Episode Summary

In this episode of "Escaping the Rabbit Hole," Richard Bolstad shares a psychological trick conspiracy theorist use to suck people in (and how you can protect yourself). We also talk about our experiences with conspiracy theories, and how we managed to pull ourselves out.

Key Topics

  • Similarities between doubting religious beliefs and conspiracy theories.
  • Recognizing biases and logical mistakes: The episode highlights the importance of acknowledging that all human beings have biases and make logical mistakes.
  • Setting boundaries and self-care: The episode highlights the need for individuals dealing with conspiracy theorists to prioritize self-care and set boundaries.

Quotes We Loved

How to Come Out with Dignity: "If I have been thinking weird stuff, how do I come out with dignity? It's almost the same kind of thing as people out of a cult where they totally believed in some guru, and they totally believed that, you know, some magical event was about to happen in the world."— Richard Bolstad [00:16:50 to 00:17:01]

Conspiracy Beliefs and Free Thinking: "And honestly, compared to that NLP and hypnotherapy was a breath of fresh air. It was like, wow, at least some free thinking here, And so I guess that's why it took me quite a while before I realized, yeah, it's free thinking, but sometimes it's so free that their brains have fallen out of their heads."— Richard Bolstad [00:28:06 to 00:29:26]

Building Rapport and Skepticism in Changing Worldviews: "And it's good for us not to just accept what authorities tell us. You know, there's nothing wrong with being skeptical, and what's important is to be able to be skeptical of your own ideas, not just of other people's ideas."— Richard Bolstad [00:40:34 to 00:40:42]

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Read podcast transcript

Antonio [00:00:00]:

In this episode of escaping the rabbit hole, I talked to a former conspiracy theorist, turned therapists about a psychological trick conspiracy theorist use suck people in and how you can protect yourself by setting a clear and healthy boundary.

voice over [00:00:14]:

Welcome to escaping the rabbit hole. hosted by former conspiracy theorist, Antonio Perez, author of Converting Conspiracy Theris. Antonio looks at conspiracy theories from multiple angles, such as how do conspiracy theorists impact their family and friends? How can they escape the grip of conspiracy theories? and why do they fall down the rabbit hole in the first place? You'll discover strategies to set clear boundaries with people stuck in dangerous theories and improve your mental well-being. Here's your host, Antonio Perez.

Antonio [00:00:47]:

I have a very special gas on that I've been trying to interview for a while. I've got Richard Bolstead all the way from New Zealand. Thank you for coming on the show.

Richard Bolstad [00:00:57]:

Thank you very much, Antonio. Looking forward to talking. So

Antonio [00:01:02]:

I know Richard from the field of NLP in New Orleans programming and hypnosis. And one thing that I really appreciate about him is how much he was push pushing back against the COVID deniers and the the anti science redirect during the pandemic, which it does Hypnosis and NLP, it doesn't need it doesn't need any more help being cut from the mainstream. It's funny how a lot of hypnotists will talk about all other they're trying to suppress us, I'm like, no, this the people in this field suppress our self. It's not outside forces that are damaging us, it's from the inside.

Richard Bolstad [00:01:40]:

Yeah. I think that's true. We we really don't need any help. And, you know, it's this thing that we now have a label for a conservatuality. You know? And And I I think I kind of went along with it for a long time myself. I mean, I trained in this field, and and I thought, you know, like, we're we're were in the business of selling dreams and stuff like that. And it was really was the pandemic that kind of alerted me to the fact that this is over the top. And then I started unpacking my own beliefs and and realized, well, if I'm a trainer in this field, I've gotta be more responsible about this myself and with the people I teach.

Antonio [00:02:19]:

Okay. So if you don't mind me asking, what can you impact so what are some of the the the pre COVID beliefs. You had a pre pandemic beliefs or pre pandemic as some of the people

Richard Bolstad [00:02:31]:

That's right. Yeah, see, I I trained with with people who who actually taught us in Hawaii, by the way. I I trained in Hawaii with with a very famous NLP organization on the big island there. And -- How was it gonna be? Was it James Yeah. Yeah. And so one of the things that we were taught was this this idea that the medical establishment is suppressing information about healing and about the nature of cancer and and things like this. And so there was this whole Germanic medicine, Doctor. Hemo, that we were taught as part of my trainer training, by the way. And so that Doctor. Hamer's idea is that Jewish physicians are you know, he he had this he was way ahead of his time. You know? He had this idea in the 19 nineties that that that rabbis were putting chips, computer chips in their vaccines and and and that no Jewish people ever got ever died of cancer because they didn't get the chemotherapy that was specially designed to kill non Jews.

Antonio [00:03:40]:

So -- No. It sounds like a, like, a a very logical idea.

Richard Bolstad [00:03:45]:

Yeah. Sure. And this this you know, at the time, I just thought, well, you know, obviously, that's a little bit weird, but maybe this guy, Haima, is really onto something, and and he's been suppressed. You know? And and so and so I sort of allowed it there. You know, I didn't really challenge it, and I carried on teaching his stuff and introducing people, I have to confess now, you know, like introducing people to that craziness. And it's only when it sort of hit me in the pandemic that I realized, okay, this there's no stopping it. You know, just this kind of imagining enemies everywhere goes on and on, and and I realize I I really have to do something about it.

Antonio [00:04:30]:

Yeah. So it's it's similar. You know, you said you introduced people to it. I had introduced so I was introduced if you read the book converting conspiracy theorists is laying around here somewhere. I was introduced via yes. I was introduced via Alex Jones, and then it the thing about conspiracy theories, it can be a very lonely world. So you know, that's just a that's another oh my god. I gotta put that in the book for the future. That's another idea I just unpack. It's can be a very lonely world So bring people along for the ride. It's a procurement scheme. So when and you know the sunken cost fallacy, we don't wanna think we've been ripped off or we've been dupes are like, hey, we better pull other people in to confirm that. This is a good idea.

Richard Bolstad [00:05:19]:

Yep. Very much. And you know, one of the things that as an LP trainer, one of the things I've learned that I need to explain to people is We are not really designed to be logical. Human beings are not designed to to pay attention so much to the truth as to what will get us food, and sex, and and survival. So, actually, most of the time, that kinda works, and sometimes especially when there is an international crisis, then it doesn't service very well. And so When NLP was first developed, the developers of NLP said, well, we're gonna make this system a bullshit detection system. it translates into American. Right? So a bullshit detection system, and so you would think that that NLP would be alert to those kind of things. But, actually, what we have learned to do is how to fabricate bullshit, how to talk in such a way that people are overwhelmed by the confusion of the of what we're saying. And sometimes you see that work, sometimes you can pull someone out of a depression, pull someone out of anxiety using that. But, unfortunately, I think most CNLP trainers don't teach people Yeah. That's one skill, and the others the opposite skill is also equally important, and that is to check is your thinking rational, or have you have you got twisted into something else?

voice over [00:06:45]:

To get instant access to the newest episodes of the podcast and the first three chapters of Antonio's newest book, go to www.escapingtherabbithole.com, and enter your first name and best email and smash the button that says, get the podcast.

Antonio [00:07:02]:

Tagging on the idea of the bullshit detection, one thing that and you you and I were talking about this earlier, and it it took me and I didn't realize this until I started to kind of de radicalize myself is, in personal development in general, they say you get more of what you focus on. People I think will say the reticular activation system I don't know if that's true, but a lot of times we just use words to make it sound more true. And if that's the case, a lot of trainers will say, oh, you get more of what you focus for example, if you have a red car, you see red cars everywhere, or if you have like a like a whatever color your your jacket is, you start seeing them everywhere. At the same token, when NLP people, personal development people start seeing conspiracy theories everywhere, they're like, I don't know why I see them everywhere. I'm like, because you're focusing on them. your filter system and that's all you're just you're attracting it. That's why you see him everywhere.

Richard Bolstad [00:07:53]:

Yep, yep. And one of the things I learned when I thought about that is that In a way, all the same structure is breaking through conspiracy theories. It's just that their label for it is depression, and and and the thing that we're talking about, people themselves haven't come to the point yet of deciding I need to change this. But it's the same structure. The structure of con of of conspiracy theory and depression is is pretty much the same thing. Yeah. And was actually looking at a study briefly yesterday. I'm probably gonna do a podcast about this about

Antonio [00:08:26]:

how people that are are prone to narcissism have a higher tendency to believe in conspiracy theories. Mainly, this is my untrained, unscientific reasoning is people that are narcissistic and conspiracy theorists want to feel as if they have that secret, they have that secret knowledge.

Richard Bolstad [00:08:48]:

Yep. And that's what a drink to me to NLP at the start. You say it's this idea like, wow. You know, there there's the secrets of the universe here. You know? Like, if I find out how to do this, this is what people have been looking for all through time, and, you know, I can show other people how to do it. That's the same thinking as conspiracy theory in general, of course. And Yeah. It's shocking now to look back and see it. There's a very famous set of techniques and NLP that are called sleight of mouth, and these are ways of talking that mess with someone else's thinking. And that that's useful to change them. Now that slate of mouth set of patterns was modeled, we call it NLP, by by Robert Dilts, one of the co developers who studied Richard Bandler. And at the time, Richard Bandler was acting crazy. So he was pretending to be a crazy person and no one could talk with him and get him out of it. And so so what Robert Dilts did is he took notes, and he worked out, how is he doing it? because we could teach people how to do this, this might have uses. Well, yeah, it does. And let's face it. It's a structure of paranoia, so so it also has risks. I

Antonio [00:10:02]:

never thought about that until now that a lot of those patterns that is that is narcissistic.

Richard Bolstad [00:10:08]:

Yeah. Yeah. They they they're pinned into where you deliberately say to someone, well, it doesn't matter whether your idea is logical or not, it only matters who who told you that story and who makes you think it's stuff like that. So they're they think that shift away from rational thinking to to argumentative at hominem, you know, to to all sorts of kind of logical fallacies.

Antonio [00:10:34]:

Yeah. Could you give our my audience an example of let's pretend I'm a conspiracy theorist. Yeah. I have a conspiracy theory that satanic pedophiles are drinking blood. How would you how would you can you possibly break that down with sleight of mouth?

Richard Bolstad [00:10:51]:

What I'm saying is that the the conspiracy theorist is using the sleight of mouth curtains, right, So they what they're doing is is when I when I ask them questions about it, they will tell me, for example, it's not about whether this is rational, you just find out where is the money going. You've heard this, you know, follow the money and there you'll find the evil genius who's creating the situation. And so I mean interesting idea, but it's not it's not a 100% guaranteed way of finding out how are things caused. So the fact that a doctor is getting money for something does not prove that the doctor causes the thing. You say it's it's just kinda crazy. The fact the fact that I have a I have a book on on you know, conspiracy theories does not mean that I'm causing conspiracy theories, you know, that doesn't make sense. But it sounds kinda logical, and that is a slide of mouth pattern. It sounds kinda logical. I was talking to a guy online the other day about it, conspiracy theorists, and I and I said this, and and he you know, he he just went straight into slide of mouth patterns back. So he he just said, ah, well but But you see what you're claiming now is that it's always like that that there's never a time, and I wasn't. You know? So sometimes people do benefit from things. Of course, and psychotherapist benefit from people being crazy or being depressed, and so they have they have a stake in taking a long time to help them heal. That's true. But that doesn't actually, as a generalization, prove that psychotherapist cause and sanity, any of those things.

Antonio [00:12:30]:

Yeah. I did I never thought about I mean, I I've used sleight of mouth mainly for sales. One of my theater patterns is Think the rate are fine. I like that when somebody would give you some projection. I'm like, hey, I totally agree. Well, for example, I do the timeshare. and people tell me it's a waste of time. I'm like, I totally agree that you think time shares a waste of time. And the issue might not be that it's a waste of time. Issue might be you haven't found vacation company that values your time as an individual. And the thing -- Yeah. -- it you're right. It doesn't make it it doesn't mean that it's right. It just present it prevents or presents a

Richard Bolstad [00:13:07]:

a logical fallacy with the emotion wrapped up and doing. Yeah. Now One of the important things to notice about that, and that's a good example is is that, actually, we don't human beings don't have to make all our decisions rationally. You know, like and and and salespeople understand that that most most purchasing decisions are not made rationally anyway. They're made based on emotional responses to things. And so, of course, there's a place for slight amount of patterns, you know, like, and it's the same with someone who's depressed. They're not thinking rationally, The slide of mouth pattern doesn't have to be logical. It just has to show them a more useful way of thinking, useful as opposed to logical. And The difficulty is when someone gets locked into this pattern of seeing enemies everywhere and And this way of thinking, conspiracy theory stuff, as I started to watch it and and to to understand it, I I realized that it's not just about the logic. It's actually what you've said in your book. It's essentially about the feeling that people get. It's the dopamine rush that they get from thinking that they are the special person who's discovered the secret of the universe, stuff like that. Well, the first story of the book

Antonio [00:14:29]:

about my experience with martial law, I'm not gonna spoil it with people who can read it, but that's I thought I was a special one. I'm like, I get to save humanity. And then it it honestly, it's it was embarrassing telling that story at first, but now when I tell people that story, everybody's And when they hear the twist and they're like, oh, man. You are crazy. Yeah. What what I'm gonna look at in the book, I mentioned in chapter 10 about 3 3 epistemology. At the end, I think I had an example of Yeah. I have an example of the redefine pattern just saying I agree x, and I'd like to add the issue. Might not be x, rather y, which means we should z. One example I used was I agree you think satanic pedophiles are running the planet, and I'd like to add that issue might not be satanic pedophiles running the planet, Issue might be whether or not we have proper laws in place to prosecute these pedophiles, which means we should look at what laws are in place to take care of this. And that'll at least keep somebody on board. Then I also mentioned something in the book called the unread library effect from how to have impossible conversations or that when you ask somebody to explain the position, that's when they start to realize I think they called unread library effect because we I think it says that anytime we have a book on a subject, we think we know that subject because we know somebody that knows it. Yeah. So start asking somebody about for to back something up. That's why they usually revert to do your own research. which I think that drives me nuts.

Richard Bolstad [00:16:02]:

Yeah. Well, let's That's that's really true. That's really true. I know one of the things that you're doing here, and then I think is it's really useful. I talk about it in my book on cognitive clarity as well because it's a subset of that book to be doing what you're aiming to do, you know, help people out of theories. And and one of the things that I think is it's really useful for people to hear stories like you're telling about the way it was for you and the way that you changed. And because it gives them a sense of how that's possible and for you to come out with dignity. You know? And And that that's a really big question. It's like if I have been thinking weird stuff, how do I come out with dignity? And it's almost the same kind of well, it is the same kind of thing as people out of a cult where they totally believed in some guru, and they totally believed that, you know, some magical event was about to happen in the world. And so at first, they sort of noticed, well, this guy is abusive, but I still believe what he says, you know, and that somehow they have to work their way out of that. So one of the things that I that I do that I've learned to do on my NLP trainings is to talk to people about my own life experiences and to to talk about the fact that all human beings have biases, and and we are all susceptible to conspiracy theories and it doesn't prove they were a weak human being or something necessarily. You know, it's it's a pattern that people can get into, and once they get reinforced for it, they can They can really do it too much. But hearing okay. I had real conspiracy theories, and I recovered. That's really important for people. So it's funny when you mentioned about

Antonio [00:17:50]:

somebody being on a call and then then seeing the guru, I wonder how it's different with, like, QAnon, for example, because QAnon, there is no guru. It's this it's this it's almost like they're group anonymous. It's that anonymous that's what I call it, q QAnonimus. So it's hard I don't know why. There's something so alluring about it, where you see where I'm going? It's it's It's always hard to break q and a on because there's there's no one person. They they can't just you a culti programmer can't look at one individual, say, hey. Look. here's Trump, here's his fault, or here is the Haley guy, Haley's comment, cult guy. There's no one person they can point and say, hey, here's this person's fault. So if you say, Q and I, it just it just

Richard Bolstad [00:18:36]:

it's almost -- Yeah. -- worth this blob. Yeah. And and not only that. But in talking with people who are into QAnon, they'll say, no. There really is no QAnon. You know? That's part of what And so they're so they're telling they'll tell you, see, the very name. It's like with the thing, conspiracy theory. Oh, yeah, conspiracy theory. That's the CIA word. And so and and so it's kinda I've, you know, I've talked to people who will say that about QAnON well. And so it's it's like we're just kinda spinning our wheels as we as we try and unpack it.

Antonio [00:19:11]:

Yeah. Yeah. I but it's funny when I look at a lot of the stuff I used to think. I'm like, wow. How did I by end of it. Well, it's funny, and they mentioned in the book that if somebody had come up to me and said, hey, Jews are drinking baby blood. I'd be like, That's crazy. That's that's bullshit. But it's always like a really minor conspiracy theory. They came into, like, Bigfoot or something or other aliens, and then it progresses. It I have this theory. I don't know. This would be a good theory to test out. I have this theory about conspiracy theory so very meta. I have this theory that the conspiracy theory that we were first introduced to get strengthened over time. I think it was almost like a foundation of a house. So every time we learn something else that kinda reinforces that. I'm wondering if if somebody were to shift their beliefs on the original conspiracy theory, if there'd be like a crack a house if they would kinda go through and start to get them to question everything else.

Richard Bolstad [00:20:11]:

Yeah, yeah, that's really interesting. Well, Like, this is a I'm I'm just about to say something very contentious now for people who have a religious background. So, you know, I I grew up in a Christian family, and And I've talked to a lot of people who who were very fundamental as Christian and who kinda recovered from that over time. And and one of the things that happens is they more start off, I think, on the periphery. So they start off by saying, well, hang on. When Jesus told stories. He told stories. He's not saying there is actually a a a Samaritan who's walking along this road. He's not trying to get you to believe that. He's just telling a story, man. And then and so when he says eat this, this is my body and drink this, this is my blood, it's a story, man. he's he's not trying to tell you this is my you know, like, I didn't rip this out of my arm or something. He's telling you metaphorically, that's what it is. And once they have accepted that, then at some point they're gonna say, so god is a metaphor. and then it and then it's over. And at that point, they're realizing in a really damn useful metaphor, but that does mean you have to believe that he's a guy with a beard sitting in the sky. And so and so I think sometimes with conspiracy is that happens almost the other way that it's like from from the little things. There's a guy called Miquest hit. I don't know if you've come across his stuff from?

Antonio [00:21:38]:

I well, considering his book is called the escaping the record call, I didn't know that. So I'm gonna have to contact him about, hey. I hope you're not mad that I safe in the rabbit hole, but let's get you out of the podcast.

Richard Bolstad [00:21:50]:

Yeah. Well, he has a really interesting idea. He calls the line of demarcation. And what he says is listen to the person and find out where is their line of demarcation because you know what you said before that Jewish people drinking blood, you would have said was crazy. But maybe Bigfoot, you'd say, like, that that's totally real. You know, so many examples. You can't deny it. Now what he what he would say is that's really important because if I start talking to you, if you believe in Bigfoot, but you don't believe in in adrenochrome or something. And I say talking to you about adrenochrome, you think I'm insulting you, and you think See, that's part of that's part of the conspiracy is to make fun of us by talking about these absurd ideas. And so what McWest is into is find out, like, where is the edge and generally move the person a little. And once they get on a roll and and, you know, that was my personal experience. was to realize that, okay, well, hang on. This one about COVID-nineteen, I used to be very anti immunization, you know, anti vaccination when when I was younger. I trained as a nurse. I accepted that I had to give vaccinations to be a nurse, but I was I didn't believe in it as a theory. When I saw what was happening with COVID 19, then I realized, you know, there's millions of people gonna die because of the ideas that are being promoted here. It's just hard to believe that millions of people could die because of crazy ideas. And that was kinda like a shifting point for me about that. So then I I I gradually go back from from that line of demarcation and start unpacking. Well, hang on. Some of the stuff that I've heard about emulization of kids in general as well, I'd better check this out.

voice over [00:23:35]:

Is your mental and emotional health being affected by a loved 1 trapped in conspiracy theories? If so, discover how Antonio can help you set clear boundaries and reclaim your mental well-being. Book your free 20 minute consultation call by Go to www.escapingthe rabbit hole.com/call. That's escaping the rabbit hole.comforward/ c a l l.

Antonio [00:24:01]:

Now in the idea about the line of demarcation, when I was a conspiracy theorist, we used to do a conspiracy theory brew and View the bar worked at. It was every Sunday we would drink. We we also did this other thing that made us paranoid. Oh, we did cocaine. That's one of the reasons I was always paranoid. Dope means something's not good for paranoia. Anyhow, that out of the way. People would come in, and they'd see us in the temple hands. We explained to them about them, and they're like, oh, what about they would ask us, oh, do you believe the the reptilian agenda? Oh, I'm not that kinda crazy. I just believe that there's a satanic pedophiles trying to run the planet. It's all crazy. So I I you like, you're you're right. You use that almost as, like, a lever of, like, oh, I'm not that crazy. I just believe in this. So I'm not that crazy. But It's still crazy.

Richard Bolstad [00:24:47]:

Yeah. Yeah. So one of the ways that I I sat with like, when are people coming in not be training now, they they come in and they don't necessarily know that I've been through this journey. So they they come in with the usual kind of getting into personal development field beliefs, which is that there must be some magic there, and you tell me what it is, and and there must be people who are hiding this magic from us. Now that's quite kind of core conspiracy structure, but they don't have the information yet. They're willing for me to download conspiracy theories into them And one of the things that that I'm gonna explain to them is this whole idea of look. We all people have weird ideas. that they later on look back on and think they were silly. Like most of us believed in Santa Claus or something when we were kids. And now we're doing.

Antonio [00:25:37]:

And we just kinda laugh at it. You know what I mean? Santa is Santa isn't really bursting my bubble over here.

Richard Bolstad [00:25:44]:

Sorry. I I really didn't mean that, obviously. was referring to the Easter bunny. You know? Okay. Oh, jeez. It's not with all the Easter bunny. And that feeling that you can like, I think that's quite an important thing for people to get the feeling that I could have had an idea one time. Later on, I look at it and think, no. That's that's not the way it is. You know? I think that's I think that's an important thing for us to accept as human beings because it it's probably gonna carry on. You know? Yeah. Okay. One of the one of the conspiracy beliefs I had when I was younger is, you know, it was very cool at the time to to believe in kinda left wing revolution. So like so this idea that there's gonna be this huge social change And and the ruleless of the world, they are organized together to to try and stop that happening. You know? So, like, when I look at the rollers of the world now, they can hardly organize their way out of a paper bag. You know, like, let alone let alone run the world for 100 years and and stop a left wing revolution. So so, actually, that I look back on that now, and I think that's conspiracy theory. right there. You know? The the belief that there's this secret cabal of people in there, that's how capitalism works. You know? Like, capitalism works mostly because People are trying to earn enough money to live. You know? And -- Yeah. -- sometimes it gets a little weird. You know?

Antonio [00:27:08]:

In the in in the US with people on the right, they have this idea of we want small government. We want small government because we don't trust the government. They can't do anything the same token, like, oh my god. Look. They're conspiring against us. I'm like, but I thought what is it? Or one of my favorite theories, is Biden one of my favorite theories is Biden is incompetent. He can't do anything he has dementia. But he also organized the world's largest voter fraud. I'm like, what is it? Is he incompetent or is he capable of some grand master mind? I I can't keep track.

voice over [00:27:42]:

Subscribe to the podcast by going to www.escapingtherabbithole.com. Add your first name and best email to the form and smash the button that says, get the podcast. You'll get instant access when the newest episodes are released. Plus, you'll get the first three chapters of Antonio's newest book sent directly to your email. -- on mental health growing up first now?

Richard Bolstad [00:28:06]:

Yeah. So I I I started off well, I had as a teenager, I had these sort of conspiracy beliefs as well. Of course, like I'm saying, you know, I was sort of involved in the left wing, and I had ideas from that. And I also had beliefs about aliens and and so on having visited the Earth. And this is a harmless idea until you realize that, like, what it's gonna mean is that people are keeping a secret. So once it becomes this conspiracy that there is an active campaign by the governments of the world to hide this huge amount of information, and then you can believe actually there's there's people on Mars and they're keeping that secret or on the other side they never went to the moon and they're keeping that secret And so so I hid those beliefs, but I kinda let go of those and got into the mainstream, and my my first training in psychotherapy was was with psychotherapy and was with I trained with the New Zealand Association of psychotherapist, so I trained with serious kind of psychotherapy people. And And honestly, compared to that NLP and hypnotherapy was a breath of fresh air. It was like, wow, at least some free thinking here, And so I guess that's why it took me quite a while before I realized, yeah, it's free thinking, but sometimes it's so free that their brains have fallen out of their heads. You know? So Yeah.

Antonio [00:29:27]:

It's free thinking but it's what's the term? Is it prepackaged or it's It's similar to the idea where Alex Jones will give you breadcrumbs, and he's like, do your own research. Or like I mentioned in the book, he'll Jose, if they lied about x, what else have they lied about? And it gets us going, oh, you're right. You're right, like, Yeah. It's just it's easy to fall down the rabbit hole.

Richard Bolstad [00:29:54]:

You know, there's a a a technique that is kind of like a sleight of mouth technique I learned about in philosophy at university. So and it's called 10 leaky buckets. And the idea is like this that I have a bucket, and I say, okay. So look at this. This really holds water, and then I see it's dripping out. So I put another one underneath it and another one underneath that. You see, and it's kind of like my conspiracy ideas were a bit like that. It's like, if you question it, I'd say, yeah. Maybe there doesn't really hold water, but there's one under it as well. And there's one under that. But the fact is you can have a 100 leaky buckets. And if they're all leaky, in the end, the water runs out. There's nothing there. It's they don't hold water. And and that's what conspiracy theories are like because it's like there's this one belief under another under another. And when I challenge one, then you slip back to another one and you say, yeah, maybe that's not true, but you know, like when there's all this other stuff happening.

Antonio [00:30:51]:

Yeah, that's The thing about conspiracy theories is they close the door behind them.

Richard Bolstad [00:30:57]:

Yeah. Yeah.

voice over [00:30:59]:

To get instant access to the newest episodes of the podcast and the first three chapters of Antonio's newest book, go to www.escapingtherabbithole.com, and enter your first name and best email and smash the button that says, get the podcast.

Antonio [00:31:15]:

How can a how can someone set a healthy boundary with their loved one that's a conspiracy theorist?

Richard Bolstad [00:31:22]:

Yeah. Well, I I think that the first things that really help my belief is that the first things that really help are that thing I said before of realizing that this all human beings have biases and and make logical mistakes. And so, firstly, knowing that. And secondly, really understanding, like, you've done a lot of learning about conspiracy theories and thinking through this. And I think at first, when someone discovers how their family members have gotten really weird on them, they don't have all our background, and it's worth learning about this. It really is worth reading your book. It's it's worth people finding out what happens with conspiracy theories and unpacking it in themselves as well so that they have a sense of clarity, so they have a sense of, okay, This doesn't mean people are bad. It's just something that people do sometimes. They get caught up in this, and I've probably gotten caught up in some in the past and I can now start learning from this and benefiting the living sanely. So it's like being an equilibrium myself a bit more and understanding myself a bit more before I even try and talk with these other people. And the reality is as as you know that my chances of helping someone recover like, by concentratedly deprogramming them or something, the chances are low. You know? And more what's likely to happen is if I can be calm and a resource person they can come to if they have doubts in future because most of them gonna pull out of this eventually. if they have doubts in future, then the feeling that they can come to me might be really helpful then. But in the meantime, I gotta look after myself.

Antonio [00:33:06]:

That's how to think about it. Thank you for that. And it's funny when you mentioned about unpacking my thoughts. That this is the first book I've written. It's taken me, like, 25 years to write a book. It's funny the last 2 months before I got it published, I'm like, oh my god, I was doing Richard Nongarbage 12 week. I think it's 12 weekbook.com took his training. And the last 2 months before I published it, I'm like, oh my god. I feel like a failure. I'm like, dude, I haven't gotten this done. And it only took me, like, 8 months. And then it dawned on me. I'm really good at procrastination. You know what, let's put this power Let's put this super power to use. I told myself I'm like, you know, it's taken me 25 years to write a book. What's another 2 months to do it right, get the cover done right, etcetera. Writing this book was very therapeutic. I mean, as you've read the parts of the book, I even mentioned, I think in chapter 4 or 5, I talk about my conspiracy theory days days d d a z e where I don't remember all that times. It's embarrassing. Yeah. I intentionally -- Yeah. -- I like, I intentionally deleted and distorted little elements from my experience. Yeah. Yeah. I think I think that's

Richard Bolstad [00:34:13]:

that's the way it is. And and if someone hears people in their family who've who've really gotten into conspiracy theories, probably for a while, they went along with it. You know? And And they will have some confused thinking in the background as well, and it really really helps to get clearer about that. So, yeah, so I think at some point, most people I've talked to her in this situation with someone in their family, they realized that they have to make a decision. Am I patient enough to to keep listening to this person and just accepting that they're talking stuff that I don't wanna know about and that they're gonna keep trying to convert me or do I wanna split with this person? And I know it sounds heartbreaking. A lot of people are gonna make gonna make that decision, and that will be a healthy decision that for now, this isn't a relationship that they wanna keep up. I mean, that's

Antonio [00:35:08]:

You touched on something in the new book. It's gonna be coping with conspiracy theories. That's the working title. It's about It's kinda like a self care guide. Have you do you know what Al Anon is? Sure. Yeah. So it's kind of like an Al Anon for q u naught. So q l n, I don't know how it's gonna be called, but it's basically q like, l l for q and a on people. Yeah. In that book, I talked I call it the fake news model, which is it it's funny. I think I used CHPT to pull up the acronym. These are these are the 8 struggles that a family member of a conspiracy theorist deals with. First one is feeling trapped with nowhere to go. a is anxiety about things getting worse. I mean, there kids think about when you see somebody spiraling out, if you're like, you just mentioned, people, I think, go along with it at first, and then and then they realize, like, oh, damn. I should have stopped them all there in. k is keep trying to save your loved 1. That's the classic codependency. e is emotionally draining conversations, which is any kinda narcissist or abusive relationship. And then for the second half for news, it's no longer feeling loved, or connected with a person. He is experiencing bigotry and hatred which is very common in conspiracy theories. w is wrestling with self doubts, which is in regards to gaslighting, and then s is struggling to set boundaries, which pretty much nails the pretty much nails the gamut.

Richard Bolstad [00:36:36]:

Yep. That's really true. That's really true. And I and I think it's quite a good metaphor to think of it as being like in a an addiction kind of process, and so like protecting yourself in that in that situation. Yeah.

voice over [00:36:51]:

Is your mental and emotional health being affected by a loved 1 trapped in conspiracy theories? If so, discover how Antonio can help you set clear boundaries and reclaim your mental well-being. Book your free 20 minute consultation call by going to www.escapingtherabbithole.com. slash call. That's escaping the rabbit hole.comforward/calll. What is one

Antonio [00:37:18]:

idea that you think the majority of people get wrong about conspiracy theorists. Well,

Richard Bolstad [00:37:26]:

I know I've said it a couple of times already, but I'd I'd still come back to this idea that I really I think it's useful to know that the human brain is designed to be biased. So we're designed to see faces on Mars, you know, and and and not to notice that. It's just a mountain that looks cool from an accent angle. And so, you know, like, on my Facebook feed even now, and I, you know, I've deleted quite a few people who who had weird ideas, but on my Facebook feed, I will continuously get people saying like, wow, look at this mountain. It totally looks like such and such. Now your brain is meant to do that. It's meant to see faces everywhere

Antonio [00:38:06]:

because that's how babies find their mom. You know? Like, if you didn't -- That's how we get with the sorry for upping the clouds. Somebody's like, oh, look. I see a Starship. We recognize we recognize.

Richard Bolstad [00:38:17]:

And and so being able to accept dense part is is kinda normal, and you just gotta be willing to to allow that sometimes that's a mistake. Sometimes, this thing that enable you to find your mom in the first couple of hours. Right now, it may be making you see a face on Mars instead of thinking So if I can see this and they're telling me it's not there, then this is a big conspiracy. And so that's that idea I think is something really important and what people get the idea that the person with conspiracy theories is doing something that they would never do. And I think I I've really learned to be more humble than that that actually I've done conspiracy theories And when I talk about them, they're big time. I mean, they really are extreme conspiracy theories, I think, now. And people can have weird ideas like that, and they can recover. So I've said it so many times, but I think that's the thing that people mistake. They get the idea, okay. Well, this person is kinda like crazy. And it's the same idea people have about schizophrenia or psychiatric conditions in general. This person is so weird. I would never be able to be like that, and therefore, we have no sense of contact or anything. And in fact, life is not that simple. You know?

Antonio [00:39:42]:

There's there are how many billions of weirdos on this planet? It's so many weirdos. One one of our mutual friends, he calls himself professional weirdo Duffy. Duffy, we have to talk a lot. Yeah. We're all we're all perfectly imperfect weirdos.

Richard Bolstad [00:40:01]:

Yeah. Yeah. And I and I think that's that's a big thing. You know, like, a a big part of it. If someone does actually want to to attempt to change someone, and I'm not recommending that. You know, I'm just saying that sometimes someone will, then rapport what email people call rapport, like synchronizing what the person is really important. And part of that is being able to say, okay. Well, seeing patterns like this, this is a normal human thing. And another part of it is being able of rapport, in that case, is being able to say. And it's good for us not to just accept what what authorities tell us. You know, there's nothing wrong with being skeptical, and what's important is to be able to be skeptical of your own ideas, not just of other people's ideas. And so those things I think are important kind of rapport building. Instead of saying no, your ideas are weird. I'm saying which which cuts cuts us off right at the south. So so there's a kind of a there is a process to creating that kind of rapport where someone would trust you being skeptical about small parts of their worldview. But it's so hard for a family member to to do that successfully because they get really frustrated with it and so on. It almost it reminds me of when my son was very young, he was at an alternative school, and I tried to teach him to read. And I was just the wrong guy to teach him to read because I so invested in him. He's my family member, and I'd get so upset if he didn't do it right. And I just I just get so frustrated in the background, I realize after a couple of weeks, I'm not the guy who can do this. Needs to be someone from outside who can do this calmly and dispassionately.

Antonio [00:41:41]:

what thought, belief, or fear keeps you from falling back into conspiracy theories?

Richard Bolstad [00:41:46]:

See, I wouldn't have called those things conspiracy theories at the time. You know, Like having this concept is so empowering of of of realizing, okay, I've gotten into a conspiracy way of thinking. And what I've learned to do now is to be skeptical of my own ideas when I get the idea that a lot of other people are secretly planning something together. And I know it's a standard joke and and sort of anti conspiracy theory things to say You know, I I really admire your, you know, faith that hundreds of thousands of people could keep the moon landing secret because, you know, like, honestly, who may know to keep anything else secret. And and I I think this kind of awareness in myself that, okay, if I'm starting to think that there is a plot here, than in that in itself is a warning. Could could people really be that sophisticated about what what they're doing? And I didn't use to question that way. I used to just accept it. Wow. You know, like, there must be a plot there must be a plot against NLP. Like you said before, you know, like, We have ambivalence as ourselves in the alternative healing field, and that's what holds us back from being successful, not so much that there is a secret plot by the establishment. There are people in the establishment who don't want us to be successful, but they're not well enough organized for that to be the only reason.

Antonio [00:43:13]:

Yeah. They have they have way more they have bigger fish to fry.

voice over [00:43:18]:

To get instant access to the newest episodes of the podcast and the first three chapters of Antonio's newest book, go to www.escapingtherabbithole.com, and enter your first name and best email and smash the button that says, get the podcast.

Richard Bolstad [00:43:34]:

One of the things that's a real delight is to read someone who's had genuine experience in the fear would like you have. and who is writing such an incredibly well written book about recovering from that. And and Converting conspiracy theorists is a really good read. So if you're watching this podcast and you haven't read this book yet, get it. and read it, you're gonna love it. And it

Antonio [00:44:01]:

really does the job. It's a very well written book, and I've written a lot of book side. It is for the back of the peep for the people in the back of the room. Thank you so much. I like me, I studied a little bit of copywriting, so I liked it make it very conversational, so it's not very If you're looking for very, like, heady, it's not that.

Richard Bolstad [00:44:22]:

Yeah, yeah, it's beautifully written. It's very engaging.

Antonio [00:44:25]:

like, seeing as he's got into it, boom. Oh, yeah. There's a couple good stories about Matt Gaetz, which there's a couple good zinger's in there. Now where can people find out more about you? If if somebody wants to learn more about hypnosis or NLP or any of the the fun stuff you're doing.

Richard Bolstad [00:44:46]:

Yeah. So that that's transformations dotnet Sorry. transformation.org is the better site. transformation.org.nz.sonz for New Zealand. transformations.org.nz. That's my site. Yeah. And,

Antonio [00:45:03]:

you know, can you hold your book up? I I need to get a copy of that. Sure. So what does that cost you over? Kind of clarity, NLP to help people live sanely. So is that about helping people to kinda pull them out of their biases?

Richard Bolstad [00:45:17]:

It's it's about helping them to notice their biases, use them in useful ways like the slide of mouth can be used, and and really understand NLP as as being the process of managing our own biases. And so, like, if you know that when that you're more likely to trust someone who you like, then we call that an NLP, we call that rapport, and we utilize it. That's very useful. And that doesn't mean you should elect them for president. That's the secrets. They're they're Once you know that we have biases, then you can learn how to use them effectively and how to let go of them.

Antonio [00:45:55]:

So it's about Good point. Thank you so much for coming on them. Oh, I actually have one last question. I almost forgot. I wanna ask everybody on this podcast. What is escaping the rabbit hole to you?

Richard Bolstad [00:46:06]:

Well, it's it's like this. Firstly, it's sad because it was so much fun having the secret community of people who shared my ideas. You know, that is. I mean, I I grieve for the fact that I could just go on believing that stuff, and, you know, I've lost a lot of friends by coming out. And secondly, it's so freeing. It's just so like a breath of fresh air to to be able to think clearly about these things.

Antonio [00:46:38]:

Hence cognitive clarity. Yep, thank you so much everybody check out his website. And that book, is it on Amazon, or is it just on your website? Yep. On Amazon? Sure. Yeah. I'm gonna have to I'm gonna go pick up a copy of that. Thank you so much, and I look forward to whenever we actually get to meet in person.

Richard Bolstad [00:46:58]:

Yeah, that'd be great. Thank you for having me on the show. Yep. I'll talk to you soon. Aloha.

voice over [00:47:05]:

Thanks for listening to escaping the rabbit hole. To get instant access to the newest epic odes of the podcast and the first three chapters of Antonio's newest book, go to www.escapingtherabbithole.com. enter your first name and best email and smash the button that says, get the podcast.

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Escaping The Rabbit Hole
Escaping The Rabbit Hole

Former conspiracy theorist, Antonio Perez, discusses how to deal with family and friends that have fallen down the rabbit hole.

About the Author

Antonio Perez, author of Converting Conspiracy Theorists, is a former conspiracy theorist.  He helps friends and family members of conspiracy theorists to improve their mental and emotional health, and to set clear healthy boundaries with their conspiracy theory addicted loved ones.

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