What Holy Books Have You Read?

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This topic contains 37 replies, has 10 voices, and was last updated by  Glen D 2 years, 3 months ago.

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    Glen D,

    I remember seeing Oprah’s O Magazine when it first appeared on bookstore shelves.  It had a cover story by Oprah entitled “I Have Ended My War with Food.”

    My first thought was: “Sooo, the food won?” 🤔

    And as I seen on her Network’s premiere show, my first thought was right. 🙄

    Obviously, “The Secret” doesn’t work for everything and everybody.   Objective reality and the Law of Non-Contradiction comes into play somewhere…

    Otherwise: “Yooou get what you want!  And yooou get what you want!  And yooou get what you want!…etc.,etc., ad nauseum, ad infinitum, ad absurdum…”


    • This reply was modified 2 years, 3 months ago by  TheEncogitationer. Reason: Addendum of Absurdum


    Indeed Glen. I really don’t mind light motivational talk like: “you don’t accomplish anything if you don’t try” or “you can accomplish many things with hard work, knowledge and some luck”. What I utterly DESPISE are the following forms of motivational thinking:

    1. You can do ANYTHING if you just believe in it

    2. Follow what successful people have done and you will succeed

    3. Success requires this recipe

    (I am aware that 2 and three are very similar).

    I think these ideas can psychologically scar those who try and fail and those who never tried and believe they would have succeeded if only they had. I think these ideas fall appart when you consider the inverse:

    1. If you didn’t succeed its because you didn’t believe in it enough.

    3. If you don’t follow this recipee you won’t succeed.

    Also, if you consider obvious contradictions they look incredibly stupid:

    1. Someone spends their whole life believing in something as intensely as possible yet doesn’t succeed.

    2. Someone does literally everything right from the rule book yet doesn’t succeed. In fact those very successful people from whom these rule books were written follow their own rules yet don’t succeed.

    3. People succeed without following that recipe AND people follow that recipe yet don’t succeed.

    One of the worst suppositions that people make from all this is that you can distill general formulas from an insanely complex (and random) environment and even worse, as Nicolas Taleb pointed out in two fabulous books: the role of chance (luck if you have to think of it that way) is virtually never considered when people talk about success and the recipee towards success. Yes hard work and intelligent choices are usually a given, but an enormous dose of luck is equally essential considering to get to success requires making tons of choices about things for which you cannot possibly know what the right answer is at the moment.

    In any case only the first one implies that the universe wants you to succeed and this is really the most grotesque idea. The universe doesn’t give a shit about anything. Most people fail at what they do (that’s not to say they fail all their lives nor will ever succeed but failure is a normal and constant event in life). All this does is give false hope and self blame with things almost inevitably don’t work out.



    Glen D,

    (Assuming Steven Wright voice): “I offended a Solipsist once..And I was supposed to get a visit from The Solipsist Lobby…They never bothered to look for me…”🙃


    Glen D


    My best friend died last year.

    He was always reading the latest self help book. One of his cute little aphorisms was:

    “If you think you can, you can. If you think you can’t you’re right again”

    BUT—-when  I met him. He was 17 ,working on the line at Chrysler’s and was homeless.

    He then went to a teaching hospital and did his general nursing.(RN) This was followed by psychiatric nursing, followed by a diploma as a psychiatric nurse practitioner . Next came a BA in jurisprudence. This was followed  by a Law-Arts degree.

    Hs then had30 year career with The Deputy Crown solicitor as a senior Lawyer . (like a US ADA) The last decade of his life was spent working in Child Protection.

    Over 300 people attended his funeral, including the State Premiere. (Like a US State Governor)

    He was one of my few life heroes because of his achievements.

    Why did he succeed so spectacularly? Was it because of the motivational books he studied, because he was he only person I’ve met who had a true photographic memory? Or because he was a driven workaholic?

    I honestly don’t know, but suspect it might have been a combination of the foregoing.


    Thought for today:”Bigot: One who is obstinately and zealously attached to an opinion that you  do not  entertain” (Ambrose Bierce)



    Glen I’m not against generic motivational speaking. What I am against is overly broad claims (just like your friend said). You don’t need to give false promises and absolutes to motivate people. There simply isn’t enough data about how effective these kinds of books are (do people who are already driven read them for example?) but there is evidence they can be harmful.


    Glen D


    “What I am against is overly broad claims (just like your friend said).”

    Me too. I’ve run across the odd gem  over the years. Eg “You Are Not The Target” by Vera Huxley. The book is simply a collection of gestalt techniques and they work.


    The kind of books I’m agin are the facile crap  often featured by and recommended by Oprah Winfrey. Aimed at bored housewives who have not mastered abstract thinking.

    IMO Motivational and self help books are  a minefield of nonsense, misinformation ,unsupported claims and false  promises, with an occasional pearl. One needs to be very discerning–and yes I’ve read a LOT them over the the last 50 years.

    Once I attended a work motivational workshop.Its raison d’etre was The Secret /Law of  Attraction. I kid you not.

    To be blunt, the only real  help I’ve ever received has been from my beloved late friend, a psychiatrist I found only 8 years ago and a psychologist who uses cognitive therapy.



    I’ll check out “You are not the Target” if you recommend it. I thoroughly enjoyed The Tao of Pooh (a secular explanation of Toaistoc metaphores). It gets a little hokey sometimes but it’s a real fun read.


    Glen D


    Great. I offer one disclaimer:  I read that book ca 1974. All I can remember is an exercise called “Dance naked with the music”. I remember doing it, alone, in my flat and that it was great fun.


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