STDecodingtheGurusFINAL SUMMARY KEYWORDS podcast, weinstein, good, gurus, conspiracy, jordan peterson, brett, joe rogan, listening, eric, academic, point, absolutely, mongering, guru, theory, academia, problem, people, claims SPEAKERS Matt Browne, Chris Cavanaugh, Stephen Bradford Long
Stephen Bradford Long 00:00 You're listening to a rock candy podcast this is sacred tension, the podcast about the discipline of asking questions. My name is Steven Bradford long, and we are here on the rock candy Podcast Network. For more shows like this one, go to rock candy recordings.com All right. Well as always, before we get started, I have to thank my patrons my patrons are the people who charitably make sure that I don't resort to selling my own internal organs on the street to fund my crippling content creation addiction. So if you want to make sure that I don't do horrible things on the street, like selling my own Adrenochrome then please go to patreon.com forward slash Steven Bradford long for just $1 a month you get extra content every single week including my house of heretics podcast with the former Salvation Army officer turned Christian Herrick, heretic Timothy McPherson, so for this week, I have to think Wednesday Rach Kane Nevermore Scott Varney de naam, and ven winter. Thank you so much. I truly could not do this without you. Now, there are other ways to support the show. And one of the best ways is to just leave a five star review on Apple podcasts that tells our digital overlords that the show is worth sharing with others. So here is a short five star review from someone in the United States. They say so many reasons. To love this podcast, amazing guests thought provoking Stevens soothing voice and humor, but you will have to check it out for yourself very sweet. And finally, I have to thank my sponsor, which is the satanic temple.tv. The Satanic Temple has an incredibly creative and interesting community. So if you're interested in the occult and live streams and lectures and live rituals and feature length films about weird things like trepanation, or the life of Anton LaVey, then go to the satanic temple.tv And you get one month free using my promo code, sacred tension all caps, no space. Well with all of that finally, out of the way, I'm delighted to welcome the hosts of my new favorite podcast decoding the Guru's Chris Cavanaugh and Matt Browne. Welcome to the show, guys.
Matt Browne 02:35 Thanks, Stephen. Good to be here.
Chris Cavanaugh 02:37 Hello, Steven.
Stephen Bradford Long 02:38 So tell us some about who you are and what you do.
Chris Cavanaugh 02:42 Well, thank you. Thank you.
Stephen Bradford Long 02:46 Okay, I have to say by the way on that note, Matt, you are uncomfortably good looking.
Matt Browne 02:54 You are music to my ears. See my, how uneven see my body don't like
Stephen Bradford Long 03:01 so on the show. Your it's always like, oh, you know, Matt's the elder. Matt is Matt is the senior in the room. And you're on camera right now. And I'm like Jesus Christ. He looks like he's in his, like, early 40s Like what's going on? He looks look gorgeous. Early 40s Yeah. It's the Audrina Chrome
Matt Browne 03:23 47. So it's not too far off. I'm a 47 year old with a body of a 45 year old it's just
Stephen Bradford Long 03:32 Okay, so like all the all the talk about you being so much older I was. I was like, oh, you know, he must be in like his 60s or whatever. And then you get on camera. And I'm like, this is a very good looking 60 year old. Anyway,
Matt Browne 03:46 Chris will have his fun. Yeah. Um, so I'm a professor at Central Queensland University in Australia. And my original background in psychology, but I work in statistics and I've worked across a bunch of disciplines, including stuff involving strange beliefs like anti Vax belief in the supernormal the paranormal, that kind of thing. And yeah, that kind of led me to link up with Chris to get into the Guru's
Stephen Bradford Long 04:14 amazing and Chris.
Chris Cavanaugh 04:15 Yeah, it's okay Steven, you don't need to tell the listeners how handsome I am. It's so i will i
Stephen Bradford Long 04:21 do have you have a gorgeous goatee? You have that sumptuous Northern Irish accent? I want you to read me Oscar Wilde as I'm going to bed at night.
Chris Cavanaugh 04:34 I think the Northern Irish accent is distinctive. At least it has like going for it. But yeah, so I'm, I'm originally from Northern Ireland. I'm currently living in Japan. And like Matt, I'm an academic living in my ivory tower. I am an associate professor in the Psychology Department in Japan but I have a dual appointment at Oxford as a researcher and I work in the kind of area between cognitive anthropology and social psychology and primarily focus on ritual psychology or the cognitive science of religion area. But I've also had fairly decades long my interest in conspiracy theorists and alternative health communities and, and it probably sprung out of, you know, interested in rationalism and skepticism and those kinds of atheism movements allow some of the machine have come off in recent years, but yeah, so so that's my background in a nutshell.
Stephen Bradford Long 05:44 Awesome. How would you describe decoding the Guru's the podcast? I love that. I love to just like you, you got this one?
Matt Browne 05:54 Okay, we have this problem with turn taking whenever either we both want to talk or neither of us do. I forgotten the question. What was it again? Steven, how
Stephen Bradford Long 06:04 would you? How do you describe decoding the gurus, the podcast?
Matt Browne 06:09 Okay, so we were hanging out on Twitter, listening to podcasts as one does, and noticing that there were a bunch of these characters that were sometimes involved in culture war type stuff, they often seem to have, like a, like a, like a special iconoclastic, idiosyncratic worldview. They seem to be superduper, confident about their point of view, and everyone else was wrong. And they seem to inspire this great loyalty and affection amongst their viewers. So they were a bit different from your typical academic or journalist or public commentator. So that led us to start to look for commonalities between them.
Stephen Bradford Long 07:00 Yeah, so I think that Sorry, go on, Chris.
Chris Cavanaugh 07:03 Now, I was just gonna add that if we sort of like Matt and I as, as the academic types, were initially planning to write an article together on the topic, and then the idea for punk podcast spawn out of those conversations, but the one of the distinctive things that we were interested in was, like my indicated, the people in this space, what we refer to as secular gurus, they kind of fell outside the topic that had been like, had existing research had looked at, which would be your kind of more traditional religious gurus, or if you're self help style gurus, or cult leaders, because the people we were interested in kind of didn't fall into those traditional roles, like they didn't have, you know, compounds with devoted followers or that kind of thing. So it's partly an internet phenomenon. But also, the fact that they were offering primarily secular philosophies was was part of what was interesting to us,
Stephen Bradford Long 08:07 right? So the kind of people you're talking about, are people like Jordan Peterson, or the Weinstein Brothers, Brett and Eric Weinstein, or James Lindsay, like, very, very online. And it isn't right to just call them public intellectuals. Like when I think of a public intellectual, I think of someone like, you know, I don't know Steven Pinker, who, regardless of whether, you know, regardless of what someone thinks about his takes, the kind of people you're talking about, it's like a bit different. And so you come up, you came up with this scale that you call the girl ometer. And the first point on the barometer to identify the this new kind of Guru, like this internet age Guru is galaxy, Galaxy brain. Vnus. What is galaxy? Brainless?
Matt Browne 09:05 Yeah. Um, yeah. So it's good to talk about the grommet, um, one little note, just before we do, which has been on our, on our show, we, you know, we cast a pretty broad net. So we cover a bunch of people, and we kind of apply the barometer to them, or, you know, which we use as just a helpful framework to try to identify these sorts of themes which are a little bit unhelpful, toxic, misleading, so not everyone, everyone we cover, we necessarily think has problems, but those people you mentioned Well, we think they have problems Yeah.
Stephen Bradford Long 09:43 And and I think that I am the target audience for your show. Like someone like me, is the target audience for your show where you know, I'm, I'm fairly well read but I don't have any form All training in anything, I'm drawn to academia, but I don't work in academia. I like thinking, and I like conversation. And I'm also drawn to outsiders. And so I'm, I'm always intrigued by, say, a Jordan Peterson or by a Brett Weinstein, who kind of has this idiosyncratic approach. And that just like hits all my buttons, and then it usually takes me a really long time. In some cases a really long time. I feel like I'm getting better at this. Sometimes it takes me less of a long time to figure out oh, there's actually something wrong here like with with Brett Weinstein. Yes, sir. Go on. Sorry, stepping finish. Go ahead. Well, you know, like, for example, with Brett Weinstein ice, I started listening to his Dark Horse podcast. And by the way, dear listeners, we're going to be deep in the internet sub culture weeds here. And so but hopefully, even if you don't know, these specific people we're talking about the principles will still broadly apply and you'll still be able to get something from the principles we're talking about. So don't be too stressed out if you don't know exactly who we're talking about. But so I think in 2020, I started listening to Brett Weinstein, his Dark Horse podcast, and I was like, okay, you know, this is interesting. He's, he's, I don't know what I think of everything. But you know, he has that kind of soothing baritone, monotone voice and it's nice to listen to while I go running. And I knew about his evergreen incident. And so I had that in the back of my mind as always, you know, he's he's one of those like, online free speech Bros. and I eventually it took me a while to realize like, Oh, he's like peddling anti Vax stuff, and edit it. But it was the veneer of intellectualism. It was the veneer of intellectualism and outsider dumb, all of the things that really, really appealed to me that really appeal to guys like me, and for whatever reason, I think it is mostly guys. And so yeah, I think that I am part of the target audience for decoding the gurus and your podcast and the grommet or had been very, very helpful for me, and kind of thinking through this stuff. Because all of the people who I just mentioned James Lindsay, the Weinstein Brothers and Jordan Peterson, I've had a dalliance with each one of them, to a certain degree, right. So anyway, that's like some of my background.
Chris Cavanaugh 12:44 One thing to mention on that, Steven, is that both Matt and I recognize that there is genuinely appealing parts about the content, you know, whether it be Jordan Peterson offering, you engage in analysis of the Bible, or if in the case of Brett Weinstein, you know, talking about evolutionary psychology, and there is occasions where they give decent summaries about topics. But what Mark and I noticed was that there was a particular episode is the first episode that we covered on the podcast where Eric Weinstein interviewed his brother, Brett Weinstein and Eric Weinstein, is someone who like kind of claims to be a theoretical physicist, last mathematician with a theory of everything. And his brother is somebody who rose to prominence through kind of high profile, cancellation event at the Evergreen College, which I think a lot of people will be familiar with, but But since then, you know, has gone on to promote what he presents as an evolutionary lens to understand, you know, the culture wars and modern politics and so on. And they did this episode, I think, was absolutely a thing of the portal, which was Eric's podcast, where Brett spotlight over the course of two to three hours, this very epic story about him uncovering a crucial defect in the genetics of lab mice that undermines the CFT for the entire drug enterprise, at least in the United States. And that it was, like his, his insight was suppressed, shut down by, you know, the corrupt academia and the powers that be and then his insights actually went on to be stolen and repackaged by a Nobel Prize winner. Right? So it's really, you know, if if
Stephen Bradford Long 14:37 "Big, if true." Yes, exactly.
Chris Cavanaugh 14:40
But, but what my and I noticed and listening to that is like, actually the presentation of it was very good. Like if you even in my case, listening to it, you know, it sound persuasive, and it did sound like there was a miss justice that has been carried out, but the only thing that that served as a kind of inoculation from their narrative was that if you're familiar with the academic journals and the procedures they're describing, you realize that a lot of what they're saying is actually highly conspiratorial, not accurate, right? Like they present getting rejected that nature, one of the leading scientific journals as like a kind of a big deal and something that signifies a problem and 70% of papers that best projected at nature. So it is not an unusual occurrence, even if your paper was very good, but they take it, as you know, and the fairies and the various thing, and so on. So all of which is the mentioned that I think what Matt and I hope with the podcast is that we're not saying anybody that gets taken in by secular gurus or whatever is like an easy rube. It's more that they, they do what they do, they tend to do quite well. And for me, it often looks like they're providing a facsimile of academic academia and of kind of critical thinking, which is persuasive, but ultimately, kind of intellectual empty calories. And I, I think, Mark and I, we have a lot of issues with, you know, there's lots of criticisms that you can level with academia that are that are valid, including, you know, the way that, especially at the psychology discipline, but one thing that academia does good, is instill critical thinking and an ability to, like, accept criticism, and to engage critically with material and that being the norm. And that's what we tried to do with these secular gurus and culture war figures, we're kinda trying to do an academic, the construction or review, but obviously, you know, with with humor and and our personalities are more on display than they would be in an academic review. And by the back kind of academic approach to the material. So so it's good to hear that's, that's kind of where it lands. The Grotto is not like a scientific, you know, validating thing or anything like that. Just just like a, a bunch of features that are good to think about. And, like, you can even view them as warning flags that if you see them recurring in the people that you're looking at, you should you know, you should just be cautious. I think that's what we would advise.
17:29 Absolutely, no, and I love that your approach isn't like all or nothing. It isn't, you know, the time to burn the gurus like let's build a pyre and burn the witches. It isn't that but it also isn't no there. There are above criticism, it it's more just like treating them as human beings who have thoughts who have ideas, and you need to criticize them. And that's great. That's part of the process. So I really appreciate that approach. So with that background, let's get into some of the characteristics of a guru and talk about ways in which they are applied to to real life situations. So Galaxy brainless, what is Galaxy brainless?
Matt Browne 18:18 Okay, so this was a bit of a tongue in cheek reference to the Tim and Eric, you know, mind expanding thing, of course, and I think that's an excellent metaphor for, for what a lot of them do, like you'll see this sort of deep sounding links between stuff like these disparate concepts like it could be between quantum mechanics and the nature of consciousness and how we should organize society or in the case of Brett Weinstein and Heather hanging, they will they will quite explicitly talk about how you can take this evolutionary perspective and use it to understand you know, virtually anything now you know, another great example of Galaxy brainless, I think is Jordan Peterson's diagrams that
19:08 I was just about to bring that up i i haven't read his I've read his two most recent books the 24 rules total and but I haven't read the first one yet and that's the one with all the crazy diagrams and I look at them and I'm just like, What the fuck is going on?
Matt Browne 19:26 Look, I could heuristic is is that if your scientific diagram contains a chaos dragon then
19:33 so or you know, I remember watching a lecture by Jordan Peterson several years ago and he was talking about how this ancient Chinese symbol of to God two gods and you Chris, you are nodding you know what
Chris Cavanaugh 19:52 this is so the to know the helix. Yeah, representation. Yeah. Well, he
19:56 said that these two gods which are in a spiral that that is actually an ancient rendition of the double helix of DNA. And he just said this, it and, you know, he was so he was doing this, like in depth union analysis of this symbol. And then he was like, No, we know that this is very unusual. But that's, that's an unusually, you know, that's how I always hear him like a very, very high pitched voice. But though he was he was like, No, I, I know that this is, I know that this is very unusual. But I really believe that this is a representation of the double helix DNA. So that, and he just said it, and then just went on. And I was like, wait, what, that I don't like all of these connections between different things. That is what you are calling Galaxy brain,
Chris Cavanaugh 20:55 I think in the case of Jordan talking about that, like the potential for ancient societies to have intuitively represented the structure of DNA. Like, it's it is like you say that the then it's on to the next idea, before you know the head, you have time to draw a graph. And there is another example where there were him and Brett Weinstein were discussing the hospitals, and whether they result in more deaths overall than them helping people, right, which isn't an extreme claim, but they they kind of throw it out there. And then they move on, and they'll never, you know, return to it or check. And Brad said something along the lines of is, you know, if it the fact that and I don't know, he or Jordan said, I don't know if that's true. But it could be true. And Brad said the fact that you can even do even might be possible, is astounding. And just like which you haven't done the work the show, it actually is possible because it isn't possible from the people who've looked at. I think that picking you know, from a constellation of topics is what we wanted to get out with the Galaxy brand. And the alo just thing to note in passing. Steven is, as you noted, when Jordan talks about those things, he will often say, just very quickly, no, of course, this is speculative. We don't have the evidence.
22:29 Or my favorite is he says, Now this is very complicated. And I don't have time to get to why I think this right now. But anyway, go on. Yes.
Chris Cavanaugh 22:38 And that those those are, we have referred to them as strategic disclaimers. Like it's good to put disclaimers and when you're talking, but there's also a way in which you can use them, where they're designed to deflect criticism where you can point them, you know, if somebody says, Well, you were speculating that ancient people knew about the structure of DNA and you say, Hold on, I just said, you know, this is just an idea for that I'm having in the moment. And there. Yeah, it can I think that can get some people the difference between strategic disclaimers and genuine disclaimer, yes.
Stephen Bradford Long 23:16 Sorry, go on. Go on, Matt.
Matt Browne 23:17 I think you can identify the strategic disclaim, but when they, they throw it in there, and like Chris says, they just move on and proceed to build upon it as if it were definitely true. And yeah, that kind of building cloud cloud castles is a is a thing we see.
Stephen Bradford Long 23:36 Is it kind of? So it sounds like a similar strategy to Oh, I'm just asking questions. Let's just have fun. Let's just ask questions here. And like Joe Rogan does that all the time, where he's like, that could be perfectly possible, let's just explore this possibility. And then he he conducts the entire interview as if it is, in fact true, that, you know, vaccines are you know that the COVID vaccines are ineffective and causing blood clots or whatever, whatever the fuck it is.
Matt Browne 24:08 Yeah, that's Yeah, that's exactly right. And the subjective experience of listening to all of that, because as you mentioned that they're very eloquent. They're very loquacious. And the ideas are coming thick and fast. Yeah. And if you engage with them in a relaxed, casual, kind of non critical kind of way, which is, let's face it, that's how that's how we all tend to engage with a lot of content, including myself, then it just kind of flows over you. And it all sounds good. The ideas are interesting. There's, there's connections being made. And it feels, you know, interesting, it feels like you're learning something and by the end of it, it can feel quite convincing. You actually have to stop and and pay attention to what's being claimed and how tenuous those links are, to realize there's a problem and You mentioned at the beginning that you've personally had a dalliance with a lot of these figures and initially found them quite appealing. And that's true of myself as well. And I think that's a helpful thing for everyone to be aware of. If if you've been, if you've been taken along for a ride and found it all very interesting and enjoyable, and thought provoking, and so on, then you're not alone. And it doesn't mean you're stupid or that absolutely whatever. Yeah,
Stephen Bradford Long 25:27 absolutely. Well, and also, it's, it's kind of a statement about the challenge of apprehending infinite information. And like consolidating and working through information in the digital age was like, there's just too much. There's just so much it's saturation. And, like, my degree is in music, and I manage a grocery store. Like I don't know just about anything about all of these topics about psychology and anthropology, but I find it all very interesting. I enjoy listening to it, but as someone with my background, just so if someone sounds convincing, then they are convincing for someone like me, so ya know it, it doesn't mean someone's stupid, it doesn't mean someone's an idiot. It just means that we're in an environment that it where it's hard to parse information. The next feature is cultish. pneus, describe cautiousness.
Chris Cavanaugh 26:25 So I, in some respect, this is what people would anticipate, you know, what you would associate with traditional cults, this tendency to create strong in group and I group binaries with the in group being a special elect to can, you know, see through the mainstream narrative and the disparaging of any outside critics as bad for you if you know, people who are just trying to tear down and free to look at reality, and in the eye, so it's kind of cultivating those strong and group I grew by boundaries, and also things like creating insular communities and narratives that we enforce. You know why anybody who disagrees with you is part of the conspiracy to silence you. And, you know, this, this bleeds into some of the other factors we've identified with conspiracy theorizing, and that but yeah, the mean thing is the kind of manipulative cultish tactics and the binary in group out group distinctions being reinforced.
Stephen Bradford Long 27:34 Yeah, so what does this look like in reality, so we can all think of the scary colts like people's temple, or Heaven's Gate or whatever. But what you're talking about applying to these internet gurus, what does this look like in action?
Chris Cavanaugh 27:56 I can give an example. So Eric Weinstein had discord, multiple Discord server created in the wake of his podcasts, because he had quite an enthusiastic community grow. It's getting normal in the web 2.0 era, right, where these kind of get drowned communities or discord during this grow. But Eric was receiving critique and pushback that they didn't like from members within the community. So he went on the discord, which he would do fairly frequently, you interact with the people. And he basically encouraged the community that if they wanted to continue engaging with him, and for him to be involved and potentially continue leasing the podcast, they would need to better police, the critical comments, and the people who were producing low quality criticism. So obviously, Eric was, you know, threatening to withdraw his access and also potentially ending this podcast if they were not better at weeding out what he regarded as low quality criticism. That to me is kind of like fairly straightforward cultish.
Stephen Bradford Long 29:07 Absolutely. And, you know, it's interesting that you say that because I was just this week listening to a streamer who I have interviewed on the show before, named to VOSH. And oh, yeah, yeah. VOSH Vidya. I interviewed him back in 2019. He basically said the exact same thing, where people were criticizing him for a fight that he got into with JK Rowling and how he did some edge lordy. Sexist humor and JK Rowling picked this up and screenshot it and blasted it to all of her fans and was like, you know, basically like look at this misogynist and, and VOSH in this live stream He was defending himself said I will, my mods will ban every single one of you, if you criticize this, basically, I was just like, Whoa, it was just like, just naked, like apps absolute junk. And I don't know if I would have noticed that if I wasn't developing this more critical ear for this kind of stuff.
Chris Cavanaugh 30:27 I, I think the like with the way that, you know, Twitter, Patreon, streaming services, and like, a whole host of other social media platforms are now the influence of Paris social relation ships, and this kind of creation of insular communities. It really is something that, you know, I think it extends beyond the figures that we're looking at and is it can have very strong impact. So it's not like you need to be a secular guru, in order to engage in cultish practices, you do see it across a whole range of areas and, and Twitch streamers are, I think, a really ripe area, we probably will get to them at some point. And but but not for a while. Yeah,
Stephen Bradford Long 31:15 I would love I would love to hear your take on the Twitch streamers, and like Hassan and destiny, and VOSH, and all those guys, because I was really, really, really, really into all of that. And then I don't know, it's like, I left Twitter for a while. And when I left Twitter, it's almost like I rediscovered my personality. And I read, I discovered that I had my own personality, I discovered that I had my own interests, and that I was actually less Rayji I wasn't as angry as I used to be. I wasn't as interested in what these streamers were doing. I was more open, I was more curious. And I was just a bit more stoic, like, I realized that my rage was just, like, amped up to a million all the fucking time. And then when I went back and listened to some of these guys, I was just like, What the fuck is this? It was so bizarre. It was like going through this weird mental detox when I stopped being as active on social media.
Chris Cavanaugh 32:21 The last thing I'd say about the hopelessness thing, Stephen is that the, you know, one feature by traditional cult leaders is the sheer volume of material that they put out, right? Like, yes, hours and hours of talks you often every day, right? And, and that's very much the model of streaming or of the secular gurus, you know, they tend to have a lot of material out there. And, and, and I think that in one aspect, that, you know, that's just content creators and what they're doing, you know, pretty, pretty good content. But there, there definitely should be a concern about the dynamics that you know, if somebody is spending six hours a day watching the stream of someone, yeah, that you know, that that can have elements which extend beyond just like mere fandom into consciousness.
Stephen Bradford Long 33:15 Yeah, no, I I agree with that completely. And I will eagerly await your series on the streamers on the Twitch streamers. So the next feature in the group barometer, how do you pronounce it? Girl barometer? Girl ometer. Both in your head
Matt Browne 33:32 matter of public debate. Okay, pronunciation is something we struggle with.
Stephen Bradford Long 33:37 Yeah. Okay, so this next point is the one that gets me the I think this one is one of my biases, especially as anti establishment Arianism. So I just, you know, the other day tweeted out, like some of these podcasters out here would interview the fucking Unabomber. If he was cancelled on a college campus or canceled on Twitter. Like there's something about this anti establishment Arianism that is super attractive for, for me, and even, like, knowing that about myself doesn't lessen how much I feel that tug. So talks about anti establishment Arianism. And what that looks like in practice.
Matt Browne 34:25 Yes, so it's a very common theme that we see amongst the secular gurus. It's almost like an article of faith that the establishment, the mainstream media, the expert consensus, the blob, whatever, the neoliberal institutions, however you personally want to frame it. They're all blinkered limited, if not totally broken, and they generally agree that they're incapable of grappling with the serious issues. Now this is very convenient because that create space for their role, right, as sense makers as people that can puzzle it out for their takes on whatever the case, you know, whatever the case may be, whether it's COVID, or Ukraine or, or something else, you know, the institutions are failing the the, the consensus that's out there that that's presented is is misleading. And the gurus are here to help you see what, what the truth is, right? So, you know, they tend to be attracted to issues where there might be a bit of a split between between public opinion and, you know, scientific or sort of Orthodox opinion, or one that's just like a partisan, political partisan, ideological split as well. But yeah, and it's sort of connected to the conspiracism that we'll get into, I guess, because it sort of bleeds into that. But, you know, I think people can detect this, even if you look at people that an ocular is just just the typical Twitter user, like you say, for all of us, like the hot take the heterodox, you know, not into, you know, opposite to whatever everyone else is saying. That's the type that's appealing. That's the one that we're all drawn to. Because, no, you know, it's boring to say, oh, yeah, the scientific medical advice on COVID is basically right, go get vaccinated.
Stephen Bradford Long 36:23 That's boring. Yes, absolutely. So So also, I think that this is particularly pertinent for maybe my specific community, which is the satanic, the Satanic Temple, because this particular community is very much drawn to outsider figures. And while I think TST is pretty good at, you know, weeding out the bullshit. And while I think this community in general is pretty good at practicing skepticism, there's still always the potential for this allure of anti establishment Arianism of the outsider to kind of Trump our higher reasoning. And so I think that this one is, is maybe a particular point of vulnerability for the communities that I swim in.
Matt Browne 37:15 Yeah, I could, I could see that Steve. In fact, I'm, I'm interested in in that, because I know very little about that community, your community?
Stephen Bradford Long 37:25 You know, I would be, I would be happy to answer questions. Maybe we can. We can talk about that a bit more at the end, if you'd like.
Matt Browne 37:31 But but but but just specifics on this, I think that's a good example, right? Because often, so so so take me myself, right? Australia is a much more irreligious country than the United States. Yes. I come from like, in my family, my my grandmother was an atheist, right? I don't know, I'm not even related. Not only am I an atheist, I'm not even related to any religious people. So it's, it's very different for me than then for somebody who's growing up, say, in a religious, traditional part of the United States, where there is what feels like a crushing orthodoxy. And you can see the problems with it. And you can see the issues with that. And the natural instinct is to rebel. Yeah, right. Absolutely. And, and I think what you're pointing to is that, you know, that I mean, that there can be healthy aspects to that, of course, but obviously, the you know, that's some degree of self awareness there can. It's helpful to real, you know, just just check that one's not going too far in that I suppose.
Stephen Bradford Long 38:31 For sure. The next point is grievance mongering, and this one is, okay, so like, the first example that comes to mind for me is listening to Eric Weinstein. Just whine for hours about how the educational system in it is like this whole malevolent system and like he, his we, you know, his weird vendetta against Ivy League's and the Ivy League or whatever. And just like this, this whole system, this whole orchestration against him in particular. And so that's the first thing that comes to mind. Yeah,
Chris Cavanaugh 39:13 I. So I think he's a paradigmatic example, in part because it's, in some ways, it's so cartoonish, his portrayal, which is that, you know, not only was he not given recognition, potentially at the Nobel laureate level, but he also has this belief that, you know, there were secret seminars organized in his department that he was, like, not informed of, because they didn't want him to disrupt them and all all of these, it stretches back to his university, but he manages to make almost every world event relate to himself and his small group of friends. And this, you know, for most people, that I would not be your immediate thought when you see something that like the election of Donald Trump or whatever. And, and figures like Robert Malone or Peter McCulloch, when we covered them recently on Joe Rogan, and or even Joe Rogan foods, you know, constantly bringing up the way that he's mistreated by the mainstream media and so on. But Malone and McCulloch, both have these very elaborate tales of that they haven't received enough recognition that they had revolutionary theories that could have, you know, prevented the pandemic that they invented these world changing vaccine therapies and so on. And, and basically, the evidence does not line up in support of those claims, right on on superficial reading, they both have relevant credentials. And that's, that's part of the problem is like, they, there is this thing where a lot of the alternative media will focus on, you know, high discredited, academics or politicians and so on or, and in, there might be plenty of things to agree on there. But at the same time, they have a real vulnerability, the credit evangelism amongst, you know, experts and the expert class, the academic class has just as many cranks and fringe opinion, people, as you know, that you will find in other walks of life. So, I think that's something that people feel to appreciate is that, you know, having a PhD or being a doctor does not inoculate you from having like conspiracy theories, or, or believing in alternative medicine treatments, or that kind of thing. There's a lot of people that do,
Stephen Bradford Long 41:47 isn't there even a name for something like the Nobel effect, where there's this quality, where, where, you know, when someone will get a prize and in science, you know, get the Nobel Prize in science or whatever, and then they go off the fucking deep end, like, I know, the guy who was who pioneered the idea of doing mega doses of vitamin C to cure cancer. I'm pretty sure he was a was a recipient of the Nobel Prize. So there's, there's even like a name for this where maybe people who can be very successful in a very specific niche can just fly off the fucking rails.
Chris Cavanaugh 42:26 Yeah. Look, Montney is a guy that springs to mind. I think he died recently. But he was somebody with like, expertise, I think, in molecular biology of virology, I can't remember the exact of why he got the Nobel Prize, but he went on to, you know, heavily promote, basically almost every pseudoscience that you can imagine, homeopathy, he was anti vaccine and, and so on. So it's, yeah, there's no Well, disease is real. And I think it's a good reminder that, you know, having real expertise having and being intelligent, is not necessarily this protection against like falling into bought bad reasoning and conspiracy mongering. And Matt and I have one disagreement when it comes to grievance mongering that I include within it, the tendency for people to have a list of kinds of enemies and to bring them up Sam Harris. Conversely, Sam Harris's list
Stephen Bradford Long 43:31 his his kill list his hit list, yes. Of Glenn Greenwald. Sellersville.
Chris Cavanaugh 43:35 Yes. As recline Glenn
Stephen Bradford Long 43:38 Greenwald as reclined. Right, Robert? Right. Yeah. No, he just hates them. No. And, and he seemed so full disclosure, if the one guy of all the people who you cover that I still really engage with Sam Harris. And I meditate with his app. And his app has been so good for me, his app has just been fantastic. But he, you know, he makes this point in his app, which is you don't expect Oh, what was it? This will be a paraphrase, but you don't expect your plumber to have perfect beliefs. You don't expect your music teacher to be perfectly enlightened. So why would you expect the same of your meditation teacher so I am applying that same rationale to him? And being like, No, this is a this is a deeply flawed and sometimes very petty man. Like when when I was listening to your conversation with him on decoding the gurus, I was just like, in all of his inability to concede anything, I was in awe of his inability to just admit like yeah, I have blind spots sometimes with people and and you know, sometimes I can have some tribal instincts and you know, anyway, that's that's neither here nor there, but he definitely Does the grievance mongering hard core?
Chris Cavanaugh 45:02 Yeah, and we've some, you know, like, it's probably a point worth emphasizing is like, you know, we look at people as gurus, but we, we, we put them into, you know, the same broad category, but we don't regard them as like a flat, it's part of the reason we can develop the parameter was to feel more comfortable with looking at the differences. And Sam Harris is also someone who I respect and on various issues, and I think he does have, he can have, you know, insightful points. And part of the reason that he can be an interesting character is because He's so stubborn, and he's so single minded that, you know, he's actually useful and in courses on morality and whatnot, because it sticks out such extreme stances that it's, you know, it's a useful comparison point. I do think that despite thinking that he's, you know, he's been very good on on like, the COVID vaccines, and he seems to have been pretty good on Ukrainian recently, but he has blind spots, and he has, you know, things that we would regard as guru ish tendencies. And I think grievance mongering, is one of them. Like I remember had a conversation with Catherine pH. Hardin pH, I had the geneticist evolution geneticist, yes. Yeah. And, and he was basically asking her to defend, you know, the ticks of like, all these figures that he's had problems with, and a listen to it was kind of frustrating, because you were just like, but she, why do you even think that she knows about, you know, your disagreements with these people? So, so yeah, but then that's grievance mongering, in a nutshell, it's a very common feature. And it just
Stephen Bradford Long 46:45 ties back to that kind of central narcissism that seems to be at the heart of a lot of this, like, the anti establishment. terian ism the cultish pneus, the Galaxy brainless, like all of this seems to point back to, among other things, just gigantic narcissism.
Matt Browne 47:03 Yeah. Yeah. So that leads us into our next gherardo dimension. And as you say, These things are coming.
Stephen Bradford Long 47:10 Oh, there it is self aggrandizement and narcissism. Yeah. Yeah. You know, it's, it's
Matt Browne 47:15 connected, just as you said to the grievance mongering, just like the anti establishment Arianism is connected to conspiracism. And, you know, these things occur on a spectrum, in order to put yourself out there, you know, and put out strong opinions, you know, on a podcast, like we're doing now, for instance, it demands a degree of self confidence, right? Yeah. But to be a traditional spiritual guru, right to to create a cult right to be like Reverend Sun Myung Moon or something like that, you need to be really, really, really confident, you know, you cannot express doubt. You can't say, Well, you know, maybe, maybe I'm the truth and the light. Right. Right. And I guess we see the same thing with the secular gurus and they're out there on that spectrum. Everyone's got a little, a little kernels of narcissism, inclined to a little bit of self aggrandizement, think we're a little bit better than we are. But yeah, there they exist. You know, most people are familiar with Donald Trump. Right, like, so that's, you know, you can you can see it, and it is a personality flaw, but it's also a superpower. And we can people are very familiar with seeing that in Trump. And that's also true with our algorithms. So, yeah, in terms of the toxic ones, it's, you know, we I, I personally think that narcissism is kind of if you want to analyze their personality, and what leads them to, to actually take up this role with such vigor. Then narcissism is the is the is the secret sauce that allows it to happen. Yeah,
Stephen Bradford Long 48:56 absolutely. Yeah. And then the next item on the list is a Cassandra complex. So I don't where does the term Cassandra complex come from? I'm not familiar with I, I feel for you, it comes directly from from you, Matt. Or I have
Chris Cavanaugh 49:12 to hand this to him. Because he knew that he takes responsibility. He knows the this part better than me. So So what is what is this? Cassandra complex?
Stephen Bradford Long 49:23 Well, what? First? Like what's the story behind the name? Cassandra. Like, why is it a Cassandra complex?
Matt Browne 49:29 Oh, I'm glad you asked. Because Christopher didn't know either when I just mentioned it's, it's swine. Swine that is. So it's this traditional, you know, myth about, you know, Cassandra, who was sort of cursed by the gods right to have visions of the future, these terrible impending dooms that were going to happen, but was doomed to be ignored. Right? Right people not paying attention to them. And if you look at these gurus and how they talk about current events, then they very seriously project themselves as the the person who really must be listened to. And in fact, their ideas are absolutely crucial to avert this terrible catastrophe that's unfolding. We saw this really clearly, with COVID. I can't think of of a better example, but in general, you take any of them from Jordan Peterson to that. I don't know gad sad. They'll all claim that basically, our civilization Western civilization in capital letters is going to hell in a handbasket to tweet and we have to revert course, and they have the prescription on how to avoid this fight.
Stephen Bradford Long 50:57 Yeah, the first person who comes to mind for me is James Lindsay, who is just like railing constantly and for you know, full disclosure, I interviewed his co author, Helen pluck rose several months ago, and I actually like, Helen, I don't know what I think of the book. I don't I'm still figuring that out. I don't know what I think of cynical theories. I but as a person, I like her. I think she's really decent. I cannot say the same thing of James Lindsay at all. But he's he's basically like, unless we correct course, you know, he, the impending apocalypse that is going to come from critical race theory is going to be so devastating. We have to correct course, right now, this is the primary threat to Western civilization. And the subtext is, and listening to me is the key. Because I know what's happening. I know what the problem is, and I know what the answer is. So that is the Cassandra complex that you're talking about.
Matt Browne 52:01 Yeah, that's, that's an excellent example. And the contrast between Helen pluck rose and James Lindsay is a good one. So whatever one thinks of Helen pluck rose. I don't think she's a guru, right? No, I
Stephen Bradford Long 52:12 agree. It's good.
Matt Browne 52:14 I think if we scored her she'd score low. Yeah. And I agree, if you contrast her with James Lindsay, and James Lindsay has much higher profile now is much more active.
Stephen Bradford Long 52:25 He's to like every other minute, every other fucking minute. He is tweeting, and I'm like, Jesus Christ. What do you fucking do with your life? Like, I'd have a job. I have to work full time. What are you doing anyway? Sorry, go on.
Matt Browne 52:39 Yeah, it's impossible to parody, like how extreme he's become. And, you know, but that sells, doesn't it? Like, if you're, if your position was, hey, I think there's some silly things going on in academia. I think academics are wasting their time when they write some of these, you know, turgid articles that rely too heavily on capital T theory, and not enough on you know, robust evidence base, and it's maybe too influenced by their prior political opinions. Right? That's you can you can argue that you can take that position, you might get some traction, there's some people will be interested or you could do what James Lindsay has done and take it to critical theory is, is a communism wrapped in a capitalism wrapped in a something else right? And is actually destroying the very fabric of our civilization. There actually training. He's talking, he talks about groomers a lot. Now he's claiming Yeah, it's,
Stephen Bradford Long 53:33 it's bad. It's real bad, but but they always use the term existential threat, this thing, whatever it is, it's an existential threat. And I was just on a run. So I was running earlier this week, and I was listening to Josh Zepps interview someone and this person he was interviewing, they were like analyzing how woke culture she she's an author, let me see if I can frame this. She is someone who studies abusive relationships, relationships, and she was talking about how woke culture follows some of the same trends of abusive relationships. And I'm like, okay, sure, you know, I will hear her out. I consider myself moderately woke. So but you know, I'll hear it out. And then the very next breath is, and this is an existential threat to humanity. And I'm like, Whoa, wait a minute. Like, I'm willing to hear you out. I'm willing to hear that maybe there are some dysfunctional trends in some parts of leftism, like, Absolutely. That is 100% true. I have encountered some pretty serious dysfunction in certain corners of leftist internet, like Absolutely. But the moment we go from that, the moment we go from, you know, you know, desk bots with anime avatars canceling you on Twitter, the moment we go from that, to this is an existential threat or when we go from that to drawing parallels to the greatest atrocities of the 20th century, gulags and Holocaust and firing squads like we go from, it's, that's when it loses me.
Matt Browne 55:18 Yeah. Oh, for sure. I've got a funny story. I was once in Canada where I was, I was shamed by some woke people in a hot tub. I'm picturing Yeah. Not gonna provide any more details, because it's better just like that. That's, that's, you know, that was irritating, but it's not the end of civilization. But um, I think the important thing about the Cassandra complex in the way it functions in terms of the social psychology of it, is that in advertising terms, it's like the call to action. Right, isn't it? Yeah, it's it's, it's the motivating thing to, you know, bring you beyond me intellectually engaged, sticky. It's how you emotionally? Yeah, it's
Stephen Bradford Long 56:00 it's the stickiness, it's what keeps you coming back to that creator. To that Guru. Yeah. It's like the stickiness on the flypaper. So, the next one is also fantastic. And I feel like ties into the Cassandra complex, which is revolutionary theories. I feel like these kind of go hand in hand like the revolutionary theories are the answer to the inevitable demise of civilization.
Chris Cavanaugh 56:27 Yeah. And I, one thing we want to emphasize with this particular concept is like, it's possible to be, you know, a contrarian or a public intellectual or whatever and have like some out there ideas, but revolutionary theories is different. It's presenting the you've developed a specific model, often within the gym attached, there has the potential to revolutionize entire fields. And it's often accompanied with all the relevant work that you would normally associate with that, right. Like, if you want to claim that you have an evolutionary theory that will completely abandon our understanding of modern evolutionary biology, you should have a track record of, you know, publications and, and discussions and debates and empirical evidence, but the people don't, they don't have that they, in the case of Brett Weinstein, who, who claims to have, you know, developed a thing that could revolutionize, like the whole field of evolutionary biology and psychology, he has two publications over 20 years, that's not the track record of somebody that's going to revolutionize an academic field, let alone multiple academic fields. But it also isn't the case that you that you have to do this, there are lots of authors who don't have their own, like revolutionary theories. So it's one of those things that if you see it, it should be a warning sign. But it it is not the same as saying anybody that claims to have, you know, a grand theory, or a kind of speculative idea that they should automatically be disregarded. It's more the level of confidence and the hyperbolic claims attached to their particular interpretive theme and tying in with the Galaxy brain, that's how willing they are to apply it across situations where it would seem ill fit like, against the wind stands because they're just powered demonic in this. Brett Weinstein analyzing the conflict with Germany in World War Two and the what happened to the Jews through an evolutionary psychology framework and based on lineage theory, it's, you know, it's it's pseudoscience and Richard Dawkins.
Stephen Bradford Long 58:46 I was just about to bring this up. Yes, I've seen it go on, at Richard
Chris Cavanaugh 58:50 Dawkins, is someone not averse in any way to understanding cultural insight, society through an evolutionary framework? And he was on the stage when Brett Weinstein did that. And I don't know that we gain anything from looking at that kind of event through, you know, an evolutionary biological Lance, and he was dead on so it's just an example that there is a difference there, right, because Richard Dawkins is somebody that does have no issue with you know, producing grand theories or promoting particular theoretical position. So, yeah,
Stephen Bradford Long 59:25 yeah, absolutely. No, I was just thinking about that. And I forget what Richard Dawkins said, he said something like, I am familiar with this delusion or whatever it was. He said something really snarky and response it was great.
Chris Cavanaugh 59:40 And I will the other thing, which I think is just important to flag and possum, because it's so common, so prevalent is the comparison of yourself to Galileo, right to kind of ties in and it's like nobody has any they've never heard of anyone else who had an idea that was indicated right? There's many other examples, but Galileo, that's it. And, you know, if you're involved with skepticism or critical thinking, you know, there's the Galileo Gambit, right? Which is everyone, every conspiracy theorist, every alternative medicine, every supplement shelling person presents themselves as Galileo. So it's, that is another warning sign. It's tied in to the revolutionary theory stuff.
Matt Browne 1:00:25 Yeah. And it's just another connection with the other axis on the parameter. The that Galileo again, that is this is linked to the grievance and narcissism in many ways, because they have this hugely inflated presentation of their own contribution or the you know, the strength of their, of their theory in a particular field. But they're faced with the problem that it is essentially unrecognized. Right. Eric Weinstein has this problem with his geometric unity.
Stephen Bradford Long 1:00:57 Okay, let's let's talk about geometric unity. For a second because I watched that episode with Joe Rogan. I don't mean to interrupt, by the way, but I watched that fabulous episode with Joe Rogan, where he were air Eric Weinstein tried to present his grand theory of everything geometric unity, on Joe Rogan. And he created a URL for that, which was bring that up jaime.com. And they were so mad about that. So the conversation went south, so hard with Eric said, JB, go to bring that up. jamie.com. And it was a run down of his theory of geometric unity that he had prepared for his appearance on Joe Rogan. And Joe Rogan was, like, looked at Jamie and was like, did you know about this? Did you know he was doing this? As he run this by it? And it was in the whole conversation just tanked. And it was beautifully awkward. Anyway, sorry. I had to throw that in there.
Matt Browne 1:02:18 No, I'm glad you did. Like you just made me think of it's funny at us at how often the stunts they pull us so cringe worthy. Yes. You know, like, this intellectual dark web. Yeah. Jordan Peterson turning up to Joe Rogan in a tuxedo. Like anyone with any social intelligence would kind of understand that. Joe Rogan would not appreciate his internet research. being undermined like that, um, so I don't know. It's just an interesting little feature on it seems like a contradiction in some ways. They are quite good at social manipulation. A bit like Trump really? He seems to miss steps so badly sometimes yet, at the same time is quite a good social manipulate so it's a bit of a contradiction. I guess it's cuz he struggled. Eric that is struggled there. Look, in some respects, it's understandable. A physicist is always gonna have trouble explaining some complex theory to a lay audience. But in the case of Eric, Weinstein's, geometric unity, it's been looked at, by people with a solid background in the topic, he's never published any of it, of course, and the people have looked at it with the expertise basically concluded that there is really nothing there. Right, or for a lot of hand waving, and gaps, essentially. But what you also see with Eric, when he when he's explaining that is that he doesn't try to explain it to a lay audience. So if you take like a good scientific communicator, someone like, you know, Fineman, or you know, there are many other sort of physics physicists, Sean Carroll Hawking, yeah, yeah, Sean Carroll, Stephen Hawking physicists who explain these concepts to a lay audience and it can be done. But someone like Eric does not try because in our view, that's not the point. The point is not to actually explain the ideas. The point is to baffle the audience with the Galaxy brain. Yeah. And it's connected to the next dimension of the parameter, which is similar profound bullshit. And now, this is actually a technical academic term. There are there are philosophers and psychologists who, who, who studied this right and it's basically it's, it's defined as saying truthy deep, meaningful sounding stuff, but with actual with no regard for the truth. Deepak Chopra is famous for his eye for isms that fall into this, but if you look at the actual their actual discourse, the things that they Say, yeah, they tend to focus on stuff that sounds good. Rather than stuff that means anything, either true or false. So it's really a focus on, you know, this, this part of the barometer is us paying attention to the language they use, how they express themselves. And whether or not they're saying these, these truthy sounding statements that actually, when you dig into it, is it is either completely facile and superficial, or self contradictory, or, or meaningless.
1:05:33 So you have some examples here from Deepak Chopra. One is there are no extra pieces in the universe. Everyone is here because he or she has a place to fill and every piece must fit itself into the big jigsaw puzzle.
Chris Cavanaugh 1:05:49 Classi
1:05:50 Yeah. raciness. Yeah,
Chris Cavanaugh 1:05:53 that was a nice example. Recently, one of the Guru's we covered is kind of from the so called sense meeting sphere, right, which is like a
Stephen Bradford Long 1:06:04 Chris, Chris Williamson.
Chris Cavanaugh 1:06:06 Williamson? No, it was Jordan Hall, Jordan Hall. He's a much better sense maker than Chris Williamson. But so
Matt Browne 1:06:14 he that's not a compliment, by the way.
Stephen Bradford Long 1:06:17 I don't I don't know Jordan Hall. Actually, I will have to look him up. Now.
Chris Cavanaugh 1:06:21 He did did an episode on a Monday. It's one of our my favorite personal favorites that we did, because he's such a kind of unique character. But I'll just give you an example. This is a tweet from literally yesterday. Okay, this is something he tweeted, we need a new word. Token omics is so 2017. There is a third intrinsic that sits next to lore and vibe. It is currently called tokenomics. It includes the full ontology and the hardcoded agreements, as well as the incentive landscape or by produced name, question mark, and just the highlight what he wanted. So this is like just one or two of the responses he received. Somebody said, What about map and instead of tokenomics, engineer designer, you'd have a map mute or cartographer and Jordan respond, cartographers nice lower vibe cartography. But the problem is that here we are talking about the territory, the actual landscaping, and not about the map, per se, someone else suggests spine. And Jordan says, playing with spine spin drill weave. These are probably some great words in this space, and so on. It's a litany. Right, but I have
Stephen Bradford Long 1:07:28 no idea what you just said.
Chris Cavanaugh 1:07:34 It's what you often say what we heard on that episode of Jordan Hall was things where he would say, you know, I'm, I'm not somebody who searches for truth, I seek truth. And then we'll go into why that's important distinction. So that sense makers love these kinds of word games. But you can see that it has the impression of of depth and intellectual complexity. And it sounds like there's something there that you're just missing, right, that there's actually very complex. But really, it's sort of profound bullshit.
Stephen Bradford Long 1:08:10 I think Jordan Peterson is also guilty of a lot of that.
Matt Browne 1:08:13 Oh, very much. So yeah, very much so. And it can be sometimes you know, those examples a little bit hard to pass, because unless you're into crypto in the case of Jordan Hall, you may not know what, you know, if even grasp what he's
Stephen Bradford Long 1:08:25 talking, I will never understand crypto I've I've tried, I've watched lots of videos on it. And I've given up I will never understand crypto.
Matt Browne 1:08:34 It's definitely a happy hunting ground for you to prevent bullshit. But you know, just to make it really concrete, Deepak Chopra is a good one to give simple concrete examples. So, you know, to think is to practice brain chemistry. It is the nature of babies to be in bliss. Like if you look at those statements, they are totally they have no content. Like they're they're infinite, they provide no new information whatsoever. Like it's trivially true that when one thinks that is brain chemistry happening, brain chemistry, but it doesn't provide any real information. But if you're reading it, especially casually, and you're reading a lot of it, or you're listening to a podcast, and you're having this kind of flow over you, it can you know, it can give you the feeling that you're receiving profound insights when it's really saying nothing at all.
Stephen Bradford Long 1:09:25 Absolutely, yeah. And I you keep hitting on something that I think is really important, which is like the flow, the barrage of information, where it's so easy while listening to a YouTube video, like you're doing dishes and you're just listening to a YouTube video or you're listening to a podcast or whatever, how easy it is to just let this become almost like ambient noise or like furniture where you're kind of you're paying attention but not really and it's just washing over you if you don't really listen Mostly, they will just slip things in there that if you actually stop and think about are just patently absurd, but because it's in this endless wash of, you know, usually someone who has good vocabulary and someone who talks an entire paragraphs, then it's almost mesmerizing. So the next point here, sorry, did you have a comment on that? No, no. All right. We agree we. Cool. All right. So then, and the, the next point, which is conspiracy mongering also ties into that, where the difference between I mean, this is also a matter of degree because Alex Jones is way more extreme than, you know, Brett Weinstein. However, one of the key differences is, I think one of the reasons why Brett Weinstein gets away with what he gets away with is because he packages it and just like this endless steady flow of hypnotic words and interesting language, and he's always very subdued. Whereas Alex Jones is always about to have a hemorrhage on on his sound studio in his in his studio, he's always about to spontaneously combust. But they're some of the things that the two of them say on vaccines are not significantly different. There is not there is not much distance between Alex Jones and Brett Weinstein, the only difference, all else being equal is tone. It is how they package it, it is the delivery. That is the only difference.
Chris Cavanaugh 1:11:40 I think you're completely right. Actually, we have planned a special episode where we're going to take clips from Infowars, alongside clips from the dark horse and kind of highlight
Stephen Bradford Long 1:11:50 Oh, I would love to hear that. Yeah. What they're
Chris Cavanaugh 1:11:53 doing is it's not just, you know, echoes of similar themes. It's exactly the same. And an example that springs to mind is that Brett didn't allow advocated for strongly the anti Monday March, right, but kind of anti vaccine rally that was framed as a on demand the march, but he also didn't go there. And he justified that by saying that there were likely to be false flag violence at the event. And the the movement needed somebody external, who would be able to document that it was a false flag, right. And Alex Jones does that almost before every event, you know, involving Patriot movements, or whatever he implies that if there is violence, it will be a false flag attack. So it prepares his audience in case for, you know, something happens that there's a conspiracy readily, and he can highlight that they may attack them beforehand. But conspiracy mongering is really common. And it also, you know, everything that we talked about is on the spectrum. Like stock refereeing when you read conspiracy theories is like, well, aren't there some conspiracies that were correct? Look at the Iraq war and weapons of mass destruction or Watergate. And that is not what conspiracy theorizing is. It's not saying the world is devoid of all conspiracies, of course, they do exist. Conspiracy theorizing is a kind of different reasoning, whereby the world events, and essentially anything that you regard, as you know, that you disagree with is portrayed as being due to a shadowy conspiracy, which is unknown to the public, and involves, you know, usually an elite hidden group behind the actual powers that be and would require vast coordination, the likes of which we just don't see in the actual world. And I think that the with the anti vaccine stuff, you you saw that been frequently invoked, right, that it is not just the case that people are criticizing decisions that the CDC have made or who it's rather, that they, they fit that into a whole schema, that that everything is unreliable, the dev consumer level, and the fact that those are replicated across all the countries, right, you don't you could completely ignore all the statistics from the US and you find the same patterns, and that doesn't matter. So that's an illustration that the the conspiracy worldview works as a kind of worldview defense, that you can fit any fact into the conspiracy, because anything inconvenient can just be the mainstream authorities, you know, pushing out their narrative or they're allowing these publications to come out to try to undermine what the truth and if something gets through, if there's a pre printed paper or there's a paper published in the journal, which you know, supports in in any way, I kind of by anti vaccine narrative or it can be any conspiracy, you know, 911 or whatever, that becomes evidence that it can be trusted and is correct. So it's basically the ability to fit everything in the conspiratorial model. And it fits with the grievance mongering tendency, whereby even minor things like your computer not working, or having difficulty connecting cameras can come to be presented as perhaps you're not saying it is. But maybe it could be a targeted attack from nefarious forces. Right? It does go that extreme so so yeah, it conspiracy theorizing is on the spectrum. But in the guru sphere, it's it's almost the fault explanation. And there's
Stephen Bradford Long 1:15:46 a hypocrisy at the heart of it, where it's like, all of academia is evil and against us, except when this one fringe thing that has the appearance of academia validates what I believe, in which case, then we're for it. And it's like, there's a hypocrisy at the heart of it, where they there's this obsession with credentials, and the appearance of validity. If it doesn't agree with me, then it's evil and against me, if it does agree with me, okay, then great. That is proof that my friend's belief is accurate.
Matt Browne 1:16:21 Yeah, yeah. Yeah, the problem is compounded. I mean, conspiracy theories have been around for since forever. But in the modern sort of information landscape, you know, a lot of academic articles, a lot of scientific articles are available publicly, there's just a massive amount of information. So if you're motivated thinker, if you've got strong opinions to start with, it's very, very easy to trawl through the internet, or the primary literature, and to cherry pick evidence that supports your, your pre existing views, we definitely see that amongst our so called academics, or ex academics, in the gurus who seem to have forgotten or never learned how to do a proper literature review, which involves actually reading all of the material. And it takes a strong background in the field to be able to read it properly. And critically, and we often praise, for instance, this week in virology, a podcast about viruses, but recently, it's focused on COVID. And you can see their modeling of how good of a genuine deals with, you know, does critical evaluation of papers. And you can contrast that with what someone like Heather haying, or Brett Weinstein does. Another good example, of course, is the lab leak hypothesis. Now that's that's a legitimate point of view. It's a point about where the truth is not known with certainty. But you see among the proponents of the lab leak that they essentially and good and conspiratorial reasoning about the reasons but basically allows them to discard any evidence that doesn't fit with their view.
Stephen Bradford Long 1:18:13 Yeah, that was, that also was the point when Brett Weinstein lost me with the dark horse podcast, because it wasn't so much the fact that he was airing the lab leak hypothesis, it was how he was doing it, that just felt very weird and uncomfortable for me. Like, this is a massive international attempt to keep this leak from being, you know, exposed for what it is. And there's like this gigantic international effort to you know, ensure that no one will ever know what the truth about this, but I have the truth about it. I'm like, Okay, that is many degrees. Different from just saying, you know, maybe, maybe this came from a lab, we don't know, we're still investigating. That's a possibility. Like, there's a huge difference between that and then saying what Brett Weinstein was saying, yeah, yeah, yeah,
Matt Browne 1:19:15 go on. That's, yeah, that's, that's a good example. Um, so actually, this is a bit of a plug for our podcast, I guess. But now, we did this decoding academia series where we, where we go through papers that we like and talk about them. And coming up with there's a there's a nice paper by Stefan Lewandowski who offers a nice kind of, like, structural description of how to detect and tell the difference between conspiratorial reasoning and and normal reasoning, and what you just described as a good example of it. So it's too technical to get into now, but in a nutshell, a conspiratorial explanation generally, or is an alternative Like, counterfactual view of the world, which which might on the surface be somewhat plausible. But buried in it is a whole bunch of corollaries, a whole bunch of other things that would also have to be true. In order for this for this alternative view to be true. So in the case that you just gave, you know, all of the scientists, not not just the who, but you know, this far, I was just everywhere, there's all you know, all over the world,
Stephen Bradford Long 1:20:26 they're all on it. All together, they're all on Zoom together, figuring out how to keep keep the truth from us.
Matt Browne 1:20:32 Exactly. You don't need like deep technical knowledge to know that that is inherently vastly unlikely. So these are good heuristics to detect. conspiracism
Stephen Bradford Long 1:20:45 All right, we are in the very last item here, which is grifting. What is grifting? And I think we need a very clear definition of this one, because everyone is a goddamn grifter, according to people on the internet. So what is your definition of grifting?
Matt Browne 1:21:03 Yeah, that's, that's a good point. And you know, these these things get used as a lazy slur, a lot of the time, we actually renamed it to profiteering just like that, that. Cool. Yeah. And, you know, it's important to distinguish it from just normal kind of monetization, I suppose that people do
Stephen Bradford Long 1:21:21 everyone go to my Patreon patreon.com/radford lOn.
Matt Browne 1:21:27 We have a Patreon. And we we love each and every one of our patrons great in a deep and personal way. And so, you know, there's so we don't want to include just normal monetization. If you write a book, it's okay to get royalties from it. It's okay to have Patreon ads. It's okay to have advertising on your podcast. But what we see with the gurus is that, you know, they just do tend they often tend to take it further. Right They, they do things that many people wouldn't do like, you know, shilling these clearly useless health supplements. Some someone like Alex Jones is famous for it, but a lot of our gurus do that as as well. They, JP Sears, for instance, talks quite explicitly about his another guru, we looked at talks quite explicitly about his his tactics and strategies for for monetizing his work in quite a devious way. So, yeah, I mean, what else to say about grifting? Um, I think the other thing I would say about it is that there's a strong notion of personal gain, I think involved and it doesn't always have to be occurring in a straightforward monetary sense. But many of the gurus seem to be aiming for a bigger, a bigger role for themselves. Right. I think a platform. You know, Eric Weinstein would like to be invited in consulted on the White House. That he say that yeah. He strongly. I'm sure he had pretty,
Stephen Bradford Long 1:23:13 I'm sure he has said exactly that. That is entirely in character. Yeah.
Chris Cavanaugh 1:23:20 He wears a suit, because he wants to indicate to the powers that be that he's ready to step into leadership role, which is not how that works. Not how that works. That's why I'm wearing this shirt. Right now. I just the signal, you know, just in case. But
Stephen Bradford Long 1:23:40 for everyone who's curious, for everyone who's curious, Chris showed up to this podcast, wearing a tuxedo. It's been kind of weird. None of us have chops. I have not said anything about it. Because I don't want to be rude. But
Chris Cavanaugh 1:23:56 it's, you know, I just took Jordan Peterson's advice. The heart you should dress up for occasions. So, you know, I just feel nicer in a tuxedo.
Stephen Bradford Long 1:24:05 I never dress up for occasions, I do the opposite. All right, we did it. We got through all 10 features of the girl ometer. And this is a really helpful tool. And for anyone who is it okay, if I post up like I found, by the way, this Google Doc, it's on your subreddit. I don't know if I'm supposed to have it or not, but I have it. Is it okay? Okay, good. And so I will post this document in the show notes. For people who want to find your work, where can they do that?
Chris Cavanaugh 1:24:43 The easiest way is the just, you know, from podcasting things decoding gurus, we do have a, like a Twitter gurus pod at GameSpot. And then the there's a relatively lively subreddit where we're People criticize us
Stephen Bradford Long 1:25:01 or Oh yeah, they're fucking ruthless. I love your subreddit. It's great.
Chris Cavanaugh 1:25:05 Yeah. So at the minute, it's always good with somebody that was dangerous where they will eventually end up but at the minute Yeah, I think it's like an interesting place to go look so yeah, but that the podcasts that's probably you know if people find any of the things that we've talked in why that's the the best place to go and just ignore the episodes that you don't want to look at.
Stephen Bradford Long 1:25:30 Awesome. Well, thank you so much for taking the time to hang out. It's been great.
Matt Browne 1:25:35 Thanks so much, Steven. platforming.
Stephen Bradford Long 1:25:39 Oh, yes. My pleasure. Absolutely. All right. Well, that is it for this show. The theme song is called Wild by eleventy seven. You can find it on Apple Music Spotify, or wherever you listen to music. This show is written, produced and edited by me Steven Bradford long and it is a production of rock candy recordings, as always, Hail Satan, and thanks for listening