A listener and previous "guest blogger" from Germany writes, of the Midwest Center:
I tried to click into the forums they established on their "stress center" homepage; I used to read and write there a few years ago. And I couldn't find it anymore! They changed the whole layout, and now there are no more forums, no hint or button, nothing. They also used to have free information there about all kinds of mental/psychological problems, which was quite helpful, but they took that out, too. Very weird. What is left now is just THE PROGRAM, advertisement and information and users' testimonies and how to purchase, but that's all. Or maybe I couldn't find it anymore because of my poor computer skills...!? However, this is suspicious to me. Although I found the program quite helpful then, this confirms what other commenters on your blog assumed: that THE PROGRAM has become just some kind of money machine... Do you have any information about this phenomenon? A thought occurs in postscript: The program has become a money machine...? Which is why I'd direct interested readers to this site, which I find amusing and very much on-point, especially since it quotes from my SHAMblog "tribute" to the late David Bassett.
The missing forum is, in fact, here, under the "support" tab. But I ran this comment anyway because I'd be interested to hear from some new voices with regard to The Center. Anyone? Bueuuuller...?
Friday, September 30, 2011
A listener and previous "guest blogger" from Germany writes, of the Midwest Center:
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
I like Obama's new deficit-reduction plan, as well as his in-your-face way of debuting it. Good for him. The way he was going for a while there, he had everybody mad at him, including his base. If his presidency is destined to go down in flames, he might as well do it being the guy whom some of us elected....
Had a brief but interesting Twitter-spar with Deepak Chopra over the weekend. Was a little bit surprised that he would "engage," given his sometimes-imperial demeanor and his very vocal unhappiness with me over this piece for The Wall Street Journal; you can read his response here. However, I think I might have caught him with his logic down. Here are the tweets in chronological order:
DEEPAK: "Only life creates life."
ME: "But if only life creates life, then I'm assuming you dispute the validity of evolution/Big Bang etc."
DEEPAK: "I do not dispute big bang , evolution, cosmogenesis—they are all expressions of a living universe."
ME: "OK but at a certain point that becomes sophistry. If everything is alive—i.e the universe itself—then nothing is, either."
DEEPAK: "Biological evolution describes the transformation of life not the origin of life."
ME: "And for that matter, God is not technically 'life,' either—correct?—so the line breaks down there too."
DEEPAK: "There is no observable experimental evidence of how life began—yet."
ME: "OK, I'll grant that. But then how do you reconcile that comment with 'only life creates life'? If we don't know, we don't know."
Anyway, I thought it was interesting.
Later, this buffoon* tweeted: "A life without cause is a life without effect."
To which I replied: "Again, a nonsensical platitude. Did Mt. St. Helens have a 'cause'? Did it not have an effect? PEOPLE: Stop the Stupid, Now!"
Dr. Cummins has not replied.
Baseball fans will know that the Philadelphia Phillies were the first team to clinch a playoff berth, and then a divisional championship (admirably, their fifth straight). The latter happened on Saturday night. On Sunday, the Phils lost big. The next morning, in a column titled "Phillies appear lifeless in loss to Cards," one of sportswriting's best and brightest, Amanda Housenick—whose columns often unfold in a never-ending series of Sportsthink cliches—framed Sunday's loss like so: "Seven of the Phillies regulars were physically in the lineup, but their regular intensity wasn't.... A day after clinching their fifth consecutive NL East title in record time (150 games), the Phils hit into double plays three times in the first four innings."
This mentality, which is pervasive not just in sports but in the broad culture, reasons backward from an observed result and finds a mental/emotional predisposition to explain it. It's a mindset that implies that everything is responsive to sheer willpower—or, to quote the Socrates of our day, Tommy Lasorda, "The guy who wins is the guy who wants it the most."
That line of (alleged) reasoning is dumb enough big-picture, but it gets especially silly when one does what Housenick did, i.e., using it to explain the countless, often inconsequential component parts of a given outcome. The linkage that Housenick draws between the Phils' lack of "intensity" and their three double-plays is so absurd as to hardly bear comment, but comment I will. Those of you who play baseball or even watch it now and then realize that, first, you normally have to hit a ball pretty hard in order to hit into a DP. So where exactly did the lack of intensity come into play? Is Housenick implying that it was flagging intensity that caused the hitter to—on the one hand—hit the ball hard, but also—on the other hand—hit it right at a fielder? That is not just silly. It is probably insane. After all, if those same balls had been hit a few feet or even inches to one side of the fielder who started the double-play, the result easily could've been a run-scoring hit. Are we saying that a player with more intensity would've somehow "made sure" the balls (a) weren't just hit hard, but (b) found open spots in the infield? ... Please. Spare me.
* Read his page. If you don't laugh your ass off, I'll give you your money back.
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
Yesterday somebody sent me a link to the accompanying vid, along with the gleeful zinger, "You got your ass kicked here, buddy!"
To be honest, that's kind of what I thought, too, when I first "watched it back" after doing the show live on November 22, 2005. You can read chapter and verse of my feelings on the experience by chasing the link in the previous line, but I'm curious about how you folks see it, now, watching it through the clarifying lens of history. Remember that at the time, James Ray hadn't yet parboiled his disciples in Sedona; in fact, the world was still more than a year away from Ray's mentor, Rhonda Byrne and The Secret. Hell, I hadn't even commenced my obsession with Dr. Phil's Love Smart, or more specifically, the Amazon reviews thereof. (I think I've recovered, though I still go in for an occasional counseling session, just in case.)
Regardless, one thing hasn't changed: Mark Victor Hansen remains, in my view, a snake. I invite you to read the series of posts I wrote in the wake of the Anderson Cooper gig; they're as revelatory of the SHAMscape as anything I've done on this blog.
Monday, September 12, 2011
For some reason I cannot explain, my Twitter following has expanded dramatically of late. At this writing I'm all the way up to 241. Though that's a laughably puny number in the grand scheme of things (no threat to Tony Robbins' 1.9 million), it's worlds better than the 100-something at which I lolled for my first full year of residence in the tweet-o-sphere.
My most recent follower is this guy:
Mark ShadanSo. There is no limit to what u can be, do or have... Really. Really?@CreateWhatUWant San Bruno, CaLaw of Attraction Coach | Life Coach | There is no limit to what u can be, do or have... Really. Until new site, u can get info here: http://ow.ly/6b2iehttp://ow.ly/6b2ie
We'll leave aside the question of why someone who subscribes to that anthem* would follow me. Maybe he just wants to know what the enemy is up to. But I thought this might be a good time for a refresher course in that peculiar line of insanity that goes, "You can achieve anything you want in life!" Or as the late, not-so-great Randy Pausch put it, "Brick walls are there for other people." Is that so, Randy? Then I guess a diagnosis of stage-4 metastatic pancreatic cancer is there for other people, too, huh? Whoops...
I've said this often, but we used to put people away for insisting that the physical world is responsive to the wishes of the psyche; that external reality arranges itself to conform with whatever you want or believe or, ahem, attract. Really, that's the perverse genius of the New Age: Its hucksters have somehow succeeded in mainstreaming notions that once were identified with schizophrenia and other forms of actual mental pathology.
"You know, Dr. Swanson, if I stare at that Corvette long enough it will come to me and take me to Disneyland! Really, it will. It will..."Over the years I've blogged about the shameless/shameful overselling of positive mental attitude in such areas as health (see here and/or here), the supposed benefits of enthusiasm and self-confidence, the phenomenon I dubbed Sportsthink (too many entries to list, but try this one for starters), etc. Hell, I devoted an entire article to the subject in Skeptic. I've also emphasized the counterintuitive dangers of today's culturally viral PMA in interviews on CNN, MSNBC, FOX, and an hour-long prime-time show I helped develop for ABC. Point being, I don't need to repeat it all here. Many other astute observers have taken up the cause since the publication of my 2005 book, SHAM. In fairness, Wendy Kaminer was touching on this same foible two decades ago in her mordant send-up of self-help's Victimization wing, I'm Dysfunctional, You're Dysfunctional. And yet this crazy notion that you can "be anything you want in life!" not only won't go away, but continues to be mindlessly reinforced in schools across America each and every day, thereby creating whimsical feelings of entitlement that, to my mind, do far more harm than good.
"All right, Ms. Tompkins, it's time for your shock treatment now. Oh, and Nurse Jones, remind me that we need to up the dosage of thorazine..."
Let's face it, much of the time we can't even change how we feel about something, let alone change the course of the something itself! I offer a simple experiment to prove it: If you are a parent, stop loving your children. Presto! Go ahead, see if you can do it. I bet you can't. And if you're thinking, But I don't WANT to stop loving my kids, so why should I try?, well, that same internal monologue is constantly running deep inside your psyche with regard to countless other issues that arise throughout the day: But I don't WANT to [fill in the blank] or But I HAVE to [fill in the blank]. Sure, change is possible; it's just not a push-button process, and I'd argue that whatever that process may be is seldom kick-started by anything under our conscious control.
Put simply, we're gonna be what we are, and we're gonna feel what we feel, until something changes for us. And then we're gonna be and feel that, until something else changes again. And that's true regardless of what u say, Mark.
* at least for public consumption.
Sunday, September 04, 2011
I'm juggling quite a writing workload on my new(ish) job these days, so we've found it expedient to engage the services of freelancers to churn out relatively low-priority blurbs pursuant to our ambitious SEO goals.* More exactly, we've engaged the services of a company that specializes, or so it says, in taking on the writing overflow from small-staff firms, like mine, that find themselves temporarily overwhelmed.
I have two primary reactions to this experience, thus far:
1. It's a good thing these blurbs are relatively low-priority, because the general quality of the writing supplied by these freelancers can be summarized as GACK.
Is it mean-spirited or overly demanding of me to expect writers not to use phrases like "aware about" (as in, "they are aware about the financial concerns..."), "dedicated in" (as in, "the company is dedicated in teaching consumers how to better handle their finances...") or "translate towards" (as in, "this doesn't always translate towards a better opportunity")? Is it unrealistic to ask people who call themselves Writers to avoid writing sentences that begin, "For the average person who struggle to fix their finances to make sure it works for them" or "With the economy presently in its current state of economic instability..." Jesus H. Christ!
2. I would assume that the company to which we outsourced our writing employs people who have in some way documented their fitness to produce verbiage worthy of being read by other actual homo sapiens. Therefore I must also assume that the company believes that the GACK-inspiring writing to which I alluded in (1) should be accepted by my firm as credible professional work, and maybe even paid for. I further assume—though you can't imagine how this pains and even terrifies me, as a lover of writing and a former professor of the genre—that the people churning out this garbage actually graduated from some institution of higher learning with a degree that theoretically certifies their competency to write something.
What are they teaching people in English classes nowadays??
* Some of you may be wondering, How do you reconcile "low-priority blurbs" with "ambitious" SEO goals? I'm told that in SEO, which is quite far from my area of specialization, the point is merely to repeat the key names and phrases as often as possible in as many different online settings as possible. So the core objective is just to get the material out there, almost regardless of how it reads. Still...if you're going to write something...yanno?
Thursday, September 01, 2011
This will be something of a teaser post, assuming anyone cares enough about this to feel teased, but it concerns an "explanation of benefits" I received yesterday in connection with my mother-in-law's recent hospital stay. Dreamboat, as we call her (it's a long story), resides in an assisted-living facility up the road, after five years of staying with us, but my wife sees her daily and, these days, basically manages her affairs. Hence the "explanation" came here.
Dreamboat was in the hospital for seven consecutive days and part of an eighth. During that time, doctors performed a minor surgical procedure, intended to relieve a bile-duct blockage. Nowadays this is a relatively simple and straightforward proposition in which the surgeon threads a tube down the esophagus; no actual incisions are required. They also gave her some diagnostic tests, including an MRI, and took a few X-rays. The procedure was unsuccessful but her symptoms remitted anyway, so they sent her home and told her to check back with her family doctor in a few weeks.
The final bill came to $76,557.79. For the math-impaired, and/or products of the California educational system, that calculates to about $10,000 a day. Actually a bit more, since she was back in her usual chair in the assisted-living facility by noon of the eighth day. Notable among the subtotaled charges was an entry of $7356.78 for "prescription medicine." (I guess they were giving her pills made of enriched uranium.) Also, under the generic heading of "medical care," there are four separate entries, which total just under $20,000. None of the charges is really explained in this "explanation." There are just a bunch of codes.
My mother-in-law owes nothing on the bill—Medicare and Blue Cross split 100% of the costs. But that's not the point. The point is that something is rotten at Lehigh Valley Hospital Network. The point is that I perceive in Dreamboat's recent hospital stay an object lesson in the way the medical establishment screws Medicare. Meaning you and me.
I'm going to look into this. I'm going to demand a full accounting, day by day, procedure by procedure, pill by pill. I will report back.
And by the way, inasmuch as it's sort of relevant again, if anyone wants to read or re-read my nine-part series on "placebo medicine," click here.