Does political science stringently analyze the reasons for the emergence of such erroneous ideologies like QAnon or the Islamic State? [closed]

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The Politicus
Aug 14, 2021 07:09 AM 0 Answers
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Today I read in the german news about a guy that killed his two small children (aged 2 years and 10 months) in Mexico because he thought they were involved in the so-called QAnon conspiracy through a supposed genetic link between their mother and some alien reptile species or something equally stupid.

What struck me was that the news report came very frankly and quickly (in the subtitle!) to the educational point, by claiming "this case shows again, how dangerous these narratives are". Later on in the article, it refers to a german "political scientist" and "terror expert", who is reported to say with reference to the storming of the capitol that "QAnon will be the biggest terrorist threat of the coming years" (my translations).

As far as I can see, the news report wants to insinuate that ideologies like QAnon are phenomena that are well-understood by political science, and there is a clear concept among "political experts" as to the (individual and collective) causes and consequences of these ideologies. I see some parallels to the news coverage about the islamic state, or even about right-wing political movements. Always there seem to be experts popping up on every corner, who claim that they know what's really going on.

But from my scientific point of view, a lot of pretty difficult questions await to be answered, before one might feel encouraged to communicate such a decent amount of expertism in the news. To stay with the tragic incident of the QAnon killer:

  • telling that one wants to save the world by killing ones children who are supposed to be descendants of alien reptiles does not sound like anything remotely sane thinking to me, even (or even more so) if the guy said that he knows what he did was wrong; what exactly is the scientifically proven role of QAnon in this causality? does QAnon make everyone crazy who hears about it? why are some people vulnerable and others not?
  • would the guy possibly have killed his children anyway, but if QAnon was not available, would he just have chosen another rationalization for what he did (like his wife cheated on him and he did not want his children to be single-parented, or his children tried to manipulate his thoughts by radiation)?
  • in what respect is somebody who kills people due to QAnon beliefs different from an immigrant who rapes a girl in a subway station due to his war experiences? why does the public hold the tendential view, that the one is fully responsible for his actions (because he worships evil or something), while the other is a victim of his personal history (tragic childhood, unfortunate decisions,...)?
  • what is the role of the media in promoting beliefs in ideologies like QAnon? do they provide a context of reinforcement learning (by paying attention) to the conspiracy theories they claim to fight against? isn't this pretty similar to the legal term of "incitement"? do the media possibly profit from aggravating political problems, like conspiracy beliefs, discrimination or, more generally, the division of society?
  • what is the role of society as a whole in the emergence of erroneous ideologies? if society constructs conspiracy theories about people who believe in conspiracy theories, isn't it just paving the way to a fertile political ground where conspiracy theories grow out of every irrational idea? is society possibly just writing the script to its own exciting "reality television action movie"? or does the majority just seek for a scapegoat for its own failure of enabling collective mental sanity?
  • saying that QAnon is threatening society implies that there is at least some remote idea about how it can be controlled for it not to become critical; what should such control look like? is it censorship? is it authoritarianism or even totalitarianism? how specifically can one keep people with obviously severely limited cognitive abilities from believing in stupid ideas?

Can political science really answer these questions (or even only attempt to do so)? Or is the news report I have read just another case of journalism creating trash by mixing fact and opinion?

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  • August 14, 2021