Friday, September 2, 2011

Happy for No Reason

Version 0.2

The American Love of Pseudo-science such as Happy for No Reason by Marci Shimoff

Justification is that Dubya would never admit he needed to be more happy, though he'd like the "no reason" part of it. Tie breaker is that the book is introspective and Dubya ain't, so he wouldn't read it.

The pseudo-science is supposed to be something like science of happiness.

The basic ideas are old, going back to The Power of Positive Thinking and similar books and similar motivational speakers.

Entire book is full of fake scientific veneer, though it was in Chapter 5, which is basically a plug for an obvious scam called the Institute of HeartMath. She tries to give them plausibility with a claim that it was verified by Stanford University and some other institute--but with no citation. Then you reread it more carefully and even the claim is meaningless. Maybe they rented a room in a building owned by Stanford? Nothing there. However, the kicker was the bogus graph, which is supposed to show pulse fluctuations over time as influenced by your mental state. It's easier to start with the supposedly good graph, which shows the pulse varying from 60 to 80 bpm--but within one minute. Wait a minute. Think about it. The pulse is about once a second, but from that data you are supposed to calculate smooth fluctuations in the average rate over the course of a few seconds? It's nonsense, which is exactly what the other graph shows. They are obviously playing some kind of game with the minor fluctuations, but the entire passage is just stuffed full of meaningless fake jargon and obviously false claims that are intended to sound scientific.

Other especially bogus and fraudulent claims involved the power of prayer and mental control over crystals (which was a Japanese scammer). Those are just some of the most glaring examples that came to mind now. Basically I just have to repeat it on a larger scale, the entire book is stuffed full of false claims that are intended to sound scientific.

I do think there is a tiny kernel of truth at the heart of the book. A positive attitude is a good thing and helps you in life. It's possible to be happier, though she never goes as far as saying that happiness is just a state of mind. It's one thing to be content and to adjust your expectations to be more content, but she's arguing for delusional states.

Another aspect that bothers me is the circular nature of the business. They basically endorse each other and help sell each other's books and classes and lectures.

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