Wednesday, June 20, 2007
Secrets, lies and more inanity
“EVERYTHING in your life you have attracted—accept that fact—it's true.” The Secret

Truth is a funny thing. First off, there is still quite the disagreement among philosophers as to what truth actually is. Just because something may seem logical does not necessarily make it true and vice versa. Truth can change throughout time based on new technology or new ways of understanding.

Erich Fromm wrote that the dichotomy between 'absolute = perfect' and 'relative = imperfect' has been superseded in all fields of scientific thought, where:
"it is generally recognized that there is no absolute truth but nevertheless that there are objectively valid laws and principles....Scientific knowledge is not absolute but optimal; it contains the optimum of truth attainable in a given historical period."
So to say that it is true - that we have attracted everything into our lives - is such arrogance, I can barely breathe.

Regarding this truth - that we have attracted EVERYTHING in our life - I would like to direct the various authors of the secret to talk to a Holocaust survivor, an 8 year old molested by her father and a woman in India living with AIDS with no access to clean water much less medication. I would like for each of them to explain how they attracted EVERYTHING into their lives. I would like to ask them to visit Walter Reed to visit a soldier home from Iraq missing something he left with and a mass grave in Darfur. I would like them to talk to the Princes of Wales, to sex slaves in Estonia and to each woman in every domestic violence shelter in the nation. I would like them to explain how they brought all of this on themselves.

The entire premise of The Secret is an anti-intellectual screed designed to make billions off of superstition and promises of silver bullets with no need, in fact no right to even ask, for corroboration. If you do, you clearly are not believing and you are bringing negativity into your life. Rhonda Byrne can just wish you away into the cornfield.

Rhonda Byrne offers that, "When I discovered 'The Secret' I made a decision that I would not watch the news or read newspapers anymore, because it did not make me feel good." Ooh ooh! I want to be a blithering idiot!! Mee toooo!

No seriously, she thinks that if you throw your weight behind trying to stop war or poverty you bring more negative energy to it...seriously.

"Imperfect thoughts are the cause of all humanity's ills, including disease, poverty, and unhappiness."

Imperfect thoughts. I would say so. But not in the way The Secret moralizes. According to The Secret, a person who is killed by a drunk driver brought it on by their own thought patterns. It couldn't have had anything to do with the "imperfect thoughts" of the drunk driver - could it?

The disease of dis-ease is not new. I personally remember the big Hay rides of the 80's and 90's where Louise Hay spouted the same absurdity about AIDS. Rhonda and her cohorts suggest that not only should you not think about getting cancer, you should "not observe" those with cancer because the energy from their "imperfect thoughts" that brought them cancer might come and infect you.

Rhonda told ABC that she wouldn't even get a flu shot because "if you're feeling good, how can you attract any illness to you?" Hmmm. I don't know Rhonda? I think with all of your positive energy and perfect thoughts you should travel to a third world slum, don't observe any of the suffering people and see if you can avoid malaria or schistosomiasis.

"Disease cannot live in a body that's in a healthy emotional state," Bob Proctor says in the film. I want to see Dr. Proctor's medical license. Stat.

And then Rhonda clarifies, "How does it work? Nobody knows. Just like nobody knows how electricity works. I don't, do you?"

Over 5 million people are reading this drivel. While some people are taking the good (positive thinking) and tossing the idiotic, I have to assume that some of them are reading it like gospel.

Some references from Salon.com accessed 6-19-07.

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16 Comments:

Blogger Gwen said...

Nobody knows how electricity works? Are you serious? I honestly don't know how you've managed to keep reading that book without throwing it across the room... or out the window... or into your fireplace. You're a stronger woman than I.

Blogger ms. em said...

This reminds me of the passage they read in my yoga class yesterday. 'We live in a world of duality. So, if we see a problem, we must also see a solution. When we don't solve the problem or make an effort to solve the problem, we must ask ourselves if we like the problem?'

Blogger Neil said...

The sad thing is that there probably is a kernel of truth to the idea that if you focus on the positive, good things can more likely happen to you, just because you're more open to it. But to accept this as a universal truth is insane. Maybe it is human nature to look to blame something or someone when bad things happen. In the past, people would just think it was God's will. Gradually, this made less and less sense. Does God really want so much murder and mayhem going on with the people he created?

With the traditional sense of God sort of iffy in a secular society, especially where the individual is King, who else to blame -- other than ourselves?

The nasty message of the Secret also has some unpleasant political connotations. Those who are successful and powerful got where they are because of their positive thinking, and not necessarily from their parent's money or from being the son of a President of the United States -- or just damn luck. Those who are poor and miserable -- well, if they only THOUGHT better thoughts!

I've actually met people with cancer who blame their disease on not being positive enough -- AND attracting the disease!

Blogger crazyauntpurl said...

Oh ya'll are just mad because you don't wear a Bindi (sp?) on your forehead like Rhonda. ;)

I love that people are focusing on the power of positive thinking. I myself am thinking very positively about a glass of wine right now and fully expect those thoughts to manifest into reality very soon!

Blogger MonkeyGurrrrrl said...

The problem with containing a modicum of truth is that the truth can be twisted and manipulated to fill a specific need, even one that is diametrical to the original truth. I learned all about that in 6th grade when reading about the satanic bible. You take what people accept as true, and you tweak it just a bit. Sometimes it sounds a little off, but not enough for anyone to argue. Talk about a slippery slope.

I'm with Gwen. The only reason I can even get through your posts (quoting that crap) is b/c I know you and I know I'm going to agree with your observations. Otherwise, just reading that crap would make me through my monitor out the window (and I'm at work!)

Blogger Faith said...

Neil - There's definitely more than a kernel of truth to the idea of positive thinking. In fact Cognitive Behavioral therapy is primarily based on replacing negative thoughts with positive ones and there are tons of studies to back it up -- however -- because x is true does not prove Y. Which is essentially the "proof" offered in The Secret.

Laurie - you know, now that I think of it...I think I am jealous of the bindi. That must be it! Also, I am currently thinking very very positively about it being 3:00 p.m. so I can leave!

Blogger miss kendra said...

while i don't think your statement applied to me (atleast i hope not) because i don't consider myself to be an idiot, i did after some careful consideration decide to stop reading the news because it made it impossible for me to function.

i still know of the major issues, but i can't read all of it or watch all of it because i break under the pressure... and i don't want to be broken anymore.

Blogger Sara said...

Is it "true" or just "truthy"? What's sad is that millions of people are so desperate for answers or direction that they believe this drivel. Life is hard. Crappy things happen to good people, and it's not necessarily their fault. But so many of us are looking for easy answers, or someone to just tell us how to live our lives because doing it on our own is hard. And people like Rhonda are there to make some money off of people who feel bad about themselves. It's disgusting.

Blogger Allison said...

I agree with Sara. People are looking for answers to life's questions on why bad things happen to good people. This is just another religion.

Blogger dale-harriet said...

Man. If only it were that easy - I've tried three times to write what I wanted to say, and I can't seem to put it down right. That sounds like a very dangerous book, interesting that it seems popular. I believe I'm going to have to peek into it now *shudder*; I'll be reinforcing my agreement with you. And I doubt if I'll get very far into it. It sounds like it belongs on the shelf with the bottle of pills guaranteed to make you lose a lot of weight fast and keep it off, while improving your health and making Matthew McDonoughey {sp?} find he can't live without your love.

Blogger Faith said...

Ms. K - I personally think there is an enormous difference between

A) knowing what is going on in the world and for one's own sanity (and knowing how one can drown in the sorrows of the world) to slowly back away from the tragedy and the chaos in order to focus on one's own health and

B) Blithely recommending that the news is a bummer and cramps my personal philosophy/vibes so paying attention to the world doesn't really go with this new way of thinking/fashion statement.

I adore you and respect your choice.

Blogger Marg B said...

We are not alone. Slate Magazine has published a couple of really refreshing articles on the dangers of the cult of The Secret:

http://www.slate.com/id/2166211/


http://www.slate.com/id/2165746

Blogger Sarah said...

Hey Faith --

Thank you for calling it out like the crap it is!! I have found this whole craze to be just unbelievable. Modern day snake oil sales(wo)man, she is.

And thank you for visiting my blog! I've seen you around (sounds weird, but I think you know what I mean) but have never visited you, and you have a great blog and I'm glad to find you.

Blogger Laurie Ann said...

I think my father and the millions of members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers would argue with Rhonda on the whole electricity thing.

With every quote you include I find this movement more and more laughable. Although I do believe that negativity begets negativity and vice versa, the absurdity of believing that one gets sick or raped or beaten because they just didn't think positively enough makes me want to kick someone--hard.

Blogger Lulu said...

It's interesting, I've found myself straddling both sides of The Secret's fence. I read an interesting article in Skeptical Inquirer on debunking the secret, yet I have seen the dvd and read the book, and can appreciate some of it...

I do find it a little frightening that so many seem to be falling into this magical thinking so readily, so easily, and with such a materialistic component. It seems that "The Secret" has such a strong focus on making money and amassing material wealth especially, then losing weight, and finding happiness in magically attracting that to ourselves...but there's so much more, so much more, so much more, and by feeding into those things that the media and western culture deems "desirable" it makes Secret all the more revolting to me.

Blogger Lulu said...

urgh, that was a slightly less than literate stab at a comment. that's what I get for trying to quickly get a comment in before I have to race off...

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