What are conspiracy theories? How to discern the truth

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Part 3 of 3—What is spirituality? What are the  ties between spirituality and conspiracy theories?

Suzanne Guillette is with me to talk through this final portion of our spirituality series. As an intuitive, empath, and astrologer, Suzie explores the unknown on a regular basis, and yet she maintains a firm belief in her values and discerns truth impeccably. The topic of the day is conspiracy theories, and it’s an intriguing conversation… to say the least! 

Let’s dive in… 

Spirituality is an expansive way of thinking about the world and the interconnections between us, both visible and invisible connections. Sometimes exploring or exercising spirituality takes a leap of faith. 

Conspiracy theories usually have a few kernels of truth that are woven into a dramatic narrative—the result of which is confusion and mistrust. Some conspiracy theories are about the rich and famous. Some involve government-related tales of underhanded dealings. Over the last decade, government-related “conspiracy theories” that have been proven true include the CIA lying about having weapons of mass destruction in the early 2000’s or experimenting with mind control in the 1960’s. 

Most recently, because pharmaceutical companies have not been transparent about the preservatives and contents in vaccines, this has led to uncertainty about vaccines being connected to autism. It is true that pharmaceutical companies have not been forthright about what is in many of their products. But this has now been manipulated into theories claiming that vaccines are  a “plot” by the government to implant a microchip to track us! 

The hard part of conspiracies are when you hear these real-life examples of greed, manipulation and betrayal of the public, seeds of mistrust are planted.  Then confirmation bias kicks in and you begin connecting data in a way that reinforces that cynicism. Eventually you don’t know who or what to believe. 

Similar to the uncertainty of conspiracy theories, when we enter into the spiritual realm, we also need to take a leap of faith to explore the unknown. Spirituality is different when it is grounded in trust, faith and hope—when It’s a lived experience that illuminates our commonalities, love and the greater interconnectedness of humanity, the planet and beyond.

Why aren’t humans trustworthy? Well, when you look back at history, humans don’t always tell the truth—especially if telling the truth could be viewed negatively  or come at a cost (lose respect, lose their position or their freedom). Trusted spiritual leaders and shady government officials have fallen prey to human greed and corruption—for example, just reflect on certain leaders of the CIA and the Catholic Church!

The internet, our global information superhighway, allows  news to travel fast (and bad or dramatic news travels even faster!). While this incredible technology has provided instant access across the world, the lack of verification and manipulation of data has led people to struggle with trusting our institutions. 

People who have experienced trauma or struggled with authority, they may struggle with trusting other people before they experience healing. Verbal or physical abuse, shaming, and other forms of trauma—it’s difficult to enter into a place of trust ever again. So learning to exercise self-trust and then find trustworthy people to have in your life can help you learn to trust again and discern truth more easily. 

 

HERE’S OUR CONVERSATION: 

Doctor Neha Sangwan: So welcome. And we’re glad you’re here to join us. This is part three of three vlogs, where we’re exploring what is spirituality? What is spirituality? And how do you make decisions when you don’t know whether something’s true or not? 

How do you explore the unknown? And who do you trust yourself to do that with? How do you make decisions when someone wants to introduce you to something that seems unfamiliar or unsure to you? And today, we’re going to talk about what we’ve already spoken about spirituality. We’ll give you a little summary of that. And we’re going to move into Are there any ties or themes that we see with spirituality and conspiracy theories? 

I have a special guest, Suzie, if you’ve been following along, you’ve already met her. But for those of you that are joining us, today, I’d like to introduce my friend Suzannewelcome.

Suzanne Guillette: Thank you. I’m glad to be here.

Doctor Neha: So what did we say spirituality was?

Suzie: A sense of feeling connected to something larger than ourselves, which you know, we can experience in nature and may call the “divine.” You talked about love being a very important component of spirituality.

Doctor Neha: Yeah, when I need hope, like, when I need faith, when I need hope, when I need to believe in that the world is good, that I need to be believing something bigger than myself. Mm hmm. I connect to nature too. Yeah, absolutely. So what? Now let’s get into this juicy topic of you know, I think the other thing before we move on, I want to say is it’s spiritual spirituality is often an expansive way of thinking about the world and those interconnections whether they’re visible or invisible, between us, we also spoke about how sometimes, I mean, it takes a leap of faith and sometimes it manifests as religion. So some people have a community a book, you know, that that is how they define their faith. And then there’s ways that spirituality has been misused whether it be examples in the Catholic Church, or you know, in yoga communities, sometimes people form communities of spirituality called and they’re essentially cults that then have abuse and get taken too far. What do you see tell me about conspiracy theories and, and the rise of conspiracy theories what you believe about that because this isn’t new.

Suzie: Right, right. Conspiracy Theory? Well, it’s a big topic. It’s a it’s an interesting topic, I think, you know, I had a several years ago, I was working on a screenplay with a friend of mine. And it involved a president who was secretly consulting and astrologer. And then of course, 2016 came along, and we were like, This isn’t even weird anymore. You know, sort of, like all these things that were unimaginable, just seemed kind of mundane. So we abandoned it. But as part of our research for that we got, you know, I learned a lot about conspiracy theories, you know, meaning like the government behaving in an underhanded way that they’re not, you know, doing one cent thing behind the scenes communicating something else, to the public, the undermining of public trust.

Doctor Neha: Exactly.

Suzie: Yes. And that is, that is does seem to be what it really boils down to. And I think right now, obviously, there’s a lot, they have a more of like a center stage. But there’s a lot to unpack in this conversation. Because when you think about it, there are examples that are proven, were something that, you know, at the time would have been thought of as nuts or conspiracy theory that was later proven to be true. You know,

Doctor Neha: Example…

Suzie: Well, like the CIA having a Mind Control Program, are the weapons of mass destruction of mass destruction, there’s a lot, there’s probably a lot more than I can even think of right now. But so, you know, and that’s come up, I think, probably, most recently with vaccines, right? That there’s like a secret plot with vaccines,

Doctor Neha: Right, that Bill Gates is putting info into all of us and tracking us. And so you know, this idea. This,

Suzie: You know, crazy just sounds so crazy, but sorry…

Doctor Neha: So I think this idea that’s really important is, you know, in spirituality, we are discussing spirituality. There is an element of being willing to explore the unknown, to have a discussion and talk about mystery or things we don’t know for sure. Things we are trying to create meaning around ponder with. I think what we’re really talking about here is there’s an intention underneath that we need to sort out which we’re going to do in a minute. But or at least explore it because we don’t, it’s not like we have all the answers. But what you’re really saying is sometimes there’s oftentimes, there’s a kernel of truth to what’s being said. And when you take that kernel of truth, and people’s fear gets fueled into that kernel of truth, it can sometimes take on a very exaggerated experience story, alternate reality, whatever that is. So it’s almost like there’s an important there’s, we’ve been given reason. In the past, if we study history, to say, humans don’t always tell the truth, especially when they think they’re gonna get in trouble, go to jail, lose power, whatever the motivation that’s speaking to the underlying motivation. 

Oftentimes, something is believable when it has that kernel of truth. And then if you can figure out a way to tap into fears that people have, you can take that kernel of truth and take it on this whole ride. That turns it into something that is not true. But started off with some version of truth. And I think that’s the hard part to unravel.

Suzie: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I think just in general, that, you know, there’s been a massive erosion of trust in our institutions. Over the last several years, like massive I think we saw that at the outset of the pandemic,

Doctor Neha: Years ago with Enron and accounting firms and right, like, you start to see that around people making more money, gaining power, right. There’s some intention there that they’re looking for, to be accepted, right? To get fame, to get recognition and attention, right. There’s many, many reasons

Suzie: I was thinking a friend of mine just sent me I mean, there’s an erosion of trust an example of eroded trust today with the CDC recently shortening the quarantine guidelines, and there’s some hilarious memes on the internet. But you know, like CDC shortens isolation From requirements to whatever your boss needs, CDC says go ahead and get banks. CDC says you can stop isolating if the vibes are off. And it’s all funny. And you know, we know the internet, endless, boundless creativity. 

But it does speak to this is the Center for Disease Control. And the fact, you know that that, to me, that reflects that we don’t trust our institute, there’s a secret, we have a serious problem with trusting our institutions. And I think conspiracy theories are on, you know, one manifestation of that, you know, but I think it’s definitely true. Like, and there’s, you know, I guess, just speaking in broadest terms, in some cases, good reason not to trust.

Doctor Neha: And I think a lot of this was literally and figuratively blown up, and nine 911, when we watch our own planes, run into our own buildings with our own people on them. Mm hmm. The unbelievable becomes real. Mm hmm. And I think of this as a doctor, I think of it as an autoimmune disease in Turkey, and so it’s all connected. So I have had an autoimmune experience within myself, and I think it reflects how I’ve lived my life, by the way, I have done a lot of work to learn how to care for other people who are ill. Mm hmm. While at the same time completely ignoring my own food, sleep well being. Mm hmm. I spent a lot of time on mental, emotional, social, spiritual health, and other people’s physical health, but I was missing the piece of taking care of myself. 

When I had these food sensitivities, and developed, you know, some skin lesions, and I moved into the unknown, because some doctors were trying to get me to put on steroid cream. You know, everyone had a theory about how and what this was right? I took a biopsy of it, it wasn’t cancer, it was a side effect that usually occurs when someone has an autoimmune disease. And so I had to go into the unknown to explore what that was, everyone’s giving me their own opinions. Right. But in moments of the unknown, you’ve only got you. Right, right. When the world is giving you a that’s why leaders who bring in a diverse group of leaders around them, I always know they’re the strongest ones. Mm hmm. Because they can heat they want to hear everybody’s opinion. Mm hmm. 

And then they land on their own intuition, given all that different data. Mm hm. Right. And so in this experience of the auto immune, so I think there was a time when we looked at terrorists out in the world as other. I think 911 changed that. And it came home. out it was in our own backyard, it was in our own country. Then it became about those Muslims. So now you’re like, you’re really we’re elating, alienating a billion people, and putting them all into this pot. Of we don’t trust you, we don’t believe you. Now, all of a sudden, they’re our neighbors. They are our friends. They’re the people we’ve grown up with. They’re the people we go, you know, who watch our children. So now all of a sudden, we’ve “othered” them. 

And I think that is how we start to separate ourselves from each other. Yes. And so that has only grown over time, when we start to make cohorts of people because of the color of their skin different than us other than other than us, when we start to say if you’re not our religion, you’re not us. You’re not our if you weren’t born in the United States, you’re not us. Right? To me, when we spoke spoke about spirituality. What I love about it is, when I use it, I use it as a way to see how we’re all connected. Mm hmm. And the underlying intention there for me around hope around faith around belief around something bigger than me. Mm. enters and I see the interconnectedness to me there’s trust and love there has to come from inside me to see it through that lens. In conspiracy theories. I’m curious what you think about some of them are being some of them are true. Some of them are a kernel of truth. but have, you know some other things kind of packaged with them? Some of them are kernel of truth that have now been exaggerated and exploded into something ridiculous, ridiculous or unbelievable. Right? And, you know, what’s the what? What would be some of the intentions underneath how that could actually happen?

Suzie: Yeah, that’s a great question. I mean, I should make the disclaimer that I’m not an expert on conspiracy theories, but I will share an observation that emerged out of the research that I was doing for the now defunct screenplay. But you know, at the time, so my friend and I were having a ball, like thinking about all these possibilities, and, and so and we were looking at, like, the whole gamut to, you know, books from reputable publishers to like, the worst of the internet, you know, nothing like things that you can’t verify and all kinds of crazy stuff. 

And it was, you know, I have to say, My jaw dropped at some of them where I like, as an artist, I felt completely not creative. Like, wow, so JFK Jr. is living in a bunker and running the country from, you know, like, how to, like, my mind was blown, like, how do people come up with this stuff? And so so there was a, I had a real curiosity, like, what is this all about? And at the time, I was, you know, I had a close family member who was in the middle of a terrible health crisis, and she had a terminal illness. And so I was very raw personally. And a lot of old trauma started to come up for me at that time, like, very kind of subtly, and then not so subtly. 

And anyway, I just remember, because there was a point where I thought, is this really for research? Or am I? What am I? What am I trying to get out of this? You know, like, do I want to find out that certain things are true, or find the truth of something, which was completely related to my trauma? Because there, you know, I had an early experience of a total disconnect between what was presented and what was actually happening. Like meaning in, you know, in my home, so there was always

Doctor Neha:That’s secrets.

Suzie: The secrets, yes.

Doctor Neha: People are asked to keep secrets. And I have to say it’s one of the heaviest burdens that someone needs that someone carries.

Suzie: Absolutely, absolutely. It’s completely destructive. And, and a lot of people can relate to that. I know that. But so in, you know, I, the, the sort of point of curate, my point of curiosity was like, this is

Doctor Neha: This is you not knowing what’s true now? Like, well, well, you know, it’s true, but someone’s telling you that not say that it’s true…

Suzie: In thinking in thinking about it in like just delving deeper into the world. I wouldn’t say that I ever believed the JFK was in a bunker, you know, so it wasn’t that I was I meant your own experience. 

Doctor Neha: Yeah, no, no. When you’re, when you’re little, and someone tells you, you can’t say that, or that isn’t true, or that didn’t happen, or whatever it is. It’s like, it’s very confusing.

Suzie: Absolutely. Well, this, you know, comes back completely shatters self trust, because and especially, you know, kids are knowing they know, when something’s off, they know what they see. They have a filter, they don’t have a filter, and they have a lot more intelligence, and, you know, intuitive knowing, I think, then adults tend to give them credit for, I guess, in certain circumstances. 

But so yeah, so there’s, there’s this broken self trust, and that was, you know, what I really came to, with the, like, diving into this conspiracy theory world, I thought, oh my gosh, like the part of this that I find intriguing. It’s like, here is all this proof, or here is a school of thought that is somehow confirming that, that people can’t be trusted that the world’s not trustworthy, you know, all these messages that for me came from my early childhood. 

And so I would never venture to guess that everybody who believed or who delves into that world for whatever reason, whether believe or just curious, falls into that category, but for me, I can say that, that that was I think that that was kind of the why I felt compelled by that topic. Because I was just looking for company, you know, d and this is all I was not conscious about that. But, um, but that was the thing that made the most sense to me, like, oh, here is so the world is not you know, especially Like around government conspiracies, you know, and it just, it gets it’s super, I mean, for me, I gave up the research, we dropped the screenplay. But it became very toxic, because then the world is not a safe place like nothing is safe, which was, you know, again, a repeat of childhood.

Doctor Neha: So thinking about how unhealed trauma can trigger you into that lack of safety. Yeah. And then when you’re in a space of fear, and you don’t think you can trust your environment, it becomes essential space where now you don’t trust yourself. And so now you’re going to put your faith and belief into the things around you. Whatever people are saying whatever they’re doing, right. This is the idea of being gaslit has certainly come up much more commonly, over the past few years. And I think the important place to ground yourself that you’re speaking about is then finding a community of people who believe like you do. Right, exactly. And, and I have to say, I have seen this in, in coaching. So I don’t think this is isolated to you by any means. But I have really seen a pattern where unhealed trauma can result in shattered trust. And in that space, a search for belonging.

Suzie: Absolutely. Yeah, Lee, there’s an amazing book, which I think I’ve mentioned this to you before. Pete Walker, who’s a therapist wrote a book called CPS D, which stands for complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, from surviving to thriving, and he, it’s an excellent book, excuse me. I know it’s dry. But in it, he talks a lot about that shattered trust. And, and for a lot of times, people who have experienced early trauma, a way to build that trust before even you know, with another human being like a therapist might be to strengthen, like your spiritual trust, whether that’s in the universe, and how, and I mean, that really resonated with me, when I read that.

Doctor Neha: The healing would begin, you know, if someone’s experienced physical abuse, verbal abuse shaming, in their childhood, it’s a tough place to ask them to go back into their physical body to trust. Mm hmm. Because that is often the place that was violated, right. And so I like how you’re saying, sometimes, you know, finding a group of people you can trust, finding a friend, finding, finding something where you can, you can touch down and feel grounded, in order to then gently find your way back into trusting yourself is really important. 

You know, another way and intention that people build these kinds of, let’s just call them alternate realities, is when they feel not worthy, worthless, not up to par. And in that space, want to bring attention to themselves. That’s the fame piece of it, that’s the socially wanting to feel approval from others. It’s kind of an endless, it’s kind of like holding a coffee cup with a hole at the bottom, every time you keep pick up, it just keeps emptying. So there’s no end to their need for attention, or their need for being noticed. And I think that manifests in many ways, certainly on the internet and certain ways that people show up how they portray themselves etc. 

I also have noticed in my life, that, you know, people can take a kernel of truth and maximize it or minimize it to create humor, which brings attention back to them. Right. So if I am, you know, let’s say, I am tall and skinny, growing up, I might be 13 years old. Somebody turning that into you are skinnier than olive oil, and your pants are shorter than you know, than a three year olds and you look like like taking Yeah, my my pants probably were short because I grew four inches that summer. Right.

So I probably do have floods going on. Um, but the exaggeration the maximization or minimization of the truth is another way that you take a kernel of the truth and you turn it into something that allows you to to shame somebody else, make them bad or wrong. mock them. Yeah. That to be very different, then a type of humor that’s about how interesting and surprising and sometimes hilarious it is just to be alive. Yeah, and all the different incidences and the places we the things we experienced, the people we experience, and just how the synchronicities of life and the lack of them turn into something funny and amusing. Yes. So I was thinking, as you were speaking about the ways we use a kernel of truth, to change reality, and the intentions beneath why we might do that. 

And I think probably one of the biggest things I’ve learned in my life is not just to pay attention, and trust what someone’s saying. But understand beneath that, why they’re saying it. Yeah. What’s the motivation? Ask yourself that,  or if you notice that something’s a little off, or ask the person if you can ask the person, get curious about it. But there’s a way to bring ourselves back. And it’s going to involve each one of us building more self trust? Yes. Because I can only trust you to the degree to which I trust me. Yep. Yep. And if you don’t trust yourself, you’ve had a trauma, you’ve had something devastating in your past that has been really hard to recover from, find someone you can trust. Mm hmm. That’s the first place to go. And, you know, I think that all of these experiences in our world are symptoms. And the question is, are we going to make them wrong or bad? Are we going to listen to what they’re trying to tell us about ourselves as individuals, about us as a community and us as a larger world?

Suzie: Absolutely. And I think if you, you know, to circle back to spirituality, I mean, not one, not a single person alive has the whole truth. We all have pieces of, I believe, divine truth that come through us. And I don’t know, I mean, I’m endlessly fascinated by the ways that people think about a lot of, you know, all kinds of people from all different backgrounds and belief systems and political affiliations. And, you know, I don’t know, I guess I don’t really have the answers. But to think about it in the larger context of, yeah, this is a really fascinating time we’re in what, what is the higher purpose of all this was to learn from but first to learn instead of needing to be right, or needing or you know, or slipping into mocking, you know, or, or mean spirited humor? But, yeah, what are we supposed to be learning here?

Doctor Neha: I think that’s a great place to end. I hope you’ve gotten some expansion of thought, at least you’ve gotten to hear our versions of this. If you don’t have someone in your life that you feel you can have these conversations with, just know that we would love to answer them here as well. We’d love to engage in a dialogue with you. 

So thank you, Suzie, thank you for your time for your wisdom for your energy and your openness and sharing about topics that none of us have the answers. The answers to but many of us have thoughts on have pondered this. I have seen patterns and are willing to share our opinion about the world that we live in. 

Thanks, everybody.

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