A new survey reveals American’s top fears, showing our true selves

Summary: The Chapman University Survey reveals American’s top fears. Many of them are exaggerated; some are delusional, most are influenced by the sea of propaganda that blankets America. Here we see one reason why the reform of America is so difficult.

Fearful faces in the dark

For the third year, the Chapman University Survey of American Fears asked 1,500+ adult Americans about their fears (details here). The slide show presentation of their results appears below, with a video at the end of the post. The top 10 things we fear the most are…fearful woman

  1. Corruption of government officials (also #1 in 2015).
  2. Terrorist attacks.
  3. Not having enough money for the future.
  4. Being a victim of terror. {Twice on the list!}
  5. Government restrictions on firearms and ammunition.
  6. People I love dying.
  7. Economic or financial collapse.
  8. Identity theft.
  9. People I love becoming seriously ill.
  10. The Affordable Health Care Act/”Obamacare”.


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This survey shows the power of propaganda to shape American’s perceptions. Terrorism, numbers 2 and 4, is a long-standing aspect of US society — and a microscopic cause of deaths and damage (guns are a bigger killer of children). Disease and automobiles are serious killers. Floods, hurricanes, and earthquakes are big-time destroyers.

Rather than prying guns from people’s cold dead heads, carrying — even brandishing — guns is less regulated than in most of US history (less so than in the towns of the Wild West). Even laws against open carry have been rolled back.

Identify theft sounds scary — and often is horrific on TV shows, where people can be electronically erased from society. Losses to consumers were $21 billion in 2012 (0.13% of GDP), but only $12 billion in 2015 (0.10% of GDP). Not one of life’s great worries. Media accounts of the March 2014 hack into the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) shows the hysteria about identity theft. The trivial effects two and a half years later shows the reality.

Considering Obamacare a major threat is delusional, especially six years after it was signed (with few signs of the predicted apocalypse, other than the usual cost overruns).

No Fear

A real threat: the fear bombardments of America

Our odd top fears are natural for a people who let their government lie to them so often, about such important matters. Americans have experienced almost continual fear bombardments since WWII, as our elites find this the easiest way to influence us. When we learn to see the world more clearly, when we develop sense and courage, we will have taken a big step to reforming America.

Here are a few posts about the fear epidemic. They can flood the media with scary stories, but we can make the decision to believe. The truth about these things is out there.

For More Information

Recommended: for a deeper understanding of this read Tom Engelhardt’s The United States of Fear. If you liked this post, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. See all posts about fear, and especially these…

  1. Requiem for fear. Let’s learn from failed predictions to have confidence in ourselves & our future.
  2. Threats come & go, leaving us in perpetual fear & forgetful of the past.
  3. Good news about the fear epidemic: we’re learning!
  4. Journalists suffer from the crisis crisis, warping America’s vision.

A video presentation of their results

4 thoughts on “A new survey reveals American’s top fears, showing our true selves”

  1. “Rather than prying guns from people’s cold dead heads, carrying — even brandishing — guns is less regulated than in most of US history (less so than in the towns of the Wild West). Even laws against open carry have been rolled back.”

    Mostly true, with the glaring exception of heavily-Democractic states like California, which just passed a set of laws that are among the most restrictive in the nation, including confiscation of previously-legal magazines greater than 10 rounds, mandatory registration (and subject to heavy restrictions) as an “evil gun” for anything with “scary” cosmetic features, followed by a ban after the New Year, and requiring gun owners to pay huge fees and fill out extensive paperwork to just to buy a box of ammo at the range.This is after years of incremental moves like the slow-motion banning of all semi-automatic handguns in CA as a consequence of the Trojan Horse “Safe Handgun Roster.” Firearms are also heavily-restricted in other states with Democratic legislatures like Conneticut, New York and New Jersey. By the time you add up the populations of these states, it’s not such a small part of the country any more.

    And as California goes, so goes the nation, so law-abiding gun owners are watching it closely (unlike criminal gun owners, who aren’t following it at all since they know none of this will inconvenience them in the slightest). People still remember the 1994 “Assault Weapons Ban” under Clinton I. There are constant calls for gun control in the mass media after every mass shooting (always the loudest and most strident by those who don’t know the first thing about how firearms work or what the “evil features” are that they are calling for banning actually do). Hillary Clinton has made repeated calls for more gun control, including saying it’s “worth looking at” Australian-style wholesale gun confiscation. The Democrats are poised to make big gains in Congress this year. Well, when someone comes out and tells you what they plan on doing, why would it be irrational to believe that they might actually do it?

    So while the legislative picture at present is bright for gun owners in the non-California, non-Connecticut, non-New Jersey, non-New York parts of the country, many of them do have a fear that the future may bring “Government restrictions on firearms and ammunition.” You say that fear is irrational. I’d say it’s a pretty safe bet.

    1. Phageghost,

      You totally miss what I said. It’s absurd to say that gun laws are more restrictive today almost anywhere then they were in 1920-2000.

      As for California, we’ll see what the Federal courts say. For a decade they have been systematically knocking down such laws.

      “You say that fear is irrational. I’d say it’s a pretty safe bet.”

      Since the driver for this change is the Supreme Court, I’d say you have given zero basis for your fears. The liberals on the Court are old. It’s possible (unlikely, but possible) that the Democrats will get a slim majority in the Senate. There is near-zero chance of them getting a large enough majority to put even a strong liberal on the bench.

      More importantly, people have been giving your pitch for decades — while gun restrictions were being gutted. It’s a remarkable demonstration of how gullible Americans are. It makes us easy to rule. We are a gift to our elites.

  2. “You totally miss what I said. It’s absurd to say that gun laws are more restrictive today almost anywhere then they were in 1920-2000.”

    No, I got t that and I partially agree. I definitely there’s a popular misconception of this among gun people (for which your posts on, e.g. gun control in the “Wild West” are good counterpoints). For things like open carry and concealed carry, things are definitely more relaxed these days, especially in the last 10 years or so. For restrictions on sale, though, mostly it’s gone the other way, though. Hell, up until 1934 you could mail-order a fully-automatic machine gun directly to your doorstep, no questions asked. Nine year old kids bought ammo at the country store, etc. Each major piece of federal legislation has added restrictions here and there, never relaxed them. Always more hoops to jump through.

    But that’s really a separate question. We’re talking about fear, which looks to the future. The propositions “things have never been better” and “things will get worse in the future” are logically independent (of course, in practice they are often correlated as a consequence of the “winner’s curse” but let’s let that lie).

    I’d argue that you overestimate the degree to which additional firearms restrictions are dependent on the make-up of the supreme court. The original Federal AWB of 1994, a resurrection of which is probably the biggest near-term fear of gun owners, was challenged on multiple fronts (many, IMHO, quite weak) and withstood all of them at that time. Post Heller, a lot of gun people keep saying similar things as you do about California: that certain state laws are unconstitutional and will be undoubtedly be struck down by the courts, but that hasn’t really been happening. Challenges die on the vine in appeal, SCOTUS has refused to hear any challenges to state AWBs, etc. And even if Heller was a useful weapon (no pun intended) against state laws, it was of course a 5-4 decision whose author is now deceased. Yes I doubt that the Clinton II administration would be able to appoint a strongly liberal justice even in the most optimistic scenarios, but they don’t need to be Super Liberal, just someone who happens to fall on the other side of that 4-4 split.

    “More importantly, people have been giving your pitch for decades — while gun restrictions were being gutted.”

    I’ve laughed at the ridiculous fear-mongering propaganda of the NRA (every congressional midterm election is the most important in history, and your donation is all that stands between shining freedom and total despotism!). I often pointed out that while everyone was calling him a “gun-grabber” Obama actually reduced gun restrictions in his first term. But post-2012 the Democratic party has shifted back to active support of gun control as a platform plank, after fleeing in terror from it post-1994. That party is about to come to power in at least one branch of the Federal government. Granted, not much would happen without control of Congress, but midterms are coming up soon. The anti-gun-control bulwark is built with some pretty slim reeds.

    So, is sweeping Federal gun control imminent? Not hardly, but I’d say at least some new Federal restrictions look a lot more likely now than they did 4 years ago. And at the state level, they’ve been proceeding at a pretty good clip on the coasts.

    Anyway, as always, keep up the good work.

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