Great Reads: Ready to Leave QAnon? Shannon Martinez Will Show You the Way

A former white supremacist on how disappointed Q followers can regain agency in their lives — but only if they’re willing‘:

For followers of QAnon, Inauguration Day was never supposed to happen. There was going to be an uprising, assassinations, and Donald Trump was supposed to remain in office, victorious. On January 20, as Joe Biden was being sworn in as the 46th president, Shannon Foley Martinez sat down to make a video that spoke directly to followers of Q as the transfer of power peacefully occurred. “Many of you are grappling with a sense of confusion, betrayal, shame, embarrassment, and anger. That you’ve been led astray and lied to,” she says in a calm, patient voice. “I want to urge you to stay alive.”

Martinez is a former white supremacist who helps empower individuals to leave violence-​based lifestyles and ideologies. Over the past year, QAnon has become one of the most powerful conspiracy theories in the county, fueled by people trapped at home, scared and uncertain, with a troll-​in-​chief fanning the flames of disinformation.

Seyward Darby, author of Sisters in Hate: American Women on the Front Lines of White Nationalism, recently spoke with Martinez about what can be done in this disorienting, transitional moment to reach out to followers of QAnon and begin the long, tenuous process of drawing loved ones away from conspiracy theories.

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Great Reads: The best books on Fear of Death recommended by Sheldon Solomon

Sophie Roell interviews Sheldon Solomon:

Sophie Roell: Before we get to the books, do you really think fear of death drives most of human behaviour?

Sheldon Solomon: Yes. I don’t think it’s the only motivational impulse for what people do, but it pervades a substantial portion of human activity — whether we’re aware of it or not. Mostly, we’re not. In our book, The Worm at the Core, we’re borrowing ideas from the books we will talk about momentarily. What we add to the enterprise are empirical studies that, by traditional scientific standards, lend credibility to these claims. None of the authors are saying this is the only reason we do things. What they are saying – and what we try to say in our book — is that if we don’t consider the role that existential concerns play in human affairs, we’ll be able to understand or explain very little.

Sophie Roell: So before you did these experiments, many people had claimed fear of death was an important motivator, but nobody had really proven it?

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Great Reads: How to Die Well, According to a Palliative Care Doctor

By Mark Starmach. ‘Preparing for death by making peace with it’:

First, you withdraw.

Life shrinks down to the size of your home, then to your bedroom, then to your bed—sometimes over months, but more often over weeks.

Old joys stop having the same pull.

You eat less, drink less. Have less interest in speaking.

As your body’s systems start shutting down, you have less and less energy.

You sleep more and more throughout the day.

You start to slip in and out of consciousness and unconsciousness for longer periods of time.

Staying alive starts to feel like staying awake when you are very immensely tired.

At some point, you can’t hold on any longer.

And then you die.

A calm fall into a cosmic sleep.

But that’s not even the half of it.

“There are four ways people tend to die,” the older woman opposite me says as she reaches for a napkin and a ballpoint pen.

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Great Reads: The Four Scientific Meanings Of ‘Nothing’

By Ethan Siegel:

‘When we look around at our world and Universe today, we talk and think about all the things that are in it. These range from particles, atoms, and human beings to planets, stars, galaxies, and the largest structures of all. Depending on what we’re interested in, we might discuss gas, dust, radiation, black holes, or even dark matter. But all the things we see, observe, or infer the existence of today might not have been there forever. Some of these arose from some pre-existing matter that was around previously, but others seemingly came from nothing. Unsurprisingly, not everyone agrees about what we mean, scientifically, when we talk about what “nothing” actually is. Depending on who you ask (or when you ask them), you might get one of four separate meanings. Here’s why they’re all relevant.’

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