Study Finds Capital District Residents Most Likely to Believe in Conspiracy Theories

By Cecily Bapp

Published October 23rd, 2016

ALBANY — A new study authored by a Siena College professor has determined the Capital Region has the nation’s highest percentage of residents who give credence to a wide range of conspiracies and urban legends while harboring a deep suspicion of science, organized government and ”basically anything they don’t understand.”

The study by Dr. C. Leigh Vagner, a professor of Urban Folk Studies at Sienna, found a large portion of the area’s population accepts as fact: chemtrails, time travel, alien abduction, the medical community’s suppression of the cure for cancer, the existence of guardian angels, the existence of Sasquatch, the belief that Elvis is alive, and the unwavering certitude the government is using cell phones to infect citizens with brain cancer.

“We surveyed almost 100 small urban areas in all 50 states and the Albany area topped the list in almost every measure,” said Gillian McMann, a co-author of the peer-reviewed study. “Our questionnaire mentioned several, well-known urban legends, and many other lesser-known tales. The Albany area residents not only believe in every legend that has been debunked by science or just plain common sense, but they added quite a few to our database in the write-in section.

“It’s astounding, really, that this part of upstate NY continues to function,” McMann added. “The natives are one step short of going around wearing aluminum hats to ‘throw off the Internet.’ Conspiracy theories about 9/11? Check. Fluoride part of a Communist plot? Check. Apollo Moon Landing a fake? Check, check and check! It’s like they are resistant to logic.”

But Jake Van der Doerk, an area native who boasts a lineage that can be directly traced to inebriated Dutch settlers, disagreed, saying “I call bullshit on all these damn scientists.”

“Wake up people!” Van der Doerk exclaimed. “Everything happens for a reason! If you don’t understand it, don’t trust it!”


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