As Miro Dittrich observes in his interview with Vice, one of the elements which makes QAnon so pervasive and ‘successful’ is its ability to adapt to other conspiracy narratives, in particular in its ability to adapt itself to local situations. And I would argue that it is therein that lies the formula for success employed by populist, often far-right movements.
These movements have largely mastered the ability to tap into a few broad, general themes that function on both a large, often global scale, but also translate well to hyper-specific situations. By tapping into people’s feelings of disenfranchisement, loss of control, and fear, these movements are able to achieve a cycle of self-affirmation once followers have been brought into the fold.
For example, to Kalmar’s article. Say the Hungarian worker has recently been laid off, and sees the exodus of refugees flocking to Europe for safety. The post hoc fallacy suggesting that the two facts have a causal connection – the worker is now going to be competing against this “flood” of migrants for work – acts as an entry point for the more noxious facets of these populist theories. But if they (those fighting against the elites, that is) were right about the first point, what’s to say that aren’t right about the Soros myth, or vaccines as a vehicle for microchips.
And while QAnon has certainly done it remarkably well, as Dittrich notes, it is hardly the first of its kind, particularly in the antisemitic roots of the conspiracy. And it is the very thing that makes QAnon attractive to new followers that makes it so very difficult to combat. After all, if a group of global elites is trying to manipulate circumstances – be it in reference to a global child sex trafficking ring, or simply a local by-election – how can efforts to combat that misinformation be trusted? Thus, rather than emphasizing how to change the minds of QAnon followers, perhaps as Mirko suggests in his interview, efforts are better directed towards improving media literacy in the first place.