Tuesday, August 31, 2010

'Pay me—I am opportunistic.'

Interesting column on eSkeptic. Although the feature is eye-opening in many respects, readers of this blog may be particularly interested in Myth #3 (given the cultural totem that self-esteem has become).


God help us all, this is what self-help publishing has come to. And the author? I may be wrong (I haven't checked), but I'm willing to place a small wager that Alinka's true name is actually Debbie Schlossberg or Cathy Flaherty or some other whitebread moniker that has zero New Age panache.

Wait... I can see it now... Up next: a book made entirely from materials designed to be quantum-physics-friendly, such that the mere act of rustling the pages establishes a direct connection between you and the ever-beneficent Universe....


Cosmic Connie said...

Eye-rolling. But people such as Dr. David Hawkins (apparently a real M.D. but one who has gone off the deep end, woo-wise) are way ahead of Alinka in the embedded-powers area. Hawkins supposedly "muscle-tested" every line in one of his recent books to make sure all of his words had an elevated vibe level.

I've seen numerous other ads for other McSpirituality books and products that claim to be infused with energy or some sort of magickal properties. California spiritual hustler Steven Sadleir comes to mind...

And don't forget "the world's first web site that 'cleans' you while you view it."

Human gullibility is a bottomless well, from which the hucksters drink deeply and often.

Steve Salerno said...

CosCon: Thanks...I think. I feel rather behind-the-curve now. Maybe I should rechristen this "StaleBlog"? ;)

It's funny, in that I fear I'm somewhat guilty of the very phenomenon I describe in my book: I totally underestimated the New Age wing. (Or misunderestimated it, as a certain ex-president might have put it.) I focused the great bulk of my time and inquiry on the likes of Tony Robbins, Dr. Laura and Dr. Phil, whom I saw as the "heavy hitters"--people who were at least speaking coherently, even if I had major problems with their programs or personal hypocrisies. To me, people like, say, Rhonda Byrne were just so far beyond the pale that I didn't think they could gain significant cultural traction or be taken seriously by anyone with an IQ higher than a milkweed's. (Byrne, of course, hadn't hit the national radar when "SHAM" was published; I'm just using her as an example. But we'd already lived through Marianne Williamson and her miracles, so I don't know what I was thinking.) To me, Hicks and the rest of 'em were lunatic-fringe stuff, not worthy of serious examination.

I'm coming increasingly to realize that they may be the biggest threat after all.

Dimension Skipper said...

Nothing really to do with the post, but please bear with me (and apologies if y'all are already long ago aware of it, but I got a good laugh out of it)...

I've been watching season 4 of Buffy The Vampire Slayer on DVD. At the beginning of "The Yoko Factor" (written by Doug Petrie) there's a scene between Adam (The Initiative's Frankenstein-like amalgamation of human, demon, and cybernetic parts) and Spike (Buffy's long-time evil vampire nemesis who's been "declawed" by The Initiative having put a microchip in his brain which causes him excruciating pain when he intends to hurt humans)...

ADAM: Two slayers?
SPIKE: That's right.
A: And you killed them both?
S: Yep. I killed the hell out of'em.
A: Yet you fear this *one*?
S: Hey, watch it, mate! I don't fear anything... just know my enemies.
A: Do you? Then why haven't you killed *this* slayer yet?
S: Because... (pause) Stinking, rotten luck is why. On top of that now I've got this buggering chip up my head.
A: Yes. Your behavior modification circuitry. I know what you feel.
S: Not likely.
A: You feel smothered. Trapped like an animal. Pure in its ferocity. Unable to actualize the urges within. Clinging to one Truth... like a flame struggling to burn within an enclosed glass. That a beast this powerful cannot be contained. Inevitably it will break free and savage the land again. *I* will make you whole again, make you savage.
S: (Sighs w/evil longing)... Wow. I mean, *yeah*. I get why the demons all fall in line with you. You're like Tony Robbins... if he was a big, scary, Frankenstein-looking... (pauses with realization) ...You're *exactly* like Tony Robbins.

Dimension Skipper said...

Oops. Forgot to add (and this was really much more relevant)...

I thought that Steve had typoed the facebook link due to the alina/alinka discrepancy. But I clicked it and it turns out he didn't.... Apparently Alin(k)a—or (one of) her fan(s)—just can't spell her name right. (Putting the 'k' in the fb link just leads to a 'no such page' page.) Of course, that's probably why Steve's theorizing on the whitebread truenameness of the perpetrator... uh, I mean entrepreneur.

Cosmic Connie said...

Not stale at all, Steve. You have provided a timely reminder of the silliness that prevails.

At the risk of stating the obvious, it's really all about money. Ideas that once would have been considered too wacky for mainstream acceptance have, over the past couple of decades, become much more accepted. Part of this is the natural process that occurs with the passage of time, which has a way of smoothing the sharp edges of the bizarre and rendering it closer to "normal." But I think the chief factor is that mainstream SHAM marketers and entrepreneurs have seen the money ops and have run with them. (Oh, I know some of them were probably engaged in some sort of genuine spiritual search or quest for meaning or insights into the great mystery of life, but we'd be fools to dismiss the money factor.)

At the same time, technology (particularly the Internet) has allowed the "far-out" thinkers to become ever more entrepreneurial in ever more sophisticated ways. Hence the lines between traditional self-improvement SHAM and airy-fairy metaphysical/McSpirituality SHAM are becoming increasingly and hopelessly blurred. Add the hardcore Internet marketing hucksters and get-rich-quicksters to the mix and you have a toxic stew of scammers.

The main reason I've been so aware of the "lunatic fringe" (which, of course, is no longer nearly as fringe-y as it once was) is that I was part of it for a few years -- marginally, anyway (perhaps I was on the fringe of the fringe?) -- and I still keep a close eye on it even though I am no longer a "believer."

That said, I too have probably done a fair bit of "misunderestimating" when it comes to issues concerning threat or serious harm. But I've long been aware of the growing influence of woo. I guess we should let nothing surprise us in that area.

Steve Salerno said...

DimSkip: Thanks, as always, for upping the entertainment factor. We sorely need that here.

Steve Salerno said...

Posted by SS on behalf of Bonnie C (who encountered one of Blogger's notorious "issues"):

I love to read the comments by readers of books on Amazon to get a feel for whether something is worth reading or not, so I followed the link to "buy the book on Amazon" to read the reviews.

Isn't it absolutely strange that almost all the commenters have only a first name, and that most have only reviewed that one book? - and those that have reviewed more have mostly only reviewed Rhonda Byrne's books, and very recently at that, and in their reviews there, they recommended this "Magical" book by Alina or Alinka. Strange that. Looks like the author has been very busy writing not only her book.

Just wish that you didn't have to be an Amazon customer with an account in order to make a comment, or I would point the phony and her phony reviews of her own book out!

Voltaire said...

Isn't the title of this book simply a variant on a pickup line that goes "Have sex with me, I'm magical?"

Steve Salerno said...

Volty: What's interesting is that because today's culture is so very into what we might call "clever obscurity," you can play with titles in such a way that they seem to have deep meanings, almost irrespective of what you do with the words.

Take, for example, the title you propose here. We could turn it around ("Have Magic With Me--I'm Sexual"), and it still seems to have a wickedly delicious meaning. Or how 'bout "Let's Have Magical Sex--I'm Me!", which seems a celebration of both intimacy and self-esteem. Or: "Have Me--I'm Magically Sexual." And on and on...

Cosmic Connie said...

Bonnie C, I understand your frustration about not being able to participate in Amazon discussions. Ron has run into the same limitation because he hasn't ordered from Amazon either. But I've taken advantage of my status as an Amazon customer to point out the contrived nature of some of the discussions around Rhonda Byrne's latest master work. I horned in on the discussion following 'Melissa King's' comment, for example. It really doesn't do much good that I can see, but at least my comments are there.

And I am still loving the fact that Steve's review of The Power has so far drawn more discussion than anyone else's.

Elizabeth said...

Thanks for the eSkeptic's Myths, Steve -- interesting stuff.

Alinka is... um, charming. ;) And mostly benign in her articles (but I won't buy her "magical" book, I'm sorry to say).

Cosmic Connie said...

For those who are in the market for yet more magickally embedded products, a Dr. Mel Gill, the genius behind the New-Wage moviemercial "The Meta-Secret"...

...also has a line of supercharged motivational posters, enhanced with "NeuroActive Technologies," that will boost your energy levels and manifestation ability, using advanced psychotronic generators that are embedded right into the product. Yes, really.

Here's the link...
...but good luck getting the web site to display properly. I think maybe Dr. Gill needs to manifest a Web person who knows how to generate code.

Anonymous said...

Thought you would like this - nothing to do with the post, but guy is using positive thinking to break a board over his head.