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How QAnon Attracts Like a Traditional Cult

Like any manipulative, coercive community, many people join and stay out of a need for community and the reward of appreciation for doing something they are told is valuable.


This article in the New York Times explores QAnon's attraction to the disaffected and lonely through the experience of one of the better educated.


"What attracts Ms. Gilbert and many other people to QAnon isn’t just the content of the conspiracy theory itself. It’s the community and sense of mission it provides. New QAnon believers are invited to chat rooms and group texts, and their posts are showered with likes and retweets. They make friends, and are told that they are not lonely Facebook addicts squinting at zoomed-in paparazzi photos, but patriots gathering “intel” for a righteous revolution.

This social element also means that QAnon followers aren’t likely to be persuaded out of their beliefs with logic and reason alone.

“These people aren’t drooling, mind-controlled cultists,” Mr. Rothschild said. “People who are in Q like it. They like being part of it. You can’t debunk and fact-check your way out of this, because these people don’t want to leave.”

I first met Ms. Gilbert in 2019, a few months after she had gotten seriously into QAnon. Friendly and soft-spoken, she explained that Hollywood elites conducted Illuminati blood rituals behind closed doors, that former Representative Anthony Weiner’s laptop contained a video of Hillary Clinton committing murder, and that photos from a recent meeting between Mr. Trump and Queen Elizabeth II proved that he had secretly dethroned her."

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