Conspirituality co-author Julian Walker joins us to discuss how influencers have curdled New Age spirituality and wellness with the politics of paranoia.
What We Discuss with Julian Walker:
- Why have so many wellness influencers gone off the conspiracy deep end since COVID began?
- What do these conspiracies have in common, and who benefits from their proliferation?
- How do otherwise reasonable people get sucked down conspiracy rabbit holes?
- How “The female-dominated New Age (with its positive focus on self) and the male-dominated realm of conspiracy theory (with its negative focus on global politics)” has synthesized into a hybrid system of belief dubbed “Conspirituality” by sociologists Charlotte Ward and David Voas.
- Why a privately owned platform’s refusal to host and perpetuate the views of disinformation peddlers isn’t censorship or a violation of free speech.
- And much more…
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Miss our conversation with Daryl Davis, the Black musician who has influenced more than 200 KKK members to hang up their robes for good? Make sure to catch our two-parter beginning with episode 539: Daryl Davis | A Black Man’s Odyssey in the KKK Part One here!
Thanks, Julian Walker!
If you enjoyed this session with Julian Walker, let him know by clicking on the link below and sending him a quick shout out at Twitter:
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Resources from This Episode:
- Conspirituality: How New Age Conspiracy Theories Became a Health Threat by Derek Beres, Matthew Remski, and Julian Walker | Amazon
- Conspirituality Podcast
- Julian Walker | Twitter
- Derek Beres | Twitter
- Matthew Remski | Twitter
- COVID: Top 10 Current Conspiracy Theories | Alliance for Science
- The Dark Side of Wellness: The Overlap between Spiritual Thinking and Far-Right Conspiracies | The Guardian
- Roots of Conspirituality: How Guru Culture Became the Multi-Billion-Dollar Spiritual Commerce Industry | Ethos
- Unproof: Thomas Cowan Claims Epidemics Occur Due to Electromagnetic Radiation | Vox Ukraine
- Opinion: Alex Jones and the Wellness-Conspiracy Industrial Complex | The New York Times
- ZDoggMD | Debunking Plandemic COVID-19 Pseudoscience | Jordan Harbinger
- Christian Picciolini | Breaking Hate Part One | Jordan Harbinger
- Christian Picciolini | Breaking Hate Part Two | Jordan Harbinger
- QAnon’s Antisemitism and What Comes Next | ADL
- Ill Communications: How Anti-Vaxxers are Co-Opting Racism for Their Own Agenda | Ethos
- A Culture of Conspiracy: Apocalyptic Visions in Contemporary America by Michael Barkun | Amazon
- Making an Impression: The Effects of Sharing Conspiracy Theories | Journal of Experimental Social Psychology
- Stranger Things | Netflix
- The Emergence of Conspirituality | Journal of Contemporary Religion
- RFK Jr.’s Presidential Campaign Is Driven by Conspiracy Theories | All Things Considered
- Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Archives | FactCheck.org
- ‘There’s Nothing You Can Do’: The Legacy of #Pizzagate | Southern Poverty Law Center
- The Weird, Dark History of 8chan and Its Founder Fredrick Brennan | WIRED
- 4chan Overlord Christopher Poole Reveals Why He Walked Away | Rolling Stone
- Why Karma Theory is Nonsense | The Infinite Regress
- On Spiritual Bypassing and Relationship by John Welwood | SAND
- Spiritual Bypassing In an Age of Climate Change and Vaccine Disinformation | Ethos
- The Prosperity Gospel, Explained: Why Joel Osteen Believes That Prayer Can Make You Rich | Vox
- The Secret | Prime Video
- Attachment Theory: Bowlby & Ainsworth’s Theory Explained | Simply Psychology
- Attachment Styles and How They Affect Your Relationships | Mark Manson
- How to Recognize and Break Traumatic Bonds | Healthline
- Disaster Spirituality: The Self Project & How The Apolitical Is Political w/ Matthew Remski | Last Born In The Wilderness
- The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism by Naomi Klein | Amazon
- Who’s Afraid of Teal Swan? (w/Jon Kasbe) | Conspirituality
- Who’s Afraid of Teal Swan (Pt 2) (w/Jennings Brown) | Conspirituality
- The Kelly Brogan Effect & Red Pills | Conspirituality
- Charles Eisenstein, New Age Q | Conspirituality
- Traumatic Influence (w/Kyra Haglund & Hala Khouri) | Conspirituality
- The Crazy Real-Life Story of the Satanic Panic | Grunge
- Conspiracy Theories, Ritual Abuse and the Rise of QAnon in Mormondom | By Common Consent
- Video: Police Let Pizzagate Gunman Out of Handcuffs | DCist
- The Great (Fake) Child-Sex-Trafficking Epidemic | The Atlantic
- Pastel QAnon by Marc-André Argentino | GNET
- Why Are Right-Wing Conspiracies So Obsessed with Pedophilia? | Mother Jones
- QAnon Followers Are Hijacking the #SaveTheChildren Movement | The New York Times
- QAnon, Blood Libel, and the Satanic Panic | The New Republic
- Many QAnon Followers Report Having Mental Health Diagnoses | The Conversation
- US Health Care from a Global Perspective, 2022 | Commonwealth Fund
- Native Appropriation Isn’t Appreciation. It Causes Real Harm. | Lakota People’s Law Project
- Ear Candling | Skeptical Sunday | Jordan Harbinger
- The Medical Medium and the True Believer | Vanity Fair
- Yoga’s Twisted History Is One Answer to the Conspirituality Puzzle | Office for Science and Society, McGill University
871: Julian Walker | How Conspiracy Theories Make Society Sick
[00:00:00] Jordan Harbinger: Special thanks to Airbnb for sponsoring this episode of The Jordan Harbinger Show. Maybe you've stayed at an Airbnb before and thought to yourself, "Yeah, this actually seems pretty doable. Maybe my place could be an Airbnb." It could be as simple as starting with a spare room or your whole place while you're away. Find out how much your place is worth at airbnb.com/host.
[00:00:18] Coming up next on The Jordan Harbinger Show.
[00:00:20] Julian Walker: People get so convinced of these far-out beliefs about what's really happening in the world that they then act in the real world based on those beliefs, and they end up killing people. They end up kidnapping and having standoffs with the police. And, you know, there's a couple of cases of men who killed their own children because they were convinced that their mothers were involved somehow in the cabal.
[00:00:49] Jordan Harbinger: Welcome to the show. I'm Jordan Harbinger. On The Jordan Harbinger Show, we decode the stories, secrets, and skills of the world's most fascinating people and turn their wisdom into practical advice that you can use to impact your own life and those around you. Our mission is to help you become a better informed, more critical thinker through long-form conversations with a variety of amazing folks from spies to CEOs, athletes, authors, thinkers, performers, even the occasional gold smuggler, money laundering expert, astronaut, or extreme athlete.
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[00:03:33] By the way, if you use the Stitcher app to listen to this show, they are getting rid of that app. August 29th, it will no longer be useful. So switch to a different app if you use the Stitcher app to listen to this podcast. If you're on Android, I suggest Podcast Addict. It might not be as pretty, but it works really well. If you're on iOS, Apple, you should use Overcast, in my humble opinion or Apple Podcasts, but definitely no longer Stitcher. It will not update anymore in the next couple of months. So if you're using the Stitcher app, now is a good time to switch to a new podcast app. And if you have any problems with this, you're kind of Boomer in terms of your tech, you don't know what to do, you can always email me, email@example.com. I will try to point you in the right direction, but the Stitcher app will no longer work for this show.
[00:04:16] Today, on the show, during the pandemic and now afterwards, I noticed a lot of wellness influencers, woo-woo or more spiritual friends of mine, they just started falling into the path of weird conspiracy theories. Some of them went into QAnon, pseudoscience, quackery, and cures. I thought this was just something I noticed in my own circle. Maybe it was just the Internet kind of weirdos, until I met today's guest, Julian Walker. He studied this whole phenomenon that he calls conspirituality, and today we'll discuss how a lot of spiritual practices such as yoga, wellness circles, et cetera can really become a pipeline to conspiracy thinking and even cults.
[00:04:55] So if you're into the cult stuff, disinformation episodes we've talked about here on the show, or Skeptical Sunday type of episodes, I think you're going to enjoy this conversation. So here we go with Julian Walker.
[00:05:07] Thank you for coming on, man. I actually got interested in your work because I noticed, in part, because I noticed that during the pandemic, and even slightly before, a lot of my friends, and I use that term sort of loosely because I'm talking about people I know from being in podcasting or being in an online business space for a decade and a half, a lot of my friends who are especially in the wellness space, yoga, even the jujitsu kind of guys, a lot of these guys and gals who are in the spiritual movement type stuff, they started getting weird. And some of them went so far off the deep end that I can't even talk to them anymore because they're not living in a shared reality if that makes sense. And I'm wondering what sparked your interest in all this. Surely, you've noticed similar phenomenon.
[00:05:52] Julian Walker: Oh, yeah.
[00:05:53] Jordan Harbinger: A similar phenomenon.
[00:05:54] Julian Walker: Absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah, that's interesting to know that you saw it too. So yeah, I mean, basically, we are three guys on this podcast called Conspirituality. And the reason the thing exists is that all of us were involved in the yoga and wellness kind of space professionally, at both as consumers and as teachers and, you know, having just been in that world for a long time. And when the pandemic started, we noticed on all of our social feeds that it was getting weird, like you said, and it was very quickly sort of moving through these different cycles of memes. You know, COVID is not real. It's caused by 5G. It's part of an elaborate plan to take over the world.
[00:06:32] Jordan Harbinger: Population reduction was the other one that kicked off later.
[00:06:35] Julian Walker: Yeah, exactly. And so you can't trust anything. So there's this sort of skepticism towards anything that is, quote-unquote, mainstream or claims to be about following the science or something like that, these became catchphrases, but there's at the same time a really sort of increased credulity towards some pretty outlandish claims that just kept escalating as the pandemic continued.
[00:06:58] Jordan Harbinger: I noticed that even the people who are seemingly trying to moderate this, they would say things like, "Just remember, this is a space of love and inclusivity," and it's like, well, okay, but you're saying that, but then you're also promoting this other thing where you're clearly tribalizing people into believing stuff that you have no evidence for. You know, you came back from Burning Man or whatever, not that there's anything wrong with Burning Man—
[00:07:20] Julian Walker: Sure.
[00:07:20] Jordan Harbinger: And suddenly, you realize that you don't need medicine for anything. And it's like, well, that's bullsh*t, man. And you're hurting people by telling them that. It's not a belief that you don't need medical care. That's just not a thing you're going to credibly believe. And then, suddenly, that applies to everyone who's following you on Instagram.
[00:07:42] Julian Walker: Yeah, I mean, this was one of the early iterations that we observed. And that made us start saying, guys, we got to talk about this. One of us already had a podcast, Derek Beres, one of my colleagues, had a podcast and said, "Hey, let's just jump on and talk about this. We'll talk about it, maybe a couple of episodes. And then, you know, we'll have addressed what we're seeing." And now, here we are, like, we've created hundreds of hours of content. And we have a book that just came out. And it has been this inquiry that just kept going and going because we live in such strange times.
[00:08:12] One of the first ideas, as you just correctly pointed out, is that sort of came to the fore was that viruses don't really cause illness and we don't really need conventional so-called Western medicine to help protect us from diseases. Really, it's all in the mind or really it's coming from technology. So there was this guy named Tom Cowan who early on in the pandemic who's a homeopath kind of guy, one of these guys who used to have a medical license and then lost it because he did a lot of unethical things and then he becomes kind of a contrarian influencer and he's saying every pandemic that's ever happened, happened because of new electromagnetic technology. And so this is really not about a virus. That's all actually just a ruse.
[00:08:56] Jordan Harbinger: Wait. How did he explain the Black Death? Is he like they invented—? What was electromagnetic during that pandemic? I have to know what his theory is for that.
[00:09:04] Julian Walker: Yeah, I have to look back and find out exactly how he made sense of that.
[00:09:07] Jordan Harbinger: In 1684, they discovered magnetism. It didn't exist before then.
[00:09:11] Julian Walker: Yeah.
[00:09:12] Jordan Harbinger: What are you talking about? Oh my gosh.
[00:09:14] Julian Walker: Yeah, but this went viral. This got shared by a bunch of celebrities. This woman, a [Keri] Hilson, who's a singer. I think Seal was enamored of it.
[00:09:24] Jordan Harbinger: Oh, man.
[00:09:24] Julian Walker: You know, several people were just like boosting the stuff, which then leads as things continue in our story to Mikki Willis who's someone that we knew kind of tangentially or sort of one degree of separation from the LA spiritual scene.
[00:09:40] Jordan Harbinger: He produced Plandemic, right?
[00:09:42] Julian Walker: Yeah.
[00:09:43] Jordan Harbinger: That non-documentary where it's just like a bunch of, well, made-up stuff.
[00:09:47] Julian Walker: Yeah, so Mikki Willis is an interesting character, right? Because he's been very involved in the spirituality scene in LA. He is a fixture at this church called Agape, that's kind of like a science of mind, new age, quasi-Christian, but like very hip church that a lot of people are into on the west side of LA.
[00:10:07] Jordan Harbinger: Agape?
[00:10:07] Julian Walker: Agape.
[00:10:07] Jordan Harbinger: Otherwise known as [a-gape] by people who don't know what the little thing on the end of the E is. Got it.
[00:10:12] Julian Walker: You're familiar.
[00:10:12] Jordan Harbinger: Really unfortunate. I'm not, but I just assume it's spelled like a gape and that's funnier than caving into their BS, making me pronounce things like that. I don't do, I don't do, what are those called? Accents A's?
[00:10:25] Julian Walker: Accent agape, I don't know. Yeah, yeah.
[00:10:27] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, the French name for that. I refuse.
[00:10:30] Julian Walker: Yeah, and so Agape is like one of the Greek words for love. It means brotherly love or—
[00:10:34] Jordan Harbinger: Got it.
[00:10:34] Julian Walker: You know, fraternal love or something like that. Actually, no, not fraternal love. I think it's the divine love of God pouring down on all of us, something like that.
[00:10:41] Jordan Harbinger: Okay.
[00:10:42] Julian Walker: So Mikki Willis poured down his divine bullsh*t in the form of Plandemic, which he calls a documentary exposé, but really it's a 26-minute interview with this disgraced former researcher named Judy Mikovits. And essentially, the throughline is that once again, there's an alternative secret explanation for what's really happening. And it's that the whole pandemic was really planned and it's a totalitarian plot. And again, it gets widely shared. It goes viral. It gets millions of views in just a few days and we're off to the races.
[00:11:13] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. I mean, a few of those views for me because I will immediately watch stuff like that when kooky people share it with me.
[00:11:19] Julian Walker: Of course.
[00:11:19] Jordan Harbinger: Like I can't wait.
[00:11:20] Julian Walker: Yeah.
[00:11:20] Jordan Harbinger: I can't wait. I watch all of it and I've seen stuff where my wife walks in and she's like, "Do you want to talk about that?" Because I was watching like, and I shouldn't even admit this. I was watching something about like Nazi Holocaust stuff. And my wife is Taiwanese-American. And she's like, "What are you doing? Are you okay?" And I'm like, "It's for research purposes," you know? But I'm just strangely interested in watching this because I like to find the holes in things like this. And they're very—
[00:11:50] Julian Walker: Yeah.
[00:11:50] Jordan Harbinger: —obvious to me. Often, show fans will say, "Can you watch this?" And I'll watch it. And then I'm like, "Oh, what did you think?" And they're like, "I don't know." All my friends are sharing this with me and it doesn't seem right, but I can't put my finger on it. And that freaks me out, right?
[00:12:05] Julian Walker: Mm-hmm.
[00:12:05] Jordan Harbinger: Because that's how you radicalize people. They watch something and they go, it doesn't seem right, but all my friends believe it. Maybe I'm wrong. I thought I would share it with you. And I'm like, holy crap, stranger on the Internet. I'm the last line of defense between you starting to believe that the Holocaust didn't happen or—
[00:12:21] Julian Walker: Yep.
[00:12:21] Jordan Harbinger: —something along those lines. That scares me and shows me that this is really pervasive and pernicious stuff.
[00:12:28] Julian Walker: Yeah, it's a fascinating and scary phenomenon. I mean, basically, I think that human beings always have a kind of vulnerability to outlandish stories, to mysterious kind of explanations for the unknown, for the idea of the person who's behind the scenes kind of pulling the strings for explanations of the world that perhaps rely on things like aliens or lizard people or that the Jews are all kind of conspiring against us.
[00:12:55] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:12:56] Julian Walker: This is not something we've ever been free of. And you know, you can even see where it overlaps to some extent with our tendency to buy into various fairly outlandish religious beliefs that have been normalized, and now we're like, oh yeah, sure, but there's a way that Scientology is no more weird, say than Christianity.
[00:13:15] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:13:15] Julian Walker: But we've somehow culturally come to normalize these things. But I think that even though it's been with us all along, there is something about the advent of the Internet that allows for rapid distribution, that allows for the tools, you know, the immersive experience that you're going to have, watching a documentary movie that tells you the Holocaust never happened, that immersion in imagery and music and voiceovers and editing techniques—
[00:13:43] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:13:43] Julian Walker: I think is, it's very compelling. And I think you're right to say that for a lot of people, they watch and they're like, "I don't know. This just challenges a lot of my assumptions, like maybe I've been wrong all along, which is always what this kind of media tells you like, "Oh, you've had the wool pulled over your eyes, but now I'm going to enlighten you so that you can be one of the special ones who knows the truth and can be more empowered."
[00:14:06] Jordan Harbinger: I find it starts, and it starts early, right? And I want to get back to the spirituality stuff in a minute.
[00:14:12] Julian Walker: Yeah.
[00:14:12] Jordan Harbinger: But a lot of the mail that I've gotten over the last, probably even like 20 years, has been from young people. I remember what my first sort of experience with this was with America Online back in the 90s. Somebody sent me an instant message, and it was like, "I heard you're a Jew," and I was like, "Who are you?" And they were like, "Yeah, I'm in the Hammerskins," which is a skinhead group. And instead of getting mad or starting to cuss him out, which is kind of what he wanted, I just started talking with him. And it turns out he wasn't actually in the Hammerskins, his brother was, supposedly. And he was like, "Yeah, my brother got his tattoos, they're awesome, I'm going to join as soon as I'm old enough, but I'm like 14." And I just talked with him, like a regular human being, for a few weeks. And he just was abused, lonely, neglected, bored as hell, didn't give a crap about any of their beliefs. And I was like, this is how people get sucked into this crap. This is how people get sucked into skinhead gangs, this is how people get sucked into ridiculous conspiracy theories or neo-Nazi sympathies, stuff like this. I know I'm going to get a message like, why are you conflating bad spirituality or nonsense spirituality with Nazi-Holocaust denial? And I don't think that they're that far apart. I don't think they are. What do you think?
[00:15:30] Julian Walker: Yeah, I mean, we looked at cults a lot in terms of these intersections, right? Cults, conspiracy theories, they rely on alternate explanations for reality. There's a sociologist, Michael Barkun, who refers to it as stigmatized knowledge, right? So if you think about any of your sort of outsider ways of being ways of thinking about the world, it's always like we know something that the mainstream normies who are asleep don't know.
[00:15:57] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:15:58] Julian Walker: We can't really prove it to you. We know it either because our cult leader is God or has aliens talking to them, or we know it because we've uncovered through this, through doing our own research, some secret set of facts that somehow hang together in this worldview that really is filled with logical fallacies and very weak evidence and like motivated reasoning, confirmation bias. Nonetheless, it has revealed to us this knowledge that it makes us special. So it fulfills certain needs, right? It makes us special. It gives us a mission in the world. It connects us to a group of people so that we have a sense of belonging. And just like you were, I think, very insightfully observing a moment ago, like it is medicine for feeling abandoned, for feeling a sense of nihilism and purposelessness, for feeling unworthy. And into that kind of vacuum around, you know, poor reasoning, uh, losing touch with standards of scientific evidence, having all of these sort of psychological and social motivations, I think pretty much any content can then fit as long as it's sort of shaped the right way to engage with that hole, right?
[00:17:06] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, that's an interesting way to look at it. Like they're crafting the key that fits into The proverbial hole in your heart, right, in your soul—
[00:17:14] Julian Walker: Mm-hmm
[00:17:15] Jordan Harbinger: —whether it's a skinhead gang because you're lonely and you're getting picked on and like that won't happen anymore when you get a brother, band of brothers who are skinhead tough guys—
[00:17:22] Julian Walker: Yup.
[00:17:23] Jordan Harbinger: Or whether it's, hey, you're — and I hate to use this example but it's very apt — your yoga studios got shut down because of COVID. You're wondering how you're going to pay the bills. And a lot of your friends, who you respect, who are wealthy yoga influencers or fitness influencers or whatever, are saying, "Hey, this is all a plan. Your business wasn't shut down because of stuff that nobody can control. It's not that we just don't know what the hell we're doing as a population right now because we haven't had a pandemic in a century like this. It's that there's this big plan and whoever's behind the plan are probably the people that you already don't like."
[00:18:02] And tell me what you think of this, I noticed the wellness people were like, "It's big pharma, it's the health officials," you know, Fauci, whatever, but other people had different sort of demons for this. Because the demons just took the shape of what they already didn't like. So if you were a wellness person, you had a distrust of the pharmaceutical industry, it was big pharma. If you were a conspiracy theorist and you had a distrust of the government, it was mostly the government. If you were like a technophobic sort of nostalgic prepper type, it was there were vaccines suddenly in the microchips, sorry, sorry, the other way around, but who cares? It's as wrong as having microchips in the vaccines, that thing I just said,. So there are suddenly microchips in there because they want to track you and the technology is going to be used to control and kill you. I kind of noticed this among look sample size of whatever I'm following on Instagram. But I noticed those demons just took shape. It basically was like the bad guy in the latest season of Stranger Things. The demon just took the shape of the thing you were already afraid of, and that's what showed up as a result of this pandemic.
[00:19:07] Julian Walker: Yeah, I think that's exactly right. And where you started there with the yoga studios, right? We have a chapter in our book, which comes out of some of the work that we've done on the podcast in terms of really trying to understand, like what's going on here? Why are people vulnerable to this? How can we understand that without being totally condescending bastards and just sort of demonizing people or blaming them and saying that they're dumb or something like that? So the chapter in the book is called Conspiritualists Are Not Wrong.
[00:19:33] And when you look at the demographic that we started off studying, which was people in the yoga and wellness spaces, these are people who are entrepreneurial. They're self-employed. They have no safety net. They typically have no health insurance, like most of them. I'm not talking about the wealthy influencers who are like, you know, gathering all of those followers on Instagram. Just your average run-of-the-mill person who's trying to make a living as a coach, as a yoga teacher, as a massage therapist, as someone who's offering whatever services that they have, Reiki, you know, who runs the whole gamut.
[00:20:04] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:20:04] Julian Walker: Typically, they're living without a safety net. And so for that kind of person, if they're unable, and I fell into this category too, if you're unable to do your weekend and week out kind of hours, there's no money coming in. There's no way for you to sustain what you're doing. And then, there's the anxiety of like, "Oh, there's this thing that I could get really sick. And I don't know how I would pay for that, let alone pay my bills and all the rest of it."
[00:20:29] So one of the things that we found early on was this academic paper from 2011. It's called Conspirituality. It's just where we got our name from. And it's by Charlotte Ward and David Voas. And not to go too deep into this here, but there's a really interesting overlap that they identified. That we went, yes, that's exactly what we're seeing. And it relates to what you were just saying, Jordan. There's this way that they noticed online the combination of the dark paranoia of conspiracism, which tends to be more kind of a male interest, right? And like—
[00:21:02] Jordan Harbinger: Mmm.
[00:21:03] Julian Walker: —being involved in that inquiry into what are these hidden conspiracies. There's an intersection between that and the often more female-coded kind of interest in love and light. In this idea that we're heading towards some kind of magical, wonderful awakening. And what they labeled as conspirituality was the coming together of these two things, almost in a way that balanced each other out, where now I can be simultaneously investigating the way the world is controlled politically and socially by some secret group, but also feeling an optimistic sense that if we can overcome that group, I can wake up into my true self and into being conscious and filled with light and the world will be transformed in a way that ultimately is going to be something to celebrate.
[00:21:50] Jordan Harbinger: It's not only that, right? There's this sort of spiritual prosperity side to it. And the whole thing is monetized, which will surprise absolutely no one. There's conferences that then talk about this. There's online courses or product. And I'm not just talking about like colloidal silver that kills COVID in one shot, you know, from Alex Jones. I'm talking about anything from exercises to different types of supplements. And it's real unfortunate timing, right? Because as these yoga studios closed down or other gyms, whatever it was, businesses all over closed down, a lot of those people had to find ways to make money online. And if you were not wrapped into this, you might have said, "Oh, I'm going to teach online yoga for people at home. That's fun. It'll make me money." But then, as the competition for that revved up and other people decided that they couldn't or wouldn't do that, they started to sell other things that would pay the bills. And a lot of that was just straight grifting.
[00:22:46] Julian Walker: Yeah. So you have the supplements. You have the claims that the breath work or the meditation technique or the hot yoga or defying of public health measures, whatever you thought about that and however, that sort of was a bit of a sh*tshow in terms of the public communication. Nonetheless, we're going to defy these things because of our spiritual beliefs. We're going to gather together for a fee in a small space and chant away our fears and become kind of little mini super spreader events of our own all because the provider is needing to find some way to still make money. But then beyond that, what you start to see is that people who had social media accounts that were decent, but not that big, suddenly were able to grow their followings—
[00:23:32] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:23:32] Julian Walker: —suddenly were able to increase the revenue that they could generate through that algorithmic kind of escalation by recognizing, wow, when I say a bunch of stuff about how the aliens are talking to me or they're talking to this other person I know, the Galactic Federation, I sh*t you not, is telling us what all of this really means in terms of the timeline of the Great Awakening, which, you know, you had Great Awakening kind of memes coming through from QAnon—
[00:23:59] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:23:59] Julian Walker: —which had a more of a right-wing bent in terms of focusing on Trump getting reelected and that sort of thing but now within the New Age communities, the Great Awakening became about fifth-dimensional reality and how we're going to, you know, basically, the divine aliens are going to come and save us and we're going to transcend into this realm of light and love like I was saying before. So that starts to also become a way of monetizing, right? Is that the recognition that as I am telling these stories and as I am claiming the special access to hidden stigmatized knowledge, I'm becoming more famous and people are loving me.
[00:24:36] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:24:36] Julian Walker: And I'm now identifying as having a mission as this renegade enlightened outsider. And I think, for some people, that is a very intoxicating brew.
[00:24:48] Jordan Harbinger: I will put myself in that same, well, at least adjacent to that same bucket because it's very appealing for somebody—
[00:24:56] Julian Walker: Mm-hmm.
[00:24:56] Jordan Harbinger: —who's in my position to get more followers, more listeners, which translates to more advertising dollars. I mean, I think about this all the time, well before the Joe Rogan appearance of Robert F. Kennedy Jr. He wanted to come on my show. And I just can't do it because it's not good faith stuff. It's harmful. I'm all for varied opinions and yadda yadda, I just can't. There's a line I got to draw where there's just, it's just, there's a line I got to draw.
[00:25:24] Julian Walker: Mmm.
[00:25:25] Jordan Harbinger: And it is really annoying to me in a way to see other people sell out and go, well, I'm going to have this person, and I'm going to talk about the aliens and the Jews and the this and the that and the plan, and they build this huge following. And I'm like, man, I would just be so rich if I had absolutely no principles whatsoever, but I can't do it. I can't do it because I have to look my kids in the eye.
[00:25:49] Julian Walker: Yeah.
[00:25:49] Jordan Harbinger: And because I truly, truly think it's one of the most harmful things you can do, which is corrupt somebody's belief system, especially for money. I was going to ask you later in the show if these influencers believe their own bullsh*t because—
[00:26:01] Julian Walker: Yeah.
[00:26:01] Jordan Harbinger: —if you do, I have at least a little bit more understanding, if not respect, for what you're doing, but if you don't, you are one of the worst kinds of people that exist in my opinion.
[00:26:14] Julian Walker: Yeah, I mean, that's exactly where we end up with that question. That's a question everyone asks us. That's a question that we've, like, debated back and forth a whole bunch behind the scenes. I mean, ultimately, we come down to the place of, like you don't have x-ray vision into someone's psyche or heart. You don't really know what they think or believe. I think, however, we are constantly making those kind of evaluations as we listen to people, as we watch people, as we see the kind of content they put out. In the book, we sort of talk about a sort of broad distinction between believers and boosters. And we have certain people who we think like these people really, really seem to believe what they're saying. And so, like you just said, there is a sense of maintaining a sort of empathic understanding of that. Like, if you really believed that, then it makes sense that you would do and say all these things. But if you don't believe it, if you know that you're just kind of cynically exploiting whatever is getting you more clicks, if you know that it's not true — I mean, RFK Jr. is a fascinating example. There's a sense that I have that he is passionately committed to what he's doing and saying.
[00:27:20] Jordan Harbinger: I agree.
[00:27:20] Julian Walker: Yeah.
[00:27:20] Jordan Harbinger: I agree. That's why I was on the fence. Because I'm like, man, he does not come across as a guy who's just trying to get speaking fees. He really believes all this. But I'm, I still can't get there.
[00:27:30] Julian Walker: Yeah, yeah. And as you probably know, he's coming from a background of 20 years as being an environmental lawyer—
[00:27:35] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:27:35] Julian Walker: —where he's essentially been trying to protect. People from the harmful effects of pollution, which largely comes from like government lobbyists and they're being in bed with corporations in ways that are really disgusting. He's been fighting the good fight, but somehow he took a wrong turn in our opinion, and that wrong turn has led him into this place where he's putting out the most florid kind of example of conspirituality.
[00:28:03] I'm sure you saw the talk he gave at the Defeat the Mandates rally, where he was kind of like the headline speaker. You've got the American flag behind him. You've got the statue of Lincoln behind that. And he's basically comparing people who are refusing the COVID vaccines to being like Anne Frank trying to escape the Nazis. He's talking about all of Bill Gates' little drones spying on everyone and this being turnkey totalitarianism. And it just, it goes off into territory where you're like—
[00:28:28] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:28:29] Julian Walker: —that is a science fiction movie that you're describing that you're now infusing with Holocaust references. Like, dude, I get that you're sincere, but you need a reality check.
[00:28:37] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, that's, of course, where I ended up falling. As you can see, he is not in the list of show guests, which is a shame because there's a lot of beliefs there and thinking there that I think is very admirable, but I just I have to be careful with the—
[00:28:51] Julian Walker: Yup.
[00:28:52] Jordan Harbinger: —influence that we have on the show and whether or not people agree with me that I think even people who say, "Jordan, you're a moron. You should believe in all this. He's right." I think even those people would agree that you have to be careful with the type of influence that you have when you have a platform like this. And so I have to be selective with what I'm infusing my audience with because—
[00:29:12] Julian Walker: Yeah.
[00:29:13] Jordan Harbinger: —there's a level of trust that I've earned over years that I can't misuse.
[00:29:16] Julian Walker: I really respect that. I feel like you're also describing, Jordan, without saying it directly, you're kind of describing like an equation that you sold for yourself or that you consider for yourself between your own sense of moral integrity, being able to look your kids in the eyes, versus like, well, you know, this is trending and so maybe if I jump on it, I could make a lot of money.
[00:29:39] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:29:40] Julian Walker: And I think included in that equation is there's some sense of, like, how immune you are to the kind of adulation that can come from taking the easy way, right?
[00:29:52] Jordan Harbinger: Maybe. I mean, don't get me wrong. I would love it if millions of people were like, "You're right, and you're fighting the good fight, and everyone else is wrong, and here's millions of dollars." That sounds pretty good.
[00:30:02] Julian Walker: Sure.
[00:30:03] Jordan Harbinger: But I also have to go to sleep with my own thoughts—
[00:30:06] Julian Walker: Yeah.
[00:30:06] Jordan Harbinger: —at the end of the day.
[00:30:07] Julian Walker: That's my point. It's not good enough. Like, look, listen, all of us like being on camera and hearing the sound of our own voice. That's why we're in this. That's why we're in this game. We have a little bit of narcissism.
[00:30:16] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:30:17] Julian Walker: But the narcissism is maybe not pronounced enough to overcome that moral discomfort.
[00:30:22] Jordan Harbinger: TBD, watch this space, I guess, right?
[00:30:24] Julian Walker: Yeah, exactly. Let's see what happens. But you know what? I want to say too that this situates us within like one of the topics of the day that's really difficult. And I know you're going to get emails about this, right? Because in a way, some people would say, well, you're a refusal to have RFK Jr. on your show. You're censoring him.
[00:30:40] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:30:41] Julian Walker: You're opposed to free speech. You're part of the problem right now.
[00:30:43] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:30:44] Julian Walker: And to me, I think if when we examine like the history of this stuff a little more closely, when even if just in the more recent past, you go and you look at 4chan, pizzagate and QAnon conspiracy theories, which basically ate the world for a while, originate on 4chan. What was 4chan? 4chan was a completely unmoderated free-for-all where just all of the worst content you could possibly imagine was up all the time. People got ironic about it. People got completely immune to it. It's a very cruel space. It was a very like harsh and bigoted and sadistic kind of space where everything was just fodder for humor in a way for like dark humor. And Fredrick Brennan, who, I don't know if he started 4chan or if he, whatever his relation, he was a very prominent figure with regard to 4chan, he's come to the place over like the last 10 years where he's just like, it should be shut down.
[00:31:37] Jordan Harbinger: That's the guy who he's disabled, correct?
[00:31:39] Julian Walker: Yes.
[00:31:39] Jordan Harbinger: And he's like, he speaks out about how, just how awful this message board that he created has become and how it's done—
[00:31:46] Julian Walker: Exactly.
[00:31:46] Jordan Harbinger: —horrible things for society. Yeah, he lives with a heavy burden, I think.
[00:31:50] Julian Walker: Yeah. Yeah. And you know, for people who don't know, this is the message board that where, you know, when there were mass shooters who had connections on those boards, they'd be live streaming their mass shooting on the board so that people could watch it and people would be cheering along.
[00:32:04] So it's like, I don't know about your orientation toward this issue over time, but for a long time, I've been a free speech absolutist. I believe in the marketplace of ideas, if your ideas are strong enough, if you have enough conviction in them, you should be able to debate and you should be able to defeat the other ideas if they're really false, if they're really stupid. And I think that there's a lot of truth in that, but we're at a point in time right now with the reality of the Internet and social media and how fast misinformation spreads and how people can get really frothed up in this kind of cultish conspiracy dynamic.
[00:32:40] We're in uncharted territory, and I think the kinds of questions that you are modeling in terms of wondering, like, should I really post RFK Jr.? I think not. I think maybe there's a line there for me. I think we're all trying to figure out where those lines are, and I don't think the answer is to say, there's no lines. Just let everyone fight it out.
[00:33:00] Jordan Harbinger: You're listening to The Jordan Harbinger Show with our guest Julian Walker.
[00:33:04] This episode is sponsored in part by Bradley Smoker. Imagine a sunny afternoon in your backyard, the aroma of slow-cooked meat wafting through the air. Not so good if you're vegan, I get it. But now picture yourself biting into the barbecued meat, perfectly tender and infused with mouth-watering flavor that only a meat smoker can create. That's the kind of weekend we had here, thanks to Bradley Smoker. A friend introduced me to this fantastic invention. And I love it. I wanted to share it with all of you. Let's just say I'm an indoor kid. I didn't picture myself smoking meat or anything for that matter. Usually when something is smoking around here, it's bad. It's actually cause for alarm, but what sets Bradley Smoker apart from traditional pellet smokers is that it has an automatic wood bisquette feeder that burns and then automatically douses the used bisquette in water. So you don't get that ashtray taste. It's clean smoke only no unhealthy white ash. The Bradley Smoker is so user-friendly. We fed over 40 hungry people at one party. We smoked a 20-pound brisket for more than 20 hours, several racks of ribs. My brother-in-law had to stay up all night to do that. Better him than me. We tried the mesquite bisquettes for the brisket and apple wood for the ribs. Perfect for friends and family get-togethers, especially for the holidays.
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[00:35:57] Now back to the show.
[00:36:00] It's a life and death for a lot of folks when it comes to this. And that brings me to this concept of karmic responsibility that you talk about in the book. This is one of the reasons why I can't humor a lot of the nonsense that people come to me with. Tell me about karmic responsibility. This is what's killing people, essentially, in part.
[00:36:20] Julian Walker: Yeah. I mean, when you say karmic responsibility, are you referring to the idea that basically it's your own fault? Like any bad things that are happening in your life?
[00:36:28] Jordan Harbinger: Right. Yes. I should have been more specific. But yeah, that's what I mean.
[00:36:30] Julian Walker: No, no, that's fine.
[00:36:33] Jordan Harbinger: Well, if you are having a problem, if you have a health problem, it's because you have done something in this life, or a past life, or it's because of your belief system. I'd love to hear more about this, because I hear this, and I'd love to just say, what about starving kids in Africa? What have they done? Why are kids who can't get enough food, and they're in a civil war, and they're born in Eritrea or whatever, and they're escaping over a militarized border? What have the North Korean kids done wrong to—?
[00:37:00] Julian Walker: Yeah.
[00:37:00] Jordan Harbinger: —deserve this? And it's just, there's no answer to this that isn't complete BS, in a past life they were Hitler type of sh*t. There's just not.
[00:37:08] Julian Walker: Exactly. You know, if you drill down into some of this stuff, I think whether we're talking about certain types of New Age beliefs, certain types of cultish indoctrination, certain kinds of conspiracy theories, I would even argue certain forms of religion. Underneath all of this, in my opinion, you basically have existential anxiety. We have to confront the fact that we're going to die one day. We have to deal with the reality that a lot of things that happen in our lives are random. That bad things do in fact happen to good people. That complete and utter awful human beings often prosper and do well in the world.
[00:37:44] Now, that's not to say that there's not something to the idea of the kind of social capital that you can generate in the world by being a good person, by having good interactions with others, by caring about them, by, by doing favors, by showing up in positive ways. Like there is a kind of energy that I think you generate that has real impacts on the world, but within a limited kind of framework. Because these things can provoke so much anxiety, the uncertainty of the world we live in, the vulnerability of what it is to be human and that terrible things can happen to us and our loved ones at any time, I think that part of the appeal of certain types of beliefs, like the ones we're talking about, is that they claim to be able to solve that problem, that sort of existential angst, if you will.
[00:38:28] The idea of "Everything happens for a reason," you're never a victim, you're always choosing everything that happens, somehow, if things seem not to make sense, if your dad gets hit by a bus, or if your child gets leukemia, or you know, you lose your job, ultimately, it's all for some higher purpose. And so you can hear that idea coming through lots of different belief systems.
[00:38:48] Jordan Harbinger: You're right. It's not just yoga and karma stuff. I remember going to a lecture with a Hasidic rabbi and it was why do bad things happen to good people, and the short version is, "Well, you don't know that they're good people. They might beat their wife and you have no idea." I'm like, "What are you talking about? Are you kidding me? That's the answer to this." I thought there was going to be like way more to this. And the answer is, "Ah, you just don't know. They might be really terrible people."
[00:39:10] Julian Walker: Yeah. That's a great spin. That's a great spin.
[00:39:12] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:39:12] Julian Walker: You know, in the realm of like, you know, for a while there in the '80s and '90s, there were a group of psychologists who were very involved, maybe actually starting more in the '70s, who were involved in trying to integrate like Eastern and Western insights about the nature of the psyche. And there's a guy named John Welwood, who was a theorist in transpersonal psychology, which is that kind of discipline. And he came up with this observation that was really from working with a lot of people who were very spiritual. In this case, they were really into Buddhist meditation. But he observed this thing that he coined a name for, which is spiritual bypass.
[00:39:45] Jordan Harbinger: Ah, yeah.
[00:39:46] Julian Walker: Yeah. Essentially, spiritual bypass means that whatever is really difficult about being human, whether it's the fact that you have childhood trauma or the fact that the world is politically complicated and often really harsh, or that there are economic injustices that you see all around you that you may feel guilty about or you may be impacted by, one of the responses to that is to try to just do an end run around all of that difficult stuff. And just go directly to some place of divine perfection as a way of avoiding facing it. Now, it works for a short period of time. And it can work intermittently, right, where you can just sort of talk yourself out of any of those difficult emotions or like mental problems, but it doesn't really go anywhere. You're still dealing with that stuff. And what tends to happen then is that the lack of sort of coherence around really being authentically aware of those difficult emotions and issues plays out in relationships. It plays out in your life choices.
[00:40:45] Jung has a famous quote that what remains unconscious appears in our lives as fate in a way. So it's kind of a slightly different angle on this idea of how we're showing up in the world. So, one of the things that we see a lot with cults is that cults will exploit that vulnerability to spiritual bypass. That's part of the bait on the hook is like, "Mmm, here's a dummy, yummy way of feeling like you can just move beyond all of the struggles of being an ordinary human being.
[00:41:14] Jordan Harbinger: Right. It's all for some divine purpose or the spiritual bypassing thing I noticed happens a lot with a lot of these online influencers that I know. Can we give examples of this, actually? I think that's helpful because this is so pervasive now that it's almost the default for a lot of people in this space.
[00:41:32] Julian Walker: Yeah, so the idea is basically that anything that happens to you, the spiritually correct way to see it is that you're not a victim of it. Anything bad that happens to you, you're not a victim of. And conversely, then, anything good that happens, it happens because you really deserve it. It happens because you had the right mindset. So, the really famous example of this. We see this like in prosperity gospel. We see it in Joel Osteen. Like it's everywhere. But the really famous counterculture kind of spiritual New Age version of it was the film The Secret.
[00:42:02] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:42:03] Julian Walker: That came out in 2006. And so what is the secret, the whole thing? And here's the fascinating thing about The Secret. If you go and look at that movie again, I know you like to look at this stuff, the first, like, 20, 15, 20 minutes of the secret, it's this thing that's been hidden throughout time—
[00:42:18] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:42:18] Julian Walker: —in smoky boardrooms, the elites have known about it. Plato and Aristotle talked about it. All of the great philosophers across time and spiritual masters have known the secret. And you get really revved up, like, this is going to be good. Kind of like you were saying when you ask people and you're like, wait, you ask the rabbi. It's sort of like—
[00:42:36] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:42:36] Julian Walker: It's, what?
[00:42:37] Jordan Harbinger: I'm like, you're joking, all right? There's more to it. You're just too lazy to tell me. No, that's it.
[00:42:41] Julian Walker: Yeah. Like you're being prepared for like this profound thing that both the physicist and the enlightened guru and the guy in the boardroom with the cigar who's making billions of dollars, they all know the secret. And what does the secret turn out to be? Your thoughts create reality.
[00:42:56] Jordan Harbinger: Mmm.
[00:42:56] Julian Walker: And then they go, they keep going deeper and deeper into unpacking this premise in terms of like all of these different examples if you just visualize that a million dollars is going to come to you, the check will magically appear in your mailbox. And when you give real examples, like I've criticized this film for a long time, because it was so impactful, it was the biggest selling DVD of all time, you know, not that DVDs were around for that long, but nonetheless.
[00:43:18] Jordan Harbinger: Still, they hit right in the pocket, yeah.
[00:43:20] Julian Walker: It was hugely popular, yeah. So when you give real examples, people say, "Oh, well, surely you're exaggerating." It's like, no, that's an actual example in the film. Focus on a million-dollar check, it'll come in the mail. But conversely, at the time, the Iraq war was going on, a lot of people didn't like the Iraq war, whatever your political position on that may have been, but they would say focusing on the Iraq war by protesting it makes the Iraq war continue.
[00:43:45] Jordan Harbinger: Interesting.
[00:43:45] Julian Walker: So you should ignore it. If you ignore it, it's just going to go away. Now, here's where this becomes relevant in terms of conspirituality and the pandemic, which is where things really came to a head is that you had a lot of these wellness and spirituality type influencers. Either denying that it existed, saying that COVID was caused by 5G, saying that viruses don't really cause diseases, that's part of an old paradigm, we're waking up to something new, saying that fear is the real virus. And that if you buy into the mainstream narrative that makes you afraid, then you're going to get sick. So here you are creating your own reality and the way to protect yourself from COVID, because especially in those early months, like I think a lot of people were really anxious about it—
[00:44:26] Jordan Harbinger: Sure.
[00:44:26] Julian Walker: Whatever their guiding kind of worldview may have been to protect yourself from it. Here's the meditation technique. Here's the breathwork technique. Here's the essential oil you need to buy. Here's the supplement that, by the way, you can get through an affiliate link that I have in the description right now, you know? So that's how it is. It started playing out in this specific situation.
[00:44:45] Jordan Harbinger: I do see that, ironically, a lot of the people who are saying, like, you're giving in to the fear, I'm like, all you talk about on your show feed, YouTube, whatever, is conspiracies about people are out to get you. There's a higher power that is trying to control you. This is going to kill you if you take it. The radiation from the cell phone towers is going to kill you. And I'm thinking, why am I the one that looks like I'm afraid if this is all you think about and talk about it? It's very ironic. It's all projection.
[00:45:14] Julian Walker: Yeah. That's a perfect observation. Absolutely, fear is the mind killer. Do not believe the fear. And now let me tell you everything that you should be terrified of in an absolutely paranoid and irrational.
[00:45:25] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, right.
[00:45:25] Julian Walker: It's wild. I mean, one of the one of the things we talk about. In the book as well is like, I'm sure you're familiar with it because I know you're a fan of psychology. There's this theory within psychology that's very, very well scientifically supported called attachment theory, right? Attachment theory is essentially about like how we form bonds, how we form relationships, especially in our early childhood and how the experiences we have in terms of forming bonds, learning how to trust people, learning how to be able to bounce back from disappointments or, you know, what's called empathic lapses where we don't feel like we're fully being taken care of, like how those things then shape the way we show up in our adult relationships. It's called an attachment style. And then, also there's a lot of research because this has been done intergenerationally over decades. It shows how we end up sort of relating to our own kids and some of the issues that transfer across those different vectors.
[00:46:14] With regard to cults and sort of conspiracy theories that are organized around a kind of buying into a group identity, one of the things that we've explored is this idea of disorganized attachment. And disorganized attachment is one of the attachment styles within which the defining characteristic is that you are driven to seek comfort from the person who is terrorizing you, right? And so it's the experience that when you're a kid, the parent scares the hell out of you, but they're the only one that you can get comfort from. So you're simultaneously stuck in this dynamic where you're basically in a bit of a trance because you're terrified of the person you want to get away from them, but they're the one who should protect you from the world.
[00:46:59] And so we've looked at how, just like you were saying a moment ago, the influencer who's simultaneously saying, be unafraid, I have the answers, buy this supplement, buy into this belief system, I can explain to you how this is all part of the great awakening that we're heading towards. And then, here are all these things that you need to be absolutely terrified of that you never thought of before because they're fantastical and utterly paranoid.
[00:47:19] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:47:20] Julian Walker: And that's part of the dynamic consciously or not, there's this sort of enmeshment in a very, uh, conflicted. An intense relational dynamic. I don't know if that made sense.
[00:47:31] Jordan Harbinger: It does.
[00:47:31] Julian Walker: Yeah.
[00:47:32] Jordan Harbinger: Also it sort of goes hand in hand with, I think, trauma bonding, right, where—
[00:47:36] Julian Walker: Yep.
[00:47:37] Jordan Harbinger: —the elites in the Illuminati, they want to make you afraid. And then also, if you take this medicine that we require for kids to have to go to school, that's going to secretly sterilize you because Bill Gates wants to reduce the population. And it's like, wait, what? It's very confusing. And I think you phrase it well in the book. You say they create a storm that only they can shelter their followers from.
[00:47:59] Julian Walker: Mm-hmm.
[00:47:59] Jordan Harbinger: So they create the storm, but then they're also simultaneously the shelter from that exact storm, and it's a great recipe until people start to wake up and figure out what's actually happening, right? Because it's like, well, wait a minute. I wasn't afraid until I started watching all your videos. And then the answer to what you're telling me to be scared of that I'd never heard about is to buy your vitamins. That's a little on the nose.
[00:48:22] Julian Walker: Yeah, yeah, so we have a phrase on the podcast, watch what they say, and then watch what they sell.
[00:48:27] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:48:27] Julian Walker: And you know, I also want to say here that like, all of this can sound incredibly cynical and manipulative, and some of the time it is, but I also think some of it is a product of all of these surrounding realities, you know, where the influencer needs to make a living. They're involved in this online kind of dynamic where there may be some sense of audience capture and some sense of like, "Oh, if I keep escalating my sensationalist rhetoric, it helps me make a living," right?
[00:48:52] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:48:52] Julian Walker: And then getting networked into these groups of influencers who are all showing up together at conferences and summits. Like the fascinating thing that we tracked as well is within the yoga and wellness space, the most successful charismatic individuals already had locked and loaded, and I know you can relate to this, they already had a system in place, right, where you have the website, you have the email capture widget, you have the newsletter that you're going to send out to, you have the sales pages for the different things that you're doing, you have the affiliate marketing stuff going on, you have the groups of other people who are at a similar level who you're sharing email lists with by doing these summits. Like this is a model of online entrepreneurial influence that was already in place. And then they could slot right into that conveyor belt. Oh, here's the new content. We've got the new content for this season. It's about COVID denial. It's about the cabal. It's about how public health is really trying to enact authoritarianism on you. So that was wild to see as well. And I think that's also part of why this phenomenon really had legs and really took off in the way that it did. It was because there were already these networks in place for spreading things incredibly effectively and quickly.
[00:50:11] Jordan Harbinger: For money?
[00:50:12] Julian Walker: Right.
[00:50:12] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. Exactly. And you've coined the term disaster spirituality, which I think is really apt because a lot of grifters use whatever terrorism, health crises, et cetera, to recruit and make money. I remember after 9/11, if people can think that far back, there were guys selling like parachute backpacks that you could wear. And it'd be funny if it weren't so disgusting, right? Because the idea was if a plane crashes into a building or something, you have this parachute backpack that you can keep under your desk and you can just jump out the window. And it's like, it's really gross.
[00:50:44] Julian Walker: Mm-hmm.
[00:50:44] Jordan Harbinger: It's really gross because there's no actual use for this. It wouldn't work anyways if you needed it to. But yet, that's what we're seeing, it's like never miss the chance to use something like COVID to increase your footprint. And now I, we see that everywhere with every little thing, even with the Ukraine conflict, we see people like, Oh, you know what, you're going to run out of food because Ukraine's a breadbasket. And these experts are saying that the grain levels are going to go down, which...you're going to run out of food, even though you live in Texas. And it's like, no, you might have trouble with food if you live in Ethiopia, because you're at the bottom of the bottom of the breadbasket food chain, so to speak. You're not going to run out of food if you live in Tampa. You're going to be fine, right, but there's people selling meals in buckets for the time when there's no bread left because there's no grain because nuclear holocaust.
[00:51:36] Julian Walker: Yeah, it's so shamelessly opportunistic. We've identified now the hole in the market and let's jump on it as soon as possible.
[00:51:43] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:51:43] Julian Walker: You know, the thing that's interesting about that in terms of this disaster spirituality, which we borrowed from Naomi Klein who has a book called Disaster Capitalism. People that we follow, so there's a few examples, Teal Swan is a very famous one. Kelly Brogan is very well known. Charles Eisenstein, who is now the advisor to RFK Jr.'s campaign. These are people we've covered in depth. When the pandemic hit, they were ready to go. Like literally in the pandemic becoming something that we all realized we had to deal with. And we thought we're going to stay home for two weeks, right? In that initial moment, within that week, they each had really well-written essays, really well-scripted videos, like ideas about everything that was going on before any of us really knew. Like even the facts of what was going on, they had a spiritual conspiracy kind of narrative that they were ready to just plug right in and get out there to their hundreds of thousands of followers. It was really a wild thing to see.
[00:52:43] Jordan Harbinger: I saw this and I know Teal Swan, I've talked about her a little bit before. For people who don't know, she's kind of a, well, what would you say? A YouTube cult leader where she kind of, well, she told me she can read something called the Akashic Record, which is what, like a list, a spiritual record that details everything everyone has ever done, basically...I'm psychic and talking to aliens, with a little twinge of, what is this, like, an ancient Indian lore thrown in there? It's just the flavor of that. And she says things like, suicide and killing yourself as a reset button.
[00:53:16] Julian Walker: Mm-hmm.
[00:53:17] Jordan Harbinger: So it'll just sort of reset all the problems in your life. And she's batsh*t crazy. I think is the technical term we're looking for. She's a real harmful person.
[00:53:25] Julian Walker: I'm not going to argue with your technical terminology there.
[00:53:28] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:53:28] Julian Walker: I think Teal Swan is a really, really interesting person and an interesting character in terms of the stuff that we've looked at. Teal Swan I think of as kind of being like the living anthropological missing link between the Satanic Panic period of the late '80s and early '90s and what started to happen circa roughly like 2017 online that then leads to everything that happens in the pandemic.
[00:53:49] And the reason I say that Is that Teal Swan is a great example of a charismatic kind of spiritual leader figure who gets a lot of traction, gets a lot of followers. She's beautiful. She's eloquent. She's very smart. She reads a lot of stuff and like is able to synthesize it and talk at length in ways that people find very compelling. She talks a lot about trauma. So she's unique in terms of that spiritual bypass thing that we were talking about before, because she actually goes the other way where she's like, no, everyone has these terrible traumas. They've often forgotten those traumas. I have a technology for helping you to heal and to become fully empowered and then to wake up to all of your, you know, psychic abilities and sort of enlightened spiritual realizations.
[00:54:34] What's fascinating about Teal Swan is that I think she kind of created the template right around 2010, 2011 for that kind of leader whose qualification, the thing that makes them special, the things that makes them an authority is they have a terrible backstory. They have an origin story that is just the most horrific trauma you can imagine. And the reason I say she's a missing link back to the Satanic Panic is that there was a psychotherapist named Barbara Snow. who was one of the main therapists during this period of time in American history where everyone was talking about satanic ritual abuse. There were all of these big high profile court cases around daycare centers, especially, and schools where people were being accused of like the most outlandish, wild, satanic ritual, blood drinking, sexual abuse—
[00:55:24] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:55:25] Julian Walker: —like being able to fly through the air, like killing animals and feeding them to the kids. I mean, all the most horrible things you can imagine. And later on, as time went by, there's some good documentaries on this. We started to realize that there was like an interviewing technique that the therapists use and that the police often used where the kids would basically end up going down the garden path and giving the answers that made—
[00:55:45] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:55:45] Julian Walker: —the interviewers happy, you know, that convinced them of their own confirmation bias. And later on, you know, the fascinating thing about the Satanic Panic, in 12,000 court cases that were brought around these types of allegations and this big sort of hysteria that, you know, it was on Geraldo and it was on Oprah and everyone was talking about it. It was huge.
[00:56:05] Jordan Harbinger: Of course, it was.
[00:56:06] Julian Walker: In 12, 000 cases, there was never one piece of corroborating evidence. Like, none of it ever added up to anything. That's not to say there aren't horrible abuses that happen in the world and that there weren't groups that were probably torturing children. Yes, there were. But this idea that there was this. big phenomenon going on turned out to be completely baseless. People went to jail for, in some cases, a decade or two.
[00:56:27] Jordan Harbinger: Oh my god.
[00:56:28] Julian Walker: And then were later released because it was just shown to be a completely baseless fabrication. Teal Swan's therapist was one of the central therapists within that whole world. It was eliciting these kinds of allegations from these kids of satanic ritual abuse. Teal Swan goes to see her when she's a young woman. And what do you know? It turns out she was involved, not one but two different satanic cults, one of which was Mormon and one of which was kind of anti-Mormon, if I'm remembering correctly.
[00:56:58] Jordan Harbinger: Huh? Okay.
[00:56:58] Julian Walker: And now, she has this elaborate backstory. She's been sewn into a corpse at some point as part of these rituals. She's watched babies be killed. She's been, of course, like hardly sexually abused. You know, terrible stuff. If this really happened to her, my heart absolutely goes out to her. But the orientation within this lineage of repressed memory stuff that we now know to not be scientifically or psychologically sound is pretty striking. And so, Teal Swan then comes onto the scene as like, "I'm this wounded healer with this horrific backstory. And that is why I developed these incredible psychic powers. And that is why I'm this truth-teller who can look you in the eye and tell you exactly what you need to know in order for your life to get better." And then, wouldn't you know it, all of the Satanic Panic stuff gets rebooted and that's what QAnon is essentially, right? QAnon is this idea that there's this horrible cabal that is secretly trafficking kids and drinking their blood and, you know, involved in this, this pedophiliac kind of weird power dance with the devil.
[00:57:58] Jordan Harbinger: So Satanic Panic stuff, among many schools and daycare centers, there was one anecdote where it was like a school in Santa Monica underneath there's a system of underground tunnels and they're feeding serpents to the kids.
[00:58:12] Julian Walker: Yep.
[00:58:12] Jordan Harbinger: And parents were like digging in the fricking playground and well, they didn't find any tunnels.
[00:58:18] Julian Walker: Yeah.
[00:58:18] Jordan Harbinger: And it really reminded me of Pizzagate where there's a secret basement in the Comet Ping Pong or whatever the place is called.
[00:58:24] Julian Walker: Yep.
[00:58:25] Jordan Harbinger: And they're trafficking children there and there's no basement. That place doesn't have a basement, right? And it's just like this is the same sh*t.
[00:58:32] Julian Walker: That's exactly right. That's a very good connection. You know, I think his name's Edgar Welch drives for like hours to go to Comet Pizza, Comet Ping Pong pizza or whatever it's called—
[00:58:42] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:58:42] Julian Walker: —armed, right? And storms into this place where basically kids have pizza parties and—
[00:58:50] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:58:50] Julian Walker: —convinced that in the basement Hillary Clinton has all of these kids that she's trafficking, shoots his way through the only door that's available once he's inside thinking this must be where the stairs go down to the basement. And what's in there? But like the server for the computers—
[00:59:05] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:59:06] Julian Walker: —of the business and on top of a concrete slab. Like the whole thing is just made up. But the problem with Pizzagate and then with QAnon, especially with QAnon, is that people get so convinced of these far-out beliefs about what's really happening in the world that they then act in the real world based on those beliefs and they end up killing people, they end up kidnapping and having standoffs with the police. And, you know, there's a couple of cases of men who killed their own children because they were convinced that their mothers were involved somehow in the cabal.
[00:59:44] Jordan Harbinger: This is The Jordan Harbinger Show with our guest Julian Walker. We'll be right back.
[00:59:49] This episode is sponsored in part by Grammarly. Writing, an inevitable part of life, y'all. Job applications, crafting that perfect wedding speech, even just daily social media posts, takes a long time. It's not for everybody. A lot of y'all hate it, I know. Well, Grammarly has a new AI-powered tool called Grammarly Go, which can streamline your writing, especially the writing you don't want to do. Grammarly Go doesn't just help with grammar, it adapts to your unique voice and offers assistance based on what you need. Running low on creative ideas? I get it. Simply use prompts such as suggest ideas for taco truck decor or provide 10 potential video thumbnail taglines. With Grammarly Go, writer's block becomes a thing of the past. Boosting your productivity and making writing enjoyable rather than a chore. Grammarly Go was super helpful when Jen needed help crafting a memorial speech for her late uncle, which she'd never had to do before, by the way. It was crucial to find the right words to honor a loved one and comfort the family in mourning and Grammarly Go did a bang-up job. They helped create the perfect tone and even suggested ways to honor a loved one's memory that just stuff that, let's admit it, most of us are not sitting around writing these all day long. It was really a game changer and it was free to use.
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[01:03:47] Now for the rest of my conversation with Julian Walker.
[01:03:52] I felt bad for the Comet Pizza guy. Thank God he didn't kill anyone, hurt anyone.
[01:03:57] Julian Walker: Yep.
[01:03:57] Jordan Harbinger: And imagine if he'd been right, he would have been a national hero for going in and rescuing those kids. But the problem is, I remember the cops arrested him and they're like, "What are you doing?" And one of the cops like, "It's the Pizzagate thing." And the other cop's like, "What are you talking about?" And he goes, "The Pizzagate thing, he thinks there's a basement with kids in it." And the other cop's like, "What?"
[01:04:13] Julian Walker: Yeah.
[01:04:13] Jordan Harbinger: I mean, it was just, it's a very surreal video of this guy with his face down on the pavement with a cop's hand on the back of his head.
[01:04:20] Julian Walker: Mm-hmm.
[01:04:20] Jordan Harbinger: And they're like handcuffing him. And they're just, one of the dudes is just flabbergasted that anybody would believe this. And the other cop's like, "Yo, don't you have Twitter?" It was just so freaking strange.
[01:04:31] Julian Walker: Let me pull up 4chan for you on my phone.
[01:04:33] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[01:04:33] Julian Walker: I know all about it.
[01:04:34] Jordan Harbinger: Right. Like dude, don't you even, do you even Xbox? This is all over the place like I talk about it all the time. It's just that nobody actually believes it except for this guy who's going to prison for 20 years—
[01:04:44] Julian Walker: Mm-hm.
[01:04:45] Jordan Harbinger: —for bringing a rifle into a pizza place. But QAnon also distracted people from real sex trafficking, and I got kind of duped by this, too.
[01:04:53] Julian Walker: Yeah.
[01:04:53] Jordan Harbinger: I had some of these supposed, you know, door kicker guys on my show, only to find out that a few months later, they're like, "Did you know Wayfair, which is a furniture company, is supposedly selling children online? Look at this cabinet. It's 20,000, and the name of it matches a kid who went missing in Mississippi three years ago."
[01:05:10] Julian Walker: Mm-hmm.
[01:05:10] Jordan Harbinger: And it's like, this is the most unhinged, dumb crap. And I don't think a lot of those folks believe it. They use it to raise money for their organization, which is a fake human trafficking organization. And they live in five-star hotels and travel all over the world, raising money for something that is not a real, not that there's no child trafficking, but they're not doing anything with it or they're doing very little. And unfortunately, a lot of the real trafficking organizations are like, oh, gosh, our hashtags are being taken over. We can't raise money because our donors are shifting to give to these other places that aren't doing anything. They don't have shelters.
[01:05:45] Julian Walker: Yeah.
[01:05:45] Jordan Harbinger: They're not doing anything. They're telling people they're flying to other countries and rescuing kids that are locked up in satanic cults. And it's just not real. This is not a thing.
[01:05:54] Julian Walker: Yeah, this, so you're describing the architecture of these kinds of moral panics, right? And the thing is, the horrible thing, the horrible truth is, sex trafficking goes on. It's always going on. It was going on under Obama. It went on under Trump. Like it's part of the world we live in. And there are organizations and there are government agencies that are doing as much as they're able to address it and to try to put a stop to it and to rescue those kids. We've had people on our show who are involved in those kinds of organizations. And yeah, they all said the same thing. They were like, "The amount of interference was caused for us in our attempts to really combat child sex trafficking by all of this wacky conspiracy stuff and people thinking they were going to be vigilantes—"
[01:06:37] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[01:06:38] Julian Walker: And kind of get clout online through, through claiming to be these kinds of heroes was just, it was just awful for people really trying to do that work and what this is an interesting aspect of what happened in 2020 which is that as QAnon started to gain more and more sort of mainstream visibility, there were QAnon people showing up at Trump rallies who were wearing the shirts and waving the banners, et cetera. And it was something that started to get talked about more. There's a moment in which a lot of the big influencers in that particular movement started spreading the message, "Drop a lot of the familiar hashtags. Drop the 'Where We Go One, Where We Go All' hashtag. Drop the 'Great Awakening' hashtag. Just focus in on these different issues." And so, there's a researcher named Marc-André Argentino who's covered this and he coined this term Pastel QAnon. Pastel QAnon is this phenomenon that happened in the summer of 2020 where a lot of kind of mommy blogger, Instagram influencer, you know, spiritual, maybe they're in an MLM trying to sell you essential oils—
[01:07:41] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[01:07:42] Julian Walker: —like whatever the schtick is, they had the very curated, you know, kind of pastel colors is why he chose that term. There's a very particular aesthetic and it was very appealing to young women of a certain kind of spiritual disposition. A lot of those influencers started circulating QAnon-themed material, but without any of the QAnon hashtags, right? Without any of the distinguishing language. And that's when the new hashtag "Save the Children" started to become something that developed its own traction. And there were a ton of people that we noticed in yoga circles, because yoga in the West is predominantly female, who got hooked into this and started sharing this kind of content on their Instagram, started showing up. You know, there was a march on Hollywood Boulevard here in LA, started showing up at these different things. And then, for some of them getting there and being like, "Oh, wait, this is that QAnon thing."
[01:08:35] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[01:08:36] Julian Walker: This is something else, you know? And yeah, as you were saying, save the children is a hijacked hashtag that refers to something very real. But now, it's woven into this lurid kind of fantasy notion of what's going on in the world.
[01:08:49] Jordan Harbinger: It's really a shame because the blood libel, which is like this whole thing that the Jews are killing Christian babies to bake matzah for Passover, that's been going — is it thousands of years old or merely hundreds of years old? I don't know.
[01:09:03] Julian Walker: I think it's thousands of years old.
[01:09:04] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[01:09:04] Julian Walker: But we have sort of like the really major incident of it, I think in the 12th century.
[01:09:12] Jordan Harbinger: Sure.
[01:09:12] Julian Walker: But there's incidents of it much prior to that as well. So I think it's William of Norwich, who is the English boy who is found stabbed to death and immediately it's this thing crops up that, oh, it's the Jews and the Jews do it because they need the blood to make matzah for the high holy holidays. But also they do it because if they kill Christian children, then they will one day get to return to their homeland. And so, yeah, this is a pernicious idea that rears its head in different forms again and again.
[01:09:41] Jordan Harbinger: Obviously, there are predators out there. We don't want to look like we're saying there's no such thing as trafficking, but it goes so much further to provide a scapegoat for the vulnerability of our kids. And I hadn't thought about this until I read your book, but really what this sort of says this in part is, hey, our kids aren't vulnerable because we have terrible health care. We've decimated the education system. We have weak public safety laws, terrible diets. They're vulnerable because Hillary Clinton is running a satanic blood-drinking pedophile ring in the basement of a pizza parlor/ping pong place or whatever. And that's sort of the larger meta-message here that I think is, well, it distracts us from what we could actually control and do something about because it's actually a real problem.
[01:10:25] Julian Walker: Yeah, I mean, this is a thing, not to get too much into like the political landscape—
[01:10:30] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[01:10:30] Julian Walker: —but it's something that we've wondered about. Like if you think about the social safety net, right? Like the majority of other Western democracies have what is called a strong social safety net. They have good social services. They have universal health care. I went and visited some friends in Sweden about 12 years ago, and I was blown away. I was really blown away with how well taken care of people are now. People are going to say they have really high taxes. Yeah, they do have really high taxes. And we can argue back and forth like the relative merits of these different types of systems. But there's something about the anxiety that we feel, there's something about the kind of dog-eat-dog world that I think we live in the US.
[01:11:10] And I'm all for like competition and excellence, and certain aspects of meritocracy I think are really do generate excellence across a variety of different industries. But at the same time, there's something about how we don't really take care of kids, how we don't really take care of families, how you know so many Americans are one medical emergency away from bankruptcy. That's just a reality or couldn't afford if they were unable to work just because they were injured for some reason, or they had to deal with something in their family for a month or two, they'd be homeless.
[01:11:45] Those anxieties, I think, are part of why the United States is probably more susceptible to some of these deflecting, scapegoating fantasies about what the real problem is. Like you really think Hillary Clinton, sex trafficking in kids, is really why you're feeling so insecure?
[01:12:04] Jordan Harbinger: That is an interesting point. You know, I hadn't really thought about that, but you're right. And you mentioned this in the book. I hadn't thought about this until, of course, I read this bit about, a lot of yoga studios or just wellness stuff in general, right? They paper over terrible paid, no benefits over time where you don't get paid because you're not really teaching a class. So it doesn't count. You could do whatever you want on your phone. They paper over that with good vibes only signs in the locker room and eight dollars an hour with nothing, you know, frills. And a lot of these places that preach unity and good vibes are just about consumerism and selling yoga pants like every other store in the strip mall where they're located.
[01:12:42] And so those people, you're right, they don't kind of have any sense of agency or control when they hit a run of bad luck. So it's easier to dive into, well, your body reflects your spirit, so if you can't stretch in this inhuman way like the teacher can, it's because your heart's not open or your chi is blocked or some other such nonsense, and that results in dangerous overtraining and injury when we don't have a pandemic, when there aren't greater non-conspiratorial issues happening to the entire world. So they layer the spiritual veneer over what essentially is exercise, that's dangerous. I mean, look, if you start thinking of stretching as literally just exercise, you'd never say, "Hey, if you can't deadlift 400 pounds, it's because of the karmic burden you're carrying is too heavy. It's weighing you down," right? So you have that combined with here's your pittance for working here and you're lucky that you get to sell these Lululemons while doing what you love and stretching. That's just a very fertile ground for nonsense beliefs as soon as there's a rock in the road.
[01:13:39] Julian Walker: Absolutely right. So under the best of conditions, you have these kind of issues with like the hierarchy that says the better able you are to do these particularly deeply flexible yoga poses, for example, the more enlightened you must be. When really the reality is probably just that being a yoga teacher to some extent self-selects for people who are genetically able to do certain things with their bodies, whether or not those things are good for them over time. Because having been involved in the yoga world for a good 30 years, I can tell you a lot of the most impressive acrobatic flexible-looking teachers are the ones who end up getting the hip replacements or having the spinal fusions.
[01:14:15] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[01:14:16] Julian Walker: Because you're putting a lot of repetitive stress on your body going into extreme range of motion that you really shouldn't spend that much time in if you want to have a functional body. So all of that is really, really weird. There's a way in which the mainstreaming of something like yoga normalizes and in a way kind of sanitizes a lot of things, right? So the most yoga studios, they're not breeding grounds for cults. And I don't want to in any way like make generalizations that would be unfair towards the community I come from and love and think there's a lot of like wonderful things that can happen in those spaces. They're not breeding grounds necessarily for the old type of cult that you might think of, but some of those dynamics are still there. And coming up through that world as a young person, I started to notice, "Oh, my boss is also my guru."
[01:15:08] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. What could go wrong?
[01:15:09] Julian Walker: The person who pays my salary, yeah, is also the person who has the most influence on me in terms of being like an authority figure for me spiritually. If I disagree with them about some aspect of how the business is run, that can easily then get turned around to like, oh, this is because I'm too judgmental. This is because my heart isn't open. This is because I'm getting greedy and I really need to look at that and do some more meditation, you know? Those dynamics can be present.
[01:15:33] Also, because it was a new industry, for most of the time I've been involved in it, there were no guardrails. So, yeah, you're simultaneously an independent contractor who gets no benefits, but the studio can also make all sorts of non-compete rules that you can't teach at the studio down the street. And there's all sorts of ways that you have to show up and maybe do extra work. You maybe have to be there early to turn on the heater and you have to lay out the mats. Maybe there's like all these different ways in which it can become quite exploitive, but then all of that exploitive dynamic is coded in the language of what it means to be on a spiritual path together, to be of service.
[01:16:11] Jordan Harbinger: Right, yeah, to be of service. And hey, look, you don't need money. You can transcend all that. Well, then why do you need money?
[01:16:18] Julian Walker: Exactly.
[01:16:18] Jordan Harbinger: Don't ask too many questions.
[01:16:20] Julian Walker: You don't need the money. I need the money.
[01:16:22] Jordan Harbinger: Right. But to your earlier point, right? Loss of faith in the healthcare system—
[01:16:26] Julian Walker: Mmm.
[01:16:26] Jordan Harbinger: —for example, has led to a loss of faith in the entire system and therefore to more conspiracy thinking in my opinion. And I think especially related to healthcare, right? So the pandemic was a really, I mean, this was a swirling pot already, and then you have the tornado of the pandemic coming through and swirling it even more. And you see, of course, people are going to lose, who've already lost faith in the healthcare system and the safety net that we don't really have, losing faith in the entire system, and thus, then when the pandemic hits and they find out first hand that really no one is coming to rescue you. "We have no plan." It's like, oh, crap. So when someone says, "I'm reaching out my helping hand of Gaia to help you with this," you're like, "Okay, fine. I've got nothing else, nothing else going for me right now. I'm going to starve to death if I don't figure this out."
[01:17:12] Julian Walker: Yeah, and not only that, now you can buy into this alternate belief system about what's really going on. And then you can be mobilized to become an activist. Now, you're not just a helpless person sitting at home and no one's coming to rescue you and you don't know how you going to pay your bills. Now, you're an activist. You're a renegade. You're on the side of freedom. You're going out on the sidewalk and you're saying all of this is bullsh*t and we're going to rise up against it and you can't limit our religious freedom and stop us from getting together and breathing really deeply in a confined space without masks on. You know, whatever the science on masks sort of evolved to show over time. Nonetheless, you see this particular like psychological dynamic where I'm going to rise up against this injustice.
[01:17:51] And then you have a whole group of renegade scientists and doctors who are speaking out against the kind of mainstream consensus of what's really going on. And they have the credentials. And one of the things that I've said to people a lot over the years is, you know, there's nothing remarkable about someone with a PhD who is just wrong—
[01:18:13] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[01:18:13] Julian Walker: —on any weekend in the United States pre-pandemic, you could probably go to most major cities and look at most of the big hotels and in a ballroom somewhere there would be someone with a PhD explaining to you the reality of Bigfoot—
[01:18:28] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[01:18:28] Julian Walker: —or UFOs or how the aliens are already walking among us or how there's no way that 9/11 could have happened the way they said it did. Like, when you think of the sheer number of people there are out in the world who have some kind of academic credential, certain percentage of them are going to be crackpots, and that's just the truth. But if you've lost faith, that medical science can really help you. And look, you're longing in an understandable way, right? This is part of the spiritual temperament. You're longing for a return to the magic, for a return to the natural ways of being in touch with the earth, for a return to some sense of ritual, and an empowerment that feels like it transcends what science can tell you. Then, a doctor like Christiane Northrup is going to come along and say like, "I'm an OBGYN, I went to Dartmouth, I wrote this best-selling book, Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom, and I'm here to tell you that there's nanotechnology in the vaccines, and they put an ink in there that's called Luciferase that's going to give you the mark of the beast. But I'm an MD, so you can trust me."
[01:19:26] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, oh my god. And there's a lot of fetish. I noticed there's a lot of fetishizing of Native Americans or First Nations people because of that connection to like, "They have the ancient wisdom." And what's funny is I asked a couple of show fans of mine who are Native Americans like, "What do you think about this?" And they're like, "That is, they had opinions. None of them were very positive," because—
[01:19:46] Julian Walker: Yeah.
[01:19:47] Jordan Harbinger: —first of all, well, nobody likes to be fetishized. And two, it's like, oh, so now you're going to take this stuff and bastardize it and use it to sell an online course or something. I how dare you.
[01:19:57] Our first episode of something called Skeptical Sunday where we debunk things. It was about ear candling.
[01:20:02] Julian Walker: Uh-huh.
[01:20:03] Jordan Harbinger: And one of the proponents, including many who are angry in my instagram inbox later on, we're telling me that the Sioux Indians have been using this for hundreds of years. So we called them. They have a phone number and an office. And they were like, "Yeah, we get calls about ear candling. No, we don't use this. We do not use it. I had to ask the first time I got a phone call because I'd never even heard of it." This is like a Sioux spokesperson. It's like, "And I asked all the healers and the chiefs and all the people that we have around." And they're, "It's just, no, we don't do that. Amazon is lying to you, but these are not from our tribe and we don't do this."
[01:20:41] Julian Walker: It's not a thing.
[01:20:42] Jordan Harbinger: It's not a thing.
[01:20:43] Julian Walker: Yeah. So like, in the same way that I referenced, you know, some influences getting into like the origin story, right? The dark, horrific set of things that now qualify me. So either you have the PhD, but you're an outsider who has stigmatized knowledge or you're the influencer with no credentials, but the horrific experiences you've gone through are the thing that makes you an authority or this comes from an ancient source.
[01:21:09] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[01:21:10] Julian Walker: I think that anytime you see this comes from an ancient source, in your mind, you should think, oh, that's because there's no evidence to support it and it's actually—
[01:21:18] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[01:21:19] Julian Walker: That it's basically bullsh*t. If you're having to go to that vague kind of, it's an ancient source, it comes from the Sioux people, you know, for thousands of years, this was used and like now we've lost touch with that ancient wisdom. Eh, you know, maybe, but for the most part, I call bullsh*t on that.
[01:21:35] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, definitely. There's of course, medical influencer, there's one guy in particular calls himself the medical medium. You know about this guy?
[01:21:42] Julian Walker: Yep.
[01:21:42] Jordan Harbinger: Of course, you do. It amazes me that otherwise intelligent people will listen to somebody who essentially claims to be a psychic that can diagnose medical conditions and recommends, among other things, drinking celery juice every morning as a health cure. Celery juice in the morning as a health care is absolutely bananas. Sorry, that pun was terrible. It was low hanging fruit, if you will. I'm here all week, folks. No, but thank you for the awkward laughter. Someone's got to do it. But it's really shocking because you look at this and you're like, it's fiber and water.
[01:22:12] Julian Walker: Mm-hmm.
[01:22:12] Jordan Harbinger: And there's guys driving 30 miles out of the resort that we're in at this conference because they got to get fresh celery and they don't have any there. And I'm thinking, you're the smartest moron. I've ever met in my life or the dumbest genius ever. And these are people with like multi-million-dollar businesses that are not usually idiots.
[01:22:31] Julian Walker: Yeah.
[01:22:31] Jordan Harbinger: And I'm like, so you got a guy who's a psychic that told you that you're lacking whatever celery juice has. You know, what's in here? Fiber and water.
[01:22:39] Julian Walker: Mm-hmm.
[01:22:39] Jordan Harbinger: Come on, man. I don't know. I get a little worked up. It's upsetting because you shouldn't freaking know better and he's grifting you and you just stand up and take it. Ah, just drives me insane.
[01:22:48] Julian Walker: Yeah. It's amazing, isn't it? Right. And exactly what you said, otherwise, intelligent, educated people can become invested in the ritual of some kind of repetitive activity or consumption of something that it becomes talismanic. It becomes the thing that if I don't do this, it's a kind of superstition. And it's related to like, you know, the baseball player always has to wear the blue underpants or whatever before they go out because it now becomes this thing that I believe my success and my wellbeing is tied to this thing. And with wellness, if you can juice that up a little, if you'll excuse the pun, with some kind of pseudoscientific claim about why this is the special thing that's going to give you the edge. I mean, that's what the whole wellness industry is organized around. Here's the thing that other people don't know about that if you jump on this, you're going to have the edge. It's going to make you, you know, whatever. It's going to make you smarter. It's going to make you more virile. It's going to improve your immune system. It's going to improve your lean muscle mass. It's going to do all these different things. And those are all understandable desires that I think we all have. Usually the claims are, if they're based on science at all, it's a very, very small positive benefits, if any.
[01:24:04] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. You mentioned earlier. That some of these people with the horrible, tragic backgrounds and things like that, they use that as a cudgel in many ways. And I noticed that, and you phrased this pretty well in the book, that refusing, now refusing to endorse a conspiracy theory in some of these culty worlds, it's not just a rejection of bad thinking. And I get these letters in my inbox from angry people, right? You know, I'm not just rejecting their bad thinking and conspiracy theory thinking, I am somehow now lacking empathy, right? It's not, I'm not a critical thinker. I'm callous and hateful of the people that supposedly went through, whether it's ritual abuse that may or may not have happened in, and let's be honest, 99.9 percent of the time didn't happen. Or someone said, you just don't, you're an ableist. You don't like autistic children because my son got autism because of vaccines or whatever it is that's afflicted this person. So they twisted, instead of me, instead of, "Hey, Jordan, you don't believe this because you're over reliant on science or whatever. It's because you're a terrible person." And it becomes almost like this manipulative, it's because of my lack of empathy that I don't believe it. Not because I'm actually using logic and reason and evidence-based medicine and things like that science. It's very uniquely aggressive and dark because of that.
[01:25:23] Julian Walker: Yeah, it's definitely a manipulative technique where you switch categories without, uh, without a forewarning.
[01:25:30] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[01:25:30] Julian Walker: It's suddenly we're going from, "Wait, is there evidence to this," to, "How dare you—"
[01:25:35] Jordan Harbinger: How dare you.
[01:25:36] Julian Walker: "—insult someone who's been through such a horrible experience."
[01:25:39] Jordan Harbinger: My run-ins with these people often blindside me. I mean, whether it's that or, geez, a couple of months ago, maybe even a year or two ago now, I went on a fitness podcast. And then it was like, we're talking about fitness, which I'm no expert on, and then the guy starts talking about how aliens built the pyramids and how we can't replicate the technology because it comes from Atlantis, and I'm just thinking like, "Where, what, how did I get here?" I looked at Jen and I go, "Never book this guy again. Like, how, what am I going to do right now? I've got like another hour I've got to put up with this thing." I can't believe it.
[01:26:11] But thank you so much for coming in today, man. It's an interesting look. Interesting look at the weirdly dark side of the wellness industry. And we didn't even get into yoga Nazis or how yoga was largely founded by Nazi sympathizers, I mean, in a way.
[01:26:27] Julian Walker: It's complicated. It's complicated. Yoga definitely existed for a really long time within the Indian sort of tradition and religion. But yeah, right around the turn of the 20th century, there's a whole set of influences that come together. And the chapter in the book is called, did Nazis love yoga? And the short answer is yeah.
[01:26:44] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, who knew?
[01:26:45] Julian Walker: Uh-huh.
[01:26:45] Jordan Harbinger: Thank you very much.
[01:26:46] Julian Walker: Thanks for having me.
[01:26:49] Jordan Harbinger: You're about to hear a preview of The Jordan Harbinger Show with a black man that befriends members of the Ku Klux Klan.
[01:26:55] Daryl Davis: I don't support the KKK at all. I don't support that ideology, but I support people having the right to believe as they want to believe as long as they don't cross the line and hurt people. And to show, to prove that I will stick up for somebody else's rights has also led to people just like that sticking up for mine. No, I didn't convert anybody. I am the impetus for over 200 to make up their own minds to convert themselves because I've given them reason to think about other things, you know, that make more sense than what they're currently doing.
[01:27:28] It bothers me a great deal that we call ourselves the greatest nation on the face of this earth. You know, we have to admit that there are some flaws here. I don't adhere to that statement that we are the greatest. Maybe I would bend and say that perhaps technologically we are the greatest. So how is it that we as Americans can talk to people as far away as the moon or anywhere on the face of this earth? But yet there's so many of us who have difficulty talking to the person who lives right next door.
[01:28:03] This is the 21st century. This racist nonsense does not belong in any century, let alone the 21st. We are living in space-age times, but there's still too many of us thinking with stone-age minds.
[01:28:19] Jordan Harbinger: For more on how Daryl Davis convinced 200 KKK members to give up their robes, check out episode 540 on The Jordan Harbinger Show.
[01:28:30] A lot of this stuff seems like lonely, disaffected people whose lives aren't working out for them seeking certainty, seeking a tribe, willing to completely dispose of any logic or critical thinking as kind of the price of admission here. I do think, however, that doctors can help step into the gap here. If people don't understand science and medicine from doctors and science communicators that they trust, charlatans will step into the gap because there's a lot of money to be made there. So, I know that this is tough. It's kind of a losing battle, right? Because somebody who sells a fake cure could become a millionaire, but a doctor who can convince somebody that that stuff is fake, they earn zero additional dollars from doing that, right? They earn no money from telling people what is real science and what is real medicine. Those incentives are just kind of unfortunate.
[01:29:18] A lot of the rules of the North Korea, the self-criticism, self-surveillance, ceding agency to the group. Basically throwing out your individual thought for that of the cult. North Korea, the more you look at it, the more it is just one big national cult. And when you think of cults as national and patriotic, sometimes you see it in other countries as well. No matter what country you're in you're going to have people like that. Nationalists is, I think, the term we're looking for.
[01:29:43] If you're looking for more about how and why people believe and are attracted to conspiracy theories, episode number 814 with the Stuff They Don't Want You to Know guys was really interesting, episode 814, and Michael Shermer, episode 492. Of course, you can search for conspiracy theories or cults on the website, using the AI bot is a good way to do that at jordanharbinger.com/ai. So go have a look, plenty more where this came from.
[01:30:09] All things Julian Walker will be in the show notes at jordanharbinger.com. Ask the AI chatbot if you're missing something. Transcripts included in the show notes. Advertisers, deals, discount codes, ways to support this show, all at jordanharbinger.com/deals. Please consider supporting those who support the show.
[01:30:25] Our newsletter with highlights and takeaways from the most popular episodes of the show going all the way back is at jordanharbinger.com/news. And I reply to you when you reply to me there, so you can send me snarky comments, passive-aggressive feedback, or anything you'd like me to know. jordanharbinger.com/news is where you can sign up. And once again, don't forget givedirectly.com/jordan is our fundraiser for the village in Kenya, givedirectly.com/jordan. We need your support, folks. Bring it, givedirectly.com/jordan.
[01:30:55] Once again, a reminder that the Stitcher app will no longer work for any podcasts as of August 29th, 2023. So if you're using the Stitcher app, time to switch. If you're on Android, Podcast Addict is a good one, Castbox. And if you're on iOS, I suggest Overcast or Apple Podcasts. The Stitcher app is going away, folks. Six-Minute Networking also at jordanharbinger.com/course. I'm at @JordanHarbinger on Twitter or X or whatever the hell they call it these days and Instagram or connect with me on LinkedIn.
[01:31:23] This show is created in association with PodcastOne. My team is Jen Harbinger, Jase Sanderson, Robert Fogarty, Millie Ocampo, Ian Baird, and Gabriel Mizrahi. Remember, we rise by lifting others. The fee for this show is you share it with friends when you find something useful or interesting, and the greatest compliment you can give us is to share the show with those you care about. So if you know somebody who might be a little bit into the conspirituality cult, or knows somebody who is and doesn't know what to do about it, definitely share this episode with them. In the meantime, I hope you can apply what you hear on the show, so you can live what you learn, and we'll see you next time.
[01:31:58] By the way, if you're a regular listener of the show, and you get some value from me or the guests we have on the show, there's a really easy way to show your support. Download the Fountain app on iOS or Android, follow The Jordan Harbinger Show, and start listening over there. You can share your thoughts on this episode with me by sending a boost, which is like a little payment with a message, and see what other listeners have to say. Getting started is easy. You can top up your Fountain wallet with a bank card, and you can also earn money just by listening to the show on Fountain as well. It's a no-brainer. I donate this money to charity, by the way. Visit fountain.fm to learn more.
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