These Experts Did Some Stupid Stuff

7 min read
Yoga Class

It is no surprise how massive the self-help industry has become, or how wealthy its practitioners have made themselves, when you consider how much of a mess every one of us is. However, it may shock you to discover that many self-help experts and self-described gurus are just as big of a mess, and are more interested in helping themselves than anyone else. For instance …

Deepak Chopra Is VERY Mean On Twitter

Deepak Chopra is one of the most prominent figures in the New Age movement. He’s usually a picture of calm and serenity. He’s even written articles on how to control your temper – advice which he forgets immediately every time he opens Twitter.

Because of his New Age, pseudo-science-ey beliefs, Chopra routinely gets in online arguments with scientists and skeptics, defending personal convictions such as the belief that people can enter a state of “perfect health” which would prevent them from dying. This is clearly nonsense, and Chopra isn’t doing the world any favors by trying to convince vulnerable people that this is true. Still, it’s reasonable to have some sympathy for Chopra; that kind of constant arguing can’t do wonders for your sense of cordiality.

So great is Chopra’s thirst for internet anger that he often seeks out these confrontations himself. For example, when physicist Lawrence Krauss posted an utterly mundane photo of himself and Richard Dawkins on Twitter, Chopra smarmily Kool-Aid-Manned his way into the conversation. No one was talking to him, and he sent it to a half-dozen people utterly unconnected with the picture, trying to start an argument. It’s the Twitter equivalent of a drunk guy in a bar coming up to your table at the end of a joke and asking everyone what they’re laughing at.

The Founder Of Bikram Yoga Allegedly Raped His Students

Hot Yoga

Bikram yoga, or “hot yoga,” involves a bunch of people sitting in a hundred-degree room while someone in a Speedo tells them how to breathe. The founder of this style is Bikram Choudhury, and he has … a bit of a reputation. In class, he’s well-known for shrieking insults at his female students, including “You look like you’re pregnant!” or “You fat &%$@!” He also tried to trademark a series of yoga poses he claimed he invented, and even tried to sue a different yoga company over copyright infringement. The courts shot him down, basically saying that it was like trying to sue someone for jogging too much like you.

On the uglier side, Choudhury has faced at least six charges of assault, sexual harassment, and/or rape. People have alleged that he would use his position to project a godlike influence, then lure dazzled students to hotel rooms where he would force himself on them. Choudhury has denied this, kind of. In an interview with HBO, he insisted that he doesn’t need to beg women for sex because 5,000 women a day want his sex, and that four women committed suicide because he wouldn’t have sex with them. He also claimed that people offer him $1 million for a drop of his sperm. And that he “picks women from trash and then gives them life.”

And while none of these accusations have yet to result in any criminal convictions, Choudhury did have to cough up $6 million in a sexual harassment and wrongful termination case, brought by his own lawyer, in which she asserted that he fired her for investigating the rape allegations against him too thoroughly.

Dr. Phil Gets Sued For Holding People Captive

Phil McGraw is a TV therapist who tells people what to do to fix their terrible lives, and they love him for it. That sure sounds like a recipe for becoming a power-hungry madman. As a possible example of his madness, a former employee of the Dr. Phil show filed a lawsuit claiming the host kept 300 employees captive in a locked, guarded room. This was apparently done so he could try to figure out who leaked some information to the media. McGraw and his producers claimed it was a simple work meeting. For now, at least, a judge has refused to dismiss the charges.

But there are more examples of this bizarrely specific charge. In another case, the family of a troubled girl sued him, claiming she was sent to what was essentially a private prison on his advice. That case was dismissed after the defense argued that the girl was at the facility voluntarily and that Dr. Phil wasn’t managing her care. But in another case a few years back, CBS settled a suit filed by two women who say that as part of a show, they were held captive in the ominous-sounding “Dr. Phil House,” where they say they had to deal with brainwashing and a naked man showing up to dinner. It is unclear whether this naked man was Dr. Phil in makeup and prosthetics, but considering the sheer number of imprisonment accusations against him, we assume that it was.

Billy Blanks’ Tae Bo Partner Was A Notorious Con Artist

Billy Blanks is famous for being the face of Tae Bo, the exercise craze which incorporates a variety of high-energy martial arts techniques. But Blanks didn’t start the Tae Bo venture on his own – he partnered with a man named Paul Monea, who has a lengthy background in the infomercial world. So he’s honest, right?

To helpfully illustrate Monea’s background, consider: “The Stimulator.” This was a device which purportedly relieved pain, including headaches, arthritis, and menstrual cramps. But when the FDA looked into it, they discovered it was nothing but an electric grill lighter. So that’s not too cool.

But it didn’t seem to slow Monea down, and after partnering with Blanks to bring us the whole Tae Bo thing, the money came rolling in. Enough for Monea to buy Mike Tyson’s house, because that’s what someone should do with Tae Bo money. A few years later, he was trying to sell Mike Tyson’s house (first on eBay, of all places). That didn’t pan out too good, which is how he ended up trying to sell both the house and a huge diamond to someone who said he was going to pay using drug money. That someone was, of course, an undercover FBI agent.

Sugar Ray Leonard and Carmen Electra have sued Monea for using their names without permission. Three women have accused his production company of making phony charges to their credit cards. Blanks himself has accused Monea of bribing his attorneys. Also, and we cannot stress this enough, he sold a grill lighter as a cure for menstrual cramps.

Tony Robbins Ripped Off A Bunch Of Investors With A Bogus Website

You probably recognize Tony Robbins as the self-empowerment guru to the stars who is roughly 80 percent teeth. But you might not know that when he isn’t busy inspiring people to take control of their destinies, he’s been caught up in a variety of shifty business practices. He’s been successfully sued for plagiarism, ordered to pay fines by the FTC for misrepresenting the potential earnings of his franchisees, and once started a bad website. OK, everyone’s done that last thing, but Robbins did it with especially villainous gusto.

Robbins started a self-improvement website called Dreamlife in the late ’90s, which is a nice late-’90s-sounding thing to do. But right from its inception, there was something fishy about it. For starters, it wasn’t its own company. Robbins convinced a different company, Global Health Systems, to build the website for him, and to hand most of their operation over to him as well. Because Global Health Systems was a company with publicly traded stock that was now under his control, Robbins was more easily able to convince other investors to toss some sweet green his way. It was a shortcut/loophole around the normal reporting requirements for starting a new publicly traded company. If skirting regulations doesn’t entice you to invest something, what will? But it gets sleazier.

Because Robbins already had deals with book publishers, he wasn’t really interested in or legally able to provide any of the self-help guidelines and advice he was known for on this site, making it an outlet to sell shirts and stuff. Dreamlife was dead before it began, badly soaking any investors who arrived late to the party. No one knows how much money Robbins pocketed, but it was probably more than zero dollars.

A Best-Selling Health Food Author Lied About Having Cancer

Belle Gibson had a truly inspiring story to tell. She had a stroke at work in 2009, and during subsequent testing, was found to have a malignant brain tumor. She chronicled her experiences during the chemotherapy sessions on social media, and while the online world watched, she decided to abandon chemotherapy and replace it with healthy eating and homeopathic medicine. And it worked! Her cancer vanished, and was replaced shortly thereafter by smartphone apps and books and a new line of food products in her name.

The only problem was that Gibson’s story was just that – a story. She lied about the whole cancer thing.

Finding out what exactly happened here is complicated a little bit by the fact that Gibson doesn’t have a terribly close relationship with the truth. She can’t keep her age straight in interviews. Charitable donations tied to app and book sales that she promised to make were never made.

In response to the revelation that absolutely no part of her inspirational battle with cancer was true, Gibson’s publisher pulled her book from shelves after only five months, though they’re hardly blameless in the matter. Video evidence has surfaced suggesting the publishers at least suspected she wasn’t totally on the level, but let it not be said that the publishing industry has ever let the truth get in the way of making tons and tons of dollars. As you may expect, the episode infuriated people who really have cancer, not only for generating false sympathy but also for generating false hope. Cancer is a brutal disease which, when it can be treated, needs something a little more concrete than cucumber and wishes, Belle Gibson, you insufferable jerk.