Essay

The 4-Hour Body: 60 Percent of The Time it Works Every Time!

By Duff McDuffee on December 15th, 2010 1

In his new book The 4-Hour Body, author of The 4-Hour Workweek Tim Ferriss makes the giant leap from get-rich-quick guru to extreme fad diet guru. As you can see from the above graphic describing his book’s principles, taken from the book trailer, something doesn’t quite add up here.

Ferriss original book took the idea of leverage from The Pareto Principle (the 80/20 rule) to extremes. The original notion is that 20% of one’s efforts (e.g. customers) lead to 80% of one’s results (e.g. revenue). Ferriss’ version was that you should be utterly ruthless and hyper-competitive in order to create your own small business that gives you the free time to brag about how much free time you have while endlessly promoting yourself. This book launched the entire “lifestyle design” cottage blog industry (Ferriss himself coined the phrase). But in the NEW! and IMPROVED! The 4-Hour Body, Mr. Ferriss claims that one can do oh so much more with oh so much less (and leaving 2.5% mysteriously unaccounted for to boot).

This is a long post. Here’s the tl;dr version: Tim Ferriss is a fraud*. But you already knew that, didn’t you. *sigh* Such is the foolishness of critiquing such figures.

So what exactly can one do to hack one’s body into superhero levels of fitness in an instant with Ferriss’ magic bullet secret information never before released to the drooling, gullible public? Here is a summary taken directly from the Amazon product page (with my snarky comments in red):

Thinner, bigger, faster, stronger… which 150 pages will you read? None, thank you. And don’t thinner and bigger cancel each other out?

Is it possible to:
Reach your genetic potential in 6 months?
Uh, no. But appealing to laziness sells scammy books, doesn’t it.
Sleep 2 hours per day and perform better than on 8 hours?
Sounds really dangerous. But snort a little Adderall and you’ll have no problem finishing that paper.
Lose more fat than a marathoner by bingeing?
Ah, better living through gluttony. Also, long slow distance running is probably the worst exercise method to lose fat.

Indeed, and much more. This is not just another diet and fitness book. This is not another totally transparent con. Tim Ferriss is not a fraud. Do not pay any attention to the man behind the curtain.

The 4-Hour Body is the result of an obsessive quest, spanning more than a decade, to hack the human body. It contains the collective wisdom of hundreds of elite athletes, dozens of MDs, and thousands of hours of jaw-dropping personal experimentation. Can any of this be independently verified? From Olympic training centers to black-market laboratories, from Silicon Valley to South Africa, Tim Ferriss, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The 4-Hour Workweek, fixated on one life-changing question:

For all things physical, what are the tiniest changes that produce the biggest results?
Atomic energy, probably. You’re not gonna go “quantum” on me, are you?

Thousands of tests later, this book contains the answers for both men and women.

From the gym to the bedroom, it’s all here, and it all works.


YOU WILL LEARN (in less than 30 minutes each):
How to lose those last 5-10 pounds (or 100+ pounds) with odd combinations of food and safe chemical cocktails. *NOTE: Results not typical. These claims have not been tested by the FDA and are not intended to cure or prevent any disease. These methods are also probably stupid and dangerous.

* How to prevent fat gain while bingeing (X-mas, holidays, weekends) What ever happened to moderation?
* How to increase fat-loss 300% with a few bags of ice Magic fat-melting ice!
* How Tim gained 34 pounds of muscle in 28 days, without steroids, and in four hours of total gym time You mean steroids?
* How to sleep 2 hours per day and feel fully rested First off—why? Second—lack of sleep can cause brain damage and memory loss while simultaneously making you more likely to cause a deadly traffic accident.
* How to produce 15-minute female orgasms Here is some evidence from brain research suggesting bigger and more frequent orgasms lead to dopamine crashes for up to several weeks not to mention increased likelihood of infidelity.
* How to triple testosterone and double sperm count That’s easy: watch Conan the Barbarian over and over.
* How to go from running 5 kilometers to 50 kilometers in 12 weeks That’s just asking for a permanent injury.
* How to reverse “permanent” injuries You’ll need that tip after multiplying your running volume by 10x in 12 weeks and…
* How to add 150+ pounds to your lifts in 6 months Good luck with those totally destroyed joints.
* How to pay for a beach vacation with one hospital visit Is that from the hernia because of too heavy weight lifting? And what exactly are you proposing here—insurance fraud?

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.  There are more than 50 topics covered, all with real-world experiments, many including more than 200 test subjects.

You don’t need better genetics or more discipline. You need immediate results that compel you to continue. Ah, I’m glad I don’t need virtue to achieve my narcissistic desires, just magic bullet shortcuts. I just knew TV was right and mom was wrong!

That’s exactly what The 4-Hour Body delivers.

About the Author

TIMOTHY FERRISS, nominated as one of Fast Company’s “Most Innovative Business People of 2007,” is author of the #1 New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and BusinessWeek bestseller, The 4-Hour Workweek, which has been published in 35 languages.

Wired magazine has called Tim “The Superman of Silicon Valley” for his manipulation of the human body. He is a tango world record holder, former national kickboxing champion (Sanshou), guest lecturer at Princeton University, and faculty member at Singularity University, based at NASA Ames Research Center. I’ve got some things to say about these “qualifications” below….

When not acting as a human guinea pig, Tim enjoys speaking to organizations ranging from Nike to the Harvard School of Public Health.

If it Looks Too Good to Be True…

I’m sorry to be a sourpus and all, but some things aren’t possible, and other things really aren’t advisable. Many amazing things are indeed possible for human beings to learn and develop, but almost all of them require enormously focused efforts over long periods of time, cultivating such boring old virtues like patience and persistence (but who wants THAT stuff?).

Speaking of stuff, once upon a time, Tim Ferriss promoted a product advertised on television infomercials called “Super Blue Stuff”:

In 2002, 6 years before this testimonial was uploaded to YouTube, the FTC fined Blue Stuff, Inc. for $3m for false advertising in making claims to cure chronic pain on its infomercials. From an ABC investigation of Super Blue Stuff:

DOCTOR DANIEL FURST, UCLA SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: If it had any real data behind it, we would have heard about, and we certainly have not.

HUNTER: (Voice Over Tape) Dr. Furst says, if some consumers are getting some relief, that may be because Blue Stuff contains ingredients like menthol, which are known to be effective for minor aches and pains and which are commonly available in many over the counter remedies. But those looking for a miracle cure for severe pain may well be in for a cruel surprise.

FURST: Testimonials carry a lot of weight to the person, but they have absolutely no scientific validity in and of themselves. Everybody may feel better for one reason or another, but it may have nothing to do with the substance that they’re talking about.

How to Kick Ass By Picking On Guys Half Your Size

In his first book, Tim Ferriss, “Kick Boxing Champion,” openly brags about how he won his kickboxing match through what basically amounts to cheating while barely remaining within the rules. Most fighters cut some weight in order to not have to fight against opponents much larger than themselves if they are straddling two weight classes. But Ferriss, using a radical dehydration technique, cut so much weight for the weigh-in and then re-hydrated again that he was much bigger and heavier than his opponents. He then won on a technicality by pushing his much smaller opponents out of the ring. He never technically did any kickboxing at all, more like shoving.

Many people associate the martial arts with cultivating virtues like discipline, mental focus, with diligent practice. Picking on guys half your size makes you a bully, not a champ. Ferriss is no champion of kickboxing—he is a champion of cutting corners, of grandiosity, and of deception.

Ferriss elsewhere gives his strategy for becoming a “guest lecturer” at an Ivy League college: rent out a room and hold a talk on campus. You’ve technically lectured on the campus grounds now. No, you weren’t actually invited by the University nor endorsed in any way whatsoever, but technically you’re being honest, right? By the way, did you know I’m the world’s best personal development blogger? I just held a select international competition and declared myself winner, so technically it’s true. No, you don’t get to vote—sorry, those are the rules!

My Virtual Assistants Absolutely LOVE My Book!

Some people suspect or imply that Ferriss may have hired his army of third-world virtual assistants to post 5-star reviews of The 4-Hour Workweek which suspiciously has 1000’s of reviews, most short and 5 stars. A 1-star review on Amazon also suspects foul play:

1.0 out of 5 stars Are the reviews being gamed …?, April 2, 2010
By R
This review is from: The 4-Hour Workweek, Expanded and Updated: Expanded and Updated, With Over 100 New Pages of Cutting-Edge Content. (Hardcover)

Too many of the five star reviews are by people who have only written one review ever … which happens to be for this book. I would guess 50% of the 5 star are that way. Seems strange. I have no evidence obviously – this is simply an observation.

In fact I am sympathetic to the material … not 5 star quality … but saying something important by saying that you must know who you are, what you want and learn to focus – and do it with some ease, poise and grace. Doing so will help you be the best you can be. No problems there.

Popular blogger Penelope Trunk was receiving enthusiastic comment spam promoting Ferriss’ first book when she confronted him about it. He denied any involvement, but upon further insistence from Trunk later replied that he’d “make sure there were no more comments like that” on her blog. Ms. Trunk also reports that Ferriss pulled a bait-and-switch tactic when he first met her at SXSW in order to promote his book, and implies that in her opinion, he is “full of shit” and self-centered. Was Ferriss paying his VA’s to comment on Trunk’s and possibly other peoples’ blogs? It may not be illegal to do so, but it sure isn’t above the board either.

For his most recent book promotion, Ferriss held a contest to artificially inflate sales of his book in order to jump to #1 on Amazon and get on the NY Times Bestseller list and thus be famous for being famous, a tactic also used by the Kardashian sisters.

One of Ferriss’ claims that supports his new book is that he supposedly gained 34 lbs in 28 days. Some experienced bodybuilders on the Bodybuilding.com forums find this claim to be extremely unlikely if not outright fraud. Other experienced bodybuilders were equally skeptical. On his original BodyBuilding.com article, Ferriss claims:

Before and after measurements, including underwater hydrostatic weighings, were taken by Dr. Peggy Plato at the Human Performance Laboratory at the San Jose State University. Though this ridiculous experiment might seem unhealthy, I also managed other health goals without the use of statins (see the pre-bed supplementation). No joke.

Here are a few comparative shots. Oh, and I forgot to mention, all of this was done with two 30-minute workouts per week, for a total of 8 HOURS of gym time.

Later on his blog, he revised his claim to only 4 hours of gym time, hence the “4-hour body.” Was his math just wrong the first time (2 workouts x :30 x 4 weeks = 4 hours not 8 hours), or is he having trouble keeping his story straight?

Meanwhile, Dr. Peggy Plato says he used her name without permission and she cannot verify his results.

This is the response that I have sent to people who have seen Tim Ferris’ website or blog and have contacted me:

I don’t know anything about Tim Ferris’s exercise regime. He came through our Sport and Fitness Evaluation Program for some testing a number of years ago. He did not provide any information about his purpose. In fact, I only found out that he put my name on his website after receiving an inquiry from someone who had seen the website and asked if I could confirm his results. I cannot — he signed a consent form that states that individual results will not be disclosed. Although he contacted me about being retested, I am not willing to do that because he is apparently using my name and San Jose State University for his commercial purposes, without asking for permission or notifying me of this.

Peggy Plato

Note also that one of the supplements Ferriss used in his alleged transformation was Ferriss’ own BrainQuicken BodyQUICK, which is advertised at the bottom of the article.

YouTube-famous bodybuilder “Scooby” debunks such claims of rapid muscle gain and says most post-pubescent individuals can expect to gain 5-10 lbs of muscle per year at best, unless they have superior genetics (in which case slightly more) or are using steroids. Scooby does not sell any products and all his videos are free (he has only 3 or 4 affiliate links that I can find on his site and discloses that they are affiliate links). Personally I’m more inclined to believe the soft-spoken Scooby on this one. Others claim that one can gain more muscle than that, but only if you had it in the past due to a phenomenon bodybuilders call “muscle memory.” Here’s how one person responded to Ferriss’ claims:

I’m surprised no one caught this yet.

Can you gain 34lbs of muscle in 4 weeks? No!

Can you regain 34lbs of muscle in 4 weeks? Yes!

This dude used to have that muscle, lost it and gained it back.

Casey Viator did something similar when he worked with Arthur Jones. He went through a period of time “detraining” prior to his stint with Jones and Nautilus.

Then just like magic he gained several pounds of muscle quickly. When in reality all he did was regain the muscle. And as everyone knows regaining is pretty easy, especially if it’s done immediately after losing it.

In other words, Ferriss might have technically gained 34lbs in 28 days but nobody can confirm this, and he may have been regaining lost muscle not gaining new muscle. As we’ve seen already, the “shoving people much smaller than him” champion doesn’t seem to above such borderline fraudlent tactics.

“Lifestyle Design” and The 4-Hour Con

One of the premises of the 4-Hour Workweek is Ferriss’ claim to have gone from $40k per year to $40k per month with his BrainQuicken LLC supplement company. According to Stephen Barrett, an industry watchdog, dietary supplements are a largely unregulated industry and have been a consistent source of consumer fraud that the FDA can do little if anything about. Reviews of BrainQuicken (also branded as BodyQuick) are not particularly favorable either (emphasis mine):

BrainQuicken is a health supplement manufactured by the company of the same name. The same product is also sold under the brand name BodyQuick. BrainQuicken was founded by productivity guru Tim Ferriss, but he has since sold the company. BrainQuicken (aka BodyQuick) claims to improve study skills, memory, athletic performance and as a safe stimulant. The claims made by the manufacturer are not supported with any scientific data however. The official website frequently mentions a 60-day, 110% money-back guarantee, yet when this option is investigated the website says this offer is “on hold”, and the product is only available from online retailers. Thus, there seems to be no real money-back guarantee or free trials of this product available.

The official website of BrainQuicken reads like a television informercial, with dozens of testimonials from people from all professions. In addition to improving cognitive function, BrainQuicken also claims to aid in strength training, improving reaction speed and circulation, and in hang-over prevention.

But Wait, There’s More!

Some suspect that Ferriss may have made fraudulent or misleading claims about his income from BrainQUICKEN that he stated in The 4-Hour Workweek. Once again, the math doesn’t add up. A devotee of Ferriss’ methods attempted to copy Ferriss’ supplement business for his lifestyle design project and found that his market research showed the numbers Ferriss claimed didn’t match up with the business and market realities:

Do the math yourself, and anyone can quickly see that BrainQUICKEN does not generate anywhere near that income.

As it is written it is straightforward, but it does lead people to believe that Tim made 40k in income every month from BQ. Even a cursory view of easily verifiable numbers shows that this can’t have come from BQ (not to mention zero spending on google ads).

I also researched the heck out of the business model in developing GameBRAIN. That is when the cracks in Tim’s muse story came from. They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but after imitating BQ to a certain extent, it was like an onion. Lots of good layers to dig through, only to find a few rotten ones.

This wouldn’t be the first time a get-rich-quick guru made a false income claim in order to sell a get-rich-quick product based around his fake success. The Salty Droid caught get-rich-quick internet marketer Irwin “Frank” Kern admitting on video to that very thing. Kern says in this video that he didn’t make a dime before his first venture made money (which was later determined an illegal pyramid scheme by the FTC and Kern was sued for every last penny of his profits), yet his first venture claimed he had made $115,467.21 the year prior. From one of the slides on the video:

Was Ferriss’ first “muse” business—a business that pays you enough to live off in just 4 or less hours a week—actually his book deal, the book that supposedly contained the secrets to his already achieved success?

Maybe he really did gain 34 lbs in 28 days through some miracle supplementation and working smarter, not harder. Or maybe…just maybe…he fudged a bit. Maybe he doctored the photos up a bit, or used a radical dehydration technique to lose a lot of weight and then quickly put it back on, or otherwise cut corners in order to make it appear as if he had done something more amazing than he actually did. After all, we’re talking about Mr. Ruthless, Mr. Win by Technicality, a man willing to take advantage by any means possible—even if it bends the rules, or the truth—as long as it gets the results he’s looking for in the end. I have no doubt that Tim Ferriss has lifted weights and tried supplements, but this information does raise serious doubts that he has achieved the things he claims to have achieved—the very things that form the basis for his books and his fame.

What Color is Your Lifehacking Hat?

Tim Ferriss is certainly a lifehacker, in the sense of a kid who always plays video games with cheat codes, content to win without putting in the real effort of skill acquisition, lacking patience and persistence and an ability to play fair with others. This is “black hat” or at the very least gray hat lifehacking: self-absorbed, anti-social, and ruthless.

There are also white hat lifehackers. Like the kids who took apart their parent’s 486 PCs just to see how they worked, white hat lifehackers are curious, inventive, follow their interests wherever they go, and are often willing to lend a hand just because they want to share their knowledge with others. White hat lifehackers are curious about what they can do with their lives just to see what’s possible and how things work, not necessarily to achieve anything or to win at some game of money or fame. They push the buttons of their minds just to see what they do, filled with a childlike wonder and curiosity. Inquiry and invention—for its own sake—is more important than “success.”

We are all a mix of both good and bad motivations, but what we choose to cultivate makes a big difference in the long run.

No doubt Ferriss will ignore this blog post, as he has already been criticized many times by others and has posted his policy on dealing with “haters” on his blog (note the attempt at garnering search engine traffic for the “tim ferriss scam” keyword phrase in his blog post title). Unlike Bill “Push-Button Zen” Harris, Ferriss is much more PR savvy and understands that fighting legit criticism is bad for business, so he simply ignores it.

By the way, one of Ferriss’ friends is a guy named Tucker Max. Max is famous for being a psychopathic drug-using womanizer and telling the internet about his sexual conquests in detail, then being sued by one of the women he manipulated and wrote about (he had posted her real name in his online stories). Max used this lawsuit as a way to get more publicity, which got his book onto the NY Times Bestseller list. Ferriss cites Max as a marketing genius for his kissing (or rather manipulating) and telling.

Tim Ferriss isn’t the only one with a principle. I’ve got a principle too—it’s called the Dunning-Kruger effect. And it explains a lot:

“One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid, and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision.” ~Bertrand Russell

“The best lack all conviction, while the worst / Are full of passionate intensity.” ~W.B. Yeats

*Note to Ferriss and his lawyers: I can neither confirm nor deny any of the specific factual claims made by or against Timothy Ferriss by others that I have quoted or linked to in this article. I am presenting this information merely for educational and entertainment purposes. However, it is my opinion that Timothy Ferriss is a fraud and his books are a scam and it is well within my legal rights to express this publicly on my blog as these are not factually verifiable claims and therefore constitute protected free speech. My intent is not to harm but solely to provide consumer protection from frauds in the personal development industry so that we can advance our field, as well as provide entertainment to my blog readership.

UPDATE 1/14/2011: Haters, please read the addendum before commenting.

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197 responses to “The 4-Hour Body: 60 Percent of The Time it Works Every Time!”

  1. Dean Ouellette says:

    complete hatchet job, read the freaking book next time before you attack you moron

  2. Eric Normand says:

    Tim Ferris, buzz machine.

    He hypes protocols/exercises that he claims give huge results, but he uses people who have been working their ass off for years as proof of the technique's effectiveness. It's good marketing and bad science.

    The problem is, I tend to agree with Tim that scientific studies and common knowledge are not enough to determine the best diet or the best workout plan. The current focus on "cardio" is the perfect example. You need to experiment on yourself and look outside the normal circles. But "superhuman"? Sorry. I don't buy it.

    I bet we never see an olympic athlete who claims to have started from nothing, found TIm's book, then skyrocketed to world-class athlete. Anybody who does will have a history of athletics behind them, just like Tim has been working out for years.

    Of course, he'll get thousands of people to buy his book. A few will get some benefit, and he'll get them to make videos and he'll post them on his site. Just wait. How many people will get no or slight benefit?

    The trouble is, Tim sounds like a reasonable person in interviews. Well-spoken, hedges his claims, etc. But the marketing is over the top! Here's a hype-free description of the book: "A collection of tips Tim has collected for improving his physical performance. Some of the tips have been verified by others."
    My recent post Buddhism and the Eight-Circuit Model of Consciousness

  3. Ruth says:

    Wow. I have found Ferris's 4 hour work week irritating for years. Not because I'm opposed to the most basic ideas, but because of the principles or lack-thereof Ferris displays. I couldn't believe this book wasn't a joke…but sure enough it's on Amazon, etc. Thanks for the snark/dissection.
    My recent post Thoughts One Year After Donating Bone Marrow Stem Cells

  4. Mike says:

    Wow – what a post. You do realize that if you add about 50 more words, slap a cover on it – you have a book? 🙂

    Great research – It's fairly obvious that some of the stuff Tim says is garbage, but it's nice to see some evidence. The whole ethics thing is another story all together.

    BTW – I found this site because of your lifestyle blogger post – brilliant.
    My recent post Bloggers – Just Ignore The Blog Rankers – Use Your Own Metrics

  5. Oliver says:

    Dunning-Kruger effect! I've been looking for the right term for the phenomenon where idiots signal competency vs. smart people signal weakness for a long time. Thanks!

  6. The amount of time you spent compiling Tim Ferriss lameness is amazing. Great post. I learned so much 🙂

    Penelope

  7. @32000days says:

    I think I'll read the book at the public library and take notes of anything useful, so as to optimize my usage of money and time. 80 / 20 and all that. I figure I'll get 80 percent of the useful value of the book, with 20 percent of the time invested reading.

    I'll spend the time saved giving women 15 minute orgasms. For science.

    Lifeh4xzs FTW! 😉

  8. So apparently the "How to produce 15-minute female orgasms" is not in fact an orgasm that lasts for 15 minutes but an orgasm that comes about after 15 minutes of sexual activity: http://www.amazon.com/review/R26KZJ7W4Q6GBL/

    15 minute orgasms (or longer) are indeed possible and there are many other books that will teach one to achieve such states. Personally I'm more of a Buddhist on this subject and are much more interested in achieving that state which is beyond both pleasure and pain, for both are impermanent (and often the higher you go, the lower you crash).

  9. Steve says:

    The amount of dubious reviews on amazon for this book are amazing. maybe he could learn some life hacking tips on how to disguise the reviews so that they look like they were written by people that have no connection to him?

    Steve pavlina also claims that he only needs 2 hours of sleep.
    Given that they also claim to never procrastinate, always be focussed, why don't they achieve anything more than writing dodgy self-help books?

  10. Naomi Niles says:

    Thanks for this. Interesting.

    I never read 4HWW even though several people told me I "must". I don't know why exactly, but I suppose all the hype rubbed me the wrong way.

    I also don't have plans to read the new book although I know it mentions the Paleo diet, which I've followed pretty astutely for several years because it works for me. For that subject though, I consider Mark Sisson the most credible source.

    Also, the book cover and ad design crowdsourcing contests pissed me off. If devaluing a profession's work that way is also detailed similarly in 4HWW, I'm even more glad I didn't buy or read it.
    My recent post How to measure your newsletter subscriber conversion rate

    • Mark Sisson does seem to be a credible expert on all things Paleo. Personally I think there is a lot of benefit to the Paleo diet but find the more extreme anti-grain views that sometimes crop up unnecessary and untenable.

      I didn't realize he had "crowdsourced" the design work. Designers get screwed so often from stuff like that.

      • Duff,

        You "find the more extreme anti-grain views that sometimes crop up unnecessary and untenable." We should really have it out on this sometime, man … though probably not here.

        As far as Ferriss goes, he's a fun diversion at best. I followed quite a bit of the whole, "I gained 34 pounds of muscle in a month," stunt when he was writing about it on his blog. He actually used some methods that have sound science behind them, and they have worked for me during various training cycles since. Still, won't be buying this book. The 15-minute orgasm thing really cracks me up.

        I'd be interested, though, to know more about the notion of muscle being easier regain than gain in the first place. I wonder what physiological principles are at play there.

        Also relevant to this discussion is the book my friend and collaborator at myCreativeEvolution.com Matt Krepps just finished falling all over himself to read: On Being Certain: Believing You Are Right Even When You're Not. It seems we're wired to be overconfident in what we think we know.

    • @tmaluchnik says:

      Mark Sisson has actually been looked at as "scammy." Mainly through his EXTREMELY overpriced supplement line. $79 for 30 servings of "Primal Fuel" protein?

      I agree with Duff that I mainly hate the cult like anti-grain Paleo crowd. Alan Aragon has some really good info on refuting the claims of the Paleo diet in his research review. But, if it works for you then why change?

      I think Robb Wolf is a pretty credible Paleo preacher.

      • Hahaha–primal protein powder! That's just hilarious. 🙂 I'm sure paleolithic man blended up some primal fuel in his cave before doing some club swinging!

        Reminds me of how much people spend on minimalism, or all the equipment people invest in to perform "barefoot running." Oh how the wheels of Capitalism love a consumerist ideology.

  11. Jacq @ SMRM says:

    Glad you put the linkie links to good use. I had a feeling / was hoping this post would be coming up. T-Nation is doing an interview with Ferriss soon and the discussions of the book on the BB forums are already interesting. I was a little surprised that Ramit Sethi did a promo for the book on his blog and the comments were quite harsh. People are losing their tolerance for the carnival barker school of marketing I think.

    An aside – although even carnival guys can write a good book – P.T. Barnum's "The Humbugs of the World – An Account of Humbugs, Delusions, Impositions, Quackeries, Deceits and Deceivers Generally, in All Ages" is a great read – from the book:

    "…if we could have a full exposure of “the tricks of trade” of all sorts, of humbugs and deceivers of past times, religious, political, financial, scientific, quackish and so forth, we might perhaps look for a somewhat wiser generation to follow us. I shall be well satisfied if I can do something towards so good a purpose.. "

    Had a look at the TOC. I'll likely get the book out of the library in a few months or peruse it next time I'm in a bookstore. I'm very familiar with HIT and Paleo and there wasn't a whole lot in the rest of the book that I really want or need to know about so I won't be buying it. Besides, I think the 4HWW was one of the very few non-fiction books I've read in the last few years that I couldn't force myself to finish.

    Just curious for anyone who does read it – is there a hair loss hack in the book?

    • Yea, I think the internet is getting more savvy to the manipulations. I haven't investigated Sethi—last time I checked his blog (years ago) he was giving reasonable sounding financial advice. I'll go check out his blog post though.

      That Barnum book sounds good for a few laughs!

      I'm also already familiar with HIT and Paleo—doesn't sound like anything new here except exaggerated claims.

      The best hair loss hack I know of is to shave your head entirely (assuming a nicely shaped skull that is).

      • Jacq @ SMRM says:

        Am I the only one here who wants to try it out for the month of January just to prove it's BS???
        Re. the hair loss, I guess that's why Tim's shaving it down now.

        • Try what out–the HIT protocol Ferriss says put 34 lbs of muscle on in 28 days? Nah, a million syncophant bloggers are about to do it for me.

          • I haven't read the book, Duff, but if he's saying the same stuff there that he was putting on his blog about muscle gain a year or two back, it isn't HIT. He actually was lifting heavily with relatively low reps, using mostly olympic lifts. It's about the most proven thing to work for strict hypertrophy (muscle gain). I don't remember him talking about fat loss, just the muscle gain part of the equation, and of course, since I haven't read it I can't speak for what's in the book.

          • I thought it was HIT, but I may be mistaken. The bodybuilding threads I linked to had others who know more about weight lifting than I claiming it was a HIT protocol. Certainly seems high intensity to me, although I understand the original HIT protocol was done with Nautilus machines, not Olympic lifts.

            I have no doubt that an extremely intense protocol like that would lead to hypertrophy, but I seriously doubt it lead to 34 lbs of muscle gain unless this was recouping old muscle or Ferriss pulled some other stunt like radical dehydration.

    • Looks like the commenters at Mr. Sethi's blog are an intelligent bunch! Most are highly critical:
      http://www.iwillteachyoutoberich.com/blog/the-fou

      Sethi on the other hand seems mired in aggressive positivity:

      Ramit Sethi December 15, 2010 at 3:36 pm

      Everyone look at some of the negative reactions on this comment thread.

      According to the skeptical people, it’s a “bad infomercial” and “gimmicky” and it “doesn’t impress [him].”

      Anyone else find it interesting that some people have SUCH strong reactions to this…without ever reading the book? Strong enough to prevent them from spending like $10-$15 to see if it’s for real? (Or even reading it in a library for free.)

      Why might people be SO resistant to the ideas in this book?

      When you can answer that, you will be able to explain a lot about people’s behavior. And it is surprisingly subtle.

      • Jacq @ SMRM says:

        I thought you'd like it – Barry's comments rocked. I am impressed that Sethi left them up though.
        Love that last sentence. Implication being "I am a master of psychology and you are all simpletons" ???
        Let me teach you children… even though I'm like 25 and my resume consists mostly of professional blogger. Ah well, I get a kick out of his blog and writing style though. I don't learn anything since I've usually read the source data long before he gets to it (like I've read a lot of Tim's source data) but it's probably new to people who don't read books or studies.

    • Here's another great comment–in fact he basically said everything I did, but briefer: http://www.iwillteachyoutoberich.com/blog/the-fou

      (I'd post it here but it doesn't fit into Intense Debate's character limit.)

  12. SeanMMasters says:

    I can't jump on the hate-train here specifically with regards to weight loss (I'm sure I could poke holes in other parts of the discussion, like others, but not this one).

    Loads of members on Bodybuilding.com have used what Ferriss refers to as "Slo-Carb" (i.e. ruffage + beans + meat, he just gave it a name) or CKD (or both) to lose tons of weight. I personally lost 40lbs in 2 months of CKD (went from 270 to 230), and another 10 the 3rd month where I took a break from CKD and focused on portion control instead of menu limiting. That's just my own data, meanwhile I've talked with all sorts of members on the same site and have heard nothing but praise for CKD. 60lbs in 3 months, 100lbs in a year, etc.

    I've switchd to Slo-Carb for this next 2-3 month period – I like switching things up to find what works "best" (I assume CKD will be my holy grail and I'll wind up going back to it) and have already lost 3lbs in as many days. I expect that I will lose 20lbs in 2 months. Less than Ferriss may claim for some, but I also know I'm carb-sensitive (even when those carbs are legumes) so I can't expect the same results I got from CKD.

    Oh and on CKD I was absolutely "binging". I was stuffing my face with steak, bacon, chicken, at one point I was literally doing shots of organic ranch dressing just to up my fat intake. Still lost 40lbs in 2 months. There's loads of science behind it, and it's far from fad dieting.

  13. Duff, just discovered BeyondGrowth tonight. Love it! (And that coming from a guy who's been an inspirational speaker for 18 years).

    To your point, last year I followed Ferris Weight Gain plain EXACTLY as described, with the aid of a trainer). I worked my ASS off following it, because the HIT was a bitch!! And the Large Amount of Eating (which is required to keep up with Ferriss' eating guidelines was honestly even harder. I systematically under eat). Any how, I' started the experiment about a 135 pounds… I finished 5 pds heavier. Anyone interested can read about it here (there's a start of the experiement post and a finishing post if you look):
    http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=12230569

    Thanks for the great service you guys are providing for the personal development field. I love it.

    My recent post Livestreaming- tonight at 8-30 pm PST

    • Glad you enjoyed the post, Patrick!

      I've done similar hypertrophy protocols with weights before too. I mostly felt bloated, sore, and tired all the time and lost energy. I also hurt my shoulder doing heavy bench presses. I did gain 15 lbs (at least 5lbs was water weight from taking creatine) in 10 weeks (no fat increase), but it wasn't worth it. Really I had no business lifting heavy weights as I wasn't in good condition to begin with.

      Since then I've found bodyweight exercises and yoga have built that 10 lbs of muscle back but with much better conditioning and therefore much more energy, not to mention range of motion and flexibility. I'm also looking into Clubbells as they seem much smarter to me than conventional weight lifting.

      That said, the point of this post wasn't that Ferriss is totally lying, but that he is chronically deceptive. Sure, going on an extremely intense HIT or other bodybuilding hypertrophy program can work, but not 34lbs in 28 days (at least for 99% of the population). It's also pretty unsustainable. If you want to lift weights, better to pick a sensible periodized plan like Shawn Phillips' Strength for Life.

  14. Jacq @ SMRM says:

    Here's the Dragon Door forum commentary with a post from Tim himself (#33): http://kbforum.dragondoor.com/kettlebells-strengt

  15. Timmy boy is only giving people what they want. SOMETHING FOR NOTHING. America is becoming a land of delusional souls. You would have thought the whole credit bubble would have taught the great masses of stupidity- guess not.

    I think Ferris is a genius if he can get stupid people to buy his book. Of course he won’t sell any copies to me and my friends, but that’s most likely not his target market (people who have an iq over 10. Gotta go now, I have my 10 minute workout to do where I burn 2,000 calories.

    Donovan Moore
    Madison, WI

  16. As one person who read the book and has used its principles, I have created a great business, that is legit, with a needed product. All for under $10 total investment to start it.

    If it were not for Tim and the Four Hour Work Week I wouldn't have had the confidence or knowledge to do what I did.

    I do agree that there is a large chunk of the population that wants something for nothing and unfortunately they don't seem to get that it takes hard work to accomplish most things in life worth doing.

    I have yet to read the new book, but I do know from my own experience with weigh lifting and training that there are many ways to increase the effectiveness of your workout. Sometimes, just a relatively small tweak to your diet can have dramatic effects on your physique when combined with your workout.

    Keep up the great work on this site.
    My recent post Website Hosting

    • Hi David. Glad you have had success in business.

      Manipulative, deceptive individuals who lack any virtues like Mr. Ferriss often do have some really insightful things to say from time to time. But they also tend to cut corners, misrepresent themselves, and teach others how to do the same.

      • Landon says:

        Tim does give a disclaimer in the beginning of the 4HB for everyone to do their own homework and that he most definitely got a few things wrong. I respect that.

        His income claims state that he went from 40k a yr to 40k a month. It does not say 480k a year. It is very possible that he made 40k in a month with his product, whether he made it every month is another story but that is not what was originally claimed.

        IF people will start taking everything as it says and not what they think it infers (Ex. 40k a month automatically means 480k a year) you will see that nothing has been misrepresented and all claims are backed by a very noticeable disclaimer.

        Tucker Max, while his actions are sometimes vile and repulsive and completely lacking in any moral character whatsoever, he calls out the truth. Calling bullshit on people who wear anti outsourcing pins yet love their cheap shoes, and I am sorry but if you are a woman and sleep with a guy like Tucker Max, you deserved to be called a slut and be ridiculed. You deserved to be written about online. I'm sure Tucker would appreciate that comment.

        Maybe the woman in question should have kept her legs closed, the final decision to sleep with him was up to her. SHE took him to court which made HIM famous.

        I would call Tim Ferriss a fraud the day he came out and said, everything I say is right, I am never wrong.

        The Catholic Church has swindled people out of BILLIONS, raped little boys, and burnt "heretics" at the stake and I don't hear anyone complaining. They sell fear.

        • If a person doesn't have bars on their windows, well, they are just asking to be broken in, right?

          Some people might read your comment and think, "this Landon guy is an asshole." But see, I put that in quotes so technically I didn't say it.

  17. GrandMasterBirt says:

    I am very excited about reading his book with some very critical reviews in mind. Much more interesting looking at the same text in a second light. He definitely has a great way of "speaking" about a topic to convince that other "experts" have hidden agendas that he does not. He makes a clear statement at that, that even buying from links in the book = donations not profit.

    So I am very interested in this. Worst case scenario it will be all bullshit and I am not going to take mind-altering drugs to test the bs out. Who knows he may be on to something, he may be a scam selling books.

  18. Marc with a C says:

    Sounds like you a resentful, McDuffee… and maybe a little jealous. Nobody is claiming that Mr Ferriss is a doctor or even a traditionally qualified business executive. What he (undeniably) is, however, is an inspirational author and speaker with breakout success. Personally, I have taken his inspirational ideas to heart and followed my dreams (just like many) after reading his first book a few years ago.

    I'm successful because of many reasons beyond what Ferriss presented, but you are going to die early if you get stressed about every inflated marketing claim, Coca-Cola's website right now says "open a bottle of happiness". Ferriss' books will not make lazy losers into millionaires nor will it make glutenous bums into fit body builders… but the outrageous claims will cause some to read his books, and the inspirational material will cause some of those to act, and the examples and advice will cause some of those who acted to read more and some of those who read more will succeed. Many will fail, but if some become wealthier (as I have) or healthier (as I hope to), what's the problem?

    Don't deceive yourself into believing that you can identify all those who intend to do you harm without also weeding out some who would have improved your life substantially had you listened and taken their advice for what it was worth.

    • Open a bottle of happiness–that's a good one! 🙂 More like "open a bottle of diabetes!"

      Ferriss' "success" is largely fraudulent. He focuses on cheating or skimming just barely within the rules, emphasizing shortcuts instead of honest hard work. This isn't success at all in my book, and I don't envy someone who has made such choices with their life. Call me old fashioned, but I think success comes through fundamental virtues: patience, persistence, kindness to others, honesty, and integrity.

      The problem with fraudulent or misleading marketing claims is the bait-and-switch. Dishonesty is always a problem.

  19. Mike says:

    A few of you guys really seem to have a bone to pick with Tim Ferriss. I bought the book and read it. It's pretty good. Not super amazing, but pretty good. Worth $15. Obviously a lot of the titles, etc. were marketing and laying it on kinda thick. However, how many fewer cars would BMW sell if they marketed their product as "a pretty good car," instead of "the ultimate driving machine." Over the top marketing is pretty ubiquitous. Get used to it.

    For some reason, the whole review reminds me of this quote from The Big Lebowski: Walter Sobchak: "Also, let's not forget – let's *not* forget, Dude – that keeping wildlife, an amphibious rodent, for uh, domestic, you know, within the city – that aint legal either.: It just seems like you're really reaching for things to complain about.

    • I donno–I've driven a BMW and "ultimate driving machine" is pretty accurate compared to my 1994 Toyota Camry!

      Like Steve said above, the objections are not merely to hype (which is fun to make fun of in any case), but to deception and/or outright lying.

      I also have deep concerns about personal development being overrun by gurus who entirely lack any quality one could call virtue. You know, things like honesty and integrity that were once held up as the whole point of developing one's self.

      • noah says:

        It's easier to give than to receive, but you did put in the time to give Tim lots of criticism, so…

        I would enjoy seeing you show marketing that is, on it's face, deceptive. That was one thing about Tim Ferris that I enjoy, his admission of exactly how he won that kickboxing championship is an example. When I listened to the 4 hour workweek, I got the sense of someone who is not only being blatantly self-promoting, but is also being conspicuously so, with no apology, as if showing people "this is how it's done." Which I happen to really like!! So what if it's false, at least it's easy to see, huh?

        Now, you, Mr. McDuffee, keep writing that stuff about integrity and virtue over and over, well, you're raising the stakes for you, pitting your public image against your personal failings, and, pretty quickly, turning yourself into a (secret) hypocrite. You might not be doing it for selfish reasons, but it's off-balance, in my view.

        Are you an exercise specialist? Do you have formal education in anatomy, physiology, physical therapy, …, are you a doctor of any kind able to disprove his claims? No. Of course not.

        You barely argue like a philosopher, you're more concerned with abstractions like virtue than concrete differences in facts or careful research. Not an attack on you, but maybe who you market yourself as, …,

        Mr. Ferris markets himself with integrity, when it's bull, he doesn't apologize for it, and he'll even tell you about it (like his kickboxing win, on a technicality). That's a certain kind of honesty that I admire! He's being a model. He sells who he is, he lives like he sells, and it's part of one package. For some people, that's perfect. I'm confident he works out, eats a certain way, and spends big bucks on his health. I don't know if you do, so why should I listen to you? (rhetorical question)

        His 15-minute orgasm material is awesome! Wow, 15 minutes to a female orgasm, hey, for some women, that's pretty great! It's a nice deception for the average person, I suppose, to discover the truth hidden in that, yeah?

        He doesn't intend his 2 hours of sleep to be a constant, he admits it on his blog, probably in his book, though I didn't read that section last night.

        I read his discussion of maximizing body testosterone through supplementation, that's great, he gets into some technical details that for the aging among us, (like me), are important, I might buy his book, just to thank him for that.

        In the real world, though, we are not honor bound to buy a book before browsing it…

        Hype and deception and lies are out there, if you take strong disagreement with Mr. Ferris' claims, power to you to research them in detail and disprove them. I'll read the results. You keep writing that stuff about integrity and virtue over and over, you're raising the stakes for you, without need.

        Take care, Duff, and feel free to post this response, I'll be posting it over at my blog, regardless. It's fun to find people who do things like I have sometimes, and you're definitely one of them.

        -Noah

    • Eric Normand says:

      Maybe BMW shouldn't sell more cars. There are plenty of cars in the world right now.

      I refuse to get used to marketing. Anyone who does is practically handing over his brain to profit-oriented companies. No thanks! I'd rather use my brain for my own self.
      My recent post Bagel Mind Warfare

  20. Steve says:

    I had a quick look at i will teach you be rich and i am amazed that people pay him $47/m for money saving tips.
    fair play to him for getting people to pay him but why do they do it? Why pay for what you can get free from far more reputable people and sites?

    • Every personal finance guru worth listening to will tell you to immediately re-evaluate any recurring charges like this. Even a $8/month Netflix charge adds up to $96 a year that one could save or invest. $47/mo is $564 annually. If you invested that $564/yr at a 5% rate of return over 20 years, you'd have $19,581.66 (or $11,280 if you hid it under the mattress).

  21. John Mardlin says:

    Hey Duff,
    There's some good material here, but if you really want to get people to pay attention, you could clearly start a whole blog on why Ferriss is bullshit. That would be more readable.

  22. Kevin M says:

    Jacob from earlyretirementextreme.com recommended this site and after reading this post I see why. I read 4HWW and had similar thoughts on the issues you've raised but didn't research them any further, preferring to cut my losses, resell the book and move on. I've subscribed and look forward to reading more.

  23. csdx says:

    As an interesting note I have heard the 2 hour sleep claim before. Basically you sleep 4 30-minute naps in 6 hour intervals. Supposedly this will get you fairly sleep deprived for a few days, but then your body will start hitting REM sleep right when you go to sleep (rather than about an hour in). And thus you're still able to get your 4 cycles of REM sleep while skipping the non-REM sleep periods you'd usually have between them. I have heard anecdotes that some famous scientists at least experimented with this on themselves, but as far as I know didn't permanently adopt the system.

    • Steve Pavlina claims to have slept this way for 8 months (polyphasic or "uberman" sleep schedule). I have a friend who did it for a couple weeks. Interestingly, both Pavlina and my friend were adept at lucid dreaming before trying polyphasic sleep. Personally I need a good 10 hours a night or I'm non-functional.

      I've also done a number of stupid experiments on myself and aren't willing to take any more dangerous risks on my body or with my brain.

  24. I did dig a little deeper—into Ferriss' claims of being a success. I found that nearly everything he claims is suspect, and this his primary value is cheating or getting out of hard work somehow. That's enough for me.

    Meanwhile I've already found MANY excellent sources for information on sensible and sustainable diets, fitness programs, sleep habits, sexual health, etc.

    Also, I'm not raging against Ferriss, I'm mocking him. 🙂

  25. Again I take issue with these claims of deception/out right lying. I don't think that's the case. I don't see it here.

    Which claims of Ferriss' that I criticized do you think aren't deceptive? Specifically:
    * "kickboxing champion"
    * testimonial for "Super Blue Stuff"
    * possibly manipulating Amazon reviews by having VA's post 5-star 1-line reviews
    * likely promoting comment spam on at least one blog for 4HWW using VA's
    * gaining 34lbs of muscle in 28 days
    * going from $40k/month to $40k/year with BrainQUICKEN, LLC.

    Believe it or not, I had more stuff than that, but didn't have links for everything and this post was already getting too long.

  26. Jacq @ SMRM says:

    There's a hilarious discussion on Amazon under "Doesn't this guy sell Dos Equis Beer or Something?":
    http://www.amazon.com/Doesnt-sell-Equis-beer-some

    • That's freaking hilarious.

      It also looks like 2/3 "most helpful" reviews on Amazon are 3 star and 2 star. One suspects foul play in the reviews:

      Over 100 Five Star reviews in less than a day?

      I also do not like that this book has gotten so many perfect reviews so quickly, and that critical reviews are being removed.

      Another commenter suggests Tim is only telling the parts of the stories he wants you to hear:

      Tim is not telling the whole story. Just parts.

      Little inconsistencies stood out. You do not need to add mass to gain strength because strength is a skill. Then some sections later the only way to get stronger is to add mass??? Huh? Which is it?

      He relates a story how he gained a lot of weight working out with High Intensity Training. He mentions that he was detrained at the time. It is pretty common to be able to gain weight quickly after being de-trained. Very common and one trick that is often used in "before/after shots." Again – this is well known. It looks dramatic but is just that, looks, smoke and mirrors.

      It made me think – if he is leaving stuff out of the strength sections, the area which I know and am familiar with, what is he leaving out of the other sections? If he is not telling the whole story in the strength department, why should I believe he is in the diet part?

    • See also:
      http://www.amazon.com/review/R1VD2G55RSGO52/ref=c

      Richard Jackson says:
      I just spoke to Dr. Peggy Plato [phone number removed]. She confirmed that Tim Ferriss did have body measurements taken at their facility. I told her that Tim claimed that she confirmed that he did gain 34 pounds of muscle in 28 days and she said that Tim used her name without her permission and did not sound very happy about it.

      When I directly asked her if she thought it was humanly possible for someone to gain 34 pounds of muscle in 28 days she said and I quote "I will not answer that. I am working on an exam."

    • And here's another interesting Amazon commenter:
      http://www.amazon.com/review/R1VD2G55RSGO52/ref=c

      "The Colgan Institute of Nutritional Sciences (located in San Diego, CA) run by Dr Michael Colgan PHD, a leading sport nutritionist explains that in his extensive experience, the most muscle gain he or any of his colleagues have recorded over a year was 18 1/4 lbs. Dr Colgan goes on to state that "because of the limiting rate of turnover in the muscle cells it is impossible to grow more than an ounce of new muscle each day."

      another source:
      "On the Supertraining forum, Anthony Pitruzzello, PhD, came up with a potential achievable range of approximately 1.5 to 5 pounds of additional lean muscle per month, after researching scientific studies." http://weighttraining.about.com/od/succeedingwith

      Remember, they are saying potential, not actual achievable results. Anyone who gains 5lbs of muscle in one month will see a huge drop off in the months there after.

      And I forgot to add, that at the university sports center I frequented in college, they kept stats on all their NCAA DIV 1 athletes, and no one, NOT A SINGLE ONE, gained more than 21 lbs of pure muscle in a single year. This study involved 8 years of data. The median muscle mass gain was in the low teens.

      • Jacq @ SMRM says:

        I'm now terrified I might have a 15 minute orgasm (perhaps even a 4 hour one! shudder!) while reading it and thinking about Tim weighing his kaka. The closest Tim will get to most hoohoo's though is through searching for "Tim Ferriss" + "douche" on google – which returns this:

        I have deep respect for Lyle McDonald who has spent YEARS in the muscle game – from his forum:

        "So even though he's clearly a hypocrite who uses semantic games to pretend he only works 4 hours per week…you know what, forget it. You want to defend nonsense and be an apologist for crap, you go.
        But he's lying about how he gained so much muscle, he's lying about a 4 hour work week and well, he's just a liar.
        But you go with that and let me know how following the advice of a stark liar works out for you.
        Me, I'll stick with actual hard work instead of shortcuts."
        http://forums.lylemcdonald.com/showthread.php?t=9

        And OMG, make me sick at the Guinesss world book of records spin-off – where the chick does ALL the work and Mr. poopoo weigher gets all the credit (and takes the award, don't ya know). Technique? What technique??:
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H9pWKB2D23k

        Some more of douche: http://www.upstartblogger.com/deconstructing-the-http://thehackensack.blogspot.com/2009/10/how-muc

        Self promotion at its finest.

        • Ah yes–that was one thing I forgot to mention. Ferriss' "Tango world championship" also came by cheating. The man is supposed to lead, and Tango is supposed to be spontaneous, not choreographed by the professional lady with the man following.

  27. Felix says:

    The only thing missing in the four hour body is the chapter on "How to increase your penis size by 5 inches in 2 hours using secret chinese herbs and a dumbbell". But that will certainly become part of the expanded second edition. 😀
    This guy is my favourite example of what's wrong with the world today. He's a sad excuse for a human being, really. I'm happy to see that I'm not the only one who thinks he's basically embarrassing himself as a low-life douche bragging about his fake accomplishments.

  28. personallytraining says:

    So having tried the 15 minute orgasm, as a man, I have found there to be quite a bit of sensation available to me throughout the experience that I had never encountered before. Really subtle electricity-type feelings in my chest and hands, for example that feel amazing. My partner is also extremely pleased with the chapter, as you might surmise… As far as the orgasm thing is concerned, the way I understand i being "in orgasm" means feeling sexual sensation in your body, suble or gross. The climax just sounds like part of the cycle. If you're curious about more, here's a link to a video I bought that fills in the blanks: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JVXkpvgMJPI

  29. just me says:

    thank you for this post. I always smelled something fishy about ferris but i couldn't put my finger on it..
    Your post is a service to humanity. Like many con artists, Ferriss appeals to the worst in us, Like Bernie Madoff's investors – who suspected Madoff was a fraud – but frauding 'the system(front running).' vs them. Unfortunately, he lowers the ever lowering bar of civic mindedness.

    I also find the people he associates with, like Tucker Max to be borderline sociopaths. I would love to hear a candid conversation when Ferriss and friends have had a little too much wine.
    One day, he's going to crash, hard, like James Arthur Ray.

    • Thanks for your support and comment, "just me."

      I agree–con men like Ferriss appeal to the worst in us (or alternatively to naive compassion, as in some email scams where the con man pretends to be the friend of the email recipient, trapped in London and in need of cash).

      IMHO, Tucker Max is not a borderline sociopath, but an outright sociopath.

      • just me says:

        Agreed Tucker is… but he is also a best selling author what does that say about society 🙁

        I can see the day when Ferriss is outed/caught on his scams, then he'll have a false humble moment of repentance, then write a 'tell all' and sell THAT "Confessions of a Scammer, how I made millions on the internet" .. ughh.

  30. Sherri Frost says:

    Yes, I love all your snarky comments and agree with you. Unfortunately I don't think it will stop people from wanting instant success or a perfect body in 4 hours. I DID read the four hour work week and found it to be unattainable by most… In fact, it does not even seem that Tim attained that status himself.
    My recent post Weight Loss for Women- Ready to Shed Some Pounds

  31. anonymouse says:

    I like your semi-skeptical analysis of movement much in need of analysis.
    Off hand can you recommend any visualization/guided imagery cd/mp3s that are NOT quacks or charletons?

  32. Hi Jay, thanks for stopping by and commenting.

    I apologize for the lengthiness of my writing. Brevity is not my strong suit (hence why I like Twitter–it forces me to be brief).

    If you've had a back injury from weight training, I would caution you against Ferriss' mass gain protocol, as it is extremely high-intensity. Why not rehabilitate your back first so you can try this later once you are healed? You can do a joint mobility program for instance (free on YouTube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w1aLdYgfr3M , see also Z-Health), or take up yoga (see Yoga for Wellness by Gary Kraftsow or a yoga therapist) or see a physical therapist. Most people need much more compensation work for their strength training than they are currently doing and thus lose flexibility and ROM and gain a lot of cumulative injuries. But it doesn't have to be that way, and you don't have to spend a small fortune "reversing permanent injuries" Ferriss' way either.

    As far as my accomplishments, I prefer not to brag. This isn't a blog about me. I have achieved some modest things in life, like overcoming crippling social anxiety, finding a partner to spend my life with and creating a sane blended family together, exercising daily and overcoming fatigue, finding my spiritual core, and sticking to my principles when tempted by the flashy promises of worldly success, wealth, and fame. I've also made many mistakes and am constantly reminded of my weaknesses. But I don't consider Ferriss a success as you said, for any success built on a foundation of deception isn't success at all. While I'm often frustrated that what passes for success is nothing but superficial image management, I'm not jealous of those who have decided to sell out in order to amass the kind of weakness that passes for power in the public eye.

    That said, do feel free to test everything and make up your own mind. That's what I did and nobody was going to convince me otherwise! 🙂

    • Jay says:

      His injuries reversal stuff is free exercise that can be done in the gym.

      Look, I've worked out for years and play a lot of sport, but from his book i've:

      – gone for a 30 min run on road for the first time in years pain free (using his hip-stretching and glute activation techniques)
      – booked in for a body comp analysis to start actively tracking my BF %, not just my weight (never done this despite always reading about getting BF% measured)
      – booked in to see a ART physiotherapist to look at my back.

      It's $15 for the book, I've got more than that value already.

      And no , i don't think i'll be able to pack on 30 lbs of muscle lose 20lbs of fat in a month.

      It's called advertising and making the most of the examples you have to draw attention to a product.

      Grrrr, I can't believe i've let myself get drawn into this nonsense argument 🙂

      • Re: injury reversal, I was referring to this (from his interview with Wired http://www.wired.com/magazine/2010/11/mf_qa_ferri… ):

        Wired: What do you think is the most dangerous experiment that you tried for The 4-Hour Body?

        Ferriss: I had a chemical cocktail injected to reverse injuries. It included BMP, bone morphogenetic protein, and there’s a risk of it fusing your vertebrae. In retrospect, I probably wouldn’t have included that.

        Sorry I didn't give a citation previously.

        I'm glad you are finding some value from the book. Ferriss is certainly smart and has accumulated a hodgepodge of things for his book, some of which appear to be completely fraudulent and others just fine (but most are not news to me personally).

        Personally I still think he is a fraud, his "qualifications" are almost universally faked, and his advertising is deceptive. There are many non-psychopaths one could learn from and the benefit is you don't have to sort through total BS to find the good stuff. 🙂

  33. Steve says:

    This comment reads like you are an employee of Ferris. There are always similar comments anywhere where people make fun of him.
    Its interesting that you write a very long post saying how sad it is that someone writes a very long post!
    "The problem comes in that everyone who is successful gets slandered by a minority of people out of fear, hate, anger, jealousy, etc"
    Not really, people who actually are successful like Warren Buffet are loved and admired. People flock to hear him talk about financial matters.
    People like Ferris, the i will teach you to be rich blogger etc don't have any actual record of success. They only make money from selling products telling you how to be successful. If the advice worked, they would actually use it themselves and wouldn't have to keep bloggging about how successful they are. The success woukld speak for itself.

    I have had a loook at his book and it has some pretty decent advice and also a lot of made up claims. None of the good stuff is original to him at all.

    • Thanks for the support, Steve. I agree that there appear to be a lot of made up claims amidst the decent advice. I'm not against people aggregating information that they didn't make up as long as they cite their sources, but I am against folks like Ferriss using deception in their personal branding and encouraging borderline (and sometimes outright) unethical methods of getting ahead.

    • Jay says:

      For the "long" comments, I was referring more to the time spent researching everything in such detail. My post took me 2 mins, I guess the author has spent 10+ hours on this article – researching, writing, commenting.

      Warren Buffet loved and admired?! Ha ha. If you delve into him and how Berkshire Hathaway operates, you will see a lot of people who hate him and his dodgy dealings. The guy is proud of paying about 12% income tax per year on hundreds of millions he earns. Which is similar thinking to Ferriss: "use the rules to your advantage."

      "a lot of made up claims" huh. Give evidence of your statement.

      I'm not saying it's all true. But really, bashing Ferriss is a tip of the iceberg. What about alcohol advertising – why not spend hours writing posts and lobbying for that to be banned? Or infomercials, which affect many more people and promise more outrageous things. Why don't all of you spend time attacking infomercials?

      Or what about women's magazines, which sell 12 editions a year each totalling way more $$$ than Ferriss' book basically promising the same thing – shortcuts to "happy, popular, rich, skinny". Women's magazines peddle this stuff, and have done for 50+ years, yet they're an accepted part of life.

      Look, I don't think Ferriss is a god – his science is wishy-washy to say the least in parts, he's a marketer as much as a creator, but there are many positives to be taken from him.

      We could all do with trying new, bolder ways of doing things. The idea of "playing to the spirit of the rules" as the other poster says below is BS. Every other weight based event in the world involves cutting, often to extreme lengths. Boxers who weigh in at 140lbs will often fight at 155lbs 24-48 hours later when the bell rings!

      I bet that most people who read (and write!) this blog are too timid and don't push themselves enough, that's the main thing I took from Tim Ferriss – push the envelope more and take more out of life. If you are a good natured human, you can still do that without harming people.

      And if you have a real complaint with Ferriss, lodge it with the FDA – it's useless just writing unsubstantiated claims on a blog.

      • I did spend several hours writing and researching this article. I enjoyed doing it though and I think it was worth it.

        Personally I don't admire Buffet.

        I can't answer for Steve (the comment you are replying to), but I agree that criticizing Ferriss is the tip of the iceberg. I criticize personal development and spiritual gurus specifically largely for personal reasons. I am very much in support of people criticizing (and parodying) alcohol advertising, women's magazines, and infomercials. Speaking of which, this is great!
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UWRyj5cHIQA

        One of the reasons I find it important to critique personal development is because in our secular society it has largely taken the place of religion in teaching us values and how to live our lives. Just because women's magazines and other media also peddle lies and deception doesn't make it acceptable, at least not to me.

        I do agree that many people could do with trying new, bolder ways of doing things. I am a big fan of finding such "hacks" to improve the quality of our lives. Lying and outright deception is an age-old hack, but not one I find worthwhile to pursue. It is an attempted shortcut by taking advantage of the trust in society and cheapens human relationships, not to mention harms the foundation of the economy. Useful distinctions for improving don't require deception, but learning.

        I can't speak to the boxing weight cutting claim as I'm unfamiliar with boxing. But Ferriss didn't actually compete, he pushed people out of the ring.

      • Steve says:

        I only used Buffet as an example of someone who has had amazing success and gets listened to. There is actual evidence of his success, he didn't make all his money telling other people how to make money.
        As for made up claims, it is up to Ferris to provide evidence. How do you prove a negative?
        The claim of putting on 34LB of muscle in a month is clearly a lie. You know it is,

        Ferris doesn't seem to too fond of actually providing any evidence at all for many of his claims. Many people in the bodybuilding community have disputed how much his supplements could have made.
        If true I do quite admire the way he won the kickboxing championship.

  34. just me says:

    I'd prefer to follow the advice of Ferriss who has actually achieved stuff
    what 'stuff' has he achieved other than bilking readers into following him? the same can be said for James Arthur ray and a host of other charletons.
    Further, Feriss has clearly lowered ethical standards in 'achieving' these things – by lying, exaggerating, breaking the spirit of rules and civic trust. Is that what you define as 'achievement'?

    • Thanks for the support, just me. I agree–Ferriss is lowering or breaching ethical standards to portray himself as a "success."

      It's interesting because others also advocate for breaking or bending the rules to get ahead, like this example from Malcolm Gladwell entitled "How Underdogs Can Win" from the New Yorker: http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2009/05/11/090

      The difference is in the examples however. Gladwell gives an example of a girl's basketball team that had no chance of winning so decided to play a continual full-court press. While this "horrified" their opponents, I think their strategy was brilliant for it required they worked twice as hard as the other teams until they tired them out. In order to pull off a strategy like this, their team had to develop much better conditioning through sheer perseverance.

      The difference with Ferriss is that his intelligence and discipline is focused on how to cut ethical corners, not how to become a better person than his competitors. Instead of working harder at martial arts, he figured out how to get into a much lower weight class so he could literally throw his weight around.

      There is always a temptation to cut corners in this way when one is dedicated to winning at all costs.

  35. Steve says:

    I really liked the story about the computer strategy game competition. It really does seem a great example of a real "lifehack" To win it he just focussed entirely on the rules of the game and disregarded any thoughts about whether it would be a realistic strategy in the real world, and then next year he managed to do it again.

  36. Collin says:

    You're not really bringing anything new to the table here. This just reads like a baseless rant (and your snarky comments don't help your case). Do you have a better source for Dr. Plato's response to inquiry besides an easily forged forum post? Also, Tim sold BrainQUICKEN several months ago, so any changes in the company's business model are out of his control.

    • You can call her yourself if you'd like, but I'm guessing she's annoyed by all the personal phone calls:
      http://www.amazon.com/review/R1VD2G55RSGO52/ref=c

      In reply to an earlier post on Dec. 15, 2010 12:50 PM PST
      Richard Jackson says:
      I just spoke to Dr. Peggy Plato (408) 924-3032. She confirmed that Tim Ferriss did have body measurements taken at their facility. I told her that Tim claimed that she confirmed that he did gain 34 pounds of muscle in 28 days and she said that Tim used her name without her permission and did not sound very happy about it.

      When I directly asked her if she thought it was humanly possible for someone to gain 34 pounds of muscle in 28 days she said and I quote "I will not answer that. I am working on an exam."

      The critique of the business model is not that it couldn't work now, but that it never could have worked in the way Ferriss implied.

      But to each his own. Personally I think snarky comments are a great way to respond to ridiculous claims from slimeball salesmen.

  37. Felix says:

    Tim Ferriss could end world hunger in 4 hours, but unfortunately there is no money in that.

  38. just me says:

    FYI, ferriss' book was recieiving a LOT of negative reviews, then today, January 9th…. WHAM! literally dozens of 5 star vanilla reviews. He obviously orchestrated it, it totally undermines the strength of Amazons customer review system, but socipaths like Ferriss dont care as long as they make their buck.

  39. Tim Ferriss has removed his "Land Rush book promotion" blog post from his blog.

    Covering his tracks?

    Here's the Google cache: http://bit.ly/g1n01m

  40. Duff:

    I'm sorry you spent several hours writing this article. It's a stretch to call it an article.

    1. "…to extreme fad diet guru". Who called him a guru? Did he call himself this? Nope. In fact he never once refers to himself even as an "expert". That's all your doing. And "extreme fad"? You've got to be kidding, what he preaches as a whole isn't found in many, or any, diet fad books. Nothing remotely faddish about it unless you want to claim it is similar to South Beach or Atkins, but again, merely similar. Not identical.

    2. "…with Ferriss’ magic bullet secret information never before released to the drooling, gullible public?" Nothing secret about it, he's been talking and blogging about it for over a year. Free. "drooling and gullible"? This is a tough claim to back up if you've spent any time on his blog and read the comments. He has a well educated, well written, and well argued audience. And, by nature of his content, he attracts folks that challenge status quos, not mindlessly follows them.

    3. "…openly brags about how he won his kickboxing match through what basically amounts to cheating while barely remaining within the rules." I guess he didn't cheat then, did he?

    4. "Ferriss elsewhere gives his strategy for becoming a “guest lecturer” at an Ivy League college: rent out a room and hold a talk on campus." There's only 2 people that could verify such a provocative claim: Ferriss or a representative of Princeton such as the dean. I trust you've spoken to both before putting forth such a bold and reputation-scorching claim? If so, please share said source.

    Heck, and I only got 1/4 way through your essay.

    When you're destroying reputations, Duff, you have a burden. The burden is to back up any bold statement you make and refrain from using such dramatic terms such as "radical" (twice) and "fraud" (twice). You felt far too comfortable calling this guy a liar in this long tirade without offering anywhere near sufficient evidence of such.

    I'll note that I'm not arguing for him. Rather, this post so logically flawed and puts forth such an unscientific argument that I'm so concerned people might read it without the necessary filter one should. You've relegated yourself to tabloid levels with this drivel.

    Disclaimer aside, this post SHOULD get you sued due to your unsubstantiated claims and phraseology. You can't disclaim away the fact that your intentions for the first 95% of this post are to not just raise suspicion to, but flat out DESTROY Ferriss' credibility.

    • Hi Casey, thanks for stopping by and commenting.

      I think attempting to gain 36lbs of muscle in 28 days qualifies as "extreme fad diet guru," not to mention his other claims. Most health professionals say that gaining or losing up to 2 lbs a week is within healthy ranges, but outside of that is likely to be unhealthy.

      Ferriss specializes in the borderline unethical. I think he often crosses the line.

      Re: his guest lecturing at Princeton, Ferriss makes the claim himself in 4HWW I believe.

      I can say "fraud" and "radical" all I want. Those are my opinions, and it is well within libel law to state opinions. I offered what I believe to be substantial, overwhelming evidence for my opinions in this article (which you yourself say you haven't read but 1/4th). I am not out to destroy anybody's credibility, just quote others who are also skeptical of Mr. Ferriss and his claims to fame.

      • Steve says:

        I doubt that Ferris would be too keen to have to try and supply evidence for many of his accomplishments in a court of law.

        Casy why are you bothered about all this?
        Shouldn't you be enjoying your massive amounts of muscle that you have gained in the last month, 15 minute orgasms, multimillion dollar business that requires only 4 hours a week etc etc?

  41. James M says:

    With his new book coming out, I have read more and more posts like this one (or comment threads) to get a different perspective on his book. This post is definitely the best written and harshest of them all. That being said, there is value to be found in his books. I did an extensive review of his latest book on my blog, and was disappointed in parts, but some of it is actually good stuff. I've been following the Slow-Carb diet (which is based upon a paleo/primal diet) since June and have lost nearly 50 pounds through it alone. The only exercise I had time to do was a an hour long walk, 5-6 times a week. His information about sex does actually work. That was the section I was most doubtful about, but when I started to perform some of the tips with my girlfriend, I heard no complaints whatsoever.

    I think if this book cost a lot more than $15 that people could stay away from it, but at that price, you are bound to find something of value in it. Your money could certainly go to some of the scammier eBooks being published by nearly every blogger out there.
    My recent post 4 Hour Body Review PT3- Occam Protocol- Sex- and Trojan Horses

    • Hi James, thanks for stopping by and commenting.

      I have no doubt that shallow people who lack character can also write some interesting books that may even have some useful or accurate information amongst the misleading or inaccurate information.

      I'm glad you are finding success with your fitness goals and that your girlfriend is happy. 🙂

      Yes, there are worse ways one could spend their money. Still, the main issue to me is that personal development should be about developing one's character primarily, with methods coming second to virtue. I realize this is a quaint and idealistic notion in our cynical age of hyper-competition and winning-at-all-costs that Ferriss represents, but I maintain that old fashioned virtues like honesty, integrity, patience and persistence are more important than the latest hacks.

  42. Andrew says:

    Ah, I get why your blog is called 'beyond growth' now … but wouldn't 'zero growth' be a better title?

    If you're put off buying this book by the hyperbolic negativity of this post then please read on …

    The 4HB is fundamentally about self-experimentation. It's about finding how to get the best results in the most efficient way. So instead of just using cynicism as an excuse just try something for four weeks and see what works.

    You can do that easily without spending any money. The key parts of his book are available free on his web site (and have been for a year or so). Don't let the haters get you down. Try his stuff for yourself and then have a good laugh at them like I just did after reading the rant above.

  43. […] recent comments on my 4-Hour Body review have largely missed the point of my article. I’ve grown tired of responding to each in turn, […]

  44. […] that way, TACFIT Warrior and Sonnon’s other programs are way ahead of the pack, far ahead of The 4-Hour Body for instance. I’ve found IntuFlow and Sonnon’s clubbells very helpful in that […]

  45. […] 26 times in 20 Posts Do your due diligence: The 4-Hour Body: 60 Percent of The Time it Works Every Time! | Beyond Growth If anything, we all should study how Tim does his marketing. His marketing skill is superb but his […]

  46. robin says:

    Saw him yesterday on the Dr. Oz show and was wondering how credible he was… just because he’s on a dr. show doesn’t make it so… thanks for the info.

    • Lou says:

      And what makes this blog credible? Just because it's on the internet doesn't make it true. Seems like the whole article here is a review of the amazon page. I doubt that the author of this article even cracked the book open.

  47. Steve says:

    Duff

    You got a mention in the Guardian newspaper in the UK.

  48. john l says:

    i have been on tim's diet for 5 weeks and have lost a dramatic amount of weight. very happy with the results. i also haven't had heartburn once since starting the diet (which has plagued me for the past 8 years). what is most exciting, is the momentum I now have with losing weight. i wouldn't recommend this diet as a lifestyle plan but if you have a lot of weight to lose and want a great kick start, you will lose a lot of fat. I am very grateful for tim's work. just my experience and two cents.

  49. […] favorably to MJs book has NOTHING to do with the real/fake success of their respective authors. The 4-Hour Body: 60 Percent of The Time it Works Every Time! | Beyond Growth (Just one of hundreds of similar thoughtful and rational deconstructions of TF's persona/marketing […]

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