June 2007 issue
An old yarn about a classic marketing con game on the secret of wealth instructs you to write a book about how to make a lot of money and sell it through the mail. When your marks receive the book, they discover the secret--write a book about how to make a lot of money and sell it through the mail.
A confidence scheme similar to this can be found in The Secret (Simon & Schuster, 2006), a book and DVD by Rhonda Byrne and a cadre of self-help gurus that, thanks to Oprah Winfrey's endorsement, have now sold more than three million copies combined. The secret is the so-called law of attraction. Like attracts like. Positive thoughts sally forth from your body as magnetic energy, then return in the form of whatever it was you were thinking about. Such as money. "The only reason any person does not have enough money is because they are blocking money from coming to them with their thoughts," we are told. Damn those poor Kenyans. If only they weren't such pessimistic sourpusses. The film's promotional trailer is filled with such vainglorious money mantras as "Everything I touch turns to gold," "I am a money magnet," and, my favorite, "There is more money being printed for me right now." Where? Kinko's?
A pantheon of shiny, happy people assures viewers that The Secret is grounded in science: "It has been proven scientifically that a positive thought is hundreds of times more powerful than a negative thought." No, it hasn't. "Our physiology creates disease to give us feedback, to let us know we have an imbalanced perspective, and we're not loving and we're not grateful." Those ungrateful cancer patients. "You've got enough power in your body to illuminate a whole city for nearly a week." Sure, if you convert your body's hydrogen into energy through nuclear fission. "Thoughts are sending out that magnetic signal that is drawing the parallel back to you." But in magnets, opposites attract--positive is attracted to negative. "Every thought has a frequency.... If you are thinking that thought over and over again you are emitting that frequency."
A pantheon of shiny happy people assures viewers that The Secret is ground in science.
The brain does produce electrical activity from the ion currents flowing among neurons during synaptic transmission, and in accordance with Maxwell's equations any electric current produces a magnetic field. But as neuroscientist Russell A. Poldrack of the University of California, Los Angeles, explained to me, these fields are minuscule and can be measured only by using an extremely sensitive superconducting quantum interference device (SQUID) in a room heavily shielded against outside magnetic sources. Plus, remember the inverse square law: the intensity of an energy wave radiating from a source is inversely proportional to the square of the distance from that source. An object twice as far away from the source of energy as another object of the same size receives only one-fourth the energy that the closer object receives. The brain's magnetic field of 10 15 tesla quickly dissipates from the skull and is promptly swamped by other magnetic sources, not to mention the earth's magnetic field of 105 tesla, which overpowers it by 10 orders of magnitude!
Ceteris paribus, it is undoubtedly better to think positive thoughts than negative ones. But in the real world, all other things are never equal, no matter how sanguine your outlook. Just ask the survivors of Auschwitz. If the law of attraction is true, then the Jews--along with the butchered Turkish-Armenians, the raped Nanking Chinese, the massacred Native Americans and the enslaved African-Americans--had it coming. The latter exemplar is especially poignant given Oprah's backing of 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." Africans created the circumstances for Europeans to enslave them?
The (Other) Secret, Scientific American
The film interviews professionals and authors in the fields of quantum physics, psychology, metaphysics, coaching, theology, philosophy, finance, feng shui, medicine, and personal development, which they refer to as "secret teachers". Some of these individuals, at their Web sites, promote the film and their connection to it. A few of the individuals with only brief appearances do not specifically speak of the "Law of Attraction" in their interviews, so their support of the concepts is based on viewer assumption.
Individuals who focus on the "Law of Attraction", are interviewed in the film, and have later been featured on prominent American TV shows, are: John Assaraf, Dr. Rev. Michael Beckwith, Dr. John Demartini, Bob Proctor, Jack Canfield, James Arthur Ray, Dr. Joe Vitale, Lisa Nichols, Marie Diamond, and Dr. John Gray. Other teachers involved in the film, who have spoken of their strong belief in the Law of Attraction include Esther Hicks  (original edition only), Mike Dooley, Bob Doyle, David Schirmer and Marci Shimoff. Others interviewed in the film, and who voice very similar views without actually using the phrase "Law of Attraction" include: Lee Brower, Hale Dwoskin, Cathy Goodman, Morris E. Goodman, Dr. John Hagelin, Bill Harris, Dr. Ben Johnson, Loral Langemeier, Dr. Denis Waitley, Neale Donald Walsch, and Dr. Fred Alan Wolf.
The film also includes quotes by historical figures with Rhonda Byrne, the producer, stating in a voice-over in the film, "I can't believe all the people who knew this; they were the greatest people in history," referring to them as "past secret teachers." The people identified include: Hermes Trismegistus, Buddha, Aristotle, W. Clement Stone, Plato, Isaac Newton, Martin Luther King, Carl Jung, Victor Hugo, Henry Ford, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, Robert Collier, Winston Churchill, Andrew Carnegie, Joseph Campbell, Alexander Graham Bell, and Ludvig Van Beethoven. 
The Secret website cites the Emerald Tablet, purportedly by Hermes Trismegistus, "as one of the most important historical documents known to mankind". Byrne posits that the earliest trace of "the secret" occurred in the Emerald Tablet, with the Rosicrucian order [later] espousing "many of the ideas of The Secret."  Mention is made of Victor Hugo and Ludwig van Beethoven's supposed membership in the order as well as Isaac Newton's work in translating the tablet.
A Secret Scrolls message from Rhonda Byrne,
Executive Producer of The Secret.
Abundance and riches on all subjects - including health, happiness and wealth - are your rightful heritage!
To claim your wealth using The Secret, The Secret Team has created a powerful visualization tool to help you attract riches into your life.
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There is no limit to the amount of times you can experience The Secret to Riches tool. Every single time you watch it, you will be deliberately focusing all your energy and powerful attracting thoughts on magnetizing riches into your life.
The Secret to Riches visualization tool was inspired by one of the great wealth teachers from The Secret, Bob Proctor.
Bob travels the world teaching millions how to bring riches into their lives, through his books, seminars, and his coaching programs.
In honor of Bob Proctor, and of all The Secret master teachers, we give you the gift of The Secret to Riches visualization tool.
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