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The main idea of “The Secret” is that people need only visualize what they want in order to get it — and the book certainly has created instant wealth, at least for Rhonda Byrne and her partners-in-con.
And the marketing idea behind it — the enlisting of that dream team, in what is essentially a massive, cross-promotional pyramid scheme — is brilliant.
But what really makes “The Secret” more than a variation on an old theme is the involvement of Oprah Winfrey, who lends the whole enterprise more prestige, and, because of that prestige, more venality, than any previous self-help scam.
Oprah hasn’t just endorsed “The Secret”; she’s championed it, put herself at the apex of its pyramid, and helped create a symbiotic economy of New Age quacks that almost puts OPEC to shame. Because, with survivors of Auschwitz still alive, Oprah writes this about “The Secret” on her Web site, “the energy you put into the world — both good and bad — is exactly what comes back to you.
This means you create the circumstances of your life with the choices you make every day.” “Venality,” because Oprah, in the age of AIDS, is advertising a book that says, “You cannot ‘catch’ anything unless you think you can, and thinking you can is inviting it to you with your thought.” “Venality,” because Oprah, from a studio within walking distance of Chicago’s notorious Cabrini Green Projects, pitches a book that says, “The only reason any person does not have enough money is because they are blocking money from coming to them with their thoughts.” Worse than “The Secret’s” blame-the-victim idiocy is its baldfaced bullshitting.
The titular “secret” of the book is something the authors call the Law of Attraction.
They maintain that the universe is governed by the principle that “like attracts like” and that our thoughts are like magnets: Positive thoughts attract positive events and negative thoughts attract negative events.
Of course, magnets do exactly the opposite — positively charged magnets attract negatively charged particles — and the rest of “The Secret” has a similar relationship to the truth. ” And worst of all is the craven consumerist worldview at the heart of “The Secret,” because it’s why the book exists: “[The Secret] is like having the Universe as your catalogue.
Here it is on biblical history: “Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, and Jesus were not only prosperity teachers, but also millionaires themselves, with more affluent lifestyles than many present-day millionaires could conceive of.” And worse than the idiocy and the bullshitting is its anti-intellectualism, because that’s at the root of the other two. You flip through it and say, ‘I’d like to have this experience and I’d like to have that product and I’d like to have a person like that.’ It is you placing your order with the Universe. Joe Vitale, former Amway executive and contributor to “The Secret,” on