Last night my wife and I finished watching the sixth and last episode of HBO's "QAnon: Into the Storm."
I've written two previous posts about how QAnon bears a lot of resemblance to religion. (See here and here.)
QAnon devotees are like religious believers. Neither cares about actual truth, while both pretend that they understand reality in a deep sense that eludes ordinary people.
I found the HBO series fascinating.
It shows us the people behind QAnon -- the computer geeks who administer the sites where Q posted his "drops," often enigmatic and usually totally wrong observations about politics and what-not.
We also see the people who interpret Q's communications via podcasts, You Tube channels, and the like. They're akin to high priests who mediate between the Almighty and the mass of believers.
The final episode doesn't definitively say who Q is, but a lot of evidence points to Ron Watkins, including Watkins' own words.
Watkins was the administrator of 8Chan, which morphed into 8Kun, the places that Q chose to host his posts/drops. His father, Jim Watkins, also plays a large role in the HBO series.
Both Ron and Jim are intelligent schemers. They're highly watchable, along with being highly irritating at times.
When the closing credits of the final episode appeared, I said to my wife, "I wonder if the faith of QAnon followers would be shaken if they knew that probably Q is a computer geek who wears a green baseball cap, not a high level government official with a super secret Q security clearance."
She replied, "It wouldn't matter to them. They'd continue to believe what they want to believe and wouldn't trust that Ron Watkins likely is Q."
My wife is right.
After all, there's no demonstrable evidence that the founder of any religion actually knew anything about God, nor that God even exists. Yet billions of people worship that non-existent entity regardless.
A FiveThirtyEight review of the HBO series made the same point. (Cullen Hoback is the director of QAnon: Into the Storm.)
But even if Hoback had managed to elicit a full confession, it likely wouldn’t have much impact on QAnon as a movement. Q followers would do what they always do when confronted with conflicting evidence to their belief system: they would either dismiss it or find a way to fold the information into their worldview.
Even if someone admitted that Q’s posts were a complete fabrication, it would not be enough to penetrate the hard outer shell of belief for many followers. Q, after all, has gone underground. He (or she or they) hasn’t posted since Dec. 8, 2020, the longest stretch of silence since Q first began posting in 2017.
It's interesting that Q's postings started in the first year of Trump's presidency and ended when it became clear that Trump had lost to Joe Biden.
These were dark years for truth-telling, in Washington D.C., at least. Now truth is making a comeback, since the Biden administration is hugely more committed to honesty, science, and transparency.
The final episode of the HBO series ends with footage of the January 6 attempted insurrection at the nation's Capitol, where Biden's electoral college victory was being finalized.
QAnon believers were convinced that somehow Trump would stage a "storm" of a comeback, arresting his enemies, including leading Democratic politicians, and remaining president. When this didn't happen, the QAnon faithful were deeply shaken.
Just like religious believers when, say, the predicted second coming of Christ comes and goes with no appearance by Jesus.
However, the power of mass delusion is very strong. QAnon still has lots of adherents, as does Christianity, obviously. Inconvenient truths aren't going to dissuade people who believe in falsehood that's immune to disproof.
In a brilliant move, Episode 6 of QAnon: Into the Storm shows the Trump rioters breaking into the Capitol as the Jefferson Airplane song, "White Rabbit," plays.
This musical paean to going down the rabbit hole, psychedelic variety, made the attempted insurrection look like the bizarre fantasy that it actually was. Sadly, I couldn't find any clips of the final episode with White Rabbit playing.
But you can hear this classic song by Grace Slick via You Tube video. I'll also share the trailer for the HBO series and a CNN interview with Hoback where he talks about his strong suspicion that Ron Watkins is Q.
I haven't watched this documentary, not sure if I will - but as may or may not have been made clear by the documentary makers (I have no idea how deep they go into the background of all this), the reason they probably played Jefferson Airplane's White Rabbit (which is brilliant, btw :) is because one of the creators behind the QAnon myth is alleged to have been highly influenced by his psilocybin mushroom journeying.......a much, much bigger subject here than most people will be able to assimilate.....
Posted by: manjit | April 14, 2021 at 04:35 AM
Sulphur or roses?!
Posted by: um | April 14, 2021 at 05:05 AM
Belief and faith rest on qualities of personality. They do not depend upon proof. If you prove anything, there is no need of faith. Your proof ends the necessity, and possibly the romance of faith.
But it also ends the grounds for opinion.
Both faith and opinion thrive in the absence of information. They are the ways in which the human brain tries to bridge the gaps to create a clear picture. Just as the brain fills in the blind spots in your visual field as best it can, just as it turns the image on your retina upside down, and takes curved lines and makes them straight before you see them, so too the brain fills in gaps of knowledge with its best guess and presents them to you as ideas that pop into your head. It's a healthy process if you are going to test those ideas, and a harmful process if you are not.
The kinds of things your brain comes up with as explanations for what it doesn't know are opinion. And faith is largely in your own opinion.
But there is another kind of faith. Faith in the mystery of what we don't know. Not faith in your version of God, science, or politics, or your certainty of a leader's strength or corruption on the basis of limited information, or their own claims, or even faith in your opinions about what is going on, or even your faith in someone else's opinion. Because that isn't actually faith. It's just opinion. And opinion is not only a poor substitute for Truth, it gets in the way of seeing Truth. And then we can confuse opinion for Truth. And that makes letting go of a favored opinion difficult when facts prove otherwise. Then we just reject the facts as someone else's opinion.
Real Faith in not knowing. It's loving confidently in that place where we know we don't know everything. And what we experience, we understand is just from our point in space. Faith that new information is actually there but we don't see it yet. Living that way, because it is the truth. Faith that the invisible truth yet to be discovered is greater than any opinion.
Faith enough in what is there that you don't know, to give up opinion and say, confidently, honestly, "I don't know, and I don't think having an opinion about something I haven't experienced, something I have no actual knowledge of, is of any help in learning about that, in finding what I don't yet know."
Real Faith is no faith if it is faith in a preconceived opinion. Faith is valuing the unknown Truth higher than any opinion, with the maturity to know from experience the dangers of holding onto opinion.
If there is a God, they would like you to put aside your opinions as a first step to seeing them. Even about God. And when you see them, you won't say "I see God", because that is just your label, your opinion, for what you are seeing. You will just enjoy seeing what you are seeing. That's a higher value than trying to fill in the gaps of what can never be known, but fully experienced. The cost? Faith in your opinion.
Posted by: Spence Tepper | April 24, 2021 at 04:29 AM
"Belief and faith rest on qualities of personality. They do not depend upon proof. If you prove anything, there is no need of faith. Your proof ends the necessity, and possibly the romance of faith.
But it also ends the grounds for opinion."
Pardon me, Spence, for butting in again, but I disagree squarely. We see plenty of weird opinions in here, like people who climb on the GSD-bashing bandwagon to then claim in apparent earnest that GSD has horns and a forked tail. And that's fine, some weirdness is par for the course. Not every weird opinion from every weird person needs to be quarreled with. But coming from you, who, given you background in science (that we've discussed in the past), should -- and do -- know better, this kind of anti-scientific POV cries out for rebuttal, and I could not but answer that call.
Science does not deal in "proof". Proof is the domain of logic and math. What science deals in is evidence. Evidence, and, building on observations and evidence, on hypotheses and theories,
And absolutely, that does call for faith. Because scientific theories aren't written in stone. Ultimately they're opinions, no more. Faith even, if you wish to use that word.
What science does is guide us towards a reasonable basis for our opinions and our faith. Instead of believing in random unevidenced things, what science guides you towards is belief (and, yes, faith) in reasonable, evidenced things -- always with the understanding that such faith, such belief is provisional, and subject to change should fresh observations and fresh evidence so warrant.
Nor does this "kill the romance of faith". If you have the eyes to see and a heart that can feel, then you will find romance in contemplating the earth going round the sun, the colossal macro-universe, the microscopic world governed by QM, the wonder that is our bodies. Any and all of that is, truly, wonderful. You don't need "faith" in fairy tales in order to access wonder, no Sir!
Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful, Spence, without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?
(By all means believe in fairies, if your subjective experience shows you fairies, and you find reasons to believe in fairies that may not be objectively appreciable to others. That is a separate thing altogether. But this kind of advocacy for unevidenced faith in whatever takes one's fancy, that religions are based on, and that QAnon-type bullshit is also based squarely on, let's leave that kind of thing to the loons.)
Posted by: Appreciaitve Reader | April 24, 2021 at 12:49 PM
Revisiting your comment:
"Real Faith is no faith if it is faith in a preconceived opinion. Faith is valuing the unknown Truth higher than any opinion, with the maturity to know from experience the dangers of holding onto opinion.
If there is a God, they would like you to put aside your opinions as a first step to seeing them. Even about God. And when you see them, you won't say "I see God", because that is just your label, your opinion, for what you are seeing. You will just enjoy seeing what you are seeing. That's a higher value than trying to fill in the gaps of what can never be known, but fully experienced. The cost? Faith in your opinion."
I'd read that much, that I'd commented on, without having read all of the rest. This last, which seems to be your conclusion, is something I can get behind. I'm sorry, I'd spoken out without reading your full comment.
But this last doesn't really follow, at all, from the initial parts of your comment, that I'd responded to above, does it? That initial part of your comment seems to contradict your later conclusion.
(And in any case, this is a pretty much idiosyncratic use of the word "faith". On the other hand, you do have the right to use words as you like, as long as you clearly explain the sense you've used them in -- which you have done, here.)
Anyhoo. This is where my inner master --- which, in my case, is me! --- steps in and tells me that I shouldn't rush to respond before reading through fully! :---)
Posted by: Appreciative Reader | April 24, 2021 at 01:16 PM
Thanks for your comments.
When I wrote that proof is the end of opinion and faith, I was referring to faith in an opinion.
Posted by: Spence Tepper | April 24, 2021 at 06:26 PM
And Appreciative, you are right to take me to task for redefining words as I go.
When people sincerely say "I have Faith in my Master /Christ / Gravity"
This is a statement honestly that they don't actually know. They want to believe. Perhaps love compels them, but they are saying the word Faith because they don't have the evidence yet. They believe in it.
But when we lose that humility and try to prove our faith, using whatever trumped up logic, miracle stories, etc, then we are using the word Faith, but it is just faith in our own opinion. There is no faith in that.
And faith is absolutely necessary because none of us knows the whole Truth. We actually know a very tiny tiny portion, if really any thing at all.
But faith in Truth, in facts, yet unseen that we don't know, faith in our capacity to learn new things tomorrow we don't know today, that is humility, and an open mind. Faith in an open mind.
Posted by: Spence Tepper | April 24, 2021 at 06:35 PM
I ended up watching this a few weeks ago, it was brilliant and essential viewing for these current times, a must watch for anyone with even the slightest interest in Qanon, Trump or recent global events in general - thanks for recommending it Brian.
Having been somewhat observing the inception and growth of the Qanon phenomena from "up-close" for several years, where all is very murky and uncertain, and rumour/speculation driven, I found watching these guys up close and in "real life" absolutely fascinating. My whole perception of the rumours I had heard about these guys has shifted somewhat after watching this.
Frederick Brennan (who conceived and designed the 8chan forum whilst on psilocybin mushrooms, which had a disproportionate effect on the US election outcome compared to it's relatively tiny size :) doesn't appear to have actively been directly involved in manufacturing the Qanon myth, which is not what some of the rumours a few years back where hinting at. It does seem pretty clear that that Jim and Ron Watkins are "Qanon", or at least were for several years after the initial prankster got bored of it perhaps.
Anyway, anyone who has paid attention to any of the ridiculous and absurd conspiratorial nonsense these guys were spreading really should watch this documentary.
But what I am more interesting in in context of this blog and the title and content of your post, Brian, is the now imo comical degree of religious-minded fundamentalism you have for your atheist beliefs and cause.
What has Qanon got to do with the human search for the meaning of life, consciousness and existence, or concepts or experiences relating to some form of divinity or spirituality?
Whatever is going on here, the deep psychology behind both the people who perpetrate such hoaxes, and the hordes who so willingly accept them, is surely far more closely related to the fact these people don't actually have much meaning or purpose in life, so thoroughly indoctrinated have they become by nihilistic materialism and beliefs, about narratives which emphasise their individuality and separation from the rest of creation and life (a natural consequence of not realising that science is merely a tool, and not reality itself, and that the false dualism, dichotomy or separation between the observed and the observer is merely a useful fiction and not actually how reality is. Luckily, whilst arrogant and as we now know delusional materialistic scientists were saying more than a century ago "all that is left in the realm of physics is crossing the t's and dotting the i's", quantum physics came along to shut them up and sit them down.....those who were honest and humble enough to do so, anyway).
And so it goes here.....if by "religious" we are not referring to elements of the "supernormal" or "spiritual" but instead rigid dogmatism, an inability to perceive reality as it is but instead filter it through very narrow parameters (Religions is bad, science is good), a deep connection between one's i-dentity and one's beliefs etc etc, then surely Brian we are talking here about your religious adherence to atheism, scepticism, your criticism of any and all aspects of "spirituality" or the "paranormal" regardless of the subtlety and nuance, your complete ignore-ance of facts and arguments which contradict your narrow-tunnelled-reality etc. It is obvious, it is plain to see. It is witnessing the "be born again through science" blog titles, in between the "be a scout for the truth" posts.....of course you mean YOUR truth here, you're not speaking to yourself, but to others.....those dim-witted believers in "religion" who think they know something secret about the universe others don't get.........they just don't see that YOU know something secret about the universe (it is a meaningless accident, life is pointless and purposeless etc), and those damn fools just can't comprehend your profound insight into the nature of all reality itself......."Mystery" and "Gods" indeed!!
The curious thing is, despite adherents of this late 20th century cult of neo-atheists believing themselves to be intellectually superior to believers in "woo" and "religions" etc, with their priests publishing books which sold in their millions stating the stupefyingly obvious about the bad side of religious belief (oh, look here, a religious war, isn't religion bad....religion causes all this, aren't we smart and modern for recognising the evil of religion), it is strange this cult arose at the end of the most bloodiest century in human history, a horrific century that made the entire history of humankind prior seem like a love-in. And what was all the unimaginable bloodshed and suffering based on? Jesus? Mohammed? Baba Faqir Chand? Ramana Maharshi? No, actually it was based almost entirely on secular ideologies, pseudo-scientific delusions such as the notion of social-darwinism, and tools of destruction designed by scientists completely separated from any sense of a morality not driven by the innate hatred of secular ideologies, survival of the fittest, and no deeper meaning or connection to reality-at-large in life.
So there we have it. A cult of intellectuals telling us how bad religion is, how religion is the cause of all the worlds ills.....at the end of a century drenched in the blood of secular ideology and scientifically designed atomic bombs.
The human mind, and it's various delusions, are most curious to behold.
Lots of talk about being "scouts for truth" on this blog, to me it simply seems like more dogmatism, more bias, more intolerance, more misplaced arrogance & surety in what we know or think we know, more closed-mindedness etc. This way nothing good lies, imo.
But to each their own. I can call myself a king, but it doesn't mean I will feast at a banquet tonight.
Posted by: WooAnon | June 05, 2021 at 06:31 AM