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.
Ginsburg returned to work fairly quickly, but spent the first two weeks of the new SCOTUS term working from home, as someone would after having significant surgery.
But that very common accommodation to an elderly person recovering from an operation wasn’t something that QAnon could just write off. After all, in Q-world, nothing happens for any reason other than it’s been planned and executed by the deep state. So Q cooked up a fiction that Ginsburg was “currently” being treated with “‘off-market’ drugs”[sic], and that her “real medical diagnosis” was being hidden from the people.
QAnon’s followers took this one step further, declaring that because Ginsburg had missed two weeks of court after never having missed court, the only real reason could be was that she was already dead and her death was being hidden by…someone.
Interestingly, QAnon didn’t mention RBG again for two months. He didn’t have to, because his followers did all the work for him. The major gurus and conservative pundits alike declared that either Ginsburg was secretly dead, or was being hidden away, and rhetorically asked where she was, as if they didn’t know.
There was no evidence that either of these were true, but in conspiracy theory thinking, the absence of evidence isn’t evidence of absence, it’s just evidence.
Then RBG returned to work at the court on February 15th. Naturally, this didn’t dampen Q believers’ enthusiasm for the “RBG is dead/incapacitated” conspiracy at all. Instead, it now became necessary for proof to be provided in the form of a picture of Ginsburg at court. Never mind that she began voting on decisions, and that such a conspiracy would now not only require the complicity of Ginsburg’s team, but the entire Supreme Court, including two justices that Donald Trump nominated.
No, Ginsburg was dead until she proved that she wasn’t. Even though she was proving she wasn’t by the sheer act of continuing to do her job.
Even when RBG was actually spotted in public, the conspiracy continued, with the added wrinkle of body doubles or clones being thrown in. Q believers did literally everything they could to contort their minds to believe that something impossible and untrue was the only possible and true explanation.
QAnon didn’t help matters (he never does!) with a March 25th post rhetorically asking “What is RBG’s current state of health? Are pictures being ‘avoided’ for a reason?” As usual, these are rhetorical questions with no acceptable answer, which is why they proved so motivating to Q believers.
Finally, there came irrevocable, totally un-falsifiable proof that Ruth Bader Ginsburg is alive – from a QAnon believer, no less: a picture of a smiling Ginsburg taken at a memorial service over the weekend by Dannielle Blumenthal, a conservative lawyer.
Blumenthal posted a number of additional pictures and videos of Ginsburg at the event, and the event’s organizer later took to Twitter to confirm that Ginsburg was there and post additional media of the justice’s appearance.
Surely, surely, this would put the “RBG is dead/a clone/kept alive through Vader-esque machines/a drug-addled puppet” conspiracies in the ground for sure, right? A QAnon believer puncturing a pet QAnon theory would be fairly devastating for the movement, right?
Nope. It’s fake and also an old picture.
The proof offered by the Q gurus was that RBG was wearing the same outfit at the memorial as she wore during an interview with Charlie Rose conducted two years ago. Special tools proved it!
Because it’s not even possible that a person might not discard a nice suit after wearing it once. It has to be an elaborate scheme to deceive the people. Even when MORE PEOPLE chimed in to say they saw Ginsburg at the event, it was still fake. It had to be. Why? Because Q said RBG was barely alive, therefore RBG is barely alive, and any evidence to the contrary is evidence that confirms. Here’s another picture of Ginsburg at the event, taken at a different time at a different angle to. Please, someone explain to be how these are fake as well.
In the dystopian surveillance state posited by George Orwell in “1984,” the “final, most essential command” of the ruling Party was that citizens reject the evidence provided to them by their eyes and ears. What the Party says is the truth, even if it is clearly, obviously not the truth. That’s what makes the Party so inescapable – they have rebranded the very fabric of what is real.
It’s no surprise that QAnon gurus have instructed their followers to reject the evidence of their eyes and ears. After all, they weren’t there, so they don’t know for sure whether it’s true. And if QAnon can be wrong about something, and if they can admit QAnon was wrong about something, then when can either Q or the gurus be trusted again?
But what was surprising was to see Blumenthal herself Tweeting out a 50+ post thread trying to work through the cognitive dissonance of Ruth Bader Ginsburg being decrepit and hidden away (what Q told her was true) while also being fit and hardy and in public (what her eyes and ears told her was true.)
To be clear, Blumenthal was sticking to her position that Ginsburg was fine and not dead or decrepit. But you can watch in real time as she tries to reconcile that with what Q told her. And the response isn’t to utterly reject QAnon as a crackpot scammer, it’s to insist that he’s right AND she’s right.
The only possible next steps are either the rejection of what her eyes and ears told her, or the rejection of QAnon.
If she does the former, she’ll be joining the countless other QAnon believers who routinely tell themselves that what they are hearing and seeing is not real because Q hasn’t confirmed it. This is the behavior not of “woke researchers,” but of people so in thrall to an ideology that they can’t see it changing the very fabric of how they think.
A movement like that can be manipulated to think and do anything.