Global Poll Finds Majority Thinks Emperor’s Clothes Beautiful

A recent poll indicates that the demopaths and their dupes are winning the global battle for public opinion. I have very little faith in polling, especially when it involves the kinds of simplistic questions as those involved here. But the mere fact that the pollsters could get the results they do suggest that we have a planet of blue pill-poppers.

Global Poll Finds that Religion and Culture are Not to Blame for Tensions between Islam and the West


The global public believes that tensions between Islam and the West arise from conflicts over political power and interests and not from differences of religion and culture, according to a BBC World Service poll across 27 countries.

muslim praying
A Muslim man prays outside the Ali Bin Ali mosque in the Qatari capital Doha 23 October 2006. (KARIM JAAFAR/AFP/Getty Images)

The choice of photo is telling. No corresponding photo for the alternative, such as

islam will conquer
London protests over Danish Cartoons, February 3, 2006.

While three in ten (29%) believe religious or cultural differences are the cause of tensions, a slight majority (52%) say tensions are due to conflicting interests.

So what does that mean? There are unquestionably conflicting religious interests, especially when we’re dealing with a “medieval” religion that views its relationship to others in terms of “rule or be ruled.” But presumably, this means, conflict of pragmatic interests, or “stuff we can work out.” It’s the kind of PCP approach that gives us “land for peace.” After all, why not?

The poll also reveals that most people see the problems arising from intolerant minorities and not the cultures as a whole. While 26 percent believe fundamental differences in cultures are to blame, 58 percent say intolerant minorities are causing the conflict – with most of these (39% of the full sample) saying that the intolerant minorities are on both sides.

Okay, so the poll registers a high level of wishful thinking à la liberal cognitive egocentrism: even-handed condemnation of the small group of trouble-makers on both sides that are messing up the desire of the “vast majority” who want to live in peace. Even if every statement is in some way true, the combination adds up to deadly error.

The idea that violent conflict is inevitable between Islam and the West is mainly rejected by Muslims, non-Muslims and Westerners alike. While more than a quarter of all respondents (28%) think that violent conflict is inevitable, twice as many (56%) believe that “common ground can be found.”

So now we need to ask ourselves, how many of these Muslims who think that violent conflict is not inevitable are demopaths, saying what they know is untrue, but want us infidels to believe, and how many are dupes who just hope, like the rest of us, that it’s not the case. In Pierre Rehov’s movie Hostages of Hatred, there’s a scene where a refugee in a camp says to the camera, “We want to destroy Israel.” “No, admonishes the translator, don’t say that. This is for the West. Tell them you want to live in peace with Israel, but look at what Israel does to us” [loosely reported from memory]. How many of the pollsters are giving the respondants in the Arab world subtle clues as to which answer to give… not because they’re Jihadis, but because it would “look bad” to have the other response. And how on earth can one factor for something like that?

The survey of over 28,000 respondents across 27 countries was conducted for the BBC World Service by the international polling firm GlobeScan together with the Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) at the University of Maryland. GlobeScan coordinated the fieldwork between November 2006 and January 2007.

“Most people around the world clearly reject the idea that Islam and the West are caught in an inevitable clash of civilizations,” said Steven Kull, director of the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland.

Now if that doesn’t sound agenda-ridden, I don’t know what does. This strikes me as the language of someone delighted with what he found. Could we be dealing with someone who wants to influence policy by getting decision-makers to read public opinion the way he’d like them to?

Doug Miller, president of GlobeScan, added: “Perhaps the strongest finding is that so many people across the world blame intolerant minorities on both sides for the tensions between Islam and the West.”

Now what on earth can this mean… the “strongest finding”? As I understand, that’s 39% of the polling public. That’s the strongest finding? Or is it the one that corresponds most with what the pollsters want us to think. It’s actually one of the most profoundly mistaken of the attitudes, not because of the fact that there are a minority of extremists on all sides — that’s a “no duh” — but because those extremists play so profoundly different a role in various cultures/religions. To trumpet a mistaken (or at least, highly debatable) opinion strikes me as a worrisome sign of partisanship. This poll seems to be a sign for cheering among the p0llsters, when sober analysts might view it precisely the opposite way — the world is still choosing blue pills and fantasies about the matrix being reality.

Views in More Detail

graph of global poll on conflict

Asked about the source of tensions between Islam and the West, the most common view in 24 of the 27 countries surveyed is that they arise “from conflicts about political power and interests”— endorsed by 52 percent overall. Another three in ten (29%) say that tensions primarily arise from “differences of religion and culture.” This is the dominant view in one country (Nigeria), while two countries have equal numbers taking both points of view (Kenya and Poland).

And who should know better than the Nigerians, where the war in the north between the Muslim majority seeking to impose Sharia and the Christian minority is ferocious.

Respondents were also asked whether tensions arise from fundamental differences between the cultures as a whole or from intolerant minorities. Only 26 percent say they are due to differences in culture, while 58 percent attribute these tensions to intolerant minorities—with 39 percent saying that these intolerant minorities are on both sides, 12 percent saying they are primarily on the Muslim side, and 7 percent saying they are mostly on the Western side. The view that the problem arises from intolerant minorities is found in 24 of the 27 countries surveyed, with two countries (Brazil and the UAE) equally divided between the two points of view and with one in two Nigerians (50%) saying fundamental differences are the cause.”

Asked whether “violent conflict is inevitable” between Muslim and Western cultures or whether “it is possible to find common ground,” an average of 56 percent say that common ground can be found between the two cultures, which is the most common response in 25 countries. On average almost three in ten (28%) think violent conflict is inevitable; Indonesia is the only country where this view predominates, while views are divided in the Philippines.
The belief that it is possible to find common ground between Islam and the West rises with education from 46 percent among those with no formal education to 64 percent among those with post secondary education.

The minority of people who believe that tensions between Islam and the West arise from differences of religion and culture are much more likely to believe that violent conflict is inevitable compared to those who think the problem derives from issues of political power or intolerant minorities.

Here’s where we get to the nitty-gritty. I certainly would have asked — had I been polled — what this is supposed to mean, and the answer of the pollster, unrecorded in the statistics, would have had a great deal of influence on what I responded. And here’s where I think we find the political agenda at work at all levels. What we may be dealing with here is the cart before the horse: because I [want desperately to] believe that the conflict can be resolved peacefully, I [want desperately to] believe that it’s not fundamental/religious in nature. And this piece of liberal cognitive egocentrism is, I think, at the core of both the pollster’s attitudes and the respondants. Then, of course, we have to wonder how many of the Muslims who responded so are not liberal cognitive egocentrists, but demopaths eager to have us believe these narcotic notions aimed at lulling us to sleep.

A belief that violent conflict is inevitable is somewhat more common among Muslims (35 percent) than Christians (27 percent) or others (27 percent). But overall, 52 percent of the 5,000 Muslims surveyed say it is possible to find common ground, including majorities in Lebanon (68%) and Egypt (54%) as well as pluralities in Turkey (49%) and the United Arab Emirates (47%). Even in religiously divided Nigeria, a large majority of Muslims (63%) believe it is possible to find common ground, while Christians are divided on the question. Only in Indonesia do a slim majority (51%) of Muslims take the view that violent conflict is inevitable.

How do we even begin to analyze this data. If, as it appears to be the case with the pollsters and the reporters (BBC), there’s no real need. The simple meaning is enough — for all you addicts out there, there’s hope! 63% of Nigerian Muslims think we can “find common ground.”

Countries with the largest majorities believing that Islam and the West can find common ground include Italy (78%), Great Britain (77%), Canada (73%), Mexico (69%) and France (69%). A strong majority of Americans (64%) also think it is possible to find common ground, though about a third (31%) believe violent conflict is inevitable. Pluralities in the Philippines (42%) and India (35%) agree that common ground can be found, despite the former’s Muslim insurgency and the latter’s history of sectarian strife.

Why do I get the impression that for this reporter, this is great news. Even in places with a history of sectarian violence [i.e., should know better] we have pluralities that can rise above their petty struggles and see the possibilities of “finding a common ground.”

In all but three countries, citizens are more likely to think that tensions between Islam and the West arise from “conflicts about political power and interests” than from “differences of religion and culture”. A majority (56%) in Nigeria—a country that has suffered clashes between its Muslim and Christian communities—say that tensions primarily arise from religion and culture, including 51 percent of Christians and 59 percent of Muslims. Kenyans and Poles are divided on the question.

Worldwide, Muslims (55%) are somewhat more certain than Christians (51%) that the problem mostly derives from political conflict. This is a widely held view in Lebanon (78%), Egypt (57%), Indonesia (56%) and Turkey (55%) as well as in the United Arab Emirates (48% vs. 27% cultural differences).

I think we need a filter for demopaths. From my perspective, what we have here is people from the most violently aggressive religion on the planet telling pollsters that the conflicts are not “religion-based.” Shouldn’t this raise eyebrows and call for comment? Or is it just evidence that Muslims are more broad-minded than Christians?

Respondents were asked not only their religious affiliation but also the extent to which their religion plays a strong role in how they approach political and social issues. Results were then analyzed to assess whether the views of people who are more religious (regardless of their affiliation) differ from people who are less so. The analysis shows no consistent pattern. In a few countries, those who are more religious are somewhat more likely to say that conflict is inevitable (Turkey, Hungary), but in more countries such people are slightly more likely to say that it is possible to find common ground (Argentina, Chile, Nigeria, Poland). Those who are more religious are more likely to see the problem arising from culture in France, South Korea, and Turkey, but more likely to attribute it to conflicts of power in Hungary, UAE and the Philippines. So globally, there is no consistent effect.

In total 28,389 citizens in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Egypt, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Italy, Kenya, Lebanon, Mexico, Nigeria, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Russia, South Korea, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, and the United States were interviewed between 3 November 2006 and 16 January 2007. Polling was conducted for the BBC World Service by the international polling firm GlobeScan and its research partners in each country. In 10 of the 27 countries, the sample was limited to major urban areas. The margin of error per country ranges from +/-2.5 to 4 percent. For more details, please see the Questionnaire/Methodology

That’s incredibly arrogant. We’re dealing with the most nebulous of issues. My guess is, a poll that was done by another outfit, without the “liberal” agenda so evident here, would find wildly different results, more like +/- 20%. In any case, since this is about very vague opinions and not concrete actions — like who are you going to vote for — this kind of “margin of error,” is nothing short of silly.

As for the methodology provided at the link, it’s pretty thin of technique, but it should be noted that all the interviews in the Arab world were conducted face-to-face, where the impact of the pollster’s question-posing techniques (including body language, tone, facial expressions, etc.) play a potentially large role. My guess is that this poll is close to worthless as a gauge of public attitudes around the world.

To read more about opinion in Africa, click here.
To read more about opinion in Asia, click here.
To read more about opinion in Europe, click here.
To read more about opinion in Latin America, click here.
To read more about opinion in the Middle East, click here.
To read more about opinion in North America, click here.


This poll strikes me as a classic case of asking the public what they think of the emperor’s new clothes as a way to rally the forces in favor of the parade. Given Kull’s agenda of aligning the decision makers with the majority of public opinion, the whole thing is bad news. I say the emperor’s naked and these pollsters and polled are being duped by their own desires for a peaceful world. There’s a margin of error in this opinion of +/-20%.

Or maybe we should see this differently. The significant minority in all countries who recognize a fight when they see one, represent a growing group of people who — no matter how painful the realization — refuse to take refuge in a fantasy of peace around the corner. It’s probably much higher now than it was in, say, early 2000 when Oslo was still “on track” and the press hadn’t told us much about the genocidal madness of Sudanese Arab Muslims.

It’s not that I’m happy with my view of the conflict. I wish I could join the blue-pill poppers. Wouldn’t it be nice to think that it’s the occupation and not the fundamentalism. It’s just that that’s been backfiring since 2000 (at least), and those of us who do believe in peace and tolerance need to know our enemy.

5 Responses to Global Poll Finds Majority Thinks Emperor’s Clothes Beautiful

  1. Hettie says:

    I was looking for the complete research article, but could not find it. I was especially interested in the methodology section, not exactly the kind to which the link is provided by PIPA, but things like weightings, ratio of religious/non-religious respondents in each country etc. In countries like my native Hungary religous people are such a minority, I wonder how many of them were included in the sample, and how the religious category was defined in the first place.

    Also, has it been peer-reviewed?

    I would get really bad marks at uni if my article lacked a proper data analysis.

    Response by RL: I agree. My sense in looking at the meager data they’ve offered, is that this whole thing is something close to a joke. You can get almost any PC answer you want if you phrase the sentence correctly. You could get a racist to tell you he’s for integration. And if there’s interesting data imbedded here somewhere, there’s no way to extract it. Strikes me as opaque.

  2. abu yussif says:

    talk about predetermined outcomes. in this post-modern world, doing the right thing by standing up to terror and totalitarianism will guarantee unpopularity.

    we all want to be liked, but at what price? selling (out) your soul to the devil? that may buy you success in the short term, but payday is going to be a you-know-what.

  3. RL says:

    answer to abu yussif

    agreed again. And the slant of the “scientists” who are preparing this material suggests that they want to encourage that PC. Kull’s comments on his other data, that found Israel unpopular, is that:

    “It appears that people around the world tend to look negatively on countries whose profile is marked by the use or pursuit of military power,” said Steven Kull, director of the Maryland polling program. This, he said, could apply to Israel, the United States, North Korea and Iran.

    Notes Charles Johnson:

    Yet, positive views of Iran grew dramatically in some Muslim-dominated countries.

    Given that the overwhelmingly negative image of Israel in the Muslim countries that love their aggressors, Kull’s “explanation” is a classic case of liberal cognitive egocentrism, much in line with what his poll on how this is not a religious problem “proves.”

  4. RiverCocytus says:

    Hmm, it would seem that people’s responses to something like this do not reflect the reality of the situation, but rather, the level of saturation of the media that they commonly receive on each of those viewpoints.

    Because we do live in the same world, the inconsistency would appear to be a result of information dilution or information pollution…

    I guess they take polls like this to see where they need to concentrate their propaganda efforts? PCP- its also a drug. ;)

  5. Alprazolam. says:



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