Saturday, September 24, 2022

Do a fifth of Americans agree with QAnon?

QAnon's been in the air for a few years now. One of the members of our Braver Angels group has a friend who's a true believer. I'd had only the vaguest idea of what they actually believe (assuming they all believe the same things), but since they seem to have some staying power, I decided to spend a little time trying to figure them out. I generally assume that for anything anti-establishment, Wikipedia takes the worst case and expands on it--I don't think this was an exception.

One article seemed pretty scary--One in Five Americans Agree with the Core Tenets of QAnon. That's a survey I had to see.

Figure 1 explains it. There are 3 "core tenets", and they lump "Completely Agree" together with "Mostly Agree" to get their numbers. Oddly enough, "Don't know" was never more than 3%.

5%+11% at least mostly agreed that 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." That seems pretty far out there--but look at the format of the responses. Completely agree, mostly agree, mostly disagree, completely disagree. There's no option for disaggregating the bundle of claims. One could believe that the elite include some fraction of pedophiles (what was Epstein up to?), and that the elite cover for each other (what's new?).(*) How do you slot that belief into the questionaire's framework? "somewhat=mostly?" I don't quite get where the "Satan-worshipping" is supposed to come from--some aspects and actions of our elite seem satanic but I, with Screwtape, don't think they need to believe in the devil to accomplish them.

6%+16% at least mostly agreed that "There is a storm coming soon that will sweep away the elites in power and restore the rightful leaders." This seems remarkably optimistic. I'm not quite sure who the "rightful leaders" are--nominally we pick them, though I don't know who voted for the "White House" that keeps walking back Biden's pronouncements. In any event, that the current elites will eventually be swept away is something history tells us--nothing lasts--it's the "soon" that is debateable. "If it can't go on forever, it won't"--but once again, there's no option for disaggregating claims.

5%+13% at least mostly agreed with "Because things have gotten so far off track, true American patriots may have to resort to violence to save our country." I seem to remember that this was an article of faith for the left back in the late sixties and into the seventies. Given the avalanche of panic-mode news stories we're buried in, I'm a bit surprised the numbers aren't higher.

Bottom line--I'm not persuaded that QAnon as such has as much traction in population as PRRI wants me to think. If their questionaire had allowed disaggregation of claims, or weighting of how certain their predictions are, I'd find it more useful.

(*) We always have a few pedophiles among us, including the elite. It wouldn't be terribly surprising that the incidence would be higher among the elite--there are always plenty of groupies, but a) one could get jaded and b) I suspect a lot of the groupies want something that their target may not be disposed to allow, such as political input, notoriety, etc. Some simalacrum of innocence might be attractive.


Assistant Village Idiot said...

Exactly. Questions are sometimes structured so that one thinks "Well I don't want to give the bastards the satisfaction of thinking that I disagree with that." And descriptors like "Satan-worshiping" can be interpreted pretty broadly in that context as well. There are plenty I don't think are going to any Black Masses but are still teaching some pretty evil stuff.

Jonathan said...

Does QAnon actually exist? I'm not kidding, I have no idea. It seems to be mainly a rhetorical trope used by the Left to beat Trump supporters.

james said...

I don't know anyone, but an acquaintance says a friend of hers is heavily into it. I've never met the friend, and don't know if she actually talks about Q or just parallels the group's ideas. An article I read a while back said QAnon's "education and outreach" is designed, rather game-like, so that you "educate yourself" and discover the evidences for the conspiracies. I'd think that would lend itself to decentralization.