Christopher Carrico: “Skepticism, Fantasy, and the QAnon Shaman”

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Skepticism, Fantasy,

and the QAnon Shaman

By Christopher Carrico



“It looks like Floki has taken Congress!” my Mom texted me as the horned, painted, spear-wielding “QAnon Shaman” with neo-Norse tatts took the Senate floor.

“Where was the security?!” people asked. Well… they were right there aiding and abetting. The Capitol Police opened the gates and let everyone in.


We’ve been social distancing for 10 months, and the radical skepticism which has been eating away at us for years seems to have taken on even more malignant forms. Young earth creationists and climate change deniers helped pave the way for anti-vaxxers, “fake news”, “pizza gate”, “Plandemic”, and Trump claiming that he won the election in a “massive landslide victory”.

I find myself slipping into quarantine solipsism sometimes myself. A neurotic patient, turning away from reality because it seems unbearable. None of the social tools of reality testing readily at hand.

Who will talk back to the fantasy world that both the Viking LARP-er and the American President are living in? The postmodern constructivists who suddenly plant signs in their yards claiming that “Science is Real”?

Oddly, perplexingly, Empiricists have been enablers for Mysticism.

Usually thought to be among the Mystics himself, I have no idea who Yeats was thinking of when he said, over 100 years ago, that “The best lack all conviction, while the worst / Are full of passionate intensity.” But I can’t count the times I’ve thought of that quote over the course of the last three decades.

For the left, for decades we’ve seen defeat after defeat, causing us to question everything that we thought we knew. Even ideas of a minimum of social democracy are ruled out of line and targeted for elimination. In just the few months leading up to lockdown, we’d seen a wave of new assaults against Latin America’s Pink Tide, including a coup in Bolivia, and we saw liberals close ranks and portray moderates like Corbyn and Sanders as dangerous radicals.

Meanwhile the far right exploits these moments of skepticism and doubt: adding a dispute with the germ theory of disease to its ones with climate change and evolution. Unafraid to directly assault reality. Each morning our days start with news briefings of neo-fascist surrealism being taken to new heights.

We have no reason whatsoever to think that lukewarm liberals will clap back when and if they are at the helm. “Return to Normal” and “Nothing would fundamentally change” are their slogans. And they will use our Trump and COVID-era fears as pretenses for reinforcing the workings of the National Security State. They will refuse to directly confront the radical right – in the name of “unity and healing” for the “whole nation”. Imagine a scenario in a few years when a leader a lot like Trump emerges, but who is not a completely incompetent ass. Will the strength of American “democratic” institutions protect us then? There is no telling where it will all end.

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