I recently saw the movie The Secret, a pseudo-documentary that explains The Law of Attraction. There are things in this movie that need a rebuttal and I haven’t found one elsewhere – so here’s mine.
The arguments and explanations put forward in The Secret are alternately unscientific, mystical, nonsensical or just plain wrong.
First, what is The Law of Attraction (TLoA)? Let’s say you’re poor and really want to be rich. Instead of always complaining about being poor and always focusing on what you don’t have, TLoA says that you should visualize yourself as rich. See yourself in this situation. Feel what you would feel if you were in that situation. Then, somehow, money will come to you.
Simply stated, it is the belief that what you focus on is what you get (or create for yourself), and in my experience this is mostly true – but not for all of the mystical reasons claimed in this terrible movie.
These are my major beefs with the movie:
1: The movie claims that famous people knew “the secret”
The movie indicates that a number of famous people knew “the secret”, including Einstein, Plato, Newton and Edison. However, the movie offers no proof that any of these people knew of, agreed with or used the law of attraction.
2: The movie claims that TLoA is kept secret
The movie also claims that the people in power in society and business have long known of this law and worked to keep it from the rest of us. Scenes are shown of people being persecuted for trying to steal the secret and (I assume) bring it out to the rest of us.
No proof of this is offered and to the best of my knowledge, no conscious effort has ever been made to keep TLoA secret.
3: The movie talks about electromagnetic waves/vibrations as the explanation for TLoA
The movie claims that since thoughts are electromagnetic waves, every thought we have spreads to and affects our surroundings, and this is why our thinking affects the universe. The movie repeatedly shows people who, as they visualize their goals, generate a wave or signal that emanates from their heads. In some of the cases, this wave is seen to spread over the entire Earth.
There are many things wrong with this assertion, primarily the fact that while thoughts are, at least in part, electromagnetic waves, there is no scientific indication that our brain waves alter the world around us in any meaningful way.
4: The movie uses quantum flapdoodle. Badly.
The movie also offers explanations from quantum physics as evidence of why TLoA works. I happen to have studied a lot of quantum physics at university, and I can safely say that the explanations offered in the movie are a prime example of what Murray Gell-Mann called quantum flapdoodle, i.e. “hijacking the terminology of modern science without understanding the underlying concepts or employing any of the intellectual rigour intrinsic to scientific inquiry”.
5: The movie claims that the universe will provide
But my greatest beef with the movie is the claim that whatever you sit down and imagine in this way, the universe will provide. Almost as if the universe is a big vending machine: Insert sincere wish here, pull out cold coke (or shiny new Ferrari) here.
That seems to me to be a very mechanical, shallow, self-serving description of the universe.
I believe that TLoA is sort ofÂ real.
But this is my point: Changing your thinking changes nothing out there, in the vast universe surrounding you. It changes something inside of you. Changing your perception, your focus, your emotions and your thinking from negative to positive (from what you lack to what you want) has an enormous effect on your motivation, energy and creativity and that’s why you will then be more efficient working towards your goals. It’s that simple.
No electromagnetic waves emanate from your head, magically transforming the universe. No mystical vibrations affect your surroundings. Changing your thinking does not change the quantum states of objects around you in any reliable, useful way. The universe doesn’t stand ready to grant your every wish.
Rather, you change yourself and THEN you change your circumstances. It works through a combination of entirely non-mystical, psychological and rational mechanisms, including confirmation bias, positive thinking and optimism.
The Secret offers precisely zero evidence that it could ever be otherwise, and instead proposes a number of mystical, unscientific and entirely unproved explanations. That’s why looking to this movie for explanations and insight will weaken your understanding of the TLoA and reduce your ability to successfully employ it.
So, while the law of attraction is real, the movie, quite simply, is fake!
And don’t get me started on What the Bleep do We Know – that one is even worse :o)
I’ve disabled comments on this blog post because I kept getting personal attacks from fans of The Secret. If you’re a believer in The Secret and you disagree vehemently with this post, I suggest you simply sit down and visualize a world where this article doesn’t exist :o)