Why ethnic minorities and young people are more conspiratorial
The British electorate is likely to become only more so
The future British electorate will be less white, and shaped more by Millennials and Gen-Z than today’s elderly Boomers. Since both minorities and young people are more likely to believe in a global conspiracy, this could fundamentally alter the character of British politics.
Freddie Sayers, drawing on UnHerd’s massive Focaldata survey, writes that more British people agree with the statement, ‘The world is controlled by a secretive elite,’ than disagree. Results show that Labour constituencies are somewhat more likely than Conservative ones to back this sentiment, but the strongest support for the statement, at 54%, is among 2019 Brexit Party supporters.
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The results comport with British Election Study questions tapping populism such as ‘the people, not politicians’ should make decisions, or questions about trust in the system. This kind of sentiment bulks largest among supporters of outsider parties such as UKIP, Plaid Cymru and the SNP, reflecting the sentiment of those who feel alienated from mainstream parties.
Perhaps the most interesting finding, though, is that ethnic minorities in Britain are more likely to engage in conspiratorial thinking. Drilling down into the demographics of the 1,250 non-white Britons polled, Figure one shows that it is clear that ethnicity matters for conspiracy-mindedness. 54% of minorities sampled agree with the conspiratorial statement compared to 36% of white respondents.
Why might this be the case? One possible answer is age. The recently released 2021 census data show that the median age of white people in Britain is 43, compared to 32 for black people and Asians. Figure 2 reveals that Focaldata respondents under 25 are more likely to believe the world is run by a secretive elite than those over 55. But the age effect is strongest among white people, where young adults are almost twice as likely to hold quasi-conspiratorial beliefs as older adults.
Among minorities, there is less of an age gap, with even older minorities more likely than the average Briton to hold these beliefs. Statistical models which account for occupation, housing status, education level, region, voting behaviour and numerous attitudes do not change the fact that minorities are significantly more likely to hold the belief that a secretive elite controls the world. This may relate to lower political trust in the countries from which their grandparents arrived, or may stem from their group’s early history of interaction with the British state. Either way, it likely shapes their outlook on this question.
What explains this sentiment among younger people? Young adults are much less likely to have voted in 2019, of course, as many were too young. In addition, young people lean heavily Left and have grown up under successive Tory governments. Focaldata shows that 71% think Brexit was a mistake, with just 8% saying it wasn’t.
However, conspiratorial beliefs are no less prevalent among Tory and Brexit-supporting young people compared to the majority of their peers who are Left-leaning Remainers.
The impact of material deprivation should not be overstated. Even when concern over the basics and housing are taken into account, most of the age gap in conspiracy beliefs remains. Education level, renting vs. owning, occupational class, voting, Brexit support and other issue dimensions do not alter the finding that young people lend significantly more credence to conspiracy theories than their parents.
Whether a change of government or growing up will alter their views is an open question. But the fact that young people who own their own homes, have high-class occupations and vote Conservative do not differ much from their cohort suggests at least some of them could carry conspiratorial orientations with them through life. As the electorate becomes more diverse and higher-trust generations die off, a more conspiratorial, US-style strain in our politics may emerge.
Sigh. So, people are irrational already, and becoming increasingly more irrational, and that this afflicts both left and right, and young people are getting worse. I blame the Internet.
One of my earliest experiences as a trainee solicitor in London many years ago was how, in litigation, your clients so frequently would lie to you. Very often, they were in a predicament, and they had spun themselves a self-serving narrative designed to rehabilitate their ego etc. Getting to the full warts ‘n’ all version, the one where they looked a bit silly, the one which was proof against ambushes later in Court, always took time.
As a matter of course, one soon learned to triangulate and ask the same question in different ways. Over time, people tend to believe their own b/s, and their narrative becomes part of their identity.
That’s dangerous. Any rational person should be able to cull their sacred cows – see my blog post:
Major problem nowadays is that too many young people confuse sincerity with veracity – the “my truth” fallacy.
Good blog post too.
Unherd has now printed four articles on conspiracy theories, in a couple of days or so. Is this a sign of a conspiracy?
As Mark Steyn points out, conspiracies in plain sight, like Klaus Schwab the Teutonic Megalomaniac with his chums including Billy Boy Gates, King Charles and all the WEF Davos team.
Secretive? Not so much.
Very few bothered to read (or believe) what that Austrian corporal wrote in the 1920s about his “Struggle”.
Can we now just laugh it off?
In a lighter-hearted vein, I have always been quietly certain that the top fashion designers have a behind-the-scenes competition to see how utterly ridiculous they can make the public pay to look, when wearing the clothes that they design.
A nutty idea? Possibly. More than a grain of truth? Probably -looking at the evidence that walks the streets. I cite onesies, twosies, calf length trousers, crocs, and grunge in general. These are just starters. Feel free to add your own fashion “favourites”
If you take any set of figures you can play around with them to get a ‘trend’. This is just bad journalism.
I do see that the article is a little ‘tongue-in-cheek’ but somebody must be paying.
It is hard to decipher the results of this survey without understanding precisely what the respondents to the questions meant.
A couple of examples show the problem.
The benefits of spending Trillions on Ruinable Energy are, ahem, a tad controversial.
The Uniparty, the MSM, Academia, the King, all claim that Ruinable Energy is now cheapest. The factual evidence clearly confirms that this is precisely the opposite of the truth. A glance at Energy cost and reliability indicates the facts. But, whilst the answer to the question “Qui Bono?” isn’t too difficult, the precise details are a little obscure.
So is Ruinable Energy a “Secretive Conspiracy”?
How about the “Safe and Effictive Vaccines”, the policy decision to jab children not at risk of Covid but certainly at risk from the “vaccines”, lockdowns, masks etc.? Add Big Pharma profits, the demonisation of Ivermectin and vitamin D and all the rest.
A “Secretive Conspiracy”?
“Women with penises”?
You need me to carry on?
Brexit with rubber boats, Northern Ireland abandoned and most EU legislation firmly in place?
Perhaps it is time to stop using the word “conspiratorial” in this context and instead use the word “sceptical”. Sceptical of government, sceptical of elites, sceptical of the ruling class, sceptical of the integrity of our institutions – and of the parrot like media that seems to prop up the whole rotten edifice.
All of those views tend now to be labeled as conspiratorial and that is a label which is intended to be derogatory and to indicate that the holders of the scepticism are not of sound mind.
Instead of denigrating, those at whom all of the considerable scepticism is aimed should take a long hard look at themselves. But what hope of that I wonder?
Sadly the governments of the World and agencies within are not holier than thou. They are capable of some extremely ruthless behaviour, will lie vehemently and spread disinformation as a matter of routine. The Cove is obviously one glaring example of this. It is trust that is diminished and when you don’t trust you don’t believe.
Was it ever any different? Wasn’t it just a tendency in youth to accept the Marxist theory in a capitalist system of elite ownership? And as that philosophy has faded the conspiratorial attraction almost inevitable in some Youth just attaches to other forms?
We don’t have a baseline to measure from in so far as this study goes. We also don’t know whether ‘conspiracy’ theory meant the same thing to the respondents. I suspect not. The broader the interpretation the higher the positive scores.
I do though worry slightly the more ethnic minority tendency to believe conspiracies might have some linkage to Protocols of the Elders of Zion type rubbish that still has traction in some environments.
It’s all well and good to decry increasing interest in possible conspiracy theories as problematic.
All I know is that after trying three times to read this article, and my tablet hanging up each time, did I finally succeed on the fourth attempt.
All my other Unherd reading this morning was entirely unhindered.
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