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How To Be A New Age Guru And Get Rich

June 20, 2011

Have you ever wondered how so many people could be interested in or believe anything that comes from the mind of Deepak Chopra? How is it possible that someone who sells such obvious complete rubbish can swindle people out of their senses and money?

Deepak Chopra in November 2006, speaking at Yahoo.

Image via Wikipedia

And it’s not just Chopra. Everywhere these days there seems to be “Self-Help Gurus” or “Life-Coaches” who will show you the infinite possibilities of you and the Power within to manifest your destiny. If that doesn’t get you excited enough then they will try to throw in some scientific jargon to obfuscate the matter (he said Quantum Physics, it must be true!).

But how does such obvious BS compel people to fork over their logic and money? Well, of course, there is a sucker born every minute. But what makes a sucker a sucker? I think it’s a two part process. First, many persons who are involved in New Age philosophy and use it as an interpreter of natural phenomena will reject dogmatic authority (all paths lead to God!), but at the same time will blindly follow the authority of a guru (Deepak said it, it must be true!). This is dangerous enough in itself. However, the second aspect, I believe is suggested in a study from last year in which areas of people’s brains actually shut off in response to a faith healer’s prayer.

Parts of the prefrontal and anterior cingulate cortices, which play key roles in vigilance and skepticism when judging the truth and importance of what people say, were deactivated when the subjects listened to a supposed healer. In this case however, it would be when the subject listened to their guru, thus the blind allegiance. So Deepak can tell people that they can stop aging through the power of their mind, mixed in with some Quantum mumbo jumbo, and his followers are not skeptical in the least. What you have then is a lethal mixture of blind faith and blind allegiance.

But there’s more.

To be a real good snake oil salesman requires another element: you have to convince your followers of some kind of determinism,  that everything happens for a reason. Fortunately, for the current New Age scam artists, the hyper-individualization of our culture makes this easy.

Now here’s the important part: once your followers believe that everything happens for a reason, you have to sell them some sort of formula that gives them the illusion of control. If everything happens for a reason, and you can control the chaos of life with a certain cause and effect process then you can rip people off for massive amounts of money. People who are afraid, adults with control issues, and adults who are so narcissistic that the entire Universe is about them will literally throw handfuls of money at you if you can give them the illusion of the illusion of control.

So there you have it. If you are struggling for money and decide that tricking stupid people into giving you money is a good way to go: I just gave you the formula.

1) Find a large group of gullible and ignorant* people. (Don’t worry, there’s lots out there)

2) Convince them of some sort of deterministic philosophy.

3) Sell them the snake-oil of the illusion of control. (Don’t worry if it’s ridiculous, Confirmation Bias will really help you here)

You will be amazed how much money adults will give you if you can give them comforting fairy-tales that tickle their itching ears, and ‘convinces’ them that everything will be all right because they can control what is happening in the Universe through the Power that is within them, or whatever ‘source’ you ultimately assign value and power to.


* ‘ignorance‘ in this sense does not mean stupid. Every person on the planet is ignorant about a great many things, and persons who are generally quite smart and likable can be staggering dilettantes when it comes to metaphysical speculation. The above is the type of ignorance that is demonstrated by someone who believes in the predictive power of astrology and star charts that is built on a completely false understanding of the Universe. If they merely did some educating of themselves they would have the cognitive categories to see the fallibility of astrology. However, in their ignorance (and of course another large dose of confirmation bias) astrology and horoscopes make ‘sense’. Where this does get frustrating is if someone is willfully ignorant: I believe what I believe and don’t confuse me with any facts or knowledge!

19 Comments leave one →
  1. Jon Hendry permalink
    June 20, 2011 2:45 pm

    ” that everything happens for a reason. ”

    And not just the mundane sort of reason, like “the reason you were late for your job interview is because you ran over a nail and got a flat tire.”.

    No, the reason is always one with a deep, meaningful connection to the person’s life. “the reason you ran over a nail and got a flat tire is because that job wasn’t right for you, anyway, and there’s a better opportunity coming.”

    • July 10, 2014 10:10 am

      LMFAO, then I should have left my work ages ago……. the first month I started my job, someone punctured my car’s tyre………

      you have point though due the law of attraction, people can fall for simple coincidences that lead them into a trap.

      the law of attraction is a sham, the one who created the new age phenomena DIED OF CANCER,….now you tell me was he suicidal or did he simply wish or willed it to die?

  2. June 20, 2011 9:13 pm

    “How is it possible that someone who sells such obvious complete rubbish can swindle people out of their senses and money”

    To castigate Deepak Chopra and ignore the charismatic / evangelical / fundamentalist charlatans that number in the hundreds, nay, thousands, is to strain at a gnat and swallow a fly. In fact, I’ll give Deepak a pass, because he does it in the name of what? Self-enlightenment? Sure, lots of people fall for it and probably some are helped. But it’s NOTHING compared to the Christian fakers and liars who do it all in the name of a certain Jesus Christ, who they claim to be God. To me it’s far worse a delusion they visit upon people, and far, far more damaging.

    • June 20, 2011 11:38 pm

      May want to take a look around this site and the hundreds of articles that castigate “charismatic / evangelical / fundamentalist charlatans” before you feign such indignation and exasperation at this one article…

    • July 10, 2014 10:13 am

      unfortunately we have idiots all around the WORLD, especially celebrities who identify this Chopra guy … and many nobody’s in the new age movement who identify with doreen virtue, hoping they will get a cookie or will get some type of attention or love showered all over them because THEY IDENTIFY with such conartists…if it looks attractive to society, then attention whores will jump at the first opportunity to try to get it work for them as well. That is how shallow they are….they even make barbie look bad.

  3. EricW permalink
    June 21, 2011 9:01 am

    But are New Agers any dumber or more gullible or ill-informed or misled by hucksters than Southern Baptists?

    • July 10, 2014 10:16 am

      that is a very good question eric, to me they are all the same……..they want to belong to a community for acceptance…to look good…the new age movement is a cesspool of superficiality and feeding those needs. Christianity is also a cult based on the same principles.

  4. WenatcheeTheHatchet permalink
    June 21, 2011 9:42 am

    Scott didn’t say New Agers are more guillible or ill-informed or misled by hucksters than Southern Baptists but it equally appears he’s willing to suggest they are not LESS any of those things than Southern Baptists. Seems simple enough to track with me. Can’t a blogger have some variety of subjects? 🙂 Who says all the fish he shoots have to swim in the same barrel.

    • July 10, 2014 10:18 am

      are you telling me wenatchee that there are actual christians in the christian church? LOL…… to me they are all the same…hypocritical brunts, who go to church to look good, and who don’t even believe in the nonsense they preach.

  5. June 21, 2011 9:59 am

    While there may be some similarities between Southern baptists and New Agers I would suggest there are also some radical dissimilarities. New Age philosophy argues that all paths lead to God and that we are all taking different paths up the same mountain. This is what I like to call religious multiculturalism and the argument is built on a deep misunderstanding of religious systems and a lack of familiarity with most religions. Again like many New Age arguments it is built on basic ignorance and feel-good speculation.

    In reality, as most anyone knows who has taken the time to study religions, religious adherents are not taking different paths up the same mountain but traveling different mountains, and using different tools. Complex systems that arise in different social and cultural locations seeking to answer different questions are not going to be the ‘same’. There may be some similarity but the slippery slope argumentation does not follow that if they are similar in this one small regard then they are similar in all regards.

    That said. Are SB more gullible? Well, even here there is a wide variety of belief sets. The person who passes the KJV only movement at the conference and advers that if you don’t believe in a literal talking snake then you are going to hell may be misinformed but is operating within his categories of interpretation that he currently has and is not necessarily ‘gullible’. Perhaps ignorant, which is a word I used above to describe New Agers, but maybe not gullible in the sense that he is falling for a get quick rich program. Different type of naivete.

    Some New Agers believe they can do medical magic without any proof to sustain such a position. Some religious people believe the same. A couple of years ago Todd Bentley was claiming 33 resurrections during his Lakeland crusade. Both claims are equally preposterous and lack any evidence or an explanation that is repeatable and observable.

    The Huckster formula that I pointed out above–and have pointed out in several Christian forms on this site–is a get quick rich scam that requires the person being tricked to turn of their suspicion and suspend logic. If you give me money you will get rich. if you pray to the Universe you will get rich. if you do A then B will follow: you will get rich. Just believe you can do magic and you will get rich.

    In any form, I will always call that gullible, credulous, naive, and superstitious. But we must examine each of these instances, or any truth claim, on a case by case basis.

    • Jon Hendry permalink
      June 21, 2011 1:05 pm

      “New Age philosophy argues that all paths lead to God and that we are all taking different paths up the same mountain. This is what I like to call religious multiculturalism and the argument is built on a deep misunderstanding of religious systems and a lack of familiarity with most religions.”

      It’s also based on an understanding that one should maximize your potential market and not alienate potential customers. ;^)

      “Oh, sure! Our practice is compatible with crystal healing, Christianity, wicca, and Reform Judaism! Here, have a look at our range of books, ointments, healing jewelry, and meditative audio disks.”

    • July 10, 2014 10:20 am

      agathos, the only people that get rich out of the various religious cults is the gurus…….or priestesses etc…. I just don’t understand how they don’t see it?

      • July 10, 2014 10:22 am

        to add, the mindless slaves of such movements, think they get rich, but all they get is a superficial sense of belonging, walking out more poor than they started…

  6. nazani14 permalink
    June 21, 2011 5:10 pm

    I resent Chopra’s diddling with science. The next time someone talks about their brain making “quantum leaps,” turn off the lights and look in their ears to see if they’re emitting photons.

    “are New Agers any dumber or more gullible or ill-informed ” Wow, there’s a graduate thesis topic! With fundies, there isn’t much change in their rhetoric. However, new agers have infected topics like nutrition and medicine with their nonsense. Ideas like “detox” and the toxicity of vaccines have spread far and wide on the wings of woo.

    • July 10, 2014 10:24 am

      naza, both new ager and baptist or christian think they are smart……but each time they join a cult they prove themselves to be utterly dumb, so anything they try to enforce after that out of their ignorant believes becomes invalid due to their enormous problem with being retarded.

  7. Ian permalink
    December 29, 2012 6:24 am

    you call people out for using science (quantum unproven theories at that) and then bolster your attack with a a totally unproven piece of nonsense about people’s brains shutting down when exposed to the prayers or words of said Gurus, and if that is true ( which it is not) then you fail to ask the obvious question why are the words of such people capable of having the effect. The entire argument is poorly constructed and fails to investigate the science it offers as evidence. I am not a supporter of any guru idea be that main stream nor new age, however if you are going to spout this venom about people’s life choices at least do it intelligently.

  8. Faqi Hussain permalink
    July 10, 2013 12:01 pm

    The very first time I heard this doctor, I knew he was selling ‘snake oil’ to the gullible westerners.

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