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Hubert Cumberdale

What's the Saying About Money and Bullshit?

Posted on 2007.08.20 at 15:37
A few months ago I discovered "The Secret" - an increasingly famous self-help tome - in my parents house. Being both naturally skeptical and fairly familiar with actual psychology, I decided to flip through it to see if it actually offered anything of use.

Now, I expected the odd non sequitur and the occasional equivocation. I assumed the book would be filled with nice sounding language and fuzzy logic. The general public usually latches onto things that sound good and are easy to digest (rather than things that actually work - because those take real effort). This fare is typically comfort food for the ignorant and the anxious.

But the level of intellectual dishonesty and outright blatant absurdity contained in "the secret" far exceeded my wildest pessimism. For those unaware, the so-called "secret" is the "revelation" that the Universe is a benevolent system that tends to reward positive thoughts through the ambiguously defined "Law of Attraction": That is, roughly, like attracts like (Always and forever!). As such, all one has to do to attain whatever treasured ends one covets is to THINK AND WANT them enough. The book is filled with the testimony of so-called experts who attest to "the secrets" viability. Good thoughts actually make good things happen. Bad thought make bad things happen (like cancer...or the holocaust).

Im not sure what's more incredible: that some hack had the gall to try to foist this on the world, or the fact that a huge number of people are actually credulous enough to buy this metaphysical snake-oil.

Here's some more commentary from around the web:

The onion takes a swipe.

An interesting piece from The American Spectator, ruminating on the the rampant solipsism "The Secrets" success implies.

(I like the article, though I think it overstates the claim that the search for easy answers is relegated to the current era. One can probably go back through the annals of time to find large scores of people suckered by big promises made with nice sounding words)

And the post from Mike's Weekly Skeptic Rant is just too funny to pass up, considering he ends with:

All The Secret will do is succeed in making Oprah's gullible audience sit around in their mansions and four bedroom houses and trailers and think that it's the Universe that is providing for them instead of their husbands or bosses. Think about it, though - if the Universe actually provided what you desired in your heart and wished for daily, Paris Hilton would have been killed James-Dean-style two years ago.


Anyways, if you have a sister, or mother or aunt or female cousin (for some reason, it seems to be overwhelmingly women who buy into this shit) that owns the secret, I suggest you check it out. Just for the curious blend of disgust and belly laughs it will no doubt engender.


Stomping on Thin Ice
chris_parasyte at 2007-08-22 09:14 (UTC) ()
The Secret really is the Celestine Prophecy of this decade.

We sold a stupid number of copies of the DVD at the record store when it was available. The DVD is currently discontinued, though I'm sure that only means they're working on a new enhanced edition to rape people's pocketbooks a second time.
kocane at 2007-08-22 17:16 (UTC) ()
Hey - anyone stupid enough to buy into that kind of crap (particularly the 2nd time) deserves to have their money taken from them.

Speaking of the Celestine Prophecy, I recently stumbled across it in Blockbuster's new release section - that's right, someone made a movie of that one too.
(Anonymous) at 2007-08-23 23:30 (UTC) ()
And I mentioned to you that I actually interned at the publishing house where that drivel was turned into a real book. That publisher specializes in that stuff. Check out "The Hidden Mysteries of Water." Seriously, they had a "psychic" on staff that made a considerable living predicting which books would be successful.
(Anonymous) at 2007-08-23 23:31 (UTC) ()
Umm..."Hidden Messages in Water" may be the correct title. ha!
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