Moving from Blind Belief to Wisdom

By George A. Boyd © 2021

Q: What locks people into blind faith? How do they move out of this mindset into a more realistic perspective?

A: You have to first understand how people come to believe in fantasy and conspiracy theories.

Reality is based on facts and evidence.

Facts are objects that can be weighed and measured. These are verified events for which there is a record.

Evidence is a statement or documentation that truthfully and accurately attests to facts and events.

Conjecture extrapolates from facts and evidence to explore inference and speculation.

Inference examines what can be reasonably deduced after examining evidence.

Speculation examines what if scenarios, and imagines possible outcomes that might occur if certain actions took place, or alternate explanations for the evidence that is presented. [When speculation becomes untethered from reality, it moves over the threshold into fantasy.]

Fantasy steps outside evidence, and asks you to believe what you are told without examining or questioning it. Fantasy appears as allegation and innuendo.

Allegation is based on what you heard, read, or watched on visual media from someone you believe is a convincing or trustworthy source, but there is no verifiable evidence to substantiate it. [Many conspiracy theories operate at this level; blind faith is also anchored at this level.]

Innuendo imputes evil intentions and clandestine illegal or corrupt behavior to others, often citing spurious or uncorroborated sources.

Manipulation is based on a purposeful intention to distort and deceive. At this level, someone is disseminating false information with an aim to spread allegations and innuendo to defeat an opponent or competitor; or to convince others of the superiority of their candidate, product or service. [Unfortunately, many political communications utilize manipulation to help their candidate to win, as do companies that seek to keep a dangerous or toxic product on the market.]

It appears that those that embrace blind faith believe allegation and innuendo. They are motivated to believe these things because it taps into their desires, fears, and anger. Those who are afraid… those who are made to feel outrage… those that are desperate to achieve their desires… alas, can be easily manipulated.

Q: How do people get out of this blind faith mindset?

A: This appears to be a process of discovering flaws with the beliefs they hold, searching for the truth, and discovering wisdom. There appears to be seven major steps in rising above blind belief:

Blind Belief Phase

  1. Blind faith believes without questioning because you trust the source of the information you believe.
  2. Dawning of first awareness occurs when you believe what you hear, read, or view, but you note that some aspects of the message don’t make sense. At first, you ignore these doubts, hoping there will be an explanation of the discrepancy at a later time or as you learn more.

Quest for the Truth Phase

  1. Questioning arises when there are a sufficient number of discrepancies to warrant re-examining your belief. You begin to question the facts of the message and scrutinize your doubts.
  2. Research studies the sources of the information that are presented, and checks each one to see if it is verifiable and accurate.

Wisdom Phase

  1. The step of Implications surface when you look at what might happen if the contentions of the source of your belief actually played out in reality, and whether the predications or expectations of this belief have come true. [Wild speculation and allegations have a way of not coming to pass.]
  2. The step of Intention considers what impression the communicator is trying to make, and how he or she is trying to influence your beliefs and values.
  3. The step of Motivation inquires why the speaker is attempting to make these impressions and to impact your beliefs and values—what he or she is getting from communicating this message. [This is the level you discover whether the source of the communication is attempting to manipulate you.]

Because people who hold the same beliefs surround those who are locked into a blind faith mindset, there is nothing to spark questioning of the belief—so they simply remain in that mindset, and the light of wisdom never illumines the truth. Moreover, those that attempt to point out the falsity of their beliefs are regarded as emissaries of evil, sent to dissuade them of their truth—as those who might attempt to change their belief have been painted with the dark brush of innuendo.

So it is not easy to for people to break out of the perceptual filter of blind belief, but it is possible. If you understand the steps of how you can become locked into blind faith perspectives and study the beliefs that hold them in place, you can dismantle them and get free of their hypnotic thrall.

Those of you who have had your rationality and your life taken over by involvement in a religious or political cult may find that our Cult Recovery Coaching Program will help you find your way out of this manipulative programming and reclaim your own life, and independent thinking and choosing again. We stand ready to support you regain your freedom again.

Types of Bondage

By George A. Boyd © 2020

Q: What are the major issues that keep people in bondage, so they cannot awaken?

A: There are eight major types of bondage to which the aspirant and disciple is subject:

  1. Health – Certain types of physical and medical conditions make it impossible for you to meditate and to implement personality change.
  2. Addiction – When you are addicted, your entire life revolves around the object of addiction.
  3. Fear – Fear holds you back from forward movement in your life; it can also hold you back from taking your next step spiritually.
  4. False beliefs – These include conspiracy theories and paranoia, which makes it impossible for you to see the truth through these distorted perceptual filters.
  5. Cultism and religious abuse – When you are caught in this trap, you become enslaved to the group leader and it is very difficult to become free.
  6. Ring Pass Not –This makes it appear that what you see on your inner spiritual horizon is the Summum Bonum of spirituality and is the final goal of spiritual development, when it is only a stage on the Great Continuum of Consciousness.
  7. Ignorance – This affects you when you do not understand your true spiritual nature. You identify with your ego and personality, and your career and family roles become your primary focus. As a result, you forget about your spirituality.
  8. Karma – This is the substrate of desire impressions in your unconscious mind that holds your Soul back from Liberation and your spirit from salvation.

We recommend that aspirants and disciples reflect on three things:

  1. Which of these types of bondage affect your life and spiritual development?
  2. What does freedom from each of these types of bondage that affect you look like?
  3. What could you do to overcome this bondage in each area so you could be free?

We can assist you with type 2 with our Addiction Recovery Coaching Program; type 5 through our Cult Recovery Coaching Program.

You can learn to discern the Ring Pass Not of type 5 through study of the Mudrashram® Correspondence Course, which shows the beginning and the end of each Path, and what’s beyond its apparent inner horizon.

We can help you tackle ignorance, type 7, and karma, type 8, through learning to transform the Soul, activate the Soul’s intuition and discernment, and dissolve karma in our intermediate meditation classes, the in-person Mudrashram® Master Course in Meditation and the by-mail and online Accelerated Meditation Program.

The Gentle Craft of Delusion and its Dénouement

By George A. Boyd © 1996

Sweet Siren Song

Oh, I have listened to sweet Siren song
Lulled into inebriation by their melody;
I have forgotten myself too long in some fond reverie
In which the substance of my dreams seems so real.

Sober reason’s insistence, now a distant voice
Can no longer deter me from my ruminations.
My revelations have now become conviction
And my faith possesses me in a waking trance.

Alas, a madman now is at the tiller of this barque
The sails unfurled, lashed helplessly by the merciless winds,
Eddies o’er, into the maelstrom she passes;
Lost the ship, my life and sanity, on the hidden reef below.

There are few people who are so highly rational that they do not entertain some personal superstitions or areas of denial. The ability to test reality is not a seamless web; it may in certain situations be more or less effective. Most of us have temporarily hallucinated when extremely tired or when we have had a high fever, or we might have been fooled by a magician’s slight-of-hand illusions.

Where this process of fooling your self becomes problematical is where your denial increases about certain aspects of your behavior, so that your no longer are aware of its consequences or its impact on your self and others.

Worse, you may begin to attribute your own motivations to others, a psychological defense called projection. When this continues, you begin to lose the ability to take responsibility for your actions. Instead, it seems you are victimized by a hostile and uncaring world. You may come to rationalize your lack of self-care, and even migrate into self-destructive behavior such as addictions.

If you do not obtain realistic feedback at this point, you may drift further into troubled waters. You may begin to weave a fantastic web of delusion, from which you find it increasingly difficult to extricate your self.

Indicators of deepening delusion are the initiation of what I call the active jamming process, mediated through “affirmation, psychological process, and visualization.” The net result of continued self-programming is the creation of a trance state in which you walk about in a state of hypnosis, believing the fabrications of your own wishful thinking.

We note there is legitimate use of these techniques to work on psychological issues and to facilitate integration. When these are misused, however, they are employed to keep you identified with an altered state of consciousness, so you never come back to the grounded state.

When reality does not rudely awaken you at this step, the delusional syndrome makes further inroads into your personality. This is a shift from actively trying to convince your self by active jamming into a state of conviction that what you experience in your fantasy life is real. Now delusion becomes incorporated into your character.

If this process is not interrupted, at some point this delusional system may fall apart, and a person becomes actively psychotic. The dénouement of following the Siren Song of delusion is insanity. We see then, a progression of delusion from innocuous symptoms to a life-consuming obsession that finally destroys the person. This progression is summarized below:

Step One – Symptoms of a deeper problem

  1. Hallucination – temporary breakdown of the filtering system of the central nervous system at the level of the midbrain, allowing stimuli normally shut out to reach consciousness. Can be temporarily stimulated by lack of sleep, sensory deprivation, fasting, too much stress, or psychoactive drug use.
  2. Misperception or illusion – faulty interpretation of sensory stimuli by incorrect completion of the perceptual gestalt, or incorrect interpretation of the sensory cues presented.
  3. Denial – the tenacious adherence to a false belief or interpretation of a situation despite significant evidence to the contrary

Step Two – The active jamming system

  1. Affirmation – the active attempts to reprogram beliefs to fit a desired outcome or state of affairs, by changing the cognitive component of belief.
  2. Process – the active attempts to defuse the emotional component of belief by returning in memory to the origin of a particular issue and releasing its affective energy.
  3. Visualization – the creation of an imaginary image of the desired outcome, in reverie, hypnosis, active imagination, or meditation.

Step Three – Delusions become incorporated into character

  1. Conviction or faith – the adherence to a belief based upon an inner assurance that it is true, based upon the testimonials of the experience of others, miraculous or un-explained personal experience or interpretation of religious doctrine based on a book or books held to be sacred or scriptural revelation.
  2. Revelation or inspiration – intuitive information received as visions, voices, or feelings believed to come from extra-terrestrials, inner guides, spirits, angels, gods or other agencies of the Divine that is believed to be unquestionably true.
  3. Archetypal identification or Gnostic conviction – at this deepest level, you become identified with the inner forms of spiritual noumena, and may come to believe that you are a messenger or child of God, or even the embodiment of the Divine.

Step Four – Unraveling

  1. Panic – great energy must be invested to keep this delusional system alive, by active jamming methods and by remaining in trance states, which confirm the delusions, which has been incorporated into character. At some point this delusional system begins to break down and the reaction is panic, overwhelming anxiety, and great desperation.
  2. Disorganization and disintegration – the systematized delusion system can no longer be maintained. The entire cognitive and affective systems are thrown into disorder, disrupting normal patterns of behavior. This is the decompensation phase, which marks the beginning of psychotic illness. At this stage, hallucination may become nearly continuous.
  3. Reorganization or further deterioration – with assistance from others through psychotherapy, the reality testing mechanism may be reconstructed, returning the individual to more normalized functioning, rational and coherent belief and consonant affect. If successful intervention is not made, the individual may deteriorate further.

It concerns me that many of the New Thought, New Age and conventional religious practices incorporate elements of the active jamming phase and characterological phase of the delusional cycle.

The question that suggests itself: is reality so painful that we must hypnotize and numb ourselves to cope with it? The more frightening question is, does entertaining deeper levels of delusion run the risk of turning our mass movements into mass insanity? Let us hope we do not make it so.

The critical thing you must determine is, are you changing self-limiting belief and unproductive behavior through these attempts at self-help, or are you trying to desperately convince your self of something that isn’t and cannot be true:

  • The first will turn you into a more effective human being.
  • The second will sink you deeper into the quick sands of delusion.

It is important that you take stock of these efforts at self-remediation, and ask your self the very difficult questions that are required by rigorous honesty. If you do not ask these questions, the Sirens will be soon at your door.

Concerning the Shift of Spiritual Perspectives

By George A. Boyd © 2020

Q: Many people seem to be locked into particular spiritual perspectives? What holds them there?

A: It is important to understand seven major substrates of identity. These appear to nest in seven discrete layers. The first four are your embodied expressions of your innate spiritual makeup—they are the innate expressions of your ensouling entity that dwells at the cutting edge of spirituality. The last three appear in those who ascend to the Bridge Path in the seventh stage of spiritual development—these are stages of the advanced disciple and Initiate in Mudrashram®.

  1. Emotional identity – These are the issues of destiny karma. They are the expressions of the personal unconscious that appear as the patterns of everyday unresolved life problems, recalcitrant emotional issues, and out-of-control habits and addictions.
  2. Integrated ego – These are you identified roles and ambitions. At this layer, you organize your life, and create a personal narrative to describe what you are doing and give reasons why you are doing it.
  3. Self – This is the core of your personality, which controls the activity of your Metaconscious, Subconscious, and Conscious mind through volition. This makes choices between alternatives, and plans for your future. At this station, you take charge of the direction your life takes. Coaching intervention aims to empower this aspect in you.
  4. Soul – This is your spiritual core that has come into Creation to carry out a mission, and aligns you with a purpose for your life. It expresses its gifts and genius in your life.
  5. Form of Mastery – Those who elect the Teacher Empowerment track on the Bridge Path empower the Form of the Disciple, which enables them to teach the Mudrashram® Master Course in Meditation; and the Mahatma form, which allows them to teach the Mudrashram® Advanced Course in Meditation.
  6. Multiplane Master Development – Those on the Teacher Empowerment track develop a form of Multiplane Mastery on Adi Sat Guru Desh. They are able to send forth an ensouling entity and vehicles of consciousness appropriate to the Ray of Mastery that they are developing.
  7. Adi Sat Guru – Upon completion of the form of Multiplane Mastery, the essence of the Adi Sat Guru dwells in his or her true form on the highest levels of the Bridge Path, on T6, or on T7.

Between layer four and five, some spiritual practices create an intervening layer of identity. For example, certain groups may awaken a nucleus of identity, an ensouling entity outside the cutting edge of spirituality, or the spirit in a domain outside the current station of the ensouling entity on the Path.

This intervening layer introduces an alternate state of perception and identity outside the innate makeup of the cutting edge ensouling entity. These become an alternate fulcrum of expression in the world at layer four, and largely supplant your native spiritual essence. This identification can be anchored in a nucleus of identity, an ensouling entity, or a spirit.

The pathway to this perceptual re-identification appears to follow seven steps:

  1. Introduction to this alternate state of identification through exposure to media – You can learn about this state though reading, audio, video, or a public lecture or seminar.
  2. First internal encounter – Through a guided meditation, you unite your attention with this essence and recognize it within you.
  3. Creation of desire for further union and transformation – Those who advocate that you develop this spiritual essence attempt to convince you of the value of remaining in union with that essence, and developing it along its track towards its origin. They may attempt to proselytize you through inspired discourse, sermons, or preaching.
  4. Initiation (Diksha) – You learn techniques to enable you to voluntarily re-unite your attention with this essence. In traditions that advocate you transform this essence along this track, they also teach you transformational techniques.
  5. Perceptual change – Through using these techniques you experience movement of this essence along its track through transformation. This changes your perception of the world and your sense of identity. It heightens the perspective of this essence relative to your innate perception of layers one to four.
  6. Derealization – With further transformation, a shift takes place where only the viewpoint of this essence seems real, and the perceptions of layers one to four appear to be illusory.
  7. Emissary of the Path – With advanced development of this spiritual essence, you act to help others discover this essence, identify with it, and ultimately transform it along this track. You may advocate for this reunification, grant initiation, describe the path to others, lead others to perceive that this essence is the ultimate reality, and assist them to advance upon the Path. You may assume the role of teacher, guide, and initiator for those who come to the Path.

Turning this inner dial of perception through transformation places this intervening layer between the innate embodied expression of the Soul (layers one through four)—and for those who have ascended into the seventh stage of spirituality—the advanced disciple’s and Initiate’s ministry (layers five through seven).

There are two major ways that this imposition of an intervening layer can be rectified:

  1. Rebalancing – You bring the essence back into alignment with the axis of being and fill in karma behind it, so it is no longer out of alignment. We use this process called dynamic rebalancing to ameliorate the symptoms of Kundalini syndromes, when aspirants have unintentionally triggered a Kundalini emergency through moving an essence off of the axis of being.
  2. Liberation – In this scenario, we assist you to transform this essence to its origin, which dissolves this intervening layer. When this drops out, only your native embodied layers (one through four)—and the advanced layers (five through seven) that those who reach the seventh stage of spiritual development access and activate.

Those who have been initiated into more than one Cosmic, Supracosmic, or Transcendental Path may need rebalance or liberate more than one intervening layer. These would be done one at a time until there are no more intervening layers, and only the native constellation remains.

We note that imbalances can also be introduced in the Subtle and Planetary Realms through awakening selected seed atoms or nuclei of identity, and then moving that center along its track. These types of imbalances typically rectify if you are unfolding your Soul at the cutting edge of spirituality: at a certain level, these wayward centers are re-captured and re-integrated into the axis of being.

Recapture is an option for those who have misaligned nuclei of identity in the Cosmic Sphere—particularly cosmic consciousness in the First Cosmic Initiation and cosmic soul awareness in the Second Cosmic Initiation. Opening of seed atoms on Supracosmic and Transcendental Paths, however, will typically have to be liberated to remove the intervening perceptual layers they introduce.

Q: Could you describe what different methods are used to rectify these imbalances for those who are locked in these states of awareness?

A: These are specific methods that can be utilized to rectify these imbalances and to break the hypnotic identification with these levels:

  1. Dynamic rebalancing – This method, which Initiates operating at layers six and seven can employ, involves moving dormant karma from upstream of where the imbalance has been generated, and filling in behind it. This effectively places the wayward center back into alignment with the axis of being again. As we have described above, this is typically applied when working with those who have Kundalini syndromes that stem from vehicular imbalances.
  2. Voluntary transformation – This imparts a transformational technique that unfolds that essence to liberation. Initiates at the Mahatma level and above can identify and convey this method to the aspirant, who can then voluntarily unfold this essence until it is liberated.
  3. Bodhisattva Project – Those established at layer six, who are developing their form as a Multiplane Master, has the ability to progressively liberate the spiritual essence in conjunction with development of one of the Rays of their Form as a Multiplane Master.
  4. Re-anchoring into the Soul – This method entails disidentifying with this essence and re-identifying with the Soul and its innate embodied expression. When the imbalance is not too severe and there is no Kundalini activation that locks attention to into this altered state of awareness, this method can be utilized. This is one of the major strategies that exit counselors—those who work to bring people out of cults through psychotherapy or pastoral counseling—exercise to get people back into touch with their authentic spirituality again.
  5. Transcending the intervening layer – This method guides an individual’s attention to move beyond the identity state of the intervening layer of perception and lifts it into a higher octave of being, where this intervening layer can be viewed objectively. This is possible for those who have reached the sixth stage of spirituality, where their cutting edge is anchored in the Transcendental Sphere—or the seventh stage, where they dwell on the Bridge Path, T6, or T7. These advanced disciples can view these intervening layers that have been activated in the Subtle, Planetary, Cosmic, and Supracosmic bands of the Great Continuum with detachment—this transcendent viewpoint is called Vairagya.
  6. Personal confinement – This strategy stops all meditation and keeps your attention within the confines of the personality. Through keeping attention grounded in this fashion, these higher states of awareness are delegated to the background, and decrease in their relative influence. With sufficient time, these altered states become a distant memory, and no longer plays a role in influencing values, beliefs, or behavior. [The root teacher of the Mudrashram® lineage had me adopt this posture to enable me to normalize my personality functioning and reground in my innate spirituality. See the article, “My Spiritual Journey” for more information on how this strategy was implemented in my life.]
  7. Grace-Bestowing Liberation – This method uses Light Immersion with shepherding of the spirit to lead the misaligned spiritual essences of others to liberation. An Initiate established in layer six or seven typically directs this Light of Translation to the spirit on a Transcendental Path. This method is usually reserved for those who have attained advanced stations on a Transcendental Path—intervening layers embedded in the Transcendental Sphere can be especially tenacious without this intervention from those established in Adi Sat Guru Desh.

We suggest you study the first four layers that make up your innate spirituality that is embodied in your human life. It will be beneficial for you to seek to understand the perceptual shifts that using transformational meditation outside the cutting edge of spirituality can produce.

You may also wish to inquire, if you have been initiated into one or more spiritual groups—and you have experienced a perceptual and identity shift as a result—how this shift has affected your ability to embrace and embody your innate human and transpersonal experience, anchored in layers one through four.

Q: What changes might mark having a perceptual and identify shift?

A: There are several markers we could tease out that might suggest to you that this re-identification has occurred:

  • You regard your life and personality as unreal (depersonalization).
  • The world appears to be unreal or dream-like (derealization).
  • You no longer feel your feelings as a human being—they are numb or deadened (dissociation).
  • It appears that you no longer cause your behavior, emotions, and thoughts—they appear to arise independently—and you no longer sense you have a human personality integration center, either ego or Self, which directs them.
  • You experience that a universal Voidness or Ocean of Being is the One Reality, and anything other than this universal nexus appears to you as an illusion.
  • You perceive that you are a spiritual essence—nucleus of identity, spirit, or ensouling entity—upon a discrete track across the Continuum to an apparent origin from which this essence came forth. You no longer have desire for any personal achievement; attaining this spiritual objective is the only thing that matters to you.
  • You regard others in their spiritualized form, and your relationships with others are based on beholding them as the spiritual essence with which you identify. If you were identified with cosmic consciousness, for example, you might see cosmic consciousness in other people, as being their true spiritual essence—and you would relate to them on that platform.
  • You find it difficult to return to your waking state of consciousness. Your attention seems fixed or fused in the spiritual essence with which you identify.

If you recognize these markers in yourself, it may indicate that you have moved into steps five and six on the scale of perceptual re-identification. We suggest you read the article on our website, “The Cutting Edge of Spirituality,” which will explicate the progression of imbalance and the markers that arise at each stage.

Reflections on Conspiracy Theories

By George A. Boyd © 2019

Q: What makes people believe in conspiracy theories?

A: When we analyze conspiracy theories, we find there are several levels at work.

  1. Sensory gating or filtering – When you believe in a conspiracy theory, you only look at the sensory information that confirms your belief. You ignore contrary information that doesn’t support your belief.
  2. Emotional bias – This attaches negative emotions to beliefs that disagree with the theory you hold, and positive emotions to the beliefs of your own theory.
  3. Cognitive distortion – This minimizes flaws or errors in your own viewpoint, and magnifies errors or flaws in other views.
  4. Egoic defensiveness – You use denial, projection, and rationalization to support your own view. You criticize and blame others that don’t hold your views.
  5. Values deconstruction – This uses justification to support hypocrisy, lying, and unethical behavior required for you to embrace a conspiracy theory.
  6. Intellectual narrowing – This labels your own theory as unassailable. You do not give yourself permission to reflect upon or consider alternate viewpoints.
  7. Mythic worldview – This embodies the secret desires and fantasies that underlie the conspiracy theory. You might secretly wish to be seen as a hero, to be vindicated when people disagree with you, to be superior to others because you know the truth.

Several characteristics mark conspiracy theories:

  • Those who embrace conspiracy theories supplant facts with opinion.
  • They prefer untested speculation to careful analysis to arrive at the truth.
  • They make logical leaps without taking in the big picture.
  • They validate their mistrust and paranoia through believing in spurious narratives.
  • They follow charismatic thought leaders who advocate and disseminate conspiracy theories, and become true believers.
  • They ignore information that contradicts the conspiracy theory, and they cling tenaciously to information that upholds it.
  • They envision hidden or secret actors that attempt to hide the truth that the conspiracy theory purports to reveal, and that this truth is either unknown or is actively suppressed.
  • They hold that the conspiracy theory is a hidden truth that conventional sources do not believe in or condone, and they believe they must advocate for this revolutionary new truth.
  • They believe that those who hold an alternative viewpoint are ignorant or deceived. They may actively attack or demean others who hold other beliefs.

The Slippery Slope to Paranoia

Many conspiracy theories are steeped in paranoia. This progression to a paranoid mindset does not happen instantaneously, but appears to follow several steps.

  1. You come to doubt one element of a belief you hold. You make note of it, but do not reject the belief outright.
  2. You come to see several flaws or omissions in the belief you hold. This may lead you to investigate why there are discrepancies or things that do not seem to fit.
  3. In the course of your search for answers, you come upon the alternative viewpoint of someone who advances a conspiracy theory. You begin to study this material.
  4. At some point during your exploration of this material, you find a key idea that makes you believe that everything you formerly believed was wrong. This makes you embrace the conspiracy theory and reject your former view. This is the conversion stage.
  5. Once you have begun to view your old mindset is flawed, you begin to replace your former beliefs with the beliefs of the conspiracy theory. You begin to deny, justify, and rationalize these new beliefs if you are challenged.
  6. You become a “true believer,” and you begin to advocate for this new conspiracy theory. You may attend conferences advocating the conspiracy theory, publish articles about it, or post about it on social media.
  7. As you receive more pushback about the error or limitations of your conspiracy theory, you may retrench and hold the belief more tenaciously. You begin to believe you are under attack: that others are trying to undermine you, to persecute you, and to crush you. At this stage, you may begin to shift into full-blown paranoia.
  8. As paranoia begins to envelop you, you may become delusional. For example, you may believe that secret actors are attempting to silence you or eliminate you; your phones are tapped and your rooms are bugged; or government agencies are trying to arrest you under false charges to suppress your viewpoint.

The Erosion of Reality Testing

Those that embrace conspiracy theories may shut off aspects of their reality testing to adhere to their beliefs. Some of these pillars of reality testing include:

  1. Sensory evidence – You are able to verify that the information you are receiving is accurate. It is not the opinion or interpretation of someone else. You are able to validate the experience is accurate.
  2. Impartiality – You become emotionally open to listen to each of the voices of an argument. You determine independently what is true after listening to the different opinions.
  3. Introspection – You examine your own beliefs to ensure that you are rightly weighting each element of your belief.
  4. Vulnerability – You become honest about what you feel and believe, and you are willing to be corrected. You stop blindly defending your beliefs.
  5. Moral reasoning – You think through the consequences of holding a particular value—and if it is untenable, not founded in truth, you jettison it. You do not automatically introject the beliefs of the conspiracy theory unexamined; you look at the implications of adopting this value.
  6. Intellectual prehension – You look at different explanations and the evidence supporting them. You give yourself permission to examine other viewpoints and explanations.
  7. Uncovering motivations – You uncover your motivations for holding beliefs and viewpoints, discovering what you “get out” of holding a belief or adopting a mindset.

If you think that you might be embracing a conspiracy theory, you may wish to apply the pillars of reality testing to determine if you are deceiving yourself. We suggest that you hold the contentions of a conspiracy theory as an unproven hypothesis. Listen to facts pro and con, and be willing to reject the conspiracy theory if you cannot verify its claims.