Exposing "The Secret"

David Pescovitz:
Jody Radzik of the always-illuminating Guruphiliac blog says, “Here’s an excellent explanation, deconstruction and debunking of that claptrap “The Secret.” From “The Wrath of the Secretrons” by Connie L. Schmidt:

f you’re at all familiar with The Secret, you know that the big secret revealed therein is a centuries-old principle called the law of attraction, or LOA. In The Secret LOA is presented as a scientific law akin to the law of gravity. LOA believers maintain that whether we realize it or not, we “attract” everything that happens to us – the good and the bad, the sublime and the silly, the comical and the tragic. Financial success or failure, health or illness, a life of peace or one beset by violent crime or natural disasters, all occur because we somehow attracted them. Proponents of LOA explain that this happens because our vibrations are in sync with the events in question. If we learn to focus on the good and ignore the bad, we will “raise our vibrations” and attract more good things into our lives – including, and some would say especially, material goodies.

There does seem to be a great deal of emphasis on material wealth in The Secret, and this is by design, according to the producers, since so many people these days are interested in getting rich. The story goes that Rhonda Byrne, the main creator and producer of The Secret, was originally inspired by a 1910 book called The Science of Getting Rich, one of many books by success/motivational writer Wallace D. Wattles (1860-1911). Wattles, who believed a fulfilling life was not possible without wealth, wrote that a “normal” person cannot help wanting to be rich, and that if you don’t become rich, “you are derelict in your duty to God, yourself and humanity.” Although he did not mention the law of attraction by name in the book, he alluded to it: “It is a natural law that like causes produce like effects.” He added, “Once you learn and obey these laws, you will get rich with mathematical certainty.”

I think it worthy of note that Wattles, who died at a relatively young age, did not die rich. Perhaps he failed to do the math…

The reason for featuring (Joe) Vitale, (John) Gray, (John) Demartini and other successful self-help gurus in The Secret is, obviously, to convince watchers that these people became successful because they learned how to use the law of attraction in their favor. Never mind the years of trial and error, hard work and dumb luck, that got them to where they are now. Steve Salerno, author of the book SHAM: How The Self-Help Movement Made America Helpless, wrote in his review of The Secret on Amazon: “One seldom encounters a better/worse example of the logical fallacy known as a posteriori reasoning. To take a successful person, look backwards at the attitudes they held on the way to becoming successful, then use those as proof-positive of WHY they’re successful, is as fundamentally silly as using the fact that Bill Gates and Ted Turner were college dropouts as justification for why you or your kids should drop out of college, too. (‘See? You’ll become a millionaire, just like they did!’).”

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