels to include warnings about potential side effects or dangers. Supplements are completely exempt from testing and rarely if ever display established dosage recommendations or side-effect warnings. (CHD, 4.22.03)

    * 65% of Americans surveyed wouldn't want to live to be 120 years old, even if they could. (Reuters, 8.30.02)

    * 60% of interviewees believed that “alternative therapies” have successfully helped them with medical problems. (Reuters, 8.6.02)

    * 60% of people surveyed incorrectly believed that cigarettes are less dangerous when filtered. (Reuters, 11.30.01)

    * 59% of respondents mistakenly believed that dietary supplement products must be approved or certified by some government agency like the FDA before they can be sold to the public. (CHD, 4.22.03)

    * 58% of people surveyed incorrectly believed that cigarettes are less dangerous when tar is reduced. (Reuters, 11.30.01)

    * 55% of respondents mistakenly believed that manufacturers are not allowed to make claims for dietary supplement product benefits or safety without solid scientific evidence to support them. (CHD, 4.22.03)

    * 54% of Americans believe in psychic or spiritual healing or the power of the mind to heal the body (NSF 2001, 2004)

    * 53% of people surveyed erroneously believed that nicotine causes cancer. While nicotine is addictive, it is the numerous toxic compounds released by burning cigarettes that make smoking a cancer risk. (Reuters, 11.30.01)

    * 51% of Americans think antibiotics kill viruses (false!). Antibiotics only kill some types of bacteria. (NSF 2001, 2004)

    * 50% of people surveyed incorrectly believed that cigarettes are less dangerous when additives are removed. (Reuters, 11.30.01)

    * When asked, “Do nicotine medications work by making you physically sick if you smoke cigarettes,” 42% of respondents to a survey incorrectly answered "yes" while 27% did not know. (Reuters, 11.30.01)

    * Nearly 38% of people with the chronic lung disease emphysema still smoke. (AP, 12.25.02)

    * Only 35% of the smokers knew that nicotine patches are less likely to cause a heart attack than smoking cigarettes. (Reuters, 11.30.01)

    * Almost one-third of people surveyed said smoking five cigarettes a day presents the same risk for developing cancer as not smoking, which is untrue. (Reuters, 11.30.01)

    * About 27% of respondents to a survey of smokers did not believe they are at greater risk of developing lung cancer than any one else in their age group. (Reuters, 11.30.01)

    * 25% of those with asthma still smoke. (AP, 12.25.02)

    * 20% of those polled say abortion should not be legal at all, no matter what circumstances led to the unwanted pregnancy, including violent gang rape. (NYT, 1.20.03)

    * About one in five survey respondents (20%) said nicotine medications completely eliminate the urge to smoke, which they do not. (Reuters, 11.30.01)

    * Only 5% of Americans would be “more likely” to buy food labeled as “genetically modified.” (PR)

    * Tanning bed use is still highly popular among college students, even though most are well aware it can lead to premature aging or skin cancer, new study findings show. (Reuters, 10.14.02)