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QAnon has become a piece of internet lore that, no matter who you are or what side you fall on ideologically, has some sort of interesting aspect to it. There are some on both sides who look at it as a filthy pit of conspiracy theorists, others who find it an interesting source of information and a source of thought leadership, and then there are some who are just fascinated by its existence in the first place.
I tend to fall into that third category. I can’t pinpoint the exact place and time QAnon got started, but I feel like I don’t need to. How it started isn’t as important as why it grew, and why it grew says less about people’s willingness to believe in conspiracy theories than it does about an issue few people are actually discussing.
Democrats often look down on QAnon as a mixture of evil, gullible, and ridiculous. To be sure, you can find a decent amount of weird to ludicrous conspiracy theories in Q forums, but before Democrats declare that there’s a new breed of crazy threatening society, they should probably consider a couple of things.
For one, Democrats aren’t immune to conspiracy theories themselves. In fact, they made an entire multi-year news cycle out of one involving Russia and Donald Trump that they couldn’t piece together despite all the king’s horses and all the king’s men doing their best to make their fantasy a reality.
The other thing to consider is that neither side is immune from conspiracy theories because filling in gaps with guesses due to a lack of information is a natural human reaction. As I’ve written before, a conspiracy theorist isn’t created out of thin air. They come about when the information they need to understand an important story is lacking or withheld. To be sure, the pandemic, the economy, and a whole lot more are things that affected people in horrifically negative ways and people naturally want answers as to why certain decisions were made despite common sense pointing to the fact that they weren’t necessary decisions to make in the first place.
So people fill in the blanks themselves. Sometimes it’s with educated guesses and sometimes it’s with wild conspiracies. This was explained by NeuroLeadership Institute CEO David Rock who explained how the human brain treats information gaps:
A sense of uncertainty about the future generates a strong threat or ‘alert’ response in your limbic system. Your brain detects something is wrong, and your ability to focus on other issues diminishes. Your brain doesn’t like uncertainty – it’s like a type of pain, something to be avoided. Certainty on the other hand feels rewarding, and we tend to steer toward it, even when it might be better for us to remain uncertain.
So everyone is going to rely on conspiracy theories at some point to make sense of the world around them, especially if they’re biased to one side or another.
But there’s also a third reason Democrats shouldn’t look down on QAnon or even conspiracy theorists in general, and it’s a simple fact that too many have eventually been proven right.
For instance, the conspiracy theory that social media giants such as Twitter and Facebook were colluding with the Democrat Party was proven absolutely true. The conspiracy theory that our own government had something to do with the spread of the COVID-19 virus is looking more and more real as Rand Paul has shown Dr. Anthony Fauci has direct ties to the Wuhan lab where the virus originated.
Conspiracy theorists being proven correct makes them wonder what else they’re correct about, and they continue theorizing based on the given information. That’s not their fault, that would be the Democrats’ fault. They’re the ones proving them correct.
So maybe Democrats shouldn’t get high and mighty about conspiracy theory groups. Not only are they conspiracy theorists themselves, but they also keep fueling the conspiracy theorist fire.