68. IBP – Conspiracy Afoot


A new episode is here. The lingering challenge of conspiracies, fake news, and the emergence of information silos means that we as a global society are being confronted with a major challenge to our relationship to information, to facts, and to the epistemological challenges we have always been burdened with regarding knowledge and the act of knowing. Conspiracy Theories are with us to stay and if you look at them for longer than a glance, they begin to mutate, twisting into odd shapes that can appear familiar and alien all at once. We cannot afford to look down our nose at them any more, they are part and parcel of the world we inhabit, and we must contend with the wider issues they raise.


In this episode, recorded under quarantine, the Imperfect Buddha podcast explores the wider, hidden implications of the conspiratorial mindset and the challenges it represents. We look at its close relationship with spirituality, religion, and the New Age. We go deep into the psychology, the epistemological challenges, and explore practice ideas and the ethical duty we may all do well to consider exhibiting towards those enchanted by global conspiracy. We have tried to avoid treading familiar ground and the practice suggestions are not only for conspiracy theorists; they are for us too. For as we suggested in our episodes on cults (whose members share many characteristics with dogged conspiracy theorists), we have our own role to play in the world of conspiracies.

Feedback as always is welcomed. Feel free to support the podcast by making a small donation. O’Connell Coaching is available to those in need – Conspiracy Theorists are welcome too.


Music for this episode comes from Odd Nosdam: nosdam.bandcamp.com/

The Imperfect Buddha site: imperfectbuddha.com/
O’Connell Coaching: imperfectbuddha.com/authors-notes/

Facebook: www.facebook.com/imperfectbuddha
Twitter: twitter.com/Imperfectbuddha


  1. Thank you for highlighting this issue. I can only agree, cult members cults “share many characteristics with dogged conspiracy theorists” – and their leaders share many signs with the leaders or key spreaders of conspiracy ideas (only they have recognised / are in possession of ‘the truth’, everybody else – not sharing their views – is wrong). Pictures of an enemy, black and white thinking, aggression & hate go along with conspiracy myths …

    Similar to cults, which function like a social drug, conspiracy myths have a similar addictive effect … Moreover, it seems, people who see themselves as “spiritual” are more prone to get enwrapped in conspiracy myths. In a way the whole Shugden stuff of the NKT and their propaganda was nothing else than a conspiracy myth: the Dalai Lama as the single cause for all their “sufferings” and as the claimed omnipotent, all powerful, all controlling super boss – just like Bill Gates now for some conspiracy theorists.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Tenpel, Great comments and I wholeheartedly agree with the idea that the NKT’s Shugden nonsense was not just a deceptive, vanity project for Kelsang Gyatso, but was indeed a manufactured conspiracy. In fact, once you strip away all the claims to being unique, special, above the rest of society, the behaviour patterns become almost identical between bad Gurus, bad conspirators, and each of their followers. It’s kind of reassuring to me. That our human condition is really what it is. Despite claims to the contrary, we are all in this together and ignorance may warp into myriad forms and send us off on wild goose chases of the most entertaining kind, but the basic elements of ignorance, and their cure, remain the same. All-too human indeed.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Very true. Also very true “we are all in this together”. I fell prey to this NKT conspiracy myths and it was a long and hard way – hard work too – to find the exit. I guess there are others who found a way out of conspiracy myths; though I fear, it aren’t too many. I think it’s worthwhile for those who have a potential or at a later time or now suitable circumstances to provide sober and differentiated information to support them to see through these deceptive illusions, to debunk for them those myths or to show the functionality / basic patterns. Though, debunking is hard work. That’s why I am grateful to everyone who takes on a debunking / clarifying / unraveling task. Thank you for picking up this topic! Thank you for your podcasts and teaching people to think critically!

        Liked by 3 people

      • Hey Matthew, that sounds like a conspiracy theory about the human condition 🙂 One aspect of the vaccine question is the involvement of for profit corporate actors. It would be naive to believe corporations have humanity’s best interest at heart – they don’t have hearts to begin with! Any sector of society dominated by actors which have been involved in many conspiracies is going to be a red tag to conspiracy theorists. For example look what Monsanto did to manipulate both the scientific and general communities. They were bought by Bayer, who are involved with vaccines. If you took the management team from Monsanto and integrated them into a pharmaceutical company then would it be sensible to trust your motives? I do believe vaccines are a good idea. But consider how the French government supported the mass vaccination after SARS. Did you get a SARS vaccine? Did the French people benefit from that? I guess more than one person had side effects from the SARS vaccine. That is what happens when commercial interests conspire against a population.

        Liked by 1 person

      • How loose do we want to be with our definitions Mark? That said, with a different bent, I could certainly have been inclined to start my own cult and infuse it with conspiracy theories! It might have been a better life-style choice in the end 🙂
        As I lay out in the podcast, rather than tackle the degree to which governments and businesses are acting in their own best interests, and therefore are inclined to manipulate whatever they can for their own selfish interests, I focused in on the sort of capture that categorizes those who believe, naively, that out there are the infamous ‘they’ running everything to plan. The point I made is that conspiracy theories tend to lead to an apolitical apathy or poor usage of resources: Is burning down 5G towers the best use of an activist’s time? I guess it is far easier than informing oneself about how the world actually functions in terms of politics, business and whatnot and doing something genuinely useful in exposing bad governmental and business practice.
        I also believe we need to be wary of the parochial instinct: the world is not America is a mantra worth repeating time and time again to Americans. The same goes for those living in France. Here in Italy, many of the vaccines are produced here in Italy at a low cost by Italian researchers with no profit in sight. They do an excellent job. Of course, vaccines are imperfect but if anti-vaxxers were to inhabit a world in which they did not exist, they would cease to be anti-vaxxers for long.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Very thorough and timely exploration of both mindsets–the theorists and the debunkers. We need to use empathy rather than snobbery. Thank you very much! This was my first listen on your podcast.

    Robert N Stonehill

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Robert. Glad you got something out of it. There’s something inherently dark about our ability to assume we are above others’ weaknesses and indulgences, don’t you think?


  3. I really wanted to listen to this, but I almost gave up during the intro. That incessant background noise is extremely annoying. What’s wrong with letting your voice just stand alone???

    Liked by 1 person

    • Actually, it wasn’t just in the intro (I guess that was wishful thinking). I started moving through the podcast and it was there as far as I went. By that time, I just deleted the episode. Please release an episode of this where you don’t add the background noise. Thanks.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I can relate to your feelings about receiving disappointing messages from an important ex. For me, it causes some odd self-reflection, as I still remember my connection to that person. It almost feels like she and I used to speak the same language but don’t anymore.

    Also, this pandemic seems to be bringing exes out of the woodwork for many people.

    Liked by 1 person

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