Mike — there’s an alternative framing that I think opens these articles up to better criticism.
Almost all self-improvement is wrapped in some bogus story telling. If you can spot the story, then you can always make a valid critique along the lines of “this story is factually wrong or is inherently harmful.”
The question is, why so many stories?
I’ve come around to believing that the market is fragmented by people’s fantasies about who they are now and who they want to become. These fragmented markets then demand and seek advice that fits those stories.
The story is required in order to give the advice.
So, in that framing, you can separate the actual advice and the story. The advice is what makes the impact. The story is what defines the target audience.
IMO, the first story you reference is targeting elitists. They already believe in a hierarchical view of human value — successful people have more value than unsuccessful people.
So, if you are going to help elitists because everyone deserves help, you have to tell them a story that they’ll believe.
To my mind, that opens up a much better line of criticism. Are you reinforcing harmful worldviews or are you reaching harmful worldviews in order to guide them to a better place?
I wrote about this a bit here with more examples.