The infodemiology of QAnon

An attendee holds signs a sign of the letter “Q” before the start of a rally with U.S. President Donald Trump in Lewis Center, Ohio, U.S., on Saturday, Aug. 4, 2018. Photographer: Maddie McGarvey/Bloomberg via Getty Images

I’ve grown numbingly accustomed to the bizarre, the phony, the dishonest in public discourse. Still, when IMPOTUS retweeted the notion that the Benghazi raid was staged, I shook my head. And what was the presumed rationale? “To cover up a Navy SEAL blood sacrifice.” This literally hurt my head.

“The account… promoting the link also has ties to the QAnon movement, a far-right conspiracy theory that Democrats are running a Satanic pedophile cannibal ring.” Of course, it did.

My buddy Jeff Sharlet wrote in Vanity Fair this month about how QAnon crept into his mind and “turned conspiracy into reality.”

Jeff notes: “What Trump is describing is no more nor less exotic than the popular evangelical concept of spiritual war, the conflict thought to be raging always, around us and within, between believers and ‘principalities’ and ‘powers,’ according to Ephesians, or demons, in the contemporary vernacular.

“QAnon has translated the concept from King James into Trumpish, but Trump is no more reading Q ‘drops’ than undead John-John, JFK Jr., is writing them.”

You DO know that they think the late son of the 35th President is alive? The article in Rolling Stone from July 2019 describes that absurd theory.

Newsweek  reports that scientists are taking aim at the “misinformation pandemic.” But it likely won’t help. “The technology has generally done more to help those who purvey this misinformation than those trying to defend against it,” says Travis Trammell, an active-duty Army lieutenant colonel skilled in the field.

“The explosion of disinformation that has upended American life and now threatens its democratic institutions has given rise to a new branch of science called ‘infodemiology.’ Inspired by epidemiology, the study of how diseases spread through a population, infodemiology seeks to understand how misinformation and conspiracy theories spread like a disease through a free-wheeling democracy like America’s, with the ultimate goal of understanding how to stem its spread.”


How do you stem its spread when IMPOTUS, on national television, sidesteps the question about QAnon? First, he says that he doesn’t know about them. This is unlikely, “particularly because the FBI labeled the movement as a domestic threat more than a year ago.”

Then he asserted, “Let me just tell you what I do hear about it is they are very strongly against pedophilia and I agree with that… And I agree with it very strongly.” (N.b.: we’re all against it.) QAnon supporters embraced his support.

In the past couple of years, the Guardian reports that “kidnappings, car chases and a murder appear to have been fueled by belief in a fictional narrative.”

In fact, QAnon is a convoluted conspiracy theory. “The heart of it asserts that… the anonymous ‘Q’ has taken to the fringe internet message boards of 4chan and 8chan to leak intelligence about Trump’s top-secret war with a cabal of criminals run by politicians like Hillary Clinton and the Hollywood elite. There is no evidence for these claims.”

Hear, if you can stand it, how some people get sucked into QAnon.

Did I mention the 2020 Congressional candidates who appear to be true believers? And at least one of them will make it.

It’s difficult to dissuade someone of a lie when they are convinced there MUST be “something to it.” QAnon is one more reason I fret about America in 2020.

Covering the regime’s pep rallies

Hillary will team up with George Soros.

ralliesA guy I know and respect IRL posited: “The media shouldn’t be covering Trump pep rallies. It would drive him crazier not to be covered.” I understand this position.

Omorosa Manigault Newman, the former reality show villain turned White House adviser turned regime foe suggested as much: “There’s one way to shut Donald Trump down and that is to just don’t give him the oxygen,” she said on The Daily Show recently. “And the oxygen comes from the clicks, the likes, the shock, the discussions. If you ignore him, then you starve him of the thing he loves the most ― and that is controversy and attention.”

Yet I’m resistant to the idea.

1. He’ll still be covered by FOX, CBN, right-wing bloggers. Do we want to cede the analysis and the reporting of news to them?

2. He’ll tweet about it. I remember some folks early on suggested not covering those. But unfortunately, he makes pronouncements on the platform. He fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Twitter.

3. Failure to cover him will feed into his narrative that the news is biased. Some have suggested that point anyway after the “editorial collusion by dozens of newspapers,” in response to the regime’s “fake news” claims.

4. He announces things at his rallies that the public should be aware of. At the rally in Great Falls, MT on July 5, 2018, he announced, “I’ve directed the Pentagon to begin a process of creating a sixth branch of the United States Armed Forces called the space force.”

It’s also where QAnon, which is either a “a deranged conspiracy cult” or a faux movement, leapt from the Internet to the crowd at the Tampa MAGA tour on July 31.

There are, I imagine from reading enough right-wing literature, some people who DO believe the regime actually “installed Robert Mueller as part of an ongoing plan to capture the Muslim terrorist Barack Obama. At the climax of the consensus narrative, Trump supporters will have to unite for a mighty Good vs Evil fight in which Hillary will team up with George Soros in an attempt to overthrow the government, only to be cast down by Trump, who will then usher in a new age of Christian righteousness.”

(My head hurts.)

I’m pained by the cost of these rallies. While the core event expenses presumably comes from the campaign of the presumed 2020 Republican candidate for President, the taxpayers are on the hook for the Secret Service, which is already overextended, plus state and local law enforcement.

So I say cover the guy, and then read The Fact Checker’s ongoing database of the false or misleading claims he’s made since assuming office. It’s about 50 truth-bending comments per week, a goodly number of them at his rallies.

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