Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Can we all agree that "The Secret" is the dumbest thing ever?

Right now, I'm sick as a dog, lying in bed by seven for the third night in a row. So even though my life is right now the best it has ever been, I'm still super-cranky.

But I think even if I were well, I would hate The Secret. Basically, "The Secret" is that if you think about something, you draw that thing to you.

I think this means that crazy woman who is obsessed with David Letterman who believes that David Letterman is in love with her should be marrying him any day now.

Anyway, I'm not sure how the basic idea differs from the culty stuff in What the bleep do we know? The basic idea is all the same.

The power of self-delusion.

Which is not to say that self-delusion isn't a powerful force in this world.

But geez...



PG said...

Do you also think that prayer has no actual effect?

Peregrinato said...

The difference between prayer and "The Secret" -- for those of us who believe in the possibility of such power in prayer -- is that prayer is emphatically not a formula for controlling the universe. It is a means of petition, but to petition is not to guarantee. The message of "the secret" seems to imply some form of mastery of the universe, that all is within your will to control. (I'm only answering as though I were asked the question, and I'm not speaking for CC)

Stephanie said...

I'm really glad you wrote this, CC.

As far as I can tell, 3 of 5 of my close friends are really into The Secret/The Law of Attraction and it's frankly driving me NUTS.

Theologically, it seems that it leads to the idea that poor people deserve poverty because they attract it; sick people deserve sickness because they attract it; the oppressed deserve oppression because they attract it.

I just can't buy that. And people are absolutely convinced that there is some science behind this law of attraction, which I've never seen properly explained, which reminds me a lot of The Forum (What's it about? Oh, you just have to go. What do you do? We do a lot. You just have to go.)

TheCSO said...

Well, I can't definitively establish that prayer has no effect. But I can say that I think it's reasonable to assume the null hypothesis.

Fundamentally, I believe that the best way to draw conclusions about the observable world is to observe it. To me, that includes those aspects of the spiritual which are claimed to have observable effects.

And there is a kernel of truth to "The Secret". That book's great fallacy is expanding that one kernel into an entire bag of popcorn.

I'm talking, of course, about the placebo effect. It's well established that placebos CAN have real effects on healing times versus nothing at all. That's why we use placebos in drug trials - to counteract the inherent healing effect of giving someone a pill they THINK will heal them.

The placebo effect is, to quote the literature, "poorly understood". We really don't know WHY it works. Personally, I think this is an interesting question, and one squarely situated on the interface between spiritual and observable matters.

PeaceBang said...

Sorry you're so sickety-sick!! Get better!
And yes, I ranted to my Ex the other day about how vile The Secret is -- try telling 9/10 of the world that they can bring comfort and abundance to themselves by the power of positive thinking. It's so offensively middle-class, so blind to privilege, so totally every other New Age Bliss Ninny formula repackaged... ach, don't get me started.

Joel Monka said...

If you think you have contempt for “The Secret”, you should hear what many Neopagans are saying. The Secret is nothing more than witchcraft lite, for people who haven’t the moral courage to use the word “witch”. It reads like “Chaos Magic”, but without the lessons in self discipline. If you added God(s), the necessity for prayer, many hours of study of various texts, plus a strict moral code, you’d more or less have witchcraft as practiced by many Wiccans. They consider “The Secret” aficionados as “fluffy bunny” as teenagers who think watching an episode of “Charmed” makes them a High Druid.

The CSO’s comments on placebo effect touch on my variety of Neopaganism, on religious magic- that the Divine deals only with hearts and souls, not the material world. Rather than asking for money, for example, someone of my tradition would ask for help with the discipline and endurance required to earn the extra money needed. But that’s not fast or easy enough to be a best seller like The Secret.

P.S. If I thought The Secret would work, I'd use it make the word verification work the first time!