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In this answer which was deleted I made the argument that Trump often lies and promotes conspiracy theories, which is why people who stay with him don't value veracity and science and therefore are prone to believing in conspiracy theories in general (the question asked why conspiracy theorists are more likely conservative):

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The two premises about Trump are backed up in the answer with corresponding Wikipedia articles, and I suppose they are not really contentious.

Unsurprisingly, I find this argument valuable.

The first version of this answer was inflammatory (Trump supporters "are decoupled from reality to a degree that borders on the delusional"), flagged as such and deleted. I edited it to meet community guidelines (Trump supporters now "do not find fault with his general lenient approach to science and truth and believe many of his specific lies, often against all evidence") and apologized to the mods because I understand the need to keep a civil tone here, without which discussions would get out of hand quickly. A mod then undeleted the answer upon my request.

But after a day or so this second version was deleted as well (by a different mod), this time with the argument that it didn't answer the question and that it is (only) a personal opinion about Trump.

In my opinion both allegations are plain wrong: The post clearly answers (or attempts to answer) the question — which specifically mentions QAnon which had a special relation with Trump —, and the statements about Trump are clearly not personal opinions. There is a host of lists of Trump's lies out there; but most of them are from "liberal" media that would be dismissed by Trump supporters. I consciously chose the community based Wikipedia articles because wrong contents there typically does not survive long, especially when contentious subjects are concerned. I can certainly provide more references, but in this special case Wikipedia seems to be the most reliable one, due to its cooperative authorship.

So, in conclusion, I'm piqued by what I perceive as heavy-handed, unjust moderation. (At the same time I'd like to use the opportunity to express my respect for the mods, including @Phillipp, whose job here is probably harder than, say, over in electrical engineering). Is it just my hurt pride? If not, obviously I'd be happy if the argument were put back into the discussion.

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If you look at the second sentence it appears to be the problem.

The GOP elected Donald Trump as presidential candidate and continues to stand by him. To sane non-cynicists, Trump is unacceptable on a personal and functional level. They have therefore turned their back on the GOP.

You are basically calling trump supporters insane or at least that is how I took it.

To people who strongly value fact-based thinking and acting, Trump is unacceptable on a personal and functional level. They have therefore turned their back on the GOP.

Your second attempt at this is basically saying Trump supporters don't value the facts.

In both statements you are saying they have turned their backs on the GOP.

In my mind all of that is opinion based and how you see it but the people you are talking about see it differently.

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  • Hm. The first quote had been changed before the second deletion, so it is not relevant to this the second delete and this discussion any longer. The second quote seems logically inevitable and is also backed by my personal experience (my own and that of acquaintances). It is also not what the moderator appeared to complain about, although he may have meant that. I could probably go and find a few prominent examples, sure. Evangelists who oppose Trump. Liz Cheney. Mitt Romney. McCain. A few other senators. But because everybody can come up with such a list within 20 seconds it seems evident. Aug 10 at 13:59
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    @Peter-ReinstateMonica The first quote led to the first deletion and I felt it was relevant. The second quote still feels like you are attacking trump supporters personally rather than look at the issues.
    – Joe W
    Aug 10 at 14:07
  • You may feel that it is an attack but I fail to bridge the contradiction between "strongly value fact-based thinking and acting" and supporting a president who is spreading lies, supporting conspiracy theories and is actively hostile towards scientists. I suspect that Trump and many of his supporters would actually not be insulted -- they simply don't "believe" in established science and truths and are proud of it. It's like trying to insult a proud homosexual by calling him homosexual: To a morally conservative person that is a bad insult; the homosexual may simply shrug and say "obviously" Aug 10 at 14:12
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    @Peter-ReinstateMonica Your second version sounds like you are saying they don't like facts and that is an attack that isn't going to convince anyone on the other side to listen to you.
    – Joe W
    Aug 10 at 16:07
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I'd say the answer is a bit of an edge case.

On the one hand, there is a reasonable line of thought. Trump has promoted a number of conspiracies and falsehoods (supported by your well-referenced Wikipedia articles), and much of that is public knowledge (e.g. Birtherism, misinformation regarding the pandemic). By following a leader who at the very least flirts with these conspiratorial thoughts, I think it's reasonable to say that his followers endorse that behavior. I should also say that this line of thought isn't very well presented in your answer, you start with an unreferenced conclusion and you only later provide references to set up your premise.

On the other hand, there's what Joe W writes in his answer, namely that the post uses hyperbolic language. For example, you imply that Trump is unacceptable to anyone who values fact-based thinking. You also claim that a substantial part of his supporters don't find fault with his lenient approach to science and truth. That may be true, but it's not supported by your evidence. An alternative explanation might be that his supporters like him better than other candidates despite that leniency.

The way I've seen your post unfolding, it went as follows. First, you posted an answer without any references and more inflammatory language, Philipp deleted that leaving a comment that this isn't the place for partisan insults. You later edited to the current version and flagged it for undeletion. Knowing that others can't vote to undelete and seeing that there was at least a (salvageable) answer in there, I undeleted it. Later on it was flagged rude or abusive and Philipp deleted it again.


Going forward, I'd suggest staying away from any language that may perceived as a partisan jab. Especially when it comes to sensitive subjects you'll want to make sure that all bold claims are logically sound and preferably supported by references.

That said, I still think you have a premise that can be developed into an answer. Followers of a leader who promotes conspiracy theories probably make a good audience for new conspiracy theories. It needs some development though, is there some data or expert analysis that supports this assertion? Have there been any academic studies that have looked at this? What were their findings and under what circumstances / assumptions did they conduct their study?

I don't think it's useful for me to undelete your answer again. Nevertheless, I think you're welcome to post a new answer with this feedback in mind. Try to stick to the facts, clearly indicate when you rely on expert reasoning and make sure your own reasoning holds up when you present it. Avoid hyperbolic language and partisan jabs.

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  • Do the eaters of chili like spicy food? That's just an opinion. Where is the evidence? ;-) Aug 10 at 16:17
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    Some of his supporters might just be thinking "Well he is a liar but all politicians do nothing but lie and at least he isn't a Democrat". There are reasons for someone supporting/voting for someone even if they personally don't like or trust them.
    – Joe W
    Aug 10 at 18:24
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Well, your comments about Trump and his followers were a bit sharp (and note that I am not known for my kind and gentle treatment of Trump or Trumpists). But I suggest that the deeper problem is that the comments seem like a gratuitous attack in the context of the question. The question asks:

Why does it seem like US conspiracy theorists are overwhelmingly Republican-oriented?

and however one views that, it seems obvious that Trump himself did not cause Republicans or Rightists to adopt conspiracy theories. Trump used that pre-existing tendency to his personal advantage. Referencing Trump here seems irrelevant; if you leave the barn door open you make it easy for a horse-thief, but you can't really blame the horse-thief for the open door.

It you really think that Trump was a causal factor here, you need to make that argument much more solid and obvious, otherwise it looks like you're merely taking advantage of a chance to bash on Trump. And while bashing on Trump for its own sake has its joys and virtues, it isn't really consistent with the intent of this site.

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  • My argument is one of selection, and is intimately tied to Trump being selected as the candidate and ultimately as president. Trump was actively fighting science and lied a lot. These facts are well documented (and I brought forward the Wikipedia articles with long lists). Everybody who stays with a party that elects this person as its leader is either cynically betting that his presidency will forward their goals or likes the way Trump ticks. This is a logically following consequence; it is not really an argument. We know for a fact that Trump mobilizes a sizeable fan GOP base. ... Aug 12 at 18:53
  • ... So Trump has a selective influence on the GOP, the same way Sanders had on the Democrats in the primaries. Consequences of both are still visible today, for example looking at the new congress(wo)men of both parties which reflect their respective electorates. It is not surprising that conservatives who stayed with the GOP, many of which must have a mindset that is compatible with Trump, fall for conspiracy theories. This argument necessarily must mention Trump and lay out why he is unacceptable to reasonable people. He is maybe partial causal but he certainly is a selector. Aug 12 at 19:03
  • @Peter-ReinstateMonica: I think you may be overestimating selectivity here. In a two-party system people are forced into uncomfortable coalitions; the choice isn't always as simple as 'stay or leave'. A lot of Repubs I've talked to find Trump deeply offensive, but stick with the party because it generally serves their intents better than Dem policy. I mean, what are they going to do: give up on politics entirely? And please note that many of the conspiracy theories we complain about now predate Trump and his candidacy. Your answer needs to dig deeper. Aug 12 at 21:30

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