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[flagged] What Alternate Reality Games Can Teach Us About QAnon (mssv.net)
66 points by adrianhon 11 months ago | hide | past | favorite | 34 comments

It was inevitable that the internet would birth a new religion or two...

I find Qanon fascinating in the abstract. It combines elements of conspiracy culture, the new age, and New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) Christianity.

These are three things that historically didn't go together, with the new age in particular being not entirely incorrectly associated with the occult. Of course new age is itself an odd hodge podge of occultism, spiritualism, new thought / "the secret" / prosperity gospel, appropriated native beliefs, and hippie counterculture stuff.

I also find Qanon deeply disturbing for its totalitarian tendencies, such as cheerleading for mass arrests and martial law. The combination of fringe Christianity with the new age has a not so great history with groups like Heaven's Gate and The Solar Temple. It's a combination that seems to self destruct as the new age and occult/magic(k)al influence brings out a strong tendency to try to immanentize the eschaton.

> cheerleading for mass arrests and martial law

One of the darkly hilarious parts of the latest "Q" drops was that the entire cast of Friends had been arrested and executed. (Why? One can only imagine it had something to do with laugh tracks.)

It feels like "Q" predicts "marshall" law (his acolytes can never get the spelling right), executions of public figures, or impending power grabs/coups every month or so. None of them pan out, but his followers will usually call those predictions "intentional disinfo."

I imagine the only way this kind of hysteria ends is with a new conspiracy theory. And that gets uprooted by yet another conspiracy theory. And so on until the heat death of the universe.

Someone I was close to was a former Seventh Day Adventist and I remember riding in a car with their father listening to an audio book retelling of the story of the beginnings of the religion, which consisted of a series of wild predictions of the date of rapture followed by disappointments and a new "corrected" date. I couldn't understand how the modern church could so openly embrace an origin story that seemed to me to undermine the legitimacy of the entire religion, paint it as founded by charlatans. But for believers the same facts seemed to have the opposite effect. I still don't really understand it but I think about it often in situations like this Q stuff.

I would caution people from dismissing it as a too-crazy-to-matter fringe group.

Trump's rise was certainly boosted by his involvement in birtherism.

The Trump equivalent of 2024 or 2028 is probably tweeting about QAnon right now.

Birtherism was rooted in racism. It would not be a stretch to say Trump won partly because there are an awful lot of racists in the US.

Birtherism exploited racism. It was fundamentally a political tool used to identify true believers and to galvanize them to political action.

Birtherism was inherently racist in and of itself, though. If Obama was white it simply wouldn’t have been a factor. It relied on suspicion of an “other” as a key component.

There's nothing inherently racist about attempting to claim your political opponent cannot legally be president.

That might be true in the abstract but anyone who had more than the slightest awareness knows that what was directed at Obama was based racism. The same people made racist comments about Africa in general, said he was inarticulate in ways straight out of minstrel shows a century ago, refused to accept his Christianity insisting that he was secretly following their favorite Other religion, and used various threats and rhetoric from the Jim Crow-era south against someone born in Hawaii.

You don’t lynch someone in effigy because you’re trying to say that you don’t think they aren’t 35.

The racist notion of Obama being a foreign “other” was intrinsic to Birtherism. There is nothing inherent about that, no. It was an explicit piece of context.

It is known and not under any debate that John McCain was not born on US soil (he was born on an army base in Panama), and yet Obama’s legitimacy was the one in question. It’s very obvious why one candidate was considered a foreign other and one was not.

Qanon has made a few thousand posts. If one were to analyze it/them why not include some of the posts as evidence/criticism?

Q has made those posts. Qanon is the amalagamous sea of adherents who have theories totally detached from Q. It’s much easier to critique qanon because their theories are insane.

I would recommend checking out the Epstein stuff and the spygate stuff, since that looks like it’s unraveling now (will we learn soon that Cruz campaign was also spies on?)


Hasn’t Q made plenty of posts that turned out to be totally incorrect ? I’ll admit, the whole thing baffles me: Q makes incredibly vague posts that sometimes end up somewhat matching reality and everyone decides they’re an insider clued into every nefarious thing going on in the world. If they were, why be so cryptic? It doesn’t pass even a simple smell test.

Q is an ocean of possible interpretations. Which seems like a drug for humans. Watching this closely for ~3 years has been a fascinating study of people and the internet.

The appeal of horoscopes?

Qanon is the amalagamous sea of adherents who have theories totally detached from Q

I’ve been tracking this Q thing for years, since nearly the first post. I’m curious where this assertion comes from? Did Q name these folks qanons? No. In fact he calls them “anons”. Please provide a source.

Q and Qanon are both names for the same entity. In imageboard culture* it's common to append -anon, -fag, or a Japanese honorific to the name a user gives (or to give them a name containing one of those suffixes.)

*: I would say 4chan isn't a good example of imageboard culture after the eternal September that followed Project Chanology, but apparently they kept that aspect of their culture.

And also Qanon as a movement exist largely outside of the boards at this point. You should see the type of content on Twitter and Youtube for example. I think most Qanon people have never been to the boards ever.

Interestingly enough liberals are more likely to know about QAnon than conservatives. I listen to both right wing and left wing podcasts+news and the times I hear about QAnon are on left wing ones. I'm not sure what to make of this.

Edit: genuinely curious why I'm being downvoted, I found this pretty interesting


> Interestingly enough liberals are more likely to know about QAnon than conservatives. I listen to both right wing and left wing podcasts+news and the times I hear about QAnon are on left wing ones. I'm not sure what to make of this.

Doesn't that just show that liberals are more likely to talk about it, at least in the sources to which you listen, than that they are more likely to know about it?

For example, one explanation—which seems plausible to me, but which I do not claim is the truth—of the observed facts is that conservatives who aren't QAnon believers don't want to discuss what they see as a fringe position within their party, whereas conservatives who are believers only discuss their beliefs with those they feel are, or might become, initiates. I can also believe that liberals would be both more frightened by these beliefs, hence more likely to talk about them, and more motivated to highlight what they perceive as fringe or embarrassing beliefs of their ideological opponents.

The more a podcast or news station talks about something, the more their listeners know about it.

I think you've diagnosed it.

>Interestingly enough liberals are more likely to know about QAnon than conservatives

probably because the kind of people who discusss QAnon as a phenomenon are more likely to be young, actively engaged in (digital) politics and possibly more educated, which correlates with political leaning, in particuar in the last election. As Pew points out, NYT readers or NPR listeners are also much more likely to have heard of it.

I wouldn't be surprised if liberals score higher if you question US demographics about pretty much any internet phenomenon just because of the make up of the group.

We have an “enemy-centric” political environment right now. I’ve seen this with much more than just Qanon. The strong Democrats I know can rattle off a long list of conspiracies and crimes on the right, and the strong Republicans I know can rattle off a long list of conspiracies and crimes on the left. Meanwhile when I say “this is what the other side says about your team” the reaction is almost universal puzzlement. “Who? That fringe group of crazies? They aren’t part of (my party).”

It’s quite amazing to watch.

This false equivalence falls apart as soon as you assess how widespread such beliefs are and whether they’re based in verifiable facts. There are leftie conspiracy theorists but there’s nowhere near the spread, especially at the senior levels of the party.

For example, Birtherism was easily disproven but persisted for years among a high percentage of Republicans and even among members of Congress, the current President, and many of his appointees. There’s nothing remotely equivalent on the Democratic side - you could probably find someone saying just about anything you imagine but they’re at the fringe rather than making official government actions based on those beliefs (remember Benghazi?)

The data says this is a bipartisan problem:


As for “which side has more conspiracies,” I don’t think anyone can truly know which side is more or less out of touch with reality when each of us has some kind of affinity to one side or another and will thus have bias that tilts our perception.

Qanon is a funny thing to me. The actual things written by the person or people under “Q” are almost completely detached from what I see people share and post on social media.

But as someone who followed the spygate saga, Q seemed to know just enough inside baseball to make it interesting and keep me curious. I thought maybe some foreign intelligence op or something.

To give Qanon credit though, they were taking about Epstein for two years, when Epstein was still considered untouchable. Apparently their cohort isn’t so untouchable anymore.

>But as someone who followed the spygate saga, Q seemed to know just enough inside baseball to make it interesting and keep me curious. I thought maybe some foreign intelligence op or something.

You ever see a psychic or other con-person work? Think more like that.

Based on what I've read, I think I can safely rule out a con-man unless they seem to have intimate understanding and knowledge of the inner workings of the FBI, though a "con" is certainly on the table.

Among the intelligence people I follow (such as Rich Higgins, former NSC staffer), the consensus seems to be that Q is a psyop against POTUS, from either a foreign or domestic intelligence[1]). People can decide for themselves.

I can't point to any concrete "predictions" from Q other than Ted Cruz's campaign was also spied on. The only "prediction" with a date turned out totally false.


That guy is currently repeating predictions that teen angst over losing TikTok will lead to a Pol Pot style uprising and comparing the protests in Portland to Nazis. I wouldn’t trust him on anything without a credible source.

I can’t tell what’s sloppier, the theories promulgated by supposed Q followers, or the debunkers.

Why is it so hard to find a thoughtful, technical, ripping to shreds of Q’s posts?

Why would you want such a thing? It's clearly wrong, correcting it is just like people 'debunking' flat earthers or strong atheists arguing with fundamentalist Christians.

Its only value is a sick kind of entertainment - "I am so much more clever than these idiots". I say this as somebody who has consumed this kind of media myself in the past.

I think if you look closely you’ll see that it’s something entirely different.

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