The Third Wave’s Paul Austin Has Been Accused of Stealing Information For His Psychedelic Provider Directory

Russell HausfeldApril 2, 2021

The Third Wave copied information from Psychedelic.Support and MAPS Integration List without permission to use for its own directory.

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The Third Wave—which bills itself as a psychedelic education outlet run by “microdosing coach,” Paul Austin—has been accused of stealing information from Psychedelic.Support’s provider directory and MAPS’ Psychedelic Integration List.

This adds to the growing list of questionable behaviors from the Third Wave which Psymposia has previously reported on. In 2019, Psymposia published an open letter from members of the Third Wave staff who resigned over a Third Wave event with admitted sexual predator, Daniel Pinchbeck. In 2020, Psymposia reported on how Austin duped the BBC into marketing his microdose coaching program: “Becoming Superhuman” or alternately, “Become Bodhisattva.”

“The entire Psychedelic.Support community was aghast to learn on March 12, 2021 that all of the copyrighted information in our leading provider directory—names, bios, profiles, photographs—had been taken from our site without permission and published on another online platform [the Third Wave],” said Allison Feduccia, PhD, the co-founder and CEO of Psychedelic.Support.

The public link to the Third Wave directory (archived here) was sent to Feduccia by Austin, who later claimed that the directory was “still in beta mode” and that he had only wanted her feedback. But Feduccia noted that she could trace the upload of Psychedelic.Support’s content to the Third Wave’s site back to December 2020.

“No matter how you mince words, a line was crossed when information was downloaded from our site without permission and uploaded [to the Third Wave’s site] in December of 2020 for all to see,” Feduccia told Psymposia.

The Third Wave’s Directory (left) compared to Psychedelic.Support (right)

Psychedelic.Support’s directory provides information and profiles on vetted psychedelic-assisted therapy providers. These providers have all consented to having their information presented on the platform.

Providers did not consent to having their information copied and used on the Third Wave’s directory.

“I am incredibly disappointed in Paul Austin and Thirdwave [sic] for this violation,” said Emma Knighton, a mental health counselor listed in the Psychedelic.Support directory. “More than running into issues of copyright, this is a consent violation. I did not consent to having my name associated with Thirdwave [sic] (nor would I have if I were asked). This is an issue of entitlement, lack of ownership around systems of power, and misrepresentation of the spirit of psychedelics which so many of us are fighting to preserve in a field becoming increasingly colonized.”

Austin said in a March 12 email to members of Psychedelic.Support (seen by Psymposia), “I wanted to assure you that we don’t intend to make this directory publicly available until we’ve received explicit authorization from every individual listed.”

However, this statement appears to be false. To the knowledge of Psychedelic.Support and Psymposia, none of the individuals included on the the Third Wave site had been contacted by Austin or anyone at the Third Wave about inclusion in their directory.

According to a tweet from Austin, the directory has been public since at least January. The first snapshot of the directory on Internet Archive from January 29 confirms this. And the link Feduccia was given in March wasn’t password-protected until she voiced her concerns about the theft.

Tweet from Austin announcing the “soft launch” of the Third Wave directory.

After Feduccia made providers aware of the Third Wave’s behavior, Austin emailed her, “I would have been grateful if you had reached out to me directly to express your concerns [instead of sharing the link with providers].”

Feduccia said she reached out to her network of providers first because she saw Austin’s actions as a huge breach of trust.

“We rigorously vet every one of our providers prior to allowing them to join our network,” Feduccia said. “Psychedelic.Support exists for healing and positive transformation. Trust is paramount in this mission, which is why we immediately reached out to all of our providers to inform them of this breach of trust.”

The Third Wave also copied content from MAPS’ Psychedelic Integration List, which catalogs providers willing to help integrate clients’ psychedelic experiences.

Screenshots seen by Psymposia show images and text on the Third Wave’s directory that are identical to the MAPS Psychedelic Integration List.

The Third Wave’s Directory (left) compared to MAPS Psychedelic Integration List (right)

MAPS Director of Communications, Betty Aldworth, originally said that MAPS had no comment on this. Aldworth referred Psymposia to the Creative Commons license at the bottom of the Integration List page, which stated that anyone could share or adapt the page’s content with appropriate attribution.

Aldworth later clarified that, “Apparently the Creative Commons doesn’t apply to this information, so I redact [sic] that comment,” and said she would look into the situation.

Following this statement, the Creative Commons link—which had been at the bottom of MAPS’ list since at least March 4, 2019—was removed.

In a later email, when asked why the link was removed, Aldworth stated that Psymposia’s question flagged the error, so MAPS removed the link. Following up on the Third Wave situation, Aldworth restated, “We have no comment on this matter otherwise.”

Noting that the information on the page was incorrectly labeled as Creative Commons for two years has a range of implications, including that providers’ information may have been copied from MAPS and used without their consent (as long as MAPS was attributed). The license linked from the page stated that anyone could “remix, transform, and build upon the material for any purpose, even commercially.”

Regardless of MAPS’ Creative Commons license mistake, the Third Wave directory did not properly attribute MAPS, meaning it was still violating the (incorrect, according to MAPS) terms of use.

A source informed Psymposia that Austin had used the Third Wave directory, populated with stolen information, in a pitch at a private investor meeting in March. Psymposia asked Austin to confirm or deny this twice, but did not receive a response.

It is unclear if Austin plans to continue using stolen information from MAPS and Psychedelic.Support to court investors.

Austin has not replied to multiple requests for comment from Psymposia.

Kile Ortigo, PhD—a clinical psychologist and content editor at Psychedelic.Support—said that, as more players enter the psychedelic therapy scene, he thinks it is important to respect the work that others have already done and to carefully vet who he works with.

“As a psychologist, I’m extra careful about where I publish my professional profile and what boards I serve on. If the values espoused and demonstrated by a group misalign with my own, including my professional ethics, I abstain from associating myself with that group,” Ortigo said. “In order for me to do that, I have to know where my information is being shared. Plagiarism and other dishonest practices have no place in a field focused on authentic healing and transformation.”

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Russell Hausfeld

Russell Hausfeld

@RussellHausfeld
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Russell Hausfeld is Senior Writer for Psymposia and an investigative journalist and illustrator living in Cincinnati, Ohio. He has a Bachelor's degree in Journalism and Religious Studies from the University of Cincinnati.