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.)

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The 2010 Scammy Awards: Make your vote count!

Americans Against Self-Help Fraud is accepting nominations for the 2010 "SCAMMY" Awards, given each year to Self-Help Gurus for "excellence" in ripping off the public with their falsehoods, false hopes, myths & half-truths.

Click HERE to pick your favorites. Be sure to share this information with anyone you know who might want to make sure their vote is counted, too.

John Curtis, founder of Americans Against Self-Help Fraud, says, "Please do your part to ensure that these Self-Help Gurus continue to receive the attention they deserve. Voting shows that you, along with millions of others, care about the negative impact that the highly profitable 'Self-Help Industrial Complex' is having on the world."

Winners will be announced as part of National "Guru-Free" Week from April 1 to April 8, 2010. Deadline for voting is March 31, 2010.

FYI... click HERE to see last year's Scammy winners.

And just in case you're wondering why James Arthur "Deathlodge" Ray doesn't have his own special category yet, the folks at Americans Against Self-Help Fraud decided to wait until the outcome of James' trial, which takes place later this year, before creating a permanent category in his honor. But feel free to write in your own category; there's a space at the end of the survey for comments.

Click the second link in the first paragraph, the first link in the second paragraph, or this one right here, to get to the survey. Or click on the pic above.

See you at the polls!



Anonymous hhh said...

Might put a vote in for Chopra after seeing the recent ABC face off with Shermer and Harris. Best bit was when the quantum physicist from the audience offered to put Choppy right on science.

Thursday, March 25, 2010 9:44:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

LOL. I'm sure Deep-pockets will get his share of votes, for arrogance if nothing else.

Friday, March 26, 2010 10:56:00 AM  
Blogger Burned by Fire said...

I have no idea who to vote for.

Friday, March 26, 2010 3:06:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Wow, BBF, I wish I could help you there. :-)

Here's a hint you might find helpful, though: This is not like the Best Feature Film category in the Oscars. I think it's okay to vote for an individual for a given category (or two, or three) even if that person won in the same category/categories in previous Scammy Award contests.

Rock the Vote!

Saturday, March 27, 2010 9:30:00 AM  
Blogger Burned by Fire said...

Oh, my vote has been rocked! Though some might say I am not an equal opportunity critic because my focus was firmly on the town of Wimber-lie, I am grateful to have my voice heard.

someday I will blog again. Really.

Apparently @markryan is saber rattling on twitter again. Guess things could get interesting in that department!

Saturday, March 27, 2010 4:18:00 PM  
Anonymous hhh said...

But is it arrogance, Connie, it looks more a case of crossed wires and uncrontollable association of ideas- hard to say if it is really a conscious deliberate ploy or simply goofiness. Maybe both.


Saturday, March 27, 2010 6:23:00 PM  
Anonymous disillusioned said...

Deepak knows better than to use an incontrollable association of ideas in order to hoodwink his audience into paying for his very humble eyewear.
In that he is taking his lead from that old rogue Mahesh, not from the rigorous discipline he had to aquire in order to put MD after his name.
Goofiness or conscious deliberate con--fusion?

What is that Hippocratic oath? First do no harm?

There is an old saw that Deepshit seems to wilfully ignore---we have two eyes, two ears and only one mouth, we should employ them in that same ratio.

Sunday, March 28, 2010 7:18:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmm, don't know who to vote for, haven't kept up with the scene. The only one I can think of who fits the categories is Nithyananda but he is a proper Guru type guru, not an American style one so I think he doesn't count.

Sunday, March 28, 2010 7:56:00 AM  
Anonymous hhh said...

I'm not convinced that it is deliberate or voluntary, disillusioned, it may be that his mind just compulsively associates, and it leads to garbling. he obviously sits on top of the Indian guru tradition pretty comfortably too, as can be seen in the way he tries to play the crowd.

Sunday, March 28, 2010 9:13:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As bad as some of these New Age Gurus are, I have to tell you, I rather have them, then the people over at Rick Ross Forum, and especially the Rick Ross Moderator.

I cannot believe how narrow, rigid, exclusive there views are. If you do not agree with what they have to say, if you aren't critical enough, negative enough about the cults/gurus/teachers they are currently critizing, then they will ban you.

I have seen you Cosmic Connie post on there, and when you question some of their beliefs, they get upset too and have to defend them.

I agree that there is some things wrong with the likes of Eckhart Tolle, Byron Katie, the Hicks/Abraham, Deepak Chopra, Wayne Dyer, James Ray, David Hawkins, Joe Vitale, Rhonda Byrne, etc and they should be pointed out, that is, their faults, negatives, cultish behavior. But it is so one sided on there, there is no room or openness to discuss any of the positives about them.

So I am nominating Rick Ross and his followers over there as the most Hypocritical of 2010 and deserving of the Scammy Awards. For in my humble opinion, they are even more of a Scam than the Gurus they criticize believe it or not.

Monday, March 29, 2010 11:00:00 AM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

BBF wrote:
"someday I will blog again. Really.

"Apparently @markryan is saber rattling on twitter again. Guess things could get interesting in that department!"

Hey, dude, I hope you do start blogging again soon. I'm sure I'm not the only one who misses your commentary.

As for @markryan, I bet he does have some interesting stories to tell. Just judging from what I've read on his blog in recent months since the split with Joe V., it appears there are unrevealed facets to certain stories Joe has told on *his* blog (e.g., how the Rolls Royce Masterminds came about; and that whole Ho'oponononononononononononono shtick). I may have mentioned it here before, but Ron and I had our own issues in the past with Mark, but worked them out. I've since come to the conclusion that Mark has a lot of interesting ideas, and I'm looking forward to reading that book he's rumored to be writing.

Monday, March 29, 2010 11:05:00 AM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

HHH, you made some good points about Deep-pockets in your 3-27 and 3-28 comments. To tell the truth, though, I'm basing my own assessment of his arrogance not (just) on the ABC conversations but on long-time observation and reading of various anecdotes about him over the years. He has displayed arrogance in different ways. A certain amount of arrogance seems part of the package with most New-Wage gurus and I find it intensely annoying at times.

Monday, March 29, 2010 11:09:00 AM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

BTW, regarding Deep-pockets, while casually Googling about something else, I stumbled upon this nine-year-old transcript of a CNN interview with Chopra.


Here is apparently what got him into medicine in the first place:

CHOPRA: I never wanted to be a doctor. I was more interested in being a writer, and particularly a writer of fiction. And on my 14th birthday, my father gave me a bunch of books as presents. And the books were "Of Human Bondage" -- the hero of the book is a doctor. He gave me something called "Arrowsmith," by Sinclair Lewis, where the hero is a doctor. He gave me a book called "The Magnificent Obsession," where the hero is a doctor.

They were amazing books, and after I finished reading them, I went to him, I said, "I want to be a doctor."

Voila! He has the best of both worlds: he's a doc *and* a writer of fiction. :-)

Monday, March 29, 2010 11:15:00 AM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Disillusioned wrote [of Deepak]:

"...he is taking his lead from that old rogue Mahesh, not from the rigorous discipline he had to aquire in order to put MD after his name.
Goofiness or conscious deliberate con--fusion?"

Yeah, that long-time relationship between Deep-pockets and the late Mahrishi is significant, IMO. The Maharishi was, among other things, a business partner of Deepak's for many years. (They also had a doctor/patient relationship for a while, and of course Deepak was a disciple of the Maharishi's for a time too.) Regarding Deepak's former business interests with the Maharishi, allow me to drag this old link out again...

...which tells the story of how Deepak hoodwinked the Journal of the American Medical Association by failing to disclose his commercial interests in a line of Ayurvedic remedies he wrote about for the JAMA.

The above-linked article was published in 1991, and in the summer of 1992, Chopra and two TM associations filed a $194 million libel suit against the AMA, JAMA's editor, and the author of the article. According to the blurb at the end of the online version, "The suit was dismissed without prejudice in March 1993."

Now, I know the JAMA incident is an old story, nearly 20 years old, for gosh sakes. And, granted, Chopra's contribution was, as the article says, "outside the main well" of the Journal's scientific articles. Still, the rules of disclosure applied, and there were other issues as well, most notably, Chopra's recommendation of those pricey Hindu prayer rituals, yagyas (which have been recommended by certain Western-type New-Wage gurus in more recent years). So to me, the JAMA story seems relevant -- and revelatory.

And for those who are interested and haven't seen this yet, here's a 2008 HuffPost piece Deepak himself wrote about "The Maharishi Years."


Monday, March 29, 2010 11:57:00 AM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Anonymous 3-28 said...

"Hmm, don't know who to vote for, haven't kept up with the scene. The only one I can think of who fits the categories is Nithyananda but he is a proper Guru type guru, not an American style one so I think he doesn't count."

Maybe you can write him in anyway, though, just to stir things up a bit, Anon. :-)

Monday, March 29, 2010 11:59:00 AM  
Anonymous hhh said...

"They also had a doctor/patient relationship for a while, and of course Deepak was a disciple of the Maharishi's for a time too."

Ah, now I see.

Following the link to the Huffpo piece I see he gave blood to the Maharishi. Type woo- ?

Monday, March 29, 2010 1:31:00 PM  
Anonymous disillusioned said...

The novelist-manque aspect of Deepak explains a lot of his woo leanings I think, explains not excuses.
Sly old manipulative daddy also had a hand in the conflicted soul that is Deepak today, it would seem.
I almost feel empathy, but I'll vote for him anyway.

Monday, March 29, 2010 3:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cosmic Connie, you are a Bright Girl. You really are. I am reading you over at the Rick Ross Forum. Anti-Cult seems like a good guy and is very intelligent, and has a lot of good stuff to share, I would say 70% of his stuff is good and is right on.

However, I can tell, feel, know that he is way off with some of his accusations. You were right to question him about his saying James Ray and the Hicks are connected. They are not. The only connection might be that James Ray read or is familiar with their books and is using it to his advantage. And the Hicks might have commented about him in a workshop but that is expected, most teachers will be asked about James Ray these days, it is a popular topic.

So what I am trying to tell you, is to follow your own heart, your own inner knowing, wisdom. Some of the Rick Ross forum stuff is just crazy, ludicrous, narrow, biased, not very open.

I was reading a series of exchanges a while back between this poster and the Rick Ross Moderator under a Eckhart Tolle discussion. The person was genuine, bringing up fair and useful things to look at. And every post he wrote, the Moderator would harrass him and threaten to ban him. It is just too silly when only one side can be told.

That is why I voted for Rick Ross as the most hypocritical of them all.

I won't share anything else with you, but wanted to remind you to follow your own knowing and not to be influenced by those who have an agenda or are biased as they are.

Monday, March 29, 2010 6:02:00 PM  
Anonymous disillusioned said...

I decided this was worth posting just for the headline:
"Would Deepak exist if no-one looked at him"

A potentially deep source of existential angst and might shed some light on why he needs the humble eyewear and the followers to pay for it.


Tuesday, March 30, 2010 2:34:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The 2010 Scammy Award should be given to the internet misanthrope Rick Ross "rrmoderator".

The thought controlling, bizarre and ugly conduct and mistreatment of any visitor, who does not promote Ross, this Dicken's Fagan'esque character and his small band of anti-group cult of follower's hatred for all other groups, on the Rick Ross message Board, is nothing short of breathtaking.

I vote for Rick Ross.

Thursday, April 01, 2010 8:19:00 AM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

HHH (Mar. 29) wrote:
"Following the link to the Huffpo piece I see he gave blood to the Maharishi. Type woo- ?"

:-) I'd say so. But it's the kind of woo that sells, apparently.

Thursday, April 01, 2010 11:10:00 AM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

disillusioned (Mar. 29) said...

"The novelist-manque aspect of Deepak explains a lot of his woo leanings I think, explains not excuses."

Exactamundo. He has a romantic poet's heart for sure. But as I wrote in a long-ago essay, "Good poetry does not equal good science." (Despite the New-Wage mantra that everything is interrelated.)

Thursday, April 01, 2010 11:12:00 AM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Anon March 29 and April 1: I understand your concerns about the Rick Ross forums. I've challenged them (mildly) and have been challenged right back, which doesn't bother me because my challenges were merely attempts to get clarification about some matters.

On some matters (e.g., jail sentences for white-collar criminals), I have to agree to disagree with the party line there, but rather than spend my time and energy arguing I'll just "take what I need and leave the rest." I still think the forums and the entire Rick Ross site serve a very useful purpose. That's why I keep going back there, and why I send other people there, and why I fairly frequently refer to various RR threads in tweets and blog posts.

As with any online community with an agenda -- whether it's pro-self-help/McSpirituality such as Oprah's site, or critical of self-help etc. such as Rick Ross' site -- there is sometimes a tendency to "gang up" on people who have a dissenting point of view. It's worse if the dissenter comes across as arrogant or smug, but even the most respectful dissenters sometimes get "the treatment" from the majority. In my years online on numerous forums, I have both experienced the frustration of being a "minority" and -- I confess -- at times I've participated in "ganging up" on someone else.

I am willing to cut the Rick Ross site some slack mainly because even though I try to be as "fair and balanced" as I can be, in light of my own agenda, I still lean on the side of being suspicious of the self-help industry. The RR forums are clearly reactionary -- that is, they were created as a counter to the powerful self-help industry. So while on one level RR too could sometimes be viewed as "cultish," and encouraging groupthink, it is still, in my view, the lesser of the two "evils." (And to the literal-minded on both sides, that is just a figure of speech; I am not accusing anyone of literally being evil.)

Thursday, April 01, 2010 11:37:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You know of course, that here is where Fagan (rrmoderator), or one of his small gang of pick pockets would call you a "Rick Ross apologist" and ban you from the message board and call you aN employee of Rick Ross LOL

I agree that Rick Ross could sometimes be viewed as "cultish," and encouraging groupthink,.....and that generous way of sayng it would have to extend to every single group or person Rick Ross or yourself ever said things like that that about. That are "simply viewing them" all as that. It does not make it the case. :-)

Thursday, April 01, 2010 12:47:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Anon 12:47: Now *I'm* confused. (No great achievement, though; it does not take much to confuse me. :-))

What I'm confused about is why a person would be banned from the Rick Ross forum for being an apologist for Rick Ross. Maybe I just haven't been to the forum enough to really figure out the politix there. Actually I'm not really familiar with "Fagan." The person who seems to contribute the most to the threads I've been to is The Anticult, who seems to have some good insight into LGAT workings.

But I agree with you (or what I *think* you are saying) that groupthink exists everywhere, even amongst groups of folks who consider themselves above groupthink. We human beans are pretty amusing creatures.

Thursday, April 01, 2010 1:17:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Fagan" is a rascally fictional character from a the Charles Dicken's book "Oliver". Fagan mislead a small group of lost street kids into taking advantage of others.... much the same way Rick Ross rallys his small band of internet regulars to fiercely enforce his [Rick Ross's] view point.

And I was being silly and calling you a "Rick Ross apologist" :-) for sounding like you were excusing and justifying Rick Ross's absolutely appalling internet conduct, the same way as Rick Ross labels anyone who says one word that Rick Ross does not like, an "apologist".

And then I was belabouring the point that just as you say "... So while on one level RR too could sometimes be viewed as "cultish," and encouraging groupthink"....I was saying, that that view should be extended to all. e.g: ...so while on one level [fill in the name of a group you or Rick Ross do not like] could sometimes be viewed as "cultish," and encouraging groupthink,...[fill in the justification].

Thursday, April 01, 2010 1:49:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

LOL... got ya...and sorry for being so slow on the uptake. :-)

Thursday, April 01, 2010 2:14:00 PM  
Anonymous hhh said...

"Type woo- ?

:-) I'd say so. But it's the kind of woo that sells, apparently."

On second thoughts, it would have to be type Woo+.

Thursday, April 01, 2010 2:30:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Of course, HHH. There is no negative in Woo World.

Thursday, April 01, 2010 3:00:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Self-Help fraud is to claim that a certain belief, method or practice improves mental health, personal life circumstances or interpersonal relationships without providing valid, supporting scientific evidence!"


Who is the individual sitting behind the "Scammy Awards" curtain? A disgruntled ex "self help" proponent/ customer themself?

Eldon Braun invested years spamming Avatar on line and he was just one old grumpy hurt guy with an axe to grinde and nothing better to do with his time but Eldon Braun just died. So it's not Eldon.

RIP Eldon.

Thursday, April 01, 2010 3:51:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

For that matter, Anon 3:51 PM, who are you behind your Anon curtain? A follower of Avatar? Or Harry Palmer himself? :-)

NBD. It's cool to be Anon here, and I'm sure you have your reasons.

Everyone else: Avatar (not to be confused with the movie of the same name, or those little screen pics we use to represent our online personae) is an LGAT bidness formed by a former Scientologist. In the early 1990s it seemed to be everywhere. Now it's kind of fallen out of the spotlight, at least in the U.S.

Eldon Braun, another former Scientologist, was involved in a lawsuit with Harry Palmer/Avatar. (Palmer sued Braun for copyright infringement.)

Eldon also was the first commenter on my blog post making fun of Avatar, which I posted a few years back:

As you said, Anon: R.I.P., Eldon.

And to answer your question: The person behind Americans Against Self-Help Fraud is Dr. John Curtis. There's no "curtain" and he's not trying to hide. He just isn't marketing himself as aggressively as the self-help gurus do. He has been quoted fairly frequently in the media, in the wake of the James Ray Death Lodge incident. I do think he needs to re-do the AASHF web site and add an "About" page.

Thursday, April 01, 2010 4:58:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, an "About" page would useful to clarify that it is just one lone gunman :-)

Nooooo I meant the other Avatar!!! The 3D movie with the big 9/11 tree!!

Thursday, April 01, 2010 5:08:00 PM  
Anonymous disillusioned said...

Well, my hand is up. Just another grumpy old hurt guy with an ax to grind behind this curtain.

Friday, April 02, 2010 4:52:00 AM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Anonymous 4-01 (5:08)said...

"Yes, an 'About' page would useful to clarify that it is just one lone gunman :-) "

Hardly one lone gunman. There are a few more than that, and the crowd seems to be growing.

Friday, April 02, 2010 11:56:00 AM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

disillusioned said...

"Well, my hand is up. Just another grumpy old hurt guy with an ax to grind behind this curtain."

LOL. It seems that the most passionate defenders of the stuff we criticize are hiding behind curtains of their own, though.

Friday, April 02, 2010 11:57:00 AM  

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