‘Conspirituality’ — the overlap between the New Age and conspiracy beliefs
I want to talk about trying to make sense when things are breaking down.
The last few weeks, we’ve seen some conspiracy theories blooming out of the anxiety of the lockdown.
Sports-presenter turned conspiracy-theorist David Icke took centre-stage in April, appearing in a video for London Real, in which he suggested COVID19 was caused by 5G (perhaps as part of the global plot run by a secret order of alien lizards, which Icke has consistently described). The video was watched millions of times on YouTube and on LondonLive before YouTube and Ofcom stepped in to get it taken down.
The same week, a documentary appeared called Out of Shadows, recycling the 2016 ‘Pizzagate’ conspiracy theory that a secret order of Democrats and Hollywood celebrities run a paedophile ring centred on two Washington pizza restaurants. The documentary got two million views in a day.
We’ve also seen a conspiracy theory that COVID19 is part of a plot led by Bill Gates and the World Health Organisation to get the world to take his vaccine and implant his chip surveillance. Conspiracy theorists like Alex Jones of Infowars have claimed for over a decade that Gates’ huge funding for vaccines is actually a eugenicist plot to reduce the world’s population. This theory was taken up and enthusiastically spread this week by an anti-vaccine entrepreneur called Dr Shiva, who claims he invented email. A TV interview with him has been watched six million times in a week.
Now in some ways this is predictable. The pandemic has led to a breakdown in knowledge and certainty. We don’t know much about the virus or the best way of dealing with it, but we know it’s killing a lot of us and we’re afraid. This is happening to the entire human race at the same time, and we’re all connected on the internet.
This is creating a unique opportunity for fringe beliefs and fringe thinkers to take centre stage. Some might be interesting — Universal Basic Income, say — but some really belong back on the fringe.
I have been disheartened to see leading influencers in my community — that’s to say, western spirituality — spreading the conspiracy theories I mention above. I want my community to be of service to…