I thought that your free-thinking readers might be interested to learn that a self-styled 'Self Betterment' guru, previously linked to 'Amway' and 'Herbalife,' is currently awaiting sentencing in Arizona after having been found innocent of manslaughter, but convicted of the 'negligent homicide' of three of his followers.
In reality, in the Autumn of 2009, James Arthur Ray (b. 1957) persuaded 50 adults to give him payments of up to $10 000 each. In return, he lured them to a remote 'Retreat Center' where, for 7 days, he planned to subject them to a barrage of potentially-lethal, co-ordinated, devious techniques of social, psychological and physical persuasion, designed to shut-down individuals' critical and evaluative faculties, but without their fully-informed consent. However, Mr. Ray has been running this frighteningly-familiar, blame-
the-victim, advance fee fraud for many years, and he has apparently made millions of dollars out of it. He seems to got many of his unoriginal ideas from L. Ron Hubbard's 'Scientology' scam. Amongst his many published lies, Hubbard claimed to have lived amongst the Blackfoot Indians as a small boy after WWI and during the early 1920s, and to have been initiated into the secret medicine of the tribe. Hubbard began peddling what he described as 'Purification Rundown' to his 'Scientology' adherents in the 1950s. This comprised a progressively-expensive program of intense fasting and sauna baths which Hubbard claimed could remove negativity (in the form of invisible extra-terrestrial creatures) from the human mind and body, and enable 'Scientologists' to transform into superior human beings, physically and intellectually.
In brief, exactly like L. Ron Hubbard, James Ray (who has appeared on US network television and who features on the New York Times Best-Sellers List) has also steadfastly pretended that he possesses a secret 'spiritual/scientific' knowledge which can help anyone to achieve whatever it is that he/she most desires from life, and that (for a price) he is prepared to share this exclusive wisdom.
Using a typically-hypnotic cocktail of pseudo-scientific/'New Age Religious' bullshit (partly plagiarized from traditional Native American beliefs), Mr. Ray (the son of a preacher) persuaded his Arizona victims to stop eating for several days and to enter a 'sweat lodge' (i.e. a form of rudimentary sauna bath comprising a tent structure in which water is turned to steam by pouring it over a pile of rocks which have been previously heated in a bonfire). Whilst Mr. Ray continued to perform what he arbitrarily defined as a 'purification ceremony,' more than 20 of his starving, would-be 'Spiritual Warriors,' began to exhibit the symptoms of dehydration and kidney failure.
Kirby Brown (aged 38), James Shore (aged 40) and Liz Neuman (aged 49) died, whilst 18 others were hospitalized.
In the introduction to his best-selling comic-books, Mr. Ray boasts that he has worked as a self-betterment consultant to many famous companies, including 'Amway' and Herbalife.'
Mysteriously, James Arthur Ray has (so far) not been charged with fraud, or with racketeering, by US federal or Arizona state prosecutors, but presumably his surviving victims will be filing a civil action.
Predictably, Mr. Ray says that, after sentencing, he will file an appeal against his recent conviction. His attorneys continue to describe Mr. Ray's highly-organized crime in Arizona as 'a tragic accident.'
David Brear (copyright 2011)