“Oh beautiful for spacious skies, for amber waves of grain…” The United States of America is home to the biggest melting pot of citizens in the world who can trace their lineage across the globe all while living the American dream. An incredibly diverse nation rich in culture and heritage, the Land of the Free is also home to a variety of opinions and beliefs that have been known to create friction among the country’s nearly 350 million citizens.
While most Americans are quick to rally together under the red, white and blue to share their love of the nation, that doesn’t mean they don’t disagree on even the most basic things such as science, the weather, politics and religion. In a land where freedom rings especially when it comes to free speech, some Americans have dedicated their lives to standing proudly on their platforms of some of the most outrageous beliefs imaginable.
So what are some of the crazier things that American people actually believe? We took a look at several polls conducted over the years to see how many Americans believed in strange things like the occult, alien life, ghosts, mind control and more! Get ready for the wild, wacky and unpredictable as we take a look at 15 of the strangest things Americans actually believe!
15 – Ghosts Are Everywhere
Ghosts, goblins and witches abound! Ghosts are a huge part of American pop culture because, let’s be honest, who doesn’t love a good horror flick? Even in the world of comedy, one of the biggest films to come out of Hollywood in the 1980s was Ghostbusters, which is scheduled to make its grand return to the silver screen later this year. All joking (and films) aside, a poll in 2003 revealed that the majority of Americans believe ghosts are real and, while the stats have dropped to about 42 percent, that’s still staggeringly high!
Not only do a large number of Americans believe that ghosts are walking among the living, a significant portion claim that they’ve seen one (or maybe two)! The basis for television shows like Ghost Hunters, 18 percent of Americans say that they have seen a ghost in person while 29 percent claim that they have been contacted by someone beyond the grave. That’s not scary at all! Oddly enough, when it comes to people who regularly attend religious services, the ghosts don’t have much footing in church as the numbers drop to a measly 11 percent.
14 – Mind Control Happens in Ads
Do you remember the Bud-wei-ser frogs, Dos Equis’ Most Interesting Man in the World or the crazed Burger King chicken? Commercials like these tend to stick with people because they are a unique combination of funny and bizarre. However, some conspiracy theorists in the United States believe that ads like these and so many others are actually brainwashing viewers. They argue that whenever you see a commercial and immediately take action—whether it’s going to Burger King for a hamburger or to the store for a product you just saw—it’s because the ads are controlling your mind.
While it may seem farfetched to most, polling of registered voters found that 15 percent of Americans believe that television advertisements are a venue for big businesses to use mind control technology to persuade people to buy their products. Some even take it a step further and claim that the government is behind it all and uses all media outlets as a way to control the country. Needless to say, these folks just might be the ones wearing aluminum foil hats while watching their favorite television shows!
13 – The Sun Revolves Around the Earth
How well do you remember your basic astronomy? One of the very first things that they teach you in science class is that the Earth revolves around the sun, which is the center of the galaxy. Sounds simple enough, right? Whether the education system itself has failed us or people have forgotten the basics, there is a shocking number of Americans who still believe the sun revolves around the Earth. After all, the Earth is the center of the universe…or so they think!
During the American Association for the Advancement of Science convention in Chicago, over 2,000 people were surveyed and asked which celestial body—the sun or the Earth—revolves around the other. Shockingly enough, 26 percent of those polled said that the sun revolves around the Earth! With it being a science convention, we can only hope the question was worded wrong, otherwise there are quite a few confused scientists among us who definitely need to revisit Astronomy 101.
12 – The Moon Landing Never Happened
Where were you on July 20, 1969? If you were old enough to walk and talk, chances are you were glued to the television screen like the rest of the world as Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first humans to walk on the moon and spent over 20 minutes exploring its incredible surface. As Armstrong proudly placed the American flag and said, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind,” the United States put their stamp of victory on the Race to Space in 1969.
Though Americans fondly remember the excitement and anticipation of such an incredible feat, there are others who believe that the United States faked the moon landing to get the upper hand in the space race. So just how many people think the landing was staged? Around seven percent of Americans believe it was faked with another five percent saying that the jury is still out as to whether or not it was actually real. Are you curious? Head on over to YouTube where you’ll find some of the wildest and wackiest moon landing theories imaginable!
11 – Environmentalists Cause Oil Spills
Save the planet, let’s go green! Climate change is one of the biggest problems that poses a threat to the future of the world and is also one of the hottest topics of debate here in the United States with a variety of theories and opinions. In fact, a staggering 30 percent of Americans think that climate change is completely natural and unaffected by man, which is like saying that the Earth is in an epic battle of self-destruction—so much for painting a happy picture!
What’s even stranger is that about 10 percent of registered voters believe that major oil spills are not the fault of the oil companies. If not them, then who? These theorists claim that when there is a massive oil spill in the ocean, environmentalists see their greatest wishes come true as oil companies have to shut down their offshore drilling operations. Of course, these oil spills also mean that a large quantity of sea life is harmed, which is exactly what leaves 22 percent of people on the fence as to whether or not environmentalists are really to blame!
10 – Witchcraft is Still Real
“Double, double toil and trouble, fire burn and caldron bubble!” In the 1600s, there was a growing concern with witchcraft as many believed witches were threatening their communities with curses and demon magic. This was exactly the case in the United States when mass hysteria erupted in Salem, Massachusetts between February 1692 and May 1693 when 20 people were executed after being accused of witchcraft. Thankfully, the only threat of witchcraft and wizardry today is found in books and films like the Harry Potter series—or is that really all?
Today, nearly 20 percent of Americans still believe that witchcraft and the ability to cast spells is completely possible. While there is no doubt that the number of believers is far fewer than what it was during the colonial era in the United States (especially in Salem), that’s still a surprisingly high figure. Needless to say, the average Joe living in the United States might not give a second thought to someone mumbling “double, double toil and trouble…” but someone else just might run for the hills!
9 – Big Pharma Invents Diseases
With the 2016 Presidential election right around the corner, one of the hottest topics up for debate among the candidates is healthcare and its affordability. Falling into the same category is the pharmaceutical industry, which has become one of the most polarizing topics in recent years. The World Health Organization estimates that the market for global pharmaceutics is around $300 billion per year with expectations that it will continue to swell over the next three years. So how does a market like that make so much money and continue to grow? Some Americans believe it’s because they are rigging the game.
Far from only benefiting financially, around 47 million Americans believe that the pharmaceutical industry purposely creates new diseases in order to sell drugs that will treat (but not cure) these created ailments. After all, if you’re cured, you won’t need their medications. Of course, there is a lot to go wrong when it comes to inventing a new disease, but many people believe it’s about the bottom line and gaining global control. Yet, is it really worth creating a potential catastrophic disease just to make a few bucks? At least some people think so.
8 – Humans Will Control the Weather
Have you ever been rained out of a baseball game or an outdoor concert? What about being snowed in at the airport without any flights available? The weather can definitely put a damper on your plans leaving many people desperately wishing they were more like Storm from X-Men with powers to stop the rain and clear the snow. The same is true for people living in drought-stricken states that spend their days wishing for a little rain. But, maybe we won’t have to worry much longer since there is a growing belief that all of our weather problems will be solved within the next 50 years.
Nearly 20 percent of Americans believe that technology is so advanced that humans will take it to the next level by inventing a device to control the weather. How’s that for climate change! Even if this proved to be true and possible, could you imagine how stressful that would be? Think about how many times you battle over the thermostat at the office, in the car or at home over whether it’s too hot or too cold. Now, imagine fighting everyone else in the world without ever agreeing on the perfect temperature! We’re already stressed just thinking about it!
7 – Elvis Presley and Osama bin Laden are Still Alive
“Well, since my baby left me I found a new place to dwell…” Known as the King of Rock and Roll thanks to hits like “Teddy Bear” and “Heartbreak Hotel,” Elvis Presley was one of the biggest entertainers in music history with over 600 million records sold around the world. Making waves in the 1970s with his provocative performances, the world was stunned on August 16, 1977 when the 42-year-old was found dead at his Memphis, Tennessee home. But, did the King really die? For years, many believed Presley faked his own death with seven percent of Americans arguing that the King is still alive today.
As for Osama bin Laden, the former leader of Al Qaeda was responsible for the largest terrorist attack in United States history on September 11, 2001 and instantly became the most-wanted man in the world. The 54-year-old bin Laden was killed by American troops in Pakistan on May 2, 2011; however, many believe the news was fake and that his death was staged to rally Americans. Though we haven’t heard from Presley or bin Laden since their deaths, it hasn’t stopped a few Americans from believing they are both still alive and well.
6 – Bigfoot is Roaming Around
Have you seen Bigfoot? One of the biggest icons of American folklore is the notoriously hairy creature known as Bigfoot (or Sasquatch, if you prefer). Often described as a mythological ape-like creature measuring up to 10 feet tall and walking around like a human, people around the country have claimed sightings of Bigfoot over the years without ever getting certified proof. The only real evidence we have to go on is a video from 1967 that shows Bigfoot walking around, but most people believe that a man wearing a gorilla suit was just having a little fun with the hoax.
Just how many people actually believe in Bigfoot then? While some polls have said that anywhere between 30 and 40 percent of Americans believe in the mythological creature, the figure has dropped to around 21 percent today. To put that into perspective, that’s only a slightly larger number of people who believe the Big Bang is exactly what ignited the creation of the universe—and, we guarantee there is probably an overlap among believers.
5 – Aliens Have Already Walked Among Us
It’s a bird, it’s a plane…it’s a UFO! Despite the countless movies, books and television shows featuring aliens, the world has never actually seen an alien to know what they look like. Thanks to series like The X Files, people are actively on the hunt for UFOs and aliens with many believing that aliens have already paid us a visit. Some people even claim that they’ve been picked up by a spaceship and later returned to Earth after a trip around the galaxy (on the ET-mobile, no doubt!). As for those who believe aliens have already landed on Earth, a National Geographic survey found that 77 percent of Americans believe it to be true.
Think about that for a minute—that’s nearly 10 percent more than people who believe in Jesus. Digging a little deeper into our research, we found other polls that report that only half of Americans believe in aliens, which just goes to prove that it depends on who you’re asking. Strangely enough, Americans don’t even hold the majority when it comes to their belief in the extra-terrestrial as all the polls agree that Germans are ga-ga over all things alien related!
4 – We Didn’t Gain Independence from Great Britain
Having already revisited Astronomy 101 to clear up the fact that the Earth revolves around the sun and not vice versa, it’s time for a lesson in American history. Every American should already know that our country gained its independence from Great Britain and that the Declaration of Independence was signed on July 4, 1776 to mark the birth of the United States. While it may seem like common knowledge, only three quarters of the American population know this as fact.
A Gallup poll revealed that 76 percent of Americans knew the United States became independent from Great Britain while some actually thought we declared our independence from France, who was an American ally. A small number of registered voters were completely confused and said that we gained our independence from countries like Russia, China and Mexico (which wasn’t an independent country until over 45 years after the United States). To make matters even worse, nearly 20 percent of people were left scratching their heads unable to answer the question at all!
3 – Christianity Came First
When it comes to politics and religion, most people know to tread lightly among a world filled with diverse opinions and codes of belief. However, putting politics aside, when it comes to religion, which came first? As the largest religion in the world, Christianity is around 2,000 years old but it isn’t even close to being the oldest. Instead, religions such as Buddhism, Judaism and Hinduism far outdate Christianity, which helps explain why the Old Testament came before the New Testament in the Bible.
Turning back to our question (Which religion is the oldest?), nearly half of Americans polled by Newsweek admitted that they didn’t know if Christianity or Judaism was older, leaving 41 percent to claim uncertainty. Of those that actually answered, about half of the people managed to get the timeline correct while another nine percent said that Christianity was the oldest religion in the world. Ironically, the same poll showed that Americans recognized more of the Seven Dwarfs from Snow White than Supreme Court justices. Sounds like they found some real winners to survey for this poll!
2 – Barack Obama is the Antichrist
Speaking of religion and politics, one of the biggest beliefs in Christianity is in the Antichrist that is revealed in the Book of Revelation as an international politician who will jumpstart the end of days. Naturally, a lot of Christians in the United States who are upset with the political arena and how the country is run often deem the President as the latest Antichrist. While this is actually quite common, there has been no other President in the history of the United States who has been more accused of being the Antichrist than Barack Obama.
With 13 percent of Americans arguing that Obama is the Antichrist and another 13 percent claiming uncertainty, the numbers don’t lie as more than one quarter of the nation believe that there is a chance that the current Leader of the Free World is the Antichrist. If you think that number is high now, just wait and see what happens when Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton win the 2016 election. Don’t believe us? There are already websites dedicated to proving it true.
1 – Wrong Facts About September 11th
“Where were you when the world stopped turning?” One of the most devastating days in American history occurred on September 11, 2001 when Osama bin Laden’s Al Qaeda terrorized the country with four coordinated terrorist attacks. As a result, America went to war with the Middle East to fight terrorism and uncover weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. However, like most historic events, people have gotten their 9/11 facts skewed with 30 percent of Americans never even remembering the year the attacks took place, but that’s not all.
Another 11 percent of Americans are confused as to who was responsible and believe that the United States government attacked their own country to rally support to declare war in the Middle East. Though Al Qaeda admitted to orchestrating the attacks and bin Laden was later found and killed in Pakistan, there were still 70 percent of Americans who thought Saddam Hussein was responsible. A decade later, that number remained at a staggering 41 percent, which is a disappointing error when it comes to such a tragic day in American history.