I was pleasantly surprised to see Oprah do a good job chasing down Lance Armstrong during the interview that was broadcast last night. I give her a solid A for the interview. Whether or not he was slipping the noose is another question. There are places I would have gone that I think could have been more fruitful, but that's the clinical interviewer in me talking. Anyway, she's good.
Just one slightly weird blip in an otherwise good job. She asked Armstrong more than once if he expected his day of reckoning to come. Fine enough question, but with an almost cult-like, true believer, fast-clip delivery, she explained the basis for her question, and I paraphrase:
Did you expect that this day would come, because the Second Law of Movement says you will get what you put out?
I'm watching and I'm like, what the hell, Oprah?
I assume she was referring to Newton's Second Law of Motion, which is about physics, not mental life or cosmic justice. I found it a bit annoying that she not only misused the concept but, in particular, she used it to assert the Just World Hypothesis which isn't a law of nature; it's a known psychological bias -- a pernicious distortion of reality.
Oprah isn't just wrong; she came off as having zombie-like belief in a falsehood that does a lot of harm to people. Applied to Armstrong's situation, it may not sound like a bad thing. But the unexamined flip side is, for example, if you were raped, it was because of something you did that was wrong. So the rape was a natural outcome of your own bad actions. It's cosmic law. Excuse me, but that's fucked.
A more reasonable basis for Oprah's question would be the talion principle. It predicts that we expect a day of reckoning for wrongful deeds. That's different from saying that the cosmos will, in fact, punish us or reward us based upon our deeds or the spirit of our intentions.