In what has become a continuing shameless attempt to exploit every conceivable facet of the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 mystery for ratings, CNN has released a poll asking Americans what they think might be behind the plane's disappearance. And not only does the poll show that CNN will allow for even the most ludicrous feedback from respondents, but it also indicates that there are not a few Americans who entertain the rather strange and unsubstantiated notions that the missing plane disappeared because of the orchestrations of space aliens, time travelers, or beings from another dimension.
That is correct. You did not misread. In a poll released May 6 by CNN/ORC, 19 percent of Americans think that it is "not too likely," "somewhat likely," and "very likely" that Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 vanished due to efforts by certain "groups." In this case, those groups include space aliens, time travelers, and beings from other dimensions.
Even the largest of those categories (10 percent answered "not too likely") indicate that respondents entertain at least the possibility that these "groups" could have been involved in the plane's disappearance.
Other "groups" included in the CNN poll were terrorists, hijackers (non-terrorists), and pilots and/or crew members. Of those three, more people (83 percent) thought that the Boeing 777 that vanished on March 8 carrying 239 passengers and crewmen most likely (and somewhat and not too likely as well) resulted from actions of the pilots, co-pilots, and/or crew members of the plane. A staggering 79 percent believe there's a possibility that Flight 370 disappeared due to actions of "terrorists or people associated with a hostile foreign government."
But back to those who think that the Boeing 777 may have been targeted by space aliens, time travelers, and beings from other dimensions...
Some might be surprised that nearly 1 out of every 5 Americans think that some type of interference from UFOs and people from the future. After all, many believe that life exists on other worlds and that time travel is possible. As for the beings from other dimensions, variations of the multiverse theory has been around for quite some time.
To provide some insight into the thinking of the general populace, a Public Policy Polling poll released last April showed that not only does 29 percent of the population believe aliens exist but that 21 percent believe a UFO crashed in Roswell, New Mexico, in 1947.
A Huffington Post/YouGov poll released in September 2013 noted that 48 percent of those surveyed believed UFOs of extraterrestrial origin had been observed. The same poll revealed that 50 of respondents believed that there were those who had experienced actual ghosts.
Given that many Americans are not above going the conspiracy theory route (the aforementioned poll numbers translate into millions of Americans) as well, it shouldn't be surprising that there would be at least one person in a group of five that would consider as likely what is usually relegated to realms of science fiction. Besides, such topics inspire controversy. And in the news business, controversy and interesting angles are what drives ratings.
CNN has found a ratings gold mine in the missing Malaysia Airlines plane mystery. According to data analyst Nate Silver, CNN mentions the missing plane once every six minutes -- far more than any other news organization or network.
The news network seems to explore every story line it possibly can, to the minutiae of reporting on the reporting on the Malaysia Airlines mystery to reporting on conspiracy theories and even the possibility of "supernatural" involvement. Anchor Don Lemon was famously criticized for his introduction of the idea that something out of this world may have happened to the plane and its passengers.
"People are saying to me," Lemon said on a Sunday broadcast a couple weeks after the plane went missing, "why aren't you talking about the possibility — and I'm just putting it out there — that something odd happened to this plane, something beyond our understanding?"
CNN hasn't shied away from the "talking about the possibility" since.
And now there's this poll...
So don't be surprised if a few of your co-workers or some of your friends at your weekend cookout harbor some very open-minded ideas as to what might have occurred regarding the vanishing of Flight 370.
And don't be surprised the next time CNN runs a story that completely circumnavigates factual knowledge -- or at best touches tangentially on a given fact -- to keep the public continually informed about every real development and/or incredible lunacy in the search for the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777. Good ratings were missing at CNN for years and missing Flight 370 has helped the network climb atop the cable news ratings. Perhaps in covering the search for the missing plane, CNN might again find its journalistic integrity and credibility as well.