I'd actually disagree about Michael & Paula. They're not for people who are still experimenting and exploring. They're the go-to folks for someone who has a very specific vision of where they want to go, and needs someone to help get them on the way to it. They represent a version of "The One True Way", and as such have the ability to turn off as many people as they inspire.
While I think that perhaps some have interpreted what they say as the above, I never heard either one of them say that they had "the one true way" or anything even close to that at the Apug conference. As a matter of fact, I remember quite the opposite being said many times. Whenever questions about materials or working methods came up each was always very careful to say that what they were talking about was their method that they discovered to be the best for their type of work. Now, if your type of work is quite different than what they do it might not be especially helpful, but there were subjects talked about that would be helpful to any photographer I think. Michael does seem very critical of camera clubs and the way art school forces students to pick a "gimmick" that they can call their own to mark their style at too early a point in their creative and personal development, but I just see that as critical of some of the aspects of photographic society and not limiting to personal development.
"I am an anarchist." - HCB
"I wanna be anarchist." - JR