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The 7 habits of highly irritating people
Posted: 17 September 2008 01:27 PM   [ Ignore ]  
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A friend of mine ( a very clever dude )is kind enough to assist me in finding another line of work.
He does this stuff for a living and I know he is very good at it so I decided to work with him on this project and to be open-minded and follow his advice without being too much, you know, me.

We were doing very well and I already started to see the benefits of his method when he told me to buy a book and read it.
It is “The 7 habits of highly effective people” by Mr. Stephen R. Covey.
It said on the cover that it has sold more than 15 million copies so I delved into it with as little cynicism as I could muster.

After 23 pages I was appalled by the relentless platitudes, quotations and ‘baked air’. It turned out to be yet another self-help book that any pompous buffoon could have written after spending 3 hours in Borders browsing though pop-psychology drivel.

I Googled Mr. Covey and found that he is a fucking Mormon!

My friend was very surprised that I refused to read a book written by a religious fuckwit as he imagined that this had nothing to do with ‘the message’.

If I read this book to the end I am sure I will die of an aneurism so if any of you have read it please let me know if it is indeed the bullshit that I think it is.

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Posted: 17 September 2008 02:07 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]  
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ROTFL! EEEEKK! MORMON?!!!!!

Shit. They are everywhere. Wonder if he lives in Colorado City or Bountiful? grin

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Posted: 17 September 2008 03:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]  
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Sander: “We were doing very well and I already started to see the benefits of his method when he told me to buy a book and read it.
It is “The 7 habits of highly effective people” by Mr. Stephen R. Covey.”

LOL  Little Stevey Covey and his 7 habits… for Mo-bots and More! We had to read his book for credits in an elective social sciences course. It was great, I got to hash it re hash it and bash it in my “critical review” paper that the prof. had us do. (thanks for triggering a memory…)

It DOES have some common sensical simplicity to it though… and you said you were starting to see the benefits of this method…
Nike says the same thing in fewer words.
But I like the line in Cheers when Rebecca utilizes the Covey advice best with, “Just do it babe.”

After 23 pages I was appalled by the relentless platitudes, quotations and ‘baked air’. It turned out to be yet another self-help book that any pompous buffoon could have written after spending 3 hours in Borders browsing though pop-psychology drivel.

That’s hilarious! It was lauded by critics as being so successful in part, due to its being free of, to the point of ignoring, the trends in pop-psychology! Maybe “baked air” tasted better in the early 90s. hmmm

I Googled Mr. Covey and found that he is a fucking Mormon!

No fuckin’ shit? Really? I did not know that. Makes sense now as to why the mormon missionaries are required to read the 7 Habits at their little “training” center.  confused
They are motivational methods that work if you don’t know how to make a goal and stick to it; take care of your shit without beating yourself up for every little screw up; be fair to other people in your dealings whether they be personal or in business; or know how to listen to others… in order to manipulate them later on, making it easier to mold them into your viewpoint. It was that bit of advice that led me to bash Covey. Some of the other stuff is over-all good advices, but in a “well duh!” sense.

My friend was very surprised that I refused to read a book written by a religious fuckwit as he imagined that this had nothing to do with ‘the message’.

In Covey’s case, he appears to be coming from a secular perspective, but one that religionists could utilize as well. Businesses supposedly did well that employed some of these cheesy methods—Southwest Airlines has a Covey-inspired “mission statement.”
“The Message” itself is pro-social and relatively free of Covey’s religious dogma—(other than they are big on preaching the benefits of having “goals”).

Uh-oh… stream of consciousness alert: It’s actually pretty fucking creepy Covey’s work has been directed at young developing minds to get them motivated to “understand others” so that they can better “understand you” when you feed them the fantastical crumbs of religious deceit…

If I read this book to the end I am sure I will die of an aneurism so if any of you have read it please let me know if it is indeed the bullshit that I think it is.

...I’m beginning to have flash backs…
Manipulative
Phony
Pile of pig poop.

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Posted: 18 September 2008 12:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]  
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McCreason - 17 September 2008 06:07 PM

ROTFL! EEEEKK! MORMON?!!!!!

Shit. They are everywhere. Wonder if he lives in Colorado City or Bountiful? grin


The Mormons are still a little crazy, but they are not bad, cruel,indecent,inhumane, persecuting, unfair,degenerate, barbaric or diabolical . Generally speaking, that is. It wasn’t always this way. They have turned over a better new leaf in the past half century or so.

So why do so many hate them so ? The only real hateful thing about them is their repulsive missionary manipulation . I find their hypocrtical huge financial dynasty disgusting also. A lot of that money comes from the 15% of the paychecks donated ( actually it is mandatory )by their patrons. They own a staggering amount of money. But otherwise they are just a bunch of pathetic suckers who have a sponge for brains . ( I hope my sister never hears me talking that way ! It would be heartbreaking for her .)

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Posted: 18 September 2008 12:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]  
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isocratic infidel - 17 September 2008 07:31 PM

...over-all good advices, but in a “well duh!” sense.

Exactly my reaction when this I was “heavily encouraged” to read this in college.

Effectiveness is a habit - so practice being effective.

Wow, sounds like something that would be really profound to profoundly stoned people.

isocratic infidel - 17 September 2008 07:31 PM

Pile of pig poop.

As would that.

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Posted: 18 September 2008 06:38 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]  
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Dee, did I say I hated Mormons? Did you see the smile face after my comments?

Mormons are simply delusional people, just like all those who partake in faith as a way of life.

They are simply our own American home grown faction.

I hate bigotry and racism and polygamy and homophobia and xenophobia and mysogeny.

Now if Mormons believe in any of those things, then I disagree with and do not respect those views.

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Posted: 18 September 2008 09:48 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]  
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Forget the habits of successful people, a book that is actually useful is The Luck Factor by Richard Wiseman.  There was an interview with him in Skeptic a few of years ago.  He’s a British psychologist who studied lucky and unlucky people and teased out traits that characterized both.

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Posted: 18 September 2008 10:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]  
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Sander - 17 September 2008 05:27 PM

If I read this book to the end I am sure I will die of an aneurism so if any of you have read it please let me know if it is indeed the bullshit that I think it is.

I want to die of an orgasmically-induced aneurism before someone’s jealous husband can shoot me. You know who I’m talking about, here.

By the way, the secret of highly-effective people is to be talented or else work 80 hours a week, preferably both. Books like Covey’s sell the idea that you can be effective working only 30 hours a week, even with talent. The talent that folks like Covey have is to sell a lot of books, but I’ll bet he had to work at it, particularly at the beginning.

[ Edited: 18 September 2008 11:22 AM by Traces Elk]
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Posted: 18 September 2008 10:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]  
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burt - 18 September 2008 01:48 PM

Forget the habits of successful people, a book that is actually useful is The Luck Factor by Richard Wiseman.  There was an interview with him in Skeptic a few of years ago.  He’s a British psychologist who studied lucky and unlucky people and teased out traits that characterized both.

Egad, Burt! How much vapidity can one forum take?! I’ll fork out $12.95 (half that, for a used copy at Amazon) and the only wise man will be the author. The first review there:

Richard Wiseman heads a research unit in the psychology department at the University of Hertfordshire, so you’d think he’d know something about experimental methodology. Unfortunately, you’d never guess it by reading this book. Wiseman claims that his research has revealed that `the real explanation behind luck lies in four basic psychological principles’. The selling point of `The Luck Factor’ is these principles to can be used to `make unlucky people lucky, and lucky people even luckier.’

The main difficulty with this claim is that at no point in his book does Wiseman present any sort of objective test for `luck’. Rather, his subjects classify themselves as `lucky’ or `unlucky’ (and he simply takes their word for it) or else they are classified by him as such based on their own subjective evaluation of the degree to which they share certain characteristics with people who see themselves as either `lucky’ or `unlucky’. Since the `four principles’ are based on data about people who feel lucky, rather than people who are lucky in some objective sense, the only honest claim that could be made based on Wiseman’s research is that some people who follow his `four principles’ might begin to think of themselves as luckier.

The problem with using people’s subjective evaluation of their own luckiness is revealed in an experiment (presented early in the book) to determine whether `lucky’ people have more psychic ability than `unlucky’ people. Seven hundred volunteers who phoned in upon viewing a particular television programme (Random population sample? Why bother?) were asked to categorise themselves as lucky, unlucky or neutral based on how well they felt they matched Wiseman’s `Lucky Description’ or `Unlucky Description’. Here’s the Lucky description for reference (complete with grammatical errors):

“Lucky people are people for whom seemingly chance events tend to work out consistently in their favour. For example, they seem to win more than their fair share of raffles and lotteries, or to accidentally meet people who can help them in some way, or their good fortune might play an important role in them achieving their ambitions and goals.”

All of the volunteers entered the same draw of the National Lottery, buying an average of three tickets each. None of the subjects won more than £56 pounds (that amount was won by two participants, one `lucky’ and one `unlucky’). On average both `lucky’ and `unlucky’ participants lost about £2.50. Wiseman’s conclusion: `The results indicated that luck wasn’t due to psychic ability’.

The results indicate something entirely different to me. The description of `lucky’ specifically talks about winning lotteries. Yet people who classified themselves as `lucky’ according to this description didn’t do any better at the lottery than those who classified themselves as `unlucky’ (though `lucky’ people’s expectations of winning were more than twice as high as those of `unlucky’ people). This would seem to indicate that the `lucky’ people who participated in this experiment were anything but. They may have been more optimistic, unrealistic, or self-deluding, but they weren’t luckier.

Wiseman comments:

“When it comes to random events like the lottery, such expectations count for little. Someone with a high expectation of winning will do as well as someone with a low expectation. However, life is not like a lottery. Often our expectations make a difference. They make a difference to whether we try something, how hard we persist in the face of failure, how we interact with others and how others interact with us.

That’s all very true, but when Wiseman admits that expectations `count for little’ when it comes to `random events’ he is more or less admitting that they have nothing to do with luck.

Wiseman goes on to analyse the characteristics of `Lucky’ people (i.e. those who think they are lucky, but probably aren’t any luckier than the rest of us) and finds that they have several things in common. Unsurprisingly, they expect good fortune and they see the positive side to random events (for example, having just broken her leg in a freak accident, an `unlucky’ person would say `It was bad luck’ whereas a `lucky’ person would tend to say `I’m lucky I wasn’t killed’).

Much of the evidence given in this book is anecdotal and many of the anecdotes intended to illustrate someone’s luck or lack thereof fail miserably. Women who end up in successive abusive relationships are described as `unlucky in love’, though choice, not luck, determines who we marry; and a person who gets involved with someone she doesn’t fully trust is better characterised as `desperate’ than `unlucky’. Similarly, we hear anecdotes about `lucky’ people who enter contests and win prizes. We later learn that entering contests is their hobby and it’s only because they enter so many that they win. Statistical probability is involved here, not luck.

But Wiseman doesn’t hesitate to extract `ways to improve your luck’ from these instances. The women who are `unlucky in love’ are meant to show how we can improve our luck by trusting our intuition. (Despite the fact that they had blatant, as well as intuitive, indicators that their men were jerks). The contest winners supposedly illustrate that we can improve our luck by being more persistent—though I fail to see how increasing one’s chances of achieving something through deliberate, persistent and calculated effort has anything to do with `luck’.

I’m sure some of the clichéd suggestions in this book (e.g. positive thinking and networking) will help some readers (those who haven’t heard it all before) to improve their chances of achieving their goals. I doubt any of them will help readers to improve their luck. My opinion of this book would have been much higher if the author had straightforwardly framed his findings in terms of `How to make the most of your opportunities.’ I really would like to read some properly conducted scientific research which addresses the question of whether some people are innately luckier than others and, if so, what characteristics they share. Unfortunately, Dr. Wiseman seems to have different interests.

Self-help books are generally of most help to their authors. Your fascination with this book explains a lot about you, Burt. May the Great Woo Spirit forgive me if I help to enrich this guy to find out the bit highlighted in blue.

In other words (and only a few, at that), the less money you spend on crap like this, the more money you will have for realizing your goals. People too stupid to avail themselves of the wisdom therein for nothing are too stupid to take advantage of the wisdom, no matter how they come by it.

As Cal said to his bagman on the deck of the Titanic, holding a pistol in his hand, in Cameron’s celluloid epic, “I make my own luck”. A Smith & Wesson beats four aces.

[ Edited: 18 September 2008 11:24 AM by Traces Elk]
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Posted: 18 September 2008 11:49 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]  
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Salt Creek - 18 September 2008 02:12 PM
burt - 18 September 2008 01:48 PM

Forget the habits of successful people, a book that is actually useful is The Luck Factor by Richard Wiseman.  There was an interview with him in Skeptic a few of years ago.  He’s a British psychologist who studied lucky and unlucky people and teased out traits that characterized both.

Egad, Burt! How much vapidity can one forum take?! I’ll fork out $12.95 (half that, for a used copy at Amazon) and the only wise man will be the author. The first review there:

Richard Wiseman heads a research unit in the psychology department at the University of Hertfordshire, so you’d think he’d know something about experimental methodology. Unfortunately, you’d never guess it by reading this book. Wiseman claims that his research has revealed that `the real explanation behind luck lies in four basic psychological principles’. The selling point of `The Luck Factor’ is these principles to can be used to `make unlucky people lucky, and lucky people even luckier.’

The main difficulty with this claim is that at no point in his book does Wiseman present any sort of objective test for `luck’. Rather, his subjects classify themselves as `lucky’ or `unlucky’ (and he simply takes their word for it) or else they are classified by him as such based on their own subjective evaluation of the degree to which they share certain characteristics with people who see themselves as either `lucky’ or `unlucky’. Since the `four principles’ are based on data about people who feel lucky, rather than people who are lucky in some objective sense, the only honest claim that could be made based on Wiseman’s research is that some people who follow his `four principles’ might begin to think of themselves as luckier.

The problem with using people’s subjective evaluation of their own luckiness is revealed in an experiment (presented early in the book) to determine whether `lucky’ people have more psychic ability than `unlucky’ people. Seven hundred volunteers who phoned in upon viewing a particular television programme (Random population sample? Why bother?) were asked to categorise themselves as lucky, unlucky or neutral based on how well they felt they matched Wiseman’s `Lucky Description’ or `Unlucky Description’. Here’s the Lucky description for reference (complete with grammatical errors):

“Lucky people are people for whom seemingly chance events tend to work out consistently in their favour. For example, they seem to win more than their fair share of raffles and lotteries, or to accidentally meet people who can help them in some way, or their good fortune might play an important role in them achieving their ambitions and goals.”

All of the volunteers entered the same draw of the National Lottery, buying an average of three tickets each. None of the subjects won more than £56 pounds (that amount was won by two participants, one `lucky’ and one `unlucky’). On average both `lucky’ and `unlucky’ participants lost about £2.50. Wiseman’s conclusion: `The results indicated that luck wasn’t due to psychic ability’.

The results indicate something entirely different to me. The description of `lucky’ specifically talks about winning lotteries. Yet people who classified themselves as `lucky’ according to this description didn’t do any better at the lottery than those who classified themselves as `unlucky’ (though `lucky’ people’s expectations of winning were more than twice as high as those of `unlucky’ people). This would seem to indicate that the `lucky’ people who participated in this experiment were anything but. They may have been more optimistic, unrealistic, or self-deluding, but they weren’t luckier.

Wiseman comments:

“When it comes to random events like the lottery, such expectations count for little. Someone with a high expectation of winning will do as well as someone with a low expectation. However, life is not like a lottery. Often our expectations make a difference. They make a difference to whether we try something, how hard we persist in the face of failure, how we interact with others and how others interact with us.

That’s all very true, but when Wiseman admits that expectations `count for little’ when it comes to `random events’ he is more or less admitting that they have nothing to do with luck.

Wiseman goes on to analyse the characteristics of `Lucky’ people (i.e. those who think they are lucky, but probably aren’t any luckier than the rest of us) and finds that they have several things in common. Unsurprisingly, they expect good fortune and they see the positive side to random events (for example, having just broken her leg in a freak accident, an `unlucky’ person would say `It was bad luck’ whereas a `lucky’ person would tend to say `I’m lucky I wasn’t killed’).

Much of the evidence given in this book is anecdotal and many of the anecdotes intended to illustrate someone’s luck or lack thereof fail miserably. Women who end up in successive abusive relationships are described as `unlucky in love’, though choice, not luck, determines who we marry; and a person who gets involved with someone she doesn’t fully trust is better characterised as `desperate’ than `unlucky’. Similarly, we hear anecdotes about `lucky’ people who enter contests and win prizes. We later learn that entering contests is their hobby and it’s only because they enter so many that they win. Statistical probability is involved here, not luck.

But Wiseman doesn’t hesitate to extract `ways to improve your luck’ from these instances. The women who are `unlucky in love’ are meant to show how we can improve our luck by trusting our intuition. (Despite the fact that they had blatant, as well as intuitive, indicators that their men were jerks). The contest winners supposedly illustrate that we can improve our luck by being more persistent—though I fail to see how increasing one’s chances of achieving something through deliberate, persistent and calculated effort has anything to do with `luck’.

I’m sure some of the clichéd suggestions in this book (e.g. positive thinking and networking) will help some readers (those who haven’t heard it all before) to improve their chances of achieving their goals. I doubt any of them will help readers to improve their luck. My opinion of this book would have been much higher if the author had straightforwardly framed his findings in terms of `How to make the most of your opportunities.’ I really would like to read some properly conducted scientific research which addresses the question of whether some people are innately luckier than others and, if so, what characteristics they share. Unfortunately, Dr. Wiseman seems to have different interests.

Self-help books are generally of most help to their authors. Your fascination with this book explains a lot about you, Burt. May the Great Woo Spirit forgive me if I help to enrich this guy to find out the bit highlighted in blue.

In other words (and only a few, at that), the less money you spend on crap like this, the more money you will have for realizing your goals. People too stupid to avail themselves of the wisdom therein for nothing are too stupid to take advantage of the wisdom, no matter how they come by it.

As Cal said to his bagman on the deck of the Titanic, holding a pistol in his hand, in Cameron’s celluloid epic, “I make my own luck”. A Smith & Wesson beats four aces.

Since you seem willing to base your opinion on a single review, you are probably one of the unlucky ones.  Had you gone and read the interview (or the letter that I wrote commenting on it, published in a following issue) you would have gotten a different point of view.  No woo woo at all.

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Posted: 18 September 2008 12:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]  
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burt - 18 September 2008 03:49 PM

Since you seem willing to base your opinion on a single review, you are probably one of the unlucky ones.  Had you gone and read the interview (or the letter that I wrote commenting on it, published in a following issue) you would have gotten a different point of view.  No woo woo at all.

I based my review on the cogency of the reviewer’s critique of the author’s sampling practices. I’m not bound to chase down the interview in Skeptic magazine to assure you I’ve given the guy a fair shake when confronted by the obvious vapidity of his approach. He wrote the book to make money, Burt, and that’s a fact. I salute him for his efforts, but I won’t help line his pockets, and I will encourage others not to help line his pockets, either.

It’s all there in blue. Persistence and effort (or else talent and effort) is what lead to success. Can’t sell a book with just that. You need some good woo-woo besides. If you can’t dazzle them with your brilliance, baffle them with your bullshit.

Burt, you waste a fuck of a lot of bandwidth with wholesale quotes of prior posts to which you are replying, when a few lines of context would do. You are apparently arrogant enough to think that the additional work of doing so is beneath you.

I don’t consider myself unlucky at all. I was born with a genome that made me intelligent, romantic, convivial, and good-looking, to boot. I had to overcome a rotten childhood and lousy parents, just like most people do. You can’t buy my shit for any amount of money, and it goes some way to explain why I am not much obsessed with the kind of material success this book is hawking to people. If I don’t have a rolodex full of chums, it’s not because I’m not fun to be around. The secret to material success is diminution of desire. Right, Burt?

[ Edited: 18 September 2008 12:21 PM by Traces Elk]
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Posted: 18 September 2008 05:04 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]  
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Jefe - 18 September 2008 09:00 PM
McCreason - 18 September 2008 10:38 AM

I hate bigotry and racism and homophobia and xenophobia and mysogeny.

Hear Hear!

Hey! Both of you! Don’t be irritating! Be highly effective! I hate the Osmonds. I agree with Sander about Janet Jackson. I believe the novels of Susan Sontag are self-indulgent crap. And whiskers on kittens are among my favorite things. Dewdrops on puckered lips, or whatever it was.

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Posted: 18 September 2008 07:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]  
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Salt Creek - 18 September 2008 04:14 PM

I based my review on the cogency of the reviewer’s critique of the author’s sampling practices. I’m not bound to chase down the interview in Skeptic magazine to assure you I’ve given the guy a fair shake when confronted by the obvious vapidity of his approach. He wrote the book to make money, Burt, and that’s a fact. I salute him for his efforts, but I won’t help line his pockets, and I will encourage others not to help line his pockets, either.

It’s all there in blue. Persistence and effort (or else talent and effort) is what lead to success. Can’t sell a book with just that. You need some good woo-woo besides. If you can’t dazzle them with your brilliance, baffle them with your bullshit.

Burt, you waste a fuck of a lot of bandwidth with wholesale quotes of prior posts to which you are replying, when a few lines of context would do. You are apparently arrogant enough to think that the additional work of doing so is beneath you.

I don’t consider myself unlucky at all. I was born with a genome that made me intelligent, romantic, convivial, and good-looking, to boot. I had to overcome a rotten childhood and lousy parents, just like most people do. You can’t buy my shit for any amount of money, and it goes some way to explain why I am not much obsessed with the kind of material success this book is hawking to people. If I don’t have a rolodex full of chums, it’s not because I’m not fun to be around. The secret to material success is diminution of desire. Right, Burt?

Well, there we have it.  You would not accept a scientific result in your domain without peer review, checking and double or triple checking, but you accept the opinion of one negative reviewer because he happens to support your prejudices.  No doubt the book was written to cash in on the guys research but perhaps his conclusions were reasonable and (for psychologists at least) his methods not that bad.  The reason I suggested it for Sanders is because the aspects of “luck” it emphasized that appealed to me had to do with the way people react to stress, and manage their attention.  For example, the “lucky” people were those who, when under stress, didn’t narrow their focus so much that they missed the random opportunities that pop up around all of us.  No woo woo, just effective stress and attention management.  That is something that can be learned, but it does take effort—no free lunch.  Sometimes the drunkards walk gets you there faster, sometimes it just lays you out in the gutter, depends on how you handle the occasional stumbles.  I also consider myself lucky, fortunate in parents and such, but also in a general principle I came up with in high school that seems to have proved its worth over the past 50 years: do what you want, and learn from experience.  You feel that the book is hawking material success (not a good definition of luck), and likely some, perhaps a large percentage of people who purchase it do so for that reason.  But if they learn something from it that makes their lives go a bit smoother that’s an under the radar benefit that is much more valuable than material success.

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Posted: 18 September 2008 07:16 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]  
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burt - 18 September 2008 11:08 PM

Well, there we have it.

It’s a fucking pop psychology book, Burt. If he wanted to publish it as peer reviewed research, he might have done so. I guess there was some reason why he didn’t. Meanwhile, you’re still sucking the stuff up like it was a chocolate malt. There’s no way to evaluate whether or not the book ever did anything for anyone. We’re back to anecdotes and speculation. IOW, woo.  Enjoy.

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Posted: 18 September 2008 10:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]  
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Salt Creek - 18 September 2008 11:16 PM
burt - 18 September 2008 11:08 PM

Well, there we have it.

It’s a fucking pop psychology book, Burt. If he wanted to publish it as peer reviewed research, he might have done so. I guess there was some reason why he didn’t. Meanwhile, you’re still sucking the stuff up like it was a chocolate malt. There’s no way to evaluate whether or not the book ever did anything for anyone. We’re back to anecdotes and speculation. IOW, woo.  Enjoy.

Just checked the guys website, lists 4 academic publications in peer reviewed psychology journals discussing various aspects of his research on luck.  Go figure, guess he suckered the referees in, too.  As far as anecdotes and speculations go, some people do things on the hope they might prove useful to somebody, with no evidence this will be the case.  Other people like to sit back and bitch about how dumb that is.

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Posted: 19 September 2008 07:01 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]  
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burt - 19 September 2008 02:23 AM

Just checked the guys website, lists 4 academic publications in peer reviewed psychology journals discussing various aspects of his research on luck.

I guess this does merit a further response, if only to demonstrate that I’m willing (unlike some people) to reinforce my opinions.

Fortunately for you (or unfortunately, depending on your mindset) Wiseman makes a couple of them available in PDF form for me to evaluate. I hope you’re ready for this, Burt, and have your rabbit’s foot lodged securely in some pocket or fistula somewhere about your person. One hopes you’re not just sucking on it. A rabbit’s foot is not a toy (or a pacifier), and may be colored with non-alimentary tints and dyes.

The manuscript I chose to read is:

Wiseman, R. & Watt, C. (2004). Measuring superstitious belief: Why lucky charms matter. Personality and Individual Differences, 37, 1533-1541.

This is a paper read at the The Parapsychological Association Convention 2004, Proceedings of Presented Papers, and I cannot tell if it was peer-reviewed or not, but I doubt it was. Naturally, a lot of this woo-woo stuff is read to captive audiences at conventions and never more than an extra line in someone’s CV. I suspect the Consciousnessness conventions and “researchers” do it much the same way. Here are some examples of the deep insights revealed in this particular contribution:

For instance, many authors have suggested that paranormal and superstitious beliefs may develop in anxious individuals with a strong need for control, in an attempt to overcome perceived uncertainty in their surroundings (Irwin, 2000; Jahoda, 1969; Malinowski, 1948), or as a coping mechanism following traumatic childhood experiences (French & Kerman, 1996; Irwin, 1992; Lawrence et al., 1995; Ross & Joshi, 1992). This model is supported by recent theoretical developments within cognitive and emotion research, suggesting that anxiety plays a central role in negative emotions (Brown, Chorpita, & Barlow, 1998), and that childhood experiences of diminished control may lead to the development of anxiety (Chorpita & Barlow, 1998).

Not surprising that anxiety is noted in the background of superstitious behaviour. We see it in religiious nuts every day, right here in this forum. Wiseman connects negative superstitions with poor psychological adjustment. Let’s go with it, as it seems supported by the loads of crap we see from fundie theists right here in broad daylight. Wiseman is not done, though, and his interest moves to the role of positive superstitions. One thing you can say about Wiseman: He’s even handed, and knows an opportunity (to publish) when he sees it. No “studies” had been done on the positive side. To be brief, Wiseman is interested in the psychological differences between people with negative and positive superstitions.

Study 1 was a large-scale internet-based study which investigated the relationship between endorsement of superstition type, gender, and a single-item measure of neuroticism. Study 2 sought to replicate and extend the findings obtained in Study 1 by administering validated questionnaire measures of both neuroticism and life satisfaction.

Note use of the term “life satisfaction”, which is a subjective, self-assessed measure that people are not only capable of lying to you about, but to themselves as well. Add to this the fact that “life satisfaction”, plus a shiny coin, will buy you a brightly-colored gumball, and you’re off to the woo-woo races. I’m preparing myself for anecdotes, speculation, and fuckwittery but let’s wait and see. You have testimony from countless god-botherers how they carry their religious superstitions around with them like a lucky charm. Bruce Burleson has a “presence” in his life that keeps him company everywhere he goes. He seems like a well-adjusted, more-or-less satisfied and self-satisfied guy. Unless he’s lying to himself and to us. These are the fruits of subjectivity in all their vainglorious splendor.

The study was promoted through British National Science Week, by articles in broadsheet newspapers which invited members of the public to visit a website and complete a questionnaire.

Well. At least it wasn’t the tabloids. I give Wiseman high marks for rigor on this one. The protocol:

Participants were first asked to indicate basic demographic information about themselves, including their age (Categories: Under 20; 21-30; 31-40; 41-50; Over 50) and gender. They were then asked to indicate their agreement with a single-item measure of self-perceived neuroticism (I tend to worry about life) via five response options anchored with Strongly Agree (scoring 5) and Strongly Disagree (scoring 1). Finally, participants were asked to indicate the degree to which they endorsed three negative and three positive superstitious beliefs using five response options (anchored with Definitely Yes and Definitely No). The three negative items concerned walking under a ladder (‘Have you avoided walking under a ladder because it is associated with bad luck?’), breaking a mirror (‘Would you be anxious about breaking a mirror because it is thought to cause bad luck?’) and the number 13 (‘Are you superstitious about the number 13?’). The three positive items concerned crossing fingers (‘Do you say “fingers crossed” or actually cross your fingers?’), touching wood (‘Do you say “touch wood” or actually touch or knock on wood?’) and carrying a lucky charm (‘Do you sometimes carry a lucky charm or object?’).

The scores:
   
  Male   (N=1951)        Positive 8.0 (3.4)        Negative 6.4 (3.6)
  Female (N=2388)        Positive 10.1 (3.0)        Negative 8.0 (3.9)
Self-perceived neuroticism  
  High neuroticism (N=536)    Pos 10.0 (3.5)      Neg 8.7 (4.1)
  Low neuroticism   (N=309)    Pos 7.6 (3.4)    Neg 5.2 (3.1)

What’s distinctive about the results (assuming you take them seriously, which I don’t) is that the measures (arrived at by summing scores from three responses in each category) do not differ if you take only the standard deviations (in parentheses) into account. A 1-to-5 scale (anchored at “strongly agree” and “strongly disagree”) does not offer sufficient resolution. If you massage the data through something called the Spearman rank coefficient, the correlations are suggested to be significant: Women are more superstitious than men, anxiety correlates with negative superstition, and self-assessed neuroticism correlates with negative superstition. As far as I can tell by a quick study of the Wikipedia entry on Spearman’s coefficient, it does not take variances into account. Rigorous inspection of data whose variances are characteristically 50% of the scores themselves demands additional testing. I think this suggests such a study would not pass peer review, and helps to explain why this research was published in a conference proceedings. Wiseman discusses his results:

Interactions were found for these individual difference measures, indicating that it is indeed theoretically important for questionnaire measures of superstitious belief to include and differentiate between negative and positive superstitions.
One limitation of study 1 is its use of a single-item indicator of self-perceived neuroticism, which may only have face validity. It was therefore decided to conduct a second study…

No shit, Sherlock! Where’s the beef? Wiseman declares:

However, in line with the recent surge of popularity in ‘positive psychology’, we thought it interesting to examine the potential relationship between superstition type and a validated measure of life satisfaction.

Nothing like using popularity to drive your research program. That’s not superstitious, just good business sense. Wiseman is a huckster, as I suspected immediately from his listings at Amazon. Why am I wasting time with this elaborate critique? One reason is to show you what a craphound you are, Burt. The other is to show any other readers what such craphounds use for their so-called “science” when studying “consciousnessness”, and supports my dim view of the human future on this planet.

To no one’s grand surprise, Wiseman did a follow-up study:

A volunteer panel built up by the first author through his research into luck, was contacted by email and invited to participate in a postal questionnaire study about superstition and luck. Questionnaires were sent out, and completed questionnaires were returned in postage-paid envelopes.

Mmm-hmm. Hand-picked volunteers already known to be willing to be studied on the subject of “luck”. In other words, people willing to waste time as subjects in pseudo-science experiments. Sample bias, anyone? The statistics for the second study are available in the PDF I linked to above, and in this case, not only are the samples much smaller, but the standard deviations overlap the positive and negative samples just as in the first study. Students of paranormal phenomena (or even of people’s belief in paranormalism) have a tough row to hoe. There are hints that more upbeat people, if they are superstitious, tend to harbor positive-toned superstitions. Who knew? Can we sort out cause and effect here? Common sense suggests that upbeat personalities have upbeat craziness. And this guy Wiseman is professor for the public understanding of psychology at U Hertfordshire in the UK. The public understanding of psychology has never had better prospects!

Here’s the money shot: In the second study of superstitious people, those with high satisfaction and low neuroticism measures fell into the most distinct positive and negative groupings. That is, there is a suggestion that people with positive superstitions actually come from a different population than those with negative superstitions.

Of course, there are a million other axes on which to measure people’s superstitious attitudes. Wiseman can’t cover them all. A grateful planet rejoices. Cause and effect? Is it enough to assist an inquiry into whether superstitious behavior is always “maladaptive”? Who the fuck knows!

I think it is a little superstitious to believe that superstitious behavior may not be maladaptive. Which is where Burt comes in with his luck fantasies. Burt is fairly fucked-up in the woo-woo department, and clutches at straws like these to keep his little fantasy world afloat.

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