At this time, “The Spirit Science” isn’t quite organized enough to be classified as a cult, but their recent fundraising threatens their status as being just a “New Age movement.” Spirit Science’s YouTube videos feature cartoon characters who talk about drugs, peddle conspiracy theories and target anyone who’s gullible enough to overpay for their tawdry merchandise.
“The Spirit Science promotes a wide range of New Age woo including but not limited to astral projection, chakras, crystal woo, orgone energy, quantum woo and sacred geometry…Spirit Science endorses many ‘classic’ pseudoscientific and pseudohistorical themes, which are in turn based on claims from cranks, willful ignorance or completely made-up ideas. It would likely be easier to list the crank beliefs the Spirit Science does not perpetuate” (RationalWiki 2017).
The Spirit Science is just a bunch of guys who are stuck in a state of arrested development and who make shit up on the internet for money so they can cover the costs of their living expenses. Take a look at their Patreon fundraising goals:
“A living space for the team to work together and begin producing even higher quality and more focused Spirit Science cartoons weekly (and more!)…A Place of Communal Gathering, Healing, and Meditation for like hearted souls to connect and create together, and to foster more plans to change the world” (Patreon 2016).
Spirit Science is so out of touch with reality that their Patreon fundraiser actually had the end goal of raising enough money to build a “Pyramid,” no joke, look at the description in their unlisted video, “You can also check out our goals on the left hand side. We’ve laid out specifically what we intend to do every step along the way. Eventually, we’d like to build a Pyramid” (Spirit Science 2016).
It’s true, you can look at the goals on their Patreon page, which skip goal #2 going from goals #1 to #3 and no longer mention anything about the “Pyramid” that they wanted to build; nonetheless, they still forget to delete mention of the “Pyramid” from this video description.
This is the kind of transparency and accountability that you can expect when interacting with pseudoscience groups on the internet. RationalWiki elaborates:
“Jordan, along with his website, is hypocritical, i.e. expects standards from others that doesn’t himself adhere to. He accuses “mainstream” science of being dogmatic and asks people to have an open mind about his ideas, while he himself won’t refrain from deleting a comment pointing out all the bullshit he says in a video” (RationalWiki 2017).
A quote from author Tom Nichols in his article, “The Death of Expertise,” illustrates a common problem with internet discourse: “To disagree is to insult. To correct another is to be a hater. And to refuse to acknowledge alternative views, no matter how fantastic or inane, is to be close-minded” (Nichols 2014). Accusing critics of being “close-minded” is one of the bread-and-butter defenses among Spirit Science proponents.
In one of Martymer’s videos, I think it’s from the one debunking the “hidden human history” movie titled, “Worst History Lesson Ever WDPLaSS,” Martymer levels the creator of Spirit Science with one rhetorical question: Jordan, is there such a thing as an internet hoax that you don’t believe in?
Facebook Dilemma: Spirit Science’s Inability to Find Facts
How out of touch are the guys at Spirit Science?
They appear to be so spaced-out that they completely missed the topical “fake news” epidemic and the fact that Facebook publicly announced that they would be taking down pages that contain, “false, misleading, fraudulent, or deceptive claims or content,” since December 2016 (Peck 2016, Velasco 2016).
In April of 2017, the guys at Spirit Science were stunned to find that their Facebook page had been unpublished:
“We were able to get in touch with our friends over at Sun Gazing & Higher Prospective, and we found that it wasn’t just us! Their pages were taken down and a bunch of other pages had this same issue as well. Seemingly, all of these pages have something to do with the spiritual movement… I’m not saying there is a conspiracy here, in fact, I don’t even have any data to support the statement” (Spirit Science 2017).
Why you wouldn’t first contact Facebook and try to get to the bottom of it is beyond me, but it’s just another reflection of their shoddy methodology. Also, stating that your group is now exclusively part of a “spiritual movement” when Spirit Science has made all kinds of pseudoscience claims on their Facebook page is disingenuous at best.
In the article “Justice or Just Us,” Spirit Science reveals what Facebook said:
“Your Page has been unpublished for causing people to like or engage with it unintentionally in a misleading way. Our Page Terms state that: ‘Pages must not contain false, misleading, fraudulent, or deceptive claims or content.’ All Pages must comply with the Facebook Page Guidelines.
For more information, please read the Pages Terms…For Pages you’d like to launch in the future, please first make adjustments to ensure you’re providing a good user experience and meeting our policies” (Spirit Science 2017).
Prior to this point, it clearly never occurred to any of the guys at Spirit Science that Facebook might be calling them out over their BS content, as so many on the internet have already done.
The explanation that Facebook gives is about as straightforward and unambiguous as it can get, “our Page Terms state that: ‘Pages must not contain false, misleading, fraudulent, or deceptive claims or content.’ All Pages must comply with the Facebook Page Guidelines.”
The explanation that Spirit Science gives is paranoid and delusional: “Unfortunately, it seems as if my theory was correct after all…We are in fact under attack and being censored. Here are some facts that support this statement” (Spirit Science 2017).
The removal of Spirit Science’s Facebook page has nothing to do with attacking or censoring the “spiritual movement,” and everything to do with the Facebook’s Page Terms. Not to mention, this was talked about in the mainstream media in the months leading up to the removal of hundreds, if not thousands, of pages with misleading content (Peck 2016, Velasco 2016).
In May of 2017, articles such as “Facebook Intensifies Crackdowns on Clickbait,” “Facebook cracking down on spammy websites in your News Feed,” and Mashable’s “Facebook to publishers: If your website is full of bad ads, prepare to be hit” confirmed that:
“Starting today, we’re rolling out an update so people see fewer posts and ads in News Feed that link to these low-quality web page experiences. Similar to the work we’re already doing to stop misinformation, this update will help to reduce the economic incentives of financially-motivated spammers” (Abbruzzese 2017).
You can take any Spirit Science blog post as an example of this particular issue, “How many ads are shown relative to content,” (Abbruzzese 2017) and see that they have advertisements placed above and/or below the article, which is normal, but then they have ads next to paragraphs of text, which is excessive:
Not only that, but their content is often rambling, unedited nonsense that links to other sources without properly introducing or citing them; reading through clickbait blog posts just wastes time.
Bottom line is this: if the guys at Spirit Science cannot understand how cartoon characters who claim a bunch of spiritual nonsense and pseudoscience that lacks any credible sources is considered clickbait containing “false, misleading, fraudulent, or deceptive claims or content” then they never deserved the gullible audience that they’d been taking money from to begin with.
In Spirit Science’s blog post about what happened, “Justice or Just Us,” one of the team members fumbles for an explanation:
“Our page was wrongfully unpublished exactly 20 days before this (see my previous article about it here). Between the 4th and the 24th, nothing changed. That being said, there are only so many possible reasons for our pages to have been unpublished this time. Between all of the pages that we know of, we had well over 15 million followers and our content reached hundreds of millions of people in a week. How could that much traffic not bring them money? So if it’s not money related, why?”
The last part of the previous quote, is an example of the “argumentum ad populum fallacy” (it doesn’t matter how many people were manipulated into following Spirit Science’s nonsense) and could be looked at from another angle: The Spirit Science duped as many as 15 million people and profited off of misleading clickbait that was shared by “hundreds of millions of people” per week.
It boggles the mind at how much time The Spirit Science must have wasted of complete strangers. Total strangers who are Facebook’s users, not Spirit Science’s users. It is Facebook’s audience, not Spirit Science’s audience. If Facebook removes all of Spirit Science’s misleading content, then Facebook still has all of their users and all of the other, normal content.
To elaborate: Facebook already has all of the traffic. The Spirit Science is not bringing anything to the table, in fact quite the opposite, Spirit Science is using Facebook’s audience to make money and extend their reach while spewing pseudoscience on a social media platform that they agreed to use.
This dependency is something that the guys at Spirit Science themselves admit to in the article, “Facebook & Curiosity,” when one of them says, “We’re currently working on a means to stop relying on Facebook…Without Facebook, we don’t currently have a means of reaching the majority of you.” (Spirit Science 2017).
They still have a website, and a YouTube channel that they stopped uploading public videos to. In fact Spirit Science hasn’t made any attempt to change their “means of reaching the majority” of their audience, which is why they just created another Facebook page.
Spirit Science is just another example of a deceptive online “movement,” that fancies itself a “sciency” religion and is obsessed with taking money from its audience. Spirit Science sells crystal t-shirts ($75 a pop), tarot cards with their cartoon character plastered all over them, and chapters 1-4 of a book in-progress, “as well as the first 3rd of a very long Chapter 5.”
Now I’m not going to say that selling 4.33 chapters of a book is lazy, I’m going to say that this is: “Thought Chaos is also included, which is all of the scraps of writings which did not make it into the final book, and which remains unedited, but its rich with all kinds of information, should you dare to read it.” Even that last sentence is unedited; meta-unedited. Trying to pawn off a bunch of unedited content that wasn’t good enough to make it into the “final book,” which is really just a “book in-progress,” for $25.00 is just plain desperate and duplicitous.
Having no shame, Spirit Science churns out BS inspirational memes with quotes taken out of any context whatsoever in a clickbait attempt at gaining views/followers on Facebook. The fact that the Spirit Science repeats this spammy behavior even after their previous page was removed for similar violations just shows that Spirit Science hasn’t changed at all.
And this is the problem, this is why Facebook removed their page with all 15 million followers that were the ill-gotten gains of misleading clickbait.
According to the article, “Vodafone cracks down on Google and Facebook advertising over extremist material and fake news,” it’s also why companies like Vodaphone, “one of the world’s biggest advertising spenders, will crack down on fake news and extremist material online, challenging Google and Facebook to cut off the flow of money to ‘abusive and damaging’ outlets” (Williams 2017).
In The Telegraph article, Vodaphone’s cheif executive, Vittorio Colao, added:
“we also greatly value the integrity of the democratic processes and institutions that are often the targets of purveyors of fake news…We will not tolerate our brand being associated with this kind of abusive and damaging content” (Williams 2017).
Institutions that use the scientific method will always be more valuable than their pseudoscience counterparts. The Spirit Science can sell misleading content and clickbait to all the gullible people they’d like, just not on private platforms like Facebook because it is through being a megaphone for the desperate and the delusional.
Abbruzzese, Jason. “Facebook to publishers: If your website is full of bad ads, prepare to be hit.” Mashable: May 10, 2017. Website: http://mashable.com/2017/05/10/facebook-crackdown-bad-ads-news-feed/#FcveXc2qSsqC
Bruno, Giovanni. Facebook Intensifies Crackdowns on Clickbait. TheStreet: May 10, 2017. Website: https://www.thestreet.com/story/14129151/1/facebook-intensifies-its-cracks-down-on-clickbait.html
Nichols, Tom. “The Death of Expertise.” The Federalist: January 17, 2014. Website: http://thefederalist.com/2014/01/17/the-death-of-expertise/
Peck, Emily. “Facebook Is Finally Taking Action Against Fake News.” Huffington Post: December 16, 2016. Website: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/facebook-fake-news_us_5852c248e4b02edd41160c78
Spirit Science Central. “Spirit Science Announcement ~ Rebirth and Renewal.” YouTube: November 14, 2016. Website: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZhBfKAGV3rI
Spirit Studios. “Spirit Studios is Creating Spirit Science.” Patreon: accessed on June 6th, 2017. Website: https://www.patreon.com/spiritstudios
Sumagaysay, Levi. “Facebook cracking down on spammy websites in your News Feed.” The Mercury News – Siliconbeat: May 10, 2017. Website: http://www.siliconbeat.com/2017/05/10/facebook-cracking-spammy-websites-news-feed/
THENEWORLD4U. “Facebook & Curiosity.” The Spirit Science: April 26, 2017. Website: http://thespiritscience.net/2017/04/26/facebook-curiosity/
THENEWORLD4U. “Justice of Just Us?” The Spirit Science: May 18, 2017. Website: http://thespiritscience.net/2017/05/18/justice-or-just-us/#more-56828
THENEWORLD4U. “Spirit Science Unplugged & Some Behind the Scenes Updates.” The Spirit Science: April 15, 2017. Website: http://thespiritscience.net/2017/04/15/spirit-science-unplugged-some-behind-the-scenes-updates/
Velasco, Carl. “Facebook Taps Face Checkers To Combat Fake News: Snopes, AP, ABC News, and More.” TechTimes: December 15, 2016. Website: http://www.techtimes.com/articles/188983/20161215/facebook-taps-fact-checkers-to-combat-fake-news-snopes-ap-abc-news-and-more.htm
Williams, Christopher. “Vodafone cracks down on Google and Facebook advertising over extremist material and fake news.” The Telegraph: June 06, 2017. Website: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2017/06/06/vodafone-cracks-google-facebook-advertising-extremist-material/