Posts Tagged ‘James Ray’


James Ray rejects his own teachings (and his supporters don’t notice)

November 26, 2013

James Arthur Ray, the motivational torturer convicted of three counts of homicide, has served his jail time and completed his probationary period in Arizona. Now he’s back in his old home in Carlsbad California and is giving interviews again to the uncritical media and speaking publicly. And of course, continuing to cut a path of destruction through the lives of his customers.

But there has been at least one change in this recurring nightmare. In his new blog post, he has rejected all of his previous teachings. That’s right all of them!

None of his fawning supporters have noticed it, but there it is in black and white:

One of the biggest fallacies for the students of the Law of Attraction (that became so popular all over the world a few years ago), is the belief that “If I understand the LOA, and execute it perfectly… then nothing bad, ugly or challenging will ever happen again in my life.” This is a lack of understanding; an illusion of the grandest proportions.

An illusion of the grandest proportions. But this illusion is exactly what James Ray had been teaching up until now. This is what he wrote in The Science of Success, (which I wrote about just last month):

Anyone on Earth can apply this science, and it will make them successful every time. That’s because the Science of Success works with universal laws, laws as fundamental and unbending as the law of gravity. If you follow these laws I guarantee that you will succeed – every time, and in whatever endeavor you undertake...

So there you have it folks. James Ray now says that the product he used to sell is “an illusion of the grandest proportions” Write and demand your money back (ha ha).

This won’t bother his supporters of course. It didn’t bother them when he failed to act according to his own teachings in court, and it didn’t bother them when his own claim of “mastery” was contradicted by his jail time. So it won’t bother them that Ray’s new teachings contradict the old ones. (The product he is promoting isn’t really a set of teachings anyway. Rather, what Ray is selling is his own persona; and that product has proven itself to be completely reality-proof.)

It will, however, bother his potential customers, and it is for them that I will briefly outline a few things about the product James Ray is offering.

The law of attraction, of course, does not exist. Those who teach it (at least the famous ones like those who appeared in The Secret) know this and do not attempt to use it in their own lives. This is demonstrated by the infighting and acrimonious court cases, cut throat business practices, blatant fraud, and general nastiness they all engage in.

Attempting to apply this nonexistent “law” to your own life is dangerous. It makes you overestimate your potential resources and your control over reality. Most importantly, it makes you ignore events that you would have recognized as a warning sign if you were using plain common sense. The course that James Ray’s life has taken over the last decade or so illustrates such failures clearly.

Participants in Ray’s events were injured doing the risky “motivational” exercises he was giving them. He ignored the complaints, the broken limbs, the cut faces, etc. Then a participant, Colleen Conaway, died during one of his events. Any sane person using basic common sense would realize that they are not only risking the health and lives of others, but their own business interests as well. Ray lied to police about Colleen’s death and managed to avoid any criminal charges, but failed to recognize that he was asking for trouble.

Two and a half months later, Ray found himself lying to police again. This time his lies didn’t work. (He claimed that he was not in charge of the deadly fake sweat lodge that killed three and sent two dozen to hospital, and — incredibly — tried to blame it on the fire keeper. This pattern of inventing excuses and lying to shift the blame onto others continued throughout his trial, and is still going on today.)

Ray claims that he did not know that people were in distress during the sweat lodge (in which he crammed about 60 people into a low, dark sweltering tent from which there was no escape (the sides were secured), and in which he controlled the air supply and the only exit.

Well actually, he doesn’t always claim he didn’t know that people were in distress. During the pre-trial investigation his lawyers claimed that, but they dropped the claim soon after reading the witness testimony. In court, that line of defense was not raised. What came out was witness after witness saying that Ray both heard and responded to people calling out that numerous people were in trouble, wanted to leave, had passed out, were not breathing. He refused to help and simply closed the exit and kept going.

It seems to me to be entirely likely that he had a narcissistic belief that “everything happens as it should” and it’s up to the universe to pull people back from the brink of death, that any deaths would be for the “highest good” of the victims. He felt no responsibility to follow through on his promise that people were safe and would be cared for should they pass out. He does seem to have spiritual ideas about out-of-body or near death experiences, and was probably trying to induce altered mental states through heat stroke.

His recklessness not only killed three more people, but also ruined his business, his finances, cost him his freedom for two years and stained his record with three convictions for negligent homicide.

The only way to make money with the nonexistent law of attraction is by selling it to others and taking their money. You can then point to that money and success as evidence that the law of attraction indeed does exist. But Ray can’t really do that anymore, can he — he turned his own in life into a quagmire. He’s a failure, and it’s entirely his own stupid fault. So instead of the law of attraction, he has suddenly invented a brand new “Law of Polarity”. (*See Update 2 below.) This is something makes bad things to happen to nice innocent homicidal psychopaths like James, for mystical higher purposes. Here’s the relevant sample of James Ray’s profound wisdom. Fasten your seat belts….

I was speaking to a group recently, and I reminded them that every coin has two sides—both a heads and a tails. You absolutely cannot have one without the other. This principle in the world of physics is called the Law of Polarity.

James Ray is on safe ground with the bit about the coins — that doesn’t over extend his 8th grade mathematical abilities. But the rest of it is nonsense. I would suggest people take a short cut avoiding both the law of attraction and the Law of Polarity and follow something called the Law of Common Sense instead. Common sense is wrong sometimes too of course, but it’s a LOT safer than any of Ray’s teachings.

Ray and his bullish, cut-throat and greedy supporters want to convince you that Ray’s “suffering” in jail was a deep mystery.

It’ll probably take the rest of my days to even begin to understand and describe all that I’ve been gifted to see and experience.

But it’s no mystery and it needs no cosmic laws or quantum physics to explain. Ray was convicted and went to jail because he cooked three people to death and stood there gawping while others were desperately administering CPR. Then he went and had a shower. He was sitting in his undies eating a sandwich when the police knocked on his door. Then he tried to blame it all on Ted the fire keeper. And now he wants to tell you that he is a wise expert on human life. 

Below is a video of part of state prosecutor Sheila Polk’s summing up from Ray’s trial In it she lists the pathetic attempts at evading the charges that Ray’s attorneys made. In fact she spent more time on them than the defense did in their summing up

Sheila Polk: “Three people are dead because of the conduct and the actions of this man, James Ray. They are dead because he intentionally used heat to create an altered state and he was criminally reckless about the consequences. To use the words of the manslaughter statute, they are dead because James Ray consciously disregarded a substantial and unjustifiable risk that his conduct would cause death…”

(The jury, prevented from knowing of Colleen Conaway’s prior death or of previous life threatening sweat lodge events, eventually convicted Ray of the lesser charges of homicide.)

Update 1As always, the Salty Droid has the background story on Ray’s slippery, slimey return to grace with the uncritical media.

Update 2: LaVaughn has pointed out in the comments that Ray has in fact used ideas about “polarity” in the past, and reminded me that this was even alluded to in the “Letters of Support” sent to the judge in Ray’s trial. Ray follower, Wendy Benkowski had this to say:

James has integrity and his message has integrity. I am witnessing the power of his spoken word. I am witnessing the shadow side of Harmonic Wealth. The 2009 Spiritual Warrior Retreat is a great lesson. The LESSON has touched the consciousness of the world. I respect and honor the sacrifice of Liz, Kirby, and James. I request compassion for my friend James Ray.

Potential customers should note this. If Ray causes your death, it will be considered a “sacrifice”, according to his teachings. My apologies to the bereaved for posting that again, should they happen to read it again here.

Posted by Yakaru


Blogging James Ray’s book, The Science of Self-Destruction: Part 3

October 4, 2013

For a bit of a change, I’m not going to start off talking about James Ray’s 2003 book The Science of Success.

Instead I’m going to quote something from J.D. Salinger’s book, The Catcher in the Rye. I’m sure you’ll see where I’m going with this soon enough…

The trouble was, I knew that guy Stradlater’s technique. That made it even worse. We once double-dated, in Ed Banky’s car, and Stradlater was in the back, with his date, and I was in the front with mine. What a technique that guy had. What he’d do was, he’d start snowing his date in this very quiet, sincere voice – like as if he wasn’t only a very handsome guy but a nice, sincere guy, too. I damn near puked, listening to him. His date kept saying, “No – please. Please, don’t. Please.” But old Stradlater kept snowing her in this Abraham Lincoln, sincere voice, and finally there’d be this terrific silence in the back of the car….

The Catcher in the Rye, Chapter 7

Death RayJames Ray, before the Science of Self Destruction had fully kicked in

More than anything else, I wish I could communicate to consumers of motivational products the importance of being able to recognize that fake “Abraham Lincoln voice” when you hear it. It sounds steady and reassuring, but when you take a step back it sounds pushy, overbearing, grandiose, and focused on one thing only: closing a sale.

And now back to the book. In the previous post we made it through the introduction and now we’re onto Chapter 1. The Abe Lincoln voice continues:

This book presents the universal SuperLaws and Power Principles that make success inevitable…..

SuperLaws??? Okay, clearly this stuff is not “just like the law of gravity” like he said in the introduction. It’s a SuperLaw. Maybe one day gravity will also rise to the level of being a SuperLaw if it focuses its intent and does its networking.

The subject of success has fascinated people for centuries, perhaps for ever.

…has fascinated people for ever?????

Okay, I know what you’re thinking. Abe Lincoln never spoke in horrid, grammatically unsound babble like James Ray does. It was just a metaphor, okay? (Dammit, metaphors are supposed to last a bit longer than that!) 

Clearly Ray did not employ an editor or even a proofreader. So I am offering James Ray an easy-to-use universal principle of success: If you don’t know how to do something, find someone who does, and ask them “How do I do this?”

Research and my own personal experience has shown me that when people consistently do not succeed, it’s not because they aren’t smart or don’t work hard, or because they aren’t lucky. It’s because they simply don’t understand how success works. They don’t understand the specific SuperLaws and Power Principles that activate success.

Well it might also be that they never bothered to learn how to do something properly. Or because they are so arrogant and stupid that they don’t even realize they don’t know how to do it properly. No one ever seems to have told James Ray that his spelling and grammar are not up to a standard where he can just write and publish immediately. 

So we get things like this on his official website [Update — he’s finally taken it down]:

James Ray -- obsticles

Overcoming “Obsticles”?

Ray’s Teachings — Success as a Sticky Substance

Ol’ Death Ray seems to think success is a substance that will inevitably stick to you if you think and act in a certain way. This is of course completely stupid. You can only be successful within a certain limited context, in relation to certain standards. To say that a person is “a success” is a complete misunderstanding. (I am going to ignore the idea that success can be “activated”.)

Next we get a heading for a new section:


Huh? Shouldn’t that be in the introduction and not in Chapter 1? For a guy who claims to have studied many hundreds of books, he seems to have noticed nothing about the way they are usually structured. And then he needlessly starts repeating the stuff he’s just said in the introduction — that he was interested in Gandhi, Einstein, Martin Luther King and, um, Napoleon Hill. From this he has “synthesized the formula that causes people to succeed.”

This is really insane. A guy with the literacy level of an 8th grader (according to his prison aptitude test) reckons he knows what “caused” Einstein to succeed? He doesn’t realize that his ridiculous “SuperLaws” contradict everything Einstein ever said, as well as the whole of modern physics!!!

If Ray’s SuperLaws exist, Einstein failed.

Bad example, James. Baaaaad example.

self destructUm, James, you don’t need a “.” (period or full stop) at the end of a book’s subtitle. What you DO need is a proofreader who can spell and knows what books should look like.

Martin Luther King can of course be described as a successful civil rights activist, though not “a success”. There were many aspects of his life that didn’t work all that well, and most importantly, he was assassinated. How does that fit with Ray’s SuperLaws? It certainly was due to his success that he was assassinated, but is that also part of Ray’s SuperLaws? Or is Ray saying that King got himself assassinated because he failed to follow the SuperLaws? 

I can’t help but wonder if Ray even knows that King was assassinated. That would at least explain why he made such an unfortunate choice of a famous personage to exploit to sell his product. Or maybe he did know and the name of King’s assassin just didn’t stick in his memory. (Some loon even mistakenly commented here once, thinking I had been writing about King’s assassin. I had to tell him that if he’d read the post a bit more closely he might have realized that James Earl Ray was not the kind of guy who would have been leading a sweat lodge, even a fake one.)

Gandhi was a successful political opportunist revered by many, including Dr King. But, like King, he also got assassinated. This rather important fact also seems to have slipped past Ray during his years of “research”. Could it be that Ray is an ignorant fool who chooses iconic personages to promote his ideas without knowing the first thing about them?

My advice is just stick to the normal laws of physics, a great many of which happily coincide with common sense — a much better guide than any SuperLaws.

Posted by Yakaru


Stealing Hope: James Ray’s Deadly Method (Colleen Conaway’s Story)

July 25, 2012

It’s exactly three years since The Secret star and motivational torturer, James Arthur Ray lied to police about the death of one of his customers.

Colleen Conaway was attending Ray’s Creating Absolute Wealth seminar in July 2009 when her life came to a horrible and untimely end.

Screen-shot from The Secret: “James Arthur Ray, Philosopher”

James Ray and his staff abandoned Colleen’s body in a shopping mall and managed to conceal her death from her fellow participants. Their crude and cynical cover up was also enough to convince the San Diego Police to simply declare Colleen’s death a suicide and close the case. Ray, a charismatic millionaire with his head office at nearby Carlsbad, was obviously impressive enough for the police not to have smelled a rat. (They may, however, have noticed a faint whiff of the high powered attorneys, who Ray would later pay $5 million to defend him from manslaughter charges.)

Colleen’s death only became “news” after three more people died at Ray’s next event in Arizona. But at first, no one apart from her family and friends knew of Colleen’s fate. And the role that the internationally recognized “philosopher” from The Secret had played in ending her life could only be guessed at by her family.

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Blogging “The Power”: A critique of Rhonda Byrne – Part 5: Masuro Emoto

May 13, 2012

The in depth look at Rhonda Byrne’s Secret follow up, The Power continues….

The brain, Rhonda Byrne tells us, is 80% water.

In Ms Byrne’s case this is extremely easy to believe…..

She continues:

Researchers in Japan, Russia, Europe, and the United States have discovered that when water is exposed to positive words and feelings such as love and gratitude, the energy level of the water not only increases, but the structure of the water changes, making it perfectly harmonious.

The higher the positive feeling, the more beautiful and harmonious the water becomes. When water is exposed to negative emotions, such as hate, the energy level of the water decreases, and chaotic changes occur, negatively affecting the structure of the water.

So, if water is affected by our thoughts and emotions, we can turn our brains into big slush puddles of positivity, just by controlling our thoughts. We can use this positively magnetized pot of gruel to attract other positively magnetized objects to ourselves, through the “scientifically proven” Law of Attraction!!!

But before we get too carried away, let’s look at some of the fascinating “research” that Byrne is referring to. (I’ve dealt in previous posts with Byrne’s failure to realize that magnets attract their opposite pole, and the narcissistic stupidity of trying to attribute “positive” and “negative” charges to events and objects; and the stubborn refusal of human flesh to behave like a magnet, whether positive or negative.)


One of Byrne’s heroes, Masuro Emoto, is probably already known to her readers, as he was featured in the smash hit pseudo-science-fiction movie What the Bleep. Emoto’s work certainly demonstrates the extraordinary power of classical pseudo-scientific method:

1. Rig up an experiment to produce the effects you desire

2. Carefully record the results

3. Run with them to the PR department as quickly as possible

Emoto’s experiments were simple and elegant: he put water in scientific looking vials and taped words to the outside, or played music, or prayed. He froze the water and photographed the crystals that formed with a powerful microscope. Without fail, the photographs reflected his hypothesis: the vials that had words like “love” taped to them formed nice crystals; those with words like “hate” or “scamming shit-weasel” taped to them produced ugly ones.


 “You make me sick”

As chemist Stephen Lower points out, ice crystals form differently according to the rate of freezing and other conditions. Furthermore, the different crystal formations don’t mean that the water’s chemical structure is changed as Byrne claims. It just means that the water formed different shaped crystals.

Emoto didn’t blind his experiments either – of course, he doesn’t have to, being a practicing pseudo-scientist. Instead, he informs us, he explicitly instructed his photographers to choose the best photographs.

Just in case it’s still not clear, Emoto went looking for pretty crystals in the vials with the nice words on them, and ignored the ugly looking crystals; then he looked for ugly crystals in the vials with nasty words on them and ignored the pretty ones.

In other words, he faked his results.

He covers himself legally by saying he’s not a scientist, so the worst charge that can be made against him is slackness and stupidity, rather than fraud. People who sell useless and expensive water filters love this kind of thing, and use his faked results in their advertising. They are also saved by Emoto’s disclaimer from from being prosecuted for fraud, but the disclaimer is now one step removed from their customer’s eyes. The entire edifice of esoteric pseudo-science is built up through such progressive blurring of lines, supporting a massive industry based on claims of legitimacy that leave customers chasing their own tails if they try to verify any of it. The dictionary calls this a scam. New Agers call it Quantum Physics.

I don’t know if Rhonda Byrne has any financial interests in any water filter company, but I do know that their preferred medium is multi level marketing (aka pyramid schemes). Byrne could easily be sitting near the top of an MLM line without needing to advertise the fact anywhere on the internet. And I also know that Byrne’s colleague James Ray is involved in Kanga Water Filters. (One of his witnesses for the defense in his manslaughter trial turned out to be in his downline. She was dropped as a witness soon after Salty Droid broke the story about this apparently undeclared financial interest.)

Anyway, Byrne is taking Emoto’s faked results and is about to build them into her even more outlandish architecture.

The center of every cell is water, and each cell is completely surrounded by a layer of water.

If this were true it would have profound implications for life on this planet. Who knows, maybe some form of amphibious life could have developed, but it would not have been the kind of thing you would want to invite home to meet your parents.

Can you imagine the impact of love and gratitude on your body? Can you imagine the power of love and gratitude to restore health? When you feel love, your love affects the water of the 100 trillion cells in your body!

There is of course, no need to imagine that. The impact of love and gratitude on the structure of your body’s water can in fact be measured with 100% accuracy. Byrne’s fans won’t be happy about it, though. It is exactly zero. The good news is that we don’t need to do anything special to the structure of our H-O-H molecules in order for our bodies to feel love and gratitude. There are much more complex and refined hormones and neuro-chemicals that do that job quite successfully.

Water has a fairly simple yet really quite wonderful structure. That’s why it’s good for splashing about in. You can also drink clean water without having to worry that it will subtly destroy you from within because it has been “exposed to negative emotions”. Really, Byrne fans, you can relax about that. And once you’ve gotten over it, you might like to apologize to your friends for trying to frighten them into buying a useless water filter from you too.

In Part 6 we will learn more about the wonders of modern pseudo-science.

Earlier parts can be found here:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4 



James Ray Trial: Pre-sentencing Mitigation Hearing Sept 2011

September 15, 2011

James Ray, “philosopher”, motivational torturer, “practical guru” and negligently homicidal manslaughterer, will be sentenced at the end of September (probably) for the three counts of negligent homicide he was convicted of. Judge Darrow denied the defense’s motion for a retrial, without further comment. The mitigation hearing will begin on September 19 and the defense will call 19 witnesses to explain why when James is really not such a bad fellow after all, despite the fatherless children and lives destroyed through his idiotic and sadistic negligence.

I will post updates below, but for now here is a list of the witnesses who will be hoping to gain something from appearing for their demented colleague.

David McCall, Kathy Fleig, Robert Procter, Dr Matt Bynum, Amy Grothe, Genpo Roshi, Jeff Asshead – sorry, Adshead, Dr Tony Allessandra, Alex Smyth, Wayne Parker Donneta Parker, Ward Smith, Jason Tabeu, John Watkin John Ferriter, Tony Parinello, Jon Ray, Joyce Ray.

I will post more about some of these people.

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Blogging “The Power”: A Critique of Rhonda Byrne – Part 2: Love is Gravity

August 22, 2011

The first post in this series covered the introductory pages of Rhonda Byrne’s Secret follow-up, The Power. This post covers the opening chapters, including Byrne’s ideas about everything in the universe being either positive or negative, and finishes up with Ms Byrne’s extremely unusual claims about the nature of love.

As always, Byrne starts off chapter one in her usual bold “assertion-as-fact” style.

You are meant to have an amazing life! You are meant to have everything you love and desire. Your work is meant to to be exciting, and you are meant to accomplish all the things you would love to accomplish…

She continues in this vain for quite some time. Now this all sounds very nice, but there is a hidden agenda in all this inspiring motivational talk. If your life is not the way she says it was “meant” to be, there’s something wrong with you. You’re not using the LoA the way you “should” be. The reader is to measure their unhappiness against the amount of joy they imagine they would feel if all their wishes were granted. The difference shows how much they are going wrong, and how much they need Byrne’s help.

Soon, the ground is laid for this assertion:

Your life is made up of only two kinds of things – positive and negative things.

Everyone who believes in the Law of Attraction has swallowed this notion whole. But a little reflection would make it clear to anyone above the age of five that life doesn’t cut up so neatly into good and bad. How we experience an event at the time, reflects neither its real significance nor its actual consequences. Yet Byrne instructs the reader to label events according to their spur of the moment emotional fluctuations. Learning a measure of equanimity when faced with apparent good or bad fortune is not one of Byrne’s goals.

She’s also no fan of self acceptance or self awareness. Instead Byrne endorses jealousy, envy and a narcissistic sense of entitlement:

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Blogging “The Power”: A Critique of Rhonda Byrne – Part 1: Hommage to Her Lawyers

August 19, 2011

Rhonda Byrne has written a follow up to The Secret, called The Power. In it she claims to have discovered “the most powerful force in the universe” and that her readers can learn to manipulate this “Power” to make all their dreams materialize.

The power she is talking about is “the power of love”. This might seem like a let down to those who were hoping for nano-death-rays or a mini-black-hole-invisibility-cloak…..But surely Ms Byrne is just indulging in a little harmless rhetoric in order to encourage us to allow a little more love in our lives….isn’t she?

…Nope. Ms Byrne is not being rhetorical. Incredibly, she is attempting to talk straight science to her readers, presenting “facts” that no scientist on the planet (at least none over the age of eight) would take seriously.  Even more incredibly, she has taken a silly factual error from The Secret and instead of quietly correcting it, she has magnified it and made it the centerpiece of her entire teaching.

Worse still, her self-help advice is of an extraordinarily low quality, even by the low standards that genre usually maintains. Yet somehow she managed to achieve stupendous success.

This will be a fairly snark-free series of blog posts, focusing largely on the way Byrne achieves the effect with which she has won over so many people, rather than spending too much time debunking her factual errors. I’ll go into some detail in the first few posts, at times taking it line by line, and move a bit faster in the later parts.

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