Van Badham was in conversation with Andrew Leigh on Van's best-selling book, QAnon and On: A Short and Shocking History of Internet Conspiracy Cults, which delves headfirst into the frightening phenomenon of the mobilised, modern conspiracist community.
Her investigation unpicks the why, how and who behind today's most dangerous and far-fetched internet cults. From Gamergate to Pizzagate and beyond to QAnon, internet manipulation and vaccine disinformation campaigns have grown to a geopolitical scale and spilled into real life with devastating consequences, entangling everyone from ordinary families to politicians to Hollywood celebrities.
What motivates followers to so forcefully avoid the facts and surrender instead to made-up stories designed to influence and control? It's a question that has haunted Van, herself a veteran of social media's relentless trolling wars. In her daring investigation, Van exposes some of the internet's most extreme communities to understand conspiracy cults from the inside.
QAnon and On is the story of the modern internet, the farscape of political belief and a disinformation pipeline built between the two that poses an ongoing threat to democracy itself. Shocking and mesmerising in equal measure, this book will open our eyes to the dangers of partisan belief.
"Badham packs a lot of detail into her "short history" of conspiracy cults to produce a book that deserves - or perhaps, more pointedly, demands - to be widely read . . . it does make a moving cry for reason in the chaos of a twilight world". Ian McFarlane. Canberra Times
Van Badham is a columnist for Guardian Australia, a writer, theatre-maker and novelist, occasional broadcaster, critic, trade unionist and feminist, whose work has appeared for The New York Times, Bloomberg, The Telegraph (UK), The Age, Junkee and myriad others. As a commentator, she has been a guest of Q & A and The Drum on ABC, Politics HQ on Sky News, Radio National, The Today Show, Sunrise and The Project.
Andrew Leigh is the Federal Member for Fenner. His latest book is What's the Worst That Could Happen? Existential Risk and Extreme Politics (MIT Press).