One of the enduring mysteries of the Trump era – ‘who is Q’ – appears to be solved, sort of.
Two sets of forensic linguists have published two separate papers using two different techniques to conclude that Q appears to be two people: South African tech journalist Paul Furber, 55, and 4chan internet message board moderator and computer entrepreneur Ron Watkins, 34, according to the studies.
‘While relying on two completely different technologies, both stylometric [quantitative study of literary style] analyses could establish that QAnon‘s early period on the 4chan forum, from October to December 2017, was likely the result of a collaboration between Paul Furber and Ron Watkins,’ according to Claude-Alain Roten, the CEO of OrphAnalytics.
oten, who worked with Lionel Pousaz, a partner at OrphAnalytics, took the writings of several people identified as potential Q originators and analyzed writings they had authored then cross-referenced it using computer software with early QAnon posts.
‘Open your eyes. Many in our govt worship Satan,’ was the first post on October 2017 that launched the movement, according to The New York Times, which was given exclusive access to the linguistics studies.
When reached by the Times, Furber didn’t dispute that Q’s writing resembled his own, while Watkins, who is running for Congress in Arizona, told the NYT: ‘I am not Q.’
This debunks one theory that Q is a high-ranking military insider.
An accidental stylistic resemblance between Watkins and a still-to-be identified author seems quite unlikely,’ said Florian Cafiero, a visiting scholar at Columbia University who co-authored the study with Jean-Baptiste Camps from the French École des Chartes.
QAnon started out as a fringe group on the obscure and extremely nerdy 4chan internet forum but grew into a global movement that propagated wild conspiracy, like that there was an international child sex ring run by Democrats operating out of a Washington, D.C., pizza shop called Comet Pizza.
Followers of QAnon believed that then-President Donald Trump was a supporter and many of the movement’s devotees participated in the January 6 attack on the Capitol based on the debunked belief that the 2020 election was stolen due to widespread computer fraud.
The FBI labeled the movement a terror threat.
A poll conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute found that 15 percent of all Americans believe the basic tenets of QAnon.
Roten and Pousaz concluded that Furber and Watkins worked together initially, but when the message board migrated to 8chan, Watkins took over. Watkins’ father reportedly owned the 8chan message board.
Furber told The New York Times that his writing may bare a resemblance to Q because he was so heavily influenced by the moderator’s style.
In a telephone interview with The Times from his home near Johannesburg, Furber didn’t dispute that Q’s writing resembled his own. Instead, he claimed that Q’s posts had influenced him so deeply that they altered his prose.
It ‘took over our lives, literally,’ Furber told the paper. ‘We all started talking like him.’
More bluntly, Watkins told The Times: ‘I am not Q.’ But he defended the messages behind the movement.
‘There is probably more good stuff than bad,’ he told The Times, enumerating the valuable messages like ‘fighting for the safety of the country, and for the safety of the children of the country.’
Watkins has been outed before. In March 2021, HBO launched a docuseries called ‘Q: Into the Storm’ which traces the origins of QAnon to Watkins, whose father owns the 8chan forum.
Pousaz defended his unmasking of the QAnon founders as important social science.
‘QAnon is going to fuel social studies for a long time, and maybe even history, as one of the most singular and concerning movements of our time. As such, identifying its authors and their motivations is of great importance to orient future debates,’ says Pousaz, a co-inventor at OrphAnalytics.
Authored by Janon Fisher via Daily Mail
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