Michael Barkun, professor emeritus of political science, says internet forums and social media platforms have served as mass media outlets without gatekeepers. They allow unconventional ideas to quickly become mainstream. "Now anyone with an idea, no matter how bizarre, has a way of potentially getting it in front of fairly large audiences," he says. "That has eroded what was once a firm boundary between the fringe and the mainstream."
"You really feel like you're in an Alice in Wonderland world when you start going through the ideas of the sovereign citizens," says Michael Barkun, professor emeritus of political science. "They will construct more and more complex rationalizations that push the events that they wish for farther and farther into the future."
The panelists discussed the dangers of conspiracy theories, the processes of joining and leaving cults (and whether QAnon is itself a cult), and the threat that the United States faces from QAnon now that Joe Biden is president.