The Secret Tested
As of this morning, The Secret is the #2 ranked book on Amazon.com, lagging behind only the new Harry Potter. As featured recently on Oprah and spoofed even more recently on SNL, The Secret purports to reveal the long-guarded principle that lies behind all human achievement. The publisher's blurb puts it this way:
Fragments of a Great Secret have been found in the oral traditions, in literature, in religions and philosophies throughout the centuries. For the first time, all the pieces of The Secret come together in an incredible revelation that will be life-transforming for all who experience it.
In this book, you'll learn how to use The Secret in every aspect of your life -- money, health, relationships, happiness, and in every interaction you have in the world. You'll begin to understand the hidden, untapped power that's within you, and this revelation can bring joy to every aspect of your life.
The Secret contains wisdom from modern-day teachers -- men and women who have used it to achieve health, wealth, and happiness. By applying the knowledge of The Secret, they bring to light compelling stories of eradicating disease, acquiring massive wealth, overcoming obstacles, and achieving what many would regard as impossible.
Cool! Now who wouldn't want to know that secret? Having seen the DVD version a while back, I can tell you what The Secret is. It's something the author refers to as "The Law of Attraction," the idea that thoughts become reality. So basically, if we want a certain thing to happen, we need to focus our attention on that thing, affirm its happening, visualize its happening, be very positive, eliminate negative thoughts, and voila! We get that thing we're focused on, whatever is is, ultimately because its our thoughts that control the universe.
Now the trouble with something the like the Law of Attraction is not that it would be hard to prove that it exists -- that would actually be a pretty straightforward exercise, as I'll explore later. Somehow, the burden of proof gets turned around on these things, and it is quickly asserted that you can't prove that there is no Law of Attraction. After all, any anecdotal evidence of focusing on an outcome that never shows up will merely be taken as a lack of commitment, focus, or positive attitude on the part of the individual trying to apply the law.
On its own, the Law of Attraction is probably not a bad idea and it almost certainly works up to a point. Putting aside just for a moment the question of whether our thoughts control reality, I don't see how it could possibly hurt to affirm, visualize, and spend a lot of time thinking about whatever it is you are trying to get done in this world. Ought to help, really.
But when you throw in that part about thoughts controlling the universe, it becomes a problem. There is some highly controversial scientific research which suggests that thought can affect physical outcomes to an extremely limited extent. And there are some ideas that get batted around in quantum mechanics which suggest an important, if not essential, role for conscious observers. But there's nothing coming close to scientific evidence supporting the Law of Attraction.
So what to do?
It occurs to me that a number of years ago, a significant test of the Law of Attraction was carried out by a large number of mostly young men, I'm assuming mostly in North America. These young men were engaged in focusing upon a common image, all with a very specific desired outcome in mind. They spent hours visualizing this outcome over and over. Their focus was quite intense. For those who might not be familiar with the experiment that I'm talking about or the image that inspired it, here's a reproduction:
Keep in mind, this reproduction is scaled down. Most of the young men participating in the this ad-hoc experiment had very large copies of this picture, usually hanging on their bedroom wall where they could achieve a certain amount of privacy while focusing on the desired outcome as intently as possible. Think about it -- thousands if not millions of young men giving great focus and affirmation to a certain desired outcome. If anything was ever a test of the Law of Attraction, this was surely it.
So if anyone reading this was a participant in this experiment (I probably would have been, but my mother would never have allowed me to hang such a racy picture up in our house), I'd like to hear from you. I'm especially interested in any of you who actually met and subsequently...shall we say dated Farrah Fawcett. Your experience will be proof positive that The Secret works!