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Friday, March 5, 2021

Belief in Conspiracy Theory

At AEI, Daniel A. Cox reports on a new study by the Survey Center on American Life:

  • Americans who are less connected to their community are not disproportionately likely to embrace conspiracy theories. Thirty-nine percent of Americans who belong to at least two community groups believe in the deep state, while only 23 percent of Americans who report having no community connections do.
  • More than one-quarter (27 percent) of white evangelical Protestants say the claim that Donald Trump has been fighting a group of child sex traffickers is mostly or completely accurate. This belief is far less prevalent among white Catholics (18 percent), white mainline Protestants (15 percent), religiously unaffiliated Americans (12 percent), and Hispanic Catholics (11 percent).
  • People who are politically segregated are more likely to embrace conspiracies. Nearly one-third (34 percent) of Republicans who report having a large number of friends who are Trump supporters say the QAnon conspiracy is mostly or completely accurate, compared to only 21 percent of Republicans who have some, a few, or no friends who are Trump supporters.
  • Even accounting for other personal traits, such as age, gender, education, and political identity, the politics of friendship networks is strongly predictive of belief in conspiracies. Americans with a large number of Trump supporters in their friendship group had a nearly 50 percent probability of believing that unelected government officials were acting against the interests of the Trump administration, while those with few if any social connections to Trump supporters had only an 11 percent probability.