Lunatics, lawn chairs, and sweet little lies
One of the weapons of choice in the arsenal of certain types of New-Wage/selfish-help/McSpirituality gurus is some version of the cause-and-effect fallacy, or to put it in more snooty and educated-sounding terms, cum hoc, ergo propter hoc. Basically it goes like this: "If A and B regularly occur together, then A is the cause of B." But the hucksters often take it a few deceptive steps further, either exaggerating, cherry-picking or outright lying about "the effects." Generally this is in the service of convincing people that the guru in question was the cause of the marvelous, miraculous effect that they are claiming occurred or is occurring. If they're really clever, they'll bring the followers in on the miracle too, like Whirled favorite Joe "Mr. Fire" Vitale did a few years ago when he led his followers in an effort to redirect Hurricane Rita -- which actually did quite a bit of damage, but never hit his area (which was never in any real danger anyway).
Still, his followers believed and praised him. Some were no doubt thrilled that he gave them credit for helping him "stop" Rita.
A few years later, Joe tried the same tack with Hurricane Ike. He selected and replaced "Rita" with "Ike," and basically sent out the same email to his followers. Ike did some devastating damage, including in my area. But Joe's neck of the woods, which once again was never in any real danger, remained unscathed, and while the Houston/Galveston metro area reeled from the devastation -- some people were out of power for weeks -- Joe, from his Hill Country hideaway, was tweeting away about sitting out by his pool on a sunny day, reading an Abraham Hicks book about attracting money.
Still, his followers believed and praised him.
Logic be damned: the gurus' fawning followers will continue to believe and heap praise upon their idols, which is why it comes as no surprise that serial scammer Kevin Trudeau's followers continue to believe and praise him as his proxy pours more stupid posts onto the official Kevin Trudeau Facebook fan page. In this April 21 post, which is mostly recycled crap about the paradise of diversity that is the MCC, Katie's proxy clearly implies that Katie is raisin' those jailhouse vibes, just by his very presence.
(My friend Julie Daniel wrote on a Facebook conversation: "[He writes that] you get what you expect. kt never expected 10 years." On more than one occasion, in fact, Katie cried and begged to the judge to puh-leeze set him free.)
I bet that if someone were to actually go and ask the wardens and other workers at the MCC, or even some of the prisoners, if things really have become more calm and balanced and harmonious in Katie's cell block over the past few months, we'd get a far different perspective.
But I suppose it doesn't matter. There are people who need to believe in Katie. There are those who seem to thrive on their gurus' sweet little lies.
Consider the now-famous miracle story, spread by our pal Mr. Fire, about the ward of criminally insane patients in Hawaii State Hospital back in the 1980s. Supposedly, "the world's most unusual therapist," Dr. Ihaleakala Hew Len, cured that entire ward without ever seeing a patient. And, the legend goes, he did it all by working on himself, sitting in his office using techniques from a modern, "proprietary" form of an "ancient" Hawaiian healing method called Ho'oponopono.
Joe first wrote about the miracle cure on a blog post around 2005. It spread around the Internet "like crabs on '60s hippies," as a certain Whirled blogger put it in Part 1 of her review of Zero Limits, the book that ultimately resulted from this amazing story of the miracle cures in the loony bin. (If you follow that link you'll be able to get to Part 2 as well.)
Since 2007, when Zero Limits was released, that "proprietary" form of Ho'opo has served both Vitale and Hew Len quite well, individually and together. Dr. Hew Len was doing his own thing with Ho'opo before that, but no doubt Joe's book gave him tons of new exposure.
I have heard credible buzz that in more recent times, the two had somewhat of a falling-out (no surprise, in light of Joe's ego), which is perhaps why Joe appears to sort of be throwing Hew Len under the bus in his sequel to Zero Limits, At Zero: The Final Secrets to "Zero Limits" -- The Quest for Miracles Through Ho'oponopono. (Final secrets? Huh.)
A friend who bought and read the book sent me some quotes from Chapter 17, which Joe titled, "Did It Really Happen? The Big Fat Lie." He begins:
People who've read Zero Limits often ask if the story was real. “Did Dr. Hew Len really heal the entire ward of mentally ill criminals? If so, why didn't I hear about it on the news? Where's the public record of it?”Joe explains that he didn't believe the story either when he first heard it, but after talking to Dr. Hew Len on the phone, he did. Subsequent workshops he and Hew Len did further convinced Joe of the latter's authenticity. He says that while researching Zero Limits, he contacted social workers who were at the hospital when Hew Len was there, and they told him they "felt something" in his presence, but never claimed he was a messiah, and never attributed any healings directly to him. No one said the inmates were cured or the ward closed directly because of any of Dr. Hew Len's actions. Joe continues:
That doesn't surprise me. Life is so interconnected that my breath out affects your breath in, but you'd never consciously look at me and say, “Hey, thanks for breathing!”Nice dodge, Joe. I mean, really. For someone who says he doesn't want to dodge, he does seem kind of dodgy, in every sense of the word. But the point is probably moot, because, as I've said so many times before, people who want to believe will believe, no matter what. Sweet little lies are better than bitter or even bland-tasting truths any day.
The fact that the media never reported on the hospital doesn't surprise me, either. Years ago ABC News came to my home and interviewed me for an hour. We covered a lot of territory, including my books and people who have been transformed. Yet they didn't select the positive news for airing -- instead, they edited out the good stuff and broadcast a few seconds of me fumbling for an answer after they blindsided me with a question. [More on that below. ~CC]
Mainstream media aren't designed to tell you positive news. They need you to stay in fear so that you'll buy their advertisers' products. (I say this as I'm cleaning on it.) This is why they broadcast horrible, tragic, and unhappy news. When nothing bad happens locally, the news stations look for an unhappy story from another area, even other countries...
...But I don't want to dodge the question: Did Dr. Hew Len actually help heal 99 percent of the inmates in the mental hospital for the criminally insane? I believe so. But how can we be sure? Look at it this way: if I secretly pray for your well-being, and one day your sickness is gone, will you give me any credit? Probably not. How could you if you didn't know I had been praying for you?
...Now stop and consider: if someone silently cleans on something you want, and you get it, will you give him or her any credit? Of course not. How could you? You had no idea he or she was doing anything for you. He or she did it covertly and benevolently.
The same may be true for the story of Dr. Hew Len and the hospital. His clearing of himself sent out an attractor field that affected everyone else. They got better but can't give him any credit since they had no idea he was doing anything for them.
Mainstream news has no way to report on a story like this. They want to see visible cause and effect. If Dr. Hew Len dispensed horse pills and people got better, they might give him airtime. (Most likely they would find something wrong with the pills, though, and report on that.)
In short, believe in the story of Zero Limits, if for no other reason than it gives you power to create your own miracles. And if that still seems incomplete for you, clean on it.
Here's another perspective, though. I recently heard from a real, legitimately credentialed psychiatrist who says he was actually at the Hawaii State Hospital when Hew Len was supposedly working his magic. Actually, Dr. George Gharda-Ward is recently retired, but I've seen and checked out his CV, which he sent me without my even asking for it, and he has authentic creds (he's also a J.D. but never practiced as a lawyer). Long ago and far away, Dr. G. was at Esalen for a while; this was back when the self-realization, touchy-feely movement was in its infancy. He spent the majority of his lengthy career in more buttoned-down settings than Esalen. (The things that this properly credentialed and qualified, board-certified psychiatrist (and that's a real board, not a made-up board) has to say about this Whirled's favorite psychopath and armchair diagnostician, Mocktor Lenny Coldwell, are truly amusing, but I'll save that for another blog post.)
Dr. G. became marginally involved in Trudeau's huge Ponzi-like Global Information Network (GIN) through someone close to him, but early on saw what a scam it was, and what a liar Trudeau was and is. Like so many others, he says that he met some really good people through his short-lived association, but he agrees that GIN was a scam and Katie a scammer. In the process of making these discoveries he stumbled upon my blog. His initial messages to me were about Katie and GIN, but in an early email he also wrote (and he has given me permission to quote him):
I worked at Hawaii State Hospital in 1987. I did my psych residency at the University of Hawaii. Guess what? I worked on the forensic unit where all this Ho'oponopono was supposed to have happened...I worked there in 1987 as an attending psychiatrist. I assure you there was no "magical" healing going on there. It is all a fairytale. There is a letter from a social worker, identified as Omaka-O-Kala Hamaguch on page 180 of "Zero Limits." Sorry, don't believe a word of it...Dr. Gharda-Ward was further inspired to write a book review about Zero Limits.
THIS BOOK IS TOTALLY FALSE, March 25, 2014 By G. Gharda Ward MDDr. G. and I continued our correspondence over the next few weeks. I asked him:
This review is from: Zero Limits: The Secret Hawaiian System for Wealth, Health, Peace, and More (Paperback)
I am a Board-Certified Psychiatrist. In 1987 I worked at Hawaii State Hospital. ON THEIR FORENSIC UNIT, where Joe Vitale says these "miracles" took place. I can assure you this is completely phony and false. IT NEVER HAPPENED. There were no psychotic murderers and rapists that were "cured" by this Ho'oponopono. It is false and misleading. Many of the things in the book are completely untrue. There were no car washes (can you imagine letting murderers and rapists off the unit to go outside and wash cars?), patients did not walk around in shackles nor were they held for long periods in seclusion. This is a STATE HOSPITAL!! Can you imagine what would happen if the Honolulu Advertiser (the local paper) had gotten wind of these patients being allowed outside? What if one of them escaped?? The Doctor, the hospital administrator, heck, the Governor of the state would be in big trouble. Think about it!! The events described in the book simply did not happen.
Joe addresses these issues in Atzero by saying that if it didn't happen it doesn't matter. Sorry Joe, that baloney doesn't wash in the light of reality. Joe bases the ENTIRE BOOK and Atzero on the premise that it DID work. If it didn't happen as Hew Len said it did and as Joe "believes" then there is no validity to the book.
THIS WHOLE BOOK IS BASED ON A MYTH, NOT ON REALITY!!
Don't get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with the 4 magic sentences. There is nothing wrong with loving people or asking for forgiveness or trying to be as kind and thoughtful as one can be. And there is nothing wrong with myths.
But anyone who "believes" that repeating a mantra, no matter how well [meaning] it might be, can cure a whole ward full of psychotic criminals lives in Fantasyland.
The book should be labeled a fairytale, because that's what it is. It should sit on the same shelf as the books that say,
"When you wish upon a star......."
Well, you get my drift.
During your time in Aloha Land were you even aware at all of Hew Len's presence in or around that ward? He said he never saw patients, but supposedly he was hanging around the place and attended the occasional staff meeting. He was a psychologist, of course, not a shrink.His response:
There was no Hew Len in my consciousness. One thing that might help you in your pursuit of what is or is not truth, is that NO practitioners, be they psychologists or psychiatrists or social workers or nurses, were outside the radar of the administrators. They always knew what you were doing, how many hours you spent on the ward, etc. The most specious thing about Hew Len is that he sat in his office all day, never went on the ward (except to bake cookies and run a car wash) and never saw patients. THIS DOES NOT HAPPEN. The activities of all the professional staff were continuously monitored.
Hew Len admits he was "fired" (in so many words.) He was fired because he didn't do anything...To which I responded:
Just the fact that you still cling to some belief that this dude was hanging around Hawaii State Hospital and "may have", "maybe"' "even though it seems crazy" "cured" even ONE person with this hocus-pocus, just shows how much ALL of us want to BELIEVE!!
I want to believe. It is just my damn mind getting in the way!!
The only belief I cling to is that Hew Len might have physically been working in the vicinity -- not that he actually cured anyone. But thank you for the additional insights...I still like my satirical version of the story the best. :-)Just in case you haven't read it yet and don't want to interrupt your flow right now, I'll tell you that in my satirical version, "Mahalo, Dr. Yew," a "therapist" named Dr. Ihavascama Fer Yew admits, among other things, that all he ever did at the Hawaii State Hospital was sit in his office reading naughty magazines and "working on himself."
Dr. G. responded to me:
I think your satirical version is closer to the truth than the truth.Mahalo, Dr. Gharda-Ward.
He probably was reading Playboy. I did when I worked there (LOL),
What else can you do. Those people [the criminally insane] are, literally, incorrigible.
Which is why the whole FANTASY that anyone, or anything, can cure these people is completely insane.
And why people who cannot handle reality HAVE to believe they CAN be CURED with a prayer.
Otherwise, LIFE is too complicated.
I think your "satirical" version is 1000 times more likely then the Vitale version.
Dr. G. cited some other examples in Joe's writing that, in Dr. G.'s view, indicate Joe has, at best, a casual relationship with the truth and a penchant for exaggeration. He doesn't even really buy the bed-wetting story that Joe tells in his "spiritual autobiography," Adventures Within. (Wrote the doc: "He claims that his URINE burned THROUGH the mattress and then THROUGH PLASTIC. Why not metal? Does he pee ACID? Did he watch ALIENS one two many times? [Could he be] making it all up???")
But I don't want to piss anyone off too much, so let's move away from that subject. In a recent email Dr. G. wrote to me:
One of the MOST vexing things about people like Fireball [Joe Vitale] and Katie is that they take some really good things and distort them to fit their pocketbook. Ho'oponopono is a wonderful concept. It is a meditation or mantra. Those are useful tools to guide us humans in our quest to live a more peaceful and harmonious life. I frequently find myself repeating the mantra: I'm sorry Please Forgive Me I Love You Thank You. It is a lovely mantra and the spirit of Hawaii (though overstated) has its place.What is truly disturbing is that psychopaths do a better job of spreading this message then us regular folks. I wonder why that is so?To which I responded:
Keep in mind that the "Thank you/I love you" etc. is part of a "proprietary" form of Ho'opo invented and taught to Hew Len by his late mentor, Morrnah, a woman for whom he apparently left his wife and family to go live with for many years. The traditional Ho'opo is a form of conflict resolution, from which Morrnah supposedly borrowed a few concepts and then made up her own stuff. No doubt Hew Len added to that, and Joe of course took it and ran with it.And yes, I confess that I do rather like that four-phrase mantra. Really. But I don't think it has any magical powers. I even liked parts of Zero Limits, as I wrote in my 2007 reviews. I thought that Joe sounded relatively honest in some parts, and to me the book read as if he had put more work into it than he had in many of his recent (at the time) books, and in several of those that were published after Zero Limits.
I even admit on my own blog (in my 2007 review of Zero Limits) that this modern Ho'opo can be used as a meditation and a way to inner peace (yes, I even use the four phrases sometimes to calm my whirling mind), but it's not a miracle cure for everything, the way Joe strongly implies it is.
Psychopaths do such a good job of spreading good messages for their own bad purposes for the obvious reason: because they are master manipulators and will use every tool at their disposal. Pander to people's deepest secret longings and/or fears, and you've got it made.
They do it for the same reason that a dog licks its private parts: because they can. Ron and I call it the DLB (Dog Licking Balls) syndrome. When all rational explanations fail, DLB explains a multitude of atrocities, from psychopaths to governments to those infamous neighborhood Nazis known as Homeowners Associations. "Because they can."
By the way, Joe also used up a whole chapter in his new Ho'opo book to slam another ex-friend and business partner. Here is some perspective on that. For such an optimistic, positive-thinking kinda guy he seems to be quite the whiner.
Looking over the chapter from At Zero, I notice how Joe once again slams the mainstream media, even though they've been his friend as much as they've been his foe. (Remember how the media fawned over The Secret, back in its early days? Joe has had numerous mainstream media appearances since then, such as appearances on Fox and Friends (though he probably paid for that exposure).)
As I've mentioned here a few times before, Joe is always nattering on about how the media refuse to run positive stories, instead preferring to focus on the negative. But that is incorrect. From what I've seen, the media are all too willing to run "positive" and even woo stories stories on miracles and angels and so forth. They go for the ratings, and it seems that both horrendously negative and sappily positive stories get good ratings. Joe is clearly still steamed because of that ABC debacle a few years ago, which he mentioned in the above-cited chapter from At Zero.
He's miffed because ABC refused to portray him and his beloved selfish-help industry in a completely positive light. In fact they made him look a bit foolish. As many of you may recall, ABC's Dan Harris went on one of Joe's Rolls-Royce ridealongs a few years ago, and also interviewed him at length. Despite Joe's hopefulness and proactive kissing-up, Dan ended up not portraying Joe in the most flattering of lights.
Recently Dan got in another potshot on a Nightline segment. You need to watch the whole thing for context, but the lead-in to Joe starts at 7:29 and really begins in earnest at 7:50. Dan Harris' declaration that Joe Vitale "folds like a cheap lawn chair" in an interview will go down on my Whirled as one of the classic comments.
So now, in addition to his other fine credentials, such as the Buddha of the Internet and the Charles Atlas of the Internet, Mr. Fire can boast that he is the Cheap Lawn Chair of the Internet. Or maybe the Cheap Lawn Chair of ABC. The CLC of ABC... it almost sounds like a credential to add to his faux-hDs: Joe Vitale, PhD, MSCD, CLC.
But at least Joe isn't behind bars like his good friend Kevin Trudeau (whom Joe defended several times online while helping Katie push GIN). So I guess that's something. Besides, even if Dan Harris' amusing simile doesn't sit well (so to speak) with Joe, cheap lawn chairs have their place in the world too.
I write all of this knowing full well that in the end, no matter how much I jab at Joe, make sport of Mocktor Loony, or kick at Katie, the lure of those sweet little lies will continue to win more hearts and wallets than a snarky little hobby blog ever could.
But if you think that knowing this is going to stop me, you have seriously misunderestimated me.