Can a cult survive without its leader? What happens when an evolving religion gets no new scriptures?
These are the questions to ponder as the QAnon conspiracy theory evolves into what appears to be a new phase: less an ongoing puzzle to solve or a story constantly being added to, and more of a general philosophy based on the study of codified works.
Since a frenzy of posts in late March, including a long string of posts attacking a private citizen, an orgy of shout-outs to followers at the Trump rally in Grand Rapids, and a few general thoughts on the media; QAnon has been nearly silent.
From March 30th to April 22nd, Q has made just six posts. And they feel perfunctory, not as if the Q poster is trying to add new layers to the mythology, but instead, to keep followers from walking away. They ape Q’s trademark combination of rhetorical nonsense and circular riddles, but only in the service of rehashing old stuff.
Is German Chancellor Angela Merkel actually the daughter of Adolf Hitler?
On the surface, it sounds like the kind of ridiculous conspiracy theorizing that gives the internet a bad name. Hitler had no known children, and Merkel was born a decade after Der Fuhrer put a bullet in his face. And while the Nazis have been speculated to have developed all sorts of fantastical technologies, from moon bases to anti-gravity bells to time travel, none of those things are anything but the domain of pulp science fiction and “Fourth Reich” conspiracy theories.
And yet, the idea that Merkel could have been spawned from the seed of history’s greatest monster is surprisingly (or not) popular in the darker corners of the internet.
It’s critical for conspiracy theory watchers and skeptics to understand that dis-confirming evidence of a theory makes believers in that theory increase their belief rather than walk away. QAnon plays this out every day.
One perfect example of this is the continuous re-trenching over the health status of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. RBG’s health has been a frequent topic of QAnon drops, calling all the way back to April 2018, when Q declared that RBG had “big problems.”
What were they? We never found out, obviously. But the mythology deepened around the first of the year, when Ginsburg had emergency surgery to remove cancerous nodules found after she broke several ribs in a fall.