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    Archive for March, 2007

    I’m positively negative

    Tuesday, March 20th, 2007

    I was featured in a Toronto Star article about self-help and The Secret ( and since then have been getting quite the collection of emails in response.

    My favorites are, of course, the people who agree with me and think I’m smart and funny. I love when people agree with me.

    But in second place by a hair are emails that sound like this:

    “I know “the secret” works! It’s changed my life. Why must you be so negative? You are sending out negative energy which will only come back to you. If that’s how you choose to live, fine. But, I don’t!”

    For now, let’s not even bother analyzing the evidence that “The Secret works.” Suffice it to say, it wasn’t long ago that we were saying, “I know that sacrificing a virgin every night brings the sun back the next day… because the sun keeps coming back every time we sacrifice a virgin!”

    (BTW, do you notice how similar that is to: “I know this book is the word of God, because it says so in this book!” But, anyway…)

    Instead, let’s look at some other components of this “argument”:

    1) First, it ends all discussion. “I know I’m right so there’s no need to think any more.” This is how our brains are wired… once we come to a conclusion we like, especially one that we think relates to attaining happiness, we are stuck on that conclusion like paparazzi on Brangelina. And rather than examine our conclusion, and seemingly risk future happiness, we shoot the messenger.

    2) Second, it reveals that the speaker doesn’t even believe what they claim to believe! Here’s how: The only reason they see others as NEGATIVE is because they are POSITIVE they’re right! “These people say they “create their own reality,” but they don’t recognize that they “create” (as in “perceive”, not “attract”) negativity with their own “positive thinking.”

    Look, I get it. If examining my beliefs might ruin my future satisfaction, and reveal that I’m not as smart and evolved as I thought, I wouldn’t want to go there either!

    By the way, when did “negative” get such a bad rap? If you want to lick an electrical socket and I tell you that I think it’s not a good idea, am I being “negative”? If I later change my mind, am I alternating about the current?

    Someone asked me, “Do you think it really matters if people believe in this stuff?”

    It’s not about what they believe, it’s about why they believe, how they come to believe, how they don’t recognize they’re believers, how they treat people who don’t believe, and how they don’t recognize when they’re hypnotized by believing.

    Without recognizing what a phenomenon like TS reveals about our thinking, some “interesting” things could happen.
    For example, I hear a rumor that some people (more than 50 million) know for a fact that Saddam Hussein had WMDs and helped with 9/11… and “if you’re not with us,” you can be put in jail for life without legal representation. This rumor may not be true… but I believe it.

    Look, Ma, no brains!

    Monday, March 19th, 2007

    I got a phone call today.

    “This is Jim. I’m calling because you bought our ebook about affiliate programs — are you looking to make more money, or quit your dayjob, or are you not serious about changing your life?”

    “Well,” I replied, completely unaffected by his opening gambit, “it’s interesting to hear you frame my purchase, as if those are the only choices. But I didn’t buy the ebook for any of those reasons… and I don’t see how any of that has to do with changing my life.”


    “Actually, I bought it because I have my own product and I wanted to know more about how smart affiliates run their businesses so I could help the people who promoting my product… More importantly, I know realize that that selling that ebook isn’t where you make your money, and I’ll bet you’re about to pitch me on the expensive ‘mentorship’ program where you do.”

    “In fact, if you qualify, I can try to get my manager’s approval and show you how you can join us for free.”


    Now, you have to realize, that I have NO interest whatsoever in the mentorship program. Even if I were interested, I don’t have the time. And, frankly, even if I had the time, I’ve seen so many of these “mentorship” programs that are a total scam that I 100% completely don’t want to be part of this one.

    And, yet, when he said that sentence… and let me write it again, emphasizing the important parts…

    “In fact, if you qualify, I can try to get my manager’s approval and show you how you can join us for free.”

    … my brain turned off, my stomach started to turn inside out, and I could feel the desire to QUALIFY, to GET THE MANAGER’S APPROVAL, and to find out what secret he was going to show me … especially since it could be FREE!
    Feeling like I was in a bit of a trance, I said, “I don’t think I’m your guy,” and I hung up the phone.

    It’s 3 hours later and I’m still reeling from the experience… I mean, I know the advertising and marketing tricks he was pulling. I know that to “qualify” you need a credit card and a pulse (and the pulse is optional). I know that the “manager” is the guy sitting next to him and probably has a deeper voice to convey “authority.” I even know what they’re going to teach.

    And, knowing all that I still have that idea/feeling that “I lost out on something I want”.

    You could (and others have) write a book about all the persuasion tactics built into that one sentence. And then a graduate level book that describes the whole qualify/manager/show you tactic.

    What amazes me most is how effective they are even on someone who KNOWS they are tricks and ISN’T INTERESTED anyway! No wonder so many people lose so much money on so many scams.
    I’d love  to write more about this, but I just heard a bell in the distance, and I can tell by my saliva that food must be ready.





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