Fake it until you make it?
Whether we are seekers on a spiritual path, Out-of-Body Experience (OBE) coaches and authors, or simply individuals experiencers (projectors) trying to live an authentic life, the need for truthfulness—both to ourselves and others—has never been greater. But in a world obsessed with the notion of "fake it until you make it," the quest for authentic living is often muffled by societal expectations.
Underlying this paradox is a complex interplay of psychological and cognitive dissonance that is especially evident within the world of OBE coaches and some want-to-be OBE authors, who, under social peer pressure, let their initial genuine innate desire to live authentically and with a true purpose (i.e., communicating about OBEs) get buried by personal ambitions. This dynamic is often seen within social media's general and public context, where status seekers often aim to project an image of success, expertise, or confidence before attaining it in a strategy to attract opportunities, clients, or social validation.
Examples amount within the OBE coach and book author community: having followed and known some of them for years, I have seen numerous instances of how, with time, some have embellished the narrative of their experiences because of peer pressure and their increased need for their social media following in a path often leading to Conspirituality (see below). I have testified to many cases where instructors in previously thought reputable institutions started to say their expertise was of many more years than they were previously advertising, while other coaches started saying their experiences began at a younger age, contrary to what was said before on a record. In a recent case, a coach advised he had expertise on how to induce the Vibrational State (VS) when the same coach had acknowledged not so long ago they did not know it was possible to achieve the VS willingly. Giving classes on the subject one is still learning is not commendable, much less claiming now to be an "expert".
But OBE swindle also encompasses the fabrication of experiences with romantic tones, unfortunately, common in the field, with entire books written far from the true tone (see below about the notion of Satyagraha) and the quality of OBEs expressed by experienced individuals as a whole (in my expert and biased opinion) – although some of it, is no doubt the expression of schizotypal phantasy prone personalities. When intentionally executed, such frauds equally incorporate the alteration and appropriation of experiences others have had, and even full plagiarism when coaches attribute to their students the experiences others have written about (propaganda). I have, for example, seen a case where an author collects data by asking questions on Facebook blogs but subsequently deletes the posts gathering data supposedly to write books on the subject (which otherwise would be a positive undertaking).. The list goes on .
Ethics vs. misrepresentation
In online discussions, some go as far as to suggest that experiences shared in a public forum are generally common knowledge, and as such, misrepresenting such contents as our own without proper citation and not resorting to referencing is not plagiarizing. However, what constitutes "common knowledge" can also be considered contentious. Nonetheless, the real problem is not citing in social media forums but claiming others' experiences or insights as one's own, which constitutes intellectual dishonesty, even if the topic is somewhat common knowledge. It is a breach of ethical norms and can lead to a loss of credibility, both for the individual and potentially for the community . So, while the medium in which information is shared might change the 'formality' of citation practices, the underlying ethical principle remains the same: proper attribution is necessary to maintain integrity. Ideally, when discussing experiences, one should equally specify whether they are based on one's own personal experiences or are derived from other sources . As a ground rule, I generally only talk about things I have experienced.
If unethical practices such as misrepresentation can lead to mistrust, it should be needless to say that within the OBE community, there are an equal number of people around the world, more or less known, starting within such field or with a few years of experience, that have been adhering to an unwavering ethos and who express complete honesty about their abilities – for those, this blog will be just a cautionary tale. These "untouchables" – psychologically unbribable individuals – of course, include a few well-known book authors who have been uplifting and inspiring the field for years with their experiences.
The universality of the challenge
While pointing out the discrepancies in the claims made by the above referred individuals may be seen as overly critical, divisive or unproductive, the objective is to uphold the ethical standards within the OBE community. And if pointing out these issues may be considered an ethical responsibility, the challenges facing the OBE community are not unique.
They are, in fact, reflective of broader societal patterns exacerbated by the influence of social media culture. In a digital age where 'likes' and 'follows' can be misconstrued as markers of authority or expertise, the temptation to embellish one's qualifications or experiences is not confined to any single field. This phenomenon spans from lifestyle influencers to self-proclaimed experts without real expertise across multiple disciplines. The resulting ethical lapses—whether in embellished qualifications, borrowed experiences, or outright plagiarism—are symptomatic of a larger issue that calls into question the very essence of social trust and intellectual integrity. As with any field striving for scientific recognition and public understanding, the OBE community is not immune to these pressures. Acknowledging this shared challenge could be a crucial first step toward fostering a culture of greater accountability and truthfulness within the OBE community.
Therefore, in an era where the temptation to 'fake it until you make it' is so pervasive, it becomes all the more important for those of us in the OBE community to lead by example. Specifically in light of the concerning patterns of embellishment, misrepresentation, and plagiarism mentioned above, and to prevent the collective authenticity of the OBE community from being undermined into inadvertent 'frauds.'. As such, we must ensure that our quest for knowledge and understanding is genuine and ethically sound.
Let this be an invitation to rediscover the incredible force in the simple, virtuous act of being true to the world and, most importantly, to oneself about our experiences.
The social impact of faking it
If the aim to "speed the steps" and take shortcuts to presumed experiential "wisdom" is a direct path to compromising one's moral authority in the short or long term, these trends are particularly concerning in the specialized area of OBEs. It is not only because, from an ethical standpoint, appropriating someone else's experiences raises serious questions about honesty, integrity, and credibility. No, it undermines trust in the community and the broader field of OBE research.
The unearned projection of expertise violates the essence of true self-critical experiences. It prevents us from embracing the nuanced complexities of OBEs. Indeed, accurately describing one's experience honestly without embellishments is crucial for advancing our understanding of how we all live such experiences. However, the online patterns of aggrandizement, falsification, and copy may bias social perception and prevent our understanding of OBEs because they socially influence our perceptions, as our behaviour and knowledge are often unknowingly and unintentionally influenced by social standards and models, as described in social psychology experiments.
Inaccurate or dishonest reporting can skew findings and interpretations, hampering field progress and neuroscientific research, which relies on subjective accounts correlating with objective measures like brain scans, further compromising the integrity of the OBE community as lacking objectivity. They create social pressures seen in the lab. Habits die hard.
In such a context, it becomes imperative for coaches, educators, and book authors—who may have earned or not yet authority and maybe correctly or incorrectly viewed as authorities—to maintain stringent ethical standards and serve as moral compasses.
The personal impacts of faking it
Whilst there is no doubt that the experiential frontier of OBEs holds incredible promise for transforming human consciousness and life experiences and is often the reason coaches and book authors evoke as the rationale behind their objectives, the profound potential and promises of OBEs towards a path of increased multidimensional self-awareness and living a life of exploration beyond materialism is unfortunately often minimized by making such an exploration something ordinary–a consequence of the lack of true experience, expertise and honesty about our real potential as projectors or coaches to guide students and stir their OBEs.
Indeed, coaches without adequate experience may offer advice or interventions that are ineffectual or, worse, harmful to the development of the student because they are ineffective in stimulating their OBE training and become unmotivating. They may equally lead to a misleading understanding of basic notions of experimentation. The misappropriation of experiences could also psychologically impact the individuals whose experiences are being co-opted, as it could invalidate their personal or potentially transformative experiences. These only worsen when coaches communicate theoretical OBE knowledge as true experiences without any experiential conviction steaming from true personal and repeated evidence or moral authority.
But there is worse. Communicating theoretical OBE knowledge as true experiences without any experiential conviction can resonate as empty to critical minds and is a disservice to individual growth because they are essentially void of an experiential truth that would resonate synergistically to motivate students and stimulate their experiences by emulation or sympathetic syntony. These poor standards could prevent the largest engagement of society as a whole when discerning individuals can see across the concealing veil of deception. Reality cannot be hidden by acting.
Likewise, writing about experiences based on previous accounts, making other experiences our own, without added insight, does dilute and hamper the larger impact any such communication would have. To plagiarize is to take someone else's personality and lose our own.
While the ethical lapses of some coaches and authors are concerning, it's essential to recognize that these issues are not confined to a single group within the OBE community. As active participants and consumers of OBE training and literature, the OBE community and its students bear the responsibility of critical engagement and due diligence in discerning credible sources from OBE coaches and authors. Whether academic or otherwise, such a community needs to serve as the backdrop against which these activities unfold and must foster an environment that prioritizes ethical integrity, scientific rigour, and the need to remain critical.
Therefore, the ethical challenges we face are collective, and tackling them requires a community-wide commitment to honesty, transparency, and accountability.
Psychological factors such as cognitive biases of social proof (e.g., endorsements of others in a specific group associated where a specific coach mimic the actions and behaviour of more experienced ones can be taken as evidence of credibility), and the halo effect (e.g., perception of one positive trait, such as beauty, can influence the individual's overall perception) are known to significantly alter psychological dynamics and collectively reduce the critical thinking needed for responsible engagement, influencing the community's critical perspective—some coaches, knowingly abuse of it without any shame. More specifically, participants and students of such courses should acknowledge such cognitive bias , confront them and even, when possible, test the coach's abilities (see below).
Critically assess your coach
To critically assess the expertise and credibility of an OBE coach, consider various factors such as their academic background, whether they have undergone empirical testing in a lab as a subject, participated in documentaries on the subject, or have been invited to specialized congresses presenting data (even phenomenological). If not, have they participated in any insightful interviews made on the internet by known and critical interviewers, or are they simply self-published video buzz? Verify if they have published any peer-reviewed publications or are book authors presenting personal and novel experiences – which is more important than any qualifications. Search for what is new in the services they provide and if they have qualifications or experiences that are coherent with these. Evaluate your affinity with them based on their area of specialization that is of personal interest to you and responds to your own development needs—more so, if their approach resonates with you. Verify if they only provide online content or if they are instructors who truly engage with one-to-one live activities with their students. Having live instead of online courses – although these might be helpful theoretically – better help construct an energetic symphony with your instructor and will stimulate your projections. Finally, verify how humble they are about what they know and their experiences or if they express some red flags of schizotypal narcissism (e.g., know it all and are above all). Most true projectors I have met are humble.
These checkpoints serve as a litmus test of the coach's qualifications and as a guide for your own responsible engagement within the community. But you can go further: infer the possibility of trying to project with the coach, meet them during OBE, even meet their helpers, if any exist, and if you can't even ask the coach to come and see you .
The whole community is responsible for guarding against cognitive biases and social psychological influences that can compromise our critical thinking, specifically as practitioners of a subjective state, which, in essence, requires such a mindset.
The Path to Communicative Virtue
From the standpoint of psychology, presenting information accurately and responsibly, based on our own experiences, as a rule, clearly stating the extent of one's expertise and the limitations of our knowledge, and whenever possible, attributing ideas, quotes, and experiences to their original sources, can serve to elevate public discourse on these complex topics, contributing to more informed understandings and facilitating legitimate progress of individuals trying to experience OBEs. This condition can be enhanced by further promoting a culture of critical thinking and open inquiry, inviting audiences to scrutinize claims and seek additional information. Every OBE ecosystem participant is responsible for contributing to its overall credibility and public perception.
However, although the term fraud is often used when there is an intentional will to deceive, frauds are a deeper and ill manifestation of consciousness that violates the inner values and virtues brought by OBEs.
Indeed, if OBEs are commonly touted as simple experiences, increased metacognition, lucidity and awareness lead such experiences to have incredible ethical and moral effects. This condition is a frequently overlooked reality when considering the naïve reception of the narratives and experiential accounts that populate many Facebook pages, groups and blogs. OBEs have a moral and ethical experiential effect that serves as a powerful pathway to cultivate virtues like truthfulness and honesty, leading to unrestrained honesty and communicative virtue, which, when lacking, can be seen as a telling indicator of an absence of authentic OBEs.
Satyagraha in OBEs and life
These virtues, embedded in OBEs, are not just ends in themselves but also the means to achieve a higher state of "soul force," a concept that echoes Mahatma Gandhi's philosophy of "Satyagraha" or "truth force.". If Gandhi saw such a force as a way of life, centred around the relentless pursuit of truth and honesty, becoming a driving motivational force and ethical intent behind any behaviour, within the realm of OBEs, such a force is conditioned by OBEs during soul-to-soul interactions—experienced as acts of mutual elevation, rooted in truth and sincerity.
Openness is the nature of the reality experienced in OBEs. This condition is generally true because the nature of the experienced reality generally prevents one from hiding who we are, what we are, our potential, limitations, internal conflicts, or our wrongdoing. Consequently, through OBEs, we acquire truthful virtues in our manifestation as consciousnesses in the here and now without failure. A condition that resonates in how we communicate our experiences, how we teach, and the impact these have on others
The natural effects of these interactions further lead projectors to approach life authentically. We can no longer fake it. A condition leading with time to a natural state of moral authority called Satyagraha that Gandhi described as the highest form of courage and truthfulness bereft of ego, a manifestation of our truest Self.
Such a force is not retained by the attempt to hold onto it but expressed by being yourself, truthfully, in the full expression of who you are, without hypocrisy or dishonesty, based on what you have experienced—in a condition where objective truth is secondary to the authenticity of one's personal experience. Indeed, the experience's alignment with an objective and truthful reality is secondary to the experience itself as long as the experience is not clouded by inauthenticity and self-dishonesty.
The Dangers of Shortcutting Moral Authority within the OBE Community
Self-dishonesty here is important. Self-dishonesty is contrary to knowledge. In the realm of bias, it often manifests as motivated reasoning or a refusal to consider what we suspect is wrong. It blinds our manifestation as consciousnesses through repeated expressions of self-corruptions beyond cognitive dissonance and rationalizations.
This hastened approach sacrifices the rigour and mindfulness that should accompany exploring non-ordinary states of consciousness, specifically OBEs. It distorts the rich and complex nature of these experiences and their values to humanity. Worst, from a neuroscience perspective, such a pursuit could also be linked to the engagement of neural pathways associated with cognitive dissonance and Conspirituality, often bypassing rational scrutiny when our belief systems are engaged and threatened.
Conspirituality and its Implications on Moral Authority
The term "Conspirituality" has surfaced in recent years, representing a nexus where conspiracy thinking meets spirituality. Conspirituality' is defined by Ward and Voas (2011) as: "a rapidly growing web movement expressing an ideology fuelled by political disillusionment and the popularity of alternative worldviews" rooted in New Age beliefs and associated with Schizotypy traits – traits ranging from non-pathological imaginative states to dissociative disorders and more pronounced conditions associated to psychosis. It is, as put by William James: "a sort of religious mysticism turned upside down" (James, 1902) often incoherent with the repeated effects OBEs have on personality.
Conspirituality often emerges when carrying a sense of urgency in the context of authenticity and moral authority. It develops from the psychology of feelings of powerlessness and increased cognitive biases, leading to the adoption, within the OBE community, of increased irrational beliefs and mystical thinking associated with OBEs and consciousness and seems born out of a lack of true self-critical experimentations .
In my opinion, infatuated self-presentation builds upon unwarranted confidence and self-efficacy and will contribute to offset a true "imposter syndrome" (e.g., not based upon accomplishments among high-achieving individuals) when one's projected image sharply conflicts with one's internal self-perception (e.g., the conflict between projected expertise and actual capabilities). A condition especially enhanced when increased social validation is needed in the form of likes, shares, or positive comments.
Conspirituality effect on moral authority is not just a cautionary tale. It emphasizes the urgent need for genuine, honest self-inquiry in an age of increasing complexity and information overload.
Moral Authority as an Unbiased Expression of the Evolution of the Self
Knowing our limitations, who we are and are not, what we know and don't, and the true breadth of our experiences is at the core of achieving soul force. It is, in essence, the incessant expression of work performed to overcome the barriers to achieve personal evolutionary goals - your life mission. Soul force cannot be mimicked or faked in the pursuit of self-interests.
In such context, moral authority within the realm of OBEs becomes the expression of the courage and persistence towards overcoming our limitations to understand and achieve our true OBE potentials. It becomes an unbiased and egoless expression of overcoming our natural evolutionary limitations. And because such limitations and goals are unique, they lead to a unique expression of moral authority specific to us, empowering the manifestation of moral authority that is equally unique to our struggles and experiential findings—an endeavour that naturally spreads inspiration.
Such expression of honesty is not about saying what is factually true or correct but about being genuine in expressing one's feelings, motives, and intentions in a true state of mindfulness of one's heart.
Indeed, if mindfulness is often discussed in the context of stress reduction or enhanced focus, it carries the seed of a deeper moral and ethical transformation within it. A condition achieved through an unbiased, uncompromising attitude, lived based on self-critical knowledge, that we will lay the groundwork for a virtuous practice of coaching or any other OBE endeavours such as communicating about OBEs, whenever done in books or within social media forums.
At the heart of OBEs lies the essence of integrity. But it's worth revisiting the wisdom of Brazilian OBE researcher Waldo Vieira, which captures, in my opinion, the spirit of what every projector and coach should reflect upon and strive for as a way to that path, which is: "not to fear the cooperation of qualified persons in their experiments" and to "allow their projective capacities to be tested" allowing "erudite researchers to document the activities with scientific research, in support of themselves" while avoiding to "not content themselves with societal praise, allowing themselves to be monopolized by some cult or leash of the ego" (Vieira, 1986).
In a field still grappling with questions of legitimacy and methodology, such an approach can only strengthen its standing, possibly going beyond cognitive biases and blind spots of both researchers and projectors, bridging the gap between scientific rigour and the profound, often ineffable, and unique experiences only experiencers can offer to scientists.
However, the path laid forward transcends the boundaries of scientific validation. It's evident that being tested as a means of objectifying one's ability is not necessarily an objective measure, although it may humble one's perspective . It is indeed the inherent integrity and authenticity of the experiencer that truly matters. Ethical awareness is not a peripheral concern—it's fundamental to the pursuit of truth and OB-Experimentation. Following that path, one may contribute to constructing a more authentic and reliable foundation for the emerging field of consciousness and OBE practices, not only for an emerging OBE science but for the community.
Whatever course of action one chooses, cultivating such high moral standards leading to Soul Force seems a cornerstone in living an extraordinary life. Living authentically, as the expression of an unbiased and egoless achievement of one's life's purpose, by anchoring ourselves in the virtues of honesty and mindful ethical awareness, may lead one to contribute more positively to a world needing moral clarity and genuine leadership in a landscape crowded with misinformation, temptation, and ethical ambiguity.
Sleep Consciousness Researcher.
Vieira, W. (1986). Projeciologia: Panorama das Experiências da Consciência Fora do Corpo Humano. Edição do Autor.
Ward, C., & Voas, D. (2011). The Emergence of Conspirituality. Journal of Contemporary Religion, 26(1), 103-121. https://doi.org/10.1080/13537903.2011.539846
 Unfortunately, the list cited here is just a partial sample of some of these misrepresentations which will be incorporated more fully in a future book.  In fact, the whole question is even more absurd when we think that novel dimensions of perceptions should necessarily populate any OBE experience where an increased metacognition and awareness are expressed. This is because any OBE experience can yield incredible knowledge considering the extended complexities associated with consciousness during OBEs. Lacking new dimensions of descriptions for an incredibly vast and complex human experience such as OBEs, in the experiencers' narrative, account, or comments should be a metric to the quality of the expertise and any OBE coaching and communication, whether as authors or within social media.  For example, some forums require participants to indicate in their posts is a personal experience or is based on theoretical knowledge.  The Out-of-Body Experiential Workshop offered by the Sleep Consciousness Institute emphasizes cognitive biased perspectives from the onset of the course as a fundamental aspect in the studies of OBEs.  I have not only done this, projecting with a few coaches but also with my students. For example, as a rule, I allow my students to test my Vibrational State during the courses I give.  For instance, ongoing research conducted by the author has identified a heightened prevalence of Gamma wave activity at the onset of OBEs, particularly among individuals experiencing the Vibrational State. These findings suggest that OBEs have unique neurocognitive characteristics, which are potentially indicative of elevated rationality, as evidenced by the presence of Gamma waves, and as expressed in OBEs with heighten awareness.  It is worth remembering that well-known projectors, like Monroe, have been tested in the lab without real effective success, although their capacity as projectors is known.