Monday, June 25, 2007

Reality parodies itself

There's a real story behind the parody skit I linked to in "I have seen the light!" and it's about the runaway nonfiction bestseller "The Secret" by Australian television and film producer Rhonda Byrne:
Her central claim is that the "law of attraction" governs our universe.

"The law of attraction says that like attracts like, and when you think and feel what you want to attract on the inside, the law will use people, circumstances and events to magnetize what you want to you, and magnetize you to it," Byrne said in an e-mail in response to several questions posed by The Associated Press.

She said she was struggling personally and professionally several years ago when she was given a nearly 100-year-old book called "The Science of Getting Rich," by Wallace D. Wattles. In it, readers are guaranteed to become wealthy if they learn and follow "certain laws which govern the process of acquiring riches."

Inspired to do further research, Byrne said, she resolved to create a film to spread the word about what she felt she had learned about the "law of attraction."
As with many publishing hits, the "Oprah Effect" played a role. Winfrey devoted two shows in February to "The Secret," and Larry King and Ellen DeGeneres also featured it on their shows. It was spoofed on "Saturday Night Live" when a man portraying a refugee in the Darfur region of Sudan was blamed for having negative thoughts.

However, the fear that "The Secret" will lead to a blame-the-victim mentality is a serious claim of critics.

For example, the book dismisses conditions such as a genetic predisposition to being overweight or a slow thyroid as "disguises for thinking 'fat thoughts.'" And during times in which massive number of lives were lost, the book says, the "frequency of their thoughts matched the frequency of the event."

Psychotherapist and lifestyle coach Stacy Kaiser said that after reading "The Secret," several patients have worried that it was their fault they were abused, or laid off from their jobs. Others seem to expect everything in their lives to change overnight, she said.

It's a total fraud, of course. Smart people know that it takes at least two nights for the magnetism to work.


Blogger David said...

To paraphrase the old joke, what if you're thinking positive thoughts but the pilot is dwelling on the negative?

June 25, 2007 4:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm reminded of the witticism of the late Robertson Davies writing about Norman Vincent Peale, who of course preached that you could accomplish anything you wished through positive thinking. He imagined a Peale-trained door-to-door dust mop salesman determined to sell a mop to a Peale-trained housewife determined not to let herself be talked into buying one. He concluded Immensity Itself would shudder at the theological implications.

June 25, 2007 5:52 AM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

And people who believe in the power of prayer are laughing at this?

That's funny.

June 25, 2007 9:28 AM  

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