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23 Sep 2013

Professor Wildon says that many self-help authors offer mantras and If you dont get those Louboutin shoes, that promotion, or you have an accident, well, apparently its your fault. You were obviously thinking negative thoughts. In 2007, Rhonda Byrne, who wrote the book The Secret, was listed as one of Time Magazine's 100 people who shape the world The problem with self-help books like this one is that they can steer people away from effective solutions to their problems by suggesting that good health, love, and riches are theirs for the asking if they just think about them. Rhonda Byrne reports that she cured herself of farsightedness in three days by imagining that she had perfect eyesight to the point where she no longer needs reading glasses. Even more startlingly, in the book a woman claims that she cured herself of breast cancer in three months, without medical treatment, by believing that she was healed. Illness cannot exist in a body that has harmonious thoughts, Byrne says.

Online Self-Help Evolves

Like the rest of SHAM [Salerno's acronym for the "Self-Help and Actualization Movement"], he slips under the radar. Dr. Phil is on Salernos radar, all right, and its certainly true that the author worries about the TV shrink, but saying that in this book Salerno has thought deeply about the self-help industry would be pushing it. SHAM is one of those slapdash fulminations invented decades ago by the political left but recently perfected by the right ranting on some current deplorable aspect of society. Its spun out from a few well-researched articles Salerno wrote for magazines and padded with a grab bag of shopworn anecdotes and secondhand data culled from other, similar books. (Sally Satels dubious PC, M.D. is a favorite source.) You know the drill by now: Salernos stance is flabbergasted indignation at the countless outrages against common sense being committed on a daily, PSI Seminars if not hourly, basis by people whose perfidy or idiocy is a cause for perpetual wonder. Commentators rarely go broke when capitalizing on the pleasure Americans take in sneering at their fellow citizens, but Salerno doesnt bring much clarity to the ongoing national infatuation with self-help.

Self-help nation -

Speaking of not getting anyone else involved: When Gary Zilk, product marketing manager for Support.com, says he helps companies help their customers solve problems on the Web, he doesn't mean they get advice or tutorials- -he means they get their problems solved with a click. Support.com's Healing Agent resides on an end user's Windows PC and accepts instructions to repair and adjust system and software settings from Support.com customer sites. The technology, used extensively by cable modem provider Excite@Home, can repair software or networking settings to a previous state or install new configurations. All the user has to do is visit the Healing Agent-enabled site and click the proper button on the Web page. Not all customer service inquiries have a fixed, repeatable, one-size-fits-all answer, however. A growing number of software products, both from support vendors and marketing automation firms, are taking aim at the goal of providing fast, automated answers to common questions, using "natural language" technology, which at its core involves recognizing keywords and common phrases and comparing the relevant content of the message to rules defined by the support staff. Natural language is an exciting emerging technology, but not without risks. Whitney believes that companies tend to overestimate the accuracy percentage they can achieve with keyword matching, and "the harm in providing a wrong answer can be painful," he says. Enter the CyberAgent eGain Communication, of Sunnyvale, Calif., believes that natural language technology is the key to the future of support.



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