The Deprogramming Dilemma – 14
Q-uestions for Congress (the FBI, CIA, DHS & NSA) – Part 2
In Part 1 of this article, we saw how this delusional conspiracy theory, disinformation and influence campaign is wreaking havoc at every level of our society – national, local, and even family.
In Part 1, we asked a few questions.
How did such a load of sheer idiocy and insanity gain so much power – and the ability to do so much damage at so many levels – so quickly?
What exactly is it?
Who created it?
Until these questions – and others – are answered, until effective countermeasures are developed and implemented on a massive scale, we face an unprecedented challenge.
If millions of our countrymen and women have fallen prey to an addictive form of social engineering and have lost the ability to discern reality from fantasy…and their own interests from those of Donald Trump…the Capitol attack could easily prove to be little more than a warm-up act for greater trouble to come.
Fortunately, we are not the only ones thinking along these lines. A number of journalists, academics, psychologists, computer experts, activists and others have been working hard on the issue. Thanks to them, a lot more information is available now than there was even a few months ago.
Let’s take a very quick look at what is known.
Of the questions I posed above, we probably know the most about the “what.”
My own definition would be that QAnon is a very potent and sophisticated internet based hybrid conspiracy – disinformation - influence and radicalization campaign that operates according to known psychological warfare techniques, behaves precisely like an ARP (Alternate Reality Game) and – like many online games – it is designed to be very psychologically addictive.
Last September, the computer technology magazine, Wired, posted an important article presenting the opinions on this subject of leading ARG (Alternate Reality Game) designer, Adrian Hon. The title? QAnon is Like a Game – a Most Dangerous Game.
A few (slightly edited for length) key passages:
[It] gave Hon the shock of recognition: QAnon was behaving precisely like an alternate-reality game, or ARG.
It is addictively participatory. Since the clues are oblique, it's up to the followers of QAnon to interpret them. They instantly begin Googling the phrases, then energetically share their own exegeses online about What It All Means. To belong to the QAnon pack is to be part of a massive crowdsourcing project that sees itself cracking a mystery.
ARG makers have long worried about this culture and its relentless, wild-eyed nature. If players solve one puzzle, they crave the fun of tackling more, more, more. But they can wind up seeing puzzles that aren't puzzles. ARG culture can [easily] be hijacked toward delusional ends. And with QAnon, the appeal has pushed the conspiracy dangerously from the fringes into the mainstream.
For professional confirmation of QAnon’s deliberately addictive nature, take a look at this article in Psychology Today – The Psychological Needs That QAnon Feeds. The main point is summed up nicely by these passages:
Beyond conspiracy theory and online cult, QAnon has also been described as “an unusually absorbing alternate-reality game” where online players who refer to themselves as “bakers” eagerly await the chance to decipher cryptic clues in the form of “bread crumbs” or “Q-drops.” These rewards are dispensed within an irregular "variable ratio reinforcement schedule" that highlights how QAnon represents an immersive form of entertainment that, like online gaming or gambling, provides an ideal set-up for a kind of compulsive behavior that resembles addiction.
The puzzle-solving, role-playing dimension of QAnon acts as another reinforcing intoxicant of sorts, providing believers with an exciting new identity as a "Q Patriot." Back in the 1980s, parents worried that kids playing Dungeons and Dragons would get so invested in their magical role-playing characters that they might lose touch with the real world. Today, QAnon is a kind of live-action role-playing game in which the conflation of fantasy and reality isn’t so much a risk as a built-in feature.
But let’s not stop there.
For an in-depth look at the entire Q phenomenon, I strongly recommend you take an hour or three and read through this five-part series in Salon, written by veteran conspiracy theory researcher, Robert Guffey.
Don’t have quite that much time to spare? Here are a few key passages (with a little light editing for brevity):
Conspiracy theories have always been used by what we now call "persuasion engineers" as tools of mass indoctrination. A good conspiracy theory that seems plausible and frightening enough can be worth more than a thousand well-reasoned stump speeches.
In my first book, I broke conspiracy theories down into five distinct categories: 1) Insanity, 2) Disinformation, 3) Misinformation, 4) Satire, and 5) Legitimate Research. Some theories manage to merge two or more categories into one. Only on very rare occasions do such theories manage to combine all five categories. The most recent — and arguably most impactful — strain of this hybrid form of conspiracy-mongering — "QAnon."
In short, our esteemed host, Joseph’s, adage that, “The conspiracy theory is the conspiracy” hits the nail right on the head…and this one is a doozy.
It wouldn't take much research to figure out that many of QAnon's claims can be traced back to the late 19th century, and some even earlier than that. This is one of the reasons it's important to study conspiracy theories. If more people understood their origins, perhaps they would be a little more skeptical when they see these theories being strategically repackaged as political propaganda aimed at a new generation of easy marks.
The supposed links between devil worship among the "elites" and secret societies like the Illuminati can be traced back at least as far as the 1870s.
In the end, one thing is clear when it comes to the creation of QAnon: Someone who was highly familiar with conspiracy-theory folklore figured out how to give these retro spook stories a facelift, specifically warping them to match the paradigm of Donald Trump's America.
IOW – QAnon’s idiotic claims themselves are basically little more than a repackaging of fascistic conspiracy theories greatest hits, repackaged for the internet age…and repurposed to undermine American society and aid Donald Trump.
the QAnon conspiracy theory has become a movement encompassing everything from commerce to politics. And increasingly, this includes religion, as QAnon believers infuse their complex mythos with elements of spiritual warfare and Biblical theology. But some Christian QAnon followers are taking this merger even further, using the text of Q drops as scripture to form what seems like a hybrid Q/Christian denomination.
As you might have already noticed, the ranks of QAnon are peopled mainly with folks whose hearts and minds have already been deeply corrupted by what I like to call Toxic Right-wing Pseudo-Christianity.
"The Great One can do no wrong" attitude is prevalent among QAnon's followers. If a video was released tomorrow that depicted Donald Trump having sex with one of Jeffrey Epstein's underage sex-trafficking victims, Trump would calmly approach his podium and say, "I had to do that in order to fully infiltrate the sick perverts who are secretly in control of this country!" and almost every single one of QAnon's followers would enthusiastically agree. In the Christian world of QAnon, Democrats and Satanists are the same.
Never forget – from the standpoint of Trump/QAnon cultists, we are not just political opponents, we are literal agents of the devil.
They act accordingly.
In other words, if it's not already clear to you, [QAnon propaganda film] "Out of Shadows" employs the very same "MindWar" PSYOP techniques supposedly reviled by the filmmakers themselves. That same statement applies just as much to all the other related QAnon material I've cited here.
So, is QAnon literally a military grade psychological warfare operation that has been deployed against us? If so, by whom…and why?
Lots of good investigative journalism has been done – and is being done – on the Q phenomenon.
But we need more.
A full-blown investigation into QAnon MUST be undertaken ASAP by Congress, the FBI, CIA, DHS and – perhaps most importantly in this case – the NSA.
It seems clear that QAnon is a ruthlessly effective, large-scale and long-term attack on American democracy, in the course of which the very consciousness and free will of millions of our countrymen and women have literally been hijacked.
The people and groups behind this travesty must be exposed.
The whole enterprise needs to be crushed and its dissemination stopped.
If any statutes exist under which the perpetrators can be charged, they need to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
If the legal tools needed to prevent this sort of thing from ever happening again don’t exist, Congress had better get to work.
However much they dislike the term, people caught up in the QAnon cult are in desperate need of deprogramming.
Deprograming on a scale never seen before.
Like a little more? Check out these links:
Contributing factors to our democratic decline:
From the Right
Truth Decay – Destruction of the Ability to Distinguish Fantasy from Reality
Ever Worsening Demonization of the Media
Manufactured Distrust of Science and Expertise
The Iron Bubble of Disinformation
The Dark Money Conspiracy
Information Warfare Aimed at Us
Emergence of a Full-blown Cult of Personality
Ongoing Voter Suppression and Gerrymandering
Continued Weaponization of Social Media
Toxic Right-wing Pseudo-Christianity
Sexism and a Pseudo-Macho Mentality
Putinism and the International Neo-Fascist Movement
Lack of Education in Civics and Critical Thinking Skills
Destruction of Crucial Democratic Norms
The Collapse of Good Manners and Propriety
From the Left (and Sometimes the Center)
OTT PC (Over-The-Top Political Correctness)
Lack of Media Investment
Surrender of Rural America Without a Fight
Failure to Call Out and Counteract Toxic Right-Wing Christianity
Failure to Call Out Right-Wing Racism, Sexism and Fascism for what it is, and Counteract it in Time
Framing Too Many Issues as Being Rooted in Race Rather than Economics and Class
Failure to Recognize Just How Bad Things Can Really Get
Forever Bringing Beanbags to a Knife Fight
Failure to Protect Critical Norms