A reader and occasional correspondent, "T" from London, recently wrote to me: "Looks like Joe Vitale [in partnership with his good friend Pat O'Bryan] has discovered another 'secret.' They're selling it, of course, and, apparently, we're saving ourselves $200 if we buy it."
"T" was referring to Joe and Pat's "Pelmanism Online" site, which is listed thusly on Google:
The Lost Art of Pelmanism -- O'Bryan and VitaleOn this site, Joe himself writes:
Dr. Joe Vitale and Pat O'Bryan bring an ancient mind-control method back to life.
Lucky for you and me, Pat O'Bryan dug up the entire original Pelmanism course. It wasn't easy. This material is long lost, very rare, and almost buried in the vaults of history. If you do an intense search, you can find a volume or two here and there, but rarely more than that."Lo and behold," added my friend T, "a quick bit of Googling reveals this site: http://www.pelmanism.co.za/, which offers what I'm assuming are the same lessons, FREE!"
T subsequently wrote that the material might not be exactly identical, but I replied that it seemed similar enough.
According to the Weird Universe blog, "The Pelman Institutes of England and America apparently once claimed over half a million followers. But now they're long gone. Yet that has not stopped at least two folks from trying to resurrect the copyright-abandoned mind-strengthening course and claim and market it as their own." The blogger linked to Joe and Pat's site, as well as this one.
Pelmanism was named after British psychologist Christopher Louis Pelman; a colleague of his founded the Pelman Institute for the Scientific Development of Mind, Memory and Personality in London in 1899. I'm not sure if something that originated in 1899 could actually be classified as "an ancient mind-control method," but New-Wagers have never been all that good with historical perspective.
Little seems to be known of Pelman himself; the person responsible for both the founding of the Institute and the original Pelman courses was one William Joseph Ennever. If you follow the link in that previous sentence you'll see a portrait of a philanderer who had an almost obsessive fear of aging, a man who made and lost his fortune with his Pelmanism shtick, and spent most of the last years of his life in poverty.
And in all fairness, there are those who would probably say that the question is moot, such as John Karp, who, towards the conclusion of a fairly comprehensive article about Ennever, wrote this:
Ennever's life is not a cautionary tale, nor a didactic lesson in success and failure - he lived the same highs and lows that everybody does. Nor is it important to read about his life and apply it to the modern world. But nevertheless, in a world in which our knowledge of the past is unparalleled, it is strange that W.J. Ennever should have slipped under the radar and into obscurity. His life's work is the strangest quirk: a mind training system that drew on both the frauds of the past and the brightening world of empirical science, and that found success all over the world. In a historical backflip, the Internet has seen the resurgence of the frauds who use their Internet presence to sell all manners of magic and mysticism. They have discovered Pelmanism, and market it now as a lost miracle76
If you follow that footnote link, you'll see this:
See The Lost Art of Pelmanism, <http://www.pelmanismonline.com/>, Pelmanism, the success secrets that almost got lost, <http://www.sector51.com/>, and Powers of the Mind Personal Development Self-Help Course, <http://www.powersofthemindcourse.com/>.
So we're right back where we started, with the Internet marketing geniuses who have taken these "ancient" teachings and repackaged them to sell to you. And if Pelmanism doesn't work for you, there's always Pyschic Demand. No matter how "ancient" (and absurd) it is, someone will find a way to recycle it and try to make money from it. As I said, that's the New-Wage way!
[By the way, the image of WJ Ennever is courtesy of www.ennever.com. Thank you to Barry Ennever.]
In his recent blog post, "The Cure For Despair," he claims he finally came clean about exactly how he became homeless. It was difficult to talk about, he says, but he just had to do it. He says he was persuaded to tell his story by a woman who participated in his $5,000.00-a-head Rolls-Royce MasterMind dinner the other night. Well, I guess if someone is paying you $5,000.00 for a ride in your car, dinner and a bit of face time, they deserve to hear a good story. So he spilled the beans, albeit reluctantly of course, and he says that everyone at the table was open-mouthed. A close friend of his who was also in attendance claimed that even he didn't know the whole story up till then. "You just have to tell this to the world!" the astounded dinner attendees said, according to Joe. "It's riveting! This will change everything!"
And tell it he did, inviting people to spread his post far and wide to those they thought would benefit.
Not surprisingly, his fans have chimed in, praising him for the courage it must have taken to write this "inspirational" blog post and to finally confess what he claims he never wanted to talk about. One regular contributor wrote:
Joe. Thank you for sharing this! What an inspiring story. I’m sure you didn’t know that then and were quite mired in the struggle and survival of it.
It is VERY CLEAR to me why you never shared this before, even though some might think it was your embarrassment. You shared it now because it is PERFECT to be shared now. Right now. It was Divinely orchestrated. The woman who asked, divinely guided.
This story right now probably is helping countless people, many more than would have years, or even a year, months or even a month or days ago.
But it seems that in reality Joe is all too eager to talk about it, and in fact, he has even told "the whole story" before. More than once.
To begin with, an abbreviated version of it appeared in an Ohio newspaper article in September of 2007. (He even mentioned the article in a blog post.)
According to this article...
[Joe] attended Kent State University, majoring in public relations and journalism, but left just shy of a degree because he couldn't pass economics, didn't like Ohio winters and had the promise of work in Texas.
In the late 1970s, Vitale gave all his money to a company that promised to find him work building pipelines overseas, but the company folded, leaving him homeless and without a penny.
He recalls those times as "desperate and unhappy" but made his way to Houston where he held various temp positions and worked as a car salesman, reporter, laborer and cab driver.
He was unhappy with them all but held onto his dream of becoming an author, saying he kept writing the whole time.
The link to that article is here. (It also provides a little insight about Joe's "doctorate degrees.")
But it gets better. A person on Joe's own blog, while praising him for telling the story, mentioned that he'd told it before.
Hello Joe, Just two nights ago, I watched you tell this story on a YouTube Video from an interview in Maui. On YouTube search: Life on Maui #23 with Steven Freid (5 Parts). Great Interview. To hear you claim it and share it again (for me in such a short time) is amazing. Blessings, Barry
Just two nights ago, I watched you tell this story on a YouTube Video from an interview in Maui.
On YouTube search: Life on Maui #23 with Steven Freid (5 Parts).
To hear you claim it and share it again (for me in such a short time) is amazing.
Notably absent from Joe's various narratives about those poverty years is the fact that beginning in the late 1970s, and for about seven years thereafter, he was involved in the late Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh's cult. Maybe it's not relevant but I thought it worth a mention anyway.
At any rate, it seems clear that Joe's followers either have short memories or aren't willing to do much research. As I've said here before, I imagine that's one of the things that Joe and most New-Wage leaders are banking on.
I will give Joe credit for honesty about one point in his blog post. He says his family in Ohio would have taken him back in, but he was too proud to let them know of his plight. Granted, given the abuse Joe suffered when growing up (which he wrote about in his spiritual autobiography, Adventures Within), you'll know that this was not a very desirable option. He had a lot of good reasons to get away and stay away from home. However, I think it worth noting that he did have a safety net, unlike many if not most of the folks today who are being forced out of their own homes because of the foreclosure crisis – and unlike many of the chronically homeless who are mentally ill or have other serious problems.
Lest you dismiss me as a complete cynic or hopeless curmudgeoness, I don't have a problem with what Joe purports to be the real message in his blog post, which is that any situation, no matter how bad, is temporary.* Yes, the sun will shine again, so you should never give up but should just keep on keeping on, and so on. Everyone needs to hear this message at one time or another.
My issue is with the disingenuous way Joe has exploited his "homeless" story all along. Putting aside the fact that I think it's kind of an insult for him to even imply that his situation compares to that of people who really are homeless for one reason or another (and don't have families to take them in), I've pretty much had it up to here with the rags-to-riches tales told by so many New-Wage luminaries. Many of them have made a big deal out of being formerly "homeless," and most of them, formerly homeless or not, finally became rich only after years or decades of trying one thing after another.
It's true that most of them – including Joe – are pretty honest about not being overnight successes. But then they use their success stories to sell you on the idea that the product/service/miracle weekend du jour that they're offering will save you similar years of struggle; you have but to fork over your money for their stuff and you can be rich and happy and successful almost overnight. That's pretty clever, I must admit. But it's also pretty deceptive.
Moreover, these rags-to-riches tales, whether they're completely true or are partly (or mostly) embellished, give people a distorted idea of what it takes to really become successful. Tales that purport to be inspirational, but are often little more than marketing ruses, actually serve to discourage many people. Why? Well, maybe because we all have a tendency to compare our own lives to others' stories. And our lives almost always come up short, no matter how many books or seminars we invest in. My pal Blair Warren wrote an excellent post about this on his blog, Crooked Wisdom.
As it happens, Blair also had this to say on a recent Tweet on Twitter:
If you begin a story with "I've never told this before" it's wise to have never told it before. Especially to the people you're talking to.Somehow it seems appropriate here.
Even so, I think we can expect Joe to continue to recycle his homeless tale and milk it for all it's worth. Perhaps he'll even continue to reveal yet more details that he was previously "too embarrassed to talk about."
And the Joebots will continue to heap praise and money upon him.Shameless Schirmer strives for new levels of shamelessness
I suppose I need to modify my previous remarks that the troubled Aussie Secret star David Schirmer has abandoned the "wealth coach" gig in favor of being merely a Christian hustledork (see, for instance, this post; scroll down to, "Onward Christian wankers"). David is still peddling his wares in the New-Wage market via his new web page, Wealth By Choice.
For example, he's still promoting himself as a stock market expert, despite the fact that, according to various sources, he has never shown anyone any trade sheets and in fact has never actually shown that he can make money from the stock market. In addition, word has it that the two people giving testimonials on his stock market page now have nothing to do with him and would probably, for various reasons, be embarrassed to be associated with him in any way.He is also apparently challenging the authorities with his Entrepreneurship 101 course, in which he deliberately tells people how to find a way around the system in order to avoid lawsuits as well as taxes. He writes:
There is a right way and a wrong way to set up your asset protection.
You need to make sure that this is done the right way from the start. If you get it wrong and you get sued it will be too late to change it then.
The reason I know all of this is that I discovered it the hard way. I found that my accountant, who is great, really had no idea. My lawyer, good as he is, really couldn’t give me a definitive answer…
Finally I found someone in the legal industry who (like me had to find out the hard way) had spent years of research to get it right, and I found out exactly what needed to happen to ensure my wealth and assets were protected....
...So the key to preventing/minimizing lawsuits is NOT TO OWN ANYTHING IN YOUR NAME. The key to protecting your assets - is to make sure predator-plaintiffs and their gold-digging lawyers can’t get their hands on your money. When plaintiffs’ lawyers discover they can’t get your money, they won’t waste any time trying. Why should they!, they will get 1/3 of nothing? They can find someone else to sue....
Granted, David Schirmer is working in Australia, having been stymied in his efforts to enter the US market, so presumably his lessons apply to Australian laws. Still, he seems to be kind of rubbing the authorities' noses in it, not to mention the noses of those to whom he allegedly owes so much money.
But since we're on the topic, I have no doubt that many American hustledorks have set up their own businesses to take advantage of applicable laws that will render them impervious to lawsuits – just in case they're not fully protected by (1) the myriad legal disclaimers they put on the web sites where they advertise junk with 100%-guaranteed miracle results; and (2) the fact that most of their promises are sufficiently vague to prevent any actual fraud charge from sticking.
David Schirmer seems absolutely incorrigible. But, as the old saying goes, desperate times call for desperate measures. And by the way, his much-touted Succeed magazine really does seem to be on the brink of failure, if not already there; no one seems to have received any issues after the August-September 2008 issue. Trouble in publishing paradise, perhaps? Who would have guessed?
Another reason the chickens might have human arms...
Okay, first of all, if you don't understand the title of this snippet, you need to go here. (Standard warning: If you are offended by the "f" word and/or by mention of recreational drug use, don't go there. Just continue to puzzle over the title, and enjoy the mystery!)
According to a recent AP article, British stem cell research has officially entered a brave new world: the creation of human-animal hybrid embryos for research has won final approval from Brit lawmakers. The current plan is for this process to involve injecting an empty cow or rabbit egg with human DNA; the resulting embryos will supposedly not be allowed to survive beyond fourteen days, enough time to harvest stem cells. This skirts the whole abortion issue, since technically the embryo is not human.
I definitely support stem-cell research, but this particular development has me a little worried. Apart from the enormous potential for abuse, resulting in various science-fiction nightmare scenarios and ethical problems, my first thought was that the foreign proteins or whatever from those other species might end up in the stem cells and cause some serious trouble in the ultimate recipients. Maybe it's something we need to consider. But I have a feeling that the barn door has already been flung wide open and the chimeras have escaped. Yikes.
On the other hand, we might be able to train chickens with human arms to collect their own eggs, so maybe there's some commercial potential in this after all. I probably need to keep an open mind.
Well, that's it for now. I'll be back as soon as I can, and I hope you have a great week.
PS ~ If you need a jolt of real inspiration, here are some powerful life lessons from the guy who brought you the song I linked to above.
* Of course the opposite is also true; any situation, no matter how good, is also temporary. But that truth is not the stuff of which "inspirational" blog posts are made.