Whirled Musings

Across the Universe with Cosmic Connie, aka Connie L. Schmidt...or maybe just through the dung-filled streets and murky swamps of pop culture -- more specifically, the New-Age/New-Wage crowd, pop spirituality & religion, pop psychology, self(ish)-help, business babble, media silliness, & related (or occasionally unrelated) matters of consequence. Hope you're wearing boots. (By the way, the "Cosmic" bit in my moniker is IRONIC.)

Friday, May 25, 2007

"The Secret" may fade, but stupid is forever

Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe.

~ Albert Einstein

I’m sure that Einstein, one of the unwitting stars of The Secret, would view Rhonda Byrne’s infomercial as a prime example (or, to be more exact, a Prime Time example) of human stupidity.

Some might argue that the bloom has faded from The Secret rose. Or, to throw another metaphor into the mix, "The Secret train has left the station," according to Walter Terry at the ROI Copywriting blog. The train may have left, but that hasn’t stopped the herd of hustledorks who are still trying to catch it and, with varying degrees of success, cash in on the franchise.

Even so, the formerly frenetic buzz around The Secret has calmed down a bit. Things were even kind of quiet on The Secret official discussion forum for a while, at least in the sense that nobody was saying anything that struck me as excessively inane. Then my pal Tony Michalski alerted me to a thread initiated yesterday by David Schirmer, the lone Aussie talking-head on The Secret. As luck would have it, I just mentioned Schirmer here the other day, in the context of announcing an article about Schirmer and The Secret written by another Aussie, Scott Pape, for Australia’s largest daily, the Herald Sun.

Schirmer is now on the front lines defending The Secret against unfair criticism – fighting the good fight, according to the Secretrons. On May 24 he announced his appearance on one of Australia’s hard-hitting news shows:

I am doing a shot with Channel 9 "A Current Affair"* today (and yesterday). It will be a great plug for The Secret. I'm sure they are going to try lots of hard and crazy questions ... the great thing is that the truth is always the truth and it is hard for people to deny that when presented with the correct facts. I am lead [sic] to believe I will also be addressing the question that Rhonda has copied this other woman's work (can't remember her name but wrote a book in 2003!)

I'm not sure when it will air, it guess it will either be tonight or early next week.

The first person to respond wrote, "Whose [sic] this, 'Other Woman'?" Soon enough there was this reply: "The other woman, is someone who wrote another book on the LOA."

At first I thought these folks were referring to Esther Hicks and her imaginary pals Abraham, who were featured quite prominently on the original version of The Secret DVD. (Not to give short shrift to Esther’s hubby Jerry, who wasn’t on the DVD but who, like some very ambitious New-Wage pimp, pushed Esther into "the life" in the first place by encouraging her to create her imaginary buds. No doubt about it, Jerry and Esther have earned themselves a fortune with this Abe-gang shtick.) Anyway, at the dawn of The Secret era Rhonda had a wonderful relationship with Esther and Jerry, who have perpetrated, among other works, a book called The Law Of Attraction. These days, however, Esther, Jerry and…um…"Abraham" are railing against Rhonda’s greed and have even released a DVD proving that they, and not Rhonda, are the ones who really know the true Secret.

So when I read Schirmer's post and the initial responses, at first I was thinking, How could these folks have such a short memory? How could dedicated Secretrons not remember the sacred names of Abraham-Hicks?

Then I did a little more digging. The woman whose name no one, including Schirmer, could remember, is not Esther Hicks; she is, apparently, Vanessa J. Bonnette, a holistic healer who – and this should come as no big surprise – claims to know secrets that The Secret didn’t reveal. Vanessa also claims that Rhonda plagiarized her 2003 book, Empowered For The New Age.

Rhonda has refused comment on this allegation. But apparently she doesn’t need to comment, for she has her posse of passionate defenders. F'rinstance, they angrily responded to one of my recent posts, leading Tony M. to make the observation that while so far not one person has made a comment on my recent post about Emile Coué, "...you off- handedly (and somewhat satirically) say that Rhonda pops pills and ... WHAM! ... a veritable sh-t storm of activity. Go figure."

Rhonda's defenders are out in force on Schirmer's Secret forum thread too. The Secretron I quoted added this (which I’m going to present unedited, without the constant insertion of "sic"):

And as for that other lady, i dont really care if Rhonda stole her or anyones work.

The point is, since the secret was released (whether it was clever marketing or not) people around the world are happier and have so much hope.

The LOA is a law like gravity. So it would be stupid if Sir Isaac Newton starts complaining that the law of gravity was stolen from him.

If its a law, it doesnt belong to anyone!

And that other author, honestly when you look at her, its obvious that she has not applied anything from LOA to herself, so its natural that people are not going to believe what she says.

If she believes the LOA, then she should stop complaining!

Ah, yes… the invocation of Sir Isaac Newton and the law of gravity. It always seems to come up when the Law Of Attraction is mentioned. Haven’t we seen this discussion before? And I like that Secretron's amoral attitude regarding theft of intellectual property.

In any event, David Schirmer had a disappointing experience with his interview (and again, I’m not editing or "sic"-ing this):

…have just got back from my interview and I have been setup. I was invited into the studio under the pretense that it was to answer questions from people who wanted to know how to apply the Secret in their life. When I got in there I found out it was a huge anti-secret, anti-david, The Secret is a con, I am a con ... the interviewer talked over me the whole time with information he had twisted to make out that I (and The Secret) am one big fraud. Every time I attempted to share the truth behind accusations he cut me off or talked over the top. I now understand how Rhonda felt after she was attacked by the media and why she rarely does any interviews any more.

It feels so weird after you've helped many thousands of people to get a handful of people not tell the truth. So right now I'm REALLY looking for the seed of greater benefit in this adversity!

Naturally the Secretrons rallied to his side, with one of them offering this assurance to David:

I believe David that when we hear this negative talk those who believe band together and become stronger! There are always going to be critics out there, their problem not ours. The wonderful thing is, is how many people have changed their lives thanks to the secret and people like you. Look at me for instance, remember my situation and what you did for me and the secret so i will always be a fan of it all!!!

And another:

…their attacks on Law of Attraction will only cause those who dont know about it, to dig a little deeper and see what all the fuss is about.

They will find us - and the truth.**

And yet another:

…she [the woman who claimed Rhonda plagiarized her] is a perfect example as to why her book wasnt successful in bringing the information from the universe through and Rhondas did (Rhonda is genuine in bringing this info thru) im sure she was chosen for the pureness and truth of her ...no one "stole" anything like Rhonda said in the DVD about the secret exisiting for ages and all of the people who knew the secret ..she merely put it together and HER book/DVD took ....people related to it ..and were ready for it .. it is the way it has always been people against and people for ..it is designed to reinforce the truth ..the knowledge we know inside ourselves to be true ..thats all that matters there will always be the yin and yang to keep balance to the universe ..to make those nonbelievers WANT to believe reguardless to what is being presented and in what light…

A few comments later, Schirmer himself came back thanking everyone for their support, adding, "Someone said to me today that as you try to change the world for better some will try to destroy you rather than change their beliefs."

And so David Schirmer joins Rhonda Byrne in the ranks of the world’s great martyrs: those who fight bravely to make the world a better place, only to be viciously attacked by the dark forces. To read the entire PI Forum thread, click here.

Y’know, Schirmer may indeed have been set up by the folks at the TV show, and if so, shame, shame on them. But I don’t think we really need to be too concerned about his future. Matter of fact, I’m sure he is crying all the way to the bank. After all, as my friend Blair Warren has pointed out, Schirmer is one of those at the top of the Secret pyramid. He’s pretty much made his fortune by telling others that they can make a fortune too. The whole thing is basically just a giant MLM scheme. And as long as The Secret has any power at all, there will be no shortage of folks who try to use it to reach their own pinnacle. But someday the pyramid may come toppling down,*** as Blair notes:

At some point people have to do some actual work, produce something of real value lest the thing collapses.

Oh well, at least the truly "spiritual" ones at the top of the pyramid will have already made their piles of money by the time that happens. And when it does their success will only further "prove" how spiritual they were and how much more work their minions still have to do.

After all, the Universe likes greed.

Meanwhile, the Secret rose may fade and eventually wilt, but more roses – oh, many more, count on it! – will grow in its place. The train may leave the station, but another one will come along, and then another.

And the infinite universe of human stupidity will only continue to expand.

* Not to be confused with the defunct syndicated US "television newsmagazine."
** If they really find "the truth," it’s curtains for The Secret for sure.
*** (Added a couple of years later): For David Schirmer, the pyramid did indeed come tumbling down. The Current Affair expose was just the beginning of his troubles, and he remains one of the least successful and most obscure "stars" of The Secret. Follow the "David Schirmer" tag here and you'll get an idea.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Its pretty sad that you have nothing better to do than bash things that are well beyond your comprehension. Deal with your life and stop insulting others for having a different life than yours.

Friday, May 25, 2007 5:07:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

If you think my issue is with others who merely have a different life than mine, I would suggest that perhaps this blog is beyond *your* comprehension. Besides, I *am* dealing with my life. Knocking "The Secret" is merely a hobby.

Friday, May 25, 2007 5:15:00 PM  
Anonymous Blair Warren said...

It's pretty sad that some people have nothing better to do than bash people who "have nothing better to do."

Ironic, wouldn't you say Connie?

Friday, May 25, 2007 6:00:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Yes, Blair, but what delicious irony. It keeps us entertained, anyway, doesn't it? :-)

Friday, May 25, 2007 7:16:00 PM  
Blogger EoR said...

If The Nonsecret really works, how could Mr Schirmer have been "set up"? Didn't he use the Nonlaw of Attraction to imagine a lovely big wonderful secret-sellfest? And it failed.

Oh. There's a message there...

Saturday, May 26, 2007 4:20:00 AM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Maybe LOA works well for things like manifesting a good parking space or a luxury sports car, and not so well for things like preventing others from asking hard questions about outrageous claims.

Saturday, May 26, 2007 10:00:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The interview with Schirmer was shown tonight on A Current Affair. There were a bunch of people who had given him anywhere from $10,000 to $100,000 with promises to invest it and make a 1000% return (once again the stupidity of people knows no bounds). Of course Schirmer has taken the money, lost most of it on the stock market (or kept it) and not given them a penny back. He's just another crook out there fleecing the stupid. Simple.

Monday, May 28, 2007 6:30:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been attracted to this site, and I JUST MISSED THE SCHIRMER SHOW,Bugger! I would like to have seen him squirm.

Monday, May 28, 2007 7:45:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Monday, May 28, 2007 7:14:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Thanks, Anon. I posted a "live" link to this video -- the David Schirmer interview on "A Current Affair" -- on my May 28 entry. (Note: It works best with Internet Explorer; Mozilla Firefox users may be asked to download a plug-in to view the video.)

Monday, May 28, 2007 10:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Shawn S. said...

"The Secret" is such total garbage as to be beyond comment if it weren't getting such support from Oprah, and even SHE had to kind of retract her support when a fan told her she was just going to use the power of "The Secret" to cure her own cancer. Of course I'm sure that Oprah was just bowing from the pressure of the PharmaMedicoMilitaryIndustrial Junta...ahem.

Blair and others should know that bashing "The Secret" is worth the time. If it saves only ONE person from forgoing medical treatment for a treatable, potentially fatal, disease.

Keep up the ridicule dear Connie. Ambrose Bierce would kiss you if he read your blog. (Which might be kinda gross because he'd be like, 150 now... I guess he might've come out of Mexico alive if he'd known "the Secret")

Tuesday, May 29, 2007 6:07:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Funny that PI link to the Secret forum featuring David and the backlash has been deleted??

Free speech anyone?

Tuesday, May 29, 2007 6:22:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Thank you, Shawn. I'm a big fan of Ambrose Bierce and am honored to be placed in his company. I just don't want him kissing me. :-)

Tuesday, May 29, 2007 6:42:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Anon, the thread was deleted by the co-founders of the discussion group because, they said, it wasn't in keeping with the spirit of the forum. However, it just may "resurface" elsewhere soon, thanks to the art of copying and pasting... Shhhh! Don't tell anyone...

Tuesday, May 29, 2007 6:44:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) a government watchdog that investigates consumer fraud is launching an investigation into David's affairs.

Sunday, June 03, 2007 3:49:00 AM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Thanks, Anon. I suppose the ASIC investigation was bound to happen, given the accusations against Schirmer.

Sunday, June 03, 2007 9:39:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just watched the David Shirmer video ... my gosh, how funny! You know, I was led to the Abraham-Hicks book for some reason "Ask and it is Given" and have been reading it for the past two weeks. Although I WANT this to be true and have always felt that there's a spiritual world out there just beyond reach that we could possibly tap into somehow, I keep getting this funny feeling inside while reading this book that something "is not right". But you know, I've searched and searched the internet on testimonials and such, trying to find truth to "Abraham" and all I've found is positive things ... until now I've finally stumbled onto your site ... the first one to debunk "Abraham" and actually have some proof with this Shirmer video (although I haven't watched the "Secret" or know the relation to Abraham-Hicks.) Sounds like the same kind of boat. I don't know, maybe I'm just putting this out there for the first time so the Universe can tell me absolutely if what I'm reading is not good. Of course, being a devout Catholic does not lend me to believe this stuff in the least so maybe that's my trouble ... I mean, I see the beauty of living in harmony and loving yourself and others and enjoying your life here on earth, but when I read all of these testimonials they all sound so greedy ... and this life is not all about greed I don't think. I love God and I love Jesus, and I believe that either I'm missing out on something here by not getting closer to them or there's millions of people being led astray.

Thursday, August 16, 2007 10:24:00 AM  
Anonymous philmir said...

Great Post Connie and what a great hobby.

Thursday, September 06, 2007 5:35:00 AM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Thank you, Anon, for your comments. My site isn't the first or only one to express doubt about the Abraham phenomenon, nor do I offer substantial "proof" that Schirmer is a scammer or Abraham is a figment of Esther Hicks' imagination. But I like to think I'm helping to nurture some healthy doubts anyway. And you're right about the "Secret" phenomenon encouraging greed and narcissism, all in the name of "spirituality."

Thursday, September 06, 2007 9:47:00 AM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Thanks, Phil! I guess everyone has to have a hobby... :-)

Thursday, September 06, 2007 9:49:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Classic post! Though you had me at the singularity of human stupidity.

Beyond simple fun, I loved this because it's about confirmation bias in action. The mental somersaults our minds can do when belief is at stake are fascinating.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008 4:48:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't believe in "The Secret" or anything, but I like to say to people that have the kind of attitude that you have that maybe unoriginal and tired sarcasm, pessimism, and snarky-ness (real word?) is just as unrealistic as you think this whole "Secret" thing is. I'm searching the Internet for legit material debunking this stuff and this is the best Google can come up with? Bad, Google. Bad. *swats with newspaper*


Thursday, October 29, 2009 6:10:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

catatonickid said...

"Classic post! Though you had me at the singularity of human stupidity.

"Beyond simple fun, I loved this because it's about confirmation bias in action. The mental somersaults our minds can do when belief is at stake are fascinating."

Thanks, Cat. Read on for more examples of mental somersaults...

Thursday, October 29, 2009 8:34:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Anonymous 6:10 PM said...

"I don't believe in 'The Secret' or anything, but I like to say to people that have the kind of attitude that you have that maybe unoriginal and tired sarcasm, pessimism, and snarky-ness (real word?) is just as unrealistic as you think this whole 'Secret' thing is. I'm searching the Internet for legit material debunking this stuff and this is the best Google can come up with? Bad, Google. Bad. *swats with newspaper*


Sorry my snarkiness is not your cuppa tea, Aaron, although I don't see how my opinions, snarky as they are, could be called "unrealistic." They're my real opinions, after all. In any case, not all of my posts bearing "The Secret" tag are drive-by snarks. Some are actually pretty serious and thoughtful (search for "Chopra, The Secret, and the unenchanted world," for example. Still, even that one is just *opinion* -- not actual debunking.).

The thing is, Aaron, I am not, strictly speaking, a debunker. I've never claimed that my site is the ultimate rationalist debunking headquarters. There are sites, such as Skeptico's blog, that are more oriented to pure skepticism and critical thinking (although there's a great deal of snarkiness and sarcasm there, too, so ya better watch out).

Now, as for "The Secret," the problem, as I see it, with truly debunking it is that most of the promises and claims are so nebulous and sweeping that it's hard to pin them down. However, the one aspect of "Secret" culture that has been deconstructed pretty thoroughly by greater minds than mine is the idea that the so-called Law Of Attraction is an immutable physical law along the lines of the law of gravity. Again, try Skeptico's site for that.

I do have some pretty deep insights into the personal lives, business practices and mindsets of some of the "stars" of "The Secret" (and other selfish-help/New-Wage luminaries) -- and these insights certainly inspire much of my commentary. When I hear these jokers talk about how much they care about making the world a better place, and how they live to promote the well-being of their followers -- and yet I see so much evidence to the contrary -- well, that just inspires more snark.

And btw, my snarkiness and sarcasm and such about "The Secret" WERE more original at one time; for a while I was one of the few who seemed to be criticizing it. As time went by, more and more folks got on the bandwagon and now just about everyone is making fun of it. That doesn't make me the unoriginal one.

In any case, I find it hard to believe that I am even on the first few pages of results when Googling "Secret criticism" or whatever you were Googling. Other than putting appropriate tags on my posts, I do nothing to help the search engines.

So...Google on, and I'm sure that sooner or later you'll find something more to your liking.

Thursday, October 29, 2009 8:56:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, I was wondering if you could debunk the DMT experience? Recently I found my healthy skepticiscm somewhat undermined when I went 'through'the threshold. Dr Rick Strassman's work is a good place to begin research if you are unaware of this phenomenon.
It would be awesome if you could have a proper look into it, go through the experience as well and debunk from there. I am serious and really want to know what you make of it. Please note it has to be experienced to even be contemplated at an entry level. Thanks
Ad H

Wednesday, April 07, 2010 8:52:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Thanks, Ad, but I'm gonna have to turn that one down. Far be it from me to attempt to "debunk" any experience created or fueled by hallucinogenics. I've never been into hallucinogenics myself, other than trying mushrooms a couple of times many, many years ago. I agree, however, that psychedelics can offer insights into consciousness, but people have been arguing that in one way or another for centuries, so it's nothing new. DMT research sounds fascinated but I'm just not interested in being a guinea pig.

So... sorry to disappoint you, but when it comes to "debunking" I'm more interested in mundane aspects, such as exposing hypocrisy or just plain silliness in New-Wage gurus.

Thursday, April 08, 2010 10:35:00 AM  

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