Upsetting
Monday, June 16, 2003
 
Many Misinformed About Iraq, Sept. 11 Attacks

By Frank Davies
Knight Ridder News Service

WASHINGTON -- A third of the American public believes U.S. forces found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, according to a recent poll. And 22 percent said Iraq actually used chemical or biological weapons.

Before the war, half of those polled in a survey said Iraqis were among the 19 hijackers on Sept. 11, 2001.

But such weapons have not been found in Iraq, and were never used. Most of the Sept. 11 hijackers were from Saudi Arabia. None of them were Iraqis.

These results startled the pollsters who conducted and analyzed the surveys.

"It's a striking finding," said Steve Kull, director of the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland, which asked the weapons questions during a May 14-18 poll of 1,256 respondents.

He added, "Given the intensive news coverage and high levels of public attention, this level of misinformation suggests some Americans may be avoiding having an experience of cognitive dissonance."

That is, having their beliefs conflict with the facts.

Kull added that the poll's data showed that the mistaken belief that weapons of mass destruction had been found "is substantially greater among those who favored the war."
 
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