Wishing

If the Secret Really Worked...

I've written in the past about the Secret, more properly called the Law of Attraction, the perenially popular New Age idea which says that merely thinking about something draws it to you and causes it to appear in your life.

One consistent aspect of this idea is that its advocates claim it's an invariable natural law, as certain and predictable in its operation as gravity - although they never seem to explain what happens if two people both wish for incompatible things, like the outcome of an election or a sporting contest. I've previously pointed out this and other logical deficiencies of this belief, but - sparked by a conversation I recently had with an LoA believer - I want to approach it from a different angle today.

Unlike people who believe in prayer, who are well-practiced at coming up with endless rationalizations for why it never has any detectable effect, the advocates of the LoA are making a thoroughly empirical and testable claim, without embarrassment or evasion. It should be easy to prove: you could do it with a test as simple as, say, flipping a coin and willing it to come up heads ten times in a row. (I wonder how many LoA believers have ever tried this experiment.) If anyone could do this at their kitchen table, I find it hard to believe that science would have overlooked it until now.

In fact, I doubt whether most people who believe in the LoA realize just how vast and sweeping a claim it is. If it were true, it would imply a fundamentally different reality than the one we live in. A world where the LoA really worked would differ markedly from ours in many dramatic ways. Just consider, if the Law of Attraction worked as promised:

• No one would ever starve to death. The LoA says you get whatever you think about, and what does a starving person think about more than food?

• It would be virtually impossible to keep people in jail. Again, what does a prisoner daydream about more than escape and freedom?

• No couple desperately wanting to conceive would ever have to spend tens of thousands of dollars on fertility treatments. IVF clinics and other such therapies would soon disappear because there'd be no demand for them.

• There would be thousands of lottery winners for each drawing.

• Casinos would go out of business very quickly, rather than being tremendously profitable businesses, as they are in a world that has such a thing as math.

• Experimental medical treatments would probably succeed significantly more often than they actually do, considering the nail-biting hope they inspire both in their discoverers and in the people who they could potentially help.

• On the downside, I'd guess that spontaneous death would become very common among controversial public figures, brought on by the malevolent wishes of their detractors. (You could probably cancel those out with a protective wish to the contrary, but who among us thinks on a normal day about how much they want to remain alive?)

Now it's your turn. Use your imagination: How else would the world be different if people always got whatever they thought about?

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