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.)

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Another li'l ol' snippet day...

Just a few little snippets today, Dear Ones. I'm dealing with work deadlines (and it's a good thing, as Martha would say).

New-Wage guilt redux

An alert reader sent me an email:
Have you seen this thread on Steve Pavlina's forums?

[Here my reader quotes from the person initiating the thread. ~CC]

But now she's back in the hospital again, and this time they're saying they don't expect her to walk back out. Anywhere from three days to three weeks, they're saying. And I am tormented with guilt and doubt. What did I do wrong? Why didn't it work, when I truly believed that it would?

[End quote...and the reader continues with the comment. ~CC]

The opening post makes me so sad, and then some of the replies make me angry as hell. ("it was her time, etc.")


Ah the frustration at the whole thing....
Indeed. I share my reader's frustration and anger, and this is the very type of thread that, at the very least, makes me wonder if perhaps the above-linked site's tag line, "Personal development for smart people" needs to be seriously reconsidered.

I've sort of touched on New-Wage guilt (and other sorts of spiritually inspired guilt) before, but maybe it's time to revisit the topic.

In my view, one of the most futile, absurd, and heartbreaking of human endeavors is the attempt to second-guess God/Goddess or the universe or fate or whatever you want to call he/she/it. I think it's safe to say that diseases and other medical conditions (for example) have causes, even if our understanding of those causes is incomplete. Most accidents or natural disasters have causes too. In our eternal (and sometimes infernal) search for meaning, however, we often attempt to dig for a deeper "why" behind it all. This is only natural, and, of course, it isn't something that began with New-Wage guiltmongers or Law Of Attraction Nazis. But the latter have definitely put a new spin on the whole thing, with their gross misuse of the concepts of "attraction," "100% responsibility," and the like.

The big "Why?" could just as easily be answered with another question, "Why not?" As flippant and even callous as that may sound, it's a much kinder, and ultimately more realistic, response than one often gets from the Secretrons and LOA-noids.

Curtis-y call
I'm on the email list for news and updates from John Curtis, the guy who's crusading against fraudulent self-help (though as I've noted before, some would say that "fraudulent self-help" is a redundancy).

Couple of days ago I received this email from him:
Since many have asked... here is an opinion about the latest of what The Secret is attracting.

Now you know!
I applaud John Curtis and the work he is doing, but couldn't help raising an eyebrow (well, both eyebrows, to be precise) at the source and subject of the "opinion" – one Nina Amir, of Pure Spirit Creations. Here's what it says on her bio page on the Pure Spirit Creations web site:
Recently Nina Amir has started calling herself a Kabbalistic Conscious Creation Coach. While she is not trained as a life coach per se, her certification as a rebirther, her work as a Voice Dialogue facilitator, her training as a Tarot reader, her many years spent taking and teaching human potential-related classes, her study of spirituality, metaphysics, meditation and mysticism, her minor in psychology, her participation in an ongoing women’s spiritual support group for the past 13 years, her leadership of two other spiritual support groups, and her focus on writing books and articles that help others live their lives fully have all given Nina a unique ability to help others achieve goals in many areas of their lives.
Nina Amir is also the author of a booklet entitled, Abracadabra: The Kabbalah of Conscious Creation, 10 Mystical Steps to Manifesting Your Dreams and Desires:

If you've seen or read The Secret and would like to put the concepts of Creative Thought and the Law of Attraction through a Jewish mystical lens, you must read this booklet! If you like The Secret but want to see how these principles can be applied in a more spiritual manner, Abracadabra! will tell you how.

M'kay.

It's possible that John Curtis merely wished to demonstrate that even some folks in the pop-spirituality community (arguably The Secret's largest fan base) are bothered by the disconnect between Secret producer Rhonda Byrne's glowing babble of an abundant universe and the apparent greed that she and her bidness partner Bob Rainone are displaying. If such a demonstration wasn't John's intent, though, one would think that maybe he could have found an opinion source more in sync with what his site and work are all about... a source such as, oh, I don't know...*

Don't get me wrong. Although Kabbalah has in recent years been gobbled up by the conspicuously enlightened and the insufferably evolved set (particularly the Hollyweirds), I gotta tell ya I have nothing against Nina Amir or Kabbalah or Jewish mystical lenses. But hey, John! What am I? Chopped liver?

A degree of confusion
I'm a little confused about an anonymous comment I received today in response to an older post in which I took a potshot at phony or questionable doctorate degrees (scroll down to the second item, "Doctoring up your credibility"). My correspondent wrote:
The article is about the "phony" degrees that are "so easy" to obtain. Okay... I am willing to buy into that from the "authority" who wrote the article. The only trouble is that these "phony" degrees will get you knocked out of any Pell Grant if you apply for one that will get you into a tech school. They may not be "accredited" but they are certainly recognized. Furthermore, these degrees are theological, not academic, and clearly state they are. You cannot give a school an accreditation if it's based on Theology. Dr. Billy Graham, who is one of the most praised "doctors" in the world of religion, has only an earned Bachelors degree in anthropology from Wheaton College. George W. Bush has a Doctorate from Yale.. but he never earned it.. it's honorary... so which is more of a "doctor"? Lastly, I would like to say if these "phoney" doctorates are so damned easy to obtain, why is it that NOT ONE of those who criticize them has ever earned one? Perhaps because they are so "worthless"? Yeah, I thought so.
I won't address the whole comment because I'm still trying to figure it out (I'm a bit slow on the uptake today, I guess). But I will address the last part of the comment. Though I acknowledge I may have been completely misinterpreting that point, it appears that the writer is asking why critics such as yours truly who slam those easy-to-obtain degrees have never "earned" one ourselves. Well, I can't speak for all of the critics, but I haven't bothered to "earn" one of the phony degrees because there are things I'd rather spend my money on, such as trips to Costco. Also, when you lie about your education, it catches up to you sooner or later.

As for people who hold "honorary" degrees from accredited schools, it is the choice of those schools' faculty and/or alumni to bestow these honors. So if Yale wanted to kiss up to Dubya (as they had done a few years earlier with his daddy) and give him an honorary doctorate despite his lackluster academic performance when he was a student there, and despite the fact that for many years he played down his Ivy-League roots so people would think he was a good-ol'-boy Texan – well, so be it. However, it must be said that the recipients of honorary Ph.D.'s do not generally exploit their degrees the way the New-Wage hustledorks do. (F'rinstance, when is the last time you heard someone call Dubya or his daddy "Dr. Bush?")

My post that I linked to above wasn't the first time I'd taken a shot on this blog at the phony-degree phenomenon. But it's not the degrees in and of themselves that bug me the most, although I would imagine they are kind of an insult to people who spend years of time and tons of money in pursuit of real degrees. What really bugs me the most, as I've said elsewhere on this blog and on others (such as Steve Salerno's SHAMblog), is that the phony-degree holders seem to want to have it both ways.

I've acknowledged that the whole accreditation / credential system is kind of arbitrary. Furthermore, having a bunch of letters after your name, real or otherwise, doesn't guarantee that you are smart, and it especially doesn't guarantee that you are wise. Conversely, not having those credentials doesn't mean that you're dumb or that you have nothing to say worth listening to. (I only have a high school education, and if I do say so myself, once in a while I have something to say that makes sense.) New-Wagers who are called on their own questionable degrees, or their followers who feel compelled to defend them, have been known to argue these very points.

Which, of course, just raises the question: "If the accreditation system and credentials are arbitrary and are insignificant in the larger scheme of things, then why go to the trouble to get yourself a phony doctorate in the first place?"

Yeah, I thought so. That siren song of instant "credibility" calls.
Well, for those of you who, despite all my snarking, still can't resist the lure, I found another source for an instant education. Of course they're not doing anything illegal; the onus is on the buyer to be "truthful":

By ordering via this service, you are making a legal declaration that you have sufficient previous Work Experience for the degree you wish to be awarded. This unique system is an excellent opportunity.

Convert what you already know into a legally issued college degree.

Everything is perfectly legal, providing you are truthful when you order.

Here are some testimonials from some happy "students":
Even though my business does not require a college education, I have noticed a sharp increase in clients seeking my services. I have also noticed they haggle less as to my fees and estimates.
--Mariah Benton, MBA

The first job I applied for after getting my instant degree resulted in being called to an interview. I was able to demonstrate my IT skills and was offered the job. My boss is extremely happy that he hired me and I am inline for promotion. If it wasn't for your service I would still be in the reject pile.
--Geoff D, BSc
Okey-dokey, it's back to work I go. Have a great weekend, y'all. And remember, if you truly want to better yourself, don't forget to study! Or at least have a valid credit card!

* Re the seeming inconsistency between John Curtis' mission/point of view, and the fact that he chose a mystical-spiritual writer to back his p.o.v.: I acknowledge that I too have recently been called on a similar inconsistency, by virtue of publishing comments from, and applauding the wit of, a person who makes at least part of his living in a New-Wagey kinda way. Inconsistency duly noted, though it should also be noted that I have invited this person to answer the "charges" leveled against him on this blog and others.

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21 Comments:

Anonymous HHH said...

Cosmic Connie BA Phd DipSht, I am going to get some new spectacles made soon, should I ask for Jewish mystical lenses?

Saturday, May 17, 2008 3:27:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

.....and I need an extra lens for my third eye, too.

Saturday, May 17, 2008 4:38:00 AM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

HHH/Anon:

I'm getting an idea for a whole new product line here...

Saturday, May 17, 2008 1:39:00 PM  
Anonymous Lana said...

Regarding Pavlina's place: People there are all over the map. Dreamers dreaming, magicians casting spells, psychics divining cosmic energies, Secretrons attracting and manifesting, and poor souls who've stumbled upon the madness.

If these worldviews were healthy and made the world a better place, I wouldn't be so bothered. But for the most part, they're not.

I don't know if I want a gun or a drink!

Saturday, May 17, 2008 5:11:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Well, Lana, I don't drink, and firearms aren't my thing. So I guess I'll just blog! :-)

Saturday, May 17, 2008 6:41:00 PM  
Anonymous Lana said...

When the going gets tough, the tough go blogging. :-)

Saturday, May 17, 2008 6:57:00 PM  
OpenID abalanceofhope said...

http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/150-million-battle-to-keep-the-secret/2008/05/17/1210765254572.html

Sunday, May 18, 2008 1:28:00 AM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Thanks, abalance. I was just getting ready to post a little piece with that link. As more details come out it seems that Rhonda's story of the origins of "The Secret" is even more inaccurate than I'd previously thought.

Sunday, May 18, 2008 10:04:00 AM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

"When the going gets tough, the tough go blogging."

Lana, I think you've just come up with another T-shirt/bumper sticker/coffee mug slogan!

Of course, I'm still working on the designs for the "What Would Cosmic Connie Do?" product line.

Sunday, May 18, 2008 11:13:00 AM  
Anonymous Lana said...

Feel free to add it to your online store of goodies. (I get half of sales, of course.)

Sunday, May 18, 2008 12:44:00 PM  
Anonymous Debbie said...

All this secret stuff is getting way beyond the normal now.

I'm flat out coping with a one eyed view so don't go confusing matters by adding more.

Anyone heard how Byrnes court cases are coming along. I think Schirmer in Australia has to have something sent to court this week too. I find it mildly curious how the people who want their face and name out there promoting their version of the secret are caught doing the very things that are so against every principle in the secret. What is that telling the world.

I also saw that there are over 200 second hand copies of the secret on amazon so is that testament to the backlash for all the secret teachers lies and greed?

Sunday, May 18, 2008 6:18:00 PM  
Blogger RevRon's Rants said...

About phony degrees... Allow me to share an old joke... patience; there *is* a point!

An impeccably-dressed man walks up to a beautiful woman in a bar and bluntly asks her, "Would you have sex with me for a million dollars?"

She thinks about it for a second, eyes the man up and down, determines he's probably wealthy, and says, "Sure!"

He says, "How about for $100?"

Outraged, she snaps back, "What do you think I am, a whore?"

And he says, "We've already established the answer to that. Now, we're just working on a price."

Just because Yale has a high degree of "attractiveness" and charges a higher price for its bogus degrees doesn't make it any less a whore than the low-rent, bottom feeder P.O. box "Universities" who sell to folks who live in the cheap seats.

What people like Joe don't understand is that he can reupholster those "cheap seats" all he wants; they'll never be sky boxes!

Monday, May 19, 2008 11:30:00 AM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Lana wrote:
"Feel free to add it to your online store of goodies. (I get half of sales, of course.)"

You got it, Lana! I bet we could really clean up in this business.

I guess I need to give HHH a cut too for the mystical eyewear line.

Monday, May 19, 2008 11:53:00 AM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Debbie, I'll continue to post links to news items on Rhonda Byrne's court cases as I get wind of them.

You wrote:
"I find it mildly curious how the people who want their face and name out there promoting their version of the secret are caught doing the very things that are so against every principle in the secret. What is that telling the world."

It's telling the world that these hustledorks are mainly out to make a buck, and they care little for things such as consistency and principle. Not all of them are like this, of course. Some of them, and many of their followers, are sincere and well-meaning. But there are a lot of rotten apples in the barrel too.

As for the large number of copies of "The Secret" available for cheap on the used marketplace, that's to be expected. Whenever there's a lot of hype about something, people get all excited and rush out to buy it. When the excitement wears off they dump it. I daresay this is as much a reflection of the reading (and viewing) public's innate excitablity/gulliblity as it is a reflection of the merits, or lack thereof, of the work in question.

And I don't think Rhonda and company are losing any sleep over the secondhand market. After all, they've already made their money on the product.

Monday, May 19, 2008 12:07:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Points duly noted, Ron! :-)

Monday, May 19, 2008 12:08:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lenses schmenses.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008 4:35:00 AM  
Blogger Mary Anne said...

Hate to say this, but even "legit" degrees are getting easier to get. Maybe 20 years ago liberal arts degrees mattered, but not today. A lot of colleges and universities are making money off them. A Ph.D in creative writing? What is that going to do for you? If you have the money and time, the "legit" degrees do not mean too much.

Friday, May 23, 2008 1:39:00 PM  
Blogger Mary Anne said...

I belong to John Curtis' e-mailing too. I like his forum and it is interesting. I'm a little confused about why he would go with that type of author. It seems a bit odd.

Friday, May 23, 2008 2:22:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Hi, Mary Anne! It's good to see you back here. I know you have a point about the "legit" degrees, but it still annoys me when New-Wage hucksters wave their phony degrees around, and their minions respectfully refer to them as "Dr."

As for John Curtis' choice of author, I can only assume that he was just trying to demonstrate that even some of the more mystically inclined factions think The Secret is bunk.

Friday, May 23, 2008 7:44:00 PM  
Blogger Mary Anne said...

Yeah, I'm poking my head out again. Maybe it's just me, but it seems as if the hucksters are invading the skeptics' blogs and forums. That's what I wondered when I saw that item about John Curtis. Rick Ross' forum talks about it too. It seems a covert from within tactic. Make friends with your "enemies." Scientology is well-known for doing that.

Friday, May 23, 2008 10:55:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Interesting point, Mary Anne. People can make friends with me if they want -- and as I've noted previously, I do like to find common ground even more than I like to "fight" -- but I'm still going to poke fun at stuff I think needs to be poked fun at.

Sunday, May 25, 2008 12:28:00 PM  

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