Sunday, December 20, 2009

The New Wage Lottery Ticket

Compared to last week, this week has been pretty quiet. Pat O'Bryan locked down his twitter account and seemingly calmed down, though he apparently has turned everything over to his legal team. I'm excitedly awaiting subpoena notification.

I guess what riled Pat up last week, at least from the timing of his @criticwatch rampage, was my statement that according to Google maps, it doesn't look like Mr. Fire's house is an "estate" the way he markets it to be. Pat asked to see MY house, but I reminded him that I don't use my house to sell people miracles, awakened millionaire programs, or any other overpriced deceptive crap. Joe Vitale DOES. And that is the problem.

I was talking with someone about the definition of estate, and showed them the Google maps overview. And we wondered if it really was Joe Vitale's house or not. We didn't really believe that he'd actually put his HOME address on his web site and marketing, and my friend wondered if perhaps the local assessor had a web site. Hey good idea.

We figured out that Wimberley is in Hays County, Texas, so we searched for the Hays County Assessor. Found it.

I feel weird posting the actual link to Joe Vitale's property details on the assessor's site. But you can go look.

It says the property at that address is indeed Joe Vitale's. And it's worth $317,000.

Meanwhile, he says on his web site:
Today I live with my love, Nerissa, in a multi-million dollar estate and I recently added a $375,000 Rolls Royce Phantom to my growing exotic car collection.
Something weird happened when I saw that assessor web site. I realized that my property is worth a bit more than his. And then I started to feel something.

Yes, even critics have hearts slightly larger than the Grinch.

I started to feel really sorry for Joe Vitale. Sorry for him that he apparently feels a need to puff himself up on his web sites to make it sound like he has more than he has. I then had to wonder if maybe he doesn't own a Rolls Royce, he just rents one whenever he needs to do one of his ever popular Rolls Royce Masterminds. Who knows? The incongruency in his marketing makes me have to question everything he says.

Why don't you just tell the truth, Joe? I'm sure you've been very successful in your business. And I know a lot of businesses that have very successful copywriters teaching how to do that. Why does it have to puff up into a business that is telling people they can have "champagne wishes and caviar dreams" ... just like you ... but like you ... Well, you're not.

So, I feel pity for him. And I feel pity for the people who get suckered in by the deception. The whole thing is just incredibly sad.

And it's just not right.

To me, this is worse than the lottery. At least the lottery, by law, has to give odds.  It's like people are buying a "new wage" lottery ticket. Except they think, because of the marketing, that it's a sure thing. They think that Joe Vitale and his sigloid merry marketers really do care whether or not they make a 100 millionaires (do they? your guess is as good as mine), they think that because Joe is SO GENEROUS (look at how he gave $100 to the movers! Operation YES! ... better known as Operation PROBABLY NOT) he absolutely MUST care about them, too. Right?


If he truly cared, he'd tell you the truth from the start. He wouldn't dangle a phony reality in front of your face and say "if I can have this, you can too." Well, maybe that is the truth. He apparently doesn't have it. And you probably won't either.


  1. This has nothing to do with the house, but I took a look at the Miracles site, and I noticed that although the copy states

    "Did you know that over 23 scientific studies have proved that when groups of people meditate, the crime and violence in their area goes down?

    It's true!"

    without any citation or proof beyond the "it's true!" exclamation.

    I would very much like to see that list of "over 23" studies and compare it to the short list I have of studies which have been shown to be in error or, worse, total fabrications.

    Physicist Heinz R. Pagels, author of "The Cosmic Code: Quantum Physics as the Language of Nature" had this to say about the subject:

    "The claim that large numbers of people meditating helps reduce crime and war by creating a unified field of consciousness is foolishness of a high order."

    Victor Stenger is the author of an (pardon the pun) enlightening article on quantum mechanics which is archived here:

    On a side note - given that the media is calling this the 3rd year of the great depression, I found it humorous that the one study cited on the miracles page started in 2006, just a little over three years ago. Must be working. (Yeah, right.)

    Link to the "Scientific Demonstration Project, Monitoring the Effect of Group Transcendental Meditation on Quality of Life Indicators" website:

    I suspect this is where the #23 came from. The "more than" is probably "hypnotic" copy.

    As far as the house goes, I may have to take a teensy little side trip on my way out of town to have a look-see for myself. LOL (Just kidding, wouldn't waste the time or the gas, but it's fun to think about.)

  2. This is all speculation from the snarky blogger who is frequently wrong, according to one critic watcher, but let me offer some alternative explanations for the discrepancy in Joe’s ad copy and the information on the appraisal site. The most obvious one would be that his property is in fact worth multi-millions of dollars, but Joe, perhaps with the help of an attorney, was able to successfully dispute the real appraisal in order to save on property taxes. I'd say that was one slick attorney to be able to get the appraisal down from multi-millions of dollars to $317,000. Perhaps Joe is donating the money he is saving in property taxes to Operation Y.E.S.? So it's all good.

    Alternatively, Joe could be including the value of all of his cars, gym equipment, and other items, and/or perhaps even the worth of his own multi-million dollar idea-generating self, along with the value of the house and property. After all, most of these items are technically on the "estate" most of the time, even though they are not permanent fixtures. (BTW, I think I remember reading on Mark Ryan’s blog (which seems to be temporarily down) that Joe does in fact lease his Rolls-Royce. He didn't simply plunk down cash to buy it outright, as he implied – but didn’t actually say – on his own blog. I do remember he made a big to-do about buying a $375,000 car on the very day the stock market plunged to an all-time low.)

    Then there is the possibility that Joe is including the value of all of the land in his rural subdivision, which is probably pretty large. For that matter, Ron and I live on a multi-million dollar ranch ourselves.

    In any case, 2010 may tell a different story, what with the addition of the new garage/office, aka the Vitale World Headquarters, to the "estate."

  3. CCGal, as you've probably guessed, the Attract Miracles scheme drew its inspiration from the (in)famous Maharishi Effect. And while there apparently used to be a mere nineteen studies "proving" the efficacy of group meditation, there are now "more than 23." It's a miracle!

  4. Janelle, great links. And you're right, if he's going to say "it's true" a teensy bit of evidence would be nice. and ethical.

    23 is one of those enigmatic numbers according to Robert Anton Wilson, who says he got it from William Burroughs. Maybe that choice is a nod to them. But even RAW says that you can find a numerological significance to anything, provided "sufficient cleverness."

    I myself believe in the mystical, though I don't claim to have evidence to support it and I certainly wouldn't sell someone a monthly membership web site based upon my any of my beliefs.

    Connie - I'm sure he is including all of those things in his "estate," though it's quite misleading. I missed that little tidbit on Ryan's blog about his leasing the Rolls Royce. I do remember, though, him gloating how he bought the Rolls on the same day the market crashed. Bought/leased - all the same anyway, right?

  5. Mr. (Dr.?) Joes latest blog brags about his Doctoral dissertation and how much work it was. Funny that his "College?" or "University?" don't have a copy of that tome in their files.

    I don't know how long it was but I do know of others that have Doctorate degrees for similar accredited institutions. Their dissertations were rather short. Just five words in fact. "Pay to the order of:"

  6. LOL, Bob. Or is that, "Pray to the order of...?

    I suspect that Joe's recent emphasis on his "doctoral thesis" is yet one more strategy in his latest campaign to deflect the critics, as some of them have been ragging on him for years about his "degrees." His buddy Pat always makes a point of calling him "Dr." Vitale, probably because he thinks he's annoying us. :-)

    Now, Joe may very well have cobbled together a "thesis," with footnotes and everything, in order to acquire his creds from the University of Metaphysics/Sedona, which the State of Texas now considers a religious institution, not subject to the usual rules of accreditation. I will say that when I read his description of his "doctorate" I had a strange feeling of deja vu, having perused a "masters" thesis of his a few years ago.

    In any case, his use of Jesus and Mother Teresa to illustrate the merits of relentless self-promotion is ludicrously transparent. Perhaps less transparent and more disingenuous is his mention of Unity Church of Christianity, the history of which is perhaps not known to as many folks. Unity started out as a simple movement/community, and grew over the decades into the influential New Thought mega-church it is now. Of COURSE its literature and publicity played a big part in this growth...duh...but once again, Mr. Fire (perhaps deliberately?) misses the mark, playing on his old theme that all those who criticize him and his colleagues are driven by a belief that money and marketing are evil.

    And he doesn't even address a point some critics have made, which is that many wealthy churches (whether Unity or more mainstream) seem to have become less focused on the spiritual and more focused on the material.

    I will always have a fond place in my heart for Unity. Hearing people sing "The Peace Song" never fails to touch me on some level that goes deeper than my snark (not enough to make me quit snarking, mind you, but enough to make me aware of the yearnings we all have in common). Of the various types of churches I've been to in my life, I've found Unity to be the most tolerable, though I have a fondness for Mennonites too, with their focus on peace and service. Ron and I used to go to Unity and we have dear friends who are still active Unity members.

    That said, Unity in recent years has been a huge magnet (and perhaps a breeding ground as well) for the very sorts of things that many critics of selfish-help/New-Wage criticize. So IMO, Mr. Fire isn't really helping his case on any level by invoking Unity. And he's probably not doing Unity any favors either, come to think of it.

  7. Connie - Thanks for the background on Unity. I've never sensed them to be a marketing/hype type of institution. I mean, the Daily Word that they sell for a whopping $13 a year is less than most magazines that are full of ads. I would suspect that if Mr. Fire ever came out with something like that it would be $47 a month and chock full of ads for his clearing tools like Ho'shun.

    Certainly there were advocates for those he says knew the value of money and marketing. I don't doubt that. But I can't really see Mother Teresa or Jesus hanging out thinking about how they could hype their work.

    I think they were a little more concerned with the actual work they did. You know, in serving the poor.

    Vitale just TALKS about it. As far as we know, Operation YES is just a front for him to talk about how generous he is.

    Here's an idea... instead of thinking about what is going to serve the EGO in marketing, how about if we actually DO THE THINGS that merit discussion and newsworthyness instead of creating "outrageous" buzz around a non-event? Jesus healed sick people. He performed actual miracles. Did that need to be marketed? Mother Teresa served the poorest of the poor. Did she do that for accolades or to serve her God? Perhaps their actions had merit on their own accord?

    I mean, the Bible has withstood the test of time as a tool for understanding spirituality and humanity. I imagine that the story of Jesus talking to the rich man had something of value in it. (Mark 10:17-31)

    As for his statements that we all hate money, I find that quite ludicrous. I like my money, and I am happy with how I earned it. I'm pretty proud of most of the people I know in how they earn their living.

    It's also amusing to me now knowing that the house I live in is worth more money than his "estate." Somehow I resist the temptation to start a "miracles" continuity program based on pseudoscience and the evidence of my apparent wealth.

    I am amazed at my willpower. I really don't know how I do it.

  8. As I've noted before, Jesus' attitude toward people who sell purported "keys to the kingdom" is well documented. Then again, perhaps the "estimable" Mr. Fire would try to portray the whole "moneychangers" scene as a lesson in marketing, just as he has attempted to convince folks that the Buddha was really into wealth.

    As long as he's quoting (and grossly misrepresenting) Unity founders Charles & Myrtle Fillmore, he might want to look again at one of the very lines he quotes:
    " We, Charles and Myrtle Fillmore, husband and wife, hereby dedicate ourselves, our time, our money, all we have and all we expect to have, to the Spirit of Truth..."

    I would challenge Joe to show how his activities even remotely resemble their commitment. The Fillmores raised many millions of dollars, but never spent any of it to make themselves appear wealthy, never presented themselves as exalted leaders, and certainly never belittled those who questioned or challenged them. Oh yeah... they had one car between them, and it certrainly wasn't a Rolls.

    As a longtime disciple of Rinzai Buddhism, and having spent years studying the Unity philosophy (including months of residential studies at Unity Village and working on staff at two Unity churches), I would welcome the opportunity to engage Joe in an unmoderated discussion of either or both schools of spiritual thought, and how they would or would not embrace his modus operandi. Unfortunately, Joe knows he has too much to lose (credibility and $$) from engaging in such a discussion without being able to filter out genuine challenges, like he typically does on his blog.