December 29, 2017
The Gallup Poll has been grinding out useful data since it was founded in 1935 in Princeton, New Jersey, as the American Institute of Public Opinion. Recently, the website, Mental Floss, compiled a list of five of the most far-out and flaky Gallup polls from over the years.
- Three in four Americans believe in the paranormal (2005) About three out of four Americans professed to at least one paranormal belief in 2005, the pollsters said—with ESP the most popular by a few percentage points, at 41%; followed closely by a conviction in the existence of haunted houses (37%). And, for those who believed in haunted houses, it was no stretch to accept that ghosts can come back in certain situations or places (32%). In addition, at that time, 26% believed in clairvoyance—or the power to predict the future and access the past—and 25% believed in astrology. What about channeling spirits, you might ask? Only 9% of Americans said that it is possible to channel a spirit so that it takes temporary control of one’s body. Interestingly enough, belief in paranormal phenomena was relatively similar across people of different genders, races, ages, and education levels.
- 20% of Americans think the Sun revolves around the Earth (1999) In this poll, Gallup tried to gauge the general knowledge levels of Americans. While 79% percent of respondents correctly stated that the Earth revolves around the Sun, 18% percent thought the opposite. Three percent said they had no opinion either way.
- 22% of Americans would hesitate to support a Mormon (2011) Gallup first measured anti-Mormon sentiments back in 1967, and it was still an issue in 2011 — a year before Mormon Mitt Romney ran for president on the GOP ticket. About 22% of respondents said they would not vote for a Mormon presidential candidate, even if that candidate belonged to their preferred political party.
- Mississippians go to church the most; Vermonters, the least (2010) This poll stereotype that southerners are more religious than the rest of the nation. Although 42% of all Americans attended church regularly (which Gallup defined as weekly or almost weekly), there were large variations based on geography. For example, 63% of Mississippi residents attended church regularly, followed by 58% of Alabama residents; and 56% percent of the population in South Carolina, Louisiana, and Utah. Conversely, in Vermont, just 23% of residents said they attended church regularly; with New Hampshire at 26% and Maine at 27%.
- One in four Americans does not know from which country America gained its independence (1999) Although 76% of Americans knew that the United States gained its independence from Great Britain, 24% were not so sure. Two percent thought the correct answer was France; 3% named a different country (such as Mexico, China, or Russia), and 19% had no opinion.
Research contact: Website@mentalfloss.com