Sunday, February 11, 2007

236 - The Secret

We Can Have Whatever We Choose

1. We Can Have Whatever We Choose
"The Secret" is a feature length documentary that uses a series of interviews and dramatizations to inform viewers about how to use positive thinking to change their lives for the better. It has been getting pretty popular lately, with proponents popping up all over the web to bring the "good word" to the rest of us.

What Kind of House Do You Want to Live in?

2. What Kind of House Do You Want to Live in?
Sure positive thinking might actually be able to impact your life. That seems like a pretty sound philosophical concept. However, this "Law of Attraction" business takes a few extra leaps and tries to claim that positive "thought frequencies" can physically alter the world around you. They say if you think about what you want long and hard enough it will magically come to you. Tell that to an amputee; see how long it takes for his legs to grow back.

Do You Want to Be A Millionaire?

3. Do You Want to Be A Millionaire?
That amputee comment might not be totally fair. Although at least one of the presenters in "The Secret" makes references to healing cancer, the main focus of the film is how to use "The Law" to gain material possessions. The only people getting rich because of "The Secret" are the presenters of the film. And it isn't by using the principles they proclaim, it is by selling books and DVDs and by setting up a multi-level marketing network (more commonly known as a pyramid scheme.)

What Kind of A Business Do You Want to Have?

4. What Kind of A Business Do You Want to Have?
To make matters worse, they suggest their concept is a legitimate scientific principle. Of course, there is electrical activity within the brain. I'd love to see the research that suggests that those impulses can be emitted as powerful, reality changing, positive frequencies. All of the presenters in the movie are motivational speakers, metaphysicians, "visionaries," and life coaches. My research suggests that none of them are actually scientists.

Do You Want More Success?

5. Do You Want More Success?
In my opinion, what these vultures are doing is preying on people who are desperate for any possibility of improving their lives. They are telling them "Buy our books and buy our movie. That is the only way you'll ever learn how to make your lives better." Then they give them a very simple philosophical concept wrapped up in a bunch of pseudoscience, Divinci Code-esque mythology, and flashy video editing. Please do not fall for this marketing ploy. Instead, just listen to the words of Perry Como, Nat King Cole and Rosemary Clooney, then apply their positive message to your life.



MerveyO said...

Interesting post. I stumbled accross it while "next-blogging". Don't you think that the pursuit of more, more, and even more material possessions is a waste of our lives. I think Ecclesiastes puts it best- "All of it is meaningless, a chasing after the wind. For a man may do his work with wisdom, knowledge and skill, and then he must leave all he owns to someone who has not worked for it. A man can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in his work. This too, I see, is from the hand of God, for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment?" Thanks for your well-written blog.

Christopher said...

I definitely agree with your stance on materialism, and considered including something about it in my post. However, on contemplation, I decided that the target audience for "The Secret" is most likely made up of people that are desperate for any means of improving their lives. I know from experience that it is hard to think critically when feeling helpless. Some asshole offering a solution to your problems might not seem so bad at the time. I didn't want to risk offending anyone that is in a serious situation.

I also wanted to concentrate more on practical mistruths in the movie, rather than philosophical ones. For instance, about 13 minutes into the video, the "visionary," Rev. Dr. Michael Beckwith states, "It has been proven scientifically now that an affirmative thought is hundreds of times more powerful than a negative thought." This is a bald faced lie. To my mind, one lie implies many more.

Thank you for your comment. I've been having a hard time finding any web resources showing and critical response to "The Secret." If you happen across anything good, please let me know.

Anonymous said...

i have a feeling that this 'next-blogger' isn't going to respond to your reply.
so, i will.
you have a very well-written response, sir.
you should consider judges 11:21 -
"And the LORD God of Israel delivered Sihon and all his people into the hand of Israel, and they smote them: so Israel possessed all the land of the Amorites, the inhabitants of that country."
doesn't that say something powerful about ownership and the desire for possessions?
yes, it does.
i bid you a sincere farewell and hope all of your positives are accentuated.
love, jd

Anonymous said...

I think it's a slippery slope. Material wealth in itself is not problematic. In our society, certain privileges and possibilities (i.e., education, travel, etc.) are available to those with adequate financial resources. It's only natural that we would all want equal access to these privileges. Particularly for those individuals living below the poverty line, attainment of material wealth is a tangible measure of movement towards those privileges and possibilities from which particular a social class has been segregrated.

I disagree with the quote from Ecclesiastes. Like so much of the christian bible it is not applicable to our current society. Finding satisifaction in one's work is a privilege that comes with education, training, and connections. Often one needs money and/or years of hard work to gain those things. Leaving all of one's troubles to a higher power and focusing only on "eat, drink, and finding satisfaction with... work" does not move one towards higher goals and only encourages feelings of helplessness. To make positive change, a person must take responsibility for his or her own life and not sit back to wait for god to fix it.

The Secret is taking advantage of people who are looking to gain privilege in our society. No doubt they are assholes who misrepresent science. (they are certainly misrepresenting the psychological research literature.) I just don't think an argument against them that is based in christianity (e.g., the religion of learned helplessness) is the most appropriate/accurate.

Christopher said...

Since posting this, I've seen people promoting "The Secret" on Oprah, Larry King, and some other show on CNN. Both Oprah and Larry King fauned over them. Oprah because she is desperate to find some kind of meaning in her life, and Larry King because he is a complete moron and a jackass. The other guy on CNN didn't confront them outright about their claims, but he did roll his eyes a lot and I think I heard him mutter "whatever" under his breath at one point.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

(if the link above doesn't work, enter the word "secret" (w/o quotations) in the search box. The article is called "The Secret revealed! Of Snake Oil and Other Charmers" by Ralf

Christopher said...

Thanks for the links. There were certainly intersting, although it seems like Ralf is just pissed off that people are getting rich selling the bullshit ideas that he believes in himself.

"The Secret Team" is on Oprah again today only a week after their last appearance. Maybe they will be weekly guests like Sylvia Browne is on Montell's show.

James Randi has finally become aware of "The Secret." he mentions it in this weeks Swift Newsletter, and promises to return to the subject after a bit of research.

Jaredude said...

If you want the scientific approach, then View What the Bleep do we know. Some of the scientist from that are also in The Secret

Christopher said...

Sorry Jaredude, "What the Bleep" is nothing more than a recruitment video for the Cult of Ramtha, a pseudo-religion led by JZ Knight, a woman from Tacoma who "channels" a 35,000 year old warrior spirit from Atlantis. Most of the "scientists" involved in the video are actually connected to the Ramtha Cult in some fashion. The notable exception, David Albert, has stated publically that he was misled about the nature of the film, and after seeing the end result, wished he had never been involved. The science of Quantum Physics is NOT what they claim it to be in "What the Bleep." is a good critique of the movie with a basic layman's definition of what real Quantum Physics is all about.

I'd say there is only one only real difference between "The Secret" and "What the Bleep." The Ramtha people seem to be sincere. They might be crazy, but it seems like they really believe the nonsense they spout. The Secret people, on the other hand, come off as snake oil salesman, getting rich selling something that they know to be bugus.

m.Lee said...

You might find this interesting.

What a crock.