Tales from the Rabbit Hole is an interview-style podcast focusing on people whose lives have been affected by the conspiracy theory rabbit hole. Guests will include both former and current believers in a variety of conspiracy theories, as well as debunkers, skeptics, and the investigators of those theories. I’m Mick West, a debunker. I wrote the book Escaping the Rabbit Hole – How to Debunk Conspiracy Theories using Facts, Logic, and Respect. This book came from my experiences running Metabunk – a debunking forum. Over the years I realized simply presenting corrections to people is not enough. We need effective communication, and we can’t do that if we don’t listen to and talk with each other. I’m hoping this podcast will help bridge that gap.
Episode 48 – Accidentally Dating a Conspiracy Theorist
My guest this week thought all was well when she started dating a handsome intelligent man. But then a few things he said, particularly about “the Jews” started to seem like something more than just the jokes she initially took them for. Here she describes how her relationship with a conspiracy theorist got started, and how it turned out. Along the way, we discuss toxic masculinity, incels, and the importance of teaching history and critical thinking.
Episode 47: Sarah – Conspiracy Casualty
Sarah’s ex-partner seemed like a normal person, but a few years ago he discovered conspiracy theory videos. Starting with claims that the Moon Landing was fake he quickly progressed to Flat Earth and eventually ended up follow a cult-like group that was predicting the end of the world in 2018 in an event called “EMPCOE”. He began to prep for this, but the predictions never came to pass and new predictions were made. Despite this, he never lost faith in the people making the predictions and became increasingly angry with Sarah for not following his belief. This anger escalated into abuse.
Sarah tells her story in detail, a story that is shared by many conspiracy casualties who have lost their loved ones to cults and conspiracy theories.
Episode 46: Ryan – Growing Out Of 9/11
Ryan became a conspiracy theorist at age 15. He spent five years solidly down the 9/11 conspiracy rabbit hole, believing that the World Trade Center buildings were destroyed with pre-planted explosives. As he grew older he eventually encountered other conspiracy theories that he recognized as being not well-grounded in evidence. Questioning these theories led him to question his own beliefs about 9/11, and eventually to escape from the rabbit hole.
We talk about the factors that led to his conspiracism, his experiences as a conspiracy theorist, and how he got out.
Episode 45: Brandon Fugal: The Owner of Skinwalker Ranch
Brandon Fugal is a prominent business leader based in Utah and is the current owner of the mysterious Skinwalker Ranch, which is the focus of a wide variety of reported strange phenomena, from supernatural visitors to cattle mutilations and UFOs. The ranch is now the subject of a History channel show: The Secret of Skinwalker Ranch. I’ve been doing a little debunking of a few of the claims in the show. We talk about how he discovered the ranch, why he bought it, what he’s been doing with it. We also discuss some of the issues with the show – is it science or showmanship? Maybe a little of both.
* Apple Podcast: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/episode-45-brandon-fugal-the-owner-of-skinwalker-ranch/id1462120258?i=1000476228836
* Unofficial transcript by UfoJoe: http://www.ufojoe.net/skinwalker-fugal-west
Episode 44: Steven Hassan – Cults and Conspiracies
Steven Hassan is an expert on cults. A former high ranking member of the Unification Church, aka the “Moonies”, he’s been helping people escape the rabbit hole since his own escape in 1976. Now he’s a mental health professional who’s the author of four books on cults and teaches at Harvard Medical School.
We discuss cults, the intersection between cults and conspiracy theories, and his controversial new book: The Cult of Trump.
* Freedom of Mind: https://freedomofmind.com/
* Steven on Twitter: https://twitter.com/CultExpert
* Steven on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/cultexpert/
* Combating Cult Mind Control: https://www.amazon.com/Combating-Cult-Mind-Control-Best-selling/dp/0967068827
* The Cult of Trump: https://www.amazon.com/Cult-Trump-Leading-Explains-President-ebook/dp/B07MGS7LZS/
Episode 43 – Tim McMillan: The Challenges of UFO Investigations
Investigating UFOs presents a number of challenges, many of which are not immediately obvious, but swiftly rear up to impede progress. There are straightforward issues, like military secrecy and people being afraid to talk because of ridicule. But there’s also the issue of “UFOs” being things that are so far outside our common experiences that it’s difficult to establish a shared baseline for conversations, leading often contentious and frustrating outcomes. Especially on Twitter.
I talk to investigative Journalist TIm McMillan about these challenges, and in particular how they apply to the recent Navy UFO cases: FLIR, GIMBAL and GOFAST.
Customer ReviewsSee All
I love listening to Mick’s podcast and admire his ability to calmly and effectively converse with people who would have me at wit’s end with their hair-brained ideas on the way the world works. It’s been a while since he dropped a new episode and i’m anxiously awaiting the next!
Compassion and Patience for the Perplexed
Mick has previously taken such an assiduous approach to debunking, bypassing the quick thrill of condescension for the hard work for verification, research and self validation of things such as optical illusions and radar imaging artifacts. In this podcast he sets himself on the equally demanding task of minimally confrontational friendly chats mostly with true believers. Don’t listen if you are looking for gotcha moments and anyone “totally destroying” anyone. But do listen if you are interested in the real world and human value of a skeptical approach to bunk and paranoid thinking. Like science proper, rationality and skepticism are maddeningly slow processes that can only help those who want the help. Since irrationality isn’t something that only lives in certain people, rather it lives in all of us some of the time, it behooves us to be both self critical and self compassionate. Because our thinking and perceiving are mostly evolutionarily tuned kluges, we are all using a type of FLIR map of reality. It’s really good at some tasks but
error and artifact prone in many other ways. Yes there are clusters of bad thinking, but the world isn’t really properly divided into the coherent folks and the confused. If you haven’t noticed yourself being irrational, you haven’t noticed yourself.
Conspiracies and Dialogue
I enjoy listening to the well thought out and polite interaction that Mick has with his guests. Especially when I’m screaming ‘BS’ at my speaker. Great, insightful discussions. Really enjoyed the most recent discussion with the former Moonie. Keep up the great work.