I was accidentally on purpose trolling some disillusioned MAGA accounts today and noticed some of the pillier among the comments referencing March 4th as the “last hope”.
Turns out, there’s a reason The Storm didn’t happen on inauguration day after all! Now it’s going to happen on March 4th, the original inauguration day (before it changed during the unholy reign of the embodiment of evil and communism Franklin D. Roosevelt).
But as I said – cults adapt. QAnon’s not going anywhere. Even after March 4th comes and goes without even one Trump inauguration to validate the conspiracy theories, there will be another narrative, another doomsday, to take its place.
These people aren’t going away, and they’re not giving up, and their rage isn’t subsiding even one little bit.
If you’re roughly of my generation, there’s a good chance that you, like me, went through a phase in the 1990s in which you were somewhere between intrigued by and obsessed with the paranormal trash shows masquerading as news magazine shows – Sightings namely and, to a lesser extent, Unsolved Mysteries and the like.
Those shows loved to highlight repressed memories, often recovered through hypnosis, to “prove” all sorts of claims – alien abduction, near death experiences, and sexual, usually “Satanic”, abuse chief among them.
They would routinely employ the Expert Fallacy, cutting away to bearded Dr. Quackensnack, PhD, in his neat necktie and corduroy jacket, in between cheaply-staged reenactments.
It was convincing, and it was bullshit, and it ruined lives.
The Satanic Panic was largely fueled by this junk pseudoscience “uncovering” undeniable “proof” of devil-worshipping cabals kidnapping, torturing, and sexually abusing innocent children in your sleepy suburb. This “proof” was never accompanied by anything remotely material or forensic, which should have tipped people off, but sciencey-sounding garbage that confirms the existence of aliens and devil worshippers has a tenacious ability to override the part of our brains that process logic.
And nobody knew this better than one Dr. Lawrence Pazder, whose 1980 “nonfiction” “book” Michelle Remembers really got this irresponsible grift going. In the book, Good Doctor Pazder (a man so committed to maintaining integrity that he dumped his wife to marry Michelle, his patient, and the subject of his perverse fantasy novel) “uncovers” the real source of his patient’s anxiety and depression – years and years of abduction, torture, and rape at the hands of a devil-worshipping cult, all facilitated by her mother. All of which backed up by zero evidence and massive leaps of logic and overlooking of contradictory facts (Michelle, for instance, had a perfect attendance record during periods she claims to have spent weeks locked up in the devil worshippers’ secret lair).
But people bought it, for reasons too complex to get into here (though my talk with Joe Laycock gets into much of it), and too often this junk science frontier made victims both of it subjects (who often believed, genuinely, that horrific things had happened to them, when often they had not) and those who supposedly abused the subjects, when far more often than not the allegations against them were nothing more than a manipulated fever-dream, concocted by sham professionals intent only on getting their fifteen minutes.
Which brings us to The Cut, the cultural interest division of New York Magazine, and its shocking, reprehensible embrace of this junk science, as well as its assault on Grey Faction, a project of The Satanic Temple, whose mission is “to protect mental health patients and their families from dangerous pseudoscience and discredited therapies, particularly in the area of so-called ‘repressed memories.’”
To be sure, some people experience disassociation with traumatic memories, and some so-called “repressed” memories may be authentic. But memory itself is extremely unreliable and manipulable, and repressed memory “therapy” has been shown to make the reliability of a person’s memory worse, not better.
But none of that is what Katie Heaney’s piece in The Cut is arguing. What she is doing is taking the side of junk science while pretending to be skeptical and objective, not unlike, ironically, Dr. Pazder forty years ago.
This excerpt, about Heaney’s subject, Jennifer Freyd, should help illuminate why:
“If Heaney had looked under that surface, she might have noticed that in 2014, Jennifer Freyd was the keynote speaker at the annual conference for an organization called Survivorship. Survivorship is run by one Neil Brick, a licensed Massachusetts mental health professional who claims that he recovered memories, later in his life, that he had been an Illuminati super-soldier who was trained to rape and kill “without feeling.” Brick has also asserted that Freemasons and/or Satanic cults torture fetuses so as to begin their trauma-based mind control programs at the earliest possible age. Survivorship maintains an annual calendar of “difficult dates,” holidays celebrated by Satanic and/or Illuminati cults, during which targeted individuals are advised to be vigilant for their safety.
Over the last couple days, a few friends have picked my brain about what would happen to QAnon after today.
This was of course under the assumption that The Storm would not be carried out, that Trump would leave for Florida in shame, and that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris would be sworn in as every sane, rational human expected.
We knew this day was coming for a while, and the January 6th QCoup probably helped take some of the steam out of the Q Cult. After successfully breaching the Capitol, and realizing Ted Cruz wasn’t there to greet them, and the National Guard wasn’t on its way to arrest Democrats, and the general sense that they had no idea what to actually do once they had made it to the Senate chamber (beyond livestreaming themselves committing crimes, occasionally getting shot, and making the job of the feds who would eventually arrest them hilariously easy) set in, online Q chatter seemed to show some cracks in faith.
Maybe Q was a hoax.
Maybe The Plan was thwarted.
Maybe The Storm was a fantasy.
Maybe Donald Trump body-switched with Joe Biden and he outsmarted the Deep State conspiracy against him serving a second term by becoming Joe Biden.
All these theories were floated (and some presented as objective fact, namely that last one) on online Q discussion boards.
But doubt wouldn’t turn to disillusionment until today’s QAnon Virtual Watch Party for The Storm. There were no public hangings of Democrats. No trucks full of grateful cherubic children flooding out of secret pizza parlor dungeons, freed from the bondage of devil-worshipping pedophiles. Donald Trump was not sworn in as president. Suddenly, reality collided with fantasy in ways that even some of the Q Cult couldn’t deny. That really was Joe Biden being sworn in as president (the deep fake theory didn’t get much traction). And just like the Millerites, some 180 years ago, finding themselves unable to deny the fact that the very much non-ended world had not ended, the Red-Pilled Faction struggled to make sense of it all.
That’s where we are today. And so the question many of us are asking is what happens next.
I don’t know, obviously. But I’m willing to make some predictions that I feel pretty confident about.
One, the Q Cult isn’t over. Will it soften a little bit? Maybe. Certainly it will reform somehow. But the elements upon which it was built run far deeper than Q itself, and it’s important to remember that none – none – of the Q Drops ever bore any relationship to reality, and that never seemed to bother any of the true believers. It’s worth pointing out that Q hasn’t dropped anything since early December, and that didn’t do anything to stop the terror attack on the Capitol, at which Q Cultists had a very visible presence.
Two, it will lose followers. That’s a certainty. It already has (and not just the ones who are about to spend some well-earned time in prison, like the Q Shaman).
But the vast majority of them will, I suspect, follow the lead of the Millerites once they got over the whole non-glorious non-arrival of Jesus thing. Because many of them carried on the basic framework of Miller’s teaching in the Adventist branch of protestantism. And my guess is that the next thing we’ll see is the Seventh Day Adventist version of QAnon. They will divorce themselves from Q himself (who seems to have shrugged and gone home anyway) and instead accept the basic underlying premises of the Q Cult (Deep States, Satanic child sex rings, Plandemics, and the rest of George Soros’s and the Illuminati’s and the rest of the ChiCom Globalists’ nefarious plans to undo our pesky freedoms with healthcare and vaccines) as they tilt at windmills together as an initially loose but increasingly cohesive online coalition.
The rest will likely move one step back in the Red Pill ladder and re-up with the InfoWars narrative. InfoWars’ Alex Jones has always railed against Q as a bunch of loonies (in reality he was miffed that a competing grift that, to be fair, he thought of first, and who were taking all his vitamin-and-t-shirt money away from him). He took to calling them Q-Tards, despite the fact that the actual differences between Q’s beliefs and his own are miniscule and cosmetic at best, and that one of his most frequent and beloved guest, Mike Flynn, is basically the John the Baptist of the Q cult. And, smartly, he gave up on the idea of Trump remaining president a week or so ago, so he can do a victory lap now, and it’s likely that he’ll regain some clout with the right-wing conspiracy theorists on the fringes. Many Q Cultists will likely float between Jones and the harder-core, pilledest of the red pilled before settling on a new ideological home.
But I think the short answer is that Q has been dealt a blow, yes, but has already proven its durability, and history tells us that these sort of apocalyptic, moral-panic-driven ideologies don’t go away when facts present an obstacle. Q is here to stay, and we need to understand January 6th as an opening shot, not a Hail Mary pass.