In an effort to denigrate conservatives and alarm liberals, Vice recently reported on what they call the “growth” of the QAnon movement, which they had hoped would disappear after “social networks purged their platforms of accounts and groups associated with QAnon.”
The loss of Trump, the disappearance of “Q” and the radioactivity of his theories on social networks monitors should have been enough to smother the nascent movement, they figured.
“Many saw these developments as the final nails in the coffin of a conspiracy movement that had briefly consumed millions of Americans who now believed that a group of Satan-worshipping elites from Hollywood and the Democratic Party was operating a child sex-trafficking ring in order to harvest children’s blood,” Vice reported.
Vice pointed to a study from the Public Religion Research Institute, which they said showed that instead of dying, the movement was growing, according to its clickbait headline.
But that’s not what the researchers at PPRI actually said.
A chart from the survey said, in fact, that QAnon support was not growing but “remained relatively stable across 2021.”
The chart shows that support for the core beliefs of QAnon went from 14 percent in March to 17 percent by the end of the year. While that may seem like growth, when accounting for the margin of error, PPRI is correct: The support for QAnon remained “stable.”
That’s likely why the professional statisticians at PPRI labeled their graphic that way, instead of the way the professional progressives at Vice labeled their headline.
Vice claims that the QAnon theories have become “part of Republican Party orthodoxy,” which is a strange way to describe just 17 percent of voters — unless, of course, the object is to frighten liberals and demonize Republicans.
Vice then warned darkly that “new conspiracy theories could emerge that feed on the sense of distrust and malaise that QAnon has fostered in a huge swathe of American society.”
Getting past the fact that the sense of distrust and malaise among Americans toward their government is at record highs –more the work of incompetent politicos and cynical media than of QAnon– Vice conveniently forgets that free people think a lot of things that society might find conspiratorial and even odd.
And they think them in much larger numbers than they do QAnon theories.
According to a survey by Northwestern University, nearly a quarter of Americans believe that “engagement in violent protest against the government can ever be justified, with 10 percent saying it is justified right now.”
And it’s not just conservatives either who think that.
“Republicans overall are just 4 points more likely than Democrats to agree that violent protest can ever be justifiable,” said the Northwestern survey.
Outside the purely political realm, more Americans believe that Bigfoot is real (22 percent) than follow QAnon according to a 2014 survey published by the Washington Post.
The survey also showed that a little over half of Americans think that vaccines are safe and effective; the same amount think houses can be haunted, while nearly 50 percent of Americans think that Satan causes the most evil in the world, around 40 percent believe in UFOs, and 16 percent think fortune tellers can see the future.
And 50 years after the assassination of John F. Kennedy, 61 percent think it was part of a conspiracy involving more than Lee Harvey Oswald, according to FiveThirtyEight.
Given these numbers, the fact that a small group of Americans still cling to QAnon beliefs that fly in the face of evidence isn’t really news, it’s propaganda and clickbait for a publication that is eager to believe almost any anti-conservative conspiracy theory and has peddled more than a few conspiracy theories itself.
Which leads one to ask: Doesn’t Vice have better assignments for their reporters?
After all, Bigfoot is still out there and he might be a Republican.