Faculty Mentor

Dr. Julie Ingersoll, Professor

Faculty Mentor Department

Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies

Associated Prize (or Other Information)

2020-2021 Neil Gray Paper Prize


The expansion of information networks and of paranoia in the West following the turn of the new century in 2000 created the nesting ground for a new politically focused conspiracy movement in QAnon which, like many before it, conceives of their liberation in the either explicit or implicit terms of the end of the world as they know it. QAnon is broadly maligned by popular conceptions as of late, and that same popular conception has accused their prophetic predictions of being wrong over the years, and yet the movement continues on with a strong base of support. Since its formal inception in 2017, the alliance between QAnon's true believers and the politically active Evangelical base in America is obvious to even casual observers of the movement. Most of the scholarly work into QAnon, at the time of writing, has focused on the question of foreign influence. Although an important discussion, these considerations do not help to explain why QAnon has taken hold in the minds of many Americans, and especially Evangelicals, in a seemingly grassroots way, and they don't answer what helps it to be as alluring as it is. After considering these questions through several sociological lenses, through Marx, and through cultural theorist Mark Fisher, I posit that there are many philosophical and mechanical parallels between QAnon and Evangelical's worldview, especially in how they interact with their respective belief systems and what roles they take as followers. I also argue that the adaptive psychology of the QAnon movement is uniquely modern, and can be explained by Fisher's conceptions of hyperreality, memory disorder and dreamwork under this era of capitalism. Finally, I argue in the paper that the deteriorating social, economic and political conditions in America following the turn of the century have put many of its citizens into an existence defined by liminality, and QAnon is just one of the many avenues offering a breakthrough to leaving the past behind and entering a new era. These findings mean that, contrary to the aforementioned research into foreign influence, the widespread popularity of the QAnon movement cannot be simply explained through this lens, but instead necessitates a much more bottom-up analysis of the issues that adherents of QAnon face, and how their beliefs help them navigate reality in a globalized capitalist society, which this paper offers.