The most influential thinkers of the last half century are an obscure group of French philosophers — Jean-Francois Lyotard, Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, and possibly others like Jacques Lacan and Roland Barthes. They are The Postmodernistsduh-duh DUHHHHH! — and they pose a fundamental threat to western civilization — to free speech, reason, science, to the idea of the individual and universal values, to liberalism itself.

At least, that’s the view put forward by digital mullahs in the Culture Wars like Jordan Peterson, James Lindsay and Stephen Hicks. Peterson, in this 2017 talk, is so angry he can barely speak, but…


Abraham Maslow was one of the most influential psychologists of the 20th century, who helped create humanistic psychology, transpersonal psychology, and the human potential movement. He believed he’d forged an empirical spirituality which would save the world from the modern crisis of valuelessness and meaninglessness. He was an early example of the psychologist-as-moral-prophet, like Jordan Peterson, John Vervaeke, Brene Brown, Sam Harris, Ken Wilber, Roland Griffiths or Jonathan Haidt. But, as I will show, there are major logical and ethical problems with his attempt to create an empirical spirituality.

Maslow was born in Brooklyn in 1908, the child of Jewish…


In 1841, a young Danish intellectual called Soren Kierkegaard abruptly broke off his engagement to his fiancé, the beautiful Regine Olsen. They were very much in love. So why break up? Biographers speculated it was because Kierkegaard didn’t think he would make a good husband and father. Perhaps he needed to be a bachelor to pursue his true calling as an outcast philosopher. Either way, he brooded over the break-up for the rest of his lonely life, and it fed into many of his books.

In Repetition, for example, he discusses how to break up with a lover, and decides…


The biggest company in the psychedelic market is Compass Pathways. It has a billion-dollar valuation on the stock market, and is set to be the 800-pound gorilla in the psychedelic jungle. It’s using its money to do a large-scale test of magic mushroom therapy for depression, and to train up a large cadre of psychedelic therapists.

It is funded by a fund called ATAI Life Sciences, which is run by an investor called Christian Angermayer, who is an interesting fellow (check out this interview). He has statues of various roman emperors in his home, as well as a statue of…


Last week, we looked at how Trump strategists — particularly Roger Stone and General Michael Flynn — mobilised the world of conspiracy culture to attack the Clinton campaign and win the 2016 US presidential election. In this article, we look at how the far-right tapped into the world of New Age conspirituality.

I’m going to focus, in this story, on one well-known New Age influencer, called Sacha Stone.


Does it matter if Qanon emerged organically from the infosphere, or if it was synthesized in a lab as a weaponized political meme? I don’t know. I don’t know if we can ever find out exactly who was behind Qanon. When people have posted about it all being a psyop (psychological operation) led by shadowy intelligence agents, it’s sounded like, well, a conspiracy theory.

But I want to explore that theory, with an open mind, in this post and a subsequent one. We will explore the overlap between New Age conspirituality, intelligence communities, and right-wing illiberal politics — and how…


I’m doing a talk on this topic at the Psychedelic Society UK, online, on March 3.

When it emerged that the ‘Qanon shaman’, Jake Angeli, was not only the poster-boy for the Trumpist insurrection, but also a vocal promoter of psychedelic therapy, it provoked consternation among the psychedelic community. How could a psychonaut support Trump, and fall for an authoritarian and quasi-fascist conspiracy theory like Qanon?

The disbelief stemmed from a widespread conviction — and some evidence — that psychedelics make you more liberal, more open-minded, more connected, more ‘relaxed in your beliefs’, and less prone to authoritarian thinking, extremism…


We’re in a shroom boom. One company, Compass Pathways, which plans to offer magic mushroom therapy, listed on the Nasdaq in November with a $1 billion valuation. New funds like Atai are raising hundreds of millions to invest in psychedelics. New companies are listing, new training programmes for therapists are launching, new states are preparing to legalize or decriminalize psychedelics.

It’s a nervy, fast come-up for long-term psychedelic practitioners dreaming of this moment for years. What if it all spins out of control?

Some of the early signs aren’t great — new actors are flooding into the market, looking to…


I’ve been thinking about ‘spiritual bypassing’ this week, after it was mentioned by a friend of mine (Alex Beiner of Rebel Wisdom) as one of the shadow aspects of New Age spirituality. His remark made me reflect that it’s also quite obvious in Christian culture and in modern Stoicism.

The phrase ‘spiritual bypassing’ was invented in the 1980s by Buddhist teacher John Welwood, and then turned into a successful 2010 book by Robert Augustus Masters called Spiritual Bypassing: When Spirituality Disconnects Us From What Really Matters.

Masters writes:

Spiritual bypassing is a very persistent shadow of spirituality, manifesting in many…


John Mappin, the wealthy owner of a castle / hotel in Cornwall, is in the news again for his support of the ‘Qanon’ conspiracy (a particularly toxic conspiracy theory which helped stoke the Capitol Hill riot this month). Mappin, also connected to the pro-Trump and pro-Brexit group Turning Point, raised a Q flag over his castle, which must have thrilled his guests. He’s a good example of ‘conspirituality’ — the overlap of conspiracy culture and New Age magical thinking, as I discovered when I unwittingly visited his castle, Camelot, back in 2015….

Last week, Maria and I spent a few…

Jules Evans

Author of Philosophy for Life and other books. Honorary fellow, Centre for the History of the Emotions. www.philosophyforlife.org.

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