How These Celeb Gurus Disappointed Us All

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Celebrity gurus are people who claim to know the secrets to success in certain areas of life. Whether it's health, fitness, or just general motivation, these empowering figures have undoubtedly inspired huge numbers of followers to change their lives in meaningful ways. But these inspirational masters are, after all, just human. And they sometimes make mistakes like the rest of us, leading to scandal, and in some cases, criminal charges. Here are the times celeb gurus disappointed us all. 

Dr. Oz

When Oprah introduced Dr. Mehmet Oz in 2004, he seemed like the kind of doctor everyone would love to have. His thorough and empathetic approach to medicine resonated with viewers so much that Oprah gave him his own show in 2009. It took off like a rocket, but routinely relied on Oz's advocacy of alternative treatments, including taking natural supplements to treat everything from obesity to Alzheimer's.

Unfortunately, many of Oz's claims have been denounced as quackery, with one study even finding that 4 out of 10 claims made by the TV doc "appear to be made on the basis of no evidence at all," according to The LA Times. Then there are the dubious "experts" Oz has featured his show, like a member of the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH), an organization that advocates the junk science-backed practice of "reparative therapy," which claims to reverse homosexuality.

Oz's medical shadiness eventually landed him in front of the U.S. Senate where he was grilled about the many "miracle" cures and "quick fix" weight loss pills he's pushed over the years. Though Oz defended himself and the products he promoted, he eventually relented, saying "I'm in a position where I'm second-guessing every word I use on the show right now." His audiences probably did the same.  

Dr. Drew

While Dr. Drew Pinsky arguably blew up his credibility for good by getting involved with Teen Mom, he's incrementally chipped away at it over the years with a string of high profile goof-ups. He was introduced to the world as the trustworthy doc who doled out frank advice about love and sex alongside comedian and co-host, Adam Carrolla, on their popular radio show, Loveline. With that kind of a hip start, Dr. Drew was probably the last person anyone would have expected to become an alleged "shill" for the pharmaceutical industry. But that's what he'd allegedly been quietly doing on the side, as The Daily Beast points out, claiming Pinsky took money from various drug-makers and advocated their products with little to no transparency that he was doing so. While that's not a crime, it certainly cast a shadow on his straight-talking persona.

Then there was the time he pissed off stoners by saying weed is addictive, as well as his irresponsible conjecture about then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's supposed "brain injury." All of it adds up to Dr. Drew going from a once-beloved love and sex guru to just another headline-chasing media personality.

Tony Robbins

Tony Robbins is giant man who's had an equally huge impression on the millions of people he's helped over the years. His empire includes books, motivational seminars, and the ownership of multiple companies "which combined take in $5 billion annually," according to Vulture, but this self-help guru's reputation has come under fire — literally and figuratively.

In June 2016, CNN reported that 30 people were burned during a "fire walk" at Robbins' "Unleash the Power Within" seminar in Dallas. The exercise is designed to help seminar participants overcome their fears, but it ended up wounding dozens and sending five to the hospital. NBC reported that in 2012, another Robbins "fire walk" in San Jose resulted in 20 people sustaining "second-and third-degree burns." Robbins' camp basically shrugged off the reports, saying, "It's not uncommon to have fewer than 1% of participants experience 'hot spots,' which is similar to a sunburn that can be treated with aloe."

In May 2019, Robbins really began feeling the heat when BuzzFeed began publishing a scathing series or reports accusing the powerful life coach of "groping" women and "mistreating vulnerable followers." Robbins has vehemently denied the allegations leveled against him by at least nine former followers and staffers. The accusations include making unwanted advances, exposing himself, forcing people to drink a mysterious substance, and asking his body guards to "trawl audiences for attractive women."  

Bikram Choudhury

Bikram Choudhury is the yoga instructor who became a guru after the explosion in popularity of his eponymous form of hot yoga, which "consists of a series of 26 poses, done over 90 minutes in a room heated to 104 degrees," according to The LA Times. He has also become a celebrity darling, having instructed stars like "Madonna, George Clooney, Brooke Shields and Jennifer Aniston," according to People.

But in 2013, serious accusations of sexual misconduct were leveled against the yoga superstar. A total of six woman came forward and alleged offenses ranging from sexual harassment to rape. One of those women is Choudhury's former legal analyst, Minakshi Jafa-Bodden. She told The LA Times that after enduring her own harassment at the hands of Choudhury — including claims that he "asked her to join him in bed" and "used his hands to simulate oral sex and urinated in front of her — she began to investigate the claims of the other accusers, which led to her termination.

Jafa-Bodden successfully sued Choudhury in civil court, and was awarded a staggering nearly $7 million dollars in punitive and compensatory damages. The other accusers are still awaiting their own civil cases against Choudhury, who has maintained his innocence all along, yet still fled the country in the wake of the Jafa-Bodden judgement, leading to a warrant being issued for his arrest.

Deepak Chopra

For years, Deepak Chopra has advocated the merits of mediation and alternative medicine. He is an actual, accredited physician with ties to various organizations and institutions of note, like Harvard Medical School and the Accreditation Counsel for Continuing Medical Education. And while his claims regarding the merits of natural supplements, like a $35, 25-ounce bottle of fruit juice called Zrii can be debated to no end, it was only when he strayed into the realms of physics and evolutionary biology that scientists in those respective fields began ripping him to pieces.

After Chopra's claim that "Charles Darwin was wrong. Consciousness is key to evolution and we will soon prove that," scientist Steven Newton couldn't take it anymore. He penned a response slamming Chopra's claim as having no scientific basis to back it up, as well as being "incoherent babbling strewn with scientific terms."

Evolutionary biologist Jerry Coyne issued a similar takedown, by simply highlighting some of Chopra's more outlandish claims, including his idea that the moon only exists because of human consciousness, the suggestion that mass prayer or mediation has the ability to "simmer down the turbulence in nature," as well as the nonsensical statement "Consciousness is the driver of evolution. Every time you eat a chicken or a banana it transforms into a human." Coyne labels Chopra's ideas as "pseudoscience, pure and simple," and accuses him of "pushing a noxious brew of quantum physics, evolutionary biology, and "universal consciousness.'" Ouch. 

Kevin Trudeau

Kevin Trudeau earned untold millions through his "They Don't Want You To Know About" series of infomercials touting his supposed secret knowledge of natural cures, debt relief, and weight loss techniques. And though he earned the allegiance of many followers who believed his claims, a federal jury found him guilty of criminal contempt in 2013, for "lying in several infomercials about the contents of his hit book, The Weight Loss Cure 'They' Don't Want You to Know About," according to The Chicago Tribune. Trudeau repeatedly touted the methods in the book as "easy," except unwitting customers didn't find out until they plunked down cash that it involved "prolonged periods of extreme calorie restriction, off-label injections and high-colonic enemas," according to ABC News.  

In addition to the criminal conviction, Trudeau was also ordered by the FTC to pay a $37 million dollar fine in relation to fraud charges connected with the same book. Trudeau never payed the fine, claiming he was "penniless" and "homeless," despite the fact that he was living in a "14,000-square-foot rented mansion" and was still getting $180 haircuts at Vidal Sasson. He was eventually sentenced to 10 years in prison, which he began serving in March of 2014.  

The investigations into Trudeau revealed decades of various fraudulent schemes, most notably the creation of the Global Information Network (GIN), which he claims to have founded with "a secret council of 30 people – including anonymous billionaires, royals, high-level members of secret societies." Oh yeah, it just gets crazier and crazier with this guy. He didn't just disappoint. He turned out to be one of the biggest scam artists of all time. 

Bob Harper

Thanks to his role on The Biggest Loser, Bob Harper became a fitness guru virtually overnight. He's also become a superstar in the weight loss industry, having launched all sorts of products in his name, including cookbooks, motivational books, exercise programs, and even dietary supplements. And it's the latter of those that may have permanently etched an asterisk onto the previously unblemished perception of the well-liked trainer.

In connection with a damning study published by the National Institutes of Health, it was revealed that of 14 Biggest Loser contestants monitored, 13 of them end up gaining back almost all of the weight they lost. Speaking to The New York Post about the study, several former contestants and "sources close to the production" claim that part of the reason people can't keep the weight off after leaving is that trainers — they specifically mention Harper — provided them with "Adderall and "yellow jackets" — pills that contain ephedra extract" to accelerate results. Another contestant alleged that Harper encouraged her to vomit, saying, "Good, you'll lose more calories."

Dr. Rob Huizenga, the supervising physician on the show known as "Dr. H" denied both accusations. Harper never commented, and the parent network, NBC, trotted out the typical "The safety and well-being of our contestants is, and always has been, paramount," blah, blah... press release. Since the study and drug claims, Harper hasn't seen much fallout, though he did sadly suffer a heart attack in early 2017. The show, however, has been plagued with declining ratings, and calls for its cancellation

David 'Avocado' Wolfe

When he became the pitchman for NutriBullet, David "Avocado" Wolfe was already a highly successful entrepreneur in the raw diet world. Together with his business partner, Thor Bazler (yep), Wolfe started Nature's First Law, a company that sold organic foods and other products, which according to the Union Tribune, started profiting above the million dollar mark within 10 years of startup.

Wolfe went on to become a literal "raw food guru," traveling the world, delivering "evangelistic three-hour presentations" on the benefits of eating a completely raw diet. And that's all fine, even considering there's no scientific evidence to back up Wolfe's insistence that raw foods are more nutritious than cooked ones. The diet still has plenty of health benefits. Where Wolfe really veered into dangerous territory was when he started advocating other controversial pseudoscience, like supporting anti-vaccination, and encouraging cancer patients to choose holistic "cures" over proven medical treatments.

According to Forbes, Wolfe not only preaches pseudoscience, but he's also developed a range of products based on it, like his "'longevity zapper' electrical 'square wave healing device,' which purportedly fights infections and cancer cells alike while leaving 'negatively-charged healthy cells intact.'" It retails for $297. And perhaps more insidious than the sale of such products is the way Wolfe markets himself — largely via viral Facebook memes strategically watermarked with his name. Yes, he's that guy. And look, we're not here trying to step on anyone's beliefs. If you think goji berries are miracle fruit from heaven, by all means, eat them by the handful. But we can all agree that filling everyone's FB timeline with random inspirational quote memes is diabolical no matter what the true motivation.  

Dave Asprey

At the risk of sounding repetitive with yet another health guru peddling pseudoscience, we'll just say that Dave Asprey, the so-called "Bulletproof Executive," is at least unique in the fact that his alleged "biohacks" were all discovered through experiments on his own body. That's dedication. And while it's almost impossible to debunk Asprey's many self-experiments, due to the fact that they're incredibly obscure and wildly expensive to carry out, the claims he's made about his signature product, Bulletproof Coffee, have been thoroughly disproven.

According to Gizmodo, Bulletproof Coffee is Asprey's proprietary "Upgraded" coffee beans blended with two tablespoons of butter, and one tablespoon of MCT oil, which he dubiously claims "turns your body into a fat-burning machine," as well as improves "mental focus and brain power." There is no legitimate science to back any of that up. But perhaps Asprey's most outlandish claim, which he made to The New York Times, and sold millions of dollars worth of his "Upgraded" coffee beans on, is the notion that he developed a process to eliminate toxins from that beans that "make coffee taste bitter."

Except again according to Gizmodo, this is an issue the coffee industry has been onto for years, which is why they use "wet-processing," during which "the beans are washed, and nearly all mycotoxins are eliminated." So, there's no secret method here, just clever marketing. The bottom line is if you enjoy whipping a bunch of butter and oil into your coffee because it tastes great, have at it. Just don't be surprised when you don't magically turn into a svelte genius as a result of it.