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Thomas Erikson: "Surrounded Idiots" – "Rounded Idiots" Killed

On October 12, the Norwegian Festival of Case Processing will be held. The festival presents Swedish author Thomas Erikson along with Briton Antony Beever as "two decided highlights" on their Facebook pages.

Thomas Erikson is the man behind the books "Surrounded by Idiots" and "Surrounded by Psychopaths" published in Norwegian by Gyldendal.

Books have long been on the bestseller lists in Norway. "Surrounded by Idiots" became the ninth best-selling case book last year, while "Surrounding Psychopaths" ranks 10th for 2019, according to the Bookstore Association.

Among other things, books categorize people into four different colors, representing different personality traits.

Called the "wild man of the year"

Thomas Erikson has a background as a lecturer, coach, program manager, sales coach and writer, according to Gyldendal.

But in Sweden, Ericsson has caused controversy. Last year, the Science and National Education Association (VoF) of Sweden was named "Miser of the Year 2018", which can be translated into "mistakes this year" in Sweden.

This is a foundation that aims to promote people's knowledge of scientific methods and results.

"Thomas Erikson succeeded in seducing a large part of the Swedish people into believing in pure pseudoscience and gross psychological simplifications through his book Surrounded by Idiots," VoF writes.

Compared to horoscope

In a critical article in The Swedish Filter, Eriksson's series "Surrounded" goes to stitches by Professor Magnus Lindwall of the Department of Psychology at Gothenburg.

– It's wrapped very properly. Very nice product. But the truth is, it's no more scientific than horoscope, Lindwall tells Filter.

Lindwall is very critical of what he calls pop psychologists, who he believes will make people think they have no idea when they are not. According to Lindwall, they represent a method that works properly on the surface, but which is based on the wrong basic principle – and therefore can never lead to the result they hope for.

– That's exactly what he did here. He took something that was extremely loose from research, inflating it with his own anecdotes and experiences. Would he have sold equally well had he been honest? No, I don't think so. The strength lies in saying, "This is research. You can trust it.

– He lost his sight

Thomas Erikson also participated in the Sakprosafestival last year. The tickets were then taken away for several hours, according to the festival.

Dagbladet reviewer Cathrine Krøger is critical that Sakprosafestival has re-elected to leave it on stage.

"That indicates they've lost their eyesight," Krokker says.

– He is a coach, and he does not seem to have any scientific or professional background without being a coach and lecturer.

She believes the festival gives the writer credibility by leaving him on stage.

– They involve him in seriousness. They probably think it will attract people because it has sold hundreds of thousands of copies. But it looks extremely rubbish, Krokker says.

ANSWERS: Literature Reviewer at Dagbladet, Cathrine Kroker. Painted at the House of Literature this spring, in connection with her Critics of the Year Award. Photo by Bjørn Langsem / Dagbladet
Reactivity: Dagbladet Literature Reviewer, Cathrine Kroker. Painted at the House of Literature this spring, in connection with her Critics of the Year Award. Photo by Bjørn Langsem / Dagbladet
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"The clown is from Sweden"

She is surprised that the Sakprosa Festival chooses Erikson as one of its drawers, along with war historian Antony Beevor.

– You can imagine what Beevor thinks when he stands on the same stage as a clown from Sweden.

– Do you think Sakprosafestival should dismiss Erikson?

– Yes, I think it seems frivolous and frivolous to be one of the main attractions. But if the festival wants to present itself, they have to commit to it, Krokker says.

– I think it's very neat to make a Norwegian prose case, because a lot of good prose comes out. But that's why I think it's awful that they allowed him to be one of the main attractions.

Very critical

Hooks is supported by Hilda Østby, a literature reviewer at Aftenposten and a case author at Cappelen Damm.

ANSWERS: Hilde Østby, reviewer and writer. Photo by Anna Julia Granberg
Reactivity: Hilde Østby, reviewer and writer. Photo by Anna Julia Granberg
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Among other things, she wrote "Diving for Seahorses," a book on memory, psychology and neuroscience, along with her sister Ylva Østby. The latter works at the Oslo University Psychological Institute.

"That Thomas Erikson should now be called to the forefront of prose, I think that's completely wrong," Hilde Østby tells Dagbladet.

She reviewed two of Eriksson's books and called the works "pure quasi-science."

– It's at a very low academic level. He defends himself from criticism by saying it is popular science, but it must have something to do with science, it should be called popular science, Østby points out.

She says Erikson is based on a "science" that was popular in the interwar period and is now completely obsolete.

– It's like calling an astrologer.

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"Top experts"

Sakprosafestivalen is the seventh time to organize the Norwegian Association of Writers and Translators (NFFO).

«The 2019 Norwegian Case Study Festival goes where it burns, into war, climate change, coexistence and escape. We invite some of the world's top crisis management experts to clarify the darkest topics », writes the festival on Facebook.

Hilde Østby reacts strongly to the festival by taking Erikson into the heat.

– It is disrespectful to grant him legitimacy in accordance with good case writers relating to reality and actual research.

A literature reviewer calls for a critical no-vote when Erikson takes over the House of Literature lecture on October 12 with his lecture. According to an event on Facebook, Erikson should talk for 45 minutes.

– I don't think such a man should be called to the environment without any counter arguments.

Responds to criticism

Mette Karlswick, festival manager for the Norwegian case of prose prose, criticized Østby and Krøger. She explains the booking of Erikson as follows:

– From "Surrounded by Idiots," Thomas Erikson was among the best-selling translated prose writers in Norway. Why him? What is the "phenomenon" of Thomas Erikson? That's what Sakprosafestival wants to explore, Karlswick writes in an email.

– We are a festival that wants to reach a wide audience and have a wise index finger on the bookshelves.

FESTIVAL CHOIR: Mette Karlswick at the Norwegian Proceedings Festival. Photo by Tove K. Breistein
Festival Director: Mette Karlswick at the Norwegian Jurisprudence Festival. Photo by Tove K. Breistein
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It won't turn out

Karlswick states that there will be talks with Erikson about his writing after the lecture. There will be "space to think about the genre he writes about and his way of working within the genre", as well as exploring only the "Erikson phenomenon".

This invitation has not yet been announced in the festival program. Karlswick's self-criticism is needed on behalf of the festival.

– The festival has published about a fifth of the programs submitted so far. We are waiting to launch and publish program entries until all details are out of place. When it comes to the contextual event following Erickson's lecture, we have not yet received an interviewee, says the festival manager, and continues:

– There is a misunderstanding here, which Sakprosafestival criticizes: we should have informed our followers that the program posts we have published so far do not give a complete picture.

Karlswick will not expel Erikson from the program, as Cathrine Krøger thinks the festival should.

– When so many Norwegians read and are less colored by what they write, then I think it's okay for the largest non-profit festival in the country to discuss the phenomenon.

Strikes back

Publisher Gyldendal states that the author does not have the opportunity to comment on Friday, but points to Thomas Erikson's own website, where the author repeatedly responded to the criticisms he faced.

"I am humbled that criticism can come if you sell as many books and reach as many audiences as I have in the last year," Erikson wrote in a Feb. 1 post.

He also refers to an interview he gave to Swedish news agency TT, quoted by SVT, in which he comments on the title "Wild Years".

– It is said that there is a lack of scientific evidence, but what is overlooked is that there is nothing that can fully describe a human being. People are made up. Psychology is complex and not exact science. No system is waterproof, Erikson tells TT.

Admits missing

Erikson is based on the DISC model, which is based on the theory of 1920s American psychologist William Moulton Marston (by the way the man behind "Wonder Woman"). TT writes that the model has since been widespread, but that the research community now considers it indisputable.

– The DISC model, like other similar methods, has its drawbacks. Something I clearly point out in my books, says Erikson in a January 15 post.

In another post, Erikson addresses the criticism presented in the Filter article.

He points out, among other things, that "Surrounded by Idiots" is not for scientific work to be reckoned with, but rather that the book falls into the category of popular science.

– The book is written in a simple and easily accessible way. I deliberately chose a personal style with vivid examples of life and some humorous, heartfelt comparisons, which is the opposite of academic expression, writes Erikson.

He responds to the claim that the book is lacking sources, citing, among other things, Marston and the Institute for Personal Development (IPU).

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