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My Critique of "The Secret" and Law of Attraction

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My Critique of "The Secret" and Law of Attraction

Postby Scepcop » 04 Jul 2009, 12:41

Here is a popular New Age film called "The Secret" that shows only the first 20 minutes. It's about the Law of Attraction which teaches that whatever you think about will manifest, so you can control your life and destiny by controlling your thoughts.



You can try to watch the whole thing or download it here: http://stagevu.com/video/shmtsjjthblt

My commentary:

This film and its content shares a wonderful message and revelation that our thoughts affect our reality a great deal, which has a degree of truth in it and can be used for positive beneficial change in one's life. Yes the "law of attraction" is real. We do tend to attract more of what we think about, good or bad. I've experienced this myself and seen it in others' lives.

However, it is also very naive in the way it spins this New Age concept and the law of attraction. Thoughts are not "all powerful" as this film and other New Age gurus and books try to spin them as. Sorry to say but LIMITATIONS exist. We do not have total control over everything that happens and we cannot have "everything" we want, nor can we become "anything" we want as this film claimed, not in the literal sense. There are some things we just can't control, not even with the "law of attraction" or our thoughts. That's just simple reality and any down-to-earth person with common sense knows that.

No one can use their thoughts to walk through walls or fly like superman for example. Or move mountains, grow back amputated limbs, stop bullets, etc. If thoughts had that kind of power, the world would have been destroyed long ago, for many would have used such powers (The Secret) for evil or selfish purposes. Yet such limitations are never defined in films like this nor with many New Age gurus that teach this concept.

Also, while it is true that you do attract what you want and don't want, there are limitations and exceptions on that too, which this film never acknowledges. For example, there are plenty of times when I was positive and optimistic about an outcome, waiting in excited anticipation, yet the whole thing bombed and turned out to be a big disappointment and let down. And I can recall many times when I was worried and afraid that something terrible was going to happen, yet much to my relief, it didn't happen or turned out to be no big deal at all. Everyone has such examples. How does this film and its teachings explain such common occurrences? It doesn't.

To me, that's intellectually dishonest and a lack of common sense as well.

Simply put, if expectations always came true, as this film seems to imply, then disappointments and surprises would never happen. The Titanic would never have sunk, since everyone thought it was unsinkable. And the Y2K scares back in 2000 would have all came true, yet thankfully they didn't.

So I don't get why many wise knowledgeable New Age gurus whom I respect, such as Wayne Dyer and Deepak Chopra, still teach that thoughts are all powerful and that expectations always come true and that everything that happens to us is in our control and a result of what we created, etc.

Furthermore, if "the secret" was that simple, then why doesn't everyone have only positive thoughts so that nothing will ever go wrong?

Finally, it is not true that you can be whatever you want by thinking it or putting your mind to it. I can't become Michael Jordan for example, or the President of the United States. I don't have the talent and there are too many factors going against it that would make it impossible.

See my essay exposing the flaws and limitations of this "thought creates reality" concept, where I ask questions they don't answer, at: http://www.debunkingskeptics.com/LawofAttraction.htm

In short, yes the law of attraction and positive thinking can and will HELP you get what you want, but it is NOT all powerful as some New Age authors claim. There are many factors and variables that we have no control over, including other people's wills, so we have to learn to work optimally with what we have that's within our reach.

Thanks,
Winston
“Devotion to the truth is the hallmark of morality; there is no greater, nobler, more heroic form of devotion than the act of a man who assumes the responsibility of thinking.” - Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged
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Re: The Secret (1st 20 minutes) - My questions about the film

Postby ciscop » 28 Jul 2009, 13:25

that was quite skeptic
i find this film and book horrible
as it some point it tells people of giving up their doctor treatment and just asking the universe
thats quite dangerous
For every person who reads this valuable book there are hundreds of naïve souls who would prefer to have their spines tingled by a sensational but worthless potboiler by some hack journalist of the paranormal. You who now read these sentences join a small but wiser minority. Martin Gaardner (Psychology of the Psychic)
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Re: The Secret (1st 20 minutes) - My questions about the film

Postby Scepcop » 28 Jul 2009, 16:33

Thanks. As a true skeptic I question everything that doesn't make sense, even if it's from a paranormalist. Now you see that we are not all as credulous as you thought. To say that if you visualize something else coming in the mail other than bills, that the bills won't come in your mail, is utterly insane. Anyone who believes that is a fruitcake and can't even be trusted with basic tasks.
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Re: The Secret (1st 20 minutes) - My questions about the film

Postby SeanRMR » 28 Jul 2009, 16:46

well to lighten the mood as there is something we all seem to agree on, Have a good attitude and think positive are good things but they aren't going to make stuff appear or dissapear because you do or don't like them. Here is some Australian skeptical comedy about the secret

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Re: The Secret (1st 20 minutes) - My questions about the film

Postby Scepcop » 28 Jul 2009, 18:49

Hehehe that was funny, especially the last few scenes.
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Re: The Secret (1st 20 minutes) - My questions about the film

Postby Eteponge » 29 Jul 2009, 02:00

SeanRMR wrote:well to lighten the mood as there is something we all seem to agree on, Have a good attitude and think positive are good things but they aren't going to make stuff appear or dissapear because you do or don't like them. Here is some Australian skeptical comedy about the secret


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Re: The Secret (1st 20 minutes) - My questions about the film

Postby ciscop » 05 Aug 2009, 09:19

nice one! quite funny

but if you want to know more about the dirty secrets of the secret.. (uh?)
check out this... there was only one australian in the movie, his name is David Schirmer, and he is a wealth guru
so tv crews came to his house and did an expose on him... you really have to check to his expression when he gets OWNED by the tv crew
this is the TV REPORT Link.. it is like a 20/20 report.. pretty cool

http://schirmerexposed.blogspot.com/
For every person who reads this valuable book there are hundreds of naïve souls who would prefer to have their spines tingled by a sensational but worthless potboiler by some hack journalist of the paranormal. You who now read these sentences join a small but wiser minority. Martin Gaardner (Psychology of the Psychic)
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Re: The Secret (1st 20 minutes) - My questions about the film

Postby NinjaPuppy » 05 Aug 2009, 20:08

ciscop wrote:but if you want to know more about the dirty secrets of the secret.. (uh?)
check out this... there was only one australian in the movie, his name is David Schirmer, and he is a wealth guru
so tv crews came to his house and did an expose on him... you really have to check to his expression when he gets OWNED by the tv crew
this is the TV REPORT Link.. it is like a 20/20 report.. pretty cool

http://schirmerexposed.blogspot.com/


Thank you for posting that. I hate it when some fast talking snake oil salesman takes advantage of a person's trusting nature or need. From what this video showed it wasn't so much trust or need as it is greed. Shirmer wasn't selling anything more than a get rich quick scheme. Those who invested or followed him were looking to make money the easy way. Where is the common sense when handing over $50,000 to someone who claims they will earn, what was it? 100% back on that money? His followers were equally guilty of letting greed blind their common sense.

Now let's say that I had $50,000 just laying around the house. Common sense would tell me that I should put this money to work for me rather than let it collect dust. I hear about Mr. Shirmer and his ability. After listening to his snake oil scheme, it sounds logical. They usually do. I invest my money with him but of course, it doesn't work out quite as he said it would and I lose my money.

Where was my common sense? It was blinded by greed. Investing with a sure thing sounds much smarter than taking it to a casino and losing it. Either way it's nothing more than taking a gamble. To make money on money, there is a large amount of risk involved. The higher the earnings, the higher the risk.
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Re: The Secret (1st 20 minutes) - My questions about the film

Postby NinjaPuppy » 05 Aug 2009, 21:42

I'm going to try to comment on a few points that Winston bought up and add my own thoughts about this concept-

Scepcop wrote:Here is a popular New Age film called "The Secret"

This film and its content shares a wonderful message and revelation that our thoughts affect our reality a great deal, which has a degree of truth in it and can be used for positive beneficial change in one's life. Yes the "law of attraction" is real. We do tend to attract more of what we think about, good or bad. I've experienced this myself and seen it in others' lives.


While I agree that our thoughts do affect our perception of reality a great deal, it most certainly can be used for change in one's life.

"We do tend to attract more of what we think about, good or bad." - IMO, at least we are of the mind set to notice either the good or bad. I'm not saying that we don't attract it, I believe we do but only after we are able to recognize it and begin to find the good in the bad.

Example: You plan a wonderful vacation to the Grand Canyon. You have dreamed about this for a long time. It's going to be wonderful. Everything falls into place without problems and you get in your car to start this journey. BANG! While backing out of your driveway, your car is hit by a little old lady from Pasadena. Since she hits the back end of your car, she ruptures your gas tank. You jump out of your car just as it begins to start smoking and now get to watch as all of your packed possessions go up in flames along with your vehicle. All you can wonder about while the two of you watch the flames is, how can it be possible for such a minor accident to be such a disaster? There goes your trip! Without your car you can't drive there and you've already invested very last dime into the trip so you're tapped out. Now you have to make an insurance report and maybe your insurance will go up. How could you be so stupid to not see her coming down the road in that vintage Super Stock Dodge?

Your mind is racing, your plans are ruined, your vacation of a lifetime gone in a matter of minutes. Why? Why me?

Having a positive mind set will not prevent something like this from happening. Even the most careful driver can't prevent something of this nature. Thinking positive thoughts is not going to change one detail in this entire sad series of events. Not once did you ever even think about one negative aspect associated with your dream vacation.

Now.... while you were scrambling to jump out of your smoking car to watch it burn, and your first thought was, "thank goodness no one was hurt!" You can say that you've got a positive mind set. The rest of this disaster is going to be small stuff.

However, it is also very naive in the way it spins this New Age concept and the law of attraction. Thoughts are not "all powerful" as this film and other New Age gurus and books try to spin them as. Sorry to say but LIMITATIONS exist. We do not have total control over everything that happens and we cannot have "everything" we want, nor can we become "anything" we want as this film claimed, not in the literal sense. There are some things we just can't control, not even with the "law of attraction" or our thoughts. That's just simple reality and any down-to-earth person with common sense knows that.


Applying common sense to most scenarios make this much more clear. Not all people use their common sense. IMO, common sense is always blinded by greed. I use the word greed for lack of a better term but it can be ego, fame, fortune. Any of those terms are interchangeable.

No one can use their thoughts to walk through walls or fly like superman for example. Or move mountains, grow back amputated limbs, stop bullets, etc. If thoughts had that kind of power, the world would have been destroyed long ago, for many would have used such powers (The Secret) for evil or selfish purposes. Yet such limitations are never defined in films like this nor with many New Age gurus that teach this concept.


Walking through walls or flying like Superman are non-issues but the desire for some people to be able to do them is very real. It's a dream way to be special, above the rest, powerful. No, no one can move mountains but with the right attitude the mountain doesn't need to be moved. We can't grow back missing limbs but our mind and attitude can give us the strength to overcome personal obstacles.

Also, while it is true that you do attract what you want and don't want, there are limitations and exceptions on that too, which this film never acknowledges. For example, there are plenty of times when I was positive and optimistic about an outcome, waiting in excited anticipation, yet the whole thing bombed and turned out to be a big disappointment and let down. And I can recall many times when I was worried and afraid that something terrible was going to happen, yet much to my relief, it didn't happen or turned out to be no big deal at all. Everyone has such examples. How does this film and its teachings explain such common occurrences? It doesn't.


The film teaches nothing except how to part someone with their cash to watch the film and buy the book. It uses a concept with little direction in the hopes that you will be a more positive person and buy the sequel and the workbook and whatever else this guy can dream up to sell. It also gets him his 15 minutes of fame, plenty of fortune in speaking opportunities and swag from his publisher once the book sale profits start rolling in.

Finally, it is not true that you can be whatever you want by thinking it or putting your mind to it. I can't become Michael Jordan for example, or the President of the United States. I don't have the talent and there are too many factors going against it that would make it impossible.


True positive thinking goes beyond being Michael Jordan or President. Why would you want to be Michael Jordan? Do you feel he's not being good at it? Of course not. Michael is being the best HE can be within his personal limitations and desires. He's darned good at it too. We all possess different abilities and desires. It's believing in yourself that begins the journey of happiness. Doubt is the enemy and self doubt will always keep you from following a dream. Failure is not an issue, it is your vehicle to get you where you want to be. If we don't try, we can't fail. We also can't acheive our own personal full potential with a defeatist attitude. I really believe that everyone of us are capable of greatness in one form or another. Not all of us may reach the fame and fortune area of people like Michael Jordan. Positive thoughts and feelings can only be applied to the reality of our own desires. Just wanting it doesn't make it so. No amount of learning or training or reading or desire is going to make the impossible, possible. You can only find happiness when you are willing to accept that you have a purpose in this life.

From a little nut, a mighty tree will grow. Some of us are nuts, some of us are squirrels, some of us dump rain, some of us provide sunshine, some of us provide manure, some of us are full of hot air, some of us are dirt. We are all necessary in the process. We all have something to offer and a job to do. When one of these things are missing, the tree withers and dies. It still does not die in vain. It becomes compost enrich the soil and feed and support the next nut.
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Re: "The Secret" and Law of Attraction - My questions

Postby Scepcop » 11 Jun 2010, 00:03

I just uploaded my video rant and critique of "The Secret" and Law of Attraction. Here it is.

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Re: "The Secret" and Law of Attraction - My questions

Postby Scepcop » 15 Jun 2010, 00:00

Someone told me his interesting theory on why the Law of Attraction works well for some but not for others. Here it is:

"The interesting thing, though, is that many authors believe that, no matter how hard you work or how talented you are, you WON'T get the results if you DON'T get your thoughts right. This might be an allusion to what we understand today as subconscious sabotage.

I will tell you one possibility as to why this stuff works. Have you ever heard the saying that we use only 5% of our brain? Well, that is actually NOT true, nor is it what the originator of that statement, I believe it was Descartes, actually said. He said we use 5% of our brain POWER and what meant was that only 5% of brain activity is conscious. 95% is subconscious and this is what really controls your life. If the conscious ever has to battle against the subconscious, whether it's over a diet, doing a job, starting that company or anything else, the conscious will LOSE every single time. 5% vs. 95%. You can't win. But if you had the ability to put that 95% directly behind the 5%, pushing to get whatever it is that you want, you can see the difference in the power exerted towards what you are trying to achieve. That's why many successful people feel like they got to where they are on "autopilot" or some have no idea how it happened at all. Just like you likely don't remember every step, gear shift or turn of the steering wheel when you drive to your friend's house. Once you have mastered driving, it becomes entirely subconscious. You work the gears, pedals and wheel without thinking, even if you are talking to friends in the car.

If you can get your subconscious mind totally pointed at your goal, you will fly there without much thought or seemingly without much effort and it can seem like magic. Then, when you excitedly try to explain it to someone, it might come out sounding a lot like The Secret.

Terrence"
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Re: "The Secret" and Law of Attraction - My questions

Postby really? » 19 Jun 2010, 11:34

Scepcop wrote:Someone told me his interesting theory on why the Law of Attraction works well for some but not for others. Here it is:

"The interesting thing, though, is that many authors believe that, no matter how hard you work or how talented you are, you WON'T get the results if you DON'T get your thoughts right. This might be an allusion to what we understand today as subconscious sabotage.

I will tell you one possibility as to why this stuff works. Have you ever heard the saying that we use only 5% of our brain? Well, that is actually NOT true, nor is it what the originator of that statement, I believe it was Descartes, actually said. He said we use 5% of our brain POWER and what meant was that only 5% of brain activity is conscious. 95% is subconscious and this is what really controls your life. If the conscious ever has to battle against the subconscious, whether it's over a diet, doing a job, starting that company or anything else, the conscious will LOSE every single time. 5% vs. 95%. You can't win. But if you had the ability to put that 95% directly behind the 5%, pushing to get whatever it is that you want, you can see the difference in the power exerted towards what you are trying to achieve. That's why many successful people feel like they got to where they are on "autopilot" or some have no idea how it happened at all. Just like you likely don't remember every step, gear shift or turn of the steering wheel when you drive to your friend's house. Once you have mastered driving, it becomes entirely subconscious. You work the gears, pedals and wheel without thinking, even if you are talking to friends in the car.

If you can get your subconscious mind totally pointed at your goal, you will fly there without much thought or seemingly without much effort and it can seem like magic. Then, when you excitedly try to explain it to someone, it might come out sounding a lot like The Secret.

Terrence"


The myth is really known as the We only use 10% of our brain. It was started back in the 1890's by Harvard psychologists William James and Boris Sidis.
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Re: "The Secret" and Law of Attraction - My questions

Postby Scepcop » 09 Aug 2011, 05:25

Hi all,
My friend Steve made this excellent video where he debunks the "thoughts create reality" concept with common sense and realistic points. He basically says that there has to be a real basis or history for turning your thoughts into reality, or else it won't work and it will just be delusion. He makes a lot of sense. And he uses an MLM scheme and a PUA scam as an example.



Also see this excellent post in my other forum called "The Myth of Confidence" where the same points are made about how confidence will not be effective unless there is something real to base it on. The logic in it is impeccable and solid.

http://www.happierabroad.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=9050

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Re: "The Secret" and Law of Attraction - My questions

Postby Craig Browning » 10 Aug 2011, 00:05

GURUS = POO POO

. . . at least that seems to be the most common truth to things when it comes to these "exotic" mystics (including the British & American one's that take on a Buddhist or Hindu identity).

THE SECRET really isn't that big a secret, it's an ideology that's been around for thousands of years, loosely based on the Hermetic Axioms or "Wisdom of the Emerald Tablets" as some call it. Though you may not see the Hermetic principles spelled out in specific words or credit, the gist of most New Age/Occult teachings, especially that that come from Eastern cultures, can be readily seen by those familiar with them; the first Axiom in particular in that "All is Mind" All things are created by way of thought, be it a deliberate affirmation or subconscious point of impact.

James Allen's famed treatise "As a Man Thinketh" echoes this very idea just as you will find in the core of Christian Science, Science of Mind and in a round and about manner, Buddhism/Christianity and the bulk of other major faiths. . . especially those that encourage PERSONAL responsibility -- Karma.

In the late 1970's a lady who would ultimately prove a huge impact on my life, penned a booklet entitled "You Can Heal Your Life" in which she connects health issues with negative (usually subconscious) thought processes, an idea that has been cosigned by several noted members of the medical community, with Dr. Bernie Segal leading the pack . Louise (the author of said booklet -- Louise L. Hay) extended her idea so as to include the many ways these same negative thought patterns brought about specific environmental phenomena in a person's life, be it poverty, prosperity, etc. The problem is, she got hung up on the Prosperity angle. . .

This is the snare that traps most gurus -- COLD HARD CASH and the peddling of hope, ask any casino owner, it works! Hope is one of the biggest commodities known and yet the majority of us will go out of our way to admit that this is what we are buying. . . in the case of Ms. Hay and her Self-Creation Institute anyone could create wealth & happiness into their lives if they did daily visualizations and affirmations . . . then again, Charmaine Dey (The Magic Candle) said that burning a Green Candle on Thursday during a waxing moon can achieve the very same end results. . . :roll: Ironically, the are both manipulating the idea that "Mind is All; All is Mind" -- Thought Creates! Focused thought therefore has the potential to create more, bigger, better and faster. The catch (the part few pay attention to) is that you MUST participate and put forth the physical and mental effort to get there. :shock:

AN IRONY: These same people, believer/follower as well as the gurus, also believe in Karma and Reincarnation which, if I'm understanding said principles and how they work, negate the validity of this practice. In other words, if your karma says you must live in poverty in this life-time you must do so or else compound your karmic debt, passing on said obligation to future incarnations. :?: :?: :?:

Oh My, one can't seem to get ahead from going backwards. . .

I'm going to go chant for a while, my head hurts. :ugeek:
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Re: "The Secret" and Law of Attraction - My questions

Postby TheSuccessCreed » 21 Oct 2011, 13:11

Good Day all,
I agree with you Winston that there are limitations but let's think about it.
Men/Women always wanted to fly and eventually we built aircrafts - In just a few hours we can be in a different state or country.
We cannot walk through walls but this is not possible until some crazy guy builds a machine that teleports (probably not the correct technical term) an object from A to B.
I can go ahead with examples for a while....
The fact is that there is some confusion about faith and law of attraction. You cannot become a millionaire by simply closing your eyes and imaging yourself being rich. Surely you can create the intention and change some negative beliefs but we still need to obtain knowledge and have a plan.
If we do not create the intention in our mind first there is no chance to learn how to get rich and make a plan to make it happen - that's where the misunderstanding is with the Secret.
A men/woman who has the intention to become rich sees opportunities everywhere and acts upon - a man/woman who does not have this intention sticks with a 9 to 5 job. Funnily enough they reed the same newspaper and both want financial freedom.
It reminds me some sort of church joke: A man finds himself during a war in a desert island and starts praying God to be saved but nothing happened of what he expected. He died believing that God did not listen to his prayer. Then God welcomed him because he was a good man.
The gentleman said to God: why did you not save me?
God replied: Son! an airplane flu above the island the first day and you did not do anything, On the second day a ship was just few miles from the island and you did not do anything to send a distress message.
The bottom of the line is that money, success, miracles that make people walk again do not manifest the way we want because there are sublaws that we need to consider or maybe the law of attraction is a sublaw (still universal.
Best Wishes and have faith!

Giuseppe
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