Greg Mortensen has sold millions of copies of his book Three Cups of Tea and raised millions for his charity Central Asia Support, and incidentally made millions for himself as well, whilst becoming a household name.
However, after 60 Minutes broadcast last night, his stories, that were said to be based on his experiences, appear to have more in common with bullshit.
“It’s a beautiful story, and it’s a lie,” said Jon Krakauer, author of the excellent Into The Wild who was bamboozled into backing the charity with $75,000 of his own money.
Mortenson claims that he attempted to climb to the summit of the second tallest mountain on earth, was then nursed back to health in a small village in Pakistan before being rudely kidnapped by the Taliban for eight days. (It’s not two weeks in Cancun with a free trip to Aquaworld thrown in.)
So is Mortensen a philanthropist, with a penchant for story telling gone a bit wayward; or is he a bullshitting swindler concealing his heinous duplicity behind a beneficial cause?
60 Minutes researchers found there was no recovery visit to Korphe (in Pakistan); they talked to the men Mortensen claims kidnapped him (and whose photographs were published in the book) who denied being in the Taliban and further denied the alleged kidnapping, but could produce a photo of the author posing with them whilst holding an AK-47.
Ok, so he’s exaggerated the truth a little and fabricated an anecdote or two in the name of storytelling – that’s what writers do, yeah. But at least he used some of his gains to improve the lives of others and benefit his charity.
Researchers at 60 Minutes also spoke to educators in Pakistan who said that they hadn’t received donations from the Central Asia Institute in years and that buildings that had been funded by Mortensen and his charity were poorly made. A non-profit expert also spoke during the program casting doubt on the financial practices of the charitable organization and questioned why so much of its funds had been spent on the promotion of Mortenson’s books.
Mortenson refused to be interviewed by 60 Minutes although he did release a statement to the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, denying allegations that he was a dirty charlatan misrepresenting the truth in order to make money and renown for himself in the guise of philanthropy.
What a shit human being!
Please leave a comment with your thoughts on Mortensen’s lies.
Read about some more honest explorers and writers like Richard Branson, Ernest Hemingway, Ernest Shackleton, Yuri Gagarin and Eddie Aikau.
images: flickr.com; plantwhateverbringsyoujoy.com