Thursday, March 01, 2007

Listen--do you want to know a secret? Do you promise not to tell?

Oh, it's everywhere, like a nonfiction ... well, a non-novel Da Vinci Code.

It's The Secret, and oh, is it crapola:
This principle, said to be known by an elite few, including Beethoven and 19th-century robber barons, holds that the universe will make your wishes come true if only you really, truly believe in them.

Hm. Hasn't worked in Iraq yet, has it, Mr. President?

Are there more prosaic uses for the principle? But of course:
Victoria Moore, a saleswoman in Silicon Valley, said the principles of "The Secret" help her snag coveted parking spots. "But if I let in the slightest bit of doubt, it doesn't happen," she added. Elizabeth Cogan, a self-described shaman from Sparks, Nev., said the principle works at restaurants, where she envisions herself not having to wait for a table.

What if I wish really hard for this whole phenomenon--yes, it was on the CBS Nightly News last night--to just go away?

Oh, but here's my fave part of this article--it seems that the writer of the book royally screwed over one of the participants in the DVD version that came out first:
Ms. Byrne [writer of the book] had promised Ms. Hicks [who participated in a big way on the DVD] 10 percent of DVD revenues to appear in "The Secret," both parties said. But they had a falling out, and Ms. Hicks could not even bring herself to watch Ms. Byrne this month on "Oprah," the movement's moment of triumph.

In a backhanded compliment Ms. Hicks said, "I've got to give [Byrne] credit," adding that her former collaborator has shown a monomaniacal dedication to the law of attraction. "I've never seen anybody do that like she's doing it," Ms. Hicks said. "And never mind honesty, and never mind doing what you said you were going to do, and never mind anything. Just stay in alignment."

Ouch. It's difficult to feel too much sympathy for the Hickses, though:
Last Sunday evening the Hickses relaxed in their $1.4 million luxury bus parked outside the Rancho Cordova Marriott near Sacramento, where they had just finished a six-hour workshop on the law of attraction in the hotel ballroom. Three hundred people had paid $195 each to hear Ms. Hicks, a former secretary, summon otherworldly spirits she says speak through her. The spirits, who collectively use the name Abraham, answered participants' questions.

"I don't have a lover yet," one woman said.

Abraham, whose speaking voice is rounder, quicker and more computerlike than Ms. Hicks’s natural voice, replied by repeating the woman's phrase roughly 20 times and then explained it contained its own negativity, which was leaving the woman paddling upstream on the river of life.

The audience applauded.

The Hickses spend most of the year traveling the country, leading workshops based on the teachings they say Abraham has given them. They record the workshops and have 10,000 subscribers, who pay up to $50 a month for CDs and DVDs of Abraham's wisdom.

That's half a million a month, just from subscriptions.


P.T. Barnum would be proud.


Doug said...

This is universal to all hucksterism, I think. When I was a teenager, my older brother got roped in by the Nicheren Shoshu (the "nam myoho renge kyo" pseudo-Buddhists). They taught their followers that if you said the mantra often enough, you could get whatever you wanted. Then they went around the room for testimonials, and when it came to my brother, he told them how he had found a parking spot at college right away that morning, while usually he has to really work to find a spot. He got the same cheerleading applause that the rest of them did for finding ripe fruit, getting phone calls from friends, having a particularly firm bm that morning . . . okay, I'm making that last one up.

Also reminds me of what Mulder has up in his office: "I Want to Believe."

Doug said...

Okay, so I just checked the wiki on the Nichiren Shoshu, and it seems they're legit. But they sure felt cultish to me.

Jim Donahue said...

While there's nothing wrong with having a positive attitude--well, obviously!--this "the universe wants me to get a parking spot' mentality is just so completely inane. For shame, Oprah, for pimping this snake oil.

Never heard of that group, Doug, but it sounds like a perversion of Buddhism.