No, QAnon is Not Right Because Jeffrey Epstein Exists

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Was QAnon…right??? So asks New York Magazine’s ironically named Intelligencer, in an article that is, surprisingly, not quite as bad as its headline. I’ve talked about QAnon before — it’s the completely bonkers conspiracy theory that Democrats are secretly running a child sex slave operation out of the basement of a DC pizza place, and Donald Trump is planning to bring the entire operation down. Now that prominent billionaire Jeffrey Epstein has been arrested for running a sex slave ring that everyone has known about for more than a decade, obviously we have people trying to link the two things.

There are a number of reasons why linking the two is a bad idea, and though I’m fairly sympathetic to writers who use clickbait headlines (after all, sometimes you specifically want idiots to click on your article in the hopes of having them read more) in this case, QAnon believers are so incredibly stupid that there’s no way they are even capable of reading past the headline, so they’re just going to go away from this saying “New York Magazine says we were right all along!” As a reminder, these are the same people who had a guy storm a pizza place and fire a gun inside because he wanted to save the child sex slaves that were in the basement. The basement that didn’t exist.

So we really want to be careful here in absolutely not giving them any validation, at all. No, QAnon was not, is not, has never been right, about anything. Anything. If I come up with a conspiracy theory that wealthy people own jets that they are planning to use to crash into major metropolitan areas as a coordinated terrorist attack, you can’t say I’m kind of right because you just learned that rich people do own jets. The world already knew that rich people rape, and dabble in sex tourism, and get away with it. We already knew that Jeffrey Epstein, specifically, set up a child sex ring and got away with it even after being convicted (see my previous video on the subject). The world already knew about Brock Turner, the rapist who was caught sexually assaulting an unconscious woman and then served THREE MONTHS in jail because he was a rich white guy with his whole life ahead of him. The judge saw that 19-year old man as just a kid, and meanwhile people are saying the girls Jeffrey Epstein and his pals like Donald Trump raped when they were 13 weren’t children — they were practically adults, they were prostitutes, selling their virginity on their own terms.

It’s not a conspiracy theory — it’s just society. That’s the way our world operates, fully in the sunlight, not in some dark underground lair. Judge Aaron Persky sentenced Turner to a few months in jail fully knowing reporters were watching. The world was watching. He didn’t see anything wrong with it. Epstein flew his friends around on a jet to rape girls on Carribbean islands, or sometimes he just stayed home in his $56 million Upper East Side mansion to rape them there, surrounded by DVDs labeled “nude girls” with his victims names on them. 

So no, QAnon was not right.

I do want to point out, though, that Max Read’s article did make an interesting point: that in light of the fact that Epstein really did get away with raping young girls for more than a decade because our politicians don’t care, and are even in positions with more power today, QAnon is actually a more optimistic belief than reality. Read is getting dragged for all of this on Twitter, but honestly? He’s right. Because that’s what all conspiracy theorists are really about. I mean, yes, a lot of them are also about racism, and misogyny, and homophobia (a lot of QAnon revolves around Trump being a white savior, Hillary being a screaming shrew, and the sex trafficking of little boys to turn them gay or trans), but it’s also about having control over a world in which these people distinctly lack control. I’ve talked about this before in relation to school shootings and “crisis actors” — it’s extremely scary to think that anyone at any time can walk into an elementary school and murder innocent children. These people find it less scary to believe that that doesn’t happen, and that it’s all just a government con. They have someone to point the finger at, and they feel better because now they can work to remove those people from government, or they can trust blindly in someone who promises that they’re going to crack this whole thing wide open. Many conspiracy theories are reliant upon the core belief that the government is actually quite well organized and effective, but they’re doing evil things. That is optimistic, which I say from my perspective as a person who (for instance) desperately wants the US government to do something about gun control but I know they won’t, because of laziness, greed, and ignorance. It would even be more optimistic of me to blame them for being “evil” — evil people are easier to villify, easier to destroy, and easier to pretend will end up in Hell at some point. Incompetent people are much more difficult to get around or get rid of.

So while it is a shit headline, I don’t think this writer should be dragged for coming very close to accurately describing why many people are taken in by these types of conspiracy theories. They bring them comfort, and acknowledging that isn’t “normalizing” them — it’s the first step toward figuring out how to educate people and get them out of what has quickly become a cult.

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca is a writer, speaker, YouTube personality, and unrepentant science nerd. In addition to founding and continuing to run Skepchick, she hosts Quiz-o-Tron, a monthly science-themed quiz show and podcast that pits comedians against nerds. There is an asteroid named in her honor. Twitter @rebeccawatson Mastodon Instagram @actuallyrebeccawatson TikTok @actuallyrebeccawatson YouTube @rebeccawatson BlueSky

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  1. Where I struggle with this whole “more optimistic belief than reality” idea is I’ve encountered some of these conspiracy theorists and they don’t seem to be good people. They don’t seem to be all that concerned about sex trafficking because the next minute they gripe about #metoo and how there could be false accusations that cost men their jobs. Rather, it seems to be about taking down political opponents. (That said, I don’t understand what the objectives behind some of the “Deep State” conspiracies might be.) So, from my perspective, the idea that this is a “more optimistic belief than reality” rests on the assumption that the belief is sincere. I’m very sceptical of that.

    1. I kind of think that reason that people believe in conspiracy theories is that it better (for the believer) than the alternative.

      We live in a chaotic society where bad things happen to good people and that’s bad. That’s chaos and while work against it and try to make it better, life is chaotic. This really frightens some people and the alternative, in which there is order, that everything happens for a reason, and they find comfort in it.

      It has also been demonstrated that people who believe in conspiracy theories believe in conflicting theories. Princess Diana both didn’t die, _and_ she was murdered by MI5.

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