On Wednesday, the professional career of telegenic New Age guru James Arthur Ray came tumbling down when an Arizona jury found him guilty of the negligent homicide of three people who died in a sweat lodge ceremony in 2009. At the height of his career, Ray rode the wave of self-help promoters attached to the wildly popular book The Secret, which emphasized that if you simply "ask, believe, receive" you can attain your wildest desires (and even cure cancer!). Here's who heeded Ray's lessons of "think, feel and act" and now might be reconsidering.
Larry King In 2006, the former CNN anchor had a blast during the The Secret craze as he explained his first episode's ratings success. "Since last week's show was such a success, we decided to dive right back into it," said King as he re-introduced a cast of positive-thinking gurus including Ray. The man had never been known for conducting hard-hitting interviews, but it was extraordinary how much New Age crap he let Ray spew on television. "What is the law of attraction?" said Larry, asking about one of Ray's key concepts to positive thinking:
Well, Larry, science tells us that every single thing that appears to be solid is actually energy. Your body is energy. Your car is energy, your house, everything, money, all of it is energy.
You put it under a high-powered microscope it's nothing more than a field of energy and a rate of vibration and like vibrations are attracted to each other and dissimilar vibrations repel. So, the law of attraction says when you're in a certain vibration you're going to attract to you that which you're in vibration or harmonic vibration with... We're consistently attracting. I mean every single thing you have in your life right now you're either in resonance with it or, if it's not in your life, you're not in resonance with it.
The Today Show In perhaps the most embarrassing appearance, Ray went out of his wheelhouse on the Today Show in 2009 talking about President Obama's Stimulus plan and the economy. But regardless of those "complex" issues, Ray reminded us, it's all about what you're feeling inside. "[Obama's] done a lot of what he promised.. he signed the stimulus packaged... he's extending unemployment, it's now time for us to take responsibility and take some action ourselves... Focus on how can I provide more value, how can I provide more service... You feel better and [a raise] comes to you."
Oprah Winfrey It's doubtful that The Secret would've gained as much success as it did without the help of Oprah, who featured the book on her show in two separate episodes, propelling it to The New York Times bestseller list. Though his appearances on the show have been scrubbed from the web, Winfrey outed herself as a true believer on King's show.
And in case there was any doubt about the credibility of his schtick, here's University of Scranton professor of psychology John Norcross utterly dismantling it in front of Ray on CBS News in 2007:
The American public As Time's Nathan Thornburgh notes in the magazine today, it wasn't just a handful of people who fell for Ray's positive thinking spiel "James Arthur Ray was no outlier. He was one of any number of polished pitchmen (and women) selling their own housebrand of self-help to a very hungry market," writes Thornburgh. "The U.S. is still full of seminars, programs and training courses that will gladly take your money and replace all those ineffectual thoughts you currently have with brand new thoughts they've sold you. It's a dangerous gambit, with or without heated rocks, and Ray's verdict won't completely change that."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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