Self-growth: discerning fraud from the real thing

A few hours ago I watched a movie called “What the bleep do we know” and then went on to hunt for some reviews and critiques of it. The best I’ve read comes from an excellent skeptical blog and I have to say I agree with that the attempt to make the theories presented as scientific were largely a fraud. The truth, from what I gathered, seems to be that there really are no definite answers when it comes to the mysteries of quantum physics and that it is therefore premature to come up with any sort of an explanation and call it real.

So I have to count the bleep squarely in the same category as “The Secret”, which actually came later on and probably made an even bigger splash. It’s taking some truths and mixing them with half truths and unsupported claims (“lies” wouldn’t be too far off) and presents it through nice animations, effects, inspirational talk etc. to appeal to the gullible.

What bothers me most about these kinds of movies and resulting “philosophies” is that they seem to taint the real thing. The reason I was attracted to watching these kinds of movies in the first place is reading “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill, which made so much sense to me and felt so positively empowering that I found myself easily believing it. And I still do think that “Think and Grow Rich” is the real deal that can really and actually help people achieve what they desire to achieve.

However, movies like “The Secret” took the ideas from people like Napoleon Hill, using even their own words in rather subtle ways and then in the process of marketing it to the masses dumbed it down and bastardized it to a point at which it becomes hard to discern where the real original philosophy ends and their fantasy conjectures begin.

For instance, Napoleon Hill never mentions “Law of Attraction”, nor does he say that the ideas he is presenting are a great secret that has been suppressed through centuries. Mr. Hill does mention the secret though, but it is something entirely else. It is a label he briefly puts on Andrew Carnegie’s strategy of success and a sort of a “plot device” of his book that encourages the reader to try and be perceptive as (s)he reads the book. He deliberately does not just “spell out” this secret, but instead wants the reader to recognize it himself as (s)he is reading, because it is evident from each chapter.

Brian Kim, in his “Hidden Secret in Think and Grow Rich”, spells it out and using “Think and Grow Rich” as a base, also spells out a very practical strategy of success which is so down to earth that it presents a tremendous contrast to the hot air of “The Secret” movie, as well as “What the bleep do we know”.

Napoleon Hill also talks a bit about something he terms as “infinite intelligence” and the reasoning behind this is simple and does not even begin to involve quantum mechanics, something that authors of both the bleep movie and The Secret have readily abused. He simply concedes that all universe is made up of matter, time and energy and that, being a part of it, our thoughts are actually energy too. It isn’t too surprising that he’d conclude that on some level this energy of our thoughts and the rest of the energy in the universe is connected and that this then means that all thought energy of the universe is connected into “infinite intelligence”.

Now, sure, that sounds quite close to the New Age stuff propagated through bleep and The Secret, but when you compare the level at which these modern movies rely on this theory with the content of Mr. Hills book the contrast is again quite stark. In “Think and Grow Rich” the idea of “infinite intelligence” merely seems like a sidebar, not the thing on which the whole premise of the book hinges on. Whether you choose to believe in “infinite intelligence” or not the book remains incredibly useful by the merit of the practical advice it gives alone.

And what better proof is there than the number of people who read the book and in their reviews repeatedly claim that it helped them successfully achieve such things as start their own businesses, beat an addiction problem etc. Just do a search for “think and grow rich review”. It’s very easy to find them. I tried looking for negative reviews as well and it isn’t as easy to find, and that’s after 70 years of the book being available.

That said, I did say earlier that even if I don’t believe it as a fact, I do think that the theory of “infinite intelligence” is fairly plausible. But I have to emphasize that this mere belief in possibility does not constitute a claim. I am by far NOT siding with the New Agers and the like who claim that we are all a part of god or gods ourselves etc. And even if I did start believing in one version of that, I seriously don’t want to be associated with them, at least those who so readily deceive people by offering them dumbed down versions of the truth which in the process of being dumbed down actually ends up being a half-truth or a lie.

Also, the belief in the existence of “infinite intelligence” (which again I’m not necessarily holding) is not the same as belief in thoughts shaping reality. At best it is a belief in the possibility of communicating with other minds on Earth or in the universe, intentionally or unintentionally. Thus, instead of being a tool of direct creation or “attraction”, thoughts may merely be a beginning to the kind of action which fascilitates a sort of “telepathic” communication, much in the similar way thoughts are the beginning to action done by our own hands and legs. Action then leads to reaction and this is how we see results of our efforts. But those still are real efforts, beyond mere thoughts.

And furthermore, since quantum physics, from what little I know about it, does not exactly provide definite answers yet, it doesn’t see inconceivable that it would allow for the reality based existence of “infinite intelligence” (sum of all thoughts in the universe) and such abilities as telepathy. I just don’t take those as facts yet, but wouldn’t rule out the possibility either.

Anyway, these days I am actually trying to apply the practical philosophy of success presented by Napoleon Hill and made even more practical by Brian Kim. I’ve set up a rather ambitious yet believable goal based on my desires, decided to pursue it and to consistently try to instill in myself the confidence and belief that I can achieve it. Yes, I am applying positive thinking, but NO, I am NOT applying “The Secret” as they are defining it. I am not expecting anything awesome to happen to me merely on the basis of my positive thinking.
What I expect instead is quite natural, that I will be more inclined to take action and consequently WILL take action to achieve my goals; from the first stage of collecting knowledge I need to achieve it, to organizing into primary and secondary plans to the actual execution of them that will lead me to the achievement of the goal.

And there’s nothing especially supernatural or even spiritual about that.

If finally starting is going to be consistent with the achievement of this goal, something I’m still researching, then one of the things I will write about on that site is this incredibly important skill of discerning the real self-growth philosophy from those who abused it for their own fame and profit because I think the message people like Napoleon Hill have for individuals of this world is far too important for it to be destroyed in the minds of many by such scam artistry riding on the tails of wisdom and success of the original true thinkers in the field.

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This entry was posted on Monday, September 1st, 2008 at 5:57 am and is filed under Blog. You can follow any responses to this entry through this RSS 2.0 feed. You're welcome to leave a response, or a trackback from your own site.