Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Consulto Ergo Sum

AFP has a story this morning about how nearly one in four French people believe that The Da Vinci Code is based on fact. That from the birthplace of the Enlightenment.

There's nothing like a little opinion poll to open a window onto mass delusion. They can be useful for other reasons, as well. When I see a poll like that, it's reassuring. "No matter how stupid I may have become," I'll think, "it really could be worse." They also often provide a strong "there but for the grace of reason go I" feeling which, in turn, reinforces the bloated sense of arrogant exceptionalism that goes hand in hand with blogging. This particular poll also reminds us that the French claim on intellectual superiority is tenuous at best. Take that, Descartes!

A couple favorite polls from the vault:
  • According to New York magazine, 49.3% of New York City residents believe that "some of our leaders knew in advance attacks were planned on or around September 11, 2001, and consciously failed to act."
  • According to a 2005 CBS poll, 51% of Americans believe in biblical Creationism, and an additional 30% believe in some sort of Intelligent Design. Only 15% of Americans give Darwin a shout-out.
Interesting. A bit creepy, depending on your perspective. If you're looking for a poll with a little less hocus-pocus and a little more rationality, however, allow me to suggest this survey: three out of every four Americans make up 75% of the population.
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