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Tuesday, July 11, 2023

Conspirituality: How New Age conspiracy theories threaten public health

D. Beres, M. Remski, & J. Walker
Originally posted 17 June 23

Here is an excerpt:

Disaster capitalism and disaster spirituality rely, respectively, on an endless supply of items to commodify and minds to recruit. While both roar into high gear in times of widespread precarity and vulnerability, in disaster spirituality there is arguably more at stake on the supply side. Hedge fund managers can buy up distressed properties in post-Katrina New Orleans to gentrify and flip. They have cash on hand to pull from when opportunity strikes, whereas most spiritual figures have to use other means for acquisitions and recruitment during times of distress.

Most of the influencers operating in today’s conspirituality landscape stand outside of mainstream economies and institutional support. They’ve been developing fringe religious ideas and making money however they can, usually up against high customer turnover.

For the mega-rich disaster capitalist, a hurricane or civil war is a windfall. But for the skint disaster spiritualist, a public catastrophe like 9/11 or COVID-19 is a life raft. Many have no choice but to climb aboard and ride. Additionally, if your spiritual group has been claiming for years to have the answers to life’s most desperate problems, the disaster is an irresistible dare, a chance to make good on divine promises. If the spiritual group has been selling health ideologies or products they guarantee will ensure perfect health, how can they turn away from the opportunity presented by a pandemic?

Here is my summary with some extras:

The article argues that conspirituality is a growing problem that is threatening public health. Conspiritualists push the false beliefs that vaccines are harmful, that the COVID-19 pandemic is a hoax, and that natural immunity is the best way to protect oneself from disease. These beliefs can lead people to make decisions that put their health and the health of others at risk.

The article also argues that conspirituality is often spread through social media platforms, which can make it difficult to verify the accuracy of information. This can lead people to believe false or misleading information, which can have serious consequences for their health.  However, some individuals can make a profit from the spread of disinformation.

The article concludes by calling for more research on conspirituality and its impact on public health. It also calls for public health professionals to be more aware of conspirituality and to develop strategies to address it.
  • Conspirituality is a term that combines "conspiracy" and "spirituality." It refers to the belief that certain anti-science ideas (such as alternative medicine, non-scientific interventions, and spiritual healing) are being suppressed by a powerful elite. Conspiritualists often believe that this elite is responsible for a wide range of problems, including the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The term "conspirituality" was coined by sociologists Charlotte Ward and David Voas in 2011. They argued that conspirituality is a unique form of conspiracy theory that is characterized by blending 1) New Age beliefs (religious and spiritual ideas) of a paradigm shift in consciousness (in which we will all be awakened to a new reality); and, 2) traditional conspiracy theories (in which an elite, powerful, and covert group of individuals are either controlling or trying to control the social and political order.)