America is in crisis as a large number of Americans have a "conspiracy mentality" that is undermining our government, political scientist Solomon D. Stevens wrote in an analysis published by The Post and Courier.
"What really holds a country together? It it the laws? Is it the religion? Is it the virtue of the people? In the final analysis, it involves a number of complex elements. But ultimately it all depends on what I call social trust. Without it, a government cannot stand," Stevens explained.
"A recent poll of the Public Religion Research Institute found that 15% of all Americans and 23% of Republicans believe in the fundamentals of QAnon, 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.' To put this into context, 15% of the U.S. population is about 49 million people, which, as the founder of the PRRI points out, is close to the estimated number of evangelicals in the country. In other words, this is a politically significant number," he noted.
He explained how this undermines social trust.
"Belief in conspiracies undermines trust. If Satan-worshipping pedophiles secretly control the government, then why would we believe anything coming from the government? We would be tempted to look for a truth-giver, a savior. This is why demagogues promote belief in conspiracies. They say things like, 'Just remember that what you're seeing and what you're reading is not what's happening.' The demagogue asserts that the average person has no independent access to reliable facts: Truth can come from only one person," he wrote.
Stevens explained that "conspiracy mentality" is a more accurate term than "conspiracy theory" because "theories are constructs grounded in research, facts and logic."
"Just think about all the ways in which social trust has eroded in recent years," Stevens said. "A country needs social trust to survive, so it is important to recognize how much the conspiracy mentality has grown. The more people believe that a 'hidden hand' controls us, the weaker our government becomes and the more susceptible we are as a nation to the next person who comes along offering to be our political savior."
Read the full analysis.