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A compliment: TPM and the 'motivational speaker' mindset

I read a lot, sometimes self-help books too. And I watch videos. At some point, I realized I didn't want to be a motivational speaker: they sound so hollow, so predictable. The do and say things that are Bullshit (as defined By Frankfurt in his book 'On bullshit'). That is:

Frankfurt makes an important distinction between lying and bullshitting. Both the liar and the bullshitter try to get away with something. But ‘lying’ is perceived to be a conscious act of deception, whereas ‘bullshitting’ is unconnected to a concern for truth. Frankfurt regards this ‘indifference to how things really are’, as the essence of bullshit. Furthermore, a lie is necessarily false, but bullshit is not – bullshit may happen to be correct or incorrect.

Self-help books can be bullshit. Some are not, some are really useful.

I have an internal joke... how many pages does it take for the author to say 'You can achieve anything you set your mind to' or 'you can achieve greatness' or some-such. How does he know? (My fav question: how do you know what you know? Asking yourself this question will detect a lot of false beliefs!).

What is really impressive is that @lucio, after writing tons of posts and books, never crossed that line.

He's not a motivational speaker.

He's not bullshitting. He takes care that he believes what he says, even when in social sciences it's very hard to act based on facts because there aren't many. And this is why TPM is so valuable to me. I don't know how to call it, but you can sense the 'motivational speaker' spiel coming (with accompanying music lol). Your spidersense tingles. Not here, not at TPM. I realize this is a bit of a self-illusion: I want to believe that this works, so I enter 'suspension of disbelief'. Before you try it a few times in real life, anything you know from TPM should be suspect (Remember 'how do you know what you know?' -> I read it in a website vs I tried it myself and it works... big difference). But the time that I've been here I've built tremendous trust on the material. And this is not easy, given the general state of the self-help industry. Marketing trumps content quality. For every course you buy, you need to understand that most of the budget has gone into marketing (such is the state of the web in 2022; it's really noisy). Nor so for PU. And that makes a world of difference.

Lucio Buffalmano has reacted to this post.
Lucio Buffalmano

Thank you for the note, LOF!

I suppose agreeing with something positive is always liable to come across as somewhat suspicious, but... Yeah, I agree :).

Any field where there is money to be made attracts dubious characters and "pump and dumb (below) average products" schemes, but if I'd have to guess, I'd guess that the self-development industry has even above average of those characters.

The "motivational" approach is not the worst approach one can take in self-help, but it's also far from the most effective.
Some guys like Robbins manage to be high "motivational speaker" and high good content as well.
But there's also plenty of "high motivational speaker" and low or zero good content.
At the extreme, high motivation and low content can get toxic and harmful, borderline sect-like -we've talked a bit here of the Landmark Forum for example-.

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