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, May 18, 2008

Sunday, snarky Sunday

The new issue of Succeed Magazine, a glossy publication for fans of The Secret and the Law Of Attraction, has just been released, and Joe "Mr. Fire" Vitale is the subject of this issue's cover story. In his blog post announcing the new issue, Joe writes:

The story was the most revealing one ever written on me. The interview felt like therapy, as I talked about my childhood, my past struggles, and my turnaround to success — much of it never shared ever before in public.

I thought Mr. Fire had pretty much shared everything about his past by now, but I guess the Succeed interview inspired him to invent some new stuff share previously unshared secrets about himself. Well, I'm sure that's good for the sale of a few issues, unless the publisher of Succeed, embattled Aussie Secret star David Schirmer, decides to provide a free link to the piece the way he did for his previous Joe Vitale article.

Anyway, I think one good interview deserves another. I am thinking that Mr. Fire should turn the tables and interview David Schirmer! Since Joe deals in miracles and magic, it's possible that Schirmer might be miraculously moved to reveal some things he's never shared ever before in public about himself (but that numerous others have attempted to).

Perhaps Mr. Fire, being an expert in hypnotic marketing and writing and so forth, could hypnotize Schirmer into telling us who really invented that hay baling machine that Schirmer and his brother Ian claimed was their brainchild. The Schirmer brothers' business ultimately failed, and if I am reading David Schirmer's account correctly, as he told it for Keith Leon's new book, the failure was supposedly due to greed, presumably other people's. Maybe Mr. Fire could get Schirmer to spill the beans on another possible reason that the business went belly-up.

Then maybe he could ask Schirmer if he ever paid back all that money he allegedly owes his investors, and that he promised on TV to pay back by Christmas of 2007. As a bonus question, perhaps he could ask him why noted quantum physics expert Bob Proctor, who also happens to be a friend of Joe's, decided he didn't want anything to do with Schirmer any more.

I am sure there are many more questions that a lot of folks, at least in Australia, would like to see truthfully answered by Schirmer. But my guess is that Mr. Fire wouldn't ask those questions of Schirmer, because, well, why focus on the negative? There's no money in that. Besides, the past is past! We all make mistakes! And even if that bad stuff is true, it all happened in Australia, which isn't anywhere near America, where the big money is. Best thing to do is just gloss over it and head on to the next big joint venture.

Anyway, I'm at the point where I think it might take more than hypnosis to make Schirmer come clean. And I think that more than a few Aussies would agree with me.

Of course, David Schirmer isn't the only one involved in The Secret franchise who has a shaky relationship with the truth. Other "stars" of that DVD have been known to be less than forthcoming about certain aspects of their own lives. And Secret creator and producer Rhonda Byrne herself seems to have had a bit of trouble getting her story straight about the origins and creation of the world's most successful New-Wage infomercial. Here's the current version of the "official" story of the birth of The Secret (from the official web site):
Towards the end of 2004, and following a string of traumatic events in her personal and professional life, Rhonda Byrne discovered a great secret - the secret laws and principles of the universe. Rhonda's daughter had given her a copy of The Science of Getting Rich, a book written in 1910 by Wallace D. Wattles. Of that moment, Rhonda says, "Something inside of me had me turn the pages one by one, and I can still remember my tears hitting the pages as I was reading it. It gave me a glimpse of The Secret and it was like a flame inside of my heart."

What followed was a two-month odyssey of research and investigation as Rhonda traced The Secret back through thousands of years, incorporating almost every religion and field of human endeavour throughout history.

Almost immediately her life was transformed, as she began to put into practice all she had learned. And in that moment her greatest wish, and new life mission, was to share this knowledge with the world.

With a successful background in international television production, Rhonda was perfectly placed to make that dream come true. She vowed to make a movie, to carry joy to every corner of the Earth, to share this knowledge with billions. And so the great journey that was The Secret began.

From the outset, conventional filmmaking procedures involving endless meetings, tight schedules, strict budgets, deadlines and revisions were dispensed with in favour of powerful Secret processes such as intention, visualization, appreciation, gratitude and faith. Or more simply, the team would Ask, Believe, and Receive.

As a result, right when the company was ready to begin production, as if by magic, the perfect people began to appear to help make The Secret. Suddenly the office was filled with brilliant, creative and talented people, all working to complete the most ambitious project any of them had ever worked on. Without exception, every single person was taught The Secret, and together they collaborated in total harmony working towards the goal of joy to billions.

According to a write-up in the Sydney Morning Herald, the original producer of the DVD, Drew Heriot (who has recently filed a lawsuit against Rhonda and company), has a slightly different take on the birth of The Secret:

In his lawsuit, Mr Heriot says he began working in 2000 with Ms Byrne's company, Prime Time, as an editor for the candid camera-style TV show, Australia Behaving Badly.

He said Ms Byrne told him and one of her producers, Paul Harrington, in January 2005 about an idea she had for a new television series based on several "self-help" and "success" books and audio CDs she had enjoyed while on holidays.

One of the CDs was by well-known inspirational speaker Esther Hicks and two of the books were The Science Of Getting Rich by Wallace D.Wattles, and The Master Key System by Charles F. Haanel.*

Ms Byrne wanted to make a documentary-style series with various self-help teachers. Mr Heriot said the three of them decided that the series should be called The Secret, which would ultimately focus on one self-help principle known as the "law of attraction".

One can't help but notice a few differences between Drew's scenario and the one told on The Secret web site.

I'm sure more interesting stories will emerge, and more secrets will be revealed, in the weeks to come.

Well, that's it. Sunday's almost over (and it's long over in other parts of the world), and I think I got the snark out of my system for a while. So...G'night, Dear Ones!

* I haven't read The Master Key System by Charles F. Haanel, but a couple of people whom I really like and respect are Haanel fans. And as it happens, my friend Tony Michalski (who in my opinion has one of the more balanced views of the self-help industry), has repackaged and published Haanel's works in a couple of convenient formats. If you're interested in Haanel, check out what Kallisti Publishing has to offer. (And no, I'm not getting paid, either directly or indirectly, for this plug. )

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Anonymous Gerry said...

Mr Schirmer said to the reporter on the Australian TV Show A Current Affair that he had other "skeletons in the closet" so I'm sure there is much more to his story than what he's telling you or anyone else and even then it will be only what he wants you to hear. For sure also he'll tell it to make him appear the victim when we all know what crap he comes out with and has been sued for and lost. Like when he said ACA wanted to do a story on him CRAP he went to ACA first, I just watched the footage again. Thats how these people work in fact they take great pleasure in looking after themselves while they slink away into their dark deceitful work after they have screwed people over enough. My take on it is that I think he has shat on too many pats and it's all coming back to bite him. I just don't like the look of the guy and his comments are so damn smarmy they irritate me.

I also find it very interesting how these people try to control everything being said about them. As soon as anyone puts a comment on their websites that they consider negative it never gets published yet they crap on about everyone else they don't like or don't agree with.

This pretty much sums up who they are.

G for Grovelling
R for Rude
E for Egotistical
E for Evil
D for Deceitful
Y for Yobbos

Drew Heriot looks like hes got a good case and we all know that it never goes that far unless it's already decided that he really has a serious case to spend money on. Does anyone really think that he would go public and lie about what his agreement was with Rhonda Burnes? He doesn't look dull to me, in fact Rhonda more Blonda.

The secret is showing up to be one of the fastest selling bulls--t this century so it will be interesting to see where all these people are in a few years time.

Monday, May 19, 2008 10:30:00 AM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Thanks, Gerry! You have just introduced me to another bit of Aussie slang:

Yobbo: n : a cruel and brutal fellow [syn: bully, tough, hooligan,
ruffian, roughneck, rowdy, yob, yobo]

Cool! :-)

I'm pretty much in agreement with your comment all around. One minor exception: I do wholeheartedly support bloggers' and web site owners' right to choose what to publish and what to reject.

And as a matter of fact, I have rejected a few comments -- not many, but a few -- that seemed too much like gratuitous personal attacks against both David Schirmer and Joe Vitale.

But I'll publish just about anything anyone says about *me*, no matter how negative -- unless it contains extreme profanity. I figure that if I can dish it out, I should be able to take it.

So in that sense, I suppose you and I are mostly in agreement about this issue after all, as so many of the wankers (oh, there's another word I love!) refuse to publish ANYTHING negative about themselves. Or if they do, they publish it without comment or they just gloss over it.

Monday, May 19, 2008 10:46:00 AM  
Anonymous Julie said...

That shows just how dependant those types of people are on getting rather than giving. They have not risen above themselves yet and may never unless they lower themselves to the place where they belong and have the opportunity to look up. In other words they are living a life of complete illusion. I agree with Gerry, it will be intersting to see where they are in a few years time.

Monday, May 19, 2008 5:55:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

What's interesting to me, Julie, is that most of these folks *have* been down, according to their own stories. Part of their shtick is sharing the saga of their "rise above adversity." David Schirmer, for example, tells the story of how he was flat-out broke just a few short years ago because his business (the farm equipment manufacturing firm) had failed, and he didn't get paid the money he was owed, etc. Then (according to him) he discovered people such as Bob Proctor, learned from them, began using the Law Of Attraction, became a successful stock market trader, "started visualising checks in the mail," and now is living the life of his dreams.

Yet the stories one hears and reads about him in the media, from people who know him and have worked with him, just don't seem to be at all in sync with his own tales (and that's really understating the case).

Joe Vitale loves to tell the story of how he was once homeless and is now a millionaire. As I've noted before, back when I knew him he never uttered a peep about having once been homeless, but on the other hand, he wasn't a millionaire back then either. So the homeless story wouldn't have had quite the dramatic impact that it does today. I've heard him tell various versions of his past story, so I'm not sure exactly what's true and what isn't, but he is a good storyteller -- I have to give him that -- so I guess it really doesn't matter.

Selfish-help gurus come and go, and only a very few have the staying power of, say, a Tony Robbins. But most of them will keep at it year after year, in some cases reinventing themselves numerous times, until or unless they are indicted for something. And even then some will reinvent themselves in prison and come out with a whole new shtick.

Oh, well, it gives me something to blog about!

Monday, May 19, 2008 6:31:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It all says a lot about the secret doesn't it? What bloody secret? That they learnt how to deceive and cheat on people?

Thank God there are many more wonderful people in this world other than these people. They will probably reinvent themselves a few times but they'd have a hard time removing their faces from the etchings of those sickened by their greed or their tainted reputations that automatically goes with the name. Maybe these people will reinvent themselves with a product like "The Laws of Guruism, the seven things your teacher never allowed you to do and your parents didn't want anyone else knowing you were doing."

Tuesday, May 20, 2008 2:56:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know this might be slightly off the topic, but, I have had troubling thoughts recently, the kind that leaves you staring into space while you wait for an explanation to come to you. I'm assuming you know what I mean when I say THOSE sorts of thoughts.

Anyway. I have become increasingly concerned - and with good reason, too - about the negative repurcussions to The Secret, and like-minded self-help techniques and teachers that are out there.

The problem as I see it, is that these New-Age ideas promise so much, and are quite often taken far too realistically by the general population. Quite often, this is reinforced by the New-Age teachers themselves. You only have to watch the Secret once to see evidence of that. They promise EVERYTHING.

So what happens when the new-found "realisations" like The Secret that preach a new way of thought, action, and structure of the Universe (and anything else), and teach unlimited everything (even hope), come crashing down amid allegations such as fraud, deceit, mistrust, pending court cases, and in some cases theft?

I am not worried by The Secret or it's scandals. However, I am very worried about the people that have been influenced by the teachings of such New-Age beliefs, that hear evidence their new beliefs may not be as real as they thought after all. From a psychological perspective, this can be extremely damaging to their own personal development. When self-formed belief systems like religion, faith and trust are questioned after the base of their belief system comes crashing down (ie the new-age technique or teacher), it leaves the person extremely vulnerable and impressionable. Not to mentioned depressed and lost. To hold belief to something, and have it shattered, isn't just a case of picking themselves up, dusting themselves off and moving on. This is very hurtful and damaging and can cause some serious psychological and anti-social problems. To move on from the hurt and damage, new belief structures of the individual have to form, and... quite sadly, sometimes the best answer the person assumes is another new age technique - and so it goes on, and on, and on, and on - while these "teachers" who quite often have no qualifications or experience continue to tell these people what they want to hear.
It's clear massive damage is being done to ordinary individuals that are lured by promises that 'you really can have everything you want for nothing at all' - and these innocent victims don't know any better! When you look at the underlying factors of what REALLY "attracts" people to The Secret and the likes, is they want something to believe in and something to hope for.

So, from my perspective, it's time that some serious questions ought to be asked about the nature of self-help arenas in society. The area of personal development teachings, I feel, should be regulated and enforced. If it's not... more scammers will jump on the personal development cash cow and milk it for all it's worth (interestingly, the opus' popularity is starting to increase as the Secret is starting to decrease) and contribute to a surge in new-age problems.

Anyway. That's my two cents worth *shrug*. I was just concerned that, from where I stand, the real damage these new age teachers are about to do to their victims will come about as The Secret (and other self help techniques) loses popularity - and more importantly, trust - causing their victims to seek another get rich quick scheme or suffer psychological inbalances. We can see evidence of the downfall of the Secret Empire about to happen now - what, I remember in the back of my mind scores of people selling their Secret DVD's on Amazon - which leads me to believe there'll be another newager shingding waiting like a vulture to feed off the carcass that was the Secret.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008 8:20:00 AM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Abalance, thank you, and you're not at all off topic.. Matter of fact, your questions hit upon one of the more serious themes underlying this blog and others, such as Steve Salerno's SHAMblog.

Admittedly, I don't normally play up the serious part that much; I tend to take a lighter approach. Steve takes a more journalistic approach and actually comes out and asks the serious questions. They are questions that need to be asked.

I've long observed that there are certain people who hop from one New-Wage/selfish-help gimmick to the other, using them like stepping stones in order to avoid getting their feet muddied up with reality. And there are others who are just constantly searching and exploring. Still others just like the high of "new" discoveries, and when the high wears off from one discovery they jump to another. And there are ALWAYS other gimmicks to turn to.

As of now, though, I honestly believe that for the most part self-help is relatively harmless, though expensive, infotainment. I also suspect that many of the folks who get into serious trouble, and whose lives are really damaged by self-help stuff, are susceptible anyway for any number of reasons -- and if it weren't for self-help, they'd get into trouble with traditional religion or drugs or something else.

In no way does this exonerate any of the selfish-help gurus who do real damage, nor am I trying to play down the damage that is done (including "collateral damage" done to the loved ones of those who are screwed in one way or another by the gurus). What I *am* saying -- and maybe it's the libertarian in me, and maybe it's the free-speech advocate in me as well -- is that I don't think more government regulations are the answer. I don't think we can or should even attempt to legislate our way out of this problem.

I also cannot help observing that while many of us are sitting around blogging about these issues, the perps are laughing all the way to the bank. They "focus on the positive" and "ignore the negative," and continue to sell their feel-good wares at premium prices.

Even so, I don't think they should all be stopped or silenced (though a few of them probably should be). Nor do I wish to join the leagues of the disapproving, self-righteous or paranoid born-again types who think self-help/New-Wage is the devil's work. I think it's important to try to maintain a sort of balance here.

Certainly, existing applicable laws should be called upon when necessary. (Remember the recent story of the "prosperity guru," Bijan, who was arrested in Canada for sexual assault of two followers.)

For the most part, however, I think the antidote to New-Wage lies in education, which includes snarky blogs like this one. I think that the more the New-Wage scammers are exposed for the clowns that so many of them are, the better off we are. So I'll continue to snark, and let my pal Steve Salerno continue to ask the more serious questions... and meanwhile, Abalance, I hope you'll continue to visit my Whirled.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008 12:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The area of personal development teachings, I feel, should be regulated and enforced. If it's not... more scammers will jump on the personal development cash cow and milk it for all it's worth"

Well I tend to agree with Abalance here because I have seen a number of these people who when they are on stage, really are on stage. What comes out of their mouths appears anything but the truth and what they promise appears anything but reality. I believe that if a psychologist requires a proven education and experience in order to help a persons mental well being and if a doctor requires a proven education and experience in order to treat a persons sickness then these people should also be subject to strict regulations in what they do too because they affect people in an even deeper and more serious way.

Take for instance David Schirmer who really does appear to be totally void of a conscience and completely forgetting what he admitted to in his interviews with the media. He is being accused of being a fraud, thief, liar, cheat, predator, and many more names but gets onto his blog and rambles on about who HE perceives himself to be completely forgetting what the situation is. Now the conflict of obvious details is enough to cause many people to question what is really going on with the guy. Noone goes to the media without having a very good reason to or a very serious concern for a persons behavior, the media simply are not interested. The fact that it involved the secret meant that he was being held accountable for who he was saying that he was when the facts didn't gel with anything that he was saying. Time will tell whether anything that he has said bares any truth and I'm sure the people he has screwed over will move on in time too but lets hope not to repeat the cycle. I do know that the damage that these people cause emotionally not to mention financially to their victims is horrendous and has very serious consequences far beyond the obvious losses sustained for having been associated with such a person. If you recall this very person said in another interview that he wanted to have 2billion dollars. Now the only assumption anyone can make from that is that he was going to get it no matter who he threw out the way or stood on or stole from or cheated on, note he WANTS it. He cannot deny it, it is there for all the world to hear. He doesn't appear a very smart person to me but then I don't know the guy I just know that when something gets as far as the national media then there is always some truth in it.

I think these people live their entire lives in an illusion and that is why this guy in particular is being accused of being totally deluded. From what I can gather I don't think he would have a business at all if it were not for the amount of people who believed what he said so he does owe it to them to return what was theirs and my opinion is he is not handing it back because he has used it to support his lifestyle. This is not unique of conmen though, it is actually quite typical and I'm sure the authorities know exactly where to look because these people all get into the same mindset when they do these things. And the results are ALWAYS the same.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008 6:35:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

These people demonstrate humanitys intrinsic Spiritual "immaturity" which drives selfish desires and attitudes of "its all about me". They are expressing an innate instinct for SELF PRESERVATION. They are living at the lowest form of being where the "I WANT" and "I NEED" states reflect their immature and infantile stages of Spiritual growth. Their focus is inwardly centred on self.

Thanks to the amazing lady Vanessa Bonnette for her incredible insights.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008 11:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whats happening with these secret court cases? Has Rhonda parted with her millions yet? It's pretty obvious that none of this was about the law of attraction, it was all about money, greed and self.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008 9:33:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very quiet does anyone know what is happening with the Rhonda Drew tussle? If they fight long enough there'll be nothing left for either of them which is what I hope happens. Drew obviously has the talent for a repeat performance. Rhonda on the other hand might have difficult plagiarising anyone elses work if she has really done that. Too much whoohoo stuff for my liking.

Thursday, July 03, 2008 6:42:00 PM  

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