People not tempted by a weird belief express their incredulity. They dismiss the belief out of hand, with a kind of contempt that gives them a feeling of being special, set above the other. They think they are superior.

Pride goeth before the abyss.

I have been fascinated by QAnon, as I occasionally mention. Not fascinated enough to research it much. But contact with Q posts online gave me an extra window into a world I know exists, but which I experience chiefly through fiction: the world of myth, legend, mania. . . .

I have oft repeated two judgments about Q:

I have no evidence against much of the lore, and that the final months of Trump’s administration would put the theories to a falsifiability test.

This last idea seemed especially important. And I was as pleased as anyone to witness QAnon lore largely falsified.

You know, because, come what may, Truth is better than lies.

But those who see in QAnon only insanity and partisan madness, and in their rejection of it see evidence mainly of their own high moral standing? Well, they tend to look at the phenomenon with less open-ended interest. For example, this question-and-answer on Quora:

How can I convince Qanon supporters that Q is a hoax?

Let me summarize Qanon for you.

There is a cabal of Satan-worshipping cannibalistic pedophiles who are running a sex-trafficking ring and are working against Donald Trump in order to ruin the world.

Think about that for a moment.

Let it sink in.

Do you really think that there is anything you can say to a person who believes in that which will change their mind? They must have armor built from the thickest, laminated slabs of fabricated lies welded together that is proof against the strongest facts or logic.

As a coworker once told me (and I’m sure it’s not an original from him):

“You cannot reason someone off of a cliff they didn’t reason themselves onto.”

Or, as another coworker put it (and I suspect this is an original):

If you don’t speak crazy, don’t talk to crazy.

In short, there is nothing you can tell them. They will just assume that you are part of the cabal.

This answer seems all very knowing and savvy. I am sure its author felt very satisfied with his answer. But all of his assumed “wisdom”? It is all as fake as QAnon proved to be.

The main assumption is false. And this is important. Yet it is a falsity sanctified by the very best authorities. It was pithily stated by Jonathan Swift long ago:

Reasoning will never make a Man correct an ill Opinion,
which by Reasoning he never acquired

Fisher Ames restated it:

Men are not to be reasoned out of an opinion
that they have not reasoned themselves into.

But this is more obviously untrue than the QAnon conspiracy accounts themselves. I rejected many ideas using “reason” that I had acquired in a much more careless way. In fact, most of my ideas that are of a controversial nature were so acquired. Writing before Swift, Dryden is more nearly right:

A Man is to be cheated into Passion, but to be reason’d into Truth.

Of course, “reasoning” can err; or, more precisely, reasoning man does not always find the truth. Using evidence and logic, one can conjure up a conjecture, knead it into a theory and proclaim it “verified” in proper positivist fashion and remain completely wrong. Indeed, in my experience, people who do this can be as obstinate (or more) than those who haphazardly accumulate convictions.

The Quoran’s answer was mere pride and prejudice. I would trust nothing about about that person’s epistemics. His core beliefs that he thinks define himself as a rational man bear, likely as not, all the weight of gossamer.

After all, we have seen many a QAnonster drop the more fanciful notions. You have probably even read a report or two about such a recantation: the “shaman” of January 6 has so confessed to having been fooled.

Of course many Q enthusiasts only reject select parts of the lore. And perhaps that is what is warranted. Break the Quoran’s litany into separate points:

  1. There is a cabal seeking to run (ruin?) the world.
  2. Its members worship Satan.
  3. They engage in strange anthopophagic rites.
  4. They are pedophiles.
  5. Many political insiders participate in or are blackmailed by sex-trafficking rings.
  6. One or more of these cabals worked mightily against Donald Trump.

With just the above, quite slight restatement, Q lore looks less nutty. Is there a cabal for global governance? Well, yes; more than likely more than one. Do some of these folks worship Satan? Well, have you heard of the Temple of Set and its status within the U.S. Government, courtesy of lobbying by a man who became a top NSA official? Set may or may not equal Satan. Cannibalism? Yes, it is now being openly defended as a sexual fantasy on lefty websites, and I wouldn’t be shocked to hear of worse. Pedophile sex rings among the very powerful have been uncovered in Britain and Europe, and Jeffrey Epstein may not have killed himself. Finally, Donald Trump was indeed opposed by very connected members of the FBI and CIA etc., and this is not at all controversial.

The questions for Q enthusiasts are:

how organized are the groups they oppose?

how knowingly do how many of their enemies share the negative, lurid attributes Q assigned to them?

how explicit and how extreme are their aims, or are some or all driven by a sort of memetic blindness?

how much of Q lore was hope, how much of it was a prank, and how much was disinformation by masters of psychological operations?

I heard quite a few science fictional scenarios from Q folks. You know, about Trump directing the military to engage in secret operations against underground caverns of devilish pedophile cannibals. That kind of thing. It felt like open-source sci-fi. And while it would be easy to dismiss all this out of hand, I had no trouble just setting it onto my Epoché shelf, carefully filed.

Why not just dismiss it?

Well, were the government not officially disclosing UFO information in dribs and drabs, while ignoring eight decades’ worth of leaked memos about UFOs, I probably would. But we have a huge mystery here, the government has been all over the map concealing, denying, acknowledging and ignoring the UFO lore, making it a huge matzo ball looming over our culture and over our conception of the world. I know that most intellectuals prefer to ignore this. I cannot. In my philosophy, inconvenient evidence requires explanation, not damning. (I relish every Charles Fort reference.) And I recognize what C.G. Jung recognized, that government handling of the UFO issue is driving people nuts.

Nuts enough to believe Q? Yes. But also nuts to disbelieve everything even slightly Q-adjacent.

Oh, and the nuttiest thing in Q? That Donald Trump was going to save us from the bad guys. Turns out: nope. The globalists have taken control, shamelessly engage in a concerted suppression of dissent, and have used the excuse of a contagion to marshal unconstitutional powers to rob millions of the freedoms. And they insist on doing more.

Oh, and not only was Trump unable to stop them, in the key area of COVID insanity, Trump fed the beast.

Q was obviously way off. And I do hope Q enthusiasts can reason their way out of placing inordinate hope in mythic champions who — it just so happens — deliver them to their enemies. For sacrifice.