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Posts Tagged ‘The Secret’

Robert M. Price speech to FreeThought Fort Wayne (Video)

Posted by Andy D. on September 7, 2008

Robert M. Price spoke to FreeThought Fort Wayne about his book “Top Secret: The Truth Behind Today’s Pop Mysticisms,” and many other secular and religious topics in the Allen Country Public Library Theatre on August 6, 2008. It is followed by a lively Q & A section.

90 min[blip.tv ?posts_id=1185656&dest=-1]

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Robert Price Phone Interview about his book “Top Secret”

Posted by Andy D. on July 24, 2008

[blip.tv ?posts_id=1116808&dest=-1]

Dr. Robert M. Price will be speaking about his new book “Top Secret: The Truth Behind Today’s Pop Mysticisms” in Fort Wayne on Wed. Aug 6th at 7 PM in the Main Allen County Public Library in the theatre on lower level 2.

This video is a half hour phone interview with enhanced graphics about his coming presentation.  There will be a Q and A session after the talk.  We would love to see you at the speech.  For more info on the event click here.

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Robert Price to speak for FreeThought Fort Wayne

Posted by Skeptigator on July 11, 2008

FreeThought Fort Wayne is bringing another speaker to the Fort Wayne, Indiana area. On Wednesday, August 6th beginning at 7:00PM, Robert M. Price will be giving a public lecture at the Downtown branch of the Allen County Public Library on his new book, Top Secret: The Truth Behind Today’s Pop Mysticism. Please read the book and come prepared to ask questions during the Question and Answer period.

For more information regarding Robert Price’s lecture in Fort Wayne or FreeThought Fort Wayne, please contact: contact@freethoughtfortwayne.org

Download the Flyer Here (PDF, 716KB)

About the Book

The following is an excerpt from the review of Robert Price’s book, Top Secret,

America may be the land of plenty, but in the midst of our Walmarts, enormous supermarkets, and other signs of material surfeit, it seems that many are experiencing a gnawing spiritual hunger. New religions, spiritualities, and religious therapies attract throngs of believers to megachurches, Yoga classes, and the bestseller bookshelves. The latest popular fad in spirituality is Rhonda Byrne’s The Secret, which promises both success and spiritual fulfillment, and is endorsed by no less than Oprah Winfrey.

If you’re trying to make sense of all the offerings in this confusing spiritual wonderland, Top Secret is just the book for you. Noted religion scholar Robert M. Price examines the historical roots and the current appeal of today’s pop mysticisms. Critical and appreciative at the same time, Price applies his impressive background in theology and biblical criticism to put these trends in perspective. Among other popular movements and books, Price discusses:

  • Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose
  • Rhonda Byrne’s The Secret and New Thought
  • Helen Schucman’s A Course in Miracles and the popular works of Marianne Williamson
  • Deepak Chopra’s How to Know God
  • James Redfield’s The Celestine Prophecy
  • The Jewish Kabbalah, recently made popular by Madonna
  • Joel Osteen’s Prosperity Gospel and his popular Your Best Life Now
  • Diedre Blomfield Brown (AKA Pema Chödrön) and American-style Buddhism

Whether you’re a skeptic looking for a rational approach to understanding current religion or a seeker in search of a deeper, more informed understanding of popular spiritualities, Top Secret has much to offer.

About the Author

Robert M. Price is Professor of Biblical Criticism at the Center for Inquiry Institute as well as the editor of The Journal of Higher Criticism. His books include Beyond Born Again, The Widow Traditions in Luke-Acts: A Feminist-Critical Scrutiny, Deconstructing Jesus, and The Incredible Shrinking Son of Man. Forthcoming titles are The Crisis of Biblical Authority, Jesus Christ Superstar: A Redactional Study of a Modern Gospel, The Da Vinci Controversy and The Amazing Colossal Apostle

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Listen to a telephone interview with enhanced graphics with Robert Price about his book “Top Secret”

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“SHAM- How the Self-Help Movement Made America Helpless” by Steve Salerno. A review.

Posted by Andy D. on April 20, 2008

“SHAM- How the Self-Help Movement Made America Helpless” by Steve Salerno. A review

SHAM is an acronym for the self-help and actualization movement and it is the ultimate self-book for self-help books. This journey in skepticism shines a light on the 8.53 billion dollar (2003) direct revenue industry. Salerno estimates the true economic costs will be in the trillions when you factor in government spending, lawsuits, medical costs, opportunity costs, and growth trends. I fell victim to several of the authors below and I feel better already after reading SHAM. My skepticism skills from studying science versus faith-based reasoning now enlighten other topics and it is easy to see how anecdotal these self-help books really are.

If you have read from Zig Ziglar, Stephen Covey, Rick Warren, Tony Robbins, Suze Orman, Dr. Phil McGraw or other Men are from Mars/Chicken Soup for the Soul types of books, or any help book pushed by Oprah and Larry King, you need to read this book.

The theme of the book distinguishes between two main types of self-help. The first is the victimization movement. This shows up in the 12 step programs. (There are many different types of these groups and books). These surprisingly religious organizations involve a person saying they are powerless and they have to give themselves over to a “higher power.” Alcoholism is no longer a disorder but a full on “disease.” (Yes, there is a physical addiction but this is not cancer.) SHAM states one has a better chance of actually quitting drinking by going “cold turkey” than attending a single AA meeting. Those groups hide their numbers, too. The victimization movement has contributed to many frivolous lawsuits, unfounded rape allegations (think hypnosis fed mental memories), and people not willing to say they are responsible for their actions by blaming anyone else for their circumstances. America bought it up.

The other big theme of the book and the one more in our face today is the empowerment movement in self-help. Think Dr. Phil “Pick Yourself Up by Your Boot Straps” or today’s “The Secret’s” if you really believe it will happen law. This creates a situation where the thesis cannot be falsified. If a person achieves what they desire then the author was correct. If one fails they didn’t believe in it hard enough (like faith healing) and then they buy another self-help book after failing. It is worse if you flip the logic around by saying one cannot be healthy because they didn’t believe in themselves hard enough regardless of any genetic predisposition to their disease.

The victimization and empowerment movements feed off on another. The main results are more people keep buying more self-help books. Ever wonder why Oprah has self-help books all the time? What happened to the ones from a year ago? Didn’t they work? Salerno thinks the empowerment movement has help feed the divorce rate by having couples that are not always in a state of bliss empower and break-up.

A couple of celebrity highlights: Tony Robbins started giving $50 dollar sessions using coal walking to pump people up and overcome their fears. (This is just physics). Dr. Phil was failing as a psychologist and he helped “coach” Oprah in a court case about her statements about her distrust of beef during the Mad Cow disease scare. The two hit it off. Dr. Phil does have a degree in what he does unlike many pseudo-helpers. The main problem with Dr. Phil and others (like the hypocritical Dr. Laura Schlessinger) is their pop-psychiatry. One cannot dish out accurate advice in a ten-minute segment. It is just scary. Real therapy takes time. One has to think about long term and shot term decisions and repercussions. Suze Orman gives good money advice such as stay out of debt, know your credit score, and put people above money and things. She gets into woo-woo with her empowerment money laws for example, “if one is honest they will attract money.” We all know there are people who are not very ethical, who nonetheless make a lot of money.

The best part of the book for me was the chapter entitled “Ya Gotta Want It” about today’s Sportsthink in business. I had a gun-hoe sports-nut manager who loved the sports hero types such as Vince Lombardi, Tommy Lasorda and Tiger Woods quotes. I laughed all the way through this chapter! There is something weird happening when businesses are bringing locker room mentality to the boardroom. Americans like sports and business so why not combine them? The problem with this analogy is in sports; teams are usually playing one team at a time with well-defined rules. In business, there are many simultaneous competitors and the rules can be broken from any direction. The internal danger here is a witch-hunt on an employee who didn’t have the “religious locker room” mentality and the firm could miss new creative opportunities and talent. There is always an undercurrent to this type of thinking and firms have spent much money and time trying to pump up the “sales” team usually with poor results. One doesn’t hear about it because that would mean the manager who hired the motivational speaker or dished out the BS would have to admit to their boss they wasted time and money. There is a great chapter on the unregulated, unlicensed, and ridiculous “life coaches.”

There is a chapter on criminals who now write books and give speeches after finding Jesus. Schools hire them to scare kids straight but what Selerno argues there is a “glory” shown to the past gang banging activities. American loves a good come back story so many schools have wasted resources on this.

Selerno goes into great depth about how our school systems now focus on “self-esteem” rather than achievement and competition. I bet our teachers could comment a lot on this one. This is the scariest topic in the book. The public school classroom is focusing on feelings rather than focusing on academic subjects. It brings up the participations awards and how some schools are paying and passing kids just to show up!!! Some school sports do not have any losers anymore. Teachers have to focus on the bottom of the class in order to get them all to pass standardized tests. Schools administrators will fight holding someone back that needs to be because this might upset the child or their parent’s feelings.

There is a rather long section on health quackery and its relation to self-help. The usual suspects are here such as and therapeutic touch, distance healing, art therapy, feng shui, magnet therapy, detoxification therapy, and faith healing.

Salerno quotes many voices of reason throughout the book such as James Randi, George Carlin, and Stephen Barret of Quackwatch. This book should be required reading for all of us skeptics. It is scary what happens when we leave science for the anecdotal chicken soup way of thinking. Enjoy!

-Andy

PS: I found Steve’s blog SHAMBOOK.  It looks great.

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