How to Identify Fake Rewilders?


#1

Hey there. Something I’ve seen over the years (and we’ve discussed here before) are these pop-up sales people capitalizing off the success of the rewilding movement. Often times these people have no real interest in rewilding as a movement, but rather as a sales demographic. This is a clear stage of a movement as outlined in this genius essay on the rise and fall of subcultures:

What we haven’t really talked about here though, are the characteristics that can help us discern the authenticity and integrity of these folks. This is a huge concern at this stage in the rewilding movement. There are so many of these people now, and I see so many friends and acquaintances falling for the con, not realizing it until they’ve already spent a good amount of money or time on these people. Like any hazard, like any predator, there are identification signs you can make yourself aware of in order to not be predated on.

There are a two majory things I look for myself to discern the intentions of these people:

#1 They are the sole keeper of the knowledge you seek.
One of the most defining characteristics of these people is that they are separate from the actual community or movement they claim to be an expert in. They may interview other “experts” for publicity or cross marketing, but it’s usually not experts in a too-closely related field because that would undermine their position as THE expert in the field. This also means their biography doesn’t include influences (they spontaneously received this information/knowledge, came up with the idea themselves, received it in a vision, etc.) This is classic for a sales person because it positions them to make the most money by presenting themselves as the only real expert. To do this, they have to remain separate from the actual movement they claim to be representing.

  1. Snake Oil Sales
    This one is generally more obvious but not necessarily so. This one can be hard to pin down because, well, how do you define “snake oil.” There are many things I would define as snake oil based on scientific research that other friends of mine would swear by. For me, this is more about cost/benefits of the product first, and scientific research second. I know scientific research can be bias and meaningless. So I tend to read things a bit carefully and judge them myself.

There’s a lot more, but those are the two main things I look for. I thought I’d turn it around to other folks here. My question here is… How do you discern between the “real” and the “fake?” Like, what do you look for that sets off red flags? How do you define “real” or “fake?” Are there better terms than that? Is there a gray area? Let’s hear it.


#2

How about considering their track record? How did they enter the scene? Happy to find like-minded folks, after a journey of searching? Curious without putting in effort? Willing to share their experiences? How do they react to questions, especially critical ones? Where did they come from? What names do they drop? What names do they recognize and what not?


#3

I agree with those characteristics. One grey area is people who are obviously committed to rewilding, and don’t position themselves as gurus, but who are authoritarian in their leadership styles when push comes to shove. They may well act like the groups they start are egalitarian or democratic, but if they (or someone they like) is criticized, suddenly all that is out the window.


#4

If their rewilding doesn’t include Intersectionality, I can only follow them so far. Free knowledge of basic skills like plant ID, fire making, animal tracking, etc is great but the movement won’t grow unless all voices are welcome and considered at the table. I hope for a more cohesive and inclusive movement in the future. Thanks all.


#5

Yes, my feelings as well! :smiley: