« Worst. Creationist. Post. Ever. | Main | Lost Tomb of Jesus? »

March 05, 2007


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Fantastic Salon article, certainly ranks as one of my top five write-ups about Oprah and the Secret.
I find it hard to single out just one quote as my favorite.
thanks for posting the link Skeptico.


Oprah initially defended James Fry saying it was the message that mattered and not the specifics. She suddenly became a badass once the media began to make a big deal about it. It was just a PR gimmick and should not be used by anyone to support a positive impression of Oprah's ability to rationally evaluate the world around her.

Great article. There is always the " but " after Oprah. Yes she did good stuff with the school in Africa, but....
Also good stuff on Randi's site about how he was sandbagged by Oprah's producers.

so....oprah is just bad, bad, bad...tell that to all the people she has helped...

who have you helped lately?

so....oprah is just bad, bad, bad...tell that to all the people she has helped...

who have you helped lately?

1. Prove that she really helped them.

2. Ever heard of science? We're all a part of that team effort. Stop sabotaging your own team. (Said team would be "life on Earth," of course.) We don't want people to ooo and aah at false, and often boring "wonders" when there's so much more in the universe that still needs exploring.

so....oprah is just bad, bad, bad...tell that to all the people she has helped...

who have you helped lately?

Doing good things doesn't prevent you from being stupid, and Oprah could be doing a lot more good if she wasn't shilling for charlatans and frauds.

And there are plenty of people out there who have done a lot more to help people than Oprah and don't promote idiocy on top of it.

mmmm...that wasn't the question...
again, who have you helped lately?

I helped outfit a charity team of disabled walkers with boots for a Kilimanjaro summit attempt. How about you?

And by the way, they did summit.

i helped a group of illegal immigrants make right their status...they aren't illegal anymore so they aren't hiding anymore...


Why do you keep changing your name? Or are we supposed to believe that three people who all believe the 'secret' showed up at the sametime, are online at the sametime tonight, and use the same style of writing? No capitals in posts or names, ellipses, broken sentences, bragging about personal accomplishments that have nothing to do with the topic. It's pathetic, but what are you so afraid of that you have to hide? Are you so pathetic you need to pretend to be three people in order to make it seem you have support?

The Secret, the Power of Positive Thinking, The Power of Positive Confession, Visualization, .........these are powerful occult (satanic) techniques which are used by occultists, magicians, satanists, New Agers, false Christian Preachers, etc.......to make contact with the (evil) spirit-world.

In the Bible (Old Testament), Pharoah had magicians (occultists) who could duplicate the miracles of Moses, up to a point. Later, the Power of God over-powered the power of Satan (Pharoah's magicians).

In the New Testament, the Bible tells us of demons, fallen angels, sorceries, divination, necromancy, etc,.......and God forbids us to do such things. Oprah is a New Ager, and she has contradicted the Truth of the Bible, and she will have a great problem on Judgement Day.
see www.bible-codes.org (Dean Coombs)
and www.thebereancall.org (Dave Hunt)

The Secret, the Power of Positive Thinking, The Power of Positive Confession, Visualization

And these are different to prayer how exactly?

Jesus christ this stuff really drags them out of the woodwork.

You cover it quite well, Jimmy.

.........these are powerful occult (satanic) techniques which are used by occultists, magicians, satanists, New Agers, false Christian Preachers, etc.......to make contact with the (evil) spirit-world.

Powerful? Yeah, right. Doesn't work at all.

You're just like all of them. There's really not anything that separates you from all those people you list. The fact that you believe in them makes you one of them. You're just negative zero.

Someone was asked, if Superman and Mighty Mouse has a fight, who would win. They answered, "don't be silly, Mighty Mouse is a cartoon!"

A man in an insane asylum insisted that he was dead. His doctors asked if they could prick his thumb to see if he would bleed. If he's dead then he won't bleed. The man agreed and they pricked his thumb. They all watched as slowly a shiny read bead of blood formed on the man's thumb.

"Well what do you know" the patient exclaimed! "Dead people DO bleed!"

Thank you, original poster. Great article. And thank you, Dennis for your input.

Tell me why?
I know I am just asking for trouble but I am tired (after watching The Secret until 1:30 a.m. at the urging of a friend) and desperate (because this friend,at 50,is speeding down the New Age track and spending $$$ and losing friends).
I’m sure this has been covered so I apologize in advance for not doing a more thorough search.
Can someone point me to (one of the recommended?) books or perhaps 1 or 2 videos that can help explain, in simple terms, why so many people are being taken in? Is it a ‘Passages’ type phenomenon where it is related to the age of the bulging Baby Boomers, is it due to the combo of the scope of TV and the ‘celebrity’ effect of Oprah, is it….?
I would love to help her find something that explains this phenomenon as ‘normal’ so that she can eventually get over this without losing self-respect.

mac, try the Skeptics Dictionary which you can get in book form or online at skepdic.com. There is a link on here under the critical thinking category over on the left of the page.

The online entry has an entry on the 'law' of attraction. But also look up confirmation bias, wishful thinking.

Try looking at the entry on this blog called 'The Secret' as well as any of the entries about the law of attraction. People like Tom Foss, Bronze Dog, Skeptico himself and Rockstar Ryan have done a good job of pointing out what's wrong with this stupid idea in terms even a muppet like me can understand!

Mike's Weekly Skeptic Rant is another site that's done a number on the Secret.


I’ll just add to Jimmy Blue’s comment, my The Secret direct link for clicking. Also see the additional links at the bottom of that article.

In brief – the flaw with “The Secret” is that they claim the Law of Attraction (wish for something and it will appear) is a scientific law like the laws of gravitation. But the Law of Attraction is not a scientific law. Scientific laws have precise predictable results – and they always work every time. The Law of Attraction simply does not work this way.

You could point your friend to the article above and the links I listed. Bear in mind, though, that some people can be incredibly resistant to rational information about things like this. If she didn’t start believing in New Age stuff for rational reasons, it is unlikely that rational reasons will get her to change her mind. It depends how far she’s gone and how invested she is in believing in this stuff. Good luck though.

Thanks Jimmy_Blue and Skeptico,
Very kind of both of you. The main problem for her in reading the blogs is the tone and the swearing and so there is no energy left to get through some of the harder logical arguments. I sent her the link last year to the excellent review here of What the Bleep but it didn't work.
The other problem is that we are fighting gloss and celebrity and so-called science (and equivocation as I discovered) here . That is why i was hoping for a publication or something that could combat that side of things. Something that was easy to comprehend but at the same time had some credentials and gloss!
I read more of Mike's Rant and saw the very valuable link to the Secret's $1,995 marketing scheme as well as the Harper's article. These are good places to start.

So thanks again for your suggestions,kind words and for providing this Blog.
If you have any other ideas or want me to take this elsewhere, plse let me know.


Please comment all you want – actually I think you raise an interesting point about what links to give believers where they can read reliable information that might change their minds. I’d be interested if anyone has any ideas.

I try to provide articles on this blog that would meet this need, and I also try to provide links so people can follow up themselves, but perhaps my style doesn’t work for everyone. I’d be interested in knowing precisely why your friend wasn’t persuaded by my What the Bleep review.

The sometimes acrimonious nature of the comments section will also put some people off I know, and I’m not always totally blameless in that area myself. (It’s hard not to be a bit snarky when you read the same old fallacious arguments you’ve heard and debunked hundreds of times already.) I think the Skeptic’s Dictionary is pretty good, in that it has a generally clear and non-confrontational, but I know that the name “Skeptic’s Dictionary” can also put people off. The trouble is, most credentialed scientists have better things to do than debunk Newage stuff, and there’s probably no money in it either – not as much as there is in promoting Newage, anyway.

It takes me a lot longer to respond than you guys!
Really, I don’t remember any specifics about what she didn’t like. If I remember correctly (big IF at my age) it was generally more the tone of the comments and responses and probably the length so that she was full before being satisfied. Not the review itself.
And from what I read, your ‘animated’ response to someone’s comments in The Secret thread was uncharacteristic and I,m not trying to throw mud in your face (or is that bite your hand?) or anything. I hadlooked at the Sceptic’s Dictionary but from the first 10 reviews it looked like it might not be the best fit for someone that can more easily identify with Oprah! However, elsewhere I saw somewhere that he was concerned with the whys so maybe this is a good one? I may be in the wrong place though. I am also looking at possible ‘whys’ and that is probably the anthropologist or psychologist Blog somewhere :-) I did follow to Amazon some of the book links and names of books from within the comments etc. of different threads but they didn’t seem to fit the bill. However, I haven’t look at all of the recommended books yet.
Anyway, thanks again.

It can be really hard to stay polite, especially since a LOT of woos like to demonize skeptics and atheists without any provocation.

I've been getting particularly foamy lately when I run into woos who do that: They're more interested in doing really stupid psychoanalysis, trying to claim that woodom is responsible for all the great advances mankind has made, and that the scientific method is purely destructive. They're often more interested in being "offended" than actually talking about the issue.

So it's really hard to maintain my patience.

Anyway, here's something that may come in handy: The Doggerel Index.

Wow, thanks Bronze Dog- somehow i was just wondering where 'woo' came from and you provided the link. there are no coincidences if you just manifest enough ;-)
Thanks for the glossary too.
I don't want anything that is too hard on Catholicism as she hasn't completely left it behind. I guess i would like something that provides a direction_towards_ something instead of beating a dead horse. I,m thinking that after hitting her with the Harper's article and some recent events locally, i would love to be able to provide something consoling, a direction to move towards. I think that the NewAge stuff came when she was open to change before and i hope to have a ready replacement this time. I,m really afraid of this 'when the student is ready, the snake oil will appear' syndrome.


I think you might try renting videos of the 1st, 2nd (and possibly 3rd) season of the Penn and Teller Showtime series "Bull$hit!".

They do use some rough language, but they do humorously expose some of the more silly New Age stuff. The episode on Fung Shui and the one with the snail facial are particularly amusing.

Note: I don't agree with them all the time, but I do find them entertaining and they make you think. Good luck.

Thanks HCN,
I think I'll give them a go starting with Season 1 now that I,ve looked more closely at them. I guess i don't need something to fill the void, all i need is something to stop the woo from re-entering and humour is always good. Oh and despite what i wrote earlier, it wasn't so much the swearing that she objected to I don't think; it was more the anger behind that language. She enjoys watching comedians who use lots of 'colourful' language!

Humor is good! You will definitely like the slant taken by "The Onion", a satirical bunch, took at:

They say:

-You deserve whatever you want no matter how awful you are

-Try not to use any critical-thinking skills or logic when pondering concept of The Secret

-Capitalizing on basic human feelings such as greed can bring you vast wealth

-Eat a hearty breakfast every day

-Please allow universe six to eight millennia to deliver

-You can never be too tan

-The Secret does not work if you are attempting to learn it from stolen, bootlegged, or borrowed products from Prime Time Productions

(the last part perhaps refers to their multi-level marketing website that charges almost two thousand dollars at http://theofficialsecretseminar.com/ )

What is this country coming to? The "Secret"?!?

It's amazing, if people spent all this time and energy on something useful, instead of quackery, they'd actually get somewhere.

Common sense alone will get you pretty far in life. Then add in...I don't know...using your time well, reading, getting away from the tv, exercising, building new skills, knowledge, learning.

Now I've got to figure out how to package that and market it....

Common sense alone will get you pretty far in life. Then add in...I don't know...using your time well, reading, getting away from the tv, exercising, building new skills, knowledge, learning.

Now I've got to figure out how to package that and market it....

It'll never work. Takes too much time, concentration, and if we don't watch TV, we won't get our minute-by-minute updates about celebrity sex scandals.

Just because something is endorsed by Oprah or any other major influencer ... it doesn't mean it is true. Oprah is human. She misjudged James Frey ... and she endorsed Marianne Williamson in the early 90's. The Secret is the latest craze but national exposure doesn't mean it is gospel. Not even the gospel itself should be believed without critical thinking.

The day someone can design a double blind to prove either the existence or non-existence of the Law of Attraction is the day my belief or disbelief in it will rise or fall to around 90% (after all, no test is fool proof!)

Currently my belief in the Law of Attraction is about 42% based on my own trials, however there may be more to this Law than I can currently understand or test for.

Still, thinking nice thoughts does seem to make life more enjoyable, so there's no harm in that!

There are now four posts on The Secret and The Law of Attraction, making it hard IMO to follow the discussion. To simplify things I’m closing this post to new comments. If you want to comment on The Secret or the LOA please do so on my original The Secret post, where comments are still open. Thanks.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Search site