The Mueller investigation is over. QAnon, the conspiracy theory that grew around it, is not.

One would think that a conspiracy theory that’s based on the idea that special counsel Robert Mueller and President Donald Trump are working together to expose thousands of cannibalistic pedophiles hidden in plain sight (including Hillary Clinton and actor Tom Hanks) and then send them to Guantanamo Bay would be doomed. Mueller’s investigation has ended and Attorney General Bill Barr’s summary of Mueller’s report has been published — all without any mention of pedophiles, cannibals, or child murderers.

One would be wrong.

As evidenced by Trump’s Thursday night rally in Grand Rapids, Michigan, QAnon — a conspiracy theory that took root in online forums before bursting into the public eye in early 2018 — is alive and well.

It’s not just left-leaning or mainstream outlets that have argued the conspiracy theory’s inherent, and pervasive, ridiculousness. Major supporters of the president have denounced QAnon as a “grift” and a “scam.” Many of the conspiracy theory’s allegations — like that Hillary Clinton was executed by lethal injection in February — are patently false (and wild).

But the people who follow QAnon don’t care. In their view, QAnon — a conspiracy theory that alleges hundreds of thousands of child-eating pedophiles are due to be arrested any day now by Trump and Mueller (oh, and John F. Kennedy Jr. is alive) — is bringing America together.

A quick refresher on #QAnon

QAnon is a conspiracy theory based around an anonymous online poster known as “Q” — a pseudonym that comes from the Q-level security clearance, the Department of Energy equivalent of “Top Secret.” Beginning on October 28, 2017, Q began posting on the 4chan message board /pol/ about Hillary Clinton’s imminent arrest. Followers of Q became known as QAnon, and they began awaiting “The Storm,” during which all of Trump’s enemies, including Rep. Adam Schiff and others, would be arrested and executed for being murderous child-eating pedophiles.

I wrote about QAnon last year, when the conspiracy theory first gained attention in mainstream circles. And as I wrote then, most, if not all, of Q’s posts and predictions were unadulterated nonsense.

But none of QAnon’s most fervent followers seemed to care. And even with the release of Barr’s summary of the Mueller report — which, though very short, would probably have mentioned the indictments of Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton had they been included in the document — QAnon believers aren’t deterred.

We will never see the end of QAnon

And that’s why, despite everything that’s taken place over the last week, QAnon will persist — because QAnon wasn’t built on facts, but on almost religious fervor. In fact, that’s how most conspiracy theories work. As I wrote last year:

Take conspiracy theorists who believed, falsely and without evidence, that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg had secretly died earlier this year and her death was being withheld from the American public by the government. As SCOTUSblog found in a case study it conducted, RBG conspiracy believers whom the blog confronted with evidence that the justice had not, in fact, passed away, reacted by leaning into the conspiracy theory even further.

And that’s just one conspiracy theory. QAnon — which began relatively simply as a conspiracy theory about the Mueller investigation — now includes references and allusions to the Pizzagate conspiracy theory and “false flag” mass shootings. That means that the end of the Mueller investigation won’t end QAnon. Nothing will.

As Travis View, a conspiracy theory researcher and QAnon expert, wrote on QAnon in the Washington Post on March 26:

Like 9/11 trutherism and moon-landing truthers, QAnon, it appears, is with us for good.