My parents just asked me what all this Q stuff is about
August 1, 2018 2:37 PM   Subscribe

What Is QAnon? The Craziest Theory of the Trump Era, Explained (Will Sommer, Daily Beast). "From celebrities to the grassroots, the right is obsessed with the idea there is a secret conspiracy where Hillary is headed for Gitmo. Here’s everything you need to know." posted by MonkeyToes (273 comments total) 64 users marked this as a favorite
 
Reply All podcast: The Qanon Code. (Where I first heard about it.)
posted by dnash at 2:44 PM on August 1, 2018 [27 favorites]


This episode of Reply All is another good explainer, if you prefer to get your information about the world by listening to nerds talk about things (though probably slightly dated, as it's from early June, 10 years or so ago).
posted by god hates math at 2:45 PM on August 1, 2018 [5 favorites]


[Quick edit to remove Reply All link lolol]

I think Fred Clark's "baby-killing Satanists" theory applies here. Imagining your numerous enemies as not just bad and wrong but as 100% pure evil of the vilest most unforgivable kind gives the believer something they can always compare themselves favorably to. Well, I might have cheated on my girlfriend but at least I'm not part of a global pedophilia and murder ring! I might be a 4chan shitposter with no real accomplishments in my life, but at least I'm not part of a global pedophilia and murder ring!
posted by soren_lorensen at 2:47 PM on August 1, 2018 [53 favorites]


JJ MacNab, of Forbes and fellow of the GWU program on extremism, has been addressing q-anon (as well as some other homegrown antigovernment extremist movements) pretty regularly on twitter.

whenever i see "q anon" my mind fills in "sine _u_" and i assume they are the "which not" and bad at latin. also: happy to be without that particular qua non. haven't figured out how to popularize that view and undermine their brand, though.
posted by 20 year lurk at 2:49 PM on August 1, 2018 [8 favorites]


They really don't need to worry so much. I mean look how badly the Globalists screwed up the July 4th Civil War. Trader Joe's was closed that day and they STILL couldn't capture Burnside's Bridge.
posted by Brocktoon at 2:49 PM on August 1, 2018 [16 favorites]


When I first chanced on David Icke's crazier stuff ("some people call me a nut. but what is a nut, if not tomorrow's mighty oak?" as full-page intro to The Biggest Secrete) I saw a really odd place where conspiracy theories were fulfilling a kind of gnostic spiritual role in a post-religious society. And I see the Q stuff, and I see in it an ARG-shaped hive-mind internet-rooted Nostradamus at play. All proclamations mutable and ambiguous and open to interpretation.

Thanks for this. I've followed Will Sommer and his Right Richter mail for years, which is both increasingly hilarious and terrifying and baffling, all at the same time. I'd missed his stuff since he joined the Daily Beast, so thanks for the reminder and posts.
posted by davemee at 2:49 PM on August 1, 2018 [12 favorites]


I'm loathe to link it, but some QAnon-er created this dense one-page chart linking virtually every conspiracy that ever existed and it's perversely fascinating. I wonder what Edward Tufte would make of it.
posted by cichlid ceilidh at 2:52 PM on August 1, 2018 [8 favorites]


Today "Q" accidentally used (gross, pizzagate-related) terms in a 4chan post that would get it banned on Twitter and Reddit, and therefore had to ask the mods to delete it after the fact. In character.

It's a sight to see.
posted by Rust Moranis at 2:56 PM on August 1, 2018 [15 favorites]


Imagining your numerous enemies as not just bad and wrong but as 100% pure evil of the vilest most unforgivable kind gives the believer something they can always compare themselves favorably to.

There is always something to celebrate if your standards are low enough.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 2:57 PM on August 1, 2018 [3 favorites]


I'm loathe to link it

please do, if you're going to talk about it in-thread, thanks!
posted by prize bull octorok at 3:01 PM on August 1, 2018 [10 favorites]


I knew a guy who created an alternate reality game awhile back. He recruited actors to film clips for youtube and created myspace pages for the characters and had friends leave IRL clues all over the word for the followers to find and puzzle over. It was fascinating to watch evolve, and people took it very seriously. This is like a weaponized version of that.
posted by mcdoublewide at 3:01 PM on August 1, 2018 [14 favorites]


I was just reading this article. My mind reels from the sheer absurdity on display.
posted by Alensin at 3:03 PM on August 1, 2018


Is the conspiracy chart as good as the one that US Representative Louie Gohmert showed in a committee hearing?
posted by mbrubeck at 3:04 PM on August 1, 2018 [3 favorites]


This thing has Internet Research Agency written all over it.
posted by vibrotronica at 3:06 PM on August 1, 2018 [10 favorites]


> mbrubeck:
"Is the conspiracy chart as good as the one that US Representative Louie Gohmert showed in a committee hearing?"

Better. Or worse...

> prize bull octorok:
"please do, if you're going to talk about it in-thread, thanks!"

As you wish. There's even a webstore where you can get it in poster, mug, hat, and hoodie form!
posted by cichlid ceilidh at 3:14 PM on August 1, 2018 [7 favorites]


How do you talk about a troll without feeding it? How do you link to a conspiracy theory without legitimizing it (algorithmically if not socially)? It just doesn't seem possible.
posted by gwint at 3:15 PM on August 1, 2018 [10 favorites]


Not on me if the QAnoners track back clicks to this thread.
posted by cichlid ceilidh at 3:16 PM on August 1, 2018 [2 favorites]


A friend pointed me to the Trumpy Bear commercial (which I had never seen before or even knew existed) and I was struck by how it starts by saying "a storm is coming", which I had assumed was a fairly obvious QAnon dogwhistle... except that the commercial is from July 2017, three months before Q's first posts.

It would amuse me to no end if QAnon is actually just an ARG for Trumpy Bear.
posted by turaho at 3:19 PM on August 1, 2018 [11 favorites]


Perhaps the talented writers, actors, and musicians of the left could branch out into running their own weaponized ARGs. Given that it looks like this century is going to get all Tlon Uqbar’ed up no matter what, we might as well try to write a halfway decent Orbis Tertius of our own, instead of just letting the /pol/ creeps write their dumb, incoherent fiction into reality unopposed.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 3:19 PM on August 1, 2018 [27 favorites]


Those Russian trollfarms really know how to energize the crazies, don’t they?

Jesus, this shit is scary. I mean, yeah, it’s easy to laugh at this stuff, but these are the nutjobs who will start shooting at the drop of an appropriately-worded tweet.
posted by Thorzdad at 3:24 PM on August 1, 2018 [16 favorites]


Perhaps the talented writers, actors, and musicians of the left could branch out into running their own weaponized ARGs.

I think the actual ongoing "fight fascists on a dying planet" Reality Game doesn't really require an alternative.
posted by Rust Moranis at 3:25 PM on August 1, 2018 [38 favorites]


tbh mostly I just wanted to refer to this century as "all tlon uqbar'ed up."
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 3:26 PM on August 1, 2018 [41 favorites]


My question is how long do people keep following Q before they realize the "coming storm" is never actually coming? I guess if people start grumbling they shift gears to "Oh no the Evil Liberal Pedophiles are fighting back! We can't do more than give vague hints of our continuing victories until some unspecified future event for some reason!" This may already be happening? I haven't been watching it too closely.

Or maybe they decide their idea of bringing Hillary to "justice" is she wears an invisible ankle monitor for the rest of her life and lives exactly as she would otherwise, except for the occasional "Obvious sign" of her "Lifetime House Arrest" that they can gloat over. After all, QAnon at its core is a set of "Alternative Facts" that let everything become further evidence of how Real Americans are winning against the hippy liberal globalist elite activists who want to keep America from becoming Great Again.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 3:27 PM on August 1, 2018 [6 favorites]


Q: What would happen if /b/ finally made it to Facebook.
posted by Definitely Not Sean Spicer at 3:34 PM on August 1, 2018 [2 favorites]


> My question is how long do people keep following Q before they realize the "coming storm" is never actually coming?

LITERALLY FOREVER.

Once a sufficiently elaborate fiction is written into the core belief system of a subculture, it never dies. For the rest of our lives we're going to be sharing a planet with Q anon believers. And flat earthers. and satanic panic evangelicals. and antivaxxers, and prosperity gospel marks, and nazis, and climate change denialists, and jade egg practitioners, and white men with strange ideas about lobsters.

Fiction differs from reality in that fiction is durable.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 3:37 PM on August 1, 2018 [127 favorites]


I made the mistake of watching a "What is Q?" video on youtube that was linked to in some of the coverage somewhere. After that, youtube has been relentless in suggesting that I'd be interested in watching more and more and more videos about it. That really feeds into how a person would organically acquire a belief in a conspiracy theory, first it's something you've never heard of, then a tiny taste of secret knowledge you've discovered, and finally it's everywhere you look and all you can see. The algorithms used by social media to drive engagement are recreating the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon. So, anyway, if you're going to dip a toe into the crazy, do it in an incognito browser window.

My big takeaway after watching the video is how lazy, or maybe hazy, their conspiracy worldview is. In a nutshell: everything bad is caused by the people you hate because they hate you, and the people you do like are fighting to fix everything for you. From there you're free to connect the dots however you like, or reconnect the dots if you change your mind or if new "information" comes to light. It really requires no work to believe, it can't be falsified, it just feels good man.
posted by peeedro at 3:38 PM on August 1, 2018 [49 favorites]


LITERALLY FOREVER.

Yes. If people aren't still following Q in 50 years (presuming, as always, there being people in 50 years) they'll be following something else larger and grosser that had consumed and incorporated Q just as Q ate Pizzagate. The trophic ladder of the conspiracy ecology.
posted by Rust Moranis at 3:40 PM on August 1, 2018 [7 favorites]


What the actual fuck. David Icke's lizard people thing holds together more coherently than this shit, and also has the benefit of having lizard people.

Why go along with a fact-free conspiracy theory with no lizard people?
posted by asperity at 3:41 PM on August 1, 2018 [35 favorites]


What Is QAnon? Here’s everything you need to know. [message ends]
posted by sfenders at 3:41 PM on August 1, 2018 [8 favorites]


> My question is how long do people keep following Q before they realize the "coming storm" is never actually coming?

LITERALLY FOREVER
.

You bet. See here.
posted by ALeaflikeStructure at 3:42 PM on August 1, 2018 [8 favorites]


My question is how long do people keep following Q before they realize the "coming storm" is never actually coming?

i think about how many years religious fanatics have been waiting for the rapture and the answer looks pretty fucking grim.
posted by poffin boffin at 3:43 PM on August 1, 2018 [44 favorites]


People who have a worldview where all the pieces fit together snugly don't seem to find any peace in it.
posted by kokaku at 3:46 PM on August 1, 2018 [23 favorites]


asperity: I think that's because Q is a lizard person ... you're just seeing the other side here
posted by mbo at 3:46 PM on August 1, 2018 [3 favorites]


Those Russian trollfarms really know how to energize the crazies, don’t they?

Putin is famously a judo enthusiast. Judo is about using one's opponent's energy and momentum against them.

This is in the same philosophy. if Putin, who watched the Berlin Wall fall and American Liberal Capitalism defeat Russia, wishes to avenge his country, he's not going to send millions of Russian paratroopers in to wreak havoc at great cost; not when there are faultlines along existing issues of race/class/group identity and plenty of crazies with semi-automatic rifles who can be riled up for the cost of operating a call centre for a few years.
posted by acb at 3:46 PM on August 1, 2018 [19 favorites]


Whoever designed Q made sure to include all kinds of systems to prevent critical thinking and dissent while maximizing ambiguity, confusion, uncertainty and fear. It's a nasty thought system but expertly designed.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 3:47 PM on August 1, 2018 [13 favorites]


My question is how long do people keep following Q before they realize the "coming storm" is never actually coming?

People still seriously believe the Area 51, Adamski and Ancient Astronaut BS, after it's been thoroughly debunked. Same for the Protocols of Zion.

The thing is, there's always going to be con artists willing to bring those things back into the attention of the gullible.
posted by happyroach at 3:47 PM on August 1, 2018 [6 favorites]


Well tonight's NBC Evening News just covered Q.

How do you link to a conspiracy theory without legitimizing it (algorithmically if not socially)? It just doesn't seem possible.

Taking this question literally, Google describes the HTML attribute rel="nofollow" for <a> hyperlink tags for precisely this purpose. (Which doesn't make it invisible to Google or anything like that, but essentially functions as a request to Google's search algorithms to not count your link towards the ranking of the link's target in public search results.)
posted by XMLicious at 3:47 PM on August 1, 2018 [19 favorites]


LITERALLY FOREVER

See also: the Seventh Day Adventists, so named because they predicted the end of the world seven times, and after that, the world was still there, and so were they.
posted by acb at 3:48 PM on August 1, 2018 [11 favorites]


My question is how long do people keep following Q before they realize the "coming storm" is never actually coming?

I think someone in the other thread mentioned When Prophecy Fails - this small book is worth a read if you haven’t yet (apologies if I am explaining something you already know; the politics mega thread is a bear to wade back through).

I was tangentially invested in an internet conspiracy theory in 2017, the one where a loud fringe group of fans of the show Sherlock had a developed a theory that John and Sherlock were destined to end up as a romantic couple in the timeline of the show. (SPOILER ALERT: They were not.) I was new to fandom, looking for an explanation for weird emotional undertones in what was then the most recent season of the show, and also hella bored, so I read a lot of what that group had written and was rooting for the theory. Watching Tumblr fandom disintegrate after the next season aired was so instructive! There were definitely patterns like I remembered from the classic book. Lots of once-believers, maybe most, drifted from the fandom. A few invented some truly amazeballs defenses against changing their minds. Some began something of a campaign of internet harassment against the show runners and cast. Others came up with increasingly implausible explanations for why their favored pairing was still a sure thing in the end, and prophesied air dates for secret REAL last episodes, etc. But contra When Prophecy Fails it was not uniformly the people with the most ego riding on the theory that got the most unhinged defending it. Some of those people just quietly changed their internet names and went off to new pursuits. Interestingly, I later discovered that one of the most prominent people in that conspiracy theory actually had a background in a literal cult!! This contributed to my sense that propensity to be sucked up in conspiracies may be a trait independent of any particular theory contents.

Anyway tl;dr I bet many QAnon will wander off, many will displace their shame-rage onto innocent people, and some will probably continue to reboot their millenarian ideas until they die.
posted by eirias at 3:52 PM on August 1, 2018 [32 favorites]


Can we somehow infect this belief system so it convinces believers to give away all worldly possessions?
posted by benzenedream at 4:04 PM on August 1, 2018 [19 favorites]


This gets to the heart of something I've been struggling to understand: do Trumpists and other conspiracists really believe their own nonsense, or is it all a giant troll? And I've concluded that the question itself is flawed.

We tend to think about "belief" as a binary thing – either a person believes that claim X is an accurate description of physical reality, or they don't. But I suspect it's not that simple. It may be more illuminating to understand conspiracism as a social and psychological stratagem.

Forget about whether the conspiracist believes (or doesn't believe) the claim at hand. Instead, consider the psychosocial effects of behaving like a person who believes.

Think of hell-and-damnation-style religious fundamentalists. Do they really believe that gibberish? Who knows – but it's almost beside the point. Wielding the gibberish allows them to assume a certain social relationship with others: a position in which they have special knowledge, they are morally superior, their failures are not their own (they're Satan's meddling), etc.

And they believe very much in that feeling. They believe in the dominant social position that it puts them in. They believe in the way it allows them to discount the humanity of others, to hold their own desires and goals as unquestionable (because they're the word of God), and so on.

(I think there's actually a case to be made that religion – certain strains of it, anyway – is closely related to conspiracism. But I doubt that discussion would go well.)

The answer, then, to the question "do Trumpists really believe this shit?" is neither "yes" or "no", but rather "no solution". It's like asking "does a bully believe in punching?", or "does a person with OCD believe in his compulsions?" A bully doesn't punch because he thinks that punching represents some empirical fact – he does it because he enjoys hurting people. The person with OCD doesn't perform his rituals as a rational solution to an empirically understood problem – he does it because it answers a psychological need.

(Not to imply that bullying and OCD have any kind of moral equivalence, of course.)

There's probably a spectrum here: for example, one person might be drawn to conspiracism more as a way to shore up a fragile sense of self-worth, while another might be drawn more to the opportunity for sadism and dominance. (This latter group may be a bit more aware of what they're doing – these are the trolls.)

It's been widely observed that people don't posit conspiracies around politically and socially neutral questions – such as the boiling point of water, or the distance from Baltimore to DC. Conspiracies flourish at the fault lines between cultural tectonic plates. We wouldn't expect to see that if conspiracies were simply a matter of mistaken belief. But it's exactly what we'd expect to see if conspiracies were a strategy for dealing with social anxieties.

This is all just me bullshitting, of course.

And, although many of you have seen it already, this always bears repeating:

"Toward the end of World War II, Jean-Paul Sartre looked at the anti-Semites of Europe and saw something that still sounds familiar. 'Never believe that anti-Semites are completely unaware of the absurdity of their replies,' he wrote in the 1944 essay 'Anti-Semite and Jew'. They 'are amusing themselves, for it is their adversary who is obliged to use words responsibly, since he believes in words'. Anti-Semites 'delight in acting in bad faith, since they seek not to persuade by sound argument but to intimidate and disconcert'."
posted by escape from the potato planet at 4:08 PM on August 1, 2018 [145 favorites]


This gets to the heart of something I've been struggling to understand: do Trumpists and other conspiracists really believe their own nonsense, or is it all a giant troll? And I've concluded that the question itself is flawed.

I don't know, I think many of them simply do. It's possible to believe some very weird stuff, in the same way that I believe, say, if I drive north long enough, I will arrive at Canada.
posted by thelonius at 4:14 PM on August 1, 2018 [3 favorites]


Can we somehow infect this belief system so it convinces believers to give away all worldly possessions?

If 4chan is anonymous, how are new proclamations from "Q" authenticated?
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 4:16 PM on August 1, 2018 [5 favorites]


It's been widely observed that people don't posit conspiracies around politically and socially neutral questions

Counterpoints: Flat-Earthers and Chemtrailers.
posted by dazed_one at 4:16 PM on August 1, 2018 [12 favorites]


how are new proclamations from "Q" authenticated

Great stuff, you're killing me
posted by thelonius at 4:17 PM on August 1, 2018 [16 favorites]


the Seventh Day Adventists, so named because they predicted the end of the world seven times, and after that, the world was still there, and so were they.

For the record, I believe their name derives from the fact that they celebrate the Sabbath on the "seventh day", i.e.: Saturday instead of Sunday.
posted by mhum at 4:19 PM on August 1, 2018 [35 favorites]


I'd like to take a vacation in the timeline where what happened to the right in America happened to the left instead. where the Democratic Party got taken over first by Trotskyists, then by like Bob Avakian, then by Lyndon Larouche, and then finally by Church of the SubGenius dead-enders who take "Bob" very seriously indeed.

It'd be a crap place to live but a hilarious place to visit.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 4:19 PM on August 1, 2018 [41 favorites]


Also, there's cognitive dissonance (known as the Cialdini consistency principle to the sorts of people who call themselves persuasion professionals). If one has sunk a lot of money, resources or face into a belief, and it turns out to be absurd, the risk of being seen to be a fool, and for having a major part of one's identity annihilated, will be sufficient to make one double up on it and clutch at any straws to defend it. Witness all the people who've liquidated their life savings to join cults, only to reach the top rung and find out that the secrets are a load of hooey on a par with Scientology's pulp-novel cosmology. Would you want to be known as the boob who blew $200k to find out that all the world's problems come from the Galactic Overlord Xenu having blown up aliens with H-bombs in volcanoes and then forced their ghosts to watch bad movies for eternity? So no, you tell yourself that there could have been a Galactic Overlord Xenu, or that the latest discoveries in quantum physics make it all the more likely, or that it's a sophisticated allegory that the uninitiated couldn't grasp (and, quietly, admit that you don't quite grasp the full subtlety of it).

Once a belief system is sufficiently established, it can really go to town, like by insisting that 3 is equal to 1, or all the world's life is descended from a collection of breeding pairs on a wooden boat, or more. There are people who insist that the Earth is flat, and cite the Bible as part of the evidence. There the dynamics become those of the Emperor's New Clothes: admitting that the Emperor you all see before you is naked carries risks of social ostracism or worse, even if the shared fiction is obviously absurd.
posted by acb at 4:22 PM on August 1, 2018 [16 favorites]


LITERALLY FOREVER.

In retrospect, yeah, of course. Tangentially, is it just me or have there been fewer "The world is going to end on this specific date" nutjobs since the rise of Trump and/or Q? I know for a fact my aging evangelical parents take comfort in the belief that they live in the end times and as such the world itself is not going to outlast them (and more specifically, they'll be given new immortal bodies before they die) and I don't think this kind of apocalyptic wishful thinking is in any way unusual.

QAnon fits right in with the same kind of "Good will triumph over Evil just you wait!" wishful thinking, with a big side helping of "Learn secret knowledge! Feel like you're a part of something greater than yourself! Figure out the secret codes!"
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 4:25 PM on August 1, 2018 [9 favorites]


It's been widely observed that people don't posit conspiracies around politically and socially neutral questions – such as the boiling point of water, or the distance from Baltimore to DC. Conspiracies flourish at the fault lines between cultural tectonic plates. We wouldn't expect to see that if conspiracies were simply a matter of mistaken belief. But it's exactly what we'd expect to see if conspiracies were a strategy for dealing with social anxieties.

Except flat-earth conspiracy theories are getting quite popular. And it’s not just biblical literalism, either.

I have no idea why this is. My best guess is that it’s an important life experience to have a hypothesis about reality and then have it proven wrong, and that fewer and fewer people are having this experience now, as the world gets more mediated. But I’m just bullshitting too.
posted by vogon_poet at 4:26 PM on August 1, 2018 [8 favorites]


how are new proclamations from "Q" authenticated

They do actually cover this in the Reply All episode. It's some piece of 4chan esoterica that I don't understand because I'd rather eat live mice than visit 4chan, but is apparently valid.

I think there's something to what escape from the potato planet says. Something doesn't have to be true to make your endorphins flow. If we're doing analogies a la does the bully believe in punching, does the junkie believe in dope?
posted by soren_lorensen at 4:28 PM on August 1, 2018 [7 favorites]


I don't know, I think many of them simply do. It's possible to believe some very weird stuff, in the same way that I believe, say, if I drive north long enough, I will arrive at Canada.

You may very well be right. I'm just spitballin', and I go back and forth on the question all the time.

Partly, I think it's just easier for me to believe that people are simply being assholes, or nursing some psychic wound. Because the alternative is to believe that that many people are that fucking dumb. And that thought fills me with incomprehensible despair.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 4:30 PM on August 1, 2018 [16 favorites]


They do actually cover this in the Reply All episode. It's some piece of 4chan esoterica that I don't understand because I'd rather eat live mice than visit 4chan, but is apparently valid.

When you post on 4chan you can post under any name you want, but it's conventional to just leave it Anonymous. There's a function called tripcodes where you can put in a string when you post and it'll hash it and display it by the username you put in, and you can prove you're the same person using the username as before by using the same tripcode; people can compare the hashes. IIRC Q has changed tripcodes a couple of times, the first time because they accidentally revealed their plaintext.
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:35 PM on August 1, 2018 [21 favorites]


> Because the alternative is to believe that that many people are that fucking dumb. And that thought fills me with incomprehensible despair.

one of the things that makes these last few years so hard is that the folks who believed in rationality or decency or whatever have all had to grieve the loss of this belief. We're not rational creatures, not individually, and certainly not collectively. we're insane pack animals, our rationality just a thin veneer that imperfectly covers our various madnesses — and even rationality can't reliably steer us toward valid moral judgements.

In the absence of the possibility of sane reasoned judgment all we can do is organize in the service of whichever insanity we'd prefer to see in the world.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 4:39 PM on August 1, 2018 [22 favorites]


Tital coincidence, of course, that "The Storm" is the exact sort of political purge / mass punishment / racial cleansing that our shitheel right wing reactionaries have fantasized about unleashing for years.
posted by EatTheWeak at 4:45 PM on August 1, 2018 [15 favorites]


In the absence of the possibility of sane reasoned judgment all we can do is organize in the service of whichever insanity we'd prefer to see in the world.

No. This smacks of both-sides-ism. There are people who are rational, or mostly rational. It's just that there are a lot that aren't, too, and, when you're in a political system that realistically only permits 1 of 2 choices, the irrational will be used as tools by those who are rational but greedy, rational but selfish or rational but prejudiced (or any of the many other "rational but" possibilities).
posted by dazed_one at 4:47 PM on August 1, 2018 [11 favorites]


KEEP CALM
AND
FIGHT THE CONTAGION
OF HYSTERIA

posted by MonkeyToes at 4:51 PM on August 1, 2018 [16 favorites]


Metafilter: Church of the SubGenius dead-enders who take "Bob" very seriously indeed
posted by mcdoublewide at 4:53 PM on August 1, 2018 [37 favorites]


People aren't all that dumb but they love being spoon fed bullshit - with very little effort, they get feel like experts. I watched a reasonably close acquaintance start digging into alternative therapies after his girlfriend was diagnosed with rectal cancer. I'm not sure when they decided to go "all natural" but she followed his internet-fed sense of grandeur down to a very isolated and harrowing end.

I helped out with some home renovations and worked to land him a job but I never went back after it sunk in what he'd been alluding to in a some weird comments about Sandyhook....and it didn't help that he made eggs for breakfast and waited until my first bite to say he'd fried them in coconut oil.
posted by bonobothegreat at 4:57 PM on August 1, 2018 [11 favorites]


We tend to think about "belief" as a binary thing – either a person believes that claim X is an accurate description of physical reality, or they don't. But I suspect it's not that simple. It may be more illuminating to understand conspiracism as a social and psychological stratagem.

Or a virus spread by raising serotonin levels.
posted by benzenedream at 4:58 PM on August 1, 2018 [4 favorites]


I think dividing people into "rational" and "non-rational" categories is an oversimplification. People can have both rational and non rational beliefs.

People compartmentalize, dissemble, delude themselves and others, adapt and evolve their understanding of facts to agree with their current understandings and theories, etc.

And why? Often because it fulfills deep psychological needs. It helps them assert control over their situation. It sustains their ego. It simplifies a complex and frightening world.

What's really interesting to me, though, is to consider Q's motivation. I'd love to hear what people think.
posted by gryftir at 5:02 PM on August 1, 2018 [20 favorites]


"We're not rational creatures, not individually, and certainly not collectively."

This is true and it's something I've understood...
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 5:03 PM on August 1, 2018 [3 favorites]


People who have a worldview where all the pieces fit together snugly don't seem to find any peace in it.

Well, when the conclusion to be gleamed is that (eventually) the sky will fall, one is left with nothing but nervous apprehension. Climate change, perpetual war, economic collapse, natural disasters...there really is very little room to assuage anxieties, and they'll take any tragedy by any name to (ironically) achieve relief.

This QAnon stuff (throw Alex Jones in there too) is absolute horseshit and has been in the works since the 90s. Hijacked the "conspiracy" world to crash and burn any well-intentioned folks who would hope to remain skeptical or have a legitimate grievance or truth to speak.
posted by Christ, what an asshole at 5:09 PM on August 1, 2018 [6 favorites]


Q: What is QAnon?
A: It is a conspiracy theory that alleges, among other things, a child abuse and trafficking ring operating at the highest levels of power.

Q: So they're opposed to ICE family separations?
A: Ha ha no.
posted by ckape at 5:13 PM on August 1, 2018 [162 favorites]


Counterpoints: Flat-Earthers and Chemtrailers.

Neither4 of these is politically neutral: chemtrailers have always suggested that it's something to do with the military-industrial complex, and the current Flat Earth theory involves some kind of vast supra-sovereign conspiracy.

More generally, the Flat Earth conspiracy theory of today is at base a rejection of "elite consensus" and an arument that the scientific establishment is a hoax.

Like many conspiracy theories, they reflect a combination of populist anti-intellectualism and a tendency towards reading the world in apocalyptic terms (in the original sense of seeing the world not a set of circumstances but as a text that can be decoded by the proper hermeneutic.
posted by kewb at 5:28 PM on August 1, 2018 [20 favorites]


It's scaring me the extent to which this has hit the mainstream in the last couple days. We're up to "they're explaining it on the NBC Nightly News" levels of attention now, which is about as boringly mainstream as it gets, and while that coverage is obviously negative in tone, it's still a massive amount of publicity for a fringe movement that's begging for publicity.

This kind of mass coverage is exactly what the folks waving Q signs in front of cameras at yesterday's Trump rally wanted, and they're getting it. Ignoring this stuff allows it to fester online, but is sunlight really the best disinfectant here? What's the plausible pathway by which giving this stuff millions of dollars of free airtime somehow causes it to die?
posted by zachlipton at 5:29 PM on August 1, 2018 [17 favorites]


Exactly how many of these fast zombies are we dealing with? Anyone know?

For real though, how many violent authoritarians are there? Hoping it’s “fewer than can do much”
posted by schadenfrau at 5:29 PM on August 1, 2018 [7 favorites]


What's really interesting to me, though, is to consider Q's motivation. I'd love to hear what people think.

One thing I don't think has been mentioned yet in this thread (but might appear in one of the links I haven't read yet) is that the QAnon conspiracy can provide Trumpists the psychic shielding necessary to avoid resolving the cognitive dissonance caused by the fact that Trump is a fucking dingbat and disaster, even on his own terms. He said he would stand up against the elites; then he puts a billionaire Goldman Sachs financier and Hollywood producer into Treasury. He said he'd drain the swamp; then his EPA chief tries to finesse a Chic-Fil-A franchise for his wife. He said he'd build a wall and make Mexico pay for it; well, we know how that's going. Add on top of that all the other stuff Trump says and does on the regular (e.g.: bigger inauguration crowd than Obama, looking directly into the solar eclipse, the stealth bomber can't be seen, have to show ID to buy groceries, etc...) At some point, people who are deeply invested in their Trumpism but who can also see and hear what's going on right in front of them are going to need something to deal with the cognitive dissonance. QAnon can help fill in some of that need.
posted by mhum at 5:33 PM on August 1, 2018 [39 favorites]


I don't really understand the chan boards and don't want to, but from what little I know, every post is anonymous, right? Not linked to an email or username? So how would anyone know that the person who says they're Q is always the same person? Couldn't I go to that board and post random shit claiming to be Q?
posted by AFABulous at 5:34 PM on August 1, 2018


Never mind QAnon...how come nobody is talking about Michael Scheuer, and the fuse he attempted to light, a couple of weeks ago?
posted by littlejohnnyjewel at 5:34 PM on August 1, 2018 [5 favorites]


Buying into conspiracy theories is buying into belonging to something bigger than yourself. It’s about feeling, mostly rage and alienation, but also being a master of secret esoteric knowledge where everything fits together neatly. In the conspiracy, everything proves every other thing, and all of it tells you “you’ve seen beyond the veil.”

We are living in the End Times; that there have been many End Times is cold comfort.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:36 PM on August 1, 2018 [9 favorites]


It fascinates me to no end how this seems nothing more than delusions of reference.

I picture these people wearing out the tin foil supply as well as the world's supply of red string and maps. Are we truly suffering from mass psychosis because it's the comfortable thing to do?

(This is a rhetorical question).

It's the intersection of this belief and actual action that scares me though...like the guy who blocked the Hoover dam and such. I worry about what happens when this gets challenged and they channel the crazy into violent behavior.
posted by floweredfish at 5:38 PM on August 1, 2018 [1 favorite]


It has to be a thrill to see some complete nonsense bullshit that you cooked up with your #Chan buddies go from thing made up for lulz to something that gained a following to the point where it’s on television news and retweeted everywhere.
posted by dr_dank at 5:39 PM on August 1, 2018 [14 favorites]


Just a reminder that Christianity has been an end-times cult since its earliest recorded writings.
posted by runcibleshaw at 5:39 PM on August 1, 2018 [34 favorites]


> What's really interesting to me, though, is to consider Q's motivation. I'd love to hear what people think.

The lulz. Q is in it for the lulz.

A note for cultural anthropologists unfamiliar with the workings of early 21st century society: "the lulz" is a term deployed by this time period's young reactionaries. It refers to taking pleasure in sowing confusion and misery. Non-reactionaries failed to take lulz-driven behavior seriously until the middle of the 21st century's second decade, when lulzy factions became seriously involved in power politics, and when the intelligence services of nation-states realized the tactical utility of backing lulzy tendencies among their geopolitical rivals.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 5:40 PM on August 1, 2018 [52 favorites]


AFABulous: I don't really understand the chan boards and don't want to, but from what little I know, every post is anonymous, right? So how would anyone know that the person who says they're Q is always the same person?

Pope Guilty has it above. And here's the Wikipedia version.
posted by mhum at 5:45 PM on August 1, 2018 [4 favorites]


The first time I really learned about Q was the Cracked piece a few months ago. You can talk about what happens when the conspiracy's predictions fail to materialize, but my understanding is that is basically the point where this is all starting from. The people who deeply believed that Donald Trump was a super genius who would really clean up government are trying to find some way to reconcile that belief with the him actually being superlatively corrupt and inept.
posted by ckape at 5:45 PM on August 1, 2018 [12 favorites]


It seems like just a couple weeks ago incels were providing all our laughs. Now it's these idiots. How quickly things change in trump's America.
posted by Keith Talent at 6:02 PM on August 1, 2018


If I had to guess why this is happening, is that it's an attempt to gish gallop past the fact that Trump and Jeffrey Epstein were friends.
posted by drezdn at 6:05 PM on August 1, 2018 [10 favorites]


It has to be a thrill to see some complete nonsense bullshit that you cooked up with your #Chan buddies go from thing made up for lulz to something that gained a following to the point where it’s on television news and retweeted everywhere.

The lulz. Q is in it for the lulz.

Y'all are vastly, vastly underestimating the sophistication and depth of this operation. I've been into conspiracy theories for awhile, and I can attest to how this thing was co-opted from the start. Going back to the popular message boards of the time (when conspiracies used to be based more around esoterica), reasonable and open-minded board moderation and admins were usurped beginning around 2011 or so. Today, the scene is absolute rank-and-file alt-right apologia with fierce censorship.

This is slow-boiling frog territory. (Is Trump a 4D chess genius? God no. But he is fulfilling a role remarkably well and personally profiting from it.) They will banter on about "globalism" being the enemy while global hegemony under authoritarian control is their long-term goal. Utter, dystopian doublespeak.

My fear is the current administration will have their "Gulf of Tonkin" moment and use it as an excuse to accelerate their agenda.

Vote hard in 2018. This may be our last gasp.
posted by Christ, what an asshole at 6:05 PM on August 1, 2018 [37 favorites]


...in the same way that I believe, say, if I drive north long enough, I will arrive at Canada.

This is why Canadians are the worst, because of their venal self-serving shared belief that Canada exists.
posted by XMLicious at 6:05 PM on August 1, 2018 [16 favorites]


it's exactly what we'd expect to see if conspiracies were a strategy for dealing with social anxieties.

Yes, and as someone else mentioned, this relates to cognitive dissonance. When we talk about cognitive dissonance, sometimes I think we only get half the concept out. The basic idea is that holding two contradictory ideas in your head at once is unpleasant, it produces an unpleasant mental sensation that is called cognitive dissonance.

Now, ideally, when we hold a belief and then encounter new information that contradicts that belief, we would change or adjust our belief to match the new data. Some of us do this at least some of the time. The REASON we do this is because it's unpleasant to experience dissonance. But some people seem to have a higher capacity for cognitive dissonance than others; they can believe many contradictory things without appearing to notice or be disturbed by it.

But changing your underlying beliefs is only ONE way to manage cognitive dissonance. One other way is to attack the new facts, of course, ala fake news and climate change denialism. Or to find some explanation that somehow squares the two contradicting ideas and often this is what we'd call a conspiracy theory.

In the case of Qanon the dissonance it addresses is the idea that Donald Trump is an Awesome President with the observable fact that he's not doing a lot that is actually awesome (even by Trumpist standards.) He promised a bunch of things that he hasn't delivered on, specifically locking up Hilary Clinton and "draining the swamp." This theory, at its core, states that he's totally doing those things he promised, it's just IN SECRET and it's all going to come out any time now.

It provides reassurance to people who support him that they weren't wrong, they just have to wait and they will ultimately be proved correct. Of course that is a really seductive idea. Everyone wants to be proved right. It's flattering its intended audience (like, you could argue, all conspiracy theories), and flattery is the first tactic of the con artist.
posted by threeturtles at 6:25 PM on August 1, 2018 [27 favorites]


Is there any reason to believe Qanon is a single person, or even a coordinated group?

It's all just an inside joke turned inside out.

or it's a Russian troll farm, which would explain the grammar.

Either way, problems like these only exist because we have lost our ability to communicate with, and trust each other.
posted by KBGB at 6:30 PM on August 1, 2018 [1 favorite]


Q is Slenderman, using a cell phone taken from one of his victims.

Pass it on.
posted by delfin at 6:32 PM on August 1, 2018 [7 favorites]


Exactly how many of these fast zombies are we dealing with? Anyone know?

For real though, how many violent authoritarians are there? Hoping it’s “fewer than can do much”

I'd guess about 15% of the US, which is a little less than the population of the UK. A group whose circle would near-perfectly overlap "insane gun people" on the venn diagram. There's no way 50 million people can do much, right?
posted by Rust Moranis at 6:33 PM on August 1, 2018 [4 favorites]


Is there any reason to believe Qanon is a single person, or even a coordinated group?

Yes. See Pope Guilty's explanation.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 6:33 PM on August 1, 2018 [3 favorites]


Q is Slenderman, using a cell phone taken from one of his victims.

Slenderman runs the government now.
posted by Artw at 6:34 PM on August 1, 2018 [2 favorites]


Slenderman runs the government now.

Well, "runs the government" is a little much, but I'll grant you Steven Miller has lasted longer than I expected him to.
posted by duffell at 6:36 PM on August 1, 2018 [22 favorites]


Is there any reason to believe Qanon is a single person, or even a coordinated group?

Its not necessarily a single person, but its at least a group of people who are "coordinated" in the sense that they shared what is effectively a password (the phrase that generates the tripcode).

So it could be a person, an organized group, or a less-organized set of people who decided to do this together.
posted by thefoxgod at 6:39 PM on August 1, 2018 [2 favorites]


re: belief

I think that there is a spectrum of actors engaged in this social activity of 'conspiracy theorism.'

escape from the potato planet had one good analogy (bully doesn't believe in punching qua punching, rather as a means to an end) of a certain type of theorist.

Conspiracy theorism is a social hobby, with an extremely low barrier to entry, and you get to feel like 'an expert' (if you got a "fact" wrong, you can brush it off, so you always feel right and never wrong) in something. Like beany babies or pokemon.

And it's social, like, knowing sports or talking about TV shows.

These are probably a big tranch of the older-skewing foot soldiers.

My bet is that it started on a chan for lulz but got taken over (or recruited) by a state actor at some point. /s
posted by porpoise at 6:41 PM on August 1, 2018 [9 favorites]


If Qanon really is one account then my money is on russian troll farm.

I think at this point Russia just wants as much powder in the keg as possible.

It's a shame that as a country we are so vulnerable to what is largely gibberish.
posted by KBGB at 6:42 PM on August 1, 2018 [12 favorites]


I saw a QAnon billboard a couple of weeks ago near the Georgia / South Carolina border... I wouldn't be surprised if they were all over rural areas like that...
posted by Jacob G at 6:46 PM on August 1, 2018 [6 favorites]


Why is child abuse the go-to accusation for the crowd that cheers for baby jails? I can't imagine they really think child abuse is bad or they'd be mobbing ICE facilities. Do they do it because they know others are disgusted by child abusers? Is this an actual sighting of the rare beast "virtue signalling" in the wild?
posted by Kitty Stardust at 6:57 PM on August 1, 2018 [13 favorites]


Conspiracy theories are things that could be true, absent missing facts. The problem is, there's always missing information, which is the weakness we are all helpless against right now in the main, which like things that could be true, is where anything could just as easily be false. Give it a snappy name like Fake News, and it's like a stake to the heart. It's like the opposite of a thought-terminating cliché.

There's a faith component, a desire to believe, that thousands of years of history tells us has repeatedly been used to lead people by the nose. The gap that this faith fills in their ability to extrapolate the truth is like an underdog baseball team. Like the Brewers and the Padres winning the World Series, they could go all the way this year. All they need is some hitting, some pitching, and some rule changes! Truthiness. Go Astros.

In a certain light the malleability of truth is a postmodern trope (if not punchline) -- Sokol joked on this -- but in the mass media and global politics it's maybe a little more harmful and maybe we should construct some defenses against it ever happening again. But we're hemmed in there too, because what's the way through, a truth police? The antagonists write themselves.
posted by rhizome at 7:03 PM on August 1, 2018 [3 favorites]


Why is child abuse the go-to accusation for the crowd that cheers for baby jails? I can't imagine they really think child abuse is bad or they'd be mobbing ICE facilities.

They're not white baby jails. When they discovered some homeless people's garbage in the desert a few weeks(/months? who knows time doesn't matter any more) back and decided it was a child trafficking camp ("Operation Backyard Brawl" yes really), they found empty bottles of hair dye and as they put it in the video: "dark hair dye. Interpret that as you will." The dog whistling that these were specifically blonde children that were being trafficked by their fantasy evildoers was unmistakeable.
posted by Rust Moranis at 7:04 PM on August 1, 2018 [25 favorites]


The answer to why pedophilia is two fold: projection (the chans are well known for being very pedo-friendly) and the satanic baby-killers theory: it's such a massive massive taboo that it's something you can always feel better than: all my enemies are pedophiles and whatever other kind of dead end shitty loser I am, at least I'm not a pedophile.
posted by soren_lorensen at 7:07 PM on August 1, 2018 [18 favorites]


One thing I don't think has been mentioned yet in this thread (but might appear in one of the links I haven't read yet) is that the QAnon conspiracy can provide Trumpists the psychic shielding necessary to avoid resolving the cognitive dissonance caused by the fact that Trump is a fucking dingbat and disaster, even on his own terms.

I would take it even further. This is from a WaPo opinion piece by Dana Milbank after the shameful performance of White House Doctor Ronny Jackson concerning Trump's physical in January. Reporting a conversation with Yale Medical School psychiatrist Dr. Bandy X. Lee who compiled The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump:
But, in a sense, you don't need a doctor's diagnosis to see that there's a lot of chaos and volatility in the presidential brain.

That, Lee speculates, could explain powerful sycophancy that overcomes those who get close to Trump. "Those close to him are sensing this level of appeasement is necessary," Lee speculated. They "feel they need to step in as a way to diminish his volatility and rage."

The danger, Lee said, is that Trump's courtiers do this for too long and succumb to "shared psychosis," in which they come to "share his view of the world and lose touch with reality."
Trump is plainly addled and unable to perform his job, but his supporters are forced to continuously double down to compensate for his failures. His approval level with republicans is at record levels because they know he's damaged goods but they have to protect him. This shared delusion has been invented to give cover for his persistent shambolic performance. They've bought into this fantasy of Trump being attacked by all-powerful, evil forces because they need to believe that he's more than an impaired, abusive, old man who's afraid of stairs.
posted by peeedro at 7:10 PM on August 1, 2018 [22 favorites]


The answer to why pedophilia is two fold: projection (the chans are well known for being very pedo-friendly) and the satanic baby-killers theory: it's such a massive massive taboo that it's something you can always feel better than: all my enemies are pedophiles and whatever other kind of dead end shitty loser I am, at least I'm not a pedophile.

I think a not-insignificant chunk is just opportunism, choosing to accuse people with the most offensive things. Purposely breaking taboos.
posted by rhizome at 7:11 PM on August 1, 2018 [7 favorites]


Also, QAnon has ruined the word "cabal". I propose the (supposedly nonexistent) Metafilter Cabal be renamed The Deep Site.
posted by peeedro at 7:12 PM on August 1, 2018 [9 favorites]


My cynical theory is that child abuse is the only accusation they have left that hasn't been completely watered down by It's OK If You're A Republican, and even that seems like it's slipping considering the likes of Ray Moore and Jim Jordan.
posted by ckape at 7:12 PM on August 1, 2018 [7 favorites]


> Also, QAnon has ruined the word "cabal". I propose the (supposedly nonexistent) Metafilter Cabal be renamed The Deep Site.

(TINDS).
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 7:13 PM on August 1, 2018 [4 favorites]


America is, truly, fucked. I'm more convinced of it every day.
posted by dobbs at 7:14 PM on August 1, 2018 [5 favorites]


WaPo: "Adherents believe a 'Great Awakening' will precede the final storm foretold by Trump. Once they make sense of the information drip-fed to them by 'Q,' they will usher in a Christian revival presaging total victory."

So it's third-tier Left Behind fanfiction? Seriously, the Xtian Endtimes angle explains so much.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 7:18 PM on August 1, 2018 [9 favorites]


WaPo: "Adherents believe a 'Great Awakening' will precede the final storm foretold by Trump. Once they make sense of the information drip-fed to them by 'Q,' they will usher in a Christian revival presaging total victory."

So it's third-tier Left Behind fanfiction? Seriously, the Xtian Endtimes angle explains so much.


^why do you think they moved US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem? They're playing straight to the hopes and fears of these fanatics.
posted by Christ, what an asshole at 7:25 PM on August 1, 2018 [14 favorites]


What’s the likelihood that (a.) the feds currently know exactly who Q is, and (b.) that this info will be publicly revealed at some point? Back during the 2008 election, my friend ran a proxy service that ended up being used for some unsavory purposes, and it was shocking how quickly the FBI showed up with a stack of warrants and some very serious questions. Seems weird that the chans wouldn’t be getting at least as much scrutiny.
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 7:26 PM on August 1, 2018 [4 favorites]


Q is John Titor. Pass it on.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 7:27 PM on August 1, 2018 [7 favorites]


nah Q is John de Lancie.

and John de Lancie is John Titor it all comes together wheels within wheels
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 7:31 PM on August 1, 2018 [19 favorites]


The government poisoned alcohol during prohibition.
The CIA dosed hundreds of people with LSD to test its use as a weapon.
John Lennon's phone was tapped by Nixon.
The NSA is tracking all your phone calls.
The "Gulf of Tonkin" incident was a false flag to get America into war in Vietnam.
Tobacco companies knew for decades the direct, irrefutable link between smoking and cancer.
Reader's Digest still exists.

All true - more or less. And all conspiracy theories at some point. I mean, "Q anon" is ridiculous, but some crazy shit is true and as the recent Les Moonvees sexual harassment story illustrates; if a big enough power wants a story killed, it likely will be. Nothing unusual about that, unfortunately.

AFAICT, Q is pervasive and schismatic but not truly representative of any but a thin, Reaganish-survivalist whiffy demographic. Links that I saw were apologetically offered. And Trump's stench isn't dispelled by it. It's more like the time when Atkins was popular. Eventually, someone you knew would bring it up.
posted by petebest at 7:32 PM on August 1, 2018 [10 favorites]


Q is Slenderman, using a cell phone taken from one of his victims.

I literally gasped when I read this, because I spent the first half of the thread trying to work out wording for some kind of question about whether Q is basically a Slenderman-level thing, or like a Protocols of the Elders of Zion-level thing.

And then I realized I don't actually have the terms to talk about this. For some reason it was really disconcerting to see that Q links the Comedy Central takedown of Qanon on the actual QAnon site, and it dawned on me that I have no fucking idea how seriously to take any of it.
posted by aspersioncast at 7:32 PM on August 1, 2018 [9 favorites]


I've been following the megathreads and Right Richter and reading all about this stuff, and I still just cannot take it seriously, and I'm actually sort of worried that (like Trump's candidacy) I maybe shouldn't be laughing it off.
posted by aspersioncast at 7:34 PM on August 1, 2018 [5 favorites]


Aspersioncast, do you mean a tulpa? Because I'm really hoping that with all this Russian Witch Hunt talk we can manifest the Baba Yaga and she'll eat a few cabinet members.

Daily Beast: "But QAnon has been a hit with older Trump supporters, leading to tech-illiterate baby boomers looking to spread the QAnon gospel asking for help in internet forums on 'how to meme.'"

[Shrill cackling] Oh, now I am well and truly dead!
posted by Kitty Stardust at 7:38 PM on August 1, 2018 [14 favorites]


Hmm, I changed my mind about Q being an organic entity.

Kiddie Porn accusations are a signature of the KGB/ FSB. It's an integral part of their playbook.

They probably saw the child porn/ CP/ cheese pizza stuff from the chans and exploited it, then steered the viral clade mutations that it spawned in the directions that made sense for them at the time.

Trump's Mirror-by-proxy and all, but the allegations of him, with Epstein, and the 13 year old girl - who withdrew her suit because of death threats (another KGB/ FSB special) - it might not be pee tapes but 13 yo girl rape tapes otoh... But it's almost certainly mostly just money laundering and Trump being a narcissistic dotard.

Rape Tapes actually make a lot of sense to me. Well, that and that virtually all of the Republicans have benefited from Russian money and didn't report it when they found out/ didn't 'want' to know.
posted by porpoise at 7:39 PM on August 1, 2018 [7 favorites]


If you find yourself addicted to this and want help, call QAnon Anon today.
posted by dr_dank at 7:41 PM on August 1, 2018 [9 favorites]


I feel like no discussion of conspiracy thinking in the age of Trump is complete without linking to something by Masha Gessen.
posted by eirias at 8:00 PM on August 1, 2018 [4 favorites]


I've been staring at cichlid ceilidh's link to that conspiracy map since they posted it and I still can't find Waldo.
posted by adept256 at 8:15 PM on August 1, 2018 [4 favorites]


The people who deeply believed that Donald Trump was a super genius who would really clean up government are trying to find some way to reconcile that belief with the him actually being superlatively corrupt and inept.

As easy as it is to laugh at right-wingers who drink the conspiracy kool aid, let's take care not to get high on our own supply. If all you wanted was a Republican president who did Republican things, you're not only winning -- you're winning bigly. Outlawing abortion, cutting taxes, rolling back regulations, undermining Obamacare, making life hard for brown people -- these are the things they care about. Is Trump a smooth or skillful operator? Doesn't matter. Will the Republicans lose the House or the 2020 election? Maybe so. But Gorsuch and Kavanaugh are in their early 50s, and they're gonna be on the bench for a long, long time. Trump is only a failure president by our standards; to many (if not most) Republicans, he is very much Doing The Thing.

This gets to the heart of something I've been struggling to understand: do Trumpists and other conspiracists really believe their own nonsense, or is it all a giant troll? And I've concluded that the question itself is flawed.

Sometimes I wonder how many conspiracy theorists see their theory the same way I see the afterlife : they don't really believe in it, don't have any reasoning to back it up, but it's fun to speculate about, mostly because it's far more entertaining and cheerful than the alternative -- that everything is exactly as it seems, nobody's in control, there's no design behind any of it, and when we die, it's nothing more than a candle being snuffed out. No light, no tunnel.
posted by panama joe at 8:22 PM on August 1, 2018 [27 favorites]


A few posts up is a link to an interesting piece on the "Bullshit Web". It references Frankfurt's "On Bullshit" and Graeber's "Bullshit Jobs" in the context of a web that has incredible bandwidth but is, perversely, slower than ever. Why? Because it's clogged up with bullshit: pages that only really need to serve text and a few images but are bloated with hundreds of scripts, dozens of fonts, etc.

The first few paragraphs of this article, specifically -

"As for 'every dog has its day' — that’s the kind of cryptic Q remark that has spawned a cottage industry of PDFs and 24/7 livestreams analyzing the crumbs."

- leads me to suspect that there is likely an important fourth taxonomic order of bullshit, which is "Bullshit Lives". Infinite human bandwidth that has deoptimised itself by spending cycles on awful nonsense like this.

Imagine buying a fancy new i9 PC and then, during setup, consciously, and after careful consideration, ticking a box that says "You agree to use 70% of this machine's processing power to rendering procedurally-generated fart noises into mipmaps". These people are literally fart mipmaps.
posted by turbid dahlia at 8:23 PM on August 1, 2018 [10 favorites]


Curt Schilling in the OP: "...why the anger and vitriol by liberals at the mere mention if it really is the fake conspiracy they claim?"

Because you git, it's fucking dumb and yet thousands of idiots and jackasses like you are so fucking stupid that you're literally deciding to run society by this asininity, and that means we have to live in an ill informed, stupid, truther, flat earth bullshit reality because you apparently think reality is composed of "whatever libs don't like".

JFC. GTFO already.

And meanwhile we have proposals to mandate an ID to have a social media account.

I fucking hate our reality so bad.
posted by symbioid at 8:34 PM on August 1, 2018 [24 favorites]


Yeah, I don't think we really have any evidence that most of these people aren't actually just really dumb. It takes a special type of dumb to even spend years "researching" any of this nonsense instead of, I dunno, learning about cats or something. The sheer amount of effort that went into that chart could have been channeled into, I dunno, something coherent? A painting of a bunch of clouds? What an enormous waste of human energy.
posted by aspersioncast at 8:43 PM on August 1, 2018 [10 favorites]


Also, I know this is super trivial in the grand scheme of things, but isn't anybody else bothered by the whole baker/breadcrumb terminology? Like, bakers bake bread to turn it into breadcrumbs. They don't bake breadcrumbs that have already been turned into breadcrumbs. I don't know what the end result of that would even be, or what you'd call somebody who does that. For fucks sake, these people can't even get bread right.
posted by panama joe at 8:55 PM on August 1, 2018 [21 favorites]


I almost don't want to speak it into existence, but I think it's somewhere in the realm of "pretty likely" that Trump just goes right ahead and leans into this in the future. His kids are already playing around in all of it, so why not just take the next step? It's making the mainstream news. It's only a matter of time until someone actually DOES ask him about it, and while saying, "I have no idea what you're talking about" won't convince anyone of anything, it also doesn't especially benefit him. Whereas embracing it is politically useful. Maybe not necessarily doing anything like publicly stating "Yes, the pedophile globalists, they're bad guys, and they're all under special secret arrest already, okay?" but by being just coy enough in acknowledging it to keep a vocal base energized for the next election. It certainly wouldn't hurt him.
posted by StopMakingSense at 10:13 PM on August 1, 2018 [4 favorites]


I have vaguely heard of this and I tried to read the Daily Beast article and it just... bounced right off me. My brain just refused to even try to parse this nonsense, the belief filters I've built up by years of reading conspiracy theory for amusement just kicked in and there was nothing that made sense left. It felt like a sane person trying to explain one of the schizophrenic rants on /r/c_s_t.

I guess I could try to read the other articles but, man, I don't wanna try opening my brain up to weaponized insanity like this.
posted by egypturnash at 11:33 PM on August 1, 2018 [6 favorites]


On the other hand

I just wanna note that a cursory search for "4chan tripcode generator" turns up enough results that one could probably start slipping in ringers if one was willing to read enough of Q's missives to ape the style. I wouldn't do it on a computer or network I could be easily traced to, personally.
posted by egypturnash at 11:40 PM on August 1, 2018 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I don't think we really have any evidence that most of these people aren't actually just really dumb. It takes a special type of dumb to even spend years "researching" any of this nonsense instead of, I dunno, learning about cats or something. The sheer amount of effort that went into that chart could have been channeled into, I dunno, something coherent? A painting of a bunch of clouds? What an enormous waste of human energy.

As a matter of policy, I've stopped thinking of or referring to reactionaries as dumb. For one, I'm uninterested in letting them off the hook for vile choices. I don't want to dismiss or excuse any of this as dumb because it tells us a lot that they expend this much energy and thought on these specific alternate realities. They could not accept the changes taking place in the world as it was, so they built a very vibrant and dramatic imaginary one they could continue to star in. Reactionaries will always adore conspiracy theories. Strongmen who rely on a cynical, disorganized, demoralized population don't mind them either.

It's worth paying attention to which ones people believe, in which combinations, and with what weight. This is just my personal experience, but put it this way: every single Bush Did 9/11 Muh Steel Beamz Truther I've ever met has also been a person who, if it came up, said they accepted every word of Darren Wilson's story about shooting Michael Brown.
posted by EatTheWeak at 11:56 PM on August 1, 2018 [28 favorites]


Having read the articles I have come to the inescapable conclusion that Q and the Entertainment Lawyer are one and the same troll.
posted by fshgrl at 12:45 AM on August 2, 2018 [1 favorite]


Nth the "just actually dumb" conclusion. Watching a bunch of YouTube videos & looking at memes isn't "research," and only willfully ignorant morons think otherwise. The Conservative tear-down job on public education has been wildly successful. I guess in light of that, you can't condemn ignorance, but I sure as hell condemn the arrogance and smug incuriousity that comes with it.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 3:21 AM on August 2, 2018 [7 favorites]


Those Russian trollfarms really know how to energize the crazies, don’t they?

I think what is happening is, an organization like the Internet Research Agency starts something insane, but then has other members support it to make it look bigger than it really is. The key insight they've made, IMO, is that respectability equals number of people following and believing it, and those numbers can be outright faked if you have enough paid trolls on your side, especially if they're loud and highly visible. Once you've got enough trolls playing along, you start to accrue genuine believers, and the thing starts to become self-sustaining.

Note that the IRA plays both sides. They have left-wing trolls as well, pushing the Bernie/Hillary divide and pretending to be Black Lives Matters activists.
posted by JHarris at 4:43 AM on August 2, 2018 [14 favorites]


Trump is only a failure president by our standards; to many (if not most) Republicans, he is very much Doing The Thing.

There is one huge drawback with this, and that is Trump has destroyed the Republican brand. The usual Republican modus operandi is to at least pay lip service to fiscal responsibility and common sense governing. The problem is, a lot of Republicans actually do believe in those things, whether you call them gullible or not. Now the secret is out: the Republican leadership is in it for a cash and power grab. They literally do not care what happens or what damage is done so long as they Get Theirs. The black void at the heart of the party has been seen by everyone not actually made of Kool-Aid.

As Nate Silver pointed out, Trump continues to poll very highly with Republicans, but lots of people are no longer Republicans.
posted by JHarris at 4:59 AM on August 2, 2018 [19 favorites]


I think what is happening is, an organization like the Internet Research Agency starts something insane, but then has other members support it to make it look bigger than it really is. The key insight they've made, IMO, is that respectability equals number of people following and believing it, and those numbers can be outright faked if you have enough paid trolls on your side, especially if they're loud and highly visible. Once you've got enough trolls playing along, you start to accrue genuine believers, and the thing starts to become self-sustaining.

This. And they fully understand the algorithms of the social media companies, gaming the Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter programming that feeds you "more like this" if you stay and ponder any bit of it. As others have pointed out, go to YouTube in a private browsing window, look at a QAnon video, and look at what YouTube pushes at you. It doesn't take an army of trollbots or IRA operatives, it just takes some very smart and targeted efforts to get stuff pushed and for it to become self-sustaining.
posted by jetsetsc at 5:44 AM on August 2, 2018 [12 favorites]


As Nate Silver pointed out, Trump continues to poll very highly with Republicans, but lots of people are no longer Republicans.

Thank you so much for that link, JHarris. Mr. eirias and I have been wondering about that very question.
posted by eirias at 5:55 AM on August 2, 2018 [3 favorites]


Re: the "just actually dumb" thoughts. Going back to the origins of Pizzagate, which is kind of the origin of Qanon also... I can't say that I did much research on this but some of the 4chan posts I saw quoted about that struck me in a couple ways...

Part of Pizzagate seems to have started when John Podesta's emails got leaked. And in there were some about a fancy dinner party the artist Maria Abramovic had where she used the phrase "soul cooking." Now, this is the kind of language that is common in artsy-fartsy circles, this sort of metaphoric, creative language. If you're a 4chan alt-right troll, this is the kind of language you want to make fun of, just because it sounds silly to you. So you make jokes about what it could "really" mean. But then also, if you're an ignorant troglodyte who doesn't know how to parse that kind of arty language, you might take it literally, in which case "soul cooking" suddenly sounds like a description of actual evil. And then those two groups of reactions find each other and feed off each other, and nobody knows who's just adding crazy ideas to the mix just for fun, and who's just buying it all because they will literally believe anything.

(It's like Eco's novel Foucault's Pendulum. Some guys start plugging in random things into a computer program to concoct a vast, hilarious, and fictional occult conspiracy theory, but the more crap they invent, the more actual occultists start to think they're onto something real, and start threatening lives.)
posted by dnash at 5:57 AM on August 2, 2018 [35 favorites]


Note that the IRA plays both sides. They have left-wing trolls as well, pushing the Bernie/Hillary divide and pretending to be Black Lives Matters activists.

There's something to be said that the left has to be divided but the right unified around hateful craziness. You might almost think they fear the left and people coming together in harmony more than they fear the chaos and destruction that has come and will continue to come from the right projecting their fears.
posted by kokaku at 6:12 AM on August 2, 2018 [3 favorites]


He promised a bunch of things that he hasn't delivered on, specifically locking up Hilary Clinton and "draining the swamp." This theory, at its core, states that he's totally doing those things he promised, it's just IN SECRET
This secret fulfillment thing is very common in When Prophecy Fails scenarios. The thing to do when your prediction fails is to claim that it succeeded spectacularly, but invisibly.

I used to be a Jehovah’s Witness, who are descended from a group called Bible Students, who claimed that the Bible prophesied that the world would end in 1914. You may observe that the world did not end in 1914. Well, Jehovah’s Witness doctrine is that 1914 was the beginning of “the end times” and marked the beginning of Christ’s rule in heaven.

If you look closely, you can see the same kind of thing in the Passion narrative in the gospels. There you have a leader who some expect to restore glory to Judea. He was, instead, arrested and put to death. In a secret success, turns out he was actually the son of God and his death redeemed all of mankind from sin. Wow!
posted by chrchr at 6:44 AM on August 2, 2018 [43 favorites]


They don't bake breadcrumbs that have already been turned into breadcrumbs.

panama joe I will die on that hill with you.
posted by Molesome at 6:53 AM on August 2, 2018 [2 favorites]


This secret fulfillment thing is very common in When Prophecy Fails scenarios. The thing to do when your prediction fails is to claim that it succeeded spectacularly, but invisibly.

Like how I'm covertly making my parents very proud?
posted by MrJM at 6:56 AM on August 2, 2018 [13 favorites]


I have a friend that's a pre-internet conspiracy nut. Secret societies, private press books full of nonsense, etc. I think the mindset basically is to find the pattern in white noise with your friends, then assign it great importance as it gets passed back and forth, which then amplifies it laser-style. It can be mostly harmless (e.g. Art Bell), or really really bad. He's a big Alex Jones fan, and lately the conspiracies have been getting really dark (anti-Islam, anti-Semitic).

I also know someone else that got caught up in the "satanic panic" of the 1980's. Basically pre-internet pizzagate, except the crazy got out and people were prosecuted on the nonsense charges due to accidentally steering child interviews. It was a modern witch hunt, and a lot of people's lives got seriously messed up.

Putting those things together makes me seriously worried about this Q bullshit. If it ever gets out, it can make general society crazy for a while. I don't think anyone intentionally created Q... I think he's J. Random Pizzagater, and the internet is the perfect amplifier for crazy. Although physics measures amplifier quality in "Q" so...
posted by netowl at 7:15 AM on August 2, 2018 [10 favorites]


Qanon is what happens when a Sovereign Citizen learns the store is out of coon skin caps.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 7:15 AM on August 2, 2018 [3 favorites]


This gets to the heart of something I've been struggling to understand: do Trumpists and other conspiracists really believe their own nonsense, or is it all a giant troll?

They really do believe it. My wife's entire family are mostly Trumpists and also big on conspiracy theories. None of it makes sense, it's impossible to have a rational conversation about any of it. Yes, at first I thought they were joking, but they are not. The interesting part to me is that for the most part it is all-encompassing, in that if you believe one crazy thing - you basically believe them all. So it eventually becomes these piles of crazy and crazier things.

The other interesting part is that they are still able to separate their existing biases from the conspiracy and they exist outside the conspiracy.

To give an example: They all believe there were multiple shooters in the Las Vegas incident and that the police are lying and covering for terrorists. Well if the police were lying then Black Lives Matter has a point, right? No. BLM sucks and the police rule!
posted by The_Vegetables at 7:36 AM on August 2, 2018 [21 favorites]


> I just wanna note that a cursory search for "4chan tripcode generator" turns up enough results that one could probably start slipping in ringers if one was willing to read enough of Q's missives to ape the style.

Just back of the enveloping, it looks like they can go through a few million trips a second on a good computer, which is enough to get the first few characters to say something, but there's something like 150 quadrillion possible trips, so I think you'd need to rent some supercomputer time to work out a full one.
posted by lucidium at 7:40 AM on August 2, 2018


Pity. Though it would get me a polonium milkshake, I would love to slowly hijack its feed and turn it into @the_ironsheik.

WATCH FOR DEVELOPMENTS ON TUES. NO NAME IS WARY. FUCK THE HULK HOGAN
posted by delfin at 7:46 AM on August 2, 2018 [7 favorites]


Putting those things together makes me seriously worried about this Q bullshit. If it ever gets out, it can make general society crazy for a while

Too lazy to find it on mobile, but there was a NYT story on the apparently common practice of framing Russian dissidents / critics of Putin for possession of child pornography.

It’s not a coincidence all their conspiracy theories involve pedophilia. It’s the FSB’s favorite play.
posted by schadenfrau at 7:50 AM on August 2, 2018 [7 favorites]


Build a supercomputer cluster just to crack the trip codes of an anonymous 4chan poster? Why, only a NATION STATE would have the resources to spend on that. And for what? To influence millions of credulous dopes in the world’s leading military power? Yeah right.
posted by chrchr at 7:51 AM on August 2, 2018 [8 favorites]


Forget about whether the conspiracist believes (or doesn't believe) the claim at hand. Instead, consider the psychosocial effects of behaving like a person who believes.

It's possible to believe some very weird stuff, in the same way that I believe, say, if I drive north long enough, I will arrive at Canada.

My own feeling is that both of these observations are true. I've encountered plenty of people who hold very bizarre/ignorant beliefs in very mundane ways—and many more people who wield such beliefs as tokens or rhetorical weapons. And I think lots of people have always behaved this way; the instant microcasting facilitized by the internet has just made it dangerous in wholly new ways.

Mark Pitcavage's remarks on QAnon are worth reading. I think it's interesting enough that I'll quote the whole thing:
Since everybody is talking about Qanon, I will, too, at least a little. Qanon is a rare type of conspiracy theory, because it has all of the following categories:

1. It is anonymous (the proponents of most conspiracy theories love the attention).

2. It is revelatory in nature (meaning that the originator purports to have access a source of secret but crucial information).

3. It is persistent/ongoing (rather than one info-dump, the originator doles out nuggets over time to entice/increase the audience). Many conspiracy theories have one or two of these attributes, but Qanon has all three. The advantage of having all three is that no one can bring facts about the anonymous originator to bear against the theory, because the originator is anonymous, while the combination of anonymity plus alleged access to secret sources of information is a big lure, as people can conjure up whatever image in their mind they want to. Moreover, the fact that it is persistent means that people are less likely to tire of it and move on--each new revelation brings people back and makes them want more. These elements combine into a perfect storm for the gullible and naive, especially if they have are pre-invested, i.e., come to the conspiracy theory with a reason to want to believe (such as being supportive of Donald Trump).

I've mentioned before that the best earlier example of an anonymous persistent revelatory conspiracy theory is NESARA (there is a good Wikipedia article on it, so I won't go into details), which managed to entice and mesmerize an audience of mostly anti-government extremists for year after year. That's the power this type of theory can have. Qanon probably cannot have that same shelf-life, because its existence is dependent upon certain people (such as Trump and Mueller) and certain coming events (such as Mueller's final report), which the originator can only spin so much. Eventually, there will be something that the Qanon originator simply cannot fit into its narrative. However, until then, it can run wild, unless someone who knows the originator spills the beans, or an unlikely slip up allows the originator to be identified, thus losing the power of anonymity.
I think the comparison with NESARA is on point. Other similar conspiracy theories would include redemption theory, One People's Public Trust, the Republic for the united States of America, etc. They are all reactionary gnostic cults, broadly. QAnon differs only by being anonymous and by centering itself around a sex panic.

Those Russian trollfarms really know how to energize the crazies, don’t they?

At this point, while I think it's possible that the grain in this oyster was deposited by some foreign agent, I don't see a lot of evidence that suggests that it must have been. Every idea QAnon utilizes lies squarely at the intersection of shitlord culture and antigovernment culture. (This Venn diagram turned out to uncannily prophetic.) I think it's as likely that it's a native invention distributed by foreign agents—and maybe not even that. (Bloomberg's "A Global Guide To State-Sponsored Trolling" seems relevant here.) A couple of years ago, I tried to speculate on the development of sovcit ideology. That might be similar to the evolution of any piece of contemporary conspiratorial propaganda.
posted by octobersurprise at 8:27 AM on August 2, 2018 [14 favorites]


I just googled NESARA and... what the what? That is some weird shit right there. Do I have this right: it's like sovcits and Heaven's Gate had a baby who grew up to be really interested in monetary policy?
posted by soren_lorensen at 8:40 AM on August 2, 2018 [5 favorites]


It’s not a coincidence all their conspiracy theories involve pedophilia.

How this is a motivating fear for people who complain when children are taught about consent? The lizard people definitely make more sense.
posted by asperity at 8:42 AM on August 2, 2018 [2 favorites]


How this is a motivating fear for people who complain when children are taught about consent?

Society is not a rational enterprise, and QAnon shines a light through a place where the veneer of rationality is the thinnest.
posted by ryanshepard at 8:46 AM on August 2, 2018 [3 favorites]


Q Anon is crazy and we know it, but I think it's important to remember that conspiracy theories can engage all sorts of people, and while they are incredibly dangerous, they can be put down.
On the optimistic side: I've been drawn into an internet conspiracy theory, and in the end, I just didn't care. For some reason, I went into the deep about Sarah Palin, and there was absolutely no theory about her I didn't believe, until one day I just didn't care. Sarah Palin isn't relevant as a political figure, but to be honest, she wasn't relevant when I began obsessing about her either. For me, it was perhaps soothing to think of how the right was crazy and led by crazies. I can see the mirror image of this on the right.
The lesson is, make the conspiracy theories irrelevant by providing better alternatives.
On the pessimistic side, I was once married to a person who was from the Middle East. There was literally no end to what he believed. It made no sense at all, since the various theories contradicted one another. This can happen when education is sub-par, as it certainly is in the Middle East, but also is in some parts of the US. The lesson here would be to improve education, which is a bit harder than just getting a smarter person elected.
posted by mumimor at 8:51 AM on August 2, 2018 [6 favorites]


It helps if you understand "harm to children" as merely a button that manipulators push to get responses. Most people who consider themselves good people have an outsized response to the idea of innocent children being harmed (this is racialized, in that harm to white children gets a much bigger reaction than any others).

So in QAnon, as in the antichoice movement, and in the anti-trans and anti-gay movements, and hell, in anti-Semitic blood libels, "Innocent children will be harmed!" is thrown in to derail, confuse, or overwhelm opposition with strong emotions.

The point is too shut down debate and make people arguing against choice, trans rights, or whatever feel like they must be good, because they are protecting innocent children.

The breathtaking cynicism, hypocrisy and racism that is revealed when these same people ignore, shrug or deny harm being done to actual (often nonwhite) children is, of course, even more maddening.
posted by emjaybee at 8:53 AM on August 2, 2018 [13 favorites]


Q Anon is crazy and we know it, but I think it's important to remember that conspiracy theories can engage all sorts of people

And QAnon itself is a vector for bringing conspiracy-minded people of all stripes into the Trump cult. I know an LGBT woman who went from a Bernie/Green-Partier to a die-hard Trump supporter via the Wikileaks-Pizzagate-QAnon pipeline.
posted by Rust Moranis at 8:56 AM on August 2, 2018 [7 favorites]


I wonder if Trump’s people came across NESARA when finding that “drain the swamp” polled well?
posted by Selena777 at 9:06 AM on August 2, 2018


I first became aware of this about ten years ago, the summer my oldest boy, Bill Jr. died. . . .
A few days after that, I open up the mail. And there's a pamphlet in there. From Pueblo, Colorado, and it's addressed to Bill, Jr. And it's entitled, "Do you know what the queers are doing to our soil?"


QAnon is just what happens when the narrator from "Stuart" gets on the interwebs.
posted by aspersioncast at 9:08 AM on August 2, 2018 [3 favorites]


And QAnon itself is a vector for bringing conspiracy-minded people of all stripes into the Trump cult.

This is true. In a similar way, NESARA often seemed designed to appeal to hippie New Age types and bring them into the broader sovereign citizen fold.
posted by octobersurprise at 9:09 AM on August 2, 2018 [1 favorite]


My problem with the "these people are just actually dumb" hypothesis is that it's ignoring or discounting the extent to which these kind of beliefs are often likely rooted in emotions and feelings rather than rational logic or analysis. As the saying goes, "you can't reason someone out of a position they didn't reason themselves into" and despite what Q-Anoners & other conspiracy theorists may claim, they didn't arrive at these beliefs by the dispassionate application of rational thought, they got pulled into these sinkholes because it pushed their emotional buttons - reinforced their prejudices, supported their resentments, triggered their insecurities, "explains" their dissatisfaction with their lives. They're not necessarily falling for this because they're lacking the intellectual capacity to grasp that "2+2-black helicopters x pizza = pedophilia!!" is nonsense, they're falling for this because they're lacking the emotional tools necessary to understand that someone telling them "Your life sucks because THESE PEOPLE are conspiring against YOU!!" is manipulating their emotions in a way that just bypasses any sort of rational consideration of the facts or evidence.

All of which is not helped by living in a culture where there's an enormous entertainment/advertising/marketing media machine that's constantly encouraging us to want to be rich and beautiful and sexy and have exciting lives and lots of cool stuff combined with a whole political/ideological media machine that's constantly telling them it's somebody else's fault that they're not rich and sexy and successful - it's lazy people stealing their money with the help of the government via taxes, it's oppressive rules & regulations, it's good solid Christian American values being undermined by freaks and weirdos. We live in a culture that's a perfect breeding ground for dissatisfaction and resentment.

I mean, look, my dad was an actual literal rocket scientist with a Ph.D. He still teaches university math courses part time. He's a long way from "dumb" in any commonly-understood use of the term. But he still periodically sends me fear-mongering conservative email forwards - nonsense like the one about gangs cruising around cities with their high beam lights on and shooting the first person who flashes their high beams back. It's garbage that's easily debunked with 5 seconds on snopes.com. But he's an old white guy who was raised rural and has spent most of his life in (largely white & relatively affluent) suburbia or small towns. He's not nearly bigoted enough to use the n-word, but he hasn't shaken the core belief that PoC are "Other" and therefore untrustworthy and dangerous unless proven otherwise, and that cities (where lots of PoC live) are the same. So nonsense like the above just triggers his distrust and fear emotional responses, and thus he sends them on to me without it even occurring to him to investigate the supposed factual basis for the emails.

My point is not to excuse Q-Anon believers, or absolve them of responsibility for their words and actions, or to claim that they're just dupes who can't be held accountable. My point is that "Well, they're dumb" is too simple an explanation for how and why people get entangled in these belief systems - I think simple enough to possibly be dangerous. Because if we (as a culture) are going to dismiss believers as just "dumb", then it's going to be easy to think that our response should be, "Well, there's always gonna be dumb people, dumb people gonna dumb, *shrug*, whaddaya gonna do?" Whereas if we acknowledge that people are capable of being manipulated via their emotions (whether for profit or lulz or enemy action or whatever) in a way that's basically orthogonal to whether they are "smart" or "dumb", then we can look into who is doing the manipulation and why and create better responses to reducing or shutting down this manipulation.
posted by soundguy99 at 9:11 AM on August 2, 2018 [34 favorites]


Build a supercomputer cluster just to crack the trip codes of an anonymous 4chan poster?

If you have the software set up on AWS it'd be like a couple hours at $5-6/hr/vm. easy peasy.

(Remember to use really long passwords for important stuff)
posted by sammyo at 9:12 AM on August 2, 2018 [2 favorites]


If there's someone behind this other than regular trolls, I'd bet on any of those "celebrity" far-right trolls/agitators like Milo, Chernovich or Shapiro, who like to stir the pot, but have learned it's not a good idea to have bylines with their name shared some hours before by some fuck who saw a Trump speech and decided dunno, to shoot up someone and hold people hostage with an AR-15 at some toy shop with a name composed of two words on the latest Trump speech and that's obviously a call to arms. Far safer to comment on something QAnon said and pose as experts, because this shit is getting someone killed sooner or later.

Also, Paedos in Hollywood conspiracies have floating around for decades, these things don't will themselves to this size from nothing. 10 years ago or so there was one doing the gossip/celebrity blogosphere about someone who claimed to be a Hollywood insider who knew the existence of underage talent trafficking rings operating out of agencies. IIRC there were some rumblings an A-list star was the author, but wouldn't be surprised if it was someone like Corey Feldman.
Add in incredibly shady stuff like Epstein's half-assed prosecution and actual prosecutions in Operation Yewtree in the UK, and in the middle of all the bullshit it's possible there's a small kernel of truth the "conspiracy" isn't even aware of because what they have is mostly made up trolling. Bullshit that includes the suggestion the guy who has a long history of being a sex pest/abuser, admitted storming into teen pageants' dressing rooms, has a creepy media relation with his daughter since her teens and liked to party with Epstein is exactly the one that is bringing the whole thing down.
posted by lmfsilva at 9:15 AM on August 2, 2018 [2 favorites]


If there's someone behind this other than regular trolls, I'd bet on any of those "celebrity" far-right trolls/agitators like Milo, Chernovich or Shapiro, who like to stir the pot, but have learned it's not a good idea to have bylines with their name shared some hours before by some fuck who saw a Trump speech and decided dunno, to shoot up someone and hold people hostage with an AR-15 at some toy shop with a name composed of two words on the latest Trump speech and that's obviously a call to arms.

No way no how it's any of the known-name right wing trolls. They're absolute hardcore narcissists and all are constitutionally incapable of being anonymously famous for any length of time.
posted by Rust Moranis at 9:17 AM on August 2, 2018 [10 favorites]


I mentioned this to a friend who linked me to this QAnon overview which explains the basic narrative. Click at your own risk - I know zero about this forum.
posted by Miko at 9:19 AM on August 2, 2018


So in QAnon, as in the antichoice movement, and in the anti-trans and anti-gay movements, and hell, in anti-Semitic blood libels, "Innocent children will be harmed!" is thrown in to derail, confuse, or overwhelm opposition with strong emotions.

Correct. The claimant you describe here then is aware that protecting children from harm is a value their audience holds in high esteem, thus they invoke it to signal their virtue despite no real commitment to protecting children, as demonstrated in other cases (Roy Moore apologists, baby jails, corporal punishment, juvenile detention, police brutality etc).

It's worth paying attention to which ones people believe, in which combinations, and with what weight. This is just my personal experience, but put it this way: every single Bush Did 9/11 Muh Steel Beamz Truther I've ever met has also been a person who, if it came up, said they accepted every word of Darren Wilson's story about shooting Michael Brown.

This is an important thread to follow, I think, in that the conspiracies people choose to believe in create a structure around that person's identity and self-conception which can be sociologically instructive. Studies have shown that conspiracy beliefs boost the believer's narcissistic tendencies.

The example of the 9/11 Truthers is pretty interesting. I used to encounter these types regularly when they held their meetings in the library where I worked. The group was always entirely composed of white retired Boomer men who were unshakably convinced each one of them was the smartest guy in any room. Despite subscribing to a conspiracy theory that framed the Republican administration as the wrongdoer, these guys were not liberal or leftist, and supported other Republican policies, politicians, and ideas. Conservatism was never linked with the administration's corruption because Conservatism served their material interests, so the problem was clearly not enough Conservatism. It's a totally irrational system of belief that exists to flatter the intellectual incuriousity of the believer, which is incredible because it reflects exactly the smug ignorance of the Bush administration, which in turn lead directly to 9/11.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 9:19 AM on August 2, 2018 [14 favorites]


I mean, a lot of these conspiracies, at their core, work similarly to advance-fee scams—give a little now, get a lot later—and Trump's presidency might be regarded as the greatest advance-fee scam in history. But first you have to get the sucker to give now—and fear of a sex panic can do that among other things.
posted by octobersurprise at 9:20 AM on August 2, 2018 [3 favorites]


How many baby boomers know what a tripcode is? I mean, I'm on the internet all the damn time (except *chans) and I didn't until yesterday. I bet I could go post whatever BS in Q's house style, and most of these people would never know how to check that's it's not the "real" Q. If some techy person pointed it out, well, they're just part of the ring of pedophile globalists, right?
posted by AFABulous at 9:28 AM on August 2, 2018 [5 favorites]


10 years ago or so there was one doing the gossip/celebrity blogosphere about someone who claimed to be a Hollywood insider who knew the existence of underage talent trafficking rings operating out of agencies.

That's the Entertainment Lawyer and he's still very much active (though clearly not just one person, even he doesn't pretend that anymore). I just went over to his website and he's still pushing the same narrative and now the comment section is full of people debating whether Q is real or not. The conspiracies Q talks about are taken almost verbatim from his site: elite rings of child sex abusers, English royalty buying kids in third world countries, Bill Clinton being a frequent guest at Geffens island of underage hookers, outspoken Hollywood types secretly being pedophiles (there is one up right now implicating Clooney).
posted by fshgrl at 9:35 AM on August 2, 2018 [2 favorites]


Those sites also exploded in visibility and, maybe crucially? credibility, in the wake of Weinstein, #metoo, and the pedophilia scandal in the UK following the revelations about that historic clown monster Savile.

For some people, nothing is unbelievable anymore.
posted by schadenfrau at 9:43 AM on August 2, 2018 [2 favorites]


My problem with the "these people are just actually dumb" hypothesis is that it's ignoring or discounting the extent to which these kind of beliefs are often likely rooted in emotions and feelings rather than rational logic or analysis. As the saying goes, "you can't reason someone out of a position they didn't reason themselves into" and despite what Q-Anoners & other conspiracy theorists may claim, they didn't arrive at these beliefs by the dispassionate application of rational thought, they got pulled into these sinkholes because it pushed their emotional buttons - reinforced their prejudices, supported their resentments, triggered their insecurities, "explains" their dissatisfaction with their lives.

You're right. You don't have to be stupid to fall for the emotional manipulation on offer by these theories. But, generally, people who do have some training in critical thinking tend to understand why Freedom Eagle Dot Facebook might not be the most accurate source for the information that Hillary gave the frogs AIDS. [I hope. (?)]

I have a personal theory that people whose intellectual training/experience is heavily slanted toward handling "neutral" forms of information (mostly certain STEM fields), or whose discipline presents itself as dealing in objectivity have less of an "immune system" for dealing with emotionally laden, manipulative stuff like this.

When you study liberal arts, you learn to be more analytical about how, why, in what context, and for what purposes stories, images, messages are created. Not saying that's going to hold true in every case, but if you have really good training in analyzing and interpreting--lit, art, historical events, religious belief systems, etc--when you encounter crazy conspiracy theories, it's hard to turn off that function that understands that someone somewhere constructed the message you are now seeing with a specific purpose in mind. That's why you can't learn/teach critical thinking as simple problem-solving, because not everything that requires critical analysis announces itself as a problem.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 9:50 AM on August 2, 2018 [31 favorites]


My point is that "Well, they're dumb" is too simple an explanation for how and why people get entangled in these belief systems - I think simple enough to possibly be dangerous.

You aren't wrong. Lots of very smart people believe very dumb things. But aside from the other psychological reasons why conspiracies appeal to some people, one of the characteristics I've noticed is a real lack of introspection? An inadequate theory of mind?* The conspiracy theorist is always outside their own theories. That can afflict both "smart" and "dumb" people for a variety of reasons, but a lack of education, or a lack of particular kinds of education, or a failure to encounter very different people or lifestyles, does nothing to help develop introspective abilities.
posted by octobersurprise at 9:52 AM on August 2, 2018 [6 favorites]


Those sites also exploded in visibility and, maybe crucially? credibility, in the wake of Weinstein, #metoo, and the pedophilia scandal in the UK following the revelations about that historic clown monster Savile.

Yes, I mean the number of people involved in the English scandal was staggering and definitely gives you pause. I do not think it makes pizzagate real though and I think that's where the conspiracy theorists diverge from more rational thought.
posted by fshgrl at 9:55 AM on August 2, 2018


That's the Entertainment Lawyer and he's still very much active
Yeah, probably that's it. It was just a blip on "weird stuff" (ie: supposed A-list actor blows whistle) that appeared on my radar back then and didn't follow that around, but it shows this stuff isn't even original.

I'd argue the difference between 2008 and 2018 is that, along what shadenfrau said, there's a critical mass of people signed up for two major social networks that allow stuff to spread across much faster. 10 years ago these kind of stories happened in relatively small circles because all that existed were comment boxes and chatrooms. If these intense connectivity between groups spreads to people that take everything uncritically and at face value or just aren't used to see bullshit online without touching it, we get these stories suddenly blowing up.
posted by lmfsilva at 10:11 AM on August 2, 2018 [2 favorites]


I know that "they're dumb" is poor shorthand for "they lack the critical thinking skills/emotional ability to navigate increasingly complex attempts to manipulate their lack of introspection and need to have their sense of helplessness and outrage validated through wildly irrational 'theories' that wouldn't stand to five minutes of rigorous inspection."

But as with my over-educated, polyglot, math-wiz, world-travelling masters students who nevertheless can't solve the most basic mechanical problems or remember a kindergarten-level procedure from one day to the next, at a certain point I get exhausted with the nuance and just leave it at my grandpa's folksy "there's different kinds of smart, and there's different kinds of dumb."
posted by aspersioncast at 10:12 AM on August 2, 2018 [15 favorites]


In case anyone is interested in "Operation Backyard Brawl", this article has a good explanation.

This has certainly been an eye-opening thread for me—I honestly thought QAnon was a Q&A site like Quora (or AskMeFi).
posted by daisyk at 10:15 AM on August 2, 2018 [1 favorite]


a certain point I get exhausted with the nuance and just leave it at my grandpa's folksy "there's different kinds of smart, and there's different kinds of dumb."

And at a certain point, you kind of have to be ok with calling people who believe total nonsense that fails basic critical thinking and would take 5 seconds of effort to debunk some term like 'dumb' that they are publicly broadcasting out via conversation, even if they are good at their job.

They not ignorant or uneducated or stupid, they dumb.
posted by The_Vegetables at 10:26 AM on August 2, 2018 [8 favorites]


It got to the point last week that drivers called 911 to report that two men with rifles were sitting on a billboard next to the alleged child-rape site, holding AR-15 rifles, TPD Lt. Brian Parker told Arthur in a meeting that Arthur's friends broadcast via Facebook Live this week. Apparently they were scoping for the child-smuggling cartel, unaware that motorists might find riflemen on a billboard a mite worrisome.

I believe the above falls into the "fucking moron" category rather than the "dumb" category.

If these guys keep poking around in cartel land like they are threatening to do it might be a self limiting episode though.
posted by fshgrl at 12:10 PM on August 2, 2018 [3 favorites]


When you study liberal arts, you learn to be more analytical about how, why, in what context, and for what purposes stories, images, messages are created.

Man, MeFi sure loves to speculate about exactly what's wrong with those inscrutable STEM folks.

Hi, I'm a STEM folk. And succeeding with mechanical systems (computer programming, in my case) requires you to formulate good hypotheses, devise sound ways to test them, and conduct those tests carefully. It teaches you to be skeptical of assumptions, and to start from the most basic provable facts. It teaches you – in a very direct and unavoidable way – that problems will never respond to pleading, bullying, flirting, evasion, or trickery, but only to careful, reasoned thought. It requires the kind of curiosity that compels you to take things apart, see what's inside, figure out what makes them tick – whether it's a machine or a cultural phenomenon. It requires you to synthesize large amounts of complex, heterogenous information into a coherent mental model – and that model (and your reasoning about it) had better be sound, or you're not going to get very far in the field.

There's a reason that STEM people are overrepresented in the skeptical community – succeeding in STEM requires skeptical and critical habits of thought. (The skeptical community has its own share of asshats, of course, but so does every community.)

Do some STEM folks fall for conspiratorial nonsense anyway? Sure. So do some liberal arts folks. I'm not sure that it has much to do with their choice of vocation.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 12:14 PM on August 2, 2018 [8 favorites]


Engineers disease has nothing on small business owners disease or hedge fund owners disease, it’s true.
posted by Artw at 12:27 PM on August 2, 2018 [17 favorites]


You also get by very well in an engineering field by knowing a lot of stuff and producing a lot {of code, electronic/mechanical designs etc.}. And, in general, being an expert, with not much critical thinking needed. (In fact, critical thinking and debate probably seems to you like outright criticism of your own expert knowlege.) This is the heart of "engineers disease", when you transfer confidence in your own expertness to everything else in which you are not, in fact, an expert.
posted by thefool at 12:41 PM on August 2, 2018 [8 favorites]


As another one of those STEM folks (PhD, natural sciences), I thought Kitty Stardust's observation was right on the money.

In particular, I've seen an awful lot of folks on the technical side identify so strongly with being "rational" that they use it as cover for lack of emotional skill. They will generally understand that emotions have a logic of their own, but they fail when they extrapolate objective emotional experience to be The Universal Truth. I think it's probably true that a really good grounding in the humanities can help someone mature past that point.

Not sure that a techies-vs-fuzzies derail is really helpful in this thread. There are probably a hundred factors that contribute to why someone might fall for obviously outlandish conspiracy theories.
posted by Sublimity at 12:43 PM on August 2, 2018 [23 favorites]


Theres a strong crossover of engineers with libertarians, and once you are a sucker for that shit you are a sucker for literally anything.
posted by Artw at 1:04 PM on August 2, 2018 [7 favorites]


Now I'm wondering what the crossover of this shit with the racist-ass end of athesim is like.
posted by Artw at 1:05 PM on August 2, 2018 [5 favorites]


Considering that most Americans don't graduate from college in the first place, is arguing about liberal arts vs STEM majors as a problem with the electorate a major concern?
posted by ActingTheGoat at 1:11 PM on August 2, 2018 [9 favorites]


I run the local "skeptics in the pub" part of the local Skeptic's Society, a long term pro-scientific-method bastion against the woo .... you know the people who debunk homeopathy, mediums etc etc

I've noticed over the past couple of year that we've been attracting a bunch of (eventually disappointed) people who think being a "skeptic" has something to do with chem-trails/the climate change "conspiracy", etc etc - seems the meaning of being a skeptic has changed
posted by mbo at 1:41 PM on August 2, 2018 [9 favorites]


Now I'm wondering what the crossover of this shit with the racist-ass end of atheism is like.

Who knows? If I had to guess, tho, my suspicion would be that many of those guys go/have gone identitarian/full nazi instead. JJ McNab has remarked on the high numbers of older, Christian, (largely white, presumably), women who have made up Lewis Arthur's support. My guess would be that there's a high degree of comorbidity between these two conditions, but that's almost entirely a guess.
posted by octobersurprise at 1:41 PM on August 2, 2018 [1 favorite]


I had a YouTube channel on in the background at work the other day that was basically just debunking a lot of garbage startup product nonsense. It kind of pinged me when I noticed that the guy was laughing quite a lot in a "ho ho ho marvel at the idiocy of this" sort of way. So I was surprised but not really surprised when the next video that played on the channel was anti-feminist MRA misogynist WATCH ME DESTROY THIS STUPID FEMINAZI fuckery. (I spent the next several days scrubbing all evidence that I ever watched these videos from YouTube's recommendation algorithm.) The point is that yeah this guy was a "skeptic" but his main reason for skepticism seemed to be BEING RIGHT AND SMART AND THE SMARTEST RIGHTEST GUY HA HA ALL YOU IDIOTS ARE SO FUNNY TO ME rather than communicating about facts and scientific inquiry. I can see that mindset tipping right over into conspiracy theories because then you get to be the SMARTEST RIGHTEST GUY x100 because you possesses secret knowledge that no one else even has. Then you can laugh from on high at 99.9999999% of humanity!
posted by soren_lorensen at 1:53 PM on August 2, 2018 [15 favorites]


I have a theory, borne out every time, that if you scratch a conspiracy theory you find antisemitism.

Now let me take a second to do some research.

Aha.

A purported scheme pertaining to the Jewish Rothschild family centers on the collision of a small airplane and a helicopter on November 17 near the town of Upper Winchendon in England, killing four people. Also nearby was Waddesdon Manor, an estate owned by the Rothschild family. Conspiracy theories pertaining to the Rothschilds immediately erupted. many of them drew on recent QAnon material, which stated in part, "we know whe[R]e you/the family are at all times."

Conspiracy theorists concluded that the capital R was a veiled reference to the Rothschild family and that Q had "predicted" the plane crash.

posted by maxsparber at 2:19 PM on August 2, 2018 [9 favorites]


Now let me take a second to do some research.

Aha.


Oh, the antisemitism goes way deeper. For example: in their trading card set the global enemy is glaringly referred to as "(((Them)))." Also described on the same card as "Black Hats" (antisemitic dogwhistle via hacking term) and "the cabal" (antisemitic dogwhistle)." The QAnon cult's antisemitism is pervasive but also invisible to many of its observers and some of its stupider followers.
posted by Rust Moranis at 2:41 PM on August 2, 2018 [9 favorites]


How many baby boomers know what a tripcode is? I mean, I'm on the internet all the damn time (except *chans) and I didn't until yesterday. I bet I could go post whatever BS in Q's house style, and most of these people would never know how to check that's it's not the "real" Q. If some techy person pointed it out, well, they're just part of the ring of pedophile globalists, right?

I think you're vastly overestimating the number of baby boomers that are actually wading into 4chan to get their info from the source. I'd bet the vast majority of QAnon believers get their QAnon from third party youtube or facebook accounts who helpfully "interpret" what is posted and "follow up" on how "correct" QAnon's posts were after the fact. Boomers may not know or care about tripcodes, but the people disseminating QAnon propaganda to boomers do. Though it's true infighting between these intermediaries does in fact happen, just look at how Infowars jumped onto then fell off the QAnon bandwagon.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 4:07 PM on August 2, 2018 [11 favorites]


I wonder if the point of all the QAnon bullshit is to devalue news about the actual real conspiracies swirling around Trump. I was trying to explain the Internet Research Agency and, separately, the circumstances that led to the Magnitsky Act to a friend today. Realized halfway through that I sounded like a total conspiracy nut.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 5:54 PM on August 2, 2018 [23 favorites]


"Black Hats" (antisemitic dogwhistle via hacking term)

Why is "Black Hat" an antisemitic dog-whistle ?
posted by Pendragon at 11:02 PM on August 2, 2018


Why is "Black Hat" an antisemitic dog-whistle ?

I'm assuming it refers to Hasidic Jews penchant for wearing black hats, each sect usually sticking to a certain style (e.g Lubavitch preferring fedoras)
posted by PenDevil at 1:05 AM on August 3, 2018 [1 favorite]


Realized halfway through that I sounded like a total conspiracy nut.

I wouldn't be surprised (at all) if agents for Trump and/or the IRA are working to encourage the QAnon phenomenon. And I wouldn't be surprised if it's just people on the internet being awful.

Either way, though: yeah. Things have gotten so bugfuck insane, that simply describing the documented facts to a less informed person makes you sound like a gibbering loon. I mean, look at the previous paragraph.

The degree to which Trump and Russia have succeeded in muddying the waters is scary.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 4:22 AM on August 3, 2018 [2 favorites]


old enough to remember simplistic media depicting bad cowboys in black hats and good cowboys in white ones.
posted by 20 year lurk at 6:40 AM on August 3, 2018 [5 favorites]


I'm assuming it refers to Hasidic Jews penchant for wearing black hats, each sect usually sticking to a certain style (e.g Lubavitch preferring fedoras)

Though I don't doubt for a minute that this conpiracy theory is built on antisemitism and racism like all the rest, that's definitely not the origin of the term. It does come from movie Westerns, and was brought into the world of hacking by the 90s, based on that movie metaphor. Stallman is also one Baby Boomer who probably knows what a tripcode is. Be nice if we could avoid ageism too - let's remember that Boomers (like my dad) helped to invented many of these systems directly, and many more laid the theoretical and structural foundations for these protocols to exist in the first place. I don't know what a tripcode is, but that's because I'm not techy and don't hang out in those kinds of fora, not because I'm an old.
posted by Miko at 6:47 AM on August 3, 2018 [10 favorites]


and that trading card set is WHHHAAT
posted by Miko at 6:52 AM on August 3, 2018 [2 favorites]


Um, Stallman probably not the best example of “Boomers who are not nuts”, TBH.
posted by Artw at 7:13 AM on August 3, 2018 [7 favorites]


I did not say he wasn't nuts. I said he probably understood what a tripcode is, in response to the ageism in the thread.
posted by Miko at 7:45 AM on August 3, 2018 [3 favorites]


Why is "Black Hat" an antisemitic dog-whistle

well, the text on the trading card has that (((()))) thing
posted by thelonius at 7:52 AM on August 3, 2018 [1 favorite]


(as Rust Moranis said above, sorry)
posted by thelonius at 7:53 AM on August 3, 2018


To be clear, they seem to be appropriating a hacking term because it shares a characteristic with their stereotype of Jewish people; it's not that the hacking term has anti-Semitic roots.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:20 AM on August 3, 2018 [4 favorites]


QAnon corrupted Stallman would understand tripcodes just enough to say they strengthen his version of the QAnon story and be bizarrely blind to anything to do with them that invalidates it. That’s how brainworms work.

He’d probably be the source of tripcode lore for a bunch of people who hang on his every word.

(And he’d dig in like hell on all of it, because Stallman. Has anyone checked in on him to make sure he hasn’t already been got?)
posted by Artw at 8:22 AM on August 3, 2018 [1 favorite]


It's ESR that's the right-wing conspiracy bigot. Stallman just eats his toenails in public.
posted by zombieflanders at 8:30 AM on August 3, 2018 [1 favorite]


ESR is definitely the worst case, but Stallman has absolutely demonstrated he is in the risk group.
posted by Artw at 8:38 AM on August 3, 2018


It's not Boomers, it's normies. Who sometimes happen to be Boomers but sometimes not. I mean, I didn't know what a tripcode was until I had it explained to me because, as I stated upthread, I would rather eat live mice than visit a chan. The Q stuff is absolutely being mediated for normies via Twitter and Facebook. You think Roseanne is spending all day shitposting on /pol/? She learned everything she knows from Twitter, guaranteed.
posted by soren_lorensen at 9:03 AM on August 3, 2018 [7 favorites]


The Q stuff is absolutely being mediated for normies via Twitter and Facebook.

Yeah, there's probably several tiers of distribution here, at least. Facebook and twitter are probably the most effective vectors, but there's also Free Republic, Gateway Pundit, as well as blogs and forums of which I'm mercifully ignorant, I'm sure. There's a screaming nutso over at Free Republic who was both the biggest birther and, now, the biggest QAnoner who routinely uses the phrase "autists"—evidence to me that there's a path from the chans to more normie-friendly outlets.
posted by octobersurprise at 9:24 AM on August 3, 2018 [1 favorite]


“Never underestimate the bandwidth of a forwarded email full of Word documents.”
posted by Artw at 9:31 AM on August 3, 2018 [4 favorites]


This is also true.
posted by octobersurprise at 10:11 AM on August 3, 2018


Couldn't find this linked in the thread, so apologies if I missed it, but this video of a CNN reporter talking to people who believe the Qanon/conspiracy...it's interesting to say the least.

CNN reporter talks to conspiracy theorists at Trump rally [YouTube]
posted by Fizz at 10:32 AM on August 3, 2018


I just got an email from my college roomate's wife. He's been going down the Trumphole for a while, and she just told me he's all in on QAnon...

Anyone have any way to debunk/extract someone from this lunacy...?
posted by Windopaene at 10:37 AM on August 3, 2018 [1 favorite]


well, you know that he’s paranoid and gullible. I recommend telling him that you’re into Q too, and then once you’ve established trust, selling him worthless herbal supplements at a huge markup.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 10:42 AM on August 3, 2018 [15 favorites]


Anyone have any way to debunk/extract someone from this lunacy...?

Debunking is impossible for someone who is already all-in. Extraction requires identifying the failure point in their general critical thinking ability and trying to work on it.
posted by Rust Moranis at 10:43 AM on August 3, 2018 [7 favorites]


Honestly when the whole Q thing got started, given its origins in the antitheist wilds of the chans, I hadn't predicted it's hard turn into Christian millenarianism but I think I should have probably known. Anyway, further evidence that it's being interpreted and mediated by a whole bunch of people in other social media and I think we're [checks watch] about due for schism soon, if it hasn't happened already.
posted by soren_lorensen at 10:52 AM on August 3, 2018 [2 favorites]


CNN reporter talks to conspiracy theorists at Trump rally [YouTube ]

(1) Jesus Christ.
(2) Notice the "Punisher" skull insignia on one of the shirts. This is a common QAnoner motif. They love skulls (Hans, are we the baddies, etc etc). Hint hint.
(3) The nature and current state of the cult makes it important to discuss online/casually/via competent media channels but borderline stupid/irresponsible for CNN to be broadcasting about. The flippant and mocking way they do it here is way past borderline stupid/irresponsible territory and well into "oh god this is how CNN helped Trump happen" territory.
posted by Rust Moranis at 10:59 AM on August 3, 2018 [3 favorites]


The Q stuff is absolutely being mediated for normies via Twitter and Facebook

Every religion needs its priests.
posted by fshgrl at 11:12 AM on August 3, 2018 [2 favorites]


Notice the "Punisher" skull insignia on one of the shirts

For reasons that are horrifying that is a cop thing now too, so they are probably a cop or a wannabe cop, or at minimum a cheerleader for police brutality.
posted by Artw at 11:14 AM on August 3, 2018 [6 favorites]


> (3) The nature and current state of the cult makes it important to discuss online/casually/via competent media channels but borderline stupid/irresponsible for CNN to be broadcasting about. The flippant and mocking way they do it here is way past borderline stupid/irresponsible territory and well into "oh god this is how CNN helped Trump happen" territory.

I dunno. If we ignore them, the cult gets bigger. If we try to talk to them and reason with them, the cult gets bigger. If we mock them... the cult gets bigger. A bunch of talking heads on CNN who laughed at the idea of Trump becoming president didn't make Trump president any more than any of a hundred other factors did. Asking people not to mock something so worthy of mockery is not an easily solvable collective action problem, and I actually think treating QAnon like it merits a serious discussion may actually make things worse.
posted by tonycpsu at 11:18 AM on August 3, 2018 [1 favorite]


A bunch of talking heads on CNN who laughed at the idea of Trump becoming president didn't make Trump president any more than any of a hundred other factors did.

I guess I just wish that, alongside the scoffing, CNN had also made note that a large segment of the population desires and expects the arrest and execution of every anti-trump politician and media figure. That part seems important.
posted by Rust Moranis at 11:28 AM on August 3, 2018 [7 favorites]


Can someone please explain to me exactly what "normie" means? It seems to be used by (roughly) channish people as a derogatory term for non-channish folks. Especially non-channish folks who meme incorrectly, and who subscribe to mainstream groupthink such as "racism is bad" and "women shouldn't be driven off the internet via rape threats". Is that about right?

Because I have trouble understanding how this young, meme-obsessed, anime-pillow-fucking wing of the alt-right see themselves. They seem to believe that memes and reactionary politics are somehow countercultural – that they're freethinking rebels who are sticking it to The Man.

It's hard to wrap my head around.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 11:30 AM on August 3, 2018 [2 favorites]


Can someone please explain to me exactly what "normie" means? It seems to be used by (roughly) channish people as a derogatory term for non-channish folks. Especially non-channish folks who meme incorrectly, and who subscribe to mainstream groupthink such as "racism is bad" and "women shouldn't be driven off the internet via rape threats". Is that about right?

It predates them and is used a lot more widely than that. I first saw it in a CBC radio documentary about homeless folks in Vancouver's Downtown East Side who viewed mainstream society with distain and called them 'normies'. It's also picked up in Tumblr fandom circles in a semi-ironic way.
posted by Space Coyote at 11:34 AM on August 3, 2018 [3 favorites]


And of course saying you heard a slang term first in a CBC documentary is the most normie thing possible.
posted by Space Coyote at 11:35 AM on August 3, 2018 [10 favorites]


Oh gosh I hate the slang 'normie' with the heat of a thousand neutron stars. Same with 'tendies.'

As I've heard it, it was originally a derogatory slang term for neurotypical people.
posted by porpoise at 11:47 AM on August 3, 2018


Same with 'tendies.'

This one just sounds Australian to me: "The bikie was hungy for tendies cooked on the barbie, maybe after a wristie."
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 12:02 PM on August 3, 2018 [2 favorites]


I've downloaded the tweets known to be from the Russian-backed Internet Research Agency and have been looking through them. Interestingly, "QAnon" is mentioned 41 times in the right-wing troll category.
posted by JHarris at 1:01 PM on August 3, 2018 [6 favorites]


I hope it's OK to be this paranoid this thread.

How many QAnon stochastic terrorists would it take to seriously disrupt election day by, say, bombing or shooting up polling places? Especially if they were in Democratic districts?
posted by vibrotronica at 1:20 PM on August 3, 2018


How many QAnon stochastic terrorists would it take to seriously disrupt election day by, say, bombing or shooting up polling places? Especially if they were in Democratic districts?

Zero, potentially. Just a credible and well-publicized threat could affect the vote. Too many variables to say how many attacks and how much damage it would take to invalidate the election. Probably less than we'd want to believe.
posted by Rust Moranis at 1:28 PM on August 3, 2018


While it wasn't (as far as I know) political, there was a shooting on Election Day 2016.
posted by thefoxgod at 1:31 PM on August 3, 2018


when the whole Q thing got started, given its origins in the antitheist wilds of the chans, I hadn't predicted it's hard turn into Christian millenarianism but I think I should have probably known

marginally disappointed and marginally comforted that no one i have seen discussing or explaining 'qua non in public (i too do not visit the chans), or reacting to such discussion/explanation, has yet brought up that other hypothesized source of fragmentary reports that (may have) informed creation of the founding documents of a religion. that source, of course, is Q, the logianquelle proposed by some as a (lost, early) record of the sayings of jesus incorporated by their authors into the gospels of matthew and luke. also surprised, on inquiry, to see no evidence in wikipedia edit history of significant efforts this year to edit the "Q source" page.

as to the hypothesis, that wikipedia page notes "Q's existence has been questioned." indeed.
posted by 20 year lurk at 2:17 PM on August 3, 2018 [3 favorites]


> The Q stuff is absolutely being mediated for normies via Twitter and Facebook. You think Roseanne is spending all day shitposting on /pol/?

I don't know, from what I've seen of complaints on the rest of 4chan about /pol/, there's a general belief that it's been taken over by "normies" who think the whole site is for posting politics memes, based on (from /r/The_Donald) threads like this.
posted by lucidium at 3:59 PM on August 3, 2018 [2 favorites]


On the question of whether Q conspiracy theorists are just dumb or what, I'll crosspost an anecdote from the current politics megathread:
Folks who used to listen to Air America and/or WOR may remember radio host Lionel, a.k.a. Michael LeBron. Here's a sample clip from the '08 campaign. I didn't happen upon him until late in the Bush administration, but I really enjoyed his podcast as a teen and admired his caustic wit and florid vocabulary. He also was a classmate of my uncle's in high school, which provided a nice "friend of the family" feeling, even if I only ever sent him one piece of fan email. Eventually lost track of his show after they stopped syndicating his show on iTunes.

Well, I came across his YouTube channel earlier today, and he has gone utterly bugfuck nuts.

Tracing back through his upload history, he started shifting around 2012 by criticizing "Obamney", then began sensationalizing stuff like the Ebola scare in 2014. In 2016 he got all-in on Sanders, then became a jaded BernieBro after the primaries. Claimed to vote for himself in November. But after Trump won, he became a full-on #MAGA cultist. Started making appearances on RT and InfoWars. Conspiracy videos about Parkland and JFK and 9/11 and UFOs and CIA mind control. Shilled for Roy Moore with just the barest fig leaf of disdain for his backwards fundamentalism. Was all aboard for #ReleaseTheMemo and other anti-Mueller agitating. And now his latest videos are enthusiastically boosting the QAnon conspiracy, with lurid clickbait headlines on 30-40 minute screeds attacking the "pathetic leftie sockpuppets" in the "Mockingbird media" and "Hollyweird" while praising Trump's "Magnificent Political Genius" orchestrating an unfolding "revolution."

It's nauseating and sad. He's an educated guy, and used to critique politics so sharply and thoughtfully. Now he's like some pod-person.
posted by Rhaomi at 8:07 PM on August 3, 2018 [6 favorites]


Yikes Rhaomi. I wonder, in cases like that, how much of it was honest change of opinion, and how much was just opportunism, adjusting his words according to whoever is paying him?
posted by JHarris at 1:48 PM on August 4, 2018 [1 favorite]


I've come to believe that people will honestly, sincerely change their beliefs if it pays.
posted by vogon_poet at 2:14 PM on August 4, 2018 [6 favorites]


Their aesthetic reminds me of the conspiracy theory / small press / performance art stuff I was on the fringes of 30 years ago. RE/Search, anarchism, speed, irony, untreated mental illness.
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:29 PM on August 4, 2018 [5 favorites]


I feel more and more every day that we're living in a Kurt Vonnegut novel.
posted by Mental Wimp at 9:50 AM on August 5, 2018 [4 favorites]


Their aesthetic reminds me of the conspiracy theory / small press / performance art stuff I was on the fringes of 30 years ago

So much this. I spend a lot of time wondering how reality became an Illuminati! card game.
posted by octobersurprise at 9:59 AM on August 5, 2018 [10 favorites]


Good times.

@willsommer MAGA-world is in a civil war over QAnon. The teams are:

Anti-Q:
Jack Posobiec
Scott Adams (The Dilbert Guy)
Kurt Schlichter
Sean Spicer
Alex Jones / Jerome Corsi
Assorted Pizzagaters and Youtube conspiracy theorists

And on the Pro-Q side:
Roseanne Barr
Curt Schilling
Bill Mitchell (?)
Hollywood D-lister Isaac Kappy
This one guy named Lionel
And assorted Pizzagaters and Youtube conspiracy theorists

Also on the anti-Q side: Lee Strahanan and a splinter faction of Anonymous.

@TAPAlerts BREAKING NEWS: Hacker collective ‘Anonymous’ announces its intent to eradicate #QAnon and its followers. #OpQ
posted by scalefree at 1:41 AM on August 6, 2018 [7 favorites]


Might this have starting as a left wing troll job? The Wu Ming ("no name") Foundation (@Wu_Ming_Foundt), authors of the historical novel Q, think there's a connection.
posted by whuppy at 6:00 AM on August 6, 2018 [1 favorite]


Has Larry Cohen, director of Q: The Winged Serpent, chipped in?
posted by Artw at 6:10 AM on August 6, 2018 [5 favorites]


Buzzfeed News seems to agree it's based on the novel Q, as mentioned by whuppy above.
posted by harriet vane at 6:46 AM on August 6, 2018 [3 favorites]


The common element in the chuds-taking-sides-over-Q is that the anti-Q chuds are the ones who fancy themselves agenda setters. They see Q as a competitor.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:50 AM on August 6, 2018 [8 favorites]


Sooooo the theory now is that the Q conspiracy theory is the fictional creation of a group of conspirators?

This is getting way too meta.
posted by soren_lorensen at 7:23 AM on August 6, 2018 [5 favorites]


Hacker collective ‘Anonymous’ announces its intent to eradicate #QAnon and its followers. #OpQ

Oh, Anonymous. About two-thirds of the time, you're on the right side. But you're always going to do it in the most purple-prosed, katana-wielding, Matrix-fanfiction manner possible.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 8:35 AM on August 6, 2018 [17 favorites]


The common element in the chuds-taking-sides-over-Q is that the anti-Q chuds are the ones who fancy themselves agenda setters. They see Q as a competitor.

Also grifters hoping to co-opt Q & make money off it.
posted by scalefree at 9:19 AM on August 6, 2018


I feel more and more every day that we're living in a Kurt Vonnegut novel.

Is it because you turn on Fox News and see nothing but crudely-drawn asterisks?
posted by delfin at 9:29 AM on August 6, 2018 [3 favorites]


Sooooo the theory now is that the Q conspiracy theory is the fictional creation of a group of conspirators?

This is getting way too meta.


We've gone from Umberto Eco's Ur-Fascism article to Foucault's Pendulum.
posted by sukeban at 11:51 AM on August 6, 2018 [7 favorites]


We've gone from Umberto Eco's Ur-Fascism article to Foucault's Pendulum.

"[Y]our plan is full of secrets, full of contradictions. For that reason you could find thousands of insecure people ready to identify with it... Beware of faking: people will believe you. People believe those who sell lotions that make lost hair grow back. They sense instinctively that the salesman is putting together truths that don’t go together, that he’s not being logical, that he’s not speaking in good faith. But they’ve been told that God is mysterious, unfathomable, so to them incoherence is the closest thing to God. The farfetched is the closest thing to a miracle. You’ve invented hair oil. I don’t like it. It’s a nasty joke.”--Eco, FP
posted by MonkeyToes at 12:27 PM on August 6, 2018 [10 favorites]


So the connection to the novel Q, and some random remarks on the chans about pranking Boomers is the sole evidence this may be a "leftist, anarchist" joke? That seems like quite a reach, especially as there's nothing in the content or execution that hints at left ideology. Sure, it can be read as tricking right-wingers into believing absurdity, but it's not making them inadvertently support some piece of left thought/practice. Pranking Trumpists into believing Pizzagate-style theories is shooting fish in a barrel. Pranking Trumpists into say, abolishing prisons, would be a real leftist anarchist practical joke. After all, these are the people who already think populism is electing a racist authoritarian business tyrant to funnel their money into the pockets of the idle rich.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 1:07 PM on August 6, 2018 [4 favorites]


I am pretty sure this is a prank by assholes on other assholes with us non-assholes as the ultimate victims once they go full genocidey.
posted by Artw at 1:08 PM on August 6, 2018 [13 favorites]


I concur with Artw. I mean, it's clearly someone playing an absurd prank and just my general feeling about pranks is that they're jokes for assholes. But to keep going on with it after you do it once or twice and get your lulz from people taking it seriously is definite nihilist nothing matters lol channer asshole territory.

Anyway I am pretty sure DEVO predicted all this 30 years ago.
posted by soren_lorensen at 1:15 PM on August 6, 2018 [10 favorites]


Yeah, siccing alt-right dullards on the homeless isn't how most of the AnComs I know spend their time.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 1:15 PM on August 6, 2018 [2 favorites]


On 9/11 I was in NYC, and got an e-mail from a friend in Seattle asking if the anarchists were taking advantage of the chaos. To him -- and he's one of the people I was thinking of when I wrote about speed etc above -- this was a reasonable question. At the time we thought tens of thousands of people had just been killed and we didn't know if it was over. He's dead now, but I can see him getting into Q Anon stuff if he were still alive. Conspiracies are fun! Let's confuse people! And if the normal people get in the way, well, it will do them good to be shaken up.
posted by The corpse in the library at 1:58 PM on August 6, 2018 [2 favorites]


I got an email from a friend in a trailer park asking if I knew what the anarchists were doing to the soil... but that guy hasn't been the same ever since the burrow owl incident.
posted by delfin at 6:38 PM on August 6, 2018 [4 favorites]


I was interested in listening to an interview with Scott Adams, not knowing anything about him, because he was regularly talked about in some circles as providing an intelligent defense of Trump's policies. So.... Did you know that Trump is purposefully putting off addressing global warming so that green technology can have the time it needs to improve and be dramatically less costly? No, didn't occur to you?

Anyway, Trump's something of a Rorschach. I can't tell if his tweets are jokes, orders, euphemisms, unintended verbals tics, or deliberate, and neither can any of the people working for him. His behavior is irrational and unintelligible, and therefore is read as code by those who are vested in believing they voted for someone capable. It's like reading tea leaves.
posted by xammerboy at 9:10 PM on August 6, 2018 [4 favorites]


Scott Adams is a Dilbert reader's idea of a brilliant logician.
posted by contraption at 10:09 PM on August 6, 2018 [12 favorites]


Kitty Stardust:
A lot of Dada-ist are considered “Left Wing” because they were “weird”.
Sadly, a lot of them turned out to be assholes.
Shit, a lot of “performance artists” who used Nazi and Fascist imagery to try and make a point ended up being actual Nazi’s and Fascists. Much to most of their fans disappointment.

It’s one thing to assume that the thing you found funny by the funny person resonanated with you because it was highlighting the absurd. It’s another thing to realize they didn’t think it was absurd.
posted by daq at 10:18 PM on August 6, 2018 [5 favorites]


Shit, a lot of “performance artists” who used Nazi and Fascist imagery to try and make a point ended up being actual Nazi’s and Fascists. Much to most of their fans disappointment.

Fascism isn't about hippie/square, left/right stuff, it's about ingroup and outgroup. This defines fascistic movements as sucidal: they always have to have an outgroup, so as the current outgroup is eliminated (at least from power), marginal members of the ingroup must be converted into members the outgroup to maintain The Bad Other's existence and the core's solidarity in opposition to it.
posted by rhizome at 11:24 PM on August 6, 2018 [8 favorites]


Wu Ming offers all of their books as a free download, including Q.
posted by Teegeeack AV Club Secretary at 5:17 AM on August 7, 2018 [2 favorites]


Shit, a lot of “performance artists” who used Nazi and Fascist imagery to try and make a point ended up being actual Nazi’s and Fascists. Much to most of their fans disappointment.

As someone who enjoys the sometimes Problematic AF musical genre of industrial, I have unfortunately seen this myself.

Also, wanted to clarify my earlier remarks on liberal arts education. By no means was I offering a unified field theory for everyone who believes in conspiracy theories. I was just giving my observations on the phenomena of otherwise intelligent, educated people who should Know Better letting themselves fall for bullshit. Nowhere did I say this phenomena applied to all people who receive a STEM education, only that I have encountered it more frequently in those people.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 7:19 AM on August 7, 2018 [4 favorites]


I am pretty sure this is a prank by assholes on other assholes

I think there’s a high probability of this being true, but I also think that in our present moment the line between prank, nihilist performance, and targeted intentional psyop is pretty thin.

I’m skeptical of the Q/Q thesis, but it’s pretty wild. I bought that book when it came out (That it was a must-have accessory for a while is correct and I was much more susceptible to that kind of appeal back then.) Sort of, but not really, wish I hadn’t sold it several years ago.
posted by octobersurprise at 4:05 PM on August 8, 2018


I'm still mad about that time I read a whole long article about Al Qaeda being possibly named after Asimov's Foundation series, only to have the final paragraph go naw probably not. So, while I'm not familiar with the novel Q, I'm still dubious.
posted by ckape at 6:58 PM on August 8, 2018 [3 favorites]


We analyzed every QAnon post on Reddit. Here’s who QAnon supporters actually are. (Vox)

An astoundingly small number of people produce the majority of the content. About 200 users account for a quarter of the forum’s comments. These people are clearly conspiracy theorists who believe they are investigators unearthing the truth, and they spend almost all their time on Reddit investigating these theories.

Another 700 users account for the next quarter of comments. The user we followed at the top of this story is among these people. They are active in /r/greatawakening but also spend time on other subreddits.

Nearly everyone else in the subreddit — the 11,000 commenters and 42,000 lurkers — are just along for the ride.

posted by escape from the potato planet at 7:21 PM on August 8, 2018 [1 favorite]


Scott Adams is a Dilbert reader's idea of a brilliant logician.
posted by contraption at 10:09 PM on August 6 [11 favorites −] [!]


He's a pretend anti-authoritarian attracted to authoritarians. I mean, isn't Trump the pointy-haired boss?
posted by Mental Wimp at 7:10 AM on August 9, 2018


We analyzed every QAnon post on Reddit. Here’s who QAnon supporters actually are.
We were able to glean characteristics of this community by writing a computer program to analyze every single user who has commented on /r/greatawakening. From there, we looked at what other subreddits outside of /r/greatawakening these users participate in.

We found that most participants are relatively casual conspiracy theorists. Their interest in /r/greatawakening largely comes from their enthusiastic support for Trump. (There’s also a handful of Bernie Sanders supporters mixed in.) Their interests coalesce around things like video games, cryptocurrency, men’s rights, and martial arts. Although Reddit doesn’t ask for demographic data, it’s not a reach to say they are predominantly white men.

But here’s the kicker: An astoundingly small number of people produce the majority of the content. About 200 users account for a quarter of the forum’s comments. These people are clearly conspiracy theorists who believe they are investigators unearthing the truth, and they spend almost all their time on Reddit investigating these theories.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:17 AM on August 9, 2018 [2 favorites]


About 200 users account for a quarter of the forum’s comments ... Another 700 users account for the next quarter of comments ... Nearly everyone else ... the 11,000 commenters and 42,000 lurkers — are just along for the ride.

In fairness though, isn't that about true for most communities, MeFi included?
posted by yhbc at 9:24 AM on August 9, 2018 [3 favorites]


In fairness though, isn't that about true for most communities, MeFi included?

The Cabal says no. (There is no Cabal.)
posted by GenjiandProust at 11:50 AM on August 9, 2018 [2 favorites]


Favorited not favorited
posted by petebest at 8:09 PM on August 9, 2018


Apparently someone as Q just posted a link to this.
posted by Artw at 5:09 AM on August 11, 2018 [2 favorites]


You... want us to click on a blind pastebin link that "Q" posted?
posted by duffell at 5:10 AM on August 11, 2018 [3 favorites]


It's an essay by someone who reverse engineered the current "tripcode" that identifies Q posts. It implores the supporters to think about what they're doing and back away from the conspiracy theories.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 5:21 AM on August 11, 2018


It is of course going to be taken as clear and positive evidence that Q exists in some way, possibly because of the massive deep state computing power that would be required to break a light hashing function from 1977.
posted by Artw at 5:24 AM on August 11, 2018 [3 favorites]


Ah, an even-handed Q. Surely that will scare the followers off.
posted by rhizome at 12:01 PM on August 11, 2018 [1 favorite]


NBC: How three conspiracy theorists took 'Q' and sparked Qanon
In November 2017, a small-time YouTube video creator and two moderators of the 4chan website, one of the most extreme message boards on the internet, banded together and plucked out of obscurity an anonymous and cryptic post from the many conspiracy theories that populated the website's message board.

Over the next several months, they would create videos, a Reddit community, a business and an entire mythology based off the 4chan posts of “Q,” the pseudonym of a person claiming to be a high-ranking military officer. The theory they espoused would become Qanon, and it would eventually make its way from those message boards to national media stories and the rallies of President Donald Trump.

Now, the people behind that effort are at the center of a fractious debate among conspiracy enthusiasts, some of whom believe the three people who first popularized the Qanon theory are promoting it in order to make a living. Others suggest that these original followers actually wrote Q’s mysterious posts.
The short of it is that NBC alleges a group of three people effectively created & promoted Qanon in order to profit off the coverage it generated.

However,
There is no direct proof that the group or any individual members are behind it.
posted by cjelli at 9:51 AM on August 14, 2018 [1 favorite]


in order to profit

I have to ask, then: what profit?
posted by rhizome at 3:14 PM on August 14, 2018


Presumably the videos are monetized.
posted by tavella at 3:17 PM on August 14, 2018


yes, and they're soliciting direct donations via PayPal and Patreon.

I hope they bilk every last dollar they can out of the true believers, that way there will be decent assets to go after when some Q follower does something destructively stupid and there are lawsuits
posted by prize bull octorok at 3:28 PM on August 14, 2018 [4 favorites]


Reminds me of that progressive-turned-wingnut radio host Lionel that I mentioned upthread. While browsing his YouTube history, I noticed most of them were recorded from livestreams with a playback of the chat room as it appeared at the time -- and like Twitch, people can donate money to stick custom messages to the top.

Even in the handful of videos I watched, people were donating $20, $50, $150 a pop to sticky tweet-length screeds about Qanon and Trump. These people are a deep yet highly profitable well of crazy.
posted by Rhaomi at 4:02 PM on August 14, 2018 [4 favorites]


people were donating $20, $50, $150 a pop to sticky tweet-length screeds about Qanon and Trump

This was probably them or their confederates trying to prime the pump by example.
posted by rhizome at 4:03 PM on August 14, 2018 [1 favorite]


Ben Collins: Q, the notorious government employee with top secret clearance, spent today getting extremely upset about XBox Live being down.
posted by PenDevil at 12:47 PM on August 16, 2018 [11 favorites]


From Reddit. There's a sadness here, realizing that the price being paid for this nonsense isn't just political but personal, that families & friendships are harmed by it.

When this is all done, can we get a class action lawsuit going against the MSM for wrecking all our families?
The amount of division and pain the MSM has caused is incalculable. Just got accused by my 67 year old mother for spewing lies and aligning to a hateful ideology. Truth bombed her about Manfort being exonerated 8 years ago by Rosenstein. Truth bombed her about operation Mockingbird. Truth bombed her about Oleg Deripaska's relationship with Steele and Podesta Group's involvement with Manafort. She then has the audacity to call them lies but can't provide evidence. Just turns on me and tries to make me think I''m irrational.

I'm serious,, the MSM is responsible for this shit. How many families have been fighting for the past two-years? Breakups. divorces, fired, estranged families and ex-friends. God damn the MSM, I can't wait anymore. Let's just sue them now.
posted by scalefree at 12:17 PM on August 20, 2018 [1 favorite]


« Older Everyone has a book in them, right?   |   Something strange was happening in the drawers Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments