Super Distrusters

May 2024 Forums General discussion Super Distrusters

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    Summary of an article in the Sunday Times:

    According to a report by communications agency MHP Group and Cambridge University, it seems 29% of adults (presumably in the UK) from a group of 1004 questioned, from varying demographical origins, are termed ‘super distrusters’ because they are ‘unhappy with what they believe is a misguided elite hegemony’. They think things are heading in the wrong direction and that the world is rigged in favour of the elites, who act against the interests of the people. They are also more likely to opt out of supporting any of the main political parties.

    Now if only they had an idea what to do about it!

    However, they also think the dangers of climate change are exaggerated, are distrustful of scientists and are less likely to comply with public health measures in another pandemic. This, I suppose, just equates to a general disillusionment with those in authority.


    “When men stop believing in God they don’t believe in nothing; they believe in anything.” – attrib CK Chesterton.

    widely attributed, although not traced in his works; first recorded as ‘The first effect of not believing in God is to believe in anything’ in Emile Cammaerts Chesterton: The Laughing Prophet (1937)

    I think we can add in there are those scientifically weaponising doubt and ambiguity for their own ends. It’s recorded the Putin regime propaganda involves stoking (weirdly) conspiracy theories, as they are also disempowering (“They” control everything, so action against them is futile).


    More on this here:

    The rise of the ‘Super Distruster’ is a major challenge for communicators

    “A diverse population of 16 million people, ‘Super Distrusters’ defy all traditional political and democratic categorisation: Some worry about the enemies of growth, Marxist institutional capture, thought police, cultural erasure and ‘the new elite’. Others worry about a rapacious capitalist class, a reactionary plot against social progress, racist and misogynist police, conservative gatekeepers and ‘the old elite’.”

    We will all know people who hold such views but 16 million (29% of adults)? That would be nearly every third person we pass in the streets.

    And of course some of the views are true. There is a ruling “elite”. There is a “capitalist class” which is more or less “rapacious” (by economic necessity). We might even be included, in fact probably are.

    But this can’t be bad:

    “Super Distrusters’ hostility towards the system presents a big challenge for big business and government, which are regarded as the most elite and untrustworthy institutions.”

    Could their difficulty be our opportunity?


    I must say I was surprised by the 29% figure, although it was only out of a sample of 1004 – a far cry from 16 million! But I like to think it represents a glimmer of a shift in mentality.

    Bijou Drains

    1004 as a number of respondents is often used because it provides a magin of error of 3%. A 3 percent margin of error means that there is a 95 percent chance that the survey result will be within 3 percent of the population value.

    To put it another way, you would expect to see a less than 3 percent difference between the proportion of people who say “yes” to the survey question and the proportion of people in the population who would say “yes” if asked.

    1004 is often seen as the most cost effective sample size. By surveying 4,000 people, you can get the margin of error down to 1.5 percent. This sounds appealingly precise (for example, “The proportion is between 68.5 percent and 71.5 percent”), but it is generally considered an expensive waste of time because public opinion varies enough from day to day that it is meaningless to attempt too precise an estimate.

    There are lots of variables though, how was the sample drawn, did the respondents all tell the truth etc.

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