What happened when I followed The Secret's advice for two months. - By Emily Yoffe - Slate Magazine

What happened when I followed The Secret's advice for two months. - By Emily Yoffe - Slate Magazine:


So, I vowed to follow Byrne's simple rules for abundance and see what happened. The book encourages one to start big: "It is as easy to manifest one dollar as it is to manifest one million dollars." But I thought starting with the million-dollar manifestation was like saying, "I love you" on a first date; I didn't want to scare the universe into not taking my calls. I came up with three things I thought the universe would find reasonable: a kitchen floor, unclogged sinuses, and a new desk.

At this point I should add that The Secret is not only drivel—it's pernicious drivel. The obvious question that arises from its claim that it's easy to get what you want, is: Why do so many people get what they don't want? As Byrne writes, "Imperfect thoughts are the cause of all humanity's ills, including disease, poverty, and unhappiness." Yes, according to The Secret, people don't just randomly end up being massacred, for example. They are in the wrong place because of their own lousy thinking. Cancer patients have long been victims of this school of belief. But The Secret takes it to a new and more repulsive level with its advice not just to blame people for their illness, but to shun them, lest you start being infected by their bummer thoughts, too.

The Secret is Christian Science all over again.

Why do so many people get what they don't want? As Byrne writes, "Imperfect thoughts are the cause of all humanity's ills, including disease, poverty, and unhappiness." Yes, according to The Secret, people don't just randomly end up being massacred, for example.

I was raised a Christian Scientist, until I was 20, so this is familiar territory. I had horrible acne in High School. After praying over it for 2 years, it finally went away. Although I suspect it had less to do with praying and more to do with washing my face once a day with clean non-soapy water. I had Chicken Pox when I was about six; it went away after three weeks of praying.

To be sure, our thoughts affect us a great deal. The brain is the biggest gland in the body. My one healing in Christian Science was when I was stung by a bee and my hand was swelling up. My Dad came in and said, "That's not necessary!" He said it with such authority and I was so afraid of him that the swelling went away. But that's actually just hypnotism and suggestion and/or perhaps activating some glandular part of your brain.

Also, to be sure, when a person with great personal power like Steve Jobs says, "I'm going to dominate the digital media world," it comes true. Now Jobs is saying, "I'm going to get rid of our lame copy protection system and sell unprotected MP3s!" and it might come true. But if Joe Blow says that, not much is going to happen.

I think the problem with Christian Science and books like The Secret are that they overstate the case. Positive thinking is good. Focusing on what you want is good - shit, even figuring out what you want is good. But deciding the universe is at your beck and call is bad. Even Gates, one of the most powerful people on the planet, chooses his battles. His company dominates in a couple of areas and as far as the big money goes, that's where Microsoft focuses. Everything else is a dalliance, and the chief owner knows it. Now Gates is focusing on certain medical issues world-wide. He's not just throwing his money anywhere. Likewise with Oprah - she's focusing her charitable work in places she cares about. Then you have Al Gore standing up for global warming but since he's not quite focused and has errors in his presentation he might end up doing more harm than good in the long run.

"As a man thinketh in his heart so is he," (Proverbs 23:7) I believe the author was talking about character, not control of the universe.

(BTW, I recommend, Christian Science, by Mark Twain.)