Tuesday, March 10, 2009

And the award for best performance in a (mis)leading role goes to...

NOTE: No, you're not seeing things. This was indeed part of Monday's post. I've given it a slot of its very own today because I feared that it was getting lost in the mass of type I inflicted upon readers yesterday.


John Curtis, founder of Americans Against Self-Help Fraud!
,* is poised to award his second annual "Scammy Awards." He'd like some help both in (a) naming his award categories and (b) providing suitable nominees. With his permission, I repeat salient portions of his email to me:

"I have decided to try one more time at 'poking the beast' and go for the Annual Scammy Awards. My plans are to send out a survey to the many folks who have shown an interest in my self help fraud activities for nominees. Perhaps you might be willing to do the same once the survey is up online.

"Then, once I get their responses, I will develop a press release about the winners in conjunction with National Guru-Free Week which is April 1-8... starting on April FOOL'S DAY.
"What I need your help with are suggestions for the categories that folks could nominate for, i.e. Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress equivalents...."
Here are some of John's own ideas for categories, which I think are pretty good:
  • Dumbest Thing Said by a self-Help Guru
  • Most Hypocritical Self-Help Guru
  • Worst Sequel to a Self-Help Book
  • Least Likely to be a True Self-Help Premise
  • Self-Help Product Most Clearly Done Just for the Cash
  • The Deepak Chopra Lifetime Confusion Award
  • Biggest Celebrity Sucker (Who Bought and Then Promoted a Load of New Age Crap)
  • Biggest Promise That Will Not Be Delivered Upon
So. What can we contribute to the mission? Surely this should spark some lively discussion among the brethren, no? Then I'll compile a "best of..." and send it along to John with my recommendations.

Of course, interested parties should feel free to contact John directly through his site.

Oh, as to the photo. It's of the late/great Ricki Dunn, who was billed as "America's best/funniest pickpocket." I thought it was apropos.

* As I always do in such cases, I will disclose here that John solicits financial support for his activities and his site. There is no judgment intended. Nor is this post to be interpreted as an endorsement of what John does, necessarily. I'm just stating fact, and putting his information "out there."


Anonymous said...

Where did all the comments go?

Case said...

I nominate:

People Are Idiots and I Can Prove It!: The 10 Ways You Are Sabotaging Yourself and How You Can Overcome Them

as the worst sequel.

Case said...

And I nominate the Video professor

How to Buy and Sell on eBay

as the Self-Help Product Most Clearly Done Just for the Cash.

If I have to listen to that informercial one more time ... and when I called the number, I learned that the "free" lesson is actually about $8 and only includes lesson 1 of 3 in total that are needed.

Case said...

Nomination for dumbest thing said by a self-help guru:

"I'm a great believer in harmony, but balance is bogus."

From page 7 of Harmonic Wealth.

Biggest Promise That Will Not Be Delivered Upon.

Also from the front cover of the same book ...

Learn how to achieve Financial freedom

The book was released on April 8, 2008.

Case said...

Second nomination for worst sequel, and also for the self-help product clearly done just for the cash.

The Answer: Grow Any Business, Achieve Financial Freedom, and Live an Extraordinary Life

From one Amazon reviewer, simply "Rubbish".

From another one star reviewer ... "It would take significant editing to get this book up to mediocre. Poorly organized, speciously reasoned and over-promised. "

Steve Salerno said...

Anon: Almost all of the comments, save for Connie's (sorry, Connie), focused on the "hero" component of Monday's post, so I left them with there. And that's what they remain.

Case: These are great nominations. Ray actually wrote that line ("harmony/balance") and wasn't being ironic or "jokey"? I may still be laughing tonight...

Sarsabu said...

Complementary Therapies that make me feel better cause they make me laugh so much.

sassy sasha said...

steve, i nominate that line you attribute to that guy proctor about how disease can't live in a body that's in spritual harmony or however he put it. you just mentioned it again the other day, i'm sure you can look it up! ;-)

Steve Salerno said...

Thanks, Sasha. Yes, I think that's pretty high on my list for "dumbest thing ever said by a guru" or some such.

Elizabeth said...

The Deepak Chopra Lifetime Confusion Award


Cosmic Connie said...

I definitely need to get on the stick and post this announcement on my blog too, especially since I received an email from John Curtis a few weeks ago about this. (I'm sorry for procrastinating, John!)

There's another category I think is worthy of mention: Most Creative/Profitable Use of Imaginary Friends.

Obviously, Esther and Jerry Hicks and their Imaginary-Pals collective, Abraham, would win for profitability, hands-down. Even though Rhonda got greedy and kicked them out of The Secret, they continue to rake in the really big bucks, holding lavish Abraham-Hicks cruises every year.

Or perhaps Jerry, Esther and Abe would tie with Crazy JZ Knight and her old (literally; he's over 35,000) pal Ramtha. JZ has exclusive rights to Ramtha and even successfully sued someone else who claimed to be channeling him.

A newer entry in the Imaginary-Friends industry -- perhaps a bit more creative than profitable so far -- is a failed Russian entrepreneur who "discovered" a young, naked but infinitely wise woman in the Siberian woods. He calls her Anastasia and he has written a slew of books about her, "The Ringing Cedars" series. They haven't become as big as "The Secret" yet, but they seem to be pretty popular, and such luminaries as Steve's old nemesis Mock Victor Hamstrung have praised them.

Here's a bit more insight (well, maybe "insight" is too strong a word) into Anastasia and the whole Imaginary-Friends shtick:

Elizabeth said...

This may interest you, Steve:

Professors could rescue newspapers

By Jonathan Zimmerman –
Mon Mar 9, 4:00 am ET

New York – The American newspaper is dead. Long live the American newspaper!

OK, so reports of the demise of daily journalism are a bit premature. But you can't open up the newspapers today without reading bad news about the papers.

Declining circulation and advertising revenues have forced newsrooms to trim their staffs, which means less real reporting. A few city papers have closed – the most recent victim was Denver's 150-year-old Rocky Mountain News – while others fill their pages with fluff pieces or wire-service stories. Put simply, it's getting too expensive to gather news.

So here's a novel idea: Let's get university professors to do it. For real. And, best of all, free of charge.

Remember, most professors aren't paid for what they write now. When I publish an article in an academic journal, I don't earn a cent. But I also don't engage more than a handful of readers, mainly fellow specialists in my own field.

It wasn't always that way. A hundred years ago, many of the leading lights in the social sciences and the humanities wrote for the popular press. If we want to revive the press – as well as our own struggling disciplines – we might look to their example.


Elizabeth said...

Connie, blonde, young *and* naked?? Oh, those Russians surely know how to do their "spiritual" shticks. Even I would appreciate our Anastasia, I think. But first we should start a drive to get her clothed (my own closet needs pruning as it is). Wonder what size she's wearing.

Elizabeth said...

Goodness gracious...

"Anastasia is the most powerful human being alive today."


Really? This should go directly to Scammies' Nominations.

Is there a special category there for stupidity, or is it all part and parcel of the same thing? Un-freakin'-believable. The most powerful human being alive today?? How? What are the criteria? Where is the competition? And who makes the judgment...?

RevRon's Rants said...

"Even I would appreciate our Anastasia, I think. But first we should start a drive to get her clothed..."

Now hold on there just a minute, Elizabeth. If we're gonna be guided in our spiritual quest, it would make more sense to be led by a beautiful *naked* woman. Male interest and allegiance would positively tumesce, and besides, it would sure blast the heck out of the "emperor's new clothes" argument the skeptics would level. :-)

Elizabeth said...

Of course, Ron. You're absolutely right -- and I can see many people (mostly male) agreeing with you here. :)

Elizabeth said...

Saying that somebody is "the most powerful human being alive today" -- and not meaning Obama or such -- qualifies for Scammies right away, does it not?

What the hell do they mean? And how can they believe their own crap? (Rhetorical questions, all.) Possibly the dumbest thing said by a "guru" or anyone, really -- the most powerful human being alive today? You gotta be freakin' kidding, methinks.

Anonymous said...

Hi Guys

I'd like to nominate Paul McKenna here for his "I can make you Rich" book title which should read "You can make me Rich!"

Also, I wanted to ask you guys if you had read "The Continuum Concept" written by a Jean Liedloff written in the early seventies. We had to unfortunately read it for my child psychotherapy course. Its very clearly the beginning of LOA type thinking and I wonder if any of you had any views?


Cosmic Connie said...

Londoner, I haven't read "The Continuum Concept," but if it was written in the early 70s it probably wasn't the beginning of the type of LOA thinking that inspired The Secret (although it certainly may have influenced some who espouse that kind of thinking). Rhonda Byrne herself said that she was initially inspired by reading "The Science of Getting Rich," a public-domain self-help classic by Wallace Wattles, written in 1910 or so. And it was "The Science of Getting Rich" that was the inspiration for the Three Amigos $2,000 Briefcase Scam perpetrated by Bob Proctor, Jack Canfield and Michael Beckwith.

Speaking of that briefcase scam, this in itself is worthy of a Scammy. I am thinking that "Most Overpriced Office Accessory Peddled By A Semi-Senile Old Coot"* doesn't have quite the punch we're looking for, so maybe I need to get back to the drawing board for that one.

For the benefit of those who don't know about the Briefcase Scam, it was a $1,997 leather briefcase that contained DVDs, CDs, MP3s and a workbook based on Wallace Wattle's book, with a whole lotta Proctor thrown in. It was an affiliate program, so for your nearly $2,000 you got the chance to sell an overpriced briefcase to as many other people as you could manage, and you'd get a commission. As I may have mentioned here or somewhere else, the briefcases are no longer selling for $2,000, but are now going for the rock-bottom price of just under $300. When they're gone, they're gone!
[Be sure to watch those videos if you follow the link.]

Kevin Trudeau probably deserves his own Lifetime Achievement award too, perhaps as Most Successful Serial Scammer. Then again, there should be some sort of New-Wage Martyr Award, and I think Trudeau (or True-dough, as he's often known) be up for that too -- as would David Schirmer, Aussie Secret star.

Oh, goodness, this just may be the most star-studded awards deal we've seen in a long time... Or maybe "slime-infested" would be a better term.

Excuse me. I need to go wash my hands.

* I don't mean to sound age-ist. Really. But if you listen to Proctor, doesn't he sound a little bit not-all-there? (Not that this has in any way compromised his capacity for dreaming up new ways to separate people from their money.)

Anonymous said...

I'd like to vote for a scam product:

The Snuggy....seriously, it is a backwards robe! Cannot believe they have made millions on this and in Chicago,they are actually doing a pub-crawl for all the "snuggy cult followers", seriously. The infomercials are amusing...if you are 5!
That is my vote.

Dimension Skipper said...

I'm sorry, but I'm still scratchin' my head over this one so I just gotta ask...


As in "...LOA type of thinking..."?

I don't get it. My synapses are not finding a context. I tried Googling LOA = ?, but that only clouded the issue. (I kind of like "League Of Awesomeness," Losers Of America," or "Lube Oil Additive." There's definitely a "Looseness Of Association" to LOA.)

I also found the word "loa" which could sort of be contextually relevant...

"The Loa (also Lwa or L'wha) are the spirits of the Voodoo religion practiced in Haiti, and other parts of the world. They are also referred to as Mystères and the Invisibles. They are somewhat akin to saints or angels in Western religions in that they are intermediaries between Bondye (Bon Dieu, or good god)—the Creator, who is distant from the world—and humanity. Unlike saints or angels however, they are not simply prayed to, they are served. They are each distinct beings with their own personal likes and dislikes, distinct sacred rhythms, songs, dances, ritual symbols, and special modes of service. Contrary to popular belief, the loa are not deities in and of themselves; they are intermediaries for a distant Bondye.

This is just the sort of thing that bugs me, when others are using a term freely with obvious mutual understanding and yet I haven't a clue...

Thanks in advance for any explanation.

Steve Salerno said...

Law of Attraction.

Dimension Skipper said...

Ah... "Law Of Attraction" apparently.

I just Googled LOA type of thinking "the secret" and that's what it appears to be.

"The Secret" is one of those things I'm only barely aware of (largely from hearing of it here) because it's obviously such nonsensical mumbo-jumbo that I just never saw the need to pay any real attention. But given what I do know about it, the phrase "Law Of Attraction" makes sense now. (Although I still like "Lube Oil Additive" too.)


Dimension Skipper said...

Thanks, Steve. Posted my followup comment and only then saw your quick confirmation of LOA.

Dimension Skipper said...

Today's Rhymes With Orange seems apropos. Not necessarily hilarious or anything, but on the LOA topic.

Anonymous said...

I if putting pictures of your desired objects on the wall really worked, every teenage boy would be dating a centerfold, and everyone's dog would be playing poker.


Anonymous said...

How about this Steve:Steal My Money!! Please!!! Everyone says it's free until you order and pay shipping[check out "Orabrush"] and then if you don't send it back 5 minutes after you get it, you will be debited 79.95 every month for the rest of your life. Doesn'y anybody offer a cure for anything for free anymore? Jeez, this planet sucks!!