The Secret was released almost a year ago, but has drawn considerable attention recently. It’s been featured on Oprah and the Ellen DeGeneres Show. It’s also been discussed by Steve Pavlina multiple times.
This “secret” has been kept from you your entire life. World leaders have suppressed it since the dawn of civilization. They have used it, even abused it, while the ignorant masses grind their way through their lives. And if you spend $29.95 on the DVD, the secret will change your life.
So, what’s the secret that’s been suppressed for ages and ages? The Law of Attraction, the idea that you will draw toward you the things that you think about most. Basically, if you concentrate on positives, you’ll attract good fortune, while if you concentrate on your Visa bill, your Mastercard bill will show up, too.
Never mind that The Secret claims it’s been known, used, and taught by everyone from Plato to Einstein. Never mind that it’s been in every new age self-improvement book ever written. And never mind that some of the people in the video have been hawking it to gullible schlubs since well before I was born. It’s a secret, and you need to watch this movie to find out about it.
The Problem with The Secret and the Law of Attraction
I’m all for giving people good advice. Unfortunately, The Secret isn’t giving good advice. The law of attraction isn’t really advice at all. It’s a get-rich-quick scheme, a 30-pounds-in-30-days diet. The law of attraction sells the idea that good thoughts, instead of hard work, will bring good things.
Easy sells. It’s sexy. Losing thirty pounds without dieting sounds great. Earning six figures part time sounds great. The idea that just thinking good thoughts could change your life sounds absolutely wonderful. Hard work doesn’t sound so great. In fact, it sounds kind of hard. However, hard work has the best chance of yielding the best results. Selling easy paths that don’t work distracts people from the real path that could actually help them.
Telling people that cutting out trans-fats will cause them to lose weight distracts them from the fact that eating less will cause them to lose weight. Telling people that they can earn six figures by flipping houses distracts them from the fact that good investments and budgeting will build wealth. Publishing a video claiming that good thoughts are the catalyst for improving one’s life distracts people from the fact that hard work is the only reliable catalyst for improvement.
The Truth in the Law of Attraction
I’m willing to grant that there’s a little bit of truth to the law of attraction. If you concentrate on improving your life, while your neighbor concentrates on how much his life sucks, you probably stand a better chance of improving than your neighbor, if only because you’re more likely to see the opportunities and take the risks that can help you out.
There’s no magic, though, and no law. It’s about you trying to better yourself. Big surprise. Trying to do something increases the chances of succeeding at doing something.
I’m sure that The Secret‘s cast would use this to defend themselves, saying that it’s good thoughts and hard work that really accomplish improvements. Sleezy infomercials pitching ab exercisers do the same thing when they briefly mention “proper diet” when claiming weight loss. Real estate scams print “results not typical” in tiny letters when discussing all the millionare success stories. A scam is a scam, even if you aren’t technically lying. Ab infomercials aren’t selling proper diet, real estate flipping programs aren’t selling personal bankruptcy, and The Secret isn’t selling hard work.
The Lies in the Law of Attraction
Since concentrating on negative issues is a surefire way to attract more of them, according to The Secret, your best bet to get out of debt is to simply not worry about it. Imagine having more money, and keep spending the way you’ve been spending. Somehow by imagining you’ve got money, you eventually will. Budgets are for chumps! That money you want will show up eventually. Either that or the debt collectors. But don’t think about that. That would attract problems.
If the law of attraction really worked the way The Secret says it does, then your best bet for improving your financial fortune would be to buy lottery tickets and think really, really hard about winning. Let me know how that works out for you.
The Insanity of The Secret
The Secret says that the people who have debt, heath problems, etc. are attracting their problems. Likewise, people with wealth are attracting prosperity. As evidence for this, The Secret cites the fact that people with debt and health problems talk more about these things than people without them, while prosperous people talk more about their wealth. This clearly shows that thinking (and talking) about debt attracts more debt, while thinking about wealth attracts more wealth.
First off, most of the wealthy people I know don’t talk about their wealth much. Second, isn’t it possible that people get problems and then talk about them? Doesn’t that seem to fit Occam’s Razor pretty well? I don’t talk about my lung cancer very much, but if I actually had lung cancer, I might.
Joe Vitale, a “metaphysicist” who appears in The Secret, tells us that people who get into car accidents do so because they were thinking about them too much, that they attracted car accidents. In my experience, the people who get into the most car accidents are not thinking about the possibility of accidents, or anything else to do with driving.
What about the people who get struck by lightning? Are they the ones thinking about it the most? When I think about getting hit by lighting, I get off the damned golf course.
A Case Study
The Secret tells the story of a gay man who had a terrible job with coworkers who treated him like crap, who was constantly physically assaulted by gay-haters, and who was heckled by homophobes when he did stand-up. By concentrating on his problems, he was causing them to magnify. When he learned about the law of attraction, he changed what he was concentrating on. By just concentrating on the good life he wanted, the mean coworkers quit their jobs, the gay-haters stopped assaulting him, and suddenly he was a riot on-stage and the hecklers were gone.
Are we seriously supposed to believe that good thoughts made others quit their jobs? That good thoughts stopped constant physical attacks and turned audiences full of homophobic hecklers into gay-embracing, supportive audiences delivering standing ovations? Are you kidding me?
Burglary victoms, don’t invest in better locks and an alarm system. That’s just concentrating on the problem. What you should do is concentrate on what you want. You know, a house that hasn’t been broken into, and a stereo that hasn’t been stolen.
Rape victoms, it’s your fault. If you were thinking good thoughts, those rapists wouldn’t have attacked you and violated you in ways you never thought possible. Now, go clean up and think about something positive, because if you keep thinking about the rape, it’s going to happen again. Mr.Vitale says so.
Why Even Care About The Secret?
Why do I have such a problem with the secret? Because it’s taking advantage of gullible people. It’s a slick sales pitch targeting the unfortunate. Sadly, people like Oprah and Ellen DeGeneres are helping them, instead of promoting people who actually have useful advice.
Promoting a false hope, a lie, about what it takes to improve ones life simply exacerbates the problem. Every person who spends more time hoping for extra money spends less time actually budgeting. Encouraging people to hope and think about change, rather than working for change, digs them deeper into the holes they are in.
It’s the right of every slimy guru to sell artificial hopes and dreams to fools, just as it’s the right of gullible people to buy that snake oil. That doesn’t mean we should say its acceptable.
A Solution that Doesn’t Rely on Hope
The truth is that improving your situation is usually possible, but it’s usually not easy. If you want to get out of debt, you need to build a budget and plan. Thinking about more money isn’t going to help. Actually getting a second job to earn more money will help. Hard work will always triumph over good wishes.
You don’t have to work hard if you don’t want to. You can take the false hopes. You can think really hard about improving your situation, instead of actually trying, and working, to improve your situation. But while you’re feeling upbeat about how eventually all your “hard thoughts” are going to pay off, your neighbor is actually getting a second job. In a few years, he’ll have whittled his debt down, while you’ve continued to rack up more credit card bills. In the meantime, the makers of The Secret will have made a pretty penny off your indulgence and gullibility.
My “Scientific” Experiment
In the name of fairness, I’m going to try the law of attraction for myself. If it works, I’ll rewrite this post to say that the law of attraction is scientific fact, and I’ll buy copies of The Secret for all my friends and family. I’m going to think about something I really want, and I’ll really hope it materializes. I’m going to hope like I’ve never hoped before.
However, if my thoughts can really control reality, then everyone involved with The Secret, you’d better stay off the streets, because what I’m thinking about, what I’m really, really hoping for, is that each of you gets crushed by a runaway garbage truck.
“The Secret”, when combined with hard work and good exercise will make all your dreams come true!
*Hard work not typical of those who purchase “The Secret”