John Gray wants to change the world
August 24, 2000 11:34 AM   Subscribe

John Gray wants to change the world "But I have no interest in politics right now," he says. "The world is not ready for my messages. I've got a whole -- it has evolved. If you get me talking about it, which I won't do because it's too distracting, I have a whole agenda, a whole political party -- what to do about poverty, what to do about drug addiction, what to do about economics, what to do about welfare, what to do about health policies.
posted by john (17 comments total)
Ever since I saw him demonstrating yogic flying on Oprah, in the 80's, I have hated this guy.

He is one guy, spouting off. He has no education to back up his assertions. No studies, no testing of his (and I use the word loosely) theories, no...nothing.

All he has a PhD from a non accredited university (I have one too, from the same school-a gag gift from a long time ago) and his first book, Mars and Venus is based on his very bad divorce from that crackpot woman who sees Angels everywhere.

I hate this guy. I hate that people give his opinions any thought whatsover.
posted by kristin at 11:41 AM on August 24, 2000

Hey, now, now kristin, you're just not ready for him. I mean, HE is on a mission, to bring PEACE! Do you have that? I don't think so..... "p-s-y-a-a-i-c-c-hhhh!!!!" haha. No, j/k. Actually, I was reading, he comes off a bit like an art bell show, you know the feeling you get listening to that? I just wouldn't take anyone that has a las vegas show, that invents "revolutionary" diets, that writes three-step books seriously. I mean, comes on! Is he really capable of bringing peace between "war-ing" countries in his spare time?
posted by tiaka at 11:51 AM on August 24, 2000

He does illustrate quite thoroughly a "fevered ego."

It does point out that there are a lot of people unhappy in relationships out there. Maybe he has helped some people, but it seems like it's snowballing into an ugly monstrosity.
posted by john at 11:51 AM on August 24, 2000

I've never read any of his work. I really don't care to... honestly, I think he's probably in it just for the glory/money. I don't feel that he has much of an emotional stake in the whole schlameel.

But the thing that get's me is the tone of Kristin's comment. I don't know you, Kristin, and I may just be reading more into it than is really there... but since when does the value of an idea rest solely on the laurels of its promoter? How does his not having/or not having a PhD have *anything* to do with the (in)correctness of his "philosophy"?

(Pardon me while I shift into overdrive -- and on a tangient, no less!)

I grant that Gray lacks a certain logos, but his ideas need to be argued on their merits. Degrees, pedigrees, castes and income are just not valid measuring sticks for a person's ideas. Similarly the data you seek is not necessarily of value. I don't know. It just bothers me when people attack a person's ideas covertly. "No data... bad idea", "No degree... bad idea". It's a tactic that -- though effectual, at times -- really doesn't do any good. Society isn't any richer...

... but I digress. Sorry folks.
posted by silusGROK at 12:33 PM on August 24, 2000

Great, another gremlinny-looking creep selling snake-oily solutions to life's little unsolvable problems at $32.50 in hardcover a pop to millions at a time. Where do these people come from? Venus and Mars, I guess.

You know, things were so much easier in the middle ages; all those deeper-meaning malnourished-spirit type questions were easy to answer. One tyrannical all-knowing unforgiving god... that too was a kind of solution.

posted by chicobangs at 12:39 PM on August 24, 2000

"...the picture of comfort in Teva sandals and socks, khaki pants, a light shirt and jacket."

I don't know that any yahoo who would pair socks with sandals is qualified to dispense advice on much of anything, is he?
posted by dcehr at 12:40 PM on August 24, 2000

OMG I did not know this:

<< Gray was married for two years to Barbara DeAngelis, who is also a self-helper and relationship adviser. That marriage ended in divorce, but Gray took something from it.>>

Isn't that the chick who is a 'relationship' expert in those cheezy late nitght infomercials? That's funny they both pitch self-help books on TV now.
posted by chiXy at 12:41 PM on August 24, 2000

Vision, my problem with it is that he promotes himself as a therapist, but his only training in that area was to plunk down $200 for a PhD from an unaccredited university.

People like him drive me nuts - everyone is intitled to their opinion, but people who present themselves as experts in a field of knowledge, but have absolutely no formal training, education, or practical experience in that field have no right to present themselves as experts.

The PhD is he promotes himself as a relationship therapist. If I call myself a legal expert, but don't have a law degree, would you take legal advice from me?

No data is a very bad idea when you are playing psychologist. No data is a very, very bad idea when you pretend to be an expert in a field you don't know anything about. People get very badly hurt by guys like him...he takes advantage of people who are in pain, or need help, and that makes me angry.

posted by kristin at 1:16 PM on August 24, 2000

Vis10n, nowhere does it say you must have a degree to be a philosopher. But when your books proclaim in large letters that you are a PhD, it IS important to know just where and how that degree was obtained. While I agree that the strength of someone's philosophical points may have little to do with what kind of degree (if any) that person has, as soon as someone uses that title for gain, as a mark of quality, a critical eye is necessary.
posted by chaz at 1:27 PM on August 24, 2000

The "John Gray Phenomenon" suggests that the free market may not be the best mechanism for disseminating accurate health information. There have always been snake oil salesmen, but in a globalized, media-saturated world, their irrational influence expands quite dramatically.

I'm definitely not an expert on "relationship therapy", but in Psych 101 I remember covering the subject briefly and the name "John Gottman" came up a lot. Apparently he has his own pop psychology book, but there the comparison ends...

From Psychotherapist Resources:

"Walk into any bookstore in America --perhaps the world -- head for the psychology shelves, and there bound together until sales do them part are the two gurus of relationships, John Gottman and John Gray.

John Gottman virtually invented the science of observing behavior in relationships and can predict future happiness with scary accuracy from groans and grimaces we’re scarcely ever aware of. He’s a very prolific writer, but most of his work appears in the academic literature. A couple of years ago he penned a popular book, Why Marriages Succeed or Fail. It sells respectably.

Of course, nothing like the books by John Gray: at last count six million copies of Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus. Even his several other books -- his latest is Mars and Venus on a Date -- sell in the hundreds of thousands. Hey, why save a hot concept for married folks, or even adults? The Mars/Venus juggernaut is readying a kids’ version. We haven’t even talked about the audiotapes. A run on Broadway. Celebrity Line cruises. CD-ROMs. Seminars, and now the first franchise deal to hit psychotherapy. For a few thousand dollars, plus a yearly renewal fee, you too can buy the right to call yourself a Mars/Venus counseling center. You lack the professional credentials to practice? Don’t worry -- so does Gray. For somewhat less, anyone with a pulse and a purse can buy the right to lead Mars/Venus groups in the nabe.

John Gottman and John Gray, side by side. The placement invites -- no, commands -- a comparison of the two. How does their information and advice stack up? The short answer is that Gottman is the gold standard while Gray is the gold earner. Gottman creates top psychology, while Gray mines pop psychology: Even that he’s turned into "poop psychology," in the words of one Psychology Today reader. We’ve extracted the pith from their writing and sayings to compile a handy crib sheet. Judge for yourself...."

Gottman and Gray: The Two Johns -- humourous comparison chart
posted by johnb at 1:49 PM on August 24, 2000

This is a much better book on relationships which isn't trying to sell you a quick-fix pseudo-philosophy. And it was written by a bona fide academic and expert in the field. I've read it several times and found it to be quite inspiring.
posted by plaino at 2:02 PM on August 24, 2000

Kristin, Chaz...

Well, I did say that I hadn't read his books... but if he's setting himself up as something he's not, the YES! that is relevant. Extremely relevant... so I'm glad you mentioned it. I must admit though, that so much of the commentary in this thread is still in the vein of attacking his character (or complete lack thereof), rather than his ideas. Of course, maybe there is something to making certain generalizations to weed out the worst ...

At any rate, thanks for taking it all in good humor.
posted by silusGROK at 2:25 PM on August 24, 2000

When I first heard about John Gray, I thought he was a garden variety sexist kook. After reading this article, I think he's a raw ego with just enough of a skin to look human.

And I'm *really* sick of the "men are from mars" jokes on my name, thanks very much!

posted by Mars Saxman at 2:50 PM on August 24, 2000

From the CNN article:
[Gray] propose[s] the theory that, contrary to modern efforts to make men and women fly in the same orbit, the sexes are so different they might as well be from planets that are merely neighbors of Earth.
Sounds like an important theoretical distinction which would require a more sophisticated understanding of neuroanotomical and psychiatric dimorphism than I currently possess.
posted by sylloge at 3:10 PM on August 24, 2000

Is it just me, or does that photo of Gray from the article linked above remind anyone of Tim Robbins' character in High Fidelity? Just adds to the creepiness factor for me, although it makes John Cusack's imaginary assault in the record store a little more fun...
posted by raku at 4:59 PM on August 24, 2000

My book comes out next week:

"Men Don't Wear Bras, Women Have No Penis"

Send royalty cheques directly to me.

Let's face it, it's self-help books. The entire genre is publishing bunkum, and has been for centuries (I could quote you stuff from Daniel Defoe's 1715 Family Instructor which have plenty in common with Gray's books.)

Whatever. It just annoys me that he shares his name with a very well-respected British political analyst, who'll always be asked "are you the Mars and Venus guy?" Feh.
posted by holgate at 10:53 PM on August 24, 2000

People who don't have rockets and spaceships handy might try the more down to earth Kosher Sex.

posted by tamim at 3:20 AM on August 25, 2000

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