In Brief

One in four Britons believe in QAnon-linked conspiracy theories, study finds

Influence of the far-fetched theory has spread alongside the coronavirus pandemic

A movement that has been identified as a terror threat by the FBI after beginning life among Donald Trump’s most unhinged supporters is finding fresh support in the UK, according to new research.

The QAnon conspiracy theory emerged from “a supposed intelligence agent” known as Q, who “maintains that Donald Trump is actually a white knight waging a secret war against a powerful cabal of elite Satanist paedophiles using a secret language involving pizzas and harvesting children’s blood to create an immortality elixir”, says Wired.

Now, belief in those claims appears to be spreading. Of 2,000 people quizzed in a survey commissioned by the charity Hope Not Hate, 5.7% described themselves as supporters of QAnon.

And “larger percentages supported broader, linked conspiracies”, The Guardian reports. One in four (25%) of the survey respondents said they believed that “secret satanic cults exist and include influential elites”, and 29% endorsed the idea that “a single group of people who secretly control events and rule the world together”.

QAnon’s “language and ideas” appear to have spread hand-in-hand with Covid-19, “making their way into existing online communities and protest movements” across Europe, says Politico.

“If you feel like you’re losing control of your life, you’re more likely to believe in these conspiracy theories,” Jonathan Bright, a senior researcher at the Oxford Internet Institute, told the news site. “The coronavirus supercharged things.”

Sometimes the link is more direct. “In Britain, QAnon’s messages and memes have increasingly popped up in social media communities and at street demonstrations against lockdowns, mandatory face coverings and vaccination plans,” The Guardian reports.

Since the conspiracy encourages a mistrust of other sources of information, its supporters often resist attempts to debunk even the most extreme ideas.

“Unfortunately, I know first-hand that almost anything you say to them will be dismissed, ignored or rationalised away,” one former adherent told the New Statesman.

Recommended

‘A society preoccupied with national symbols is an insecure one’
Instant Opinion

‘A society preoccupied with national symbols is an insecure one’

UK local elections 2021: why they matter and who is tipped to win
Keir Starmer Hartlepool
Getting to grips with . . .

UK local elections 2021: why they matter and who is tipped to win

UK plans to expel spies from hostile states amid Russia-Czech explosion row
Dominic Raab, foreign secretary
Why we’re talking about . . .

UK plans to expel spies from hostile states amid Russia-Czech explosion row

How the new low-deposit mortgage scheme works
An estate agent’s window
The latest on . . .

How the new low-deposit mortgage scheme works

Popular articles

What is Donald Trump doing now?
Donald Trump
In Depth

What is Donald Trump doing now?

Covid holiday test costs
Heathrow Terminal 5 passenger
Getting to grips with . . .

Covid holiday test costs

London mayoral race 2021: who will win?
Night Tube Sadiq Khan
In Depth

London mayoral race 2021: who will win?