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Understanding Q-Anon

ICSVE Panel Discussion featuring

Steve Hassan, Expert on Cults

Michael Barkun, Expert on Conspiracy Theories

Joseph Coohill, Expert on Conspiracy Theories

Anne Speckhard, Director ICSVE

11:00 AM EST 

February 10th, 2021  

What is Q-Anon? You may have heard about it on the news. The far-right conspiracy theory claims that a secret and powerful cabal of pedophilic sex traffickers controls Washington, D.C. and that former President Trump was fighting against it. Q-Anon supporters were seen at Trump rallies over the past few years, but easily dismissed by the media as fringe kooks. Then, things changed. A barrage of misinformation, much of it from Trump himself, convinced followers that the 2020 election was stolen and that they needed to fight to reclaim their country. Marjorie Taylor-Greene, an admitted supporter of Q-Anon, was elected to Congress, thus embedding this supposedly fringe group within the mainstream Republican party. On January 6, 2021, Q-Anon followers, along with many other supporters of President Trump, stormed the United States Capitol in the hopes of stopping the official election count. The riot has resulted in the largest-scale FBI investigation since 9/11. After the riot, many Q-Anon adherents still believed that a day of reckoning would come, and that President Trump would remain in his position. And yet, January 20th came and went, with Barak Obama, Hillary Clinton, and George Soros remaining free, although some claim the inauguration was a deep fake. What will Q-Anon do now? Some followers have become disillusioned since the prophecy failed to materialize, but experts warn not to ignore the threat from Q-Anon supporters, whom they believe are violent extremists.

On February 10th, 2021, ICSVE and a panel of esteemed experts discussed the dangers of conspiracy theories, the processes of joining and leaving cults (and whether Q-Anon is itself a cult), and the threat that the United States faces from Q-Anon now that Joe Biden is President.

Steve Hassan is a mental health professional who has been helping people leave destructive cults since 1976 after he was deprogrammed from Sun Myung Moon’s Unification Church (The Moonies). His doctoral dissertation, The BITE Model of Authoritarian Control: Undue Influence, Thought Reform, Brainwashing, Mind Control, Trafficking and the Law, contains a comprehensive literature review and uses his Influence Continuum and BITE model as a proposed framework for the legal system to evaluate undue influence. He has researched, written and participated in the TEDx, Dismantling QAnon. He is the author of four books Combating Cult Mind Control: The #1 Best-Selling Guide to Protection, Rescue, and Recovery from Destructive Cults, Releasing the Bonds: Empowering People to Think for ThemselvesFreedom of Mind: Helping Loved Ones Leave Controlling People, Thoughts & Beliefs, and The Cult of Trump: A Leading Cult Expert Explains How The President Uses Mind Control. He is the founding director of the Freedom of Mind Resource Center, located outside Boston. 

Michael Barkun is Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship & Public Affairs. He specializes in millenarian and apocalyptic groups, political extremism, religiously based violence, and conspiracy theories. He is the author of Religion and the Racist Right: The Origins of the Christian Identity Movement, A Culture of Conspiracy: Apocalyptic Visions in Contemporary America, and Chasing Phantoms: Reality, Imagination, and Homeland Security Since 9/11. Professor Barkun has also acted as a consultant to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Joseph Coohill is the host of the Professor Buzzkill History Podcast. He is the founder and CEO of J. Coohill Professional Writing, Education, and Media and has served as a Research Historian and History of Parliament Trust and a History Professor at Duquesne University and Penn State University. He specializes in the history of 19th century Britain and Ireland. Coohill is the author of Ireland: A Short History and Ideas of the Liberal Party: Perceptions, Agendas and Liberal Politics in the House of Commons, 1832-1852.

Dr. Anne Speckhard is Director of the International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism (ICSVE) and serves as an Adjunct Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Georgetown University School of Medicine. She has interviewed over 700 terrorists, their family members and supporters in various parts of the world including in Western Europe, the Balkans, Central Asia, the Former Soviet Union and the Middle East. In the past five years years, she has interviewed 260 ISIS defectors, returnees and prisoners  as well as 16 al Shabaab cadres and their family members (n=25) as well as ideologues (n=2), studying their trajectories into and out of terrorism, their experiences inside ISIS (and al Shabaab), as well as developing the Breaking the ISIS Brand Counter Narrative Project materials from these interviews which includes over 200 short counter narrative videos of terrorists denouncing their groups as un-Islamic, corrupt and brutal which have been used in over 150 Facebook and Instagram campaigns globally. She has also been training key stakeholders in law enforcement, intelligence, educators, and other countering violent extremism professionals, both locally and internationally, on the psychology of terrorism, the use of counter-narrative messaging materials produced by ICSVE as well as studying the use of children as violent actors by groups such as ISIS.  Dr. Speckhard has given consultations and police trainings to U.S., German, UK, Dutch, Austrian, Swiss, Belgian, Danish, Iraqi, Jordanian and Thai national police and security officials, among others, as well as trainings to elite hostage negotiation teams. She also consults to foreign governments on issues of terrorist prevention and interventions and repatriation and rehabilitation of ISIS foreign fighters, wives and children. In 2007, she was responsible for designing the psychological and Islamic challenge aspects of the Detainee Rehabilitation Program in Iraq to be applied to 20,000 + detainees and 800 juveniles. Her publications are found here: https://georgetown.academia.edu/AnneSpeckhardWebsite: and on the ICSVE website http://www.icsve.org Follow @AnneSpeckhard

This is the fifteenth discussion in this series of panels discussing ISIS Foreign Fighters and terrorist rehabilitation. The first panel, “Issues of ISIS Prisoners & Repatriations in a Time of COVID,” can be reviewed here. The second panel, “Can an ISIS Terrorist be Rehabilitated and Reintegrated into Society?” can be reviewed here and the report that was inspired by this panel can be found here. The third panel, “Can We Repatriate the ISIS Children?” can be reviewed here and the report that was inspired by this panel can be found here. The fourth panel, “Terrorist Rehabilitation in the Dutch Prison System,” can be reviewed here. The fifth panel, “Into and Back Out of ISIS: An ISIS Defector Speaks Out,” can be reviewed here. The sixth panel, “Fighting ISIS Online: An Introduction to Breaking the ISIS Brand,” can be viewed here. The seventh panel, “Talking Terrorist Propaganda with a Pro,” can be viewed here. The eighth panel, “Terrorism Prevention, Intervention, and Rehabilitation with Juveniles,” can be viewed here. The ninth panel, “Community-Focused Interventions Against Terrorism,” can be viewed here. The tenth panel, “Are We Losing a Valuable Feminist Project in the Middle East?” can be viewed here. The eleventh panel, “Rescue Me: A Conversation with the Yamout Sisters re Prison Rehabilitation,” can be viewed here. The twelfth panel, “ICSVE and Parallel Networks Team Up to Fight Violent Extremism,” can be viewed here. The thirteenth panel, “The Journey Back – Turning Away from Extremism and the Road to Hope and Healing,” can be viewed here. The fourteenth panel, “Asking Incels: An Insiders Account of the Involuntary Celibate Community,” can be viewed here.

Chat Log:

10:49:38 From Joseph Coohill to Everyone : Hi Anne!

10:51:55 From Gemma Wood_NAPS to Everyone : hi all, internet a bit unstable so leaving video off and I may drop in and out, sorry

10:58:05 From Vladimir Kačanovski to Everyone : Hello to everyone from Serbia. Vladimir

10:58:42 From Harjit Sandhu to Everyone : Greetings from the eternal city Rome.

10:59:53 From Peter C to Everyone : No Cats in Snowy Sheffield Yorkshire!!

11:01:20 From ICSVE – Molly Ellenberg to Everyone: You can watch our past Zoom events here: https://www.icsve.org/news/icsve-events/

11:01:48 From ICSVE – Molly Ellenberg to Everyone: Here is the ICSVE YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/icsve

11:02:16 From Harjit Sandhu to Everyone : My linked is: https://www.linkedin.com/in/harjit-singh-sandhu/

11:02:27 From Michael Haines to Everyone : Hi folks

11:03:23 From ICSVE – Molly Ellenberg to Everyone: Here is the link to the new UN Women training manual: https://www.unwomen.org/-/media/field%20office%20eca/attachments/publications/2021/2/pve_trainingmanual-min.pdf?la=en&vs=3547

11:04:10 From ICSVE – Molly Ellenberg to Everyone: You can also see our videos on the website: https://www.icsve.org/project/breaking-the-isis-brand/

Here is are the links to view our regularly published scholarly articles and reports: 

11:08:28 From Steven Hassan to Everyone : I am @cultexpert on Twitter and IG. My website is getting fixed shortly but is freedomofmind.com so if it isn’t loading quickly please come back tonight or tomorrow. sorry

11:08:39 From Steven Hassan to Everyone : Facebook is FOMInc

11:09:33 From kimberly vaughn to Everyone : Were you on CNN a couple of nights ago?

11:09:44 From Steven Hassan to Everyone : Yes with Brooke Baldwin

11:10:12 From kimberly vaughn to Everyone : I thought that was you. Good “stuff”.

11:10:23 From Steven Hassan to Everyone : We try to post links at https://freedomofmind.com/the-cult-of-trump-media-page/

11:17:04 From Dr. Lisa McConnell to Everyone : Wouldn’t the movement simply fizzle out over time as predictions failed to eventuate?

11:17:28 From ICSVE – Anne Speckhard to Everyone : good question Lisa, but if they are clever they divert failures in prediction

11:17:34 From Rebecca Goolsby to Everyone : See “When Prophecy Fail” by Leon Festinger.

11:17:46 From ICSVE – Anne Speckhard to Everyone : as in you didn’t decipher the clues correctly

11:19:27 From Nizar to Everyone : @Dr. Lisa McConnell, it is not uncommon in fact. Remember how Rumsfield’s conclusion when investigators didn’t find WMDs in Iraq, his explanation was that “this is proof of how well Saddam is hiding them”!

11:20:43 From Nizar to Everyone : Same with Horoscope and hand readers. You rationalize or interpret in ways that keep your worldview intact regardless of the facts presented to you and you in fact explain them away

11:22:46 From Russell Hall to Everyone : Cognitive dissonance, confirmation bias, and motivated reasoning are powerful and hard to overcome

11:23:18 From Daniel S. Brown to Everyone : Yes. It is all “basic” cognitive dissonance theory at its core. Correct?

11:23:25 From ICSVE – Anne Speckhard to Everyone : something interesting with Q is how it has many elements of live action role playing (Larping) and also interesting is how many Russian bots promoted it.

11:24:01 From Philip Nash to Everyone : The equivalent of “The Lord works in strange and mysterious ways”

11:24:10 From Steven Hassan to Everyone : I used Festingers theory- thoughts, feelings and behavior as core of my BITE model of authoritarian control. I added the I- for information control

11:24:14 From Dr. Lisa McConnell to Everyone : In what way might the addressing of truth elements (such as those pointed out by Anne in the beginning) delegitimize claims and enable the cognitive dissonance to remove the hype?

11:24:35 From Megan McBride to Everyone : Festinger is a good place to start, but the history of religious studies is replete with examples of movements that confronted this sort of crisis (i.e., a failed prophecy), pivoted, and survived/thrived. Prophetic claims are the result of interpretation, and so it is also possible to claim that the interpretation was incorrect. Festinger’s work does suggest, though, that how people respond to these crises is to some degree contingent upon the environment in which they receive the information (i.e., those who were with the group when learning about the failed prophecy were more likely to embrace a new interpretation than those who were separated from the group)….which raises interesting questions about whether or not being part of an online community fills in for being physically co-located.  

11:24:59 From Monica Herk to Everyone : Is there any reasonable data on the demographics of QAnon followers? (I understand that there would be measurement issues.) Until this conversation I didn’t realize that women might be the majority in the group. (Which would fit with Anne’s history of abuse theory.)

11:25:01 From ICSVE – Anne Speckhard to Everyone : those who were sexually abused and buried it probably won’t face their own abuse but will have very very strong identification with claims about victims and might act in ways that look irrational to “save” them

11:25:02 From Joseph Szimhart to Everyone : Trump as God-guided Hero made Trump very happy—narcissism

11:25:11 From Lara, London England to Everyone : I’m in London, England and it has surprised me how Q has also influenced people in the UK & Europe, despite it being a very US-centric conspiracy

11:25:29 From Nizar to Everyone : really good analysis by Rebel Wisdom on Qanon and what transpired on Jan 6th especially the talk with Erik Davis on minute 17:38 https://youtu.be/9s7Iy5CS1HE  as well as the discussion afterwards it is an hour and a half but worth it

11:25:42 From Nizar to Everyone : https://youtu.be/iwTD_cfzVEQ

11:26:18 From ICSVE – Anne Speckhard to Everyone : Those who join because they are identifying with victims are trying in effect to save themselves and will be very resistant to arguments that Q Anon claims are nonsense because they so strongly resonant to their real and lived childhood experiences, sadly

11:26:27 From Lara, London England to Everyone : Excellent input, thank you

11:26:35 From Michael Haines to Everyone : Thank you Sir very interesting

11:26:38 From Dr. Lisa McConnell to Everyone : HA!

11:26:46 From Nizar to Everyone : I KNEW IT!!!

11:26:52 From Nizar to Everyone : • Why Fiction Trumps Truth https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/24/opinion/why-fiction-trumps-truth.html By Yuval Noah Harari.  Spot On!

• Why Facts Don’t Convince People https://youtu.be/S74C-XF9kYY   (and what you can do about it) . In fact, anywhere north of 80% of our decisions are taken in our emotional subconscious and then our rational part of the brain comes up with a rationalization of that decision.  

• Why You Think You Are Right- Even If You’re Wrong https://www.ted.com/talks/julia_galef_why_you_think_you_re_right_even_if_you_re_wrong?fbclid=IwAR0yR4hQjwIsrbwhocbn_N9BOSaihOWvQ5P1C8Kh49Zuot_mJgBibbjPUUU#t-222205 – Julia Galef TED Talk

11:28:29 From Sigrid Raets to Everyone : Research report on QAnon tweets (gives some indications on the demographics of QAnon posters): https://www.researchgate.net/publication/348281072_The_QAnon_superconspiracy_-_Analysis_of_tweets_during_the_2020_US_presidential_election

11:30:05 From Karina Weitzer to Everyone : For those interested in women involved with the movement we found some interesting instances of QAnon associated theories being disseminated by female influencers in our work. The phenomenon has been referred to as “Pastel QAnon” and also mentioned here among other places: https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2020/08/how-instagram-aesthetics-repackage-qanon/615364/.

11:30:10 From Nizar to Everyone : Exactly! As someone said, it is pathetic the amount of coherence and concentration of power conspiracy theorists project onto really dysfunctional and defuse systems. They clearly never managed people for if they were they would know how hard it is to coordinate so much!

11:30:12 From ICSVE – Anne Speckhard to Everyone : this is our report on one of the Capitol Hill Rioters who strongly and still believes he was a patriot, but was not a Q-Anon supporter https://www.icsve.org/a-proud-boy-capitol-rioters-story/

11:30:29 From Megan McBride to Everyone : It’s important, I think, to normalize the experience of experiencing and resolving cognitive dissonance. We all encounter facts that don’t align with our belief systems, and we all make exceptions to accommodate these beliefs. As just one incredibly common example: the idea that Christ rose bodily from the grave and ascended into heaven stands in direct tension with everything we currently know about biology and physics…and yet millions of people believe this happened. Neither QAnon nor its followers are unique in accommodating seemingly unreasonable claims.  

11:31:02 From ICSVE – Anne Speckhard to Everyone : He says “Trump told us to go. I listened to our President.”

11:32:07 From Nizar to Everyone : @Joseph Coohil, indeed, we were taught the Protocols of the Elders Zion by our teachers in Dubai in the 1980s

Anne Speckhard after the event:  That’s unreal Nizar and horrible.

11:33:27 From ICSVE – Anne Speckhard to Everyone : I’ve been watching Q-Anon speakers on youtube, one speaker showed what is probably a photoshopped picture of gallows supposedly erected for the inauguration claiming, look they were ready to act for Q-Anon.  His believers listening hardly challenged him, although a few did

11:38:31 From Russell Hall to Everyone : Backfire effect too.  People tend to dig in.

11:39:27 From lise to Everyone : what did Henry Ford disseminate?

11:39:28 From Lara, London England to Everyone : Excellent, really interesting – thank you

11:39:41 From Philip Nash to Everyone : In the 1920s, Ford dealers were required to sell subscriptions to the _Dearborn Independent_, in which the _Protocols_ were serialized.

11:39:44 From Nizar to Everyone : @ruseel Hall, here is a good short video on the Backfire confirmation bias https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H_Xj0dK2yvc

11:39:47 From Michael Haines to Everyone : Thank you Joseph

11:39:57 From Russell Hall to Everyone : Thank you and thank you Nizar

11:40:10 From Rebecca Patton to Everyone : I’ve seen this with the conspiracies surrounding 9/11. There is enough ‘convincible’ information that it seems impossible to debunk. Interesting talk! Thank you

11:40:14 From Alison Van Rooy to Everyone : Thanks so much, Joe!

11:40:15 From lise to Everyone : don’t know what protocols, thnx

11:40:31 From Philip Nash to Everyone : Protocols of the Elders of Zion

11:40:41 From lise to Everyone : thanks!

11:40:55 From Daniel S. Brown to Everyone : Anne, your example of the “gallows” is telling. It’s an alternative narrative to be sure. Others have pointed out that the “gallows” identified in the video(s) is/are simply media staging areas put in place for the Biden inauguration. What a clever way to “rationalize” the media’s complicity in the conspiracy.

11:41:24 From Todd Price to Everyone : Great Discussions

11:41:29 From Monica Herk to Everyone : No QAnon members in my family (that I know of)

11:41:31 From Kayleigh-Jade West to Everyone : We certainly do, my father is Q anon and we are all the way in England

11:41:31 From Michael Haines to Everyone : Have believers here in Scotland

11:41:37 From TJ to Everyone : Yup, a fair amount of QAnoners

11:42:23 From lise to Everyone : my family is all politically apathetic which I guess is better lol

11:42:26 From Rebecca Patton to Everyone : yes! I’m in Alabama, believers are everywhere here!

11:45:15 From justinfeltman to Everyone : I don’t know any family members into Q but several people I went to HS with are into it. One who is an inspiring influencer posts using the Q instagram aesthetic a lot

11:45:35 From louise M to Everyone : I would also include organized crime organization like the Hell Angels, Mafia etc

11:49:07 From Nizar to Everyone : @steven Hassan, Brewer talks about the tensions in identifying to a group and need for individualism

11:49:18 From Vlad Lupan to Everyone : Regarding the PsyOps, KGB had an actual manual on training operatives for psychological influence. That is a part of their larger PsyOps efforts that included “CIA inventing and infecting people with HIV” – which is one of the debunked conspiracies – see Trump’s “kung-flu” conspiracy.

11:50:57 From John Rose to Everyone : it’s a lingering tactic, inexpensive and a Pandora’s Box

11:51:14 From Besir Wrayet to Everyone : KGB also had Tactical PsyOps aimed at individuals and groups who are enemies of Socialism and/or Critics. Taunting and Harassment even outside Russia is continuing.

11:52:04 From David.Orr to Everyone : It’s interesting that the same tactics to recruit QAnon members are the same tactics used by human traffickers to recruit victims.

11:52:41 From Vlad Lupan to Everyone : Indeed, what I wanted to suggest is that these tactics are not new and are reused today in the US, including via Russian “bots” which were retweeting/spreading Q-Anon conspiracies..

11:53:08 From Nizar to Everyone : @steven hassan, I would be interested in joining a group to de-Qanon folks

11:54:37 From Besir Wrayet to Everyone : Crime/Political Thriller TV Series The Russians is not quite imaginary, but serves more of Security Awareness product.

11:54:40 From Joseph Szimhart to Everyone : Good talk, Steve…I gotta go!

11:56:00 From Vlad Lupan to Everyone : Unger’s book, mentioned by prof. Hassan, is helpful in understanding some of the approaches Trump used, including, but not exclusively, in the cases Q-anon and Proud boys etc.

11:56:21 From Michael Haines to Everyone : whats the name of the book?

11:56:35 From ICSVE – Anne Speckhard to Everyone : I think he said Compromat

11:56:42 From Michael Haines to Everyone : thanks

11:56:50 From ICSVE – Anne Speckhard to Everyone : which is Russian for when you have blackmail on others

11:56:53 From JR to Everyone : Kompromat

11:56:57 From Vlad Lupan to Everyone : American Kompromat

11:57:03 From Rebecca Goolsby to Everyone : American Kompromat

11:57:11 From Gary Dunnagan to Everyone : Kompromat – it is from the Russian: to have compromising information on someone

11:57:27 From louise M to Everyone : ONe of the problems I have encountered is the fact that family members also radicalize youngers (brothers, sisters, sons and daughters). What is the approach in this situation?????

11:57:27 From Dr. Lisa McConnell to Everyone : Neurocognition – I’d be curious what the mental furniture in one’s head would be to make X make sense. What must one believe for X to make the most amount of sense? How were belief system checks filled, and how were doubts overcome?

11:57:42 From Karina Weitzer to Everyone : The organisation mentioned as being involved in de-radicalisation efforts was called Thinkun?

11:57:48 From Todd Price to Everyone : Many Victims can’t move past this mindset. This is very needed. Great Discussion Steve. Why they are recruited easily.

11:58:19 From JR to Everyone : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1QbEcG8O-L8

11:58:29 From JR to Everyone : Dismantling QAnon Talk ^^

11:58:35 From Nizar to Everyone : Son of Hamas “The Green Prince” is an example of a Palestinian flipping totally 180 degrees because of his experience in Hamas

11:58:54 From Lara, London England to Everyone : Really interesting, thank you

11:59:18 From Michael Haines to Everyone : Very good Steven

11:59:41 From Michael Haines to Everyone : have added your books to my reading list

11:59:48 From Balbir Sohal to Everyone : Thank you to all the speakers , very enlightening and useful

12:00:17 From Vlad Lupan to Everyone : Apologies, I have to leave. Thank you for the invite, interesting presentations and discussion with the chat.

12:00:29 From Dr. Lisa McConnell to Everyone : Prof. Coohill, I’d love to hear your counter-framework you mentioned in passing.

12:00:38 From Nizar to Everyone : yes, the “what would Jesus [Moses] [Mohammad] {Buddha] do”

12:01:05 From Ian Halbert to Everyone : Anybody know those vice videos about Michael Flynn he was talking about?

12:02:20 From Sydney H to Everyone : I’m interested if there is a connection between Q followers being predisposed to believing apocalyptic prophecy in the book of Revelation and Q prophecy. Many of you mentioned the messianic nature of both Trump and Q in the movement

12:03:00 From Russell Hall to Everyone : Where’s Cronkite when you need him?

12:03:56 From ICSVE – Anne Speckhard to Everyone : ha ha so true we need Walter Cronkite back!

12:04:00 From David.Orr to Everyone : Not everyone that voted for Trump bought into QAnon. What is the difference between the ones who did, and the ones that didn’t.

12:04:20 From Nizar to Everyone : @Sydney H., Rebel Wisdom has an episode about the Shaman and the mystic https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9s7Iy5CS1HE  especially the part with Erik Davis at minute 17:00

12:04:27 From Todd Price to Everyone : Yes people need a universal commitment to end certain activities like child abuse amd evil people and Q gives them a platform to express this

12:04:39 From Marcella Calabi to Everyone : And there are non-Trump voters IN Q-Anon.

12:04:44 From ICSVE – Anne Speckhard to Everyone : true Todd, thanks

12:05:41 From Steven Hassan to Everyone : The human mind seeks to create order and meaning- by default

12:05:49 From Nizar to Everyone : Exactly. We would rather living a lie than deal with the uncertainty and messiness of the real world

12:06:12 From JR to Everyone : Simplicity vs. nuance

12:06:18 From Raul Rios – VUB to Everyone : How can we help at risk or vulnerable people regain their sense of control and self-agency, in particular, especially given the current situation?  

12:06:24 From Marcella Calabi to Everyone : That’s the inherent attraction of authoritarianism itself — not just a belief system but a political phenomenon

12:06:42 From Nizar to Everyone : The majority of people will follow a guy who says “I have all the answers, I can solve this” vs the one who says “I don’t know but I believe we can do this”

12:06:43 From Steven Hassan to Everyone : @projectthinkin

12:06:51 From Karina Weitzer to Everyone : Thank you!

12:06:52 From Todd Price to Everyone : Fantastic discussion Anne Speckhard.

12:06:53 From Steven Hassan to Everyone : The Thinkin Project

12:07:05 From Kayleigh-Jade West to Everyone : This is why it is so bizarre to me that my Dad has fallen into this, he is decidedly non-religious and as a British person has never had any interest in US politics before. I wonder if it’s likely he fell into it through guilt that my sister and I were abused and he couldn’t do anything, I wonder if it is from a place of trying to protect other kids? Many Qs here talk about protecting their families and I think that is a massive driver, making sense of the world, playing the game, and protecting their families from the “elite”.

12:07:12 From ICSVE – Anne Speckhard to Everyone : thank you Todd, thanks to our great speakers!

12:07:59 From ICSVE – Anne Speckhard to Everyone : for sure Kayleigh, it’s very sad, maybe talk to him about that, that he couldn’t protect you at the time but committing to truth now doesn’t have to mean committing to Q-Anon, maybe a tearful conversation with loads of healing?

12:09:11 From Todd Price to Everyone : Yes. They have shown the necessary facts and information and how easy weaponized narratives  can be used in social media platforms

12:09:46 From Harjit Sandhu to Everyone : Great speakers, all of them. Thank you Anne for inviting them. I stand enlightened with this session.

12:09:53 From Monica Herk to Everyone : People need meaning/purpose and connections/community in their lives. Many people don’t have that in our current society. QAnon offers both

12:10:00 From Michael Haines to Everyone : Thank you Balbir much appreciated

12:10:03 From Todd Price to Everyone : Great Speakers

12:10:11 From Russell Hall to Everyone : It seems like child trafficking is the proverbial camel’s nose under the tent.  People are of course interested in that, and then they get drawn further in.

12:10:19 From Michael Haines to Everyone : Yes keeping well and sensible

12:10:28 From Michael Haines to Everyone : hope you the same

12:10:29 From JR to Everyone : Agreed, this has been a fantastic talk.

12:11:02 From Michael Haines to Everyone : Definitely JR

12:11:29 From Nizar to Everyone : Exactly. In the UAE in the 1980s, the education system was controlled by Wahabis and we were actually told that when we question, that is Satan playing with your mind.. no wonder the Arab World is where it is today

Anne Speckhard after the event: Actually Nizar that happens in Christianity also at times.

12:11:35 From Besir Wrayet to Everyone : My question is for Dr Hassan, Did the Moonies have MIL Advisors because some of the TTP’s even though banned has MIL fingerprint. Thank you.

12:12:09 From Tony Cox to Everyone : Are there examples of evangelical churches denying the existence of Covid? I have heard some saying they are immune.

12:12:17 From JR to Everyone : Having worked in counter human trafficking, there is a reality that is vastly different than the message of QAnon, and there are ways for individuals to take part in combatting the practice, which again is very different to the message of QAnon.

12:12:39 From Besir Wrayet to Everyone : Same in Turkey here Nizar, Usually they hunt by pretending to teach Quran Reading.

12:13:03 From Gemma Wood_NAPS to Everyone : how is the anti/deprogramming group being marketed and are you looking for people specifically with loved ones in q-anon or people to connect regardless around encouraging critical thinking? 

12:13:15 From Nizar to Everyone : Highly recommend people watch it. https://www.netflix.com/title/80063867

12:13:38 From Karina Weitzer to Everyone : This was such an interesting point about broad topics acting as a funnel. @Russell Hall interestingly it seems often even more broad topics – such as wellness, nutrition, vaccines – that pull people onto platforms that alongside that more general content then also share QAnon or far-right messages.

12:13:39 From ICSVE – Anne Speckhard to Everyone : thanks so much to all of you for your comments and interesting statements!

12:14:09 From Nabeela AlMulla to Everyone : mental lethargy is convenient, comfortable. to think for oneself is hard work. I try to encourage my students to think for themselves, to contradict me if they wish.

12:14:44 From Nizar to Everyone : They started The National Prayer Breakfast. If you know anything about lobbying and power in D.C., you know you should know about The National Prayer Breakfast. Not a cabal nor a conspiracy, but a group of people who worked diligently and with great discipline to achieve their political/values

12:14:47 From Michael Haines to Everyone : that is the essence of my work @Nabeesa

12:14:48 From Francis Mujjuni to Everyone : Sounds like QAnon has more obsessions from Ivory Towers, and liberal legacy media—-I did not know a thing about the  group until it became a mainstay on their headlines and chyrons. Similar to how WaPO publishes articles about lynching monthly even when the crime is simply their projection.

12:15:04 From Nizar to Everyone : https://www.netflix.com/title/80063867

12:15:05 From Russell Hall to Everyone : @Karina agreed.  Child trafficking is just so blatant.

12:15:20 From JR to Everyone : Wish to encourage free speech, until the speech crosses their particular ideological threshold.

12:15:30 From Karina Weitzer to Everyone : @Nabeela AlMulla This is often a point made by people ascribing to conspiracy theories, they would argue they are the ones thinking for themselves.

12:15:32 From JR to Everyone : *Some wish

12:15:45 From Besir Wrayet to Everyone : Every ICSVE Event is a learning experience. Wow tonight’s lecture is going to have great impact, Thank you Anne, ICSVE and Panelists.

12:15:58 From Raul Rios – VUB to Everyone : UNESCO has Media Information Literacy Programs. 

12:16:10 From Todd Price to Everyone : Bingo. Critical thinking skills

12:16:12 From ICSVE – Anne Speckhard to Everyone : so good to hear Besir, yes the speakers we bring always make us think on a theoretical and practical level!

12:16:36 From Russell Hall to Everyone : Correlation Does Not Imply Causation should be engraved above every door of every classroom in the world.

12:16:43 From Rebecca Cataldi to Everyone : Opus Dei is not a cult. Being anti-abortion is fundamental to the Catholic religion (and to some other Christian denominations and religions as well).  It is part of our moral beliefs and not part of cult or fringe thinking.

Anne Speckhard after the event: I’m sorry we didn’t confront this directly in the event.

12:16:45 From Raul Rios – VUB to Everyone : But the problem is implementing these curriculums. Moreover, the people who tend to be vulnerable are already past a certain education level. So most likely you would have to reach them via informal means.

12:16:54 From Todd Price to Everyone : exposure is key in curriculum

12:16:55 From Raul Rios – VUB to Everyone : Maybe include certain program in TVET

12:17:00 From Angela Brooks to Everyone : Libraries could have a role in critical thinking

12:17:02 From Rebecca Goolsby to Everyone : We need to develop fields of cyber-social science.  To understand how cyber-social communities affect us, as individuals and as communities (and as nations).  Cyber-sociology, cyber-anthropology, cyber-political science and cyber-social-psychology

12:17:10 From Dr. Lisa McConnell to Everyone : I think the best time to teach critical thinking skills is between birth and age 8. Second opportunity is 9-12, and after 13, you’re basically out of luck as peers dominate attention and influence.

12:17:12 From Cassie Paschall to Everyone : l wonder what is the best way to call out those that promote Qanon conspiracy theories that are in positions of power? (e.g. Marjorie Taylor Greene).

12:17:27 From Hans Ucko to Everyone : Why is the Q-Anon, Jehovas Witnesses, Mormonism, Unification Church, et c. more present in the US than e.g. in Europe? Is de Tocqueville right: Here and there, in the midst of American society, you meet with men, full of a fanatical and almost wild enthusiasm, which hardly exists in Europe. From time to time strange sects arise, which endeavor to strike out extraordinary paths to eternal happiness. Religious insanity is very common in the United States. …

12:17:40 From Russell Hall to Everyone : @Angela we librarians have been working on this for years.  Come talk to us!  We’d love to help.

12:17:46 From Rebecca Goolsby to Everyone : My observation as we lack sufficient basic research, and we are devoid of ethnographic work in this area to develop social programs.

12:17:47 From Prabha Sankaranarayan to Everyone : Hear hear to Dr Coohill’s focus on building resilience through critical thinking, education, media literacy.

12:18:18 From Arben Ramkaj to Everyone : thank you for these beautiful discussion.Ben Albania

12:19:18 From Ansel to Everyone : What are people’s about meme culture as a route to conspiracy theories, especially among young people

12:20:40 From Raul Rios – VUB to Everyone : I have to say QAnon is very present in France and Germany.

12:21:07 From Michael Haines to Everyone : is it maybe Europe suffered the ravages of war more than the US?

12:21:13 From Rebecca Cataldi to Everyone : Important to distinguish between being religious, which is very common in the US, and being an fanatic/cultist 🙂

12:21:36 From Francis Mujjuni to Everyone : From Dr. Hassan’s submission, your characterisation of several groups as cults is so expansive that any group that has a disagreeable ‘doctrine’ would probably fit the designation.

12:21:49 From Marcella Calabi to Everyone : Yes and it’s important to be open about the places where religion and cult meet / overlap

12:21:51 From Todd Price to Everyone : Agree of religious fanaticism but regional problems play into extremism

12:21:59 From ICSVE – Anne Speckhard to Everyone : true we do need to distinguish from legitimate religious belief and fanaticism.

12:22:57 From Tony Cox to Everyone : Nazism emerged in one of the most developed countries in the world, at the time – the notion that a liberal education will exorcise extremism is a conceit – a liberal conceit.

12:23:10 From Todd Price to Everyone : Yes NGO s contribute to this and need scrutiny

12:23:17 From Jason Carnes – FHWA to Everyone : that’s is a very slippery slope

12:23:23 From Dr. Lisa McConnell to Everyone : How can you prove divinity? Secularlism is the new religion.

12:23:32 From JR to Everyone : We lack a coherent and continual set of courses that focus on teaching critical thinking skills in American school systems.  It should be a year by year progression for empowering strong, balanced minds.

12:24:07 From Rebecca Cataldi to Everyone : US education is also localized, not nationalized, so there’s not really ‘one’ US education system and difficult to compare to countries that have one national system

12:24:17 From ICSVE – Anne Speckhard to Everyone : it would be very hard for government to decide what religions are coercive or practicing mind control, as threats of landing in hell for instance are ubiquitous in many

12:24:26 From Tony Cox to Everyone : JR – that observation could be made regarding manu of not most educational systems throughout the world.

12:25:05 From JR to Everyone : Tony, Nazism piggybacked on the social and economic lows of post WWI Germany.  Your point is not incorrect, however there are intervening circumstances.

12:25:15 From Todd Price to Everyone : Native Americans had a religious belief of nature and it was overpowered. Indoctrination depends on the rationality of those doing it.

12:26:00 From Jason Carnes – FHWA to Everyone : at what point does a cult become a recognized “religion”?

12:26:28 From Nizar to Everyone : well, while fearing to be kicked out of this discussion, the Zionist adage “A land with no people for a people with no land” in reference to Palestine, was raised by the early Zionist Zangwill who said it before visiting Palestine. But then when he visited he realized it was not as empty as he thought it was and in fact started to look for other places where the Zionist project could thrive

Anne Speckhard after the event: We wouldn’t kick you out for such a statement Nizar!

12:26:29 From ICSVE – Anne Speckhard to Everyone : as Prof Barkun says social and political consensus that you get a seat at the table.

12:26:41 From Steven Hassan to Everyone : I do not use theology to evaluate religion. I use social science

Anne Speckhard after the event: Hmm this could be an hour discussion it itself, but I would say it’s very hard to evaluate any claims about the supernatural from a scientific perspective.  We can evaluate whether or not a religion becomes coercive in its practice perhaps but even then should the government have a say in that?  That’s a huge debate…

12:26:46 From Todd Price to Everyone : Violations of norms? depends on the person

12:26:54 From Tony Cox to Everyone : JR – if your view was correct, then the much vaunted German culture of learning should have dealt with it – it didn’t, because there is no link between level of education or culture and whether you will support Nazism.

12:26:58 From Russell Hall to Everyone : Some of the language has evolved to where cults are referred to as “New Religious Movements”

12:27:28 From Cassie Paschall to Everyone : a great book on the history of religious traditions in the U.S. is One Nation Under Gods by Peter Manseau

12:27:38 From Hans Ucko to Everyone : I would like to say that the exceptionalism myth bears some responsibility and is still alive and kicking in the US even in Biden times. It needs to be addressed in favour of real pluralism.

12:28:21 From Michael Haines to Everyone : Thank you to all the speakers this as always has been most informative and added to my reading lists

12:28:32 From Laurie Fenstermacher to Everyone : Fantastic panel — thanks to all the speakers!  Great job Anne!!

12:28:45 From Russell Hall to Everyone : Shameless plug for Joe Coohill.  Subscribe to the Professor Buzzkill podcast: https://professorbuzzkill.com/

12:28:53 From Todd Price to Everyone : Yes great job. I must go now.

12:28:58 From ICSVE – Anne Speckhard to Everyone : We’ll send the link to the video and curated chat around later this afternoon.  Thanks to everyone who took part and contributed to this discussion!

12:29:05 From Prabha Sankaranarayan to Everyone : Wonderful panel. Great discussions. Please plan a part 2.

12:29:23 From Francis Mujjuni to Everyone : The government should never have any right to decide what is a legitimate religion and which it isn’t. This also applies to the so-called bodies of ‘reliable fact-checkers’! People should be left to ‘experiment’—this idea that the govt has power to babysit people and act as a thought police, should be resisted by any sane being

12:29:34 From Guy Kent to Everyone : Are conspiracy theories particular to the political Right? Are there left wing conspiracy theories? Thx

12:29:37 From Gary Dunnagan to Everyone : Great Panel – thank you, as always! 

12:29:52 From Anna Killen to Everyone : Thank you all!

12:30:12 From Rebecca Cataldi to Everyone : Thanks for the discussion. As a followup event would love more of a focus on practical techniques for breaking down attachments to conspiracy theories and facilitating critical thinking skills?

12:30:16 From Nizar to Everyone : Exactly, just like the printing press, industrial age, nuclear age, our culture and values are slow to adapt to the new world created by the new technology. this technological age

12:30:17 From JR to Everyone : I agree with Prabha, please organize a Part 2, this has been fantastic.

12:30:30 From Vladimir K to Everyone : @Guy Kent, the same question

12:30:31 From Harjit Sandhu to Everyone : Religious insanity – 

12:30:36 From Bernard Glick to Everyone : Indeed, Adam and Eve were set up to fail… 😉

12:30:47 From Besir Wrayet to Everyone : Yes Please, Part 2.

12:30:50 From ICSVE – Anne Speckhard to Everyone : I think his point is that Adam and Eve were given free will to decide.

12:31:01 From Saad Shaheed to Everyone : Thank you to all the speakers.

12:31:02 From Dr. Lisa McConnell to Everyone : I agree Anne – agency matters.

12:31:02 From Karina Weitzer to Everyone : The issue with the critical thinking point is conspiracy theorists likely consider themselves to be critical thinkers, while rallying against mainstream views. Framing as an issue of trust in institutions and authorities, how might we be able to begin tackling this?

12:31:08 From Harjit Sandhu to Everyone : No god man has and no godman ever had any supernatural powers. They exist only in the pages of sensation-mongering newspapers and in the minds of brainless followers of these leaders. 

He who does not allow his miracles to be investigated is a crook; he who does not have the courage to investigate a miracle is a gullible; and he who is prepared to believe without verification is a fool. 

12:31:08 From TJ to Everyone : Adam and Eve weren’t set up to fail, just given free will

12:31:10 From Russell Hall to Everyone : Thanks!

12:31:15 From Vladimir K to Everyone : thank you!

12:31:16 From TJ to Everyone : Also thank you to the speakers!

12:31:18 From Sara Baleizão to Everyone : Thank you!

12:31:18 From Nizar to Everyone : @Steven Hassan, the argument is that extreme circumstances require extreme measures. killing is forbidden except when your life is at stake

12:31:19 From Khawla’s iPhone to Everyone : Thank you so much for this great panel, great speakers..I have learned a lot

12:31:21 From Philip Wagner to Everyone : Thank you! That was great

12:31:26 From Karina Weitzer to Everyone : Thank you for an exciting panel and discussion!

12:31:26 From Raul Rios – VUB to Everyone : Thank you! Wish I could’ve joined sooner!

Anne Speckhard after the event: You can watch the full event later on our website and feel free to share it also!

12:31:27 From Letta Tayler, Human Rights Watch to Everyone : Fascinating indeed. Thank you–learned a lot as well.

12:31:28 From Ward to Everyone : Thank you

12:31:30 From Porus Dadabhoy to Everyone : Porus Awesome

12:31:31 From Olivier Nkunzimana to Everyone : Thank you , found the session educational

12:31:32 From Harjit Sandhu to Everyone : Thank you Anne and all the speakers.

12:31:35 From Farzana Islam to Everyone : thanks all

12:31:36 From Guy Kent to Everyone : Very informative, many thanks all.

12:31:36 From Barbara Brechbühl to Everyone : Thank you.

12:31:38 From justinfeltman to Everyone : Thank you everyone!

12:31:39 From Nizar to Everyone : Thank you

12:31:41 From Lara, London England to Everyone : Fabulous session, thank you

12:31:42 From Sigrid Raets to Everyone : Thanks!

12:31:42 From Tony Cox to Everyone : Thanx for a very thought provoking event.

12:31:50 From Charmaine Ng to Everyone : Thank you

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