You can also watch this podcast about a former Jehovah Witness leaving the cult behind on youtube.

Free Ebook Reveals:
Little-Known Conversation "Hack" Forces Angry Conspiracy Theorists To Calm Down And Listen To You Almost Instantly

Click here to set your free book so you can regain your peace, freedom and happiness!

Have you ever found yourself wondering how religious cults work?  If so, you're going to love this episode.  My guest and I talk about his descent into a religious cult.  

Did my guest start off believing the most outlandish stuff?

Not at all.

It was a gradual descent.

Like any other conspiracy theorist / cultist, Terrance wasn't introduced into the most bizarre beliefs.

Want to know a secret?

You can't get someone to believe insane beliefs right off the bat.  Nope.  You have to get them to believe smaller, more plausible beliefs at first.  Sooner or later, you can get them to believe in more wild claims.

It's a familiar story and it usually goes like this:

Someone comes knocking on your door promising a better life.  But they don't have anything to sell.  At least not yet.

So you give them a chance and decide to attend their church.  And guess what?  You fall in love with the structure.  Before long, you're swept up into their movement.

What once started as a way to get structure and freedom...has sentenced you to a life of pain and turmoil.

Your own personal hell. That's the bad news.  

The good news?

My guest spilled the beans on the sneaky persuasion tactic that lifted him out of the Jehovah Witnesses.  He credits this experience as the reason he's a former Jehovah Witness.

"So what is this sneaky persuasion tactic?"

It's the "flying chicken" persuasion pattern.

Can you guess what this is?

Listen to the podcast to discover this little-known tactic.

Now here's the kicker—that's not the only piece of valuable information in the podcast.  You'll also uncover valuable wisdom such as:

  • CAUTION: The piece of clothing you should never wear if religious fanatics come knocking…it’ll practically invite them into your house (No, it’s not a necklace with a cross)  6:15
  • “Are they on the spectrum?” How to tell if someone is in a high-control like a cult 12:39
  • How to keep Mormons from knocking on your door (hint: ask them about this decades old scandal that rocked the church) 15:37
  • Well known fact: Jehovah Witnesses can’t take blood transfusions.  Here’s a lesser known fact—a ton of Jehovah Witnesses are scooping up these specific medications 16:55
  • Jehovah witness or Mormons barking up the wrong tree?  Hand them this piece of metal (it also works great to ward off sales people!) 21:36
  • Discover the dark personality trait that some Noble Prize winning scientists have in common with conspiracy theorists 23:44
  • The “flying chicken” persuasion pattern that broke Terrance out of the Jehovah Witnesses 32:21
  • The sneaky “bounced beliefs” trick religious cults use to keep their members stuck…this works especially well if a cult member starts second guessing their faith 35:33
  • How to use these dead people to talk to conspiracy theorist in a calm manner (it also works for religious fanatics) 44:53
  • Why a cemetery is your best friend when dealing with conspiracy theorists 44:53

Free Ebook Reveals:
Little-Known Conversation "Hack" Forces Angry Conspiracy Theorists To Calm Down And Listen To You Almost Instantly

Click here to set your free book so you can regain your peace, freedom and happiness!

Guest Bio & Links

Read podcast transcript

Antonio [00:00:02]:
In this episode of Escaping the Rabbit Hole, my guest reveals how a chance encounter with a flying chicken helped rescue him from the Jehovah Witness cult. Sounds crazy, doesn't it? Keep listening to find out.

voice over [00:00:15]:
Welcome to escaping the rabbit hole, hosted by former conspiracy theorist, Antonio Perez, author of Converting Conspiracy Theorists. 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 conspiracy theories and improve your mental well-being. Here's your host, Antonio Perez.

Antonio [00:00:49]:
Aloha. It's Antonio with escaping the rabbit hole dot com. Today, I have a, friend. I I guess we'd call call each other each other friends. We, met at a hypnosis conference, I wanna say, this, this past year or the year before. I've got Terrence Schmidt with hypnotic

guest [00:01:08]:
Hello. How are you, Antonio?

Antonio [00:01:10]:
I am doing browsing, and I don't know if if that word makes sense. I'm doing good. I'm I'm trying to sound a little more, smarter than

guest [00:01:20]:
Oh, yeah. Well, that's okay. We'll use some big words. We'll use a big word, and it helps if you have if you wanna show everybody your collection of books.

guest [00:01:27]:
Oh, yeah. That's, one one great way of looking smart is get a whole bunch of books. You know, the fun thing about having a bunch of books is that people will assume that you read them all.

Antonio [00:01:39]:
Exactly. You know, it looks smarter.

guest [00:01:41]:
Books up to Wazoo. See?

Antonio [00:01:44]:
And you know what? It's funny. There's a, book you would actually like this. This works good for, for hypnotists. So this guy wrote 2 books. I know you're gonna jam out on this. Street epistemology, it's all about how to help somebody to change their beliefs without attacking the belief directly. In this book, they talk about something called a unread library effect where we think we think we're smarter because we have access to knowledge. Because we have that knowledge, we're like, I know more more about this.

Antonio [00:02:15]:
His other book is I know you're gonna love this one. A manual for creating atheists. Okay. He does, so if you look up Street of Pistolology on YouTube, they'd him and another one, I think, is Anthony Mbagasso. I'm trying to remember his name off the top of my head. They, it's basically like street preaching, but where you're you're talking to somebody about their beliefs.

guest [00:02:38]:

Antonio [00:02:39]:
And you're using, different questions, different questions to help them understand how they came to believe what they believe. One question that I love in in, this methodology is a scaling question of on a scale of 1 to 10, how confident are you in the belief of x? Whatever they give you I mean, they think you're gonna you're gonna try to challenge, but why didn't you choose a higher number? And you just say just like, Mike Mandel talks about instant influence and say, why didn't you choose a lower number? And they're like, well, and they have to kinda dig into why they don't believe it.

guest [00:03:15]:

Antonio [00:03:15]:
So can you give my audience a a quick background of actually, tell my audience, like, what you do now and, then we can kinda dig into why why we decided to get you on the show.

guest [00:03:29]:
Alright. So these days, I'm a hypnotist, and I work with people who have sexual dysfunctions, helping them clear out that stuff through the through the means of hypnosis and get back to happy healthies.

Antonio [00:03:41]:
Let me clarify. That's not the reason I I this is not a therapy call for me. Just clear clearing that

guest [00:03:47]:
out right

Antonio [00:03:47]:
off the bat.

guest [00:03:49]:
Yep. No. It is not. So before I came there and it's been a long strange trip to get here. But before that, I was, at 15 years old, the Jehovah's Witnesses came knocking on my door, and I wound spending 10 years of my life as a Jehovah's Witness, which

Antonio [00:04:11]:
Was that 10 years too much?

guest [00:04:14]:
That was, I'd say, 8 years too much. Like, just to give you some background, before that, I came from a very, very messed up family, and I was basically raised like a wolf. No. Actually, that's not true. Wolves have more of a social structure than I had. My mother used to think nothing of leaving me out on the streets of New York for 4 hours at a time when I was 4 years old.

Antonio [00:04:41]:
Oh, was it was it like I mean, you don't need to dig into it. It was, like, addiction issues? Or

guest [00:04:47]:
No. Just, she wasn't all there. Like, she had her first two kids taken away, stayed in New York. So

Antonio [00:04:54]:
So, basically, you're like a feral animal then?

guest [00:04:57]:
Yeah. Pretty much. So in the Jehovah's Witnesses, at least, I got to be around people who would say, okay. Yeah. Don't that thing you're doing? Yeah. Don't do that. They they

Antonio [00:05:08]:
he gave you some structure.

guest [00:05:10]:
Yeah. They were good about having structure. Unfortunately, that's where they began, and that's where they ended.

Antonio [00:05:18]:

guest [00:05:19]:
They didn't they're not it's not really a group that where you just keep growing. You run into the end of growth very quickly, which is why I say 2 years. 2 years I had learned everything that I was gonna

Antonio [00:05:35]:
gonna learn from them. The next 8 years, we're

guest [00:05:35]:
trying to escape the mental prison that they create for people.

Antonio [00:05:35]:
You know, the the first time I met a Jehovah Witness, this is the first time I was I I I love when people come to our doorstep. I'm like, oh, let me have fun with this one. It's I have fun I'm sure you have fun with them now. This, I remember I woke I think I was hungover. I was probably 21, and my parents how maybe I was 19. I don't remember. My brother, he said, hey. Somebody's at the door.

Antonio [00:06:02]:
And at the time, I had a, I was real big into Slipknot. So I for Halloween, I had a, we're gonna we're gonna pretend this is just Slipknot. I had, like, the, one of those orange kinda jumpers. It looked like a mechanic jumper, and then I had a bondage mask that I, that I use for Halloween mask. It

guest [00:06:19]:
Sure. Sure.

Antonio [00:06:21]:
My brother said, there's people at the door. So I was all hungover. I'm like, okay. I I put all the stuff out, put them behind his mask. I walked up to the door holding a beer. I'm thinking this is gonna scare them away. It did the complete opposite. They're like, oh my god.

Antonio [00:06:34]:
He needs to be saved. So, like, oh, shit. That didn't work. And, like, you you know exactly what happened. I thought I thought they're gonna be like, oh, we're gonna leave him alone. He doesn't need us. No. He he he needs Jesus.

Antonio [00:06:46]:
Y'all need Jesus. Yeah. Or Yahweh Yahweh have you call it. And I, and then another time, he, I thought I was straight you know, they might have been the one stringing me along. I think I think it might have so now that I thought about it, you know, whoever sets the frame is the one that wins.

guest [00:07:07]:

Antonio [00:07:08]:
They're the ones coming to you. They they're coming to you. It's almost on your domain, but it's almost like they're still still the ones setting the frame. Yep. Because they're they're cut even though it's your domain, they're interrupting your domain, and they're the ones that upsetting. It'd be different if I if I say, hey. Let me go to your church. Let me check it out.

guest [00:07:26]:
We'll get

Antonio [00:07:27]:
to that. That was a little weird. I ended up getting a video camera. I wish I would save the video, and they wanna talk it was a older guy and younger women, younger lady. They wanted to talk about the Bible. So, boop, put on the camera, and I'm sitting there on and then they're showing, like, it says, master there's something about masturbation is a sin. And I I turned the camera on, like, please say something about it. I figured what it was and Okay.

Antonio [00:07:51]:
I tried to put that's still the scammer way. At one point, the guy I was having a a working midnight at this grocery store, which almost at the time was better for me because I was antisocial or just, like, I don't wanna be around people. This works out better. And he had offered, like, take me drive me there in the mornings because I think that's what it is. You're right. They're they're trying to befriend you, give you structure, and then suck you in. I had I went to their church one time. When I went to the church, he, I think at the time, I was like, you know, maybe there's some cute girls here.

Antonio [00:08:23]:
Maybe a part of me is like, you know what? Maybe I need some structure. Let me go check. Get to the church and they were asking the audience, like, why why don't we smoke? And with unison, everybody put their hands up, like, because Jehovah said so. Hands down, like, so, wow. It's like that. Is that scripted? Every time it was, why don't we because Jehovah said so. It was like a Tony Robbins. Like, who wants to be more successful? Who who here is a pulse? Ugh.

Antonio [00:08:49]:
Arms up. It was a little so that was my extent with the Jehovah's. And then, one last event, my, parents were trying to sell their house in Detroit before we moved out to Kauai 2000 8. It's, like, 2008, I think. This is, like, a Wednesday. My parent we were basically leaving the house, and they Next Wednesday comes along. This lady comes up to the door. She's got a plastic bag with a book under her arm.

Antonio [00:09:23]:
My mom's like, what is that book? And she's like, we wanna talk to you about you. My mom's like, my oh, my mom fucking blew up. She's like, you're lying to me. We're trying to sell a house. It's basically during a market crash. People are desperate. She's like she's like my mom's like, listen. You're already off on the wrong foot.

Antonio [00:09:40]:
You're lying to me to get me to go to your church. I have god. Go away.

guest [00:09:44]:

Antonio [00:09:46]:
Yeah. That was my extent.

guest [00:09:48]:

Antonio [00:09:48]:
I could yeah. That thankfully, I didn't get pulled in. But I see what you mean by the structure. They give you they can try to give you a little bit of structure, and then you get and then you get pulled into the what do you call you call it the mental prison?

guest [00:10:01]:
Yeah. Yeah. It's a good way of putting it. You see, it starts off, like a lot of ults or conspiracy theories with what what they don't want you to know, what mainstream Christianity isn't telling you, the secrets. Yep. Of course, you know, there's this wonderful promise. Listen to us, and you'll be part of an elite group that's gonna survive Armageddon when Jehovah destroys all the wicked. And you you and only those like you will be in a paradise earth.

guest [00:10:35]:
And you're like, well, okay. You know?

Antonio [00:10:38]:
And what was what was the number? Isn't it like it was gonna be a 100,000? It's a real slack number there.

guest [00:10:43]:
A 144,000 are supposed to go to heaven to reign as kings with Jesus Christ, God's son, Jehovah's son. The other the rest of of the people that survive Armageddon, who are people who listen to Jehovah's witnesses and no one else, they're we don't know how many or they don't know how many. God. Talking about we. Yeah.

Antonio [00:11:07]:
Yeah. It's funny. It's I I also there's another little flashback. At the time, those people that were coming up, they didn't come up to her house a few times. And then they're smart as, if they might have an old person, they always have, like, a young person come up. Like, a young, good looking guy, good looking girl. They know how to recruit them in. I remember they showed me the watch tower, and then and then they're like and they're talking about the 144,000 saved wherever.

Antonio [00:11:30]:
We look on the back, and it's basically on the back of the watchtower. It's showing people going to heaven. Like, what don't you see here? I look. I was like, I don't see a black person. It was, like, straight I was like, I don't see an Asian person. Oh, that was the best way to shut like, what? They're like, well, I'm like, yeah.

guest [00:11:44]:
I don't

Antonio [00:11:45]:
see that.

guest [00:11:47]:
Okay. You must you must have had that experience before I had my experiences by the time

Antonio [00:11:53]:

guest [00:11:53]:
Started reading their stuff in the early nineties, and they had they had gotten that memo. Every everything they printed looked like the United Colors of Bennington. It was like, here's the black and the here's the Asian. Here's the and everybody's smiling, but everybody's a different color. Yeah. They they got big on that.

Antonio [00:12:13]:
So, one time, I had Mormons come by. Mhmm. And, alright. As I, like, I heard somebody refer to the Scientologists as a space Mormons. I'm like, oh my god. I love that. That I love that. Or space Jehovah's, whatever.

Antonio [00:12:30]:
That space Mormons fits better, I think.

guest [00:12:32]:
I would say that the scientologist, you know, when you start studying cults, you so at some point, you start thinking of high control groups rather than the very charged word cult. Yeah. And you start seeing that there's a there's a spectrum. There's a little bit cult like. There's more cult like. There's very cult like. The Jehovah's Witnesses, kinda cult like and that at some point, you know, they can they can tell you you're not allowed to talk to your kids anymore because your kids got baptized as Jehovah's Witnesses and then decided to leave, which happens all the time. Only, like, a third of their kids stage Jehovah's Witnesses.

guest [00:13:09]:
So, yeah, so your kid gets baptized. They They can get baptized at 10 years old and you know? Or 8 even, you know, when when lots of kids still believe in Santa Claus. They're they're coming to believe in Jehovah and that they wanna dedicate their lives to Jehovah. 16, 17, they're looking around going, okay. This is bullshit. No. I'm not I'm not doing this anymore.

Antonio [00:13:30]:
And you want a blood transfusion? Sorry sorry, kiddo. You're having fun.

guest [00:13:33]:
You know? I mean, that's a that's a big thing, but in the grand scheme of things that, it doesn't happen too often that somebody dies from not getting a blood transfusion. It happens, but it doesn't happen. But In terms of, like, you're not allowed to talk to your kids anymore, it happens all the time.

Antonio [00:13:53]:
That's that's Or you're

guest [00:13:54]:
not allowed to talk to your brother or sister anymore. Yeah. That kind of stuff.

Antonio [00:13:57]:
That's a 100% the definition of a cult.

guest [00:14:01]:
I think it's pretty good. It's pretty good. Yeah. It's definitely, high control. And

Antonio [00:14:07]:
I am.

guest [00:14:07]:
Who you're allowed to talk to, what information you're allowed to consume. You're not supposed to listen to people like me, people who used to be Jehovah's Witnesses and turned around and said, you know, I'm thinking about that differently now. Not allowed to listen to me talk. So I got behavior control, thought control, information control, and emotion control. They're gonna tell you what to believe, what to think, or what expression you have on your face while you're thinking the thoughts you're supposed to think and believing what you're supposed to believe. So yeah. Like

Antonio [00:14:42]:
Check, check, check, and check. Yeah.

guest [00:14:44]:
That's the bite model, Steven Hassan. Are you

Antonio [00:14:47]:
familiar with it? I, I do wanna get him on the podcast.

guest [00:14:51]:
Yeah. You should.

voice over [00:14:53]:
To get instant access to the newest episodes of the podcast and the first three chapters of Antonio's newest book, go to www.escaping the rabbit and enter your first name and best email and smash the button that says get the podcast.

Antonio [00:15:09]:
The one time when the Mormons I think one of the times the Mormons came over, I I can still remember clearly. Knock on the door, parents' house in Detroit. There was a Filipino I can see in my my mind there's a Philippine I think it's Filipino or a South American, white guy. And I remember I told them, you know what? I don't really have time to talk now. Can you come by Wednesday? I didn't have a job at the time. I was at the time, I had a lot of mental health issues. I wasn't working. They took off.

Antonio [00:15:37]:
And so, of course, I jumped on was Google around? I think it would Google might have just been it's, like, mid 2000. Like, freaking jump on Google or maybe it was Metacrawl. I can't remember what search engine I use. And I I googled about the Mormon church, and then they and, apparently, blacks were not allowed to hold priesthood until 1979. So so when I I asked them about that, I'm like, so why were blacks not allowed to hold priesthood? Like, oh, they're supposed to be a perfectly good explanation. I'm like, I can tell you what the explanation is. We we can tell you.

guest [00:16:11]:

Antonio [00:16:12]:
But your, your god doesn't like, doesn't like black people in the space Mormon, the the the the space Mormon church. Now what,

guest [00:16:22]:
I thought it was the Mormons themselves, the actual Mormons that weren't allowed to where blacks couldn't be priests until the seventies.

Antonio [00:16:29]:
Yeah. Yeah. It was well, yeah. Sorry. It wasn't it was Mormons. Yeah. They weren't allowed to build priesthood until I think it was 1979. Messed up.

Antonio [00:16:42]:
What was your your idea of, like, mental health issues when you were, I guess, growing up around that? The

guest [00:16:49]:
Oh, when I was when I was in the job as witnesses? Yeah.

Antonio [00:16:52]:
What was your your persect your idea of mental health then versus now?

guest [00:16:55]:
Man. Man. I had no idea what mental health looked like. I can can tell you that a lot of the Jehovah's Witnesses, for all their happy smiling faces, were on antidepressants, and a lot of them were dealing with chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia. What I came to learn as I studied hypnosis and including a lot of work with so I took a course, Old Pain to Go with Stephen Blaik Yeah. And modalities of dealing with chronic pain and learned that fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome are generally, come along with this belief that you're not doing enough, you're never gonna do enough, and you got this internal monologue that says whatever I do isn't enough. I can't I can never do enough. And if I get up and I have energy today, I'm gonna do as much as I possibly can.

guest [00:17:48]:
And then, of course, you know, you have another flare up in the chronic fatigue of the fibromyalgia, and it turns out that those things are trying to tell you, hey.

Antonio [00:17:55]:
Settle your butt down. Yeah. Yeah.

guest [00:17:58]:
But you've got this belief going around in your head that says, I gotta do more. I gotta do more. I gotta do more. And the Jehovah's Witnesses, every freaking meeting, they're just like, brothers, could you be doing

Antonio [00:18:14]:
more? I I get

guest [00:18:15]:
Could you be doing more for Jehovah? Don't you love Jehovah?

Antonio [00:18:23]:
And is it always is it, are Jehovah's are the are those elders or those are Mormons? Right? Mormons are elders.

guest [00:18:28]:
Right? Those witnesses. Jehovah's Witnesses. Are the Mormons every every guy is an elder.

Antonio [00:18:35]:

guest [00:18:36]:
And, Jehovah's Witnesses elder is a he's been around for a while, and they give him the position of of overseer.

Antonio [00:18:46]:
Oh, okay.

guest [00:18:46]:
So there's a difference. Yeah. You're like you'll you'll meet a Mormon, and his his name tag says elder Bob or something, and you're like, you don't look very old.

Antonio [00:18:54]:

guest [00:18:55]:
Yeah. You can 22. Yeah.

Antonio [00:18:58]:
You know what? I, I don't know if you drink at all. If you ever find that drinking issues Uh-huh. I oh, I tell people I quit drinking. I'm allergic people. What happens? I'm like, I break out handcuffs and felonies. And, usually, people hit the hint like, I'm like, yeah. I don't need to drink. I'm an alcoholic.

guest [00:19:14]:
I Yeah. Years.

Antonio [00:19:16]:
I had a Mormon couple that told me one time, but, hey. Like and I told them, like, quit drinking. Like, hey. If anybody bugs you for b for tries to get you a drink, tell him you're Mormon. I'm like, I've done that before. Like, one time at a bar, and somebody's like, you wanna they're trying to force me a drink. I'm like, no. I'm Mormon.

Antonio [00:19:31]:
Do you wanna hear more about it? Like, no. No. No. No. I'm like, sure. Like, no. Yeah. So if you need if you need I like that.

Antonio [00:19:38]:
Drinking, tell them you're Mormon, and they they will it will shut down immediately. What do you think is one idea people get wrong about conspiracy theorists slash cultist cult members?

guest [00:19:50]:
That they're stupid. You gotta be stupid if you believe a cult.

Antonio [00:19:54]:

guest [00:19:55]:
And I don't I don't think I'm stupid. I got into, when I was in New York City, one of the top high schools in in the country is called the Bronx High School of Science. You can get into that school if you have very good grades or if you test really well on some standardized tests. My grades sucked, but I got in. So, yeah, I don't think intelligence is a problem.

Antonio [00:20:20]:
Yeah. You know what? I don't think like, not like obviously, I was a conspiracy theorist. I'm not stupid. I mean, I didn't believe that I was stupid. They were just from, I guess, just beliefs I picked up along the way. I mean, I've done some dumb things. Don't get me wrong. I've made some really

guest [00:20:35]:
stupid decisions. I'm not gonna be throwing stones there. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

Antonio [00:20:40]:
Glass glass glasshouse and stones, something like that. That being said

guest [00:20:44]:
I was a witness.

Antonio [00:20:46]:
What was that?

guest [00:20:47]:
I mean, I joined the Jehovah's Witnesses objectively. Not the smartest move one could make.

Antonio [00:20:52]:
With, and you did that on your own accord. Right? That wasn't from, like, a parent's influence. Okay.

guest [00:20:56]:
No. The only influence my mother who was looking for somebody to outsource raising me to when the Jehovah's initial showed up, she was like, hey. You should listen to these guys. Mother of the year. Come on. Let let go, mom. To give me advice anymore, by the way. Yeah.

Antonio [00:21:12]:
Hey. Here's a babysitter.

guest [00:21:15]:

Antonio [00:21:16]:
If Jehovah's ever come up, I'm like, hey. But, you know, I'm gonna try this as a tactic. Did they come up? Like, dude, I need a babysitter for a night. Like, can you watch my kid? Like and just, like and just hand them the keys and walk out of the house. Just straight up do that. I'm gonna do that next time they come up and be like, like, here. Here's my keys. Like, dude, I need a babysitter.

Antonio [00:21:35]:
Can you watch my kids and just walk out for, like, 10 minutes? And they're gonna walk in, like I'll come back. I'm like, oh my god. You lost the baby already. What the hell? That'll teach him never to come back. Yeah. I'm I'm pretty good at coming with a a solution on the fly. A good pattern interrupt.

guest [00:21:51]:
That's perfect. I love it. That's perfect. Oh, I'm

Antonio [00:21:54]:
gonna have to I'm gonna have to remember that one. That's Oh, yeah. To learn not to come by here.

guest [00:21:58]:

Antonio [00:21:59]:
But the idea I don't think people are necessarily stupid, but it I guess, they can become stupid along the way. Your your logic, basic logical fallacy. And it it looks stupid to people on the outside, but it they're trying to they're trying to do the best with the limited resources they

guest [00:22:17]:
have. Yep. I think more it's like a con man. What does a con man need in a in a victim? What does a con man need need a victim to be? Needs them to be desperate

Antonio [00:22:33]:

guest [00:22:33]:
Or greedy. They gotta be desperate or greedy. The little old lady whose savings are running out, perfect mark for a con man. Then he just makes himself believable, makes it sound like she can get what she needs, and she'll dump her entire life savings into his lap.

Antonio [00:22:51]:
So sad.

guest [00:22:52]:
Or, a rich businessman who's never gonna have enough. Perfect for a guy like Bernie Madoff. Oh, no kidding. Or

Antonio [00:23:01]:
Jordan Balfour. Yeah. They just want more, more, more, more. Just like the idea of, you're talking about the elder saying, have you done enough for Jesus? Uh-huh. Have you done enough in your business?

guest [00:23:14]:
Yeah. Well, the situation I was in, I wanted what Bronx Science offered. You go to Bronx Science, you graduate, you go to a great college, You graduate. You get your doctorate, and you start working in a lab. And eventually, you're running your own lab, and you get your Nobel Prize before you're 40. And you're a somebody. You're an expert. You know things most people don't know.

Antonio [00:23:40]:
Oh my god. That's a that's that's a conspiracy theorist.

guest [00:23:44]:
Uh-huh. Except the the only difference between the conspiracy theorist on one hand and the person who's done all the work is that the person did all the work and really knows something that most people don't know. The conspiracy theorist wants to feel like they know things that most people don't know, but they're just taking a cheap and easy way out. They're they're watching YouTube videos for 3 hours and thinking that now they know things, that the the masses, the sheeple, they don't know.

Antonio [00:24:15]:

guest [00:24:15]:
They're just living in it. They're asleep. Wake up, sheeple. I know this thing.

Antonio [00:24:20]:
Oh my god. Medical research. Oh, Jesus Christ. You sound you sound like me back in the freaking mid 2000. Uh-huh. In my book, converting conspiracy theorist, another shameless plug. In, I think, chapter 2, I talk about the fame model. Let me know if this resonates with you.

Antonio [00:24:40]:
This is what I what I propose keeps conspiracy theorist trap. Fame stands, stands for feeling powerless. Conspiracy theorist, like, you know what? My life sucks. I need some power. I need some structure.

guest [00:24:53]:
That's how powerless this could be. Yep.

Antonio [00:24:56]:
A is apophenia. Apophenia is the, is the it's the fancy name of connecting the dots. Like, oh, that person mentioned Bill Gates, and Bill Gates went to this school. Oh my god. Connected. Eugenics. Bill Gates is trying to kill us. M is misinformation, which it's everywhere.

Antonio [00:25:15]:
And e, the biggest one is external locus of control. You you're familiar with locus of control. Right?

guest [00:25:22]:
Oh, yeah. Yep.

Antonio [00:25:23]:
And, the metaphor I've come up with is and I guess this would be good with with cults, a cult leader. They're they are the locus of control. That cult leader has has the power. I have no power. Mhmm. Jehovah, whatever. Yep. They are the ones that have the power versus me being in in the or as James Tripp puts it, not so much locus of control, but locus of, locus of power.

Antonio [00:25:50]:
Where am I putting my power? On the outside or on the inside? How much did that how much did that acronym line up with you?

guest [00:25:58]:
Perfectly. Perfectly.

Antonio [00:26:00]:
I I might have to edit it because the second book, Coping with conspiracy theories, that should be out next month or so. And, I talk about chapter I think chapter 14, I talk about, gaslighting, narcissism, etcetera. A ton of conspiracy theorists are narcissists because they they they wanna feel like they have that little bit that that kind of control. Without putting you too much on the spot, do you consider yourself having some narcissistic tendencies?

guest [00:26:29]:
Yes. Bingo. Yes. Yes. I mean, I work on them, so I'm, you know, I'm not so Wait.

Antonio [00:26:36]:
Why would you wanna make yourself more narcissistic?

guest [00:26:39]:
No. I'm more than just Okay. I get I get you. Yeah. You see what I do? When I find something about myself that's not good, I try to change it to being more good, not to being worse.

Antonio [00:26:53]:
Okay. That's good. That's a pro tip for you.

guest [00:26:55]:
Free of charge.

Antonio [00:26:57]:
Nice. Steven Reyes in his self-concept model talks about I'm gonna butcher this. He talks about how, he he has the idea that our self-concept is made up of different examples of qualities. Like, like, I know I'm a I'm a a kind person after helping our elderly neighbor for the past 8 years. You have to at least like people to a degree. And he proposes you I think you can ask yourself a question like, how do I know I'm a kind person? Then you can imagine maybe for me, I, like, see examples of me being kind. It looks like, like, Domino's shooting off a bunch of examples. But he talks about how you don't wanna have a complete a 100% complete perfect database of memories, etcetera.

Antonio [00:27:43]:
Because if you do that, you're not, you're not pacing in any of the, you're not making yourself, you're not diluting yourself making things perfect. Think about how many people how many people do we know that go to a hypnosis conference because they are huge narcissist. They want to, because NLP gives people that power. Like, I can I can appear more confident? I can appear this. I can appear this. I'm like, and you could also work on the stuff on the inside. Uh-huh. You don't you don't don't try to polish a turd.

guest [00:28:17]:
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. You can do magic with hypnosis, and probably the best thing to work on is the stuff deep inside as opposed to using hypnosis to make people like you or using hypnosis to appear to be a better person, you can just go ahead and make yourself a better person. And it'll be other stuff for your charge.

Antonio [00:28:39]:
It's probably easier to make yourself a better person. I think so. Yeah. But people are like, oh, but that takes work. You know what it is? But it also ties in the eye. I just unpacking another thought that ties into that narcissistic prey of I can just make people do things up for me.

guest [00:28:57]:
Oh, yeah. Is

Antonio [00:28:58]:
that and the energy vampires.

guest [00:29:00]:
Uh-huh. Yeah. You can do that. You're not gonna be happy, but you can do it.

Antonio [00:29:04]:
It is what it is now. So what was your first thought after you stopped believing in conspiracy theories or when you kinda broke away from the the Jehovah?

guest [00:29:12]:
I remember the day that I left the Jehovah's Witnesses and my ex wife at the time. I had woken up that morning, and I'd gone out and did a pest control job. I had a little pest control company at the time. And as I'm getting ready to wrap it up and go home, it was a Saturday, I only had the one job. I'm getting into my truck, and I'm envisioning the very real possibility of hitting a tree on my way home at about, you know, 65 miles an hour. That would that would kill me. That sounded nice. And I went, wait a second.

guest [00:29:51]:
This is bad. I was that miserable in my life that I was just like, could hit a tree. Tree would be nice. So I said, you know what?

Antonio [00:30:01]:
So but let me get this. Go back to that. Was it like was it like a normal depressed thought of, like, god, my life sucks, or was it more of, like, this could happen? Or was there a lot of energy behind it, or was it more of a just like, this

guest [00:30:13]:
might be nice? Yeah. That'd be nice. Yeah. I hadn't realized how depressed I was or how stressed out I was, and I was amazingly stressed out. But

Antonio [00:30:25]:
Did you not consider it stress, or did you just consider, oh, this is just how life is?

guest [00:30:29]:
Yeah. Just how life is. I have a pain in my neck all the time. Wow. I don't feel any joy in anything. That's just the way it is. And then, yeah, as I realized that I was looking forward to crashing into a tree, I called my wife and said, hey. We're done.

guest [00:30:47]:
I'm just I'm done.

Antonio [00:30:49]:
Do you meet her in the church?

guest [00:30:51]:
Yeah. Okay. We've been married for 2 years. It was no big loss. But, anyway, yeah, that night I go out for a beer, and I'm just feeling more relaxed than I'd ever been. More relaxed than I can remember being in my life.

Antonio [00:31:14]:
So you made that you already made that change. You made that change, like it's like a smoker that's like a smoker's like, I don't know if I wanna quit versus somebody that's already quit before they talk to a hip they they've made that decision.

guest [00:31:27]:
I'll tell you when the real magic happened. You you showed me that book, Impossible Conversations, where you're helping somebody without attacking their beliefs. I had a I had a conversation like that. So it was a few months before that. This happened in August. This was in in May. We had a a conversation. I I start talking to this janitor washing windows as I'm walking down the street in Athens one day.

guest [00:31:57]:
And he starts, he's asking me about the Jehovah's Witnesses. You know what I'm talking about? He's not arguing a single point. He's not arguing any of the theology with me. But we talked for about an hour. I found him very nice. And at some point, he tells me this story. He says, you know, you remind me of this story. Says there was a a babe an eagle egg that wound up in a chicken coop.

guest [00:32:24]:
And a chicken sat on it and eventually it hatched out this young, baby eagle. And the eagle was raised by the chickens and grew up thinking it was a chicken. And he'd be, you know, pecking around in dirt for digging up worms and and trying to be a chicken. And one day, an eagle, a grown eagle was flying overhead, looked down, and saw the baby eagle pecking in the dirt or the young eagle at this point pecking in the dirt. He said, what the? And he flew on down, lit on a fence post, and said, hey. Ida, you there. What are you doing? And, eagle young eagle looks up and says, I'm getting breakfast. You're eating worms? Yeah.

guest [00:33:08]:
I'm a chicken. You're, you're a what? You're not a chicken. You're an eagle. Your place isn't down here pecking worms. Your place is up there flying in the sky. Now the eagle looks around and notices that, yeah, that the chickens do look a lot very different than than he does, and this eagle looks a whole lot more like him than the than the chickens do. And pretty soon, he flies away and follows the eagle to learn how to be an eagle. Well, he didn't tell me what the story meant.

guest [00:33:45]:
But, yeah, within a couple of months, I was done. You know,

Antonio [00:33:51]:
I'm out of freaking chicken.

guest [00:33:56]:
The stories like that, you know, the the metaphors, they bounce around in the back of the mind and make changes. Yeah.

Antonio [00:34:02]:
Sometimes we look down on members of society, but you don't realize, like, what I got over the past year, years helping me and my girlfriend being a caregiver for our elderly neighbor is everybody has a story. Everybody has a family. Everybody has dreams in which especially with with him having dementia. Like, it's funny. I would, like, pull, like, stuff out of him down the line. I'm like, Jesus. Like, we all have I remember one time I was sitting down outside of his house and I'm like, uncle, who's 88 at the time, uncle, do you know what hypnosis is? And he's like, yeah. Isn't that when your your brain settles down? I'm like, holy what a good explanation.

Antonio [00:34:37]:
A lot of hypnosis one of this convoluted stuff. I'm like, no. We we we help you to settle down so you you can start working better.

voice over [00:34:44]:
Is your mental and emotional health being affected by a loved one 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.escaping the rabbit and clicking the button that says get started.

Antonio [00:35:08]:
People would ask me about, the lizard peep reptilian agenda. Oh, I'm not that crazy. I just believe in this bat shit crazy stuff. So I think we all have a line where we won't go. Oh, yeah. What in, Jehovah is too crazy for you to go?

guest [00:35:21]:
Oh, well, I was when I was a Jehovah's Witness, I believed whatever they told me to believe. And it changed. You know, they were always changing it up a little bit. So whatever you believe today, when you go into, the district convention in the summertime, you were gonna come out believing something a little bit different. Because they they they thought that the light gets brighter as the day draws near and that Jehovah was refining the, the understanding. And what that meant was whatever you believed, you had to be ready to change that belief as soon as they told you what to believe now. And then what that what that meant was whatever you believe, whatever any Jehovah's Witness believes today, they have to understand that it's not gonna be the same thing tomorrow, which means they're wrong about something. They just don't know.

Antonio [00:36:11]:
Good way to keep you trapped. You got so many my I have a conspiracy theory about conspiracy theories very matter of that. The first conspiracy theory that you get introduced to, foundational house. Anything else that you learn gets stacked on top. So I think to attack all the other ones, it's best to go after the original one. That way, I think it could ripple through.

guest [00:36:30]:
Go to the foundations of the Bible where God tells tells Adam, on the day that you weep from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, on that day dying, you shall die. And what happens? The serpent says, No. You're you're not gonna die. And Adam eats of the apple and falls down dead immediately, just in keeping with exactly what God said, dying, he died. No. No. He didn't. Wild.

guest [00:36:57]:
The whole foundation of the Bible is built on bullshit. Yeah.

Antonio [00:37:01]:
What thought, belief, or fear keeps you from falling back into conspiracy theories or into anything similar to Jehovah?

guest [00:37:11]:
Oh, man. One pattern I took away from that was the realization that somebody can very easily make bullshit sound really logical or fairly logical. So I'm not in any big hurry to believe what somebody says.

Antonio [00:37:31]:
Questions are very pivotal to humans. What questions were you constantly asking yourself when you were actively believing in Jehovah?

guest [00:37:42]:
Well, when you're a Jehovah's Witness, any problem you're having as a result is understood to be a problem of not having enough faith in Jehovah and in his organization. So if you're depressed, it's because you're just not doing enough as a Jehovah's Witness. If you're depressed about the fact that you're not doing enough as a Jehovah's Witness, it's because you're not doing enough as a Jehovah's Witness.

Antonio [00:38:10]:
That ties back into what you said when the elder is like, have you done enough for Jehovah today?

guest [00:38:15]:

Antonio [00:38:16]:
So was that was that question played on your head? Like, oh my god. Have have I done enough for Jehovah?

guest [00:38:21]:
Oh, it wasn't even a question. There was no possibility of doing enough.

Antonio [00:38:27]:
But you would still ask yourself those questions. Oh.

guest [00:38:30]:
Oh, yeah. I'm more like beating myself up all day long. But yeah.

Antonio [00:38:35]:
What a way to

guest [00:38:36]:
live. Sucks.

Antonio [00:38:38]:
Yeah. Don't do that.

guest [00:38:40]:
That is baked into the Bible, you know, with, we're we're born in sin, and, you know, Jesus says, if you, yeah, if you're if you've done everything you're supposed to, don't don't puff yourself up. Instead, beat yourself and say, I'm just a good for nothing slave. And if I've done anything right, it's, you know, what I should have done anyway.

Antonio [00:39:05]:
Why? And we should create a call. It's it's way more, way more money to create a call. Way more grifters make way more money, sadly. No. You

guest [00:39:16]:
can you can. That was that was something that was surprising about the Jehovah's Witnesses. As far as I knew, as far as I can tell, and I was living where they had their headquarters, the Jehovah's Witnesses' top top people, the governing body, they didn't have very much, but they had the ability to tell 4,000,000 people how to live their lives.

Antonio [00:39:37]:
That's wild.

guest [00:39:37]:
So, yeah, don't it's it's easy to assume that everything is a grift just for money so that somebody can live on a yacht. It's not necessarily the case. Some some people do it for control. Some people do it because they really believe this stuff. Yeah. Yeah. Never it's I found it to be less useful to concern myself with the why does a person do this thing and more useful to just be like, oh, okay. They're doing this thing.

guest [00:40:02]:
What am I gonna do about it?

Antonio [00:40:04]:
Now that you're that you're out of Jehovah, what does escaping the rabbit hole mean to you?

guest [00:40:10]:
Oh, well, that's the beginning of freedom. And it was also my feeling on it is I've paid this price. I paid. I paid 10 years of my life. So if I don't milk every ounce of learning out of that that I can about human nature, about wasted time. Yeah. How to figure out truth from bullshit, differentiate the 2, how to how to make my own choices, how to live my life, how to protect myself from letting other people make my choices, which is incredibly easy to do. That is to say, finding yourself in a situation where you realize that somebody else has been making your choices for you.

guest [00:40:57]:
So, yeah, learning all those lessons so that, you know, so that it wasn't a waste.

Antonio [00:41:05]:
It was probably easier for you to break out. So I thought about this with me breaking out from conspiracy theory. So my parents are teachers, so liberal, 100%.

guest [00:41:14]:

Antonio [00:41:14]:
99% chance. I fell into the right wing. At one point, I thought I was libertarian. Libertarians like libertarianism until it affects them, then it's a little bit different.

guest [00:41:27]:

Antonio [00:41:27]:
It was easier for me to fall out because I didn't have my whole environment wasn't conspiracy theorist, wasn't right wing grifters.

guest [00:41:35]:
Uh-huh. How,

Antonio [00:41:36]:
how many people in your immediate family were were in, Jehovah, or was it just you?

guest [00:41:43]:
It was just me.

Antonio [00:41:45]:
So That that might have made it easier to to kinda pull out. You didn't have you didn't have other people in immediate family trying to kinda pull you back.

guest [00:41:52]:
Right. Right. No. I I was I was really lucky. You know, one of the things that keeps people trapped under Jehovah's Witnesses is when you leave well, first of all, you're when you're in, you're not supposed to make friends with people who are not Jehovah's Witnesses. You're supposed to surround yourself with other Jehovah's Witnesses. And that means that when you leave, you leave your entire social structure.

Antonio [00:42:14]:
Oh, yeah.

guest [00:42:15]:
They're not allowed to talk to you anymore.

Antonio [00:42:17]:
That's depressing. Mhmm.

guest [00:42:20]:
Yeah. So motivated reasoning motivated reasoning keeps people in. When they when they're like, okay. You know, I'm seeing this sign that that this stuff is bullshit. Let me consider it. And meanwhile, in the back of their mind, they're realizing that if they if they make if they make the device, they lose their friends and family forever. Yeah. Yeah.

guest [00:42:45]:
This starts to make a lot more sense when this means you die, basically. Because cutting off from all your friends and family is like dying to to us.

Antonio [00:42:55]:
That's it sucks.

guest [00:42:56]:
Now Yeah.

Antonio [00:42:58]:
Earlier, you you called yourself a mental health mechanic, which I I love that. That's a such a good, kinda term. What are some of the tools that you've accumulated along the way that you can suggest to other people? So, I guess, can suggest to family members of conspiracy theorists to maybe improve their mental health. Because a lot of family members of conspiracy theorists are dealing with people that are there's a lot of conspiracy theorists are just filled with rage. They're getting addicted to this rage. What are some tools, like, you can suggest to them?

guest [00:43:33]:
Don't, don't engage in the stuff that they wanna engage with. Don't fight them on it. Don't argue with them. And here's why. Here's why. Very important. Anytime somebody would argue with me about whether the Jehovah's Witnesses were right or not, I would defend the Jehovah's Witnesses. And in doing so, I was exercising my belief in the Jehovah's Witnesses, like literally pumping weights, pumping iron, building bigger Jehovah's Witness moments.

Antonio [00:44:03]:
You're putting you're putting that wall

guest [00:44:05]:
up. Yes. You push against somebody, they push back. And the more I got to push back on people, the stronger my belief became. So, yeah, that's one of the reasons they watch you out preaching all the time. It's so you can get in arguments with people and root yourself in the faith by defending it over and over again. Toward the end, I had stopped going out very much in the preaching work. I wasn't getting into those arguments, and I wasn't getting into arguments with people in my friend circle.

guest [00:44:37]:
I wasn't talking to them about Jehovah's Witnesses. They weren't bothering me about it. Nobody was engaging with me, which meant that I was out of the habit of defending it. I didn't feel any pressure to defend it.

Antonio [00:44:48]:
That. I, so my girlfriend's dad told her this tactic. Let's say if you're in a relationship and if you if you wanna if you if you have a heated conversation to talk about, go to a cemetery. Because out of respect, I hope you're not gonna yell by a bunch of dead people.

guest [00:45:08]:

Antonio [00:45:09]:
Or I thought about, like, go to, like, a a funeral or a library. If you have a family member that, maybe had some conspiracy theory beliefs and they and they want like, we talked about earlier. Jehovah's are coming they're coming to your domain. Mhmm. Change your pattern up. If you have a conspiracy theory loved one and they they want to rant about something, okay. Cool. Let's go grab some coffee.

Antonio [00:45:31]:
Let's go to Starbucks.

guest [00:45:32]:

Antonio [00:45:33]:
Let's go to some or a library where it's not socially acceptable. Because if when you're changing your physiology and you're not screaming, it's it's way harder to get angry.

guest [00:45:42]:
Yeah. Yeah. That's a good point.

Antonio [00:45:46]:
Terrence, thank you for coming on. We might have to do a follow-up. I really like being, talking to people that used to be in that thing. Somebody that used to be in calls or conspiracy conspiracy theories to help people to better understand, like, how the stuff is, how their loved ones are getting trapped in it.

guest [00:46:02]:
Mhmm. Yeah. Yeah. I'm happy to help with that kind of thing. You know, when I left the Jehovah's Witnesses, I started reading books on cults, high control groups, figuring out how the heck did I get caught up in that. Because, you know, looking at myself going, pretty sure I'm not stupid, but that seems like stupid thing. You know? Yeah. Something a stupid person would do.

guest [00:46:23]:
So I had to read up on all that stuff to figure out, oh, that's how that works. Okay.

Antonio [00:46:28]:
And then the culture's definitely play into the narcissistic roles. Like, oh, I got some secret knowledge none of you have.

guest [00:46:34]:
Yes. Oh, yeah. Well, it's it's basically, it's an inferiority complex hiding behind narcissism and a narc well, narcissism is an inferiority complex. So it's not it's not enough to be equal. Yeah. You've got a better than or you're less than.

Antonio [00:46:52]:
Hey. I look forward to seeing you at HypnalThoughts.

guest [00:46:55]:
Alright. Awesome.

Antonio [00:46:56]:
I'll talk to you soon.

guest [00:46:57]:
Thanks, man. Have a good one.

voice over [00:47:00]:
Thanks for listening to escaping the rabbit hole. To get instant access to the newest episodes of the podcast and the first three chapters of Antonio's newest book, go to w ww. Escaping the rabbit and 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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