Ecologies of Conspiracy

Ecologies of Conspiracy is an 8-week online course that explores the history, allure, and remedy of conspiracist ideologies. The course will use David Neiwert’s book Red Pill Blue Pill as a foundational text while weaving in additional material that investigates the role nervous system dysregulation plays in sending people “down the rabbit hole”. Interaction will be facilitated using Zoom meetings and discussion forums. Ecologies of Conspiracy is offered by donation and starts on March 20, 2021. Scroll down for more details.

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Description

Ecologies of Conspiracy is an online course that begins on Saturday, March 20, 2021. It will be facilitated by Eric Garza, Quillwood Academy’s founder and director. This course is inspired by, and dedicated to, Eric’s friends and relations who ventured too far down conspiracist rabbit holes and are now struggling to navigate the frightening, lonely world they find themselves in. This course was designed for those who want to better understand the historical and biological roots of Q-Anon and other conspiracist ideologies, who seek strategies for resisting their allure, and who want to help the red pilled escape.

Ecology refers to the relations of organisms to one another, and to their broader physical context. Understanding the ecology of a landscape requires us to look at more than just individual organisms, and more than just the organisms themselves. Only by looking at all of the living and non-living parts can we understand the workings of a whole place. The same holds true with conspiracist ideologies. It is not enough to look at the individual actors spreading ideologies, nor even to look at the actors collectively. We must see the whole picture—the actors and the technological tools that facilitate the spread of their ideologies—to understand and counteract what is happening. Further, we must resist the temptation to treat all conspiracists, and all conspiracist ideologies, as if they were cut from the same mold. They are not a homogenous lot, and we risk losing effectiveness if we treat them as such. Hence calling this class Ecologies, rather than Ecology, of Conspiracy.

To aid our investigations, we will use the book Red Pill, Blue Pill: How to Counteract the Conspiracy Theories that are Killing Us, by David Neiwert, as a textbook for this course. You will need to procure a hard copy or audio version of the book on your own prior to the start of the course. Copies will not be provided as part of your registration costs. The link takes you to the publisher’s website, which offers links to various online booksellers that can supply copies of the book. You may also be able to find, or order it, at a local bookseller.

Below you will find more details about Ecologies of Conspiracy, including the course’s goals, schedule, content, and format. Suggested sliding scale contributions are near the bottom, as are the terms and conditions associated with signing up. If you have further questions, email them to info@quillwood.org.

Course Goals

Ecologies of Conspiracy will help participants:

  • Explore the long history of conspiracist and divergent ideologies, particularly those with roots in North America and Europe,
  • Learn how particular forms of nervous system dysregulation predispose people to following conspiracist rabbit holes,
  • Understand how social media applications, and other web-based technologies, contribute to the spread of conspiracist ideologies,
  • Explore practices that can help us regulate our nervous systems so we can resist the allure of conspiracist ideologies, and
  • Learn strategies that can help friends and relations withdraw from conspiracist ideologies.

Course Schedule and Content

Meeting 1: Orientation (March 20, 2021): This first meeting serves as an orientation to the Quillwood website and an opportunity for participants to get to know one another. See below for meeting time and other meeting-related information. Reading: Prologue in Red Pill, Blue Pill.

Meeting 2: History and Consequences (April 3, 2021): This meeting we look at the recent history of conspiracism and its connections to mass violence in the United States and Europe. Reading: Chapters 1-3 in Red Pill, Blue Pill.

Meeting 3: Dark Side of Conspiracy (April 17, 2021): We delve into the deeper history of conspiracism and explore its links to racism, antisemitism, and other forms of social “othering”. Reading: Chapters 4 and 5 in Red Pill, Blue Pill, introduction to the human nervous system.

Meeting 4: How the Red Pill Works (May 1, 2021): We explore the mechanics that lead people down the rabbit hole and embed them within conspiracism and other divergent ideologies. Reading: Chapters 6-8 in Red Pill, Blue Pill, red pilling and nervous system dysregulation.

Meeting 5: Resisting the Rabbit Hole (May 15, 2021): We explore how we can inoculate ourselves against conspiracism and how we might craft support networks that can lead the red pilled out of their rabbit holes and back into community. Reading: Chapter 9 in Red Pill, Blue Pill, nervous system regulation techniques.

Course Format

Ecologies of Conspiracy begins on Sunday, March 21, 2021 with an orientation meeting scheduled for 12:00 noon, Eastern Standard Time. This meeting will be facilitated using Zoom conferencing software, and will be recorded for the benefit of those unable to attend. Attendance is not mandatory, though attending in person or watching the recording will prove useful for all participants. Subsequent meetings will be scheduled using a Doodle poll to accommodate as many participants’ schedules as possible. More than one meeting may be scheduled for each weekend if this proves necessary. Participants will receive the link for this Doodle via email about one week before the orientation meeting.

New content is released on the Saturday morning prior to all Zoom meetings at 8:00 am, EST. Participants can engage with the content as it is released and follow along with their cohort, or they can engage at a slower pace of their choosing. The course material will be available for enrolled participants for at least 3 months following the course’s final meeting on the weekend of May 15, 2021. Course content (in addition to chapters in David Neiwert’s book Red Pill, Blue Pill) will take the form of short video lessons on various aspects of the human nervous system and the role it plays in priming people for conspiracism. Transcripts of these videos will be available.

Inquiry is a key component of this course. Each unit incorporates questions for participants to reflect on. These questions are presented in the lessons themselves, and as prompts in private discussion forums where participants can share their thoughts. In addition to participating in these forums, Zoom meetings will provide further opportunities for peer-to-peer interaction within breakout rooms and larger discussions. All Zoom calls will be recorded and made available for those who cannot participate.

Course Pricing and Refund Policy

Ecologies of Conspiracy is offered by donation, with a minimum price of zero dollars. As you ponder how much to pay, consider your personal and family income, how much wealth you have access to, other earned or unearned advantages you might have, and how much value this course might add to your life. If you have access to financial resources, consider that your generosity will help keep the course financially viable and accessible to those less fortunate. When you decide what you want to pay, type that number (in US Dollars) in to the “Choose price” box above, add the course to your shopping cart, and check out. You are welcome to use the following suggested payment scale to guide you:

  • Very low income/wealth/advantage: $40 ($5 per week)
  • Low income/wealth/advantage: $80 ($10 per week)
  • Middle income/wealth/advantage: $160 ($20 per week)
  • Upper-middle income/wealth/advantage: $320 ($40 per week)
  • High income/wealth/advantage: $640+ ($80+ per week)

Because cost of living varies geographically, I do not define income or wealth ranges associated with the above categories.

Participants can receive a full refund of their tuition if they withdraw on or before Sunday, March 21, 2021. After March 21 no refunds will be given except for extraordinary circumstances.

Read through Quillwood Academy’s terms and conditions to get a sense for our expectations we have of our participants.

We hope to see you on March 21!