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.)

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Fighting oil with (snake) oil: "What if it works?"

I haven't forgotten Wink Wednesdays, Dear Ones (and yes, I totally missed last week. And this one too, for that matter.). My excuse du jour? There has been a massive snark-chum spill in the oceans of my Whirled. So much snark chum; only one Cosmic Connie! I beg your indulgence and understanding.

Joe "Mr. Fire" Vitale recently sent an email and published a sales page about a new product he has created with his buddy Pat O'Bryan. This is another in the pair's series of "clearing audios." Past products have addressed such eternally popular topics as attracting wealth, increasing luck, enhancing romance, and losing weight. The audios, which Joe and Pat claim utilize the latest research and cutting-edge technology, feature "Dr." Joe nattering about this and that (both audibly and subliminally), while Pat plays music.[1] This magickal but scientifical combination supposedly speaks directly to your unconscious mind, which, according to the hype-notic articles of faith, is where real change begins.

The latest product goes beyond such selfish concerns as romance, personal luck, and weight loss, and focuses on an environmental crisis that has been on everyone's mind and in every news medium since April: the BP oil-spill disaster. In a recent webinar Joe reasserted to his listeners that he doesn't listen to the news (it's so negative, you know), but his audience does, so he's just doing what he can to connect with them.

Still, he has to at least make believe that he believes his product "works," or else the whole scheme falls through. So what's the basic premise? How can an audio product affect something as huge and apparently external as the oil spill? Here's how, Dear Ones. Once you access your unconscious mind via JoePat's magickal technology, you can, Joe explains, also access the collective unconscious, thus enabling you to "impact the oil spill and anything else we perceive as bad." Flashing his impressive disaster-fighting and miracle-producing creds in both the email and the sales copy on the new site, Joe explains:

A few people wrote me, recalling that years ago I sent out an email inviting everyone to envision Hurricane Rita dissolving before it hit land.

Rita did in fact lessen in power as it hit.[2]

A few others know about the Attract Miracles community I created with Craig Perrine to help people support each other to achieve their intentions.

Hundreds have been going there since we began it, and the results are a-maz-ing.

What you may not realize is that 23 scientific studies prove that when people focus on a common goal, using meditation to achieve inner peace, that goal tends to come about.

With all of that in mind, Pat O’Bryan and I created a special clearing audio designed to help Clear the Oil Spill.

And we’re giving it away.


The oil-clearing audio is indeed available for free (or "freeee" as Joe usually puts it in his emails), because "Dr." Joe wants to do his part to help heal the world, no strings attached. Of course you'll probably get more than one chance to join a fee-based membership "community" or purchase boatloads of other products.

Let's backtrack a bit. Take Hurricane Rita (please). As many who have been regular visitors to my Whirled know, over the years I've written numerous blog posts about the "wind whisperers" who try to influence the course of hurricanes. A Florida woman named Lynn S. Marks, who goes by the monikers "SpiritDiva" and "Phoenix," is one of my all-time favorites in this area. (As a matter of fact Lynn/SD/Phoenix has been leading oil-spill-clearing meditations of her own; I receive the notices by email.) And, being the considerate and careful quasi-journalist that I am, I have always taken care, when writing of the wind whisperers, to mention Joe's efforts with Rita in 2005, and similar efforts with the notorious Ike in 2008.

For some reason Joe did not mention Ike on the oil-clearing site or in his email, although he had sent out an "Ike" email similar to the "Rita" blast, but, as noted, he did mention his implied success with weakening Rita. However, I wrote plenty about Ike, both before and after the storm. Of course, much of it was negative, inspired in part by looking at the felled trees and wrecked buildings all around me (not to mention enduring a few long days and nights without power here on The Ranch), but that's just the way I am. Deal with it.

As for that "Attract Miracles" community Mr. Fire created with Craig Perrine, it draws deeply from the murky well of the late Maharishi's "Maharishi Effect" gimmick. I wrote about that too, in March of 2009. Of note, the copy on the Attract Miracles main page has changed considerably since I wrote that post. The headline has been changed and much of the body copy has changed too. One thing that stuck out for me is that Joe no longer describes the Texas Hill Country property where he lives as "a multi-million dollar estate." He now describes it as "a beautiful Texas home." (Maybe this was in response to criticism that resulted when another blogger pointed out that, according to public records, the real worth of his multi-million dollar estate is less than $320,000.) In addition, it's no longer obvious (at least to me when I read it) that the Attract Miracles "community" is fee-based. Currently there's only a link to sign up for a freee Miracles Meditation, and a mention that you only have to "participate" as long as you want. So either it's been changed to a totally freee program, or the real information about just what it's going to cost is only obtainable to those who surrender their name and email address to the big Miracles Marketing Machine. I'm too lazy to check it out.

As for those "23 scientific studies," as I noted in my March 2009 post, all were sponsored by people and institutions associated with the Maharishi's huge empire.

Although Joe normally dismisses skeptics and critics (sometimes referring to them as losers), he makes a passing nod to those who might doubt the efficacy of the oil-clearing product.

Scoff if you like but we feel it’s at least worth a few minutes a day to listen to our special audio and let it help you clean the world from the inside out.

If nothing else, consider it a relaxing few moments for yourself.

And maybe, just maybe, it may heal the Gulf, and the Earth, as well.

It’s worth a try, isn't it?

In a Tweet about the new "clearing" audio, he is a little more blunt:

Clear the oil spill. Yea its nuts but what if it works? [3]

So it all boils back down to that rhetorical gem: "What if it works?"

Once again I find myself rolling my eyes. I'm afraid, Dear Ones, that if this keeps up, my eyes might get stuck back there somewhere in my head, and then I'll have to walk around blind and zombie-like. But even then all will not be lost. Perhaps I can be my own Hoshun wish dolly and draw some new pupils on my blank eyeballs. I'm pretty handy with a Marks-a-Lot®.

* * * * *

In other recent (and, it seems, related) news, Mr. Fire appears to have been rather jealously defending his turf in the Hawaiian-wisdom wars. Shortly after a former friend and business partner of Joe's, Mark Ryan, announced that he was releasing a Ho'oponopono product, Joe announced that he has been working for more than six months on a sequel to his 2007 Ho'opo work, Zero Limits (reviewed here on July 9 and July 10, 2007. Good Goddess, has it really been almost three years?!?). Joe invited his readers and followers to contribute to his new book. (Don't scoff; that's a brilliant move. If you could get other folks to provide much of the content for your book, while you received all of the credit as well as the residuals or profits, wouldn't you at least consider doing it? Crowdsourcing, baby! [4])

Joe confessed that he was never planning to reveal these advanced secrets, which were taught to him personally by the great Dr. Hew Len, who, according to what I read in Zero Limits, has called Joe "the Jesus of business" and "the point man for change," and has said to him, "Joseph, you are as gods. I should be sitting at your feet!"[5] Joseph was really intending to keep those advanced Ho'opo secrets to himself. But geez, it turns out there are all those folks out there teaching "false" versions of Ho'oponopono, and Joe just had to come to the rescue. He wrote, “Please don’t be taken by all the people who claim to know or teach ho’oponopono. Dr. Hew Len warned me about them and sure enough, they’re out there. Stick with the original source of the Zero Limits message.”

Mark Ryan's wife Kathy then published a post about the matter on Mark's blog, and that post inspired a discussion that is both lengthy (more than 100Link comments as of now) and surprisingly loving, all things considered. A few days later, Joe published a blog post that was pretty much like his email, containing warnings about those false Ho'opo teachers, with a few additional caveats:

Maybe one litmus test is to see if the person or organization selling ho’oponopono practices unconditional love and 100% responsibility. If they (or their followers) spend time criticizing others or blaming others, it may not be the place to shop.

Just a word to the wise.

He claimed that he didn't have any particular person or organization in mind when writing those warnings. Uh-huh.

More than one person has suggested to me that I interview Mark Ryan for my blog. I have no problem with this idea, but I think that for now, Mark and Kathy are speaking quite well for themselves. After relocating to the stunningly beautiful Mt. Shasta, Cali area, they seem busy and happy. Their Ho'opo product launch seems to be going well, and currently Mark is in upstate New York, where just the other day he enjoyed a visit with perennially fascinating author George Cockroft (aka Luke Rhinehart) on George's lovely and verdant estate.

But do not think, Dear Ones, that I haven't spent time thinking about the controversies. I certainly can't speak to the effectiveness, or lack thereof, of Ho'oponopono, though of course I've snarked about it plenty. But I have explored some of the deeper questions around this recent situation (and I mean "deeper" in the sense that I am usually deep on this blog, i.e., "profoundly shallow"). The big issue is this: I can't figure out if, in the Ho'opo wars, Mr. Fire has been more like...

1. Gollum jealously guarding the One Ring...
...a painfully obvious comparison, perhaps, and, granted, one that I've already used for Rhonda Byrne
here and here. Gollum has also been invoked recently on Salty Droid's blog, in reference to James Ray....

2. Aesop's dog in the manger, snarling at the bewildered ruminants who only sought a bit of hay to nosh on...
Some might say this is a less than perfect comparison because the dog in the fable supposedly had no use for what he so vehemently fought to deny the hapless bovines, whereas Joe apparently wants to continue to stuff himself with that good sweet Ho'opo hay as long as he can squeeze a few dollars from it. My understanding, though, is that there's plenty of Ho'opo to go around, and since Joe has so many income streams anyway, being a Whirled-famous New-Wage celebrity, why would he begrudge others the chance to make a few bucks of their own on something that is supposedly a gift of the Divine anyway? (Besides, Mark Ryan is the person who introduced Joe to Ho'oponopono in the first place.)

I've been thinking about this so much that my brain hurts...okay, not really. The truth is, I have some actual work to do, and that is taking most of my brain power. So I'll leave it up to y'all to decide in favor of Gollum or the greedy doggy (or both, or neither, or you can add your own comparisons).[6] All I know is that my brain is tired. So I'm going to let you do my thinking for me, and we'll see how it goes. If you're good enough, I might even let y'all write a whole entire book for me. In return, you'll get to see your words published, and you'll get the satisfaction of knowing you helped me make some money. Oh, yeah, and you'll know that you helped humanity and the planet, blah-blah-blah. And you don't even have to thank me. Just cast your vote here: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/PTS83RH. I'll publish the results at a later date if I remember to.

PS Thursday, 10 June, 3:15 PM CDT ~ This just in: Mr. Fire is scheduled to go on Blog Talk Radio to talk about how we can clean up the oil spill. (Thanks to the contributor who sent me this link.)
http://www.blogtalkradio.com/soulnews/2010/06/10/lets-clean-up-the-bp-oil-spill-with-hoopo nopono-energy-today-on-theair

[1] For the record, I actually like what I've heard of Pat's music. He's very talented. Joe's nattering, though, I can do without.
The Rita link is my addition.
[3] If Mr. Fire has blocked you, as he has me and several other critics (for some reason we can't quite figure out), you won't be able to read the Tweet by following the link above. I guess you'll have to trust me on the quotation.

[4] Crowdsourcing is easy and fun, but be sure to work it into your Terms of Service agreement (if you follow the link, scroll down to "Submissions").
[5] I can't help wondering if Dr. Hew Len has since modified his opinion about the Jeezus-of-bidness thing, especially after the last Zero Limits event where Joe came up with a scheme whereby people could pay $100 to attend the event "remotely" -- not via Skype or phone or anything technological, but by having their names put on a piece of paper so the in-person participants could "clean" on them. I've heard from more than one source that Dr. Len didn't think too highly of that scheme and even said that the people who paid a hundred bucks had been suckered.
[6] As always, I welcome feedback from all "sides" in these controversies.

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Anonymous JasonD said...

I guess I'll have to go with Dog in the Manger till someone comes up with a better one. The Gollum idea is clever (and good photoshopping job) but I don't think it's a perfect fit. As an avid Tolkien fan I can say that Tolkien created characters both valiant and evil, but none that were actually sleazy. The closest comparison would be Grima Wormtongue, but I think even he would be insulted at being compared to Joe V.

Saturday, June 12, 2010 8:45:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Thanks for your input and Tolkien insights, Jason. :-) I'm getting mixed results on the survey; most people are voting for both Gollum and the greedy doggie.

Now, for some reason I feel like watching the LOTR trilogy again. I think I'll collect Ron and the dogs and retire to the living room, and pop that first movie in the DVD player.

Saturday, June 12, 2010 8:48:00 PM  
Anonymous stacey said...

apparently this oil clearing scheme, besides being a blatant marketing op, is all part of joe's ongoing experiment with group intentions (which is itself a marketing op as you demonstrated in your post about the attract miracles community). but didn't joe himself say that intentions are for wimps?

Sunday, June 13, 2010 7:36:00 AM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Yes, Stacey, Joe has said intentions are for wimps. But that was just a marketing ploy to sell something else. When it suits him, intentions are just fine. Or maybe the deal is that *group* intentions are just fine and individual intentions are for wimps. I get confused about this stuff sometimes.

Sunday, June 13, 2010 7:38:00 AM  
Blogger Pat O'Bryan said...

Let's get the facts straight.

The "Clear the Gulf" audio is absolutely free. You don't have to pay any money or give your email address to get it. As long as you skip the optional opt-in, you'll receive no emails.

It's a gift.

There's a lot of scientific research- for example: http://bit.ly/Y9UrV - that neither of us is qualified to critique. It looks pretty compelling to me.

If you want to participate, there's no obligation. Use the gift in the spirit in which it's given. If you don't, that's cool. Help in your own way.


Sunday, June 13, 2010 10:24:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Thanks for your input, Pat. I understand that even though the audio is offered as a gift, one of the main objectives is to sell other products. Nothing wrong with that. Just good marketing.

And the music is pretty in a standard meditation kinda way, if what I heard briefly on that radio show last week is any indication. The droning Robo-voice...not so pretty, IMO. Frankly it might have benefited from a more melodious voice such as Mark Ryan's. But I understand the unlikelihood of that, LOL.

I have never claimed to be qualified to scientifically critique the research about the efficacy (or lack thereof) of the so-called Maharishi Effect. My knowledge in that area is very limited. But I think I know confirmation bias when I see it.

The link you provided --
http://bit.ly/Y9UrV -- is to a page from the Dubrovnik Peace Project site, which is affiliated with a TM center in Croatia. One of the claims made on that site's home page is that so-called Yogic Flyers helped "create coherence" and avert hostilities in Croatia during 1999-2000. "We look forward to scientists verifying this claim," wrote the site authors. I realize that the page to which you linked provided links to other studies, but all of them seem to be associated in some way with the Maharishi's huge worldwide org.

As for the oil spill itself, I'm not sure at this point how I personally can help with it, although I am open to suggestions. I recognize that as part of a deeply oil-dependent culture we all bear some responsibility. And I agree with the theologians and philosophers who say that the BP oil spill is a moral as well as an economic and ecological crisis. (I never thought I would find myself agreeing with a Baptist about much of anything, but I think Robert Parham, executive director of the Baptist Center for Ethics, had a point when he wrote (on the Washington Post's faith blog), "Traditional Christianity identifies greed, sloth, and pride as three deadly sins -- sins that manifest themselves in BP's disaster.")

Bio-remediation appears to be a workable path to take in cleaning the actual spill, but because it would involve actually breaking down the oil (that's my understanding, anyway), BP might not be so enthusiastic about that option. For obviou$ reason$ they want to $alvage as much oil as they can.

Anyway, Pat, I'm glad you weighed in because even though I appreciate my fans, it gets boring around here when everyone agrees with me. :-)

Monday, June 14, 2010 10:45:00 AM  
Blogger Burned by Fire said...

Well, I personally love the photoshop, and I can visualize Mr. Fire at home stroking something (though I don't know what... a blue bottle? maybe a blue phallic symbol?) saying "my precious" over and over again.

When he's done, he'll go out and say something stupid about how intentions are for wimps while using a bona fide environmental disaster as a publicity stunt in order to go viral. It's just how he rolls, you know.

I can think of other viral "gifts" like this, some of which can be treated with medication.

Why isn't Hoshun at work cleaning up the mess of the oil spill? Maybe if we print out enough, the paper will soak up all of the oil... and Mr. Fire can squeeze those into the fuel tanks of one of his gas guzzling luxury cars.

If all of these magickal tools are so amazingly magical, why aren't they working on the greatest environmental disaster of our lifetime?

If the 23 scientifical studies proving the effectiveness of this Maharishi deal are so accurate, and if as many people as there are that follow Mr. Fire and Pat are listening to this audio, then why hasn't it worked yet?

Either no one pays attention to Pat and/or Joe and they haven't gotten enough people to download it (thus proving they are legends in their own egos), or it doesn't work and their assertions that it does - and that the miracle web site - are full of crap.

Because there IS some actual hardcore data that the sea floor is still leaking all over the place. That can be proven.

These spiritual types who think they can solve a disaster like this with magical thinking are incredibly naive. I know people are pissed off about this... but anyone telling you that magical thinking is going to fix it are trying to sell you something.

Good job on summarizing the ho'opoopy wars... if I ever get a spare moment to finish my blog entry on it, maybe I can contribute to your observations.

Monday, June 14, 2010 5:04:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Thanks, BBF. I too have wondered why Hoshun isn't keeping an eye on this matter...well, let me reword that. I too have wondered why Hoshun isn't involved in this problem. But maybe he just helps out with people's personal issues. Or maybe the Wish Dolly's day has come and gone.

For that matter, I wonder if the TM folks are stepping up their Yogic Flying and such in order to alleviate this terrible environmental disaster. Or perhaps they're too busy with the stock market, war, and crime to mess with an oil spill.

I'm glad you liked the Gollum Photoshop. And I do hope you get some spare time to finish your blog post, because hey, it's been a while since you blogged. (Amusingly, some folks are still claiming that they "know" *I* am the author of the BBF blog.)

Monday, June 14, 2010 5:15:00 PM  
Anonymous Chris said...

OK, so maybe they are pseudo-shamanic ambulance chasers, but what's the worst that could happen here? How is this any worse than a "top kill" "junk shot"?

Maybe a selfless humanitarian was on her way out to the Gulf, to rinse off some oily birds...but she decided at the last minute to download a healing mp3 instead? Hmm, I doubt it.

Monday, June 28, 2010 2:56:00 AM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Hey, Chris, thanks for your perspective. But I never said or implied that the oil-clearing audio is harmful. I just said it's really silly. And even though it's freeee, its purpose seems to be to sell other products, and possibly memberships to Joe's Attract Miracles community. Again, probably no real harm done if people can afford the products or memberships, but no real good either, except to the sellers. (Not to mention the very large element of deception about those "scientific studies" that "proved" the efficacy of group intentions. IMO that is Maharishi-inspired nonsense that HAS been pretty thoroughly debunked.)

Monday, June 28, 2010 12:11:00 PM  
Anonymous Chris said...

But of course you have implied it is harmful, Connie. I think you've lost your perspective.

People are already making money off ineffective responses to the spill. Nobody has demonstrated a workable solution to this serious problem; all claims are thus far either untested, or disproven.

This is hardly the time and place for a War on the Unusual.

I'd say, instead, it is time for all hands on deck--including stupid hands, silly hands and crazy hands, provided they aren't actually making things worse.

In other words, these are the ideal circumstances for an intention experiment! So we ought to establish a proper design--if these volunteers refuse that, then OK, now you've got a valid basis for complaint.

Monday, June 28, 2010 1:18:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

No, Chris, I have not implied that JoePat's silly oil-clearing audio is actually harmful. That is your interpretation. If you want to participate in an intention experiment no one is stopping you, and I'm certainly not trying to. Nor am I working to discourage anyone from privately meditating, publicly praying, or engaging in naked pagan rituals to do something about the oil spill. (I do think that perhaps meditation and prayer, or even deep introspection or thoughtful discussion, can be helpful in re-shaping the values and priorities that drive our oil-dependent society.)

In any case I would think that group intention participants need to keep in mind that "confirmation bias" factor. If you've read any of my posts on "wind whisperers" (hurricane communicators) you'll see that IMO the dynamics are similar to the "clearing" efforts regarding the oil spill. If things get better, even marginally so, the whisperers and group intenders will (modestly, of course) take credit. If things don't get better, or if they even get worse, the whisperers and intenders will take credit for staving off even greater disasters.

And as for being engaged in a War on the Unusual, I have to say that on this beat, the audio-clearing product is about as far from "unusual" as one can get. For JoePat, in fact, it is very much business as usual. This is very much the time and the place for calling a spade a spade, as far as I'm concerned.

Monday, June 28, 2010 2:53:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Addendum to my previous comment: I will say, Chris, that I completely agree with you that people are already making money off of ineffective responses to the oil spill. But I'm still betting (not literally, just a figure of speech) on microbial bio-remediation, which *has* been tested and proven effective.

Monday, June 28, 2010 3:01:00 PM  
Blogger ceresmary said...

Cosmic, I have to hand it to you for being the ONLY critic on google that hasn't been whiped in efforts to find criticism of H'onopono. Interesting, huh? I have to say that their "ingenious way of keeping followers" (blue glass water, blue threaded paperclips (for pendulum work)along with constant need to bliss out of anything that could be 'negative' drives me crazy. I recently made a comment of the issues of competition in the new age industry (since 1979) and the newest snarky behaviours of those working in new age bookstores, to be bonked on the head that my problem was "I was too negative and needed to h'onopono it out". I am in this business, and somehow looking at the bad behaviours is 'wrong' and I need to be more 'possitive' is why, again, so many new age stores are closing??? Me?? I think the problem stems from the need to be not balanced in one's perspective on life but needing to be 'happy all the time'. Life isn't happy all the time, look at any of the elements around us! Water is beautiful but can create waves that crush life, air can be sweet and yet, in it's negative form create tornados. I think Joe Vitale struck a root in the nerve of ex Catholics the need to purge oneself of negative thought, any emotional guilt by saying "I Love you (do you really, without reservation or honesty), I am sorry (for what?? your guilt or your feelings?), I forgive you (again, of what?)" now it's become a form of japa (constant repeative prayer to god)with mala beads. Look, if we get responsible, ask people to stop snubbing one another, be honest about what we do with our emotions, and clean house, maybe the new age would be a better place to be.

Friday, September 03, 2010 10:58:00 AM  

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