Watch the hypnotic storytelling podcast on youtube


In this podcast, I talk to my friend and colleague, James Hazlerig.  I wanted him as a guest to talk about the power of stories.  At the core of conspiracy theories are stories. Stories about how the world is being run and managed.

From Trunk To Tale

In the podcast, I mention to James about his infamous hypnotic elephant story.  If you want to experience the power of hypnotic storytelling to take your imagination away to a distant land, watch the video below.

Quotes We Loved

  • The Power of Hypnotic Storytelling: "In my practice, I essentially consider that people come to me with a bad story, And I help them get a better story."— James Hazlerig [00:03:21] to [00:03:29]
  • Rise of Religious Fundamentalism: "My eyes had been opened, I was awakened to a hidden layer of reality that I had not known existed."— James Hazlerig [00:07:39] to [00:07:45]
  • The Influence of Religion on Identity: "I did essentially recognize that there were things at the basis of the fundamental Christian belief that I didn't agree with and that I didn't like."— James Hazlerig [00:09:07] to [00:09:14]
  • Child trafficking misconceptions: "These are 16 and 17 year olds who are being trafficked by people that they know and probably refer to as their boyfriend or girlfriend, so they don't realize they're being trafficked a lot of times, and why would they?"— James Hazlerig [00:20:57] to [00:21:21]
  • The Power of Compelling Stories: "Stories are compelling in a way that statistics are not."— James Hazlerig [00:24:12] to [00:24:15]
  • The Power of Human Stupidity: "You cannot underestimate the power of human stupidity, and in most cases, yeah, it's possible that somebody does have it out for me, but it's more likely that they're just incompetent."— James Hazlerig [00:29:56] to [00:30:03]
  • The pandemic shutdowns: "They were shutting down bars, which actually weren't as big a risk as choir practices, because at least people aren't singing as loudly in bars."— James Hazlerig [00:49:01] to [00:49:54]

Guest Bio & Links

Read podcast transcript

Antonio [00:00:00]:

In this episode of Escaping the Rabbit Hole, you'll discover the conspiracy theory that my guest almost got caught up in and why he tried to spread around Trump

voice over [00:00:11]:

rallies. 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 1st 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 [00:00:44]:

Aloha. This is Antonio with escaping Today, I have a very special guest. This is my friend, James Hazelrigg. I know him from the hypnosis community. I have not talked to him in about 2 years. It's good catching up. How are you doing, James?

James Hazlerig [00:00:58]:

I'm doing great. Doing great. How have you been?

Antonio [00:01:02]:

Been inundated by a bunch of, q buffoonery. I what? Beginning of the pandemic, I, I had used core transformation, you know, from NLP slash hypnosis to, cut off Facebook. I cut it

James Hazlerig [00:01:16]:

off for about a month or two, then I got an email from, Mark Andre yeah. Email from the Andreas

Antonio [00:01:22]:

from Marc Andreas saying that they were starting a online practice group. And if I go on and join the practice group, I could go to the Facebook group, find a practice partner. So part of me I was, like, I don't know if I should do that. I'm, like, okay. I knew crazy stuff was happening on Facebook. I've been away from, like, 2 months from, like, March, April March April, I forget what it was. It was like I was out for, like, 2 months at the beginning of the pandemic, so I'm like, you know, I know there's crazy stuff happening. I Like, let me just I said, let me just check it.

Antonio [00:01:51]:

As soon as I opened Facebook, just wham, freaking got hit with all this QAnon buffoonery, and anxiety was through the roof. And I'm like, oh my god. Like, this was not the smartest thing I I've ever done. We actually mentioned in, my book. Here's my shameless

James Hazlerig [00:02:05]:

plug. Congratulations.

Antonio [00:02:07]:

Thank you. When I, got it only if I knew somebody that knew how to edit books, I should have contacted you. I, in the book, I mentioned how one of the dumbest things I've done was was going back to Facebook during a global pandemic. Got conspiracy theories were everywhere or still everywhere. So can you, describe your what your specialty is within hypnosis, and and and can maybe explain how how your unique ability and hypnosis ties into all the stories that we tell ourself.

James Hazlerig [00:02:46]:

Sure. So, yeah, I'm known within the hypnosis community as a hypnotic storyteller. And because the way that I look at it, hypnosis is about changing things about yourself, especially at the identity level. And, identity is a story you tell yourself about yourself. It's built up from things that your parents told you as a child, that you took on, or that you rejected and told yourself the totally opposite story because you didn't like the one they gave you. So, in my practice, I essentially consider that people come to me with a bad story, And I help them get a better story. So I do sometimes train other hypnotists in how to use storytelling as part of that change work.

Antonio [00:03:36]:

James, what's your website? Are you still selling your hypnotic storytelling?

James Hazlerig [00:03:40]:

Sure. So, yeah, I have a hypnotic storytelling .com. I have a couple of courses up there. Yeah.

Antonio [00:03:45]:

And, one of them I'm gonna have to plug my ears so you can start telling the story about the elephants. If you get a chance, listen to

James Hazlerig [00:03:50]:

a story about elephants. So that Yeah. That that's on YouTube, trunk to tail, the elephant stories.

Antonio [00:03:59]:

I'll I'll put the video below this if you're on

James Hazlerig [00:04:01]:

my website. I, I remember the first it might

Antonio [00:04:05]:

be the 1st conference I met you at HypnoThoughts in Vegas, and you were you were telling this story, And it uses nested loops. Can you describe what what a nested loop is within stories?

James Hazlerig [00:04:17]:

Sure. So a nested loop is a story within a story, very simply. And when you when you do a story within a story, you tie up some of your listeners' bandwidth, which translates to their their ability to kinda break down and reject things that you're saying. So if you if you loop a bunch of stories within stories, then their mind kind of gets confused and becomes a little bit more suggestible. So that's one reason why, hypnotists use nested loops. It's it's not a requirement by any means. Stories are are hypnotic, but it it's a fun thing to do. And I was showing off by looping way too many stories together.

Antonio [00:05:01]:

Always deep. Was it, like, 20?

James Hazlerig [00:05:04]:

No. No. It's it's like I think it's 11, something like that.

Antonio [00:05:08]:

That's a lot of stories. The and you had a I'm sure you had of had practiced that.

James Hazlerig [00:05:13]:

Yeah. Yeah. I practiced it, and I I had a chart. I I never quite got around to memorizing the chart that I could do without glancing at the chart. That was One of my goals, but then I got distracted from it. You know, it's not a big deal to look down occasionally.

Antonio [00:05:31]:

Yeah. Definitely. If you get a chance, I'm almost getting a little transient. It's funny. I was thinking about that class, And I I if just hearing that story, I started kinda nodding off to la la land. That's one one of his little toys with me. If I talk to him, he starts change his voice, or just talking about the elephants

James Hazlerig [00:05:49]:

in my elbow. I'm gonna zone out.

Antonio [00:05:51]:

I don't

James Hazlerig [00:05:51]:

know what you're talking about. I mean, the way that it should be really easy to follow The train of the conversation, the way that an elephant knows his way through the

Antonio [00:06:01]:

jungle and he

James Hazlerig [00:06:02]:

We we

Antonio [00:06:02]:

need I need to keep that focus with this car. But, yeah, I'm gonna have that video, below

voice over [00:06:08]:

this. Subscribe to the podcast by going to www.escaping the rabbit 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 3 chapters of Antonio's newest book sent directly to your email.

James Hazlerig [00:06:28]:

So I

Antonio [00:06:28]:

have a question. We talked about this briefly. I know you read the description of my podcast, and you said that you weren't you didn't identify with yourself as a conspiracy theorist, but then you had a little shift. Can you, just, explain

James Hazlerig [00:06:43]:

that? Yeah. So so, yeah, like you said, I looked at that. I'm like, well, he interviews former conspiracy theorists. Well, I was never a conspiracy theorist, and then I thought, wait a minute. You know, in in my youth, I, I rebelled against my secular humanist parents by becoming a fundamentalist Christian, and which I realize.

Antonio [00:07:04]:

It's usually the other way around.

James Hazlerig [00:07:07]:

Yeah. It sure is. It sure well, there aren't there are not nearly as many secular humanist parents, Right out there. So so, you know, I, I I rebelled by not going on drugs and by not all the crazy, scary things people usually do. So in a way, you know, it it wasn't the worst of things, but But what I felt like when when I, stepped in into religious fundamentalism was that My eyes had been open. I was awakened to a hidden layer of reality that I had not known existed, That reality was a war between the forces of good and the forces of evil, and I was a soldier behind enemy lines for the forces of good. And everything that I could see around me, I could recognize as some sort of plot by Satan to to draw me off into a sinful existence. And, Sure.

James Hazlerig [00:08:11]:

There were a lot of people who thought I was completely ridiculous and silly, but that's that just reinforced my identity As fundamentalist Christian. And this, you know, this meant that When, you know, when most kids are going, oh, wow. You know, I really wanna kiss girls. I'm like, no. No. No. No. No.

James Hazlerig [00:08:35]:

I did. I did wanna kiss girls. I wanted to kiss girls a lot, but, no, that's that's sinful. That's I shouldn't do that until after marriage. Right? Now, fortunately, I my my parents essentially, at one point, just said, no. You're not going back to that church, And they they did their best to kind of deprogram me from that, and it was a very painful, difficult experience for all of us, but I did essentially recognize that there there were things at the basis of the fundamental Christian belief that I didn't agree with and that I didn't like. And so, I was able to kinda break free from it, but I I understand that appeal, that that feeling that, well, everybody else is is just wrong. They've all had, the wool pulled over their eyes, but I've seen the real thing.

James Hazlerig [00:09:38]:

And this is an existential battle between, good and evil, between supernatural forces. In some cases, they're behind the scenes.

Antonio [00:09:49]:

Can I add something? Sure. Let me ask see if this lines up with you. So in my another shameless plug, Go to Amazon, grab my book, converting conspiracy theorists. In, chapter 2, I I I something I call the fame model, f a m e. 1st part, this explains, at least for me, f stands for feeling powerless and wanting to be seen as a

James Hazlerig [00:10:11]:

hero. Mhmm.

Antonio [00:10:12]:

A lot of conspiracy theories. I don't know if this applied to you in the fundamental Christian, religion that you got caught up in. A lot of people, I think, see themselves as a victim, but they wanna be a hero at same time. Oh, yeah. It's the evil forces. A's apophenia. That's just like, you know, connecting the dots. M is misinformation, and I think the biggest one is e, external locus of control.

Antonio [00:10:35]:

It's the evil forces. It's us versus them. It's the evil people out there that are trying to it's the devil. They're trying to ruin our life.

James Hazlerig [00:10:43]:

Let's see. Well and And, you know, and I I was fascinated by conspiracy theories as well. I remember I I read The Illuminatus trilogy To buy Robert Anton Wilson. And and he's still one of my favorite writers. Might show up somewhere, but I I haven't read it,

Antonio [00:10:59]:

but I've heard that it was almost like a like a like satire about

James Hazlerig [00:11:06]:

conspiracy theories. Yeah. Yeah. It is. It is. And And I he it's it's it's hard to even describe it. Some people have have called it the, the literary equivalent of dropping acid, and it it it does it it messes with you. It really does, but, but it but it's a it's a a great a set of books.

James Hazlerig [00:11:30]:

And the thing is that that that all makes for really good stories, because stories aren't just random events. Stories Have a beginning, a middle, and an end. They have a point. They have a conflict. And Trying to break free from that, while while you can briefly break out of that in storytelling and it's fresh and new and exciting. It very quickly drives people nuts, which was the problem with Game of Thrones. Right? He sets up these really interesting characters, and then nothing comes of them. They all die.

James Hazlerig [00:12:13]:

Right? And you're like, Right? Because we don't want our stories to go like that. At first, we're like, oh, wow. That would be bold. Wow. That was brave. And then, you know, a couple seasons in, your life is pointless. Why am I watching this? It's totally depressing to me. And they had to stop doing that.

James Hazlerig [00:12:29]:

They had to, you know, So the thing is that when when you're telling a story, you have to come up you have to edit reality to make things interesting, and there are few Few things as exciting as the idea of, a a conflict between good and evil and a big war. I mean, it's the matrix, right, is the same kind of thing. And, of course, it's it's really interesting to me that, you know, the matrix was made by a couple of trans people. I couple of trans people.

Antonio [00:13:02]:

I love the metaphor of the red pill.

James Hazlerig [00:13:06]:

Yeah. And and yet, somehow, The the total opposite side has glammed on, but but the thing is that logic doesn't have to come in yeah, to this. There there is there is a weird messed up logic, but there's not, a strict sound logic that works

Antonio [00:13:27]:

out. Were you aware were you aware that the, with the red pill metaphor, you, the Wachowski sisters talk about the red pill is alluding to, trans hormone. Did you hear about that?

James Hazlerig [00:13:42]:

No. I hadn't heard about that, but, wow, that's that's an interesting thing. I knew that that, like, the

Antonio [00:13:48]:

It's funny how these, sorry, these incel Yeah. Right wing. Like, talk about Yeah. The red pill. But I'm like, do you know who they're talking I I'm pretty sure about it being trans pills. That's hilarious.

James Hazlerig [00:14:02]:

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. It it's, that's it's, Yeah. That's just kinda nuts. But the thing is that life is more interesting if you can tell yourself those stories instead of recognizing that, you know, shit happens. And What what really made me understand something fundamental about the world was when I got my first actual sort of job job. You know, I tried all through high school to get, you know, summer jobs.

James Hazlerig [00:14:37]:

I applied at McDonald's. I did all I'd, And and nothing would really pan out. I'd, you know, end up doing odd jobs, mowing lawns, and stuff like that, but I didn't really work anywhere. Until finally in college, I got a job at Wendy's. And up till that point, I had had this impression that The the world or at least the adult world worked in some kind of organized planned way. I know. I know. Now it seems ridiculous, but, you know, I was I was, you know, 19 years old.

James Hazlerig [00:15:12]:

Right? And So I I got this job, and I realized that it doesn't work in an organized planned way. It just Stumbles along from day to day. And if something is done in a particular way today, it's because some idiot did it that way yesterday, And we're just reproducing the thing that the last idiot did, and I I came to

Antonio [00:15:39]:

understand. You're you're describing AI, I think. How it's

James Hazlerig [00:15:42]:

his Well, in a in a way, yes. That's that's true. I hadn't thought about that. But yeah.

Antonio [00:15:47]:

They're not to detract from that point, but, I think they're talking about how AI now, like, It's starting to Oh, sure. It's starting to train itself on stuff it's

James Hazlerig [00:15:56]:

created. Well well yeah. And and, I mean, that That's the thing is that that AI produces believable but not reliable information. I I actually asked AI, about myself, and it spit out what would have looked like a real good, bio for my website, only it mentioned it kept mentioning, and I kept saying, no. This that's not right. That's not right. It kept saying that I was a member of various hypnosis organizations that I'm not a member of.

Antonio [00:16:26]:

Wait. You're not a cat. Right?

James Hazlerig [00:16:29]:

No. Well, I might be. I could be a cat.

Antonio [00:16:32]:

You know what I'm alluding you know what I'm alluding.

James Hazlerig [00:16:35]:

Yeah. Yes. Yes. Definitely. Definitely. Yeah. Well Yeah.

Antonio [00:16:39]:

For people that are watching, this is gonna be out of, context. There was a, hypnosis organization that somebody wanted to prove how paper certifications or BS. They basically got their kitty cat certified.

James Hazlerig [00:16:52]:

Meow. Mhmm. Yeah. But yeah. Yeah. Yeah. But I I've I've I've I actually I actually did an ad for one of my trainings. It was about a cat That wanted to get hypnosis training and and, took him and and took him through all of his adventures, you know, and and, anyway.

Antonio [00:17:13]:

Was was that was that alluding to the the 1 organization?

James Hazlerig [00:17:16]:

Well no. I mean, no. It was it was a serious ad because When I when I was when I cared about trying to market myself, which, you know, I I don't care about marketing myself all that much anymore, honestly. But but when I did, I realized The Internet is a great way to market yourself, and people love cat videos. So I had a cat I have a cat video out there about a cat who wants to quit smoking, And it's it's the cutest quit smoking ad ever made. It's it's simply adorable with all of this funny stuff with the cats. And so I I did a similar one, you know, for a hypnosis training I did, you know, with this this cat looking off into the distance, and he said Said he asked himself, what am I doing with my lives? Anyway, so

Antonio [00:18:03]:

We we got pulled away. What were we talking about?

James Hazlerig [00:18:05]:

Because because, again, I was using a story. Yeah. What were we talking about? Gosh. So so the, it's exciting to to tell yourself these stories about being in a struggle. And, unfortunately, that is more exciting than reality, And that's why we tell stories. Stories are more exciting than reality because they are edited reality. But but if you start believing your stories too much, they can end up being detrimental or or they can end up being beneficial, But stories end up shaping reality. They end up shaping perception.

James Hazlerig [00:18:49]:

They end up shaping policy. Yeah. So, you know, everybody agrees child trafficking and child molestation are terrible things. Everybody agrees on that. There there is I mean, even even people who are doing it would say this is a terrible thing. Right. Well okay. Maybe the traffickers don't, but I'm pretty sure that that that actual people who are who are engaging in child molestation hate

Antonio [00:19:20]:

themselves for good human.

James Hazlerig [00:19:21]:

You know what?

Antonio [00:19:22]:

You could be a shitty person. You still agree with that.

James Hazlerig [00:19:25]:

But you still agree. It's terrible. The thing is That because we have portrayals like, you know, this recent movie where it's all daring dew and adventure, and it it I I under I haven't seen it. I recently read a review of it. I don't want to give them my money, though it turns out that there are a bunch of churches buying up tickets to let people see it for free, which proves Actually successful. Anyway, apparently, it starts with a montage of children Being snatched off the street. And the the thing is and and the and they didn't start this trope. This trope has been with us through cop shows and all kinds of things for ages.

James Hazlerig [00:20:16]:

Blame the jobless

Antonio [00:20:18]:

or Blaming Jews for 1000 of years for

James Hazlerig [00:20:20]:

Well well, yes.

Antonio [00:20:22]:

Kids. Yeah.

James Hazlerig [00:20:23]:

Right. We even even, you know, even not touching on the whole blood libel thing, which you know? But but just that there's some sort of scary other, you know, the creepy guy who drives the white van, you know, and says, hey, kid. Want some candy? Right? But the vast the overwhelming majority of Child molestation and child trafficking cases are not that. In most cases, the child knows the abuser. In most cases, The, the the the children and the they're legally children, but let's face it. They're not prepubescent. There are 16 and 17 year olds who are being trafficked by people that they know and probably refer to as their boyfriend or girlfriend, so they don't realize they're being trafficked a lot of times, and why would they? Their story is about children who get snatched By someone in a white van. So so they don't even know to report because that's not the story they've been told.

James Hazlerig [00:21:32]:

And and so then you get to government policy. You know? What what do what does the government need to look out for? You get into policing policy. I'm old enough to remember the satanic panic of the eighties. And, again, because of stories that were told, and, unfortunately, there was a hypnotist responsible for a lot of it, Lawrence Pazder, who was now he wasn't one of our hypnotists. He's one of those those darn PhD psychologist hypnotists, right, Who, who started using, regression to find out what was wrong with this attractive young woman who was his patient, who ended up I mean, his wife? That's weird. And she remembered all of these things.

Antonio [00:22:24]:

Ethics ethics issues there.

James Hazlerig [00:22:26]:

Well yeah. Yeah. Serious ethics issues. But under hypnosis, she remembered all of this terrible satanic ritual abuse That her entire little town up in in in Canada over on the western western edge of Canada, The the whole town was just full of of Satanists. Right? The whole freaking town.

Antonio [00:22:51]:

I mean, they're they're they're Canadian. So

James Hazlerig [00:22:54]:

Yeah. Yeah. No. No. Well, I've met Canadian. They're nice people. They're not no. They're not doing they're not doing

Antonio [00:22:59]:

You're not you're not Satanist by and large.

James Hazlerig [00:23:01]:

Right. Right. But the thing is she told him these stories. He wrote down these stories And believed her and published it all in a book, Michelle Remembers. And people went, he's got a PhD. This must be real. Right? And so that story got spread. And so while you had Catholic priests abusing the altar boys that they knew, right, while you had, you know, people actually, you know, committing these terrible crimes.

James Hazlerig [00:23:35]:

The police were focused on satanic ritual abuse, Some people went around making their careers out of of giving talks to the police because you know what is more exciting For a police officer than just going through your daily grind of dealing with Joe who gets drunk too much, believing that you are a soldier for God in a battle against evil. Right? So so these kinds of stories end up motivating people and affecting public policy. So we need to be very careful about the stories that we tell because Stories are compelling in a way that statistics are not. You know, I can say 85% of, the people who are trafficked Our 16 17 year olds who were forced out of their family because they're gender nonconforming.

Antonio [00:24:28]:

A question. Where are statistic. I always like to, since I've escaped from conspiracy theories, what, what's your source for that? Please do not tell me do your own research.

James Hazlerig [00:24:40]:

China. Go Google it. Okay. Well, actually so I read that. And and full disclosure, I might be misquoting the statistic. I did not write it down. It was in an article which I read today, which was in Rolling Stone magazine. Okay.

James Hazlerig [00:24:53]:

But if you if you and and it's an article about Sound of Freedom. So if you were to look up That article, you no doubt could follow that footnote, to find out where they got that statistic.

Antonio [00:25:03]:

Wow. Thank you for thank you for bringing a source to the

James Hazlerig [00:25:07]:

Yeah. Yeah. Oh my gosh.

Antonio [00:25:09]:

Yeah. Source

James Hazlerig [00:25:12]:

research. Oh my god. Well, and what yeah. Anyway, it it's not really suitable for the podcast, but when we're done, I I'll I'll have to tell you a site your source story, that was interesting recently. Okay. Half

Antonio [00:25:25]:

half of the podcast.

James Hazlerig [00:25:27]:

Right. But but the thing is that it's It it's it's the culture war, right, is a matter of battles for story. It's figuring out who's going to control the narrative and creating this narrative where, you know, It's really easy to imagine that there are these scary Colombian gangs, right, those darn brown people, Antonio Perez, you know, who are you're one of the good ones. You're American. You're not you're not like those guys.

Antonio [00:26:09]:

Not like those guys. I'm I'm one of the good guys.

James Hazlerig [00:26:12]:

Yeah. And so it it's, it's really easy to get people riled up to hate the other And to not look at things like, you know, in the cases where it's not gender conforming teens essentially being driven out of their home by their parents' bigotry. It's cases of poverty. There are people in in, countries, possibly even the US, who are so poor that they will sell their children. And so if we want to really combat, this problem, we need to combat poverty. Right? But but combating poverty isn't exciting because you can't shoot poverty. Right? You you can't You can't you can't hide somebody from poverty for a few hours and then let them free from poverty.

Antonio [00:27:09]:

You know what you do what you do is you get Julia Roberts on it. Because she always in all those movies. You get Julia Roberts.

James Hazlerig [00:27:15]:

Right. You get Julia Roberts, and she'll she'll solve the problem. Right. And and, you know yes. And there there are heroic things. There are are great, bold, brave people, and and there are people doing really important work, but So much of it is not exciting. And I I almost feel like I'm betraying My my my own profession as a storyteller because I I like to tell exciting stories, and I I cast my clients' struggles as a a battle or as them coming into their own as a superhero because that's a more exciting story than, You know, wow. I got over my anxiety.

James Hazlerig [00:27:57]:

You know? Oh, man. But Stories are a force, and a force can be used for good or for bad. It has a dark side and a light side, like duct tape. So we we have to, when we're examining a story, say, hey. Wait a minute. Now who's telling this story? Who does this story benefit?

Antonio [00:28:21]:

I have a question.

James Hazlerig [00:28:22]:

Would somebody want me to believe this story? And and those are questions that conspiracy theorists already ask.

voice over [00:28:29]:

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 dot Escaping the rabbit hole .com/call. That's escaping the rabbit hole .comforward/c a l l.

Antonio [00:28:55]:

Let's say somebody is listening to this that is a conspiracy theorist and they, and maybe they're having doubts about things. What's a good way that they can reframe or other questions that they can ask themselves to kinda pull themselves out of it?

James Hazlerig [00:29:10]:

So I would I would say, okay. What is the more likely scenario? Not not the more exciting Scenario. Not the more appealing scenario, but the more likely scenario. Because my My opinion, and I didn't come up with this. I read this somewhere, but I it made sense to me and seemed likely. Conspiracy theorists are people who would prefer that the world is run or misrun by evil rather than incompetence.

Antonio [00:29:43]:


James Hazlerig [00:29:45]:

And and I have I have I I have realized that you cannot underestimate the power of human stupidity, and and that In in most cases, yeah, it it's possible that somebody does have it out for me, but it's more likely that they're just incompetent, You know? And and and, sure, some crappy things are done by design, but do I really believe that there is a massive conspiracy out there to, to to make things crappy, Or do I think that people are just incompetent? And I think people are incompetent. I I think that there are some who try really hard to do some good things and can't manage to get them done. There are some people who try hard to do good things and do get them done, and those are inspiring stories, but they rarely get it done through adventure, through derring do, you know. Look, I was a kid. I played D and D. I still play D and D. You know, and I love the idea of being a hero who can smite the bad guys and not question whether or not they're good guys or bad guys. You know.

Antonio [00:31:03]:

Funny story about dungeons and dragons. I, I I might pull you this. I I played 1 game. I was in 7th grade, And ever

James Hazlerig [00:31:12]:

since I was, like, 5 or 6, I was interested in hypnosis. Graham had,

Antonio [00:31:16]:

I think, Dave Elman's book, so I was enthralled by it. So I got invited to play Dungeons and Dragons. I'd always heard about it. And I'm like, so how do I do it? Like, you make your your character I'm like, oh, like, what can I do? Like, anything. I'm like, anything, like, anything. I'm like, okay. Cool. I'm a I'm a hypnotist.

Antonio [00:31:31]:

And they're like, what do

James Hazlerig [00:31:31]:

you do?

Antonio [00:31:32]:

I'm like, I make you do stuff. I was pissing people off. Like, every dice roll, I was like, I make you oh, I was pissing people off. I was like, I make you, what, like, a head in the toilet. So just really annoying stuff. So I basically

James Hazlerig [00:31:45]:

had to freak out. Yeah. Yeah. Well, you know, there's there's a it it's funny how we we gravitate towards certain things. And, of course, Once you become a hypnotist, you find out, it doesn't really work like the stories say. Yeah. And and it is both more wonderful and less exciting. You know, it really is cool when when I realized, wow, I was able to help this person get to a better place in their life or overcome this really big problem, but I also can't just, you know, wave my hands and have all the bank tellers give me all the money and forget about it.

James Hazlerig [00:32:27]:

You know?

Antonio [00:32:28]:

Exciting for the client, I think, because a lot of the the skills that we use for things like shifting, like, an emotion, using different visualization techniques to, like, just to bring confidence up, that's common for us.

James Hazlerig [00:32:41]:

We we're like, yeah. Cool. Right. That's

Antonio [00:32:43]:

true. It's a party trip for us, but when somebody that's never had an experience of being able to shift out of anxiety rapidly, it's mind blowing.

James Hazlerig [00:32:52]:

Yeah. That's an excellent point, and that's a thing that that we need to remember. And I do try to try to frame it as something exciting for my clients. Like I said, almost every client I get has some form of anxiety, and I always tell them, you know, with anxiety, you can affect your body's autonomic functions with your thoughts. That's pretty amazing. You think a worrying thought, your heart speeds up. You know? You change your brain chemistry by thinking these negative thoughts all the time. That's a superpower.

James Hazlerig [00:33:27]:

But like all superheroes, you have misused your superpowers, And you need to go to an old man with a gray beard to teach you how to use your powers properly. Are you ready, Padawan? Right? And and I've had clients who go, oh. Right? And that's a reframe. It's telling a person a new and different story. The the thing is that with with conspiracy theories, almost nobody

Antonio [00:33:56]:

These are not the droids you're looking for.

James Hazlerig [00:33:57]:

These are not the droids you're looking for. Right. Yeah. Yeah. I I love going into the AT and T store and, you know, doing that.

Antonio [00:34:04]:

I've I've done that with guests.

James Hazlerig [00:34:05]:

Such a nerd.

Antonio [00:34:06]:

I had a guest that came up asking for bathroom ones, and they're asking for a bathroom. Like, these are not the droids you're looking for, and then they just Kinda paused, and they laughed. And then if they forgot they had to go to the bathroom, we started talking about whatever.

James Hazlerig [00:34:19]:

Okay. That's that's that's one of my rules actually is if somebody asks where the bathroom Yes. I don't mess with them. I send them directly to the bathroom, but that's because of a story my father told me. Anyway, no. What what I like to do is go go to the AT and T store, stand there staring at a at a wall of Android phones, and when they come over and ask if they can help me, I say, These are not the droids I'm looking for. You yeah. You know? But, anyway, that's

Antonio [00:34:45]:

I bet they all I bet they all crack up.

James Hazlerig [00:34:48]:

I I bet they've had it happen so many times. I think it's clever because I've never done it, but they've they you know, it's it's I played the fiddle, and so I've heard all I so many people have made the jokes, oh, just fiddling around, you know, and and my wife has told me I'm not allowed to make fun of them when they do it, I have to smile, you know, instead of going, oh, wow. Never heard that one before. You know? But

Antonio [00:35:12]:

Very funny.

James Hazlerig [00:35:13]:

My my wife, You know, keeps me from being a asshole almost 70% of the time. That's good. But yeah. I know. It's it's important. But But the thing is we're we're back to to you know, It's really appealing to tell yourself these awful stories because it's a lot more I imagine that, that there is a a secret group of powerful people who are harvesting adrenochrome from children. Right? And and somehow that is more exciting than We actually caught Jeffrey Epstein. Right? And and how do how do we not have his his client list? Right? And so if if you were gonna glom onto conspiracy theories, you'd say, well, there probably is a cover, and there probably is a cover up there.

James Hazlerig [00:36:12]:

You know, there probably are powerful people who don't want you to know that, but that's not because they're drinking adrenochrome or doing whatever you do with adrenal. I have no idea what they do with the adrenal chrome. It's because they were shagging little girls, you know, teenage girls who were underage. Right? And and And that's wrong, and so we need to stop being distracted. In fact, if I believe in any conspiracy theory, I believe that conspiracy theories are created to distract us from what's really going wrong in the world. So so I'd say I'd say if you got a conspiracy theorist, Tell them, oh, man. You fell for it. You fell for it.

James Hazlerig [00:36:51]:

The real conspiracy was getting you to believe those conspiracy theories.

Antonio [00:36:55]:

Oh, so get back to the real problem. You think the moon landing is fake. You believe in you believe in the moon?

James Hazlerig [00:37:01]:

You believe in the moon?

Antonio [00:37:03]:


James Hazlerig [00:37:03]:

on. Yeah. Yeah. Right? Well, clear clearly, the moon can't be a rock because rocks don't glow. Jesus. And And and so, yeah, I mean, I I I respect you for being willing to engage. I I Pretty much at a point where, like, no. No.

James Hazlerig [00:37:22]:

I'm not. Oh, no. I'm not going to. Because it it's it's the tar, baby.

Antonio [00:37:28]:

I'd rather engage with family members of conspiracy theorists than conspiracy theorists because it's just

James Hazlerig [00:37:34]:

Yeah. Because and And they they need help, and it it is heartbreaking. It's really heartbreaking. I mean, you know, And what's so what's weird too is that, you know, I can say, well, okay. That that dude, he really swallowed the Kool Aid, and I'm sure he's he's saying to himself, That, James, you really swallowed the kool aid.

Antonio [00:37:56]:


James Hazlerig [00:37:58]:

Oh, yeah. So, you know, it's it's, It's it's, it's it's weird, and I I think people should buy your book and and learn because that it's It's something we need in this world because,

Antonio [00:38:15]:

A lot of crazy people.

James Hazlerig [00:38:18]:

Yeah. And But but recognizing that power that stories have and realizing that you can, you can give a person a better

Antonio [00:38:30]:

story. And it's funny. I, I actually thought I might wanna do a podcast on this in the future. That's if I keep going with this series, I don't know. I'm kinda up in the air about it. I like the idea of how do we create a conspiracy theory. Like, I wonder if we could create a conspiracy theory that would help to, like, or create like a vacuum effect that would break down, that would How can we create conspiracy theory that could help somebody to doubt themselves? Like, 1, I thought when people when all the anti vaxx nonsense since it was coming about. I thought I'm like, wow.

Antonio [00:39:04]:

I'm like, how about we just create a conspiracy theory that that you can detox from a harmful, the harmful ingredients in a vaccine by throwing a crystal and some Epsom salts in a hot bath, just soaking it, shoving the crystal up your ass, and you'll detox from.

James Hazlerig [00:39:21]:

Right. Yeah. And, you know, I A lot of people would believe that. A a lot of people would. Well and and, you know, when And that's that's a much more benign than something I had in mind back when when I I was wearing a mask, you know, anytime I was out in public, And I was really waiting for somebody to come hassle me about wearing a mask. Right? And, I I, yeah, I even imagined I played through this scenario in my mind in which I was a brilliant hero, but because That's that's how you prepare to take action as you you play it through in your mind, and you tell yourself the story of how you wanted to go. So it's almost like hypnosis. So this the story and it it never it never happened.

James Hazlerig [00:40:07]:

It never happened, unfortunately, but I was I imagine myself, I'm standing there at the gas pump, And somebody comes up to me and says, oh my god. I can't believe you're such a sheeple. You're wearing that mask. And I I was ready to look at them and say, don't you know that Obama made sure that there were security cameras everywhere. And if you Google it, you will find out that security cameras have facial recognition software that doesn't work on black people. It only works on white people. That is a conspiracy against us, you idiot. I can't believe you're giving them your face.

James Hazlerig [00:40:42]:

The only way to protect yourself is wear this mask. Right? And and the funny thing is, like so many conspiracy theories, that has an inkling of truth. The 1st facial recognition software that that white engineers came up with. They tested on themselves, and it was not good at recognizing black faces. And and that wasn't because of some conspiracy to to, You know? And I'm like, how on earth could that have even harmed? But but, you know, they're like, oh, a lot of black people find that that the even the the software doesn't Acknowledge them as humans. And I'm like, well

Antonio [00:41:20]:

Was it because of white people

James Hazlerig [00:41:22]:

programming it? It was white people programming it and testing it on themselves. In other words, it was not evil. It was

Antonio [00:41:30]:

incompetence. Yep.

James Hazlerig [00:41:33]:

And so, but but that inkling of truth is there, and I would start I would just my the the scene ends with me saying, Google it, and then just saying bat bat at them until they run

Antonio [00:41:45]:

away. Right.

James Hazlerig [00:41:48]:

But it it never happened. I almost It never happened, perhaps because I had heard all the stories about people who are harassing mask wearers Yeah. And those stories were probably vastly exaggerated.

Antonio [00:42:02]:

I, during the pandemic, I wanted to I could've made a good amount of money. I was trying to find a a, print on demand mask maker. I wanted to make one say, like, uncensor, unvaxxed,

James Hazlerig [00:42:15]:

freedom. Right. Yeah. Because I

Antonio [00:42:18]:

because, honestly, they've been a good way to get those people to mask up and make money.

James Hazlerig [00:42:23]:

Yes. Yeah. And and, Well yeah. And I I mean, I did try very early on to start a rumor that going, to Trump rallies was was the best way to avoid getting COVID in hopes of encouraging all those people to go and spread, But it didn't I'd my rumor never took off, but they still flocked to Trump rally, and people died. Yeah. I see. You know? So and and that that's the the tough thing is it's like, You know, I mean, you can you can get them to doubt, but but the brain is really good at rationalizing. Rationalizing.

James Hazlerig [00:43:06]:

We're not rational creatures. We are rationalizing creatures, and the brain is really good at rationalizing around things. So you ever there's a a documentary, I assume it's still on Netflix, I don't know, excuse me, about flat earthers. And there is a brilliant a fascinating scene where they're talking to this 1 flat earther Who's talking about all of the rumors and conspiracy theories about her that are that are floating around in the Flat Earth community, and she says, These are ridiculous. I mean, how can anybody believe these things? And she she she, for a brief moment, goes, Hey. If they're spreading all of that nonsense about me that I know isn't true, What if all the other stuff that I've been believing isn't true? No. No. No.

James Hazlerig [00:44:04]:

I I I know the Earth is flat. Right? She had this she was almost there. Right? But but that's what our brains do. We are very good at rationalizing, and it it takes training to keep yourself from doing it. And and even Even people like me who think that we've gotten really good at it, we're still rationalizers. Yeah. You know? Did We still do it. I think I think one of the other things is that actual science is a method for approaching the truth, but there are no absolute truths Yeah.

James Hazlerig [00:44:46]:

In science. And so science is a matter of coming up with the best hypothesis possible and testing it. And it it if a hypothesis can't be disproven by something, then if it can't theoretically be disproven, then it's not a good hypothesis. So it has to be testable. Right? So if you say god exists, well, there's no way to disprove that or to prove it. Right? So that's not a good hypothesis. I happen to have my own beliefs about the divine, But I don't claim that I can prove them. So science doesn't have that comforting certainty.

James Hazlerig [00:45:30]:

Yep. So early on, they were not encouraging people to put on masks Because, a, they were worried that there was gonna be a giant shortage of masks and that the people who needed them the most, medical professionals, wouldn't be able to get Then they realized, okay. We do have enough. Let's go ahead and encourage people to put on masks, and And the evidence was really obvious. There were there were places where it's like, oh, wow. Lots of people are masking up. Oh, look. They're not spreading this disease.

James Hazlerig [00:46:03]:

They they said it's probably not a good idea for everybody to crowd together in big groups. Now over time, they came to understand that, actually, being outdoors in big groups was nowhere near as big a risk as being in a climate controlled space. So for instance, the Texas Renaissance Festival opened up, and I skipped that year, honestly. I was like, nope. I ain't going. I am not taking that risk. And they said they had rules about wearing masks, but they didn't enforce them. So there were massive numbers of people all gathered together.

James Hazlerig [00:46:46]:

And, actually, there wasn't a giant spike in, in, COVID. There was a giant spike in violence in the campground, And and, people complaining about that online said, wow. It's weird. I'm like, oh, how if only there were, I don't know, some way to to some litmus test to find out if somebody cares about the well-being of others, and then they could maybe wear something that indicates that they care about the well-being of others. And then if they don't wear that, you don't let them in? Yeah. And and people were like, oh, wow. That sounds like a great idea. And then I'm like, there is.

James Hazlerig [00:47:19]:

It's called a mask, you moron, dinner. And and and they're, you know, get all pissed off. But in in hindsight, we looked at it and went, okay. It it wasn't as big a risk for people to be gathered outdoors as it was for them to be gathered indoors, especially in climate controlled spaces. Now, the most dangerous situations. The big super spreader events were choir practices in churches because people are breathing out. Right? And it's all going into that system and getting spread all right back into the air. Everybody's breathing, and Yet we couldn't stop those because of religious freedom.

James Hazlerig [00:48:08]:

You can't stop me going to church. Now I knew a lot of churches that went online. Hey. And you

Antonio [00:48:12]:

know what? Wanna see god, go to

James Hazlerig [00:48:15]:

church. Yeah. Well and here's the irony. God can still hear your prayer when you're at home alone. In fact, I'd swear that I wanna say Matthew chapter 6 verses 5 and 6 say, be not As the hypocrite who stands on the street corner and preaches, but instead go in private into your closet and seek God alone?

Antonio [00:48:37]:

Isn't that similar, when it says, I'll let your right hand not knoweth what your left hand does or something like that?

James Hazlerig [00:48:43]:

I don't know. I'm not sure. But but the you know, I just I as a kid, I always wanted to make sure God didn't know what either of my hands were doing. But, Yeah.

Antonio [00:48:55]:

It it took

James Hazlerig [00:48:55]:

yeah. I'm

Antonio [00:48:55]:

like, oh,

James Hazlerig [00:48:56]:

I know. I went there. Oh my god. I can't believe I went there.

Antonio [00:48:58]:

I was I I was gonna go there. I'm like, no. I won't, but you went there

James Hazlerig [00:49:01]:

too. But I went there, so you're You're absolved from that. But but the thing is, they were shutting down bars, Right? Which which actually weren't as big a risk as choir practices, because at least people aren't singing as loudly in bars. There's usually 1 guy up there, and he's away from others with a microphone singing. Right? And on one hand, I was like, you know, well, a a friend of mine got all up in arms because he plays bars all the time, and he was like, all these bars are getting shut down. I don't have a way to make a living. And I'm like, I understand your anger, but at the same time, we shouldn't be gathering in bars, theaters, or churches. But the churches were protected, not from COVID, but they were protected by the First Amendment.

James Hazlerig [00:49:54]:

And so, You know, these people who should have cured the most about others were gathering together spreading the disease.

Antonio [00:50:04]:

Wait. Were they spreading gospel, or were they spreading the disease?

James Hazlerig [00:50:07]:

Well, you know, which which is which? Uh-oh. I'm gonna get all sorts of angry people now. It's okay. I I managed to get into arguments with with with Christians and

Antonio [00:50:19]:

atheists. His name is James Hazenrink. His app Address is.

James Hazlerig [00:50:24]:

Yeah. I know. Seriously. But that that's that's the thing, though, is that Conspiracy theories, like religions, give you a framework, and they give you a sense of certainty, And certainty is comforting. There is no doubt that certainty is far more comforting than living in a state of doubt Yeah. Which is is what science has to be based on. And, you know, I don't know if we're ever really gonna win that battle, You know?

Antonio [00:51:09]:

Speaking of certain

James Hazlerig [00:51:09]:

always looking to seek certainty.

Antonio [00:51:11]:

And speaking of certainty, I realized I wanted to keep this a half an hour, but I haven't caught up. You know?

James Hazlerig [00:51:16]:

Because certainly didn't work.

Antonio [00:51:17]:

We need to wrap up. It's been a

James Hazlerig [00:51:19]:

long time. We do. We do. Yeah. Yeah. Thank you for coming

Antonio [00:51:22]:

on the podcast. So what I'll

James Hazlerig [00:51:23]:

do that.

Antonio [00:51:23]:

Thank you. Somebody wants, Wants to learn about hypnotic storytelling? You have hypnotic storytelling .com.

James Hazlerig [00:51:30]:

That's right.

Antonio [00:51:31]:

That's right. In this Yeah.

James Hazlerig [00:51:34]:

I have I haven't Done any podcast in quite a long time. I did, I have, like, about 2 seasons of 1 called the Hypnotic Stories podcast, which you can still find. It is available, and includes some, some pretty decent examples of me and other people telling the stories. So if you're into storytelling, I hope you'll check that out and enjoy it.

Antonio [00:51:57]:

Thanks for coming on the podcast, and I look forward to catching up with you

James Hazlerig [00:52:00]:

soon. Yeah. Definitely. Take care.

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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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