Category Archives: Law of Intention

Some people are like slinkies…

…not good for anything… …but they provide a pointless distraction.

So over the last couple of days liberals of all stripes have called me and friends of mine cold, lacking in empathy, privileged (because apparently using reason to judge a statement makes you a privileged member of the upper class…this does not speak well of the intelligence of the 99% if this statement were true) and heartless for critiquing the numerous, pointless, pathologically riddled  with lies and half truths, and nothing but  worthless whines of all the schmucks who claim to be “the 99%”  (who strangely tend to endlessly piss off the 47% who actually pay taxes).

So let me give a blanket critique of the “99% whiners”  because I can guarantee you that each and every one will fall somewhere in this critique.  Why do I feel that these people need a complete, total dressing down?  Well first because I remember reading in the Bhagavad Gita:

“Charity given for the sake of righteousness, without expectation of return, at the proper time and place, and to a worthy person is considered to be in the mode of goodness. But charity performed with the expectation of some return, or with a desire for fruitive results, or in a grudging mood, is said to be charity in the mode of passion. And charity performed at an impure place, at an improper time, to unworthy persons or without proper attention and respect is said to be in the mode of ignorance.”—Bhagavad-Gita  Ch17. 20-22

And I find giving to people who whine and choose to not improve themselves, but demand others pay for them to be quite literally the “unworthy persons” warned about in this point.  Intelligent religions over all of history have made a distinction between giving for the sake of helping people improve themselves and just giving because they want (or does no one remember that you’re not supposed to give a man a fish) .  But still they feel you should give them anything they want because I have and they don’t…because they think they are entitled to my empathy and compassion because they were born, because I am under some order to love my neighbor…well guess what, because I can actually read I know I am advised to “love my neighbor as I would love myself” and let me tell you I am very critical of myself when I succumb to my worst habits, my worst inclinations, and my worst faults.  People who don’t love themselves, but ask me to feel compassion for them are the most rank hypocrites.  But why do I say they don’t love themselves…well generally rational self-interest, the love of yourself that this guy 2,000 year ago advocated (I’m sure he was a disgusting egotist for such a suggestion) tends to mean people take care of themselves, to better themselves, to have some concern for their well being…or at least to work in their best interests.

So let me ask about all the people who claim to be in “the other 99%”, have they acted always in their best interests?  (Now I will admit I do not meet all of the points I’m about to go over…but I’m not asking for sympathy.  You can be a good person and not do these things…you cannot be a sympathetic one and not meet all of these requirements).


Let me ask, did you graduate high school?

Cause the other 99% percent seems to suffer from a rather bizarre level of unemployment.  Now the people who have the highest levels of unemployment.  I hate to say this but a lot of these 99%’s are not exactly singing the virtues of their education while they’re complaining about unemployment (not all but a lot) which makes me ask if they’re unemployed because no employer would legitimately be insane enough to hire them if they had a choice.  Which is made all the sadder because, as a high school teacher, I know how unspeakably easy it is to get a high school diploma.  Really.  With schools, charter schools, alternative schools, online schools and GED you have to try to NOT get a diploma.  It takes work–Lots of work—to not pass high school.  Yet around 16% of this country manages to do it.  Oh, yes some of you might argue about the quality of the diploma (I have no argument there, only to say that given how low that quality is, it’s kind of sad when you can’t reach that bar) or the schools are not set up to teach students…to the latter point I would say that I would bet that even in the worst school in America there is one teacher there who actually does give a shit and if you went to them with an honest desire to learn, a drive to do whatever they asked, and willingness to be helped they would help anyone who came to them.  THERE ARE NO EXCUSES FOR NOT HAVING A HIGH SCHOOL DIPLOMA OR THE EQUIVALENT.  And before I could even possibly feel sorry for someone I need to see that they have the brains and self respect for even the most bare bones level of education.  Yet I don’t see a lot of 99%’s talking about their education…

Which brings me to my second question, did you go to community college, a trade school, or state school?

This is tied to the first.  If you don’t have the desire for self improvement, why should my money or the money of the 1% go to you?  Getting an AA at a community college is possible, even on a minimum wage salary.  Same is true of a trade school.  It will take time, but it is possible.  So when I see all these people who say, “I worked for 30 years”  I always have to wonder what were they doing those 30 years.  The signs are designed to elicit sympathy, so if they were doing something like nursing, or teaching, or getting an education they would include that.  But they almost never include what they were doing.  Would full disclosure of what you were doing not elicit sympathy?  But back to schooling, anyone if they scrimp, save and work for it can get an AA or trade school degree which would make it far more unlikely that they would ever be fired and make it far more likely that you will get a new job easily if you were fired. Anyone can do it and anyone with a half functioning brain knows that education provides a safety net.

Do you like your job and don’t need anymore education.  Fine.  Commendable.  You did what we recommended to find something you like and do that.  But you knew that staying in that one position, not constantly improving yourself, not making yourself more skilled, not seeking a better job or position came with a risk and that risk was that when the shit hit the fan you were the most expendable person around.  There is nothing wrong with not seeking more education than the job you enjoy needs…but don’t come crying to me.  You took that risk.  I take lots of risks, I don’t ask anyone to be held responsible for them but myself.

Why do I put state college there?  Because a lot of these people on these 99% pictures list their tuition debts at levels far exceeding what a state college could cost to a state resident (even with room and board).  This means they chose a private school or an out of state school knowing what the cost would be.  Yet, somehow, as implicit in their whining is they think their debt is too high.  Well if it was too high, go to a state school.  I went to a private school, but I was under no illusion that I would be tying an albatross around my neck for the next 30 years—and I’d do it again in a heart beat.  It was worth it.  But don’t complain to someone else because you don’t want the bill for the services you used.  Don’t want high college debt?  Go to a cheap community college, get your AA then go to a state school for the BA.  If you’re working fulltime you won’t be more than a high car loan worth in debt.

Let me ask did you get a degree in a practical skill or a hard science?

And a lot of these whiners who complain about their college debt also bitch about not having a job.  Which is odd because the unemployment rate for college graduates is around 4.4%.  So I have to ask, what did you get your degree in?  Was it sociology?  Women’s studies in relation to Enlightenment culture?  A Master’s degree in Music theory?  What possible degree did you get that makes a high school graduate a more appealing hire?  I got a B.A. in English with a minor in Education, I knew that this qualified me to teach English and not much else, good thing I wanted to be an English teacher…but I got a degree in a field I wanted to go into and I knew there was a reasonable need for the profession.  What worthless liberal arts degree did you think it was a good idea to drop 60K on…because I can promise you if we split that 4.4% into hard science degrees and Liberal arts, the hard science ones would be much lower than 4.4%.  You wanted to study what you wanted to study.  Fine, it’ s your right.  But when you have given yourself a skill set that makes you unemployable you should learn to live with the consequences of your actions and not whine to me about it.

Did you refrain from having children until you were married?

Oh, here is a big one for the people whining about their lives in “the other 99%”  they bitch about child costs but very often I do not see reference to a spouse.  I know some wonderful women who had children before they got married and who are doing well in life (strangely they don’t whine a lot about things being other people’s fault), but I get the feeling they’re going to not only tell their own children, but society in general, having children before marriage is really, really dumb.   I would even go as far to say that having children before you’re relatively financially stable is a questionable move, but let’s deal with the more egregious problems.  Having children, married or not, employed or not, makes your life infinitely more complicated and difficult.  More rewarding, certainly, but infinitely more complicated.

And I’m sorry but I can’t feel sorry for people who have children when they’re not ready.  It’s not like it just randomly happens without any personal choice (okay yes there are two exceptions, one involves rape and then you have my instant compassion and desire to help you, and the second way usually also comes with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh…but these are the exceptions, not the general rule) on your part being involved.  Yes, are the deadbeat dad’s also to blame, hell yes, and I will instantly support a law that says that dead beat dads who don’t pay should have the very organs that got them into this mess surgically removed…but I don’t see many 99% people arguing for more personal responsibility, so that’s neither here nor there.  You made your bed, you sleep in it, don’t ask me to subsidize your bad choices and I won’t ask you to subsidize mine.

Let me ask did you work hard at your job before you were fired?

Oh so many of these people who say, “I am the other 99%”  seem to have lost their jobs.  Oh boo-hoo.  I know some people have lost their jobs because their companies went under, but if they were competent I think a good many of them got new jobs.  And other people are fired because they refuse to go along with the incompetence/unethical behavior of their superiors, and again if they were competent they probably got a new job relatively quickly.  But you know what, most people who get fired get fired because they’re the worst person on the job.  Businesses that need to fire 1,000 people don’t fire their 1,000 best employees—no they tend to try to fire their 1,000 worst employees. (Unless it is a union job and then they are required to go by seniority.  But I don’t see many people identify themselves as “the other 99%” being against such corrupt union practices, in fact if anything I’ve see n nothing but support for unions.  And well it’s a little hard to feel compassion for someone who loves their destroyer.)  So I really have to ask, every jackass who complains about A. losing a job and B. not being able to get a new one, did your prior work ethic and skill set have anything to do with those things?  Because even in this economy I have a really hard time thinking that someone with a good education, a strong work ethic (which breeds strong recommendations from your coworkers), and dedication can’t find a job.  Yes it may not be as good a paying job or even one they really want, but it’s a job, and people with good work ethics tend to find those jobs.  So really, can you tell me straight faced you were the best employee the company had and that despite your skills and work ethic you lost your job.  Or is it that these whiners who worked for 20 years and were then laid off were laid off because they just sat in that one job for 20 years, becoming complacent and letting their skill rust, seeking only to meet the bare minimum of work…a minimum which during economic hardships gets reset at a level higher than they’ve ever given.

Let me ask do you have friends?  Real friends?

I am the world’s biggest asshole.  There are days I make Greg House look like a cuddly puppy.  And I know without a doubt that if I were to lose my job or my apartment or come down sick that in addition to my family I have at least a dozen friends who would take me in and do whatever was in their means to help me get back on my feet if I needed it…as I would do for them without even thinking.

How few real friends must these people have to have no one to fall back on.  How bad are all of these people that they have to whine that the rich should have their wealth stolen from them.  I’ve always noticed that when I complain about these people on their blogs that so many of the friends of these self reported “other 99%” are quick to call me heartless and unempathic for not wanting to share my money for someone I don’t have any respect for…well where were you when your friend was in need?  You’re quick to chastise me for not wanting to share my hard earned money with someone I dislike, did you so graciously share every dime you could with your friends?  Did you stop going to the movies to help pay for that extra $20 for your friend’s chemo?  Did you cut back on dining out?  Did you make up the spare room for them so they wouldn’t have to pay rent?  There are friends in my life who I will put myself in debt for to help them, because they are worth it.  Where were you for your friends?  Or is beating up on people who use logic instead of blind unquestioning corrupted empathy the extent to which you will go?  With friends like you…


Let me ask, do you have character? 

Obviously the mere act of whining states no.  But let’s ignore this for a moment. The fact of the matter is that many of these people shade facts, use half truths or out right lies to drum up sympathy.  All of it is ethically equivalent to lying.  And anyone who engages in it is totally without character.  Let’s use the most recent picture I’ve seen to make the rounds as an example.  (And I’m using screen shots from his blog instead of just links…because I’ll be honest, he strikes me as the kind of guy who would go back, edit the facts, and then call me a liar).

He uses the phrase “part time” to get sympathy because we all think of part time as less than 40 hours of work…a technical definition is 30 hours or less.

He says here in his picture that the insurance he was getting wouldn’t cover his treatment of cancer.

Yet on his blog he states:

He was not “part time” in any conventional sense until after his diagnosis.  So that’s a half truth at best.  And at 60 hours he must have been making more than the limit that Arizona aid requires.  So let me ask you what is a fair limit?  How many people should be allowed on state and federal aid.  Give me a dollar figure of where the line should be?

He outright lies when he says churches won’t help.

So they did  help up to a point.  Yes could they get the money in time, no, but this guy says he has stage IV cancer…it takes time for churches to raise money for charity, they can do it, but just because you can’t have it now does not mean churches can’t and aren’t willing to help, they’re bound by the same laws of economics everyone is.  (Laws that state it would be much easier to raise money for charity if it weren’t for the fact that Americans are being beaten down with massive government regulation and taxes, you know what the 99% is demanding).

But my personal favorite is his implication that his minimum wage insurance wouldn’t cover his treatment.  Why do I love this one…well…this one from his blog announcing that he has cancer…

It’s so hard being a pathological liar when you don’t have the entire DNC there to help keep your lies straight.  So which is it?…is it that the insurance wouldn’t cover it (which in reality, I have my doubts, most plans, even crappy, will always cover the removal of a tumor…they just won’t cover the chemo and radiation because those treatments actually have an obscenely low success rate…especially on Stage IV cancer…but who knows it could be a really, really crappy insurance plan) or is it that you stopped paying for insurance of your own free will (he looks to be in his 40’s which would makes this an incredibly dumb move, given how after 40 your chances of major disease jumps, no matter how little he’s getting paid).  It’s one or the other, it can’t be both.  Either you had crappy insurance or you stopped paying for it.  Being a liar is so difficult when you have to keep all your lies straight.

(I could do a whole blog on how he seems to be saying he hated the pay cut that saved the business from bankruptcy and by extension everyone else’s job…but let’s ignore his gross lack of economic understanding for the moment).

Did you maintain a healthy community life?

This one is actually part of the friendship question. As Aristotle observed no one can live completely out of society and be considered a good person unless they are a beast or a god.  And there are remarkably few who can live with only a few close friends as their primary contact.  Most people need human connection to be considered a good person…so if you shunned society for so long, why is it society’s responsibility to take care of you.  Seems rather selfish and self-serving….but I forget I’m the egotistical and unempathetic one.

Did you start saving from an early age?

Really there is no excuse for this one.  If you didn’t save you’re either an idiot or knowing taking a risk hoping that whatever you are putting your money into will pay off.  If it’s the latter you wouldn’t bitch because you knew it was your fault and your fault alone.  If you’re an idiot, well, as you can guess, I’m not inclined to sympathize with you.

Oh and a lot of these people have a lot of medical problems.  Cancer seems to the biggest one.  Strangely, unlike every cancer patient I’ve ever seen they’re awfully vague about what they have…they describe having cancer and then describe symptoms that sound like benign cysts.  They say they have cancer….but if you can track down their blog they use the technical term for a throat doctor…which makes me ask how much did you smoke?

So before you want me to feel sorry for your disease let me ask some other things:

Do you ever habitually smoke or drink?

Lung cancer is one of the 3rd most common types of cancer up there (when you add in all the other cancer that smoking can increase the odds on the whole smoking related thing because it’s the number one killer).  Now if you smoke or drink I do not look down on you.  I understand it’s a wonderful feeling.  Hell, if I could afford the habit, I would look like a sixth member of the Rat Pack with the amount of alcohol and nicotine I would be putting in my body.  But guess what, I would blame only myself when I got diagnosed with a disease caused by my habits.

Do you over-eat?  Do you exercise?  Did you not lead a sedentary life style?

I’m sorry but a lot of diseases are heavily related to lifestyle and asking me to pay for medical treatment that was the direct result of the fact you did not care for your body…I’m having a hard time caring.

Now if you have a disease or condition that is no fault of your own, of course I feel for you.  I mean I wouldn’t expect someone who from childhood was deaf and blind to be able to write books and take care of herself…oh wait.  Or someone who had their neck broken to be expected to learn to breath on their own again without the help of a machine and make it a goal of walking again…oh wait.  Or someone with a degenerative neurological disease to make major contributions to science and beat all odds by living to 70…oh wait.  Damn, is it just me, or are there enough cases of people with a debilitating disease overcoming the challenges that disease brought and showing us the best of humanity not by whining others should take care of them, but by doing what no one thought they could, that it makes it hard to take the major whiners seriously.  My heart goes tends to go with one group and not the other.

Did you abuse drugs?

Kind of a no brainer.  But given the amount of crack pipes they found at Zuccati Park, I feel the need to mention this one.  I do believe that people can recreationally use certain drugs and not have it damage their life…but most of the time that is not the case, and if you feel the need to engage in this kind of activity don’t expect me to feel sorry for you. (And of course there’s that little hypocrisy about the money spent on drugs that could have gone to savings or self betterment). 

And finally do you learn and grow…or do you whine?

I believe that all of life is a giant classroom from which we are supposed to learn from.  And the best lessons are the hardships, the crucibles that show us what we are made of, and what, if we choose to, is the best within us.  Choosing to whine about it on the internet.  Not exactly what I would call learning.   Frankly, even ignoring this point I doubt anyone who claims that they are “the other 99%” could claim that they have not made the mistake I have detailed.

I know some of the people who whine and bitch and moan about their problems when they read this will wish I got to experience their hardships.   They’ll wish I lose my job.  They’ll wish I get cancer or some other debilitating disease.  Bring it on.  I’ve dealt with unemployment before with grace and honor.  I can do it again.  As for disease…well I had to die of something, I accepted that decades ago, and because it will not come as a shock I guarantee you I will not whine or say that it is unfair or that others should help me because they have more than I do. I promise you that in my death I will have more honor, courage, and virtue than those who claim to be in “the other 99%” have in their entire lives.

Now will all of these apply to everyone, no…but you show me someone who over time earned a college level education when times were good in a practical field, who always gave their best and excelled at work, who lived a healthy lifestyle and didn’t engage in behavior that was utterly lacking in common sense who is in on hard times but still trying to support themselves, looking for any job, because no job is below them, or has come down with a debilitating disease, I have and will help them in any way I can.  I have not seen one person like that claim “I am the other 99%.”


Filed under Arizona, Capitalism, Charity, Death, Economics, Education, Equality, Evils of Liberalism, Faith, Fear, Free Will, God, Government is useless, Happiness, Individualism, Law of Intention, Long Term Thinking, Love, People Are Stupid, politics, Purpose of Life, Selfishness, Welfare

Wealth, Money, and Happiness

So if you’ve been reading all the comments on the blog on importance of inequality you’ve noticed a lot of brouhaha.

My argument was that there is no correlation between distribution of wealth and standard of living. There is a correlation between GDP and economic freedom and standard of living.

Most of the argument didn’t focus around this. First they complained about my use of UN data for standard of living numbers even though I despise the UN and make no attempt to hide it. I found this odd; I admitted I was playing in the opposition’s ball park. I know that if I use data from more conservative sources of course it will show the same thing, but my point wasn’t to show that numbers from the sources I trust justify my beliefs (that’s a given), it was to show that numbers from liberal sources don’t even come close to justifying liberal beliefs.

But I made this other statement about if you had a way to measure happiness in an accurate way you would not necessarily see the diminishing returns you see in the set of data I was using.

Now diminishing returns is an idea that the same incremental gain has a lower return with each new increment. One steak dinner is great. Two in a row we’re eating like kings…three okay, can we cook it another way…four, did we just slaughter a cow and need to clear out some freezer space…five in a row, can I have some chicken please…a week of steak, is this some kind of psych experiment. The first hundred year old book I bought was the coolest thing in the world at the time, and while I love my growing collection and like any English teacher find old book smell practically an aphrodisiac, each new addition never quite reaches the high of the last. Economics states the same thing; every new $100 dollars is less fulfilling than the last. And new economics stated this, as a fact…but something didn’t make sense about this. To me I see more money as creating more opportunities and not having a lessening effect with the more you get. And just last night it hit me as to why.

I was talking about money and my opponents (and most economists) were talking about wealth. What’s the difference you ask? Wealth is the acquired material things. Money can actually be a part of wealth if you acquired it just to acquire and save it. And this is where the diminishing returns come in. The first house you own is a spectacular thing. But if you buy a second it’s still cool, but not the thrill of the first. By the time you own four or five houses they’re just things without much personal or emotional value to you. This applies to all material things from a cup of yogurt to an entire company. You have a clear demonstration of diminishing returns. Why because things don’t buy happiness. A minimum level of stuff is required, but after you have comfortable shelter, sturdy clothes, and enough cash to insure medical care and a safety net through old age anything after that has a diminishing return effect.

However, while math and economics were quite clear, from both my knowledge of psychology and personal experience I knew that this wasn’t the full case when it comes to money. From the psychological viewpoint I would look to Maslow as a guide to happiness. Maslow’s hierarchy is basically a clear path of needs that once met will take you to the next level of the hierarchy. At the top is something he calls self-realization, which Aristotle and the ancient philosophers called eudaimonia, and which is usually rendered as Happiness (the capital H is intentional). If diminishing returns on wealth were a complete story about how to get to the highest level of standard of living then you would think you would need an increasing amount of money to get to each next level. But you don’t. It’s quite the opposite. To meet all your first level needs you probably need about $25,000 a year. To meet your second level needs of security you probably only need about $20,000 more. Hell you probably only see a minimal increase in the next level (I’m figuring if you get married, which is part of that level, either you’ll need about $15,000 increase to pay for two people at the same lifestyle you were at in level one). Is money really even needed for the next two levels, not really (although if you make it to those levels you’re probably good at what you do and make more, but you don’t need it).

And then there is personal experience. If you have diminishing returns with all money then the biggest high you should get is when you make your first payment on a loan, and get less and less excited with each new payment. Yet we all know it works in the reverse. As we get closer and closer to paying off a debt each check actually becomes more fulfilling. The check that pays off the car, the house, the college loan, that’s the one that you’re jumping for joy on. And when I think about my own life in general it holds…think about this for yourself. If I got a $10,000 raise, I’d be ecstatic because I’d have all my debts paid off in 10 years instead of 30. If I got a $20,000 raise I’d be even happier because now I would be even closer to the end and could really start planning about life without debt. A $30,000 raise I could start investing which is always far more fun. $40,000, hell I could start looking for a house. This keeps going with every increment up I could do more and get further out of debt sooner, take more control of my life and have less concern. So it has to get up there before I really see a diminishing return on a $10,000 increase in my yearly income.

Why? Because I’m not looking to acquire wealth. I’m not looking at money as a thing to hoard or transfer for other stuff, which it can easily be. I’m looking at it as a tool. And tools don’t have diminishing returns. The chisel and hammer don’t become less effective the longer a sculptor uses them, they become more effective with time and practice and skill. Tools are not subject to diminishing returns. And tools are designed to be used to achieve a goal. For me it goes (A) Get out of debt (B) build writing career (C) establish financial stability (D) become philanthropist.  (Your goals maybe different or even better than mine…but I had to give an example.)

Most people don’t have goals. They just buy stuff. Most people when they get a raise they go out and increase their lifestyle to match their new income. They keep up with the Jones’s. They treat money as wealth. They do not have a goal; they just are concerned with things. (In case you’re wondering I may be a die-hard capitalist, but I also believe in the virtue of personal frugality). If you have goals that require some kind of financial backing (most goals do), each incremental increase brings you closer to the goal and thus heightens your happiness, your anticipation, your joy and lowers your doubts and worries. If you treat money as a tool for reaching goals and stay focused on those goals the diminishing returns don’t come into play because it’s not just something you already had and now you’re just getting more of it. When are you happiest and most energetic in a race, at the end of course when you can see the finish…same with money when treated as a tool and not just as wealth, it helps you get to your goal and thus each new amount actually brings more happiness than the last increase of the same amount.

I do not know how many times  I can repeat the phrase goal oriented, but just so we’re clear if you have a goal and are working towards it then money does not have a diminishing return because it always brings you closer to your goal which make you happier.  If you don’t have a goal…well what’s the point in life?
My mistake was making a logical fallacy that I often complain about others making, the “I am the world fallacy.” I was thinking about increases of money with someone goal oriented. I hate this fallacy and yet I fell victim to it, hey, I’m only human, I admit it. I forget not everyone lives the rather Spartan lifestyle I do, and not everyone is always long-term goal oriented, and that most people don’t by habit think everything through 10 years ahead. Yes I am an incredibly boring person. And I’m okay with that. And because of this I wasn’t realizing that everyone else was talking about money as wealth, which comes with absolute limitation of diminishing returns. This was my mistake for not realizing how I was putting everything on a different playing field.

Now to reference back to my above goals. Odds are I’ll never fully reach D (but I’m not one to play by the odds), but this is another reason why I don’t see more money as having diminishing returns. There are few joys as great as charity. To be able to raise it to the level of philanthropy I imagine to be just short of ecstasy (the state of being, not the drug). If it’s done right. Philanthropy like charity needs to be done at a personal level…so I guess yes once you hit this point you will find a diminishing return on money as a tool, but only because you’ve kind of lost any long term goal. The minute you have so much money that you can’t personally oversee giving it away it loses a lot of the happiness factor…it’s still fun but not as fun as doing it yourself.

So if you’re talking about money as wealth, yeah it has a diminishing return. Because money as wealth is its own goal, kind of a silly goal if you ask me, but this does seem to be the prevalent idea in the world. However if you are goal oriented then money doesn’t have to have a diminishing return (at least until you reach the super rich level)—as long as it is a tool to achieve your goals then it holds and increases value with every addition because each time you’re closer to your goal which always feels good.


Filed under Capitalism, Charity, Debt, Education, Free Will, Happiness, Individualism, Law of Intention, Long Term Thinking, Purpose of Life

The Law of Attraction and its detractors

So I’m suddenly getting comments about my blogs about the The Secret and the Law of Attraction. I don’t quite understand it. If you don’t believe it don’t believe in it, why do you need to insult other people’s beliefs? The supreme irony here is that more often than not these are the same people who claim I’m closed minded for critiquing Muslims for their rather backward religion. So let me see, beating up on people for a belief that doesn’t hurt anyone: good; beating up on people for a belief system that leads to tyranny, genocide, and massive human right violations: bad. Am I the only one who is confused?

My argument has always boiled down to two points. The first is that while I know I don’t have scientific proof in favor that the Law of Attraction, there is a preponderance of evidence suggesting that it may likely be true. My second point has been that, let’s for a minute say that I’m wrong about it and the Law of Attraction doesn’t work, then playing on oppositions turf for the sake of argument it still isn’t worth arguing about, it doesn’t cause anyone any harm and it still leads to a better quality of life. For some reason this has been interpreted as a contradiction. Apparently being able to suspend my own beliefs for a hypothetical situation is wrong…despite in any other context this would be considered being open minded. And really I just do it because the detractors claim that following this law hurts people. I can only attack that point if I for a moment play on their premises that it doesn’t work. Obviously if we play on my turf it doesn’t hurt people, but even if you assume it doesn’t work it still doesn’t hurt people. So why attack me for going about it both ways? Oh, I know why it’s wrong, because I then prove that the people arguing with me are still wrong for attacking this. I have a strong respect for defending the truth at all costs, but I also believe in prioritizing. For instance I hate socialism in all its forms. However, while I hate socialism I hate tyranny a hell of a lot more. So do I spend all my time critiquing the economic systems of the U.K. and Israel? Nope. Why, because those two countries are our greatest allies in the fight against tyranny and I prioritize that at the moment there are bigger issues to worry about. Now if we turned Russia, China, North Korea, Venezuela, the majority of the Middle East, Cuba, Mexico, and at least a larger portion of Sub-Saharan Africa into functioning democratic-republics, then yes I would be harsher on socialist nations, but right now I have bigger problems. I complain about socialism mainly in the U.S. because it (A) affects my life more directly and (B) because we are at a point where we might soon collapse if we do not go back to capitalism and if we collapse then we are certainly going to cease being the biggest obstacle to the tyrannies of the world. The same applies with the law of attraction. If you don’t believe in it fine, don’t, I am a huge believer in free will and won’t begrudge you any belief in your own life so long as it doesn’t hurt mine. But even if you don’t believe in it, aren’t there bigger false ideas out there for you to challenge? The rampant misogynism in Western culture? Anti-Semitism? Even among religious beliefs you have homophobia and the culture of fear that so many religions propagate…even if you’re right that the law of attraction, basically the idea that focused prayer can lead to a better life, doesn’t exist this seems to be biggest false idea out there, why attack this one when there are far worse ideas out there?

Now of course I believe it to be true, but we’re still playing in the opposition’s ball park. They claim that they need to oppose this because it hurts people. Really. How? The basic idea of the law of attraction in all its forms can be broken down into a few simple premises.
I. Believe that you and you alone are responsible for your life.
II. Be grateful for what you have to eliminate negative thoughts in your habits of thought.
III. Focus on the end of what you want, not how you are going to get it.
IV. Act as if you already have what you want in life.
V. Believe that the universe will respond to your thoughts and it will come to you.
Now the argument over the science comes into the fifth part and again for the sake of argument, let’s say that is totally bunk. So you don’t get the payoff promised. How do the other 4 parts hurt you? “Believe that you and you alone are responsible for your life.” Now basic psychology tells you that people who take responsibility about their life, that they are responsible for their actions, their thoughts, and the outcomes of those are certainly happier and more productive. The opposite is that we are responsible for our actions, that it’s nature and nurture and chance and fate that determine our life and we aren’t responsible for what happens to us. I think we all have enough experience to know that the people who always take responsibility for their actions are much happier and more productive than people who always blame others for what goes wrong (and even those who never give credit to themselves when things go right).

Now someone might claim that there is a happy medium, people who take responsibility but admit there are things out of their control, and that seems rational on the face of it, but actually it’s not. Because responsibility isn’t so much what happens to us, it’s about how we respond to what happens to us. “Why do we fall? So we can learn to pick ourselves up?” as one of my favorite movies puts it. The actual other extreme is taking too much on yourself. It’s saying that you are responsible for your actions but only looking at the past and not picking yourself up. It’s only dwelling in the guilt, the fear, the blame and being as paralyzed as the people who don’t take any responsibility for anything (if we weren’t playing on the opposition’s field I might also point out that the Law of Attraction will sometimes give you something bad so as to ensure you’re in the right place at the right time to get what you really want, e.g. losing your job which forces you get the want ads in which you find your dream job has just opened up but you would have never seen it if you hadn’t been looking for a new job). And yes this obsession with the past and the blame could be a terrible side effect of taking responsibility for everything in your life. So I guess it is a valid complaint. If only every person who preached the law of attraction also told people that for the law to work they need to focus on what is already good in their life and be grateful for all those good things….oh wait.

Point two of any version of the law of attraction is that you have to focus on what’s good in life. So I guess we don’t have a valid complaint against the philosophy yet.

But maybe this optimistic outlook at what is good in your life is a bad thing. I’m going to assume most of you just rolled your eyes at reading this sentence. For those you who don’t know medical science and psychology have long since proven that optimistic, grateful people are happier, less stressed, healthier, live longer, and have a better quality of life. There are no downsides I have ever heard of to being optimistic and grateful for what you have. So how does telling people that they need to appreciate what they have hurt them? I guess you could argue that if someone becomes too complacent with what they have they’ll be come stagnant…but then you read points three and four and that kind of goes out the window.

Point three and four deal with having goals and acting toward them. Start with the goal in mind and act in accordance with getting that goal. Now it’s been a while since I’ve read The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People but I seem to recall these are basic principles of any goal oriented system. Start with the goal and be the change you want to see. Typically speaking isn’t that how you get what you want, even if you the universe isn’t helping you get what you want because of your thoughts, these are still the actions that will result in getting what you want. So what’s the down side? How does this harm people?

So we’re playing on the opponents and there is no harm to a person’s life through the first four required points to the law of attraction. But, the opponents say, it will lead them to depression when they don’t get what they want! They’ll be more optimistic, more goal oriented, healthier, probably have more friends and more efficient in whatever field they have chosen for a profession (which probably means more money). Okay, so if I’m wrong about the law of attraction they don’t have the island they wanted…but they probably have more than they did before they changed their attitude to follow The Secret. I don’t think most people would complain.

Now those that complain that the law of attraction isn’t real will probably say that success in life is highly dependent on luck. But I think we’ve all heard the sentiment that luck is opportunity plus preparation. The first four points deal with preparations that are actually required for success even if you assume that the law of attraction doesn’t work. So there is literally no way this can harm people. All the law of attraction says is that the opportunity is dependent on you being prepared and you looking for the opportunity, that the opportunity literally doesn’t exist until you look for it, it is dependent on you looking for it (kind of the Schrödinger’s cat of destiny).

So please, tell me, someone who disagrees with the law of attraction, how on Earth do you claim that it harms people. That to preach this is wrong. That to make money by selling good psychological practices is a con? How?  By believing in basic psychology that everyone knows leads to better life?  I’d love to hear examples of how this could go be bad…not vague statements about well it could lead people to do have long term problems (which it won’t) but actual examples or at least hypothetical situations.

And of course there is that other point…you know the one where it is a fact of nature. Our thoughts do control our life. They do affect all those literal variables that cascade into the opportunities we can reap the benefits of or eliminate those opportunities before they ever even materialize. Now I will admit that this is an article of faith. I do not have irrefutable scientific data to show that I am right and all who disagree with me are wrong. But the opposition doesn’t have that either. I would say however that the preponderance of the evidence is on my side. There are studies that show prayer works, there are studies that prayer doesn’t work. The funny thing is that when you take a step back you find those who come into the study to prove that prayer doesn’t work prove that prayer doesn’t work and that those seem more unbiased or to show that prayer does work always seem to show that prayer has some effect (Wow, it’s almost like thought effected the reality around it…no I won’t go that far, but I will say perhaps it’s a little hard to ignore the fact that scientists are people and it’s hard to remove bias from people). Also, how do you set up a control group, only find people who have absolutely no people praying for them? Tell the patient “we’re going to perform major surgery, but you can’t pray for yourself.” Atheist in a foxhole? It’s not exact mathematical proof, but there is the suggestion of proof. (Here are a listing of studies done in looking at the effects of prayer…I I find most interesting the ones of people who told that they were being prayed for and then did worse than the control group…do you think that guilt and self hatred which may have put them in that medical condition would have made them feel even worse being told that they were being prayed for and maybe countered the prayers for them?). So I will admit that I don’t have iron clad scientific proof if you admit that you don’t either. It’s an issue of faith (one that interestingly enough doesn’t hurt anyone). Of course my favorite part of this argument against the power of prayer in scientific studies is that it’s just the placebo effect. As most of these studies rely on people not being told they were being prayed for there isn’t a placebo effect present…someone has to know they’re being given something for the placebo effect to be present. But what’s really funny about this is the problem modern science is having with the placebo effect. Apparently for the last decade or so, drugs that have previously been tested when retested show less of an increase over the placebo effect. And when you go back and look at the data it’s not that the drug is less powerful it’s that the placebo effect has been getting stronger over the course of time. So people expecting there to be a change is leading to stronger changes even if there is no real drug present…it’s not just that is seems like expectation is changing reality, but it’s almost like the thoughts of people are getting more focused and thus having a larger effect on reality. But you’d have to be one of those crazy New Agers who believe we are on the cusp of a New Age where there will soon be a major jump in the evolution of the human soul.  But I’m always open to hearing other theories as to why the placebo effect is getting stronger.   Now those who don’t believe in the law will probably argue that science doesn’t support the idea, but this is a foolish understanding of reality.  Things are true whether science and prove them or not.  The earth moved before Galileo, it was round before Columbus, gravity pulled light before Einstein…reality exists before science, just because modern science can’t prove something it’s the worst arrogance to say that just because science hasn’t proven it yet it isn’t so.  Real human life has to admit that science doesn’t know everything, especially when it comes how we live our lives.  Yes it would be foolish to fly in the face of science fact, but what science has not proved or disproved, (things like the existence of God, the soul, the afterlife, or this law), it should not be assumed that just because science hasn’t proven something yet it should not be acted on.

Now I will concede that foolishness in conjunction with surface understanding of the law of attraction could lead to problems. For instance prayer healing, the idea that if you pray hard enough you can immediately fix life threatening problems. You know, prayer works great for a disease like cancer because they take time, and those who preach the law of attraction are very clear that it takes time for effect to appear. In terms of faith healing, it’s often something that requires immediate attention, if you think it’s only a matter of how hard you pray, clearly you don’t understand that there is a time delay issue involved in how the law of attraction works. Further, let’s take an extreme view of the law of attraction, if you attracted this disease you clearly do not have the law of attraction mastered, go get medical attention and with the extra time you have to live and take some more time to get it down. The spiritual text A Course in Miracles draws a line between what it calls miracles (a true understanding that the world is a reflection of our thoughts and the ability to control the world through our thoughts) and magic (an understanding that thinks the world is something more than just an illusion projected by our thoughts, which tries to control things in that illusion through the illusion, science is included in this). A Course in Miracles makes it clear the only way you are going to learn the truth of the world is by living, learning, and growing, you can’t do that if you’re dead. If you’re experiencing problems, especially medical ones, if you know how to control miracles (well you wouldn’t be in that situation) use them—if not, probably demonstrated by the fact that you’re in a situation that could really use a miracle don’t be an idiot and go for magic of science and medicine (you have to appreciate the apparent irony of that phrase). The law of attraction is something that works, but it’s not an immediate fix to problems (unless you’ve reached Enlightenment and then I seriously doubt you’ll be reading this blog if you have). The law is supposed to be used in conjunction with reason not in opposition to it.

Of course the thing that always surprises me is that the argument I made about the first four points of the law of attraction just being good positive psychology aren’t made by my opponent. Instead of arguing against it in totality they should be arguing, “well of course being goal oriented and optimistic leads to a better life, you don’t need any mystical element to explain that” which would actually be a much harder argument for me to refute and I would have to just fall back on “Yes, but my spiritual belief system says that it also affects the world around you and provides you with the opportunities that reflect your attitude. Can’t prove it but that is what I believe, and it’s not worth arguing because you can’t disprove it.” I admit that’s a weak argument philosophically, but it’s an issue of faith and only a fool would think that you apply the laws of science to faith. But no. They take the tack that it hurts people and it must be challenged at all costs. Again I’d love to see an example of where it hur.t someone. I suspect however that it has more to do with the first point. People don’t want to be responsible for their actions. They want to avoid thinking and doing. These are often the same people who argue their life is terrible not because they didn’t get an education or a job or what not, not because of their choices, but because the government didn’t give them this or that, that the system is broken, that life is unfair and we need to make it more fair for the disadvantaged. They dislike it because the philosophy leaves no room for excuses or others to blame. It requires that you think for yourself. It requires that you act in accordance with those thoughts. It requires that you take responsibility for those thought and actions. And for some people that is a horrifying idea.


Filed under A Course in Miracles, Books, Books for New Agers, Faith, Fear, Free Will, God, Happiness, Karma, Law of Intention, Meditation, New Age, People Are Stupid, Popular Culture, Prayer, Purpose of Life, Religion, Spirituality, The Secret

Another piece of BS from the RSA.

This is a long one. A very long one. It’s on a 10 minutes video that is just a string of lies, half truths and logical fallacies. In the word document I typed this up in this is 9 single spaced pages long. If you’re going to read this blog be sure to have a snack and a strongly caffeinated beverage at hand. I hate, I truly loathe and despise these liberal videos with cartoons, and they cram so much evil into so short a space there is no way to deal with all of it in a brief manner.

And this is the short version, there a hundreds of smaller issues I ignored.

Watch the video first.

The Royal Science Academy must have a mission statement of putting out bad videos with pretty pictures that include nothing but half-truths and logical fallacies that are supposed to come off as well thought out ideas. I blame that propaganda piece “The Story of Stuff”, it showed liberals how some people will not pay attention to the details if you speak fast enough and use shiny things to distract them (I once timed the Story of Stuff as having a logical fallacy or outright lie every 2.5 seconds. I don’t think even Obama can match that kind of record.) Today’s hack work comes from Barbara Ehrenreich and it is entitled “Smile or Die” and is a gross and misleading at best, slanderous worst, attack on the idea of Positive Thinking.
So Ehrenreich, who you may recall is the same hack who wrote Nickel and Dimed, which showed how you could succeed in America starting from the bottom…you know I’m no scientist, but I think in dealing with human behavior, if someone goes out to prove that they are incapable of doing something then 99.99999999% they will prove themselves right. Whereas amazingly enough several people have taken up the challenge and proved Ehrenreich wrong, that with willpower and character you can easily pick yourself out of the lower classes of socio-economics, it’s a matter of choice. But it might be helpful to keep in mind that Ehrenreich’s overarching theory is that you are incapable of doing anything on your own without help. Such a depressing outlook will help inform you about this little excuse for an argument.

The first problem is that I’m going to inform you up front she lumps a lot of disparate ideologies, practices and beliefs systems together (even when they don’t necessarily have any common base) and calls it all “Positive Thinking.” This little straw man allows her to attack the weakest forms of what she calls positive thinking and then make you think that all the other forms are just as inaccurate.
The first is the idea of support groups for employees who have been laid off. Apparently these groups are telling people “It’s not bad to be laid off” Ignoring the fact that the day I got fired was one of the best days of my life (looking a bully in the eyes and not backing down is fun…especially when they start getting more and more insane when you don’t cower as they expect you too) It’s getting people in the right mindset. She claims that skills and experience aren’t necessary, which she provides not even the hint of evidence for–I understand she is going quickly and has no time to include a bibliography, but I can also guarantee you 90% it’s not the people without skills or education who are getting fired, and it’s not the people without skills and education who aren’t getting hired; after all the unemployment for college graduates is around 4.6% and around 14.6 for those without a high school diploma; clearly education and skills count for something.  However attitude is important. And you need to have a positive attitude because no one is going to hire a depressed employee…why, because if they’re still depressed when they go looking for a job it means they haven’t gotten over it, which means they’ll sulk, they’ll bitch, they’ll be unproductive, and they’ll bring everyone else around them down. To get a new job you need a glass is half full outlook because being the in doldrums won’t help you.
And I seriously doubt anyone thinks that the only thing these support groups do is talk about being happy. I would assume they rather help people get through those 4 stages of loss, so they can get as quickly as possible to acceptance…now let’s get out of grief and into accepting it happened—you can whine or you can use this as the start of something new.
Now granted it’s a little cynical for a business to put their fired employees through this, but especially when they’re downsizing (i.e. often it’s a choice of some get fired or we all lose our jobs) it’s an attempt to not be completely callous. Further, I wouldn’t expect any of these support groups to start five minutes after you get fired. Yes, get over denial and bargaining and anger. But once you’re in grief, which is an important step, it’s also the step that’s easiest to get stuck in thus a support group of some kind can help you move out of it and onto acceptance and moving forward with your life. But the one thing that a support group has to kill right away is self-pity, because that’s never psychologically healthy.
Now I could wax long on the New Age theory that everything happens for a reason and every challenge is a learning opportunity, but no need to bring the New Age into this just yet. I will however go with that beautifully inspirational line from a Christopher Nolan film, “Why do we fall down? So we can learn to pick ourselves up.” You might think it’s trite because of its source, but it contains a very valuable piece of truth, life is about moving forward and staying in grief and depression is not about moving forward. Does this idiot Ehrenreich think it would be psychologically helpful to condone and encourage self-pity and depression? I thank god this woman isn’t a psychologist, all of her patients would end up committing suicide (the only exceptions would be those who decided to go on a killing spree before suicide-by-cop).
“Don’t complain.” I think it’s more of don’t dwell on the past. Complaints are fine…what are you going to do about them? Complaining for complaining sake is by nature looking at the problem and the past. It’s not psychologically healthy. Get it out of your system and move on. If you’re constantly complaining it is a sign you have a problem and at some point you need to break yourself of the habit (or at least sublimate it into something positive). I seriously doubt any support group says “don’t complain.” They may say don’t complain during your interview because we do want you to succeed and learn how to sublimate all of your negative emotions into positive actions, but I think support groups are designed for complaining and then moving on.

Then after finding a healthy psychological approach she “saw a pattern” and by pattern she apparently means “I found a way to prop up a straw man argument.” Because it is here that she strangely equates it with bad business and denial in business. I know of no company that has a policy of “mandatory optimism and cheerfulness”…now there may be companies that fire the most pessimistic and rude employees, but that’s because everyone, not just management wanted them gone. And no I think companies want tasks done. Management in corporate America may most of the time be stupid beyond the telling of it, but they want stuff done not just happy feelings.
She then pulls a neat trick here and actually goes to the New Age idea of Positive Thinking or as it is actually called “The Law of Attraction” she does this to make you think that whatever corporate America is doing it is inherently crazy and stupid and vice versa that the law of attraction is dumb without having to prove either. She’s hoping you will think her non-sequitor jump in organization is because the business world makes no sense itself, this is not the case. I am not going to make the same jump and I will deal with the rest of what she has to say about business first and then come back to the New Age idea.
So she comes back to the business angle after about two minutes of pathetically ignorant mocking of the New Age when she describes the financial meltdown of 2007. She identifies other factors being class inequality, this wasn’t actually a factor in any way, shape or form , an economy being based on finance instead of manufacturing, again not a factor (and economic thinking that is nearly 50 years out of date), greed, which actually drives an economy (I think she meant short term thinking or perhaps avarice, but she didn’t say either of those). So in addition to knowing nothing about human psychology she doesn’t know anything about economics either. (Here are the real causes of the meltdown which is also explained in “Republicans and Reincarnation” And the Royal Science Academy gave this woman a platform? Then she claims there was a grip of positive thinking in the financial sector, that they had no idea what was going on. And she points out that the mortgage companies didn’t like whistleblowers. Let me see why. Could it be because they initially tried to not give out all of these sub-prime loans and then were sued by the government, under Janet Reno, pressured from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and Congress (a charge led by Barney Frank) and sued by private firms like Miner, Barnhill & Galland for not issuing enough subprime mortgages (three guesses as to which lawyer at that law firm whose first name is Barrack that helped to sue banks for not making those terrible loans). Banks did try to not give those loans out, but when you got all three branches of government conspiring against you, what are you going to do? Banks were left with the choice of die now, broke, being sued by everyone or die later after making terrible loans that will never be paid back and make some money for ourselves. Is it any shock that people have short term thinking when that is all the government rewards? Is it any shock that in the choice of going down broke or going down after making my cut of the action people chose not to fall on their swords for an issue they knew the public wouldn’t back them on. It wasn’t the move of high character or personal nobility, but it was the purely logical move. So are you shocked they wanted the good times to roll a little longer before the house of cards came down? Of course not. That’s why they didn’t want the whistleblowers, not because they didn’t think it was going to come crashing down, they knew it would, they just wanted it to last a little longer. Again, not the most ethical move, but certainly not a delusional one. But I may be expecting too much of Ehrenreich to assume she would do even a modicum of research into what actually caused this behavior—she has prejudices and false faiths to defend godamnit and facts can’t be allowed to get in the way of that. It wasn’t willful ignorance; it was willfully trying to hide what everyone knew from the public. Unethical, but not delusional.
(Then we have another non-sequitor jump to bashing the New Age again)
Then there is the requisite Bush-bashing. Wouldn’t be liberal propaganda without Bush-bashing. Oh and let’s quote utterly useless back stabbing Condi Rice as saying she had doubts about Iraq but that Bush didn’t like pessimists. First, what I’ve read about Bush is that he didn’t like people who brought up problems but didn’t have a solution, granted there are better management styles, but it’s not deluded thinking (like, say, Obama’s who has nothing but yes-men who don’t even bring up problems with solutions because the divine One, Obama, can do no wrong). And which general was fired for saying we needed more troops (which I thought Bush sent in more troops) I don’t know who this General is and 10 minutes of Google search can’t find anyone who critized the war before they had already retired, so while there may have been someone fired at that point of time, I find it suspicious that she can’t give us a name. And let’s deal with Iraq as a whole. The problem with Iraq wasn’t positive thinking; it was not having a plan for what to do after we defeated the Iraqi army. We had no plan. That will get you in trouble whether you’re an optimist or pessimist…although pessimism is more often associated with a lack of planning.
Really none of this business or Iraq war stuff has to do with positive thinking. Nothing at all. But she thinks it offers a great straw man argument of “look, this positive thinking is bullshit, so that positive thinking is bullshit.” Problem is that she can’t even identify what the problems are.
Okay onto the New Age stuff. If you want to go back to 2 minutes and 18 seconds she begins dealing with the New Age idea of the law of attraction. (I love of all the people who they could draw for having control of the world through thoughts they pick Darth Vader…thanks I love that being an optimist puts me on par with a fictional genocidal psychopath, thank you Goebbels). Yes the idea is that if you concentrate and keep your mind focused you will have everything you want. She uses the trite example of a million dollars because she wants to make it seem that it’s ridiculous that we could all get a million (well, give Obamanomics enough time and a loaf of bread will cost a million). But really we don’t all want a million. We say we do, but that’s not really what we want. I think most of us would prefer a happy marriage, happy healthy children, and a job we enjoy to a million dollars. The problem is that our thoughts drift all over the place that we don’t often bring that to us. But she does grossly misrepresent the law of attraction, it isn’t that if we think hard enough we can go buy a lotto ticket today and win tonight. It’s that if we focus our ideas, it will affect the universe in a million different small ways that everything will match up. That the ideas that will make us a million dollars will come to us. That the opportunities to sell that idea and promote that idea and make money off that idea will all fall into place and be there for us to see and take advantage of. The psychologist Jung called it synchronicity, Taoist call it the flow of the universe, the Hindus call it sankalpa—the idea is that the universe changes to match your thoughts and provide the opportunities for your thoughts to manifest. You envision yourself as an actor. The universe shows you an ad for an acting course. You take it. You see yourself as an actor. The universe shows you an ad for an audition, you show up, and the universe helps put you with the director at the right time for them to want your take on the character. You see yourself as an actor, the universe directs the right critic to be at the show and you do your best one. You see yourself as an actor, that review, because of the universe’s gentle nudging, is seen by the right Hollywood producer…you get the idea. It’s not just a boatload of cash dropping from the sky, it is small things that give you the opportunity to act on your desires. But this is clearly an idea too advanced for Ehrenreich’s rather limited mind (her inability to craft an argument shows that).
So instead of trying to craft a logical argument against the law of attraction she makes fun of the word “magnetism” being used a lot of the time in the descriptions of the law of attraction. The idea of the law is that you pull the things you think about to you like a magnet. Notice the word “like”. It’s a simile. A simile is a kind of metaphor that uses the word “like” or “as”. Most of you know this because you took 8th grade English. Enrenreich apparently is completely ignorant of the concept of speaking metaphorically as she spends nearly a minute on this. Is she so stupid as to not know the difference between a literal statement and a metaphor to try and describe something so someone can understand it? Apparently she is.
And then of course she shows that she doesn’t understand Quantum Physics very well. Quantum Physics has a big problem, and that problem is that thought appears in every experiment to affect the outcome of all the experiments. Now if thought is the only thing that doesn’t change from the quantum to the atomic level it suggests thought is outside of the laws of physics, perhaps even outside grand unified theory. There are two camps of how to deal with this—pretty much it’s an atheist camp and a theist camp. The theist camp see no problem with this, it justifies the idea of the soul and free will, both of which are outside of the clockwork universe. The atheist camp has a bigger problem. You see one of the things about quantum particles is that they can randomly appear just about anywhere. There are likelihoods that they’ll appear in one place over another, but the only thing that seems to affect this, is again, thought. Now if you’re in the purely science and only science atheist camp you can’t have thought affecting where these particles show up when they collapse into a set state every fraction of a nano second. How has the atheist camp dealt with this problem? By going to science fiction. They now postulate that it isn’t that the quantum particle is collapsing into one state over another, it’s actually collapsing into both and with each collapse a new universe is created. So it’s only the appearance of the universe picking one possibility over another, actually all the possibilities occur, we just don’t experience them. Clearly no one thought this one out. One of the most basic rules of physics is the law of conservation: the sum total of matter and energy in the universe is constant, you can’t add or subtract it, it can change form, but the sum total is always the same. So if a new universe is created every time a quantum particle collapses, it must mean that the sum total of energy necessary for a completely new universe was just converted into a new universe. But it gets more fun if you think about it. That means every quantum particle in the universe (trillions to the trillionth power to the trillionth power would be a conservative estimate and let’s represent this number with the letter Q) each with let’s just say 2 possible states to collapse to (it’s more, but let’s make this number somewhat easier to deal with). That means that every nanosecond 2Q number of universes is created. And the next nanosecond there is 2Q created off of each of the 2Q new universes will be created. Ever seen a fractal pattern? If there were only 1 particle in the universe after one-one-millionth of a second you would have 10103 number of universes, and how many particles are there? How many nanoseconds since the big bang? So all of these universes must be drawing from some infinite reservoir of energy to be constantly created…infinite energy, as Thomas Aquinas would say, this we call God. But God would never be as stupid as to have a system this crazy, so actually, basic reason (even without Ockham’s razor) requires me to just admit that thought might have some effect on the universe outside my brain. But I’m just a dumb English teacher, I’m sure Ehrenreich and her understanding of Quantum Mechanics is so much better than mine.
Back to the argument against positive thinking. She states that one problem with this is it’s delusional. (Oh and why is a picture of America used with the word delusional?) Really? Part of her argument for it being delusional is saying the economy was based on positive thinking, but we already showed that wasn’t the case. She offers no other real evidence that it’s delusional, but I’ll substitute some of the more common arguments against the law of positive thinking. The most common argument is the almost common sense idea that your thoughts obviously can’t affect the world. For the sake of argument I will suspend my belief in the law of attraction and agree that thoughts can’t affect the world outside my mind. Guess what it’s still not delusional. Even if the law of attraction is bunk, it still works. If you say to yourself “I will do X” and act on that belief, you take the courses necessary to do that, you practice the skill required for X, you keep applying for the position of X. And low and behold the law of averages says that eventually between education, practice and determination, you will get what you want. If you want to be an actor, take all the courses, keep auditioning and guess what you’ll act. Now you may not ever become the number one paid actor in the world, but I can’t think of anyone who never got their shot. Now you may say what if a person is a terrible actor? It’s a skill anyone can do at a basic level if they actually try (hell I can think of a lot of people in Hollywood who can’t act well, but they got the job nonetheless) and will get in at some level. Now here’s the thing if they really aren’t good at it, they probably won’t enjoy it, and thus they’d have to be a masochist to not then desire something else…and if they’re still determined they’ll go after that other thing. In psychology it’s called a self-fulfilling prophecy. And it works almost all of the time. (You’ll also notice that the most self-destructive entertainers are the ones who say they never expected their fame or don’t deserve it, and low and behold they fulfill their own words). For instance anyone with even a bare bones knowledge of psychology, economics, sociology or education, or any social science for that matter would know that someone who went out saying “I’m going to prove this can’t be done” will create a self-fulfilling prophecy of their own because they will always look for the ways to screw up and make sure their thesis is proved, even if there was a way for it to be done. But then again you’d have to know something, anything, about how people act. Human psychology when coupled with determination tends to yield results. Even if the law of attraction is total BS, the attitude still drives you to learn, to practice, and to push yourself…in other words to succeed. Thus how is something that actually works delusional? It’s more delusional to say “I’m going to be a realist and look only at the practical odd.” Go find an oncologist. Ask them who will survive, the cancer patient who says “Well realistically I have a 20% chance of survival” or the cancer patient who says “I’m going to beat this.” I can tell you right now which group makes it into the 20% of survivors with more frequency, and you know that too. Thus looking at reality” by nature becomes pessimism. Thus it becomes the true delusion because it ignores the opportunities right in front of you.
Then she goes with the idea that the law of attraction is cruel because it says we bring all the negative things into our lives. She uses the idea that the tsunami victims were thinking those kinds of thought. She says she paraphrased from Byrne, I’m sure it was paraphrasing the letter and not the spirit of the statement. New Age belief says that sometimes we think negative thoughts into our lives and that brings negative things. It’s the laws of attraction. Sometimes however this is not immediate, sometimes this is a very delayed effect from karma and negative thoughts in our distant past. And sometimes, and this is especially true of large disasters, the people who suffer thought about these negative things, not as punishment or because they’re negative, but because they are often more enlightened souls who willingly choose to be put in a position where they will suffer, because at a more enlightened level it doesn’t matter as much to them, and they put themselves in this position to help spark the compassion in others. Massive suffering isn’t so much a punishment as it is a chance for you to help and be a better person and give up your own negative thoughts. What these all have in common is that negative situations are opportunities to learn and give up negative thoughts. How is that callous or amoral?
More importantly, again putting aside all my New Age beliefs, any psychologist will tell you that happiness is a choice. It has nothing to do with your surroundings; it has to do with your outlook. People who are dependent on the outside environment, as this idiot Ehrenreich is suggesting we be, are statistically always unhappy because if you’re looking for that promotion, that check, that car, that vacation, that person in your life, for your happiness, you will never find it. It is a choice totally and completely independent of your surrounding and situation. And before you try and give me some counterexample of someone in a miserable situation, I’ll raise the ante before you do. Do you remember Christopher Reeve in his last years? Few people on Earth are in a more miserable situation than sitting in a bed, being told you will never leave that bed and never be able to breathe on your own again, that you have at most a year to live. Oh wait, he breathed on his own, he got out of that bed, (because he believed he would…damn that sounds a bit like the law of attraction) and if you saw him in any film or interview he was a happy and hopeful man. Yeah he didn’t walk, but maybe that wasn’t his purpose in life, with what he from that chair alone he gave hope and showed the power of determination and the choice to be happy. Okay your turn, someone in a more miserable situation who really chose to be happy but still wasn’t. I can hear the wheels turning, (I’ve seen happy cancer patients, and hopeful people dying of degenerative diseases…I’ve seen poverty borne with honor and dignity…I’ve seen)…I’m waiting for a counter example….Maybe it’s more cruel to tell people to just be realistic about their situations.
She can say she’s not advocating gloom or pessimism, but by saying we should be “realistic” about our situations, that’s exactly what’s she’s saying.
What the hell is this shit about vigilant? Reasonable fear is not negative. But you know the way she is using vigilant, as in looking for problems and running away from them seems to be from the fight or flight response we all have. And it is also that fight response to fight even when things are hopeless and miraculously turns the tide in our favor that also got us where we are. Her flight vigilance is the attitude of thinking, ‘well, can’t do that, why bother trying.’ Yeah that got us far. So vigilance and looking for danger and running away from them helped our ancestors. Can I then thank the ancestor of ours who wasn’t vigilant and not only went toward the fire but learned how to control it despite the fact that it could have killed him? The people who survived may have said ‘move it’s a leopard’—the people who thrived and advanced civilization said ‘Oh, I wonder where this leads?”
Inclinations towards camaraderie? Solidarity? Outside of Pravda who uses those words as a basis for human behavior. What about our inclinations to curiosity? Imagination? Determination? Compassion?

Positive thought is the only way I can think of that is scientifically proven by scientists to actually make people happy and psychologically healthy is actually social control—that’s right, if you’re happy then it’s only because the evil corporations are controlling you.  Am I the only one who thinks that this dimwit had the hardest time not constantly using the words ‘proletariat’ and ‘bourgeoisie’ in this section, as it just drips with a purely Marxist view of war of the classes (a view that has been beyond proven to be limited and false). That’s why she tries to bring up the Soviet Union, to deny her own Marxist leanings. Did the Soviets preach optimism, possibly, in their case it was denial of reality and say 2+2=5. Positive thinking says 2+2=4 right now, but if I work at it the universe will provide me with another one (1) and 2+2+1=5. Positive thinking does not deny the past or even the present, but it says the future still is not written and it can be what I want to write not what will be written for me. What the Soviets called optimism was a denial of reality. (Ehrenreich seems to have a problem making this distinction and it’s probably her inability to form any semblance of deep thought.)
Oh we have class inequality again. Again she misrepresents the law of attraction. The law of attraction requires you act and work. It just says that if you believe that your work will be easy then the universe will line up the opportunities in such a way, that if you look for them, your path to your goal will be easy. For instance, passing high school is actually quite easy. Community college is rather cheap in the grand scheme of things. Two years at a state college not that much. Oh gee you now have a B.A. for a minimum amount of effort. You’re now pretty much guaranteed a job for the rest of your life. How hard was that? Anyone can do it if they choose to make the necessary sacrifices along the way and choose that they will do it.
But then it gets really fun when she attacks capitalism. She suggests Adam Smith’s Invisible Hand is a magical idea that corrects everything in the market without reason. Now anyone with a brain who looks at the invisible hand would notice that it destroys ideas that do not work, that every individual is striving to do what is in their best interest, that ideas that work multiply more, that larger and more diverse companies have a better chance of surviving economic shocks and a lot of other things. You know where we also see the exact same processes: the modern theory of evolution. Genes like people work in their own best interest and try to multiply. The ideas/genes that offer the best advantage live and multiply. The ideas/genes that are weak die off. The more complex creatures/companies can adapt better. So, as she claims to be a person of science, she wants me to believe that one system based on competition and survival of the fittest (biology) operates on a basic set of principles called evolution, but that in another system of competition and survival of the fittest (economics) it would just be beyond stupid to believe in the exact same principles only called the Invisible Hand and not evolution. I am going to choose to not be an idiot and believe in both evolution and the Invisible Hand. She can continue to the economic version of a creationist (we call them Keynesians) and be justly ridiculed.
It’s also kind of funny she’s making fun of people who believe in the ‘market’ and it will fix everything, when she clearly believes in ‘the government’ and it’s ability (with no track record of such) to fix everything. Oh, so if I’ve got a shrine I worship to and have to pay taxes or make sacrifices to it, then the miraculous deity that can save us isn’t ridiculous (even though, again, the market is based on a scientific principle). Does she worship Zeus? You can see him, or at least a statue of him, and you have to pay sacrifice. It would seem to be the corresponding religious belief to her Keynesian economics.
Actually the power of positive thinking doesn’t say you can “change the world” it says you can change your life. You’re not a lone individual against the world, you’re an individual being happy…and strangely enough those of us with a good understanding of the law of attraction do seem to have a George Bailey kind of effect on the world around us. But again she seems overly concerned with looking at the outside environment and not with actually living her life. Then she goes onto “collective power”…that’s right screw the idea of being the change you want to see in the world you can only do good by being a cog in a larger system and only then do we have power that “we could use to end a great deal of unnecessary suffering.” What worthless liberal drivel.

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Filed under Economics, Evils of Liberalism, Faith, Fear, Free Will, Government is corrupt, Happiness, Individualism, Karma, Law of Intention, liberal arrogance, Long Term Thinking, Natural Rights, New Age, People Are Stupid, Purpose of Life, Tyranny

New Age Thought for the week

Okay, so I’ve taken a couple weeks off (it was Christmas) and today’s not going to be great writing either but I promise to be back in full form this week starting this week. But for today’s meditation I’m kind of stealing. If you’ve read this blog you should know I’m a believer in the Law of Attraction, the idea that our thoughts do affect reality. And if we can focus those thoughts they can actually change the world around us. This idea is right now best known through the book The Secret and The Power (go buy the books, they’re very good and easy reads and I feel less guilty about taking these two videos by suggesting you should go buy them).

Now one of the biggest ways to influence your life is to start the day off right. We’ve all known those days where we feel it’s going to be a wonderful day, and it is…and those days where we wake up hating the world and the whole day spirals down from there. This is the Law of Attraction at work. What you believe will happen will happen.
So one of the best ways to counter the negative in your life is to start off the day with a positive affirmation or two. I suggest watching both these videos every day shortly after you wake up and shortly before you go to bed. Trust focusing on these will help improve your days.

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Filed under Law of Intention, Meditation, The Secret