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Americans Predict Major Terrorist Attack on U.S. In Next Decade

posted 6 Jan 2011, 05:00 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 6 Jan 2011, 05:02 ]


And predict in next 50 years: a female president, China will surpass the U.S. economically, a chemical or biological attack, and a cure for cancer

NEW YORK, Jan. 6, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- A new Harris Poll measures how many people expect various events will happen in the next decade, in the next 50 years and in the rest of the 21st century. Large majorities believe that all 15 events on the list will happen eventually, and that many of them will happen sometime in this century. However, only one of them – a major terrorist attack on the U.S. – is seen by a majority (54%) as likely to happen in the next ten years.

Other events that are seen as likely to occur in the next ten years by sizable minorities are electing a female president (35%), China replacing the U.S. as the world's most powerful economic country (30%), a biological or chemical attack on the U.S. (29%), and that global warming and climate change will have a big impact (22%).  

At the other (least likely) end of the spectrum, very few people expect that in the next decade there will be an end to the obesity epidemic (7%), a nuclear war (8%), a revolution overthrowing the U.S. government (8%), or that smoking tobacco will almost disappear (9%).

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,331 adults surveyed online between December 6 and 13, 2010 by Harris Interactive.

The Next 50 Years

Majorities of all adults believe that the following are likely to occur in the next 50 years:

  • A major terrorist attack on the U.S. (79%);
  • A female will be president (82%);
  • China will replace the U.S. as the world's most powerful economic country (62%);
  • An attack on the U.S. using chemical or biological weapons (60%);
  • Most energy in the U.S. will come from renewable sources (52%); and,
  • A cure for cancer (52%).

Later This Century

Majorities of all adults believe that the following are likely to happen in the next 90 years:

  • Global warming and climate change will have a big impact (70%);
  • A new political party will replace the Republicans or the Democrats as one of the two largest parties (62%);
  • A massive water shortage (63%); and,
  • Life expectancy will be 100 years or more (63%).

Most people (75%) believe that that eventually human life on Earth will end, but only 19% think that will happen in the 21st century.

So What?  

This data represent predictions, not forecasts.  And, history is littered with forecasts by the best and the brightest that proved to be completely wrong, including: "everything that can be invented has beeninvented" (1899, Charles Duell), "it will be years – not in my time – before a woman will become primeminister" (1969, Margaret Thatcher), "that Virus (HIV) is a pussycat" (1988, Peter Duesberg), "Reagandoes not have that presidential look" (1964, United Artists executive), "man will not fly for 50 years" (1901,Wilbur Wright), the light bulb is "a conspicuous failure" (1880, Henry Morton), "data processing is a fad that won't last out the year" (1957, Prentice Hall), "radio has no future" (1897, Lord Kelvin), "space travel is utter bilge" (1956, Richard Wooley) and "fooling around with alternating current is just a waste of time"(1889, Thomas Edison).

One other point is worth making.  Contrary to some other polls, this survey finds that almost everyone (84%) believes that global warming and climate change will eventually have a big impact.  The question is not if but when. The split is between those who believe that it will have an impact in the next 50 years (49%) – of whom 22% think it will happen in the next decade – and those who think it will happen later in the future (35%).  

TABLE 1 
DECADE PREDICTIONS SUMMARY 
"For each of the following items, please say when you believe each will happen."

Base: All adults


In the 
next 10 
years

In the next 
11-50 years

Later this 
century 
(51-90 years)

Not in 
this 
century

Never

%

%

%

%

%

A major terrorist attack on the U.S.

54

25

8

7

6

A female will be U.S. president

35

47

9

4

5

China will replace the U.S. as the world's most powerful economic country

30

32

17

11

11

An attack on the U.S. using chemical or biological weapons

29

31

16

15

9

Global warming and climate change will have a big impact

22

27

21

14

16

A new political party will replace the Republicans or Democrats as one of the two largest parties

15

30

17

23

15

Most energy in the U.S. will come from renewable sources (wing, solar, etc)

13

39

30

13

6

A cure for cancer

12

40

25

13

11

A massive water shortage

11

28

24

26

11

Smoking tobacco will almost disappear in the U.S.

9

23

17

22

30

A nuclear war

8

21

19

31

21

A revolution will overthrow the U.S. government

8

14

13

34

31

Life expectancy will be 100 years or more

8

29

26

23

14

An end to the "obesity epidemic"

7

22

19

24

29

The end of human life on Earth

4

6

9

56

24

Note: Percentages may not add to 100% due to rounding



TABLE 2 
DECADE PREDICTIONS SUMMARY OF IN THE NEXT 10 YEARS 
"For each of the following items, please say when you believe each will happen."

Base: All adults



Generation

Total

Echo 
Boomers
(18-33)

Gen X 
(34-45)

Baby 
Boomers
(46-64)

Matures
(65+)

%

%

%

%

%

A major terrorist attack on the U.S.

54

42

54

60

66

A female will be U.S. president

35

25

33

42

40

China will replace the U.S. as the world's most powerful economic country

30

26

32

32

32

An attack on the U.S. using chemical or biological weapons

29

23

29

34

32

Global warming and climate change will have a big impact

22

21

24

21

20

A new political party will replace the Republicans or Democrats as one of the two largest parties

15

10

15

18

19

Most energy in the U.S. will come from renewable sources (wing, solar, etc)

13

14

13

12

13

A cure for cancer

12

12

11

11

15

A massive water shortage

11

13

11

11

11

Smoking tobacco will almost disappear in the U.S.

9

8

10

7

11

A nuclear war

8

8

8

9

9

A revolution will overthrow the U.S. government

8

12

9

7

5

Life expectancy will be 100 years or more

8

7

8

10

7

An end to the "obesity epidemic"

7

7

7

6

7

The end of human life on Earth

4

8

5

2

2

Note: Percentages may not add to 100% due to rounding



Methodology

This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between December 6 to 13, 2010 among 2,331 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents' propensity to be online.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words "margin of error" as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of Harris Interactive.

J39118

Q830

The Harris Poll® #2, January 6, 2011

By Humphrey Taylor, Chairman, The Harris Poll, Harris Interactive

About Harris Interactive

Harris Interactive is one of the world's leading custom market research firms, leveraging research, technology, and business acumen to transform relevant insight into actionable foresight. Known widely for the Harris Poll and for pioneering innovative research methodologies, Harris offers expertise in a wide range of industries including healthcare, technology, public affairs, energy, telecommunications, financial services, insurance, media, retail, restaurant, and consumer package goods. Serving clients in over 215 countries and territories through our North American, European, and Asian offices and a network of independent market research firms, Harris specializes in delivering research solutions that help us – and our clients – stay ahead of what's next. For more information, please visit www.harrisinteractive.com.

Press Contact:

Corporate Communications

Harris Interactive

212-539-9600

press@harrisinteractive.net



SOURCE Harris Interactive



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