Date of Award

Spring 4-29-2024

Document Type

Honors Project

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Classics, Philosophy, and Religion

Department Chair or Program Director

Romero, Joseph

First Advisor

Prof. Michael Reno

Major or Concentration

Philosophy (Pre-Law Concentration)


Since 2017, an insidious conspiracy theory has spawned and spread across various internet forums and social media platforms. Named QAnon (often shortened to simply "Q"), this conspiracy exists as a "catch-all" conspiracy with an inherently ambiguous set of core beliefs and ever-changing end goal surrounding a mythical event named "The Storm," a period of civil unrest that ends with the purported cabals prevalent in the American government being brought to justice and the heroic Q-adherents being placed in positions of power. However, this "Storm" has yet to occur, highlighting the myriad of non-occurring events and claims that, logically, should have caused QAnon to collapse under the weight of reality. This paper seeks to determine why and how QAnon has yet to disband or lose its small, but determined, group of followers. First, the conspiracy is connected to the niche phenomenon of Alternate Reality Games (ARGs), multimedia trans-narrative storytelling whose emphasis on community collaboration and group puzzle-solving echoes the environment of QAnon. Next, the works of philosopher Theodor Adorno are explored to discuss some of the rhetorical tactics and culture manipulation that both QAnon and ARGs utilize to gain a following, and how QAnon manipulates these tactics even further to create a captive audience. By approaching the conspiracy through unconventional means, a greater understanding of how it functions and gains an audience can be found, a crucial first step in countering the conspiracy for good.