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Why it's important to think about QAnon as a cult instead of a political ideology

Why it's important to think about QAnon as a cult instead of a political ideology

Slow-Faithlessness11

A really good post. It explains why so many of these people arrive at this by Evangelical Christianity. From what I have seen, many of these people have sought comfort and refuge from their troubled lives, but so much energy seems taken up with obsessing about evil and demons, as an explication for their problems. My own observations have shown that these people don't actually go out and try to make the world a better place by eg volunteering. They don't appear full of joyful, loving Christianity, rather they obsess over, and delight in the miseries of life. They spread evil rumours, and add to people's unhappiness, destroy families and for what? They say the Devil finds work for idle hands, and I think too many of these people have too much time on their hands. They perpetuate the evil they claim to be fighting.


85_13

As someone raised mainline Protestant, it's always been amazing how much the Devil and demons preoccupy other Christians. I was always taught that the Devil is basically illusory and could be instantaneously rejected with Christ (Christians have been given the power to tread on snakes; Satan falls like lightning). And as I've gotten older, I've learned about how much of the "devil" lore is pulled together from scraps -- a general word for "the accuser," falling angels in Ezekiel, some rumors from Enoch, etc. It took a lot of interpretive work in the first place to argue that these are all based on the same figure. I'm reminded of how Martin Luther was convinced the Devil was following him at every step. Who can say why. I suspect some people need to externalize evil. They need evil to be coming from out there, not in here.


mhornberger

> And as I've gotten older, I've learned about how much of the "devil" lore is pulled together from scraps -- a general word for "the accuser," I think another telling name is "the Adversary." Because (edit: some, not literally all) Christians seem to see the hand or work of Satan in any adversary they have. There's ample support in the Bible for the view that there are really only two sides--God's, and the other guy. If you're a Christian and you're walking with God, fighting for what God wants, enacting God's plan in your life, then anyone going against you, blocking you, opposing what you want, can easily be seen to be working for the adversary. Knowingly or otherwise. When your political preferences are perfectly aligned with your religion, who else would your political opponents be working for? This is why even Goldwater worried about the religious fundamentalists taking over the GOP. Politics is the art of compromise, but how can you compromise with people you see working for Satan? If you view everything as a fight between good and evil, can you compromise with evil? So the cultish Manichaean aspects of QAnon dovetail perfectly with political goals.


NobleExperiments

> If you view everything as a fight between good and evil, can you compromise with evil? THIS. Long before QAnon, I recognized this is the reason we can't reason with people who, for example, protest against abortion or are one-issue voters over choice. One "genius" of the right is the architects of its message use the "good vs evil" formation rather than right vs left. As you say, how can a good person compromise or negotiate with evil?


ghostofaflower

I just recently learned that the "God is pro life" is completely made up. I've been suspecting it was literally just a woman hating thing for a while, and I was right! God is not antiabortion or even prolife, quite the opposite. If you think about all the children God has personally killed to prove points, it makes sense (example: passover). Thou shall not kill doesn't apply to children, let alone fetuses. Click the link for more points and a more detailed explanation. https://ffrf.org/component/k2/item/26087-abortion-nontract


jayandbobfoo123

God absolutely has no problem with abortion. He even aids in abortion himself. https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Numbers+5:11-31&version=NIV&interface=amp If you so much as *suspect* your wife of cheating, give her this thing to miscarry and eject her womb.. The obvious implication is if she cheated, she's pregnant. So abort it with god's help.


frostyandpeddles

This is SO messed up. May this water that brings a curse enter your body so that your abdomen swells or your womb miscarries.” ‘Then the woman is to say, “Amen. So be it. Psycho abusive boyfriend much?? CULT


osberend

What's "psycho abusive boyfriend" about "bad things should happen to you if you're unfaithful in your marriage, but not if you're not?"


dota2nub

Probably just sexually frustrated monks writing fantasy


osberend

So, the NIV here is "translating" a Hebrew text of ambiguous meaning in accordance with the translators' view of what it actually means. In particular, the original text doesn't unambiguously say that a guilty woman will miscarry; it says that get belly will swell and get thigh will fall away. The latter has been interpreted as a euphemism for either miscarriage or uterine prolapse, but also more literally, as indicating the flesh of the thigh rotting (e.g., from gangrene) and falling off. The dominant interpretation historically has been rotting and death, with a minority view of uterine prolapse and/or miscarriage, resulting in either death or permanent sterility. I'm not aware of any serious interpretations that didn't involve permanent sterility at a minimum. Moreover, note that whether the ambiguously-described outcome is death, sterility, or (for the sake of argument) simple miscarriage, it is, in any event, a guilty verdict brought about by a divine curse, not a natural consequence of the material acts of the ritual itself.


shutupstan102

I wish people would understand this. It’s not worth it though, it’s going to be a losing battle. I just take happiness in the fact I know I’m right lol. They’re so smug I love knowing they’re just assholes.


tippiedog

> Because Christians seem to see the hand or work of Satan in any adversary they have. Previous posters have mentioned "Evangelical Christianity" and "mainline Protestant." I think it's important and useful to understand that some (many) Christians, not all, adhere to the "Adversary" stuff that you mention. "Evangelical Christian" is an inexact term for those who do. People who grew up "mainline Protestant" (and many Catholics) often view sin more as a *state of being*--we all fall short of God's goals for our behavior--not as acts. Therefore, everyone is sinful in the sense that none of us live up to God's expectations. This view generally does NOT lead to the us vs them attitude since everyone is 'sinful'. Contrast that with Christians who view sin in terms of sinful acts. If I'm not committing those acts, I'm not sinful (not to mention Evangelicals who think they're saved regardless once they've said the magical words), but those who commit those acts are evil. People with this theology are the ones who are more prone to view the world in us-vs-them terms.


zorkzamboni

I don't know that I agree with this distinction. I grew up mainline protestant and protestants can just as easily be overly evangelical. Most of the Q people I know are protestant, and most protestants I know fit your description of evangelicals.


downyballs

> I grew up mainline protestant and protestants can just as easily be overly evangelical. Most of the Q people I know are protestant, and most protestants I know fit your description of evangelicals. I think you might be conflating “Protestant” with “mainline Protestant.” Mainline is a subgroup of Protestantism, and evangelicals are typically seen a separate subgroup. For instance, Methodists are usually considered to be mainline, and Southern Baptists are usually considered to be evangelical. That’s about where my knowledge stops, but I do know that some denominations have multiple strands, and it seems at least theoretically possible for different strands to be considered mainline vs evangelical, if their denomination’s shared governance/belief systems are pretty minimal.


frostyandpeddles

> I'm reminded of how Martin Luther was convinced the Devil was following him at every step. Who can say why. I suspect some people need to externalize evil. They need evil to be coming from out there, not in here. I came here because of a recommendation from the r/exchrisitian sub. I never understood how externalizing evil could be a better coping mechanism. It's a thousand times more terrifying, it's a total loss of control. Some paranoid Christians fear the devil constantly but have to reassure themselves that God's love is enough, yet they still doubt...


85_13

It's a really interesting question. Personally, I think that once you get the dawning realization of how revolting sin is, it makes a lot of sense to try to displace / project it all onto someone else. There's also a philosopher named Rene Girard who thinks that the "scapegoating" instinct follows logically from humans' covetousness.


wwaxwork

Evangelical Christians are actively taught not to trust their own thoughts but just to believe and have faith. It's the perfect breeding ground for this. They believe the bible is actually true, they are taught it is true, they go to bible studies where they go over every single bit of the bible until they believe every word. None of the QAnon stuff is any weirder than what is in the bible.


KatorTheDestroyer

Holy cow this describes my father perfectly.


dubiouscontraption

Yup. My mom just posted an image the other day about how coming to Christ gets rid of all your fears and bitterness... all the while still posting memes and rants just dripping with bitterness daily. Either Christ isn't the answer to all problems, or she isn't worshipping him anymore.


smacksaw

It's self-perpetuating. As a social person who thinks of others, I would never consider Evangelical Christianity. The idea of a selfish religion is abhorrent to me. People who are selfish are drawn towards things that validate and further enable their selfishness. EC not only draws them in, it puts them in a constant feedback loop. I've said this many times and it bears repeating because it needs to get out there: Your "personal" relationship with God. I grew up Catholic, Catholic school, Catholic Social Teaching - it's all learned. We had doctrine, we had common rules, and we had reason. These evangelicals twist and distort God and Jesus because they create Him in their own image. To suit themselves. There is no uniform dogma and what they believe is malleable. Say what you will on abortion or homosexuality with the Catholics - the alternative is the "do whatever the fuck you want"-ism of evangelicals. Not saying I agree with the Catholic church's stance. I don't. Just that I get that Catholic leadership realises that a common vision of God brings all Catholics together. ECs come up with a Jesus who isn't based on doctrine or anything real. It's relative to their wants, their desires, their prejudices. This gets you AR-15 Republican Jesus who hates homosexuals. "I can sin and it's okay" because...if you are your own God, you can offer yourself absolution. Jesus is whatever it means to you. There is no collective relationship to God. Only a personal one. And since it's personal, it's completely subjective since you write your own rules. No EC is gonna give a fuck what Catholics or Mormons say. They hate 'em. And if you know the Bible and quote it to them, it angers them because you are having scriptural dominion over someone who wants to do whatever they fuck they want. We really need to make this "personal relationship with God" thing a thing. It's absolutely insidious.


adriennemonster

I was also raised in Catholic school in a secular family and community, and my first first-hand experience with ECs came very recently with my boyfriend's parents. What struck me is how self-centered it all seems. You're right about everything being based on the personal relationship with God. The "evangelical" part is all about you as the individual being responsible for evangelizing and bringing everyone you know in to be "saved" or "born again." The idea is that you, simply by virtue of having that personal relationship with God (which can be whatever you say it is, as there's no outside metric at all) are qualified to speak on behalf of God and represent Him to others. Not only do you have a supposedly intimate one-on-one relationship with the creator of the universe, but you're compelled to represent him and speak on his behalf to anyone who will listen. For how much they talk about humility and bowing to God's will, it seems to be based around building up your own ego and imposing your will on others. You don't even really have to do anything "good" in life to help others, you just have to believe and get others to believe. Even going to Church, or any specific church, doesn't seem too important. Very much the opposite of Catholicism, which is all about The Church as this hierarchical institution and the saintly figures as a sort of massive heavenly bureaucracy, all which you as a lowly citizen have to navigate through and defer to in order to receive salvation. There's even specific stages and acts you have to progress through throughout your life to stay in good standing with God, i.e. the Sacraments. It's a lot less about what you believe as what you actively do, and what you belong to. I like to joke that Catholic school really mentally prepared me for all the bureaucratic hoops I'd have to jump through in life. It was very striking for me to see a form of Christianity which had a completely different worldview, and in some ways, a very different cultural outlook on life.


NobleExperiments

You're absolutely right, and this argument gives lie to the "Christian nation" claims. A person can be a Christian (ie, have a personal relationship with God), but an entire nation cannot - there's no "personal" there. Viewing the US as a "Christian nation" effectively eliminates anyone not sharing their views as not-really-American and therefore unworthy of consideration. How is this any different from groups like the Taliban? It's still a theocracy, not a democracy, no matter the religion or doctrine.


LizardOrgMember5

If the USA is a legitimate de facto theocracy, then it has the most fractured theology the nation can ever have.


Luccas_Freakling


NobleExperiments

How could I have forgotten that? One of my all-time favorite TV monologues, second only to Jed Bartlet on the West Wing tearing the TV evangelist a new one.


Luccas_Freakling

A Sorkin Fan? I see you're a person of culture as well.


froyodelights

EC is a very useful tool to political groups that wish to upend a certain political status quo because it essentially justifies their desire to tear everything down and start again. This is why the GOP has pandered to them. It’s political acid, it melts everything it touches and can be very effective at dissolving any existing bonds that would otherwise prevent people from destroying everything around them. However, the problem occurs when they’re now forced to come forward with any actual development of a new societal structure themselves. They don’t see any point and in fact the very idea of building anything to last is anathema to them. This is why their buildings are plain and utilitarian, they’re not interested in actually building anything that lasts. This is also why there is such a preoccupation with the Rapture, why would they waste their time on building anything in this world if they’re just going to be whisked away soon? It’s a mentality that desires to do nothing in this world except destroy it, and they utilize religion as their justification for simply wanting to see everything around them burned to the ground, which also explains their obsession with fire “purifying” the world around them. They don’t like the world. They want to see it destroyed, and politicians who aren’t in power, but wish to see themselves in power, are more than happy to use them as expendable pawns. This isn’t unique to Christianity, the ties to Islam are also there and we already see this behavior in suicide bombings and other terror attacks. The people in charge of them know it’s all bullshit (most evangelical leaders have gotten vaccinated, just a fun little observation), but they can’t give up the ruse to their congregations because then they’ll lose their own power.


braxy29

brief comment, from the child of an evangelical parent - keep in mind they do not see their viewpoint as selfish. they truly believe they are acting in your best interest when they attempt to "save" you. accepting another's choice not to follow their faith is accepting that person's damnation. loving you means forcing you to follow their path.


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shutupstan102

I completely agree with you, also brought up catholic. Now I just sprinkle a little bit of everything I like into my faith/spirituality.


TheRollingStoned22

very well said.


Wiffernubbin

They've literally hampered child sex trafficking investigations by flooding tip lines and whatnot with fake conspiracy bullshit like the Eveready or evergreen ship conspiracy. They actively do more harm than good.


OrdinaryGeekSF

Are there people who don’t believe in dinosaurs?


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Red0Mercury

Or they think god put them here as a test of our faith. I had a Christian school teacher tell me that in sixth grade. I laughed in her face. I mean come on


102bees

The best response I ever heard to that was "I do not worship a liar."


OrdinaryGeekSF

That damn Satan! He’s a trickster!


Lurking_Commenter

That damn Satan! He's an even more fantastic artist!


tempest51

He must be a dab hand at painting figures!


audiotripod4

Makes sense to me... /s


shutupstan102

My fiancé’s mom thinks I’m dumb for believing in evolution 😐. I was taken aback, like hhhwwhaaattt???? Excuse me??? I really just smile and nod, and keep my mouth shut. If I tried to reason with these people, because I am surrounded by them, I would be exhausted.


kosk11348

Young Earth Creationists claim that the Earth is less than 6,000 years old and any buried fossils are just animals that drowned in Noah's flood. Seriously.


sorchajuniper

But most still believe dinosaurs existed. Source: I was a young earth creationist and still follow the doings of the YEC community out of horrified fascination. There are a few smaller groups (some Jehovah's Witnessess, some Mormons, probably a few smaller fundamentalist Baptist groups, etc.) who think that dinosaur fossils are "tricks of Satan" or from another planet God used to make this planet, or the bones of giant humans, but those are in the minority.


Larrygorn

I remember watching the Bill Nye debate with the director of the Creationism Institute or some such. It was wild. Incredibly interesting but really out there.


matt_minderbinder

Ken Ham is the guy's name. He's the same dude that has the creationist museum and that weird Ark Encounter thing they built with government money down in Tennessee. Oddly enough they have dinosaurs on that ark and believe that the Noah character transported dinosaurs along with other animals on that ship. The mental gymnastics are amazing.


Larrygorn

Life...uhhh...finds a way.....


cozycorner

It's in KY. It sucks.


matt_minderbinder

Ahh yeah, KY, sorry.


sorchajuniper

My parents have been there. They loved it. My dad made me watch the documentary Ham made about the Ark. SIGH.


sorchajuniper

I met Ken Ham; somewhere there exists an autograph I got. He was not particularly friendly, even to a couple of kids who at the time thought he was SO COOL. I was about ten and was just like "Well that was uncomfortable." I never said anything about it to my brother or the rest of my family, but it stuck in my mind. It helped make the transition away from creationism easier.


BasiliaChopin

How did you cease to be YEC?


sorchajuniper

It's kind of a long story, but basically I was a science-loving kid who became a science-loving adult. I also love history and archeology. At a particularly rough period in my life I started comfort-binging the BBC show Time Team and learning about how dating methods really work. It was so clear that the archeologists on the show had no Anti-Bible Agenda and were just following the evidence, and I pretty quickly accepted that human history went back further than 6k years. After that, it was a domino effect. When I moved several states away from my family, I borrowed the book Darwin's Ghosts (HIGHLY recommend) on CD from the library since I didn't have a TV or internet, and that pretty much was it for me. It's a recounting of all the people BEFORE Darwin who had ideas similar to evolution, how they arrived at those conclusions, and how they influenced Darwin. Realizing that Darwin wasn't some evil bogeyman who set out to destroy Christianity because he hated God but was in reality a thoughtful, careful, compassionate person who respected his wife's faith was a huge moment. There are other things that helped, but those were the big ones.


BasiliaChopin

As somebody who was in and brought out by the beauty of a curious mind, I got to ask, people like Ken Ham who make YEC a whole science, do you think they are being sincere?


sorchajuniper

I think Ken Ham has put himself in a position where it no longer matters if he is sincere; it's the proverbial "wolf by the ears" situation. It would be nearly impossible for him to walk away at this point; his entire livelihood, reputation, social circle, and persona is wrapped up in it.


EmRaff7

My parents were some of those! I don’t remember much but they’d get in fights with other Mormons about dinosaurs. They probably thought dinosaurs were evil because I wasn’t allowed to learn about them (I was homeschooled). It’s weird, it’s real weird.


sorchajuniper

Isn't it silly, though? The idea of full grown adults getting in fights about dinosaurs. And yet, behold our childhoods. My partner has a degree in biology and another in anthropology; he once tried very gently to talk to my dad about how carbon dating actually works, saying "I don't want to convince you, just explain to you the actual process and what it is actually designed to do." My dad didn't want to hear it. Le sigh.


there_is_no_dana

I found out yesterday that there is a man in my fossil, gem and mineral club that believes the earth is 6,000 years old and that man and dinosaurs existed at the same time. The crazy is real.


Schweinfurt1943

He’s not the only one. My older sister believes that too. She literally believes the earth was created in 6 days, and the 7th is a day of rest. We haven’t spoken in over 5 years and I’m much better without her and her equally nut job husband. They started as fundamental evangelical Christian and just went down from there. Becoming Qucumbers was a logical step for them. They are both deep into it and will most likely be that way for the rest of their lives. The small church they attend believes in all this cult stuff too. I used to have a great family. Now, they’re all right wing, or Trumpist or Qucumbers. My nieces and one nephew seem to be ok, as I speak to them fairly often. My darling wife & best friend, ended up moving across the country to get away from all the craziness. In all honesty, we had retired early and needed to find a less expensive state to live in, but the complete undoing of my once great family was a big reason for the national distance. Can’t escape crazy, however. My new home state is filled with Qucumbers. 🤦‍♂️🤷‍♂️


MELODONTFLOPBITCH

damn, this is tragic. like i really feel you when you say you had a great family. (no sarcasm) would you mind sharing how things were before?


Larrygorn

Rural Illinois school district: my Jr. High science teacher gave us magazines to transcribe from to practice our typing. They were all Christian science content. The article I picked was about Biblical references to dragons explaining dinosaur fossils and how that means the fossil record is almost certainly wrong since humans and dragons coexisted. It was fun stuff but even then I was also swallowing some loss of respect for my science teacher. He also argued against evolution by saying a hairless ape would have been rejected by its peers and would not have been able to breed. Which, looking back, is a jaw dropping misrepresentation of natural selection and mutation.


_un_known_user

>He also argued against evolution by saying a hairless ape would have been rejected by its peers and would not have been able to breed. Which, looking back, is a jaw dropping misrepresentation of natural selection and mutation. That's the only way they can argue against evolution, by misrepresenting and strawmanning it. Specifically, they have to take one part out of context, so they can ridicule that one part as being illogical on its own. Pokémon certainly doesn't help with this.


Nonna420

Yes. My cousin wants to know how computers know how dinosaurs…. Were? Looked? I said -have you ever heard of fossils? They’ve found giant bones….? She said -I know that but a computer cannot know what they looked like. -ok well I don’t even know how to argue with this thought process. Even more mind blowing? She is as liberal as I am, identified as democrat, and isn’t religious or a Q believer. Just this one annoying thing about dinosaurs.


_un_known_user

By that standard, how can a computer know what a dog looks like...


dota2nub

I love that you call it a "standard" as if it were a reasonable basis for anything.


dota2nub

I mean she's right. A computer can't reconstruct a dinosaur from fossils or bones. It's artists representations. We recently found out that the velociraptors must've been covered in feathers. Guess our representations of them were indeed wrong.


Vampchic1975

Yes. There are. Usually people who think the earth is very young and that the Bible is 100% real.


AdmirableEqual6662

Yes! ugh.... my Q says "they're not mentioned in the Bible - so they never existed" {eyeroll emoji}


cozycorner

I had a college student say "We don't believe in dinosaurs," when I asked if they'd like a geology class for a science elective.


OrdinaryGeekSF

🤦🏽‍♂️


Cream253Team

Ran into a person recently who didn't think evolution is a valid theory or that fossils were real. There's never a shortage of people willing to trust their feelings over reality.


PM_ME_UR_COCKTAILS

Thank you for this, especially pointing out that ridicule just makes them entrench further and can help them reinforce their beliefs. It's easy to get snarky and mean, but rarely helpful.


SillyWhabbit

>Cults are like abusive boyfriends. By creating an us vs. them scenario, they isolate you away from your support system until you are completely reliant on the cult. Best explanation in a nut shell. Now if more people understood the mindset of a domestic violence victim.


ndnd_of_omicron

I work as a DV vict advocate and this is entirely true. One of the biggest factors is isolation from support networks -- I've heard so many times that an abuser has alienated the victim from the family or that they have put physical distance between them or limited contact through manipulation and threats. When my family went full qult, I remember being one of the first people to say "that's a cult". There is no logical rationale behind any of it. I literally showed my father a picture of Trump and Epstein (which we all know is very real) and he said it was 'shopped. It is a full disconnect from reality. It is isolating individuals from the truth and logic. I had described it to a friend as a form of contrarianism -- the need to be different. But looking at it as adversarial adds another level. Well put.


sweetpuddnbaby

It also isolates people from their families too. My dad has accepted and basically embraced his role in the family as the 'outcast' because of his 'beliefs'.


LizardOrgMember5

Innuendo Studios (Ian Danskin) made similar observations as well: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P55t6eryY3g https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e-MP_yOHiV0


BigbySamMelody

Pretty sure this is why vaccine shedding is becoming so big amongst them. It's another excuse to distance them from rational people.


erics75218

TIL not everyone thinks Qanon is a cult.


GalacticVaquero

Unfortunately many news outlets legitimize it, talking about it as if they’re just misinformed, but otherwise have a consistent political philosophy.


erics75218

We've normalized insanity. Doing.what I can to help but I'm just one dude....


dixiehellcat

well said. You went into exhaustive detail explaining what I've felt kinda intuitively--if you honestly believed what they think is going on, then you would act just as they do. If you really truly thought the darkest of evil was taking over your world, there's nothing you wouldn't do to stop it.


kkeut

that doesn't explain the virulent mean streak that runs through most of this. that's part of what makes this phenomenon unique I think, there's a nastiness to a lot of it


Whatdoyouseek

Yes there's quite a lot of sadism amongst them. I wonder if it's fear, or just a projection of their own self loathing. Like the virulent homophobia of some closeted gays.


Xiosphere

There's a nastiness to any isolating mindset. Like what OP was saying about trust; we're a social creature and any belief system stemming from erosion in the social trust is going to carry the hurt. Qanon is standout partially just for the medium it spread through, but more so because it is apparently enough in-line with the current political climate to gain something of 'mainstream' recognition. The unique position of Qanon is how starkly, and unusually, it highlights the latent fascism of this nation.


frostyandpeddles

Because a lot of Evangelicals want Judgmental Day to come already so that they are spirited up to Heaven while they happily look upon those gnashing their teeth according to St Thomas... The damned, before the judgment day, will see the blessed in glory, in such a way as to know, not what that glory is like, but only that they are in a state of glory that surpasses all thought. This will trouble them, both because they will, through envy, grieve for their happiness, and because they have forfeited that glory. Hence it is written (Wisdom 5:2) concerning the wicked: “Seeing it” they “shall be troubled with terrible fear.” After the judgment day, however, they will be altogether deprived of seeing the blessed: nor will this lessen their punishment, but will increase it; because they will bear in remembrance the glory of the blessed which they saw at or before the judgment: and this will torment them. Moreover, they will be tormented by finding themselves deemed unworthy even to see the glory which the saints merit to have (Summa Theologica, Supplement, q 98, art 9).


NastyToeFungus

This is a great summary and completely accurate. My 21-year marriage ended recently because my ex-wife had gotten in so deep to various conspiracy theories. Neither one of us could stand it any more. She started with Falun Gong six years ago, then added Qanon a few years ago. She used to be a moderate Democrat, then became a hard-right Trump supporter. Now she believes every single conspiracy theory you can think of... "9/11 was an inside job", chemtrails, sovereign citizens, anti-mask, anti-vax, etc. She absolutely lives in a different reality. You're also right about ridicule or criticism being used to give a sense of martyrdom. Falun Gong hammers this home repeatedly in their propaganda. They claim that their members are being organ harvested in China. It might even be true... no idea. I don't take anything Falun Gong says at face value. They use the propaganda techniques just like the Chinese government they claim to hate (see: Epoch Times, New Tang Dynasty Television), Regardless, they use the "organ harvesting" angle to play on people's empathy to make them feel like they're not suffering enough, and to feel that any suffering they have is inadequate. The end of our relationship probably made her feel better in that aspect... she can now truthfully say she abandoned her husband, kids, and friends for her beliefs. It's not as ghastly as organ harvesting, but now she has something she can hold up as something she did for the cult. It's really sad it came to this. She's an educated person... I don't know what void in her life drove her to these beliefs.


_un_known_user

>I don't take anything Falun Gong says at face value. They use the propaganda techniques just like the Chinese government they claim to hate (see: Epoch Times, New Tang Dynasty Television) Wait, the Epoch Times is backed by Falun Gong? It's my dad's favorite right-wing rag. I thought the FG were at least somewhat reputable as opponents of China, but now I can't trust either side. That's what's really frustrating about modern propaganda tbh. It's not trying to make people believe a lie, it's just trying to make them doubt the truth, and then nobody can offer any meaningful perspective.


qdouble

It’s a cult, but their believers are more politically motivated and more irrational than the typical cult. Most cults aren’t filled with members that randomly make up new delusional lies 24/7 that everyone else in the cult starts to believe. Most cults weren’t propped up for the sole purpose of pushing one politician.


Eco-Echo

QAnon is meant to undermine reason. Once you undermine reason, violence is possible, because the goal is to rip the system down, and replace it with white nationalism / fascism.


Poop_Noodl3

People think this is a political movement? I always thought these guys were a paint chip away from needing a social worker.


sneep_snopped

I've seen a lot of news coverage refer to it as a "movement" or just a "conspiracy theory" but I don't feel that captures the issue. It's important to think of it as a cult because of how cults operate. The title is more about our mindset in approaching QAnon. A lot of people unknowingly treat it like a political ideology by choosing to engage and debate with QAnons, but you're not going to get anywhere with someone when they're laws of reality are different than yours. By recognizing QAnon is a cult and treating it accordingly, you're doing yourself a favor and conserving your emotional labor.


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MrsMI1UCAN2

The kids on the short bus are usually nice kids who pose no harm to anyone. All the dumb screechy bullies were unfortunately always on the regular sized bus.


kosk11348

Tell me this doesn't sound like a Q-Anon: * Being defensive, hostile, and aggressive * Being easily offended * Believing you are always right and having trouble relaxing or letting your guard down * Not being able to compromise, forgive, or accept criticism * Not being able to trust or confide in other people * Reading hidden meanings into people’s normal behaviors \- *Symptoms of Paranoia* from WebMD [https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/why-paranoid](https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/why-paranoid)


Horses_not_zebras

Qlogic: Just because you are paranoid doesn't mean they aren't really out to get you.


trimyster

[Nirvanalogic](https://youtu.be/bm6Iz-I5OmQ)


TheOriginalXally

This is my Qbrother, to a T. What scares me is that paranoid delusions run in his family (he's my half-brother), and he's always sort of shown signs of it, but NOTHING like he has since Q hit and picked him up very early on.


kosk11348

One way to think about the qanon phenomenon is to consider it a kind of induced paranoia. Obviously people who are already prone to paranoia are easy victims, but there are stories of otherwise stable people completely changing personalities in a very short time. Watching those Q videos both excites and frightens them initially, but eventually they fall into a fear trap and need constant reassurance and denial to maintain. I am sorry to hear about your brother.


Larrygorn

I would be a little wary of trying to do WebMD diagnosis. There's a reason the American Psychiatric Association frowns on making statements about the mental health of people who are not under that doctor's care. These things can be extremely contextual, we're often piecing these diagnosis together out of cherry picked observations, and mental illness is kind of "norm relative." Because our politics are beginning to function as cultures or have politicized the subcultures within the country (take your pick) the cultural norms of someone who is likely to be in QAnon are already diverging from what I'm guessing a lot of us think of as normal and mainstream. Based on a lot of the stories told here, it wouldn't surprise me at all if there was a significant overlap of mental illness and QAnon, especially given how traumatic just existing in our hyper polarized nation already was and then throw a pandemic on top of it that whether people believed in it or not, created a new normal that diverged sharply in some ways from what people had been accustomed to.


kosk11348

Paranoia is not a diagnosis, it is a symptom. And I am not saying all Qs are mentally ill. Still, you'd have to be blind not to see the parallels.


smacksaw

Ok, so many years ago, I wore a different hat of MCT/network architect/etc and my mentor was...amazing. He worked around the world. One story that really sticks with me was Africa. He said that when they installed electricity in buildings there, the network engineers didn't get it. Their kids got it. But the people there *doing* the network who grew up without electricity literally could not understand the network itself. It's like that tribe in South America that has no concept of counting - you can't teach them, either. I study psychology and linguistics and there's a lot of people who think there are specific times where you need to learn something or it just won't get learned...or come out strange. My mentor was proof of that. How do you teach people to run a network when they can't understand electricity? Ultimately, they got that "you patch this here and it connects there", but they could not *ever* understand "why". They could be taught to do it. And they did. But the theory stuff we had to teach? Was never gonna happen. And he said it was okay. You don't need to understand the inverter in your adapter for your phone in your car to know to charge it. You just need to know if you have USB or Lightning or whatever. The reason people are susceptible to cults, at least in my hypothesis, is that they missed many "golden periods" of development. Then, as they get older, they get hit FUD: Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt. They are simply not equipped to handle it. The issue is that unlike these African network engineers who were humble and wanted to learn and admitted their limitations, these cultists are selfish, arrogant, narcissistic, and cruel. And that's because our culture values those things. Not to get too IT, but there's a reason "Ubuntu" is named Ubuntu. You see religious cults and intolerance appearing in Africa due to evangelicals. We aren't just sending our religion, we're sending our fear and selfishness as well. It is the worst and most insidious form of colonialism there is. Trump did the same thing and so has every firebrand preacher before him.


MrsMI1UCAN2

It's an internet-based cult. Their version of the internet is their God and Q is the prophet. Thank you for this post, really made me reconsider the concept of fake news. I thought of that stuff as the extreme right wing sites but now I see that you mean people have been weaned off of fake news ... aka the theater of nothing you can trust. Really interesting.


bobbycolada1973

Great breakdown. ​ I'll add that a major ingredient are those little bits of truth. That's what empowers a cult.


tietight

Many valid points! Thank you.


sneep_snopped

Glad it resonated!


horse_loose_hospital

I don't mean any disrespect or dismissal of your very well thought out & presented post, but...I thought it was already a fairly agreed upon concept that it's a cult...?? I don't actually ever recall hearing it referred to as an ideology. I also don't own a TV & get pretty much the entirety of my news from reddit, Twitter & various journalism sites (AP, Guardian, WaPo, etc) so I could easily have missed its being referred to as such.


sneep_snopped

It's consistently referred to as a "conspiracy" on news programs which is true-ish, but it's important to call it by name because that impacts how we approach and react to it. A conspiracy is just a belief, but a cult is a whole other level of indoctrination, shunning, de-programming, etc. Additionally, even if many people here know it as a cult, I see a lot of people unknowingly treat it like a political ideology. Logic doesn't work with cult members. You can't debate with QAnon members because you're not going to get anywhere with it.


tippiedog

> I thought it was already a fairly agreed upon concept that it's a cult As we're seeing in the comments, many people aren't aware of this. Many others need a reminder. Even people I know who are well educated, understand cults, have good critical thinking skills, etc. still make offhand comments about how Qers must be "stupid", etc.


sneep_snopped

100%. Cult members aren't universally stupid or afflicted with mental illness. There are so many people with mental illnesses that are out there, living their best non-culty lives. I get frustrated with the causal ableism that pops up here because it just adds to the stigma of mental illness and distracts from the greater issues at hand. It's easy to dismiss QAnoners as "stupid," but it's difficult to break down complex cult psychology so we can help curb the spread.


young_coastie

Yes. Everyone here should read [The Cult of Trump](https://www.amazon.com/Cult-Trump-Leading-Explains-President/dp/1982127333/ref=nodl_) by Steven Hassan. It really helped me deal with these people with much less emotion.


black_rose_

The admins should pin this post, it's great


NoodlesrTuff1256

Gets my vote 1000%! Pin it!


frostyandpeddles

yes


grahamlester

Some cult members are very intelligent. Bobby Fischer joined a cult, for instance.


Further0n

I appreciate the point that ridiculing anybody, especially people captured by a cult (or a domestic abuse victim), is non-productive. I'd add that it's just a good point to avoid resorting to meanness and belittling of anyone. We could all benefit from being reminded of that these days. But you don't really say what does work with the QAnon cult members. Belittling doesn't, I get that. Trying to logic them out it also rarely makes a dent and is exhausting, as you point out. But what is productive, constructive, helpful, or at least not compounding the damage? And here, I'm talking about responding to Qultists that are both close and not close to us, neighbors, co-workers, bosses, fellow parishioners, store owners, fellow patrons, whomever? What should we do about them? What can we do about them? They're toxifying and shredding the fabric of society everywhere, creating huge openings for authoritarian and kleptocratic opportunists (beyond the golden calf/recent president). We can't just ignore them and hope they go away.


UnknownCitizen77

The most productive thing a person can do is to work to counter the negative affects of their behavior and actions. Support causes that counter Qs politically, socially, monetarily, etc. Don’t waste your time and energy trying to reason with the unreasonable - build coalitions with likeminded people, reach out to those on the fence, and work around the stubborn regressives in order to get things done.


sneep_snopped

I kind of address why I didn't cover this at the end of the post, but essentially my focus here was to go into how cult mindset works and how it applies to QAnon. Other people in this group have provided some great resources and I encourage you to search for those posts. I also recommend looking into websites for those with loved ones in cults.


ricketycricketspcp

I think your point that people can't leave a cult until they have decided to do so for themselves is a really important one. The best we can really do is (if it is safe for us to do so) offer a safe space outside of the cult for them to return to when they're ready. In the meantime, the best thing you can do is continue to live your life and try to show that you are not "evil" just because you are part of society. When the cult-members decide for themselves that they are ready to leave the cult, support groups such as r/reqovery can help. I'm mentioning that sub specifically because it is the only ex-Q group I know of, and it will only be effective if it isn't a ghost town or an alternative to this sub. (I just want to leave a note for whoever sees this that reqovery is for people recovering from QAnon to receive support, not for people to ask ex-Q believers how to get through to their Q loved ones. Posts like that are why this sub is here. I'm saying this because posts of that kind actively dilute reqovery and reduce its effectiveness. We have actively received complaints from ex-Q followers about posts of this nature, and ex-Q followers have left that sub because of posts of that nature. r/Reqovery is not supposed to be r/qanoncasualties2).


Satan_Prometheus

Qanon is definitely a cult, but it's becoming more than a cult - it's on the verge of becoming a bona fide religion. Many (not all, but many) religions are just cults that survived the death of their initial cult leader. Islam? Christianity? Yeah, those were both basically cults when they started out. Qanon is a little different than a traditional cult in the sense that they are a parasocial cult where the leader (Trump) is not necessarily trying to guide the cult, but they all assume he is in charge and view him as their leader so it operates like a cult in many ways. The reason that I say it's "on the verge" of becoming a religion is that, though Trump is of course still alive, the cult has already started using magical thinking in order to maintain their illusion that he is still in power and guiding the "good guys" against the cabal. This is not really that different than, for example, the Resurrection. They're also following "Resurrection logic" in a much more literal sense with the seemingly widespread belief that JFK Jr. is still alive. Taking this stuff into account, it seems to me that there is more than enough precedent already established for Qanon to find ways to continue follow Trump/claim he's still in power/claim he's still alive even after he gets arrested (which seems increasingly likely these days) and even after he's dead. Conclusion: Qanon isn't going anywhere.


ThereforeIAm_Celeste

I so want to see Trump go to prison, but I so fear that this will make him even more of a martyr to his followers.


ricketycricketspcp

>parasocial cult where the leader (Trump) is not necessarily trying to guide the cult Holy shit, this is a really good point. I wonder if QAnon would even be able to arise as a phenomenon in a society that doesn't encourage parasocial relationships to the extent that ours does.


Luccas_Freakling

>Qanon is a little different than a traditional cult in the sense that they are a parasocial cult where the leader (Trump) is not necessarily trying to guide the cult, but they all assume he is in charge and view him as their leader so it operates like a cult in many ways. So... A little less "The life of Christ", a little more ["The life of brian"](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DBbuUWw30N8) ​ Just... less humble, intelligent and... well... a GOOD PERSON.


CarlJH

This is well written, thanks for posting it. ​ >..they aren't shamed out of their beliefs: they double-down. Ridicule can actually be enticing for cult members because it 1) lets them demonstrate their faith, 2) suffering for the cause is seen as an act of courage to other members, and 3) the other cult members will surround you with support and comfort. The way I see it is the act of taking on the crazy beliefs of the cult is a "Trust Fall."


allhopeisgone87

Yes, I agree that Q Anon is a cult. However, I don’t think we can deny that this cult is infiltrating one political party in the US at an alarming rate. Almost every person I know that associates themselves with this party believes in at least one conspiracy connected to Q Anon.


sneep_snopped

There isn't any denying that and I've seen the same thing in my own circle of acquaintances. The Republican party is in a unique spot of either disavowing these conspiracies and ripping itself in half, or letting the burning train continue to charge forward. There has been some tearing lately (like congresswoman Liz Cheney being voted out after voicing opposition to Trump) but with Mitch McConnell's opposition to the January 6th investigation, I anticipate that we're going to be dealing with this for a while. I will also add that QAnon is spreading through New Age-ish stuff in traditionally blue areas. Alternative health is one area in particular that's been targeted, especially through Facebook groups and algorithms. If you're a part of a yoga page, you might be recommended to join a non-GMO group, then an essential oils group where "Big Pharma" is villainized, then an anti-vax group. Algorithms can't differentiate between cults. The more effective algorithms are programmed, the more likely they are to launch you from fringe groups into extremist ones. This also applies to gun-groups, the alt-right, incel groups, etc. Part of what makes QAnon attractive is that it is so flexible. It absorbs every other conspiracy out there and tells you it's all because of a deep state cabal. These aren't new conspiracies either: Bill Cooper was talking about a Jewish deep state in the 80's. He got his ideas from "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion" which was circulated throughout the US and Nazi Germany and helped lead to the rise of anti-Semitism. There are old churches in Europe with stained glass windows of rabbis eating babies. There's one sort of centralized ideology of Q, but everything else is a buffet of conspiracy.


allhopeisgone87

I feel like a lot of Republican leaders are adopting Q beliefs (whether they actually believe them or not), backing Trump, and using this cult to its advantage. I feel like Q IS now a part of political ideology. If Q is pulling liberals from other communities (the wellness community, let’s say), I don’t feel that these people will continue to have liberal beliefs. A big part of Q is them believing that democratic leaders are evil. Edit to add: I just feel the whole reason this cult is so dangerous is because of its deep ties to politics, and I think it would be a grave mistake to not take that highly into account.


sneep_snopped

It's definitely important to take both into consideration.


NoodlesrTuff1256

The infiltration into the arenas of the New Age/Alternative Health/Yoga/Crunchy movements is one of the more insidious aspects. Many people who go in for this sort of thing tended to trend more 'blue' politically in the past and now, because of Q, they're finding common cause with gun-toting, racist, far-militia types that they would have shunned in the past. And vice versa. They say that politics makes for strange bedfellows sometimes. Well, so do overarching conspiracy cults take absorb everything including the kitchen sink.


CatrapointsTransbian

At this point, it also might make people like Liz Cheney into Democrats because there's no political home other than the Democrats if you don't believe QAnon lies. When ardent conservatives are turned into Democrats because of a tinfoil conspiracy theory, what does that say about QAnon?


erinkp36

Yes, that’s correct. You can’t get someone out of a cult until they see it’s a cult for themselves. It’s the same exact thing when someone is in a narcissistic relationship, whether it’s with a narc friend or a narc romantic partner. Your friends and family can tell you over and over that you’re being taken advantage of, and lied to, etc etc. But until your eyes are opened on your own, you’ll defend that person forever. So what do we do about it? There are way too many people in this cult to just say “they will have to figure it out on their own”. It’s getting dangerous. People are doing some really weird things out there.


Jewish-Jungle

This is such a great explanation. I never understood how people believed this crap but then I look at things like Scientology or Jonestown.


FaisalAli_91

Very well explained, sneep\_snopped! I'd actually mix the two titles together: QAnon is a *political cult.* It's a *cult* for all the reasons you described so well. But it's also very *political* because it is your politicians who are *using* QAnon to grow a loyal base they can leech off for cash and votes. Remember: The Republican Party are openly embracing QAnon conspiracies and making it a central part of their platform. "The Storm! The Pedophiles! Rigged elections!" Frankly it's all blurring together as Trump's repetitive lies and bullying of conservatives has given him an iron grip on the entire political party. The Republican Party are pandering to the conspiracy-theorists because *Trump* is a conspiracy-theorist - and QAnon-followers are incredibly loyal *voters* for Trump and the Republican Party (if they make Trump happy). So those Members of Congress who work for you and every American citizen (even if you didn't vote for them) are using social media conspiracies to radicalize your communities so they can make money off them through donations based on conspiracies. And then their President - the PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA - assembled the mob of QAnon believers and unleashed them on the Capitol like a pack of wild dogs for explicit political violence. The Republican Party and Fox News spread lies and fiction to radicalize your family members and communities - and then Trump incited them in a pack mixed with White Supremacist Militias in a joint-terrorist attack specifically to stop a Constitutionally-mandated act. That's fucked up, if you ask me. And the Republican Party are still pandering to these conspiracy-addled people because it makes them money. The Republicans are raising record amounts of donations off these conspiracies about the "rigged election," and they're spreading excess suspicions about vaccines too which is very dangerous to all of us. Remember, QAnon are *Trump-voters*. They are all *pro-Trump*. They seem to be swayed to whatever paranoid fantasy Trump puts in front of them. And they vote for him consistently in large numbers. And this fever-dream of paranoia and conspiracy is having real-world political and human costs. We know Russian and Chinese agents are using social media to spread QAnon lies and conspiracies that are specifically targeted at our fundamental systems: Our elections, our Constitution, our public health orders, masks and vaccines. QAnon is weaponized disinformation - and also a political cult, that feeds on people's uncertainties with blatant lies and distortions that are sabotaging our countries from the inside. To my mind, it is a crying shame that millions of Americans will not get the vaccine because they believe it will mutate their DNA like "X-Men." There are real risks and rewards to every drug. But clearly these QAnon people are being bombarded with bad information that are susceptible to deliberate manipulation by bad actors. I suspect QAnon aren't the only people getting radicalized by social media - but QAnon is unique because it has become very political in America. That is the problem you face - but also maybe an opportunity. Remember that every Member of Congress works for America, even if you didn't vote for them. They're answerable to you. Their phone numbers and contacts are public record. They are spreading Trump's lies and feeding these QAnon-people delusions. The pain you are all experiencing is being profited off by your politicians - the people you chose to serve and defend the Constitution. And they all failed and broke their oaths and are total traitors to their country and democracy. QAnon is being used by the Republican Party to raise donations of fake grievances and conspiracies. Because it's easier to convince people climate change is a "liberal hoax" than it is to actually fix the problem. And that's what makes this so unique and sad. YOUR OWN GOVERNMENT is using QANON to radicalize your families for POWER and PROFIT. And then their President sent his QAnon followers on a direct attack of the nation's Capitol. This QAnon thing is like ANTI-REALITY. It's total bananas cookoo. It's based on people's legitimate concerns and beliefs - but fills the holes in knowledge with deliberate lies and distortions like a poison.


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FaisalAli_91

Sure sure, definitely a cult. I'm just so mad that it's the US Government that is spreading this Trump Cult. QAnon is weaponized disinformation. They're trying to convince millions of Americans not to trust the government and get the vaccine - meaning the virus will mutate and evolve and bounce back on the rest of us. QAnon is a weapon, a political tool, and a money-making scheme. And definitely a cult too.


Ohwahtagusiam

This should be a sticky. Well said.


totalitariansquid

This explains why FB is a losing battle.


notyourstranger

I suspect so much of it is wishful thinking. We hear stories that Trump will cancel mortgages, that everybody will get a million dollars and such. THAT is what people are desperate for - economic relief. They don't understand the economy - lack of education - they don't understand that this economy does not reward hard work but exploits hard working Americans. They desperately want to believe that they are the good ones and they will get what they are due. I saw an interview with a CIA agents once and she explained that everybody thinks they are the good guys - doesn't matter if they are terrorists or criminals - they justify their actions so they come out on top - it's part of the human condition.


NoodlesrTuff1256

Yeah, while 'Q' supporters get stereotyped as right-wingers, a lot of this stuff about cancelling mortgages, debt and 'owning' those evil corporations and bankers would resonate with a lot of left-leaning people. A lot of 'Qs' and Trump supporters once voted for Obama and Bernie Sanders. So the concept of a massive financial reset that really sticks it to the 'Man' (defined as these Satanic elites) is very seductive especially in these economically-uncertain times. Many mainstream institutions (government, the press, Wall Street, Big Business, Big Pharma, medical-industrial complex) *have been* guilty of any number of nefarious actions through the years. Of course, they've done a lot of good things as well. But the conspiracy seizes on only the bad actions and that's the camel's nose poking under the tent, the wedge that converts people over to the conspiracy cult.


Crazhy_Lie

I literally saw a guy in Jackson Wyoming yesterday wearing a shirt that said "Don't let your fear and common sense get the better of you." I was thinking what the fuck does that even mean for a good 10 minutes.


Many_Rough_4578

My wife is wrapped up into Q 100%. I realize I can only choose whether to live with it or not. I've given up trying to break her out of it. I just ignore her when she brings it up. Honestly I just hope she gets tired of it all eventually.


NoodlesrTuff1256

In my case, my husband is the Q-person and I've more or less adopted the approach you just described in dealing with it. He had me watch a couple of anti-vaxx videos by people who weren't explicit Q-types, but probably agree with most of the tenets and political attitudes of the movement. When my response to them was less than enthusiastic, he gave up and hasn't pushed any propaganda on me for about three weeks now. At least, he'll watch shows on Netflix and Roku with me that have nothing to do with Q stuff. And we've gone out and done things now that the Covid restrictions are loosening. Again, normal stuff -- no Q rallies or anything else of the kind. However, I know he still watches videos on these fringe YouTube-style streaming platforms. I just keep my mouth shut and like you with your wife, I hope that he either gets bored with it all or otherwise disillusioned.


ResponsibleBasil1966

I am an ex substance abuser and there was something uniquely comforting about being in a room with other people doing the same secretive thing and love bombing each other creating a strange familial experience. When I finally went into rehab I mourned that connection as much as the drug itself. I see a similar pattern with the Q phenomenon. A like or upvote is basically a virtual high five or pat on the back so when they are scrolling and commenting for hours and hours getting all these high fives it's addictive. Add in the free flowing hate and anger which is also addictive and they are stuck in a nice warm mud pit that they can't crawl out of if they wanted to.


Larrygorn

Mathew Remski is that you? (I kid, but it definitely looks like you're a fellow Conspirituality podcast listener which I credit to helping me understand the phenomenon in a more compassionate way.) Your commentary is very on the nose. Let me just add a few things from an information science perspective as its something I've been studying a lot lately. We live in a world where information is heavily decontextualized. Which means that its divorced from its origins. In academia and professional journalism we tend to know very little about the person who is informing us about this, that, or the other thing. This is by design. We have a cultural norm that information should stand on its own and too much hyperbole, personality or other human traits make us suspicious that someone is trying to play on our emotions to persuade of us something. Except for some people this backfires. Lets be real here. The Qs are maybe 5% right about media. It has made some catastrophic errors of group think. The build up to the second Iraq War for example. Journalists are people. They labor within systems of incentives, disincentives and human frailties. There can be a powerful desire to not rock the boat and powerful network effects when all your colleagues are saying things like "Saddam Hussein needs to go!" "Iraq has WMDS!" "Iraq did 9/11!" you don't want to look stupid if they're all right and you're wrong and you don't want to be in conflict with your friends and peers whom you respect and tend to think are probably pretty smart people. Politicians and other powerful figures will often use access and exclusivity as a means of coercion. So yes, there are problems with the media but they're problems with capitalism and humanity, not George Soros astroturfing a pandemic where none exists. Pharma also has its problems. The opioid epidemic didn't come from nowhere. The impersonality of medical care and the feeling of being a customer not a patient or sometimes being treated as if you ARE a patient and a whiny loser one at that. These didn't come from nowhere either. They are the products of different problems in our society. A good lie has a little truth in it which is what helps it sink its claws in. The Qs aren't fully divorced reality, they're living in a hyper reality. An exaggerated reality. So returning to media, the bloodlessness of it is there to prevent suspicion but because of this very intentional neutrality, knowing that the media does get some things wrong, it can backfire and cause affected neutrality to read as something nefarious. This is where parasocial relationships come into play. We're social creatures. Because we're social creatures, ideas with the right social cues are really powerful. Especially when we're receiving ideas in such a way as to make it feel like a participatory conversation. This is why Day Time talk shows like Oprah, talk radio like Limbaugh, nightly editorial shows like Tucker Carlson, podcasts, YouTube videos with a stream of consciousness delivery - this is why they're so powerful. We bond with the host. We connect with them, empathize with them, and it breaks down our barriers to being resistant to any dissonant ideas they push. Now to get a wee bit conspiratorial, I think this is where the difference in the left and right media ecosystems comes into play. More people in the left have college degrees than not. More people on the right do not have college degrees than do. As a consequence, the left is more deeply attached to the affected neutrality of mainstream news and scholarly publications. Call it a left cultural norm if you prefer. It might also be innate too in that a preference for this sort of learning attracts people to academia. Chicken or egg. Who knows really? The right is more likely to attend church or self identify as being extremely religious. I bring this up not to mock religion. Not at all. I bring it up because it means that through church services the right is engaging more intimately and intentionally with the human storytelling tradition. As often as weekly or biweekly its not unlikely that someone on the political right is receiving something that is like a lecture but with more texture, more flavor, more dynamism. They are being spoken to directly in a way that is far more personal and intimate than watching TV or reading the CDC website. Now again, its not religion's fault. The country just elected (or did it..... sorry bad joke) a devout Catholic with a strong humanitarian impulse and is about as wedded to academic expertise as it gets. What it all means is that unscrupulous or unstable people can weaponize parasocial relationships - our very desire to be in community with other people - and weaponize many of the traits of American fundamentalism - like the belief in an imminent reckoning between good and evil and that evil is not just a way of describing inhumane or immoral acts but a force unto itself. QAnon got started before COVID-19 but it exploded when we all went home and sat in front of our computers. What happened? Well it sure looks like the relationships and community people found in Churches, Lodges, quilting circles, poker games etc. were forced to become virtual and less tangible. Flatter. No more or less substantial than YouTube, Facebook, Instagram or any other medium that the Cult Leader - Priests of QAnon have been able to get their message out. So there's nothing about QAnon believers that requires them to be dumb or evil or racist, they have had their need for connection used against them.


cozycorner

Maybe not, but many, MANY of them are downright mean and nasty to a ridiculous degree.


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rgordill2

“Bro, people who believe in ghosts have more evidence than QANON. Give it up.”


eight13atnight

This should be required reading for anyone seeking advice on how to deal with a Q-Anon indoctrinated family member.


NobleExperiments

Brilliant analysis, and thanks.


MidwestBulldog

It definitely has more characteristics of a religion than a political ideology.


WillFightForFood

Thank you so much for this post. You put into words a lot of things I've been trying to say when it comes to people who have cult-like beliefs in things, whether they are religious, political, or other.


dazl1212

Lots of antivaxxers and by extension Q-people believe that "germ theory" is another conspiracy.


cozycorner

Great post. English majors for the win! I, too, teach ENG 101 from time to time. It is heavy lifting in the current environment to try to teach about how to find credible sources since "credibility" is what anyone wants it to be, apparently, and pandering to cognitive bias is the norm. I live in the Bible Belt. I'm liberal. I was raised Southern Baptist and I'm now Episcopalian (which is the sanest, most logical, most caring Christian community I've come across, with aspects of both mainline and Catholic Christianity). Evangelicals have lost their way. They have completely swallowed the lies of the GOP and Trump and FOX. They would curse me, their friend and neighbor, for being a "librul" and not the right kind of Christian, but trust a guy who poops on a golden toilet to be the savior of the people. I've seen and heard so much sick stuff in the last decade that I despair for humanity. Truly. I have an ex-friend who I thought was sane who is now posting "prophecies." She says she's not Q, but all her stuff "from the Lord" is still repackaged conspiracy popularized by Q. She honestly thinks God is telling her things that shall come to pass, and she's Vaguebooky about it, but it sounds like the pedophilia/military tribunals/Great Reset/gold standard mishmash of current conservative conspiracy theories. I'm exhausted. This goes so far beyond politics that I don't think there's any cure.


stubbyphillips

" I've taught this in English 101 classes and I understand it's importance." Um...


Unknown_Ocean

Because teaching beginning college composition (which is in many universities really a critical thinking course) is an eye-opening way to learn how ignorant many students are on a variety of topics, and how badly they suck at doing research to remedy this ignorance.


stubbyphillips

I was referring to the apostrophe.


maskGoatUltimate654

That's completely irrelevant. But, also, funny.


Unknown_Ocean

OK... that is funny....


cozycorner

If you knew how many times English profs have to read common mistakes, you'd understand why it's too easy to make them from time to time.


blutfink

Caught another one: extant > extent.


_fillory_clinton_

Thank you thank you thank you. I understand the need to vent for a lot of people here, but I'm so tired of seeing people say that Qanon followers are stupid or mentally ill. Perfectly intelligent, chemically-balanced and neurotypical brains join cults ALL THE TIME. I really believe it could happen to anyone.It's so important that we understand the why and how so that 1. mentally ill people aren't further characterized in a negative way even more than they already are and 2. we are actually effective in deprogramming cult thinking and behavior.


DelmarSamil

I remember a while back, there was a documentary by national geographic on, the science of evil. Basically, evil is a cultural belief. What one believes as evil, say the killing of elder people of a tribe, is simply a cultural norm for the ones that believe in it. They did it because after a person got so old, they could not longer contribute to the community and thus were given a grand send off to some diety and buried with respect. So the belief that society is a construct is spot on. The differences are that sometimes you get questions that there is no real right answer. Depending on your cultural view is what seems best at the time. I will give an example question I seem to remember...keep in mind, you may only choose from the set of choices from the data you are given. You and your family (spouse, teen, new baby, and grandparents) decide to move to some very remote third-world country (Uganda or some such). You live there for a while and you and your family have become friendly with the neighboring villagers as well as the village center in which you go to purchase various goods to help you survive. One day, while you and your family are at the general store getting items you need, you hear a commotion outside. You look and see people running and troops coming, shooting people randomly as they advance. You know nothing about them except you hear some of the others saying it is a nearby opposing dictator taking land. The shop owner quickly escorts you, your family, and a number of your new friends, into a hidden area of the shop. He says be quiet and we may live. As the troops come in and begin looting the store, your newborn baby begins to cry. 1. Do you suffocate the baby with your own body, so that everyone else may live? 2. Do you let the baby cry because you couldn't commit such an act to an innocent? Choose one. I still remember it because it was so powerful a concept that it made me look at why people do what they do and why some people think the way they do. Always fascinated me and is why I enjoy reading on psychology now.


NoodlesrTuff1256

A little off-topic, but that example of killing the elder people of a tribe immediately reminded me of the film "Midsommar". With Qanon, could we be heading for Midsommar or Jonestown-type situations on a massive scale? Excellent comment, by the way. It's easy to condemn other cultures of the present and past until you are thrown in an impossible situation. Like the example of the overloaded lifeboat.


CatrapointsTransbian

I expect Alex Jonestown


frostyandpeddles

I'm obsessed with this post and thread.


bunnyjenkins

Very well said. >*Trying to convert QAnoners by using our logic will often just leave you frustrated and drained.* Pretty sure lots of people are so flustered by this. How else do you debate or convince someone without logic or facts. I know I am lost for what to do, and thank you for setting a good frame of mind


capilot

This is a fantastic essay, and I hope it's reposted widely.


Qidiots

They should be handled no different than drug addicts. Their behavior is identical; I have had experiences with both.


Helldozer5000

I had a disagreement in this very subreddit with someone who was framing it as "just a political belief". I suspect we have quite a few undercover Qs that frequent this sub.


chaoticmessiah

Yep. I'm always saying that originally, it was just 4channers involved who then dismissed it as bullshit when the first prediction failed to come true. Then, Tracy Diaz and Coleman Rogers - who have been grifting for years - went on InfoWars and RT, widely popular with conspiracy theorists, to recruit when they picked it up to make money. The fact that evangelicals flocked to their Q subreddit first was the icing on the cake, because they're ready to hand money over for anything they're told to believe in (see pastors like Joel Osteen, who preach the Bible but become multi-millionaires from donations coming in from their congregation) and quick to spread the word to others. That's how it grew. Right-wing evangelicals will always believe anything they're told, and donate their life savings to it.


sassy_cheddar

>When cult members are ridiculed, they aren't shamed out of their beliefs: they double-down. Ridicule can actually be enticing for cult members because it 1) lets them demonstrate their faith, 2) suffering for the cause is seen as an act of courage to other members, and 3) the other cult members will surround you with support and comfort. Given that most people who join cults do so because of isolation, loneliness, fear, and desperation, this sort of rush of conflict, then comfort, can be extremely addicting. It might even be their only human contact. Your words are so helpful for me as a framework. It reminds me a bit of Nora Wood's exploration of Jonestown, looking at the social and economic factors that fed it and that the people involved were making decisions that seemed completely rational to them/ Qanon has exploited and encouraged certain political leaders to play hard to fear and desperation fueled by changing changing demographics and changes in economic markets. It comforts them to be told they're special and that the world should be what they want it to be. Many at Jonestown claimed their time there as the happiest in their lives (not to compare the racial issues faced by many Jonestown members to white fright).


frostyandpeddles

The interesting this is that Q is fragmented. It's online, which makes it incredibly isolating. I think a lot of people used to be drawn to cults because of the need to belong to something and feel personally special. I wonder if the people who would normally be joining weird cults in large numbers are just typing madly away in a basement somewhere now.


sassy_cheddar

My mom has been addicted to the internet and oddball streams of it, since we got dial-up in the late 90's, at the expense of personal connection with everyone immediately around her. She's struggled with unhealed childhood trauma, isolation, and growing health issues for a long time and just stopped working at one point. She had a lot of the boxes checked to be vulnerable to cultic ideologies. I think it does help her feel like she's connected and part of something bigger and provides a sense of order and purpose to her world while not needing to leave her comfort zone. It's pseudo-connection but it fills a void for someone who has been short on real connection for decades. Trying to fall farther from the tree myself and finally started therapy. I'd been putting in better boundaries before that, but it's really nice to have professional support and to feel like choosing a different path is a viable option.


frostyandpeddles

For sure, I'm so glad you are working on freeing yourself for that cycle. It can be done, even if it means moving and finding new people!


stephoswalk

>**Anyone can end up in a cult if they're desperate enough.** I think this needs to be emphasized. Yes, that includes you. In fact, you don't have to be that desperate, just being lonely is enough. How do I know? I was raised in a cult and I saw how my parents, and other people like them, were sucked in and kept in. Thank you for posting this because I've wanted to say something similar myself but just didn't know exactly where to begin.


soverignkh

This is the most succinct and well-written explanation I have read so far. Thank you. I wish I had an award to give you.


powerje

Yep, they need mental health help and deprogramming.


CatrapointsTransbian

QAnon is frankly both, it's a cult of personality built around Trump.


NoodlesrTuff1256

The question is, if Trump drops dead tomorrow, then who takes his place as hero/savior for them? Or do they believe that he is not truly dead and that he's running around somewhere with John Kennedy Jr.?


angelorphan

Thank you for great post. Though,as a Japanese,I wonder what is happening to our people.(Thankfully,my family is safe.I worried about my sister initially) They say Trump will save Japan (WTF)There are white supremacists despite most of Japanese are Asians.There are those kind of people inside LDP.I'm getting tired.


big_ringer

What you say makes a lot of sense, and this is a fight on many fronts. Deradicalizing/deprogramming is one of them... But it is **ONLY** one. I no longer have the time or patience to try to convince these people the error of ways. For those of you who has a family member or friend that's into Q-Anon, and you think you can get through to them, I wish you the best of luck. But sometimes you just gotta cut your losses.


MegaTreeSeed

In a tangential note, here are a few videos from a YouTube channel called film theory that talk.aboyt how cults work and recruit members. It may seem silly, but he uses familiar things to explain and teach about complex topics. Mattpatt may not be an expert about cults, but an introduction. [Cats the musical the movie ](https://youtu.be/H6QhjZUM_1k) And [fifty shades of grey](https://youtu.be/3VVyh_IM3Ik) While the OP is right, and there's likely little we can do to rescue people from cults, I believe it's important for US to understand cults, how they work, how they recruit, and how they hold members. We need to know this not only so we can recognize and resist their influence ourselves, but because it may be possible to notice the signs early on in our family and loved ones, and maybe intervene to prevent them from falling victim to these predatory ideologies.


Red0Mercury

They should launch a huge publicity campaign for a show about modern cults and advertise everywhere and then have it all about how qanon recruits members and brainwashes them. And have everything about the cult taken apart and analyzed. It should help keep people from joining. And if the publicity for the show is big enough qanon followers might watch it and wake up


NoodlesrTuff1256

We need a Qanon equivalent of Leah Remini's series on Scientology or recent documentary series on HBO and Starz exploring the NXIVM cult. Now I know that HBO and Vice have both done docs that mentioned some of the followers and explored 'Q's' origins, but I'd like to some that focus more on ex-followers, their families and some of the Q-adjacent social media personalities out there. This latter group of people may not even mention 'Q" by name but they push other beliefs that are in line with the conspiracy. Shows that focus less on Jim and Ron Watkins who have been done to death. They may have created the 'Q' monster, but it's outgrown them and taken on a life of its' own.


dukecharming1975

YES!!! Nailed it


pabodie

Nailed it. But what to do? Before this becomes an "endgame" scenario a la Terrence McKenna? “The apocalypse is not something which is coming. The apocalypse has arrived in major portions of the planet and it's only because we live within a bubble of incredible privilege and social insulation that we still have the luxury of anticipating the apocalypse.” We now live among one of those "major portions." They are our neighbors. How do we stop the slide before scaled-up violence becomes inevitable?


Schraderopolis2020

That about sums it all up.


FeatheredSun

Critical thinking starts at universal doubt. The smartest of us have always been those who question everything to start with. Those who jump head-first into "of course there's a world-spanning conspiracy led by satanic pederasts and this sketchy real-estate/reality-show rich doofus is the saviour of us all"...based on SHIT THEY WATCHED ON YOUTUBE AND 8CHAN...are pretty obviously not questioning everything. They're ILLUMINATI LARPING.


UserNameNotOnList

Totally agree that Q-people can not be changed via logic or reason. It may be a cult or may not but for sure people don't believe in it due to logic and reason. I just looks like they do because they (and pretty much everyone in all areas of life) speak of "reasons" and use logic-statements when they speak. Anyway, the key part to what you wrote is, "Anyone can end up in a cult if they're desperate enough." The key question is, what is making these people desperate? What are they desperate about? Some of it is economic. But many Q-people are going okay economically. I think the answer is in them feeling left out, left behind, not able to cope with the complexities of the modern world, not important anymore, like the world has gone crazy with participation trophies, eclectic cars, can't drive my big truck without someone saying I'm evil for running the environment, can't go to the restroom without being confronted with a person who's gender identity scares and confuses me, and am told all the time that me, a white male is to blame for it all. To use a word from the 2016 campaign, we are the deplorables. They love Trump because he is not morally superior. Just look at him. Fat. Gilded. "Hot" wife. Says outrageous things. Makes fun of everyone that tells us we suck. He's just like us. If he can be president then we're not deplorable. What's going to be more important to someone: The environment or me not being irrelevant? Gender acceptance or me not being the cause of all the world's problems? Illegal immigrents or me not being DEPLORABLE! Next question is: How do we handle these Q-People? If they are a loved one, maybe there are ways to help them. But as a whole, I don't think there is much to do. We can not stop the world and tell them that they can have their exalted status back at the expense of others. No. Nope. That doesn't work. We can, maybe, stop calling them deplorable. We can, maybe, stop guilting them about "white privilege" as if it's a sin just to be white. But mostly we need to just keep winning elections. The OP posted about how in the past people believed all sorts of crazy stuff. When did they stop believing that radiation and cocaine was good for you? When it stopped working. When Q-People see that being Q does not make them NOT deplorable, does not make them special, and does result in ridicule and jail -- they will change.


Cashmere306

Sounds good but I disagree with your main idea. . Yes, once people are in it, it's like a cult. But you have to be stupid and ignorant to start down that path in the first place.


sneep_snopped

You don't have to be stupid or ignorant to start following Q. I highly encourage you to check out a few cult documentaries to see how they recruit. Introduction to cult ideology is a boiling frog scenario. Most people don't start their Q relationship with "yeah, we believe Nancy Pelosi is eating children." They start off small and build tolerance to these beliefs. Most people are introduced to Q through social media, like Facebook groups. They might join a group about alternative health, see posts about the evils of big pharma, get recommendations to join other similar groups, fall into anti-vax territory, then end up in Q land. Constant exposure to certain messages will change the way your brain works. Jim Jones and Marshall Applewhite had running speakers where they'd drone on about their conspiracy theories. Social media can be abused the same way. Q is even more attractive when your acquaintances/friends/loved ones follow it because their belief adds credibility. "Jenny is a nurse and she knows what she's talking about. She must be right about COVID being a conspiracy." Cults work because they twist healthy doubt. There are times where the US government has lied to its people. Think of the "weapons of mass destruction" declaration that launched us into the War on Terrorism. Think of Vietnam and how long officials knew it wasn't going to end well, but kept advertising it anyways. [MLK and other civil rights leaders were being wire-tapped by the FBI](https://www.npr.org/2021/01/18/956741992/documentary-exposes-how-the-fbi-tried-to-destroy-mlk-with-wiretaps-blackmail) and [MLK was even sent a letter encouraging him to commit suicide](https://www.vox.com/xpress/2014/11/12/7204453/martin-luther-king-fbi-letter). These are all true even though they read like conspiracies. Even the Roswell incident, which is one of the most well-known UFO conspiracies, was at least right in the government cover-up aspect. It wasn't actually a weather balloon that crashed in the desert, but a tool to spy on the Soviets during [Project Mogul.](https://www.vox.com/xpress/2014/11/12/7204453/martin-luther-king-fbi-letter) Feeding off that grain of doubt, cults will gradually inoculate you until you've cross the threshold and believe that the reality around you is false. They hook you in and drag you down until you're stuck.


pau1rw

Wait wait wait... People think about it as a political ideology?! I just assumed that everyone not in the cult, thought everyone in the cult was mental.


AdmirableEqual6662

So nice to read intelligence. Thanks for that.


Domino1966

QAnon sounds like an addiction. They have to decide to leave. You can't persuade them with logic, etc.