Monday, April 09, 2007

If Wishes Were Horses

The Washington Post has returned to form today, with an actual op-ed that doesn't make my eyes bleed, this one is well reasoned and rational. Check it out here (free subscription required).

The piece written by a Tim Watkin deals with that ridiculous self help book "The Secret". This is another one of those books that is so obviously rubbish but somehow still manages to sell millions of copies. Its basic premise is that if you wish hard enough for something it will just turn up. Despite being patent nonsense it has sold millions of copies, in part due to an endorsement by Oprah Winfrey. It amazes me that an obviously clever successful business woman like Oprah would waste oxygen talking about this crap, but then I guess she probably knows her demographic.

The question is where do we start with what is wrong with the main idea of this book? The fact that it basically encourages people to avoid hard work in favour of wishing for a fantasy life that will just fall into their lap? That it doesn't make any allowance for pure dumb luck? Or as the op-ed correctly points out the logical conclusion of its premise is that people that have bad luck, deserve it, because they must have been secretly wishing to sabotage themselves. The book even states:
The only reason why people do not have what they want is because they are thinking more about what they don't want than what they do want.
Imperfect thoughts are the cause of humanity's ills
So anyone who has ever been ill has no one to blame but themselves, those people killed in the twin towers on September 11th, it was all their own fault, they should have spent more time wishing for lottery wins and less time worrying about terrorists apparently. In case you don't think I'm serious that they claim this kind of thing, take a look at this quote from the op-ed:
Bob Proctor, author of "You Were Born Rich" and one of the "gurus" Byrne (author of "The Secret") quotes most often, being asked on "Nightline" whether the starving children of Darfur had "manifested" -- that is, visualized -- their own misery. In utter seriousness, he replied, "I think the country probably has."
Italics added by me. It just shows you the kind of madness that people can believe in, actively blaming the less fortunate for their ills, simply because they have turned off their ability for rational thought. I find the whole idea of blaming the unfortunate for their ill luck disgusting, especially when its done simply to line the pockets of snake oil salesmen. The whole idea begs the question does everyone have the same strength wishes? Can everyone combine them, if enough of us combine our wishes can we wish for say bankruptcy for the author? Or are they some sort of super powered wisher, that we couldn't over power? Whatever, tonight I'm going to wish selflessly, wishing that this kind of crap disappears without a trace as soon as possible, before more people throw away $17 needlessly.


Pete said...

What if two people wish for mutually exclusive things?? If I want an immovable object you can't have an irresistable force!

Mark Norris said...

Exactly, it raises questions about simple things like traffic jams. If I fervently wish not to get stuck in traffic, but still get caught up in one, is that because I didn't wish enough or because others were wishing for a traffic jam?

Its total bollocks, I really can't believe that 1.3 million people have bought it. I really worry about the future if that many people spend money buying this trash.

IbaDaiRon said...

I remember reading something years ago about the reason the weather is so changeable being because of the conflicting hopes and desires of all the people in a given area.

(What was the emoticon for rolling eyes again?)

As for the future...I sometimes fell sorry for those of you who are probably going to have to spend more time in it than I will. :(