01 Aug

Economist: U.S. More Permissive Of Torture Than China


Yesterday, The Economist posted poll numbers on global attitudes towards torture, pulled from 2008 research conducted by World Public Opinion. The Economist notes: “Surprisingly, democracies are not necessarily more hostile to the practice than non-democracies. According to the polls, Americans are more willing to tolerate the use of torture than are Chinese.”

As you can see in the numbers presented, approximately 66% of Chinese polled reject the use of torture, as compared to approximately 53% of Americans.

It’s great that The Economist is giving attention to this issue, but there are caveats. What doesn’t show up in these numbers is that contemporaneous polls showed that significant numbers from all nations polled were willing to make exceptions for terrorists. Moreover, these are year-old numbers, and while World Public Opinion does not have updated global data, they have resurveyed American opinion on the matter, which were published this past June. In the interim, Americans opinion seemed to have shifted against torture, even in the case of terrorists:

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