Internet prophecy cults 101: QAnon and his predecessors

<this post is a 100%, definitely real email I recently sent that I thought I’d share>

FROM: mike@conspiracypsych.com

TO: operations@soros.org

SUBJECT: Re: advice pls

Hi George,

Thanks for your email. Flattered that you thought of me – of course I can give you a hand with this. I can see why you want to understand the appeal of QAnon. First, a brief history!

“QAnon”, also known as just plain Q, first appeared in October 2017. At first he was just another “insider” posting cryptic hints about the future of U.S. politics on anonymous messageboards, but he quickly gained a following for his claims that Donald Trump is both a secret genius and the present target of a doomed conspiracy to destroy Western civilization. These days, a flock of conspiracy-minded Trump supporters are following his “drops” – cryptic messages revealing different aspects of the conspiracy.

A standard Q post.

Despite being an anonymous shitposter, Q’s got a lot of people convinced that he’s got insider info on the deep state conspiracy against Trump. But you need to understand that this is a much older scam than Q himself. People have been pulling the same thing for decades.

The thing is, Q isn’t just a conspiracy theory. It’s a kind of internet prophecy cult. Never mind that its prophecies are almost entirely wrong when they’re not too vague to make a judgement one way or another.

I’ll answer your question, but I’ll give you a couple of other examples along the way to illustrate how others have managed this in the past. They are:

  • QAnon, who you already know.
  • ZetaTalk, a doomsday cult about a rogue planet, “Planet X” or “Nibiru” coming along to flip the rotational poles of the Earth (a fact which is being covered up by the government), run by a woman named Nancy Lieder.
  • Dorothy Martin, AKA Marian Keech, who ran a similar UFO doomsday cult in the 50s.
  • NESARA, which was a scam that started up in the 90s. It’s complicated, but they believed that with the help of space aliens, a secret law called NESARA has been passed that will abolish the current monetary system, and we’ll all be rich as soon as it’s revealed to the public.
  • Harold Camping, who predicted the Apocalypse would occur on a couple of dates in 2011.

Psychologically, we have some insight into why this happens – hell, Dorothy Martin’s cult was the subject of “When Prophecy Fails,” one of the foundational texts of social psychology. I’ ll do my best to break down how this works, step by step, using some of that psychology and some of my own observations. As best I can, I’ve tried to accompany each step with some illustrative examples from all of these previous sources (though it’s easier to find Q’s text online – the ZetaTalk website is a mess, NESARA is spread over a billion different 90s websites, etc.).

1. Find an audience, and tell them what they want to hear.

Figure out who you’re appealing to. Preppers? Goldbugs? New Age UFO fans? The new right? Whoever you want to reach, go to where they are. Find their communities and post there. Act mysterious. Tell them that everything they believe is right and good, and everything they disagree with is wrong, evil, and doomed.

q0

Q telling 4chan’s extremely right-wing politics forum about the evils of the Democratic Party.

Tell them that while things might look bad at the moment, soon a great cleansing will come upon the world. The evil men who have jealously hoarded their power will be swept away, and the world will be ruled by the just. It might hurt, people might die, but in the end, everything will be set right.

q1

Q laying out the stakes.

The “Dove of Oneness” – the first NESARA prophet – letting us know how NESARA will save the world.

ZetaTalk describing how the selfish elites of Earth are planning to escape to Mars when the apocalypse comes.

Now that you’ve told them who the bad guys are, tell them who the good guys are. Tailor this to your audience. Aliens are a safe bet if you’re in the New Age crowd. If your audience is a little less UFO-friendly, go with political insiders, patriots, loyalists to the way things ought to be. Give the good guys a name. Maybe go with White Hats, White Knights, something like that.

ZetaTalk’s depiction of the (mostly benevolent) aliens who will help us.

A NESARA post describing the “White Knights” who will end the conspiracy.

A Q post describing the “wizards and warlocks” who, led by Donald Trump, will defeat the Deep State.

Tell them that the White Hats will save us – or help us save ourselves.

Tell them that the White Hats aren’t always visible, but they’re there. They’ve penetrated the ranks of evil, and have been preparing to make their move for a long time. Maybe months, maybe years, maybe centuries. But now the hour of victory is upon them. Soon, very soon, they will make their move and make the world great again.

Q assuring us that the Deep State will be overthrown very soon, and all will be well.

Salusa, one of the NESARA aliens, telling us that everything’s just about to go down.

People will believe you. People always want to believe they’re right. Mostly, they will convince themselves that they’re right anyway, and since you were telling them things they want to be true, they’ll give you credit for having been “right.”

Write strangely. Maybe you’re a telepathic channel for aliens who use weird expressions because they’re not quite human, maybe you’re a secret spy who uses secret spy codes, maybe you’re God so you sound like the King James Bible. They will think this is impressive, or at least they’ll think you sound distinctive and memorable. You’ll stick in their minds. They’ll second-guess themselves because you’re obviously operating on a different level from them.

A ZetaTalk message that shows an interesting grasp of orbital mechanics.

 

An excerpt from “When Prophecy Fails”, featuring a telepathic message from Sananda (Space Jesus).

One of Q’s “stringer” posts – cryptic nonsense purportedly giving commands or encoded messages to field agents.

A NESARA post featuring Biblical-sounding language.

Tell them that your predictions are coming true, that the signs of your correctness can be seen everywhere. Tell them that your critics are not really critics – they’re shills, trolls, stooges. Agents of the conspiracy. Tell them that the shills will stop at nothing to prevent the Truth from getting out, to keep people asleep.

An excerpt from “When Prophecy Fails,” detailing how humanity is not yet ready to listen to the cult’s message.

Most of all, tell them that they’re special for believing you. They’re not like the sleeping masses – they are the rare people who can see through the lies. They are good and smart and righteous.

 

A Q message congratulating its “patriot” readers on their importance and cleverness.

A NESARA message on how important the readers are.

If you’ve told people enough of what they want to hear, they’ll find reasons to believe what you’re telling them. They’ll defend you. That’s how you know you’re ready for the next step.

2. Set a date for when everything will start to happen.

Tell them that the White Hats will make their move (or the apocalypse will come) on a particular date, or in a specific time frame. People like definite predictions. You’ve been pretty general so far, so a specific prediction will stand out, and it’ll get people talking.

Q announcing in early November 2017 that John Podesta’s arrest would be revealed to the public in the following days.

Tell them that this is when everything starts, when the signs will finally be undeniable, when the truth will come out and the evil will start to crumble. Tell them that the world will begin to awaken. Tell them that their enemies will be destroyed, light will prevail over darkness. The world will be wiped clean.

A ZetaTalk post predicting that the “Planet X” catastrophe would come to pass in mid-May, 2003.

One of many NESARA posts assuring the reader that the existence of NESARA would occur that very same week.

What date should you pick? Doesn’t matter. Nothing’s going to happen. This is a publicity stunt. Dates are attractive. Your followers will spread your prediction around, and your critics – shills, remember – will mock it. That’s good. It’s publicity. People who had never heard of you will hear about you. Some of them will be intrigued. Some of them will laugh. Ignore those.

3. Come up with an excuse.

So, the date has passed and nothing has happened. The critics are cackling away, spreading your failure for the world to see. Your supporters are confused and disoriented. It’s time to rationalize. You have a few options.

Maybe you tell them that the prediction was a lie, meant to confuse the conspirators. I wouldn’t recommend this.

A ZetaTalk post explaining that the predicted date for the end of the world was a clever deception meant to scare the conspiracy into tipping their hand.

Maybe you tell them that your efforts have delayed the end. This works best if people are ambivalent about the coming end, if it would come with a cost in lives and suffering. It’s still coming, mind you, just delayed a little. And what feels better than postponing the apocalypse?

In “When Prophecy Fails,” the predicted date of the apocalypse came and went without incident. The cult leader channeled a message from the benevolent aliens saying that the actions of the cult had delayed – but not stopped – the end of the world.

Maybe you tell them that the White Hats went ahead with their plan – they just did it secretly. You see, they worry. They care about us. They don’t want chaos, and panic, and rioting in the streets. They want a gradual transition. They want us to be safe from any counter-moves by the bad guys.

A ZetaTalk post describing the chaos that would result if everyone know about the coming changes.

The law that will change everything that was passed, but everyone was sworn to secrecy.

A post rationalizing why NESARA, supposedly a law that would create world peace and give everyone free money, has passed but is somehow being kept secret.

The alien planet that will purify the Earth has arrived in the inner solar system, but is hidden from view by benevolent aliens while the Earth has stopped in its orbit so the rogue planet can continue to hide behind the sun.

A ZetaTalk post claiming that Earth has stopped in its orbit due to the influence of the mysterious Planet X.

God has passed His judgement on humanity, but hasn’t gotten around to telling anyone.

A news story on Harold Camping, who predicted the apocalypse to begin on May 21, 2011. Here, in an interview after that date, Camping declares that the world was judged by God, though “invisibly.”

The White Hats arrested the conspirators, then set them free on bail so as not to panic the masses.

Q rationalizing why no arrests of conspirators were announced on the original date of 3rd/4th November, 2017.

Tell them that despite all this, the signs are still there for anyone with their eyes open. The faithful, the enlightened, the awake – they will be able to see what’s going on. It’s obvious. How could they not see it? Anyone who doesn’t see it must be blind – and when the time comes, they’ll get theirs.

q9

Q knows that his followers aren’t like the rest of the sheeple.

A ZetaTalk post, explaining why the “wobble” that is covering up the Earth’s halted orbit is actually really obvious to anyone who’s willing to see it.

Maybe you tell them a combination of all these things. Whatever you choose, it’s best if your supporters do most of the legwork for you. If they defend your rationalization, that’s a good sign. It means that when your predictions conflict with reality, they’ll believe you over their lying eyes.

q7

Q’s followers decided that the arrests were actually carried out as predicted (though in secret), and the various conspirators are now wearing ankle monitoring bracelets to track their locations. Here, a Q supporter on Twitter spreads this idea around.

4. Take stock of your following.

At this point, you’ve had your first definite failed prediction. How successful were you? Did your supporters follow you? Did they believe your rationalization? Did they leap to your defence?

A comment thread on a Reddit community devoted to interpreting Q’s prophecies, lamenting that a compromising video of Hillary Clinton hasn’t yet surfaced, as promised by Q.

You got some publicity from the date-setting, but will probably have lost some followers after the failed prediction. These are the people who were probably going to check out anyway at some point. Maybe their worldview wasn’t completely in line with whatever you were pushing, so they didn’t see all of your predictions as self-evident. Who knows?

Two commenters arguing on a different Reddit community about Q’s validity as an insider source.

The end result is condensation. Your remaining followers are now purer, more concentrated, more dedicated to you. To rescue their belief in you they have already chosen to believe in a secret coup d’etat, a concealed apocalypse, an occult constitution. They’re not going anywhere anytime soon.

5. Be vague.

This is your new normal. Tell them things are proceeding as planned. Tell them the White Hats are in control. Tell them it’s only a matter of time until all is revealed.

Q assuring everyone that things are moving along as planned, and all will soon be revealed to the public.

Tell them to look for signs. Tell them that some numbers are significant, that they should look back at certain dates. Tell them generalities. Tell them things that could be seen as true, regardless of what actually happens.

Q posting some cryptic gibberish and “Future proves past”, which is his way of saying that his “predictions” can only be understood after the fact.

Did you tell them to watch someone, or to watch for a particular sign? If the target shows up in the news, that’s confirmation. If not, why isn’t the conspiracy-controlled Mainstream Media reporting on the target? Isn’t that suspicious? Doesn’t that mean you were right, too?

A news story on a NESARA-aligned site alleging a media blackout on pedophilia rings.

An early Q post urging followers to investigate Democratic Party staffer Huma Abedin, despite her absence from the public eye.

Let them fill in the blanks. Let them watch the news, watch the skies, watch each other. Let them fit current events to your past predictions. If you’re vague enough and put out a high enough volume, there will be some coincidences, some matches, some words you mention that will become relevant days, weeks, or months later. Every one of these random matches is a confirmation of your value and a justification of your followers’ commitment.

q12

A compilation of Q posts in which the appearance of the word GREEN in a previous post is interpreted as having predicted a plane crash involving a pilot with the surname Green.

Let them dig themselves deeper. Let them see each other as a united front, a team, a family.

A post by a Q follower describing the sense of pride, accomplishment, and community that he derives from being part of the Q… continuum?

Imitators will appear, trying to ape your success. They’ll give themselves similar names, talk about similar things, but they won’t have the same authenticity, the same originality. Don’t worry about them. By now your followers will dismiss them as part of the conspiracy – more proof that you’re right.

You can disappear, go silent for weeks at a time. Your absence becomes a text for interpretation, just like your writings. Where is the prophet? What mysterious things are they doing?

Q taking a well-deserved Christmas break.

Tell them nonsense. Post gibberish. By now, your followers are experts in the alchemy of their own minds. They will find a way to transmute lead to gold. Have fun! You’ve earned it.

???

Whatever you do, rely on your followers. By now they will do most of the heavy lifting for you, most of the interpretation. When they don’t get what you’re trying to say, it can be frustrating. Try not to seem outwardly annoyed, but it’s not a big deal if you slip up.

Remember your audience. Tell them what they want to hear: they’re special, and everything is about to be great.

Q reassuring the audience.

6. Where are you going with this?

That’s the question, isn’t it?

Maybe you want them to give you money. Tell them your expenses are high. Tell them that it’s not easy revealing the secrets of the universe. Tell them you need help. They’ll do it. What’s a few dollars in exchange for the secrets of the universe?

A ZetaTalk post soliciting donations to the site.

Maybe you want to build a following to run a pump & dump scheme. Tell them to buy Ethereum or Iraqi Dinars or something, then sell your own stash while the price is inflated.

Maybe you’re not in it for the money, though. Maybe you just want power, or attention, or to change people’s beliefs. Maybe you believe some of what you’re saying. In that case, you might make some more predictions, set some more dates – try to convince more people that what you’re saying is true. Expand the borders. Build an empire of belief. But at this point, that’s optional. You’re there, now. You have a following, a mythology. You’ve arrived.

It’s up to you. The world is your oyster. Enjoy your cult.

Anyway, George, that’s how you do it. Give my best to the kids and the Hoggster, and best of luck in Montreal next month.

Your obedient servant,

M. Wood

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This entry was posted in Biases & heuristics, Confirmation bias, Events, World events and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Internet prophecy cults 101: QAnon and his predecessors

  1. Dr. Mike
    Here, chew .on this Google

    Organized gang stalking and monitoring and BOLO
    March 23, 2017 ~

    Then, note that ROGS is 100% free, and actively discourages posting by gang stalking intel agenrs and other cowards.

    But, hey, I drank YOUR kool aid today, lol

  2. El Coyote says:

    Fascinating stuff, thank you for sharing it. Our blog opposes a much smaller operation than Q’s, but I can see several parallels between what you’re saying and the Hampstead Satanic ritual abuse hoax.

  3. Pingback: Is Hoaxtead an ‘internet prophecy cult’? | HOAXTEAD RESEARCH

  4. Not now not ever says:

    Wonderfully done. Very apropos.

  5. Pingback: This blog was hacked on August 1, 2018, and titled “Q” – Q

  6. Gareth says:

    Excellent and sane take on our current (and not so current) madness. Thank you

  7. Me says:

    Sadly, confirmation bias is a truly powerful thing and it prevents otherwise sane people from seeing that they are being manipulated.

  8. Caroline says:

    If believing or just following Q give people some hope and happiness that is too much for the mind controlling business.

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