Somebody Told Me: Danny Wallace on Conspiracies (and Ghosts!)

Hello Initiates! In this episode, we welcome comedian, author, and 'cult leader' Danny Wallace for a wide-ranging and captivating conversation. Wallace shares his insights on conspiracy theories, disinformation, the supernatural, his mysterious email correspondent from China and a surreal encounter with Gareth Icke.

He also provides behind-the-scenes stories from his time producing the film 'Yes Man' with Jim Carrey and working on comedy projects like The Mighty Boosh.

In this episode we'll explore the role of social media in shaping public opinion, the dynamics within conspiracy communities, and Wallace's latest book 'Somebody Told Me', which discusses personal stories and the impact of conspiracy theories.



In this in-depth exploration, we delve into a riveting conversation between podcast hosts Brent Lee and Neil Sanders and their special guest, Danny Wallace. Known for their encyclopedic knowledge of the world of conspiracy theories, Brent and Neil invite Danny to share his unique experiences and insightful observations about the paranormal, disinformation, and the ever-shifting landscape of conspiracy culture.

Their dialogue spans from personal anecdotes of ghostly encounters to critical discussions about how conspiracy theories have evolved with the rise of digital media. Danny Wallace, the multifaceted author and comedian, brings an engaging and often humorous perspective to a topic frequently shrouded in mystery and controversy. Through this conversation, readers are offered a unique window into the minds of those who dare to question the mainstream narrative.

As we navigate through their conversation, we uncover not only the intricacies of widely held conspiracies but also the human element underlying these beliefs. From the haunting phantoms of Wallace's father to the digital trenches where modern conspiracy theories brew, this article aims to provide a comprehensive look at the underworld of conspiracy culture.


Danny Wallace: A Kickstart to Curiosity

Danny Wallace’s journey into the world of the unexplained began with startling family experiences and uncanny stories that have haunted his life. He shares a particularly unsettling story of a family friend who witnessed something inexplicable in Maine, leaving them visibly shaken and speculating about UFOs or secretive military operations. Such early brushes with the unknown set the stage for Wallace's lifelong fascination with the supernatural and the unexplained.

Another poignant moment Wallace recounts concerns strange occurrences following his father's passing. He describes an event where a plastic spoon appeared mysteriously in his mother's kitchen, an occurrence that had sentimental but eerie undertones. These personal anecdotes not only illuminate Wallace's curious nature but also provide a touching glimpse into how personal loss can sometimes intertwine with our search for meaning in unexplained phenomena.

These foundation stories highlight a blend of curiosity and personal experiences that fueled Danny Wallace's interest in exploring the unknown. His encounters opened up a new dimension of reality for him, where skepticism meets belief, and where the boundaries of the everyday are frequently blurred by the extraordinary.


Paranormal Pursuits: Ghost Hunts and Haunted Houses

The interest in the paranormal didn’t stop with personal anecdotes for Danny Wallace; it pushed him to actively seek out ghostly encounters. One of the most notable experiences he shares is his ghost hunt at Beaulieu Manor in Hampshire. While participating in this ghost hunt, Wallace encountered several eerie events, including the use of dowsing rods in a room historically known for executions and experiencing a wave of unexplained emotions. The night's peculiarity was amplified by the group's ongoing emotional shifts and inexplicable happenings, making it a truly memorable investigation for Wallace.

The appeal of haunted locations drew Wallace to the Tower of London, where he noted the presence of orbs in photographs—often interpreted as spirits or energy forms. A loud, unidentifiable noise at the Tower also added to the air of mystery. Such investigations fed his desire to witness and document the strange occurrences that defy ordinary explanations. His adventures unveil the experiences of places steeped in history and wrapped in layers of lingering spirits.

Neil Sanders, too, shared his own experiences involving paranormal activities in a haunted house—stories that involved unexplained footsteps and eerie piano music emanating from the attic. These hair-raising accounts provide a fascinating juxtaposition to the more skeptical approach, revealing a world where the line between belief and doubt is as thin as a whisper in the dark. Both Wallace’s and Sanders’ willingness to remain open yet analytical about these experiences forms the crux of their forays into the supernatural.


The Intersection of Comedy and Conspiracy

While delving into the mysterious and ominous might seem daunting, Danny Wallace brings a refreshing blend of humor and satire to his explorations of conspiracies. This unique approach becomes evident during lighter segments of the podcast, such as when the trio humorously debates their pizza preferences, jesting about satanic influences and hidden symbols. These moments showcase how Wallace and the hosts manage to find laughs even amidst discussions that could easily turn solemn or grave.

Wallace's comedic background shines through as he brings anecdotes from his career in comedy, including his work on much-loved shows like "The Mighty Boosh." Despite initial struggles and budget constraints, Wallace's ability to inject humor into unconventional topics helped these shows find their audience. His admiration for comedians who balance clever wordplay with positive humor, like Michael McIntyre and Tim Vine, further illustrates his penchant for merging laughter with thought-provoking content.

The fusion of comedy with serious topics is not just a method of coping but also a technique for engaging broader audiences. By making conspiracies approachable and often hilarious, Wallace, along with Brent and Neil, opens the door to critical thinking while ensuring that the listener remains entertained. This balance is particularly vital in a realm often overshadowed by fear and misinformation.


Dissecting Classic and Contemporary Conspiracy Theories

A significant portion of the podcast is devoted to dissecting well-known and contemporary conspiracy theories. The trio discusses classic conspiracies like the JFK assassination and theories around UFOs and alien disclosure. Danny Wallace brings a balanced perspective, intrigued by the 'what ifs' without delving into outright belief or denial. By examining these historical and ongoing mysteries, they underscore the human tendency to seek answers in the face of uncertainty.

They also delve into how people often fill information vacuums with elaborate theories, citing Kate Middleton's disappearance as an example. This behavior, while often harmless, can spiral into more dangerous territory when coupled with disinformation campaigns. Danny’s book, "Somebody Told Me," is aimed precisely at those who find themselves captivated by these mysteries, offering a narrative that straddles shock, tragedy, and comedy.

Among these detailed discussions, the podcast also addresses the more outlandish claims, such as the CIA allegedly attempting to kill conspiracy theorist Alex Jones with a tornado. These stories, while seemingly absurd, highlight the extreme end of the conspiracy spectrum and how such beliefs gain traction in the digital age. The trio's nuanced conversation emphasizes the necessity for critical thinking in discerning credible theories from implausible ones.


The Rise of Digital Platforms and Their Influence

The podcast conversation also touches on how conspiracy culture has been dramatically transformed by digital platforms. Danny Wallace reflects on the early days before YouTube, contrasting it with today's landscape where conspiracy theories proliferate rapidly online. The advent of social media has democratized information dissemination, but it has also led to more fragmented and tribal communities, often polarized around extreme beliefs.

YouTube's role in amplifying voices like Alex Jones—who built a massive audience through online platforms—is particularly notable. Wallace and the hosts discuss how Jones’s influence expanded with the internet, allowing him to broadcast his ideas unfiltered. This shift has contributed to a more aggressive and often divisive conspiracy culture, where individuals build their own echo chambers and fiercely defend their worldviews.

Despite the increased accessibility to information, the conversation reveals a darker side of digital media: its capacity to spread disinformation swiftly and widely. Social media's role in fostering anger and outrage for profit is a recurrent theme, illustrating how platform algorithms prioritize sensational content. This exploration offers a critical lens on the intersection of technology and conspiracy, considering both the benefits and drawbacks.


Wrestling with Disinformation and Polarization

Navigating through the muck of misinformation is no easy feat, and Danny Wallace shares his firsthand experience with these challenges. He recounts incidents where he's confronted and engaged with conspiracy theorists, attempting to bridge gaps with evidence and reason. However, these encounters often reveal a startling lack of substantial proof backing up the theories. Wallace’s patience and analytical approach shed light on the arduous path of debunking false claims in an age rife with misinformation.

Brent Lee and Neil Sanders reflect on their own confrontations with extreme beliefs, recognizing the divisive nature of conspiracy culture. They discuss the internal conflicts within the conspiracy community, where differing opinions on events like Sandy Hook and 9/11 create factional divides. This polarization is further exacerbated by media outlets that profit from provoking strong emotions—anger and outrage being particularly lucrative.

This section also examines the personal ramifications of these ideological rifts. The podcast highlights stories of changed relationships and torn friendships, showcasing how vehemently held beliefs can alienate individuals from their social circles. In an era where media platforms magnify these divides, the trio emphasizes the critical role of skepticism and diligence in navigating the minefield of disinformation.


The Human Element: Personal Stories and Emotional Reflections

Beyond analyzing conspiracies and paranormal phenomena, the podcast delves into the emotional and personal aspects of these experiences. Danny Wallace shares the heart-wrenching tale of how posthumous communication attempts involving his father stirred both sadness and curiosity. These moments are stark reminders of how deeply intertwined personal loss and the search for meaning can become when faced with inexplicable events.

The human element also surfaces in discussions about the strain put on relationships by differing beliefs in conspiracies. Neil Sanders recounts how a friend’s radical shift in views affected their friendship, drawing a line between them. These anecdotes offer a poignant look at the social costs of diving too deep into conspiracy thinking, highlighting cognitive dissonance when trying to justify beliefs to others.

In a candid reflection, Brent Lee and Neil Sanders discuss the influence of social media and the ‘vox pop’ phenomenon, where common voices in media shape public opinion. They consider how individuals form a false sense of community through shared conspiratorial beliefs, separating from mainstream society. This exploration of emotional reflections underscores the importance of empathy and understanding, even when engaging with ideologically opposed individuals.



Summarizing the insightful and entertaining dialogue from the podcast, it's evident that maintaining a balance between skepticism and belief is crucial in today's information-rich but often misleading world. Danny Wallace, Brent Lee, and Neil Sanders provide a thoughtful blend of humor, personal anecdotes, and critical analysis to navigate the complex territory of conspiracy theories and the paranormal.

Their conversation reinforces the importance of critical thinking and open-mindedness. By examining both the historical and contemporary facets of conspiracy culture, they offer a comprehensive look at what drives people towards these beliefs and how they can be dissected thoughtfully. Danny’s book, "Somebody Told Me," encapsulates this approach by combining shock, tragedy, and comedy to appeal to a broad audience intrigued by the unknown.

Ultimately, the podcast episode serves as a reminder that in a world flooded with information and disinformation, discernment remains our best tool. The hosts and their guest encourage listeners to question and explore, but also to stay grounded in evidence and reason. Their dialogue celebrates the intricate dance between doubt and belief, urging us to critically engage with the world around us.

Contact Danny Wallace


UFO sightings, military testing, paranormal activity, ghost hunt, Beaulieu Manor, dowsing rods, Tower of London orbs, haunted house, unexplained footsteps, conspiracy culture, conspiracy theories, disinformation, Danny Wallace book, "Somebody Told Me," comedy shows, "The Mighty Boosh," Tim Vine, Jim Carrey, mockumentary, Gareth Icke, fake websites, state-sanctioned operations, misinformation, Bigfoot enthusiasts, Marianna Spring, media polarization, social media manipulation, vox pops, cognitive dissonance, conspiratorial thinking, personal relationships.



00:00 Fascination with conspiracies and questioning reality.

10:40 Impromptu decision to explore haunted house.

13:12 Experiencing eerie tech room clues in death area.

20:20 Film fan sees through idol's nonsense beliefs.

23:33 Unexpectedly influential beginnings lead to widespread impact.

29:40 Alex's controversial views provoke media scrutiny, conspiracy.

37:21 Disbelief at transformation of trusted acquaintances.

42:44 Expert and ordinary person combine for excitement.

47:56 Dealing with dad's death led to connections.

49:32 Suspicious email behavior, quotes from father's email.

54:04 Humorous anecdotes about writing, television and Bigfoot.

01:04:24 Gareth confuses fake me with real me.

01:05:48 Casual meeting turns into unraveling a mystery.

01:14:08 Anticipation of hanging out with Jim Carrey.

01:16:49 Creating personal "country" in flat, mapping process.

01:21:30 Radio show attracts new, younger audience unexpectedly.

01:27:09 A story of hope and connection in despair.