Yet, the spread of QAnon shows that the Trump-era GOP has weakened antibodies against kookery. Trump himself sets the tone. He’s an indiscriminate tweeter of disreputable Twitter accounts, and he’s floated all sort of ridiculous conspiracy theories himself over the years—just ask Ted Cruz’s father, or Joe Scarborough. Trump fulsomely praised Marjorie Taylor Greene upon her primary victory as a Republican rising star…

Q has a special draw for a segment of Trump supporters. The author’s lurid inventions involve people who are already villains of the populist right, the likes of George Soros, John Podesta and the late John McCain. Q promotes a radical distrust of traditional sources of information and makes Trump’s stumbles into master chess moves, both of which are pleasing to Trump super-fans.

The novelist Walter Kirn wrote a piece on Q for Harper’s arguing that the author, whose posts have gotten more obscure, offering clues to what’s afoot rather than making grand pronouncements, is a master internet storyteller. “The audience for internet narratives doesn’t want to read, it wants to write,” he writes. “It doesn’t want answers provided, it wants to search for them. It doesn’t want to sit and be amused, it wants to be sent on a mission. It wants to do.”