Alex was raised by conspiracy theorists. This makes him different from most people who end up down the rabbit hole in that assuming nefarious plots were going on was never a surprise to him. Indeed, it was the default.

We talk about growing up in a conspiracy theory family, how his perceptions shifted when he went out into the real world, and how he ended up going even deeper down the rabbit hole before he finally found his way out.

Alex also read my book, Escaping the Rabbit Hole, and his reaction to my 9/11 debunking was rather surprising.

Ryan became a conspiracy theorist at age 15. He spent five years solidly down the 9/11 conspiracy rabbit hole, believing that the World Trade Center buildings were destroyed with pre-planted explosives. As he grew older he eventually encountered other conspiracy theories that he recognized as being not well-grounded in evidence. Questioning these theories led him to question his own beliefs about 9/11, and eventually to escape from the rabbit hole.

We talk about the factors that led to his conspiracism, his experiences as a conspiracy theorist, and how he got out.

Jeremy Rys has gone by “Alien Scientist” for over ten years. His primary interest is in independently researching exotic technology like anti-gravity and warp drives. Some people speculate that such technology exists and comes from visiting aliens. While Jeremy does not discount this theory, he thinks it’s more likely that if aliens were visiting us, they would not be leaving evidence.

Jeremy is also a long time member of the 9/11 Truth community and thinks that some explosives were used to destroy the World Trade Center, and the planes were probably flown into the towers by remote control. But he draws the line there and also spends some time in debunking the more extreme 9/11 conspiracy theories, and other things like chemtrails.

DJ Thermal Detonator was heavily involved in the Los Angeles 9/11 Truth scene in the late 2000s. At that time, local activism centered around the We Are Change group. DJ attended meetings, helped out with a variety of things, and saw the shift of the organization into even more extreme theories, like Sandy Hook being faked, and chemtrails. He even helped Michael J. Murphy with his popular chemtrails film What In The World Are They Spraying” in 2010.

But the Shift into these more unusual theories in part led to both the disintegration of the local group, and to a change in DJ himself. Once going as far as totally believing the Chemtrail theory, as well as most of the mid-level 9/11 theories (controlled demolition, no plane hitting the Pentagon,) he eventually realized that most of them were without any foundation.

Now he focusses mostly on the people behind 9/11, working on a book exploring a complex web of connections, money, and related events.

We chat about the early days of 9/11 activism in Los Angeles, how it changed, and what he’s doing now.

Mike is a member of the 9/11 Truth community. He thinks there might have been explosives used on 9/11 to cause the collapse of the World Trade Center buildings. He does NOT think that a cruise missile hit the Pentagon, and considers that, like some other common 9/11 beliefs, to be “B.S.”

We talk about how you decide what is B.S. and what is not. We also discuss the current state and possible future of the 9/11 Truth movement. We delve into the weeds of Mike’s beliefs about the physics of the collapses, and I give him my take on those weeds.


Stian is someone who has been quite deeply involved in the 9/11 Truth community and the UFO community. He also just read my book: Escaping the Rabbit Hole, and has a few questions for me about my approach to debunking.  We also cover the slippery slope of internet censorship, the sometimes useful role of conspiracy promoters, how to find common ground, and what I think about the Tic-Tac UFO.

  • 0:00:49 – Defining the Term “Debunked”
  • 0:08:27 – French Wikipedia’s Misleading Metabunk References, and “teams”
  • 0:12:30 – I don’t have a monolithic following
  • 0:13:41 – The term “conspiracy theorist” – a bad thing?
  • 0:21:05 – The “explosives theory” of 9/11, can we separate that from the “conspiracy theory”?
  • 0:23:25 – “Plausible” vs. “Probable”
  • 0:25:14 – “False Balance” in chemtrails and 9/11
  • 0:28:25 – Science by debate or by demonstration?
  • 0:34:28 – Who decides what is science, and what can be discussed or debated?
  • 0:36:05 – The “slippery slope” of content shaping, suppression, and censorship.
  • 0:37:43 – Violent extremism as a rationale for YouTube suppressing conspiracy theories.
  • 0:41:02 – Finding common ground with extremists, and the dangers of the marginalization of budding extremists
  • 0:43:05 – Is the censorship of Alex Jones, on balance, a net positive thing?
  • 0:45:03 – The role of second chances, redemption, and forgiveness.
  • 0:46:49 – Evolution of conversational debunking approaches over time
  • 0:48:23 – The evolution and future of 9/11 Truth
  • 0:49:44 – The importance of opposing voices and allowing
  • 0:51:30 – Are “chemtrails” people an important (or at least useful) voice?
  • 0:57:58 – The role of mainstream media in communicating real and constructive news.
  • 1:0028 – The military-industrial complex
  • 1:01:39 – The importance of studying more mainstream topics as a foundation for discussion
  • 1:09:41 – UFOs, the Nimitz “Tic-Tac” incident.
  • 1:16:50 – The Navy UFO videos being “real”
  • 1:18:34 – Greer and the Disclosure Project, Stian’s involvement in the Disclosure “cult”
  • 1:22:02 – TTSA being Militaristic, the Army CRADA agreement and “Active Camouflage”
  • 1:29:00 – The Colorado and Nebraska drone flap
  • 1:31:24 – J. Allen Hynek and the UFO “old stuff”
  • 1:36:59 – Last words

Tom has dabbled in a few conspiracy theories over the years, and still thinks there are some significant questions that have never been answered about why the World Trade Center buildings fell down the way they did on 9/11. We talk about how he came to believe what he does,  how it has changed over the years, and what evidence it make take for him to feel the question is resolved.

  • Judith Miller’s Source –
  • Donahue’s 2002 show –
  • Report on Donahue being too anti-war –
  • Hans Blix and WMDs –
  • The Times and Iraq (2004) –
  • Brainwashing of My Dad  –


Geoff says that six years ago he was “as normal as everyone else,” but when he was caught up in the manhunt for the Boston Marathon bomber (Dzhokhar Tsarnaev) he took an interest in the events and eventually came to believe it was all staged. This led him to research other topics and now he feels nearly everything we see is staged, and that the world is run by an organization of Freemasons, Jesuits, and the Vatican. He also thinks that the earth is not a globe and that it’s possibly flat.


Jason Bermas is a producer, writer, and YouTuber, best known for conspiracy documentaries such as Loose Change, Fabled Enemies, Shade, and Invisible Empire. Loose Change was a seminal documentary for the 9/11 “Truth” movement, and I’ve often heard people cite it as a big part of why they got interested in the various 9/11 conspiracy theories.

We talk about the topics in his films: 9/11, geopolitics and corruption, chemtrails, But we also talk quite a bit about UFOs, video games, and quantum computing.

I deeply disagree with a lot of Jason’s positions, particularly on 9/11 and his New World Order theories (and chemtrails, of course) but people can always find common ground. We both enjoyed playing Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, we find quantum physics fascinating, and we both agree there’s lots of harmful corruption in the world. By having a civil discussion founded on that common ground we were able to advance our mutual understanding, and hopefully move everyone a bit closer to reality.

Donald Friedman, P.E., F.ASCE, is a professional engineer with more than 25 years of experience in the investigation, analysis, and restoration of landmark buildings. He has taught engineering  at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and Columbia University; he has spoken at numerous conferences including the fourth and fifth ASCE Forensics Conference; he is the author of After 9-11: An Engineer’s Work at the World Trade Center, based on his work at the World Trade Center site, starting September 12, 2001.

We talked about his experience at the 9/11 WTC site, and how what he saw relates to the various conspiracies regarding the collapses of the World Trade Center Buildings. We specifically discuss the recent University of Alaska study that Professor Leroy Hulsey carried out for Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth.  We close out with a discussion of how New York structural engineers view the 9/11 controlled demolition conspiracy theories.

JM Talboo runs the web site subtitled “Debunking the Debunkers of the 9/11 Truth Movement”. His focus is on debunking people like me, i.e. people who debunk 9/11 conspiracy theories. But he also debunks 9/11 Truthers when he sees them make mistakes, and recently added another subtitle to his blog: “Refuting the Hollow Arguments of the So-called 9/11 Debunkers & Truthers”

We talk about how he got into 9/11 Truth and blogging, how his beliefs have changed over time, and wander into the weeds of a variety of 9/11 related topics. We also venture further into the conspiracysphere, touching on JFK, Chemtrails, False Flags, and other topics.

JM’s Source list:

“Paradigm Shift” is the name used by a poster on Metabunk. Paradigm Shift had made many posts about 9/11, and the need, as he sees it, for a new investigation to look into the possibility of explosives being used to bring down the twin towers. Online discussions can be slow-moving and fractious, so I asked him to come on the podcast for a more detailed and direct conversation about what we believe, and why we believe it.

Paradigm Shift is a student in his mid-20s. The drum graphic is what he uses as an Avatar on Metabunk.


Willie was one of the first people that I interviewed for my book Escaping The Rabbit Hole.  He’s a former believer in theories from 9/11 being an “inside job”, to chemtrails.  His story forms the preface to ETRH, and sets the tone for the whole book. No matter how deep you are down the rabbit hole, or how long you’ve been down there, there’s always the possibility of escape.

We had this follow-up chat 2-years to the day after the first one and discuss his story, lesson learned, and what has changed since then.

Adam Taylor was very active in the 9/11 truth movement for ten years from 2007 to 2017.  He’s still very much in favor of a new investigation and thinks there are many unanswered questions about the events of 9/11. But he no longer spends time advocating, and instead is focusing on living a normal life. We talk about how he got into 9/11 “truth” activism, why he eventually retired from the movement, the role of debunkers, and his thoughts on the “truth” movement as a whole

I first became aware of “Tim Osman” from his work debunking the Flat Earth theory. He’s done some amazing work there with highly visual demonstrations of the curve of the Earth using drone footage. But when I asked if I could use some of that footage he declined, and later berated me on his channel. It turned out he did not like my debunking 9/11 conspiracy theories, because he is a 9/11 conspiracy theorist (although he disputes the term.)

I asked him for an interview, and he agreed, with no video, and with him live-streaming it to his channel. It starts out a bit adversarial and the first half is largely him grilling me about my beliefs. But we eventually agree on a little common ground, which is always a great first step in genuine communication.

In this second part of my extended conversation with Stian Arnesen (first part here) we delve deeper into 9/11. Firstly we discuss the Alaska report on World Trade Center Building 7. This is a report by Prof. Leroy Hulsey ,paid for by Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth, a group that promotes the conspiracy theory that the World Trade Center was destroyed with pre-planted explosives. The report is intended to prove that fire alone could not be responsible for the collapse. Stian has been corresponding with various members of AE911Truth for a while, and has something of an inside perspective on what to expect.

Following on from this we discuss why it’s so hard to get serious scientists to look into the science behind conspiracy theory claims. I relate my experience with doing a study of scientist’s beliefs about Chemtrails.

In the second half of this episode Stian brings up a number of questions he still has about how the World Trade center collapsed the way it did. I try to explain.

Stian Arensen has been involved in the 9/11 Truth community for a number of years, and in the last year or so has been questioning some of the underpinnings of that community. Stian has also been very interested in topics such as crop circles and UFOs.

We discuss how Stian’s thinking has evolved over time, and examine the parallels between the various communities – in particular we look at the effects of questioning the group consensus, and how it can lead to exclusion from a group unwilling to move forward.

Stian also questions me about my debunking, and some things I’ve said in the past, and I try to explain.


In this first episode of Tales from the Rabbit Hole, I give a brief introduction and then talk to my first guest, Jon, an ex-conspiracy theorist

Tales from the Rabbit Hole is an interview-style podcast focusing on people whose lives have been affected by the conspiracy theory rabbit hole. Guests include both former and current believers in a variety of conspiracy theories, as well as debunkers, skeptics, and the investigators of those theories.

I’m Mick West, a debunker. I wrote the book Escaping the Rabbit Hole – How to Debunk Conspiracy Theories using Facts, Logic, and Respect. This book came from my experiences running Metabunk – a debunking Forum. Over the years I realized simply presenting corrections to people is not enough. We need effective communication, and we can’t do that if we don’t listen and talk with each other. I’m hoping this podcast will help bridge that gap.


My first guest is Jon, an ex conspiracy theorist who runs the Facebook Group “The Ex Conspiracy Theorist.” Jon talks about how he became a conspiracy theorist, and how it relates to his religious past as a Mormon. He discusses the things that initially convinced him, like Glenn Beck theories about Obama’s “Czars”, the “New World Order,” and how he came to realize those things were not what Alex Jones said they were.

Jon is now very active online on Facebook and his blog. Since we’ve recorded this he’s also started a Twitter account.

It’s a short first episode, and I hope to have Jon on again for a more extended conversation about his debunking work.

Notes and Links

American Presidency Project’s Search for “New World Order”

Ex Conspiracy Theorist’s Sites:

Mick West & Metabunk