Times are tough. The economic recession continues, our cars are trying to kill us, absolutely no one wants to pay for news content online and, according to conservatives, the apocalypse is imminent. But Barbara Ehrenreich thinks subscribing to the think-happy-thoughts mentality promoted by The Secret and noted positive thinkers such as Oprah or Joe Osteen isn't going to make it all better.
The pop sociologist's most recent book Bright-Sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America is a takedown of this mentality. While it might seem easy to dismiss Ehrenreich as a curmudgeon, her beef is justifiable: after a breast cancer diagnosis, the author's search for information and support turned up a relentlessly positive "pink ribbon culture" that views negative disposition not cancer as the real illness. Ehrenreich follows this positive thinking trend through its roots in economics, politics, religion and history.
Ehrenreich is the author of nearly 20 books including Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America, her undercover examination of America's working poor. The book takes down another ubiquitous smiley face that of Walmart, where she works in one chapter as the blouse-folding "Barb."
The Newcomb College Institute hosts the author tonight at Tulane's Lavin-Bernick Center at 7:30 p.m. You've been warned that this might not be a feel-good lecture.