Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Bright-Sided by Barbara Ehrenreich

Barbara Ehrenreich uses common sense, critical thinking and a sharp sense of humor to analyze the positive thinking philosophy that influences so much of American society.  Tracing positive thinking back to a nineteenth century backlash against the dourness of Calvin-based religion, she examines the philosophy of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Transcendentalism and the Christian Science of Mary Baker Eddy.  Moving into the twentieth century, she scrutinizes the self-help books of authors like Norman Vincent Peale and Dale Carnegie, also the belief that attitude can deter the progress of serious disease and the prosperity theology of preachers like Joel Osteen. Finally, she traces our country’s current problems to the wide-spread reliance of politicians, CEOs and managers on feelings and intuition instead of the analysis of hard facts their counterparts used in the past. She concludes that positive thinking is not a benign philosophy which improves our attitude, but rather the purposeful turning of a destructive blind eye to signs of trouble we should be heeding.