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The Secret Audible – Unabridged

4.0 out of 5 stars 5,291 customer reviews

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Format: Hardcover
Catchy review title? Thought so. Robert Cialdini, renowned psychology researcher and author of Influence: The Power of Persuasion (perhaps the best book ever written on the subject) identifies six basic rules employed by politicians, advertisers and scam artists alike to persuade others. Each of them are employed quite adeptly by Rhonda Byrne in this book.

Cialdini's first principle is SCARCITY; people want what's expensive, exculsive, or otherwise attainable. Byrne's mastery of this principle is clearly shown by the very name of the book: The Secret. We all learned this the first week of kindergarten as we felt the jealousy of watching two classmates, hands cupped over ears, sharing a secret out of earshot.

This message is reinforced throughout the book and its advertising campaign which pitches "The Secret" (whatever it actually is) as jealousy-guarded information hoarded by the happy, wealthy and successful. Whenever someone tries convincing you of something, whether it's a way to make enormous sums of money, to lose weight, etc - be wary of when it's pitched as "the knowledge THEY don't want you to have." Think about it - everything from the "secrets that Wall Street doesn't want you to know" to "uncovered - celebrities' secrets to staying young" are phrased not simply to pique your interest but to make you jealous. Appeals to our emotion are far more powerful than appeals to reason, and Byrne demonstrates mastery of this principle throughout "The Secret."

Cialdini's second principle is LIKING. We like those who like us, and in turn, we do business with them.
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Format: Hardcover
I am commenting on The Secret as a clinical psychologist who specializes in how cultural and spiritual beliefs affect health as well as the author of a book about converging science and mysticism to navigate our personal journey. First, The Secret is a compilation of opinions from a group of professionals in several fields, rather than a book by the author. It would be more accurate for Ms. Byrne to present herself as the editor, rather than the author of the book. Having said that, it is important to distinguish between wishful thinking and mind-body science. Although the concepts expounded in the book are beautiful examples of what we could achieve if we explored our potential, it leaves the reader with "feel-good" platitudes, by failing to convey that simply wishing something does not attract anything other than expectations that lead to disappointment. As a scientist, I have seen the mind bypass biology in miraculous ways, but this does not happen by just wishing and waiting for "the laws of attraction" to work. Instead, change requires honoring commitments, not blaming others for our failures, assessing the self-sabotaging that surface when self-esteem is compromised, and realistically defining goals.
The success of this book shows how hungry we are for someone to tell us that change happens magically without having to confront our demons and without taking responsibility for the life we created with our actions.
While I wish Ms. Byrne the greatest success, I want to caution the reader that if "wishful thinking" does not attract what you want, do not blame yourself, because it was only thoughts without action.
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Format: Hardcover
I think a book like this, which makes some really big claims, should, roughly, do the following:

1) Present it's premise clearly

2) Since it's a self-help book explain clearly what you need to do

3) Provide compelling evidence that it's ideas work

4) Be credible.

The book does a decent job of explaining its premise, which is that everything in your life is the result of the law of attraction. I quote, "the law of attraction says like attracts like, so when you think a thought, you are also attracting like thoughts to you." In other words, think good thoughts and good things will come to you and if you think bad thoughts then bad things come to you. I've simplified this a bit but not a whole lot as the concept isn't rocket science.

Now, does this book explain clearly what you need to do? Actually, for a self-help book it does a very poor job of this. How do you control your thoughts? What kinds of practices and thinking produce the best results? The author and contributors basically tell you a bunch of stories about how "so and so did something and you can too by changing your thinking".

And that's it for the "how to" part of the book. There isn't any.

Now, if I wanted to prove something worked from a scientific perspective it would seem to be easy to test this stuff out. You take two groups of people, teach one the secret, let the other go on with their lives and see what happens. In theory those that know the Secret would be happier and more successful than the control group. It might not be perfect but it'd be a whole lot better than what we get in this book. But, of course, you'd have to have an actual methodology to test.
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