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Jelle van Buuren discusses the Problem with Conspiracy Theories and a QAnon Ban on VICE

Jelle van Buuren, Assistant Professor at the Institute of Security and Global Affairs, appeared as guest on VICE to discuss the usefulness of recent ban on QAnon.

QAnon is an American conspiracy theory that was launched online by a certain Q in 2015. The theory claims that Hillary Clinton and fellow conspirators are running a worldwide network of satanic child rapists from a pizza restaurant and that Donald Trump is the only one who can stop them. Facebook, as well as Twitter, recently decided to ban anything related to QAnon. But is QAnon truly a fad that has blown over from the States and how useful is a Facebook ban?

Van Buuren explains that the idea of a hidden elite paedophile network dates back from before 2008: 'Stories about malicious individuals abusing children, with or without satanic rituals and the drinking of blood, date back to the Bible.' The book 'Europe's Inner Demons' by Norman Cohn that was published in 1977, provides numerous historical examples on this topic and these kind of stories have been told for centuries, says to Van Buuren: 'Fantasies existed about witches ritually slaughtering children. It's embedded in the collective unconscious.'

Symbolic Aspect

The revival of such theories is often a sign of the times, says Van Buuren: 'You'll often notice a rise in interest when there's a lot of fear of morality gone rogue or a quickly changing society.'

The satanic pedo network is symbolic in a way: 'The elites are portrayed as a symbol of more freethinking or liberal ideas on role patterns and the child abuse is a symbol of a world spinning out of control.' But this does not mean that the adherents are only trying to express themselves poetically, explains Van Buuren: 'They might very well believe it's true, but it's also a metaphor. It's this combination that explains the continued attraction to these kinds of stories. The worst fears are tapped into: children are a symbol of the vulnerable requiring protection.'

A Facebook ban is not very likely to signal a change in the belief in satanic paedophile networks. But maybe the primal Dutch paranoia is even more disturbing than an American conspiracy theory.

You can read the full article (in Dutch) here.

Jelle van Buuren is an Assistant Professor at Leiden University - Institute of Security and Global Affairs. His research interests lie in, among other things, European police cooperation, intelligence cooperation and border management. He is currently researching what role conspiracy thinking is playing in processes of delegitimisation.

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