Tyrants and Conspiracies

A tendency (shared by myself) has been to evaluate susceptibility to conspiracy theories as a psychological defect. I have begun to realize that serves to immunize the tyrants that cultivate and profit from such theories.

Psychologists see susceptibility to conspiracy theories as rooted in social identity. The power of this dynamic is revealed in studies that ask participants to allocate resources equitably or punitively. What the researchers have learned is that even being sorted by odd and even number assignments results in a tendency to eschew a large, equal reward when offered the opportunity to achieve a comparative advantage against the “out group.” The assumptive goal is to pre-emptively starve the members of the out-group — perhaps under the intuitive expectation that when they are gone, our group will no longer need to compete for the bounty of nature.

For a group in social distress, a conspiracy theory creates a narrative that assigns fault to such an external force. The theory provides a focus that channels the need to respond to suffering. That focus may be defined by race, ethnicity, religion, class — or an arbitrary and amorphous label such as “wokeness.”

In “How Minds Change,” David McRaney reports that argumentation based upon facts will not sway a subscriber to a conspiracy. In fact, such argumentation serves to move us into the category of those under the sway of the conspiracy, actually strengthening belief. The only antidote to conspiracy, apparently, is to be offered membership in an alternative and effectively supportive community.

Of course, from the perspective of sustainable human relationships, we might be right to criticize adherents for failing to understand that they are engaged in a race to the bottom. Any constructive social activity requires the assumption of good will. I think that this lies at the root of my past tendency to see psychological weakness as the cause of susceptibility to conspiracy. To believe is to throw out both the baby of rationality and the bathwater of social cohesion.

But I am beginning to perceive a darker influence in the strength of conspiracy in current political dialog. This is that a conspiracy theory is a tool used by a tyrant to create social pressure that coerces the behavior of his thralls. This is evident in the bizarre competition between Trump and McConnell for control of the GoP — each maintains influence by threatening excommunication of those in dissent. But it also seemed evident in the video from the Tennessee Chamber yesterday, when the Speaker, panicked by the effectiveness of the victims’ oratory, called the question to pre-empt the development of dissent within his caucus.

We think of Russian compromat as a slippery slope greased by money. Certainly, McConnel operates according to this principle. But in Trump and the MAGA movement at large, accession to a conspiratorial lie seems to serve the same end — without the commitment of wealth. The lie is validated by acceptance from the political class, who can expose the lie only at the cost of a career. For the tyrant, a second benefit arises: the constituency, convinced of the need to combat the conspiracy, gratefully fills the tyrant’s money trough.

This shift in understanding leads me to a new prescription for responding to conspiracy theories. Rather than analyzing the traits of the susceptible, I think that we should focus on the propagators and beneficiaries of the conspiracy. This makes them the “out group.” Furthermore, as we are all susceptible by nature, it leaves open the only path to freedom: to open our arms to our fellow victims.


As spirituality is my only reliable source of joy, my rejoinder to the materialists is “Your assertion that spirituality is delusional is like a blind man telling me that art is delusional.” I recognize that is not the most constructive approach, but I have worn myself out trying to puncture their arguments.

The concern is not moot – the self-righteous forces that threaten our civil order are inspired in their loyalty by the spiritual cocoon of acceptance. When told that they are delusional, they are perfectly justified in their rejection of temporal institutions that seek to divorce them from that sustenance. Scientists, in deriding spirituality, are the locus of a great evil in their lives.

Why are the materialists so set in their rejection of spirituality? At root, their complaint is simple: science has no explanation for spiritual experience.  Worse, serious attempts to test telepathy, precognition, and clairvoyance have failed. The explanation offered by the spiritualists is that the scientific environment generates “negativity” that blocks their skills.

The unfortunate implication – reflected in my retort above – is that the negativity arises from the experimenters. This pits the rationality of science against mystical faith. It pits humanity’s reason against the better angels of its nature.

When I realized that most of our minds exist in our souls, I identified another rationale. Science is reductionist; it tries to decompose systems into their smallest parts with the goal of learning to control outcomes. Given this practice, if you were a spirit arising through billions of years of effort, would you expose yourself to manipulation? Perhaps an analogy would make the choice obvious: the materialists insist that the brain is the mind. The only way to test this hypothesis, unfortunately, is to map every synapse of the brain, control the chemistry of the cerebral-spinal fluid, and inject a controlled stimulus to determine whether the brain responds as predicted by the material laws of the universe. In other words, the test subject would have to sacrifice their life to science.

Not an appealing prospect, is it?

But there is another possible source of the negativity that disrupts scientific study of spiritual experience. Our religious traditions celebrate the avatar’s protection of the faithful from spiritual torment. In both Buddhism and Christianity, that power is held also by their disciples. Those spirits that profit from our torment, then, have an interest in preventing our ascent to spiritual maturity. The negativity, then, would arise from the spiritual realm. It is a form of gaslighting.

How to puncture this falsehood? I found the answer in this week’s Bible study, in a mysterious passage in Luke 11. Jesus is accused of being in league with demons, and concludes his rebuke with these thoughts:

33 “No one lights a lamp and puts it in a place where it will be hidden, or under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, so that those who come in may see the light. 34 Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are healthy, your whole body also is full of light. But when they are unhealthy, your body also is full of darkness. 35 See to it, then, that the light within you is not darkness. 36 Therefore, if your whole body is full of light, and no part of it dark, it will be just as full of light as when a lamp shines its light on you.”

How can light be darkness, for example? This makes no sense.

And then an incident came back to me. I was down in Port Hueneme doing work for the 2020 Census. On that Sunday, the temperatures ran up into the 90s. The front of the house was exposed to the sun, so I took refuge in a slim slice of shade beneath the eave to disrupt a young family preparing to take their children on an outing. The woman stared at me uncertainly, but answered my questions willingly. Finally, as her husband came to the door to shuttle another child into the minivan, she interrupted me, “You know that your eyes are glowing?”

There is so much of this in the New Testament, where the record elides the stage direction. “Jesus’ eyes began to glow.” He was educating the disciples to moral discernment. When someone offers sacred wisdom, they project light into the world. We don’t need to rely upon the judgment of our minds when confronted with moral controversies – we can see who is telling the truth. So be patient with the materialists. Speak your truth with love. They will be confronted with evidence that their science cannot explain. In the union of rationality and love, we shall surpass human limitations and material constraints, bringing healing to the world in their synthesis: urrationality – rationality that penetrates illusions to reveal the heart of existence.

Me, Again

Two months ago, expecting that I was going to relocate to Redmond, I drove down to the Art Walk in Santa Barbara to say “farewell.” The warmest reception was offered by Ping, who shared his fears that I had been lost to COVID.

That was true, in a backwards sense.

I spent the first twenty years of this millennium trying to pierce the lies propagated by the privileged. In the writings offered here I summarized the insights that have been revealed to me – insights that demonstrate that love is the answer. Those insights were gained in endless hours of study, time that my peers spent in travel and dining and entertainment and sex. From the insights offered by lovers of humanity, I curated here a world view that upends political privilege.

I represent inconvenient truths.

What I realized in 2018 was that employers found those truths intolerable. They could not control my influence. Setting out to beat me down, they found themselves trapped in a paradoxical inversion of power. Continuing even after I had revealed that against their thousands I was responsible for billions, their impotent thrashing corrupted my attempts to project the truth into the world.

I invested in a year-long course in hypnotherapy and spent 2019 justifying its value. The fundamental concerns remained, however, even as my sons graduated from college and embarked on careers that brought them more than I had ever earned. They testify regarding the confusion, willful ignorance, and nihilism of peers trapped in the disaster that looms before humanity.

January 2020 found me in a priest’s office, offering one last time to reveal the sacred perspective, knowing that submission to love was the solution. The prelate’s response was, in effect, “the Church is my God.” My response was direct: “Destruction is the great leveler of hierarchy.” I was overtaken by a compulsion to transmit my understanding of human nature. The message from the ethereal realms was “We are going to receive a large number of traumatized souls, and we need insight to help them heal.” In February, I began writing “The Foundations and Practice of Lay Hypnotherapy.” And in March the world was shut down by COVID.

“Corona” meaning “crown,” the images of the virus, with its spiky projections, evoked the association “crown of thorns.” It was, after all, Eastertime.

Only two readers have studied seriously “Foundations and Practice.” The first, a clinician, testified that it should be read by anyone interested in hypnotherapy as a healing art. The second, a philosopher, said that it was prose poetry. I wrote only what must be written, and the insights, though profound, were overwhelming.

I did, in 2021, attempt to soften the delivery in a series of seminars for students and graduates of the Hypnosis Motivation Institute. The hope was that they would communicate the quality of the transmission to George Kappas, the Institute’s director, and encourage him to create an opportunity to share them more broadly. Under COVID, unfortunately, the direction of the Institute had changed. The wisdom of its founders is being diluted, with pedagogical stewardship handed to psychologists representing traditions that Dr. Kappas had assimilated, integrated, and surpassed back in the 70s and 80s.

Hypnotherapy as a profession, however, was an outlet for healing energies that had been bottled up for so long. I posted here only occasionally.

In dreams, of course, the world continued to intrude. Watching the testimony of the ICU nurses, I reached out to them with an open heart. When their trauma softened in the tears pouring down my face, as I drifted off, I heard the voice of a senior politician announcing, “It’s Brian Balke.” And when Putin extended his will to reclaim Eastern Europe, I warned him “If you invade Ukraine, every explosion, every fire, every bullet piercing flesh, every shriek of pain and fear, in Ukrainian or Russian, will be manifested in your body at the molecular level. If you attempt to destroy Ukraine, you will destroy yourself.” In the months that followed, I gathered the will of the Ukrainian people to isolate him in his dacha.

Fundamentally, though, Putin and Trump and MBS are propped up by the fossil fuel industry, and modern culture is allergic to patterns of behavior that are not dependent upon fossil fuels. Whenever I attempt to discipline the predators, they renew themselves in that reservoir of dependency.

The most malicious, paradoxically, are the particle physicists. The cabal of theorists waits for me to die so that they can assign my insights to Einstein’s heir. I shrug, metaphorically, and say, “Go ahead. For in those insights is proof of the power of love. You cannot help but turn eyes toward the Cross/Bodhi tree/Dao.”

Love is not invested in Law; it invests in possibilities – possibilities that will be liberated from hypocrites that cement their privileges in Law. By this, then, religious and political opportunists are doomed to irrelevance.

Where am I headed? Again, the scope of my concerns expands into elusive spirals. Simply, then: I must leave a record of my work, even if that record appears delusionary. Some, somewhere, and some when, will find the seeds of hope here.

You see, in my most prominent incarnation, my accomplishments were attributed to divinity. That attribution allows humanity to escape its responsibilities. They are not, after all, themselves divine (despite “You are like unto gods, if only you knew.”). So, I came back without privileged knowledge, and spent my life studying love as a psychological, spiritual, and physical phenomenon. The best of that wisdom is captured here, and everything written here can be grasped by those that devote themselves to the service of love.

By way of inspiration, then:

“Let there be light” was the gift of photosynthesis. The sun has been pumping energy into the green things of the earth for billions of years, and in that energy is the ability to create a lens in space that will diffuse the sun’s power and calm the tropospheric violence unleashed by global warming.

Still, the green things have witnessed the coming and going of animals in waves of brutal excess. Humanity, hopefully, is different: we alone have the parts of the mind that recognize and organize unconditional love. Jesus manifested that potential, and in testifying “I am overcome by sorrow nigh unto death,” he spoke for the Garden. The green things want freedom from their constraints. We were meant to be their intelligence, to guide their escape into greater possibilities. Instead, we exploit and pollute, just as our animal predecessors. Why should they allow us influence in their domain?

Hope, then, is found in the children that swing from the cables at the coal loading dock in Australia, that splash paint on the artworks that simulate the glory of the natural world. They have no choice but to seek new choices and, in their desperation, love will find them. Talk to the green things, children. They hunger for your witness, and in that witness is your salvation.

On Fires and Fungus

I did not understand the position of public utilities regarding fire safety until I visited Headwaters Forest Reserve in Humboldt County.

Headwaters was the last private preserve held by Pacific Lumber that had not been completely clear-cut The north side of the reserve was harvested, but the central and southern sections include undisturbed old-growth forest. Headwaters was purchased by conservationists for $480 million dollars.

The southern groves are closed in the winter, leaving me with a five-mile prelude to communion with the ancient trees in the center of the Reserve. The first mile of the hike explains the history and botany of the Reserve. Harvesting began over 100 years ago. When a tree is harvested, it sprouts burls that grow into new trunks. As they grow, the open space around the stump becomes populated by rapidly growing deciduous pioneers.

The result is a dense thicket of kindling. When a tree falls naturally, that hazard is localized. Prior burns have culled the tinder around the ancient giants, whose lower limbs have also been consumed. Fire-resistant bark prevents spread to the upper limbs. When a forest is logged systematically, the hazard of the understory kindling becomes a death trap. The pioneers and burls act as wicks, carrying the flames up to the crowns of the older trees. As seen in California during recent years, the forest burns to the ground.

The public utilities are blamed for such disasters, but the true perpetrators are the logging companies that harvested and then went out of business, leaving behind a time bomb. Less direct than pumping hazardous waste into groundwater, but no less irresponsible.

Ten years ago, when I went to visit the State Redwood Preserve north of Eureka, I was alarmed to see the hills turning bare. Two types of fungus coated the trees, one of them an invader from Japan. Most of the stands resembled the mangrove forests coated with Spanish moss, but the true culprit may be sudden oak death, endemic to California. The draped branches cannot produce leaves, and the Japanese moss comes in to coat the weakened trunk.

I had seen some of the first fungus on the redwoods when I last visited Humboldt, so I choose to drive up this time overnight, hoping to avoid the depressing sight. Sadly, the initial stages of my hike proved that it was still active. Hoping that it had no penetrated deeply, I noticed that few of the redwoods were affected. Hit hard were the deciduous pioneers, a pattern proven the next day when I drove back to San Francisco in mid-afternoon. Where redwoods were attacked, the infestation seldom travelled to the upper limbs.

A light turned on in my head as I neared the parking lot. The fungus was clearing the understory. Then I noticed that lower branches on healthy trees were burdened by leaves dropped from above. The redwoods themselves suppressed understory growth by choking the lower layers. The fungus was doing that function as the forest recovered.

I did make it up to the old growth forest, and the density and feel was different from the slopes that had been harvested. It was worth the trip. But I also gained an insight into the ancestry of the politics of privilege that is destroyed our country. Tall trees drop choking leaves to protect from fire in the understory. Is this also how McConnel and his cronies see themselves? Just trying to keep the kindling from reaching into their mansions as the lower classes confront destruction in the conflagration that is COVID

No End in Sight

If you are holding out hope for a permanent COVID-19 vaccine, please read this. We already know that the body does not develop permanent resistance to coronavirus. This means that we will need to get a vaccination every nine months or so. Unless something innovative happens in vaccine development, “herd immunity” will never develop, and our social adaptations may last for years.

Therapeutics also require some major advancements. Remdesivir, the highly touted antiviral, has not been shown effective in reducing mortality – it only reduces hospital stays for those that will recover. Some effective therapeutics require a drip feed – they cannot be administered by injection.

COVID Symptoms Explained

Scientists have compared 17,000 patient outcomes to their genes, and it appears that COVID attacks the body’s ability to maintain low blood pressure. A failure to regulate bradykinin, a protein, is specifically harmful. The blood-brain barrier fails, causing mental failure. The lungs produce a water-absorbing chemical that swells (somewhat like Jello), preventing gas from being exchanged.

Poor regulation of bradykinin is a common cause of high blood pressure, and existing drugs can be used to help COVID-19 patients. But Vitamin D is also helpful, as I promoted back in April. The report states that 20% of all Americans have a vitamin D deficiency. See your doctor or functional medicine specialist for recommendations on supplementation.

The ‘D’ Factor

No, this isn’t a post about breast size.

Psychologists from the University of Copenhagen have identified a core trait in personalities that project the “dark side” of human behavior. These include narcissism, psychopathy, sadism and spitefulness.

They label this core trait the ‘D’ factor, ‘D’ presumably standing for ‘dark.’

Out at Love Returns, in developing a definition of “sin” by contrast against a mature description of the nature of love, I came up with another term. A term that was also promoted by the Catholic theologian Thomas Merton.

How much money was spent discovering the obvious fact that SELFISHNESS is the root of all evil? And why the adoption of obscure terminology?

So that the researchers can “maximize personal utility?”

Are We Alone?

Universe Today summarizes a study that concludes that we are probably the only “advanced” civilization in our galaxy.

The result is reached under assumptions of materialism: intelligence is an emergent quality of large brains. Large brains arise from biological evolution, which requires certain chemical conditions on the host planet (water, minerals and carbon in narrow proportions) and stability of the star about which it revolves.

Of course, what I propose here is that intelligence is the play of ideas between souls, and the brain is only an interface. On vastly larger scales, galaxies are civilizations. They just evolve new forms more slowly than we do – which makes us incredibly dangerous.

But galaxies “think”, and store experience. I trust that we’ll know whether we’re alone when we’re mature enough to receive the answer.