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.)

Monday, October 29, 2007

Putting out fires


Mr. Fire apparently "cleaned" on his controversial blog posts about the San Diego fires. Formerly there were over 50 comments about his initial post (Oct. 26), and nearly 25 on his subsequent post (Oct. 27). many of them very critical of him. As of now, there are...um...zero comments. Perhaps it is merely a "glitch" in WordPress.


Or perhaps not.

Of course, it is his blog and he has the right to do anything he wants with it. And it may very well be that the comments will return after Joe has a chance to review them in more detail and answer them. (He was out of town this past week and, although he was answering some of the comments, he may not have been able to devote the attention to his blog that he normally does.)

But I thought there were some pretty good conversations going. Ron and I even joined in. And we were actually being pretty nice to Joe. Ron even called for people to stop what seemed like gratuitous attacks against Joe.

Oh, well, y'all can share your thoughts here if you wish, or on Steve Salerno's SHAMblog. We moderate our respective blogs too, but we're not afraid to publish remarks that are critical of us.

PS added on Tuesday, October 30 ~ Mystery solved: Joe explained that he deleted the blog posts because there were many "personal attacks, insults, wild claims, and dark negativity." He admitted there were some valid points too, but nevertheless he made the decision to "un-attract" all the posts and "clean this place up."

As I noted above, that's his right as a blogger. But I wonder what he considered to be "wild claims" – surely not those claims that his doctorates are phony? In any case, he still has not apologized for the seeming insensitivity of his remarks about the San Diego fires (links to those blog posts are above), and at this point, I don't think any apology is forthcoming. It will, in short, be business as usual.

Which, come to think of it, some of us other bloggers find very...well...attractive.

PS ~ The always delightful Lana Walker-Helmuth is hosting a lively discussion on these matters right now on her blog. Go see.

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44 Comments:

Anonymous Lana said...

Hi Connie! Lana here. I know you haven't seen me for awhile -- I had to extricate myself from hearing about the crazy New Wage world, else go nuts myself. (How DO you stay sane?)

I happened to check your blog the other day and saw your comment about Joe V. I popped over to his blog to read his post and was flabbergasted. I tried mightily to use my Sedona Method skills to simply release it, but resistance (of course) was making the exercise futile. :-)

Anyway, I too have been interested in the comments and perspectives being posted there. I'm very curious about why they're all gone.

Monday, October 29, 2007 2:31:00 PM  
Anonymous Peter (NL) said...

I noticed the comments were pulled too and googled cosmic connie for more information. Interesting move by Vitale, something must have lit a fire in him. Hard to clean what has been burnt.
But all puns aside, that is a dubious way to respond to comments made by many of his regular readers, some of them (former) customers of him. There was a lot of wisdom and teaching to be found in those comments. Seems like if you're going to demonstrate how masterful the secret speakers focus their life and avoid natural disasters and then when responding to comments you get defensive saying that 'victim' attitude is a problem, you discredit your own teachings, which goes somewhere along the lines of this: This world is fully your responsibility, you can 'correct' it by healing yourself. Why stick your head in the sand when people don't react the way you'd like them to, and why respond defensively reflecting that people for not having the right mindset.

Expanded consciousness to me is the wisdom not to replace one narrow way of seeing the world with another narrow way view of the world. But to be able to put down the glasses and to truly see the bigger picture, from many viewpoints, with compassion, character, strength and love.

Sticking your head in the sand will keep your face safe from the fire, but it won't stop it from burning your ass nor sopt the dirt from sticking to your face.

Notice how Vitale, a marketeer brakes the golden rule 'the customer is always right';) just a playful observation

Monday, October 29, 2007 4:31:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Hi there, Lana -- it's good to hear from you! And hey, who said I was sane? :-) I agree; it's very interesting that all those comments were removed. And it's a shame, too; as I said in my post, the conversation was really just beginning to get interesting. But it's very possible that Joe may yet find a way to cash in on the situation. We'll just have to wait and see.

Anyway, I'm glad you dropped in.

Monday, October 29, 2007 6:45:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Thank you, Peter. I agree that a lot of interesting perspectives were being presented in these discussions. I was a bit shocked to see them all disappear. Interestingly enough, though, the posts are still there -- for now, anyway. Anyway, thanks for dropping in and sharing your thoughts.

Monday, October 29, 2007 6:48:00 PM  
Blogger RevRon's Rants said...

I'll bet that Ford Motor Co. would have loved to have been able to just delete all commentary about the Pinto when the things started blowing up years ago. Thankfully, they lived in a world where accountability is a *good* thing. Modern-day Internet hucksters do not, unfortunately.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007 1:32:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Good points, Ron. Of course, it might be argued that Internet hucksters don't normally put people's lives in danger... but then again, as you pointed out when we talked about this among ourselves, misleading people, and/or causing them to squander time and money, can also be hazardous.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007 2:23:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007 6:26:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007 10:21:00 AM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Hi, everyone:
After careful consideration, and following several conversations with people whose opinions I respect, I have removed the copied-and-pasted comments that had previously been deleted from Joe Vitale's blog on October 26 and October 27. Nobody told me to do it, or threatened me in any way. I listened to several different opinions for and against taking these remarks down. None of this was legal advice, only informal exchanges about the ethics of the situation.

In the end, I decided that since these comments were part of Joe's blog to begin with, and he chose, for whatever reason, to retract them, it simply wasn't my place to re-publish them. Some of you may be saying, "Duh!" right about now. But some of you might be a bit disappointed that I have removed this material.

In the end, I thought about how I would want to be treated in a similar situation; if I "un-published" something, would I want someone else taking it and running with it? No, I would not. It's that old "Golden Rule" thing.

And it's not as if the issues raised in these discussions are dead and forgotten. The debates continue in other forums, such as those I linked to in the P.S. and P.P.S. of this very post. People who really have an issue with, say, Joe's "doctorates," aren't going to forget that matter just because the comments to a couple of posts were taken down. Folks who take umbrage at his seemingly callous or dismissive view of tragic events aren't going to forget their ire just because some comments were removed.

I realize I am often snarky and sometimes even a bit bitchy on this blog, but the one thing I don't want to be is sleazy. I'll leave the sleaze to those in the New-Wage biz, where there's plenty of sleaze to go around. :-) Thank you for understanding.

Thursday, November 01, 2007 8:16:00 PM  
Anonymous Lana said...

Hi Connie,
I think you made the right decision to delete the comments -- for all the right reasons!

I'm glad you have ethical, wise friends you can consult with. One thing I really like about you is your willingness to listen and act fairly based on input.

Lana

Thursday, November 01, 2007 10:05:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Thanks, Lana. I really appreciate that. And thank you for providing a forum (your blog) for open discussion of these matters.

Thursday, November 01, 2007 10:31:00 PM  
Anonymous Lana said...

You're welcome.

It's great to have such an interesting, thought-provoking (and civil!) discussion taking place on my blog. Thanks for your participation!

Thursday, November 01, 2007 11:12:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have long held the Secret "teachers" with the same contempt I hold for the television evangelists of the 80s--sharks who will do or say just about anything to separate the poor, the elderly and the seeking from their money. I would have thought that the idiotic strings of letters after their names--few combinations are recognized in true academia--would have immediately branded them as shysters, but I guess they are impressive enough to con people.

I have also long disregarded Joe Vitale as an annoying "hard-sell" money-grubber rather than a marketing "genius"--he is a great fan of PT Barnum, for obvious reasons--and I just assumed that once the customer pool of wannabe MLM marketers dried up (his "writing" so many books appears to be just rehashing and revising old "books" and peddling them under new names every other month or so) he would discover a bigger pool. The rather gullible self-help market is tailor-made for him and his ilk.

Out of curiosity I downloaded a heap of his e-books and audio programs from a torrent site (I'm not about to give him money) and waded through them. Most are pathetic upsells of dozens of other programs and bragging about how such and such a manipulative tactic will "sell like crazy!" Funny, he uses the same tactics he brags about to attempt to sell his stuff to other marketers--don't they see it? Not to mention the constant never-ending joint-venture plugs and whatnot. The upselling is constant, to a shameless degree. It is tiresome, to say the least. But to each his own.

I thought given the breathless excitement for just about everything the guy hawks that he was merely being manipulative. But a recent listen to a torrented version of one of his hashed and rehashed schticks--it started out as "Spiritual Marketing" and then somehow magically changed into the "Attractor Factor" and then got rehashed and resold again as the "Attractor Factor--the AUDIO BOOK!!!!" (okay, so I added the exclamation points) was something of a slap in the face. A wake-up call, if one were needed.

It involves a "guru" Joe was following named "Jonathan" who Joe credits with healing him and his wife, the guy's a genius, yadda yadda yadda. But sorry, for other seekers who are looking for enlightenment: "Jonathan" is no longer practicing, it turns out. Awwww.

I read "Spiritual Marketing" first, all about "Jonathan"'s apparent genius--the book is partially dedicated to him, as a matter of fact: "I am of course grateful to Jonathan Jacobs for his work as a healer, miracles coach, and friend" is how he puts it in the 2001 edition--and then I found the "Attractor Factor" to be the same thing, only updated and padded with some new stories.

A chronology of updates for "Spiritual Marketing" and the "Attractor Factor" is a veritable goldmine of how Joe's life has been updated in interesting ways. Such as the dissolution of his twenty-plus year marriage. Here's how he puts it, again in the 2001 "Spiritual Marketing" version:

"When I first wrote this book, I was still married to XXXXXXX, who I had been with for more than twenty years. Since then we decided we had grown apart. There was nothing negative about the experience or the decision at all. XXXXX decided she preferred being alone. I decided to look for another partner."

I found Joe's explanation somewhat coy after twenty-plus years of marriage, and it didn't sit right. At first I attributed it, unkindly, to the self-help movement's rather narcissistic "me first--and what have you done for me LATELY?" and left it at that. Further curious investigation on the internet revealed his ex-wife died recently, in 2004. My innocent questions all came to ugly fruition as I continued my research.

Here's an unintentionally great quote about just how "powerful" our pal Jonathan was--again, from the 2001 "Spiritual Marketing" edition:

'I just had lunch with a delightful friend of mine. She had a session with Jonathan last week and she was still glowing. Her eyes were large and alive, full of passion for life. She reminded me that even though you may think you know what you want, you may have to probe deeper to discover what you really want."

Oh, dear. Hindsight is everything, huh?

Throughout "Spiritual Marketing" "Jonathan" is hyped to such a degree you can see people clamoring for an audience with the miracle man. But alas, it is not to be. Joe devotes an entire chapter to "Where's Jonathan?" in which we learn....

"The thing is, Jonathan is no longer available. He has taken time off to do personal things."

Well, that's one way of putting it. And technically I suppose it's truthful. It's also shamelessly misleading. Turns out Joe was actively endorsing and supporting a known sexual predator. And Joe KNEW it.

At the end of the "Attractor Factor" audio book--which I assume will be last in the line of repackaging and flogging this particular chestnut--Joe finally mentions why his buddy-pal "Jonathan" is no longer practicing his craft, despite the thousands of requests Joe receives from the gullible wanting to throw money at the man.

It seems Jonathan's ego (this is Joe's explanation) got in the way of his enlightenment and he started SEDUCING--a much nicer word than "molesting", huh?--several of his female followers. Joe was one of the few who stood by and supported his friend through this difficult time. And then his friend Jonathan seduced a certain someone Joe felt very close to, who was his best friend and all that stuff, and eventually ruined her life. Joe felt BETRAYED and angry and all that negative energy.

(He has since gone on to forgive Jonathan, I am happy to report. He wishes him well. He doesn't want to ever see him again--he at least makes THAT part perfectly clear--but he wishes him well nonetheless. Wotta guy.)

He doesn't say it outright, but it doesn't take an investigative genius five minutes on the internet to see that it's his ex-wife he's talking about, both as the close female friend seduced by his "guru" and as someone on her deathbed who was miraculously (though temporarily) "healed" by buying a "yagna" on the internet (possibly from one of his joint-venture chums, seeing how he wrote a testimonial prominently displayed on their website and directs you to the URL in his audio book). The poor unnamed woman who was seduced by her "guru" (in his online eulogy to his ex-wife Joe more bluntly says she was "molested by her therapist"), ended up in a tailspin of suicidal depression and health crises that eventually destroyed her life. At least as Joe quite openly and sadly depicts it. He just doesn't say it's his ex-wife. Why, I don't know, for the dots are right there to to connect.

It is a horrifying story of blindness and betrayal. Not sure where the divorce comes in, but it's one sad, sad tale by anyone's standards, and a distinctly far cry from how Joe depicts his tra-la-la mututally happy growing-apart divorce in the various editions of his "book". And even after being both literally and figuratively screwed over, Joe's still chasing the dream, so to speak. So now I'm starting to suspect that Joe is indeed that gullible to believe some of the stuff he's hawking. And he'll probably walk all doe-eyed right into it again, one of these days.

At first I just viewed him with dismissive contempt as a shameless MLM huckster. Now I feel kinda sorry for him. Not enough to buy any of his stuff--torrent sites are perfect for cheap research like this if people don't believe me. But I suspect he's severely delusional, or at the very least hurting really, really badly. It's a pity he'll probably drag others down with him, but you can't save people from themselves...

Friday, November 02, 2007 7:50:00 AM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Hi, Anon, and thank you for your comments.

Everyone else: I debated with myself over whether or not to publish this comment in its entirety but in the end chose to do so. I just noticed that this person also posted on Lana's "You Unplugged" blog.

For the record, I do not know who this anonymous poster is, nor do I know all of the circumstances of the events that s/he writes about. Furthermore, it is obvious that some of this person's comments are based on conjecture.

It is, however, conjecture gleaned from numerous public statements Joe himself has made, and I have to agree with the poster that some of these statements seem contradictory, particularly when one "connects the dots," as virtually anyone would be able to do after a bit of Internet research.

I have the free e-book download of "Spiritual Marketing," and can testify to what the poster said about the amicable, "tra-la-la" spin Joe put in that book on his divorce.

In that book, or at least in the version I have, he talks a great deal about "Jonathan Jacobs" and the wonderful work Jonathan did with him and others. At the very end, as the poster noted, he merely says that Jonathan is "no longer available" because he has taken time off to do "personal things."

He does not reveal that "Jonathan Jacobs" is not the guy's real name, nor does he talk about any of the bad stuff "Jonathan" did. In an interview that is fairly widely accessible online, however, Joe does reveal "Jonathan's" real name. Turns out that this guy was someone Joe once put in contact with me, to help me work on some of my "issues." I hasten to add that this was in the early 90s, and it is very possible that this was before this guy's "troubles" began. Joe very much believed in this person at that time, and I am sure he only had my best interests at heart, for we were friends back then. In any case, it never got past the initial-phone-call stage (the guy called me). I got "creepy" vibes from him and politely disengaged myself from the conversation.

I have not read "The Attractor Factor," but have read enough *about* "The Shocking Truth About Jonathan" to know that "Jonathan" ended up being one of those "hands-where-they-don't-belong" gurus.

The sadness and tragedy regarding Joe's "best friend" is not my story to tell, and it is not the anonymous poster's story either. We all have experienced profound sadness in our lives and we have all made mistakes, and we all have to deal with them in our own way.

Nevertheless I felt that this post added something to the ongoing conversation about these issues.

I'm willing to listen to other viewpoints, of course.

Friday, November 02, 2007 10:21:00 AM  
Blogger RevRon's Rants said...

Connie,
I want to publicly applaud you for showing a much deeper sense of integrity that does the subject of your post. I also commend you for not going into the details of what we personally know about the dear friend/therapist relationship and its ultimate results. While doing so would serve to add significant credibility to many of the comments about Joe, it would also be inconsistent with your (sometimes overly) compassionate nature.

Which leads me to note that if *you* can go so far as to acknowledge that someone is a hustler, just think what an objective (but less gentle) soul would have to say... Oh, that's right... Many of them (us) did, in the comments Joe felt the need to delete from his blog. :-)

Friday, November 02, 2007 10:45:00 AM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Thank you for the support, Ron. And as I noted earlier, those comments may be gone, but the "issues" they raised live on...

Friday, November 02, 2007 10:49:00 AM  
Anonymous Lana said...

Hi Connie and Anon,
I published Anon's comments on my blog because I think it's important to show the dark side of what goes on in the self-help/New Wage/LOA/etc. worlds -- even when we don't have all the facts.

There is the danger of real harm, and many of us who have experienced it, observed it, or escaped by the skin of our teeth feel a moral obligation to speak up.

Connie's presentation of New Wage scams are often hilarious, and some exposes scare the tar out of me!

I've learned a lot here. Sometimes when evaluating some newfangled thing, I ask myself, What would Connie say about this? Are the claims Connie-proof? What would Connie do? (WWCD) LOL!

Lana

Friday, November 02, 2007 12:12:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Thank you, Lana. I've learned a lot from your blog too. Even though you are investigating some of the very things I've made fun of, at least you are *investigating* and aren't wholeheartedly endorsing or declaring absolutes.

I'm glad that you published Anon's comments too. I wouldn't have done so if it was all based on speculation or on "private" information. But as I noted, much was based on information that is publicly known.

"WWCD?" Hmmm....I'm thinking bracelets, T-shirts...a whole new money stream! Thanks for the suggestion, Lana! :-)

Friday, November 02, 2007 12:17:00 PM  
Anonymous Lana said...

Connie,
Well, you have been looking for new ways to make money!

I'll take a T-shirt, short sleeves, V-neck, small. You're in business!

Yes, we do investigate some of same things, such as EFT. I'm going to write an article about other ways the technique may work (besides subtle energy). I'll let you know when it's published.

Lana

Friday, November 02, 2007 12:35:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Thank you in advance for your T-shirt order, Lana. :-)

Although EFT has supposedly been "debunked," I am always willing to listen to reasonable opinions about it. I think the jury is still out and it's a worthwhile area of research. I just didn't think (at least judging by the trailer and surrounding hype), that the film "Try This On Everything" has done much to advance the cause.

Friday, November 02, 2007 12:55:00 PM  
Blogger RevRon's Rants said...

Lana -
Please don't encourage her. A narcissist might well be very entertaining, but I have to *live* with her. And if her head swells any bigger from the accolades, the required increase in her hat allowance alone will bankrupt us! :-)

Friday, November 02, 2007 1:33:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Hats! Yeah, there's another Cosmic Connie item. Thanks, Rev!

Friday, November 02, 2007 1:41:00 PM  
Anonymous Lana said...

LOL! Don't worry, Ron -- the money will be worth all the extra hats!

Friday, November 02, 2007 1:46:00 PM  
Anonymous Lana said...

Connie,
Yeah, I'm not too impressed with the Try It on Everything trailer. The music and film editing make EFT seem hokey -- okay, hokier than it already seems!

Sure, some people believe they have debunked EFT. Maybe they have successfully debunked the "energy" part, I don't know. But some mechanism that the technique employs does work. Not every time, not perfectly, and not at all for some people.

Stay tuned!

Lana

Friday, November 02, 2007 1:54:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

I will stay tuned, Lana, and thanks for the additional info.

Friday, November 02, 2007 2:35:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

By the way, regarding that comment by Anon, I wanted to clarify one thing. In the third to the last paragraph the commenter mentions a "yagna." Actually the word is "yagya." It refers to a Vedic (Hindu) ceremony purportedly designed to engage at least one deity in promoting health and restoring "environmental balance."
It's an ancient tradition, adapted, as so many ancient traditions have been, for the Western world. In fact it is one of the scams...er...schemes infamously employed by the Maharishi.

And, just as our commenter said, there is indeed a yagya-Vitale connection. I typed in "yagya Joe Vitale" and came up with an article on this site:

http://www.spottingtrends.com/
investment/
investment_philosophy_31.htm

The author, Gary Scott, quotes "Dr." Joe Vitale on the wonders of the yagya. He quotes Joe as saying:

“Rather than continue trying to explain what a yagya is, let me instead give you a testimonial on how one influenced my best friend.

“Saved from Death

“My best friend of two decades was on her death bed a year ago. After being in a near-fatal car accident, having both knees replaced, her back broken, suffering from depression, then becoming suicidal and anorexic due to medication she never should have accepted, she was taken by ambulance to the hospital, where she lay unconscious and dying.

“We had already tried everything. She had gone to healers, doctors, therapists, and psychiatrists. I hired home health care for her. She prayed, meditated, listened to tapes. I asked 500 friends of mine to pray for her and send her healing energy. Nothing was breaking her free. I feared I would lose my best friend of 25 years.

“In desperation, I arranged for a month-long yagya to be done for her. Within two days she woke up in the hospital, sat up, and stood up. The day before, she could not move or even turn over in bed! Now she was ready to go home. The hospital was stunned. The doctors couldn’t explain it. They kept her for further testing and observations.

“She just got better and better. A week later, this same woman who was near dead, was released from the hospital. She is now walking, talking, smiling, driving, and very glad to be alive. I saw her yesterday. I thought I might never see her again. This is a genuine miracle. And that’s the power of a yagya.”

Joe goes on to explain that a yagya is the equivalent of "karmic surgery." He credits a yagya he arranged to have done on himself for propelling his book, "The Attractor Factor," to success.

Follow the link above to read the rest.

The point is, it does sound as if the "best friend" Joe describes in his yagya tale is his ex-wife, whom he referred to on numerous occasions as his best friend of twenty-plus years.

Anyway, I just wanted to clear that little bit up.

Friday, November 02, 2007 10:00:00 PM  
Blogger gregory said...

some wonderful threads.... and i know i cannot change anybody's mind, but i will attempt to broaden the conversation by making this statement....

we are experts in what our issues are

how i grokked this, a friend yelling intensely at me about how i had no control over my emotions....

and i realized that he knew more than anyobody else about the disadvantages of being out of control emotionally; in fact, he was an expert about it, because he lived with the problem 24/7/365

that said, this is the understanding i have when i read about mr. vitale, and all the other targets of connie and salerno and those who have the job in life to debunk something or other....

we are experts in what our issues are, and therefore, why should we even think that any of these people should be in any way other than they are??

if they were different, they would be somebody else, and we probably never would have heard about them

enjoy, keep cooking, i am meeting some interesting people via this medium

Saturday, November 03, 2007 8:17:00 AM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Thanks, Gregory, and it's good to see you here. It's true that we are, as you say, experts in what our "issues" are. Your example of your friend losing it while telling you that you couldn't control your emotions is a good illustration of the fact that very often, the things that bug us most in other people are the things we see in ourselves. I get that. And believe it or not, I always (or almost always) keep it in mind when I'm posting.

Of course, the fact that I have flaws of my own, which I sometimes see reflected in my "targets," does not (to put it bluntly) negate or excuse the crap they're pulling. I'm sure that's not what you're trying to say at all, but my point is that I'm probably going to keep on "cooking" here for a while, even if some or most of the thoughts I serve up are half-baked. :-)

I may reach a point some day where I can be more philosophical about these matters and look at them from a broader perspective. But one of the things that keeps me from seeking that state right now is the big question: would serene acceptance be a sign of progress in my development, or merely a sign that I had become complacent? Would it mean my world had grown larger, or smaller than ever? Would it mean that I had become a little more spiritually evolved, or that I had simply given up the struggle against New-Wage nonsense and hucksterdom and decided to just say, "Screw it!"?

Weighty questions... too heavy for a Saturday morning. Over on Lana's blog, my partner Ron (aka RevRon) addressed some of these matters in more depth and with more eloquence than I could ever manage. He's coming at it from more of a Buddhist perspective, as opposed to my agnostic/narcissistic/smart-ass perspective.

But I welcome your thoughts here any time, Gregory. Thank you for stopping in.

Saturday, November 03, 2007 10:50:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I appreciate the bravery and fairness inherent in publishing my previous comment. I also appreciate the awkwardness of once having been friends with the person in question. While I personally think Vitale to be a shameless money-grubber and an over-the-top, rather obnoxious promoter, I am also fairly convinced that HE thinks that he is doing good while he grubs. Which makes some of his pronouncements all the more dangerous. Blindly disregarding reports about someone just because you deem them "negative" can indeed lead to serious harm, as the "Jonathan" story quite amply and sadly illustrates.

I also appreciate and applaud the skepticism of not taking my comments as verbatim truth. I prefer people to think for themselves, research things and ask the sometimes difficult or confrontational questions. I tend to judge belief systems based on their tolerance for both internal and external dissent. Perhaps this is not fair, but it is an easily measured standard, and those that fail the test fall under immediate suspicion until further research proves otherwise. Sweeping things under the rug is not conducive to discovering the "truth", in my view.

I too pondered whether or not to make the comment in the first place. I am ESPECIALLY not a fan of self-help people's tendency to mine the private lives of their families and friends for embarrassing and/or amusing anecdotes to share with their minions. I agree: it is not my story to tell. I only bring it up because Joe himself feels perfectly comfortable sharing several aspects of it. And he drops enough hints--and by "hints" I mean names, dates and pretty specific descriptions--for just about anyone to come to what I suspect is a reasonable conclusion. I was merely curious, and this one suddenly coy aspect of an otherwise seemingly open book struck my curiosity, as such things will do.

Also, he brings up a certain loved one's misery and death in at least two public testimonials for online products he appears to be endorsing--something I personally don't approve of, I'll admit, but to each his own. We deal with our grief in our own ways. I will therefore fall back on the admittedly childish "he did it first" defense. For whatever issues I may have lurking in my conscience or subconscience (how's that for a play on "subconscious"? :) ) I cannot bring myself to mention the unfortunate person by name, out of a belated respect for their privacy. Joe seemingly does not have issues with this, which is what made my research so incredibly easy. Easy enough for me to pipe up and quite gauchely ask, "Geez, why doesn't the guy just SAY it?" only to have polite society gasp and glare at me like I'm some sort of monster.

Despite the anticipated claims of the "Joe-bots" who might come clamoring to the defense of their guru, I DO in fact question my motives, all the time. I am not perfect. I am certainly cynical and skeptical. And I really, really HATE it--with perhaps a blind, unthinking, unfairly knee-jerk passion--when I feel people are being taken advantage of, even if they themselves are willing victims. (Oh, I forgot, there ARE no victims.) Hence my earlier comparison of the Secret people to television evangelists, another group I am prone to unfairly question and dismiss out of hand. I am fully aware of my shortcomings, as well as the shortcomings of others.

But even people who make mistake after mistake might get something right once in a while. One can't prove a negative, so a silly "prove me WRONG!" is a foolish and unfair challenge. So I'll just say hear me out: I'll state my case, and see whether or not people think it's a viable theory. And if people think I am violently and/or maliciously misrepresenting things, please call me on it. Thus far it looks like Connie's research is bringing up some of the same things I've discovered. I think you'll find more, but I leave that for you to decide.

I have no history or particular burning interest in Vitale, for the record, except very recently to see what all the fuss is about. I downloaded a passel of his e-books via torrent--which yes, is a violation of copyright, and not something I usually do, but I wasn't going to waste money on them and I figured it would be quicker than special-ordering them at my public library, which was my original intent. I had no great plans to use any patented secrets to make MILLIONS, nor hand them out wholesale for free to others, nor did I expect any sort of earth-shaking spiritual enlightenment. As I envisioned, so I received.

I quickly decided after skimming through his many, many offerings I didn't want nor need him in my life. Not for me. YMMV. I just happened to keep listening to this one audio book out of boredom while driving, coupled with my inability to change playlists on my iPod in traffic--oooh, they say things happen for a REASON!--and I was SHOCKED at the conclusion to the "Jonathan" story (as Joe quite rightly assured I would be). Listening to the particulars I kept thinking, "gee, that sounds like so-and-so", since I had just done this sudden crash Vitale course and certain things stuck in my mind. I started making comparisons and coming to conclusions which may or may not hold water.

So when I got out of my car I went straight to a computer and threw a few names and dates into Google. I fully expected my detective work to be common knowledge and hence all OVER the place, like everything else Vitale does. It's not. I can't find any direct references to what I found to be a horrifying, sad conclusion to a tale of good intentions gone horribly wrong.

His eulogy speech for his ex-wife is online, and in typical Vitale fashion comes complete with the requisite name-dropping. (I wonder how the dropped name might feel, having a private phone conversation thus brought out in public, warts and all? Again, I'm not a fan of--um, "exploiting" is too strong of a word, but I can't think of a gentler one off the top of my head, so forgive my inexactitude--uh, exploiting other people's lives to make a point unless you have their specific permission. Even then I'd be sure to change their names around to protect their privacy. But that's just me. And I recognize that I should cut a grieving person a break, so I'll just shut up and apologize already. I can be a jerk, sometimes.)

Joe apparently values Jonathan's privacy much more than other people's in his life, since he ironically grants "Jonathan" full anonymity while dropping clues all over the place for at least one of Jonathan's victims. Although from what I gather from Connie's subsequent comments he has since publicly divulged who "Jonathan" really is. I haven't pursued this further because as ironic and dishonest as it sounds, I really don't care, if you can believe that. My research is essentially over.

Vitale only goes into detail about his close friend's experiences in the audio book version of the "Attractor Factor", so I see it as the continuing saga of the Jonathan story. (I don't know about the print/ebook version; I assume they are the same.) I can't find it being discussed anywhere on the web. I feel if he is willing to bring it up, it's fair game for discussion. I thought about it for a while, and ultimately decided that it would certainly fall under "Fair Use" if one wished to download seven minutes of a five-hour program for critical analysis. Consequently I have found a source where one can incidentally download the relevant tiny snippet. Go here:

http://www.megaupload.com/?d=X4JG4C34

There's a "captcha" field in the upper right you will have to fill out. Then you have to wait 45 seconds, and then hit the "Free Download" button that will reveal itself at the bottom of the "free" column after the 45 seconds are up. And then wait for the download. The file is 2.5 MB, if size is an issue. There will also be an annoying popup ad you can just close, unless you are a slave to popup ads. Hard-sell marketers seem to like them, but for me they just don't fulfill the "Interest" component of AIDA. :)

I know nothing of the Jonathan situation except for Joe's explanation coupled with other synchronicitous events and wordings that made me go "huh?" And yes, some of my conclusions are drawn, perhaps erroneously, from Joe's description of the timeline of events. It appears to me that Joe was very well aware of his friend's TENDENCIES, shall we euphemistically say, from early on. He even freely admits in said audio clip that some growing aspects of Jonathan's behavior gave him the willies, but *he* was enjoying such *personal gains* from the association he turned a blind eye to the expanding body of evidence. He very specifically SAYS this. But it got so bad and so blatant, eventually even JOE had to take notice.

You can hear him on the tape rolling his eyes in disapproval as he recounts the growing string of abuses. There is no specific timeline, but my guess is he knew about the situation for MONTHS, at least. This is a guesstimate, given how long I suspect it might take for Jonathan's initial fall from grace, his subsequent spiral and decline, Joe's continued support and friendship and "healing" attempts, Jonathan's subsequent clawing back to life and getting back to the business of seeing and "healing" clients again, culminating in Joe's again eye-rolling disapproving "gee, ya know, the silly goose started doing it AGAIN!". Perhaps I am mistaken, but I don't think one can spiral down, hit rock bottom and then work one's way back in the time frame of, say, a single weekend. Maybe I'm just particularly slow to heal, being so negative and cynical and unenlightened and all.

My conclusion remains open for debate and speculation: through some misguided feeling of friendship, loyalty and positive-thinking "my friend can't be as bad as this ever-growing army of detractors keeps saying he is" Joe pretty much discounts and willfully disregards the growing number of reports and complaints from who knows how many female "clients". My--again, perhaps erroneous--interpretation of the story and the timeline seems to have Joe actively supporting Jonathan and continuing to endorse him while the complaints keep pouring in.

I reaffirm my earlier statement that saying such a person "has taken time off to do personal things" is "shamelessly misleading". Continuing to protect a clearly dangerous person can only lead to further hurt, as history demonstrates again and again.

For some reason the wealth of inappropriate behavior reports doesn't really even enter the picture except in the sense of "my friend got himself FIRED, the poor thing", without a peep of written or spoken consideration for the apparently many, many nameless victims. (Oh, yeah, I keep forgetting--there ARE no victims.) It's all "gee, my poor friend, he started on this wrong path of screwing up his life! I TRIED and TRIED to help him! It's so AWFUL seeing a friend go through such a DARK TIME!" Etc. All of this single-recipient altruism changes quite DRASTICALLY once Joe himself has HIS life--or, rather, the life of someone he actually CARED about--suddenly and inappropriately touched, so to speak. Only then is the proverbial line actually crossed.

Joe makes a very specific point of saying the close friend who suffered this event was MARRIED at the time, an off the cuff insistence that leads me to conclude--again, perhaps erroneously (are we getting tired of hearing that, yet? Let's just ASSUME I'm wrong. I'm okay with that)--that the incident MAY have had something to do with his eventual divorce. Certainly it had devastating consequences on his semi-anonymous female friend, as is usually the case when people "attract" such a horrible, horrible thing into their lives.

Jonathan's foibles and (up until this point) apparently tolerable personality "quirks"--my word--suddenly overnight become "evil"--Joe's word--and Joe is left "betrayed" and "stabbed in the heart". No such reaction when there were countless strangers being abused, but once it hits home man oh man does the fur fly. And Jonathan--the coward!--instead of facing and answering Joe's demand for an explanation, runs and hides and is never seen again. A character flaw Joe seems to find particularly *vile* in this instance, as I interpret the audio.

As you can hear for yourself, Joe has since found it in his heart to forgive Jonathan. He makes it perfectly clear that he no longer WANTS him in his life nor anywhere near his family, but he forgives him nonetheless. Joe also--true to form--finds the POSITIVE in this utterly tragic situation. His positive outcome is that he--Joe Vitale--has learned ... he doesn't need a guru anymore. He's free! His friend is sadly dead--with a very specific date of demise, for the Sherlock Holmes among us--but Joe, at least, is free!

Uh.... yay.

It's all there on the audio file. I welcome other interpretations from wiser folk. I see it as a horrible, tragic warning for people to blindly follow anyone who claims to possess some sort of advanced knowledge or spiritual advancement. Especially if there's some vague (or specific!) "negative" stories about such people. I'm not advocating blindly hopping on either bandwagon, be it cult or lynch mob. I DO advocate doing thorough research, and I maintain that asking difficult or awkward questions and demanding answers is not necessarily a "negative" thing.

And, for the record, it has changed my impression of Vitale from just an annoying money-grubbing huckster to a human being I truly feel for. It's a horrible, horrible story, one no person should ever have to endure. As the saying goes, the truth will indeed set you free. Too bad it's so gosh-darned hard to find, sometimes. Or recognize it, even when it's waving its hand right in your face.

Scream away, Joe-bots. Here's another person who just doesn't GET it. And who, admittedly, doesn't WANT to "get" a world where the suffering of the anonymous many is apparently disregarded as merely "negative" until it suddenly and violently affects *ME* and *MY* loved ones. I "envision" and therefore apparently "manifest" a much better and more humane and proactive world for myself than that.

YMMV.

Saturday, November 03, 2007 3:47:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Very well said, Anon. It seems obvious, especially in light of your second post, that you are not just a random Joe-basher or gossip-monger. It looks as if you've gone through the same type of soul-searching I have in regard to bringing up these deeply sensitive topics.

And since we're giving out links, here is a link to a PDF of an e-book that has an interview with Mr. Fire, in which he reveals the true identity of "Jonathan":

http://www.scribd.com/doc/1865/
Inside-Mind-of-Winners?page=65

The book is "Inside The Minds of Winners," by Charles Burke. The interview with Joe is Chapter 7, and "Jonathan" is named on page 60 of the PDF.

Giving Joe the benefit of the doubt, it is possible that he was trying to preserve his ex-wife's privacy in those numerous public writings in which he referred to his "best friend" or a "good friend." Yet as you said, it doesn't take a genius to connect the dots, although it does take a bit of research.

And even though his ex isn't named in these tales, some of the writings do reek of exploitation.

As for one of the writings in which he did mention her name, I too have read the article in which he wrote about his eulogy at her memorial service. And I was as put off by his "name-dropping" as you were. I was also put off by the fact that he used that write-up to promote some more of his products/books/etc.

As I noted in my response to your first comment, we all have experienced profound sadness in our lives. And if by sharing that sadness we can help others, perhaps our sharing is not, by definition, exploitation. So if anyone was helped by any of Joe's stories about his ex, maybe he was not exploiting her memory by telling the stories in the way he did. But I am becoming more convinced that you and I aren't engaged in exploitation either, by offering *our* take on these matters.

And I am even more grateful than ever that I paid attention to the "creepy" vibes I got over the phone that time "Jonathan" called me. He seemed so eager to show me some of his "healing" methods and was really trying to get me to set up an appointment. I'm glad I chose to stay "sick."

Thank you again for writing.

Saturday, November 03, 2007 4:45:00 PM  
Blogger RevRon's Rants said...

"And Jonathan--the coward!--instead of facing and answering Joe's demand for an explanation, runs and hides ... A character flaw Joe seems to find particularly *vile* in this instance"

But as we've seen, not when it is Joe being questioned.

Anonymous, I think your observations are quite astute, even if they do come from a place of anger. Perhaps a few of the "cheerleaders" heard enough of a ring of truth to actually question, as well, if only expressed in their deafening silence on Joe's blog.

Saturday, November 03, 2007 4:48:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Amen, Rev!

Saturday, November 03, 2007 4:52:00 PM  
Anonymous Lana said...

Reading this put my stomach in a knot. I've mentioned to Connie before that one needs to wear more than wading boots here...

I'm glad you listened to your gut, Connie.

Saturday, November 03, 2007 5:22:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Thank you, Lana. And if you really want to put your stomach in knot, go ahead and follow the link Anon provided to download the audio about "The Shocking True Story About Jonathan."

I recommend wading boots, a full hazmat suit and a barf bag...

Saturday, November 03, 2007 5:59:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

FYI: For those who are interested in reading "Spiritual Marketing," the predecessor of "The Attractor Factor," here is a link to an online version.

Type "Jonathan" into the search field; then type "enter." To navigate to the next mention of Jonathan, type "enter" again. And so on.

Here is the link:

http://www.scribd.com/doc/425451/
Spiritual-Marketing

As you'll see, there's no mention of Jonathan's shenanigans. Perhaps Joe just wasn't ready to talk about it yet.

Saturday, November 03, 2007 6:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Lana said...

I think I'll pass!

Saturday, November 03, 2007 7:04:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Probably a wise choice, Lana.:-)

Saturday, November 03, 2007 7:44:00 PM  
Blogger Amy J + Energy = Bliss! said...

It totally amazes me how many comments the Vitale posts get. Interesting, eh? Maybe Ol' Joe is quite the Attractor Factor himself!

Pun intended!

:-D

Off to travel the Whirled....

Amy

Thursday, November 08, 2007 10:50:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Yes, Amy, it seems the blogosphere was "on fire" for a while with these burning topics...but no harm done, it's bidness as usual over at JV-ville!

Thursday, November 08, 2007 10:52:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What's really sad is his defense: he's basically been saying that 'the big bad media is out to destroy The Secret and The Law of Attraction because they are negative ninnies!'

...which completely draws the attention away from his schemes and bathroom interludes. What a maroon.

Thursday, December 06, 2007 9:06:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Anon, it sounds as if you may be talking about another Secret star, David Schirmer, who's been the subject of several recent posts here, and not Joe Vitale, the subject of this one. But welcome to the party anyway!

Thursday, December 06, 2007 10:29:00 PM  
Anonymous Shirley said...

Well Connie now that Schirmer and Vitale have some how aligned themselves I guess we can expect a new divorce this year some time. Schirmer does not keep his partners long, just long enough to use them, abuse them and spit on them. Joe better get what he wants out of Schirmer well before that happens because it will happen. With the next Succeed Magazine coming out early May I wonder if Joe will be in it or if one magazine was his reason to shine. Not sure if you have read the magazine he's batting about on his website but its crap and I would reckon the Richard Branson would have a hissy fit if he realised what these guys were really up to because you never hear of Branson being sued through the Federal Courts several times over misleading and deceptive conduct or pinching someone elses name and ideas so blatantly. I guess thats what happens when you haven't go that many brains.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008 6:45:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

LOL, Shirley. No, I haven't read "Succeed" Magazine, but from what I know of Richard Branson, I have more respect for him than I do for "The Secret" gang.

And actually, I wouldn't go so far as to say that Joe Vitale and David Schirmer are in any sort of alliance. Joe merely boasted, on his post of 21 April 2008, about having his name on the cover of "Succeed" Magazine -- which, as some of us know, happens to be a David Schirmer enterprise at the moment. Not that one would be able to immediately discern that fact by going to the "Succeed" Magazine web site, to which Joe thoughtfully provides a link on his blog.

At any rate, looking at it from Joe's perspective, the bit in "Succeed" is just one of countless examples of media exposure that he, Joe, has received over the years, particularly since becoming so famous by being in "The Secret." He obviously deemed the "Succeed" article to be worthy of the brag-of-the-day, but if this one falls flat for whatever reason, he has plenty of other accomplishments to boast about. In other words, no skin off his back!

(From my own perspective, of course, this doesn't mean it's not snarkworthy. ;-))

Quite honestly, Joe would have to have been hiding under a rock for the past year not to have gotten wind of some of Schirmer's troubles, including and especially the Proctor-Schirmer divorce. For there *is* a bond of sorts between Joe Vitale and Bob Proctor. For example, Bob wrote the Foreword to Joe's book "Spiritual Marketing," which ultimately became "The Attractor Factor," which stellar work landed him in "The Secret." (And now Joe has just announced that a new & improved version of "The Attractor Factor" is going to be released this fall. I can't help but wonder if he's going to delete "The Shocking Truth About Jonathan" altogether... or perhaps go a step further and give Jonathan's real name. My money is on just deleting the Jonathan story, since as we've seen here, a little bit of digging about it puts Joe in an altogether unflattering light.)

Let's see... now, where was I going with this? Oh, yeah... Bob Proctor and Joe have been buds for a number of years, at least to the point where they heartily endorse each other's work, and Joe has quoted Bob at length in some of his writings, etc. So...especially since Joe seems pretty familiar with all of the people who were in "The Secret," he can't be unaware of the Schirmer doings, nor of the recent Schirmer/Proctor split.

OTOH, he does have a tendency to gloss over negativity of any kind, so even if by some chance he didn't know about Schirmer's troubles, or Schirmer's ownership of "Succeed"... if someone informed him of it, I honestly don't think he would care as long there was money to be made.

As for the wreckage that David Schirmer apparently still continues to leave in his wake...I can only imagine how enormously frustrating that must be for his ex-partners, etc. ... but it simply can't go on forever.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008 9:27:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Addendum to above comment: I wrote this before I became aware that Schirmer is exploiting the heck out of the Succeed/Vitale bit on his own blog. I hadn't been to his blog in a while because he hadn't posted anything since January. An alert reader informed me about Schirmer's new blog posts. That puts a slightly different light on the matter... and I'm finishing a blog post about it now.

Thursday, April 24, 2008 11:43:00 AM  

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