Publisher of Skeptic magazine, Michael Shermer was a monthly columnist for Scientific American for 18 years. In the first half, he discussed the reasons for belief in conspiracy theories, the different categories of theories, and why he thinks there is a need to combat the adherence to some of them. He defined a conspiracy as when two or more people plot in secret to do something illegal, immoral, or gain an advantage over someone without their knowing it. Conspiracy theories posit that something specific is going on, but the question then becomes whether such assertions are true or false, he said. We can evaluate the likelihood of various conspiracies by asking a series of questions grounded in healthy skepticism, he noted. These include: How many people would need to be involved? The more, the less likely the theory is true. How many elements would have to come together at the right time and place for it to work? The more elements, the less likely the theory is true. And how grand is the conspiracy theory? A plot for world domination or to control an entire economy is less likely to be true, he suggested.
In creating conspiracy theories, the mind tries to put together patterns to sort out or explain chaotic events, he cited, and another thing that fuels them is a deep distrust of large, powerful organizations, institutions, governments, and rich or elite people. Theorists may be attracted or empowered by the idea that by following certain conspiracies, they have "secret knowledge" others don't know about, such as with QAnon followers, Shermer pointed out. While conspiracy theories have been with us for a long time, what is different now is the speed with which they can spread on the Internet and social media, with millions of people being exposed to ideas that aren't necessarily rational or fact-checked. Among the theory topics he touched on were the JFK assassination, 'Stop the Steal,' Pizzagate, 9-11 Trutherism, vaccines, and Reptilian aliens.
An ordained Orthodox Catholic priest, Plato Angelakis presides as Archbishop of the Holy Order of Saint Michael the Archangel in Canada. In the latter half, he talked about his work as an exorcist and as a member of the Ottawa Paranormal Research and Investigation Team, where he strives to bring help to those afflicted by negative entities. Lucie Bellerive (aka Sister Lucie Sophie Marie), who assists Angelakis in exorcisms and investigations, joined the conversation for a segment. The Archbishop said he works not only on cases of possession but also on lesser stages of demonic interactions such as oppression (which can include paranormal activity like objects flying off the wall), infestations, and attachments. The types of exorcisms he conducts make use of clairvoyantly gifted people and energy workers like Sister Lucie.
To perform his services, he seeks out the affected individual's consent before working with them. Sister Lucie said she helps prepare a home for the exorcism ritual, using blessings, holy water and oils, and surrounding the location with salt. "I also support the client with the laying of the hands and praying during the ritual," she stated, adding that she uses Reiki and pranic healing modalities to "replace the void" with a higher energy frequency. She noted that having a woman present at an exorcism can add a feeling of comfort, especially if the client is female. Angelakis described a case where a woman, who hadn't eaten in 30 days, showed incredible strength, pushing the group away during a ritual.