Conspirituality Interview Transcript

Conspirituality interview

Rick Archer: Welcome to Buddha at the Gas Pump. My name is Rick Archer. Buddha at the Gas Pump is an ongoing series of interviews with spiritually awakening people. I’ve done about 575 of them now. If this is new to you and you’d like to check out previous ones, please go to, B-A-T-G-A-P, and look under the past interviews menu, where you’ll see them organized in several different ways. This program is made possible through the support of appreciative listeners and viewers, so if you appreciate it and would like to help support it, there’s a PayPal button on every page of the website. This interview that we’re about to do, more of a discussion than an interview, will probably be the most controversial one I’ve ever done, and you’ll see why in a minute, but we’re going to talk about something called “conspiratuality,” which is a term that refers to the adoption by various aspects of the spiritual community of conspiracy theories. And so, since my audience is largely, you know, the spiritual community in various flavors, probably will be, it may seem like an accusation, I hate to use that word, but probably will be addressing people in this audience who believe some of the things that we’ll be critiquing and criticizing and wondering why anyone would believe such things. So, please don’t feel offended by this, and in fact, if you would like to contradict something we’re saying, don’t hesitate. There’s a question form that I, well, there’s a question form on the upcoming interviews page and you can just send in a question and we’ll try to address it. And try to make it substantive, don’t just say that, you know, you guys are a bunch of jerks. We already know that. Our significant others have told us on several occasions. But we’ll take it seriously and respectfully and we’ll, you know, try to give you a good response. Anyway, the “we” that I’m referring to here is Derek Beres, Matthew Remski, and Julian Walker. And I thought that rather than me reading a canned bio of them, which would be kind of boring to hear me read it, I’ll just have them introduce themselves. So, why don’t you guys do that in the order that I just said your names. Derek Beres.

Derek Beres: Yeah, I am a Los Angeles-based writer, fitness instructor, and I’ve worked in media for about 30 years. I have a background in religious studies, my academic studies that focused on Buddhism and Taoism and Hinduism. And I’ve just been tracking the wellness community as a yoga instructor and as a journalist for decades now. And that is basically what brought me to where we are right now. And I’ve known both Matthew and Julian for about a decade. And we seem to, while we differ in certain regards, we have a lot of crossover. So, that’s why we’ve decided to come together as a team. I’m Matthew Remski, and I am a cult researcher and journalist. I’m the survivor of two cultic experiences that have taken me about, I don’t know, 15 years to recover from. And over the past six years, I’ve kind of committed my research time to figuring out what cultic dynamics are, how they work, and how they infiltrate and really capitalize upon the vulnerabilities of spiritual communities, especially yoga and Buddhist communities. And yeah, I think I’ve got a, the last book that I wrote was called “Practice and All is Coming,” and it’s an investigative study into the institutional abuse within Ashtanga Yoga and its founder, Patabi Joyce. So, yeah, that’s a little bit about me.

Julian Walker: I’m Julian Walker. I’m primarily a yoga teacher and a body worker and ecstatic dance DJ. I’ve been immersed in those kinds of things for the better part of 30 years. And I think through being in that community, over time, I found myself becoming a little bit of a critic of certain aspects of the new age spiritual bypass. I got more into psychology, more into trauma healing, more into trying to understand what to me would be a more integrative approach that was able to sort of reckon how spirituality, science, and psychology might fit together in ways that are sustainable. And I wrote an article for Medium called “Red Pill Overlap.” That was sort of my entry point into this domain that we’re going to be talking about today, so anyone who wants to check that out, the subtitle is something like “How New Agers Have Swallowed QAnon Red Pills.” my name is Rick Archer, as I said. I’ve been doing this show for about 11 years. I’m 71 years old. I learned Transcendental Meditation when I was 18 and actually haven’t missed a meditation since that day. A couple hours a day on average over the years. I was a teacher of it for about 30 years, but I’m no longer in the TM movement because I kind of became too independent in my thinking, I would say. I no longer fit comfortably within the confines of that organization, although I wish it no harm, but it did take on some cultish aspects that I didn’t feel comfortable with. In any case, okay, so now I defined conspirituality briefly in the beginning. Why don’t you guys give it a definition?

Derek Beres: Well, one thing that you had mentioned was, well, first off, thank you for having us on. I should say that.

Rick Archer: Oh, sure.

Derek Beres: I really appreciate it.

Rick Archer: Oh, and let me just say before you go on that, you know, you have a podcast called Conspirituality at and I have listened to every single episode, I think there’s 27 of them or something now.

Derek Beres: Oh, thank you.

Rick Archer: Yeah, in their entirety and they’re two hours long, plus the bonus episode things.

Rick Archer: Yeah. So, I’ve really been a fan of your show and I consider you guys much smarter than I am and better writers and more eloquent, but maybe a little bit of it has rubbed off in my listening. But in any case, go ahead.

Julian Walker: Well, we have to object to that first of all, but go ahead, Derek.

Derek Beres: You had mentioned that spiritual community and one thing that I think we can all recognize is there are many communities and, you know, we can say a broader understanding of people who care about wellness, holistic healing, yoga, body work, even going into astrology and channeling. There’s a lot of different subsets, but what basically the term conspirituality was coined academically in 2011 and first popped up in 2008 by a music group, but it was just coined to reflect the growing merging of the wellness community who generally has a certain skepticism about the medical system and government and such with the more alt-right conspiratorial thinking. And it really is nothing new. You saw this crossover with the John Birch Society and the hippies in the 60s. You can probably go before that as well throughout the 19th century along with that, but it really captured a sentiment that was particular to the yoga communities that were emerging, especially based in America and their anti-vaccination rhetoric, for example. And then it’s just really hit a fever pitch in the last year. And that’s why I think the term took off. I found it from Jules Evans wrote a piece based on the 2011 academic paper, and then I covered it for Big Think. And then that just kind of snowballed from there.

Matthew Remski: You know, I’ve got the abstract from that paper, which is really cool. It’s Charlotte Ward and David Vohas, and their paper is called The Emergence of Conspiratuality. And they write that the female-dominated New Age with its positive focus on self and the male dominated realm of conspiracy theory with its negative focus on global politics may seem antithetical. There is, however, a synthesis of the two that we call conspirituality. We define, describe, and analyze this hybrid system of beliefs. It has been noticed before without receiving much scholarly attention. It’s a rapidly growing web movement expressing an ideology fueled by political disillusionment and the popularity of alternative worldviews. It has international celebrities, bestsellers, radio and TV stations. It offers a broad politico-spiritual philosophy based on two core convictions. The first is traditional to conspiracy theory, and the second is rooted in the New Age. So the first conviction they talk about is a secret group covertly controls or is trying to control the political and social order, and two, humanity is undergoing a paradigm shift in consciousness. Proponents believe that the best strategy for dealing with a threat of a totalitarian new world order is to act in accordance with an awakened new paradigm worldview. And one of the things they point out in the article is that conspirituality is a way for the tensions of a politically chaotic age to be soothed within the heart of the spiritual center.

Julian Walker: And it’s important to remember too that this is a paper you’re talking about from 2011, correct? Yeah, yeah. So this is something that… Nine, nine years… Nine years ago, this phenomenon was being talked about already by these academics, and as Derek says, we can trace the roots back further. And we come along now at this moment of global crisis where something about the global crisis has pushed the envelope of this conspirituality discourse into overdrive. And we were witnessing that all around us in terms of especially the social media feeds of anyone who was involved in the yoga and wellness space.

Matthew Remski: And we might say, I think too, that conspirituality reaches some sort of peak fever pitch with the infiltration of QAnon into wellness spaces, right? It’s not like that comes from nowhere. I mean, it has its own genealogy, but the ground is prepared for something like QAnon to explode, actually.

Julian Walker: Yeah, and the ground is prepared, perhaps we could say for people new to the concept, the ground is prepared by a sort of propensity towards prophetic grand narratives, notions that we’re heading towards some kind of omega point, some kind of shift into a whole new reality, the age of Aquarius is dawning, some way in which there’s a grand battle between light and darkness that we see goes all the way back at least 6,000 years ago to ancient Sumeria. Any of these metaphysical notions about how what’s happening on the earthly plane right now has its sort of reference point in some celestial revealed prophetic sort of context.

Rick Archer: And you know, I must confess that that idea is not too far-fetched to my way of thinking. I think that there’s a subtle dimension to everything and that there’s a lot of stuff going on in subtle dimensions and maybe some of it bubbles up to the surface. And I do feel like a paradigm shift is afoot.

Julian Walker: Sure.

Rick Archer: And I’m not uncomfortable with the term Great Awakening, but unfortunately, because I think maybe after this paradigm shift, if it is indeed happening, things will be very different and much better. But these terms and concepts have been appropriated by QAnon as the most extreme example and then twisted and turned into something dark. It’s a strange phenomenon. Much as there’s a reality to child sexual abuse and yet that concept was taken and misappropriated and next thing you know, it’s all the Democrats and movie stars that are doing it in underground tunnels and drinking the children’s blood, and it turns into this really weird, bizarre thing.

Julian Walker: That’s right, that’s right. And I just wanted to add, and thank you for saying that, Rick, is that as with any set of mythopoetic symbols, any set of metaphysical kind of landmarks, how healthy, how integrated, how grounded in reality, how fluent one is able to be in terms of how you interpret the metaphor makes all the difference. And with the kind of pressure that we’ve been under, I think there’s a certain percentage of people who’ve just popped over into this way of interpreting all of that stuff that is incredibly intense. It’s very preoccupying, very dark.

Derek Beres: We should point out too that the Great Awakening, I’m reading a 700-page history of the evangelical movement in America right now, and the Great Awakening was the term used for the first and the second Great Awakening in the 18th and 19th century. So, there’s a repetition of this idea that we’re coming to some sort of point, right? And I would just add with the subtle aspect of it, I don’t actually think it’s so subtle. I think part of the problem is we’ve disconnected from our environment so much, and there’s plenty of evidence that even minor shifts in temperature affect us greatly. So, what I think a big part of that shift is, is just climate change. And we’re reacting in ways that we don’t even recognize because we are intertwined with our environment, as Alan Watts would say, “We weren’t born into this world, we grew up out of it.” So, of course, the processes of nature are going to affect us socially, emotionally, and in every other capacity.

Julian Walker: And to your point as well, part of that prophetic sort of reoccupation is that it’s happening now. It’s happening in our time, right? People always think that the end of the world is coming while I’m alive, and Jesus is returning while I’m alive, right?

Rick Archer: Isn’t it true that in the past when there have been major pandemics and other kind of serious social problems, like for instance in the 1930s in Germany where there was incredible, you know, economic strife, that it’s been a very ripe field for conspiracy theories to sprout?

Matthew Remski: For sure, and certainly the cultural stressors are key, you know, and in some of our earlier episodes we were really solid on the research in that regard that it’s pretty much understood that the conspiracy mindset satisfies at least three different particular needs amongst those who gravitate towards it. So, there are epistemic needs or the need to feel that one knows more than one’s fellows or one knows what’s coming, one is secure or more secure because the mystery of life is a little bit less opaque. And then there might be existential needs as well as in, you know, if I have this knowledge, I will actually survive some coming catastrophe. And then of course, there’s the, you know, the social, the bonding needs where the conspiratorial thinker can often find themselves a found family amongst the like-minded. So…

Derek Beres: To address that specifically, Rick, the Great Depression, it didn’t just affect America, it affected the entire planet and countries like Italy and Germany responded with fascism, America responded with the New Deal, and so you see how the unfolding of history happens. How we respond now is going to dictate what happens in the future generations and hopefully with the incoming administration we’ll have a better response, but given the last few years, we can see how very easily we can and still may slip into some sort of fascism or authoritarianism here. But you are absolutely right in that during pandemics, whenever the balance of life is thrown off in some capacity, the entire society is ripe for conspiratorial thinking at that moment.

Matthew Remski: Can I just pick up on something, Rick, because we’re at the beginning still of our discussion and I don’t want this to get lost and I also think it might frame the way we go on and talk about this. I didn’t know until you said off the top that you were 71 years old and that’s just a couple of years younger than my father. I’m 49 and when you say that the paradigm shift as an idea, as a cultural narrative, is something that has been resonant with you, I know that that’s been true for many people in your generation. I just want to first of all honor that, but also ask you maybe about what it feels like to see the hopefulness and the altruism and perhaps the idealism of that post-war period go through this transformation and weaponization in a way. I might be projecting, but that’s part of what I hear even in you inviting us on.

Rick Archer: Well, ask me again if I don’t answer your question properly.

Matthew Remski: Yeah.

Rick Archer: But I’ve always been interested in the way, it’s like, let me put it this way. I think when people are, people never can envision how different the future might be. If you were alive in 1860, you couldn’t have possibly imagined what things are going to be like today. It would have been science fiction. And I feel like the pace of change has been increasing throughout our lifetimes and so I fully expected things to change a lot during the course of my life and I felt that there would necessarily be a tumultuous period as things were shifting because if we are indeed to arrive at a more enlightened society somehow, there are a lot of entrenched things that will have to be shaken and dismantled. So, you know, I’ve been thinking this way since the 70s and, you know, so when this, actually not only me, but a lot of people, when this whole COVID thing started and everything else, I thought, well, maybe this is the big shake-up, you know, that we’ve been expecting for so long. And hit me with another question, because I’ve only half answered your question.

Matthew Remski: Well, I think, I mean, so you got your mantra like in 1970-something.

Rick Archer: ’68.

Matthew Remski: ’68. I mean, that’s like a real turning point for so many things and I just imagine that, and you’ve practiced it for 40 years.

Rick Archer: 52.

Matthew Remski: 52, yeah. My math is off, evidently. But like, I mean, nobody, I don’t know, there’s a thread of hopefulness and altruism in there that as you, you know, I mean, you’re not our target audience, let’s say, for our podcast. And so, you know, a lot of people listening to us will say, “Boy, you know, you’re uncovering this sort of shadow side of the spiritual world or the spiritual industry that, you know, I’ve suspected was there for a long time.” But it’s just interesting that you would be an avid listener as well because in a way, holding that mantra for 52 years, it signifies a lot of faith and I imagine a certain amount of hope as well.

Rick Archer: More really, experience, you know? I mean, the results for me were so immediate and so profound, and I mean, I was a high school dropout and, you know, druggy and so on, and my life turned around so dramatically that I was never, I mean, it didn’t take any motivation to keep it going.

Matthew Remski: Right.

Rick Archer: But, you know, in what I do, interviewing spiritually awakening people and having interviewed hundreds of them and having eventually had to take some interviews down because of what got revealed about what, you know, people were up to, I’ve been into this scene for a long time and I realize that there are all sorts of shadow things and that everybody’s a work in progress and many very half-baked.

Matthew Remski: Yeah.

Derek Beres: Well, right now, it’s actually something that interests me and you’re the perfect person to ask this because I just published a book on psychedelic therapy. One thing in 1968 specifically that year that I found fascinating was that psychedelics, you know, that was when it started to become a legal LSD and such, it wasn’t a schedule yet, but that was coming. But that year, one in three American adults were on tranquilizer or tried a tranquilizer, and I always find it fascinating that we look at the outliers, we look at something like psychedelics, which is this huge mind expansion, it was very much entrenched in Woodstock and the spiritual communities at that time, but then the common American was being tranquilized at that time. I actually grew up in the town called Milltown, which was the popular one back at that time, it was just phasing out in about ’68. So, from your recollection of watching the spiritual growth and how things have shifted, how influential was the spiritual community at that era during that time compared to just everyone, you know, the common American?

Rick Archer: Oh, it’s become a lot more mainstream, obviously. Back in the day when I started, there were only a few things to choose from. You could become a Hare Krishna or you could practice yoga of some sort, you could learn TM, there were just a handful of things. And now, you know, and it would be very rare to find some kind of yoga center in a town, but now obviously it’s everywhere. So, it’s, and you know, the very notion of meditation seemed weird back then, but now it’s practiced in corporate boardrooms and so on.

Matthew Remski: It’s a commodity.

Rick Archer: Yeah, it’s become very, which is a good thing. I think it’s, people practice it, you know, or get into spirituality for maybe certain mundane reasons, like maybe they want to lower their blood pressure, but eventually they begin to discover that there’s a lot more to it. Now, I have a question, well, you want to ask another question or shall I?

Matthew Remski: No, no. We might, but you should get back to your job.

Rick Archer: Okay, we can go back and forth. So, do you think that the spiritual community in general is more susceptible to conspiracy theories than the general population, which is also really into them these days? For instance, I have friends in Sedona who have told me that maybe three-quarters of the New Agey type people there are into QAnon, and if so, if the spiritual community is more susceptible, why do you think that is? I think, Matthew, you’ve already given a couple reasons, but maybe we can elaborate on it.

Matthew Remski: Julian, that’s your whole article.

Julian Walker: Yeah, yeah, yeah. You know, my sense of it is that people who get involved in New Age spirituality tends to be very open to new experience. They tend to be seekers. They tend to be people who are finding a deep sense of meaning and community in a set of beliefs that are outside of the mainstream. So, they tend to sort of characterize themselves as being very skeptical and free-thinking and open-minded, and so there’s a kind of, as part of spirituality, as I’m sure you’ll recognize, Rick, there’s a tendency to see too much critical thinking as maybe blocking your capacity for being in your heart, for example. That science is really limited and that there are all sorts of things outside of science that have profound spiritual meaning that we should put our faith in or we should be open to in some way. So, I think that the spiritual community was always, or spiritual communities, New Age folks, people who were in the yoga and wellness space, tended to already be open to unusual ideas, to see belonging to groups of people who saw things differently than the quote-unquote “mainstream” as something really positive, to play kind of, to kind of blur the lines a lot between scientific evidence, skepticism, critical thinking, and just wanting to believe things because they sound good or, you know, and I’m being critical here, this is my speculation, or because they make me feel special and important, and I say that as someone who’s been involved in spirituality since I was a teenager, that the idea of belonging to a group of people who are on the edge of humanity’s knowledge, who are kind of leading the way into a New Age, who have access to secret esoteric understandings that the mainstream doesn’t grasp, and therefore that dictates how we eat, what practices we do, what we believe, how we think about all sorts of different topics, that, I think that not only has made people susceptible to QAnon-type ideas and to COVID denialism, but I think that there’s an aspect of QAnon that was specifically crafted to appeal to people like us.

Matthew Remski: There’s also a very distinct overlap between the sort of research-accepted three components of any kind of conspiracy framework and New Age spirituality. Most scholars agree that the three sort of key points of the conspiratorial mindset are everything is connected, nothing happens by accident, and nothing is as it seems.

Rick Archer: And I agree with all three of those.

Matthew Remski: Well, exactly, exactly. And that’s really kind of eerie to realize that you can utter the mantras of modern spirituality, a globalized spirituality, but also be feeding the processes of conspiracism. And I’d also say that we can speak about philosophical or psychological propensities or vulnerabilities to conspirituality, but we also have to look at the money and the organization of the influencers involved. So I always argue that the yoga world and the wellness worlds are kind of tinderboxes for conspirituality and QAnon because they are organized through a kind of charismatic influencer matrix that is unregulated, right? And so we have, and this has happened from the 1960s onwards, and it’s been escalated and accentuated by social media, of course, we have charismatic figureheads who don’t really have clearly defined scopes of practice, who become prominent in their fields, which aren’t themselves clearly defined, and are often taken to be experts in other fields as well, who build up followings through their content that require renovation over and over and over again. There always has to be something new, something, some new kind of diet, some new spiritual practice that is being revealed, a new channeled teaching, the next work workshop, the next level. There’s always this sort of tiered sense of continual and necessary self-improvement that never really ends. And what grows up in the economy of that is that the production companies and the media platforms that make money through this content generally link influencers together through affiliate deals that create very bonded relationships that then allow messaging to sort of like instantly horizontally spread through networks. So, you know, it’s not just that Christiane Northrup has 500,000 followers on Facebook when she talks about the Great Awakening and the Ascension from 3D to 5D consciousness, and how the vaccines are filled with luciferase, and so they’re going to inject the new world order and stuff like that. It’s not just her 500,000 followers. It’s everybody who’s sharing and feeding and working with and involved with Hay House, who publishes her books. We had a guest on, Rebecca Barucchi, who actively is calling upon her former publisher now, Hay House, to reconsider their support for authors who are either spreading COVID denialism or Q adjacent material because it’s simply harmful, and it’s specifically harmful to people of color. And she, you know, she’s made very passionate statements. A number of people have joined in with that. It’s very difficult to get the colleagues of somebody like Christiane Northrup to say, “You know what? I’m going to make a statement against this stuff,” because usually what’s going on is that, you know, “Christiane has blurbed my book,” or, you know, “I help affiliate for her online courses,” or something like that. And so there’s real financial risk, actually, in being the person to ideologically reject a piece of content within this juggernaut.

Rick Archer: I think it was Upton Sinclair who said, “It’s very hard to get a man to believe something if his salary depends upon not believing it.”

Matthew Remski: Yeah, yeah. And I think that it’s very… This is also why it’s been astonishing, but also very predictable to see that over the nine months of the pandemic, you know, influencers, health and wellness and spiritual influencers who have come out as either COVID denialists or as, you know, QAnon adjacent, we don’t know of a single person who has walked anything back. We don’t know of a single person who has said, “You know what? Actually, you know, I was wrong about the mask thing, and it looks like the science on aerosolization just wasn’t fully formed yet. And oh boy, you know, I’m really sorry that I spread a bunch of, you know, out of my lane, totally unqualified opinions about epidemiology when I’m like a singing bowls guy. I’m sorry that I did that.” And we haven’t seen a single… Am I right about that, guys? Like, we haven’t seen a single person walk anything back.

Derek Beres: No.

Matthew Remski: And I want to… That’s not just hubris. It’s also… It would cost them. It would cost them in networked relationships.

Derek Beres: You’re circling around there one other point that I think is pertinent to Rick’s question, which is just basic scientific illiteracy and the spiritual communities. Totally. And that’s just something… And you’ll see it over and over again. I just listened to the Kyle Kingsbury, JP Sears podcast for Research for Next Week’s Conspiratuality, and at every turn, it’s just anti-science, except when they cherry pick a little one study that fits their viewpoint. And then they bolster it up, and then they’re promoting Joseph Mercola as the ideal science guy in this episode. And it just really shows… And that goes across the board.

Matthew Remski: More than selling supplements, right? The science that would support their supplements, if they’re selling supplements on podcasts. I mean, JP sells on his… I don’t know about Kingsbury, but like… Well, that was actually a…

Derek Beres: I think that’s a very pertinent point to this discussion was that Kyle mentions that, “How are we going to trust a COVID vaccine that only has three months of data?” And yet his podcast is sponsored by a company called Onnit that is a supplement. It’s a nootropic, but basically a supplement company that has done, as far as I’m aware, one clinical trial that they sponsored and then released the data, which we all know the troubles with that. And then there’s no long-term efficacy for any of these nootropics. And so, you have this… Again, it’s just cherry picking. It’s like, “I’m gonna make money off this podcast by selling this, but then I’m gonna go over here and say this 40,000-person trial is just nonsense.”

Julian Walker: Not strong enough. I’m gonna stay with my biohacking where I’m making all sorts of radical lifestyle changes based on no evidence whatsoever.

Rick Archer: Let me throw in a little something here that…

Julian Walker: It’s bro science, right?

Rick Archer: What’d you say, Julian?

Julian Walker: Some of it is scientific literacy, and some of it is just bro science. I’m gonna draw on whatever sciency-sounding language supports this idea of how to be a kind of superhuman Adonis.

Rick Archer: Let me riff for a second on some of the points we’ve covered and have you guys chew on it after that. So, Julian, you were saying something like this a minute ago. Let me phrase it slightly differently. It seems to me that the whole spiritual endeavor is to discover something which is hidden. I mean, pure consciousness is hidden, subtle realms, if people are interested in angels or channeling, all that stuff is hidden. So, there’s this sentiment that the hidden stuff is more true than the obvious stuff.

Julian Walker: Yeah, something that can be discovered through some kind of experience, right? Or some kind of process. And as with yourself, and all of us I think have experienced in our own ways, though probably not for as long and as deeply as you have, through a practice that you apply yourself to, you’re discovering aspects of your being and perhaps of reality that before you didn’t know about, right?

Rick Archer: Yeah, and so, you know, if the idea is that the hidden stuff is true, then I think it’s not a big step from there to think that, well, anything else that’s alleged to be hidden must also be true or might also be true.

Julian Walker: It rhymes, right?

Rick Archer: Yeah, and so, there’s all kinds of conspiracy theories that refer to, you know, the cabal or the Illuminati or, you know, all kinds of hidden stuff and people sort of buy into that. And there’s some justification for that because, I mean, if you read a book like, I don’t know, People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn, or you know, there have been many horrible things that have been hidden from us.

Julian Walker: Yeah, so, there are real conspiracies that are exposed through good journalism, good scholarship, evidence, well-reasoned arguments, and then there are what get named as conspiracy theories that it’s not just a matter of subjective opinion, they tend to be cobbled together from very weak evidence, lots of logical fallacies, lots of leaps, speculative paranoid leaps in the explanatory style that don’t actually add up when you look at them carefully enough. And I think what links up to what you’re asking or what you’re sort of riffing on goes back to something Matthew said, you know, before he changed the subject and went in even deeper about patterns and everything is connected, right? Everything happens for a reason, nothing is as it seems. There is good research. Well, there is some interesting research, I should say, that people whose brains tend to produce more dopamine, we tend to be more on the side of the spectrum that has a particular relationship to dopamine, have a greater likelihood to see patterns where there isn’t really a pattern, and we get excited about finding patterns. And pattern-seeking behavior and pattern recognition is something that has huge evolutionary survival value for us, for all human beings, right? But some of us are more on that side of the spectrum than others, and when you start to see patterns that you become very excited about as showing you hidden information that is framed then as having some sort of absolute spiritual significance, you’re in very interesting territory at that point. And my question is always, is it possible to have an integrated relationship to contemplative experience or spiritual exploration, awareness practices, such that what you discover through the experiential process doesn’t automatically get literalized as being somehow absolutely true in an unassailable way that doesn’t require any evidence in the world outside of your meditation chamber?

Rick Archer: Yeah. There’s a famous quote from the Buddha which you guys might get more precisely, but it’s something like, “Don’t believe something just because somebody says it, even if I say it,” the Buddha’s saying. You know, scrutinize, use your intellect, use your common sense.

Julian Walker: That’s right.

Julian Walker: The tricky part in all of this is that the idealizing of direct personal subjective experience as a doorway into ultimate spiritual truths that then imply and translate over into the world outside of your revelatory experience, that’s a sleight of hand that I think all of us in the spiritual community would do well to step back from and ask some really good epistemological questions. How do we know what’s true? How do we categorize these different domains? As far as I’m concerned, do as much yoga, as much meditation, as much psychedelics, lie in the isolation chamber, like go deep into all of that, but stay clear about the relationships between these different domains. Just because I say I had a direct experience that shows me that cabal that is sacrificing children and drinking their blood, that’s a claim of revelation. Let’s find out if it’s actually true in the world. There are ways to find that out, right?

Matthew Remski: Well, and that’s why I want to come back, Julian, and just pick up the thread around how is the real conspiracy unraveled. And, you know, one of the things that we try to do on the podcast is hew to like really specific standards for evidence, which means, you know, we’re going to check sources, we’re going to make sure we go to primary sources as much as we can. There’s nothing that we publish anywhere that we can’t stand behind, you know, through the process of fact checking that we put ourselves through. And, you know, when a lot of people don’t understand that, you know, Derek’s been doing journalism for longer than I have, but when I submit, you know, a feature investigation to, you know, the Walrus Magazine or to Gen By Medium, every single sentence is footnoted, sometimes twice. And then there’s a professional fact checker that is going to be emailing me constantly for two weeks about every single one of those footnotes. And then they’re going to be calling my interview subjects to verify that what they heard in the tape was actually what they really intended to say. And so, one of the ways in which conspirituality works is that it’s either ignorant of that entire process that people actually do have modes of finding out a reasonable set of facts about something, or it just doesn’t want to accept the fact that there are standards for doing that because it wants to rely on internal experience just too much. And then the other thing that I wanted to pick up, Rick, about what you were saying about the things that are hidden, you know, I had this job in a coffee shop when I was probably we went for a walk after we closed down at night, or no, we were cleaning up and he picked up a spoon. I’m sure he was high. He picked up a spoon and he said, “You know, have you ever thought about how much this actually costs?” And I said, “What do you mean?” He said, “Well, you know, the cafe owner probably bought it for 75 cents, but like, how much does it actually cost? Like, if you could tally up the human labor and ingenuity and the machines that put this into production and the ore that went into it and all of the history and the labor and the blood, sweat, and tears and all of the like, he just gave this sort of genealogy of the spoon that made me see that the value assigned to it actually denies its reality as a beautiful thing.” And I think there was something that clicked that moment for me about the fact that I’m being told by spirituality all the time that there is something mysterious that is hidden. I’m told that by psychology as well. But I think what’s more closer to my heart actually is the fact that I don’t look at the spoon really closely enough. I don’t look at where it comes from. I don’t really write its history or take it into me and I just use it in this blind fashion. And it reminds me of what my late friend Michael Stone used to say, which is that we don’t need to be less materialistic. We need a deeper form of materialism. And I think that if we actually pay attention to the things that we can actually see, the things that can be verified, that’s another pathway for spirituality that might be less vulnerable to things like QAnon.

Rick Archer: But even then, to pay more attention to the things we actually see implies a deeper appreciation of them. And the deeper appreciation isn’t just like how they’re manufactured or where the minerals came from and all that stuff. It has to do with more, in my terminology, it has to do more with appreciating the divine that’s inherent in every particle of creation and the intelligence that you can see operative if you think about what you’re actually looking at. It’s just mind-boggling and awe-inspiring.

Matthew Remski: Yeah, maybe we’re talking about the same thing and you’re using the term divine and I’m talking about the wonderment of all of the sort of causal details and actually really we’re in the same form of wonderment, right?

Rick Archer: Yes, I know one of you calls yourself an atheist and I would probably say that I don’t believe in the same god you don’t believe in, but I wouldn’t call myself an atheist because I feel like every little particle of creation is just pervaded by and orchestrated by some kind of very profound intelligence. But this is a little off the beam of our whole topic here.

Matthew Remski: Not really, not really. You came out as a TM guy, so I think that’s on point.

Derek Beres: Okay. And I would just counter because I’m the atheist here. I very much take Stephen Batchelor’s approach to compare to Buddhism of, and I think it does become a matter of terms, you know, because Julian and I actually talk a lot about V.S. Ramachandran who is one of our favorite neuroscientists who speaks poetically and elegantly and eloquently about the wonder of our brain when you think about the poetry of science and that’s something that gets overlooked. I do want to take off on Matthew’s point though because I understand what you’re saying about seeing the wonderment in things, but I think the spiritual community in general could be a little better served if they looked at that supply chain. The Guardian about a year ago released an investigative story about crystals and how crystals that sell for $1,000 in the US that are presented as this spiritual auric, you know, tool that will help people achieve their spirituality, well, the people that are mining them in Africa are getting paid less than a dollar for that crystal and a lot of child labor and a high number of deaths to produce that crystal. And so, when you look at it from that sense, where is the spiritual aspect of it? And that’s something that personally I concern myself a little bit more with because if you want to understand the foundations of something, you should know the origins and where it comes from.

Rick Archer: Yeah, okay. Does anyone want to comment on that or should I throw in a question?

Julian Walker: Well, let me just say as a follow-on from that, that, you know, one of the things I said in my little introduction that I’ve been really fascinated with because, you know, I’m a yoga teacher, I’m a meditation teacher, I’m as invested in interior contemplative work as I think any of us, is spiritual bypass. And what I started to see for myself in my own process and then in the people around me over time, probably over the last 20 years, is that spiritual bypass is a very compelling, soothing, captivating thing to get wrapped up in where essentially there’s a, and often we’re doing it unconsciously, there’s an avoidance of everything about reality, everything about being human from the psychological to the political to the economic realities that were just being discussed. There’s a bypassing of all of that and an attempt to just be in the bliss and just be in the divine revelation and just be in the deep knowingness of the perfection of everything as it is. And very rarely do I talk to someone who talks that kind of game who can tolerate me saying something like, “What about the five-year-old kid who gets leukemia? What about the sexual abuse trauma? What about the holocaust?” You know, how do you, and it’s fine, if you can reckon all of that and hold it in an integrated way, kudos to you, but I rarely find that and that’s a telltale sign that spiritual bypass is going on.

Matthew Remski: Yeah, and you know, I think we have to add too that I don’t think anybody’s done this yet, but Wellwood’s framework for spiritual bypassing really has to be, I think, revisioned now in terms of how it’s technologically expanded because if you take spiritual communities online and you start delivering spiritual content online within this format that’s actually designed for dissociation, that’s designed for this frictionless kind of leaving of your body in the isolation of your, you know, in front of your screen, you’ve really doubled down on something. It’s like you’ve pulled, you’ve extracted the worst possible outcome from the content in a somatic sense through the participation aspect of the technology.

Julian Walker: Yeah, and so then we maybe touch briefly on something like a platform like Gaia TV, right?

Matthew Remski: Right.

Julian Walker: We’ll just have endless choice of all manner of different fantastical conspiracy theories and, you know, history channels sort of wild stuff.

Matthew Remski: And so, you can kind of like, instead of doom scrolling, you can like bliss scroll, but the impact is the same, right? Because you’re not actually, I mean,

Julian Walker: The impact is the same, but even though you’re bliss scrolling, this is where the hinge is, right? The stuff that you’re finding, and this is true of a lot of the figures that we cover, the stuff that you’re finding is inspiring and it has spiritual overtones, but it also has all kinds of other stuff in there that is incredibly dark, incredibly horrific.

Matthew Remski: Yeah, and you wouldn’t, it’s a combination of doom and bliss scrolling, isn’t it? Because you wouldn’t be punching the David Icke video unless you were terrified of something. So, there’s something else that is very weird and manipulative within conspirituality, which is this sort of double-handed give and take thing where the influencer is on one hand always trying to scare the shit out of you, and on the other hand, trying to make you feel like a million bucks or that you’re loved or welcomed or something like that. And the best example that we had of this in real time was like Mickey Willis releasing on May 5th or May 4th or whatever it is, the first “Plandemic” movie and everybody shitting their pants over it. And then the next day he goes on his Facebook and he says, he just gazes into the camera and he says, “Everybody, I know that you’re so, it’s a hard time and I just want you to know that I’m with you.” And all of this, I’m paraphrasing, of course, but he set himself up as like the consoler, the sort of spiritual counselor for the people who he had scared crapless, right? And so that’s almost like a mathematically sound marketing technique.

Julian Walker: Absolutely. It’s the, “I’m gonna traumatize you and then make you need me because I’ve traumatized you.” But the thing that you left out in that description is he looked into the camera with those steely blue eyes and said, “I am willing to die for this.”

Matthew Remski: Right, exactly. Right. So, there was a, yeah. So, even within the sort of love poem to the audience, there was this kind of like weird, veiled suicidality that can only feel apocalyptic and can only be emotionally manipulative.

Julian Walker: Well, it’s also self-aggrandizing because if what I’m saying is so important and so –

Matthew Remski: Right, that I’m willing to die for.

Julian Walker: The power structure, that they might kill me because I said the thing I said to you.

Matthew Remski: Right, right.

Julian Walker: But I’m so brave.

Matthew Remski: Right. Yeah, I mean, I would die of shame if I made that film. [Laughter]

Rick Archer: So, let’s segue a bit here. We can always just keep moving around to whatever topics come to mind, but I have a few questions that came in from Felix in Bangkok. I’ll ask them one at a time. “What steps to take when dealing with loved ones who become conspiracy theory believers so that you can A) keep a healthy relationship with them and B) you don’t enable them but you actually help them?”

Julian Walker: Wow, that’s great.

Matthew Remski: Most perceived question. Yeah. Yeah, and you know, we did an episode, maybe, is it number six or seven, with Steve Hassan, who’s like a cult recovery expert. He was in – while you were getting your mantra, Rick, he was joining the Unification Church and becoming a recruiter for the Moonies. And he got himself out of that. That’s actually his hashtag now, #IGotOut. And actually, he’s become kind of a more well-known figure because people are asking him this question precisely about their family members who have gotten sucked into QAnon and so on. But he argues, and a lot of the cult recovery experts like Rachel Bernstein and John Jalalich and other people argue that if you know the person well, you are responsible for remembering the person they were before they got red-pilled. And you can actually hold that secure relationship as much as you can. Or if you can, it’s really good because the brain worm, the community that surrounds it, perhaps even if there’s cultic dynamics going on, it’s offering a false sense of security. It’s a false safe haven. It’s not actually going to stand by them. We can even see this now as Q hasn’t posted for 19 days at this point. Main influencers within QAnon are just tearing each other to shreds. They’re not friends. They never were. They were opportunistically affiliated within a cultic structure. And so, if you’re the friend of somebody who gets sucked into that influence, you’re the person who can actually continue to show friendship. Not enabling them, that’s really complicated.

Derek Beres: I think the best line that you’re missing though from Steve was that to have some cookies ready for them when they return.

Matthew Remski: Yeah, because he actually tells that story from his own recovery that he was deprogrammed back in the day when people were still doing that very dangerous operation which didn’t work out often. And his nextdoor neighbor asked no questions. The sort of like the bubby across the street just welcomed him back and said, “We were really worried about you and here are some cookies.” And he was able to start his life again.

Derek Beres: And that doesn’t make it easy. Right.

Matthew Remski: It doesn’t make it easy. But for listeners who want to know more about how people are struggling with this and working this out, they can go to the subreddit called QAnon Casualties where I just looked today and it’s now got 50,000 members. These are people who are talking with each other and sharing their stories about what has happened to their family members who have gotten sucked into QAnon or into various conspirituality schemes and how they’re managing and what resources they’re finding. So, yeah, it’s a growing body of literature and it’s super, super hard.

Julian Walker: Yeah. And I would also just say to Felix, part of what we’ve discovered and a lot of this comes from talking to Steve Hassan is that it’s helpful to realize that you’re not going to talk them out of it. They’ve gotten sucked into something very deep. It has a lot of emotional significance for them. And so, arguing with them is probably not the way to go. Talk to them about other things. Talk to them about their lives, about the real world, about the things you have in common. Stay connected if they’re important to you. Keep being the empathic connection between them and the real world that’s going on while they’re caught up in this hallucinatory thing.

Matthew Remski: And that said, you’ve got to keep safe as well. I know families that are torn apart because somebody has been influenced by QAnon to become a COVID denialist and they’re actually endangering their extended family members by refusing to take precautions. It’s incredible. What do you do? The recovery theory says, “Maintain the secure bond,” but the virus just screws all of that up at some point. Yeah. You’ve got to isolate too in certain circumstances. No easy calls for sure.

Rick Archer: Here’s a second question from Felix which we’ve sort of covered, but I think maybe we can say a bit more. He says, “I know intelligent, empathic, well-read spiritual people who fall in prey to right-wing conspiracy nonsense. Is there a clear set of attributes that cause one to be susceptible to these conspiracy theories?”

Matthew Remski: You know, I think Julian has pointed out a number of the kind of philosophical, psychological vulnerabilities, but to the extent that people get roped into QAnon or into the sphere of a charismatic influencer who is pushing COVID denialism, it’s really helpful to know that in the cult research, there aren’t solid predictors for who is vulnerable or who gets recruited. But what is acknowledged is that when anybody is going through a period of what’s called situational vulnerability: you’ve been through a divorce, there’s been a death in the family, you’ve lost your job, you’ve had to move, stuff like that, that’s a point at which the safe haven of the new community, the new worldview, the transcendent ideology, and the radiant charismatic figure can look really attractive. And that’s, I think, that goes along with, does a lot of work to explain why a global pandemic is the flashpoint for the logarithmic expansion of conspirituality. It’s just the perfect setup because everybody is basically situationally vulnerable.

Derek Beres: And continuing on what I said before, I think along with scientific illiteracy, you have to consider political illiteracy. And in America, we can live in a country where you don’t ever really have to vote and none of your freedoms will be taken away because of that. So, there’s a certain sense of privilege and luxury that Americans have had where they could check out. One field that I’ve covered repeatedly over the years for Big Think is the differences between collectivist and individualist cultures. And there is no perfect culture, of course, but collectivist cultures, and he’s writing from Thailand and a lot of Asian cultures are specifically collectivist.

Rick Archer: I think he’s Swiss, but he’s living in Thailand, but go ahead.

Derek Beres: Okay, well, yeah. My wife is Thai, so I very much appreciate the culture. These cultures at least have a recognition that their actions are never for them alone. It’s how does it affect the community. And that’s not saying that people in these cultures don’t get pulled into conspiracy theories or anything of that nature, but there is a shared sense of suffering and a shared sense of liberation that exists in certain cultures and that doesn’t exist in America. And that’s why I think this is the place where QAnon would have started and now we can see it obviously spreading out. Where does it spread out to? Predominantly Australia, London, Germany, very individualist cultures. And then from there it’ll go on.

Rick Archer: I’ve heard that as an explanation of why things have gone pretty well in South Korea and Japan and places like that, because people have this sense of community and less individualism, so they’ve actually cooperated with the authorities who wanted to put like, tracking devices on their phones and get them to wear masks and so on and so forth.

Matthew Remski: Right. Yeah, I mean, one thing I wanted to add was that, you know, aside from the cultural analysis and the broad strokes that we can point there, we can paint there, I think it’s really good to acknowledge that if we’re talking about the vulnerability of spiritual and wellness communities to this stuff, it’s really good to understand that these economies have grown in tandem with the escalation of neoliberal politics from the 1970s onwards, which have emphasized individualism, self-care and self-responsibilism. Don’t rely less and less upon the notion of the common good because we don’t actually know that it’s going to be there because we’re moving into a techno-utopia in which everybody’s needs are going to be fulfilled and so we don’t need labor unions anymore because robots are coming and so on and so forth.

Julian Walker: Entrepreneurial hustle.

Matthew Remski: Right, exactly. And so, you know, just consider this, this comes from something that I was working on years ago. If we just think about what yoga represents as a spiritual practice focused upon physical culture that explodes in popularity from the 80s on, what does it value? It values flexibility, receptivity, the ability to be resilient, the ability to become strong and independent and, you know, salute the sun and build internal fire and heat and all of these great things that are actually ideal for a more and more hyper-individualist society and ideal for a new economic class of gig workers, i.e. yoga teachers, you know, who aren’t going to depend upon, you know, their employers for benefits, who aren’t going to ask that, you know, they unionize, who aren’t going to, you know, there’s this whole sort of like generation of people whose spirituality is defined by a kind of individualist economics and politics. And it’s like, you know, yoga is this perfect religion for, you know, a sociology and an economy that is basically you’ve got to take care of yourself and you have to be flexible and you have to flow with whatever comes, right, because, you know, we’re not going to take care of you, you’ve got to take care of yourself.

Julian Walker: Well, and part of that too, in terms of the being in the yoga community, because I’ve worked in it here in LA for 25 years, is that there’s this crossover where very often your employer is also kind of your spiritual teacher, right? And there’s no unions and there’s no, you have no recourse, everything is negotiated just between you and your guru, so to speak, or the person who has both your spiritual and your financial well-being in the palm of their hand. So, you’re not going to push back against the fact that really what I started to realize is that a lot of studio owners were giving yoga teachers the worst of both worlds, right? It’s that on all the things where you would want independence, you work for me and you better stay in line, and all the things where they should be taking care of you, well, you’re on your own, you’re an independent contractor, really, really not good. But I wanted to pick up on what Derek was saying a moment ago too, which is that in a privileged society where a lot of spiritual people are going to be going into spiritual bypass, part of what’s bypassed is politics. And so, when something like this happens and conspiracy theories come along that have a lot of political content, what you have is a group of people with an openness to new experience and new information who like feeling like they’re in on a secret that’s hidden, who are not fluent in politics and are suddenly hearing all of this alt-right political stuff and not knowing how to process it and buying into it because it’s wrapped up in a package of spiritual sounding material.

Matthew Remski: Or they literally spiritualize it with like the channeler Lori Lodd going on and on about how Trump is a light worker instead of being like a mobster politician who accidentally got elected to, you know, he’s not a politician. I mean, so I think that you’re right, it’s like politics and real political sort of consequence in the world, it’s filtered through this imagistic mythopoetic, you know, archetypal Jungian thing where, you know, Kamala Harris becomes a symbol of something. Instead of a prosecutor with a track record that you can find. Exactly.

Julian Walker: We covered it on the podcast, but there was something we didn’t mention, you know, when we talked about that, and sorry Rick, there’s a little inside, but it’ll be interesting to you. And I know you’ve listened. When we talked about the gathering, the prayer meeting for Trump on election night, right? And one of the things that was said in that prayer that everyone was like a-hoeing to and doing the ayahuasca breath to and, you know, very, very earnestly kind of. Oh, this is the thing with Mickey Willis and JP Sears and somebody else. Was that we know and we affirm now that all of the ways in which you have appeared to be someone who is ignoble in all of these different ways that characterize Trump was absolutely necessary for the plan for the divine coming together of what we are all involved in right now. And that was just astonishing.

Matthew Remski: And you can see if we’re talking about people who have spiritual community or ashram experience in that room in Austin, you can see that actually framing the fact that, you know, Donald Trump is a sexual predator, that there’s all of these allegations against him, that that has to be like transformed, but in a way that is understood by this crowd as being, you know, both not real, but appealing because it appears to be real, but appealing to a certain demographic that it wouldn’t work for otherwise.

Rick Archer: Well, they keep referring to him as a 5D chess player and he’s playing against a bunch of rubes who are actually think they think they’re playing checkers, you know?

Julian Walker: Yeah, yeah, no, exactly. That everything about him that appears to be incompetent and venal and amoral is actually all a trickster kind of brilliant manipulation.

Matthew Remski: And didn’t we do the same thing with Osho? And don’t we do the same thing with Chogyam Trungpa? And don’t we do the same thing with Swami Vishnu Devananda? These are people who are absolute wrecks of human beings, obviously, and on the surface with no self-control, totally incontinent, they’re abusing everybody around them, and the buzz around them is completely reversed. And it has to be, because otherwise the cognitive dissonance of the community would just be overwhelming. They would have strokes.

Rick Archer: I mean, Chogyam was delirious because of his alcoholism and the people around him were saying that he was experiencing subtle realms, you know?

Matthew Remski: Right, right, yeah, and that he was communicating with the Rigdens and hallucinating Shambala into existence. He was dead drunk, and everybody knew he was. Everybody knew he was. And his lieutenants are feeding him bumps of cocaine, and they’re telling the lieutenants that don’t know that, that it’s some mystical substance from Tibet. It’s incredible. It’s incredible.

Rick Archer: Let me pop a question in here from, which relates to what we’ve just been talking about. This is from Sarah in Reykjavik, Iceland. She says, “Do you think sensationalist media like Fox News has played a part in creating a subculture that is more susceptible to being taken in by conspiracy theories? What is the role of the media in shaping viewers’ capacity to weigh facts and arrive at logical conclusions?”

Derek Beres: Well, media has been my field for almost time, and I’ve had for years, is there’s no such thing as the mainstream media. These are dozens and hundreds of competing organizations who are all trying to get consumer attention. So, the idea that there is one unified media that’s controlling the narrative, that’s just laziness. That’s journalistic laziness, because there are certain organizations that will just run with the story without doing the proper fact-checking behind it. That being said, yeah, the media is influential, but the media has always played that role in some capacity. If you look at the history of media over the last number of centuries, there’s never been a time where they weren’t controlling the narrative or in cahoots with either the government or with businesses. That’s just always been the case. So, you have something. What I think is the more interesting question right now, specific to Fox News, is how it’s being cannibalized, because they became slightly critical of some of the things, that actually Joe Biden did win the presidency, and then you can see how quickly it turns on them. And so, media is – that’s the thing. We reach –

Rick Archer: In other words, what you’re saying, in case people didn’t catch that, so, Fox News began to acknowledge that Biden had won, and all of a sudden, people began leaving them in droves and going to parlor and One World News or whatever it’s called.

Matthew Remski:One America News.

Derek Beres: That’s one thing that I think everyone has to realize, like, we reach a good amount of listeners. We’ve been growing exponentially since we launched and it’s been nice. But, compared to the people we cover who have millions of years, they are the media. So, when J.P. Sears, when Mickey Willis, when these people come out and say the media, the media, they are media too. They are producing in the same way that they are. So, the influence, that’s the fascination about the digital age, is that the influence, it really is just about capturing eyeballs. And if you’re capturing millions of eyeballs, you’re media as well.

Matthew Remski: Yeah, and to speak specifically to sensationalism within the question, I just think back to Noam Chomsky in Manufacturing Consent being asked a question on television about the capacity to communicate cogent narratives or cogent ideas. And he basically starts his answer by saying, well, you know, the problem with television as a format is that I don’t think that a complex idea can be explored in less than about eight minutes. And usually, we have commercial breaks interrupting at five minute intervals. And he’s in the middle of explaining this and they interrupt him and go to the commercial. And I think that, I mean, that’s back in the 1990s or maybe even the late 1980s. And I think that one of the things that obviously has happened is that, you know, newsprint journalism has been reduced in terms of its investigative capacity. There’s less money for it. You know, as somebody who writes regularly four to five thousand words per payment, it’s harder and harder to get those contracts. But also, you know, news media has become meme-ified. It has become reduced to, you know, sloganeering, to, you know, color splashes, to aphorisms. And it really meets its peak reductionism in the meme economy of the 4chan network, which is kind of like, you know, if you boil down the hot takes of Fox News down to their sort of like essence, you wind up with 4chan memes. And so there’s a reductionistic and sensationalistic project that has nothing to do really with the communication of complex ideas or the betterment of society or accountability. All of the function of it is provocation. And so, yeah, I really appreciate the question. It absolutely plays into what we’ve got going on.

Julian Walker: I feel like with the advent of the 24-hour news cycle, with cable news becoming so dominant, you no longer just have a relatively neutral news broadcast that everyone is watching on the major channels. Suddenly you have these cable channels which end up becoming more and more polarized in their political editorializing and in their continuous breaking news cycle sensationalist bullshit, right, where they’re telling you the same story from a slightly different angle every few minutes and saying that it’s new, or going to press too quickly with something that they haven’t really checked out or verified that’s still a developing story. So you have all of that. And then on top of that, we’re in this collision between what I see as postmodern relativism coming from the Left, where what is truth? What is a fact? Everything is merely a perspective. It all depends on what you believe in. It’s all a matter of different things like that colliding with this whole notion that anything I don’t like on the Right must be fake news. And Trump has played a huge role in that in terms of discrediting the media and pulling all of the standard kind of dictator tactics around how to relate to news media so as to make people not believe them when they report the truth about his various peccadillos. And that actually is a perfect setup then for a New Age community that wants to believe various things and will see, especially around say alternative medicine, and will see any scientific pushback against that as being some kind of way of suppressing the truth that me and the people in my community all believe. So it’s facts, evidence, truth, all of these things start to become very fuzzy.

Rick Archer: An interesting question came in from someone named Wesley in Oregon. He said, “What is the responsibility of seekers in communities to keep them healthy and accountable?” Rick, I have heard you and others in panel discussions discuss the importance of seekers speaking up when things are getting unhealthy. I agree, and yet I wonder how realistic it is to expect seekers to do that. Seekers are often not psychologically integrated and might not feel strong enough to speak up.

Julian Walker: Yeah, I think it’s a responsibility of teachers and it’s a responsibility of the organizations and that what would be, you know, we’re in an unregulated wild west in terms of spirituality.

Rick Archer: Well, but unfortunately it’s usually the teachers that are getting unhealthy.

Julian Walker: That’s right.

Rick Archer: They’re going off the rails.

Julian Walker: Having some kind of organizational accountability, having some kind of power structure within which complaints can be brought and within which, you know, people have peer-to-peer review and perhaps even that they’re accountable to someone above them. I think that can be really–

Matthew Remski: I’ll be totally frank about this one though. You know, I spent three years writing a book about institutional abuse in Ashtanga Yoga. I’ve published on institutional abuse in Shivananda Yoga, in Shambala International. I’ve followed, you know, the Rigpa International story very closely, Dharma Ocean, many, many others, Satyananda Yoga. I have yet to see any reform, any meaningful reform. We’ve even gotten to the point with some organizations where independent investigators have been hired to do extensive interviewing to look into, you know, widespread abuses. I haven’t seen any meaningful reform in spiritual institutions at all. The Me Too movement has blown through the yoga world and the Buddhist world and kind of rearranged the furniture is what has happened. And so what that leaves us with is, you know, survivors who have lost their spiritual homes, apologists who are kind of hanging on by a thread, and, you know, then people who are reform-minded but don’t really have any tools to work with. And I think it all comes down to the fact that the spiritual leader of the Buddhist organization or the yoga organization is at a level of professional and social capital, where in any other industry they would be regulated, not by their own denomination, but by actually their peers. And so I think that, you know, I can’t see how there would be clear, functional, consistent, and reasonable, and also predictable in the sense that the leader knows that somebody is going to hold them to account and what the penalties are going to be for committing clerical sexual abuse or, you know, committing financial fraud or something like that. Unless all of those things are known as well as they are known, let’s say, by the members of a state college of psychotherapists or a state college of medical doctors or a state college of massage therapists. Without those regulations, I don’t see what I don’t see what I don’t see how any kind of responsibility will be exertable, because it generally comes from the outside. And when institutions have generations of abuse, there’s always going to be cultic dynamics. And the thing that glues the cult together is the elimination of external input, information, and authority. And that’s exactly what, you know, a college of psychotherapy for the province of Ontario destroys, because it says, we are an outside authority, and we everybody belongs to each other. And, you know, we’re gonna we’re gonna make sure that you don’t make the name of psychotherapy, substituted in the word Buddhism, into into a pile of crap in the in the broader public eye.

Julian Walker: How much do you know, Matthew, we’ve never talked about this, about Spirit Rock and and what Jack Kornfield and a lot of his colleagues have done over there?

Matthew Remski: Well, I think what they’ve done is they’ve they’ve done the best work that they can do in a kind of isolated and aspirational and non regulatory format, you know, it’s like they’ve identified charismatic abuse, they’ve identified, you know, your scope of practice for their teachers, they’ve laid out a good code of ethics, and so on. And that’s all great. And, but but still, there’s no there’s, it’s it’s not like it’s not like their it’s it’s not like their their teachers belong to a kind of socially or publicly recognized profession.

Julian Walker: Yeah, professional association where they have a license that’s on the line.

Matthew Remski: Exactly, exactly. It’s like, let me give an example. Manuso Manos taught at the top tier of Iyengar Yoga for 30 years or something like that. In 1992, there was an investigative journalism report published by the San Jose Mercury News that showed that he was a chronic sexual abuser of his students. He never denied the charges, there was no legal challenge to the article, it was all fact checked. I talked to the journalist who wrote that article, Bob Frost. If there had, my point is, if there had been a state of California license that permitted him to teach yoga in 1992, he would have lost it. Yeah, he didn’t. There was there was nothing that that was done, except there was some internal turmoil about the shame involved. And, you know, here is a leader of our community who was who was, you know, kind of sidelined for a while. But he didn’t, he didn’t materially lose anything. And wouldn’t you know, he comes back and by 2018 and 19, he gets busted for the same behavior, which probably never stopped throughout his throughout his career, or at least or, you know, it, there were no consequences, he could have lost his license. And so when I consulted for the Yoga Alliance on this very issue, like, why are you not taking a regulatory stance? I said, you have to prove to the public that it was okay to allow Manuso Manos to continue to teach yoga after it was found by, you know, good investigative journalism that he was basically committing clerical sexual abuse. And, you know, it’s like, unless unless you can show that that that’s a good choice. No, no, it’s not, you know, yoga is a different thing. It’s not really a profession. It’s not really therapy, we don’t really have to be, you know, sort of like, you know, above board about it. Because it’s about our hearts. And it’s about our emotions. As long as we have that attitude, abuses will continue, because there’s nothing will really check it.

Rick Archer: Good point. And that’s a whole another wing of my interest, you know, having helped to found the Association for Spiritual Integrity, which we originally named it the Association for Professional Spiritual Teachers. And there was some discussion of comparing us to the AMA or, you know, American Psychological Association or something, which do grant and revoke licenses. And we realized that as a tiny little fledgling organization with no funding, that was way above our pay grade. But it, theoretically, is something that could evolve over time. And, you know, a bit of regulation might be a healthy thing and not a repressive one.

Matthew Remski: And, you know, in certain industries, there’s the money to do it, right? There’s no doubt that with the membership income of an organization like Yoga Alliance, that some kind of coordinated effort to, you know, put teeth into the certification and to coordinate with local officials would be something.

Rick Archer: Let me ask another question from Felix. I’m going to put this one in my own words. This is Felix’s last question. He talks about, you know, how he was kind of convinced at some point of some conspiracy theories because there were so many reputable people putting their reputations on the line and telling similar stories. So, I can think of the Great Barrington Declaration or various doctors such as Zach Bush who have come out and said things and, you know, it lends an air of credibility and authority to the things they’re saying, obviously. And so, I mean, I just took a guy’s interview down a couple weeks ago for pushing QAnon. He just sent me an email today with all sorts of, you know, citations like that of, you know, various…

Julian Walker: Oh, you have to tell us who it was.

Rick Archer: I’ll tell you later. I’ll even send you the email he sent me. But, you know, so that confuses people because, you know…

Rick Archer: Yes.Go ahead and riff on that.

Julian Walker: Well, you’re talking about the argument from authority, right?

Rick Archer: Right.

Julian Walker: Yeah. Yeah. So, that essentially, you know, whether or not an argument makes sense is measured by who it is that’s saying it and what their qualifications are. And to some extent, that’s inevitable and that’s a good thing to do. You should consider the source. But regardless of who the person is, if the argument is riddled with logical fallacies and doesn’t make sense and asks you to believe all sorts of fantastical things and goes against scientific consensus, you might want to…

Rick Archer: Yeah. A lot of times the person might be a doctor, but they’re not a virologist or an epidemiologist. That’s right. That’s right.

Rick Archer: Yeah. People used to ask Einstein stuff all the time that had nothing to do with physics because they figured he was so smart he would know about, you know, this, that, and the other thing. He often deferred.

Derek Beres: And celebrities are human. That’s the thing we forget just because that’s how we got a President Trump. He was a reality show star. In that sense, it’s kind of Occam’s razor. It’s really that simple. He was in people’s faces and people just because of that, people thought that he had some level of authority that he never actually had. And so, we have this cult of celebrity that’s perpetual. And when people get a certain sense of stature, we just start applying all sorts of ideas. I can’t tell you, especially since we started the podcast, but as a journalist who’s active on social media, I’ve kind of been public for a long time. And I can’t tell you how many emails or messages we get where people are just making assumptions about us because they hear us and they think that they relate to us in some way. And one of the beauties of the media is that we can talk to each other in this capacity, but you can’t conflate your own thoughts with other people. And we see that happen all the time.

Matthew Remski: You know, the question of whether or not somebody like Zach Bush or Kelly Brogan or Christiane Northrup are risking their careers or putting their reputations on the line is super interesting. And it’s something that I’ve sort of tracked from the beginning of this process. And it’s hard to tell what the kind of turnaround or the revolving door on Northrup’s 500,000 followers are. And is she losing people who value critical thinking, but gaining people who are attracted by the QAnon or Q adjacent rhetoric? It’s really hard to say.

Rick Archer: And does she care, you know, as long as she’s got the numbers?

Matthew Remski: Does she care? You know, when I did the report on Kelly Brogan and Sayer G, who runs GreenMedInfo, there was this long sort of request for comment exchange where I kept asking G, you know, like, so what are your feelings about QAnon? Like, do you denounce QAnon? Because he had used, he had retweeted a hashtag. There was a couple of Q adjacent, yeah, there was a couple of Q adjacent references that he had made. And in the email exchange, there was no clear denouncement. And I was kind of interested in that moment of like, oh, he’s not going to actually draw a line in the sand here. And I think a lot of these influencers are watching their engagement rise or there’s a certain amount of traction that their messaging is getting. And they’re almost playing chicken with both, you know, Facebook and Twitter moderation, but also with the politics and the values of their more progressive followers, right? It’s like, how far can I push this before I lose too many people, but I’m also gaining a whole bunch of engagement in the process.

Derek Beres: We’ve got a case study. We have a case study. We have a case study. Since the election day, the Trump campaign has made more money in donations than leading up to the election. That’s a perfect example of everything you’re saying. I’m sure if you look behind the scenes, a lot of these influencers, Rashid Bataar is a great example in terms of his social media attraction. Mickey Willis is a wonderful, like most people, he was an LA guy. He had some stuff, but people in this community knew him, but that was it. And now it’s international. So, I don’t want to say guaranteed, but I would speculate heavily that a lot of these figures are monetizing this like crazy right now.

Matthew Remski: And at a lower level, we get sort of B-level or even C-level yoga influencers who start to flirt with QAnon or Q adjacent material, and they see their engagement like quadruple or go up by several orders of magnitude. And that might be incredibly validating and gratifying for somebody who is otherwise anxious and suffering from, I don’t know, self-image issues or they’re hanging on by their fingernails to a yoga business that’s failing during the pandemic. I mean, I’m sure the engagement, the addiction factor of the engagement loop is incredibly influential and also forgivable as well. Like, I don’t blame these folks for going towards this danger zone, like moth to the flame, because it’s very bright and very heated.

Rick Archer: A question came in from Mike in the UK. I’m going to read his question and then I’m just going to embellish it a bit. He said, “Do you think conspirituality should or will be in the school curricula?” And my embellishment is that I used to go to the university that’s here in town, Marharishi International University, and the president is an old friend of mine. I taught him to meditate when he was in high school. And so, I emailed him and the executive vice president. I said, “Do you realize the extent to which conspiracy theories are going wild in town here? In fact, one of your old faculty members is pushing QAnon on Facebook and so on.” And, you know, they were kind of shocked. Maybe they’ve been too busy to pay much attention to it. And I said, “Is there a critical thinking course on campus?” And the president, whose name is John Hagelin, said, “Yeah, as a matter of fact, there is. And I think I want to go and talk to it. I want to go to, you know, if anybody in there thinks the moon landings were faked or the earth is hollow or, you know, any of these other conspiracy theories, we should straighten that out.” And so, what I’m leading to with all this is, and with Mike’s question, is that anything one can do, I think, to strengthen one’s critical thinking skills at whatever age one is would be extremely valuable and perhaps, and it would be a good prophylactic against any kind of confusion and getting misled. And the spiritual path can be kind of like a razor’s edge where you can easily fall off one side or the other. So, do you guys have any recommendations on what would be good ways to strengthen one’s critical thinking skills?

Derek Beres: Let me just start by saying that I’ve gotten three or four emails from college students who’ve already said that our podcast has inspired them to do independent research on the topic of conspirituality. So, in that sense, it’s already getting into the curriculum, which is pretty cool.

Matthew Remski: That is cool. You know, I think that I produced maybe last year a kind of shrunken down version of the curriculum that I produce for yoga teacher training programs on cultic dynamics in yoga and Buddhism. And I shrunk it down to like an hour and a half for young adults. And I’ve been thinking for a long time that as part of social studies class in high school, it would be amazing to have a unit on coercive control or on cultic dynamics. The influences are very recognizable. The mechanisms of cultic dynamics are thoroughly researched. If I had been 14 years old and somebody had said to me, “What do you think charisma is?” And Socratically led me through some kind of discovery process about what makes a certain person stand out or gather a certain amount of social capital in a way that seems to be effortless. If I had been asked to consider that question and then to consider, “Well, how can that be manipulated?” Or, “How can an idea of altruistic service to humanity actually conceal a financial fraud?” These are basic, very simple questions that any 13 or 14 year old, I think, can engage with and then have their ear to the ground when their buddy from high school comes to them with an MLM offer or when they show up at the talk of a charismatic leader and they’re offered a one week retreat for several thousand dollars that’s going to change their lives.

Julian Walker: I want to say too that, and this is perhaps a controversial thing along the lines of where you started, Rick, in the introduction to the conversation, in terms of what has something that has been hidden, I think that anyone who is on a quote-unquote spiritual path does well to consider that the entire history of spirituality and religion has been as much about people seeking meaning and beauty and compassion and healing and connection in community and contact with the greater cosmos. It’s been as much about that as it has been about a kind of charlatanry and a kind of enabling of various forms of con-artistry and disempowerment. That has been the shadow of spirituality all along. Unless we reckon with that, unless we bring good critical thinking to bear on that shadow aspect of spirituality, and I would even say religion as well, it continues perpetuating itself. So, I’m a strong proponent of learning good critical thinking. I think it always serves you well and Matthew always reminds me there’s a lot more going on than just becoming a good skeptic.

Rick Archer: Yeah. I’ve been taking some classes in the Upanishads and Gita from Swami Sarvapriyananda, who’s the head of the Vedanta Society in New York City and he’s, you know, such a brilliant intellect and he’s often referencing books like Shankara’s Crest Jewel Discrimination and other things like that. It just, it makes clear to me something I already knew, but maybe that is not as appreciated as widely in spirituality, that the greats, so to speak, of ancient spiritual traditions had very sharp, clear intellects and thought about things and discriminated and discerned very carefully and subtly. There was nothing sloppy about their thinking. What did you say?

Matthew Remski: Right. They also had a process, right?

Rick Archer: Yeah.

Matthew Remski: It’s like, there are modes of oral instruction for something like the Gita where you just don’t cite, you don’t talk about the shloka without talking about the four commentaries that you were trained in. That ostensibly keeps you honest, but if you think, I mean, you could just do an experiment for anybody in the audience that has books published by Hay House, look to the back of the books and see whether or not the author has included a bibliography or whether they cite their sources or whether, you know, if they’re making medical claims that they can back them up. We move in New Age spirituality and global yoga and Buddhism into this almost like ahistorical, free-floating, entertainment-based, self-help genre that has very little to do with how these subjects were approached in pre-modern terms, which was really rigorous, you know?

Rick Archer: Yeah, very rigorous. Anybody else want to comment before we move on?

Julian Walker: I unfortunately actually have to go. I need to relieve my wife and take care of my daughter.

Rick Archer: Okay, you go for it. We’ll carry on for a few more minutes.

Derek Beres: I have to stop it. I have to be done by three myself, so.

Rick Archer: So, we have 15 minutes left.

Matthew Remski: 15 minutes.

Rick Archer: All right, we’ll wrap it up. And so do I. I mean, we usually keep these to two hours. So, you’re going to miss, I think, Julian already left, didn’t he? He’s going to miss a lulu of a question. I don’t know if you –

Derek Beres: He left his Zoom on.

Rick Archer: Okay. I don’t know if you guys are going to be able to do anything with this. And if not, we’ll just either delete it out of the recording or move on. But someone named Steph from England, my dog is coughing a lot here. Let’s get her out of here.

Irene Archer: Come here. Come on. You can’t do that.

Rick Archer: You can’t edit that out if I’m talking.

Irene Archer: I know.

Rick Archer: I know, I’m just telling them. Okay, door’s closed. Someone named Steph from England asks, “Do you have any thoughts on theories regarding dark energies such as the flyers, the alien installation that Castaneda spoke of, or the Wetiko virus that Paul Levy writes of, or even the Archons that the Gnostics speak about?” [Laughter]

Derek Beres: I’ll just say that this process of science is just the continual accumulation of knowledge passed down over the generations. Things that we think of as very simple today baffled the ancients. Like, germ theory is still, what, 200 years old and humans have been around for 350,000 years. So, for most of that time, they were assigning sickness to gods. So, I think that when I hear questions like that, I think that not that we’re ever going to know everything. I always think of visual systems and how even my cats around here can see way better than I can and see things and fields of energy that I can’t and that goes across the animal worlds. So, there will of course be things we don’t understand, but I don’t assign anything too great to any sort of dark energies or anything of that nature. I think we just don’t understand what’s happening.

Rick Archer: Yeah, that’s a good answer. And I didn’t mean to have any kind of tone of ridicule in my voice when I was reading Steph’s question because I think there are all sorts of subtle things that we don’t really experience and can’t really know about for sure, at least not very many of us. So, it’s hard to comment on such things.

Matthew Remski: Well, I want to say to, was the question, the question came from Steph?

Rick Archer: Steph in England.

Matthew Remski: Yeah. I just want to say that, and maybe if any of my previous comments in this meeting have seemed offensive or harsh, that what I respect about the poetry of the unknown is that experience is very difficult to describe. And that if we’re, and I think sometimes it’s too bad that Julian left because sometimes he and I butt heads about this. You know, it’s not like scientific method and, you know, our capacity for rational inquiry and peer-reviewed, you know, research answers every question. It’s like there’s always a margin of mystery and the undiscovered. And for those of us who don’t have access to good research or good epistemology, that margin is going to be wider. And I want to just affirm that the way in which we describe the unknown in spiritual terms, especially if it is ominous, can have something very compelling about it from two different angles. Either something that is yet to be discovered or something that needs to be remembered. And here’s where I want to refer to some of the work that we did with Dr. Theo Wildcroft on the podcast where she said very sagely that, you know, we have to be really careful not to ridicule the language or the archetypology of something like QAnon. Because just like with the satanic panic of the 1980s and the 1990s, we are, what we’re probably seeing is we’re seeing people finding a voice for experiences that were too horrible to name. We are seeing people find a language to describe memory that would be otherwise repressed. And the real amazing thing about QAnon is that it allows the person who is devoted to it to feel as though they are a hero doing something about this terrible thing. They are literally emboldened. They’re delegated by General Flynn or whoever it is to become a digital soldier in the saving of the world. And so when these very poetic and gothic descriptions of the ominous unknown come up, I want to hold space for the fact that trauma is very difficult to talk about and to name. And the process of seeing our way through to the difference between personal memory and a cultural or political reality is something that we have to take great care in doing. Because the worst thing that we can do with the QAnon followers to tell them that they are stupid or that they’re venal or that they’re obsessed with sex or something like that, what’s more likely to be true is that A, they’ve been indoctrinated by something very powerful, and B, one of the reasons they’ve been indoctrinated is that it resonates with something that they can’t quite name. And I think it’s really important to empathetically hold that.

Rick Archer: Yeah. Yeah, I mean, you mentioned, I think, the word judgmental. I don’t, a conversation like the one we’re having can easily come across as judgmental, but I think our underlying sentiment is one of compassion and concern and friendship and, you know, a desire to see everybody flourish. And personally, I feel like spirituality, broadly defined, has a tremendous contribution to make to this paradigm shift that we talked about earlier. It’s really the most pivotal influence in it and I hate to see it sabotaged or undermined and that’s, I kind of feel like QAnon conspiracy theories are doing just that. Plus, I don’t like to see a lot of people die unnecessarily and all this COVID denial and mask, anti-mask stuff and everything else is literally killing people. And the people – go ahead.

Julian Walker: I just, since Julian’s not here, I’ll butt heads a little with Matthew and I don’t think of butting heads, but complimenting in a sense, because I still hold that shame has an important value to our species. There’s a great book called Is Shame Necessary by Jennifer Jacquet and she just talks about how, and we don’t live in tribes anymore, I understand that, but say you’re with 50 people and somebody does something wrong, you put him or her in the center and you shame them to understand that their actions are affecting everyone else. And it’s really hard to, I actually talked to her on Twitter briefly about this a few months ago, it’s really hard to implement shame in the digital space, it’s much easier on a one-to-one space, right, because it doesn’t come across in the same way. But I do think that calling things out are necessary and like you said, I find it very hard to be compassionate or offer that when somebody, their actions are actually killing people. And if that’s not called out, I think that’s also problematic as well.

Rick Archer: Well, I feel compassion for the people who are dying. I feel a bit of anger actually for the people who are spreading the misinformation. It almost seems like there should be legal consequences.

Derek Beres: Yeah, and this is something that actually when I used to run teacher training programs in New York, I used to bring up to people because about the way that yoga is presented, and I would ask if anger is a negative emotion. And it was just, it’s seen people’s reactions, but it’s a natural biological instinct. Anger, frustration, confusion, these are all things and they’re just tools. They’re just, first of all, they’re all neurochemical physiological reactions, but they have context. And if you can use that context as a fuel for change, then it’s totally appropriate. And so, I think that using the range of emotions we have to us, if it’s going for something productive, it can be very helpful.

Rick Archer: Good. Okay, we have about five minutes left. And so, is there anything that you feel like we haven’t discussed that we should have? [Laughter]

Derek Beres: I actually think that your last sentiment was just a really good closing one in the sense that understanding that your actions, and I’m thinking of the literal translation of the word karma, which is action, and the idea that it’s not some necessarily mystical force, but it’s just that every action you take will therefore resonate through your chain of events and through those around you, and then all possibly for generations, depending on that action. But that those actions that people are taking right now, even though it seems individual, it does have, it does influence people. And so, understand that even just simply sending out a tweet, if you have a hundred followers, still sets off a chain reaction or has the potential to. So, think discriminately about your words and your actions and how you’re acting and how that will affect other people. Think about people who are immunocompromised, who have suffered. I’m a cancer survivor, so it’s something I think take seriously about how people’s actions, because they have a certain perspective on things, it doesn’t mean that that reflects everyone else. And I think it’s important to remember that we all are trying to work together, and I agree with your sentiment, Rick, that we are trying to help as many people as possible.

Rick Archer: And before Matthew responds, I just want to play off what you just said to say that I think that the more spiritually evolved one becomes, if that’s a commonly understood term, the greater one’s responsibility is to act with great impeccability. There’s a great quote from Padmasambhava, he said, “Although my awareness is as vast as the sky, my attention to karma is as fine as a grain of barley flour.” So, it’s like we have to actually be more on our toes, more precise, more careful, the more we progress. Matthew, do you want to add?

Matthew Remski: I like the grain of barley flour. I think that the relationship for me between whatever vast sky I can see and the grain of barley flour is that, at this point, I kind of remember, and for a few moments each day, I experience a little bit of the vast sky, and the rest of the time, it’s really looking at grains of barley flour and trying to make them into nice momos, or at least, yeah. I mean, I guess I hope that this conversation does help in coming down to earth a little bit and looking at the granular responsibility that we have for basic things like health and social welfare.

Rick Archer: Yeah, good. Alright, you guys, well, it’s been wonderful talking to you. I’ve really enjoyed it, and I’ve been really enjoying your podcast. Let me just show your podcast on the screen here for a second. It’s, and it’s not displaying very well at the moment, but there you are looking at your About page. And so, I encourage people to check it out. It’s on all the usual podcast things like iTunes and everything. And a friend of mine emailed me yesterday and said, “Well, how can they do so many episodes? Aren’t they running out of things to talk about?” (Derek and Matthew laugh.)

Derek Beres: We were actually concerned about that when we started, and we just realized we’re just going to keep this going because there’s just too much. There’s so much.

Rick Archer: There really is, and you go deeply into very specific, interesting areas. So, I always feel like I learn something. Anyway –

Matthew Remski: Well, that means a lot coming from you.

Derek Beres: Yeah.

Matthew Remski: Thank you, thank you so much, and thanks for all of your work over the years.

Rick Archer: Yeah, thanks. It’s been my pleasure. So, thanks to those who’ve been listening or watching. I hope you’ve enjoyed this, and if you haven’t, I hope you’ll keep watching BatGap. I just felt like it’s an important thing that we needed to cover. And we have a Facebook discussion group in which I create a new thread for each interview, and the link to that will be both on YouTube and on the BatGap page that I’ll create for these guys. And so, if you’d like to discuss all this, go in there and go at it, you know? So, anyway, thanks a lot, and next week I’ll be interviewing Dr. Sue Morter. I hope she’s not on your shit list, you guys.

Matthew Remski: I have not heard that name.

Rick Archer: Okay, good. So, thanks, and talk to you later. Bye-bye.

Derek Beres: Okay. Thank you so much, Rick

Matthew Remski: Thanks Rick

Rick Archer: Take care.

Derek Beres: Yeah.