Unlike many of my more tolerant fellow citizens, I possess no confidence in the ability of the American electorate to make sensible decisions. I have reached this conclusion based on an incontrovertible truth: You people will believe anything.
This reality confronts me daily, as I am bombarded with fiercely stupid conspiracy theories from the exceptionally unwell. Worse, even people I once respected -- folks with intellects and accomplishments that soar above my own -- confidently will explain that the economy actually is controlled by a half-dozen shadowy individuals and Barack Obama has a birth certificate from Bangladesh stuffed in a bedside Quran.
I fear for my children's future, not because I spy the occasional "Bush Knew!" bumper sticker in the neighborhood but because, according to a 2006 Scripps Howard/Ohio University poll, a full third of you believe that the 9/11 terrorist attacks were an inside job.
Now, why would an Islamic radical group want to deploy a massive terror attack on the United States' financial capital? It's gotta be someone else.
And am I the only one appalled that one-third of Americans (and, Lord Zeus, please let it be the same third who claim that 9/11 was fixed) believe that UFOs exist? A Newsweek poll says the number of believers is up 15 percent since the 1980s, so apparently we're trending dimwit.
A new Harris poll finds that 28 percent of you believe in witches, and 40 percent of the public -- including 46 percent of women -- believes that ghosts are hovering in the so-called "real" world. More than 20 percent of you have claimed you actually have witnessed a poltergeist.
I, too, may believe in miracles (like 73 percent of you) to rationalize the haphazard existence of mankind. I may believe in Beelzebub (61 percent) because human cruelty never could go on without supernatural prodding. And I believe in hell (59 percent) because some people deserve to fry. I get it.
I get it because I was born under the 11th astrological sign in the zodiac: Aquarius. According to experts, Aquarians are, among many other wonderful things, "tolerant," "opinionated," "farsighted," "revolutionary" and so on. Our character and personality quirks are predetermined by a study of random stars and planets that happen to be detectable from Earth.
Believe it or not, 20 percent of the American public believes in this gibberish. And trust me; they will not rest until Dennis Kucinich is president.
In fact, with troubling economic times upon us, conspiracy theories, peculiar beliefs and harebrained philosophies will only flourish.
Gita Johar, a professor at the Columbia Business School, recently explained to Wired magazine that increasingly, once-normal rational adults are turning to psychics for guidance. "You have an illusion then that you can then control the outcome," she explained. "People want the illusion of control."
Surely, Americans are feeling that they progressively are losing control (or losing the perception that they ever had control) of the economy; the world is spiraling in unpredictable directions; and our personal futures are often nebulous.
It's frustrating. And when we start hearing preposterous phrases, such as "ruling class," and tales of furtive organizations that control our destinies, we are prowling to place blame on anything but the vagaries of history.
Science fiction writer Alan Moore once wrote: "The truth is, that it is not the Jewish banking conspiracy or the grey aliens or the 12 foot reptiloids from another dimension that are in control. The truth is more frightening, nobody is in control."
Yes, even more frightening than the Illuminati.
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