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.)

Monday, August 27, 2007

Just another Monday snipefest

It's a busy Monday so I'll just serve up snippets again today...

Logic eludes me (and so, apparently, does success)
This past week a couple of bloggers, beginning with my pal Jody at
Guruphiliac, linked to my piece, "The Wrath Of The Secretrons." This piece was first published on the Committee For Skeptical Inquiry (Skeptical Inquirer) web site in late March; I announced its publication on my March 30 blog post. Now there's a whole new round of interest in the piece, and as a result, I’ve been getting some emails. By far most have been complimentary, though two three people thus far have corrected me on one small point regarding logical fallacies. Under the sub-head, "Projecting backwards," I included a quotation from SHAMblog's Steve Salerno about a posteriori reasoning. I was quoting Steve's Amazon review of The Secret, a review that seemed to be missing in action when I searched for it last night. Anyway, my two three correspondents wrote that what was described as a posteriori reasoning was probably post hoc ergo propter hoc ("before therefore because").

Steve tells me that while this clarification may be technically correct, in popular usage it's a different story, and that most people he knows use the shorthand "a posteriori" to refer (in a casual sense) to the post/ergo/propter fallacy.

In any case, I never claimed that logic or critical thinking were my strong suit, but I do appreciate the clarification and feedback from all. Hey, I’m still learning. (And Steve, if I have in any way misrepresented or misinterpreted your thoughts in my Secretrons article, well, here's some more Latin: Mea culpa.)

My Secretrons article even briefly made the Secret/Powerful Intentions discussion group – though if you click that link you'll see the thread has since been removed. I received a very nice and thoughtful email from one of the members of that forum, who reminded me that not everyone who's a Secret fan is in it for the greed. In other words, not everyone who likes The Secret is a "Secretron."

Some folks elsewhere have apparently had some problems with my article, as indicated in a discussion on Steve Pavlina’s "Personal Development For Smart People" forum. A junior member opened the thread by providing a link to my article and asking for opinions about it. A senior member answered:

It's an interesting article, but the author:

A. Doesn't seem that successful and probably isn't a good source on how to get what you want, whether through the LoA or other conventional means.

B. Doesn't talk about any positive alternatives to the LoA.

At least she doesn't call fans of the Secret "secretards" like some other bloggers I've seen.

To which I can only respond:
A. I’ve never claimed to be "successful," whatever that means.
B. It’s not my job on this blog – nor was it my purpose in writing about my experiences for the CSI piece – to tell other people how to get what they want, or how to be "successful." I’m beginning to feel a bit like the aforementioned Steve Salerno, who has been criticized because his book
SHAM doesn’t offer any solutions to the problems created by our self-help-saturated culture. That wasn't the purpose of his book.

Another person on Steve Pavlina’s forum wrote:

I'm sorry, but there are a few things which the author doesn't understand.

1. You don't just buy a book or DVD about the Law of Attraction and become phenomenally successful overnight. It doesn't work that way. Among other things, you have to learn how to use the Law of Attraction, and that takes time (and practice).

2. The author's point seems to be that the "LOA experts" were not phenomenally successful from Day One. The big hole in her argument is that she doesn't know when the "LOA experts" started using LOA, and what happened thereafter. She is doing the "backward projection" – unfortunately she has no idea which point in time she should project backwards to.

3. The general impression she tries to convey is that the LOA is a nonsensical fad recently invented to achieve widespread success through "viral marketing" - something like that notoriously bad singer William Hung from American Idol some years back. However, LOA isn't a fad - it's been around for a long time, in different forms. It is one of the eight or nine ancient Hindu siddhis (note - it is only one of the eight or nine siddhis (or powers)); you see an early description of LOA in 1932 by Napoleon Hill; while Jane Roberts' Seth talked a lot about the same sort of thing in the 1960s or 1970s except that Seth didn't call it "Law of Attraction"; then in the 1980s and 1990s, you had Abraham Hicks. Extensive descriptions of how "thoughts create reality" and "reality is illusion" etc show up long, long ago in Buddhism.

Condescension duly noted. Let me answer those points one by one:

  1. I have never said, implied, or believed that one can buy a book or DVD and then "become successful overnight." My beef is with the hustledorks who do make those promises or strong implications about near-overnight or easy success – at least when they’re trying to get you to buy their products. Many of the promoters of The Secret are guilty of this tactic. "It’s like having the Universe as your catalog… it’s really that easy!" Sound familiar? Of course, they spend the rest of their time backpedaling and qualifying what they said.
  2. If the writer thinks that my main point (and criticism) about the stars of The Secret is that they were not "phenomenally successful from Day One," then he is missing the point. Or perhaps my writing was not clear enough. What I was trying to say, and have said all along, is that the stars of The Secret have spent a great deal of time and effort saying that LOA – as presented in The Secret – has been the key to their success. But in my experience, they pretty much say that about anything they’re promoting – as I have pointed out numerous times on this blog. And in making my argument, such as it is, I am not engaging in any sort of "backward projection" myself; I don’t need to know when the New-Wage gurus began using LOA or EMF tapping or Ho’oponopono or whatever. I am basing my opinion on the outrageous claims these people make. At the risk of stating (or restating) the obvious… these folks will attribute their stunning success to just about anything as long as there is $omething in it for them.
  3. I have never said or implied that LOA is a recently invented fad, and that was not the point of my article. In fact, I mentioned that Rhonda Byrne was originally inspired by Wallace D. Wattle’s classic The Science of Getting Rich, a book that is nearly 100 years old. I am also aware that LOA ideas are much older than that. Further, despite the fact that I am not a particularly "successful" person and offer no alternatives to the LOA, I am not entirely ignorant. I’ve heard tell of ancient spiritual traditions that promote related ideas, although I don’t really think Buddha taught people how to attract a new car or a mansion. As someone else responded on that discussion thread, "There is a reason Shakyamuni never said 'Food cannot cause you to put on weight, unless you think it can.' There is a reason Krishna never advised people how to use cheap tricks to obtain a diamond necklace. This reason seems to be the Real Secret."

    And, say what you will about the ancient roots of the notion of one's thoughts creating one's reality, there is no denying that viral marketing and other contemporary cultural phenomena made The Secret the astonishing success – and, yes, the contemporary fad – that it is.

More sniping at The Secret
Despite the criticism (which, of course, I’m pretty used to by now), those who have written directly to me have for the most part been very supportive of my "Secretrons" article and have directed my attention to some other small gems. "Anti-guru"
Steve Sashen, for example, was quoted in an article that appeared early this year in the London Free Press. And another writer pointed me to a new parody book, Who Moved My Secret? It looks pretty enlightening to me – more so than the original, to be sure. The parody is by comedy writer Jim Gerard, who also penned Beam Me Up, Jesus: A Heathen’s Guide To The Rapture.

Knowing which way the wind blows
As I predicted, Hurricane Diva
Phoenix, aka Lynn Marks, is claiming to have had a hand in taming the late Hurricane Dean. I just got an email update from the Wind Whisperer the other night.

A group of like-minded, spirit souls - from across America, Jamaica, UK and Australia - met for Prayers and Meditation for Hurricane Dean three times this past weekend. The size of the state of Texas and the 10th largest hurricane ever recorded since the 1850's, Hurricane Dean consistently answered and honored our prayers. First time we met he was on a path to hit the Dominican Republic and Haiti; instead he veered south of the coast. Next the eye of the storm was on a direct course for Kingston, Jamaica and the entire island country. Again our prayers were answered and he moved his 145 mph winds south of the coastline, leaving maximum 80 mph winds and less rain. Now Dean, a Category 5 storm with 155+ mph winds, was forecasted to slam Mexico's Yucatan and densely populated tourist Mayan Riviera cities of Cancun and Cozumel. We started the meditation at 8 pm. At 9:30, sounding rather befuddled, CNN's Anderson Cooper said: "Hurricane Dean's just jogged sort of south." Dean would make landfall in Chetuma, a nature reserve, inhabited mostly by animals. The 3,500 Mayan villagers had been evacuated. And, once again Dean defied predictions, never regaining strength as he crossed to the other side of the Yucatan or threatening Mexico's oil rigs and moving on to northern Mexico or Texas. Instead, just as requested, he returned to the nothing fro [sic], where he came and seemed to simply fizzle away.

I am sure this will be a comfort to the families of the 26 or so folks who lost their lives, and to the hundreds who lost their homes and businesses, as Dean was in the process of returning to the nothing from where he came.

I know what you’re going to say: "Oh, but it could have been a lot worse, Cosmic Connie, if it weren’t for the Prayers and Mediations of all of those like-minded spirit souls!"

Well…okay… maybe you’re right. After all, Spirit Diva was able to get three channeled messages from Hurricane Dean, two of which I quoted the other day. In the third one, he said:

Do not give into what appears to be true.

Stay centered with your higher self, your true spirit self.

See and Feel with God's eyes and heart.

Know that you hold the key to alal [sic] that is.

Even holding an ounce of faith has the power to move mountains as they say

In this case me.


By the way, you might be interested in knowing that Spirit Diva communicated with Hurricane Rita a couple of years ago. Rita told her: "MY PURPOSE IS LOVE AND UNIFICATION. I STRIKE A chord for all people who have ever experienced harm or been in harm's way. I melt their resentment and awaken their love center, their compassion and gratefulness...." So perhaps we can also thank Spirit Diva and her helpers (along with Mr. Fire and his helpers, of course), for the fact that Rita turned out to be just another sweet lady hurricane who came into being to teach us humans about "love and unification."

As you might expect, Spirit Diva has communicated with numerous other hurricanes. And they’ve all had some very important messages for us. Oddly enough, that beeyotch Katrina apparently never spoke to S.D. But no matter; S.D. is still doing her part to help the victims of that taciturn but very destructive storm, and will be at the ceremonies in New Orleans August 29 to mark the second anniversary of Katrina’s visit.

"Are you Dreaming now?"
I hate to disappoint you, Dear Ones, but that was not a lead-in to another piece of juicy gossip about
Dreaming-Bear, Maui’s half-naked mystical poet, phony Indian, and resident poseur. Instead, it was the subject line on an email I received from my favorite New-Wage spam service. The message continued, "New DreamMask allows you to change and control your dreams at night... Now you can Dream whatever you like!"

The message continued: "No Kidding – It's Guaranteed to work for YOU. You will know within minutes of taking it out of the box. Imagine the Implications of this!"

The product in question is a kit to facilitate lucid dreaming. Here, as listed in the email, are some of the possible benefits:

  • Grow spritually [sic] at an astounding rate
  • Have more FUN than you can imagine
  • How about Remote Viewing or "Out of Body"
  • Solve problems by talking it over with Einstein, Tesla, Mark Twain or your own hero
  • Finally get relief from harassing nightmares
  • Have romantic encounters like maybe finding a cozy restaurant in Paris with your Dream Date experiencing all the sights, sounds, smells and emotions that go with it! How about Rome or Greece tomorrow night? Or maybe even New Jersey! No...just kidding.
  • And much much more…

And it’s only $250.00 US.

The "Man Behind the Mask" is Bruce Gelerter, CEO of Wellness Tools. Bruce writes:

My experience spans from working on the "Star Wars" projects during the Reagan era to space and ground based Lasers at Allied Corporation which were used for research at Los Alamos Labs and then GE Medical working in Radiology spending a lot of time in hospitals getting to see behind the scenes in patient care and treatments. GE Medical was my last job because after seeing how people weren’t being taken care of properly I made a commitment to myself to use my abilities to design and search for ways to empower people to take their health back.

The first device I designed 12 years ago was the NeuroTrek Digital Pro, which is a microcurrent device capable of changing brain state in just seconds. Then I designed the BioTrue 1000 [only $849.95 US] which is a Galvanic Skin Resistance (GSR) device capable of getting feedback from the body in response to testing for supplements and allergens.

Bruce wants you to know that his inventory of the DreamMask is limited as "we only make only 50 at a time to insure the highest quality so get yours."

And I gotta admit, Bruce has some pretty powerful testimonials for the DreamMask. Well, he has one pretty powerful testimonial anyway. Okay, one testimonial. It’s from a guy named Joe in Colorado. Hey, it’s a start.

It sounds like baloney to me, but…
You may have read about
a guy in Spain, Manuel Maldonado, who is raising some very carefully fed hogs in order to produce a new variety of hoity-toity ham for food snobs. These hams are expected to go for $2,100.00 per leg, which will amount to about $160.00 a pound, making the results of Manuel's labor the most expensive hams in the world. According to this AP article by Amanda Rivkin:

The 2006 Alba Quercus Reserve (as this pricey pork will be known) won't be available until late 2008 and you must buy the whole ham or nothing at all. But that hasn't dissuaded gastronomic Web sites and blogs from buzzing with talk of the farm where it is being produced, likening it to a Mount Olympus of pork.

I guess people have a right to spend their money any way they wish. But why pay $160.00 a pound when there are so many hams we can all enjoy for free?

Sorry, I just had to get one more snipe in...

One more thing before I go: I normally publish comments as soon as I receive them, but if there's a delay in publishing yours, don't worry. Several times over the past couple of weeks I've been having a little bit of trouble receiving the comments through the regular channel (my email account), and have been having actually sign on to Blogger to moderate them. I don't know if this is a glitch in Blogger or Juno, but don't worry; I will get to your comment soon.

And now back to our regularly scheduled work day.

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