Sunday, May 20, 2007

The Secret Of Gullibility

Bryony Gordon at the Daily Telegraph has written a very funny and horribly true critique of The Secret. It's very funny, because Ms Gordon follows the principles of The Secret to the letter. With, need it be said, absolute failure.

For a meagre £12, and over just 198 pages, The Secret promises to show you "how you can have, be, or do anything you want". That's quite a claim. In America, there are a lot of people who must by now have everything they want because it has sold two million copies there.

So, already £12 down, and the magic Secret Genies haven't even started working yet...

As most people know by now, the gullible and the incredulous alike, The Secret is the Universe's own Mega-Department Store. It's like the Galactic Vending Machine from Lost in Space.

The Secret says, if you think bad thoughts, then how the hell can you expect nice things to happen to you? Thoughts become things! We are all human transmission towers! Give off good signals and we will receive good things! It is all down to the law of attraction, apparently. "The law of attraction is always working, whether you believe it or understand it or not." It will deliver you whatever you want - your dream job, a million pounds, a strapping hunk - as long as you think wishfully and most of all believe.

Yes! Everyone in the world can have a million pounds, or dollars, or zloty or dong, or... As long as you wish truly and deeply and with all your heart. Flocks of pigs are already lining up on the runway, taxiing for takeoff. More concerning, however, is the quotation from Secret "discoverer" Rhonda Byrne:

But be warned. "If you are complaining, the law of attraction will powerfully bring into your life more situations for you to complain about. Even if you listen to other people complain and sympathise with them, you are asking for misery yourself. It is simply a matter of changing your thinking."

Serves all those Jews in Germany in 1939 right. Bloody whingers. And EoR just wishes all those starving Africans would just stop complaining. Jesus! Anyone would think they had it tough! Don't even listen to them! They're a waste of time, and they'll stop your greed-driven path to riches and arrogance.

Given that The Secret is obviously being targetted at the same general audience who will be flocking throughout Australia to worship at the celebrity feet of the Dalai Lama, EoR wonders how they reconcile The Secret's Selfishness with Buddhism's Compassion? Maybe you can be compassionate, as long as you still ignore the poor, the sick, the huddled masses.

Here's another fantasy "law" from Ms Byrne:

"Food cannot cause you to put on weight, unless you think it can."

Oh, if only Ms Byrne would prove that by eating nothing but chocolate, burgers and chips for a month.

By Day Four of Ms Gordon's travails with The Secret, it is still only what it is: platitudinous crap.

Still no strapping hunk. How long is this going to take? I consult my manual. "Time is just an illusion," it tells me. "Any time delay you experience is due to your delay in getting to the place of believing." It is not until I really believe that I am going out with a strapping hunk that it will actually happen. In other words, I have to be utterly, gloriously deluded. I spend the day telling friends that I am going out with Brad Pitt. I am manic in my need to convince them that it is true. People start avoiding me. Worse, I receive a call to go and meet the subject of my existing tricky relationship for a "summit". He dumps me. I smile throughout. The Secret has not delivered me a single thing: it has actually taken away from me.

It has, however, delivered more than generously to Ms Byrne. So, is The Secret really only that one or two can become fabulously rich? Preferably if they believe really and truly that the multitude of people lead lives of quiet desperation, and that enough are suckered in to any scam, be it spam emails or promises of fabulous wealth on Oprah, to make it worthwhile promoting the old "something for nothing" shell game.

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