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Dear Dr. Joe Dispenza, Please Stop Spreading Falsehoods About Elon Musk & Electric Cars!

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Long-term readers of CleanTechnica know that this site has, for more than a decade, been battling the fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD) that the fossil fuel industry uses to slow down the cleantech revolution. I am one of the partners here at CleanTechnica, and I gave my first environmental public talk 31 years ago, addressing FUD from the large food conglomerates that blur the truth about what we eat and end up making us eat more processed rubbish and less healthy/local foods. Part of my reason for leading this media company is countering false narratives and trying to shine a light on the truth. It is important to us here, especially as it relates to climate change and its causes and effects.

I’m also fascinated by neuroscience, and wrote recently about how ayahuasca helped me with my climate anxiety. As I dove deeper into the science, a friend sent me a podcast by Dr. Joe Dispenza. Dr. Dispenza is an accomplished public speaker. He has 850,000+ subscribers to his YouTube channel and 2.6 million followers on Instagram. He appeared in the 2004 movie What the Bleep Do We Know?, which was really eye opening to me.

One of Dispenza’s fundamental ideas is that our personality creates our reality. Here’s how it plays out: If we let something (a driver cutting us off, for instance) bother us for more than just the moment, it becomes our mood. If we still hold onto it a month or two later, it makes up our temperament. Longer, and it makes up our personality. The energy that we send out to the world then helps create our reality. We expect people to cut us off, and then when we see it, it just confirms it for us and hardens this belief system. The neurons that fire together wire together, as he says.

It makes sense to me. I’ve held onto negative beliefs and bad experiences that have helped shape my vision of the world, and my reality then ensues as a scope that is influenced by the expectation that these things will just continue to happen. So, in theory, this type of exercise is great.

I like Dr. Dispenza’s message, and I know he’s probably helping a lot of people break cycles of negative thinking and rebuild neural pathways that are more productive and might help make their lives better. I do want to call out a piece of misinformation in his podcast, though, about Elon Musk. Dispenza argues that we have the same brains as other humans. It’s how we think and train our brains to process information that really differentiates us. And I know he had good intentions when starting to reference how our brains are so similar to those of visionaries like MLK and Elon. But, oh man, did I cringe at the following:

“I can tell you, without a doubt, that the highest form of motivation in any culture, in any group of people, is called purpose motivation, duty motivation, or mission motivation…” (which he explains as having a vision of how to change a culture that is bigger than you). “Elon Musk, created Tesla Motors, you know him? He created an electric car that can go from zero to sixty in less than five seconds. And before him, electric cars were like golf carts, you know, that crawled along the road. And [Musk] said, ‘I’m going to do this, I don’t know how I’m going to do it, but I have a vision….'”

Oyyyyyyyy … DOCTOR JOOOEEEEE … help a brother out here. I love that you’re talking to people around the world about getting us off oil, but let’s discuss, please.

  1. Elon did not create Tesla. Tesla was founded in 2003 by entrepreneurs Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning. Musk joined later, as part of the investment Eberhard and Tarpenning sought (a Series A round) to grow Tesla’s operations. [Editor’s note: I don’t know what the full story here is, but for a bit more context, it should be noted that Elon Musk retold his version of how Tesla was started some years ago during a Tesla shareholder annual meeting. The way Musk explained it was that he and JB Straubel had gotten together to talk about electric airplanes over lunch but then decided to instead create an electric car company, and as they were talking to people about this plan, someone connected them with Eberhard and Tarpenning since they had the same basic idea. A judge concluded at some point, when there was a legal dispute over who the founders were, that the four of them and Ian Wright were all legally cofounders of Tesla Motors (later renamed Tesla, Inc.). There’s another noteworthy inception story I’ll reference in the next point. —Zach Shahan]
  2. Golf carts do not get to 60 miles per hour, so it would be hard to compare apples to apples, but the fully electric GM EV1, in 1996, almost a full decade before Elon got interested in electric cars, did 0–60 mph in less than 9 seconds. Calling that a golf cart is a stretch, yeah? [Editor’s note: What Musk also said a number of times about the beginning of Tesla is that the guys at AC Propulsion — most notably, founder Alan Cocconi — had created an awesome, wicked-fast electric car, the tzero. Musk and others tried to get Cocconi and AC Propulsion to scale up and mass-manufacture electric cars. It was after Cocconi repeatedly said they wouldn’t go that route that Musk and crew decided to work on doing this themselves, eventually creating the somewhat similar Tesla Roadster. Also, regarding that GM EV1 Scott mentions, the crushing of those leased EVs was another impetus for Elon Musk getting into Tesla — he’s talked numerous times about drivers loving the car so much that they held a candlelight vigil for the model when it was put to sleep and the cars crushed. In any case, the point is that there were other very fast, fun electric cars out there — we were just far from being able to mass manufacture them, about 14 years away from that. —Zach]
  3. And last, if you really want to convince people that EVs have truly redefined the driving experience, let’s talk about that paltry 5-second figure. Heck, my baseline Model 3 nearly does that. Why not go for the throat and really get the audience salivating over our electric car future present and let your 2.6 million Instagram followers know that the actual figure there is about 2 seconds. WHAM!

Hey, Elon’s great — really, I don’t want to take anything away from the guy. What he did in the face of insane resistance is really amazing. He powered through attacks from the legacy automakers and the fossil industry alike, for years and years. Dispenza does later add that Motor Trend had never rated a car above 100 before, and rated the Tesla Model S a 103. “It’s the best car on the road,” Dispenza says.

Thank you, Doc! Keep up the good work.

And please don’t hesitate to reach out to CleanTechnica if you’d like to consult with us about the many ways the fossil industry has rewired people’s brains (same playbook as Big Tobacco and Big Pharma and Big Ag … just a little different because of the world-ending outcomes I know you agree we need to avoid), or if you’d like to talk shop about the genuine solutions to climate change, etc. We’d love to chat.

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Scott Cooney (twitter: scottcooney) is a serial eco-entrepreneur focused on making the world a better place for all its residents. Scott is the founder of CleanTechnica and was just smart enough to hire someone smarter than him to run it. He then started Pono Home, a service that greens homes, which has performed efficiency retrofits on more than 16,000 homes and small businesses, reducing carbon pollution by more than 27 million pounds a year and saving customers more than $6.3 million a year on their utilities. In a previous life, Scott was an adjunct professor of Sustainability in the MBA program at the University of Hawai'i, and author of Build a Green Small Business: Profitable Ways to Become an Ecopreneur (McGraw-Hill) , and Green Living Ideas.


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