Social Question

wundayatta's avatar

Over two-thirds of Republicans believe in demonic possession. WTF?

Asked by wundayatta (58367 points ) November 3rd, 2012

According to a study written about in Salon, 68% of Republicans believe in demonic possession. Bobby Jindal, Governor of Louisiana, even participated in an exorcism. Yeah. He was on Romney’s short list for VP.

What the hell is going on here? How can people with power believe this stuff? Maybe their belief doesn’t mean anything? Maybe it’s like believing in God—it doesn’t actually change the way you behave in the real world?

Or could this be dangerous? Is it a skepticism about science that makes them unable to see the reality in the world?

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73 Answers

glacial's avatar

“Maybe it’s like believing in God—it doesn’t actually change the way you behave in the real world?”

That’s the key, isn’t it? People can say they believe something, but if it doesn’t change the way they live their lives, they don’t really believe it at all. I think a lot of people answer polls on religious beliefs as if their childhood pastor is leaning over their shoulder. So, I take the results with a pillar of salt.

wundayatta's avatar

Really, @glacial? I didn’t have a pastor growing up, but I still have a hard time imagining a lot of pastors wanted their flock to believe in demonic possession.

chyna's avatar

They believe it because they have witnessed it first hand in their party.~

elbanditoroso's avatar

That explains a lot!

glacial's avatar

@wundayatta <shrug> Demonic possession is a Catholic thing. If you’re a Catholic, then yes, you’re expected to believe that demonic possession is possible, and curable through exorcism.

My “pastor” comment was meant to be more general. Obviously, in the case of possession, it would be a priest.

mowens's avatar

two thirds of democrats believe in the tooth fairy…. works both ways I made that up too.

jerv's avatar

I’m not sure that the actual number is that high, but it doesn’t surprise me that they are more likely to believe religion than the Democrats and Independents. Still, the fact that such views are often accompanied by either ignorance of or hatred towards science is troubling.

@mowens Given how many Republicans utterly refute Evolution, or that dinosaurs ever existed because Earth is only 6000 years old, or that it’s even possible that Obama was born in Hawaii, I have to day that claiming that many Republicans believing in demonic possession has enough validity to at least warrant further investigation. Your hyperbole, on the other hand, is why Republicans are often seen as ignorant at best, which does a disservice to those Conservatives of a rational mindset.

Ron_C's avatar

Why should that be surprising? The republican chairman and other members of the Science committee believe that the earth is 6000 years old and “The Flintstones” is a documentary.

The tea party led Republican party had become quite primitive. They think it’s o.k. to invade a woman’s body to force her to deliver a baby but then support private prison, the death penalty, and preemptive wars and that global warming is a liberal trick.

Blackberry's avatar

I’m a bit skeptical. Even though republicans believe a lot of bs (lol).

Jaxk's avatar

Let’s see if I get this right. Liberals love to take this kind of garbage and make some ridiculous point. But if you’re trying to say that Republicans are stupid based on an idiotic poll, let’s take it a bit further. Women are more likely to believe in Demonic possession than men, I can only assume you also believe they are stupid. Let’s not miss the point that half of democrats also believe in this so they’re not too bright either. Of course more democrats believe in Ghosts, I’m not sure where that puts them on the moron scale. And once again, more women believe in Ghosts, I’ll let you assess that one.

Frankly if you take this kind of poll as any credible source of information, you have no fear of receiving literature from Mensa.

chyna's avatar

@Jaxk What is your source that “women are more likely to believe in Demonic possession than men”?

Jaxk's avatar

@chyna

It says so in the article posted with the question. Here is another take on the same poll

ragingloli's avatar

They believe lots of things

And according to the demographics , 97% of conservatives believe that.

jerv's avatar

@Jaxk Let me give you a lesson on math, and polling methodology.

When the data indicates a difference of 59% vs 56%, as it does for the statement that women are more likely than men to believe in possession, no valid conclusion can really be drawn as polls often have a margin of error around 3%, and [56–62%] vs [53–59%] leaves many permutations where that claim would be false.

However, 68% vs 49% is statistically significant. Even if you move the values each by 3%, you would wind up 65% vs 52%, signifying beyond the shadow of a doubt that Republicans are more likely to believe. True, the fact that nearly half of Democrats also believe is a bit disheartening, but that still doesn’t change the fact that there is a definite difference between the parties on this.

You make some valid points elsewhere, but you have to remember that we are talking about the same Republican party that thinks that 2% = 90% when it comes to funding Planned Parenthood, that when it come to corporate profit growth, -17.4% (under G.W. Bush) and -9.5% (under his father) are better than +77.9% (under Obama) or +9.2% (under Clinton), and otherwise has issues with numbers, and with facts. That makes it easy to target them with all sorts of ridicule, well-deserved or otherwise. And it also means that when non-Republicans play fast-and-loose with numbers, they get a little more of a pass since they don’t do it nearly as often as their Republican counterparts.

livelaughlove21's avatar

Is that surprising? Don’t the great majority of people (particularly Americans) who believe in God also believe in Heaven and Hell and, by extension, Satan and demons? It doesn’t seem all that surprising that they’d believe in some sort of demonic control/possession. And I’m not sure how that is any different or more dangerous than just believing in God.

I’m certainly no Republican, but I’m not sure why this particular belief would make any difference at all, particularly in politics.

bkcunningham's avatar

“The poll also revealed that zombies are considered to be the scariest monster, another issue that has not been raised at all on the campaign trail. Whether the two candidates will address these issues within the last week of the race remains to be seen.”

Wow. Listen, I wouldn’t use Laura Gottesdiener or Alternet as my news source if I wanted to be taken seriously.

wundayatta's avatar

I want them to talk about zombies. I’m tired of hearing them say the same things over and over on the campaign train. And I’m tired of hearing Romney say different things every time he talks. That’s even worse than saying things I totally disagree with because I have no idea who the real Romney is. Of course, he probably doesn’t know either. He’s lost his moral core in his efforts to do anything to win.

cheebdragon's avatar

If honestly believe this shit, you need to be a little more focused on your own intelligence…(or lack thereof)

wundayatta's avatar

@cheebdragon I love how you keep on adding to your credibility day by day. You said it. I believe it. Who needs facts, eh?

Nope. I’m afraid that I need a bit more to debunk something than someone just saying so. Need to see the actual survey and methodology, and then I’d be willing to question it. Anyway, what difference does it make how many Republicans believe in demonic possession? How can that possibly change the way you think about Republicans?

bkcunningham's avatar

“In a classic example of cognitive dissonance, only 37 percent of registered voters–both Democrat and Republican–believe in ghosts, although 57 percent believe in demonic possession. This raises the question, which was ignored in the presidential debates along with other essential issues like climate change and the educational system, about what the possessing force would actually be. (Perhaps Karl Rove?)”

Actually, she is saying 57 percent of registered voters-both Democrat and Republican-believe in demonic possession.

Qingu's avatar

@bkcunningham, don’t you believe in demonic possession?

Buttonstc's avatar

Is anyone here familiar with the phrase “tongue in cheek”?

ETpro's avatar

@Buttonstc I avoid that particular figure of speech in my responses to @wundayatta‘s questions. The only thing I find disturbing in this is that this super-majority that believe demonic possession is real have advanced no agenda to deal with it. What’s with believing strongly that a problem exists, but also believing that the best solution is to do nothing about it? That’s one question either organized (and I use the word VERY loosely) party should take a whack at.

@ragingloli I think that captures what’s behind blind acceptance of idiotic nonsense. It’s most commonly found in authoritarian followers and exploited by authoritarian leaders. Here, most authoritarian followers are right-wing. In the DPRK you’d find even more authoritarian followers, all left wing. Way left.

Shippy's avatar

Why would you care? They also believe they can make society a better place, which is more scarier?

Qingu's avatar

@Shippy, WTF? I think it’s obviously scarier to believe in demonic possession than believing that you can make society a better place.

Shippy's avatar

I thought we were talking fairy tails, so both would concur.

Buttonstc's avatar

@ETpro

But is everyone oblivious to the TONE employed by the writer of the linked article? Does anyone think the author was being totally serious in suggesting it should be on the debate agenda IN ADDITION TO the subject of ghosts and the apparent cognitive dissonance in the poll numbers on that subject? (I mean the ghosts)

Do you really think that the writer of that article had their knickers in a knot as much as many of the people on this thread? I mean, come on…

Or did most not bother reading past the few sentences with the stupid poll results and went off on the usual harangue?

For the record I’m not a Republican and would not vote for Romney under any circumstances. But good grief, I haven’t lost all sense of humor or nuance either.

Buttonstc's avatar

I never knew that fairies had tails? How long are they? Doesn’t it interfere with their flying ?

:D jk

Qingu's avatar

@Shippy, you don’t think people can. improve society?

I’ll ask again: WTF?

Shippy's avatar

@Qingu Nah! It’s more scarier to be possessed by a demon actually.

Qingu's avatar

What the hell does that even mean

ETpro's avatar

@Buttonstc I take your point. Butt (sorry, can’t get past that tongue-in-cheek image) my answer was given in the same whimsical tone. How can any rational adult write about a bunch of morons who believe fairy tales are reality and real reality doesn’t exist without resorting to some level of whimsy?

Humm, @cheebdragon has been crafting a response for the last 30 minutes. Either this is a hum dinger of a reply, or it’s another demonic possession.

Buttonstc's avatar

@ETpro

It just amazes me how the writers tone of irony tinged with sarcasm is completely passed over here in favor of whipping up an angst fest using those poll numbers and completely ignoring his intent. Amaziing.

I’m leaving before somebody starts frothing at the mouth or having a coronary :)

Shippy's avatar

@Buttonstc ops , yes it was this that is making me think of tails!!

Buttonstc's avatar

@Shippy

Ewww

How did I miss that question? No wonder.

I bet you enjoyed the pics of all the NYC rats going belly up. A little vindication :)

Shippy's avatar

@Buttonstc loll, well no, as they are in fact so intelligent, that now as it stands I feel like a serial killer as per post. However, just embarking on the serial part loll.

gailcalled's avatar

It’s a Halloween lampoon.

Buttonstc's avatar

@gailcalled

You’re referring to this entire Q I presume :)

gailcalled's avatar

Not all…some answers are a bit lead-footed.

Buttonstc's avatar

Ha ha. Yeah. That’s for sure :)

digitalimpression's avatar

The problem here is the same as in so many other questions. The term “Republican” is cast over a large and generalized population and “studies” get pushed out like turds after a chili cook-off that want to portray one party or the other in a negative light.

E.G. it was conveniently left out that this poll also found that 57% from BOTH parties believed in demonic possession… a fact which seems to have slipped out of bold print and thrown into the fine print.

This study is just more proof that many people will eat manure if it is sold in a fancy bowl.

Either way, the belief in demonic possession has very little to do with politics. Are you (the in-general “you”) trying to say that if a republican were elected they would make poor choices about tax cuts and ways to create jobs, etc simply because they have different beliefs than democrats?

Bigotry at its worst…. This image immediately came to mind.

bkcunningham's avatar

@Qingu, thanks for asking. Yes, I believe in demons and evil. I have experienced both firsthand. I believe, through my faith, that kindness and love are the victors over such people though. Since you seem interested, I worship the same God and have the same religious beliefs as this man, my grandparents’ tithes and offerings helped pay for this man’s early education, I strive for the same philosophical satya as this man and I believe in the economic philosophy of individual freedom and less government much like this man. Peace.

Shippy's avatar

@bkcunningham Ah! my hero Nelson :)

Qingu's avatar

@bkcunningham, thanks for your answer. Although, not to nitpick, but your strong preference of Republicans over Democrats puts you at odds with Mill’s political philosophy, especially later in life when he was explicitly socialist.

cheebdragon's avatar

Are we taking this seriously enough that I even need to point out the errors of this poll? wow.

I have a few questions about this poll….democrats are more likely to believe in ghosts and to claim they’ve actually seen them. So wait, ghosts are real but a demon is just silly? That seems a little off to me, but what I really want to know is how the highest percentage of believers (Hispanics and people age 18–29) = “two-thirds of republicans” when both of those demographics are far more likely to vote democrat.
(hispanics: 51% vs only 18% republican, and people age 18–29: 44% vs 26% republican)

gailcalled's avatar

It’s a Halloween lampoon.

Still, some interesting and amusing answers (some not so much).

ETpro's avatar

@gailcalled And here I thought all my responses were consistent with a Halloween send up—writing right up to the standards of The Onion. Guess I was just demon possessed. It’s going around in the Fluther collective these days.

gailcalled's avatar

@ETpro: I am never naming no names. No, never..well, hardly ever.

Blondesjon's avatar

@Blondesjon isn’t here missus torrance

jerv's avatar

@digitalimpression I think it is merely another display of people confusing correlation with causation. Personally, I do not believe that Republicans would make poor choices about tax cuts and ways to create jobs, etc simply because they have different beliefs than Democrats; I believe that they would because history has shown that they generally do, regardless of their spiritual beliefs. Forget this poll and look at historical numbers for unemployment, job creation, and many of the other things that the Republicans say that they are the only ones that can provide, but in truth are worse and often cause losses in those areas.
I do not want a drunk for a chauffeur, I would not trust a neurosurgeon with shaky hands, and that is why I don’t want a Republican controlling our economy.

@cheebdragon That is the great thing about polls… or, for that matter, the news. You can read whatever message you want!

wundayatta's avatar

I think the link has to do with trust of scientific method and use of science in developing public policy. People who believe in demonic possession are probably less likely to know, understand or trust science, and thus will be making decisions based on whatever is in their imagination.

It’s the same with ghosts and other imaginary phenomena.

Now the person who wrote the article was definitely making fun of these superstitious folks. But I think the author’s point was the same—it’s kind of scary to think there are so many people who believe these things, and even scarier to think that more of the demon-believing kind are Republicans (although equally scary to think so many Dems also believe in demonic possession).

What is scary is the link between these beliefs and the way people make decisions and how they decide to vote. Of course, we know already that Republicans are less likely to use logic and science. They prefer to use fear and misinformation to persuade people, and their agendas are all about private gain, with no ethics to keep them from putting money first.

But still, it’s just plain scary. It’s like some huge portion of the population is living in the middle ages.

jerv's avatar

@wundayatta People fear what they do not understand. Education has declined to where fewer people understand math or science, but faith has no limitations there as the only thing that needs to be understood there is that anything you don’t know either is known by clergy or deliberately left unintelligible by [insert creator of choice]. Substitute “clergy” with “party leader” and “creator” with “talking heads” and you have how most people feel about politics; don’t bother to think, just believe the dogma from your pre-chosen side.

Still, the difference between ghosts and demons is a subtle yet important one. Demons implies a certain mindset about Good vs Evil whereas ghosts are often considered a neutral part of nature, much like trees. The implication is that faith plays a larger role than reason in the minds of some; more often Republicans. Of course, we already knew that both from other scientific studies and from anecdotal evidence that suggests that many amongst the GOP have not advanced past the 14th century in some regards.

cheebdragon's avatar

“They prefer to use fear and misinformation to persuade people”Like this poll?, “and their agendas are all about private gain, with no ethics to keep them from putting money first.”Explains why they’ve held pretty strong to that “lower taxes” thing, over the years.

bkcunningham's avatar

@wundayatta, where did you get the information you posted? “What is scary is the link between these beliefs and the way people make decisions and how they decide to vote. Of course, we know already that Republicans are less likely to use logic and science. They prefer to use fear and misinformation to persuade people, and their agendas are all about private gain, with no ethics to keep them from putting money first.”

bkcunningham's avatar

@jerv, trees are a neutral part of nature. That’s a new one.

jerv's avatar

@bkcunningham Trees are neither benevolent nor malevolent; they are just trees. No morality, no ethos, just tree-ness.

cheebdragon's avatar

@Jerv if education has declined, it’s probably effecting a large % of your voter base since they tend to be democrats. Doesn’t that kind of negate your theory of having a more intelligent political party?

jerv's avatar

@cheebdragon Are you erroneously assuming that I am talking only about higher education instead of K-12, which was what I was actually referring to? The decline in K-12 education hurts your voter base even more as that is often the only education they get.

Don’t forget that the worst K-12 education, highest poverty rates, and lowest median incomes tend to be in “Red” states. And the latter two, combined with corporate profits declining under both Bushes while rising under Clinton and especially Obama, kind of undermine any theory that Republicans are better for the economy.

Qingu's avatar

@bkcunningham people who believe in demonic possession tend to be religious nutcases, who likewise tend to vote Republican.

I think it’s pretty obvious that religious nutcases vote Republican for the same underlying reason—or I guess I should say delusion—that they are religious nutcases in the first place. We are talking about a party with an economic philosophy based on faith in the godlike powers and virtues of the Invisible Hand of the Marketplace.

The faith that tells you that despite a complete lack of evidence demons are real is the same kind of thing that tells you that cutting taxes for the rich is, despite a complete lack of evidence, deficit-neutral and creates jobs.

ETpro's avatar

@cheebdragon I really wanted to stick to the light-hearted side of this question, but I find myself getting sucked into the lower realms with the above. You wrote: “They prefer to use fear and misinformation to persuade people” Like this poll?, Polls are information, not misinformation. It is believing that facts which conflict with your ideology are simply wrong or irrelevant that is the very crime your Party is accused of, and in defense, you commit the crime.

ucme's avatar

I wouldn’t put anything beyond the reasoning of your average yank.

wundayatta's avatar

@bkcunningham I was informing you of my opinion. My interpretation of the data. My fears about Republicans who seem completely unreasonable and superstitious. Moreso than Democrats, although there are scary Democrats, too.

bkcunningham's avatar

@wundayatta, keep your fingers crossed they come to see things your way.

wundayatta's avatar

@bkcunningham I don’t just cross my fingers. I’ve been politically active all my life. Unfortunately, I’ve not had much effect. And many people have been hurt as a result. Indeed, the economy is much worse off as a result. But people just don’t seem to want a kind, productive world despite my best efforts. Maybe in the future, people will change.

bkcunningham's avatar

@wundayatta, crossing your fingers for luck, well, never mind.

wundayatta's avatar

@bkcunningham I knew what you meant. But I was just saying that I don’t leave things to luck. Or I try not to. In this case, it’s kind of hard to see how one can influence the electorate, but I was working with many organizations.

So I may cross my fingers, metaphorically. But in the end it comes down to hard work.

jerv's avatar

@wundayatta Sometimes you don’t realize how much you are really doing until you stop doing anything and then things go to Hell without your efforts.Sometimes progress isn’t measured by how far forward you go, but by how little you move backwards.

cheebdragon's avatar

@jerv A decline in k-12 is going to effect higher education also, it would be ignorant to think otherwise since even the worst students can still get into college somewhere. How will it hurt republicans? By losing votes, maybe, but it doesn’t make your party any more or less intelligent than the Republican Party. Support your party, vote for your guy, but don’t pretend to be superior in knowledge when your voter base includes the cast of jersey shore.

jerv's avatar

@cheebdragon Nor will I forget that your party base includes multiple states full of people that make Snooki look like Marilyn Vos Savant.

The more troubling is how even the educated Republicans so readily dismiss facts (most notably historical precedent) and logic in pursuit of their ideals. Granted, both sides do that to some extent as it’s human nature, but when -9,8% is suddenly greater than +72% then I feel it fair to call ones intelligence into question. Truly intelligent people go where the facts lead them. And the fact that history shows that, on average, our nation is more prosperous and more free under Democrats. As a person who values personal freedom and prefers to see people employed and earning enough to not require government assistance, and sees fairness in progressive taxation compared to making many suffer for the enrichment of a few when out is possible to minimize suffering while still allowing for some to become wildly successful…. well, so long as we have a two-party system, the enemy of my enemy is my friend.

cheebdragon's avatar

@jerv Please tell me that you are not referring to Clinton as a part of that history…

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