Chapman University Survey Finds Astonishing Levels of Belief in Ancient Astronauts and Atlantis
Last October I wrote about a depressing survey from Chapman University which found that 1 in 5 Americans—20.3%--professed to believe in ancient astronauts. A couple of regular readers let me know that this year Chapman University repeated the survey, and the results were even worse. According to the annual survey’s new results, fully 1 in 4 Americans, an astonishing 27%, believe that aliens visited the Earth in the past. Even more disturbing, 39.6%--more than one in three—believe that Atlantis or another advanced prehistoric lost civilization once existed. (The survey did not ask about Atlantis last year.) Similarly, 42.6% of respondents believe that the U.S. government is covering up knowledge of alien encounters, and a full third think that elites are plotting a single world government.
The more detailed full results show that only 29% of respondents disagree that Atlantis existed, while a more robust 40.7% disagree that aliens visited the Earth in the past. In both cases, about one third of all respondents couldn’t decide whether Atlantis or ancient astronauts existed.
According to the analysis accompanying the survey, two factors that are most closely associated with holding beliefs in paranormal phenomena like ancient astronauts or lost civilizations are low education and low income. The analysis also named both religiosity and lack of church attendance as associated factors, suggesting that people with a complicated relationship with religion—believers who have a lack of connection to their community of faith—are most open to paranormal claims.
The survey asked respondents about a fictional conspiracy—the “North Dakota crash”—and found that one third of all respondents believed it was being covered up. Apparently, respondents are either Puckish pranksters or generally believe that America is rife with conspiracies.
The usual caveats apply: The question on ancient astronauts was phrased loosely enough that one might reasonably interpret it to refer to scientific hypotheses such as panspermia, though it is doubtful that respondents interpreted it that way. Similarly, the question about Atlantis is ambiguous enough that some respondents might have assumed it referred to real Bronze Age-style archaeological cultures. The numbers also have a margin of error since they reflect the views of 1,511 adults, comparable to the number surveyed last year. Conceivably, the choice of whom to survey might account for some of the difference between the results from year to year. It’s also worth noting that a 2005 Gallup Poll found 24% of Americans believed in ancient astronauts, suggesting that the surveys are revolving around a rather stable general level of belief.
That said, this is a remarkable difference in the Chapman University results from just one year ago.
Think about that. If these numbers are generalizable, then 86 million American believe in ancient astronauts, and 127 million believe in Atlantis or another lost civilization.
It is probably no coincidence that the History Channel proudly announced that a new season of Ancient Aliens is on the horizon, with one of its episodes to screen as a featured attraction at this month’s Alien Con, a convention of ancient astronaut theory and science fiction fans.
But why would more people believe in ancient astronauts and Atlantis this year than last? I don’t see an obvious reason, and since the survey was conducted in April, we can’t even blame it on a general increase in crazy and paranoid beliefs this election season, though the survey did conclude that Republican political leanings were closely associated with belief in conspiracy theories. This is on par with anecdotal and scholarly observations that rightwing political beliefs are closely tied to conspiratorial views about the government, space aliens, and all-powerful elites.
10/17/2016 10:46:38 am
Well I believe in the possiblity of ancient astronauts - I just haven't seen any evidence to support that it happened.
10/17/2016 11:13:39 am
>>>possiblity of ancient astronauts<<<
An Over-Educated Grunt
10/17/2016 12:29:32 pm
Life is a series of chemical reactions. If it happened once it can happen again. If it can happen, it either has or will. Further, only the chain of reactions we recognize right now as life has been explored even slightly. The full range of reactions possible has not. The best you can manage is that it's improbable. Impossible requires more information than you have.
10/17/2016 11:16:30 am
>>>believers who have a lack of connection to their community of faith—are most open to paranormal claims<<<
10/17/2016 11:21:33 am
Still need to recognize the fact that most people, even in responsible positions in society, do not think critically and are unaware of scepticism.
10/17/2016 11:53:20 am
Exactly. I have read a study that states that Women and Minorities should not study science because obectivity is 'racist' & 'sexist' I have also seen a video calling for science to fall because it is 'colonialism', those calls emenate from the Left. And then become the ammunition used by demagogs like Trump to gather supporters.
10/17/2016 01:56:00 pm
Well, how about the 40% of people who think T should be President.
10/18/2016 12:01:51 pm
Yes, It's exactly this gullibility and lack of critical thinking that has so many people believing the in non-existence of UFO's, "ancient aliens" and a worldwide coverup.
10/17/2016 12:31:03 pm
The survey is likely a focus group, not a large enough polling group to make an informed hypothesis. They would need to go beyond that university and poll upwards of 2,000 people elsewhere also. Having been in liberal centrist university campus polling stuff, this looks to be like crowd speak. They're all college students that think a certain way because they are in college. A commuter college, such as San Jose state, or Santa Clara, would be less inclined to even take the survey, and most would have no opinion unless it involved tuition fees or book fees or the cost of living there. This is how the Faux News gets away with interviewing clueless people on the college campus. They don't interview the smart ones in front of the science building. They find the flaky ones that just smoked a bowl in the dorm off campus and are wigging out behind the student union.
10/17/2016 01:51:16 pm
The survey was conducted BY Chapman University, not AT Chapman University. The survey-takers were "a random sample of 1,511 adults from across the United States."
10/19/2016 05:56:58 pm
Liberal centrist. You must be joking. Other than engineering schools most colleges and universities are far left. As for critical thinking or lack if such I would suggest as less kids take up the hard sciences and engineering and go into paraprofessional like ot and pa. And others in social science you will expect this. Specifically social "science". Which as Hayek pointed out is more about political ideologies cherry picking facts than robust scientific method (how many esp experiments in psych depts) you just get minds that don't question. Some of the race focused and gender garbage polemics dominating colleges is just another example. And I disagree with Fox. I find Fox business to be very open to different views from keynians to Austrians unlike Bloomberg or CNBC.
10/17/2016 01:25:08 pm
I rather suspect that a similar poll in Britain would produce a similar result.
10/17/2016 03:20:52 pm
A rough British equivalent would be this 51,000 respondent poll from YouGov:
10/17/2016 02:29:40 pm
The Survey can take so many different forms. Age of the person taking the Survey? What state do you live in?.. What is your Religion? These and many more are factors for the reasoning behind the Survey. If the Survey is done by College Students, all they have seen while growing up is Sci Fi Movies. Creatures from another planet.. etc... If you hear it enough, without even thinking about it, it becomes second nature... and then the survey finds. Its really not surprising., and as the children get older the numbers will grow.
10/17/2016 07:17:32 pm
"elites are plotting a single world government."
10/17/2016 07:57:30 pm
The difference is that the "one world government" conspiracy doesn't argue that different elites want to rule the world but that all the elites are working together to rule the world, which is manifestly at odds with the fact that the governments of Russia, China, America, etc. do not seem to agree on much, much less erasing national sovereignty for a supranational dictatorship.
10/17/2016 08:22:02 pm
What do you call NATO, ANZAC, the US-Japan-South Korea alliance? Sounds like all the elites "working together to rule the world to me."
10/17/2016 11:11:39 pm
The real one-world-government types think that the conflicts between supposedly antagonistic countries are actually artificial and scripted by the parties involved for their own inscrutable purposes. Some day when the time is right they will all come together publicly and announce that they are now running everything.
10/17/2016 09:10:27 pm
Also, you are aware there's a difference between the Ancient Astronaut and the Ancient Alien hypotheses, right? You seem to be using the terms interchangeably.
10/18/2016 02:41:15 pm
So...what, Ancient Astronauts are aliens from another world who showed up in the distant past to interact with ancient humans, and Ancient Aliens are...aliens from another world who showed up in the distant past to interact with ancient humans?
10/18/2016 05:04:12 pm
The term "ancient astronauts" leaves open the possibility of the astronauts being our own ancestors, whereas the term "ancient aliens" explicitly excludes it.
10/19/2016 01:17:03 am
Not true. AAT is promoted by a cable show called Ancient Aliens. The proponents on the show use the term aliens all the time. They have explicitly suggested, if not outright stated, that aliens created the human race through genetic experimentation. They also explicitly suggest, if not outright state, those same aliens ARE our ancestors.
ANZAC . Are you kidding me? ANZAC stands for Australian New Zealand Army Corps. It was a unit raised by the British in 1915 for WWI, it was disbanded after the armistice. The only time it is really used is in April for The ANZAC Day of Rememberance, which is their Memorial Day. Yes, the two nations have mutual defense treaties but the operative word is DEFENSE. They are in no way working towards "ruling the world"
Let me try a general answer: Behind it all is a loss of trust in government, academic, and others. Then, own theories are Made up, and mostly bad ones, unfortunately. So wie have to ask: Did politicians behave so that you could loose trust in them? (Hahaha ...) But seriously, did they more than usual? - Did academics give reasons for distrust? From a German perspective, both is a clear yes. Elites do less and less bother for the real needs and sorrows of their peoples, and act often according to wishful thinking. Academics Support this, too often, instead of debunking the wishful thinking and showing the sad reality. Including academic controversies, which are often silenced for the broader public. Trust is decreasing obviously, in our days, generally and broadly.
10/20/2016 05:26:46 pm
Franke, why do you create fake reviews of your books on Amazon?
10/18/2016 09:15:14 am
Great read. I think many of these "ancient aliens" concepts are there to degrade Christianity. In addition much of this has been done intentionally. Sure we all know there is a likelihood of other life in the universe etc. With that said it is sad that the documentation is always hazy and distant or now simply computer enhanced. Other subjects like Bigfoot, channeling, remote viewing, and such we are supposed to take on faith based on others observations. Meanwhile no deceased Bigfoot remains because there is a conspiracy by the Smithsonian to hide all this (LMAO). These subjects are like a doorway left there for you to be led down so you don't see other things possibly. I think a lot of this is related to the struggle between secular and Christian points of view in the United States and other places w/ a similar view. The Mary Magdalene and Bloodline concepts also expose this same conflict between the Latin Church and Coptic and Orthodox views earlier in history.
10/18/2016 12:30:17 pm
The explanation for the rise lies in the generally higher level of anxiety and depression. The beliefs fill a need. As the need increases, the beliefs increase. Is it any worse to believe in ancient aliens than to believe in an invisible tripartite sky god?
10/18/2016 02:38:23 pm
The problems lie in the specifics of the claim. 1. It's being claimed that "advanced" does not in fact mean "developed languages that still exist" but rather a significantly larger gap in technology and knowledge, 2. that this ancient civilization is specifically WHITE during a time period before white people existed, and 3. that no other civilization since ever developed anything on its own (except the Romans and later Europeans), it's all handed down from this civilization.
10/23/2016 10:56:51 am
the big problem in the arguments about advanced ancient civilization is that the non democratic nature of such societies we know of like Egypt and Babylonia is ignored. Specifically, that while some simpler things like pottery and weaving etc. get promulgated by trade and so forth, anything really odd is going to be limited two ways: things like electroplating (which the Baghdad Battery shows could have been done and which some ancient gold plated remains look a lot like were the results of which) would be kept in a few families to maximize profit, there being no patent offices, and if it could make you look or be pragmatically superior, would be kept by priests and kings to make them look divine and occasionally find military use.
10/18/2016 05:44:25 pm
Its not really depressing since these surveys are non-academics. Who really cares what they think - they aren't specialists or educated on these topics.
An Over-Educated Grunt
10/19/2016 07:53:49 am
Who really cares that the majority of the electorate believes in fairies? It's not like they would ever elect a man who reflects their views!
10/19/2016 09:04:16 am
Politics and science are two different things. Maybe you missed this.
Lyle Francis Selp
10/23/2016 10:05:25 am
All depends on how the question is phrased. Were they to ask simply "Don you believe Atlantis existed?", I would reply "yes". But, it was Santorini and it blew up and sank into the Mediterranean.
10/23/2016 10:06:36 am
Once again, why can't people simply except that we've evolved to our present state? Only thing I disagree on here is that I do believe there were highly advanced civilizations well before what's already been discovered, but that they were advanced in ways that are misunderstood. Perhaps more Lidar mapping will add some credence to this theory? Nevertheless, more and more lost cities, and ancient artifacts are popping up all the time as we speak. As for aliens playing an influence? Nonsense... As a musician I know. Often music is ascribed mystical, spiritual, mythical powers, and has even been attributed to aliens. But wonderful as it is music is just sympathetic, ( or even dissonate ), tones that can only be heard in our specific human hearing range, can only resonate ro be heard in the lower atmosphere of planet Earth, and changes frequency, ( pitch ) on changes in atmospheric pressure, hence, the Doppler effect. Therefore, music is only, and can only be unique to Earth, and human beings. I do have a theory about an interelationship between music, and quantum resonance mechanics, but that's another story...
Steve H Fisher
10/23/2016 11:43:15 am
The difference in studies from year to year is large enough I'd suspect chance is a major factor, even though the sample size is decent.
10/23/2016 11:35:38 pm
10/24/2016 09:42:14 am
One must remember that the Null Hypothesis, the idea that life only originated on Earth, is a placeholder - and not a scientific theory (under a Popper standard of science). And while I agree with its placement as the Null Hypothesis, that does not immediately come incumbent with the requirement to BELIEVE it as well. If our 'educated' and 'higher income' crowd knew actual science, maybe they would not be so gullible.
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