Tony Robbins: Setting soles on fire
I have added a bit to, and subtracted a bit from, this post since I first published it (see the PS and the note at the end).
~CC, 25 July 2012
I know this isn't the top story of the day, but it's been all over the news anyway. Twenty-one people got burned -- in ways other than financial -- at a Tony Robbins event. It wasn't a sweat lodge but a firewalk. Some were pretty seriously injured.
I have never been a Tony Robbins fan, and became even less of one when Salty Droid uncovered Tony 's sleazy dealings with the equally sleazy Internet Marketing Syndicate. Now I have yet another reason to not like Tony Robbins. Not that I needed another one.
I still find it hard to believe that people still even participate in firewalks. You'd think it was still the 1980s. The more things change... And as it happens, skeptics have been debunking firewalking at least since the 1980s, though the physics of such things were de-mystified at least a half century earlier. Here's an article that, although dated July 2011, references some good skeptics' work from decades ago.
But seriously...all talk of 80s nostalgia aside... In this long post I published on the first anniversary of the James Ray sweat lodge tragedy in Sedona, I mused a little about the merits, or lack thereof, of these "extreme" workshop experiences (scroll down to the subtitle, "Were there any real benefits for Ray's participants?"). In that section I linked to a post by my friend and blogging colleague Duff McDuffee's post on his own experiences at a long-ago Tony Robbins firewalk.
When will people ever learn? Yet Tony and his smarmy colleagues just keep raking in the money... which leads us to the more important question: When will the Tony Robbinses and the James Arthur Rays and the other scammy fake gurus of the world stop harming people? How many more folks must be physically, emotionally, or spiritually harmed -- or even killed -- while under the tutelage of people to whom they have turned for leadership and inspiration? I'm not in favor of iron-fisted regulation and legislation of the selfish-help industry (and here's my long-ish take on the matter), but these egocentric, money-hungry sociopaths have to be held, at some point, accountable for the lives they wreck. They're not afraid to take credit for "helping" people, after all.
PS (added 25 July) ~ As usual, Salty Droid really nailed the matter, and on his July 25 post about the Robbins firewalk fiasco, he connected dots that all too many media types and regular folks alike refuse to connect. The title to his post, "Footprints on the fire," is a nod to the sentimental, hideously over-quoted religious poem, "Footprints in the Sand," and is a sly reference to the worshipful regard in which Robbins is held by so many. Robbins fans' love for their Master is truly inspiring, and it even inspired me a couple of years ago.
Also weighing in on the Robbins news story is my pal Steve Salerno at SHAMblog. (If you saw a mention of him when this post was first published, and then suddenly didn't see it, your eyes aren't fooling you. His original post, which I'd linked to, disappeared, so I deleted my mention.) Steve was originally scheduled for an ABC World News Tonight appearance when the firewalk story first broke, but that apparently got postponed due to other stories the network deemed more important (not the Aurora, Colorado tragedy, as you might think, but the case of Michael Jackson's mother going temporarily missing). However, Steve is still being tapped as a resource in the Robbins matter and related stories of SHAMworld. Here is his current post mentioning the firewalk story; look for more from him soon.
Note: I have moved my PS about James Arthur Ray victim Colleen Conaway (which I originally published a couple of days ago) to my main post dated July 25.