Saturday, March 24, 2007

Byrne-ing questions.

Caught Nightline's feature on The Secret late Friday (thanks for the heads-up, Rev), and though it provided some cynical new takes* on the book/DVD, it struck me as more of the same "easy journalism" we've seen of late in The Secret's case: the sort of warmed-over coverage that a colleague at the IU School of Journalism used to call "repeating, not reporting." Basically, it was a fleshed-out version of the short critique offered up on Charles Gibson's World News Tonight a few days ago, focusing on the potential danger to sick people who take The Secret at its word. Special kudos to Nightline correspondent Cynthia McFadden for giving prominent play to Bob Proctor's timeless quote, "Disease cannot live in a body that's in a healthy emotional state," which speaks for itself. I guess the boundlessly optimistic Dr. Bob—shown, with his omnipresent Alfred E. Neuman grin (as per below)—will live forever, then.

I don't want to go patting myself on the back—maybe just a little bit—but why is no one really doing, here, what I did in SHAM? Why, for example, is no one checking out the backgrounds of the folks who are featured in The Secret and who are now fronting for Rhonda Byrne (who seemed to go underground once the media stopped blindly giving her the Larry King/Oprah Winfrey suck-up treatment)? In making that charge, I don't mean to imply necessarily that there's a lot of dirt for journalists to find; I haven't done the research, either. In my defense, such an inquiry would be a daunting task, requiring the kind of time and effort that a writer can't even contemplate without a signed publishing contract in hand; nor would a good-sized research staff hurt. But Nightline, like its Big Media brethren, has that kind of time, and that kind of staff. Nightline also has, or claims, a reputation for supplying the definitive word on this or that. Why not do so here? Heck, look at what I, as an independent, was able to put together on Kevin Trudeau (and frankly, as I've admitted, the Trudeau posts didn't entail very much firsthand digging; in that case, just by "repeating," I was able to come up with a wealth of info that his prospective buyers deserve to know). Wouldn't, say, Secretron Jack Canfield's long-time partnership with so-called "wealth builder" Robert Allen be worth at least a mention, given what we know about Allen? Or how 'bout a deeper look into Joe "Mr. Fire" Vitale? For that matter, what about a deeper look into Oprah, and Her Majesty's role in all this?...

...Oh, wait. I think I just answered my own questions.

* and that seems to be the favored sport now that the media have awakened to the knowledge that something called The Secret is afoot in American society: Each new report tries to out-cynic the previous one.


Cal said...

I admit I didn't see last night's Nightline. I was not aware they were having a segment on The Secret, but truth be told I was watching the NCAA tournament.

I am somewhat surprised that John Stossel was not covering this book for ABC's 20/20. I recently read his book "Myths, Lies and Downright Stupidity" and I think he would put the Secret in all three categories. But maybe his take would have been too negatively one-sided for the suits and Oprah is on the majority of the major market ABC stations.

It will probably take one of the tabloid shows, like Inside Edition, to do a hard hitting expose. (accent mark over the last e)

Cosmic Connie said...

Great minds think alike, Steve. I woke up about 2:00 AM today and couldn't get back to sleep till I'd blogged about Bob and Nightline. I was actually more critical of Bob than of Nightline, but I thought that overall the segment was way too soft on "The Secret." Cynthia did try, though...

You have a very good point about the background of the "great teachers" in "The Secret," and The Rev and I actually have extensive background info on at least one of them (I think you can probably guess which one). But we're not doing anything major without a major book contract either.

a/good/lysstener said...

I saw the Nightline feature too, Steve, and I don't think Cynthia Mcfadden had to do much more than she did to make these people look ridiculous. She just had to let them talk and show them in action. You're really caught up in this so you want to make the case as strong as possible, but you shouldn't sell people short. It's like your title for your last Trudeau comment, these are things that any thinking person sees right through. So why do people keep buying it? I guess it's another one of those "byrning questions."

Tari said...

you guys are all bashing the secret, when in actuality you should be grateful and thankful for something like this to come along and help people in a positive and happy way rather then a demeaning, analytical and assanine way which you are all doing! I highly suggest that you do, do background research on these teachers and information presented and then bring your case back to the forum!

Steve Salerno said...

Tari, first of all, thank you for taking the time to come to this blog and add your perspective. I sometimes think that people who are fans of The Secret get so upset at people like me because they see themselves as positive thinkers, and therefore it doesn't make sense to them that anyone would "attack them" simply for trying to be upbeat and hopeful! You probably think, What kind of person would WANT other people to be "negative"? But that's not what this is about, Tari. To me, at its core, this is a debate between fantasy and science. It's interesting to me that you use the phrase "bring your case," as when you say that WE should bring our case to the forum. Where is the case for The Secret? Where is the smallest shred of OBJECTIVE proof that any of this works? In the real, physical world, the world of logic and reason, you can't simply make some kind of wild claim and ask other people to buy in--can you? That's not "making a case." That's living in a dream world (like a small child who still believes in Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy). If that is what those who defend The Secret want to do, fine. But don't attack US, as if we're the crazy ones.

Cosmic Connie said...

Good points all, Steve. And Tari, you wrote: "I highly suggest that you do...background research on these teachers and information presented and then bring your case back to the forum."

I know quite a bit about the background of some of these teachers, Tari, and my opinion is that if these backgrounds were held up to closer public scrutiny, this would not cast the teachers or "The Secret" in a more favorable light.

Rob Vanden Heuvel said...

Here's some background information that I dug up when I first watched "What the Bleep Do We Know" and the "The Secret".

Several of the "teachers" from the book and movies are members and followers of Ramtha's School of Enlightenment, founded by J.Z. Knight. Ms. Knight is featured in both movies. Google her name and the name of her school. You'll be amazed at what you find.

It turns out, J.Z. Knight is not the teacher but rather a spirit channel or medium for Ramtha, an ancient sprit being. I kid you not!

Far from being compatible with Christianity as many of the Secret-teachers suggest, this philosophy turns Judeo-Christian beliefs and values on their heads. As opposed to us serving God, "The Secret" is all about man as god and God ("the Universe" as they put it) serving our selfish desires.

Futhermore, these teachers deny the divinity of Christ and twist His words as though He supports their outlandish claims. They claim that Jesus was just a wise man who knew "the secret" and was trying to enlighten us the same way they themselves are. Jesus and His teachings were misrepresented, twisted and suppressed, and His divinity invented by power-hungry men who wanted to set up a new and oppresive religion. THAT's what these people teach. Again, check out Ramtha's School and look at the books they sell.

"The Secret" is fantasy, falsehood, anti-God and anti-Christian. Lies, not enlightenment.

Rob VH

P.S. I get really incensed about this because I happen to market health products which have a TRUE basis in science including the energetic aspects of our physiologies. However, I see fellow marketers touting "The Secret" and tying it to the products (i.e. "everything is just pure energy and thought energy"). I don't want to be painted as a quack because of the quacks around me!