BERKELEY, CAA study released Monday by the University of California-Berkeley shows that 100 percent of Americans fail to disclose the full truth about what they think and do in private.
"While startling and often embarrassing revelations about the private lives of politicians, pro athletes, and celebrities surface on a routine basis, our research indicates that Americans out of the public eye also have a lot to hide," said Berkeley sociology professor Dr. Mia L. Greene, who headed the 10-year study. "Surprisingly, famous people aren't the only ones participating in shady business dealings, substance abuse, and peculiar sexual activities."
As well as keeping the kinds of secrets that, if kept by famous people, become tabloid fodder, average Americans engage in strange and obsessive behavior that, if revealed, would humiliate them.
"The secrets of the people living next door are often just as icky as the scandals that make the papers," Greene said. "If Claire Mallon, a 43-year-old bank teller from Rockingham, VT who still sleeps in the same bed as her elderly mother, were to receive the level of attention we give Kobe Bryant, we might see headlines like, oh, 'Cash-Doling She-Sicko Snuggles Mommy.'"
The Berkeley study, based on exhaustive surveillance of thousands of individuals, as well as information gleaned from personal diaries and nosy neighbors, undoes any perception that people living in quiet obscurity are without bizarre tendencies. According to Greene, every single study participant had a history of abnormal behavior.
"While hotel heiress Paris Hilton's infamous sex tape was breaking, Cleveland piano teacher Jon Knowles was sitting at his kitchen table eating a bowl of cat food," Greene said. "And, while the Monica Lewinsky scandal was threatening to unseat a president, Clay Pulvermacher of Wauwatosa, WI was busy mailing birthday cards to himself."
Other non-famous Americans found to lead secret lives include 38-year-old Robin Stokely of Pueblo, CO, who still plays with her Weebles treehouse, and Ogden, UT's Lisa North, 12, who dares herself to lick used dustrags.
"While this study was not meant to inspire citizens to make slanderous accusations against each other, its conclusions do make it safe to assume that there's more to Plain Jane than she lets on," Greene said. "Average Joe's lack of fame is the only thing that keeps him from being tried and convicted by the harsh court of public opinion."
Public reaction to the findings was varied.
"If we can't trust our friends and neighbors to be honest and forthcoming, who can we trust?" Olympia, WA resident Ralph LeBoeuf said. "It's shocking. Are we all crazy? Now that we know we're all damaged, how will anyone be able to successfully run for local office? How can I entrust someone like myself, whose best friend is a cardboard stand-up Frankenstein monster, with any major responsibility?"
Muriel Woodbridge of Norfolk, VA said she'll never think of anyone she knows in the same way again.
"I'm hurt and I'm angry," said Woodbridge, who makes miniature clothes for her wall-mounted crucifix so Jesus doesn't get cold at night. "I suppose I'll do my best to support the American people through this scandal, though. What else can I do?"
One expert in human behavior said that the study's repercussions will be minimal.
"Human beings have a remarkable ability to keep themselves from recognizing their own flaws while attacking others," San Francisco-based psychiatrist James Dowling said. "This whole thing should blow over as soon as the initial sting fades. Besides, the fact that I like to be spankedhardis no one's business."