Be Scofield is the author of Hunting Lucifer: One Reporter's Search for Cults and Demons. She's a prominent cult reporter whose work has been cited by Netflix, NY Times, Dr. Phil, People, Rolling Stone, and more.
- NOTE: I don't agree with many of the views of RFK Jr., JP Sears, or other people mentioned here. This is not about their views, but rather the Conspirituality podcast's devolvement.
By BE SCOFIELD
August 29th, 2023
I recently unfollowed the Conspirituality podcast and have stopped listening. What started as a curious exploration of ideas has devolved into a hard-line political project designed to smear any dissident of mainstream health orthodoxy. Many have noticed the podcast resort to smug dismissals of everyone and everything that doesn’t fit into their scientific worldview. Anything alternative health-related is mocked, whether eating organic, chiropractic, or reiki. Remarkably, co-host Derek Beres was recently interviewed in a story about how distrust of seed oils is "right-wing."
The podcast has made a lot of important contributions of course, but as author Daniel Pinchbeck recently said, "They seem driven by an overwhelming desire to reject, ridicule, and even crush," anything spiritual or natural health-related. I no longer trust their ability to be objective. I believe they are captured by their "Conspirituality" worldview and seek to twist anything to fit into it.
-> Get the new book about hunting cults and dangerous gurus from Be Scofield.
The final straw for me is their unhealthy obsession with Robert F. Kennedy Jr., his director of messaging Charles Eisenstein, and Aubrey Marcus, a new age influencer who is supporting RFK Jr.'s campaign. What could have been brief and interesting commentary has turned into bad-faith smears and endless psychoanalyzing. It's pushed me beyond the point of no return.
"They seem driven by an overwhelming desire to reject, ridicule, and even crush."
"These guys are wholly divorced from reality," says co-host Matthew Remski referring to RFK Jr. and Aubrey Marcus. "I don't see any evidence that Aubrey Marcus has had to do an honest day's work in his life. In that sense, he's on the edge of not being an adult but rather just being part of the froth on the top of capitalism. I find him cringy and self-important."
There is a very patronizing, parental-like energy from the hosts that feels like, "We're the adults in the room, step in line or get grounded." We must be properly educated, like schoolchildren i.e. Marcus barely being an adult. Anything magical, mysterious, or alternative is seen as not just inferior but infantile.
In a long-winded podcast called "Disgust Management," Remski responds to a question from a listener which he reads out loud. "How do you keep from hating these people? The blase unimaginative crackpots like Aubrey Marcus, the gas-lighting meanderings of RFK Jr., the hoards of ignorant ignorant ignorant jackasses." Remski says, "It's a really good question," but clarifies that the word "disgust" feels "closer to home." He then proceeds to psychoanalyze his internal landscape for 45 minutes.
"Blase unimaginative crackpots like Aubrey Marcus." This is what Conspirituality has devolved into; a cruel attempt to character-assassinate people guilty of supporting the wrong candidate.
Remski even plays a clip on the podcast of Marcus reading his poetry. "You know. He's just not that great," Remski snipes. He's playing his poetry to mock him. Imagine a serious podcaster like Sam Harris doing that.
The way Remski tears Marcus down is disturbing, and perhaps a carryover from the three cults that he spent many years in. You learn to wreck people for the cause, like Synanon's attack therapy method The Game.
Marcus' crime is going to Burning Man, adopting lofty ideals, and backing RFK Jr. He runs a YouTube channel where he interviews spiritual teachers and health gurus. But the real problem is his support for RFK Jr. whom Remski has become obsessed with. Had Marcus thrown his same quirky mystical prowess behind Biden the podcast crew would have ignored him.
Here's their shtick: Remski spends 30 minutes explaining why Aubrey Marcus is disgusting. Then for $5 a month, you can get the bonus episode where he psychoanalyzes his own feelings of disgust towards Marcus. And they are making $20,000 a month doing it.
It's not just Aubrey Marcus. They smear everyone. Russell Brand uses "ego-gratifying rhetoric," J.P. Sears is a "smugly nihilistic hollow man," Mikki Willis is a "new age propagandist," Marcus is a "cringy bro poet," Bernhard Guenther has a "pseudointellectual vocabulary" and is a "fellow priest of disaster spirituality" that "traffics in grandiosity." In their book, they also refer to Sears as a "vacuous persona that can fill up with aggression on a moment's notice." And they are all guilty of having charisma, one of the biggest sins in Conspirituality Land.
The Conspirituality podcast frames everyone in the alt-health space as some form of con artist, even acupuncturists. Their favorite slur is "grifter," which they apply to every wellness influencer they dislike. Sayer Ji does it merely for "the clicks" i.e. money. When J.P. Sears launched his merchandise line (as many influencers do) they attacked him as a grifter. When he created his CBD line it warranted an entire episode called "J.P. Sears' Woke CBD Grift."
The Conspirituality podcast frames everyone in the alt-health space as some form of con artist.
But who is and isn't a grifter? When pushed they define it as anyone trafficking in falsities, pseudo-science, or health misinformation. But they'll have to admit this is arbitrary. Is Eckhart Tolle's online School of Awakening a grift? How about Anodea Judith's Chakra Activation online course? Chakra's aren't real in their worldview, so she's a grifter by definition. Just another slimy con artist exploiting innocent people?
The standard definition of a grifter is "someone who gets money dishonestly by tricking people." The podcast has failed to provide evidence of any ulterior motive of the many alt-health influencers they smear. Either we use the typical definition of a grifter as knowingly deceiving people or it opens a Pandora's box too big to analyze.
What if they weren't grifters? What if they were just people like Anodea Judith, with different beliefs, but just people passionate about their interests? Just like the podcast hosts.
Conspirituality's attacks on Charles Eisenstein, whom they've recorded several episodes about, are some of the worst. He's a popular new age author and now an advisor to RFK Jr. In August 2021 he was canceled by his book publisher for his Covid dissent. As a result of the podcast's incessant attacks, he's been tarnished and blacklisted. They also routinely mock his spiritual beliefs, which they would never do to a Muslim or Native American.
“I don’t think the Fit for Service paycheck was going to taste as sweet," Remski chides about Charles Eisenstein's decision to work for RFK Jr. "Maybe he does have some sort of thing going on that may be associated with hypergraphia where this is just this very compelling trance state for him," says co-host Julian Walker. "I can see how it would be utterly compelling for him to now feel like he is finally risen to the level that he deserves," by "ascending through the ranks of symbolic importance." Remski even accuses Eisenstein of using "performative empathy" and having "gone grandiose to a near psychotic scale in his mystifications over Bobby."
Trance state? Symbolic importance? Performative empathy? Psychotic? This is cringe-worthy stuff; framing him as a calculating opportunist who is working for RFK Jr. for the paycheck and a mythical ascendence to fame.
They've stoked so much disdain and paranoia about Eisenstein that their listeners have gone off the deep end. They gang up in a cult-like fashion denouncing him in the show's Instagram comments and sharing almost religious-like conversion experiences. “I felt he was slipping into eugenics,” one Conspirituality listener told me about Eisenstein, whom she used to follow. “He’s just another cis white hetero man pushing ableist theories disguised as critical thinking. He sold out for fame.”
I worry that the Conspirituality Kool-Aid is warping people's brains, taking a trove of naive followers down their rabbit hole. Hyper-aware and paranoid, they incessantly look for signs of eugenics, or fascism ready to cast out the next sinner.
"Their rigid conflation of every alternative and esoteric practice with eugenics and proto-fascism — even something as seemingly apolitical as an olive oil cleanse internalizes “beliefs in impurity” — suggests shadow projection on their part," says Daniel Pinchbeck.
The Conspirituality podcast sounds more and more like it stems from an obsessive-compulsive addiction. Remski admits that his research tangents at times interrupt his sleep patterns and disrupt his life. They endlessly psychoanalyze everything looking for signs of "Conspirituality." I think they are captured by a narrative that has consumed them, trying to stamp out threats to their cherished dogmatic scientific worldview.
I wonder if Remski's obsession stems from unresolved cult trauma. Cult survivors do recreate the conditions of their high-demand groups. He also writes unintelligible, but quasi-intellectual-sounding posts with fancy jargon. One could posit that he’s overcompensating for being a college dropout. His feelings of inadequacy lead him to use big words that elevate him and make him feel important. See how easy it is to faux psychoanalyze?
The Conspirituality podcast has now released at least five episodes on RFK Jr. alone including one called "RFK Flirts with Body Fascism." The entire 40-minute podcast analyzes his exercise habits. I'm not joking. In it, you can learn the symbolic meaning of why "Bobby Muscles," as they call him, wears Wrangler jeans when working out. And of course, the infamous shirtless weightlifting is a sign of body fascism. "Maybe you wish that a workout was just a workout, but that's not the reality you live in," Remski says, remarkably.
The podcast actually released an "Emergency" series called "Conspirituality Marches to the White House." In it, they warned of the impending danger of, wait for it...new age ideas infiltrating politics. Nothing could be a bigger threat when you live in Conspirituality Land, not corporate ties, special interests, or Imperial ambitions. Those never get a mention. One's views on vaccines, spirituality, and health misinformation are the holy grail. They've elevated these marginal issues to comically high levels of importance. Thankfully, most voters don't care about them.
The podcast often warns of charismatic leaders scaring people to induce fear. Yet, they yell, "Emergency! Conspirituality is coming for the White House! Eugenics are hiding in your yoga! Body fascism! Disaster spirituality!" And people are getting swept up by it all.
Remski's obsession with RFK Jr. has reached concerning levels. He's listened to dozens of podcast interviews, plumbed his memoir, read countless articles, and dug through his childhood traumas. They also incessantly post about him on Instagram, attacking every gaff and analyzing him endlessly. “I found myself very interested in what makes him tick,” Remski said. “I really want something that can explain to me why he's got a vaccine-sized hole in his brain."
I worry that his many RFK Jr. deep dives are a type of obsessive-compulsive project born out of trauma. Only in some warped reality is listening to Remksi spend hours picking through every flaw and mining for "Conspirituality" clues a worthy endeavor. "I wonder if he ever felt like a normal person or a nobody," Remski ponders. "Or if he wanted to feel that. Is it possible to hit bottom when you can feel the royal lifeline in the dark? I'd love to ask Bobby these questions directly."
"I wonder if he ever felt like a normal person or a nobody. Or if he wanted to feel that."
When you can't wait to ask a presidential candidate if he can still "hit bottom" when he can feel the "royal lifeline in the dark," it's time to reflect. Journalists are supposed to hold the powerful accountable not psychoanalyze their childhood traumas. Obsessing over how RFK Jr. got a "vaccine-sized hole in his head" illustrates the bizarre vanity project this has become.
It's bizarre but the mainstream media loves it given their disdain for RFK Jr. The podcast published "The Conspirituality of Robert F. Kennedy" in TIME magazine. And similar stories ran in The Guardian and NY Times. The podcast has also interviewed Imran Ahmed of the Center for Countering Digital Hate several times. They promote his work and talk about it regularly.
Edward Sharp and the Magnetic Zero's lead singer, and one-time Conspirituality guest, Alex Ebert, called out the podcast in May 2023. In a series of Instagram posts, he chided them for relentlessly tearing down alternative health while not focusing on the predatory pharmaceutical industry. “The biggest blindspot I see is that your definition of 'grifter' somehow doesn’t extend to doctors earning millions to be paid promoters of various drugs, leading to an epidemic of overdiagnosis," he wrote.
The podcast responded that they have addressed the pharmaceutical industry and said Ebert never really listened to the show. "I'm both a fan of pharma and extremely upset by and critical of it, due to their practice of profits over people," co-host Derek Beres said in response to Ebert. I have listened extensively though, and they don't address the topic in a substantial manner.
Beres and the podcast are "upset" with pharma but they don't call them grifters or con artists. They don't call them pharma propagandists or merchants of "disaster medicine." Remski doesn't call Purdue pharma salesmen "smugly nihilistic" and "hollow" men as he does J.P. Sears. They don't use "P-adjacent" for pharma like they use "Q-adjacent" for QAnon. They don't smear pharma with petty personal attacks. They don't smear people associated with pharma. J.P. Sears gets a whole podcast episode for selling CBD. Pharma gets mentioned for a few minutes here and there.
Conspirituality frames alt-health and its "propagandists" in the worst possible light, but urges nuance and understanding for pharma and its "salesmen." Being an alt-health wellness influencer defines you in some fundamental way, being a pharma rep does not.
How many billions does pharma have to pay out in criminal and civil penalties for fraudulent practices before they get some of the targeted rage that alternative health gets? How many hundreds of thousands of people have to be killed by pharma intentionally lying before Conspirituality can accuse them of spreading propaganda and being grifters?
Imagine the podcast releasing five episodes on Hostess CEO Andy Callahan. Imagine Remski digging through his childhood traumas to find out why he pumps 400 million Twinkies into the world every year. Imagine him saying, "I'm trying to figure out why he has a Twinkie-sized hole in his head."
The message is clear: if you dissent from mainstream health orthodoxy you will be interrogated and crushed. Your childhood traumas will be examined and put on full display. You will be swiftly kicked off social media platforms, cut off from payment processors, banned from email providers, and delisted from Google. In short: we will go to war to stamp you out.
Do you know why they put junk food at the checkout aisles? It's because they know people are fatigued after shopping and will be easier to exploit. They're much more likely to make impulse decisions. 6 billion dollars of sugary, diabetes-causing junk food is sold at the checkout aisles every year. It’s intentional and deliberate and it monetizes our suffering.
We are surrounded by "health threats." It's nothing new or interesting to anyone who knows the landscape. What is interesting is how quickly an apparatus of control is deployed to stamp out certain threats and not others.
In May 2020 Dr. Lissa Rankin posted a scathing dissent of the dominant Covid narrative. "Blind compliance is how otherwise kind Germans complied with the Holocaust since Nazi Germany was espousing 'science' as the justification for genocide," she proclaimed. "Compliant parts can put us at risk of becoming blind sheeple in the midst of corrupt leaders that could silence us when we need to be speaking out." She then went on to question every aspect of Covid: death rates, masks, medical treatments, Bill Gates' financial interests, Big Pharma, vaccine efficacy, social distancing, and more.
In a twist of irony, Rankin would get Charles Eisenstein canceled from his book publisher for "anti-semitism" and his health dissent. Never mind her comparing following Covid science to Nazis blindly following orders, but that was before she had her conversion. "The unvaccinated are KILLING PEOPLE," she wrote later. Before, however, she warned that the powerful would "label you a conspiracy theorist, write you off as crazy, or censor you," for dissenting. She added. "Science has become dogma, just like a fundamentalist religion, and if you question the dogma you're a heretic."
Eisenstein, who is Jewish, had made a reference to the same types of dehumanizing social forces used to persecute Jews as were being used to persecute the unvaccinated. Rankin wrote an essay calling him anti-semitic and North Atlantic Books cited it. They booted him for spreading "damaging misinformation."
What Dr. Rankin warned of came true for Eisenstein. He was labeled a conspiracy theorist and written off as crazy for speaking up against the hive mind and challenging Covid health orthodoxy. She literally became what she once feared.
Eisenstein and Rankin present a fascinating case of doppelgangers. Both referenced the Holocaust in their Covid dissent. Both questioned scientific dogma and warned of corrupt leaders. Both spoke out against the dominant health narrative. Both are respected authors and thought leaders.
Dr. Rankin pivoted and denounced her previous views. Eisenstein did not. But is there anything substantially different about them or their capacity to reason? The Conspirituality podcast would like us to believe so. Eisenstein has a defect, a deeply ingrained flaw, and a broken mind, or a "hole in his head." He's a dirty conspiracy theorist who has been corrupted.
-> Get the new book about hunting cults and dangerous gurus from Be Scofield.
But what about Dr. Rankin? Who was she when she said we risk "becoming blind sheeple in the midst of corrupt leaders" for accepting Covid narratives? A QAnon conspiracist? A grifter? Did she have a Covid hole in her head?
Who were my mother's doctors in the hospital in January who said their standard protocol was to treat her Covid with Zinc, Vitamin D, C, and quercetin? People who sold vitamins to boost the immune system were smeared as hucksters. Were they? Of the two doctors and five nurses who treated her, they all told me they wouldn't have gotten vaccinated if given the choice.
Why can't people simply disagree? Why can't you merely have different ideas from others without having to label them a "smug nihilistic hollow man" or a "cringy" child? Why do you have to incessantly search for some defect or childhood trauma to explain their beliefs? Why such an effort to censor and silence? What happened to free speech?
This is where Conspirituality derails and abandons journalism. They seek to attribute bad faith motives to people whom they believe are wrong. They twist every mundane thing like selling merchandise into a nefarious "grift." They define someone's character by one marginal issue; vaccines and wellness. At that level, they are merely a branch of a larger apparatus to control dissent and opposition.
Of course there are some bad actors in the alt-health space, but as Mark Vicente says, "The most effective psychological operation ensures that any reasonable skepticism is twisted into accusations of extremism."
Please donate if you appreciate this article. I'm an indy journalist.
Paypal: firstname.lastname@example.org / Venmo: @be-scofield