I tried it and it worked I understand the skepticism regarding the concepts this book posits but I would ask the people posting negative reviews one question. Have you tried it? Because I did and you know what, it worked. I started with small items, a white dove and a large monarch butterfly. I visulized each for about 30 seconds and within three days both had appeared in my life. It was a jaw dropping experience. It really is true. We do create our lifes with our thoughts. My life will never be the same.
Using Mogwai's car analogy is a pretty valid illustration of what he's saying as I could attest to. No sooner had I bought my first Toyota Celica many years ago and I started seeing them everywhere and I had never had that kind of awareness of the car. It was a virtual expectation I had created merely by being aware in the first place.
The only other place I have seen a butterfly that large was at the zoo when I as a kid. I intentionaly visulized a really big one so I would know. I picked a butterfly and white dove because I am nuetral on both with no preconcieved, subconcious negative emotions about either. I know what I visulized and I know what I saw. And what I now know is more important than what you have been taught to belive. Why don't you simply set aside your negativity for five minutes and try it. I find it really laughable that the people on here ripping the book can't even bring themselves to be open mided enough to try it. Their so sure that they have life figured out that they have completly closed themselves off.
I've been listening for a while now Freereign, and though you clearly have a strong intellect I've never seen you crack a joke or contribute much towards a positive outcome when you are in an adversarial situation.
For a positive thinker your trail of comments leaves a rather negative impression. You use your smarts to duke it out with others instead of finding common ground.
You have a dismissive tone that is not positive and, although you've only used it on me once I found that, instead of leaving me with positive feelings, I felt bummed because your responses seemed more concerned about being right or winning than contributing to a community. I don't get the impression you are on a mission to be a community member. You seem more concerned about other things.
I challenge you to be open and kind. If there is dissent and disagreement isn't that a good thing? Isn't that what dialogue is about? I don't know if I come off as a liberal individual but I am. My favorite cousin is a very conservative guy who works for a very conservative branch of the present government, but it hasn't crossed either of our minds.
The reason is that we have an interest in finding common ground. Even with our disagreements we hunger for common ground with each other. It has been an unusual friendship and it has meant so much to me. We never would have gotten there if we had gone at each other's Throats.
Hear me out. Is being right more important than finding common ground? Is being right more important than the satisfaction of getting to know someone who is different than you? I would propose that it is our differences that make us both strong and righteous. I respect this in you. Can you offer respect in the same way to others?
We can all understand something getting us through a tough time. But this book does not simply offer possitive thinking. One part of the book I find particularly interesting. It is a testimonial to the secret, a woman who yearned for a good husband. She thought about him each day and worked and worked to get a good husband but nothing happened. Then she realized she was doing it wrong, she was sleeping in the middle of the bed. She started sleeping on the edge of the bed leaving room for her husband and soon her husband came. The problem with testimonials such as this is that hey are not convincing to many critical thinkers. There are things such as coincidence that can cause this. Even if there is a coorelation, that does not prove causation. Positive thinking does have a good impact on the world, and thats not a belief (in the soft sense of the word) that I have, rather it is a well founded understanding. There are many psychologists and other scientists who have done studies on positive thinking and have had interesting results. (Sorry I do not have the sources, but they are easily available with just a little searching). It is often found that there is a coorelation between possitive thinking and good outcomes. Another interesting find is that if people are instructed to act kindly towards others (regardless of what hte person feels about the situation, possitive or negative), the outcome tends to come out for the better. What is happening is that people's positive thinking is causing more positive actions, and it is the actions that lead to the positive outcomes. If that were all the book purposed there would be no problem with it, however, it goes beyond just positive thinking. It encourages people to act like they have a husband, or many other such things. The butterfly example from above is a good example of positive thinking gone wrong. If this secret works as it is suposed to, let us see if we can find any butterflys in the antarctic. Thinking of a butterfly and seeing one can easily be a coincidence in areas where butterflies can live. Lets test it for real, go somewhere butterflies don't live. The whole thing seems like an infomercial. It makes promises left and right, says its easy and fast. It is a secret that once you learn it, all of lifes problems can be solved. There are testimonials to its accuracy, a charismatic leader, and of course an authoritive tone. That does not convince me, several poeple on this thread and others have mentioned books that will highlight these techniques. However, I will keep an open mind. As of now I see no reason to accept the secret, it is another new age idea that doesn't hold water. However, should someone subject all of the ideas in the book to rational inquiry and show that despite its logical inconsitancies and lack of PROVING evidence, it turns out to be correct I will change my view. But as of now, testimonials and descriptions of people from the past (which by the way are innacurate, read Walter Isaacson's new biography of Einstein and then compare that with the story of him in the secret. As a sneak peak, Einstein died looking in the wrong place for a theory of everything that he never found, and he worked on it with gusto and hope for 30 years.
I have no interest in making millions .. my life is fine as is dude.
YOU DIDN'T WRITE THIS BOOK. You had no hand in writing it. You had no hand in producting it. You had no hand in printing it. You had no hand in pressing the DVD's or CD's or secret decoder rings. YOU didn't make "millions" because of it. The woman who wrote the book made millions BECAUSE PEOPLE BOUGHT IT. Not because she used the garbage in the book. You know what book she read to make millions? It's called Influence: The Power of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini.
I understand how it is difficult to disagree with my point on positivity. That leads me to my call for a test. What I feel is more at risk with books such as "The Secret" is not a loss of improving ones life, but instead a degradation of critical thought. Positive thinking (as I said before) can improve the outcomes of an event. This is well understood. If you think positively you act positively, and positive acting tends to get you what you want. (I am defining positive as something that we use to attain a goal). However, there are limits. No amount of positive thinking can cause a butterfly to materialize out of thin air, but it can make us more aware of those butterflies already there. People are falling victim to this. When I hear of someone proving that the secret works I find two problems with it. First, a single instance of a favorable outcome from an eyewitness (the person who experienced and interpreted the success) does not PROVE anything. Most of the times eyewitness accounts are flawed, contrary to truth, and unintentionally altered by the witness themselves. These effects are notorious in criminal cases. Most people are just not prepared to analyze the success or failure of such a system.
This brings me to my next objection with success stories, how is success measured. To introduce this idea I will give an example from the book, though it may deviate some from the actual book (not intentionally). A woman wants a husband, so she reads the secret. She figures she has nothing to loose by trying it out, so she does everything in her life to attract a new husband. She treats men differently, she acts as if she has one, but nothing happens. "Where is my husband?" she questions. Suddenly she realizes her mistake, she was sleeping in the middle of her bed. There was no room for her new husband to sleep. So she moved to the edge of the bed and then within a short amount of time she met the man that would be her husband. This type of support for something is structurally very similar to science. There is a desired outcome, conditions in the system are altered to acquire the outcome, and when the outcome is achieved the system is analyzed to determine the effects of individual variables. The problem resembles a scientific problem. This occurs throughout the book, scientifically structured or sounding arguments for "The Secret". Respected authorities are even cited as support, as is often done in science. However, what is happening is not science. It is pseudoscience. I say this not because of a perfect understanding of what science really is (Larry Lauden, Karl Popper, Van Fraassen, Thomas Kuhn, etc have explored many ideas of science but could not nail down an undisputed definition. Instead I see it as pseudoscience because I know what science is not. Science does not attempt to make a claim based on faulty evidence, and when bad scientists do this they are shunned. Instead, science analyzes data and examples and outcomes to determine what really happened. To piece together an entire picture of an event based on evidence requires patience, meticulous analysis of data, creativity to identify all possible contributors to an outcome, etc. The Secret resembles this type of activity with authority citing, example citing, environment changes, and so forth. However, those doing the analysis are not doing a full analysis. For example, the butterfly proof of "The Secret". No where in the initial post was it mentioned that possible explanations could include more awareness of butterflies.
This is still not my ultimate peeve with the book and its supporters. After all someone could simply say, "Oh I never thought of that as an explanation, maybe the secret is not as well supported as I thought." There is nothing wrong with admitting a mistake, in fact I would be very happy if I saw this happen. People don't that are showing signs of critical thought and a will to improve the intellectual tools we use to make our lives better. Instead, people reject such possibilities. Often times people get combative or angry when confronted with such explanations against their well guarded secret. If you try and explain to an eyewitness of the secret that their story does not convince you completely because of the inherent lack of reliability in such accounts, they get upset or enraged. The intellectuals debate ceases and what occurs is a fight to win an argument, to outwit the opponent. It is the lack of critical thought and inquiry that frustrates me. Such a shortcoming is found throughout the book by its author and many of her supporters.
But I do want to know the truth, is it real. If it is show me. I don't want explanations that are not indisputable, I want an example of "The Secret" in action that highlights clearly, without ambiguity or appeals to false authorities, its true power over our happiness and the physical world at large. Such proof requires critical thinking, a lot of work, and the rigors of evidence that is found in scientific work. This does not happen, nor is it happening on a large scale. Sure, not all believers or supporters are at fault for this. Many people can admit that they are not up to the task of rigorously defending their evidence and interpretations of success. This is good news. But many people, including some of the most outspoken supporters do not do this, in fact they say they have done so. But as of yet I have not found anything in the way of support there deserves such high regards.
And finally (Sorry this was long) in response to your comment about the "law of attraction" involving more than science, it involves faith and gratitude as well. Well maybe for some people. But faith and gratitude are not good convincers. Even religious faith. One persons faith in Catholicism will not convince those without such faith. In fact, Richard Dawkins defines faith as, "The liberty we give ourselves to believe something when reasons fail." If the law of attraction is based on something without reason it is hard to convince others. What happens when you try to convince someone of something they do not believe in? They want reasons, evidence, and reasoning to show how based on how the world is the idea in question is the only possible solution. If the law of attraction is not based on reason, maybe it is not a law. In fact the law of attraction, by its very name, is doing the same thing that "The Secret" has done. Its appeal capitalizes on peoples emotional want to be happy, their respect for science, an their intimidations of science. It promises a way to become happy, uses seemingly scientific phrases and words to gain respect as a legitimate argument, and then because people are intimidated by science they do not further investigate. Even if intimidation is not a factor, the difficult analysis and thought that goes into understanding such phrases is not being done. This is the true crime.
Freereign you completely miss the point. I did not ask for everything to be put in test tubes and scientific studies. The Secret brings this kind of scrutiny upon itself by representing information in that way. You make claims against me, do you expect me to believe them without reason? Of course not. What I look for in life is not the same old thing, but well developed arguments. I do change my views, quite often in fact, due to well presented information. You made claims about who I am and about my life with little evidence, would that hold up in a debate? I don't think so.
You criticized me for wanting long drawn out explanations about my doubts, saying that I limited myself. I think this is a good thing. I do not see changing ones philosophy on life readily without long winded explanations an honorable thing. Before I will go online and say "I believe X" I want to have a well established background for saying so. This is not limiting. I can give you an example of how it is not. I am not a Catholic, and until the last three years I was very ignorant of how Catholicism works. One day a close friend of mine (a Catholic) asked my why I was not Catholic. I was surprised to find that many of my issues with Catholicism were not as well founded as I had thought. So we began to debate, and I learned a lot. In the end I remained a non-Catholic. But I am much more educated now (thanks in large part to my well educated friend) but also from other debates and research. I can now effectively say why I am not a Catholic, but also in discussions when people misrepresent the Catholic point of view I am able to correct such mistakes. By requiring evidence and reason for why my friend believed in the Catholic God I broadened my understanding of the religions place in the world, as well as its basic practices.
And now to you Mark. Your arguement is very simple, it is an appeal to ignorance. It is like saying, "We don't know why you got better, so it must have been your good attitude." Had there been medical reasons, the end would have come out different. In fact, just because they didn't know of medical reasons does not mean there are none. (Don't forget that it wasn't too long ago that people thought healing from an infection was from proper food intake rather than tiny viruses being killed off by our imune systems). My point is, you cannot argue from reason to get an explanation. If you do, you have not employed reason, you have employed persuasion (two very different things). Would you accept this argument? "We do not know why the stock market went up today, it must have been because of the Law of Attraction!" Would you be surprised if in a year you discovered some illegal activity in large companies that overstated their earnings leading to stocks values increasing? You don't know either way, so you cannot be convinced of one outcome or another based on the ignorance of the cause.
Freereign brings up a pretty valid issue with this last post.
Again, I go back to my own experience with the serious illness I had some nineteen years ago(which I have posted a few times previously). My incredible improvement in a few weeks time baffled my specialist who had to acknowledge that he simply didn't know what explained it(as if to say there was no "scientific/rational" basis that he could come up with).
It was then that his assistant who was a general practitioner simply said I had a positive attitude about what I was doing.
Viewed in this light, the Law of Attraction seems as "rational" an explanation as any which is that my own conviction that I was doing something to improve my health "attracted" the result I experienced.
Freereign you miss so much of what I write. I have said that positive thinking does have good effects, but they are not magical. Even in medicine thinking positively has been shown to improve healing times, a healthy body produces better and stronger immune defenses and healing responses. Mark you seem to have understood my point there. It isn't that your positive thinking didn't work, its that it wasn't magic. The Law of Attraction (I love everyone's use of capital letters as if it is a proper noun or something) posits something magical. That is the point you are missing freereign. Thinking of something in our minds does not magically create it, something else has to happen. If I imagine a book (to use an example from warrior) the book does not simply materialize in front of me, I have to write it. That is self evident (but there are limitations to that logic). What is not self evident, and what is even more groundbreaking, is the claim that by sleeping on one side of the bed etc. will allow me to get a good wife. Examples such as these highlight the supposed effects of the law of attraction and undermine pure positive thinking. They are not the same thing. Positive thinking is thinking in such a way that keeps a person hopeful about a specific event or outcome (roughly speaking). The Law of Attraction is that if I imagine something and act as if I have something, the universe will give it to me. Two things are wrong with the Law of Attraction. First, how will the universe give it to me? Second, what is the actual machanism by which we obtain our red sports cars, husbands, etc. I see strong evidence for possitive thinking, which then effects how we treat out potential spouses, as well as being more willing to spend my next chunk of cash on a red sports car (and even being more willing to work down the price). You ask me to suspend my regular beliefs and again I want to know why I should. Evidence for the magical happenings of the Universe giving people things that they want are suspect to say the least. And I don't think its a good thing to do so without strong reason. Mark gives a perfect example of this (and I like your last post). He says that he was suspect of unconventional treatments, he saw no reason to go leave established western medicine, until something happened to him. What happened to him was not magic, but a positive outcome from positive thinking. And now Mark says he will be more willing to consider unorthodox medicine (and for good reason, evidence shows that treatments from other cultures can actually work as well).
About your woman and the car, I don't have to try to explain it to keep my point. The reason is quite simple, I have not seen this happen, nor have I heard of a credible source of it happening. There is nothing to stop me or you from coming up with examples that cannot be refuted and prove out points, but if they are not real they prove nothing. Arguments get bogged down in example proving and disproving, discussing concepts is much more effective. Even so, assuming there was a perfect case such as this, I could explain it. One explanation is that an invisible unicorn came along and used the front horn to lift the car with the woman. The invisible unicorn came because the woman wanted so badly to help her husband. Or possibly it is because even a heavy car can be moved with little force if the positioning of the weight is just right on levers (which can be made naturally in a car crash simply by how the car lands). Or maybe the woman can use her muscles to super human levels that allowed her to save her husband. In this case I think it would be great to take the husbands of thousands of such women, and place them in dire situations at construction sites, and use that untapped strength to our advantage. In either case, if there is reason and evidence to show that one outcome is indeed what happened, I will accept it. But the normal suspect eyewitness account will not do.
I do have one more question though. Freereign you seem to either pride yourself or think yourself qualified to tell me who I am and how I think. I am not sure where you get that from. First, before you continue to judge me I ask that you read my posts more carefully. Here is why. You said, "David, you posit so much of your reactions on specific evidence that you simply cannot fathom a person's health being affected by their positivity." However in my longest post I said, "Positive thinking does have a good impact on the world." Now you may call me a hypocrite, but then read this post carefully and you will find that I make a distinction between positive thinking and the law of attraction. I do not feel attacked by you, I am intrigued that you think you have me so completely figured out when in my first post I commented on positive thinking, and here you are writing against me wishing I would say something, which in fact I already said. And if none of this is new to you freereign, that is good. That means that teachers and college professors and parent are at least exposing the country to positive thinking.
I do have an interesting comment about what warrior said though. I agree in large part with what you said, and I think you are right about all of your examples. But what about accidental creations? Or how about creations of creators? You might be interested in the writings of David Hume. You may find that your reasoning is not as pervasive as you thought.