- Review: Help: Debunking the Outrageous Claims of Self-Help Gurus
Review: Help: Debunking the Outrageous Claims of Self-Help Gurus
Reviewer & Author Interviewer, Norm Goldman. Norm is the Publisher & Editor of Bookpleasures.com.
He has been reviewing books for the past fifteen years when he retired from the legal profession.
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Author: Paul Damien, Ph.D
Publisher: Synergy Books
With Help: Debunking the Outrageous Claims of Self-Help Gurus,
Paul Damien aims his sights on a class of trendy books that he
describes as sinister and authored by some well-known masters of the
game, Dr. Deepak Chopra, Rhonda Bryne, Dr. Fritjof Capra and Dr.
Scott Peck. As indicated in the Preface, the motive of the book is to
critique and parody these so-called “gurus.” It should be
pointed out, as mentioned, some of the arguments advanced are thanks
to Professor Ernest Geller, based on his insightful book, Words and
Indian born Damien was educated in England where he received his doctorate in mathematics from Imperial College, London. He is an elected Fellow of the Royal Statistical Society of England, and a recipient of the United Kingdom Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council’s Outstanding Researcher Award. Presently, he is the B.M. Rankin Jr. Professor of Business for the McCombs School of Business Administration at the University of Texas, Austin.
You may ask if Damien is qualified to write this critique and to
which he cleverly replies: Is Chopra qualified to write about quantum
physics even though he has no formal training in theoretical physics.
Incidentally, Damien fiercely illustrates how Chopra twists the
principles of quantum physics to fit into his teachings. As for
Bryne, is she qualified to teach us about the “law of attraction”
which, as Damien shows, is really not a law? As pointed out,
what in fact these two have in common and have cleverly interwoven
into their teachings is the rephrasing of others’ ideas that are
mixed with non-ideas. They then claim everything fits into your
paradigm and shrewdly market all of this preposterous nonsense with
the aid of two or three buzzwords.
If we take Chopra’s work as an example, Damien sums it up as resting on three basic premises: 1) “His claim of having “proved” the grand unified theory (which even Einstein, Feynman, Hawking, and others have failed to do)”. 2) “Three Hindu mind-body principles (doshas), which bear a curious resemblance to the “mug-shots” of humans found in paper place mats in cheap Chinese restaurants.” 3) “Reciting the poetry and prose of dozens of Eastern and Western writers and making the questionable claim that the meaning in different art forms and in science is simply one and the same.” Damien devotes considerable ink in dissecting these elements and proving that basically Chopra is a master at the juxtaposition of words in order to produce the effect of possessing some meaning.
What is quite interesting is that there are no easy answers as to why so many people buy the products put out by Chopra and his colleagues. Perhaps, it is due to the fact that many individuals are looking for a quick fix without putting in too much effort to resolve their problems. Damien states: “In the Web Age, accessing data has been equated to intelligence; processing data is considered uncool.”
Essentially, as stated, Chopra interweaves unrelated ideas,
non-ideas, recipes, exercise routines, chanting, and oil baths and
sells it as science-scripture. His followers are not very interested
in questioning his methods or philosophy as after all it does contain
traces of science, religion, poetry, or anything else you can dream
of, et voilà, they are now educated and they can return home
Throughout the book, Damien makes a very convincing argument that too many of us have been hoodwinked into swallowing the gospel of these “gurus.”Their self-help techniques are nothing more than a monotonous and brash pimping of the English Language. It is questionable if any of their followers have in fact benefited from their pimping, as it is extremely difficult to measure it due to the haziness surrounding their methods.
Damien’s 162- page critique brilliantly succeeds in making his case in a very efficient and coherent way and provides us with a unique glimpse into the world of these self-help experts. His clear- headed prose does a terrific job of dismembering the fallacies of the teachings of Chopra, Bryne and company. In the end, what we have is an informative and impassioned wake-up call to those who still blindly believe in the mumbo jumbo that is extensively propagated by these so-called authorities.