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.)

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Cosmic Connie scoops the NY Times again?*

Okay, maybe "scooped" is stretching it a bit.

But at the very least, I did give an early alert regarding events that have now come to pass.

On December 3, 2007, I published a blog post (accompanied by what several folks have deemed to be one of my greatest achievements in PhotoShopping), regarding Dan Hollings, the Internet marketing wizard behind the original DVD of the hit New-Wage infomercial The Secret, and Drew Heriot, the director of the original DVD. These two fine gentlemen have apparently been screwed over by Rhonda Byrne and her US bidness partner, Bob Rainone. At the time, legal proceedings that had not yet been publicized were going on behind the scenes but I wasn't exactly at liberty to write about 'em so I didn't.

Anyway, now it's official – or, rather, the "secret" is out – and you can read all about it in Allen Salkin's article of April 26, 2008 in the New York Times. And John Curtis, who crusades against fraud in the selfish-help industry (is that a redundancy?), has just sent out an email alert about the NY Times article.

Just remember that you read the news here first (or most of it, anyway, along with a lot of superfluous blather about me).

Now if you'll excuse me, I must get back to the never-ending task of pseudo-journalistic investigation, which consists of frequently checking my email "in" box to see if any more anonymous tips, scandalous secrets, or particularly stoopid New-Wage spam have arrived. It's a tough job, being a phony journalist, but you, Dear Ones, are worth it.

PS ~ Here's a link to info about Drew Heriot's complaint against Rhonda Byrne, et al.

* Here's a link to the post in which I explain about the first time I "scooped" the NY Times.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I read that scoop and I think that Drew Heriot deserves everything he can get out of Byrnes. I have no doubt that the whole thing was driven by MONEY AND GREED and I wish him every success in his attempt to get JUSTICE. Even if he does not get any money the world will know exactly what went on and that is really all that matters.

Is there any wonder we are seeing the same scenario played out with David Schirmer off the secret too. We might find that he has done exactly the same thing as these guys when it all comes out. I hope the Australia courts expose what he has done so these greedy blood sucking bastards can get their just deserts instead of screwing good honest people who just want a peaceful life and the best for their families.

Saturday, April 26, 2008 10:26:00 PM  
Blogger Steven Sashen said...

Sue, believe, receive

Sunday, April 27, 2008 9:19:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh wow! This is fabulous news for all of us people who knew that the secret was wrong in the first place. How can Rhonda Byrnes, David Schirmer (funny that they are both the only Aussies!!!!!)and ohers be such greedy selfish bastards when they made if very clear in The Secret that there is more than enough for everyone???????? Someone has a lot of explaining to do! Not quite so believable now is it?

Sunday, April 27, 2008 6:13:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think these sorts of acts should be considered a SERIOUS CRIMINAL OFFENSE given the amount of people who are hurting from foreclosures and job losses and investment losses and the list goes on.

These people who play on peoples emotions to make them part with their hard earned cash are simply WICKED and should be PUBLICLY FLOGGED. Would be nice to see them wince a while.

I have a feeling that Mr Schirmers woes are only just beginning though as he's to appear in the Federal Court again.

I don't think I've seem a more arrogant person in all my life. The guy had the gall to blatantly lie on national TV and then deny stuff that he knew that the authorities would nab him for. He is probably smartarsing saying they can't catch me, well DOH!!

Sunday, April 27, 2008 6:24:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Anon 1, from what I've seen so far, it looks like the Australian court system will indeed deliver justice. I guess these things just take time.

Sunday, April 27, 2008 9:36:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

"Sue, believe, receive"

Steven, with that simple but profound three-word phrase, you just may have the makings of a bestselling book and DVD. Or at least a good bumper snicker.

Sunday, April 27, 2008 9:37:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Anon 2, I agree with you that The Secret isn't exactly the paragon of credibility, but I gotta take issue with the statement about Aussies. From what I can see, Rhonda Bryne and David Schirmer are not at all representative of the people of Australia. (Besides, Drew Heriot, the director who apparently got screwed by Byrne and her pals, is also Australian.) Furthermore, some of the greediest of the greedy in The Secret and in the selfish-help industry are from North America.

Anyway, your point about there "being more than enough for everyone" is well taken. I'm all for people protecting their copyrights and intellectual properties and such, but if Rhonda and her business partner did renege on their agreements with Drew Heriot and/or Dan Hollings, or anyone else, that's the Law Of Hypocrisy in action, for sure.

Sunday, April 27, 2008 9:45:00 PM  
Blogger Steven Sashen said...

Actually, C.C., a copywriter friend and I were going to write a book called "Sue and Grow Rich," based on the idea that faking an injury and suing a wealthy corporation was the best way for the average guy to make it in America.

It was a total joke, but we knew if we played it seriously, we could get tons of national press coverage.

(BTW, this was inspired by a time I did a stunt fall in front of a security guard at a convention center and had the management practically offering me a Lexus if I didn't sue... sadly, I explained that I didn't *really* trip on the ill-placed rug)

Sunday, April 27, 2008 9:48:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Anon 3, I certainly share your anger and frustration at the arrogance of some of those in the selfish-help industry. I stop short at calling them all wicked, or thinking they should be publicly flogged, but I definitely feel they deserve all the ridicule, sarcasm and snarking we can toss their way. They also deserve the exposés -- whether via "gutter journalism" (David Schirmer's term for "A Current Affair") or more "legitimate" news outlets.

And in cases where they are indeed criminally liable, my opinion is that years of community service, and/or some service or compensation that will directly benefit their victims, would be a more suitable punishment than flogging (or incarceration, for that matter).

Sunday, April 27, 2008 9:58:00 PM  
Anonymous Phillip said...

I agree, I have some awesome Aussie friends and they definitely despise the likes of the Schirmers. One thing I can say about the Aussies is that they don't like seeing a mate taken for a ride and wobetide the person caught doing it. Schirmer was stupid enough to think he was above the law and that if he clenched his fists, held his breath and turned violet for long enough people would walk away and simply claim he was a complete idiot. But that only works if you don't keep creating new companies and claiming ridiculous profits while telling the poor souls waiting for their funds that they can't have any. As the laws go, what works for one works for another so, just as he would do, I suspect that they expect a return the way it was promised.

I wonder how long the bank would wait if Schirmer made a promise to pay them and never did after several years. From what I can gather some of these people have been waiting about 5 years and had to endure 5 years of promises. That is completely ridiculous and I sure as hell would be speaking up pretty LOUD too.

These sorts of scammers should be exposed publicly and your idea of having them work for their victims is on the money. What a come down and total embarassment to have to wipe the bum of the very person who fed you.

Schirmer is due in court again in Australia on Friday this week so we'll have to see what happens then. He copies everything so I have no doubt he'll be found guilty as hell there too. His latest email was just another copy of what someone else sent out in keeping with his marketing crap.

Sunday, April 27, 2008 10:26:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Bugger the lot of the cheating lying stealing thieving greedy selfish bastards!

Monday, April 28, 2008 1:56:00 AM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

And to think, Steven, you coulda been a rich man, were it not for that inconvenient little piece of Javascript in your makeup commonly known as a "conscience." Disable that script, and you just might be able to make it REALLY big in the New-Wage world.

Monday, April 28, 2008 11:57:00 AM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

You make some excellent points, Phillip. And one can only imagine what the people to whom Schirmer reportedly owes money are thinking every time he pops up and crows about a new project (e.g., "Succeed" Magazine).

Monday, April 28, 2008 11:59:00 AM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Anon from 1:58 AM: I think you've got the makings of another bumper sticker here!

Monday, April 28, 2008 12:00:00 PM  
Blogger Citizen Deux said...

Sashen has the word play right on target! Nice work Connie, just ghoes to show the potency of a well connected and intelligent person will trump the media giants every time.


ver word - yoimfmct (what up with the hard to read text?)

Monday, April 28, 2008 12:41:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Thanks, CD. But I bet Allen Salkin got paid for *his* articles. Ah, well...

I know what you mean about the hard-to-read text for the verification words. I guess some spambots have been getting through the system so Blogger decided to make the letters all but illegible.

Monday, April 28, 2008 4:13:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Heard from Cosmic Connie first! Great work, keep the bastards honest!

Monday, April 28, 2008 11:31:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Thanks, Anon. I doubt that one snarky blogger (or even a NY Times story) will keep 'em honest, but maybe a few folks will be alerted to their shenanigans, anyway.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008 9:31:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rhonda Brynes residential address on that lawsuit is

900 Hot Springs Road, Santa Barbara,CA 93108-1111

So much for hiding. I think when something so big happens there is no place to hide. What is it with the people in the Secret? Did David Schirmer teach Rhonda Byrnes how to hide the money or remove Drew Heriot. You have got to wonder because he seems to be the one who is boasting about doing that sort of stuff. The whole lot of them are pretty nasty pieces of work in my view.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008 6:41:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Thanks for the info, Anon. Maybe the crew from "A Current Affair" will fly over from Australia and show up on Rhonda's door step in Santa Barbara. That would be good TV!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008 7:20:00 PM  
Blogger Steve Salerno said...

Connie, I wanted to give you full credit for bird-dogging this story, and do it right here on your own blog. I couldn't very well not cover it on SHAMblog, but I'm late to the party (a habitual problem for me of late, alas), and once again I applaud you for your persistent and yeomanlike work on the behind-the-scenes aspects of The Secret. Keep on keepin' on!

Thursday, May 01, 2008 9:48:00 AM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Thank you, Steve. Coming from a real journalist, that means a lot to me. Of course I also have to give credit to the "voices in my head" and the tea leaves and my other sources. ;-)

Thursday, May 01, 2008 10:19:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hate to criticize a criticizer...but Houston...we have a problem.

Steven Sashen who is posting here, is actually in the exact same business as Rhonda Byrne...and the New Wagers.

Also, Steven Sashen on his blog brazenly promotes Byron Katie and her methods called The Work, which have come under serious fire.
Steven makes good money from The Work of Byron Katie, over $100-$150 an hour over the phone "coaching".

As well as his "Quantum Wealth", and various other potions like selling MLM memberships for Acai berries.

He also made a $100 Challenge on his blog, but appears to have refused to apply the evidence procedures of his $100 Challenge to Byron Katie.

Bottom line, those who live in New Agey glass houses should not be throwing stones at others glass houses.

Rhonda Byrne & Co have run a massive global moneymaking scheme, and they fluked off, and made millions and now they are all going to fight over it.

So they deserve to get criticized.

But beware of the fox who puts on a rubber chicken suit to get into the hen-house to do some spin-control on the other hens, and slip a few eggs away...(you get the metaphor!)

Steven Sashen is not a critic of the New Age nonsense, just the parts he does not make money off...yet.

That's a new strategy...act like you are an Anti-Guru, meanwhile making lots of money off your own Guru. Almost amusing...

Tuesday, May 06, 2008 10:04:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Anon, thank you for your comments. Actually, though, I'm very well aware of Steven's other activities, including and especially his affiliation with Byron Katie (I'm definitely not a fan of BK but find her marginally less objectionable than some).

I have other regular commenters here who are also into some of the things I make fun of or criticize.

As disappointing as this may be to some, I am not a complete purist when it comes to these matters. Despite my general disdain for New-Wage stuff, I would much rather find common ground with people than fight with them.

And Steven has contributed some delightful comments to this forum. He's always welcome here, as are you.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008 10:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Connie, I would say its not about being a Purist, which would be another form of religion, but a Factist, and treating everyone with an even hand.

The facts are that Stephen Sashen has come under some pretty serious criticism himself for his commercial activities and coaching behaviors, and internet spin-doctoring.

And Byron Katie, if one carefully looks into her organizations, is actually very damaging, far more than The Secret, but of course right now on a much smaller scale.
The Secret is a pretty superficial cash-grab for Rhonda Byrne.

But Byron Katie splits people psyche's wide-open at her 9-day Seminars. Rhonda Byrne just sells books and movies. Byron Katie splits people minds and lives wide-open. Katie is very bad news to those who get sucked in.

There is a lot of information about Byron Katie at the comments at Guruphiliac, and also below.

Byron Katie (the Work)

Of course Sashen can say whatever he wants. But why won't he apply his own evidence procedure in his $100 Challenge, to Byron Katie?

Byron Katie's methods are actually quite similar to the methods used in Scientology.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008 11:12:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Thank you for the additional insights, Anon. I have read many of the comments on Jody's Guruphiliac blog, and what I read would have been pretty effective in convincing me that I want no part of Byron Katie or The Work -- had I not already come to that conclusion some time previously. (Actually, I was convinced months before that when "Mr. Fire" wrote on his blog that Byron Katie may very well be one of the few enlightened human beings on this planet. If that's not enough to scare a marginally rational-minded person away, I don't know what is. :-))

Whenever any "guru" or coach or New-Wage leader utilizes the forum of a workshop or seminar -- particularly an "intensive" that lasts for many days -- there *is* more risk involved for the participants. By its very nature such an event is far more invasive than, say, a silly New-Wage infomercial or a throwaway book. I get that, I really do. I definitely think that anyone considering getting involved in "The Work" should go to Jody's blog and the Rick Ross forum.

That said, I'm leaving this forum open for Steven to respond if he wishes. Really, that's the most even-handed way I know to handle this.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008 11:04:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Connie, you make excellent points as always.

Its very interesting how there seem to be some Bloggers out there, who appear to be Skeptics and Anti-Guru's, but in reality they are skeptics only against everyone but their own covert Gurus and their own wallet!! (sneaky!)
Some of these same bloggers go around and make hundreds of "friendly and funny" postings on Skeptical type blogs.

For example, basically anywhere you see Byron Katie being questioned, Carol Skolnik and Steven Sashen are making a lot of posts. http://soulsurgery.blogspot.com/

So, the above comments about Steven Sashen are NOT an Ad Hominem personal attack at all.
They are professional.

It is just more than a little hypocritical to see someone making critical comments of The Secret, and What The Bleep, yet at the same time be selling...

-The Work of Byron Katie
-Quantum Wealth
-Advanced Medication
-Kabbalstic Healing

For example, if you read the Steven Sashen $100 Challenge, at that link, there is a decent evidence procedure put forward.

Steven Sashen states...
"If someone can give me a respected, published scientific study (that can’t be effortlessly debunked because of bad or no control groups, too small a sample size, or other obviously stupid study design) that demonstrates the proof of the 21-day habit building technology, I’ll give you $100!"

ok, well, look at Steven Sashen's advertising page about Byron Katie.
He makes many claims on that page, without ANY evidence at all. And Byron Katie makes even stronger claims, with ZERO evidence. 00.00

I hate to sound like a conspiracy theorist, but there are a few Byron Katie senior "bloggers" who go around a make "buddies" with numerous critical blogs, yet somehow always seem to promote Byron Katie.

Look at what happened at the Guruphiliac blog when people started to criticize Byron Katie there.

What the heck is the real difference between The Secret scamola, and the Byron Katie scamola?
Byron Katie is much more damaging, as its not just superficial fluff, she gets inside your brain very deeply. Its very very dangerous stuff,and Byron Katie has ZERO credentials. ZERO.

So let Steven Sashen address some of these questions.
That might be a good blog entry itself.

By the way, Byron Katie attacked The Secret as well...so go figure.

Thursday, May 08, 2008 5:41:00 AM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Anon, you obviously feel very strongly about this, and I can understand why. I still think that Steven himself should answer these points if he wishes. The forum's open.

And yes, I know that skepticism or criticism can be a sly way of marketing one's own stuff. I have observed this phenomenon time and time again in the New-Wage community and elsewhere.

Point is, no one is pulling the wool over my eyes here (any more than I have been duped by Doug Vermeeren's cheerleaders re "The Opus"). As I said in an earlier comment, though, I search for common ground as much as I do for opportunities to snark.

BTW, I think Steve Salerno has been working on a post about Byron Katie and The Work to publish on his SHAMblog (another blog Steven Sashen has participated in frequently). I've been considering doing a post about BK myself but have been so preoccupied with work and with snarking about The Blunder From Down Under. So many gurus, so little time...

In any event, critics of Byron Katie are welcome here, as are advocates. I only ask that y'all keep it civil.

Thursday, May 08, 2008 9:55:00 AM  
Anonymous Sonia said...

Anyone who wants to understand why these people do what they do should read this book:


It is the book that inspired the secret and is nothing like the secret. It is the most amazing book I have ever read and I can assure you that its worth every cent. Go and buy one and see for yourself.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008 4:04:00 AM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

I haven't read the book Sonia mentions, but FYI for everyone who doesn't know: this book was written by Aussie Vanessa Bonnette. Last year she accused "Secret" producer Rhonda Byrne of plagiarism regarding some of the concepts in "The Secret." I blogged on this about a year ago:

Although there were doubts about whether or not Vanessa Bonnette had a real case against Rhonda (and I had my own doubts), it's interesting to note that Rhonda's production company apparently settled out of court with Vanessa at some point last year, according to a recent article in the Sydney (Australia) Morning Herald.

Here's a link:

According to the article, the terms of the settlement prevent Vanessa from commenting publicly about this matter or Rhonda's other legal battles. But if Rhonda and company did settle, it would seem that perhaps there was something to Vanessa's claims after all.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008 3:20:00 PM  
Anonymous cassie said...

Just as as note, Above I noticed you through a jab out at Doug Vermeeren and the Opus and those of us who really enjoyed it. Let me ask, have you actually seen it yet?

One of the reasons many of us do enjoy it is that it is different than the other films out there, and it is not a blatant cash grab like so many of the other personal development efforts. It actually has a good story and real value.

Have you seen it?

Saturday, September 05, 2009 2:21:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

No, Cassie, I have not yet seen "The Opus," but this doesn't invalidate the "jab" that I "through" in my remark above. I have in fact received numerous comments on this blog from people who seem to have some sort of financial stake in the success of "The Opus" (including a comment from Doug V. himself, or someone claiming to be him). Time after time I've been informed that "The Opus" is DIFFERENT from all of those other New-Wage moviemercials I snark about. Most of the comments are couched in some sort of disclaimer, e.g., "I too was skeptical, till I saw The Opus..." or "You're right about The Secret and other movies like it, but The Opus really is different..." I'm not saying that the folks who write to me DIDN'T genuinely enjoy The Opus; even so, I consider most of their comments to be little more than ad copy, thinly disguised as personal testimonial. In the interest of fairness, though, I let people have their say, as long as they don't spam the same thing over and over and over.

Will I ever watch The Opus? Only if someone sends me a free copy. Sorry, but I just don't see myself actually buying the thing. To me, the credibility of the work was pretty much shot when I saw those over-the-top enthusiastic promos from some of the film's "stars," such as Joe Vitale, Jack Canfield, etc. They have done much the same over-the-top enthusiastic promoting for numerous other New-Wage moviemercials, leading me to believe that The Opus is, in essence, no different from the rest. Say what you will about good stories and valuable messages; it's still a cash grab.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009 10:09:00 AM  

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