Spiers’ outlandish conspiratorial claims gain new life months after his sudden death

max-spiersToday, the story of the death of British UFO investigator, conspiracy theorist and supernaturalist, Max Spiers, is splashed all over tabloids and mystery mongering sites. Headlines scream that Spiers was close to exposing secrets and may have been murdered instead of dying of natural causes as the death certificate says. He may have even warned his mother that someone was after him.

This story sounded intriguing and strange, so, knowing nothing about it prior to today, I dove in. I ended up pulling myself out of a dark, insane rabbit hole of bizarre claims and paranoia. The story is not quite as the headlines portray.

Max died in Warsaw, Poland, on July 15 or 16, 2016 (the date is unclear). It made news in the UFO-conspiracy community at that time with many speculating that he was poisoned. But several observers noted from a video of the time that he seemed sleepy, perhaps on drugs. In the last interview recorded for a Polish media outlet 3 or 4 days before his death, Spiers’ speech is slurred and he sounds not just tired but incoherent and rambling. He had just returned from what he suggests was a strenuous trip to Cyprus and may have been ill.

Since he died out of the country, his next of kin apparently did not get good information about the circumstances. His mother was informed of his death by those who were with him at the time. He supposedly died on a couch while staying with friends and could not be revived. Additional rumors were that his body was mishandled, leading to further suspicion that something was amiss. The consensus from news reports was that he was 39 years old with no outward health issues. The body was flown back to the UK a week later when a postmortem was conducted. The results, including toxicology tests, were apparently never released. An inquest is expected.

Spiers mother, Vanessa Bates, now tells the media that she received a text warning that he was in trouble.

From The Guardian:

Max Spiers, 39, was visiting the eastern European country to give a talk but was found dead on a sofa days after she says he texted her to say: “Your boy’s in trouble. If anything happens to me, investigate.”

Vanessa Bates, 63, said the Polish authorities told her her son died in July of natural causes but no postmortem examination was carried out.

“I think Max had been digging in some dark places and I fear that somebody wanted him dead,” she said. “Max was a very fit man who was in good health and yet he apparently just died suddenly on a sofa.”

Back in July, when suspicion was already wildly flying about Spiers’ sudden death, his mother made no such claims about a text message. I found a comment from her (or someone pretending to her) on a blog site on September 29 after the story had died down from July. She was now saying that his death was suspicious but admits he had issues with opiate drugs:


The same commenter revisited the site saying that more would be revealed. With the story reinvigorated on October 16 in The Daily Mail, several sites picked it up and reported as if it had just happened. Then other people, such as his fiancee, spoke out in public that Max was about to expose a “black magic” circle of politicians and celebrities. His friend mentioned that he was receiving death threats. Many had already proposed that UFO researchers were being targeted. The increased publicity may have been to aid in getting an autopsy or coroners inquest. There was also a fund raising effort for his burial costs.

We know little for certain in this case. The media is reporting sensational stories without solid evidence for any targeting, poisoning or truth behind the outrageous conspiracy claims. People are rapidly rolling with the speculation. The dramatic story of a seemingly healthy person dying suddenly under possibly mysterious circumstances is a tale ripe for exaggeration. Circumstantial evidence also points to his use of some “medication” at the time, that he was ill, perhaps vomiting, and known to have a history of narcotics use. Spiers believed in some truly bizarre ideas about the world to the point that a normal mental state sounds doubtful. He claimed to have been the victim of a mind control program run by the government and surviving Nazis. He was called a “supersoldier” as if he was a warrior with superhuman abilities. That’s just the tip of the incredible claims. He spoke of an underground alien base, chip implants, Vampiric energy (parasitic negative beings), inter-dimensional entities, the Annunaki, crop circles, Illuminati… all the typical pseudo-archaeology and conspiratorial effluvia promoted in the dark forums of the internet.

The North East Kent coroner’s office would only respond to media inquiries saying the death was at the ‘very early’ stages of investigation – strange since the postmortem was in late July. Did he work or worry himself to death, was he sick, did he overdose? Nothing is clear except that all those possibilities are far more likely than he was killed because of his investigation into UFOs and the New World Order for which there is no evidence. Spiers’ family certainly deserve some answers to the apparent cause of death. But if you believe incredibly baseless fantastical claims without reliable evidence, you won’t believe a coroner’s report, either. This story has entered the mythology of the alien-conspiracy mythology. It’s really sad.

Tip: Strange Frequencies Radio

  15 comments for “Spiers’ outlandish conspiratorial claims gain new life months after his sudden death

  1. Tom
    October 19, 2016 at 2:28 AM

    Odd how this “cover up” has put Mr Spiers’ story in nearly all the UK’s major newspapers.
    Perhaps the conspiracy theorists can account for this?

  2. Andrew D. Gable
    October 19, 2016 at 12:57 PM

    Tom’s reply got me thinking, and you watch, a few weeks from now his mother will disclose some disease he was diagnosed with years ago, and this was all to raise awareness of it.

  3. October 19, 2016 at 2:35 PM

    Nick Pope assures the public it wasn’t the government.

    The death of Max Spiers was a tragedy, but having run the UK government’s UFO project I promise we don’t go around killing UFO researchers.


    It’s crazy to say the government killed Max Spiers. Real whistleblowers like Snowden and Manning are pursued by legal means, not murdered.


  4. steve
    October 19, 2016 at 2:42 PM

    So, OD or natural causes? Why would anybody trying to cover up something, kill somebody that would bring attention to what ever the cover up is?

  5. Daran
    October 19, 2016 at 10:28 PM

    Vanessa Bates, 63, said the Polish authorities told her her son died in July of natural causes but no postmortem examination was carried out.
    huh? no postmortem, so how do the Polish authorities know the cause of death? They didn`t so just guessed.

  6. David Nelson
    October 23, 2016 at 2:17 AM

    “But if you believe incredibly baseless fantastical claims without reliable evidence, you won’t believe a coroner’s report, either.”

    Look. I’m a skeptic too, but I’m sorry: I think this type of assertion is both a priori and deeply inconsiderate. Without understanding the psychology and epidemiology of “conspiracy theorist”-type thinking (whatever this may actually turn out to mean in future psychology/sociology), it makes little sense to dismiss peoples’ fantastic claims even if they are completely false. Where’s the basis of what you’re saying in applied psychology or anthropology? Let me put it another way. On the basis of their knowledge of the epidemiology of delusion, how would a practical psychologist approach someone whose beliefs are apparently false? Especially when these beliefs relate to intense feelings of mourning resulting from the death of a loved one?

    It seems to me most psychologists wouldn’t use an approach of open dismissal. In fact I think it’s quite plausible (to say the least) that the research and subsequent dismissal of self-alleged alien abductees by Clancy and McNally only strengthened subjects’ belief in their experiences, whether confabulated or not (e.g. they were vivid and terrifying experiences with an actual physiological basis associated with sleep paralysis). The same thing could be said of the flawed and very limited Wilson & Barbur study on “fantasy-prone” subjects. Just consider how much the indigo movement has grown over the past forty years. I’m sincerely sorry to put you on the spot, but I have to ask you this, because it’s important and I think you are a compassionate person. How would Spiers’ mother respond if she read your words, and how would you feel about that? Respectfully, I find what you said much more offensive than anything I’ve read about Spier’s death. What people believe is not always true, yes. But people must be treated compassionately, whether or not you’re trying to sway them to your perspective.

  7. David Nelson
    October 23, 2016 at 5:08 AM

    I do apologize for my previous post’s length (though I think it is pertinent). It appears this is the original news story, including a video of Vanessa Bates, and it does appear to be reliable:


    Thanks for your time.

  8. idoubtit
    October 23, 2016 at 3:03 PM

    Whoa, whoa, whoa. You read FAR too much into what I said. First, I’m not a psychologist, I never pretend to be. Nor is this post directed to those that believe in the claim that Spiers was a UFO insider who was killed for his knowledge. This piece focuses on what the media presented about this case and is directed at those who wish to know more about those claims. The point of the post was there is NO good evidence, or any evidence at all, that Spiers was killed by sinister forces, but there is decent evidence to suggest he was ill.

    Second, there is NO disputing motivated reasoning and persistence of belief. It’s not controversial that people who hold strong beliefs are adverse to discarding those beliefs even if evidence to discredit those claims is clear and apparent. This constantly happens with the majority of people who believe in God, the paranormal, demons, conspiracy theories, what have you. The belief that Spiers was special in this context of being a UFO insider/supersoldier will not be swayed no matter what a coroner’s report says. By presenting her to the media, his mother appears to have subscribed to the belief it was foul play. The model of conspiratorial thinking suggests no evidence will turn this belief around. I almost never attempt to change people’s minds. I present my position and they are free to accept or reject it.

    Finally, I’m not talking to Spiers mom, I’m discussing the story presented in the media. I would never deign to address her; it is none of my business. However, when the media presents claims, that allow us to present a counter argument. Too many commenters seem to disregard that distinction and take it as a personal attack, but please read the description of the site. I’m offensive? Hardly. I noted that it was terrible that the family was left with unanswered questions. If people are offended with facts, that’s not my doing. The world is full of awful truths.

  9. David Nelson
    October 27, 2016 at 11:03 PM

    I understand the purpose of your site, and I agree that there’s no real evidence to support sinister forces in Spier’s death. However, to assume that someone will not accept evidence against a theory just because they showed some belief in an unsupported theory must itself be supported by actual evidence, since the human mind is notoriously diverse and unpredictable in nature. You can’t just make blanket statements about anyone who believes an unsupported theory. That’s prejudice. The behavior of human belief can’t be determined simply by personal experience or common sense. Your proposed, or presumed, model of conspiratorial thinking is prejudicial and your conjectures aren’t well-founded. Also, I do agree that you or anyone should express what they believe even if contradicting someone else. But just because you’re not specifically addressing someone in a public forum does not mean you can disregard their feelings. You don’t know this woman and yet you’re making specious remarks that presume how she is able to go about believing things. This isn’t reading too much into it. As a public figure you have an ethical responsibility towards any reader. As I see it, my entire argument still stands. Respectfully

  10. David Nelson
    October 27, 2016 at 11:44 PM

    I also just want to say, sincerely, thank for taking the time and consideration in responding to me.

  11. David Nelson
    October 28, 2016 at 12:43 AM

    *thank you

  12. idoubtit
    October 28, 2016 at 9:11 AM

    “Blanket statement”? No. This very strong tendency to reject debunking even in the face of clear evidence to the contrary is well-established. I’m not presuming anything except that she is a normal person whose brain functions like the majority of others’. Such an assumption is very well-founded. It’s highly unusual for people to change their minds when they are so emotionally invested in a concept. So, I’m relying on very reliably probabilities – that’s scientific.

    Here are just two references. This one describes the various pitfalls to changing people’s misinformation https://www.skepticalscience.com/docs/Debunking_Handbook.pdf

    and this one describes motivated reasoning and why people cling to beliefs. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S026137941400105X The later references birtherism. It’s very similar to the Spiers case. Once a document is produced, it will not change minds. Here is a quote:

    “Examinations of misinformation and of past conspiracy theories provide evidence that individuals accept incorrect claims when they are motivated to hold particular perceptions of the world. As information about the political world comes in, it is filtered through beliefs (Berinsky, 2012, Kunda, 1990 and Lewandowsky et al., 2005). In line with theories of cognitive dissonance (Festinger, 1957), individuals are more likely to accept information that confirms existing schemata and more likely to discount or reject contradictory information (Lewandowsky et al., 2012, Taber and Lodge, 2006 and Zaller, 1992). ”

    I’m very confused as to why you think Spiers’ friends and family who have stated they are deeply influenced by conspiracy theory are going to make this tremendous shift. Odds are, it WON’T happen, or at least, not anytime soon. There is really no support for that at all. Of course, we can play “what if” games all day but statistically, people don’t change their minds so easily.

  13. David Nelson
    October 28, 2016 at 2:36 PM

    You’ve shown that people do tend to hold onto claims they have a motivation to believe, even in the face of contradicting evidence. But what the evidence provided is not strong enough to make such a very strong statement as, “[I]f you believe incredibly baseless fantastical claims…you won’t believe a coroner’s report, either.” These are two completely different things.

    On the one hand we have a large number of observations that show a tendency for people to hold onto beliefs that contradict evidence. This does not imply that people–even those with baseless beliefs–are incapable of changing their beliefs. Also, I don’t think the amount of evidence is enough to safely predict how another person will respond in every instance of being given contradictory evidence. A person’s responses may change radically depending on the context of the evidence, for example, or where that person is in their life (e.g. how old they are or what community/culture they live in).

    On the other hand, you are pointing to particular individuals and telling them what they can and can’t believe based on *your* knowledge of how *their* mind works. You’re really overstating a person’s tendency to hold onto strong beliefs, you’re doing so in a judgmental way, and you’re doing it when it’s not really relevant. Perhaps you don’t believe what I’m talking about is prejudice, but even you yourself seem to acknowledge implicitly that people’s worldviews tend to change over time. I’ve changed my worldview over time because I rejected religion, so if my brain works just like Vanessa Bates’s why can’t she change her worldview?

    “This piece…is directed at those who wish to know more about those claims.” Can’t someone with a belief about something, however baseless, also seek to learn more information about that topic?

    I want to add that not only do you have a responsibility to any reader, but when you’re talking about someone, if they might hear you, then you have to talk about them as if they were a part of the conversation. If, for example, I were to make a racist remark about Pres. Obama but it was made on Reddit or something not directed at Pres. Obama, Pres. Obama would be perfectly justified in taking offense to my remark.

    One other thing is that the debunking manual you sent me explicitly states doing exactly the opposite of what you’ve done with this piece:

    “The often-seen technique of headlining your debunking with the myth in big, bold letters is the last thing you want to do. Instead, communicate your core fact in the headline. Your debunking should begin with emphasis on the facts, not the myth.”

    I understand you’re attempting to build critical thinking in your readers and not debunk myths per se. But aren’t you simply reinforcing the myths of any myth-believing readers in your audience while solidifying an audience that already shares your beliefs? If you believe everyone’s minds operate in basically the same way, then why not treat any potential reader the same way? Doesn’t anyone have the ability to build critical thinking skills and not those who have some already?

  14. David Nelson
    October 28, 2016 at 2:47 PM

    “Also, I don’t think the amount of evidence is enough to safely predict how another person will respond in every instance of being given contradictory evidence.” Sorry; that’s confusing. I mean “the amount of evidence you’ve provided…”

  15. Matti Kononen
    December 17, 2016 at 10:36 PM

    there is money to be made. nobody is sitting around publishing dumb stories for free. conspiracy, mystery, fear, sex, scandal, drugs – it all sells. money is made from publishing junk news because there is a mass of idiots reading it and eating it up. sad.

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