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 30, 2011

Pardon the Schadenfruede; it comes with the territory

Dear Ones, I must apologize for being away from my Whirled for so long. Not only have I been inundated with work (which is always a good thing), but my head was momentarily turned by Facebook: yes, I finally succumbed to pressure last month and got myself a cage in Zuckerberg's Zoo. Like many people I have mixed feelings about Facebook, for it is many things and not all of them are good. For those wishing to promote their businesses it is without a doubt a leveler of the playing field, providing another way for companies both small and large to connect with their customers. But it also provides yet another means for hustledorks and serial scammers to expand their own platforms. And while Facebook is perhaps most famously a way for friends and family to "keep in touch," this is not always a good thing. It also offers yet another way for people who supposedly love each other to air their dirty laundry, work out their festering issues, and hurt each other in a very public manner. Being witness to several examples of the latter was one factor that made me hesitant to join Facebook at all.

But in the end, Facebook won.

Though I strongly suspect that Facebook has become part of the New World Marketing Order and is little more than an elaborate ploy to gather all of our mineworthy data into one convenient package (and we are WILLINGLY providing the exploiters with this information, no matter how carefully we've tweaked our "privacy" settings), my addiction to nattering on about myself often trumps caution and common sense. Accordingly I have been dutifully updating my status and participating in discussions that interest me, though I utterly refuse to play those silly Facebook games, and I rarely participate in surveys. Besides being even more time-wasting than blogging or tweeting or holding forth with freely chosen Facebook friends, the FB games are all little more than data-mining traps, and I think you know that I'm not just being paranoid about this.

At any rate, the net result of all of this Facebooking and such is that I have neglected my Whirled for far too long. So far this year, April has indeed been the "cruelest month" for the two or three of you who may have been eagerly awaiting a new blog post. Well, I just can't let this entire calendar month go by in silence (though I realize that for my friends In Other Parts of the World, it is already May and has been for several hours, so double apologies for failing y'all).

Although I have more than a dozen scintillating blog posts in the hopper, I honestly haven't had the brains to finish them. For the time being, you will have to settle for a no-brainer update on some of the "stars" of the planet's most popular New-Wage moviemercial: The Secret.

As most of you are more than aware, since the release of The Secret, these luminaries have been making a lot of noise about the Law of Attraction and how they have used it to create the life of their dreams. And each one, in his or her own way, has blazed a whole new career path by crowing about how you too can learn to use LOA to create the life of your dreams, if only you will pour your heart, your soul, and the contents of your bank account into the hustledork in question's particular brand. It's all about paying full on... I mean, playing full on. No, I was right the first time.

Although the critical backlash to The Secret has been going on for several years now (and some of us, as I feel compelled to keep repeating, were critics from the very beginning), the franchise still has legions of fans, as do many of the talking heads who starred in it. For every snarky or critical blogger, there are probably dozens if not hundreds of starry-eyed pro-Secret LOA believer-bloggers who are still desperately trying to earn money, or just favorable attention, by kissing up to the Secret stars.

It took the James Arthur Ray sweat lodge deaths and ensuing arrest and trial to awaken more people to the fact that all that glitters is not gold in Secretville. But many people apparently haven't gotten the memo yet, looking upon the Ray case as a horrid aberration, and seemingly being taken aback when something negative comes out about yet another Secret hero. I was reminded of this again when I participated in a discussion this past week on Facebook. At one point in the discussion, I mentioned the Bob Proctor/Jack Canfield/Michael Beckwith $2,000 Science of Getting Rich (SGR) briefcase scam from a few years ago. Connie Joy, the host of the discussion, used to be a James Ray follower but has since seen the man for what he is, and she is certainly no starry-eyed type. However, she was unfamiliar with the briefcase deal and asked me to 'splain it, so I did.*

Apparently she had also been unaware of Aussie Secret star David Schirmer's troubles (see below). And evidently some of her other Facebook friends were either similarly unaware of these matters or wanted to believe they were irrelevant. While Ms. Joy herself has been nothing but gracious to me, one participant responded with what has become par for the course in counter-criticism, e.g., we critics are just trying to further our "agenda"; we're trying to sabotage people who are going for their dreams; we're not moving things forward by focusing on negative stuff, and so forth.

I have no doubt that negative information is just going to keep on coming out about the Secret teachers as time goes by, so Secret fans might as well get used to it. They can rag on the critics all they want, they can second-guess our agendas, they can call us haters -- but that's not going to restore the shine to their tarnished heroes.

For now, here's a summary of some of the more notable accomplishments from those modern-day masters of the art of living who starred in The Secret.

The Death Ray saga continues
James Arthur Ray's criminal trial on three counts of manslaughter is still going on in Yavapai County, Arizona, and is expected to last through June. The defense has tried every trick in the book, including vain requests for a mistrial. When the spirit moves it, CNN/InSession has streaming video of the trial, and several intrepid bloggers and tweeters are on the case, providing updates for the rest of us. I can't keep up with the trial in real time because I don't have cable or satellite TV, and my satellite Internet provider imposes such severe usage caps that I can't watch a lot of video. But I have been availing myself of these rich sources of information and often amusing commentary:

• Salty Droid. His original James Ray trial page, http://saltydroid.info/james-arthur-ray-trial-updates/, is pretty long and cumbersome by now, mainly because there are more than 900 comments on it to date. So Salty has been producing smaller update posts, with the most recent one as of today being here: http://saltydroid.info/james-ray-trial-trials-april-28th/

Other Salty Droid trial update links are currrently in the "Focusing" box on the upper right-hand side of his blog.

Some of the short posts might not make sense to you if you haven't been following the story fairly closely, but I suspect they are serving as trial notes for the time being, and that Salty will flesh them out later. In any case, the comments following his posts are always interesting. This one on the April 28 trial post, from Jean D (29 April 2011 at 2:18 pm), summed up the heart of the case against Ray:

No matter what the defense tries to distract with, this trial is about one thing: What would a reasonable person have done, once he became aware that people were having difficulties during an activity he not only created and promoted,but was directing,and in which he was participating just feet away from the people in distress?

Why did Ray choose not to stop the activity? It had no rules for duration,therefore, it could be ended at any time. But what did Ray do? He chose to keep going.

The structure was not traveling at a high rate of speed. Nor was it flying at a high altitude. It did not require an emergency stop or landing. But what did Ray do? He chose to keep going.

It was not a building in which people were trapped by walls and doors. It would have been very easy to have told participants to lift up the sides and get out, and to remove the tarps so light and oxygen would fill the space, allowing access to the ones in danger. But is that what Ray did? No. He chose to keep going.

James Arthur Ray was a mean,spiteful bully kid who grew up to be a mean, spiteful bully professional con artist. Sociopaths are incapable of resisting their urge to control and hurt others. They lack the moral fiber to put the brakes on their behavior. We can only hope the outcome of the trial will successfully stop this subspecies of human and hold him accountable for ending the lives* of Kirby Brown,James Shore and Liz Neuman.

*remember Colleen Conaway

LaVaughn's Celestial Reflections blog (http://celestial-reflections.blogspot.com/search/label/Sweat%20Lodge%20Trial): Putting aside the fact that LaVaughn is a self-described "psychic intuitive," I've found her blog posts about the trial to be full of good reporting and excellent insights.

• Connie Joy's Tragedy in Sedona Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/TragedyInSedona): You probably have to be a Facebook member and friend to see this page, but if you're on Facebook and you're interested in this case, it's worth your time to make the connection. Ms. Joy wrote a book, Tragedy in Sedona, about her experiences with James Ray.

Tom McFeeley's blog (http://tommcfeeley.com/tag/james-arthur-ray): Tom is a cousin of Kirby Brown, one of the three people who died as a result of participating in James Ray's 2009 sweat lodge. Read his blog for insight and observations from someone who really has a personal stake in this matter.

On Friday, several tweeters and bloggers who have been following the Ray trial expressed frustration that the one media source that had been providing live trial coverage, CNN, was apparently far more interested in the royal wedding than in the goings-on at the trial. But I suspect the bloggers weren't too surprised. All across the media landscape, even the most serious journalists could scarcely pull themselves away from gushing, cooing, ahhing, ooohing, and nearly wetting themselves over Kate's dress or the special wedding cake or that "true life fairy tale" long enough to even report on the horrendous fatal tornadoes in the South -- to say nothing of devoting precious air time to a mundane criminal trial.

Thank goodness that the bloggers, as usual, were on the job, because the mainstream journos failed us once again.

Meanwhile, back in Oz...
David Schirmer, the "car park" and "cheques in the mail" guy in The Secret, is more well-known on this blog for being the Mini-Madoff of Melbourne.
I have been writing about him for four years now. As of today, Schirmer is still banned for life from working in the financial trade in Australia, but that hasn't stopped him from continuing with his selfish-help shtick, using both his Secret stardom and Bible-thumping Christianity to build his tainted brand. The comments on Salty Droid's blog about Schirmer's recent activities are particularly interesting (here's a sample: http://saltydroid.info/shuttering-david-schirmer/#comment-59992).

But you just can't keep a good schemer down, and right now Schirmer is seeking an editor for the hustledork magazine he is trying to revive. (I blogged about this rag three years ago in a post that contains one of my fave Photoshopping efforts.) A friend alerted me to a job posting that The David Schirmer Group of Companies recently placed on Linkedin:

Job Description
We are seeking a full time editor for an international publication.

The magazine started in January 2007 and is focused on providing the latest breakthroughs and stories from The Secret Teachers, quantum physics, spiritual understanding and the personal development industry. The first issue set sales records in news stands for being the highest selling new publication.

The Editor must be a personal development advocate and want to go on a amazing journey of personal growth with some of the most incredible minds of the 21st centery [sic]. The magazine has already featured The Secret Teachers Joe Vitale, Marci Shimoff, Bob Proctor, John De Martini and John Assaraf, personal development greats such as Tony Robbins and Depak [sic] Chopra, and buiness [sic] leaders such as Richard Branson.

Company Description
The company is run by two entreprentuers [sic] and highly sucessful [sic] business people with experience in finance, education and multiple business operations. A considerable sum of funds has already been invested by the business owners plus the company now has large investor backing and will re-launch the magazine locally then shortly afterward internationally.

Personal Qualities

A senior editor, to be successful, needs: an excellent grasp of writing and editing;
the ability to handle multiple tasks and projects simultaneously; the ability to work with colleagues, advertisers and readers diplomatically; an understanding of the publishing process; the ability to meet deadlines; the flexibility to find quick solutions to problems; and an awareness of trends.

The right person will be someone with strong Christian ethics and values who is passionate about personal growth and helping others to grow. If your motto is "When the going gets tough, the tough get going!" then you are the person we want. Thumbsuckers need not apply! This position will change your life in every area ... spiritually, mentally, physically, financially and relationships.

Uh-huh. Go to work for Schirmer, and your life may very well be changed. But it's very probable that you won't like the changes. At all.

It will be interesting to see how (or if) Schirmer manages to pull this new project off, especially since all of his companies are being struck off by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), as one commenter on Salty Droid's blog reminded us recently. That commenter wrote, "If Schirmer is claiming it is a successful international company then he's back to his usual bulls--t conartist lifestyle again." On the other hand, another commenter points out that anyone can purchase articles online, throw them together, and call it a "magazine." It's all about the marketing, which in Schirmer's case will include an ability to cover up his past misdeeds to any eager and desperate writers who may be jockeying for the new position.

Anyway, as you can imagine, I will not be applying for the editorial job.

Scientist Bob is on the job!
I've blogged about Bob Proctor numerous times, focusing on his work and his more inane public utterances, and there are so many of the latter to choose from. There are other matters, too, that I haven't covered in depth, or at all. For example, there have been rumors that the Proctor empire is crumbling, and there is also some private smarmy stuff that I'm (still) not at liberty to blog about. But even if the smarmy stuff never comes to light, we'll always have the SGR Briefcase Scam, and the
Boner Repositioning System.

Since the Death Lodge story broke, Scientist Bob has also gained attention for having been a mentor to James Ray. A recent article from the Arizona Republic noted:

Bob Proctor, a personal-development teacher who has been a mentor and friend to Ray, says it's standard practice in the business to cobble together teachings from all over. "If it works, try it," he said. While Ray drew on disciplines from physics to psychology to mold together his own approach, Proctor said that the bulk of Ray's teachings focus on "understanding how your mind functions, on how to improve your quality of life - pretty basic stuff."

As for Ray, "he's a good guy, and he's helped lots of people," he said...

...Whatever the cause of [the sweat lodge participants'] death, Proctor, Ray's mentor, cites the Law of Attraction. "He has attracted this; why I don't know. There's a great lesson in it for him, whether he learns it or not," Proctor said. "Since the trial started, I've talked with him by text message, and he's asking himself some very serious questions."

Well, golly, Death Ray is asking himself some serious questions! This changes everything. I take back every negative word I've ever written about him.** At any rate, whatever happens in the months to come, we can count on Scientist Bob Proctor to say something fairly stupid about it.

Moral bankruptcy isn't the only problem...
John Asshat Assaraf, the Secret star whom some folks used to confuse with James Ray until the latter started killing people, currently calls himself
The Spiritual Entrepreneur. He's all about the abundance, don't you know, and he's most famous in Secretville for having moved into the big mansion that he'd pasted on his vision board several years earlier.

But it seems that his famous OneCoach flopportunity, which was supposed to help scads of other folks get as rich and happy as he is, is...well...bankrupt. Look at some of the comments on this blog post: http://www.johnassaraf.com/my-life/check-out-the-onecoach-blog/

Update, 9 May 2011: Oops. That link above? It's a big 404 now. Somebody wiped it away. I have a feeling we haven't seen the end of it, though.)

If the rumors of bankruptcy are true, perhaps the problem is that Assaraf became so focused on that big mansion that he neglected other aspects of his business. And maybe he also got a bit hooked on the accolades from giddy wannabes. If you follow the link in the first sentence of this paragraph you'll see a YouTube video by an awestruck admirer, whose unseen female companion just couldn't stop giggling in the presence of such greatness as Assaraf took the two of them on a tour of his opulent digs.

An aerial shot of the famous house can be seen on this blog post: http://saltydroid.info/just-like-my-party/

I think it is also worth a reminder here that Assaraf partners with Utah boiler room Prosper Inc. http://www.prospercorp.com/partners/john-assaraf.php
Here’s the blurb from Assaraf’s Prosper page, obviously written in better days:

His newest business venture and passion is OneCoach, a company dedicated to helping small business owners and entrepreneurs grow their businesses so they can live extraordinary lives
Prosper, no doubt taking its copy straight from Assaraf’s own promo material, also describes Assaraf as having a "unique passion for brain research and quantum physics" – overlooking the fact that these two descriptors are anything but unique among New-Wage hustledorks. They’re ALL into (cherry-picked) brain research and (fake) quantum physics. Yawn.

As you may know, Prosper is one of numerous boiler-room businesses that happen to be clustered in the business-friendly state of Utah, and apparently have a cozy relationship with Utah’s dodgy Attorney General, Mark Shurtleff. (Once again, Salty Droid was on this one: http://saltydroid.info/mark-shurtleff-attorney-general-of-mlm)

"It Byrnes! It Byrnes us!"
Secret creator Rhonda Byrne is still in hiding for the most part, as she more or less has been since the backlash against The Secret began a few years ago. The
various Secret-related lawsuits may have been a factor in her publicity shyness as well.

As many of you may know, Rhonda's law firm was the same one chosen by James Ray for the Death Lodge defense. Rhonda even thanked the firm at the beginning of The Power. Salty did a nice little photocomp about it: http://saltydroid.info/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/James-Ray-Rhonda-Byrne-Munger-Tolles.jpg

Rhonda apparently did not go on tour for her new book, The Power, but that did not stop it from ranking high on Amazon, even today, more than six months after its release. Sometimes Amazon rankings are...well...rank. Here are recent figures for The Power:

Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #357 in Books

It was on Amazon's review/discussion pages for The Power that I first "met" my new friend Kathryn Price (who recently has been giving Joe "Mr. Fire" Vitale a run for his money on his blog). The discussion resulting from Kathryn's September 2010 one-star review of The Power has generated nearly 600 responses so far.

The Power currently enjoys a four-and-a-half-star average rating, which means that by far the majority are glowing five-star reviews. She may be in hiding, but Rhonda still has a lot of fans and die-hard LOA believers.

But here's a link to the one-star reviews.

Miscellaneous other players...
This isn't new news, but it's for the benefit of those who are unaware of some of the other Secret star shenanigans.

Bill Harris, inventor of the pricey Holosync frauduct and ex-bidness partner of James Ray, threatened to sue a critical blogger, Duff McDuffee. http://saltydroid.info/silencing-of-the-lambs/

Marie Diamond, feng shui expert extraordinaire, was involved in a lawsuit a while back: http://www.amazon.com/Against-Vyncke-Diamond-Happiness-Productions/dp/1442172509

As I said on the aforementioned Facebook discussion, I could go on and on with examples of bad behavior from players in The Secret. To me it seemed obvious from the beginning that The Secret was just a big money grab that glorified greed, materialism, and over-sized egos. But many people still don't want to see it that way. In the end, it seems that rather than hear unpleasant truths about tornadoes and trials, they would rather just embrace the fairy tale.

* The discussion in question is on Connie Joy's Tragedy in Sedona Facebook page, although you will probably not be able to see it if you are not on FB and a "friend" of Tragedy in Sedona. For the benefit of those who don't know about the SGR $2,000 briefcase scheme, my explanation is at April 26 at 4:58pm. Or, since I have blogged about this several times, just Google "SGR briefcase Whirled Musings." (Blogger's search results suck on these older templates, so Google is a better bet.)
** Yes, that was sarcasm.

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Anonymous Dave said...


Nice summary update on the scumbags. Glad you came over to the darkside (Facebook), but I'm with you on the game/survey BS there.

Regardless of the "hater" label, I do enjoy visiting your whirled. Keep on keeping on.


Sunday, May 01, 2011 10:12:00 AM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

From one "hater" to another... Thanks, Dave!

Sunday, May 01, 2011 10:27:00 AM  
Blogger Kathryn Price said...

Connie, as one who joined Facebook rather reluctantly at the urging of relatives in another city, I have enjoyed some aspects of it, but I have also thought about shutting down my account a couple of times. While it is enjoyable to keep in touch with many of my friends, especially those in distant states, I have also come to know some extended family members perhaps more than has been good for either of us. I think we were better off with the more limited exchanges we had before becoming Facebook pals - and I suppose they'd say the same about me. It's an interesting experience for sure.

I have to say I was flattered to read this post and find that my name has garnered a mention in the pages of your Whirled with my own small contribution of criticism of The Secret. I suppose I am a disgruntled, negative person without realizing that I am because I do not possess any esoteric knowledge, or at least not of a kind that is marketable, but I was surprised by the vehemence the review drew, at least initially, in speculation about my personal misery, my friendlessness, my lack of spirituality, and the fact that I am "a idiot" [sic]. Still, there were some less heated folks who stopped by and I enjoyed many of those discussions. I continue to be mystified by Rhonda Byrne's own secrecy. Sure, I understand it from a public relations viewpoint - her past interviews revealed that her secretive view is sometimes quite far from positivity and good feelings, what with the attracting Holocausts and all - but it is hard for me to understand how her fans don't find it odd that she has virtually disappeared. You'd think she'd be available for a few questions now and then.

Thank you for the update on all things secretive - gosh, there are so many secrets it is hard to keep up with them all. I have spent more time mucking around in some "secrets" than I would have liked - but for some of us, secrets were thrust upon us without our consent, which is, I guess, how they manage to stay so secret. ;-)

Sunday, May 01, 2011 7:03:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Kathryn, I hear you about the ambivalence re Facebook.

And don't short-change your contributions to the public conversation about The Secret and some of its "stars" -- not only on Amazon but on Mr. Fire's blog. I am enjoying reading the comments that you and others, such as Linda, have made on the latter. I may or may not rejoin the fray there.

It really is amazing how publicity-shy Rhonda Byrne has become, when at one time she was everywhere.

Sunday, May 01, 2011 9:53:00 PM  
Anonymous Martypants said...

ah, CC, I am with Salty - you should've stayed out of FB. I say that as a loving friend. :)
I loved it for about 3 months a couple years ago...connected with all kinds of old friends and relatives. Found an old guitar player I played with in the 80s now lived only a mile from me - we had played together in another state. That created a couple fairly uncomfortable jam sessions...but was cool as a concept. Lots of High School pals - and unlike many, I have fun high school memories. Felt good, but at its core it is really hollow and meaningless - if I truly wanted to stay in touch, I don't need the Zuckertown express. A post-card would never make me vulnerable to information raping.
If I go into my account now, I get distracted by things so incredibly useless and time wasting, I am always angry at myself. Never played a game, taken a poll or any of that nonsense - I know marketing ploys when I see them...shit, I create them.
But FB made me think: why do so many "friends" slip off to the ether over the years? Figured eventually, you don't agree on as many things, usually...so why seek to re-heat that?

And I say this, mainly because I would prefer to see you write. It is selfish though - purely to help me see less shitty writing, because many of your posts make the Bible want to bow-up, and prove warrant for the begats.
I do promise to bludgeon you if you ever play Farmville. Or it that threaten?

But let's not overlook the serious personal shit in one database (or series), now cross-reference-ready in seconds. If you don't think Russian hackers are round-the-clock attacking this for their "in" you are naive. One FB security flaw, and the US is shitting ponies.

But nice round-up of Secret shit heads.

I have a favorite "The Secret" story to share, but have already used-up my allotted comment-connection.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011 12:30:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Thanks, Marty. I'm seriously thinking of bowing out of Facebook because I dislike it more than I like it. The data traps are a serious concern indeed.

I refuse to play Farmville or any of those other idiotic games, though I have participated in a couple of surveys initiated by (real) friends. And I have "liked" a couple of commercial pages (such as Quality Paperback Book Club, of which I'm currently a member anyway).

But there's so much frustration on FB, including the "disappearing" conversations and the way the default views change almost from moment to moment. On those occasions when I do wax profound on Facebook, my little posts disappear from view so quickly that I feel I'm wasting what writing skills I have there. Better to concentrate on my Whirled, where I can exercise more control over the environment.

And do share your favorite "Secret" story in a separate comment. I'm all ears (or eyes).

Tuesday, May 03, 2011 12:44:00 PM  
Anonymous Martypants said...

OK, here’s my story of The Secret striking too close to home. I have a friend who is extremely successful. He helped create something we all know and retired at 30, a multi-millionaire with smarts to keep it growing while he golfs. This guy & I have known each other forever and have been very close thru all of it. We have a mutual friend whose life was kinda getting crumbly and tough. My successful friend happened to be passing thru Atlanta & had a layover for a few hours, so I picked him up to take him to a local bar he loves. On the drive we talked of our mutual friend & his mounting problems, and my successful friend told me he was offering the guy some help from a book he was really getting into. I felt all kinds of prickly heat (not just the humidity), and asked tentatively which book he meant. He pulled it from his carry-on: a post-it filled hardback of The Secret. I literally screamed at him. I was still driving so I almost mashed us into oncoming traffic. I just started frothing - spewing all kinds of reasons why it was such an awful thing to do to someone in need. I asked if he had heard of the murder trial pending (he had not, but he did like Ray's ideas in the book). He thought our struggling friend could benefit from its rhetorical echoes, but I yelled and carried-on about how he needed help with reality - not more false bullshit. I also pointed out that this LOA crap had nothing to do with him retiring - retiring at 30 had to do with him working his ass off when we were young, and having great timing. We got to the bar, and I started to calm down - telling him how dumb it was, but I would try to stop berating his fairy tale. But I couldn't. It just disturbed me so much to see my good friends reading this shit without me there to at least hurl some cynical thought alongside their naive acceptance. But my successful friend is a guy like many affluent folks who attended "spiritual building" weekends - and people go "Why would YOU need to go here?" So part of my palpitating heart and overflowing admonishing was due to the fact that my friend is a ripe candidate for these douchebags. Worse: he was already recruiting for them, bringing this substitute to someone who might be really REALLY vulnerable. We had lots of other things to talk about, but during our meal, every few minutes I would just shout a frustrated "God!" - followed by one MORE reason that book was such a horrible thing to believe in. Not to read, I clarified, but to believe in. WTF! It was a fun dinner anyway - we have that kind of relationship. When I left him at the airport to go off golfing, I made my point again but with less passion. I was clear though: read it, and like it if you must - but be able to discern it, from reality. And stop pushing it to our other friend, immediately; it would only give him false hope when he was already fragile. Afterward, we joked about it a few times, but I could tell he saw it differently. The Secret had lost its power. I was proud, because he will certainly find something else to keep busy with soon enough; that is how he rolls being retired and all. His yoga was never so dangerous. But this was last year, well after Ray. In fact, this was just after the ABC special on the murder tragedies, which was one factoid I had spit out while dodging traffic. And he watches the news, but did not make this connection. So this stuff is far from over...there are nowhere near enough direct connections to rational discourse on it. The logic and questions inherent in something suggesting to be so deep are buried by glossy-eyed reach-arounds from people who also seem to not be able to separate this fairy tale from reality. Or maybe they can, and don't want to. Why not - this stuff is easier. If you dream it, it will come. I’m happy to slam this book because I think it is just plain stupid. But when it became clear to me how manipulative it is, being stupid took on a much more sinister appearance to me. But maybe I am just too negative. Whatevs...I can live with that. :)

Thursday, May 05, 2011 11:12:00 AM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Thanks for sharing that story, Marty. I think you make a profoundly important point. So many people are (still) clueless about the omnipresence, and insidiousness, of The Secret and the entire New Wage mindset that is trapping people in various ways. Folks don't necessarily see how intricately intertwined the hustledorks (and the h-dorks' businesses) are. They do not perceive that a "magic circle jerk of mutal self-admiration" (thank you, Chris Locke) even exists.

And many of them who do perceive it see it as a good thing, an opportunity for them to join the circle jerk themselves and become as wealthy as the h-dorks -- if they just buy the products and services, become affiliates, and keep thinking those positive thoughts, of course.

In addressing these matters with friends especially, but also with the general public, we have to strike a balance between telling it like it is and sounding like wild-eyed conspiracy theorists. But in your case I think ya done good with your successful friend. It sounds as if he needed to be hit on the head with what I see as a more rational perspective.

It does strike me as odd that someone who was successful enough to retire at 30 would even have any interest in shilling for those Secret twits, but more than likely you're right about it being little more than a momentary diversion for him. OTOH, it sounds as if your struggling friend does not have similar license to jump blithely from one diversion to another, and I hope he didn't get sucked too far into The Secret vortex.

Thursday, May 05, 2011 11:39:00 AM  
Anonymous Emma said...


"So this stuff is far from over...there are nowhere near enough direct connections to rational discourse on it."

I know, its too bad these resources are not more readily available to people. Unfortunately individuals publicizing the rational discourse don't have the same kind of ruthless marketing machines as the new wagers.

I guess we start with what we have. There's Connie. And the Beyond Growth blog, which is how I got here.

And Barbara Ehrenreich, who in her book "Bright-Sided" argues that not only does the "positive thinking" epidemic cause people to show a remarkable lack of empathy for human suffering (after all, you 'caused it with your thoughts'),

...also, if you think it's all on you, you're not likely to get together with others, complain about it, and use that frustration to drive social change.

Micki McGee in "Self-Help, Inc." says that self-help, despite its talk of freedom and having the life you desire, reinforces the status quo (it's *you* that has to change, not society).

And last but not least, me :)

People keep buying this stuff because there is A REAL PSYCHOLOGICAL NEED of some kind. Unfortunately the Secret/LOA people are taking advantage of the desperate by selling them a magical fix.

These are people whose condition may not be severe enough to need therapy but they are dissatisfied with their lives, and I believe empathy, relationships with others, community is a big missing piece there. I write about that at my blog.


Friday, May 06, 2011 5:12:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Thanks for joining the conversation, Emma. You make some good points, and I'm glad you brought up McGee and Ehrenreich.

And for everyone else: Here's the URL for Emma's blog:

Friday, May 06, 2011 5:28:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Facebook's for people who won't face life. It's where people's faces becomes books that others read and you write.
Facebook's wins as both a networking utility and dehumanizer.
If you need to use Facebook to find long lost friends/family, they're not worth finding in the first place. Very few people, actually, are EVER worth looking for.
B.F.Skinner said that when people fail at generating first-rate positive reinforcements (PR’s) (eating, making sex, playing music & games, making art, playing-NOT watching-sports,), they settle for second-rate, derivative reinforcements like TALKING about or WATCHING food, sex, music, sports, etc.

If you can't do it, you teach or talk about it.

This explains blogging, Facebook, and the rise of "social media". A growing population, deprived of abundant first-rate PR’s, now make do with second-rate PR’s- talk/blogging/Twittering & watching TV/movies/YouTube/Facebook, etc.

And when second-rate PR’s don't satisfy, people turn to negative reinforcement (NR)-doing things to AVOID stress and punishment, criticizing, negative talking.
NR motivates 75% of all behaviors-from watching cops & robber shows on TV and the movies, to reading the negative news, listening to negative people, watching negative images.

The payoff for all this social NR: We feel better when STOP watching or talking about negative people or events.

That's why people read blogs, follow OTHER people's lives, comment on OTHER people's books & projects, read bios of OTHER people, watch CNN and all other purveyors of social control.

Certainly, criticism has its place. I, myself, just began commenting in several blogs 2 months ago, as a personal experiment. This experiment failed to positively reinforce me, so I'm stopping next week.

For example, on this blog last month, I posted a rejoinder to some guy "Rev Ron" about my views about relationships. My comment specifically addressed his misinterpretations of my views and was censored. Just talk, doesn't matter anyway.

On scammer Joe Vitale's blog, I'm now officially one of 3 people he admits to censoring-after just 3 comments calling out his phony "spirituality".
None of this amounts to any kind of PR.

"Schadenfreude" is for losers, those who can't do real life but can only talk & watch, noses pressed up against the window of real life, watching & talking endlessly about OTHERS who actively participate in real life.

To Connie: This "Ray" guy is social scum, "The Secret" is a misguided swindle of fools & frauds, "The Power" sells "The Secret" in new clothing to the same bunch of desperate believers...CHECK!

Now what?

You're just spinning wheels, burning rubber to impress unsatisfied people watching in the stands, the same mentality that fills up NASCAR racetracks... interminable loud noise, around & around going nowhere, spinning wheels, the stench of burned mental rubber...and the insatiable "Schadenfreude"-lusting crowd who cheer every tire screech like trained seals.

Your valuable time would be better served informing people how to ADD first-rate PR’s (eating, making sex, playing music & games, making art, playing-NOT watching-sports) to their lives.

Taking joy in another's misfortune-however justly deserved-reflects a poverty of genuine first-rate PR’s.

Facebook-and blogs-are the poor person's PR.
Talking incessantly about idiots and frauds is, at best, negatively reinforcing.
Making fun of fools won't get you to the promised land of authentic, truly satisfying, PR.
Better alternative: Eliminate all unnecessary negativity, and substitute all necessary positivity.

"Stop Facebooking/Blogging, Start Living!"

Monday, May 09, 2011 8:18:00 AM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

It is good to know, Anon (Andrew?), that your life is so full of all the positive PRs that the rest of us poor losers lack. You are a role model to all of us. How's that year-to-year relationship contract thing working for you?

Okay, now that we've gotten the requisite sarcasm out of the way... ;-)

My "Schadenfreude" shtick is an exaggeration. I don't think it is in any way noble or uplifting to revel in other people's misfortunes. And certainly I do not revel in the James Ray tragedy. I would far prefer a world in which nobody died at a James Ray event, and I do not relish the fact that good people died, and that many other good people live with the loss of those people every day.

But I do like me those German words. It's a curse of my heritage, I suppose, along with a fixation with dachshunds. I plan to name my next dachshund Schadenfreude.

As you know, I'm ambivalent about Facebook at best, and these days am definitely leaning towards agreement with your assessment of it. Blogging? It keeps my writing muscles flexed, because in my other life, I do actually write for a living. While you're probably correct that there are "better" ways I could spend my time (and certainly more lucrative ones), I'm not ready to abandon my Whirled just yet. But I will take your words under advisement.

Thank you as always for adding spice to the conversation, giving it that "new blog smell," as it were. ;-)

PS ~ For the benefit of others who may not have been following this loser blog very closely, our Anon friend commented here on a recent Access post.

Monday, May 09, 2011 12:23:00 PM  
Blogger Kathryn Price said...

Anonymous, one can enjoy all the PRs you mentioned and also enjoy the exchange of ideas, whether in books, blogs, or face to face. I find writing, and reading good writing to be enjoyable PRs. Ideas matter. While I agree that too much watching, rather than acting, is an abdication of one's life in favor of vicariously living through others, analyzing ideas, such as those that are promoted as avenues of empowerment and which in fact are leading many to an opposite result, does not fall into that category, in my opinion.

Monday, May 09, 2011 6:12:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

I can always rely on you for a more balanced view, Kathryn. Thank you for that. The truth is that I also love reading and writing, and if that's a substitute for life, so be it. Like you, I tend to think of the exchange of ideas as a supplement to life rather than the thing itself.

Monday, May 09, 2011 6:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Cheryl said...

Great summary Connie, seems like the secret really did change our world but perhaps not as positively profoundly as all the secretsville wannabes had hoped. Amazing how blindly people follow other human beings who successfully con them that they are well lets say fake gurus. The world is slowing getting wiser as they discover the lot of them have been conning everyone for a very long time and the only mansions purchased seemed to be those purchased on fake money that came from the sale of the secret. Now that has all died, so have the mansions, the cars, the art work, the dreams and the like and we've had the joy of watching it all fall apart. Thanks to everyone who WILL NOT LET THEM GET AWAY WITH PURE GREED the world is slowing getting educated on just how manipulative and fraudulent these people can be. Good work on your part, keep it up, its not over just yet.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011 10:40:00 PM  
Blogger Frances said...

Kathryn-- thank you so much for that last response; that happens to be the main thing that made me vulnerable to selfish-help types... the idea that I wasn't creating enough first-hand experience in my life (or "PRs", as Andrew/anon calls them), and I was too much into the book learnin'. It wasn't REAL life, you see? Nothing really reliable like street smarts, people smarts, or gut feelings; and therefore it couldn't be trusted.

Besides, the New-Wagers just sounded so confident that they knew how life really works; and they were so obviously happy, "together", and likeable that it felt irresponsible NOT to emulate them. Even if I didn't like their methods, or worried about the side effects... their lives were richer than mine, I had no evidence that would outshine their case. I literally felt like I had no credibility to contradict them.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011 9:13:00 AM  
Anonymous Rev Ron's Rants said...

Frances, I think that the intimidation you experienced is quite widespread, and I'm certain that it is but one of the hustledorks' marketing tools, which they use to keep their marks in line.

I feel quite fortunate in having seen the "man behind the curtain" many years ago, and learning how to discern between the carefully-cultivated public image that these scammers project and the real person. One whom I know quite well (for over 16 years) tries to come across so benevolent and wise, yet when there's no audience, he seethes at any challenge or question, and typically takes his anger out on whomever is closest to him (at least, that's how a friend who was quite close to him described it). I was amazed at the lengths the guy would go to in his attempts to discredit his critics, but heard the same stories from more than one of his ex-friends.

Bottom line: Don't let some psychopath make you feel bad about yourself or make you question your right to your opinion. And keep in mind that ONLY a psychopath would do such a thing to you.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011 1:26:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


You wrote

"Even if I didn't like their methods, or worried about the side effects... their lives were richer than mine, I had no evidence that would outshine their case. I literally felt like I had no credibility to contradict them."

YES! They set it up that way, where credibility is based on results, and they either do in fact have it "figured out" or craft their image carefully so as not to let on that they don't.

Whereas if credibility was based on ethics, or relationship, or intuition, you might get a different result.

Some people might wonder "why would anyone fall for such claims? why can't they just get out there and live life and be their own selves?"

I would respond, that our whole society is set up to train people to look to "experts" as ultimate authority, and the gurus exploit that as much as they can, so don't blame yourself for falling for it.

Here's to being experienced and wiser!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011 10:57:00 PM  

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