Questions for Reflection
Each episode we offer you a few prompts to think about how that day's conversation applies to you. Our supporters over at Buy Me a Coffee now have exclusive access to the PDF versions of all our Questions for Reflection. Join us today!
Beth Demme (00:03):
Welcome to the Discovering Our Scars podcast.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (00:05):
Where we have honest conversations about things that make us different.
Beth Demme (00:08):
Our mission is to talk about things you might relate to but that you don't hear being discussed in other places.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (00:13):
Our hope is that you're encouraged to have honest conversations with people in your own life. I'm Steph.
Beth Demme (00:18):
And I'm Beth. On today's show, we're going to have an honest conversation titled, Great Minds Think Different?
Stephanie Kostopoulos (00:25):
Then we'll share a slice of life and the show will close with questions for reflection where we will invite you to reflect on the conversation in your own life.
Beth Demme (00:31):
So Steph, I want to tackle something with you on this episode. There was a time when you believed that the moon landing was a hoax. True or false?
Stephanie Kostopoulos (00:44):
Beth Demme (00:45):
Okay. Do you still believe that now?
Stephanie Kostopoulos (00:47):
I am 90% sure we did land on the moon. So yes, there was a big time period in my life where-
Stephanie Kostopoulos (00:57):
Did you find the year?
Beth Demme (00:58):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (00:59):
69. There you go.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (01:01):
Yes, but basically that's what we're talking about today, conspiracy theories and that sort of thing. I did want to get this out there because this is something that I have kept in for a very long time and I finally got the courage to tell Beth a year ago. She reacted how I was expecting.
Beth Demme (01:20):
Did I laugh uncontrollably?
Stephanie Kostopoulos (01:21):
She laughed and she gave me a look. And she's like, okay, we can't do this podcast anymore together. The fact that you even believed this at any time in your life. I said, Beth, maybe we can talk about it in the podcast and you could not be so mean to me maybe and we'll see how it goes. So back in the early 2000s, there was a documentary. I believe it was on Fox, classic channel. They had this documentary about why the moon landing didn't really happen.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (01:47):
I was about 14 probably and I saw this documentary. I had a TV in my room. I was all excited about it. It was one of the first things I saw in the TV in my room and I watched this documentary and I was like, "Whoa, we didn't land on the moon. Okay, good information." And then it was done. So that was it. I didn't really question it more. I didn't really talk about it much. I just was like, "Okay, we didn't land on the moon." That continued to be part of my belief system, my sphere of knowledge is I knew these things from school and then I saw this documentary and it told me that we didn't land on moon so okay, that's accurate.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (02:27):
It wasn't something I really talked about much. It wasn't something that was really part of my forming of who I am. I wasn't trying to convince people otherwise. I just was like, yeah, that's what it showed in the documentary. I would tell you, until probably a year or two ago, I was 90% sure we didn't land on the moon and that it was a hoax that the government lied and put on a sound stage, they created the moon landing. The documentary showed me all of the proof that it wasn't real and that it was a lie and so how was I to think otherwise?
Stephanie Kostopoulos (03:07):
I did research the last couple years. I mean, I'm going to be honest, I did research and found the opposite opinion and found the things explaining how it's not a conspiracy and why it's not a conspiracy and how that would be impossible to keep as a conspiracy theory. But I will tell you, because I saw that documentary when I was around 14 at a very impressionable age, where I would see something and believe it as fact because I didn't have the reasoning skills to comprehend otherwise, there is still a small part of me that thinks it might not have happened because of how much I believed it for so long of my life. But I'm pretty confident it did happen. To me, overall doesn't matter. Why doesn't matter whether it happened or not is my overarching thing.
Beth Demme (04:00):
So you think part of the reason that it really sunk in for you is that you were at an impressionable age when you got the information, right?
Stephanie Kostopoulos (04:08):
I was in an age where I didn't question the knowledge I was being given. I was in school.
Beth Demme (04:13):
You were learning a ton.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (04:14):
I was learning a ton in school and I never was told to question what I was learning in school so why would I question what I see on TV? It's educating me. We watched films in school, we watched documentaries in school. I'm not supposed to question those I'm supposed to question this? I didn't understand those concepts at that age.
Beth Demme (04:31):
But even once you got to an age where you did have a more critical mind, way of thinking more critically, you didn't revisit that particular belief.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (04:43):
Well, it's kind of like when I was in school I learned about the Civil War. I've never questioned whether that happened or not. I learned about it in school, it happened. I've never gone back and said, "Well, let me really examine this. Did it really happen?" It's the same concept. I learned about it. Okay, it didn't happen and I moved on. So there was no part of me that was ever like, "I need to keep researching this. What if this isn't right?"
Stephanie Kostopoulos (05:05):
I just was like, it's right. It just was there and it wasn't something I needed to really explore more and I never really thought about it until the last couple years I was like, maybe I should really look into this more because there's a lot of people that don't believe this. Maybe I am wrong. Maybe it is a conspiracy theory in the sense that it is wrong and I'm on the wrong side of the belief on this. That's when I started to actually do the research.
Beth Demme (05:31):
We did find the definition for conspiracy theory and I'll put a link to this in the show notes. But a conspiracy theory is "a theory that explains an event or set of circumstances as a result of a secret plot usually by powerful conspirators." So in the case of the moon landing, the idea would be that there was this secret plot to make it seem as if we had landed on the moon because it would give us a political advantage in the world, in terms of geopolitical stuff.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (06:00):
It makes sense to me because how do we have the technology to first of all send human beings to the moon, second of all stand on the moon, second of all film and take pictures of the experience, and then send them all back and they're still alive. That seems unimaginable. So it's easy to imagine that it didn't happen because the opposite of yes we did land on the moon seems so hard to figure out how that happened. So it was easy for me to believe that it didn't happen.
Beth Demme (06:31):
But the point at which you saw this video about the moon landing being a hoax, you had been to Kennedy Space Center. You had seen rockets, you had seen moon rocks.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (06:41):
Yeah. I didn't believe that we hadn't gone to the moon at some point. I didn't believe that we hadn't gone to space at some point. I obviously knew that the space program was a real thing and we had gone but the fact that we went that first time in 69, men landed on the moon, that is the part I didn't believe. Because in fifth grade, we did this whole Kennedy Space Center thing, went down there. It's a whole big thing especially for kids in Florida. I knew all about it and I believed all that. But the fact that we landed on the moon that first time that was what I didn't think it was real.
Beth Demme (07:19):
So the experts say and again, this could be a conspiracy. I don't know who these experts are, right? I don't know them personally. But the experts say that there would have to be 411,000 people in on the conspiracy for it not to have come out in the intervening years from 1969 to now that this was a hoax. Is that part of what helps convince you that actually we must have been able to land on the moon because otherwise somebody would have cracked? Somehow we would know.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (07:48):
Yeah, and I think that's with all conspiracies really is the fact of how many people would have to be in on it and wouldn't crack I think is the telling thing. That was really a driving force where I was like, okay, you're right, there's no way you can keep that many people under wraps. I was like, I think they could easily keep Neil Armstrong and-
Beth Demme (08:12):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (08:12):
Buzz Aldrin under wraps easily because all the fame they got from it. I was like, of course they'll easy easily buy into it. But then I realized all the people that would have to be in on it. I'm like, that's a lot of people that's going to have to lie for a long time of their life. But then maybe that isn't true. But then again, then my brain thinks well, they could have easily made them believe it in certain ways. They could have easily made a show for everybody. Maybe they really did make the astronauts think they were there but they just put stuff... I don't know, maybe they just made a show for everybody and there's only a handful of people that actually know that it was a show.
Beth Demme (08:54):
I'm so sorry that everybody can't see my face right now. I feel like I'm giving you the look that a lot of people listening would like to give you. In order for that to be true they would have had to convince the astronauts that somehow they were in a space with no gravity.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (09:12):
Which you can do, you can do by flying around a lot.
Beth Demme (09:16):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (09:17):
They do that in training. I mean, you can do that.
Beth Demme (09:19):
So the whole sound set, the whole set where they produced this fake moon landing would have been spinning?
Stephanie Kostopoulos (09:25):
No, I think they could have done it in stages. It wasn't all on a soundstage. They were trying to make the astronauts... They could have also not made the astronauts think that they were in space, they could have been in on it. Because they had a lot to lose if it was a lie. So they would be easy to keep the lie going.
Beth Demme (09:44):
But now you believe that we did land on the moon? Because now I'm not sure what you believe.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (09:51):
Why does it matter if we landed on the moon or not Beth?
Beth Demme (09:54):
I think that's a fair question. I guess it matters to me because it is part of what I learned as accepted truth and accepted history about our country. I do think it's part of our national identity. And because I've been to Kennedy Space Center and I've seen moon rocks, and I've seen interviews with Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, if we didn't land then those people are liars. That would matter to me.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (10:20):
Do you think the government has ever lied to us? Do you think they have our health and safety at the upmost?
Beth Demme (10:27):
Yes. So I definitely think that there are things that the government has lied about. I think that that's inevitable because the government is really just a collection of people who are working for the government. I think it's inevitable that there will be mistakes and I don't think it's... I think it's possible that there are people who are intentionally misleading. But I think there are a lot of people with critical minds asking important questions so that those falsehoods get routed out which is how we know that they've happened.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (11:01):
I agree with that. Yeah. I think though... I believe the government has lied to the American people on numerous occasions. I believe they've done it very much in the past and I believe they're doing it today. I think that's very clear with the current administration. Would you not agree with that?
Beth Demme (11:18):
I'm scared to agree because I'm not exactly sure what you mean. I think that...
Stephanie Kostopoulos (11:23):
Do you think the government told us the accurate information on COVID-19 as soon as they had it and all the information that we need to have?
Beth Demme (11:34):
Definitely not and I think that we have tapes of Bob Woodward interviewing the president and hearing the President say that he knew that it was a big deal and that he knew it was five times more contagious than the flu.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (11:48):
Do you think that the government is doing everything they can in their power to protect the American people from COVID-19?
Beth Demme (11:55):
No, I definitely don't.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (11:57):
So in my mind, the government's job is to keep us safe and to keep law and order. I don't believe that they do that a lot of the times and I think that they lie a lot to keep things under wraps. With that thought, it's easy to believe that the government lied about landing on the moon, because they wanted to keep their status in the world. They want to keep our status with the economy, all of those things. I think a lot of time that that happens. So that also goes along with my belief in whether it happened or not.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (12:32):
I think we landed on the moon. A lot of conspiracy theories is I don't necessarily just discount them right away. Some of them you do because it's just crazy. Some of them are crazy. For example, do you believe that there have been aliens that have come to our planet?
Beth Demme (12:48):
I don't know but I think if they have ever come that the government is covering that up. But again, that gets back to this question of how many people would have to be in on a cover up in order for it to be a cover up?
Stephanie Kostopoulos (12:59):
And I guess I always then come back to the point of why does it matter? Why does it matter?
Beth Demme (13:02):
If there are aliens I want to know.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (13:03):
But why does it matter? How does that change our day to day life if there's been aliens on this planet or not?
Beth Demme (13:09):
I think it would change life to know that there was life or other kinds of life forms on other planets.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (13:14):
I believe there's life forms on other planets.
Beth Demme (13:17):
Then don't you want the government not to cover it up if we've had contact with them? Who knows how we could...
Stephanie Kostopoulos (13:22):
No, I don't want the government to cover things up. No, I don't and I think they do. But even though I think they do and I know they do, that doesn't discount me believing that we need a strong government, we need a not corrupt government and we need... I don't think they're ever going to get it right 100% of the time. I don't think any time humans are involved nothing's going to get done 100% of the time. I still believe in government and think it's a super important to have a government and I'm not going to ever stop doing my part, the part I play in this government in electing officials. That's not going to change.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (14:02):
I'm still frustrated about the government, I still think that they don't have my personal health and safety in mind. I think they have more of the masses. If you have to sacrifice some for the many I think they do that. I think they do that a lot of times. I mean, with 9/11 for example, they told New Yorkers to go back to their homes and to their daily life near 9/11 way sooner than they should have. I truly believe that. There are so many cases of New Yorkers getting sick and ill and dying from all these different cancers because of that constant exposure. I think the government knew, I think they knew... I don't know what they knew but I think they knew more than they shared. I think countless people have gotten sick and died that didn't need to.
Beth Demme (14:52):
I think because things like that have happened then we get to questions of bigger scientific issues that are harder to understand and where science is actually changing on it, right? So we get to something like climate change where our scientific understanding has... They continue to study it. So we have new information and it's like that doesn't mean that climate change is a hoax. It just means that that's how science works. That it's continually testing things and coming up with new information and new conclusions. It's the same thing with COVID. Dr. Fauci said initially save all the PPE for the healthcare workers who are on the front line because guess what, PPE works.
Beth Demme (15:34):
We want the people who are going to be the most exposed to let them have access to it. And then new information came out about asymptomatic transmission. He was like, Okay now that we know this, everyone should be wearing a mask. He said that in April and here we are in November and people are still like, I don't think I should have to wear a mask. Science continues to get new information. When we are unwilling to receive new information, then we will look at sort of everything as a hoax. There's a conspiracy theory that the major pharmaceutical companies, Big Pharma, that they actually have a way to cure cancer but they're withholding it because it's to their advantage to have people pay for cancer treatments. That they have a financial disincentive to cure cancer.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (16:20):
I don't know. I do think that there is a lot of things that are promoted to American people that don't make us healthy and that contribute to us needing more health care and it just continues that cycle. I wouldn't discount the evil in this world. That sounds evil and insane that that would be true. I don't know. I would hope that's not true. It seems a little crazy and out there that there would be that many people, human beings that would be working for this company that would be so money hungry that they would say we can cure cancer but we're not going to because... It's not a crazy insane out there idea to me.
Beth Demme (17:04):
It is a pretty crazy insane out there idea to me because Dr. Grimes, the same person who came up with this mathematical formula, was like 411,000 people would have to be keeping this secret about the moon landing being a hoax. He says that it would take 714,000 people to keep the cure for cancer a secret. So a lot of people, Big Pharma has a lot of people, a lot of people that work for those companies. A lot of people that go in and out of those companies. It's a big industry. If it were in there somewhere--now I think what happens is people like to have a sense of I have special knowledge and so they'll think oh no, this is the Bush's beans secret formula. And so big pharma has it locked away in a safe and only five people have access to it or three people or two people.
Beth Demme (17:48):
Or the Bush's Baked Beans guy and his dog, they're the only ones who know the secret formula, or the secret formula for Coke. That somehow we would have the secret and it would be withheld from everyone. Or that somehow Big Pharma created something scientifically and then no one has randomly duplicated that in all of their efforts. There are just things about it that when we think about it critically, I think do fall apart. But I'm curious about-
Stephanie Kostopoulos (18:18):
Well, and I don't think it's... I think it's really dangerous to believe in anything 100%. I 100% believe that is incorrect or I 100% believe that is correct. Because there's nothing... I think it's so important to have a critical eye for everything. I think that's part of why I believed this conspiracy about the moon landing for so long because I didn't have that critical eye back then. I didn't know that people lie. That there are documentaries that fully lie. I didn't know that. I couldn't understand those concepts.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (18:52):
For people whose parents believe in all these conspiracies and as a child, they're fed this information, I can't imagine how hard it will be one day to change those things. I think for a lot of people it doesn't change. And so you have generations of kids just believing these lies that their parents saw on YouTube when they were kids. I do think that... I think there's a lot of issues. YouTube has definitely changed a lot over the years but I do think there was for a big amount of time there was a huge issue with conspiracy theories where you'd watch one then it'd recommend another one, then another one, another one. You're down this rabbit hole. I've seen conspiracies on YouTube but I'm at an age where I can look at them and see them as almost entertainment. In almost just wanting to see what the other side thinks and why they think that way. Especially flat earthers oh my goodness.
Beth Demme (19:43):
Which comes from the videos about the moon landing being a hoax.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (19:46):
Beth Demme (19:47):
That YouTube then links those. Oh, if you think that... If you're interested in this video about how the moon landing was a hoax, you might also be interested in this video about how the earth is actually flat. That gets tied together because we're like we've been in outer space and we've taken pictures of the earth. Well have we? Then you have these weird... I call them weird. I mean, probably if you believe this, you wouldn't think it's weird. But you have these weird tendrils connecting things between moon landing is a hoax and the earth is flat and oh, now I'm reading Genesis 1 and it describes a flat earth.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (20:25):
Well once you believe one, I think it's easy to jump on to the other bandwagons. I will tell you, I have seen a lot of conspiracy theories. I have absorbed them and... But I don't think there's any others that I truly ever believed to the degree of the moon landing because I've seen them more when I'm an adult and I can see with a critical eye no that's just crazy. But again, I just don't understand people that are so 100% on something, especially like the flat earthers. There's conventions for flat earthers. Why does it matter to you on such a degree? Are you that lost in searching for something higher than yourself that this is what you grab onto, that you grab onto that the government's lying to you and that we have a flat earth? That's bigger than me and more than I can understand but it is true.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (21:16):
I don't truly understand how people get... I would have never gone to a convention for the moon landing. I would have never... If I had even talked about it with people to any full degree I probably would have not thought that anymore. It was just something that I took in. Okay, and then moved on with and it wasn't something I super discussed.
Beth Demme (21:39):
For sure, you're not the only person that saw that broadcast and understood that to be presented as an actual documentary and took it as truth.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (21:48):
Well, it was an actual documentary. It just wasn't true. That's the thing, as I've gotten older I've learned about documentaries is they all have a slant. They all have something where they want you to believe in the end. You just have to decide is that something I want to believe or is this one side I want to learn about and then I'm going to learn about the other side? I actually found the documentary. It's still around, I think I found it on Netflix or YouTube or something. I re-watched it last year. Oh my gosh, it's so manipulative. You remember, 90s, early 2000 shows where it's just all of these moving graphics and just jump cuts really quickly. Like, "Believe this. Back from the break we're going to tell you this and this and this and this."
Beth Demme (22:27):
It was like the Unsolved Mysteries era.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (22:29):
Beth Demme (22:30):
There was a popular show called Unsolved Mysteries and it worked that way to.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (22:32):
Yes. And it was very much just in your face and all of these things. Back in the 2000s, you got to remember, we didn't have the internet like we do today. We didn't have shows on the internet. There was no streaming. We had limited things to watch. There wasn't... You didn't have a million things to watch and consume like you do today. People, these are what we watched and that was it because we didn't really search online because it wasn't as seamless as it is today.
Beth Demme (23:03):
Yeah, I haven't fully flushed this idea out so this might not go anywhere. When I was growing up, we didn't have all that many channels. In fact, I think if I remember correctly, the tuner on our TV dial went to 13 or 14 and they weren't all full. There really were three channels, ABC, CBS, NBC and then we had a local channel. I think when there were fewer channels, there was this sense among those who ran the networks, and maybe I'm giving them too much credit. But there was this sense of responsibility for the information that was being provided. I think sometimes that was to our detriment. But now where there's so much information out there, so much access to information, so many channels, it's like no one has any responsibility for what they put out.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (23:53):
Or worse, they have responsibility to make you believe all these conspiracy theories. So it's way easier to believe them because if you have one opinion, you can always find the opposite on anything. I don't know that there's anything that you're not going to find the opposite opinion on, truly.
Beth Demme (24:09):
And so then we have a big responsibility as consumers of information to engage in critical thinking. But then you have to have a personal baseline for knowing what you believe and what you don't believe. Or knowing what sources you can trust or what sources you don't trust.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (24:27):
I think when you really look at the story of Jesus Christ, for example, how he came to life. How he lived his life, how he died and ascended, the whole story. It sounds crazy, Beth. I'm sorry. It sounds crazy. It sounds unbelievable. That sounds like a conspiracy theory. But how is that true but that we didn't go to the moon is not true? How do you distinguish those things?
Beth Demme (24:53):
I don't put those in the same two buckets at all. There is actually a book that has been pretty popular for a long time called The Case For Christ and then there's The Case For Easter. This investigative journalist Lee Strobel, he sets out... He's an atheist and he sets out to prove his wife's Christian beliefs (because she becomes a Christian as an adult) he sets out to prove her wrong. He sort of uses modern investigative journalist techniques. He goes back and he investigates the facts and comes to the opposite conclusion of what he expected to find.
Beth Demme (25:25):
I think that those are interesting exercises. I think that they can be helpful exercises. But it all comes out of this Enlightenment idea that we can only believe that which we can prove and that if we can't prove it, it's not worth believing. I'm just not there. I have...
Stephanie Kostopoulos (25:44):
I think that's the definite... I think that's how conspiracy theories come out. Is I can't prove that we went to the moon. I wasn't alive then. I didn't go to the moon. I didn't see with my eyes. So I can't prove it. But yet I believe fully in the life of Jesus Christ. I fully believe that. Do I 100% believe it? No. There is still always a piece of me that doubts and questions that. I, for a long time, I really struggled with that. I thought, well, how can I be a Christian if I struggle with that.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (26:16):
I have to 100% believe this, I have to 100% believe this. I finally came to the conclusion that it's okay that I don't 100% believe it. That's okay with God and He's happy and he has no problem. He is secure and the fact that I think he wants me to question. I think he doesn't want me to blindly believe.
Beth Demme (26:33):
Right. God gave you a critical mind.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (26:34):
Exactly. If he wanted me to blindly believe he wouldn't have given me that. I truly believe that that is real. Do I know that it is 100%? No. Could I find out one day that it's all not true? Yeah, I could. And I'd be open to new information. That's what I've learned as I get older. Is when there's new information, I will take it in. If there's... I found new information that the moon landing did happen. I did let myself actually explore that topic and really not just believe the opposite of that we did land on the moon, really examine it and look at pictures and really... It took a lot to convince myself because I had been indoctrinated.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (27:18):
It had been just part of my knowing and being. Just like in school, I don't question everything I learned in school. And so it took a lot for me to really come to the conclusion that we did land on the moon. By the way, why does it matter?
Beth Demme (27:35):
I'm with you on that. I mean I say and I do apply this to questions of faith as well. I know for sure that I'm not right about everything. I know for sure that I'm wrong about some things. I just don't know which things. I hold my personal religious experiences quite tightly because I know what I know. But there are also a lot of things about religion and faith that I'm able to hold more loosely. I actually think that that honors God because otherwise we're just squeezing God down into a box that God doesn't belong in and can't fit in because God is bigger than anything we can conceptualize.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (28:21):
I think if... Because I see people that say they're Christians that if you try to discuss anything, you are personally attacking their beliefs and you can't have a conversation. I think that's a dangerous spot to be in where you are so rigid in your beliefs, so strong that even having a conversation would put you into a tizzy about this. I'm strong enough in my beliefs that we can talk about this all day long. You can tell me how you... I have atheist friends. I'm totally fine with that. I don't think it's my job in life to tell them how bad and how they're going to hell. No.
Beth Demme (29:01):
Because your faith is not fragile.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (29:02):
Beth Demme (29:03):
If you can't engage in conversation, you can't handle questions, really that's not a sign of strength. That's actually a sign of fragility.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (29:11):
Would I want my atheist friends to be Christ followers? Yes. I would want that because I know that I feel I have an amazing life. I feel when I'm connected to God, I feel like I'm living the life that I'm meant to be living. I would want that for everyone. I do want that for everyone. But I am not going to go telling people that that's the right life that they have to choose. That's everyone's path. That's everyone's journey and it's my job to live my life and share my life. But beyond that, I can't control the path people choose. I mean, you as a pastor though probably have a different opinion on that.
Beth Demme (29:56):
My opinion probably isn't as different as you might think. I feel like I have this personal relationship with the God who says I want you to have life and have it to its fullest. Why would I not share it with people? Right. And I know the studies that say that prayer actually changes your brain and makes your brain healthier. Why would I not share that with people? That would be so mean of me to be like, I have this way for you to know that you are absolutely loved 100% unconditionally. To know that you are created for a purpose. To know that when you pray it makes your brain healthier, that there is this being that wants you to have life and have it to the full. It would be mean to just not share that with people. But I hope that I do it in a way that honors the real truth of that. That honors the God in that.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (30:45):
Well, I think that's the role of pastors, good pastors. What I see as healthy is to share that knowledge, but not make the choice for people. You share that knowledge and you let them have that critical eye, it makes that choice for themselves. You're not at every service saying. "And if you died today and you don't become a Christian, you're going to hell." I don't respond to that. I don't think that's super healthy.
Beth Demme (31:17):
That was definitely a movement in American Christianity. If you die tonight, do you know where you're going? I haven't heard that a lot lately but I'm sure it's still out there. It's really a scare tactic and I'm going to create a God of scarcity because if something is scarce then you're really going to want it and...
Stephanie Kostopoulos (31:37):
But I don't think you ever truly are helping someone by scaring them into something. I think the best way is educating. Educating in all sense. In Christianity, in school, I think educating people and letting them have that critical eye and make that choice is what it's all about.
Beth Demme (31:57):
I wonder if there is a connection here with conspiracy theories because when churches claim to have this special knowledge that they're withholding or that you have to be on the inside to really get or if there's this type of knowledge that is so precious you can't question it. I wonder if that doesn't create fertile ground for people to be taken in by conspiracy theories. Because really what we're saying is we have this special knowledge, it can't be questioned. We're saying don't use your critical mind that God gave you.
Beth Demme (32:35):
I was at a church service once where the church I was at happened to be receiving new members. I remember the pastor saying about this one person who was joining the church. I was just visiting. It wasn't a church I was a part of. The pastor said, so and so is finally joining. Boy did so and so have a lot of questions. As if it were a bad thing. My reaction to that was, at the end of the service to go out and shake so and so's hand and be like, "Don't stop asking questions."
Beth Demme (33:02):
This is important stuff. This is good stuff. It's important stuff and it's okay for you to ask questions. I guess that would be good advice in the face of conspiracy theories, too, right? If it's important enough for someone to have special knowledge about it, then it's important enough that you can ask questions about it.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (33:21):
Which I think is... Where conspiracy theories come from is not just blindly following what someone, XYZ, says. I do think it's important to question but I do think there is a part of humans that we want... We just want the answer and we want to understand it easily. Nothing that's like... When I really look at stuff in life, nothing is easy. It's just not easy. Politics are not easy to understand. It's not Republican or Democrat. It's just not easy but we want that. There's something in us that just want it to be easy and I think that's why a lot of people fully believe conspiracy theories.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (34:03):
Because it's easy. If I just fully commit to this, then I don't have to try to... I don't have to believe in the thing that is actually true that I can't fully understand. I think flat earthers, well when I look out it doesn't look round, it just looks flat. So of course the earth is flat because I can understand that. It's like to me-
Beth Demme (34:24):
They try to pull together some different scientific facts to try to make it seem... Even something like who killed president Kennedy, it's like that was such a terrible thing that we on some level we want to believe that it was a vast conspiracy because it was such a painful time for our country.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (34:44):
I think there is a lot of things where people want to make them bigger than they were like that. Oh, it must be this whole series of events or it could just been a tragedy. It could just been... There's no explaining it. I mean, there's a lot of conspiracy theories about 9/11. That's not something we need to be wasting our time on.
Beth Demme (35:00):
I feel in 15 years, whatever podcasts we are doing then, we should come back on that format whatever it is and revisit this moment because I think there are a lot of conspiracy theories that are being birthed right now.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (35:15):
Beth Demme (35:17):
And I wonder how they'll play out in the next 15 years.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (35:20):
Yeah. We're still in the middle of COVID-19 and I think there's a ton of conspiracy theories right now about it, where it came from, all of those things. Overall, I don't think that's where we need to be putting our time and energy into. I think that's deflecting from the real issues, the importance of this moment. But it will be interesting when the time has passed to see-
Beth Demme (35:44):
We've got QAnon which is a huge conspiracy theory.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (35:47):
Oh my gosh.
Beth Demme (35:48):
How is that going to shake out in 15 years? We still have people that believe President Obama was not actually a US citizen. How is all of this going to play out?
Stephanie Kostopoulos (35:59):
It's so frustrating when conspiracy theories these days get started by one crazy person just saying it. If a crazy person in power says it, people start to believe it. That is very frustrating and scary. There's so many things that people in power have said that are so easy to see how false they are quickly, very quickly. I mean there are things I hear that I know instantly that that's a lie. I don't need to do the research on that. No, you're just saying whatever junk pops in your head and when you see people clap, you keep saying it. I'm sorry, but I know when things are not true.
Beth Demme (36:40):
For a long time there was this conservative, I don't know if he was on talk radio because I didn't... But he created Info Wars, Alex Jones. And for a long time, he believed that the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in New Jersey, that it was a hoax and that those children had not really been killed. And there are parents mourning saying, "Why would I lie about my child being murdered in this terrible way?" He made tons of money off of promoting that conspiracy theory, off of perpetuating that hoax. Then he can just come back around, eight years later and be like, "Oh, yeah. I was wrong. My bad?"
Stephanie Kostopoulos (37:25):
There's a lot of danger in conspiracy theories because people are very impressionable. People that don't have a critical mind when listening to information believe things just as fact right away. They don't question it, they don't think about it. Oh, this person said it and they're smarter than me, I believe it. Done deal.
Beth Demme (37:43):
This person has really researched it. They've really taken their time to share this.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (37:47):
There so many things that that is completely untrue. They're definitely dangerous. I think the only thing we can do as our part to play is to have a critical mind and all the information we hear and to encourage our friends to have a critical mind. If somebody says something that we know and somebody says something pretty outrageous, push them on it. I have people that say outrageous things about life. And I will push them. I will know when to push actually though. Don't always push them.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (38:15):
But just know, figure out if you truly care about that person. Figure out how to say it in a way where they question it and they will do a little bit more research. Because I've had that happen countless times in my life where I will say, "Well, where did you see that? Where else did you see that? And have you actually seen the original whatever it was?" Just simple things. As a tech person, I get many people that... I used for Apple, many people, "My phone won't work. My phone when I click nothing happens. My phone won't work." "Did you turn off and back on?" "No." And they turn it off and back on.
Beth Demme (38:52):
Okay, I don't know if you know this but you have that exact look every time you say that phrase. I know because you've said it to me before. Like, "Did you turn it off and back on?" After you told me to, I did.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (39:04):
And then it worked?
Beth Demme (39:05):
Yeah, it worked. But you have this facial expression that is completely consistent. You have a facial expression that goes with that statement.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (39:14):
Okay. Obviously I don't know because I don't look in the mirror when I say it.
Beth Demme (39:18):
Yeah. You totally should. You should say it to yourself in the mirror and see. It's a good look. It's very like, I know what I'm talking about. This is what you're going to need to do. It's very helpful.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (39:27):
Well, I will tell you because I've been asked it so many times and I did work for Apple for five years. There was times when I wasn't super secure in my answer to things and so I would have customers that their computer wouldn't turn on or their computer was doing the super weird thing. I would go to the... It's got to be a complicated spot. I would go and an hour later we couldn't figure out what it was. Turn it frigging off and back on and it worked. Finally through my experience, I've learned that 90% of the time it's the simple answer.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (40:01):
I forget it. Even sometimes I'll have issues my phone and I'm like, oh, this is weird. Then I'll be like, I didn't turn it off. I'll even do it. I mean, honestly... I guess that goes with conspiracy theories is when you hear this crazy insane thing, it's like I don't know. That sounds really complicated. You're trying to explain it off in so many complicated ways and you're able to explain it off by all these things. But I don't know, I feel like it might be the simple answer that we just can't fully understand it but this is true and that is not true. The world is a circle. A sphere.
Beth Demme (40:37):
Yeah, sometimes too conspiracy theories play into our fears. When my kids were around the age that they needed to get a lot of their vaccinations, it was a real thing. Between me and my mommy friends. It was this real discussion of all we want to do is what's right for our kids. Is the right thing to vaccinate them or is that somehow going to hurt them worse? It was a time when there was a lot of information and a lot of new information coming out about autism. It just was a really... It was a really tough time.
Beth Demme (41:16):
Now I look back on it and I think, oh, that was a conspiracy theory. I didn't know what to do. So I just went to my doctor. Went to the doctor and I was like, I really am confused by this. I really just want to do the right thing. It happened to be that the doctor we were seeing had children the exact same ages as my kids. He was like, all I can tell you is that I believe in these. I believe this is the right thing to do. I believe in it so much that I gave these vaccines to my children. I was like, "You know what, if it's good enough for your kids, it's good enough for mine." So we did. We did do the vaccinations. There are always questions like that it plays a little bit on fear and on lack of knowledge and lack of access to knowledge.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (42:02):
Exactly. Well, there's a conspiracy that the flu vaccine gives you the flu. I will tell you, I got the flu vaccine for many years in high school or 20s or something and I got the flu one year after my flu shot. It was horrible. That was the first time I got the flu. That was the only time I've ever had the flu. It was horrible. I will tell you, I have not gotten the flu shot since that because I had that awful experience. I didn't truly believe that the flu shot gave me the flu. I know the flu shot. I mean, you can get sick after the flu shot just like a cold and things like that. It can happen and the flu shot, if you had already been exposed to it before there's a period of time where anyways-
Beth Demme (42:46):
Right and also the vaccination is only a certain percent effective anyway.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (42:50):
Exactly, yes. So I haven't gotten a flu vaccine in years. But this year, I asked my doctor, we're in COVID season I said, "Should I get the flu shot this year?" She said yes. And I said okay. So I got the flu shot. I got it a couple weeks ago. I was nervous because I hadn't gotten it for a long time. But I talked to my doctor, I also did some research about it. I was like, you know what, I'm going to do it and guess what? I didn't get sick. I don't have the flu.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (43:18):
But I listened to my doctor and she said to get it and I said okay. And if she tells me to get it next year, I'm going to get it. It seemed like something that was... Of course, I think if you ask your doctor any year they're going to say yes. I don't think they're probably going to say no to that.
Beth Demme (43:35):
That's because Big Pharma is giving them rebates to give you that flu shot. There's always some financial incentive somewhere in the system that-
Stephanie Kostopoulos (43:45):
But there is. There is financial incentive. I'm not saying... I trust my doctor. But she's also has been wrong on things and she has said that. There are times... We can do a whole episode about doctors because I have a whole love hate relationship with the practice of medicine. Because it truly is a practice and not an imperfection. But my doctor, I have brought things to her. I've said, "This is my research I've done." And she's like, "You're right. We're not going to have you on the medication anymore."
Stephanie Kostopoulos (44:13):
I'm like, wait a minute, if I hadn't brought this to you, would I still be on this medication? She's like, yeah you probably would have because when I bring it up to people, they don't want to get off of this because they've been on it for so long [inaudible 00:44:25]. All these things. It's a whole lot. I have a lot of medical errors, things that we could talk about in the future. But anyways, I got the flu shot.
Beth Demme (44:35):
I got a flu shot this year too.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (44:40):
We want to remind you that we have set up a website called buymeacoffee.com where you can support us by buying us a coffee or a tea. There's a little place there where you can just donate and it will help support the podcast. You can also become a member and with being a member of the page, you will get the PDFs of our questions to reflection, you also get some behind the scenes. We'll probably take some video right after we record today so you can see some of the fun behind the scenes that are going on. Just some extra slice of life on there.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (45:15):
When we post something, you will get an email so you don't have to go through all the junk like social media to see our content. You'll see it right there. We only post about twice a week I think, so it will not be overwhelming. But you're welcome to click on the link in the show description and that will take you to our Buy Me A Coffee or B Mac page.
Beth Demme (45:35):
BMAC. Thank you to those who have gone and thanks for the coffee and the tea. We really appreciate it. We love making this podcast and we appreciate your support.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (45:47):
All right. In the last episode, I said I was going to Disney.
Beth Demme (45:52):
And I said COVID.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (45:54):
I said, "I'm going anyway."
Beth Demme (45:57):
I have a plan.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (45:59):
Yes. So I did go to Disney and it was amazing. So me and my mom went to the Polynesian Villa resorts. We actually made a vlog while we were there.
Beth Demme (46:11):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (46:13):
Which is a video log. We've never really vloged a trip before but we've been watching all these YouTubers that vlog about Disney and we were like, you know what, that'd be fun. Let's just do it. So we did it. We haven't actually posted it anywhere yet. If and when we do, we'll put a link in the show notes. I've only edited our day one and we were there for four days. I think we... Yeah, we were four. So I might edit them. We'll see. But it was fun. We just shared our experience and explained the safety we were doing and how it felt. We actually went to all four parks.
Beth Demme (46:43):
Oh, you did?
Stephanie Kostopoulos (46:44):
We did. Although Animal Kingdom we barely went in. We walked in and then we walked out because it was...
Beth Demme (46:49):
I thought that was your plan, was to be at animal kingdom for most of the first day.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (46:52):
I know. Which was a bummer. We walked in, my mom got nervous because there's too many people and we walked out. So then we went to Disney Springs.
Beth Demme (46:58):
Everybody else had the same plan. They were like, we'll go to animal kingdom because it's outside.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (47:02):
If you've been to animal kingdom-
Beth Demme (47:03):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (47:04):
You know it's very bottle necked at the front, right at the front. Because you come and then there's two pathways that are skinny into the park. Then you get into the big open... The tree and stuff. But we didn't get past that. We saw a black swan in this little waterway. It was really cute. Then a bunch of people came. My mom's like, "I don't feel comfortable." I said, "Then we're leaving." And we left. We'll put a link to the vlog if and when we post it. If we don't, maybe we'll put a little exclusive on our BMAC page.
Beth Demme (47:32):
Oh, I like that.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (47:34):
We want to thank you for listening. We also want to remind you that both of us actually have newsletters where we share... Beth shares a blog.
Beth Demme (47:46):
I usually try to do something that's devotional, a little bit of Bible reading or some something that I have come across in my study or in my personal time that I think would be helpful to others.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (47:59):
A nice breath of fresh air.
Beth Demme (48:01):
I hope so.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (48:04):
She sends it out weekly. You can sign up for her newsletter on BethDemme.com. I also send a newsletter, just with the podcast and with some author chat videos that I've been doing recently. You can sign up for that on SMKauthor.com. If you are into DIY, I'm into DIY and I also do that on my Mother Daughter Projects website. You can sign up for that on motherdaughterprojects.com.
Beth Demme (48:32):
It always feels weird to me to be like Steph's a DIY professional. That feels contradictory.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (48:37):
Beth Demme (48:39):
But you are.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (48:40):
We were on a TV show a couple years ago and it was called... They called us a DIY expert and I was like, those two words completely don't go together. I don't understand DIY expert. No, the whole fact that you're a DIY is you're not an expert. So I don't consider ourselves an expert in anything. But I will say I have actually been doing Mother Daughter Projects for five years now.
Beth Demme (49:03):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (49:03):
That's been my full time job for five years. We just had an anniversary. That was our trip to Disney was actually an anniversary. I think... What is that thing that's actually false but they say you have to have 10,000 hours and something?
Beth Demme (49:17):
10,000 hours. That's not false. Malcolm Gladwell said it's true. It must be true.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (49:21):
No. Recently there's been...
Beth Demme (49:22):
I think that's a conspiracy theory. I don't think it's changed.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (49:25):
There's been research saying that that's not accurate. I'm pretty sure we've probably had 10,000 hours in making DYI videos so I think we're experts in DYI now.
Beth Demme (49:37):
I think so too.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (49:41):
At the end of each show, we end with questions for reflection. These are questions based on today's show that Beth will read. Leave a little pause between for you to pause the podcast and answer them to yourself or you can find a PDF version on our Buy Me A Coffee page.
Beth Demme (49:53):
Number one, do you believe in any conspiracy theories? How did you come to believe in it? Number two, what do you think about someone when you learn they believe in a conspiracy theory? Number three, how do you distinguish between truth and fiction? And number four, is there room for doubt in what you believe or do you hold on to your beliefs and convictions 100%?
Stephanie Kostopoulos (50:19):
This has been the Discovering Our Scars podcast. Thank you for joining us.