The Secret: What a scam.

In the last two days, I have read two articles on The Secret. The articles are:

I highly recommend reading both articles, but what they boil down to is this: The Secret is no secret at all; it is an insultingly simpleminded interpretation of the Law of Attraction. Basically, it posits that all the bad things in your life are your own fault (wow, so all those Jews made the Holocaust happen? Everyone who has died of AIDS willed themselves to get it? It’s the Africans’ own fault slavery happened?), including weight gain (apparently food doesn’t cause weight gain, thinking fat thoughts does) and poverty. I am disappointed but not shocked that Oprah is espousing this tripe – as a black woman who has pulled herself up by her own bootstraps she should be ashamed. I’m not shocked because Oprah is all about feel-good populist stuff, and this is nothing if not feel-good and populist. Apparently the book claims that you can make your life everything you want just by wishing it to be so – you don’t have to work for it or anything! Just tell the universe you want it!
Good grief. What bullshit.
Sure, our thoughts shape our realities, but only to a certain extent, and claiming otherwise makes you a selfish bastard. Oh, I don’t need to feel bad for or help out people in need – it’s their own damn fault they’re poor/hungry/homeless/whatever. AIDS? That would disappear if all those poor morons would just believe they won’t catch it. Why should I fund research into a cure? Ditto cancer, STDs, and other dangerous things.
Come on. If believing you won’t catch something really worked, no ignorant teenager would get an STD or pregnant, and all those guys in Africa who think having sex with an infant will cure their HIV would be cured.
This kind of thing makes me want to beat my head against a wall. Willful ignorance is the one thing I loathe most about humankind.

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10 Responses to The Secret: What a scam.

  1. People love easy answers. And people love to think that if you just wish for a thing, it will happen. But yes, you’re absolutely right: not only is this nothing new, it’s a maladjusted misinterpretation set up to make people think that, by buying this book and buying into this dream, they’ll be able to get some sort of control over more of their lives.
    And, of course, it will all be roses and song.
    Beh.

  2. Alex Summers says:

    I haven’t read and/or seen this particular thing, but from the descriptions I’ve seen it seems like a re-tread of some fairly tired and somewhat frightening ideas. It reminds me of a little book I read back in college called “The Secret Kingdom,” by Pat Robertson. (It was for a history class, okay?) The only difference is that instead of visualization, Pat called for prayer–and tithing, of course.
    Yeah, the sales pitch is always on the upside, but (as you point out above) the downside’s always there: poor? hungry? sick? unhappy? Well, it’s your own damn fault for not having visualized or prayed enough. Now I can wash my hands of the whole problem.
    Gets my goat a bit, I suppose.
    -AS

  3. Heather says:

    Actually, one of the points made during the Oprah shows was not just that if you believe in it, it would come true. It was saying that if you believe in a positive, then you must also act.
    And while you raise an interesting point about the historical issues, I can also say that I’ve seen hoards of people who with negative self-talk (or whatever you want to call it) have become their own self-fulfilling prophecies. I think the secret as a book is defintiely well marketed (and I did not buy it) but reminding people of the power of the law of attraction was pretty good.

  4. Heather says:

    One other thing i forgot to mention earlier: the holocaust examples are explained – i believe they (on the show) said it’s not that bad things don’t ever happen to people; but they were saying it’s what you make of the bad things in the end that matters.
    You should try and watch the Oprah shows if you haven’t already – the Salon article comes across pretty slanted in the anti-secret camp – and obv. the shows are pro-secret/law of attraction it’s good to have both sides

  5. John Doh says:

    Whilst I agree with you – to a point – I think the philosophy deserves a shot, yes it is entirely kitsch with its “Da Vinci-esque” packaging which frankly put me off, plus the fact that Bob Proctor has merely reinvented himself – but if it helps to give people hope and improves their lives by way of the price of a few beers where you can gain some insight into the power of your own thoughts, then why not? Your argument makes total sense and is based in reality, however, there are elements of Proctor’s formula that make sense too.I bought the book and the DVD so I’ll let you know how it was for me in time. I’m not looking nor expect to find it will be an easy way to riches, just a shift in my outlook and expectations would be enough, so far the media only serves to reinforce resentment frustration and anger in the world plus subject us to celebrity cult, I choose to abandon all this at least for a while. Thanks for your thoughts though, we need to question.

  6. Russ says:

    It’s the Disney theory – Wishing makes it so!

  7. MagicalMindz says:

    I began using “The Secret” many, many years ago when it was called a lot of other things. Frankly, I am convinced it works – sometimes, against our own will. When I was very young (elementary school) I longed to travel the world and become very sophisticated. I daydreamed a lot about it and “saw myself” being and doing it. Although I started in a very successful film career after college, a series of tragedies and coincidences landed me overseas (almost reluctantly). The “old dream” came true over a 20 year career with the UN – 60 countries and millions of airline miles later. The same thing happened with my other daydreams, i.e. living in the Mediterranean, owning horses, living in the country out west, publishing a magazine and changing careers to name a few. Currently, I’m living in a paradise that I “dreamed” about 15 years ago and back in school doing work on a multi-disciplinary post graduate degree that I created myself. We get what we think about – whether conciously or unconsiously. There’s no real “secret” to that. That’s marketing hype. Law of Attraction? Maybe. Call it what you will. I think everyone in America is capable of getting what they want if they put their mind and EMOTIONS to it. I have met more immigrant millionaires than I can even count!! And quite a few of them came here well after I was born. You really need to feel passionately about what you want and be sincere. My life has not been easy and I have certainly had to WORK HARD for everything but it’s available through focus. There are sacrifices to be made but so few are willing to make them. We’re not “responsible” for EVERYTHING that happens to us. That’s patently absurd. Sometimes it’s luck (good or bad), sometimes the result of hard work, sometimes the old adage about making lemonade out of lemons is what happens but mostly it’s a combination. So dream on folks…..

  8. Gloria says:

    Thanks for telling it like it is. There’s so much hype about “The Secret.” Umm… there’s no secret; there never was. People have known about this and practiced this since the beginning of time. I could list hundreds of books where writers have presented the same information in their books, sharing their knowledge, way before “The Secret” was published.
    It just amazes me, though, how many people are jumping on the secret bandwagon when this information has always been available. There’s a plethora of websites popping up every day that are charging hundreds, and thousands, of dollars to clue you in on the secret to a happy life and becoming rich. Total rip-offs.
    There’s another factor in the universal law of attraction that no one has seemed to mention… it’s called karma and this explains part of the reason why people experience negative things.
    I went to a LOA meet-up a few weeks ago because I wanted to get a feel for why people are buying into this “wish and it will be so” and I almost got into an argument with the group when I suggested that “action makes it happen.” They told me, vehemently and in no uncertain terms, that all I had to do was think it and believe it, then just sit around doing nothing and it would appear in my life. This is a bunch of BS. LOL :)

  9. Kevin says:

    I guess the law of attraction, to me, could be also called “The Law of Focus”, as in, what I focus my attention on is more likely to occur, and I’m more likely to notice when “it” pops up in daily life. Further clarified, I think the “Law of Attraction” can be fairly well summed up in the following line:
    “What you think about, and/or visualize, will occur sooner rather than later, if you take action toward that goal consistently.”
    Have you ever purchased a new car, and then began to notice that people with your same vehicle are EVERYWHERE. Before you purchased the car, you never noticed one. Now you’re seeing them all the time. It’s merely that you’re “tuned in” to seeing that sort of vehicle now.
    If you continuously focused on fortuitous circumstances coming your way, then you’re more apt to notice them when they occur in nature.
    On the other hand, if you’re constantly “waiting for the other shoe to drop” and looking for negative things (maybe someone cutting you off in traffic, or your spouse cheating), you’re more apt to notice “proof” of what you’re looking for.
    There is no scam. A guy, Proctor, is talking about one of the laws of the universe. This is not meant to be a magic wand…it just talks about an unexplained “trend” that happens in the world: “What you focus on, appears”.
    Napoleon Hill wrote about this concept in “Think and Grow Rich”, which was adapted partially from conversations with Andrew Carnigie, quite possibly the first self-made Billionaire in the world. Carnigie is quoted as saying (phraphrased) “I demand riches, and focus my attention on only the activities that bring riches my way”.
    Napoleon Bonaparte said (paraphrased): “I see only the objective…the resistance MUST fall away”.
    None of the aforementioned “users” of the “Law of Attraction” (or law of focus, as I prefer to call it) accomplished ANYTHING without constant, consistent ACTION, however. I think that is where the movie “The Secret” failed to deliver…they didn’t give you the OTHER part of the formula to success: Action/Activity toward your goal.
    Someone else was quoted as saying, “No one NEEDS to have a goal…unless they want to be successful”. The Law of Attraction, to me, is just simply focusing on a goal, taking daily action toward that goal, noticing opportunities when they arrive, being open to fortuitous circumstances, and moving forward one step at a time. When all those things align, you’ll make the most amount of progress with the least amount of “work” than you ever have known…also known as “unimaginable efficiency”.
    I’m retired at age 37, pulling a weekly salary from a business I started from scratch, which now runs itself. I am a living example of the “Law of Attraction (Focus)” working in real life.
    E-mail me if you have questions.
    Kevin Fell
    Phoenix, AZ

  10. Andrew Carnegie says:

    The Real Secret is to not waste valuable money on buying things like “The Secret.” What!?! I’m gonna have to get up off of my couch to make money!?! NO NO NO, I want to pay 25 bucks for this movie “The Secret” and 50 bucks for my “The Secret Lamp” trinket so that I can stay on the couch and make my riches.