Well, it is a game; and I wish it was over.
'Your cousin was always a wackadoo, I'm sorry': Conspiracy expert bluntly explains that QAnon believers are nothing new or special https://t.co/bhkrUaVyrp— Raw Story (@RawStory) October 15, 2021
"That's the good news: It's small and not growing," he added before issuing a caveat. "The bad news is that a lot of the ideas it adopted are fairly popular. It's just we haven't paid attention. When we asked things [in polls] about views of child sex trafficking, people vastly overestimate how big it is in this country. When we ask about elite involvement in sex trafficking, people vastly overestimate that. So there are a lot of beliefs out there that are fairly widespread. But they're not QAnon. They're just ideas that QAnon adopted."
I'm old enough (literally!) to remember when every childcare business in the country was engaged in Satanic worship and traumatized the children in their care to the point the kids didn't remember any of the evil things they were forced to do, and could only talk about it with abusive prompting and loaded leading questions from "trained investigators."
It was all bullshit, in other words. The allegations were outlandish, involving blood sacrifices and sexual assault on minors and other horrors for which no physical evidence could be found and no witnesses revealed because it WAS THAT EVIL! This was all done during business hours in broad daylight, but nobody saw a thing, no trace of these practices was ever left behind, no child ever went home crying and refusing to go back to that chamber of horrors, because it WAS THAT EFFECTIVE! Remember the guy who stormed into the pizza parlor in D.C. to release the kids from the basement where the Democrats regularly had sex with them, in groups? Except there was no basement? That was the country, except we were all looking for that basement, convinced by news accounts and "experts," that it had to be there. We all vastly overestimated the horrors, in no small part because we feared/felt guilty about leaving our smallest children with strangers for many hours a day.
Except like razor blades in Halloween candy (an urban legend that arose from one father in Houston who poisoned his kid's Pixie Stix and then tried to pass it off as coming from his Halloween stash. Oddly, it never put anybody off Pixie Stix, but we feared apples and popcorn balls ever after.), it was entirely invented. Led to some prosecutions, which was a nightmare in its own right. But the Satanic worship and sex crimes never happened. Although there are people, to this day, who still think they did. And I don't mean conspiracy nuts; I mean people who simply accepted the news stories. Because the news never went back and said that was all mass hysteria, and we got caught up in it, too: mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. Funny how the news outlets never, ever, do that, isn't it?
Listen carefully, you'll find the argument here is about the complicity of the news outlets, and their own cluelessness about the complexities of the world:
"A lot of the coverage is saying, 'QAnon is big and getting bigger and it's far right.' None of those things are true. I've been polling on QAnon for three years — more than anyone else," he explained. "And that's what we find in our analyses, largely that QAnon is driven by people who just hate the entire establishment. I mean, when you watch the followers, these aren't normal Republican people. They're not conservative in any meaningful way. These are people who want to tear down the system because they feel alienated from it."
"QAnon sort of created a little game, like: 'Here's clues; go figure them out.' So it's sort of like a decentralized cult, and it's got activities baked into it. 'Ooh, here's some garbled language. Go decode.' That's sort of new. But the theories themselves were not particularly new. Almost everything was old — some of it decades old; some of it was millennia old. And the news journalists covering it were freaking out like, 'Oh my God, they think that there's a deep state full of pedophiles working against the president,'" he stated before adding, "There's nothing new there. It's incredibly boring."
Our "cynical, jaded, worldly, skeptical" journalists are mostly credulous fools who believe whatever the last person told them. Not to the point of being Q-Anon conspiracists, but to the point of being wholly incapable of putting anything into context that isn't already part of their narrative.
In his interview with Morris, the political scientist explained, "A typical conversation [I have] with a journalist would be something like: 'Hey, Joe, I saw this new conspiracy theory on Twitter and I'm freaked out about it because everyone's going to see it and everyone's going to believe it and that's going to be bad.' And I say, 'Well, did you see it?' And they say, 'Yeah.' And I say, 'So you must believe it then.' And they say, 'No.' And I say, 'Well, what makes you so f*cking special? What magic shield, what superpowers do you have that protect you?'"
A little self-awareness and self-reflection goes a long way. Conspiracy theories thrive precisely among the people wholly incapable of that self-reflection and self-awareness:
"Some conspiracy theories feel different precisely because they are different. And what we find is that some conspiracy theories — like Holocaust denial, saying that nobody died at Sandy Hook, things like that — they attract a different sort of person. And what we find on surveys is that those types of conspiracy theories, they appeal to people who have higher levels of psychopathy and narcissism," he explained before elaborating, "I mean, there's this style of reporting that's been out for a while, like, 'My cousin became a QAnon and now I don't know what to do.' These articles always start off with: 'My cousin used to be so normal.' What's really going on is the cousin was never normal or you just didn't pay attention to the cousin and he was probably weird but you didn't have a word to put on that."
In my experience, people always become who they always were. Sometimes friends and family are surprised by that. Sometimes friends and family are utterly clueless.
He added, "But then you hear 'QAnon' in the news. Now you can categorize what your cousin is doing as something. You're like, 'Oh, my God, this thing just happened to him.' Well, no, it didn't just happen. Your cousin was always a wackadoo. I'm sorry."
And they have always been with us, and will always be with us. Keeping track of them is one thing; being obsessed with finding out there are people like that in the world, and we're done for, we done for!, is quite another matter.