- Glenn Sonnenberg
Musings from the Bunker 8/26/20
I’ve been reading some crazy reports of polling. We have become obsessed with polling of Americans’ opinions on all sorts of things. I of course understand the desire of people to follow the election leanings of the populace. But in general, I feel we are being overly polled. The results of polls are considered regular news items. But they’re not news at all. It is grist for the cable news and social media mill—more opinions to bandy about and analyze, as if there is actually meaning behind it. Are any of the following actually “news”?:
• How many Americans believe COVID is a hoax
• How many people believe that masks don’t reduce the risk of COVID transmission
• How many people believe Obama authorized “spying” on Trump
• Percentage of Americans who believe in climate change
WHAT DO YOU BELIEVE—AND DO WE CARE?
What people “believe,” regardless of the scientific data, isn’t news. Well, in some cases it is news of pervasive idiocy—not anything of any practical value. Here are some startlers:
• 31% of adults questioned by the Pew Research Survey in 2015 do not believe that humans evolved and instead believe that humans have existed in their current form since the beginning of time. This statistic does not mean that 31% of all adults might be right, nor that there is a 31% chance that evolution is wrong. It means that 31% of adults questioned do not accept proven facts and the scientific consensus. And to be clear, evolution is at the core of our understanding of life and biology…
• A poll by Satellite Internet in 2019 found that 18% of Americans age 18-34 believe the moon landing was a hoax. Curiously, this same group has greater faith in aliens having visited Earth (75% of landing deniers believe aliens have visited us).
• According to Public Policy Polling, nearly 50% of all Trump voters believe it may be true that Hillary Clinton was involved in a child sex ring, commonly referred to as “pizzagate.” Pause and think about that for a moment.
Frankly, many of these polls really are polling for something different. We gain no insight into climate change by polling Americans on their “opinion” of this scientific fact. THEIR OPINION THAT IT DOESN’T EXIST DOESN’T MEAN THAT THERE IS A HIGH PROBABILITY IT’S UNTRUE. What it means is that people are ignorant, brainwashed or unwilling to critically consider evidence that is presented to them. Some portion believe that it is inconsistent with their religious beliefs and, on that basis, I suppose I give them a free pass.
These polls belong in the CNN newsfeed as “the Ignorance Barometer of the Day.”
WHAT QANON BELIEVES
I think there is far few attention given to the troubling rise of QAnon, an internet-based conspiracy theory network that is mushrooming in membership and exposure. This conspiracy site is gaining believers, followers, and those who adopt some or all of their crazy theories. Just to be clear, the FBI has identified this group as a potential domestic terrorist threat.
As recently as this weekend, our President said that there were the equivalent of “good people on both sides,” by suggesting that they are “people that love our country.” Really? And our Vice President, Mr. Pence, claimed he “knows nothing about it.” That said, here are a few things we do know about the beliefs of these folks:
• The wearing of masks is a complete hoax
• There is a cabal of Satan worshipers trying to dominate the world.
• There is a vast international conspiracy based upon pedophilia / child sex scheme in which
• These same people are cannibals
• There is a conspiracy focused on bringing down Donald Trump, perpetrated by the “deep state”
• George Soros is at the base of this
• Coronavirus is a hoax
• The leader of this movement remains anonymous, even to his/her followers
• There is a religious aspect to their fealty to Q
• Our President has retweeted from QAnon sites over 140 times
• Trump feigned collusion with Russians to enlist Mueller to join him in exposing the ring and preventing
• Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton were attempting a coup d’etat
And, of course, the Russians are behind amplifying these theories and further inflaming us: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-election-qanon-russia/russian-backed-organizations-amplifying-qanon-conspiracy-theories-researchers-say-idUSKBN25K13T
We now have at least two candidates for Congress, one of whom is in a safe Republican district and so, presumably, will be elected, who are members of this “movement”: https://www.cnn.com/2020/08/22/politics/jo-rae-perkins-qanon-oregon-senate-race/index.html. Here she is in her own words, in responding to the number of COVID cases and deaths:
"I totally believe that that the numbers are doctored," Perkins said. "Because they can destroy the economy. They can blame it on President (Donald) Trump, that the economy is not doing good. Look at how phenomenal the economy was doing."
On a completely different side-note, why exactly did the copy editor add the qualifying parenthetical with President Trump’s first name? Is there another President Trump?
Watch for the phrase, “We are the storm,” which is their identifying slogan.
Despite the President’s benign support and the Vice President’s apparent lack of knowledge, others in the Republican party have stood up against this cancerous part of the party. Ben Sasse, Republican Senator from Nebraska bucks the current trend to cozy up to QAnon, saying they are “…nuts—and real leaders call conspiracy theories conspiracy theories.” Liz Cheney calls it “dangerous lunacy that should have no place in American politics.”
WHO ARE YOU GOING TO BELIEVE?
All of this unwillingness to acknowledge the value of science, inability to apply critical thinking skills, and knowing ignorance of the facts reminds me of the Country-Western title, “Who are you going to believe? Me—or your lying eyes?”
Oh boy. Good times.