Pseudoscience Intervention Failure

I give up. I can’t talk with my wife about the two things she’s most interested in: channeling and conspiracy theories. At this point I’m giving up hope on her sensibility and sanity. I now see her as a patient rather than a peer. I still respect her and love her dearly, but I feel like I’m dealing with someone suffering from dementia, not just an assortment of misguided thoughts.

People aren’t quick to call out the channelers’ scam. That would be like saying there’s no heaven, or no Santa Claus.

We had an argument after I replied to an email she sent me wherein her friend (an actual medical doctor, no less!) shared information from another friend supporting the popular coronavirus (Covid-19) origin conspiracy theory, claiming it was created in a lab by evil forces. (When it comes to evil forces, of course Bill Gates is cast as the emperor.) Her original email contained a link and information copied from a fake news site called “Humans are Free.” My reply included corrections and rebuttal from multiple reputable sources that I thought helped clarify how ridiculous the conspiracy claims are.

I know. I thought I was “over” the idea of trying to help her regain some capacity for critical thinking, but I slipped up because of what she sent me.

Our ensuing discussion (when I got her to stop stewing around the house and talk to me about it) was deeply disturbing and depressing. She desperately clung to the original theory, unable to see the website for what it was: pure garbage. Every time a fringe conspiracy arises, she claims that the larger, more reputable news sources are either being suppressed or suppressing the “real” news themselves. At the same time, she’ll take as “gospel” the nonsense written on a random website neither of us had ever heard of.

The day after our discussion, the Guardian posted an article about how the various coronavirus conspiracy theories were spreading faster than the disease itself. The furor over the conspiracies was causing very real interference in the real-life treatment of the disease. Normal cooperation and communication between medical doctors and scientists in China and other countries were being compromised by all the errant fury from the fake news. So once again, as with the anti-vaxxers, real lives are being threatened by fake news.

When I reflect on how bad our situation at home has become, I’m reminded of the time she called a phone number that appeared on her browser as she was visiting some fringe website. She called the number because a “virus alert” came up, and the website said that if she called the number, a tech support rep could help her remove the virus. She was on the verge of giving him her credit card number when I walked into the room. She explained to me what had happened, and I told her she should hang up now. I’m reminded of that incident a few years ago because she had the sensibility to believe me more than she believed the “technician.” Her belief in my judgment helped her avoid becoming the victim of a very common scam. But now she believes the scammers more than she believes me. She’s constantly indoctrinating herself by watching videos for hours on end, listening to mediums and channelers (modern charlatans selling stories from “life everlasting” like the church always has) to the point where she cannot be swayed. The multi-billion-dollar spiritual scam business has her under its spell. She goes from one channeler to the next, and they all copy each other’s shtick.

Since that argument, my perspective has changed from one of “hope” (that she might be enlightened about what a sham the channelers are) to “research” (into her affliction). This isn’t something I can discuss with her. So I’m here, alone with my blog and a mountain of resources on the Internet that can help me expose these crooks. In my future posts, I’ll be sharing my findings as I research the conspiracies and channelers and sleazy sellers of all kinds of new age nonsense that my dear bride has fallen into. If she had a terrible disease, I would engage in all kinds of study and research to learn more about her affliction.

I dipped my toe in the water of new age wanderlust when she shared a book and some video links of channelers she has a high regard for. She thought I might change, and I thought I’d learn something. I was shocked at how embarrassingly bad the book was, how transparently fake the channelers are, and how many followers these channelers have. She took the book back, claiming I wasn’t “open minded” enough to handle it.

But why should I be shocked to find that these channelers have so many followers? They’re using the same formula that every religion has used in the past. Look how huge religions are! Most people fundamentally want to believe there’s life after death. Maybe there is. But “maybe” isn’t good enough for some people. They want to be sure. Religions, mediums, psychics and channelers provide that assurance. Just pull out your credit card and make your reservation at the next conference of everlasting life.

I hope to provide a few stories about my journey as I take this academic approach to the world of nonsense. I’m going to continue to read and watch their videos. I’ll provide specific examples of the laughable nonsense I’ve already discovered. It would be funny if it was just entertainment. It would be OK if the followers were doing it for the same reasons most professional wrestling fans watch the wrestlers’ antics. But it’s not funny, it’s real-life fraud with real-life damage and loss of life. I’ll do what I can to bring the ugly underbelly of this racquet to light.

Want to be a psychic medium?

Please provide your credit card number and expiration date. That’s what my sweetheart recently did. Over a grand for…what? I have no idea. I truly hope it works. There’s no “scientific” proof that it won’t. But there is a ton of evidence that people are making money off of fake psychic/medium services. I prefer to deal in probabilities (“gray areas”) rather than absolutes (“black & white”) in this sort of thing. I believe the most highly-probable result of her 12-session online class will be disappointment that she still isn’t getting messages from the dead.

I got a very clear message from my deceased father-in-law at one point in time about eight years ago. I can’t know if it was from the “other side” or from fabrications and constructs in my own brain/memory. At any rate, it was shocking. I perceived his voice—as if it was out loud and clear as day—saying something to me when I was outdoors, sober, in the middle of the day. While his daughter (my wife) was so excited about my experience and the message I “heard” from him, it makes her that much more disappointed that she’s not hearing from either of her parents.

My science-based, agnostic perspective has me believing the “most probable” reality is that there is no god. If there is a god, I’d like to hear her explain why she’s such an evil bitch. Why does she let so many terrible things happen to the humans and other animals on Earth? My perspective on the credibility of mediums is constantly tainted by the mediums, their deceptive practices, and their cruel manipulation of people with broken hearts, wanting so badly to get in touch with the deceased.

If I’m ultimately wrong about whether there is a god or whether there is actually a legitimate, psychic medium somewhere on this planet, I’ll be delighted. I don’t have a problem with my bride spending money trying to explore this dubious realm. I’ve spent plenty of money on bicycles I don’t need and she’s never said a word about that. It’s this independence and respect for each other’s “right to choose” that keeps us humming along together, happily ever after.

Chemtrails? Really?!

Oh, no. She said it. My wife seriously believes in the chemtrails conspiracy. I wish she hadn’t told me. I like to think she’s smarter than that. I know she believes in a lot of weird stuff, but some of it gets pretty sad and embarrassing (like the snake oil salesmen who change their voices when they are “channeling” Abraham and other spirits who will bring you wisdom no mortal possibly could.) I love my wife dearly, and since she’s the mother of my children, I like to think she’s a pretty smart cookie. (I still believe she is.) But I sure hope she doesn’t share her brilliant ideas with too many people I know.

When I gasped at her revelation [that she thinks that chemtrails are actively being laced overhead] she said I should try to keep an “open mind.” I didn’t bother responding, but personally I think there’s a HUGE difference between (a) believing laughable, unverified, fringe sources spewing BS, and (b) exploring new topics using resources that are generally considered reliable.

Instead of carrying the conversation into what would inevitably become an argument, I just explained that I didn’t think it was a worthwhile discussion. We could probably find much better topics to argue about if we wanted to argue. Fundamentally, with all of her wandering, online, “open-minded” pursuits, I have to decide:

Is this worth arguing about?

The answer is usually “no.” The key caveat is, “Only if it affects the health and wellbeing of our children.” Thank goodness they all moved out before she became more comfortable sharing her “open minded” beliefs in pseudoscience, conspiracy theories, and “spiritual” leaders selling The Secret codes to everlasting life. If she was an anti-vaxxer* and tried to keep our kids from getting vaccinated, that could have been a very serious, heated argument that would really strain our relationship. She would probably stick to her guns and cite all sorts of bad science. She would probably distrust any doctor who disagreed with her, claiming they’re all owned by big pharma and influenced by government mind-control. As this article about a well-publicized anti-vaxxer points out, pseudoscience and conspiracy fans purposely seek out books and websites that support their claims, side-stepping rational input from the scientific community, often because the bogus sources tell everyone that science is tainted or controlled by Big Brother (along with countless other seeds of misguided skepticism). It’s like Donald Trump’s deafening repetition of his phrase, “fake news”! Never mind that he’s a compulsive, pathological liar. All the news he doesn’t like is fake.

I used to also include the caveat, “If it might improve the awareness or health of my wife.” But my dear bride recently told me that she feels that I’m “attacking” her when I send her emails containing information that might not completely align with what she believes in. Her theory as to why she feels like it’s an attack is that she was the baby of her family and her siblings always told her what to do. My theory is that, like anyone, she chooses who to believe in. And as an artist without any formal scientific training, she’s more easily persuaded than convinced. OK, then. End of dialog. While she figures that out, I’m doing my best to stop sending her emails…even the ones that might help her avoid costly quackery so that she might spend her conspiracy-theory-reading time painting, exercising, and generally enjoying a healthy, happy life. It’s her life. She’s a grownup. Now I just send my emails into the ether (this blog) without pissing her off. Then, after getting my concerns off my chest here, I can continue on my happy way without an argument. Relationship saved.

When a persuasive conspiracy theory video hand-picks “evidence” that makes her feel the “science” is bulletproof, she locks in on that belief. She ceases to question her sources once she “believes.” She won’t take a moment to do a search on the legitimacy of her sources. It’s that rock-solid religious mechanism refined by centuries in the Catholic Church and other popular religious cults. Start to believe, keep believing, stop questioning.

I won’t say she’s “gullible” because we all know how clever hackers, entrapment websites and phone solicitors can be. Any one of us can fall for “fake news,” and we need to constantly strive to check our sources. She may not be gullible, but it makes me nervous to think of the things she can be talked into. Once, while she was talking to someone she called after one of the nefarious websites she was visiting claimed she needed to call a technician and pull out her credit card to fix the “virus” that had gotten onto her MacBook, I had to say “hang up now” several times before she finally took my advice.

Chemtrails. That’s a good one. 🤣 I’ll do my best to forget I ever heard her say that. And when I see vapor trails behind a commercial airliner in the sky, I’ll work very hard to keep myself from pointing up and saying to her, “Look honey, chemtrails!”

If YOU get pissed by the emails-to-nowhere written here, feel free to let me know. I had as many older siblings [telling me what to do] as my wife did, but you can tell me what to do all day and I can read/listen without feeling like I’m being attacked. Annoyed, maybe, but that’s something I’m used to.

*She might be, for all I know. I don’t bother asking her because all that would do is plant a seed for a big argument and bring a new wave of disappointment.

Pseudoscience Backed By “Scientific” Research

This article hits the nail on the head in helping to explain how so many “otherwise intelligent” people absolutely believe the conspiracy theories that get propagated on the Internet. Bad interpretation of “sound” research is just one of the many ways that people start to believe complete BS. This Smithsonian article is near and dear to my heart because I spent several years working as a market research professional for large corporations. Fortunately, my clients wanted to know the truth rather than have me and my business partner come up with justification for the client’s story.

There’s no easy way to get around the bad science that “proves” things almost as crazy as the idea (that jumping out of an aircraft with nothing but an empty backpack is as safe as jumping out with a parachute). Why? Because even those people who are willing to read are generally too lazy to question an “authority” once they have developed a tiny bit of trust in the source. There are so many [f*cking crazy] experts with various degrees out there who record enough videos for WooVoodoo followers to believe all their demented, scientifically-supported nonsense.

There’s no easy fix for this problem. But I can say that if you’re a WooVoodoo victim and are OPEN to the possibility that what you just read or watched might not be true, try asking someone who has a great deal of experience in conducting and/or reviewing research to take a look at the research and find the possible key(s) to where the BS part of the conclusions are hidden.

Sadly, many WooVoodoo victims don’t even need to be shown the scientific research. They’ll be happy to believe a story with some doctored or misinterpreted images go along with a conspiracy theory.

In the beginning…

One of the most popular books on the planet begins with those words, “In the beginning…” They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but flattering the bible is not something I want to do now or plan to do in my lifetime. However, beginnings are a crucial part of anything new, whether it’s a child’s life, a large development project, or a blog. This “WooVoodoo.com” blog is a small development project, but I still want to give it some serious thought and ask some basic questions, like “why?” which can help answer other questions like “what?” and “for whom?”

Why?

 

If I’m to choose a short, simple answer to the “why” question, it’s this: I love my wife dearly and care very much for her and about her. I’ll write more about her journey—obviously written from my perspective—in a future blog entry.

That doesn’t provide much insight into my “purpose” in writing here. In fact, one would assume that I’m asking her to read my blog if I’m writing it because I love her. Well, I’m not even telling her about it yet, and I may never tell her.

What?

Have you ever written a letter or email without sending it? That’s sort of what this is. I’m writing here to collect my thoughts. From the name of the blog, you can guess what those thoughts are about, but let’s take this one day at a time. For a proper answer to the “What?” question, one needs to identify the scope. I’ll probably narrow the scope down in the future, but for now the list of topics includes religions and other cults, pseudoscience, conspiracy theories and the people behind them. Through forcing myself to write about these topics, I’ll be forced to study them further.

For Whom?

Let’s face it…a blog that’s supposed to help me collect and analyze my thoughts is primarily for me. While I collect these thoughts, I’m obviously open to sharing them since I’m writing them in a blog. Random visitors from around the world may stumble upon this blog while they’re in search of something, but I’m not seeking them out. If they have thoughts on my writing, I welcome inputs and might reply as well. That would be a nice fringe benefit of the public view. In fact, maybe someday this blog will get traction, visitors, and lots of discussion and feedback. That would mean that perhaps my love and care for my wife might spill over and benefit the lives of others.

But wait!

If you’re a “connect the dots” kind of person, you might be thinking, “How is this going to do anything for your wife if you don’t share it with her?” Honestly, I don’t think she’d take very kindly to this level of investigation and repudiation. I don’t want this to turn into a public marital battle. It doesn’t need to be. Our kids are grown up so we don’t need to debate the vaccine question. Thankfully her pursuit of alternate realities was not so far along back then. If it was, that would have been a hell of a fight because we’re both inclined to fight for what we believe in. So I plan to learn and sort out a LOT while strategically sharing only “gem” findings that might illuminate her understanding and interpretation.

How?

Whether in my blog entries or my discussions with others, I’ll do my best to avoid “judging” people. I hope to express my thoughts with love and compassion, which isn’t necessarily my native style, which can be brash with lame attempts to be humorous. I’ll try to steer away from unprovable rebuttals, which generally apply to anything “spiritual.” I won’t try to deny anyone’s feelings. They know how they feel better than I ever could. What I will NOT steer away from are scam artists who are clearly deceiving people or leading them to believe things that are objectively ridiculous.

OK, let’s go!

This will have to do as my “straw dog” framework for my new blog. I’m wishing me luck and the drive to persevere.