|I'm not swayed much by the numbers argument, other than as evidence of a much, much easier 'sell.'|
The political formula is transparent: the promise of near infinite return, in exchange for believing/signing up. And the qualifications for signing up are, admitting you are an imperfect sinner. The price of admission is not even 'be good.' The price of admission is the admission that we are imperfect sinners incapable of always 'being good', but know we 'should' be. Redemption is always an "I fucked up and I admit it" breath away.
Talk about running downhill; no wonder the numbers are what they are. This is evidence only of 'gravity' -- that, the universe has coldy arranged for it to be easy to run downhill, and hard to run uphill.
It is a battle of infinities, pure political genius. Raise your hand if you think there is great effort in admitting 'I am an imperfect sinner.' The promise of near infinite return for nearly infinitesimal cost. Win-win all around. How this evolved is easy to understand: not enough incentive? Raise the incentive. The payoff is in the next life, the offerors can raise the incentive all they want. Before there were 72 Virgins, there were 72 raisins; not nearly as effective.
Raise your hand again if you think that the trade off of that realization for the promise of near infinite return is a good trade.
The promise of near infinite return, in exchange for the trivial admission of nearly constant failure.
There may actually be folks who honestly believe all that, and in fact, maybe even most folks honestly believe all that. It's not as if the entire package is filled with bad advice, in many instances -- maybe even most instances, the package comes with good advice. But you can't be surprised at the efficacy of the message -- near infinite retrun in exchange for the admission of failure, especially when that admission of failure is spray-painted as a success -- welcome to the club -- by the sellers.
The numbers are evidence of both a brilliant sell, and a brilliant marketing strategy. Consider: what is the 'cost' of offering near infinite return? It is zero, to the offerors, and they can honestly say "2000 years, and not a single complaint received from any unsatisfied buyers of everlasting life." They are selling afterlife insurance. They cheerfully accept the premiums in this life, and expect you to collect in the next.
OTOH, to the buyers, what is the 'cost' of buying what might be a worthless policy? There is the comfort one feels, as I did, when I thought a plane I was riding in was going to crash. It just so happened I had bought the extra flight insurance, and on the way down I was thinking, "Gee, I'm glad I bought that extra flight insurance. At least my wife will get an extra million dollars out of this." Or, maybe, if I had bought a different policy, the 'comfort' I would have received in what might have been my last moments in this life might have been different. Maybe that is what people 'buy' when they buy the package.
That is a personal choice, more power to those who make it. It is not up to me to dictate to others what does or does not give them pleasure or comfort. For me, in that instance of facing my mortality, the emotion I felt was just gratitude for the life I enjoyed. If this is all there is, it is plenty. If I am grateful just to the Universe, that is plenty, too. I am not about to be an ingrate, and demand a 'better' world after this one. But that just is and always will be 'me.'
As for the pitiful Objectivist numbers, they aren't selling any Escher inspired shortcuts to the top of any hills. Folks are of a mind to look for something that is going to let them let their belts out a little.