There’s no secret to The Secret. The book and movie simply state that your thoughts control the universe. Through this “law of attraction” you “manifest” your desires. “It is exactly like placing an order from a catalogue. … You must know that what you want is yours the moment you ask.” “See yourself living in abundance and you will attract it. It works every time, with every person.” The appeal is obvious. Forget education, effort, performance. Everything you want—money, power, comfortable shoes—is yours simply by wanting it enough.
Byrne says Shakespeare, Newton, Lincoln, and Einstein all owed their achievements to their understanding of the law of attraction. She asserts that “the discoveries of quantum physics … are in total harmony with the teachings of The Secret.” To prove this, she explains, “I never studied science or physics at school, and yet when I read complex books on quantum physics I understood them perfectly because I wanted to understand them.” (Pop quiz, Rhonda: What is the energy of a single photon [in eV] from a light source with a wavelength of 400 nm?) The book is dotted with quotations from great men of history that supposedly back up The Secret’sassertions. Take this one from Winston Churchill: “You create your own universe as you go along.” Something about this struck me as sounding not terribly Churchillian. I looked it up and it turned out Churchill did write it, but it was his mocking characterization of the metaphysical twits of his day.
Given my skepticism, how could I make myself believe in The Secret enough to give it a fair test? To quote one of The Secret’s avatars, Ralph Waldo Emerson, “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.” Clearly, The Secret is drivel, but why should that stop me from sincerely throwing myself into seeing if it worked? I am already deeply susceptible to superstition and seeing signs—if I find a penny (faceup only), I pick it up knowing something good will happen to me. As self-absorbed as I already am, I loved the permission the book gave to sink deeper into a Jacuzzi of megalomania. As The Secret points out: “You are the master of the Universe. You are the heir to the kingdom. You are the perfection of Life.” Just as I’d always suspected!