Thursday, June 28, 2007

Mum's the Word, Then

Want to know a secret? Thoughts of fear and powerlessness among the people who died in Hurricane Katrina and the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks attracted them "to being in the wrong place at the wrong time."
"I think I'll sell a gazillion books" The Seattle Times
The buzz surrounding "The Secret" has lead to a few articles about the book. Not the least of which being this entertaining piece in Slate, in which Emily Yoffe dreams up a spiffy new kitchen floor. But the latest scuttlebutt around the book is centered the implication that if you think positive thoughts properly, bad things don't happen to you. Critics are lining up to give Rhonda Byrne, the author, a hard time about her blaming the victims of disasters for their misfortunes.

Perhaps more sensible is criticism of her for imagining a world in which positive and negative thinking combines with the Butterfly Effect to have absurdly far reaching consequences. If the dead and maimed from the destruction of the World Trade Center and the Gulf hurricanes thought too much about fear and powerlessness, what about their parents, spouses, children and other loved ones? If Daniel Pearl was murdered by Islamic extremists in Pakistan for negative thoughts, was Mariane Pearl attracted to him because she wasn't a positive enough thinker to marry someone more positive? If you have a hard time believing that each of the 15 children killed in America's Kids Day Care Center was so overwhelmingly pessimistic that the Universe answered their unspoken pleas by sending them to day care on a day when a truck bomb was apparently destined to destroy the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, do you then decide that the parents needed to be more positive, and the Universe, like Timothy McVeigh, simply regarded them as "collateral damage," when it gave the adults what they were unconsciously thinking? In December of 2005, Southwest Airlines Flight 1248 slid from a snow-covered runway at Chicago's Midway Airport, and killed a six-year-old boy, the only fatality of the incident. Who knew that a child so young could have been so fatalistic?

This is, as my father would put it, "a get-rich-quick scheme that will not work." But it's beautiful in the fact that it's non-falsifiable. If it doesn't work for you, clearly you didn't do it right. Since there's no objective way of measuring one's facility at thinking happy and positive thoughts, there's no way of objectively measuring how well it works. And what about two people who's happy thoughts are at cross-purposes? Do they have positive-thinking duels to see who hits the Powerball, and who dies in a fiery highway crash?

1 comment:

ben said...

I actually dumped a client when they mentioned an idea like this as a reason for them not being up and running yet.