Ben Smith puts the fact that 10% of Americans believe that Obama is a Muslim in context:

“Large minorities of Americans consistently say they hold wildly out-of-the-mainstream views, often specifically discredited beliefs. In some cases, those views should make them pretty profoundly alienated from one party or the other.

For instance:

22 percent believe President Bush knew about the 9/11 attacks in advance.

30 percent believe Saddam had weapons of mass destruction.

23 percent believe they’ve been in the presence of a ghost.

18 percent believe the sun revolves around the Earth.”

That last is pretty scary. I mean, there are certain things I just assume that everyone knows (except for Sherlock Holmes, who had his reasons.) The fact that the earth revolves round the sun is one of them. The idea that nearly one in five Americans does not know this is unnerving. I am not at all consoled by the fact that a few years before this poll was taken (in the 90s), only 74% of Germans and 67% of Britons got it right.

However, here’s something even stranger: not only do 23% of Americans claim to have been in the presence of a ghost; five per cent think they have seen a monster in the closet. Unless their definition of “monster” includes, say, cockroaches, or they included small children in their survey sample, that’s really strange.

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