that QAnon was the source) and sending her credible information about child trafficking – the little truth which, as a mother, piqued her concern and her interest; which prompted the algorithm to send her more hardcore QAnon material; which led to her ‘asking people that I trusted about this information’, after which ‘it snowballed’ and eventually she believed it all. And all in just a few months. ‘But it didn’t start that way.’
No. It started with – and was sustained by – trust in ‘great people, wonderful people’. And it was also sustained by mistrust, since converts are strongly encouraged to doubt anything that threatens to undermine their growing belief in QAnon.
Gain trust, start small, then build
This process is something that the unscrupulous understand very well – gain trust, start small, then build. As more and more people are taken in they amplify the deceit and defend it against all attack – and all in good faith. In fact, the perception that more and more people believe it becomes evidence in itself of its truth, further fuelling its growth.
Meanwhile, the job of the unscrupulous is to keep feeding the Big Lie just long enough to achieve whatever it is they’re after.
On which point, there’s no evidence that Trump has been directly involved in QAnon – but he certainly didn’t disavow it. Indeed, through nods and winks, he actively encouraged it.
During the re-election campaign, for example, when asked by a journalist whether he was secretly saving the world from a satanic cult of paedophiles and cannibals, Trump replied, ‘Well, I haven’t heard that. But is that supposed to be a bad thing or a good thing? I mean, you know, if I can help save the world from problems, I’m willing to do it. I’m willing to put myself out there.’
As a cynic might say, ‘It doesn’t have to be true. It just has to be believed.’ As a cynic did say, in fact, since these were the exact words – caught on hidden camera – of Alexander Nix, then CEO of Cambridge Analytica, the political data firm used by the Trump campaign in 2016. He was talking about how to spread disinformation to discredit political opponents.
It all falls apart – till next time
But Cambridge Analytica is no more and Trump lost the 2020 election – which points to A Big Truth. Eventually, fantasy collides with fact and the Big Lie falls apart – though not until a lot of damage has been done to a lot of people.
We’ve seen it time and again – but it keeps on happening. And these days magnified in scale and accelerated in time by the power of the internet and social media.
Bottom line – QAnon hasn’t gone away and neither has the Big Lie, in all its malicious forms, present and future.
So what can be done to counter this malignancy?
That’s the subject of my next blog.