I’ve got a secret about The Secret

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Now, I’m certainly not as astute as Sherlock Holmes, but I can sense malarkey when it comes to the Law of Attraction. If you aren’t familiar with this pseudoscience yet, the Law of Attraction, which arose out of the New Thought movement, states that one’s mental state emanates energy that sends out messages and attracts similar things; hence positive thoughts will amass positive results, and negative thoughts will be followed by negative results. The biggest selling point of this theory is that if one visualizes an object with full focus, some “Universe” deity will somehow manage to deliver the manifestation of said object.

Needless to say, there is absolutely no scientific basis to the Law of Attraction. Yet it has managed to garner massive popularity due to the 2006 self-help book The Secret, by Rhonda Byrne, touting this “law.” Snake-oil seller Byrne backs up her claims by throwing around scientific jargon like “frequency,” “quantum physics,” and “magnetism.” It’s really a farce, as explained by author and media entrepreneur Jonathan Fields.

The pernicious aspect of this belief is that it condones extreme wishful thinking, rendering people to merely sit around and visualize their goals instead of taking real initiative. The law’s mantra literally goes like this: ask, believe, and receive. It’s a terrible maxim, as it’s just a lazy response to the age-old quest for “the secret to getting whatever you want.”

What’s more, how could this Supreme “Universe” Being differentiate between “positive” and “negative” energy? As humans, we’ve established this dichotomy through biased perspectives. Similarly, Dr. Masaru Emoto’s dubious rice experiment claimed that thanking, insulting, or ignoring three jars of rice with water will lead to fermented, fragrant rice, or moldy rice, or rotten rice, respectively. Author of the popular, but heavily-criticized 1999 book, Messages from Water, Emoto believed that the rice reacts this way because of the positive or negative energies that had been transmitted. Yet, it must be said that negativity is associated with the mold-ridden rice merely because we can’t consume it anymore; apparently it never occurred to Emoto that the growth of new life, fungi, might actually be a good thing.

Along the same lines, out of galaxies, solar systems, and seven billion human beings, the belief that there is a cosmic deity, listening to your wishes and granting your desires is absolutely ludicrous. (In September the YouTube channel Porta dos Fundos hilariously depicts the absurdity of such a thought.) Santa Claus doesn’t exist! How is the Law of Attraction theory any different? Does the universe provide a gigantic vending machine? Will it grant people’s materialistic desires by delivering objects in parcels from the sky?

Furthermore, cultists who believe in the Law of Attraction never attribute deadly natural disasters or tragedies to “negative energy.” If only little Timmy stopped thinking negatively, would that tsunami never have hit him? Can we justify the death of thousands of starving children in the world by believing they haven’t visualized the prospect of receiving food forcefully enough? In reality, the “theory” endorses victim blaming that not only invalidates the crimes of the culprit, but instills shame on the victims themselves because they didn’t try hard enough.

But, to an extent, I do acknowledge that the “Law of Attraction”—sans the supernatural component—holds some water. The placebo effect, for example, is a phenomenon where a patient undergoes a fake treatment or consumes a harmless pill but receives therapeutic benefits due to the belief that the placebo has curative powers. The expectation that the “medication” will help the patient does indeed come true. However, the placebo effect has been tested under controlled environments and has demonstrated measurable physiological effects through something called science.

Nonetheless, I’m obviously not advocating for the end of positive thinking. Naturally, optimism tends to spur motivation and dedication, which often yield good results. My complaint is the element of mysticism associated with this kind of thought. If you’re a believer of “The Secret,” by all means, I invite you to sit down and visualize the extermination of this article. If you focus hard enough, maybe the Talon gods will eradicate this from the archives. Ha—fat chance.

Sources: thesecret.tv, webmd.com