You are most probably aware of the cult of QAnon. When I say “Cult”, I really do mean “Cult”. It is a religious/political cult with a set of beliefs that is utterly and totally bonkers to those outside looking in, but is for those who have been converted, it is “Truth”.
I’ve written about it all before years ago …
… and more recently…
- May 2020 – QAnon, a very modern conspiracy
- June 2020 – The ongoing evolution of QAnon
- July 2020 – Fake News Update: Twitter Bans 7,000 QAnon accounts
Very briefly … QAnon is basically a far-right conspiracy claim that there is a worldwide cabal of Satan-worshiping pedophiles who rule. Trump is regarded as a messiah, God’s chosen man, to scupper their plans.
True believers have terms such as The Storm and The Great Awakening to describe things that they truly believe are just about to happen. “The Storm” is an anticipated event in which thousands of people, the supposed members of the cabal, will be arrested, possibly sent to Guantanamo Bay prison or face military tribunals, and the U.S. military will brutally take over the country. The result will be the supposed salvation and a utopia on earth.
There are several very consistent attributes …
- The actual evidence for any of this is exactly zero
- Anything predicted never happens.
- If you ask a true believer for evidence, none will ever be presented. You will face deflection and will be told to “Do your research” (Tip: It’s their claim, so it is their responsibility to cite evidence. Burden of proof is with them)
For lots more details you will find that the Wikipedia page covers it all rather well.
Now for some updates and insights.
Whitney Phillips writes in Wired on Sept 24th … We Need to Talk About Talking About QAnon.
The point she is getting at is that despite all the debunking, the popularity of this cult has exploded, and so we need to find a better way of talking about it …
Debunking might seem to make more sense, but a person who fundamentally distrusts mainstream journalism will not be convinced by even the most meticulous New York Times analysis; there’s no point in sending one along … we know what information would convince us. What do we do when another person sees that same information not as evidence, but as fake-news trickery?
So what does she propose?
Basically this …
Focusing on the network dynamics that facilitate QAnon’s spread can help. It allows one to offer pushback that meets believers where they are and says: Yes, your experiences are real. I can see why you’d draw those conclusions. But here’s an alternative explanation for what you’re seeing. This might not snap people out of their belief in the QAnon megaverse, since their deep memetic frames are so ingrained in their identities. But it’s certainly more productive than screaming facts at them, when both the screaming and the facts are likely to be reinterpreted as further proof that they’re on to something.
The key point she is making this this …
We’re in this mess because of the network systems that made QAnon possible, profitable, and, at present, untouchable.
It is worth reading her full article.
Moving on …
Cecilia Saixue Watt writes in the Guardian on 23rd Sept – The QAnon orphans: people who have lost loved ones to conspiracy theories
Here we discover the underlying devastation that QAnon is having on real lives. It is a profile of those outside who have family members that have been ensnared by the wacky belief …
For some Republicans, QAnon is an opportunity to garner support. But for those who have lost loved ones to it, QAnon is a destroyer of families and relationships …
“I lay awake at night and worry if my brother’s going to shoot a bunch of protesters,” said Daniel, 36.
But over a year ago, Mike began talking about QAnon. After the pandemic hit and Mike spent more time indoors, on social media, he became obsessed. “It’s been an exponential thing,” said Susan. “He’ll spend hours ‘researching’, which is just watching YouTube videos and going on Twitter.”
Susan and Mike began to fight frequently. Mike continuously tried to convince her, sending her videos she found upsetting. “He would get so mad that I wasn’t ‘open-minded’,” she said. “He’ll say I’m programmed, or that I don’t realize I’m a slave, or that there’s a secret war. He has all the information and I haven’t ‘done the research’. It got to a point where I just didn’t care.”
…Susan now believes that her relationship is over….
That also is an insightful read regarding the consequences for those around people ensnared by QAnon.
Moving on once more …
Robert Guffey writes in Salon on Sept 13 – What are the true goals of QAnon? It’s the 21st century’s ultimate catfish scheme
What is a catfish scheme, what does he mean?
He explains that as follows …
What better word could be used to describe QAnon’s relationship with his/her/their followers? If divine intervention allowed these devout, evangelical Christians to see who was actually posting these “Q” messages, they would no doubt vomit into their Wheaties in the morning. Would they still hang on Q’s every word if they could suddenly teleport into a glass-lined office building — perhaps on Madison Avenue or in the Virginia suburbs — filled with a team of tattooed, hipster-aged “influencers” hired by the Trump campaign to comb through decades-worth of obscure conspiracy theories and rebrand them as ultra-right-wing horror stories aimed at the gullible and downtrodden? I doubt it.
In the final analysis, based on almost 30 years of experience researching conspiracy theories, I can only conclude that QAnon is the ultimate catfish scheme for the 21st century.
P.T. Barnum uttered some wise words in this context. (Maybe you’ve heard them.)
We are in war right now. It is not a physical fight but rather is a battle that is taking place for the manipulation and dominance of minds. The field of action is Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Reddit, etc…
Will you be manipulated into being an unthinking pawn by being ensnared by this cult?