Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Mia Bloom and Sophia Moskalenko's "Pastels and Pedophiles"

Mia Bloom is the International Security Fellow at New America, professor at Georgia State University, and member of the Evidence-Based Cybersecurity Research Group. She has authored books on violent extremism including Small Arms: Children and Terrorism (2019), Bombshell: Women and Terrorism (2011), and Dying to Kill: The Allure of Suicide Terror (2005).

Sophia Moskalenko is a psychologist studying mass identity, inter-group conflict, and conspiracy theories. She has written several books, including the award-winning Friction: How Conflict Radicalizes Them and Us (2011) and The Marvel of Martyrdom: The Power of Self-Sacrifice in the Selfish World (2019).

Moskalenko applied the “Page 99 Test” to their new book, Pastels and Pedophiles: Inside the Mind of QAnon, and reported the following:
Page 99 of Pastels and Pedophiles: Inside the mind of QAnon opens a section titled “Shifting Gender Roles.” It describes how the society’s expectations for women have changed, with new freedoms adding new demands on women’s time (education, career), while the demands of traditional gender roles (childrearing, home-keeping) remained, creating a highly stressful reality. QAnon’s fiction offered an escape from this stressful reality to many women. Here’s an excerpt:
Traditional gender roles have been changing in the United States since the sexual revolution of the 1960s. People in their 70s remember a time when a woman’s place was in the kitchen, and the husband was the sole breadwinner. For many on the United States, those were the good old days, a paradise lost: a Great America, which Trump promised to return in his campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again.” Partly because of this appeal, Trump won the majority of white women’s votes in both the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections.
For people trying to get an idea of the whole book from page 99, it will give only a hint of how broad and complex the reasons for people’s interest in QAnon might be. In fact, shifting gender roles is only one of four cultural shifts that we connect with QAnon’s rise. In addition to these, there are personal, psychological reasons people gravitated to the online-based conspiracy-theory promoting movement, which we elucidate in the book. The book also describes the history of QAnon’s rise, its evolution from obscurity to fame, its viral spread around the world, and strategies that can be used to curb QAnon’s influence. In short, page 99 is not a great way to get an idea of Pastels and Pedophiles.

QAnon is a meta-conspiracy theory, appealing to millions of people through what we call folQlore—a variety of conspiracy theories that assuage people’s fears (about COVID-19 virus, vaccines, and technology such as 5G) and indulge their anger (toward political and cultural elites, toward scientists and medical professionals, and toward minorities they see as infringing on their birthrights). QAnon believers are young and old, rich and poor, highschool dropouts and Harvard graduates. To understand how they all flocked to QAnon, the book brings together insights from security studies, political science, sociology, cultural and clinical psychology. Pastels and Pedophiles details research-tested tools that can help defend against the damage that QAnon continues to inflict on us through its influence on our friends and neighbors, as well as on our lawmakers and institutions.
Learn more about Pastels and Pedophiles at the Stanford University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue