Understanding Bullshit: QAnon
Here’s a fair question: How can I be 100% certain that QAnon is bullshit? (I’m glad you asked, guy who still thinks 9/11 was an inside job). This is how I know:
(1) It consistently excuses Trump’s facilitation of evil deep state agendas.
(2) It’s adherents invariably refuse to prove the validity of their position.
(3) It’s made many bogus claims and many inaccurate predictions.
The following should really go without saying (but I’m going to say it anyway, because I’m kind of a dick that way) 2020 has been a huge year for dumb shit. And to be honest I find this subject extremely tedious. My regular readers aren’t generally the types to fall for this sort of toxic propaganda, but I’m putting this information out there anyway as a public service since too many people are being deluded by it.
If you’re one of those fortunate enough to be unfamiliar with the QAnon phenomenon, here’s a little history: On 28 October 2017, someone calling themselves Q began posting a series of cryptic messages in a 4chan internet forum (which is wildly popular with trolls, incels and racists) titled “Calm Before the Storm” - “assumedly in reference to that creepy Trump quote from early October”, says New York Magazine. Q claimed to be a high-level government insider with Q clearance (a United States Department of Energy security clearance with access to classified information) who had been instructed to post intelligence leaks straight to 4chan “in order to covertly inform the public about our POTUS’s master plan to stage a countercoup against members of the Deep State.” Those posts have now ceased appearing on 4chan and instead have moved to a related site, 8chan, where they continue appearing to this day.
The poster purports to have insider knowledge of a secret, silent and invisible war that President Trump has been waging against the Deep State with the help of the US military and various “white hats” within the US government, and shares snippets about this war with 8chan users in extremely vague and garbled posts. The majority of which consist of nothing more than far-right conspiracy theories alleging that a cabal of Satan-worshiping pedophiles running a global child sex-trafficking ring is plotting against President Trump, who is battling them, leading to a 'day of reckoning' involving the mass arrest of journalists and politicians. (Pause for laughter).
QAnon followers have likewise advanced a theory that elites are engaging in "adrenochrome harvesting," (Adrenochrome is a made up drug from Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas) in which adrenaline is extracted from children's blood to be oxidized into the psychoactive drug adrenochrome. Adrenochrome harvesting is rooted in antisemitic myths of blood libel dating back to the Middle Ages, which claims that Jews murdered Christian children for their blood for use in religious rituals. (Sounds like a heavy-metal ad lib).
Another deranged theory coming from the QAnon crowd is that John F. Kennedy Jr. is actually Q. The theorists allege that JFK Jr. and his wife Carolyn Bessette faked their own deaths in a plane crash in 1999, going deep undercover to work with Trump. Eagle-eyed QAnon believers scan Trump rallies, convincing themselves that they've spotted the couple attending in disguise. Q has also accused many Hollywood actors of being members of this global cabal. And that Trump has feigned collusion with Russians in order to enlist Robert Mueller to join him in exposing the ring and preventing a coup d'état by Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and George Soros. (A conspiracy theory tailor-made for the Trump era).
All of this would actually be hilarious were it less believed. But QAnon continues to gobble the headlines (along with a lot of not-so-smart right-wing celebrities, from Roseanne Barr to Curt Schilling). Naturally, Trump himself has already taken the step of posing for a photo op with Q movementists, which doesn’t necessarily mean he believes it, but still portends something quite dark. Should President Trump lose in November, the Joe Biden presidency will be the target of an angry far-right movement consumed with foolishness. (We know this because it’s what always happens when a Democrat gets elected). So if you’ve been wondering how election-year political rhetoric could get dumber than 2016’s, Q is a preview.
Unfortunately for the rest of us, there is no self-correction process within this group of self righteous dullards, since the self-reinforcing true believers are immune to correction, fact-checking, or counter-speech, which is drowned out by the cult's groupthink. And QAnon's cultish quality is the very reason some have characterized it as an emerging religious movement. Part of its appeal is its game like quality, in which followers attempt to solve riddles presented in Qdrops by connecting them to Trump speeches and tweets and other sources. Some followers even use a "Q clock" consisting of a wheel of concentric dials to decode clues based on the timing of Qdrops and Trump tweets.
Thus, whenever Trump advances some depraved agenda and I speak out against it, I begin getting angry social media responses from QAnon cultists telling me to calm down and relax, that this is all part of his plan, and that Trump is actually doing the exact opposite of what he appears to be doing. QAnon cultists do this because they have been propagandized into doing so, both by the 8chan anon they follow and by the herd mentality of the community it has fostered. They begin with the baseless premise that Trump is a righteous warrior against corruption, conclude that everything he does must therefore be a righteous maneuver against Deep State corruption, then apply their hive mind to coming up with reasons to believe it. (Then they show up in my mentions telling me I’m crazy for believing Trump is doing the things that he is very plainly and obviously doing).
This to me is reason enough to be absolutely certain that QAnon (and the credulous cult which has sprouted up around it) is nonsense. US presidents are reliably corrupt warmongers and CIA cronies, so the current president acting like one is not surprising or extraordinary. Trying to justify a US president doing the sort of thing that all US presidents always do as a total deviation from the norm for US presidents would be a ridiculous thing to do even one time. Doing it every single time is fully discrediting. If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, you could be excused for mistaking it for a rabbit after one quick glance, but continuing to stare directly at a duck and saying: “Yes, that’s definitely a rabbit, look at the long ears”, over an extended period of time would mean you’re at best a bullshitter (at worst an idiot).
This is because there is no actual, tangible factual basis for the belief system which has sprouted up around QAnon. It begins, just like any other religion, as a premise of faith, and then the adherents of that faith pool their intellectual resources into the task of finding reasons to legitimize that premise. They begin with the premise that Trump is a good and noble savior who is uprooting the source of all of America’s problems with strategic maneuvers which are so brilliant that they look like the exact opposite of what they are (then they let confirmation bias, along with several other cognitive biases, do the rest of the work for them).
Which proves that QAnon is not even a proper conspiracy theory, as we’ve come to understand that term. Conspiracy theories, per definition, consist of some sort of concrete theory. QAnon, like Russia-gate, consists of nothing other than something that people desperately want to believe and then seek out excuses which allow them to feel comfortable believing it. This makes it far more akin to a religion or a cult than a conspiracy theory. If QAnon were legitimate, it would be easy for its followers to demonstrate that legitimacy in a clear and simple way. They never can.
Moreover, “The real problem,” as Robert Guffey writes: “is that genuine conspiracies are unfolding before our eyes every day, but when the mainstream media avoids reporting on such conspiracies — for a whole variety of reasons, the main one being that it's simply easier to get paid rewriting corporate press releases and slapping one's byline on the end product than by actually putting one's reputation on the line tackling a plethora of inconvenient truths — it becomes necessary for average people to fill in the gaps on their own. These people may be ignorant, but they're not stupid. They know instinctively that they're being victimized by blatant lies every day. So, with no training whatsoever, they perform "research" on their own by scouring through a multiplicity of such "reliable" online sources as 4chan, 8chan, 8kun and Reddit.” (Study tip: Dicking around on the internet, with your mouth gapped open while watching YouTube videos, is not research).
It’s hard to imagine how anyone could believe in something so deranged, (even by conspiracy theory standards). How is it more likely that Q is a well-connected Trump aide than that they’re just a kid having fun on the internet? How is it easier to believe that JFK Jr. is alive and plotting with the President in the White House, when there’s abundant evidence that both he and his wife are nearly twenty years dead? (Dumb shit is so chic). As Matt Taibbi writes: “Were it a government plot — a dazzling scheme to keep the public stupid — QAnon would be a great achievement in the otherwise relatively undistinguished history of the CIA. Alas, it is not. Like most things these days, if it seems like 4D chess, it’s probably just stupid.”