Acclaimed journalist, author and political activist Barbara Ehrenreich explores the darker side of positive thinking.

Category: Politics, Psychology, Video

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

6 Responses to “Smile or Die”

  1. JustinTheSkeptic says:

    Let’s start! I think I’ll invite the inner city kids over tonight. Let’s get real.

  2. Transor Z says:

    This is a nice basic introduction to a meme-ish phenomenon that some sharp folks have been critiquing for several decades now, using names like “Disney-fication.” The most direct expression that comes to mind is a spat between Richard Pryor and Bill Cosby many years ago. Cosby criticized Eddie Murphy and Pryor’s use of profanity in their stand-up. Pryor responded with an immortal take-down of Cosby as happy corporate pitchman/Oreo cookie: “Tell Bill to have a Coke and a smile, and shut the fuck up!”

    “Work is play.” Another favorite: back in 1996, Bob Odenkirk’s and David Cross’s uneven (but sometimes genius) HBO sketch comedy series “Mr. Show” did a bit about Grass Valley Greg, “the inventor of the delete key” that captures the psycho-happy CEO:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e5i6BHBuqxE

  3. gloppie says:

    Positive (and negative) thoughts >DO< have an effect on reality.
    Learn here:
    http://noosphere.princeton.edu/

    " The Global Consciousness Project, also called the EGG Project, is an international, multidisciplinary collaboration of scientists, engineers, artists and others. We collect data continuously from a global network of physical random number generators located in 65 host sites around the world. The archive contains more than 10 years of random data in parallel sequences of synchronized 200-bit trials every second.

    Our purpose is to examine subtle correlations that may reflect the presence and activity of consciousness in the world. We predict structure in what should be random data, associated with major global events. When millions of us share intentions and emotions the GCP/EGG network data show meaningful departures from expectation. This is a powerful finding based in solid science.

    Subtle but real effects of consciousness are important scientifically, but their real power is more direct. They encourage us to help make essential, healthy changes in the great systems that dominate our world. Large scale group consciousness has effects in the physical world. Knowing this, we can use our full capacities for creative movement toward a conscious future. "

  4. WooWoo says:

    Talk about straw man. Nobody really says that ALL you have to do is think positively, except for perhaps the loonie quoted about the tsunami. The point is that until you start believing that you can, your actions won’t support you making positive changes. It really sounds to me like Ehrenreich is one of those people that gets their jollies off of crushing other people’s excitement level.

  5. genomik says:

    Recently in my consulting business we are faced with similar. I am the one who is the “cynic” or realist who says it may be more difficult than anticipated. Sometimes it is, but sometimes not. Overall, on balance, I think its about a wash – me slowing things down vs other moving so fast something needs to be rebuilt. My saying is measure twice, cut once. I joke that my philosophy is “THINK, maybe we can avoid this work” vs my partners who idea is “WORK, maybe we can avoid this think” MY partner is pretty successful cos he is a workaholic sorta. So maybe people who just do without thinking have a inherant level of success, whereas fundamentally lazy people do not. Unfortunately, these success minded people are often only good when things are right cos they do not build robust systems that can fail like the lazy person might design. In facy, my lazy designs are more robust.

  6. alnval says:

    Extraordinary. To paraphrase: No good idea goes undistorted.

    I’m not surprised that Martin Seligman’s basic work in unlearning helplessness has been reframed to suit the corporate needs of our time. Moreover, Ehrenreich’s presentation is all the more powerful because of its simplicity. The idea isn’t complicated. The issue is not one of trying to impose on folks an illogical mantra a la Rev Ike or Jim Jones but in understanding that avoiding the realities of the world by consciously following the dictates of group-think so as to conform to its requirement that one must always think positively is stupid. Ehrenreich’s contribution is in grasping and explaining how easy it can be to impose this irrational world view on others.