It’s not at all unusual to see various aspects of physics being abused in the promotion of new-agish ideas and products, with delights such as ‘quantum brainpower’ and ‘non-hertzian frequencies’ abounding, but I had thought until today that the pure language of mathematics might remain unsullied, but no, today I received a promotional email that contained the following pararaph in support of the benefits of positive thinking:
“Another way to look at it is through the lens of mathematics. The plus or positive symbol (+) means to add to, to increase, to make favorable, or to expand. The negative symbol (-) means to take away, subtract, deny, or reduce. Let’s say we pick the number 25. This number is either positive (+25) or negative (-25). It cannot be a little of both, and it cannot be neutral. You might say, “the positive or negative sign doesn’t make much difference; it’s still 25.” But look at what happens when we combine it with another number, say 7. Combine 7 and the positive 25, and you get 32. But, combine it with the negative 25, and you get a negative (-18). What a difference! In math, you can predict the outcome because the formulas always work the same—you always get the identical answer. Life is not always so cut and dry. But I have learned this: when it comes to our attitude and thinking, the results are almost as clear cut as in mathematics. Those who consistently carry an attitude of positive belief will always outperform the negative thinker.”
Look at the value judgements applied to the positive and negative signs – they are symbols with absolutely specific meaning, a meaning that carries no emotive overtones. Even the implication that the number ’32′ is intrinsically superior to the number ‘-18′ is an afront to right thinking. Even the suggestion that anyone might consider +25 and -25 to be confusingly similar in meaning is worrisome. Even if one is adopting the metaphysical view of numbers, Crowley, in his rather strange document Liber Al vel Legis, expresses a better grasp of the concept with the statement, “All numbers are infinite and have no difference.” My head is spinning, I can’t even begin to relate to the mind that can spout this nonsense. I understand ‘negative thinking’, but the concept is completely removed from the concept of a number less than zero. It’s not even a useful analogy!
Feelings, emotions, the workings of consciousness are not yet within the realms that can be quantified and defined by mathematical rules or physical principles. I dearly wish vendors would stop trying to justify their schemes by half-assed allusions to fields that are so obviously beyond their understanding.
That was fun. I shall now put this particular soapbox away until the next time some inane marketing drivel is inflicted upon me.