The Secret

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The Secret is a movie (produced by Rhonda Byrne, released in March 2006) and book (ISBN 1582701709, written by Rhonda Byrne and published in November 2006). The film focuses on interviews and dramatizations that rationalize the New Age idea of the Law of Attraction. True believers and innovative entrepreneurs have also produced various knock-off products such as books and pamphlets. Its release, the promoters of the movie assure us, people have made remarkable transformations (whatever that may mean) that continue to baffle the so-called "scientists". Which, when translated from the curious lingo of pseudoscience-pushing quacks, means that people have been dumping copious money, time and effort into the hopeless and selfish belief that if they ask for it hard enough then the universe will magically grant them their every wish and desire. Author Rhonda Byrne explains carefully that "Imperfect thoughts are the cause of humanity's ills", that people are poor because "you are thinking thoughts that you do not have enough."[1], and that "Imperfect thoughts are the cause of all humanity's ills, including disease,"[2] -- this last may explain why infants and toddlers, who don't know what illness is, are universally immune to all sickness.

Still, it can't hurt to remind yourself every morning that whatever pain, hardship, or sorrow you suffer in your journey through life, it's all your own damn fault. You've failed to attune yourself to the happy positive vibration that thrills through the universe. It's because of your unhappy thoughts; if you can't get rid of them, it's because you aren't trying hard enough. If only you redouble your effort to be happy, it might work this time; but you're too lazy and too much of a failure to ever make the grade.

Featured individuals[edit]

  • Michael Bernard Beckwith: A New Thought minister and founder of the Agape International Spiritual Center[3] in Culver City, California, he teaches meditation and “scientific prayer”Wikipedia, speaks at conferences and seminars, and is the author of numerous books.[4]. Salient quote: "There's enough for everyone. If you believe it, if you can see it, if you act from it, it will show up for you. That's the truth"
  • Gregg Braden[citation needed]

Scientific consensus[edit]

Scholarly consensus has held that applying the theories of The Secret is about as effective as an air conditioner on Pluto does not yield any results besides frustration and depression.[5]

How it is supposed to work[edit]

At its most basic, The Secret argues that everything you think of, good and bad, is physically attracted to you. It takes a while before saying it but eventually, this is revealed to be quantum woo where every mind is like a transmitter that vibrates at frequencies depending on what you want, which brings other things of the same frequencies to you. She adds that since everything is made of energy, The Secret can create things for you and the afterlife exists because the energy of your mind cannot be destroyed. [6]

You'd think that means that thinking bad things would bring the opposite of it to you but that's not the case at all. Thinking about things attracts things to you as they say and that includes thinking "I don't want that" bringing exactly that to you. According to the Bob Doyle who was quoted in The Secret, regarding negative emotions, there is no difference between not wanting something and wanting something: "if you're looking at a mountain of debt, feeling terrible about it, that's the signal you're putting out into the Universe. [...] That's what you're going to get more of." [7] This is used in The Secret to justify both why it doesn't work in day to day situations saying that people tend to focus on the negative which compounds your problems and to justify atrocities happening to people.

Possibly due to the "free lunch" nature of The Secret, the book has a large amount of disdain for struggle and effort. Wherever the book isn't saying that your solutions will manifest magically, the book instead focuses on the lack of effort you feel when you are guided by The Secret. In fact, she argues that it shouldn't feel like work at all, and if you feel like you are having to struggle, put in effort or get stress, you are undermining your goals since those negative emotions are you fighting against the universe.[8]

Justifying suffering[edit]

A common theme in The Secret is the idea that you shouldn't help people who are suffering in any way and that you should instead care only about your own issues. This comes about in two different ways in the novel: the idea that negative issues are all because of your thinking and the idea that you shouldn't help anyone because it would actively detrimental to the people you are helping.

The foundation of The Secret itself justifies suffering by its most basic rule: the idea that all things are brought to you by your thoughts. While it would be more forgivable if she kept it at the idea that negative thoughts are what's holding back your potential, she goes far beyond that to the idea that disasters and genocide are caused by the victims of the disaster. This happens as early as the second chapter with her saying "By the law of attraction, they had to be on the same frequency as the event.".[8] Her solution of course is that the poor and hungry should just stop focusing on the bad things in their life and use the power of positive thinking to manifest a better life, as it's the only solution given in the book.

Beyond the issue of disasters, the book consistently pushes the idea that thinking about and learning about issues in the world will cause you to make the world worse. One of the commentators argues that fighting against things like poverty and violence is the cause of poverty and violence. This, combined with the idea that you should ignore news that makes you sad,[6] means that The Secret encourage ignoring the issues of the world and not giving anything to issues you do know because then you'd be fighting it.


Byrne was sued by people influential in the production of her book for failure to pay $300 million.[9]

In a nutshell[edit]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. The Secret, Chapter 5
  2. The Secret, Chapter 7
  4. Amazon page
  5. See for example the analysis in the Skeptical Inquirer magazine: Radford, Benjamin; Carmichael, Mary (March 29, 2007). "Secrets And Lies". The Center for Inquiry. "[...] neither the film nor the book has any basis in scientific reality. [...] The Secret [...] is nothing new, nor is it a secret. It's a time-worn trick of mixing banal truisms with magical thinking and presenting it as some sort of hidden knowledge: basically, it's the new New Thought." 
  6. 6.0 6.1 The Secret, Chapter 8
  7. The Secret, Chapter 1
  8. 8.0 8.1 The Secret, Chapter 2