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?

Image credit: Shutterstock

Daylight Atheism: The Book is now available! Click here for reviews and ordering information.

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Sponsored
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

Space toilets: How astronauts boldly go where few have gone before

A NASA astronomer explains how astronauts dispose of their, uh, dark matter.

Videos
  • When nature calls in micro-gravity, astronauts must answer. Space agencies have developed suction-based toilets – with a camera built in to ensure all the waste is contained before "flushing".
  • Yes, there have been floaters in space. The early days of space exploration were a learning curve!
  • Amazingly, you don't need gravity to digest food. Peristalsis, the process by which your throat and intestines squeeze themselves, actually moves food and water through your digestive system without gravity at all.
Keep reading Show less

A world map of Virgin Mary apparitions

She met mere mortals with and without the Vatican's approval.

Strange Maps
  • For centuries, the Virgin Mary has appeared to the faithful, requesting devotion and promising comfort.
  • These maps show the geography of Marian apparitions – the handful approved by the Vatican, and many others.
  • Historically, Europe is where most apparitions have been reported, but the U.S. is pretty fertile ground too.
Keep reading Show less

Can the keto diet help treat depression? Here’s what the science says so far

A growing body of research shows promising signs that the keto diet might be able to improve mental health.

Photo: Public Domain
Mind & Brain
  • The keto diet is known to be an effective tool for weight loss, however its effects on mental health remain largely unclear.
  • Recent studies suggests that the keto diet might be an effective tool for treating depression, and clearing up so-called "brain fog," though scientists caution more research is necessary before it can be recommended as a treatment.
  • Any experiments with the keto diet are best done in conjunction with a doctor, considering some people face problems when transitioning to the low-carb diet.
Keep reading Show less