QAnon belief on the march!

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 25, 2022

Anthropology lessons: Belief in QAnon is on the march, according to a large new survey described in the New York Times.

The report was done by Tiffany Hsu. Headline included, her report begins like this:

41 million Americans are QAnon believers, survey finds

More than a year after Donald J. Trump left office, the QAnon conspiracy theory that thrived during his administration continues to attract more Americans, including many Republicans and far-right news consumers, according to results from a survey released on Thursday from the Public Religion Research Institute.

The nonprofit and nonpartisan group found that 16 percent of Americans, or roughly 41 million people, believed last year in the three key tenets of the conspiracy theory. Those are that Satanist pedophiles who run a global child sex-trafficking operation control the government and other major institutions, that a coming storm will sweep elites from power and that violence might be necessary to save the country.

In October 2021, 17 percent of Americans believed in the conspiracy theory, up from 14 percent in March, the survey said...

Already, we'd have to say that a dollop of confusion has appeared on the scene. If 17 percent of American believed in the theory "in October 2021," why are we told that only 16 percent believed in the theory "last year?"

We can imagine an explanation. But as that third paragraph continues, an additional question arises:

HSU (continuing from above): In October 2021, 17 percent of Americans believed in the conspiracy theory, up from 14 percent in March, the survey said. At the same time, the percentage of people who rejected QAnon falsehoods shrank to 34 percent in October from 40 percent in March. The survey covered more than 19,000 respondents and was conducted across the country throughout 2021.

Back in October, 17 percent of Americans believed in the theory; 34 percent rejected it. That leaves 49 percent unaccounted for. What the heck is the story on them?

These questions never get answered in Hsu's relatively truncated report. For whatever reason, she never links to the PRRI's report on its study. To peruse their report, just click here.

At any rate, who are these QAnon believers? Who believes such peculiar ideas? A bit misleadingly at times, Hsu breaks it down like this:

HSU: Among Republicans, 25 percent found QAnon to be valid, compared with 14 percent of independents and 9 percent of Democrats. Media preferences were a major predictor of QAnon susceptibility, with people who trust far-right news sources such as One America News Network and Newsmax nearly five times more likely to be believers than those who trust mainstream news. Fox News viewers were twice as likely to back QAnon ideas, the survey found.

[...]

More than half of QAnon supporters are white, while 20 percent are Hispanic and 13 percent are Black. They were most likely to have household incomes of less than $50,000 a year, hold at most a high school degree, hail from the South and reside in a suburb.

Unsurprisingly, Republicans are much more likely to believe in QAnon than we Democrats are. Among consumers of "conservative" media, Newsmax viewers were much more likely to believe than Fox viewers were.

We were surprised by the racial / ethnic breakdown of QAnon supporters. In our view, it came remarkably close to mirroring the Census Bureau's demographic breakdown of the American population overall. 

Just to add a bit of precision, the actual survey actually says that 58 percent of QAnon supporters are white. In fairness, that is indeed "more than half." 

Still, this brings the numbers remarkably close to the numbers for the American population overall (though possibly not for the adult-age American population).

Some of the writing in the actual survey is flatly ambiguous. Elsewhere, the writing is perhaps a bit hard to follow. At first glance, nowhere is this problem more glaring than in the general area of race.

We'd say that the PRRI report could be much more clearly written. We'd say that Hsu didn't clarify several points.

In closing, though, we'll direct you to one simple fact—and this fact is very important:

According to the actual survey, a full 16% of Americans either completely agreed, or mostly agreed, with the following statement during the past year:

"The government, media and financial worlds in the U.S. are controlled by a group of Satan-worshipping pedophiles who run a global child sex-trafficking operation."

According to this extensive survey, roughly one in six American adults believed that remarkable claim. We'd strongly urge you to view that as an anthropological fact.

Skillfully, let's be fair! QAnon believers weren't all Republicans. Adjusting for population, QAnon believers were only slightly more likely to be living in the South. 

At one point, the survey seems to say that black Americans and Hispanic Americans are substantially more likely to believe in QAnon than white Americans are. But the survey's writing is so murky and technical at that point that we aren't entirely sure what was being said.

Our overall plea would be this:

Let's stop insisting that that claim about the global Satanic trafficking ring was only believed by Others. One in six of our fellow citizens believed that remarkable claim. In short, the world of human cogitation, thought and belief differs greatly from what Aristotle is so famously said to have said.

The people who believed that claim may be outstanding friends and neighbors. But the world of human cogitation is not what we've always been told.

Shortcomings run rampant in our tribe too. We all have a lot of learn.


36 comments:

  1. "Anthropology lessons: Belief in QAnon is on the march, according to a large new survey described in the New York Times."

    May we suggest, dear Bob, that "belief in QAnon", in the literal sense, is overwhelmingly a liberal-tribe phenomenon?

    Because the so-called "QAnon" is simply a mythical boogeyman invented by your tribal shamans to frighten you and the rest of your brain-dead tribe...

    Tsk. Oh well...

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    1. Even if QAnon was real, how is that scarier than the Republican Party being a bunch of fascists?

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  2. "The government, media and financial worlds in the U.S. are controlled by a group of Satan-worshipping pedophiles who run a global child sex-trafficking operation."

    Heh. Interesting hypothesis, dear Bob.

    ...but not to our taste; not too imaginative. Personally, we definitely prefer 'em shape-shifting alien Reptilians...

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  3. According to Wikipedia, qanon “originated in the American far-right political sphere. “

    “QAnon supporters have named Democratic politicians, Hollywood actors, high-ranking government officials, business tycoons, and medical experts as members of the cabal.”

    They believed Trump was going to expose “the sex trafficking ring, and to prevent a coup d'├ętat by Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and George Soros. QAnon is described as antisemitic or rooted in antisemitic tropes, due to its fixation on Jewish financier George Soros and conspiracy theories about the Rothschild family,”

    Etc.

    How this morphed into the non-partisan statement of belief that prri describes, where no mention is made of evil liberals, is anyone’s guess.

    But it is dishonest. And Somerby knows it.

    And it is the GOP that welcomes these lunatics into their party, further abdicating their responsibility as leaders or gatekeepers to keep these nutcases away from the levers of power.

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  4. The question about pedophiles might have confused some people, leading them to answer yes to it on the basis of Jeffrey Epstein's behavior and Ghislaine Maxwell's recent conviction, which was in the news at the time of the survey.

    This does not intersect with Q-Anon's views, so generalizing from that question to 9% of Democrats being Q-Anon supporters, may be misleading. Epstein isn't reallty what Q-Anon has in mind.

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  5. Watching OAN or Newsmax may correlate with these responses, but so does belief in fundamentalist evangelical religion. These ideas about Satan-worshipping and violent overthrow come from ideas about the apocalypse and second coming. They consider Trump to be Christ incarnate and they expect him to raise the dead during the end-times, hence the claims to have seen people like Prince or Elvis or JFK Jr. in disguise. These are religious views, not political views.

    Not all Democrats are educated and not all Democrats are politically minded or follow any news closely except what they hear from friends and read on the internet. Some are Democrats because they are minority group members, but they may also be participants in charismatic religions and expect the end times as fervently as Southern Baptists.

    It is odd that this study didn't look at the religious tie-in, since it is common across Q-Anon believers, shared by conservatives and not as prevalent on the left (excluding Catholics).

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  6. If a survey finds that 9% of Democrats believe in Satanic sex trafficking, that doesn't mean that The Others aren't believers in this stuff, to a greater degree than the left.

    It is odd to see Somerby crowing over this result when it doesn't exonerate The Other at all.

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  7. Tulsi Gabbard is supposedly a Democrat but she is going to be addressing CPAC on Saturday, telling them that NATO is responsible for Russia's attack on Ukraine.

    Gabbard is one of the Democrats who was invited to Russia prior to the 2016 election, along with Jill Stein (Green Party).

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  8. Bill Maher says hug not smug. He is wrong about that. These former Trumpies are not going to become Democrats -- they will follow DeSantis or Cruz or Rubio, but they aren't going to support Biden just because they are waking up to Trump's defects.

    And Maher himself shows us his Somerby impulses, pretending that he is a leftie with libertarian impulses, when he is conservative, misogynistic, racist and an anti-covid health faddist. On the left, we don't take advice from such people.

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    1. Bill Maher knows three convervative rich people and acts like he's the one flipping Georgia blue

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    2. Who but a deluded fool would argue in favor of being smug?

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    3. Right, smug is a strawman. Conservatives imagine that the left is smug everytime the right is caught being stupid or wrong. But that isn't actually how liberals feel. Not that Maher would know, since he is neither liberal nor right about much.

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    4. 6:24,
      Yup.
      I usually thank someone for teaching me, not think they are laughing at me for being stupid.
      Then again, I have self-esteem, which the Right lacks.

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  9. I don't believe this survey. It's all to easy for a respondent to choose the most outlandish response just for the fun of it or to give a FU to the surveyor.

    During Freshman orientation, we were required to fill out numerous forms and surveys. In retrospect, some were probably for psychology research. Finally, when given a choice of "religion", some of us checked "Sikh", because we were "sick" of filling out forms.

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    1. Determining the truth of responses is part of the science of polling and survey taking. They should discuss this in whatever source was cited for the poll. Some surveys include "lie scales" to better estimate truthfulness of respondents.

      Are you suggesting that the dishonest responses would exceed the margin of error for the poll?

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    2. "just for the fun of it or to give a FU to the surveyor"

      Most likely, in our humble opinion, not to the surveyor, but to The Man.

      How many ordinary people aren't sick of "the government, media and financial worlds"?

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    3. Kelly -- Are you suggesting that the dishonest responses would exceed the margin of error for the poll?

      Yes, indeed! The "margin of error" reflects only the error due to statistical variation. It assumes honest answers. It also assumes that the population sampled properly matches the total population. So, the true uncertainty far exceeds the so-called "margin of error".

      BTW I once sat with a pollster at a dinner. She explained that in political polls, the polling companies can make judgmental adjustments when the results look odd.

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    4. Only random sampling assures representativeness of the larger population. But in practical sample sizes, randomness doesn't guarantee representativeness -- stratification does that (selecting people based on their characteristics).

      Political polling involves modeling to decide how many people in which groups will provide representativeness, so perhaps your friend is referring to adjustments made to such models.

      For example, there are times of day when certain categories of people are more likely to respond to polls, e.g., old people, those on disability, housewives, will be overrepresented during the middle of the day when others are at work. Adjusting for such imbalances in sampling would not just be a judgmental adjustment but a necessity to prevent certain categories of people from being over-represented in the sample.

      Lying is related to the wording of questions, not to sampling (the source of random error). Lying introduces systematic error, not statistical noise, and needs to be measured and adjusted for. You do this by including lie scales and response models, such as signal detection theory (for guessing) or affective risk models for economics. If you are using rating scales, then Kahneman & Tversky's biases are important. This is all part of the science of polling and surveying people. It is very complex, but the solution is not to assume that results mean nothing because people lie. It is to check whether the people conducting the survey know what they are doing and take such lying into account, and whether the poll is biased because it was conducted in order to produce a desired result.

      Your response strikes me as being akin to someone who won't ride an elevator because equipment can fail, instead of assuming that the proper design and maintenance by elevator-experts make the ride safe.

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    5. Thanks for your interesting reply, Kelly. You point out ways that polls can be made more accurate. However, you haven't convinced me that what the pollsters call "margin of error" represents the full uncertainty.

      E.g., suppose the pollster introduces lie scales and response models. I assume that they will make the poll more accurate. However, these adjustments are not perfect. They have their own degree of uncertainty. And, this uncertainly is not included in the pollsters' "margin of error".

      Similarly, adjustments for time of day also have some uncertainty, which is not included in the 'margin of error'.

      Delete
  10. Where’s Saturday’s post?

    Is it safe to assume that Somerby is too ashamed of himself and his defense of Trump and his scoffing at the Russia investigation and the shit Manafort was up to and the harm Trump did to Zelensky and Ukraine and NATO now that that set the stage for “genius” Putin to invade Ukraine? Has he reflected on that and chosen radio silence?

    Nah. He’s too much of a shit to be ashamed.

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    1. mh - I wonder how many years after Trump is out of office people will still try to blame him for f*ckups by the present President.

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    2. I suppose you are talking about inherited situations when you call these Biden's fuckups. I consider this one with Putin to fit that category.

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    3. I wonder how many years after Trump is out of office he'll learn to shut his fucking mouth and stop sucking Putin's dick in public, eh David.

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    4. mh - Russia expanded during the Obama and Biden Administrations. They didn't expand during the Trump Administration. Q.E.D.

      Russia had less leverage during the Trump Administration, because the US was energy independent.

      @2:54 I'm afraid Trump will never shut up.

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    5. Plus one of their assets was President of the United States.

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    6. Putin helped Trump win in 2016 and The Russian government interfered in the 2016 presidential election in sweeping and systematic fashion. to hurt Clinton.
      Shove that Q.E.D. up your traitorous ass, David.

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    7. There's no evidence that the Russian interference had an impact on the outcome of the election. The idea is really dumb if one takes into the account the entire scope of money and how money drives our elections.

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  11. “Watching Zelensky’s conduct over the last few weeks makes Donald Trump’s attempt to use the power of the United States government to blackmail him even more obscene. Trump is not fit to shine Zelensky’s boots. That Trump’s actions were taken not as a private citizen, but as the American head of state should make all of us deeply ashamed.”

    https://thetriad.thebulwark.com/p/zelensky-has-become-more-than-a-man?utm_campaign=post

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  12. https://uncomfortableconvos.com/

    This is what Somerby, David in Cal, and others here should read/watch. I believe this lacks the sanctimonious tone that Somerby keeps complaining about. So, no excuse to ignore the message about how to treat others better.

    "“You cannot fix a problem you do not know you have.” So begins Emmanuel Acho in his essential guide to the truths Americans need to know to address the systemic racism that has recently electrified protests in all fifty states. “There is a fix,” Acho says. “But in order to access it, we’re going to have to have some uncomfortable conversations.”

    In Uncomfortable Conversations With a Black Man, Acho takes on all the questions, large and small, insensitive and taboo, many white Americans are afraid to ask—yet which all Americans need the answers to, now more than ever. With the same open-hearted generosity that has made his video series a phenomenon, Acho explains the vital core of such fraught concepts as white privilege, cultural appropriation, and “reverse racism.” In his own words, he provides a space of compassion and understanding in a discussion that can lack both. He asks only for the reader’s curiosity—but along the way, he will galvanize all of us to join the antiracist fight."

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    1. As Mr. Acho suggests, "If you are raising white kids, please, please talk to them about race. We must all see color to see racism".

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    2. Thanks for the link, @1:38. It seems to me that Acho ignores the enormous amount that this country had done about racism. Literally trillions of dollars spent on the Great Society were substantially aimed at blacks. Almost every college and every employer in the country gives preferences to blacks.

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    3. Curing poverty and curing racism are not the same thing. If every employer gives preference to blacks, why is there still such a huge pay gap? There are too many statistical indicators of unequal treatment to assume that the work is done.

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    4. Kelly - the pay gap is caused by the difference in performance. If you read this blog, you know that, on average, Asian students are 4 to 5 years ahead of blacks. That's why Asians out-earn blacks.

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    5. Everyone knows performance is what drives pay. Ask any executive who got a multi-million dollar buyout after running a business into the ground.

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    6. Boy, that one has been thoroughly debunked.

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    7. In service to deny the existence of racism, David will even pretend something as ridiculous as wages being based on merit.

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