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.

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