Illustration by Robert A. Di Ieso, Jr. Research by Bloomberg View
Illustration by Robert A. Di Ieso, Jr. Research by Bloomberg View

After International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn was arrested and charged with sexually attacking a housekeeper in a New York City hotel room, a poll found that 57 percent of his French compatriots thought he was the "victim of a plot." It was tempting to think the survey, conducted for the newspaper 20 Minutes and BFM TV, reflected Gaullist paranoia or thickheadedness.

In all humility, however, it’s worth remembering that a sizable chunk of the American public has, at times, believed things at least as far-fetched. To wit:

-- 25 percent of Americans believed, earlier this year, that Barack Obama was "born in another country," according to a CBS News/New York Times survey.

-- 20 percent posited, in a 2007 poll by Princeton Survey Research Associates International, that most of the Sept. 11 hijackers came from Iraq. (None did; 15 of the 19 were Saudi Arabian.)

-- 36 percent thought, in 2006, that U.S. federal officials either participated in the Sept. 11 attacks or took no action to stop them, according to a Scripps Survey Research Center survey.

-- 32 percent suspected, in an ABC News poll conducted nine months into O.J. Simpson’s 2005 trial, that Los Angeles police had framed Simpson for the murder of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson.

-- 6 percent said the U.S. government had faked the Apollo 11 moon landing, according to a 1999 Gallup poll.

-- 39 percent said, in a 1997 Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll, that the U.S. Air Force was covering up a 1947 crash by a UFO in Roswell, New Mexico.

(Robert A. Di Ieso, Jr. is a graphic designer. The Opinions expressed are his own.)

To contact the Bloomberg View editorial board: view@bloomberg.net

To contact the illustrator of this story: rob@thisisrad.com