Friday, March 27, 2015

#1328: John Assaraf

John Assaraf is, according to himself, a serial entrepreneur, brain researcher, and CEO of PraxisNow, a brain-research company that creates some of the most powerful evidence-based brain retraining tools and programs in the world. Sounds impressive? (no, he doesn’t provide any evidence – he has anecdotes, though; his target group probably won’t know the differece). Today, John researches, writes and lectures extensively around the world on the neuroscience of success and achieving maximum performance,” might lead you to suspect that scientific research isn’t really the main goal here. And it does not appear that Assaraf has any education even remotely related to neuroscience or consciousness studies. But he is sure interested in ”brain research, quantum physics, spiritual growth, health, exercise, travel, cooking, family, great food, friends and philanthropy.”

Did the word “quantum” just pop up in there? Oh, yes, it did. And now you probably have an idea about what kind of “neuroscience research” Assaraf promotes. Here is Assaraf on quantum physics: “They have proven that thoughts are what put together and hold together this ever-changing energy field into the ‘objects’ that we see,” says Assaraf. Our perceptions of objects in our environment are just interpretations “solely based on the ‘internal map’ of reality that we have, and not the real truth. Our ‘map’ is a result of our personal life’s collective experiences.” Change that map, and you can get rich: “Your life becomes what you have imagined and believed in most. The world is literally your mirror, enabling you to experience in the physical plane what you hold as your truth … until you change it.”

Yes, it’s the Law of Attraction, mixed with something resembling neurolinguistic programming. (And no, science has not shown what Assaraf thinks; his claims constitue an unsophisticated, bastardized form of Berkeley-style empiricism with conceptual schemes, with the incoherent thought that you can change your scheme at will; it’s not science, it’s badly misunderstood intro-level philosophy). You can nevertheless learn about it in his videos “Money2 The Neuroscience of Financial Success,” the sequel to “How to Earn $1 million.” Assaraf was even featured in the movie adaptation of The Secret. No, Assaraf’s interest in the science here isn’t particularly profound. But he does produce self-help books, of the most vapid, fluffy kind, backed up with vague tales of wonder and sheer woo.

Diagnosis: It’s really, really hard to believe that Assaraf is acting in good faith. But if he is … well, entrepeneurs may hail him as a success story, but his claims to care about science don’t even survive the most superficial scrutiny. Loon.

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