Qanon Conspiracy | Dangerous Atheists Claim I Died and Dox Drop on Christians & Brett Keane

To any reasonable person, the failure of a long-foretold event to materialize should erode the belief that it will happen. A perfect example is the long-foretold and never arriving “storm” of mass arrests promised by the mysterious “military intelligence” team at the heart of the QAnon conspiracy. How could anyone think something promised for years, and put off countless times, is actually going to happen this time?

Belief doesn’t need to be reasonable—particularly when it revolves around the punishment of the people you’ve been told are responsible for all of the world’s ills. And this stubborn lack of logic isn’t limited to people who think the deep state is trafficking children or that Joe Biden is actually a fake president. We all have an innate need to believe in good things that are extremely unlikely to take place. It’s the essence of hope. And a life without hope is . . . hopeless.

Even when Q believers are presented with crushing proof that they’ve been fooled, they still believe—often taking the proof that they’re wrong as proof that they’re actually right. To do otherwise would be to give in to hopelessness.

By the time of the COVID-19 lockdown, Q had been exposed countless times as a fraud and a troll with no connection to military intelligence whose “predictions” were the same kind of rapid-fire guessing that a strip-mall psychic uses, while the movement’s members were running into the law for their increasingly violent and untethered behavior. But to the faithful, these were all temporary setbacks, perpetrated by a bought-and-paid-for media. Everyone just needed to “trust the plan” and believe.

To understand why QAnon followers believe and hang on to that belief requires understanding why people believe in conspiracy theories in the first place. To begin, Q is almost never anyone’s first conspiracy theory, but the next step on a ladder that includes any number of plots and schemes. So when people find Q, which already incorporates so many other conspiracy theories, it easily fits into their world view. And it doesn’t mean they’re crazy or stupid.

Human brains need to recognize dangerous situations, and we are hardwired to seek patterns, to find order in chaos, and to exert control where none can be found. Conspiracy theories, at their most basic level, assert that we are in danger from hidden forces. This helps give difficult questions and random events satisfying answers—and puts us at the center of those events. And we all do it.