Wednesday, May 30, 2007

"The Secret" scam....

More of Michael Schermer's terrific debunking of popular myth in the June Scientific American... Some clips:

An old yarn about a classic marketing con game on the secret of wealth instructs you to write a book about how to make a lot of money and sell it through the mail. When your marks receive the book, they discover the secret--write a book about how to make a lot of money and sell it through the mail.

A confidence scheme similar to this can be found in The Secret (Simon & Schuster, 2006), a book and DVD by Rhonda Byrne and a cadre of self-help gurus that, thanks to Oprah Winfrey's endorsement, have now sold more than three million copies combined. The secret is the so-called law of attraction. Like attracts like. Positive thoughts sally forth from your body as magnetic energy, then return in the form of whatever it was you were thinking about. Such as money.

A pantheon of shiny, happy people assures viewers that The Secret is grounded in science: "It has been proven scientifically that a positive thought is hundreds of times more powerful than a negative thought." No, it hasn't. "Our physiology creates disease to give us feedback, to let us know we have an imbalanced perspective, and we're not loving and we're not grateful." Those ungrateful cancer patients. "You've got enough power in your body to illuminate a whole city for nearly a week." Sure, if you convert your body's hydrogen into energy through nuclear fission. "Thoughts are sending out that magnetic signal that is drawing the parallel back to you." But in magnets, opposites attract--positive is attracted to negative. "Every thought has a frequency.... If you are thinking that thought over and over again you are emitting that frequency."

The brain does produce electrical activity from the ion currents flowing among neurons during synaptic transmission, and in accordance with Maxwell's equations any electric current produces a magnetic field...The brain's magnetic field... quickly dissipates from the skull and is promptly swamped by other magnetic sources, not to mention the earth's magnetic field ... which overpowers it by 10 orders of magnitude!

Ceteris paribus, it is undoubtedly better to think positive thoughts than negative ones. But in the real world, all other things are never equal, no matter how sanguine your outlook. Just ask the survivors of Auschwitz. If the law of attraction is true, then the Jews--along with the butchered Turkish-Armenians, the raped Nanking Chinese, the massacred Native Americans and the enslaved African-Americans--had it coming.

Oprah, please, withdraw your support of this risible twaddle--as you did when you discovered that James Frey's memoir was a million little lies--and tell your vast following that prosperity comes from a good dollop of hard work and creative thinking, the way you did it.

35 comments:

Irishaggie said...

Hi, I just wanted to say thanks for giving a good review of this self help junk. It's nice to know there are some intelligent people left in the world.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for giving a summary. I knew this was BS when I looked at thesecret.com, but somehow it has managed to fool a good friend of mine--a genuinely intelligent, kind human being--a PhD. and college professor/father/published author no less. There must be something secret about this woman's marketing skills.

Anonymous said...

One major problem with the secret is it's an un-testable hypothesis. Their is no way empiricle evidence can prove that this is true. It can be simply claimed that if you didn't get what you wanted then you simply didn't want it hard enough. Now I am not a philosopher and I am not sure what realm of thought this enters into I think it might be "idealism" (please feel free to correct me on this). Whatever it is here is a thought I think needs consideration.
1)If there is only one of a particular thing and many people want it equally, what happens then?

Anonymous said...

I think whether its true or not, I don't think there is anything wrong with the advice "The Secret" gives. What's so wrong about just being happy and waking up everyday being thankful for what you have and stop complaining about what's going wrong in your life. It encourages you to be positive and reach your goals. What is so wrong with that? Whether its the law of attraction or not, I think its great advice a lot of people in this crazy world.

Anonymous said...

To those of you who think this is total BS, you are all full of it. The basis of the secret is to produce a state of mind. Fine if you don't need any support in your life, just shut your mouths and leave it alone. You have no business telling other people how to live their lives. If the Secret only works 1 percent of the time, it will have proven you all wrong. I know for a fact that it works and you have no way to actually prove it wrong unless you tried it. If it didn't work for you, well, then I guess you are just not strong enough in mind to produce results.

Dennis said...

Noted quantum physics expert Scientist Bob Proctor and his pals, as well as nearly 2,000 personal-growth junkies, are taking over an entire ship in October! The Reverend Michael Beckwith, is going to be on board as well, raising the vibe by perpetrating a special meditation every morning. Also appearing will be several other renowned hustledorks self-help stars whom Scientist Bob is raving about but most of whom, frankly, I’ve never heard of.

Alas, for some reason, it doesn’t look as if Bob’s former co-hort, Aussie Secret star David Schirmer, is going to be on board. And the two of them were so good together! (Check out the ACA Interview online where David was exposed for FRAUD in Australia - Bob and David are now being investigated by the Australian Securities Commission for Breaking the Law and fooling/stealing for Investors. Many of their company’s have been suspended and the they may face jail time and a hefty fine. Bob and david are both partners in the SGR Program).

On the cruise Bob will also be featuring New Thought star Mary Morrissey, whose husband Edward served prison time for laundering money and using funds from his wife’s church for personal expenses, so maybe there will be something of a sense of continuity. (It should be noted that Mary herself was never charged with a crime, and I am sure she knew absolutely nothing about what Eddie was up to.) Anyway, according to the Son of Bob - Brian Proctor, “Mary Morrissey will be on board to do a program with Bob Proctor that will be introduced for the first time on the ship.” Here’s more info about what will be happening when the Self-Love Boat sets sail.

There will be plenty of opportunities on the cruise for you to learn how to get rich quick, or, even more important, make Bob and his friends richer. F’rinstance, there will be an opportunity to get in on Bob’s Science of Getting Rich program (Which is an Illegal MLM Scheme). And there will be all sorts of additional programs, products, and services to help you max out your plastic.

No doubt about it, the Mexican Riviera will never be the same. In fact, with a couple thousand aggressively self-improving folks on board, who knows what profound Earth changes will occur? The resulting vibes could be overwhelming; this might just be the event that causes not only California, but the entire West Coast of North America, to finally break off and sink into the ocean.

And even if that doesn’t happen, there’s something else that might be a red flag for the potential cruiser: the possibility of body-snatcher or walk-in situations. If you watch the video on the site I linked to above, you’ll hear Scientist Bob saying that he guarantees that each person who walks up that gangplank onto the ship will be a completely different person by the time he or she disembarks.

So I’d be careful if I were you.

PS ~ Some lyrics that popped up in my head…(the doors - Ship of fools)…

Dennis said...

It’s no surprise that the secret has many more secret’s. I’ve just found out that Dr. Joe Vitale a teacher featured in the secret is not an actual doctor. He just gave himself that title inorder to build credibility. Why am i not surprised. That’s exactly what david did when he said he was worth millions. Credibility in an Internet Marketer (Scammers) best friend it allows them to get peoples trust and more importantly their money. I’ve searched the internet and consulted with professors at Local Universities - There is no such thing as a doctorate in Metaphysical studies which Joe Vitale claims to have. God, I feel sorry for all those poor people that invested with him after watching the secret.

Since this is new news, I’d appreciate it if some of you spread the news just like you’ve done with David Schirmer to prevent other unsuspecting people/investors from getting burned.

Also while we are on the subject I’ve done some digging behind Michael Beckwith another teacher in the secret and cannot find any information on the doctorate he claims to have…I really hope he didn’t fake his doctorate to gain popularity…he was my favourite teacher.

It seems like the LOA has ultimately back fired on the Secret Teachers and Rhonda Bryne. Reminds me of the saying “The Hunter has finally become the hunted”. For the people these guys have conned I hope they spend and eternity in hell.

I apologize for my language but I’ve lost a ton of money to these people and I’m not to happy about it.

Anonymous said...

It's dissapointing that some of the folks involved in "The Secret" have turned out to be hucksters.

It's also too bad that so many people are willing to believe that positive thinking alone will solve all their problems. It's almost frightening that anyone believes sitting and thinking about money will cause it to materialize.

It's criminal that some of these folks teach that terrible tragedies, disease and accidents happen only as a manifestation of negative thought.

However...

There are many credible studies, including those by Dr. Herbert Benson, which show that the mind has a powerful influence on the body. A positive mindset is a significant factor in living a healthful and productive life.

The "Real Secret" is simple. You're much more likely to take positive action when you produce positive thoughts. Focusing on negative outcomes usually results in complacency.

Positive thinking is essential to success, and most successful people practice positive thinking.

But...you then need to take action. Particularly when it comes to money, no work: no results. Those who dedicate themselves to focused, honest, hard work are those who have the best chances of success.

Those who maintain a positive mindset, particularly in the face of challenges and adversity are most likely the ones who will initiate and maintain positive action.

It's too bad that such a common sense and powerful idea has been soiled by those who exploit others for personal gain.

Of course, all these teachers are right about the Law of Attraction. Those who are truly con artists will, eventually, attract exactly what they deserve.

Jim Bouchard

Tristan said...

The movie, The Secret, oversimplifies the law of attraction, which I believe to be true to an extent, but not in the "magical" way that is proposed by the movie. I believe the law of attraction can be explained by the reticular activating system in the brain being more conscious to those things that it has tagged as being important in much the same way as being in a conversation in a crowded room and hearing your name called somewhere in a distant corner of that room and focusing your attention in that direction because you have tagged your name as important.

The movie does not address the fact that you have to actually take action in order to manifest that which you want. Simply sitting on your butt and wanting it will not do anything for you, except maybe make you fat and lazy.

Tristan Loo

Silversage said...

I watched the DVD and initially was drawn in by some of the ideas. But then the menagerie of chiropractors, "authors" (there's a credential to envy) "meta physicians" (good God, is that the best they could scrounge up for expertise??) going on and on about trophy wives, homes, cars and watches had me gagging. Then I visited the website to find it's just another MLM pyramid scheme salting itself with just enough universal truth to be palatable. Oh, well, it certainly worked for GW Bush who gained his current position with no apparent hard work, intelligence, creativity or merit.

Anonymous said...

At first, I saw "what the bleep do we know", and I knew it was BS, after finding out more about it's directors and the cult that they are in.

Then I saw the secret one day on tv and I knew it was also complete bs, and the two movies were connected.

The secret has totally eaten up a friend of mine, and I've seen so many smart people get eaten up by it.

Now I am trying to work out what this "Bob Proctor" guy is up to, many people I know worship him. This "SGR program" thing seems a little fishy, reminds me of pyramid schemes.

I think people like the secret because it promises to give them exactly what they want, everything just by sitting on your ass.

Andy said...

We all want to be happy and want a shortcut don't we? Life is hard. Being poor can make it harder of course. So when anyone tells you I will SELL you a shortcut (A Secret) to happiness. All I can say is "A fool and his money are soon parted" True Spiritual advice is never sold. It is given freely.

Anonymous said...

You know what, I just need to remeber this, no matter what, there will aways be someone there with negetive BS to try to tear you down, Aways, it never fails. Misery love company.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree that there are a few participants in the movie (The Secret) who appear to be less credible, and have less integrity than others. Anyone who takes the opportunity to use this philosophy (i.e. positive thinking philosophy) to scam or hurt others just grates me the wrong way.

However, I'm wondering how many people actually researched the subject of the "Law of Attraction"? I have read a few books on the subject now...most of them the original publications that originated at the turn of the 20th century. When I first saw the movie "The Secret" that's the first thing that went through my mind, because I know that Hollywood always gets it wrong. So I wanted to learn from where this idea for the movie really originated.

Strangely enough, much of this "Law" does come from various religions. It primarily came from Hinduism, but there are examples of it in Christianity and other theology as well. Basically, from what I understand, it was the theosophical movement that started to put a lot of this together in the west over the past 200 years.

From the material I have read, and after watching the movie I have to say that there are two drastically differing messages here. The movie is very materialistic, and a sure magnet for fraud, scams and plain dishonesty. It doesn't take a seer to see through the thin veil that some of these con-artists are putting out there.

But also keep in mind that not everyone featured in the movie is a con-artist. There are some pretty genuine and honest people there who are very spiritual and helpful.

However, having said that, not all of this law of attraction is bogus. None of the literature I have read ever stated that one can "manifest" a car in their driveway simply by thinking about it. None of the literature mentions that one can watch $1-million magically materialize into one's bank account simply by visualizing that money. To me, this is Hollywood's way of "hooking" the movie goer to get them to fork over more money. If all the movie did was tell you that you are praying for inspired thought I doubt it would have sold many tickets at the box-office.

All of the literature I have read talks about tapping into one's subconscious for ideas and insight. The literature explains that the subconscious is much vaster and contains much more information than one's conscious, so this much appears to make sense. And it's not like all mainstream religion hasn't mentioned this in one form or another either. There are more than a few specific examples of this in the Bible for instance (i.e. Matthew 7:7-8, Mark 11:24 etc).

So the idea is that one visualizes a goal, with passion, enthusiasm, faith and belief (i.e. just like prayer), and over a period of time one will receive ideas or thoughts in return that will help guide them in one direction or another. And that's it! That's the Law of Attraction. It's not about getting that necklace in the store window, it's not about getting that brand new car, it's not about anything materialistic. It's about tapping into your own psyche to help you make better decisions etc.

Certainly you can use this to help guide yourself to earn more money. That's the part where you have to ACT when you receive inspired thought. You definitely have to do something to earn your money....that's a law unto itself. All you are receiving is an inspired idea that will help steer you in that direction, and it could be a thought that you may never have considered had you not followed these principles. So it's all about tapping your spirituality for answers....just like Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Shintos, etc, etc, etc, have been doing for thousands of years. This is just a more secular way of approaching this same process.

And through this process you will undoubtedly learn much about yourself and how you can better yourself as a human being (i.e. become more positive and less negative, become more enthusiastic, become more courageous...whatever you want to become). If you focus on more money you will undoubtedly learn better ways of making more money, by using less effort and obtaining it much quicker than you can now. It's all up to you. But to believe in some used car salesman on how to better your life, well, that's the sort of thing we just have to avoid.

My rule of thumb is that if someone claims to have a lot of valuable information and that all they want to do is "sell" it to you. I just walk away. You can always find that information which you're seeking for a lot less on the Internet somewhere :-).

Jay Miller said...

There are major flaws in some parts of The Secret video. I will never recommend burying your head in the sand with happy thoughts, when what you should be doing is going to a cancer treatment center to get professional help.

What I do agree with (from personal experience and observation) is that your mind does help (to a large extent) determine the limits of what you can accomplish. It's what I call the 'Santa Claus' effect.

If a little kid (such as was my experience) was told that there was a Santa Claus then events will be interpreted in that context. For instance, I saw a red light going through the sky. It was a plane most likely but I truly believed it was Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer.

If you can believe certain things or set certain expectations for yourself, your daily actions will indeed revolve around that.

Case-in-point. I'm used to having a very clean environment and believe you should be industrious. You should also continue your education whether formal or informal. With the same income and living conditions my neighbor is a slob, broke and depressed. I'm quite the opposite. I think it's all a matter or what you expect out of your day.

I think The Secret can help a person realize that.

I DO NOT think that checks will magically appear in your mailbox. I also do not think that life is an effortless experience. Boredom rears it's ugly head in the form of mental illness, drug abuse and all sorts of undesirable manifestations.

I also think The Secret fails to take into consideration that there is probably (not sure) a significant percentage of it's audience that already have 'issues' that need to be explored. While it may help spark the initiative to doing something productive, people may not realize that it is what Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls 'flow' that creates the chemicals that help rectify the situation in the brain.

The moral of the story is that I think people purchase The Secret hoping for a get rich quick magic pill. Like weight loss, there is no real long term solution aside for a lifestyle change.

yanjine said...

You know, maybe if any of you had any experience with the law of attraction. and maybe if you experienced something beyond your limited perceptions of the 3d world, one might listen to you. But as usual, you have no idea what you are all talking about. The Secret works, the law of attraction works, and yes you can manifest things out the blue without doing work. The only problem with the movie is that it failed to address that fact that it was communicating with the hairless talking monkies known as the human race. And of course they can't understand or believe anything thats simple and good for them.

Honest Al said...

Seems to me this "Secret" mumbo-jumbo stuff is just like religion... believe in magic and voila, all your cares will be over. And is this any different than the nutty Astrologists or Feng Shui goofballs? Sheesh... I prefer science to mysticism. The only "Secret" here is how these bunko artists authors can magically lift the wallets off their gullible adherents!

MoonsLight said...

I went to a free seminar that was hosted by that James Ray guy who was in the secret. He seemed credible until he had his cronies handing out papers to everyone. Some exciting music began to play and he started saying "if you want to change your life right now then enter your credit card number on this form..."
I looked at the form and sure enough he wanted everyone in the crowd to buy his books and cds. I took that paper, ripped it up, and left.
I also discovered Joe Vitale is nothing but an Internet Marketer who plugs his books and other products he craps out every ten minutes into his other books.
I do believe the mind can be a powerful thing, but you have to gain success and what you want through hard work....knowing the right people can help too.

Anonymous said...

ok, think about it. even if the secret is total BS, who cares. whats worse poitive or negative? being positive about everything in your life will at the very least be better than being negative. i've read AND used the secret, whether or not it has worked, i get the point.

relax, change yourself, change your life if you want to.

i'm drunk.

kp said...

The best self-help you can get is to learn not from teachers,gurus and people which have no real foundation to claim that they are succesful but to learn from those which have actually done things you want to do.

Anonymous said...

It is amazing how these bandits control almost every hit on Google. They evening use the word scam as marketing tool. Just a multilevel scam like all the rest. At least with the Acai scams you get a liter of sugar water.

Anonymous said...

I got with a group back in the mid-1980's that was all about this "affirmation" and making a poster with pictures on it to help "visually reinforce/focus' on what you desire in your life.
Back in th 1980's....and for FREE, she gave these "classes".

I tried it with an open mind, because my life was in such a place I was open to anything that would help.

It didn't change diddly in my life..and I wasn't wanting big or glamorous things...
And I really HAD hope and desire and all that...

I don't know what the others in the
group had for results, because eventually dropped out, as it wasn't working for me.

While I certainly don't begrudge anyone doing something that *they* view as helpful TO THEMSELVES, I strongly resent people insisting I try this (again), or that the reason it didn't work is that I didn't have the right mind-set or some such.
BTW..Isn't that the convinient thing that religious people on TV say (or even in your local church) when they pray for/ lay hands on you and it doesn't "happen" for you?

I had an experience with *that* as well...I had hands laid on me not once, but twice..and both times I really, really wanted to be healed..but it didn't happen (I admit the second time, just a few years ago, I was less inclined to think it would work than the first time).

I am currently trying to "work with" a woman who all about this (I didn't know initially) in trying to set up a web site for making avaiable infomation she has learned in dealing with a particular problem she has overcome (NOT due to the Secret, BTW..She got into that afterwards)

I *thought* I was going to be of help in answering e-mails and phone calls, etc...but it turns out she wants to SELL this info she gained...
I have a HUGE moral issue with that....
*I* wanted to set up MY web site to have the information *I* have learned on there for others to see and use, especially in this tough economic time.

I understand one needs to make money, but, wouldn't it be more beneficent/ true to the universe/ karma to *give* it to others????

Hmmmm, maybe that's why I'm still broke-ass at my age...I didn't want to charge for any of the help I've ever given.

Anonymous said...

I will give to these people: The moment they find anything negative about what they do, they will jump on the person disagreeing like a pack of wolves. A pack of positive energy driven wolves.

Or...should I say "Like a Cult"

Move over Manson and Jim Jones followers you got some creepy competition.

Anonymous said...

I can't stand that bitch Oprah Winfrey!

Anonymous said...

Second hand car dealers used to to be at the
bottom of the pile of SHT but now its the
scam artist who think that if they sell you
something for half price and give you a 1000 buck of other peoples crap that wont sell, you should be gratefull to them for making your life better but they all have the same thought that is. " THERE IS ONE BORN EVERY DAY" and i will take your money, because you are stupid.

Anonymous said...

Just like the "Holy Bible", it's another book full of crap.

Anonymous said...

I have to say that I felt good with it for a while, but evantually fell off that ride, be happy in illusion or face reality with the up and down, than you get psyched at that documentary... The secret for me is just a circle of toughts depnding on witch state of mind your in.

Venkat said...

Forget about Secret. That book is not even inspirational.

Emotions are actually felt by the body not mind. Whenever you are experiencing strong emotions, observe your bodily sensations. You can manipulate these sensations using your mind. How many times you had the gut feeling of success or failure in spite of uncertainty. And how many times your gut feeling won over your thinking mind.

Law of attraction is all about manipulating this gut feeling to achieve success. The key here is “uncertainty”.

ednixon said...

"Six Minutes To Success" is the latest scam.
Watch out for unauthorized charges to your credit card if you fall for their "Only $1."
trial offer like I did.

Anonymous said...

dear deric i have made a letter to the secret company thingy and posted a message on there website with links (one of them is yours) and here is the letter and the title is i want to believe

hello secret people,

over years ago i've read the book the secret and i was fasanated by it however i mysteriously lost my thought on the law of attraction as so many stuff i was dealing with. how ever i watch the tape and i remember stuff too but i went on to google and there are things that ive looked into... i want to believe so if you can give me an explanation to all of this iwould be appreciated
http://www.webpublishingblog.com/the-secret-the-law-of-attraction-scam.html

http://mindblog.dericbownds.net/2007/05/secret-scam.html

http://sageblogger.com/the-secret-is-a-scam/ so i was wondering if you have any insight on this contact me through this discriptions and i will send you an email thank you byee

Flix said...

I haven't read the book but it seems to discuss some ancient issues and phenomena that most of you NITWITS have decided don't exist. How did you people come to this conclusion, what evidence have you uncovered after years of research ? None at all, you've merely fallen back on your ignorance of the subjects discussed, JUST AS YOU WERE ALL CONDITIONED TO DO. Maybe the writer is a Charlatan, maybe she isn't BUT none of the comments seem to come from people who have done any research. You've all just poo pooed it because it's beyond your scope of experience and knowledge. Just a pack of mean spirited Debunkers.

Connecting Blog Communities said...

I think it's better to take all the energy, magnetic, frequency, etc. metaphorically rather than boil down to the very physicist's definition of things. Should we be reminded that those words exist even before those phenomena-as-we-know-it are discovered. I am not saying here whether the stuff is good or crap, my belief that having positive attitude is no harm, and it may brighten up some people to spend great efforts to realize their dreams, it may also drive others into disbelief, and do things their own ways, some will make it, some won't. Nevertheless, the optimistics win. I never see a 'I'm a loser'-attitude person doing great.

So, if we could please try not to disecting an inspirational talk with knives and saws.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Joe Vitale has NO degrees except the"ones" he has titled himself with (maybe bought the Dr. from a internet site:)) check out his background. He's a scram....albeit "a good one". I never buy anything that includes "Dr. Joe Vitale".

Anonymous said...

I need to clarify that : Joe can come back and say "he has a degree". He attained this through a workshop (weekend) in Soldona. Yes, one of those flaky metapretend you've achieved something. He really should not be calling himself "Dr." Someone should do a detail investigation of his questionable background. I will state that "I know him personally" and again, I NEVER involve myself with anything of his (or any event or book that advertises his name).
IF IN DOUBT RUN CHECKS AND RESEARCH !! NO CUP OF JOE FOR ME :)

Anonymous said...

Anyone who watches The Secret and thinks it's saying that you can accomplish anything you want without effort is, well... at the very least not watching the same movie I've watched. OF COURSE you have to act. The movie is simply suggesting that if you focus your thoughts and energy on what you want rather than what you don't want, you will be much more likely to achieve it.

And by the way, I've never spent a penny on The Secret. Most of the dissenters here sound like they're angry they spent money looking for a "quick fix", when a) that's not the point of any of this anyway (so blame yourself for being naive enough to think it could be that easy), and b) they could have gotten The Secret along with thousands of other movies for a $7.95/month Netflix account.

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