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[dupe] FBI says “extremists” motivated by Pizzagate, QAnon are threats (arstechnica.com)
36 points by roguecoder 72 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 55 comments

Earlier discussion about same topic:

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=20589234 (108 points/95 comments)

As we consider how the tools we build are used, it is useful to be aware of the real-world consequences of frictionless information sharing. Made-up conspiracy theories inspiring violent action also, unfortunately, want to be free.

I'm sure many of us did consider that, and realised that at th end of the day, it's better if more people have a medium to share their thoughts and improve the world than if only a small minority with money/power did, even if the former can potentially lead to some extremists/nutcases getting an audience.


Not sure why you would bring up Epstein, an actual monster, in the context of PizzaGate which was clearly dangerous nonsense.

I don't subscribe to Pizzagate, but I suppose it's because the stories around both are _similar_ (international cabal of abusers), it's just that one was fake and a long term play to try to scare people out of voting for Hillary Clinton.


The Podesta e-mails were not fake (at least as far as I know), but they were out-of-context view into the cynical world of running a campaign.

The idea that the Clinton campaign was using "pizza" as a code-word for child pornography, and that the basement of a Washington DC pizza place (which had no basement) was used as a hub for an international child smuggling operation, aka pizzagate, is absolutely fake.

Are you about to bring up the "pedophile code words" conspiracy theory about those emails on Hackernews?

I'm sure "pizza-related handkerchief map" was just a typo on John's behalf... Maybe he was on ambien when he was asking if he’ll do better playing dominos on cheese than on pasta?

Did he type that at all?

Did you leave a handkerchief 09-02-2014 From: Susan Sandler To: John Podesta The realtor found a handkerchief (I think it has a map that seems pizza-related. Is it yorus? They can send it if you want. I know you’re busy, so feel free not to respond if it’s not yours or you don’t want it.

09-04-2014 From: John Podesta To: Susan Sandler It's mine, but not worth worrying about.

Oh he didn't send it, but receiving it and not saying anything about the nonsense someone sent is just as suspicious. The dominos on cheese comment is veritably him, though.

But clearly nothing is going on and anyone that brings it up must be a domestic terrorist.

Wrong again, that was Herb Sandler. Today is the first day that I read any of these emails, and I already know more than you about them. Why am I here pointing out your misunderstandings of the facts? Shouldn't you have become a steward of the facts before unraveling your thoughts in this thread?

No, it's just that sane and rational people realize that the emails are just old people conversing and not proof of an insane conspiracy.

A month ago, you would have said "Not sure why you would bring up Epstein; he's old news and did his time years ago."

A year or so ago, you would have said "Not sure why you would bring up Epstein, he's old news and did his time years ago, and what's with these weird conspiracy theories about some harmless-looking club for people with too much money to play make-believe dress up at each other every so often? I had to google to even find that much."

The truth of the whole thing is beyond me. But the first derivative of this stuff is disturbing. It may only be a small amount so far, but it's significant enough stuff that that's a problem even so.

Do you feel Pizzagate is real?


>you can't get anywhere by discarding true signal.

What does that mean?

Sorry; sort of referencing information theory and also the rationalism movement. One way of thinking about information is "the extent to which something is a surprise". The rationalists point out that you need to be sensitive to that. Dismissing NXVIM and Epstein today may seem easy, but the question is, would you have believed the truth about them before you heard it [1]? If not, that is a surprise to you, real information, real signal, and you shouldn't discard it.

It does not mean that the only logical conclusion is to believe Pizzagate must be true in its entirity!!!11!1. But it does mean you have something to grapple with, a strong signal that your previous model is false in some manner. Brains are lazy and take least effort paths, and the least effort path is just to ignore that there was a contradiction, but your really shouldn't do that.

For myself and my priors, Pizzagate as a whole is a bit much to swallow. But "Epstein and NXVIM are the tip of an iceberg, albeit one much smaller than Pizzagate" is not at all. As I alluded to earlier, there's plenty of history that would support that no problem. Read accounts of cults and what they were like to live in from those who escaped, for instance. Human psychology has some very strange, yet weirdly popular, corner cases in it, especially weird ones around group behavior. I do not understand them either intuitively or intellectually, I can not explain them, but clearly they exist.

[1]: Bearing in mind that Epstein today is still just somewhat well-sourced allegations with a lot of prior reason to believe they are plausible even just from the mainstream news reports of the past including public knowledge of related past convictions, but that NXVIM has been through court cases and some verdicts have been reached, though I believe they are ongoing overall.

Do you feel like Epstein and NXVIM are related in some way?

I feel like you draw keep drawing connections between all these things when the connection is basically that you think people wouldn't belive some non specific past claim about Epstein... and so that means something about Pizzagate?

I don't think that people might not belive a thing, anything, and then find out it is true ... has anything to do with anything else.

"Do you feel like Epstein and NXVIM are related in some way?"

That they are two similar things that people would not have believed before that turned out to be true. (Or very likely true.)

"I don't think that people might not belive a thing, anything, and then find out it is true ... has anything to do with anything else."

Probably better to link to something you can poke through than try to explain it myself: https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/GJ4ZQm7crTzTM6xDW/focus-your... That is in the middle of a sequence, you may find it helpful to start at the beginning, but it's starts speaking directly to what I was referring to.

(I actually don't consider myself a "rationalist", for variety of reasons, but I still have learned a lot from them. But I do endorse the specific idea that if you can explain why something is true, and explain why it is false, equally fluidly, you have no explanation. I recommend them for their reading about their ways of thought, and thinking about them carefully; I recommend significantly more care and intellectual inertia when they try to create enormous castles of further inference on top of that.)

This still reads like a conspiracy theory type argument where just because in your mind something you feel may have been rejected was true (without any clarity on what exactly that is)...then you insert another topic people reject in an effort to support it along with a bunch of vague implications that they're related.

I would consider that a mostly-accurate summary.

However, where you appear to believe that's logically fallacious, I'm saying, it's actually mathematically rigorous, and a valid and underused mode of thought.

If you find yourself nervous because of the metaheuristic "any mode of thought that makes 'conspiracy theories' seem more likely is suspicious", I endorse that metaheuristic. For the most part, this sort of thinking tends to slice through crazy conspiracy theories, not endorse them. One of the major characteristics of a lot of crazy conspiracy theories is an ability to explain/explain away anything, and this mode of thought will help you recognize that and slice it away.

The reason why it's slicing the other way here in this particular instance is that we are getting fairly unambiguous positive evidence that is at least in the direction of Pizzagate. This is unusual; unambiguous positive evidence in favor of a "conspiracy theory" does not happen very often, so we should expect to have unusual reactions to it. As I've said above, it doesn't mean that therefore the rational thing to do is to accept it entirely. But it does mean the rational response is to raise its probability in your mind a bit, along with other hypotheses the evidence is compatible with (like my "it's bigger than these two things but not Pizzagate-scale" example above).

We can also bear in mind that we are not obligated to come to the decision today. If Pizzagate is true, and if the Q line is true, then we are going to get more evidence in the future. If it is false, then this will (based on past history of such things) fizzle and die. We can use those predictions and watch the world to see what happens. (And, yes, those are very simplified; I can generate another half-a-dozen possibilities and their corresponding predictions easily.) In another year, hopefully we will be closer to the truth, whatever it may be, than we can be (let alone "are") today.

> we are getting fairly unambiguous positive evidence that is at least in the direction of Pizzagate

What exactly is that?

>and if the Q line is true

You mean the person who has repeatedly posted false info? Photos where they claim to have secret information that were just taken from other websites, that people were arrested who haven't been... so on.

This all still seems to boil down to connecting things with nothing to connect them under the guise of not rejecting something.

"You mean the person who has repeatedly posted false info? Photos where they claim to have secret information that were just taken from other websites, that people were arrested who haven't been... so on."

This does not meaningfully distinguish Q from any other media outlet.

You may note, reading between the lines of this conversation to date, that I don't exactly give a lot of blind credibility to anybody claiming to have information for me.

"What exactly is that?"

That powerful people are involved with more sex crimes then we thought before.

You kinda didn't get what you expected out of this conversation, did you? You expected to be dealing with some sort of raving lunatic who could be easily mocked for boldly overreaching.

Unfortunately, you're kinda the one overreaching here. "Pizzagate is a conspiracy theory that is not true and anyone who believes it or even entertains it is crazy, therefore any evidence that could potentially point to it being true must be false and/or unimportant, therefore these bits of information can't be important and must not mean anything, lest anybody give any credence to a false conspiracy theory", which I think is what you're trying to feed me here, is not a logically-defensible position; it is as riddled with fallacies as "Pizzagate is probably true so the slightest bit of evidence that seems to support it should be immediately believed and is also probably true and also proves Pizzagate, which will also prove the next bit of evidence true." In fact, it's almost the same bundle of fallacies in both cases.

I don't think anyone doubts Epstein's guilt at this point. The conspiracy angle is more about who else among the "world elite" joined him in his crimes and tried to cover them up.

Extremists motivated by true claims are also a threat.


Telling people that Hillary Clinton's passport is going to be revoked pending her arrest is not just asking questions.

The sort of questions that come up in qanon circles are "when will Hillary be thrown into a gulag and tried by a military tribunal for her many crimes against children, and who will do it?"

Just asking questions, you see...

Or that JFK Jr. is walking around waiting to pounce on the deep state.

This is mass hysteria.

This is disingenuous. Q loves to push conspiracy theories like the “deep state” using questions like “what if?”, speculating that the truth is around the corner, etc.

Q hasn’t even really offered any serious evidence on who they are, leading some to speculate that Q is a Russian persona masquerading as a renegade US intelligence operative. As long as that possibility is as plausible as what they put out to the world, they have no credibility.

Confirmed factual... from Q.

The person that posted an image of "secret" files that was just copied from another website?

Declared that Hillary Clinton would be arrested / has been arrested?

That's not asking questions.

You’re really asking why vigilantism is illegal.

Vigilantism has a mixed record at best in the US. The more infamous groups include the KKK, lynch mobs, and various mafias.

I think this just goes to show how critical good editorial oversight is to free information sharing.

Or, to put it differently: You can put whatever you want on your website, but it's in Facebook and Google's best interests to avoid linking to it.

Call it what it is: White nationalistic terrorism, don't sugar coat it and call it "extremists".

How is believing there’s a cabal of child abusers and child trafficking high in our government and society white nationalist? I think PizzaGate is nonsense but it definitely sounds more like extremism than terrorism and that’s not “sugarcoating” things. Extremism can lead to terrorism but conflating the two is how you get political prisoners.

I think that might be jumping the gun? That's a very popular meme but I'm not sure it's at all accurate -- I haven't heard a convincing case. Perhaps you could explain your thinking here?

Here's my take:

The FBI calls people involved with the earth liberation front "ecoterrorists". I don't think most people in the ELF would deny that their efforts are motivated by environmentalism, or oppose the "eco" label being applied to those efforts.

The "extremists" described here would probably not say that they were motivated by "white nationalism" or a desire to ethnic cleanse non-white people. No doubt there are some of those out there, but certainly you couldn't describe the pizza gate attacker in that way, nor would they self-describe that way.

I think the vague "extremist" label might be about as good as you could do, seeing as how unrelated some of these things are. You might be able to call it "right-wing extremism" but then you're making things partisan, and it's understandable that the FBI wouldn't want to do that.

That dude "self-investigate" Comet Pingpong based on Pizzagate rumors, and ended up shooting hole(s) in the roof, didn't he? Then there's Anthony Comello killing Franceso Cali a few months ago, with Qanon things scrawled on his hands in court.

The violence is already manifesting.

They need to do the same with Antifa. Regardless of what side of the political spectrum you associate with, violence...is violence.

The FBI did exactly this (at least as early as April 2016, under Obama), and continues to do so: https://www.politico.com/story/2017/09/01/antifa-charlottesv...

I’m not sure why people keep claiming the FBI doesn’t investigate Antifa. I guess it doesn’t fit in with the QAnon conspiracy theory.

I never said the FBI. I'm speaking to media in general. Most articles involving Antifa refuse to call them terrorist or even left winged radicals.

Again, I'm only seeing a snap judgement and a quick fired response made in haste while interjecting hyperbole.

Then what about the military? The police?

They are both violent. But terrorism is not just violence. Terrorism doesn't have to be violent although most often is.

There certainly are quite a few efforts to deal with how police respond to situations.

So you're saying that Antifa is NOT a terrorist organization? The military and police are legal organizations who's part and parcel at times includes violence. I could pull any number of articles that refuse to label them (Antifa) as terrorist or even left wing radicals.

Q Anon seems to be more of a 'think tank' or even an idealism.

How exactly do you make the jump to 'white nationalist terrorism'? Because they seem to be against the left? Against corruption? Can you link anything that would tie the two together? If you legitimately can, I'd love to read and research it.

I'm not pro-antifa or Q anon, but your comment seems to be mental hopscotch with no legitimate foundation on facts.

Perhaps the poster meant political violence? A police shootout is very different from people beating each other in the street over political views.

There's a degree of "whataboutism" to your statement. The article is about conspiracy theory extremists, who haven't typically been included in the "terrorist" grouping. It seems like you're trying to drag something unrelated (antifa) into the discussion.

I was replying to user alexk307 in my response, who's comment was:

"Call it what it is: White nationalistic terrorism, don't sugar coat it and call it "extremists"."

My understanding is that QAnon does not march around and say "HERE WE ARE WE ARE QANON!" so to say they are 'white nationalistic terrorist' is an assumption. That type of language is very reminiscent of what Antifa spouts off, especially in the regards of "if you don't agree with me you are racist". There are far too many that have the spotlight of the media attention right now that follow this mindset.

It is possible to disagree with someone and NOT be a racist, a bigot, a xyzphobe...or even WHITE.

The majority of the media have lost the unbias and reporting of facts, and for everyone, this is a damn shame.

Data, give us the data. Let us decide. Don't cram an agenda down our throats. Regardless of what side of the isle you're on, weather you sit or stand to pee, or how close to the equator your were born.

Their sugar-coated terminology has me less worried than the fact that (according to the article) they’ve fired everyone that didn’t voluntarily leave the team responsible for investigating these groups.

It should be noted (and it is in the article) that this is an internal memo sent from a field office about threats surrounding some topic(s).

In other discussions I've seen a lot of folks go on about freedom of speech and other issues, there's no proposal to limit speech in this memo, or even launch an investigation purely based on someone(s) believing a conspiracy theory.


I don't think what you describe really directly relates to an internal memo.

>Only recently, after anti-trust investigation threats from POTUS has discussion even been allowed on major social media sites.

I don't think that is accurate in any way. The Q stuff and other conspiracies have bee active online for a long time before any of that, and still quite active through today.

Are there any credible analysis who is behind qanon? It seems pretty clear that it's a disinformation project, or something along those lines to get power and control a subset of people, from some actor, but who is it attributed to? I know with APT's in infosec after a while we can attribute the various groups to regimes because of the timing of actions and interests they protect, is there any similar analysis of Q?

Most conspiracy theorists are just mentally ill. Take flat earthers. Most of them suffer from extreme distrust and paranoia and tend to believe only foremost anyone who tells them they’re being lied to.

Saying that mentally ill people who believe in evil government conspiracies could be dangerous isn’t that unreasonable. Maybe specific individuals in the movement are passive, but what about those that they ignite?

I disagree that most conspiracy theorists are mentally ill, except maybe in some extremely loose definition of the term, where mere illogic is equated with mental illness.

I like this quote from Michael Shermer: "Smart people believe weird things because they are skilled at defending beliefs they arrived at for non-smart reasons." Smart people frequently get involved in conspiracy theories through a combination of confirmation bias and the spinning-wheels-in-the-sand effect where they become more entrenched in their beliefs by being forced to defend them.

Being illogical is not necessarily mental illness. Sometimes, it's just pig-headed stubbornness.


Calling it mental illness is just making normal human behavior a pathology. Almost everybody believes in a widespread conspiracy of some kind, every tribe has their boogeyman. So if there’s any mental illness involved it’s not the belief itself, it’s the willingness to isolate oneself socially and other social factors. But with the internet even the wackiest conspiracies such as flat-earth don’t lead to social isolation.

You seem to be asserting that believing a conspiracy theory does not make you mentally ill. That’s true, but not what I’m saying. I’m saying conspiracy theorists are overwhelming just mentally ill to begin with. There was a great piece a while ago about a journalist who interviewed people at flat earther conventions. They pretty much all cited significant emotional trauma or betrayal of trust.

I appreciate your clarification, but the assertion that "conspiracy theorists are overwhelming[ly] just mentally ill to begin with" is exactly what I'm refuting.

I suppose part of it is a matter of definition, since there is a spectrum of belief in unproven "conspiracy theories". Is a "conspiracy theorist" one who believes in a conspiracy theory, or one who creates conspiracy theories? Is someone who believes that there may have been a conspiracy associated with the JFK assassination a "conspiracy theorist"? They're certainly not on the same level as someone who willfully defies all evidence and logic to continue to assert that the Earth is flat. There's a spectrum of the amount of deviance from logic and evidence as well of a spectrum of the strength of one's belief in these "theories".

I think that a large number of people subscribe to some sort of unproven "conspiracy theory" and that it is incorrect to assert that this population is overwhelmingly mentally ill.

If you use people who go to a flat earth convention as your basis for a representative sample of the mental health of conspiracy theorists, I think you're going to get a very skewed result. You're skewing very high on the spectrum of deviance from evidence and logic, as well as very high on the spectrum of strength of belief.

I would probably agree with your assertion if my definition of what constituted a "conspiracy theorist" met a minimum criteria of a certain threshold value on those two spectrums, but I think that the term "conspiracy theorist" is very nuanced and therefore problematic and even dangerous, especially when we start throwing around phrases like "conspiracy theorists are overwhelming[ly] just mentally ill to begin with". Here's an interesting article on the topic of "conspiracy theory" as a dangerous misnomer:


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