Guy Gardener wrote:
Q made Picard make the cloud by pushing him back and forth through time, therefore Q made the cloud.
You really believe that there is no one behind the curtain?
Old man Picard would never have done what he did unless he hadn't been provoked by Q.
Q time-shifted Picard to SHOW him how HE (Picard) destroyed all life on Earth. The Q Continuem setup the initial paradox, but it was essentially a trap for Picard to fall into, which he initially did. It was thanks to the time-shifts that Picard realized the paradox and set things right. Yes, the test was thought up by the Q Continuem and carried out by Q, but Picard is the one who pulled the trigger (as it were).
Q did not put anything in the soup, as you put it.