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.