Whirled Musings

Across the Universe with Cosmic Connie, aka Connie L. Schmidt...or maybe just through the dung-filled streets and murky swamps of pop culture -- more specifically, the New-Age/New-Wage crowd, pop spirituality & religion, pop psychology, self(ish)-help, business babble, media silliness, & related (or occasionally unrelated) matters of consequence. Hope you're wearing boots. (By the way, the "Cosmic" bit in my moniker is IRONIC.)

Friday, February 23, 2007

I’m mostly bored with it, but…

What I’m mostly bored with are my own rants about The Secret, not with what others have to say about it. I felt a need to share two links I came across today (just in case you haven't already found them, and I know some of you have). I’m just trying to maintain some balance in this ol’ Wish Book we call the Universe. Or at least some balance in the blogosphere.

So anyway...

Here’s a write-up about the Law of Attraction on SkepDic.com, the online version of The Skeptics Dictionary. Granted, it is written with a skeptical p.o.v. and a touch of cynicism; it could hardly be called dispassionate. But it provides a good, and, in my view, urgently needed, counterpoint to all of those "scientific" claims about the Law of Attraction, as well as some worthwhile links to related subjects: confirmation bias, manifestation, and magical thinking.

Via SkepDic I discovered a blogger named Mike (who, you can see by his pic, is the Devil incarnate); here’s his rant about The Secret. Warning for those who are sensitive: The language gets a little colorful, and there's a bit of name-calling, but it's just too funny to pass up.

Okay, that’s my contribution for the day. Now let's all get back to work.

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Blogger BigHeathenMike said...

Hey there, thanks for stopping by my little world of ranting and thanks for the link! The "devil incarnate", indeed! I just bookmarked you so I'll be back to read and enjoy another skeptical blogger's stuff. ;)

Friday, February 23, 2007 9:57:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Thanks, Mike! You are funnier than I dare to be. (I am still deluding myself that I have a sense of decorum. :-)) Meanwhile, if you want some amusement, Skeptico is going head to head with Joe "Mr. Fire" Vitale (on Joe's blog) regarding the Law of Attraction. ("It IS a law." "Is not!" "Is too!" "Is not!" "Is too!" And so on.)

Saturday, February 24, 2007 12:27:00 AM  
Anonymous Operators R. Standingby said...

There was recently a feature story about The Secret and Rhonda Byrne in he Style Section of the New York Times. I could not help but notice that it was critical but fair.

Shockingly, there were no sarcastic little insults directed by The New York Times against the folks who purchased the DVD or the book.

Cosmic Connie! You cannot let this injustice pass! Call the New York Times up right now and start telling them how to insult people in the name of "journalism" (or whatever it is you call this ongoing whine-fest of yours.)

I'm sure the New York Times is waiting to hear from you, CC!

Saturday, February 24, 2007 12:52:00 AM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

I like your name, Op.

I am not a journalist and do not pretend to be. Anything resembling real journalism here is a coincidence. This is a humor blog, although it is apparent that not all of the people find it funny all of the time.

I have not yet read the piece you cite, but in the type of feature story I believe you are talking about, sarcasm and insults are not appropriate. Even if an article has a critical slant, the writer is generally working under some journalistic guidelines to be "fair" (though "fair" is often in the eye of the beholder, particularly when it comes to media coverage).

At least the "fairness" bit applies to mainstream news outlets; tabloids and FOX-TV News are of course another story.

I am under no such restrictions of “fairness,” even as The Secret-friendly blogs are under no restrictions to be even remotely objective (or "fair") about their passions -- or about their detractors, for that matter.

Even if the writer of the NY Times piece personally thought "The Secret" is a load of crap, and that Rhonda is just a hustledork with a brilliant marketing idea -- and I'm not saying s/he does think this way -- the editor would have put the reins on any attempt to express such an opinion. The most that would be allowed would be for the writer to find a few critics and quote them, in order to present “the other side,” – and then wrap the whole thing up with something pretty neutral (e.g., "Whatever you think of 'The Secret,' there's no denying a lot of people like it. It's definitely a force to be reckoned with.")

By the way, the New York Times also ran a column by Maureen Dowd, who was pretty sarcastic about "The Secret" ("Giant Doom Magnet," Feb. 17). Being a bylined column with the clear purpose of expressing the opinion of the columnist, her sarcasm was appropriate. The same is true of the recent LA Times piece by Karin Klein. I have links to both of those in one of my previous posts.

On the other hand, let's not forget Larry King's two-part infomercial for "The Secret" last November (which included some non-"Secret" folks such as JZ Knight with her imaginary friend Ramtha). Although King is more infotainment than hard news, he has asked some pretty harshly critical questions of other guests, but he didn't with the "Secret" et al. gang -- not even in the guise of playing devil's advocate. Many non-Secret fans thought that was unfair.

And ABCNews.com also ran a non-critical feature on “The Secret” last November. Many non-Secret fans thought that was unfair.

OTOH, Time ran a critical commentary piece in December. Many Secret fans thought *that* was unfair.

And so on.

As I said, “fair” is in the eye of the beholder.

Finally, Op, I am sorry if this blog seems like a whine-fest to you, but you are certainly free to hang around other blogs where people brag about their expensive sports cars and other expensive toys all the livelong day.

Saturday, February 24, 2007 8:06:00 AM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

"Being a bylined column with the clear purpose of expressing the opinion of the columnist, her sarcasm was appropriate."

I just realized I dangled a participle or something. The sentence should have read, "Being a bylined column with the clear purpose of expressing the opinion of the columnist, *the* sarcasm was appropriate."

My apologies to Op and any who may be reading this.

Saturday, February 24, 2007 8:13:00 AM  
Blogger RevRon's Rants said...

"Shockingly, there were no sarcastic little insults directed by The New York Times against the folks who purchased the DVD or the book."

Sadly, the same can't be said about the flood of not-so-little insults directed at the New York Times by the "spiritual seekers" who obviously have more invested in the DVD & book than the purchase price. Can you feel the love?

Saturday, February 24, 2007 10:52:00 AM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Oh, yes, Ron, I feel the love! Let's face it, "The Secret" "attracts" sarcasm and name-calling as much as its detractors do. That's the Law of Attraction at work, I imagine.

Saturday, February 24, 2007 10:57:00 AM  
Anonymous moi said...

I just read Mike's rant. I think I would have probably written something similar but it would have been no where near as funny. He explains well, in simple language, one of the inherent problems with the secret: it is is not culturally transferrable because of its being bound by the very limited mind set of western spiritual entrepreneurs. It may work for a certain subset of middle to upper middle class americans and europeans who already have enough education and money to get many of the things they want, but try it in Africa, India, or post Katrina New Orleans (where I'm from ) and lets see how many bikes suddenly appear on doorsteps. Maybe if the Katrina victims just wished really hard for the promised federal money that still hasn't arrived, it would be pouring in and their homes would be restored.
I think I would have more respect for the secret people if what they wished for in the DVD were affordable hybrids for all, more intelligent presidents, a better health care system, great public schools and less corporate corruption. I wonder if Joe Vitale et el would make much money if the focus of their DVD were on manifesting those things rather than bikes, houses, and big pay checks. In fact, I challenge them to manifest the end ofstarvation in Africa. If the secret works 100% as they say it does, they should be able to do it? What d'ya think?

Saturday, February 24, 2007 10:59:00 AM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

And that, dear Moi, is one of the best comments I've seen here yet.

But I think such an effort as you suggest would be...I hate to attract negative thoughts here...doomed to failure.

I seem to recall that years and years ago, Werner Ehrhard, founder of est (later known as Landmark Forum), started something called The Hunger Project. John Denver and Valerie Harper and other celebs of the day were really into it. Though the goal was to end world hunger and poverty, the means of doing it was, apparently, not to send actual food and money to the starving and poor, but just to change one's thinking about hunger and poverty. It seemed to be all about making the affluent, mostly white participants in the Hunger Project feel good about themselves.

Sound familiar?

Then there is Haharishi Hashhish Stogi's...oops, I mean Maharishi Mahish Yogi's ongoing efforts to save the world and lower the crime rate through meditation and levitation.

So even if it's couched in altruism, the New Wage seems to be mostly about increasing the bankrolls of the New-Wage gurus, and perhaps marginally increasing the fortunes and short-term happiness of some of their follwers.

Saturday, February 24, 2007 11:15:00 AM  
Anonymous dbotm said...

"Then there is Haharishi Hashhish Stogi's...oops, I mean Maharishi Mahish Yogi's ongoing efforts to save the world and lower the crime rate through meditation and levitation."

Connie, I thought about this exact thing after I posted my comment, i.e. that it would seem like I was advocating saving the world through positive thoughts and meditation. I know people who are trying to do that- such as the deeksha movement.
While I think meditation can be a good thing, I don't think it should replace political and social action. I just made that comment because at least thinking about improving the conditions that I mentioned would put the focus on issues that, if addressed, would improve the lives of more people than the secret DVD. Then again, I have nothing against positive thinking to improve one's personal life. It's just that the secret is not a secret. Positive thinking has been around for a long time and there are better ways to go about it that don't blame people for attracting all of the less than desirable circumstances in their lives.
I also have one other major complaint against Secret. In one of the scenes, Joe, or someone else, says that 90% of people's families are dysfunctional, therefore it's no big deal- he overcame it, therefore so can every one else- with positive thinking, of course. I can't remember exactly what he said, but it came across as very condescending and arrogant. Yes, many people have dysfunctional families but it doesn't affect them all in the same way. Some people may be able to get by with some version of self help, but others need a much more serious intervention . I have seen really messed up people going to new wage know it alls for advice about how to deal with serious mental issues. Because many of these spiritual leaders are narcissists, they end up giving non professional advice that can really screw people up. This is where I think it can get dangerous.

Saturday, February 24, 2007 5:16:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Actually, I was being facetious. It didn't sound to me as if you were actually advocating saving the world thru meditation. And you've made some really good points as usual...esp. about the narcissism and irresponsibility of so many spiritual leaders.

Saturday, February 24, 2007 5:45:00 PM  
Anonymous moi said...

oops connie, seems I entered my moniker wrong. I was supposed to be moi in the comment above, but I suppose you figured it out.

Sunday, February 25, 2007 8:36:00 AM  
Anonymous moi said...

I want to clarify my comment above about new age leaders and psychology: It's usually fine to get advice from non-specialists, but there seems to be a trend in new wage culture that
looks upon insitutionally trained professionals as "bad" and not spiritual. So they try to steer people away from those venues. I personally see this as a potentially dangerous trend because most new wage leaders don't have the expertise and training to be dealing with serious emotional trauma and would not be able to recognize the signs of it when it came up.

Sunday, February 25, 2007 10:27:00 AM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

LOL, Moi, re the mistaken moniker... and ironic, since some "Secret" fans probably think I'm really scraping 'dbotm' of the barrel to get my material. (Groan.)

Despite my professed cynicism with "therapy overload" I agree with you that working with the right kind of therapist can be extremely helpful. And as you and others have noted, some of those New-Wage marketers who are so quick to say, "Get over it! Take responsibility and quit whining!" are, in fact, saying, "Buy my stuff instead!"

In Chapter 6 of SHAM, Steve Salerno writes about the danger of under-qualified people (in this case, "life coaches") working with clients who have serious problems better dealt with by psychotherapy or psychiatry. (Also see his Nov. 1 and Nov. 6, 2006 posts on SHAMblog.)

Sunday, February 25, 2007 11:08:00 AM  
Anonymous d'botm said...

Wow, I didn't realize my mistaken moniker could actually be read as a word: D'botm. I think I'll have to use that from now on. It goes well with your new label "garbage barge". An author I am reading from the 14th century claims that treasures are only found at the bottom of the sea. So let us scour the depths with enthuisiasm!

Sunday, February 25, 2007 12:52:00 PM  
Anonymous moi said...

ps I meant to say: like two catfish, let us scour the depths with enthusiasm!

Sunday, February 25, 2007 12:55:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

LOL, "dbotm!" We'll "sea" what happens. :-)

Sunday, February 25, 2007 12:59:00 PM  
Anonymous Needy N. How said...

Oh, please learn to manifest something new for you to talk about soon. I'm not sure how much longer I cam keep my eyes opened.

This ain't exactly the Algonquin Round Table. Think about it. Maybe you could show slides of your last vacation in Colonial Williamsburg.

Saturday, March 03, 2007 1:56:00 AM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Now, that's a fine idea, Needy. But I've never been to Williamsburg. I did go to Montana recently, though.

Anyway, I'm sorry if I'm boring you. But remember, if you get bored here there are plenty of other blogs to visit that you might find more interesting. You can read all about how people are manifesting expensive sports cars, Playboy models, two-million dollar mansions, and the like. There's something for everyone in the blogosphere!

Saturday, March 03, 2007 9:34:00 AM  

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