Have Faith and Question Everything: Understanding QAnon's Allure

QAnon is an influential conspiracy theory centering on a nefarious “deep state” network. The core of the movement is Q, an unknown individual claiming to have classified access. This article examines one year of Q’s posts. These highly influential texts are read by followers, who follow the “crumbs” and “bake” them into conspiratorial narratives. Drawing on rhetorical criticism methods, the article conducts a baseline coding of these posts and develops an explanatory schema consisting of two fantasy themes. Faith is one theme, with spiritual language evoking an apocalyptic battle between the children of light and the children of darkness. Skepticism is another theme, with posts championing the enlightened individual who employs free-thought to uncover the truth. These elements blend powerful religious narratives with contemporary ideals of critical thinking and independent knowledge construction. This unique rhetorical vision contributes one explanation for QAnon’s ability to mobilize an increasingly large and diverse following.

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