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.)

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Beast meets West, Part 2

Is it just my imagination, or do Western spiritual seekers just get dumber every generation?…Yup, the deeksha giver lays her hands on your crown chakra, and kickstarts the flow of kundalini, the fire that has burned countless naive Western novices.
~ Kevin Dann,
Reality Sandwich

The Maharishi, whom we visited here the other day, is not the only beast from the East who is steadily devouring the bank accounts of eager Westerners. These days, more and more of the conspicuously enlightened are embracing India’s Oneness University, founded by Sri Kalki Bhagavan and his wife Padmavathi Amma. Judging from some of the copy on their web site, these two have to be one of the ultimate MystiCouples of all times.

Loved and worshipped by millions, Sri Amma Bhagavan are avatars for enlightenment and God realisation. They are one single avataric consciousness in two bodies. They represent the Divine feminine and the Divine masculine. Together Amma and Bhagavan power the process of enlightenment of the individual seeker as Yin and Yang, stillness and movement, Prakruti and Purusha.

They are like the spirit, all pervading yet abiding in the deepest recesses of one's Being. They are the silent Presence powering the phenomenon of Deeksha everywhere. Far removed from the periphery of the various activities of the movement they reside at the Oneness temple. Deeksha anywhere in the world draws its power from the consciousness and the intent of Sri Amma Bhagavan. They are the life breath behind the any number of miracles that are experienced by the seekers. They manifest across space and time to people when they seek their help. Their consciousness not being limited to their physical body, Amma Bhagavan's manifestation even predates their birth.

What was hitherto possible for great masters, Sri Amma Bhagavan are making it possible for ordinary men and women… Sri Amma Bhagavan do not belong to any one people, one nation or one faith. They are for all mankind. Their vision is not a golden age for any one community or country. It is a Global Golden age.

Once again I defer to Jody at Guruphiliac (and I warn you right now that I will be quoting him at length in this post). If you’re a regular reader of his blog you know he is no fan of the Oneness U cult, and that is putting it very mildly. (He sometimes refers to Sri Kalki, the Mister half of Oneness U’s MystiCouple, as "Kracki" or "Krapki.")

"Deeksha" is the Sanskrit word for "initiation," and a major part of the whole Oneness U experience is something called "deeksha energy transfer," which is sort of like Jesus H. Christ’s laying-on of hands, though more sophisticated because, you see, it’s got that Eastern-mystic cachet. Actually it’s not known so much as "deeksha" any more, at least not at Oneness U. Now it is more frequently referred to as the Oneness Blessing. There may be a ™ or © or ® after that; in any case, you can be sure it’s proprietary.

Actually, come to think of it, Oneness Energy Transfer sounds a LOT like Access Energy transfer, which we also visited here on WM a few months back.

Whatever you want to call it, deeksha/Oneness Blessing is a pretty hot commodity among New-Wagers. In my neck of the woods, evidence of Oneness' enlightenment-chic status can be found in the fact that Houston’s primo affluent New-Thought church, the nondenominational Unity Church of Christianity (which I used to attend), is into the Oneness game. In September of 2007, its senior minister, Howard Caesar, went through the 21-day Oneness Process in India. And the result? Do you even have to ask? Oneness Blessings are now being offered at Unity in Houston.

There was even a Deeksha Camp at this year’s Burning Man Festival. Jody at Guruphiliac posted a video of some deeksha sessions that took place at BM (hmmm… pretty apt initials, don’t you think?). The only thing missing from that video was Maui’s resident poet-poseur Dreaming-Bear, who was also BM-ing, but alas, he was busy in the Diva Boot Camp being naked, suffering, and dreaming up new poetry to inflict on the world. (BTW, Dreaming-Bear seems to have found the true secret to age reversal. Last time I’d checked his MySpace profile, he had listed his age as 34. Now he is only 28! Utterly amazing.)

There have been some disturbing stories here and there about the effects and after-effects of the deeksha process. But that’s probably true of any process or therapy (whether it’s done by a licensed or unlicensed therapist). What really made me raise my eyebrows when I was Googling – okay, so I have a taste for the sensational – was the buzz about a hallucinogenic drug that in the past was allegedly administered as part of the Oneness process. I hasten to add that, according to reports I’ve read, this is no longer done. But back in the day…whoa!

Apparently this drug, leyham, which seemed to be a combination of LSD and ecstasy, was being used for a while in the 21-day "process." Not surprisingly, some folks were experiencing ill effects. Others were having "peak experiences."* Again, my understanding is that the drug is no longer used, and hasn’t been for a couple of years. Still, anybody who has any insight on this is welcome to share his or her experiences here.

Some folks are pretty upset with Oneness U’s apparent money lust, and with evidence that the poor in India as well as affluent Westerners are being exploited by the Kalki cult. As is the case with most New-Wage paths or trends, some people swear by Oneness U, and (as you surely know if you’ve read Jody’s blog) some swear at them. A more balanced look can be found on a rather long blog post (with some annoyingly long paragraphs) by one man who was involved with Oneness U for several years, but no longer is. The comments are interesting as well.

Love ’em or hate ’em, it seems clear that Kalki and Amma and the crew at Oneness U have some grandiose plans for humanity. One big goal is to effect a critical mass of enlightenment in the human race by the year 2012. 2012, in case you aren’t aware, is the new Y2K. That’s the year when the world may or may not end, depending upon which nutty web site you land on. According to the Oneness U folks, however, if their critical-mass plan works, 2012 will see the birth of a new Golden Age of Humanity, which will spread all over the world.

The web site of Oneness U affiliate The Oneness Centre Australia ’splains in simple scientific terms how the critical-mass project works:

The divine plan is that when 64,000 people, spread all over the globe, have reached the oneness state, the effect will spontaneously spread to the rest of humanity. This will occur through what is known as the morphogenic fields**, by the action of the ‘100th monkey syndrome’. It is, as Malcolm Gladwell says in The Tipping Point, a "positive" epidemic. The virtue of an epidemic, after all, is that just a little input is enough to get it started, and it can spread very, very quickly and this can lead to permanent change of a massive nature.

While there are probably enough New-Wage concepts in that one paragraph to make the average skeptic’s head explode, the one thing that stuck out for me was that tired old hundredth-monkey banner, which, though loosely based on a real incident, is mostly b.s. in the context in which New-Wagers employ it. But Oneness U has apparently dragged it out again in order to push their critical-mass enlightenment agenda. (I suppose one could call the hundredth-monkey story in this context a "turban legend," but the Oneness U folks don’t normally sport that particular type of headgear.)

The paragraph preceding the one I just quoted from the Australia Oneness site gives a good idea of what’s in store in 2008:

In 2008 a special conference is to take place at Oneness University which will be attended by many prominent world figures. Leading scientists, quantum physicists, and medical professionals are visiting as well as practitioners and therapists of every modality of medicine, therapy, meditation and personal development. A number of very prominent and celebrated movie actors have also undertaken the course at Oneness University.

Are you excited yet?

In case you're interested in getting a Oneness Blessing but can't afford the trip to India, you can receive it from anyone who's an official Oneness Facilitator. However, you can’t become a Oneness Facilitator yourself unless you’ve spent the bucks and made the trip. At the time I first began this post a few months ago (okay, so I got sidetracked!), the total cost of the 21-day process was $5,500.00 USD. Now, however, it seems the price has gone up a bit:

The total cost for the Level 1 Course is $5,650 USD (this includes a $500 Deposit Fee, a $150 Preparatory Course and a $5000 Course Fee). Of this amount, a non-refundable deposit fee of $500 USD is required upon acceptance of your application.

Then there’s Level 2; repeat customers get a deal:

The total cost for the Level 2 Course is $1,500 USD. Of this amount, a non-refundable deposit fee of $500 USD is required upon acceptance of your application. Food, lodging, laundry service and transportation is included in the course fee.

You may be wondering what effect, if any, a Oneness Blessing really has on the one who is so blessed. Well, according to information on the Oneness U FAQ page, the effects are profound. Now if only science would admit it…

The Oneness Blessing is known to produce a neuro-biological transformation in the brain. We look forward for the cooperation of the scientific community to conduct an in depth research in order to establish the exact details of this transformative process.

Hey, maybe they can get the Maharishi’s research teams on it.

But just what can a person receiving the Oneness Blessing expect? Here’s what it says on the Unity Church page I linked to above:

Oneness Blessing is transferred by a Oneness Facilitator by placing his or her hands onto the crown of your head, usually for about 1 minute. Experiences during the Oneness Blessing vary, sometimes strong, sometimes subtle, sometimes delayed until even days later. The recipient may experience a tingling sensation in the head, or blissful energy flowing through the body, or sometimes nothing at all. Whatever the experience, the recipient can trust that the process of Oneness has begun.

*It is helpful to receive the Oneness Blessing on a regular basis.

It should come as no surprise that the Oneness trend has inspired other New-Wage capitalists, some of whom are in my own back yard, sort of. I guess I’m lucky to live in Texas, a state whose capital city and surrounding areas in the Hill Country are just crawling with the conspicuously enlightened. Granted, I’m in relatively unenlightened Houston here on the soggy Gulf Coast, but hey, at least I’m in the same state, geographically speaking, as folks such as "Crazy" William Cooper, M.Th., LPC, LMFT. Cooper is adept at the "laying on of hands" (and some of my sources have suggested that he has at times practiced the laying on of "hands where they don’t belong," as Jody might put it – but I won’t go there right now). Cooper has kind of a "Christ deeksha" shtick, but he is definitely riding the Oneness train as well.

Then there’s another Texan, Lola Jones, who also inspired Jody:

The deeksha virus has broken free of its Oneness Movement cesspool and is adrift in the New Age™ marketplace, where any knucklehead with a white robe can be an enlightened master, one able to solve any problem in existence by laying-on hands and pretending that something is happening other than dummies being separated from their money.

Along with her partner Michael Abeden, Lola is the publisher of Austin All Natural magazine, which is in the genre of those New-Wage publications to which I once crudely paid tribute via my BLP (book-like product), Cosmic Relief. Lola is also a photographer and a talented artist, a friend to folks such as Joe Vitale…and, yes, a deeksha giver. Or seller. But her deekshas don’t cost as much as the ones at Oneness. She calls them Divine Openings, and apparently you can get Divinely Opened in a group session if you wish – even over the phone. And, of course, Lola is more than willing to teach you how to be a Divine Opener yourself. It's much cheaper than going to India. Or, as Jody put it:

Become your own flimflammer for less than $2000! That's over half off the regular fee!

And finally, there’s Steven Sadleir – not a Texan but a Californian. He’s the guy Jody refers to as "Kracki Jr.", describing him as "an American guru who has hijacked the flimflam of pretty much every Indian scamatar out there." I’ve mentioned Sadleir here too. (Scroll down to "You must act now! Or pay Steven to teach you how.") Sadleir apparently really has the magic touch, and is able to infuse every word he writes with divine power. It’s kind of like that magic cleansing power on the Zero Limits web site, which, as you may recall, is the first web site designed to "clean" you while you look at it. But Sadleir’s magic is done with the printed word, according to a press release that hit PRWeb in July of this year:

Paper, in the form of Steven S. Sadleir's new book The Calling: A Journey Within Your Own Being, is being used to conduct energy that awakens consciousness. An American guru transmits shaktipat to awaken the readers kundalini while they are reading.

Shaktipat is the primordial life force current that creates, sustains and guides every living thing in the universe. Author and Shaktipat Master Steven S. Sadleir transmits energy through his new book The Calling: A Journey Within Your Own Being. The book is a guided meditation. Steven takes the reader on a journey of self discovery as they connect with the energy as they are reading the book. Each word is designed to activate an inner awareness within the reader; they trigger the part of the mind that already knows as the words are reflected upon.

As I understand it, shakitpat transference is kind of like deeksha or Oneness Energy Transfer or maybe even ACCESS Energy Transfer, except it’s spelled differently. Slowly but surely, I am beginning to gain a deeper understanding of these matters.

I did notice that Sadleir’s "new" book The Calling, which was so hyped in the press release, doesn’t appear to be all that new – at least not by Earthly publishing standards – having been released in 1995. Maybe on Steven Sadleir’s planet, that still constitutes "new." But hey, no matter, the book has a five-star-review average!

So how does all of this stuff leave me feeling? Oddly enough, it leaves me invigorated and inspired. It leaves me, once again, with a strong conviction that grows ever more powerful as time goes by: I GOTTA find me a scam.

* I am very much aware that there is a long tradition of using hallucinogenic drugs during a spiritual process, and that some of these drugs (e.g., peyote) make one violently ill before the "spiritual" stuff starts. This is not an experience I would ever seek out for myself, but to each his or her own. In any case, I am just passing along information here.
** Here’s a Skepdic link about Rupert Sheldrake and his theory of "morphogenic fields" – not to be confused with the developmental biology concept of "morphogenetic fields."

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Thursday, November 22, 2007

Even snarks celebrate Thanksgiving

Good gosh, is it time for another Thanksgiving post already?* Seems like I just wrote one of those things a year or so ago.


Although I snipe and snark a lot on this blog, there is, believe it or not, at least one point on which I am pretty much in agreement with the conspicuously enlightened, the aggressively motivated, and the tyrannically positive. And that point has to do with the power of gratitude. As you may very well be aware, there is even research that indicates being grateful may be good for you in more ways than you might think. I know, I know, it's an appealing concept, and it sells books. Even worse, the gratitude industry is a whole new area to be exploited by New-Wage hustlers. But, as Canadian songwriter/singer/poet/novelist Leonard Cohen wrote, "That don't make it junk" (yes, I know, he wrote that in a totally different context than what I'm talking about, but I thought this blog was a bit overdue for a quotation from LC).

I'm not going to bore y'all with my own gratitude list; I'll just say that once again Ron is at the top of that list. I'm also grateful for my family and friends – in short, all of the people in my life, including the four-legged ones.

Other than that, I'm not going to go on and on about gratitude, except to say that I am grateful for other bloggers who, over the past week or so, have provided some entertaining and informative links. I now gladly pass those links on to you. You may have already seen these, but if not, click away.

The first one comes from Amy, commenting on Lana Helmuth-Walker's blog. This is a link to a video that skewers The Secret. It's one of the funnier videos I've seen.

The second link, provided by Steve Salerno on his SHAMblog, is a bit more serious. It's a McGill University student's look at The Secret and self-help culture. (By the way, Leonard Cohen attended McGill University. Just thought some of y'all might want to know.)

And finally there is this link, which was on Blair Warren's blog yesterday. It's a link to a
blog post about happiness, which seems relevant somehow to my own post today.

Enough blogging already. I'm off to spend some time with my family, and then Ron and I are heading out to his daughter's place, where there will be plenty of great food and great friends – including, of course, some four-legged pals. I hope all of y'all who celebrate the holiday have a good one!

PS ~ And I will deliver on my promise to inflict "Beast meets West, Part 2" on y'all. Just not today.
PPS ~ And...here's a bonus link I'd meant to add earlier but forgot to: fashion and makeup tips for women, from a very funny (if somewhat crude) guy's point of view. It has nothing to do with Thanksgiving, but...hey, I thought it was funny. (Warning: it is a bit R-rated...but then again, this blog is supposedly NC-17.) So enough warning. Here it is. (I have to say, though, that I do not agree with the writer's assessment of bitchiness. I think being a bitch is a GOOD thing.)

*I realize that it's not Thanksgiving for all of y'all who are reading this, but it is for me, and, after all, this is my Whirled.

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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Beast meets West, Part 1


The Journey to the East in search of truth had been around since Herman Hesse. But the high profile Beatles gave tens of thousands of hippies the dream that their answers were to be found in the East – just follow the nearest Indian with a long beard and funny mantra.

~ Roadjunky: The Beatles Travel To India

What a difference a span of four decades fails to make.

At roughly the same time the Summer Of Love was morphing into an endless summer and heading out (so to speak) from San Francisco into the culture at large, The Beatles were bringing a little bit of India to the West. In the late 1960s they discovered Transcendental Meditation, or TM, and briefly became followers of TM’s great popularizer, the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. While isolated Western thinkers and writers have long turned to the East for enlightenment or inspiration, it took the Fab Four, those huge influencers of the baby-boomer generation, to ignite the spark that really spread India fever to the masses in the West. (Coincidentally – or is it a coincidence? – Newsweek has recently published a story about this very topic.)

The Beatles’ love affair with India, or at least with TM, was short-lived, as they soon grew disillusioned with the Maharishi**. Their disenchantment had much to do with what they perceived as his hypocrisy; it seemed that this alleged celibate, this altruistic man of peace, was in truth a horny guy who acted on his lustful impulses, and he was a money-grubber to boot. And it also seemed that he was using The Beatles’ fame to promote himself. But their momentary infatuation did help spawn some silly fashions (think Nehru jackets and endless strands of beads) and, more significantly, some really cool music. "Across The Universe" remains one of my favorite songs of all time, as may be evident on the tag line to my blog, and John Lennon himself said the lyrics were the perhaps the best and most poetic he’d ever written. Whatever poetic, spiritual, or mystical significance the song may have, I like it because it seems infused with the ambience of a prolonged blissed-out (or perpetually stoned) state that I have never actually experienced, and don't particularly want to, but have often wondered about. Jai guru deva om!

Even more importantly, and relevant to this post, the Beatles’ and other influential celebrities’ fascination with India planted seeds that sprouted all over the cultural landscape and now are everywhere. Forty years later, aging hippies, as well as fresh new generations of Western seekers, are still looking Eastward, ever Eastward, to find the keys to enlightenment that Western philosophy and religion – at least in and of themselves – don’t seem to offer. Those who can’t afford to or don’t want to make the physical journey to distant shores simply glom onto the guru-of-choice’s teachings via the Internet. Or they’ll set their starry eyes on a Stateside New-Wager who has trained with that guru, or merely claims to be certified or trained in the guru’s techniques, or even just has a passing familiarity with Eastern/Hindu concepts and practices.

Not that I’m dismissing the value of Eastern thinking, or even of meditation in its various forms, transcendental or not. I can well understand the appeal, and I think that for me to categorically trash all things Eastern would make me as closed-minded as the Secretrons have accused me of being. But I cannot help being amused by the many ways that Eastern thought, particularly in its simplistic and sometimes vulgar Western incarnations, has contributed to New-Wage thinking (or lack thereof). And I suppose I still find it somewhat amazing that allegedly sophisticated, educated Westerners are just as easy to dupe as the poorest and most under-educated Easterner.

Before I go any further with this, let me tell you I am acutely aware of being quite a bit out of my league with this entire topic, having only a superficial understanding of Eastern philosophy and culture (though I do have a fair working knowledge of Indian cuisine, which I LOVE). I leave the informed criticism to people such as Jody Radzik and his delightful Guruphiliac blog. As evidenced by the very name of his blog, the subject of gurus is much more Jody’s bailiwick than it is mine.* Also useful in this area are John Knapps’ TranceNet and TM-Free Blog. And then there’s always the Rick Ross Institute.

But if you want a shallow, smart-alecky, and fairly ignorant treatment of these topics – and an exploration that (with apologies to my friend Gregory) doesn’t go much beyond the cult of personality – then by golly, you’ve come to the right blog. So stick around till you get bored, or until I do.

One Eastern practice that has taken a bit of a hold in the West in recent years is the yagya, a Hindu prayer ritual. This isn’t some sort of simple deal where you get together in your living room with some friends and pray about something, or you ask your church group to pray for you or with you, or you request that everyone on your email list say a prayer on your behalf. No, a yagya must be performed by professionals, and apparently it’s very rarely free; it can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars. The Maharishi himself has had his own yagya scam business for years and years.

Actually the Maharishi is a man of many enterprises, and at one time New-Wage writer / speaker / healer Deepak Chopra was one of his business partners. I still remember the stir that Chopra created more than fifteen years ago, when the Journal of the American Medical Association (!) published an article of Chopra’s that was favorable to the Indian healing system of Ayurveda. At that time, Chopra had a few fingers in the Maharishi Ayurveda pie, a fact he conveniently failed to disclose to the JAMA. You can still read about "The Maharishi Caper" here.

As the linked article explains, JAMA was not the only mainstream medical publication to be duped by the Maharishi:

In August [1991], Johns Hopkins Magazine published an uncritical profile on Nancy Lonsdorf, MD, medical director of the Maharishi Ayur-Veda Medical Center in Washington, DC. Lonsdorf is the physician who, in a fund-raising letter distributed to members of the TM community, is described as having recommended a $11,500 yagya for a patient with a serious health problem. The Maharishi's yagyas are Hindu ceremonies to appease the gods and beseech their help for ailing followers.

Despite the extraordinary costs of these ceremonies, patients do not take part or even get to see them performed. (Chopra and Lonsdorf both deny that they recommend yagyas. Chopra insists that yagyas are not part of the Maharishi Ayur-Veda program. Nevertheless, I have a copy of another patient's health analysis from Chopra's center in Lancaster, Mass. that recommends the performance of not one but two different yagyas.)

In more recent years, New-Wage author and entrepreneur Joe "Mr. Fire" Vitale has become a yagya true believer as well. He credits a yagya performed on his behalf for the breakthrough that led to the publication of his book, The Attractor Factor (released in hardcover in the spring of 2005, and in paperback in October of the following year). He tells the story of this miracle in The Attractor Factor. The book actually began life as Spiritual Marketing, which outlined five powerful steps anyone can take to create the life of his or her dreams. The steps were: (1) Know what you don’t want; (2) Select what you would like to have, do, or be; (3) Get clear; (4) Feel how exciting it would be to have, do, or be what you want; and (5) Let go. Simple, huh?

Self-published as a print book and an e-book, Spiritual Marketing was widely distributed and widely read, but it never reached the level of success that Joe had hoped for. A physician friend of his, Dr. Marcus Gitterle, was a big believer in yagyas and apparently got Joe excited about them. Joe contacted http://www.jyotish-yagya.com, had them do a yagya on behalf of his book, and voila! As Joe tells it, in short order a senior editor at Wiley, a respectable and influential trade publisher, sent an email to him, and before he knew it Spiritual Marketing was being revamped and expanded and sent out into the world again as The Attractor Factor. The five powerful steps were reworked a bit and a lot of filler material was added…oops, I mean the book was "greatly enriched." And so was Joe, for, as the legend goes, The Attractor Factor became a bestseller, even outselling Harry Potter on Amazon for a few bright shining moments. (Here's good news: Your book can be an Amazon bestseller too!) Later Rhonda Byrne got hold of The Attractor Factor and decided Joe should be in The Secret. And that, arguably, is what propelled Joe to his current lofty heights in the New-Wage stratosphere.

Although it is not his newest book, Joe is still getting a lot of mileage out of The Attractor Factor, as indicated on a recent appearance on CNBC’s showcase for the aggressively motivated crowd, The Big Idea.

Now, I realize some of you might have been operating under the belief that Joe’s success was due to Ho’oponopono. And some of you probably thought it was the Law Of Attraction, as outlined in The Secret. Some may have believed that the secret to Joe's success was The Missing Secret, or even that it might have been a tapping teleseminar with master tapper Brad Yates. But I ask you to consider the possibility, Dear Ones, that it was a yagya that really started the success ball rolling. (Early this year, there was an interesting discussion about The Attractor Factor on one of Steve Pavlina's discussion forums. On one thread, a commenter named Velvet expressed the opinion that there was too much promo and marketing hype in the book, and in a subsequent comment added, "I find it off-putting to be told 'here's the Law of Attraction, but if that doesn't work, go to this website and pay this acquaintance of mine $4,000 to do some vedic chanting for you.'")

Joe also credits a yagya for saving a close friend of his from death a few years ago. One version of that story, written some time in 2004, appears on the testimonials page of the Jyotish Yagya web site. A slightly expanded version of this story is in The Attractor Factor, although in the book the friend is not named. Entrepreneur and investment adviser Gary Scott published an article on his web site that quoted the relevant passage from the book at length (scroll down to the section titled, "Saved From Death").

What the passage does not mention is that the friend in the anecdote passed away in October of 2004. What it also doesn’t mention is that this is the same friend Joe wrote about in another chapter in The Attractor Factor, "The Shocking True Story Of Jonathan." He had only briefly mentioned Jonathan’s fate at the end of Spiritual Marketing, saying only, "The thing is, Jonathan is no longer available. He has taken time off to do personal things." He did not mention that "Jonathan" was not even the guy’s real name, though he does mention this in The Attractor Factor, where he goes into painful detail about Jonathan's shenanigans.

Perhaps the editors at Wiley failed to notice this, or perhaps they just figured that Joe’s readers wouldn’t be able to put two and two together and discern that the best friend who’d been "healed" by the yagya was the same deceased friend who had been sexually abused by the great healer "Jonathan Jacobs." That really wouldn’t make for a very happy story.

Even if one is willing to consider the possibility that the yagya did extend this woman’s life by a few months, it seems disingenuous at best to present this case as a "happy-ever-after" tale, when, judging from the "Jonathan" story, it seems clear that it was anything but that.

But forget that. It’s old news. And Joe’s adventures continue, as he remarks at the conclusion of the shocking Jonathan story in The Attractor Factor.

Meditation also plays a starring role in The Attractor Factor – specifically, something Joe calls Intentional Meditation, or IM, which is an idea that apparently came to him as he was writing The Attractor Factor. If IM seems to be merely a rip-off of TM, perhaps that is because Joe drew his inspiration from a book called Permanent Peace: How to Stop Terrorism and War – Now and Forever. The author is Robert Oates, a senior policy fellow with Maharishi University of Management's Institute for Science, Technology and Public Policy in Fairfield, Iowa.

On The Attractor Factor web site is a bulleted list of some of the topics discussed in the book, and several of these mention meditation. One item in particular caught my eye: "The Beatles meditated – and look how rich they are! Why not you?"

Never mind that The Beatles were rich several years before they discovered meditation. Never mind that it was arguably the influence of meditating and the Maharishi that helped lead to the Beatles’ breakup. (Here’s another article that echoes that opinion.) And never mind that the Fab Four were supposedly meditating for peace and nonviolence, not wealth, since they were, as I just noted, already wealthy.

For those are just details, and perhaps not very important ones at that. Many of Joe’s younger readers may have only a dim awareness of who The Beatles were, and to heck with that old boomer music anyway; just bring on the money and the cars and the hot babes! Besides (for those who care about such things) Joe claims that IM, like TM, can be used to create peace as well as wealth.

Even so, there seems to be a big emphasis in The Attractor Factor on creating riches for yourself (and maybe, as an afterthought, for the world). According to the promo page, The Attractor Factor explores:

  • The amazing moneymaking and peace producing IM technique. Page 205
  • How to meditate yourself rich. Page 206
  • The 3 easy steps to meditate yourself rich. Page 208

At the time The Attractor Factor was released, Joe also announced his decision to create a global set of "wealth hubs" where people would learn how to mediate to intentionally attract wealth. "The idea is simple," he wrote. "The more you help yourself the more you help those around you. And as you help those around you — you help the planet."

He added, "That’s the noble purpose of the Intentional Meditation Foundation. It is a non-profit organization designed to teach a specific meditation technique to people all over the globe. The purpose of this meditation is to lower violence and increase wealth wherever it is practiced." As Joe explains on The Attractor Factor web site:

In the last chapter of The Attractor Factor I reveal my colossal plan to change the world. People will become wealthy. Crime will reduce. Violence will go down. Prosperity will come not only to those who join but also to people around the planet.

I announced my plan on a radio show one night not long ago. To my amazement people from Africa, India, Ireland, New Zealand, Australia and all over the United States volunteered to help.

He also mentioned this mission in a 2005 article that came out before The Attractor Factor was published.

Whenever I read of someone’s noble plans to make the world wealthy, I always wonder, What would it be like to live in a world where everyone was wealthy – or, for that matter, if everyone who signed up for some hustler’s how-to-be-a-millionaire course actually became a millionaire? I get a kick out of seeing how other average everyday folks have explored this question. I found an interesting link discussing this very matter. On another related discussion one contributor wrote this:

In a way, this has already happened in the west. Although most of us are not rich by the new standards being set, most medieval peasants would consider the average American worker to be wealthy. In fact, a medieval lord might even envy the average working Joe's diet.

So poverty, once you get past a certain comfort line appears to be a relative question. If all were wealthy, we would still be envious of the one person more wealthy than we are. This is how contemporary capitalism seems to work: Basic needs have been filled a long time ago. Now the art of producing more seems to be based on creating envy, on making sure people are dissatisfied with what they have.

I’m getting off topic again (or maybe not, come to think of it). At any rate, maybe Mr. Fire’s plan to change the world is not quite as scary as the "Invincible Germany" plot that we just discussed here the other day, but it does sound a lot like the Maharishi’s shtick. Curiously enough, I haven’t really heard anything else about those "wealth hubs," nor can I find a web site for the Intentional Meditation Foundation. But if any of y’all have any information, feel free to share it with me!

As for that old coot the Maharishi, who is ninety years old, he is still going strong, or at least his organization is, with its tentacles spread far and wide all over the world. Unlike his imitators and wannabes, the Maharishi does have an amazing network of "hubs," or spiritual terrorist cells, or whatever you want to call them. However noble the idea of spreading world peace may be, and however sincere and well-meaning most of his followers might be, I am left with the feeling that there is something rotten at the very core of the Maharishi’s cult of bliss. But don’t take my word for it. Ask someone such as Jody at Guruphiliac, who has written scads of posts about the Maharishi.

On my own blog, I’ve been getting some interesting comments in response to my post about the recent Berlin debacle with David Lynch and the Maharishi minion who calls himself the "Raja of Germany." Gregory, for example, quoted the late French essayist and poet Charles Péguy: "Everything begins in mysticism, and ends in politics." And then there’s this, from another one of my favorite commenters, "hohahe":

This [the Berlin spectacle] is a great example of how things can go wrong, how genuine bliss is not a replacement for common sense. Lynch is totally sincere about the bliss he has found, and is naturally grateful to those who helped show him. It is a very strange thing that those who are the best at helping plug people back into their own bliss are often highly manipulative or drivel talkers.

It’s obvious that for a very long time the Maharishi has been interested in much more than just teaching people to meditate (duh). And there are many reasons that the idea of a world government based on the Maharishi’s ideas (or even a Maharishi-inspired political party, with a quantum physicist as "president") are somewhat frightening to me. For those same reasons, I find the legions of copycats who "want to change the world" to be a little bit scary as well.

But mostly, I find them all amusing.

So that’s it for now. If I haven’t completely bored you to tears with this, or even if I have, I’ll conclude my journey East in my next post.

PS ~ I recently found out about a free e-book called Stripping The Gurus: Sex, Violence, Abuse and Enlightenment, by Gregory D. Falk. You can download it here. I have, and I can’t wait to read it.

PPS ~ If you like "Across The Universe" as much as I do, you’ll enjoy these two videos. The first one is Fiona Apple’s cover of the song, which was featured in the soundtrack of one of my favorite movies, Pleasantville.

And here’s Rufus Wainwright’s version (yes, he’s the son of Loudon "Dead Skunk In The Middle Of The Road" Wainwright III).

One You-Tuber suggests you play both videos at the same time, for kind of a yin-and-yang experience. Nothing’s gonna change my world!

* And for any of you Jody-detractors out there who wish to ply me with "shocking facts" about him, save your energy. I’ve heard it all. I don’t care if he has indulged in recreational substances. So have most of the people I know. I don’t care if he is a devotee of Kali. I have a dog named Kali; whom do you think she’s named after? I don’t even care if Jody claims to be "self-realized" when, in your opinion, he’s really not. To me the value of his blog is that he is documenting and offering opinions about the bad behavior of folks who claim to be spiritual leaders.
** [Added November 2009:] Opinions differ about whether it was the Beatles who grew disillusioned with the Maharishi or vice-versa. Here's Deepak Chopra, the Maharishi's former JV partner, in a February 2008 piece that 'splains things from another p.o.v.

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Saturday, November 17, 2007

Watch out for flying debris...

Here are some more bits of space(y) debris currently orbiting around my Whirled…

Another branch of the "Not-see" Party
I owe the above pun to the great
Swami Beyondananda, aka Steve Bhaerman, who hangs with the enlightened crowd but doesn’t make a big sanctimonious deal about it. I love this guy because he is a more prolific punster than I’ll ever be; I can only aspire to his level of greatness, pun-wise. (I have a feeling that if I did actually reach that level, the Rev, no huge fan of puns, would leave me for sure.) Anyway, if you follow the link above and read Swami/Steve’s article, you’ll see that it’s pretty much an indictment of the current U.S. presidential administration. I’m definitely no fan of Dubya, but I submit that there are other menacing "Not-see" factions as well – not only on the other side of the political aisle from Dubya and friends, but throughout U.S. culture and in other parts of the world.

Parts of the world such as Germany, f'rinstance, where American filmmaker David Lynch recently stood before a crowd in Berlin along with the self-styled "Raja of Germany," Emanuel Schiffgens.*

Lynch is currently touring Europe to open a series of "invincible universities" to teach the philosophy of Transcendental Meditation, or TM, with the purpose being to engender world peace. Lynch and Schiffgens are both followers of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, who founded the concept of TM. Schiffgens is Lynch’s partner for establishing the Invincible U in Berlin. The plan is to recruit 1,000 students at $2,500.00 a pop, apparently to learn peacemaking TM-style, as well as yogic flying.

At one point, Schiffgens declared, "Invincible Germany! Invincible Germany! I want to hear you all say, invincible Germany!"

The audience in Berlin's Urania Theater was having none of this. "That's what Hitler wanted!" shouted one man.

Schiffgens' response? "Yes, but unfortunately he didn't succeed."

Here’s the link to a video of the Raja and the Lynch-man. Prepare to be amused and yet at the same time slightly horrified.

As you may be aware, I am not the first person to jump on this story. Jody at Guruphilac beat me to it by a couple of days, as did numerous other bloggers, and Time Magazine as well, not to mention Spiegel Online. But if you want to get right down to it, the person who beat us all to the punch regarding certain New-Wage/fascist connections is Chris Locke, creator of the Mystic Bourgeoisie blog. And I think we all owe it to ourselves to examine the historical connections Chris has taken such pains to write about. (This is not to say that everyone who embraces any kind of New-Wage/new-age idea or spiritual path is a Nazi or a fascist or a potential architect of the next Holocaust. Still, there is that history thing... not to mention the varieties of elitism among some New-Wagers, including some who seem to believe they, or their children anyway, are part of a new superior breed of human beings…)

But back to the Lynch mob. Although a bit scary, that video of Lynch and the Raja is also encouraging, because these clowns were getting heckled, laughed at, challenged, and jeered at by the German audience. Wouldn’t you love to see that happen at one of those SHAM/selfish-help/New-Wage dog-and-pony shows Stateside?

[Added on Sunday, November 18:] By the way, on one of the Maharishi's sites, Global Good News, the page on Germany has listed the "Invincible Germany" project as one of the Maharishi's successes. However, that page hasn't been updated in a while...

Bad Science, good writing
My new friend
Gregory, who’s been commenting on this blog of late, sent me a link to a recent article by a British physician named Dr. Ben Goldacre, creator of the Bad Science web site. Dr. Goldacre’s article discusses what’s wrong with homeopathy. I’m not out to pick on homeopathy, particularly since several people I respect have reported good results with some homeopathic remedies. But I'm still reeling a bit from watching the video of the homeopathy "lesson" I linked to yesterday. And I thought Dr. Goldacre's article was particularly well-reasoned without being self-righteous in the way that anti-alt-med articles frequently are. The man has a captivating (and very British) style of writing that I enjoy. Furthermore, although it may be stretching things a bit, I even feel a bit of a kinship with the good doctor, as he has gotten a lot of flak from pro-alt-med factions – which somehow put me in mind of my own experiences facing The Wrath Of The Secretrons. Admittedly, however, Doc Ben's encounters have been a bit more serious than mine, and with higher stakes.

Now there are bad trials in medicine, of course, but here's the difference: in medicine there is a strong culture of critical self-appraisal. Doctors are taught to spot bad research (as I am teaching you now) and bad drugs. The British Medical Journal recently published a list of the top three most highly accessed and referenced studies from the past year, and they were on, in order: the dangers of the anti-inflammatory Vioxx; the problems with the antidepressant paroxetine; and the dangers of SSRI antidepressants in general. This is as it should be.

With alternative therapists, when you point out a problem with the evidence, people don't engage with you about it, or read and reference your work. They get into a huff. They refuse to answer calls or email queries. They wave their hands and mutter sciencey words such as "quantum" and "nano". They accuse you of being a paid plant from some big pharma conspiracy. They threaten to sue you. They shout, "What about thalidomide, science boy?", they cry, they call you names, they hold lectures at their trade fairs about how you are a dangerous doctor, they contact and harass your employer, they try to dig up dirt from your personal life, or they actually threaten you with violence (this has all happened to me, and I'm compiling a great collection of stories for a nice documentary, so do keep it coming).

For Dr. Goldacre’s full article, click here.

Dude, where’s my spam?
And, finally, I regret to tell you, Dear Ones, but for over three weeks now I haven’t received any emails at all from my favorite New-Wage spam service. I’m afraid they finally got wise to me. Maybe it has something to do with that
old-nekkid-hippie potshot from a few weeks back (yes, there is a connection). But I’m still going to follow up on that story.

Oh, but I do miss my spam…

* Re Emanuel Schiffgens: Here is yet another good reason NOT to rely on Google translation. I Googled Emanuel Schiffgens and the first result that popped up was a page written in German. Despite my surname and ancestry, I do not read German. So I clicked the link to "translate this page," and here's what I got.

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Friday, November 16, 2007

Whirled-class videos


Much earlier today, I began an actual bits-and-pieces post, but I just didn’t have the brain power to finish it. This has been a very trying day, and now it's already night (or it's the next day already, depending upon what part of the world you're in). So instead of writing something of even minimal substance, I’ll just give you some links to a couple of videos. One is pretty darn funny, and the other is hot, hot, hot. Enjoy!

Doc Werner explains it all
Now, before I give you the link to the first video, I should tell you that I am pretty much a science ’tard, at least when it comes to physics and stuff like that. Despite taking a college-level biology course in high school many years ago, and having also done moderately well in physics and chemistry (for some odd reason, there was a time when I had the entire
periodic table memorized), I’m not exactly operating at a genius level in these subjects.

I have, however, become reasonably adept at distinguishing "legitimate" science from unmitigated crap. Apropos of the latter, my pal Tony found a link to a short video lesson on homeopathy that would have had me rolling in the aisles, if we had aisles here at my house. But we don’t, so I had to settle for rolling my eyes up in my head. And they nearly got stuck in that position as the homeo-video progressed. I still have a headache.

Tony found the video link on Dr. Panda Bear’s blog. Dr. P.B. is an M.D. who, to put it mildly, has had it up to here with complementary and alternative medicine. While I don’t take nearly the hard line against alternative methods that PB does, I find myself captivated by the doctor’s eloquence, and he does make many salient points about medicine.

Anyway, I linked to PB’s blog in yesterday’s post, and Tony followed that link. While browsing around in PB-land he found the video link in one of the comments to PB’s November 10 post. The video shows a lecture by Dr. Charlene Werner, who is a "behavioral optometrist" and, as will become readily apparent, a giddy fan of homeopathy.

Tony likes to refer to truly funny stuff not as "comedy gold," but "comedy plutonium." But this video? "Comedy Uranium-235!" he wrote.

See if you agree. And remember, this video is not a parody. At least, I don't think it is.

The Rev was thoroughly inspired after watching Dr. Werner explain how homeopathy works. To our email discussion group he wrote:

Like, I thought she was brilliant. She like inspired me. I'm gonna apply her logic right now... Unplugging a lamp, hooking the plug to my cell phone, then I'll like shine a flashlight on the lamp's bulb, and it will like turn the light energy into electricity and charge up my cell phone, and it'll be like free, 'cuz I won't have it plugged into the wall anymore. The flashlight batteries? I like got them free when I bought the flashlight, so like I'm being totally green, ya know?

Sounds like a plan to me, Ron! The ever-witty Steve Salerno had this to contribute:

I have just one minor scientific footnote to add to what it says in the video: If you take this lady's head, compress it to the size of a pin, and roll a bowling ball over it, the human race will not have lost any mass, energy, or value.

I don’t claim to understand relativity very well, but somehow Steve’s comment makes perfect sense to me.

Porn in the USA
Speaking of Steve, yesterday he wrote a post
lamenting the sleazy values that prevail in what passes for popular culture, which these days reeks of eau de Paris. Some folks have accused Steve of being a bitter old guy and a stuffy moralist, but that’s not the message I got from his post. It’s true, though, that some of the views he has expressed in this and other recent posts have put him in league with the sanctimonious set (I considered saying "in bed with" the sanctimonious set, but thought better of it).

In any case, many people feel that much of the problem with today's sorry moral climate lies with the mainstream media (or MSM, as mainstream-media haters love to call it).It all comes down to those darn liberal values, you see. Well, in the interests of being "fair and balanced," I feel compelled to provide a link to a video that gives some more penetrating insight into this problem. I must warn you, however, that this is a VERY naughty video, and it is not for the easily offended. But what the heck, I’ve already blown my chances at a PG-13 rating here. So make sure the kids are out of the room, lock your door, grab a towel if you need one, your partner if you've got one, and knock yourself out!

Okay, time for a cigarette…

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Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Aquaware dare

Dear Ones, I am very excited about an astounding breakthrough in…well…everything, potentially. A while back I blogged about some software called Aquaware, developed by a company called Aquafrequencies. Here's what Aquaware is and does, according to its creators:

In brief, Aquaware is software for PCs which impregnates water with
frequencies that are able to bring about objectives in the water-based human body. Those frequencies create geometrical forms that modify water's snowflake-like liquid crystals which, after ingestion, bathing, showering or direct application, then modify you at the cellular and molecular levels, and even at the level of your DNA, according to selectable intent. It's truly a marvel and works almost unbelievably well.

They have all kinds of specialized products too, such as LightBody for weight loss.

Simply put, Aquaware LightBody is software for your PC, surprisingly effective and very simple to use. You could teach anybody to use it in five minutes. The program impresses water with frequencies that are able to lose your fat for you, and easier and quicker than you might think. We had testers who lost fat the first day, and many within a matter of days.

Then there's SmokeErase to help you quit smoking.

Simply put, Aquaware Smokerase is software for your PC, surprisingly effective and very simple to use. You could teach anybody to use it in five minutes. The program impresses water with frequencies that are able to quit your smoking for you, and easier and quicker than you might think. We had testers who quit the first day, and many within a matter of days.

And so on.

Now I admit that I was kind of making fun of Aquaware in my original post. Some people didn't seem to be aware of this, and one wrote to me that the Aquaware folks had ripped off the technology from someone else.

Well, yesterday I got this email from a man I will refer to as J for now.

Hello, Connie. I'm [he gave me his full name], from Aquafrequencies, codeveloper of Aquaware, the software that modifies water you and your fellow bloggers so blithely and, forgive me for saying so, naively ridicule. I'm always amazed at the facetiousness and condescension of armchair experts who opine without investigating, without so much as gaining a modicum of education regarding anything they're summarily dismissing. Open people generally leave that to science and religion. As I intuit that you're quite open, I think possibly you were catering to your audience to some extent.

The fact is that we can prove everything, scientifically and otherwise. The fact is that I can program your water in Houston from where I sit, and you'd have absolutely no doubt whatsoever in your mind that what I have done is objective fact. We use what we do to cure all diseases, rapidly and effortlessly, but this is something we can't publicly discuss, as you probably well know.

In addition, the woman who posted on your blog regarding theft, etc., is deeply disturbed and is using Websites, blogs, forums, etc., to try to divert traffic to her Website and away from ours. We're extremely well-funded so we don't actually care what she does, but for some, as in your case, we have to set the record straight. We know precisely what we're doing and how we're going to - phase by phase - introduce this next stage technology to the world. Our planning involves years.

My proposal to you is to let me prove it, and I guarantee you I will, and then have you post on your own blog some measure of retraction to your presently uninformed flavor of sarcasm. Actually, your text is ingenious, as it teeters with admirable dexterity between what could be construed as sarcasm and what could be construed as sincerity. If you did that purposefully, well done.

You game?

Am I game?!? You bet I’m game, J.! I’m an "open person" for sure!

Up till now I’ve shared J’s email with a few of my email pen pals. My friend Blair responded:

This [guy] says, "The fact is that I can program your water in Houston from where I sit, and you'd have absolutely no doubt whatsoever in your mind that what I have done is objective fact."

I’d love to know what happens to water when it is "programmed."

Does it look different? Taste different? What specifically?


And why do I get this feeling it will come
in a pretty blue bottle?

Good questions to ask.

But then my own Rev Ron piped in with an even better idea than J had originally suggested:

I told Connie that she should publicly take the guy up on his offer, but to tell him that rather than be selfish and have him "reprogram" the water at our house, he should "reprogram" the water at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center here in Houston. If he’s the real deal, there should be a spontaneous and widespread cure for all those cancer patients. We’d be glad to provide the address, GPS coordinates, anything he needs to get the job done. If he can pull that off, I’ll personally promote [him] and kiss his hiney on Good Morning America, Oprah, and Larry King Live!

Right on, Rev! And just to get J and his partners started, the map above contains a link that will give more information about just where MD Anderson is. Now, I know I’m probably not supposed to discuss the disease-curing properties of Aquaware right now, due to those party-poopers at the FDA and all that, but darn it all, this news is just too good to keep to myself. If the Aquafreq’s are in fact curing disease, and can prove it in every way it needs to be proven, why not announce it to the world? And instead of wasting time on little old me and my complaints about lousy-tasting tap water, let’s put the technology to work where it is truly needed.

Matter of fact, I think I should give a heads-up about this exciting new breakthrough to some of those wet-blanket blogging docs, such as Dr. Panda Bear, M.D. Dr. Bear has been spending a great deal of time and effort eloquently skewering "alternative/complementary" therapies and defending allopathic medicine – when in fact the whole allopathic v. alternative debate is moot, since the technology developed by the fine folks at Aquafrequencies can easily and effortlessly cure every disease.

So… how about it, J.? Are you game to really prove, scientifically and otherwise, that you can make a difference for those thousands of cancer patients? Houston – and the entire medical world – are waiting.

PS ~ In case any of y'all are thinking of trying Aquaware yourself, here is the link to the Terms Of Use page on the Aquafrequencies web site. It's very detailed, so study it carefully. Maybe you should smoke something first, though.
PPS ~ It occurs to me that this could all be a hoax, and the joke's on me. If so...hey, good one, J!

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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Shameless Schirmer: he’s baaaaaack

One of my informants from Down Under sent me a heads-up re a couple of new TV segments about David Schirmer, the Australian Secret star and investment adviser who has been embroiled in a bit of a financial scandal since last spring (or autumn, in his part of the world). You may recall that I have blogged about Schirmer a few times. One of the new links was to a video from the Aussie show A Current Affair (ACA), which has previously reported on David Schirmer’s shenanigans. The other was to a video from a New Zealand show, Close-Up.

At the time I wrote this post I hadn't yet been able to access the ACA video (I've since watched it; see link below), but I did watch the Kiwi offering, Close-Up. Apparently Schirmer had recently put on an "unlimited-wealth" seminar in New Zealand (for which participants paid $120.00 a pop – $89.60 in US dollars), without disclosing that he was under investigation by authorities in Australia for mishandling hundreds of thousands of dollars in other people’s money. Close-Up’s Robyn Janes sat down to interview Schirmer, and all was going well until Janes started asking him about all that money he owed the folks in Australia. Schirmer clearly did not want to talk about that. "I just want to focus on the positives of The Secret," he replied. He said ACA, the show that had previously exposed the allegations against him, was "a gutter journalism show," and he added that the ACA reporter, Ben Fordham, had "one purpose and one purpose only: to defame me." When Robyn continued her questioning, Schirmer said the interview was over and promptly left the room while she followed, still questioning him.

He took refuge in a public restroom – an appropriate spot, I suppose, considering what he’s peddling. Robyn chose to err on the side of decorum and not follow him into the john, but Schirmer’s PR guy, a man who definitely has his work cut out for him, did talk to her. She asked him, "Wouldn’t it be a positive thing if David would just answer the questions?" Mr. PR replied, "But you’re focusing on the negatives. Even answering negatives is still focusing on the negative."

Spoken like a true New-Wage apologist. Robyn, I feel your frustration; we get a lot of that stuff Stateside too. After a while Schirmer came out of the bathroom and did promise that he would grant a live interview at some point in the future, but when Janes tried to pin down a date for that interview, Schirmer shut up, and he and his PR minion took off down the hallway.

Granted, the people who attended Schirmer’s latest snake-oil show have a bit of responsibility in this matter as well. Were they completely unaware of the scandalous scoop about this guy? New Zealand is not that far away, geographically or culturally, from Australia. And if I knew all about Schirmer, you’d think the Kiwis would.

But perhaps the point is irrelevant. Maybe Schirmer will be able to rise again no matter what he is accused of, or ultimately convicted of. After all, hope springs eternal, whether it’s hope for easy money or, for that matter, easy weight loss. Look at US infomercial con artist and author Kevin Trudeau. He has a shady past, to say the least. His "natural cures" have been pretty well discredited, he’s been fined millions of dollars by the US government, and the vast majority of readers on Amazon have given a low rating to his latest offering, The Weight-Loss Cure They Don’t Want You To Know About. Yet here is that book’s current Amazon sales ranking:

Amazon.com Sales Rank: #96 in Books (See Bestsellers in Books)
Popular in these categories:
#1 in Books > Health, Mind & Body > Diets & Weight Loss > Diets > Weight Maintenance
#5 in Books > Health, Mind & Body > Personal Health
#5 in Books > Health, Mind & Body > Diets & Weight Loss > Diets > Weight Loss

And it has recently been in the top five in the "Advice/Miscellaneous/How-to" category on the New York Times bestseller list too.

And then there are the numerous New-Wage gurus who, though they may not be breaking laws or violating government regulations, are surely skating on thin ice ethically (not to mention logically, spiritually, scientifically, and many other ways). Many have proven themselves time and time again to be, if not quite sociopathic by clinical definition, at least lacking in much of a conscience. (Read what Steve Salerno has to say re the emerging culture of sociopathy.) These borderline sociopaths and smarmy narcissists can make the most outrageous and morally repugnant statements, brushing off all criticism as being a symptom of the critics’ shortcomings, and still their fawning followers and bubbly bobbleheads continue to line up, checkbooks or charge cards in hand, proclaiming, "Thank you, I love you!"

So who knows how the fortunes of Shameless Schirmer will turn? The Aussies are wise to him, and very soon the Kiwis will be as well, but who knows what he’ll try next? There is, after all, a whole thriving market of gullibles in the US. And, as been proven time and time again, people have short memories.

Well, that’s enough Cosmic Contificating for now. Here’s the link to the Close-Up (New Zealand) video.

And here’s the link to the ACA (Australian) video, which provides a backstory and nicely supplements the NZ piece. I received this link Wednesday, November 14, the day after I published this post. If the link still doesn’t work, I’ll let you know as soon as it's up on YouTube.

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