|So why then are only the IM gurus being bashed?|
Here's my take on it.
It doesn't only happen in this industry. If you could see the backstabbing and badmouthing that speakers in many fields do to each other, or even the fights among folks in the self-help industry, you'd realize... It's everywhere.
It is, however, much more visible in the Internet marketing field than in most others. There are several reasons for this. First, some reasons that aren't necessarily valid.
It's been suggested that the visibility of the bashing is because it's well-founded. That, in fact, the people being bashed deserve it. That's certainly true in some cases, but they're a pretty small minority, in my experience.
Second, the fact that a "lot" of people seem to jump on the same bashwagon might seem to lend their claims some credence. I would suggest that you look at the evidence, rather than the number of people saying a thing. You'll see why the numbers don't matter in a minute.
Third, the apparently compelling arguments some folks make can sound really, really good. The problem is that one doesn't often see enough of the context and the facts to know if the argument is valid, or if it's just someone who's good at presenting it.
Now, why isn't this more visible in other industries?
For starters, there are very few fields in which people are so quick to assume they have the necessary skills and experience to challenge the top experts. Only a fool would read 3 books on archaeology and think they were qualified to "debunk" a theory that was accepted by the majority of people in the discipline.
Along with that is the tradition in many industries and areas of study of keeping one's personal beefs private.
Then there's the degree of separation between forums where the real experts discuss their subjects and where the guys who've read 3 books on it discuss them.
It happens everywhere. You just don't see it, because the players are too careful of their reputations. Presenting a credible refutation of a theory is accepted. Bashing someone as a scammer takes a lot more proof to be taken seriously.
And it will get you sued faster in other fields.
I know of feuds among some of the very top offline marketing names in the world, and you will never hear about them. The same with some of the top people in this field. They don't play the bashing game publicly, but all is not sweetness and light with everyone in the business.
Why is it so visible in this industry, then? Why does it seem there's always someone who wants to bash the "Big Dogs?"
Marketing is "fuzzy" form of art/science/black magic. If something sounds good to you, there is a near 100% certainty that it will sound good to a lot of other people.
Next is that a lot of people confuse results with skill, and experience with expertise. I think it was Elmer Hurlstone who recently reminded me that some folks consider the same year of experience, repeated ten times, to qualify as ten years of experience.
People who have the same year of experience, and keep repeating that year, are often the loudest in proclaiming their definitive knowledge on a thing. Including when faced with someone who's spent 5 years trying and testing and proving many more things than that first person will ever do.
On top of that, there is a ton of information out there on the subject, and most people consuming it have very little of the experience needed to properly evaluate that information. They read a bit and think that makes them experts.
The low barrier to entry in this field ensures that we're going to see a lot of people in it with extremely poor critical thinking skills.
Add to the mix the "lotto mentality." The belief that they're going to strike it rich, followed by the painful realization that it just ain't that easy. That fosters, in the sloppy thinkers' minds, the idea that the folks who made it big did so by cheating.
Hell, if New Guy couldn't make $10,000 in a year, Big Dog must have scammed a lot of people to make $1,000,000 in a week, right?
Not. But they believe it. It provides a comforting refuge from acknowledging that they just didn't get it right. They can escape judging themselves if they can just push the judgment off on someone else.
There's the element of competition. A very large chunk of the people who get into this business think there's a limited amount of room at the top, and they feel they get an edge every time someone else gets dragged down.
There are the people who play to the disillusioned, the folks who need to believe someone else is bad so they don't have to believe they simply screwed up. Or quit too soon. Or whatever the reason is that they didn't get what they wanted.
These folks attract their market by giving them what that market wants, desperately: External validation of their excuses.
There are mean and petty people. Same as in any field.
There are people with unrealistic expectations who assume that anyone failing to meet those expectations must have some sinister or malign basis for that failure.
Any field that involves making money will attract some people who are desperate. Low cost of entry, high perceived potential, and BANG! People getting in over their heads, left and right. Betting it all on an obvious sure thing... that doesn't pan out.
For many of them, it's a way of life. They can only maintain it by the same rationalization as the other folks who "fail" - blame someone else. And get people to agree with you, so you can keep that band-aid on your ego a bit longer.
There are folks who just don't understand things and say stuff that's wrong, purely out of that inexperience.
There are a ton of people who think that they are the market. That their personal preferences are representative of the world as a whole, or at least the part of it they deal with.
And, again, everyone thinks they're an expert.
Now, add the element that lets all that steam and hot air find release:
Open discussion forums where people at every level of experience congregate, and where folks can say very nearly anything they want.
Once the hot air has been released, there are usually other people feeling the same frustration, hostility, confusion or whatever other motivating push is involved, and who'll jump in with both feet in their mouths.
Once they've taken a public stand, most people won't back down. Some will let it fade away, some will escalate their claims, and some will develop fixations that last for years. But very few will look at the evidence and say, if it applies, "I was wrong on that."
After all, they're experts, right?
The same people tend to be involved in most of the bashing going on at any given time. If there are 10,000 people happy with a product, and 30 people unhappy, there's a good chance that 15 of those 30 will be involved in bashing it.
The ones that are happy with it usually won't push back. They might think the person has one of those problems that just happens. Or that they had unrealistic expectations. Or that they're just nuts, and who wants to waste time with unreasonable people?
Positive people usually won't bother with negative people, and vice versa. So, the negative voices, which have a much greater perceived stake in proving their case, take on the perception of being the majority.
That's why you should never believe things based on the number of people saying them.
And this is why "guru bashing" is so common in this industry.
Well, that's my view on it, anyway. I'm sure some folks will have other opinions.