Thursday, April 12, 2007

OK, one more last word on The Secret.

As appearing in today's American Spectator.

Oh, and Happy Birthday, Graig. I miss our catches.

21 comments:

Mark said...

Kudos! How subversive of you to name drop the "canny Barbara Ehrenreich" in that right wing publication, the American Spectator. The editors didn't catch and remove it?

Steve Salerno said...

I guess "canniness" is situational. (I wonder if anybody ever said that before?)

Anonymous said...

Steve, did you happen to catch Boston Legal this week? William Shatner's character was 'working' The Secret. At least the show took a mocking approach, with hilarious effect.

Steve Salerno said...

Drat. Boston Legal isn't one of my usual viewing choices, though I sure wish I'd stumbled upon it this time!

I'll have to look for summer reruns and/or TiVo it or something. Thanks for the heads-up.

Lana said...

Hi Steve. I enjoy your blog, and I just posted a link to your excellent article. I love your description of The Secret being a "colossal cultural wind sock." Very clever.

As a personal development enthusiast, I find your perspectives interesting and insightful.

Cosmic Connie said...

Steve, what an excellent piece. GREAT job. As you said, it's not what "The Secret" says about "the secret" that's so significant; it's what its popularity says about *us*.

And here's what went down on Boston Legal: Shatner's character Denny Crane was trying to "attract" Raquel Welch into his life by using the Law Of Attraction as outlined in "The Secret." There were a few scenes of him squinting his eyes shut, with his hand on his third-eye area, as if he were deep in concentration. In the end, he attracted...yes, a famous "sex symbol," but not Raquel.

To find out more, you must read Joe "Mr. Fire" Vitale's blog post for Wednesday April 11. Joe suggests that "Denny" wasn't working "The Secret" properly, and might have had better luck if he'd signed up for Joe's "Miracles Coaching" program. So he's even pitching his programs to fictional characters now. :-)

Anyway, excellent job on the "Secret" piece. And I have a feeling it won't be your last word on "The Secret"...

And hey, Lana, it's great to see you here!

acd said...

"Joe suggests that 'Denny' wasn't working 'The Secret' properly, and might have had better luck if he'd signed up for Joe's 'Miracles Coaching' program."

This is why you can never definitively prove (for Secret followers, at least) that this does not work--because the gurus will simply claim that you're not applying it correctly and should seek further instruction from other books, videos, seminars, etc. That, of course, is a never-ending process, as there is always a plethora of additional materials published in connection to any self-help fad.

As Steve says in his article, The Secret has no conditions or disclaimers. This draws people in because it is supposed to really be as simple as it sounds. However, when it fails to work as expected, it is the individual's fault and/or he or she just needs to buy something else. I guess it's not really that simple then, huh? Which is why there will be workbooks published, as well as all other kinds of nonsense, to make it look like The Secret really can work for everyone.

Oh well.

Nice job on the article, Steve. And you know, sometimes all you have to do is quote some of the people associated with The Secret and they make your argument for you. The claims are just so ridiculous. Sure, it would be nice to believe that, but common sense and reason have to kick in at some point for these people, no? Apparently not...

RevRon's Rants said...

Great article, Steve.

Perhaps somebody should let Joe in on the REAL secret: That Denny Crane is - as Connie pointed out - a fictional character, created by a team of writers whose job is poking fun at the absurdities so many take for granted as being factual. Like the Secret...

Steve Salerno said...

Thanks for the appreciative feedback, all. These past few days I've been feeling rather mopey and undervalued, which I suppose is a chronic condition (and let's face it, a simple truth) nowadays for writers who aren't trading in celebrity, outrageousness, grandiose promises like The Secret, miracle cellulite-reduction plans, or some combination thereof. It's nice to know that there's still such a thing as the marketplace of the mind, as my first college philosophy prof used to put it.

Then again, no sooner do I begin to think that way than I realize that the Secretrons believe THEY'RE the ones who own the franchise on "enlightened thinking."

And you know the worst part? We don't even have Kurt Vonnegut to turn to, anymore, to sort it all out for us....

a/good/lysstener said...

I want to add my voice to the chorus, that WAS a wonderful piece of writing, Steve! In fact we have to bring in an essay we admire as a piece of thinking and writing on a cultural topic, and I'm probably going to use yours. So, little did you know, you're actually helping me with my schoolwork. :)

It still leaves me cold that so many millions of us could buy into a concept that's so heartless toward others who end up on the short end of the stick. To me, it almost begins to sound like an excuse for ignoring your role as a good citizen, because if you can rationalize the idea of blaming people for their misfortunes in life, then you don't have to feel any sense of personal responsibility. You can just go about your merry way, "attracting" more and more riches to yourself, while never stopping to worry for a moment about anyone else.

RevRon's Rants said...

"We don't even have Kurt Vonnegut to turn to, anymore, to sort it all out for us...."

Speak for yourself, oh curmudgeonly one! I, for one, shall always have my ideas, my badges, with which to identify myself among both friend and foe. And those homicidal beggars shall ever ride, even though their exploits shall only be heralded in the pages of wide-open beaver magazines. Kilgore lives! And I see England; I see France...

Steve Salerno said...

Very nice evocation, Rev. Very nice.

Steve Salerno said...

But--p.s. to my last comment to Ron--you may want to watch it, ol' pal. Who knows, the way things are going, Blogger may ban you for using the phrase "wide-open beaver."

Steve Salerno said...

Alyssa makes a very good point, and one that I don't think has been addressed forcefully enough in the editorial consensus on Byrne's Boondoggle. I'd be curious to learn how many people who buy The Secret are already doing fairly well in life--I suspect it's a pretty high number--and are just hoping for still more success (or perhaps more reassurance that they have a RIGHT to that success). Why do I get the feeling that not many among Byrne's target demographic are, in fact, sleeping on that park bench to which she alluded in her now-famous interview with Australian media? Could at least some of The Secret's success have to do with assuaging what has been called "white man's guilt," or getting well-heeled people past their sense of noblesse oblige? As I said, interesting point.

RevRon's Rants said...

Hmmm... Does the Secret attract wealth, or does wealth attract the Secret? It's a candy mint. Nope, it's a breath mint. No nourishment, either way. :-)

Lana said...

Steve, I know what you mean by feeling mopey and undervalued while all these opportunists are joyfully raking it in. But we'll see. I have a hunch we're going to witness a painful fall.

Connie, thanks for the welcome! I was afraid Steve wouldn't let me post here :-)

Anonymous said...

Steve Salerno, great article. And make sure to make time for another catch with your son!

Mr. Spin said...

Nice article -- one question?

Who in shamland is running for President?

mojo said...

Sorry, Steve, as much as I too enjoyed your article (especially the phrase "cultural windsock"), I think THIS should be the last word, since here the Secret is treated with all the dignity it deserves:

SNL's parody of the Secret

People have been blogging about it, but this is the only instance I could finally find of it.

I haven't watched SNL itself in about fifteen years or so, and this clip demonstrates why. It really drags its tail. But there are a few good laughs--I especially liked the Darfur man's response to "How are you today?"

I also haven't seen Oprah in action in YEARS ... I never minded her as an actress, but I never watched her talk show longer than five minutes or so. While realizing it's a parody and of course things are horribly exaggerated, is she really even just a fraction of the obnoxiousness depicted during her show? Yeesh.

Mojo

Steve Salerno said...

Thanks, Mojo. Yeah, others have mentioned this, but I believe you're the first to provide a link. I never got to see the segment before. Love the line from "Rhonda Byrne" about how she's "not a doctor or a scientist, I'm just a simple girl who believes I control the universe with my mind." Or however it goes.

As for Oprah, the perfect word for her these days is...unctuous. Once upon a time, maybe back when she was raking in her first billion or so, she still projected a sincere (or seemingly sincere) girlfriend-next-door charm. In recent years--though she still tries to AFFECT that original persona--it has been replaced by a condescension that knows no bounds....

And Mr. Spin, don't even get me started with your question about which presidential candidates are from SHAMland. My kneejerk answer would be: all of them.

moi said...

Steve, I really like your article and agree with most everything you say. The only thing I have a problem is your comment about health care : "Statistics on health-care utilization, for example, leave scant doubt that we're a people who increasingly flee orthodox medicine for mind-body regimens whose own advocates not only refuse to cite clinical proof, but dismiss the very idea of proof." If health care were not such a mess, and it were easy for people to get decent care, I would not complain, but that simply is not the case. . One professor I know almost died from one of those viral infections that are so common in hospitals these days, and the procedure he went through was supposed to be simple and safe. Also, my best friend is a nurse and has seen firsthand the flagrant oversights of doctors who don't have enough time to correctly diagnose or treat their patients. In one such incident, the doctor ignored the advice of the nurses to give his patient the dose of insulin that would have saved his life. Apparently, there is a lot of narcissism involved, and too many doctors who have gotten into the business of healing for the money only. I think this may be one of the reasons people flock to alternative medicine these days. It's not the only reason, but one of them, IMHO.