This is the kind of all-or-nothing catastrophic that does confuse a lot of folks. Somebody says, Getting thousands of links from low-quality directories is probably not going to help you these days, and all of a sudden the Chicken Littles come streaming out of the woodwork declaring All links are worthless!
As Qwerty said, nobody here is saying you shouldn't promote your website. And as Jill said, nobody here is saying content is king (at least, not in the sense that all you have to do is create awesome content and everything else will fall into your lap automatically). Good content has always been an important component of real SEO as we advocate here. Crappy, keyword-stuffed, spun articles that were written strictly to attract search engine spiders have never been a good idea in our book. Nothing there has changed in the advice we've been giving since I joined this forum in 2003.
Likewise, we've always been in favor of getting good links from high-quality pages. Nothing lately has changed that, either. There's nothing wrong with back links. There's not even anything necessarily wrong with reciprocal links, as long as there's a good reason for the two pages to link to each other. It should be noted, though, getting higher rankings is not a good reason to trade links. Your page offers good information that my visitors would find useful is a good reason to link to another page. I'd argue it's the only reason you should link to a page. If it happens that the site owner at the other end thinks the same thing about your page and chooses to link back to it, that's not a problem. Never has been and I doubt it ever will be.
Puh-leeze. None of the moderators or administrators out there has ever said that. What they have said is that you don't want to do crappy, obvious SEO. You know - the home page that declares: We have a great Denver area web design company that offers excellent Denver web design services to customers all over Denver who are seeking locally-created Denver web designs. With a zillion back-links from a zillion crappy directories and comment spam on a zillion splogs and poorly moderated forums, all with the anchor text Denver web design. That would be a footprint as big as the iceberg that sank Titanic. But, you know, that was never SEO in the first place. At least not as we've ever defined SEO here. The O of SEO stands for optimization. That is, making something the best it can be. And that kind of crap, which has been passing for SEO in some circles, was never about making things even marginally better, much less the best they can be. The best SEO doesn't look like SEO. That's what Chrishirst was talking about. There is nothing wrong with optimizing a page - in fact, that's what you should do - but when it becomes obvious not only that the page has been optimized but exactly what phrase(s) it's been optimized for, then the line has been crossed.
And finally, if an exact match domain makes sense for your business, go for it. But you need to keep in mind that the folks at Google have already said they're specifically targeting exact match domains, so when you buy it you need to keep your expectations reasonable. You're not going to shoot to the top of the rankings and stay there just because you have an exact match domain. In fact, in light of what Google has said, you may even be making your job more difficult by using a keyworded-domain rather than going for something brandable. We wouldn't be doing a responsible job here if we didn't point this out to people. Sadly, there are a lot of folks out there who are still operating under the idea that all they need to do is have a keyword in their domain name and they'll automatically rank well for that keyword. And a lot of them never consider things like: what happens if you change your business model so the keyword in your domain no longer applies? Are you prepared to start all over from scratch, or would it be better for your business to have a brandable domain so you can change your business focus at any time without launching a whole new domain? So we try to educate them, bring them up to speed, make sure they know what they're potentially getting themselves in to. But if you understand all the potential ramifications - not just SEO-related, but business evolution, branding and marketing implications as well - and you're ready to put in the work it takes to promote it, then by all means buy whatever domain you want.
Paint-by-numbers SEO doesn't work as well today as it used to. Does it still work sometimes? Absolutely. Are the folks at Google and Bing and Baidu and elsewhere working to ensure it works less and less well in the future? From what I've seen, I believe so. Is there a future in the kind of algo-chasing, rules-based, formulaic optimization tactics such as have been promoted on some venues (not here) in the past? Not if you're interested in building solid traffic and conversions that will keep your business humming on into the future. Does that mean people shouldn't do SEO at all? No, just that they shouldn't do crappy so-called SEO. Which is exactly the same thing we've been saying here since 2003. Does your list of statements bear even a passing resemblance to anything the moderators or administrators have said, ever? Not even close, another reason why Content is King when it comes to SEO.