579. Conspirituality, with Derek Beres, Matthew Remski, and Julian Walker

ConspiritualityA conversation with the hosts of the Conspirituality Podcast website. As they describe it, their podcast is…

A weekly study of converging right-wing conspiracy theories and faux-progressive wellness utopianism.

At best, the conspirituality movement attacks public health efforts in times of crisis. At worst, it fronts and recruits for the fever-dream of QAnon.

As the alt-right and New Age horseshoe toward each other in a blur of disinformation, clear discourse and good intentions get smothered. Charismatic influencers exploit their followers by co-opting conspiracy theories on a spectrum of intensity ranging from vaccines to child trafficking. In the process, spiritual beliefs that have nurtured creativity and meaning are transforming into memes of a quickly-globalizing paranoia.

Conspirituality Podcast attempts to bring understanding to this landscape. A journalist, a cult researcher, and a philosophical skeptic discuss the stories, cognitive dissonances, and cultic dynamics tearing through the yoga, wellness, and new spirituality worlds. Mainstream outlets have noticed the problem. We crowd-source, research, analyze, and dream answers to it.

The term “conspirituality” first appeared in 2009 as the name of a Vancouver rap group that unironically dropped conspiracy keywords into beats calling for political awakening. In 2011, Charlotte Ward and David Voas used the term academically to analyze the growing overlap between the paranoid conspiracism of right-wingers and the New Age’s yearning for spiritual transformation.

Derek BeresDerek Beres is a multi-faceted author, media expert, and movement instructor based in Los Angeles.

He is the Head of Content Marketing and Community at Centered, as well as a columnist for Big Think and Psychedelic Spotlight.

One-half of EarthRise SoundSystem, he also served as music supervisor for the breakthrough documentary, DMT: The Spirit Molecule.

He is a co-host of the Conspirituality podcast. His new book, Hero’s Dose: The Case for Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy, is out now.

Matthew RemskiMatthew Remski is a cult survivor and researcher. His 2019 book, Practice And All Is Coming: Abuse, Cult Dynamics, And Healing In Yoga And Beyond, is the first systematic analysis of pervasive cultism in the modern yoga world.

He researches and writes on abuse in spiritual movements here, as well as for publications like GEN by Medium and The Walrus. His current research is pivoting to look at cultic dynamics in conspirituality and eco-justice movements.

He lives in Toronto with his partner and their two sons.

Julian WalkerJulian Walker grew up in Zimbabwe and South Africa and has lived in LA since 1990. He is fascinated with the intersections of yoga/meditation, psychology, science, and culture. He has written extensively on cults and gurus, spiritual bypass and quantum woo in New Age circles, trauma and the body, and neuroscience and somatic psychology informing the practice and teaching of yoga. His writing can be found on Elephant Journal, MediumFreedom Becomes You, and in the 2011 book, 21st Century Yoga: Culture, Politics, and Practice. He teaches yoga and runs teacher-training programs in and around LA. Julian is also a bodyworker and the ecstatic dance DJ/facilitator for his Dance Tribe events.

Discussion of this interview in the BatGap Community Facebook Group.

Interview recorded December 5, 2020.

Video and audio below. Audio also available as a Podcast.

577. Rick Hanson, 2nd Interview

Rick HansonThis interview was recorded on October 9, 2020, as part of an online conference on “Living and Dying” offered by the Science and Nonduality Conference. The conference has finished, but you may sign up to access all of its content.

Rick Hanson, Ph.D. is a psychologist, Senior Fellow of UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center, and New York Times best-selling author. His free weekly newsletter has 180,000 subscribers and his online programs have scholarships available for those with financial needs.

His books have been published in 29 languages with 900,000 copies in English alone and include:

He’s lectured at NASA, Google, Oxford, and Harvard, and taught in meditation centers worldwide. An expert on positive neuroplasticity, his work has been featured on the BBC, CBS, NPR, and other major media. He began meditating in 1974 and is the founder of the Wellspring Institute for Neuroscience and Contemplative Wisdom. He loves wilderness and taking a break from emails.

Website: rickhanson.net

Discussion of this interview in the BatGap Community Facebook Group.

First BatGap interview with Rick Hanson.

Video and audio below. Audio also available as a Podcast.

576. Dean Radin, 2nd Interview

Dean RadinDean Radin, PhD, is Chief Scientist at the Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS) and Associated Distinguished Professor of Integral and Transpersonal Psychology at the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS). He occasionally gives lectures in the Department of Psychology at Sonoma State University and has served on doctoral dissertation committees at Saybrook University and CIIS. His original career track as a concert violinist shifted into science after earning a BSEE degree in electrical engineering, magna cum laude with honors in physics, from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and then an MS in electrical engineering and a PhD in psychology from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. For a decade he worked on advanced telecommunications R&D at AT&T Bell Laboratories and GTE Laboratories. For three decades he has been engaged in frontiers research on the nature of consciousness. Before joining the research staff at IONS in 2001, he held appointments at Princeton University, University of Edinburgh, University of Nevada, Interval Research Corporation, and SRI International.

He is author or coauthor of hundreds of scientific, technical, and popular articles, three dozen book chapters, and three popular books including the award-winning and bestselling The Conscious Universe: The Scientific Truth of Psychic Phenomena (HarperOne, 1997), Entangled Minds: Extrasensory Experiences in a Quantum Reality (Simon & Schuster, 2006), a 2014 Silver Nautilus Book Award, Supernormal: Science, Yoga, and the Evidence for Extraordinary Psychic Abilities (Random House, 2013), and Real Magic: Ancient Wisdom, Modern Science, and a Guide to the Secret Power of the Universe (Penguin Random House). These books have been translated into 14 foreign languages, so far. His technical articles have appeared in journals including Foundations of Physics and Physics Essays to Psychological Bulletin and Journal of Consciousness Studies; he was featured in a New York Times Magazine article; and he has appeared on dozens of television shows ranging from the BBC’s Horizon to PBS’s Closer to Truth. He has given over 400 interviews and talks, including presentations at Harvard, Stanford, Cambridge, Princeton, Virginia Tech, the Sorbonne, the University of British Columbia, and the University of Minnesota, for industries including Google, Johnson & Johnson, Rabobank, and for various government organizations including the US Navy, DARPA, and the National Academy of Sciences.

In 2010, he spent a month lecturing in India as the National Visiting Professor of the Indian Council of Philosophical Research, a program sponsored by India’s Ministry of Human Resource Development. In 2013 and 2014, he gave invited lectures in Kuala Lumpur at the International Center for Leadership and Governance, an organization supported by the Central Bank of Malaysia. In 2015 he spoke at the Australian Leadership Retreat, a confidential program of briefings and discussions for Australian government, business, education, and military leaders.

Website: deanradin.com

Discussion of this interview in the Batgap Community Facebook Group.

Interview recorded November 15, 2020.

First BatGap interview with Dean Radin.

Video and audio below. Audio also available as a Podcast.