Wednesday, May 19, 2010

'Subscribe to my blog for the low-low price of $299...and I'll show you why all blogs are worthless!'

Don't know about you, but I'm getting increasingly irritated with bozos like this, and their pitches that basically go, "All self-help is b.s....but here's a program (i.e., mine) that will really help you succeed!"

I'm reminded also of the proliferation of Secret alumni who, as the economy collapsed around us, began hawking second-generation Secret spin-offs of their own devising that either provided the missing "key" to the Law of Attraction, enunciated some sub-law that somehow got left out of the original, or otherwise explained why Byrne's Boondoggle didn't quite work as expected. (Our friend James Ray was part of that.) What colossal hubris! And what colossal stupidity on the part of any consumer who helped make such a program a winner.

37 comments:

Karl said...

I have heard interviews with a couple of the stars of the "Secret" saying that most of what they said when being interviewed was left on the cutting room floor.

This temporary sense of loss or irritation no doubt turned to jubilation when the Secreteers realized that this allowed them a second bite at the cherry....books, audio seminars and all-day seminars.

Stever Robbins said...

I disagree with some of Noah's claims right out of the gate. He says that what drives our behaviors is an internal calculus of Why-to and Why-nots.

We've learned a lot about how human beings make decisions in recent decades. Pattern-matching, stimulus-response, and habituation have far more to do with why we do things than any sort of deep logic.

In fact, according to a presentation I saw Daniel Goleman give a few years ago, decisions basically happen in the brain stem BEFORE there's any conscious awareness, and then we essentially make up conscious explanations for decisions we've already made.

That's why logic almost never convinces anyone of something they disagree with emotionally. Logic, sadly, simply isn't particularly tied in with our decision-making or behavioral apparatus.

Steve Salerno said...

Stever: I didn't even get into the nitty-gritty of what his "program" is, but I agree with you wholeheartedly. Any self-improvement system that oversimplifies the mechanics of human behavior...is overly simple.

Bob Collier said...

"What Really Causes Human Behavior?"

Yeah, that's a good one. :-)

I'm reminded of the life coach who wrote an article about how to become a life coach that totally trashed the whole idea of life coaching. Step 1 was "Call yourself a life coach", and it went on from there. But obviously the criticisms in his article didn't include him.

It was the same guy who also let slip in a video about his "how to become wealthy" book that his income from life coaching for the previous year had been four figures.

Steve Salerno said...

Bob: Yes. That's perversely funny.

To me, the most subtly revealing anecdote about life coaching is the one I reference in my book. At the time I was doing my research, there was this major life-coaching site that had two prominent links on its main page. One was something like, "Do you need life coaching?" The other was, "Would you like to become a life coach?" That's kind of like going into a medical building and seeing two signs. One says, "Do you need medical help?" The other says, "Would you like to provide medical help?"

I dunno. Maybe that's not as revealing as I thought it was. But it just struck me funny.

Anonymous said...

Hi Steve et al,

I had the "pleasure" of sitting in a lecture by Joe Dispensa from "What the Bleep" for an hour here in London.

Here are some of the gems:

Your Personality is your Personal Reality - Really Deep...

and

"Change your thoughts - change your genes" Oh Really


Its almost as good as Tolles " You can't change your mind if you are in your mind" well where exactly are you then ......

Rant Over - I feel better now

Londoner

Steve Salerno said...

Londoner: Thanks for that daily dose of inspiration.

But have you considered, maybe he was talking about hygiene: He might have meant, "change your thoughts, change your jeans..."

Anonymous said...

Steve, what you're objecting to here is no different than how it is in any other consumer marketing realm. If I'm selling a new and improved mop, my ad is going to be about how the other guy's mop isn't as good. Why single out self help gurus?

Steve Salerno said...

Anon 9 a.m., I don't think that's quite the MO here. This is more like saying, "All mops are a useless waste of money...so here's my new mop!" These guys (and gals) attack the very essence of self-help--and then try to sell you their version of it, which fits the same description as what they're attacking.

Anonymous said...

This is anon 9:00 again, I still feel that what you've done here is unfairly singling out self help gurus. I also think you have to face up to the fact that your own biases may be responsible for your reactions here as much as anything objectionable about the gurus or their ads themselves.

RevRon's Rants said...

We all operate from the perspective of our own biases. Fortunately, there seems to be a trend toward basing those biases upon common sense and quantifiable results, rather than the absurd "what if it works" that is so endemic to the self-help industry.

VW = irlogici... hmmm

Steve Salerno said...

Ron: This goes back to my point about how not all biases and predispositions are created equal. My saying "I believe that there are tiny green fairies hiding in my Raisin Bran" is not equivalent to your saying "I don't believe that there are tiny green fairies hiding in your Raisin Bran." One of us has evidence on our side--or at least can point to the utter lack of evidence on the other person's side.

RevRon's Rants said...

You've obviously never sampled one of my brownies, Steve, or you would've come up with a different analogy! :-)

Steve Salerno said...

Hmmm. I wonder if this blog is read by folks at the DEA?

RevRon's Rants said...

They can make their own damn brownies. We ate all of mine. :-)

Charles Knight said...

I must say the self-help industry is not alone in this "look at what the others are while wer're better/different".
In times of economic trouble companies will try to rubbish the competition in their own sector in order to differentiate themselves. Nothing new.
What's interesting is what makes them think the public will fall for this?

Anonymous said...

I don't know about anybody else, but I would like very much to see Steve Salerno call this guy a "bozo" to his face.

"Don't know about you, but I'm getting increasingly irritated with bozos like this, and their pitches that basically go"

Look the guy up and ask him for a meeting and call him a "bozo" to his face Steve, and please let us know how it works out for you?

Elizabeth said...

Ah, Steve, forget "The Secret" and its amateurish spin-offs. They are so last century -- so unscientific and New Age-y that no self-respecting person would be caught dead following them (or would they...?). Especially since now we have the "solid" and research-based alternative in the form of positive psychology, which is spreading around the world like a wildfire.

See the below from Barbara Ehrenreich's Why Forced Positive Thinking Is a Total Crock:

I approached my chance to interview Martin Seligman in May 2007 with some trepidation. Only three months earlier I had published an essay in Harper's critical of both positive psychology and pop positive thinking. Sure enough, when I first encountered Seligman he was practically scowling. "There he is!" the security guard at the reception desk in a boxlike building at the University of Pennsylvania said, pointing upward to a short, solid, bullet-headed man looking down from the second-floor balcony. I smiled and waved, to which Seligman responded only, "You'll have to take the elevator."

He was not, however, waiting for me on the second floor and had disappeared into his office. His secretary informed me that he would be busy for a minute and that he wanted me to meet these two ladies from the Australian military while I waited. After shaking their hands and learning that they had come for help in "preventing problems before they get to the complaint stage," I was ushered into his office, only to face another delay—a phone call from the BBC, he told me, which I was welcome to sit through, although no chair was offered.

The phone call—to schedule an interview about a plan to offer "optimism training" in the British public schools—seemed to lift his spirits, and after a few minutes of innocuous conversation, he announced that it was such a beautiful day that it would be a shame to spend it indoors. "I have a plan," he said. "We're going to go the art museum. Flowers will be blooming outdoors and we can see the Monets." I protested weakly that this excursion might interfere with note taking, not bothering to point out the contradiction between being in a museum and being outdoors. But apparently he was following his own instruction from Authentic Happiness: "Choose your venue and design your mood to fit the task at hand." As soon as we were in a taxi heading to the museum, he revealed that the Monets were his wife's idea. "That'll put her in a good mood," she had suggested. I began to wonder whether the Australian visitors and the BBC call had been timed, in part, for my benefit.


Continue at the link above.

RevRon's Rants said...

I don't know about anyone else, anonymous, but what I'd really like to see is for the folks who come into other people's blogs and take potshots at the blogger - without adding anything remotely substantive to the discussion - to actually identify themselves when posting their comments, rather than hiding their obvious inability to participate intelligently behind the mask of anonymity. But that's just me. :-)

Anonymous said...

Martin Seligman's well documented affiliations with fascist organisations, Traditionalism and the work of Julius Evola raise major red flags around the notion of 'positive psychology.'

Ehrenreich's article touches on this:
"As for positive psychology, Seligman himself certainly leans to the right. He is famously impatient with "victims" and "victimology," saying, for example, in a 2000 interview: "In general when things go wrong we now have a culture which supports the belief that this was done to you by some larger force, as opposed to, you brought it on yourself by your character or your decisions."

and goes on to make the further point that Seligman's main appeal is to employers and other authorities wanting to get more productivity from fewer workers---find how to con them into a positive mind-set and they will happily work more for less pay. This seems to underscore Stever's valid point that decisions are made emotionally then rationalised logically after the fact, the foundation stone of all effective sales and persuasion strategies.

Steve Salerno said...

Anon et al, I sort of agree, but let's be a bit careful in the offhand labels we throw around.

Karl said...

The following is not on subject but is a comment on the story about Wayne Dyer being sued for plagiarism. Stephen Mitchell is more famously Byron Katie's husband.

Dyer and BK used to be as "thick as thieves''. Perhaps like most thieves they have had a falling out.

Cosmic Connie said...

What Karl said. I was just getting ready to make a similar comment. Interestingly (well, it's interesting to me, anyway) Mitchell himself has been criticized for the work that Dyer supposedly plagiarized from; many think he took far too many liberties in his interpretations of the Tao Te Ching.
http://tinyurl.com/35hyfuh

But many liked the book, including this credible reviewer, highlighted on the Amazon page:
"I have read many translations of this ancient text but Mitchell’s is by far the best."
-- James Frey, author of A Million Little Pieces

BTW, like a good hubby, Mitchell has been on the front line defending Katie in his own SNAG-ish, passive-aggressive manner when others accuse *her* of plagiarizing.
http://tinyurl.com/ykovcew

Dave Q. said...

I don't know about anybody else, but it seems to me that Mr. Salerno emulates saying things "right to the face" just by NOT being anonymous. He is, in fact, very not-anonymous.

One thing, though, Steve: The chiding of those who would fall for the crap in question seems an awful lot like 'blaming the victim.' That is very NOT like you, normally.

I regularly enjoy the heck out of your blog, by the way.

Dave

Anonymous said...

" Mr. Salerno emulates saying things "right to the face" just by NOT being anonymous. He is, in fact, very not-anonymous."

Dave Q., like some cyber advocates today, your point does not to draw a distinction between "real life" off the computer and the fantasy world on the computer.

"right to the face" does not mean being "not-anonymous".

People use their real names and faces as avatars, it is still emotionless, and without immediate consequences and quite removed from real life. People in blogs are very "brave".

"Right to his face" means "right to his face", in the world off the computer anyway. But real life is an acquired taste , not for every one. In real life calling a person "bozo" to their face, especially in the context Steve used it, would more than likely have consequences that would have him not use language like that to begin with.

RevRon's Rants said...

Anonymous - Just curious... In what way does your post address the topic under discussion, which - in case you missed it - is the all-too-common hustledork practice of denigrating the scams of all hustledorks, while promoting the same scams?

I find it ironic that you implicitly accuse Steve of cowardice, while continuing to snipe at him anonymously. You are actually helping him make his point, although unwittingly, I'm sure.

Anonymous said...

Ron, I did not "accuse Steve of cowardice" but you just did.

"Anonymity" is an accepted standard on the internet despite the fact that you try and portray it as otherwise.

My post addressed the opening salvo of this post where Steve calls someone a bozo. "....Don't know about you, but I'm getting increasingly irritated with bozos like this, and..." Ron while you might have a problem with what I chose to adress in the content of this post, I do not.

And Ron you can be however you want to be about name-calling and labelling others "hustledorks" and "Bozos" behind their backs. Go for it.

Steve Salerno said...

OK... Maybe it's just me, but I am at a loss to understand why this sub-thread has gone on as long as it has. Over my use of the term bozo? Are you kidding me? You hear far worse stuff on the playground of the local K-6 school! Besides which, there's a playful quality to bozo--it just sounds funny, even out of context--and that alone, I would think, makes its use rather whimsical (aside from making it clearly one of the least offensive and non-threatening terms of non-endearment a person could utter). Besides which, this is commentary. That's what people do in commentary. They comment. And sometimes they comment in strong language (which, I repeat, does not apply to bozo in any case).

And further, because I know for a fact that it's such a mild term, surely in comparison to the stuff that flies back and forth daily in the blogosphere, I have to believe that my accuser here is just trying to nitpick/provoke me. "Looking for things" to seize upon and say "Gotcha!"

If that's not it, then I don't get it. I honestly don't. All this over that?? Isn't the theme I raise here (i.e. the actual subject matter) worthy of more comment than my use of an offhand term?

Or--tell me the truth now--is my anonymous critic the bozo I'm referring to in this post?

RevRon's Rants said...

Actually, I prefer to say things to people's faces. The online method just allows me to reach out a bit further, while still letting people know to whom they're talking. As anyone who read my comment knows, I've never accused Steve of being a coward. A stubborn determinist, perhaps. Overly tolerant of trolls, definitely. :-)

Anonymous said...

Steve, how you used the term "bozo" and how you are explaining it now do not match. I do not hear it as even remotely "whimsical" or un-offensive or as a non-threatening term of non-endearment. I amn ot that person, and I am not nit-picking, I am commenting on your use of the term "bozo" towards one of our own, a fellow American citizen. I thought the culture of cyber name-caling and causal slander worthy of commentary.

Anonymous said...

"I have to believe that my accuser here is just trying to nitpick/provoke me. "Looking for things" to seize upon and say "Gotcha!"

Steve what did I unjustly "accuse" you of? Namecalling? Is that not an accurate discription of you refering to another person as "bozo"?

And isn't the entire premise of your blog one long exercise in "looking for things" to seize upon and say "Gotcha!"? (Except always about others of course and not about you.)

This is Shamblogs compass? comparing itself "to the stuff that flies back and forth daily in the blogosphere,"? That is your justification for insulting people who you never met?

Steve Salerno said...

I get it now! S/heeeeee's baaaaackkk!!!

RevRon's Rants said...

'Bout time, Bozo! :-)

Dave Q. said...

Personally, I feel bad for not adhering to one of the cardinal rules of commenting:

DON'T FEED THE TROLLS

For that, I apologize.

Anonymous said...

The way you three marginalize and treat a view that is not cheering your point of view shows how mobs form and do the things that they do in society.

Calling Steve on using the term "bozo" is not that outragious or off topic not is it "trollng".

Dissenting views are just not welcome. Dissenting views are given a few posts to conform and then the disrespect, personal insults and mocking starts to distract from the view being expressed. If the Shamblog people observed any outside "group" acting that way Shamblog people themselves do, they would accuse them of using "thought control" or some harmful manipulative "LGAT" tactic.

This bog shows how easy it is to get three grown men to agree that calling another person a "bozo" with an utmost of contempt and mean spirit, is ok and good for a sober useful dialogue and anyone who questions it is a troll.

Steve Salerno said...

OK, I gave you that parting shot, now enough with the bozo!

Anonymous said...

As always, thanks for posting my comments especially the "parting shots". You don't have to and you do, I appreciate that.