Why “The Secret” is Nonsense

Anonymous writes: “Some of my friends, who claim to be devout Catholics, are really getting into the book The Secret and are adopting its teachings as a way of life. They don’t think there is anything in this book that violates Catholic teaching. Is this true?”

It is totally not true. The only reason why someone would believe this is because they are uninformed about both our faith and the Law of Attraction, which is what the book, The Secret, is based upon.

For those who aren’t familiar with The Secret, it was written in 2006 by an Australian network TV producer named Rhonda Byrne. Known as a “wheeler and dealer” before the book launched, she claimed the idea for the book came from a copy of a book based on the Law of Attraction entitled, The Science of Getting Rich by Wallace Waddles.

As this blog explains, the Law of Attraction is a belief in an ability to attract into our lives whatever we focus upon due to the alleged “laws” that govern the universe. This is due to the fact that our thoughts send out some kind of vibration to the Universe which deciphers it and responds to it. In other words, the mind is a kind of god that can create reality. By thinking a certain way, you can attract either negative or positive experiences into your life. This is based on the belief that thoughts are made from “pure energy” and that like energy attracts like energy from the Universe.

How does this violate Church teaching? For starters, we believe that the only “law” of the Universe is that of the Creator of the Universe. First, to set up some mysterious power known as the Universe upon which we place our dependence is a violation of the First Commandment, “You shall have no other gods before me.” Second, to attach a power to the mind that it doesn’t have is a form of superstition, which means this also violates Church teaching. Third, the belief that one can save themselves through the acquisition of some kind of secret knowledge is known as gnosticism, which is a centuries-old heresy.

Even though Byrne claims there’s all kinds of science behind The Secret and the Law of Attraction, there’s actually NO science behind it at all. First, the Law of Attraction posits that like attracts like, i.e., positive thoughts bring positive results. However, according to the laws of physics, it is opposites, not likes, that attract.

Second, it’s just plain bad logic. As science columnist Benjamin Radford explains, “If we want to be thinner, or have a new car, the universe will somehow provide it if we think about it. Positive thinking is easier than diet and exercise or earning money to buy a car, but even if the ‘Law of Attraction’ exists, how exactly would the pounds come off, and the new car appear?”

For that matter, if everyone plays the lottery with positive thoughts about winning, why do so few win?

Third, if you suffer some kind of misfortune such as an accident or disease, does this mean your negative thoughts caused it?

“If an airplane crashes, does that mean that one or more of the passengers caused it?” Radford wonders. “What about the thoughts of others on board the plane? Did the one person’s negative thoughts somehow override the positive thoughts of the others, dooming them all?”

But even if this is not enough to convince promoters of The Secret that they’re being had, read this article to take a look at the behind-the-scenes sausage-making that has made The Secret the enormous money-making machine that it is today. The rather sue-happy Byrne has been accused of everything from plagiarism to defaulting on contracts and responds to these accusations by suing anyone who crosses her, and often ends up settling out of court. (I guess the Law of Attraction doesn’t work as well inside a court room.)

Suffice to say, “The secret to this book’s success is its slick marketing campaign, mixing banal truisms with New Agey magical thinking and presenting it as hidden knowledge,” Radford writes. The Secret is nothing new, nor is it a secret. For decades, New Age and self-help books like this one have offered up easy answers to life’s problems. If any of those books worked, and really contained the secrets to success, wealth, and happiness, they wouldn’t need to publish more …”

Anonymous, the best advice you can give your friends is to toss this book in the trash.

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