May 1, 2007

Secrets and Lies

A while ago I took "The Secret" to task for a number of things; such as being based on a faulty premise, making undeliverable promises, and encouraging denial as a spiritual practice. Add one more item to the list: fraud. One of the key contributors to "The Secret" Denis Waitley has been caught out by the Fraud Discovery Institute, which found discrepancies in his education credentials and false claims by his business, Usana. Their most recent report can found here.

Waitley withdrew from renomination to the board of directors of Usana, when the discrepancy was uncovered; apparently to stop the hemorrhaging of Usana's stock. Waitley has apologized for the "error." The oversight in question?

Usana has made headlines in the last two weeks after coming under S.E.C. scrutiny following a 500-page report from FDI that was made public and a subsequent investigative cover story in the Money & Investing section of the Wall Street Journal (March 15).According to Barry Minkow, independent licensed private investigators who specialize in examining resumes could not confirm that Mr. Waitley had earned a M.A. degree from the Naval Post Graduate School, in Monterey, California. Moreover, the Doctorate, or a Ph.D. in Human Behavior from La Jolla University listed in Mr. Waitley’s resume, appears to have come from a now defunct and never-accredited “diploma mill,” according to Minkow. Both alleged degrees are listed on official S.E.C. filings.

Mr. Waitley, a well-known motivational speaker who also appears in the hit movie, The Secret, is listed on Usana’s Schedule 14A Proxy Statement, filed on March 13, 2007, as having “served as a director of USANA since May 2000. Dr. Waitley has also served as a consultant to and a spokesperson for USANA since September 1996.” The Proxy also states, “Dr. Waitley received a B.S. from the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, an M.A. in Organizational Development from the Naval Post Graduate School in Monterrey, California, and a Ph.D. in Human Behavior from La Jolla University.”

The Fraud Discovery Institute, under the direction of Barry Minkow, contracted a licensed private investigator to assist in FDI’s inquiry into this apparent resume inconsistency. After contacting the Naval Post Graduate School, he writes: “When contacted by our investigators, a representative of the school was unable to locate any record that the search subject graduated with the stated degree, and as such, it would appear that this assertion is untrue,” the report says.

Regarding the Ph.D. from La Jolla University, the report also stated, “Finally, the subject is listed in the same government filings as having graduated with a Ph.D. from La Jolla University. No record of this school was found in our databases of current accredited institutions of higher-learning, and the school does not appear in the databases of the State of California Bureau for Private Post-Secondary & Vocational Education. Despite extensive database searches, no working telephone number was found for this school. Accordingly, it was not possible to verify that the search subject graduated with the stated degree from this institution.”

Somehow, these fictitious higher degrees found their way into numerous SEC filings, according to Usana, purely by accident.

Conspicuous by its absence in "The Secret" is any discussion of integrity. To have integrity is to be integral; to be whole. "The Secret" teaches exactly the opposite; advocating a system of splitting off or suppressing those parts of yourself that don't feel good. Is it any great surprise that one of its architects is mired in a fraud scandal? Not to me. Living a fraudulent, inauthentic life is the implicit message of "The Secret."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I wonder how many third world people would welcome "The Secret" as TRUTH?

I wonder, is the pie in the sky reductionist crap such as "The Secret" typical only of gourmand nations who still think that eternal happiness lies in MORE.