The Secret

My first reaction to seeing this on the front page of Amazon was a sense of great excitement! Harry Potter 7 is now available for pre-order! My excitement soon vanished as I realized that the other top seller was a hardbound copy of a new book, The Secret. Harry Potter 7 and The Secret have a lot in common: they are both fantasy novels. I admit, I do enjoy a good fantasy every know and then, but what bothers me is that The Secret is masquerading as truth. Both the book and the Film use misinterpretations of the quantum mechanics and string theory to make unsubstantiated claims about the validity of a New Age spiritualist philosophy called “the Law of Attraction.” According to wikipedia, the Law of Attraction’s basic principle is that like attracts like. According to this law, “thoughts penetrate time and space, acting as “personal magnets” with their own electrical vibration or frequency. These thoughts reach out and grab other similarly charged thoughts, attracting physical reality, which is merely a slower vibrating energy frequency; one’s thoughts are faster more subtle vibrations of the same energy frequency.” So in a nutshell, The Secret suggest that a persons thoughts can effect the physical world in supernatural ways. According to proponents of The Secret, this can lead to personal success, more meaningful relationships, and can even cure illness. While I concede that positive thinking is often a requisite for success, it is no substitute for a bit of hard work, and (more often then not) a lot of favorable chance.

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2 Responses to “The Secret”

  1. Alan Says:

    I had not heard about this until reading an article about it in Newsweek yesterday. Then I saw a clip of one of the “experts” from the book on the Today Show. Frankly, the success of this book is a testament to the laziness of the American public (to say nothing of their lack of critical thinking skills). Why exercise and diet when you can just think really hard about losing weight? This book tells lazy people exactly what they want to hear: they don’t have to work for what they want, they just have to want it really bad and it will happen. Ask-Believe-Receive is the mantra of “The Secret.”

    My first reaction to this was much like my reaction to “What The Bleep Do We Know?”… incredibly stupid, but basically harmless. I mean, thinking positively isn’t going to hurt anyone. But when they argue that this can even take the place of traditional medical care, that’s dangerous. One of the “success stories” in the book is a woman who beat cancer by forgoing chemotherapy and instead thinking happy thoughts and watching funny movies. I can’t think of a more classic example of confirmation bias.

  2. secularstudentslb Says:

    Yeah, agreed. It is pretty much just a sappy new-age self help thing, but to suggest that happy thoughts will cure cancer… come on.

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