Hmmm, I’m going to have to go with “No”… I can think of a couple off the top of my head that have resulted in mass deaths… Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq, for one…. Gulf of Tonkin….
In 2019, the F.B.I. cited QAnon as one of the dangerous conspiracy theories posing domestic terrorist threats to the United States and cited past incitements of violence from its adherents. Despite its fringe origins, the conspiracy movement continues to grow in troubling ways. QAnon-supporting candidates are running for office in surprising numbers (Media Matters’ Alex Kaplan reports that “at least 14 candidates made it out of primaries to the ballot in November or to primary runoffs.”) The movement has been tacitly embraced by President Trump and his re-election campaign, who’ve amplified QAnon accounts and even some of their memes.
For those who haven’t paid attention to the community since the early days, the movement’s growing popularity is alarming and often confusing. Some have compared it to a budding religion. Personally, the phenomenon has always struck me as a dark iteration of vigilante investigations that grew popular on message boards in the 2010s — citizen journalism gone wrong.
Perhaps the best explanation I’ve heard for the movement’s popularity comes from Adrian Hon, the chief executive of the gaming company Six to Start and a designer of alternate reality games or ARGs. Unlike video games, alternate reality games aren’t played on a console — they use the world as their storytelling platform. There’s no one particular medium. The story takes place in real time and seems to exist in the world. So game designers hide clues and puzzles in websites, apps and even newspaper advertisements. It’s a bit like a networked treasure hunt that turns the world around you into a game.
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