Updated: Mar 23
When encountering a conspiracy theory for the first time it’s easy to dismiss it as silly and to wonder how anyone could buy into such obvious disinformation. What’s important to remember however is that the version of the theory that’s been presented is likely to be the most extreme form, and that even a significant proportion of its adherents will reject it in that form.
Writer and debunker Mick West highlights this in his extremeness spectrum, upon which he has plotted a range of conspiracy theories. As we can see from this, some theories such as Flat Earth (at the upper end of the spectrum) and Big Pharma (at the lower end) have limited ranges, while others, such as 9/11, cover a wide range of extremeness.
QAnon would be another such theory which covers a wide range of extremeness, with recent polling showing that even the core tenet that a global network tortures and sexually abuses children in Satanic rituals was rated definitely or probably true by only 62% of QAnon supporters, while other tenets related to the true nature of the Mueller investigation and imminent arrests were rated even lower.
It can be seen from this that many of those proclaiming support for the movement are not and never will be hard-core QAnon adherent’s, and, as the polling again shows, may be unaware of the more extreme beliefs. Indeed, exposure to these extreme beliefs is one way in which West, drawing on his experience, suggests that such people can be rescued from the proverbial rabbit hole.
The people currently being recruited into QAnon through #SaveTheChildren are, for the most part, good people who genuinely want to help abused and endangered children, and can, with little respect and patience, be redirected away from spreading misinformation and into productive actions such as donating to non-profits, taking educational workshops, and becoming a foster parent.