213 episodes

A weekly study of converging right-wing conspiracy theories and faux-progressive wellness utopianism. At best, the conspirituality movement attacks public health efforts in times of crisis. At worst, it fronts and recruits for the fever-dream of QAnon. As the alt-right and New Age horseshoe toward each other in a blur of disinformation, clear discourse and good intentions get smothered. Charismatic influencers exploit their followers by co-opting conspiracy theories on a spectrum of intensity ranging from vaccines to child trafficking. In the process, spiritual beliefs that have nurtured creativity and meaning are transforming into memes of a quickly-globalizing paranoia. Conspirituality Podcast attempts to bring understanding to this landscape. A journalist, a cult researcher, and a philosophical skeptic discuss the stories, cognitive dissonances, and cultic dynamics tearing through the yoga, wellness, and new spirituality worlds. Mainstream outlets have noticed the problem. We crowd-source, research, analyze, and dream answers to it.

Conspirituality Derek Beres, Matthew Remski, Julian Walker

    • Religion & Spirituality

A weekly study of converging right-wing conspiracy theories and faux-progressive wellness utopianism. At best, the conspirituality movement attacks public health efforts in times of crisis. At worst, it fronts and recruits for the fever-dream of QAnon. As the alt-right and New Age horseshoe toward each other in a blur of disinformation, clear discourse and good intentions get smothered. Charismatic influencers exploit their followers by co-opting conspiracy theories on a spectrum of intensity ranging from vaccines to child trafficking. In the process, spiritual beliefs that have nurtured creativity and meaning are transforming into memes of a quickly-globalizing paranoia. Conspirituality Podcast attempts to bring understanding to this landscape. A journalist, a cult researcher, and a philosophical skeptic discuss the stories, cognitive dissonances, and cultic dynamics tearing through the yoga, wellness, and new spirituality worlds. Mainstream outlets have noticed the problem. We crowd-source, research, analyze, and dream answers to it.

    Bonus Sample: Swan Song Series 5 | Michelle Remembers: Themes & Framing

    Bonus Sample: Swan Song Series 5 | Michelle Remembers: Themes & Framing

    In the second of three episodes on Michelle Remembers, we recap its Catholic contexts, and Lawrence Pazder's quest to transcend the limitations of psychiatry through mystical nightmares. We then explore the front matter: how Pazder introduces his project (and himself), and the ambivalent endorsement of Remi de Roo, Archbishop of Victoria. In Pazder's many clerical alliances, a crucial theme is established: the rapprochement between psychiatry and the priesthood, in which the former submits to the latter to restore the reality of the supernatural.

    We also look at the pre-emptively defensive  intro penned by the publisher, Thomas B. Congdon Jr. He claimed to have verified the substance of the book through interviews, and thought that Pazder and Smith were very earnest and forthcoming people when he hosted them for editorial meetings. Okay sure.

    Remi De Roo - Wikipedia
    Thomas B. Congdon, Editor of Best Sellers Like 'Jaws,' Dies at 77 - The New York Times
    The Beginning of a Community - Virtual Museum-Canadian Polish Historical Society
     

    • 8 min
    116: History is Not a Placebo: Chinese Medicine in America (w/Tamara Venit-Shelton)

    116: History is Not a Placebo: Chinese Medicine in America (w/Tamara Venit-Shelton)

    Traditional Chinese Medicine is an ancient medical system that has persisted in its homeland for countless generations before being exported to the rest of the world—right? Well, not exactly, but that doesn’t mean the varying sets of practices have not made an impact in China and abroad. 
    This week, historian Tamara Venit-Shelton joins the podcast to talk to Derek about the history of Chinese Medicine in America. The author of Herbs and Roots: A History of Chinese Doctors in the American Medical Marketplace, they discuss the xenophobia and racism that Chinese encountered in the 19th century West, how early Chinese doctors used the exoticism of their system to their advantage when advertising to disaffected Americans who were suspicious of the dominant health care system, the moment that these varying practices became unified by Chairman Mao in the middle of the 20th century, and how the acupuncture needles we use today are not actually Chinese in origin—we can thank the Japanese for the world’s recent widespread adoption of that practice.

    Show Notes

    Herbs and Roots: A History of Chinese Doctors in the American Medical Marketplace

    Tamara Venit-Shelton gets to the roots of Chinese medicine in America

    Evidence Map of Acupuncture review of systematic reviews on 1,500 RCT’s.
    David Gorski “Acupuncture is a theatrical placebo, retconned beyond recognition.”
    $2.5 Spent—No Alternative Cures Found by the NCCIH

    • 1 hr 22 min
    Bonus Sample: Swan Song Series 4 | Michelle Remembers: Context & History

    Bonus Sample: Swan Song Series 4 | Michelle Remembers: Context & History

    There's no Teal Swan without the Satanic Panic. And there's no Satanic Panic without the 1980 publication of Michelle Remembers, by Lawrence Pazder and Michelle Smith. 
    In this first of three segments on this melted book, Matthew and Julian cover its historical, cultural, and mass media context. We start with a review of a 1985 20/20 episode called “The Devil Worshippers” for a taste of how mainstream outlets hosted cranks like Pazder, giving him a hall pass on evidence, and overlooking how his Catholic fetishes and paranoias played a huge role in the fictions he spun. 
    The post Vatican 2 context is crucial, especially as we bear witness to the current political triumphs of Trad-Cath propaganda and politics in our post-Roe, QAnon -fried world. For help, we look to an excellent essay by social historian Bernard Doherty about the genre and elements of the Catholic Horror Film, which begins with Rosemary's Baby in 1968. This reactionary genre attempted to respond to modernizing—or postmodernizing, as Jordan Peterson might say—changes in Church doctrine. 
    Bottom line? The Satanic Panic largely begins in and is sustained by Catholic-flavoured conspirituality anxiety about secularization, sex, babies, and abortion. 



    Links:
    Michael Hobbes and Sarah Marshall cover Michelle Remembers with great skill. 
    "20/20" the Devil Worshippers - May 16, 1985
    West of Memphis movie review & film summary (2012) | Roger Ebert
    Mel Gibson: The man without a pope - Where Peter Is
    The Smoke of Satan on the Silver Screen: The Catholic Horror Film, Vatican II, and the Revival of Demonology | Journal for the Academic Study of Religion

    • 8 min
    UNLOCKED: Swan Song Series 1 | Close to Home

    UNLOCKED: Swan Song Series 1 | Close to Home

    We can't understand Teal Swan without understanding the Satanic Panic. And we can't really understand that historical disaster with out feeling our way into the mysteries of memory, fantasy, shame, and terror. 
    Many of you will have heard about therapists interfering in a family constellation by insinuating the client has has memories of abuse to uncover, and that they can’t go forward in their lives without doing that work. This is the bread and butter of Swan's technique, with the result being that many of her close followers come to tell stories  about their childhoods that echo hers. Swan's own story of childhood abuse crystallized after she goes through treatment with a leading Satanic Panic therapist, Barbara Snow. 
    Those are stories on the page. But today, to kick off the Swan Song Series, Julian shares  the moment-by-moment mechanics of how this disastrous parody of therapy turned his own life inside out, and alienated him from his family for a decade. 
    Content warning for listeners: we’ll be talking about stories of child sexual abuse.
    Links:
    The Gateway 
    Michelle Remembers, covered by Sarah Marshall and Michael Hobbes 
    Forrest Yoga students ask A. Forrest to stop using the Zia Nation symbol 
    A. Forrest's ostensible mentor 

    • 1 hr 22 min
    115: Controlling Women's Bodies "Naturally" (w/EJ Dickson)

    115: Controlling Women's Bodies "Naturally" (w/EJ Dickson)

    Matthew sits down with ace journalist EJ Dickson to explore her deep archive of reporting on the policing of women's bodies, and how it reflects on her own experience of childbirth.

    This episode opens and closes with reference to the essay that first introduced Matthew to this world, "Giving Birth in Yogaland," written by his partner Alix, after two C-section deliveries.

    Links:
    "Giving Birth in Yogaland" —Alix Cale
    raggapunzel on Instagram —water birth on the beach
    Pieces by EJ Dickson
    Covid-19 Vaccine: How Dommes Are Convincing Submissives to Get Jabs
    Matt Gaetz, QAnon Followers, and the GOP Are Exploiting the #FreeBritney Movement
    Are Sex-Negative 'Puriteens' Actually Taking Over the Internet?
    'Pastel QAnon' Is Infiltrating the Natural Parenting Community
    Princess Diana Struggled With Bulimia. Does 'The Crown' Do Her Justice?
    The Baby-Formula Shortage Has Spawned a New Brand of Mom-Shamers
    Roe v. Wade: Top Influencers Avoid Abortion Debate - Rolling Stone
    Amber Heard, Johnny Depp: TikTok Reenactments of Testimony Goes Viral
    Michelle Phan: How YouTube Beauty Guru Fell in With Bullshit Peddler
    There Are a Million Reasons to Get An Abortion. This Was Mine.
    Bentinho Massaro: Instagram Guru 'F-king' His Followers 'To Freedom'
    In Minnie Mouse's Dress, Right Wingers See a Penis — and a LGBTQ Conspiracy
    James Van Der Beek's Influencer Wife Is Peddling Vaccine Conspiracy Theories on Instagram
    A TikToker Made $200,000 Farting In Jars. Here's How She Did It
    TikTok Cult Leader Pivots to Preaching Anti-Vax Conspiracy Theories
    Vaginal bleaching: dangerous, arguably racist, and on the rise - Vox 

    • 56 min
    Bonus Sample: The Wellness Theory of Depression

    Bonus Sample: The Wellness Theory of Depression

    A recent review questioning the serotonin theory of depression has revived a generations-long debate over the very notion of "chemical imbalances." While there are plenty of important debates about the roles of pharmacology and psychotherapy in mental health disorders, conspiritualists from both wellness spaces and the far right have been using mental health to promote (and monetize) their own agendas. Derek investigates.

    Show Notes
    The serotonin theory of depression: a systematic umbrella review of the evidence
    The New Study on Serotonin and Depression Isn’t About Antidepressants
    Inside Kelly Brogan’s Covid-Denying, Vax-Resistant Conspiracy Machine
    The Far Right’s Next Target for a Bullshit Moral Panic: Antidepressants

    • 8 min

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