Major Polling Firm Changes Its Own Results After Left-Wing Activists Complain

anyaberkut. Getty Images. filling survey form online, questionnaire with checkboxes, answer questions of test
anyaberkut. Getty Images.

One of the criticisms you often hear about polls is that they’re agenda-driven and therefore unreliable. Very often, that’s true, but it’s usually difficult to prove it. 

Pollsters understand that if they want to have any credibility whatsoever, they need to project an image of neutrality. They know they can’t buckle under political or social pressures and retract or modify their own findings, at least not in public. If they did that, then they’d be exposed as activists, instead of pollsters. And no one would take them seriously ever again.

That’s why it’s very notable when, just the other day, the Pew Research Center heavily revised a report it released just last week. Under pressure from Left-wing activists, Pew completely changed major sections of their report, including the meaning of their polling results in some cases.

In case you’re not familiar with them, Pew is one of a handful of reputable, major polling organizations. You’ve almost certainly seen their data cited on cable news or social media at some point. They have a reputation for being a serious nonprofit, focused on communicating accurate information to the public. But in this case, Pew caved. And it’s important to understand why they caved, because it shows how a lot of this country’s most serious problems — the ones that cost a lot of people their lives every year — are going completely unaddressed because they’re considered impolite to talk about.

First, I will review Pew’s original report. Then, I’m going to show you the revised report, which Pew issued after activists shouted them down on social media.

Pew’s original, unedited report found that, “Most Black Americans Believe Racial Conspiracy Theories About U.S. Institutions.” That was the original headline. Here was the second paragraph of the original report: “Most Black adults say the prison (74%), political (67%) and economic (65%) systems in the U.S., among others, are designed to hold Black people back.”

The report continues: “About two-thirds (67%) of Black Americans say racial conspiracy theories in business, in the form of targeted marketing of luxury products to Black people in order to bankrupt them, are true and happening today. … 82% of Black adults say they have heard the following racial conspiracy theory about the prison system: Black people are more likely than White people to be incarcerated because prisons want to make money on the backs of Black people. Many Black adults (74%) say this racial conspiracy theory is true and happening in the U.S. today.”

Additionally, the report found, “76% of Black adults say the racial conspiracy theory that Black public officials are singled out and discredited in a way that doesn’t happen to White public officials is true and happening today.” The report adds that, “55% of Black adults say racial conspiracy theories in the form of secret and nonconsensual medical experiments like the Tuskegee study are true and happening to Black people today.”

The report goes on, but already, these findings are extremely troubling. If the data’s even remotely accurate, it would mean that an overwhelming majority of black Americans are paranoid to an almost comical degree. The idea that businesses sell luxury products to black people in order to bankrupt them — as opposed to, oh I don’t know, making money — is so incoherent and frankly insane that you’d hope, at most, 1% of the population would believe it. But Pew found that 67% of black Americans believe it. These are staggering numbers.

Sure, you might accurately say that businesses sell luxury products and don’t care whether their customers are bankrupted by purchasing them. That’s business. But the idea that the point of selling the products is to bankrupt a certain relatively small percentage of the customer base is just completely asinine.

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Meanwhile, eight in ten black Americans apparently believe that the prison system is expressly designed for the purpose of incarcerating black people for profit. The report also finds that 55% of black Americans think the government encourages single motherhood in order to make black men obsolete, and that 75% of black Americans think they need to work harder than other races to get a good job. There’s also the finding that a majority of black adults think the media is engaged in a racist plot to hold them back. 

I could go on and on, but you get the point. Every single finding from Pew suggests — if the findings are accurate — that millions of people in this community think they have very little agency or control over their own lives. They believe that every institution in the country is deliberately designed to sabotage them. Not even just that the institutions do end up sabotaging them — but that they were all explicitly designed for that purpose.

The implications of these findings are pretty clear. All these years after the Civil Rights movement, paranoia and self-pity have given rise to fantastically false theories about how society works. Decades after the entire federal government and most of the private sector has deliberately restructured itself to hire and promote more black Americans — often by lowering standards — the result is that millions still think the entire system is stacked against them. The people who gave these answers in the poll have fully internalized the Left’s narrative of racial grievance to a crippling degree.

If, as a country, we wanted to improve living standards in black communities, we’d read this report and realize that what we’re doing isn’t working. Telling black people that the police are deliberately murdering them, and that America is systematically racist and so on, has led to a feeling of mass helplessness so pronounced that it has turned into full blown delusion. This is the kind of thing you’d think the so-called “disinformation experts” would be concerned about. 

People who think they have no control over their own lives — and that far more powerful forces are out to get them — have no incentive to improve themselves or their communities. They stagnate. And that’s exactly what’s happened to black communities all over the country since the Civil Rights era, from Baltimore to Detroit to Selma and Oakland.

Of course, no one in power actually wants to improve black communities. Activists certainly don’t care. They thrive on victimhood. So predictably, Pew’s report was met with outrage on social media. Pew was called “shockingly offensive” by random social justice groups like “JustLeadershipUSA.” So within just a couple of days, Pew backed down. They pulled down their original report entirely. I was only able to access it using an Internet archiving service. And Pew replaced the report with a new version which — to their great shame — accepts as fact the very beliefs that they correctly described as false and conspiratorial just a few days ago.

Here’s Pew’s new, revised headline and second paragraph. See if you can spot the difference from what I previously read: “Most Black Americans Believe U.S. Institutions Were Designed To Hold Black People Back … A new analysis suggests that many Black Americans believe the racial bias in U.S. institutions is not merely a matter of passive negligence; it is the result of intentional design.”

So what’s happened here, already, is that Pew has gone from labeling these beliefs as “conspiracies,” to full-on accepting them as fact. There is “racial bias” in U.S. institutions, Pew declares. The only question is whether “passive negligence” or “intentional design” is the explanation.

In their revised report, Pew also introduces this brand-new paragraph: “Black Americans’ mistrust of U.S. institutions is informed by history, from slavery to the implementation of Jim Crow laws in the South, to the rise of mass incarceration and more.”

So instead of labeling these insane views as conspiratorial and inaccurate, Pew now says they’re “informed by history.” And Pew doesn’t stop there. Remember that earlier paragraph about how an overwhelming number of black Americans think that luxury brands only sell them goods in order to bankrupt them? Well, that paragraph changed too. Here’s the new version: “67% of Black Americans say businesses today target marketing of luxury products to Black people in order to put them into debt.”

Changes like this are especially striking because they alter the meaning of Pew’s original results. The original report said that black people feared they were being bankrupted on purpose. The new report says they’re being “put into debt” on purpose. Which is it? And why should anyone take another word from Pew seriously, if they’re willing to slap haphazard edits like this together in response to political pressure from some activists on social media?

And all of this is to disguise a real problem that Pew’s original report had exposed. There is indeed a massive problem with racial conspiracy theories in this country. I’m talking about actual conspiracy theories, in the sense of baseless claims about shadowy forces conspiring against certain groups. I’ll go through some of them now.

It was just a few years ago that the vaunted author of the “1619 Project” at the New York Times endorsed a claim that fireworks are a government plot to disrupt black communities. This theory was first advanced by a different writer on social media, who said that fireworks are, “part of a coordinated attack on Black and Brown communities by government forces; an attack meant to disorient and destabilize the #BlackLivesMatter movement” through sleep deprivation and “desensitization” so that “when they start using their real artillery on us we won’t know the difference.”

After that thread was posted, Nikole Hannah-Jones, the “1619 Project” writer, directed her followers to read it. Again — this is a woman who invents history about racial grievances for the New York Times, telling her followers to learn about how fireworks are a secret anti-black conspiracy.

There was also this episode from just a few weeks ago, when Tony Fauci was testifying at Congress. Maryland congressman Kweisi Mfume spread this lie about the Tuskegee experiment. Watch:

Other than Michael Shellenberger, I don’t think anyone even bothered to correct this. All of the fact-checkers went silent. But the truth is that blacks weren’t “deliberately” injected with syphilis during the Tuskegee experiments. Some black people didn’t receive the proper treatment, and that was horrific. But the idea that the government injected people with syphilis on purpose has no factual basis whatsoever. And yet, a sitting U.S. congressman has no problem making that claim out loud, and no one will correct him on it.

Conspiracies like this are common. These are not one-off instances. And it’s been like this for a long time. In 2005, a telephone study of black Americans found that, “53 percent agreed that there is a cure for AIDS, but it is being withheld from the poor.” And this is not some distant conspiracy theory. A lot of people still believe it. Just two years ago, the Washington Free Beacon found that U.S. congressman Tim Ryan, “made a promise … to investigate whether the U.S. government created the HIV-AIDS virus with the intention of murdering the nation’s black population.”

That sounds a lot like the kind of insanity that Pew unearthed. But Pew had to muzzle itself. And in that respect, Pew isn’t alone. Many scientific journals have done the same.

No one ever talks about this, but just a couple of years ago, the journal “Neurology” — maybe the leading journal in neuroscience in the entire world — published a field report from a physician named William Campbell. The report was called “Lucky and the root doctor.” It was about Campbell’s time serving mostly black patients in the deep South who had immigrated here from West Africa. These patients, Campbell wrote, often brought superstitions to this country that made it difficult to treat them.

Campbell specifically describes one patient, a 60-year-old black man named Reggie, who had a serious medical condition that required long-term care. A gun that Reggie had been holding blew up in his face many years earlier, and now he had developed a neuromuscular disorder. But Reggie ultimately refused treatment. He said he would instead go to see a “Root doctor.”

Here’s how Reggie explained the concept: “Root doctors do spells, man. They’re not witches, but they’re like witches. If you get it in for somebody, and if you got the money, you can get roots put on ’em and bad things, real bad things, will start happening. I knew a woman once, she had roots put on her husband. Next day, man, the next day, he stepped out in front of a truck. I saw a man one time vomit frogs from having roots put on him. Hundreds and hundreds of tiny frogs. He just kept on vomiting and kept on vomiting. It was terrible. I been sick so long, and you ain’t been able to make me well, so I figure somebody’s had roots put on me. The only way I can get better is to get them roots off.”

Campbell never saw Reggie again after that. He documented this first-hand account in order to educate other physicians in the deep south about challenges they might face when treating black patients. But within days, Neurology pulled the article entirely. You can’t find it anywhere on the Internet anymore. Instead, you’ll find this note from the journal: “The journal retracts the article, ‘Lucky and the Root Doctor.’ … We sincerely apologize for our error. This story, a recollection by a doctor of a former patient, contains racist characterizations. This has prompted a re-evaluation of our peer review process for humanities articles, and we are re-doubling our efforts to make sure such material is never published again. We deeply regret this error and offer our sincerest apologies to those who have been offended. We promise to do better in the future.”

In other words, you are not allowed to discuss conspiracies and superstitions in black communities for any reason. Even in the context of a niche medical journal, which is read only by doctors and where the only purpose is saving lives, it’s not allowed.

And it’s certainly not allowed in a polling outfit like Pew. You’re just not supposed to talk about the fact that a majority of Black Americans think variations of the Tuskegee experiments are still happening today, or that luxury businesses exist for the purpose of bankrupting them.

Meanwhile, black communities can continue to self-destruct in a bottomless pit of self-pity. That’s the idea. It’s what the Left wants to happen.

We shouldn’t accept it. These are not only conspiracy theories in the purest sense of the term. They’re also the most pervasive, most damaging, and most absurdly false, of all conspiracy theories. So, for once “conspiracy theory” is used in an accurate way, and then immediately we see a correction and an apology for being honest and truthful. What just happened at Pew is one of the more Orwellian episodes we’ve seen in recent months. But it’s also just the latest in a long line of efforts to convince approved victim groups in this country that they have no agency whatsoever. At the same time, you know these efforts are fragile and tenuous precisely because you can’t talk about them. If we actually want black communities to move forward, and take ownership of the problems they’re facing, that needs to change.

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The Daily Wire   >  Read   >  Major Polling Firm Changes Its Own Results After Left-Wing Activists Complain