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The Law of Attraction, for science-heads and Secret-haters

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Five or six years ago the Law of Attraction was presented to the masses in the form of a bad film. The LoA isn’t new and wasn’t new to me when I’d first heard about The Secret. Napoleon Hill was talking about how to Think and Grow Rich in the thirties, and there’s talk of the principle all the way back to before Christ.

I think when I first heard about The Secret I had recently finished Think and Grow Rich, and the afterglow had just worn off and I hadn’t really run with it. So much about the movie turned me off: the presumptuous title, the self-important wax seal motif, the whole new age vibe of it. So I never watched it, and I think its existence alone killed any urge I had to makes something out of Napoleon Hill’s take on it.

Somehow, planets had been aligning in such a way that I found myself in front of it last week. A flu/food poisoning combo had me incapacitated in front of a television, and the film was recommended to me at a time I was doped up on Neo Citron and very vulnerable.

It was really exactly like I’d expected. Terrifically cheesy. It was almost offensive. Actors, in the throes of dazzling positive intentions, shoot CGI shock waves out of their foreheads into the outside world, presumably to fetch them money, girlfriends and tropical vacations.

The action is interrupted frequently by whispered, out-of-context quotes from A-list historical figures such as Ben Franklin, Shakespeare, Emerson and Einstein, none of whom probably would have been too crazy about their posthumous involvement in this project.

But just because The Secret is profoundly cheesy and easy to dismiss, it doesn’t mean the Law of Attraction ought to be tossed out with same bathwater. I did watch it right through and by the end I was interested in the whole Law of Attraction concept again. I saw something in it I didn’t before, and in hindsight I am thankful to have watched it.

There are two basic camps on the LoA issue:

1) Those who believe that the universe (“the outside world”) is bound to do its own thing, as determined by its own internal laws, regardless of what you think about it or intend for it to do.

2) Those who believe that the course of the universe, or at least what any one person experiences of it, is altered by one’s perceptions, by their thoughts about it and their intentions for it.

By default I think most of us fall into the first camp. The world seems pretty stable in the way it works. I had been hoping for riches, fame and uncanny luck my whole life, and whether I got them (I didn’t) seemed to depend on what I did and not what was in my head.

There were too many contradictions for it to make sense. What if two of us were “intending” to win the same one-on-one ping pong match? It didn’t make sense. I used to feel these questions trapped me in camp 1. I couldn’t believe in a subjective universe if I wanted to. I knew better! 

The upside to ignorance

If you want to believe in a benevolent or subjective universe, but can’t because your logic won’t let you, the solution is to recognize that we are ultimately ignorant about how the universe works.

We’ve built models that seem to explain a lot, but they’re limited by what human beings are capable of understanding, they’re skewed to what we are good at measuring, and they are subject to biases we don’t know we have. Every advance in physics shows us that the universe is far weirder than we had previously imagined. Space is curved now? What?

So it’s foolish to believe you have any kind of certainty about how the universe goes about presenting itself to a human being. The world’s top physicists are probably more aware of their ignorance than you are of yours.

It’s probably incomprehensible anyway, so it’s kind of a relief to settle back into our only real certainty: that we are vastly ignorant of what we’re dealing with when it comes to consciousness and the universe.

Working from there (a presumption of ignorance above all else) it’s not hard to allow for the possibility that your intentions and thoughts do affect the course of the universe, that reality is indeed subjective, and that the way you’re used to imagining cause-and-effect is not necessarily the way it really works.

By letting go of our rather misguided certainty that consciousness does not affect the concrete parts of the universe (matter and what it does), then we can be open to moving through our lives as if the Law of Attraction might actually be at work.

Your thoughts and intentions may indeed be making a difference in what the universe around you does. Unless you claim an airtight understanding of consciousness and its role in the universe, you have to allow for the possibility, at least.

On one level, there’s no question that thoughts and intentions do have an effect on what happens to someone. A man who is acting as though the universe is poised to deliver his true love is definitely going to be a happier person than he would be if he didn’t believe that.

It would change how he feels when he wakes up, probably how he dresses, certainly the look on his face and the air of desirablility he carries. All of these would contribute to his chances of attracting someone, regardless of whether it was his intentions that were deciding what comes along, or whether it was his resulting bright demeanor and posture.

For that reason alone it’s worth at least allowing for the possibility that the law of attraction works, if you can suspend your doubt enough to let yourself do that.

Science doesn’t disagree

For the proud skeptics out there who aren’t satisfied with taking an agnostic stance on the law of attraction, one can find more compelling, empirical reasons to believe that consciousness affects and directs the outside world.

Science is already showing us that observation invariably affects whatever’s being observed. You can do experiments in a high school science lab that demonstrate that how you observe matter and energy changes how they behave, even if everything else is the same. You probably have, it’s called the double slit experiment.

One of the bigshots of 20th century physics, Dr. John Wheeler, focused his studies on the biggest question of all: why does the universe even exist? In his work he found that he couldn’t escape the conclusion that for the the universe to even exist, something was required something to observe it. Consciousness and the universe were fundamentally interrelated. You couldn’t have one without the other.

His theories had strange implications — that the universe didn’t exist before you began looking at it, but it looks as though it did; that observers create the observed; that nothing exists except as it is relative to whatever is aware of it.

In 1984 an experiment based on Wheeler’s work demonstrated that how we choose to observe a particle determines not only what it is doing now, but what it did to get to where it is now. This means present-moment observations can change the past too. If you’re skeptical, read this article about it, and enjoy at least a healthy chin-scratch.

Now, none of this proves that visualizing a pile of money will necessarily recruit the entire universe to deliver that pile of money to you, but it does show us that consciousness itself can affect the behavior of the world outside it.

This leaves the door open for all kinds of possibilities for the question of what we are creating when our minds are at work expecting, evaluating and visualizing. Redirecting ourselves to a different future is easy to imagine, but perhaps with our intentions we’re actively creating a different present, or a different past. It’s no longer as easy to dismiss as it once was, when we thought time and space and consciousness were much simpler than they really are.

The LoA crowd seems to be rife with fruit loops, which has naturally made us skeptical of the whole thing. It’s interesting to wonder, though, if maybe our skeptical thoughts have created these crackpots, only to deliver reasons for us to be skeptical.

In other words, if reality were indeed subjective, as the LoA camp says it is, then skepticism would naturally create incentives to be skeptical. If life seems to be unfolding as if your mind itself has no leverage over what happens to you, perhaps it’s unfolding that way only because you believe it must.

The bottom line is that we don’t know what our consciousness is doing to the world out there. And the knowledge that you don’t know is a valuable thing, because it allows for more possibilities for you.

I would bet money that if you know enough to know that you don’t know how the universe works — if you can acknowledge that our understanding of the universe’s systems of delivery are tenuous at best — you will find that cultivating positive expecations alone will make a concrete difference in how life goes for you, especially if you are habitually prone to negative expectations like I am. There are a thousand ways it could work, but it will work.

So in spite of my low opinion of the film The Secret, I’ve been experimenting with acting as though my intentions and thoughts are detectable by the universe at large and that it does react to them.

It hasn’t been long, but the first change was immediate. The world appears the same, but looks different. It looks benevolent. Details seem rife with significance, and so I become more attentive and less distracted as a side-effect.

I am also experiencing a consistent bout of optimism — very conspicuous for me, which made me realize how consistently negative my thoughts and expectations are normally. My negative thoughts seem a lot dumber now, when before they made me feel clever.

Most significantly, for the first time I feel responsible for my thoughts. I recognize that I am actively creating concrete experiences with them, even if it’s only because it changes the decisions I make.

Responsibility for my thoughts — I can’t believe that was a new concept for me. Somehow I used to reason that my thoughts didn’t really matter that much, because my only interaction with the universe is only through my actions. But the entire experience of being me feels different. There’s much less weight given to negative possibilities, and so I act differently. The quality of my moments is better.

Even if this feeling doesn’t last, I’ll still have that insight: I am far better off if I decide to take responsibility for whether I harbor negative expectations or positive ones.

I used to reason that it made no sense to act as though the universe heeded the Law of Attraction unless I knew that it did. Resoundingly, it makes sense to act as though it does, regardless of your confidence in it. Pascal’s Wager for the new age.

Detractors often dismiss positive outcomes experienced by LoA proponents as “just placebo.” But the skeptics are missing a crucial point about the placebo effect: the effects aren’t imaginary. They are real. Sugar pill or not, the patient did get better. So what if they aren’t sure exactly why?


 Photo by sleepyneko

Oliver Tausend August 27, 2012 at 2:45 am

Hi David,

thanks for sharing your insights about “The Secret” and the law of attraction. I read the book but never watched the movie – and I won’t do so after your review because I have the very same suspicions you just shared.

To me, “The Secret” is just a modern Pied Piper story, designed to fool people and to eventually drive sales. Nothing against sales of course, but not by fooling people. On the other, being fooled is voluntary and optional.

I am not saying though that the law of attraction doesn’t exist at all, but as you mentioned, what if someone’s logic doesn’t buy into it ?

To me, there’s one thing in the universe that these modern Pied Pipers don’t like – and this is randomness, even wild randomness. Not everything is random, and not everything can be influenced directly or indirectly by our actions or even our thoughts.

The spoon doesn’t bend…

Thanks again for this refreshing post !

Be blessed


Vilx- August 27, 2012 at 2:58 am

A footnote about the placebo effect – although it does work, it is always a temporary relief. It can be extended by repeatedly reassuring the patient that the medicine is real, but in the end the mind always has to give up and accept the truth – it didn’t really do anything. The mind was just fooling itself (something it’s very good at).

Now, sometimes that’s very much OK – if you only need to deal with a week of pain after an operation, and giving real painkillers is out of question, then a placebo pill is just what you need. But it won’t cure cancer. It can only give temporary relief from the harsh reality of life by altering one’s perception.

steph in berkeley August 27, 2012 at 3:10 am

one’s circumstances can be permanently altered for the better by LoA, even if cancer isn’t cured and spoons don’t bend.

example: two women. one woman believes in her assured long life and happens to take note of a dark spot under her fingernail and has what turns out to be early cancer removed, she exercises and takes many other actions (loves widely, volunteers, practices awareness) that lead her to this destiny. a second woman who thinks not of her longevity nor of the assurance of the fulfillment of her desires, and generally accepts the fates she believes has been handed to her…overlooks the first dark spot under her nails and dies.

i would say the “placebo” effect can have a lot more than a temporary effect.

Vilx- August 27, 2012 at 3:14 am

What has this got to do with the Placebo effect? O_o

Jessi Tidwell September 22, 2012 at 11:41 am

I think it’s possible that if the patient continues to believe the placebo pill is healing them, that it might. But humans are generally very skeptical. I know I am. But isn’t it possible that we have more power inside our minds than we think? We too often take the strength of will power for granted. Those quantum experiments freak me out, but excite me at the same time. I can’t wait for our world to learn more!!

devo August 27, 2012 at 3:53 pm

check your facts closely amigo, the placebo effect has much verifiable scientific study documentation of permanent healing.

Vilx- August 28, 2012 at 9:50 am

As I said, there are often cases where it is useful, but it’s not a panacea. And by itself, it does not heal. It can improve the healing process, yes, or make it more bearable, but the actual healing comes from other sources, like the body’s own immune system. It can’t do miracles.

Jessi Tidwell September 22, 2012 at 11:44 am

How do you know that?

The problem with humans is that we think we know more than we actually do.

Just as David said, “We’ve built models that seem to explain a lot, but they’re limited by what human beings are capable of understanding, they’re skewed to what we are good at measuring, and they are subject to biases we don’t know we have. Every advance in physics shows us that the universe is far weirder than we had previously imagined.”

steph in berkeley August 27, 2012 at 2:58 am

one can hardly be reminded too often to be mindful of the LoA. so, i feel i’ve just been given a gift;)

thanks for the possibilities…

Vilx- August 27, 2012 at 3:36 am

And I wonder again – in which way lies madness, and in which – enlightenment? And could that too not be dependent on the observer? Then, where is the truth, and what should we seek?

Karen J August 27, 2012 at 9:42 am

Ahhhhh ~ and How do we define Truth?
Libraries have been written…

Esther August 27, 2012 at 4:05 am

Hi David,
Several years before the secret was even published I had read some books by Louise L. Hay who also talks about the law of attraction. I don’t totally agree with her theories either, but I really disliked the secret. Such a book seemed only aimed at getting you material improvements, just like you said: a better job, holidays, etc…
I totally agree with you when you say that our attitude really has an impact on our lives. I find it difficult to believe that my thoughts can change the whole universe or be influenced by it, but I’ve found that my thoughts have changed my life, for the best or for the worst.

The article was very good. Thank you for writing it.

DiscoveredJoys August 27, 2012 at 4:26 am

If you are psychologically primed to notice positive events, and you hang with positive people, you will perceive positive things and feel positive emotions. It makes sense to live with positive expectations. Every good thing that happens will confirm those expectations and you will tend to regard bad events as not significant.

On the other hand if you are psychologically primed to notice negative events, and hang with miserable people, you will find plenty of confirmation that you are unlucky and that you always suffer bad things – even though you are living through the same external events as the positive person. I have seen this myself.

Living with a positive frame of mind is a good mental practice; if you imagine that your thoughts are exerting some ‘force’ over the external universe then that is just a story you tell yourself. There is a risk though – if you become too convinced that the Law of Attraction actually exists, who do you blame when things you really really want don’t happen? You can only place unjustified levels of blame on yourself. Back to the pessimistic thoughts again.

The Secret of Life? There Is No Magic. But it *feels like* you get what you expect to get.

Vilx- August 27, 2012 at 4:40 am

All this brings to mind other theories, called the “Many-worlds interpretation” of quantum theory and the “Quantum suicide” experiment. In a nutshell, the “Many worlds interpretation” states that at every moment the Universe splits itself into an infinity of other Universes, covering all the possible quantum states.

“Quantum suicide” thought-experiment is the same one as Schrodinger’s cat, except from the cat’s point of view. If the Many-worlds interpretation is true, that means that there are two universes – one in which the cat lives, and one in which it dies. From the cat’s perspective however he would live on.

In fact, if these theories are true, then that means that we are all immortal – but only for ourselves. Since every possible reality exists, then the reality in which we (due to some miracle) never die also exists, and we will experience that (since we won’t experience the ones in which we die).

And some food for though that I’ve been pondering about for a long time – perhaps then all these acts of observing and LoA etc are just our consciousness influencing which path we are taking down the road of infinitely splitting Universe? And if so, how far can we push it? Can we become true magicians, all-powerful genies, shifting the world (but only for ourselves!) with our thought alone?

And at this point I’m always reminded of these wise words – “A theory that predicts everything, predicts nothing.” (Unfortunately I cannot find who said that right now)

Turtles, all the way down…

I am self. February 17, 2014 at 5:52 am

Everything is possible, for that you must be “supreme”, you must be “creator” and you must be “genie” by self. And you are the world by it-self. If you want be like that, you have to seize the time and space. Believe is not something invented by humans. Till now everything is “information”, and we are processing it as we need. Just think, you believed in “genie”, but what about the next person sitting in front of you, if he say, it is “fake”, then there are two chances arises by “Doubts”. Your friend made some doubt in his mind, cause he heard about it, somewhere, then his environment matches yours, and your Genie becomes real. and wise verse. Means everything is “energy”, the “god”, generating-organizing-destroying principle. Even animals have some beliefs, by humans or their-selves. Trees who live 1000 years, and knew how to tap sun-light and use it as their energy and food. When you test it with multimeter and copper type metal in it, it shows some electricity, say 2.0 to 2.8 volts, something. So if you wanted to grasp everything, then you can live for 200 years too, everything is in your way of understanding and beliefs. “An atom is having many sun’s power and energy, and every creature came from it, finally there must be “intelligent particle” or whole energy which is not only debugged doubts, but also some challenges, only individual can understand. “The matrix” is of same thing. If everything, then “NOTHING IS ACTUALLY EVERYTHING but so deep to invisible” and if you can understand this, can feel it (at-least), then you become one of it. Again If “energy” is neither created nor destroyed, means, we don’t know what is definition of Energy and if you can do that, then yes may be you become infinite rather finite, everything is in your power to grasp it, finally you are simply collecting the “details”. Who told Copper is conducting material?? who told the difference between life and death. And why we born as babies??? If you knew the Answer, you are GOD, but for (SELF). And every human is made of this property. If i make desires, or i want everything, then i must call myself as “STUPID”!! why?? when i already created something, when i already taken a form, and when i already made visible in “invisible”, then where is end and start?? You may think, universe is god, but who knows, it too dies at a point or time, and for us it is infinite, but for it-self is finite. Again don’t confuse your-self as “small or big”, there is nothing like that, its finally you who should understand. That’s why no one can collide to other minds, if so, then Earth can collide to another, universe to universe, and so on, then what is the definition of life??? We created by “nothing”, is actually everything and only “IT” knows how to control creatures like us. That’s why there is no-TIME AND SPACE OR UNIVERSE IN REALITY, and we are playing an act here, simply to realize, that we are from nothing and is actually our way of thinking only. I WONDERED AND GOT SHOCKED MANY TIMES MENTALLY, THAT HOW WE ARE “THINKING”, who made this instrument???
So if a person at-least told that “EVERYTHING IS NOTHING” already became supreme and yeah must be “SHOCKED”, again this shock is having how much power, god must be knew it. cause, we cannot grasp all, and randomly creating everything. Even by my-self, when i understood, that i have an instrument to measure the “INFINITE”, by SHOCK OR KICK FROM INSIDE. And this is how i certified GOD or supreme is in me lol !!! So be grateful, that your heart is still working, and we are “alive” and i don’t know exactly the definition of “LIFE OR ALIVE”. So i am now in my own work, but “questions” always raised me like this. I made positive thought only to understand, why i am here, if i make any negative thought, even for once, it will make me again like a 5 year old child, and i sensed it. When we think of “God”, we automatically become a baby type, and babies knew only how to play, but not how to “Question” and get an answer. Till now in this world, those who got “question on “LIFE” actually raised to 5 year (at-last) child. Thank goodness we are not “mad”. Many times my friend saw me as “stupid”, whenever i “questioned that, who is “GOD””????? Definitely God is too smart right?? I am always Right!!! helped For self-satisfaction. Because still i am mortal and yeah 100% satisfied with it.!!!!

Rachel Curran August 27, 2012 at 6:54 am

Hi David,

I’m wondering if you’ve seen the lesser-known movie called “What the bleep do we know anyways?” which I thought The Secret had been born from, taking on a more self-help nature.

I recall seeing the movie and having just sat down on the edge of the couch, never slid back to rest comfortably in the couch since it was immediately thought-provoking; it literally had me on the edge of my seat the entire time!

Anyhow, this documentary film’s wikipedia entry is:

The website dedicated to it is:

You may prefer the style of this movie over The Secret.

Take care,

Rachel C.

Chris Walter August 27, 2012 at 9:09 am

Ive always been turned of by LoA mainly because the people I met that believed in it tended to substitute “wanting” for Action. Which just seemed delusional. But perhaps another reason we want to reject it is because fundamentally LoA is about changing the way we think and our attitude in general and we all know how humans feel about radical change :)

Karen J August 27, 2012 at 9:45 am


Tolle Haus August 27, 2012 at 9:31 am

Experiment: think about red sports cars throughout the day. You’ll find that you “attract” so many more of them than if you had not been done this. Of course, that impression is actually just a quirk of human perception. Yes, it is useful to focus on what we want and and feel confident about the outcome. But that’s just common sense. I believe that the Law of Attraction is, um, attractive, to those who like to exploit people who have little common sense. Sad.

Keith August 27, 2012 at 9:49 am

When I learned to control my thoughts a few years ago, I was working on a sales internship for my undergraduate degree. It was a sales internship that required me to sell door-to-door for 6 months. Since there is such a negative mindset partnered with people coming to your door, the only way we could succeed, is by viewing the world differently. It was funny because when I finished, I too looked at the world differently. I found that to be one of the most profound discoveries that I will take with my to my grave. You create your own experience, the self-fulfilling prophecy…Whether you like it or not.

Viviann August 27, 2012 at 10:17 am

(From what I gather the original Secret was written by Esther and Jerry Hicks. The sugar coated end result was produced by another author. )
Years ago I lived in Soviet Estonia. (I was born and raised in Canada.) I witnessed how that remnant of Stalin’s dictatorship disintegrated and gave way to a different system of government, allowing the little republics to regain their independence. Those who saw the Opportunity to live a better life had learned to harbor a positive attitude and made things happen. Others, continued to cling to the familiar, for the co-dependency that they had allowed themselves to accept into their way of thinking. The latter missed out on opportunities the new republic had to offer for them. They were probably afraid of it and had not developed the psychological skill set to invite opportunity into their lives.
I also observed that my friends and employees who had returned from 20+ years in Siberian labor camps were not bitter about that experience. They chose to see it as a learning experience. Anger and bitterness they realized would have attracted to them other angry and bitter people. They chose to keep on the sunny side of the street.
Bottom line: Your attitude attracts positive or negative opportunities.

Patricia August 27, 2012 at 10:35 am

Hi David, I found your discovery that your thoughts actually matter the most interesting part of this entry. If you’d like to investigate something that scientifically explains how thoughts effect “being”, check out the book by Dr. Joseph Dispenza titled “Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself, How to Lose Your Mind and Create a New One.” He was one of the speakers in the movie called “What the Bleep Do We Know,” which was about quantuam physics and how our thoughts effect the way we perceive this reality. This movie and book is a huge step beyond the “cheesy Secret” , which may have some validity, but seems to be something that was created as an introduction of how thoughts effect your life for “the masses,” who wouldn’t be likely to watch a movie about quantuam physics.

David August 28, 2012 at 7:21 am

I like the sound of that title, “Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself, How to Lose Your Mind and Create a New One.”

I have watched “what the bleep do we know.” It seems to have the same overall message: reality is far weirder than we know, and there is definitely room for all kinds of phenomena we might have once thought are impossible, the LoA being just one of them.

Karen J August 27, 2012 at 10:36 am

Confirmation Bias is clearly at work (play?) here.
Or perhaps they’re the same phenomenon (LOA and confirmation bias), in different words for different specialties?

David August 28, 2012 at 7:19 am

Maybe. Confirmation bias is always unavoidable, so why not use it to advantage?

Karen J August 28, 2012 at 3:24 pm

Yep! :)

Joe August 27, 2012 at 10:58 am


Thank you for this very well-written article. There is no getting around the Law of Attraction. It’s just a matter of using it in the correct way. As you say, there are MANY correct ways. I am one who believes in using it to change our subconscious minds. It’s the subconscious that ultimately controls our attitudes, actions, and levels of success. When we use the Law of Attraction with the primary intention of changing our core beliefs, that’s when great things start happening : )

Gab August 27, 2012 at 1:13 pm

Hi David,
I like when you try to explain the inexplicable… very good article, always a placer to read you.

Question: let’s say you put an intention out in the world, like…
“I want a lot of money” but there is a second unconscious intention
“I want to feel safe”… how would the law of Attraction work?

David August 28, 2012 at 7:18 am

I have no idea. That’s kind of the whole point of this article, that we don’t know how it works, and taking an agnostic stance on it allows us to experiment without shooting ourselves in the foot with doubt.

Teri December 29, 2013 at 9:22 pm

It would depend on whether or not you believed it was possible to feel safe and have a lot of money at the same time. If you did and your intention was clear, whether or not the LoA works as well as many say it does, it would be easier for you to accept money (or it to come to you). A lot of times people have intentions and/or beliefs that are at odds with each other. For example, if you wanted a lot of money but felt like it wasn’t possible to have a lot of money and feel safe, whichever one deep down was more important to you would be the one you’re putting out to the Universe (or yourself, whichever way you look at it) and also the one that wins out

Maia August 27, 2012 at 1:38 pm

Thanks for the great post David.
I loved the Secret when I saw it – despite it’s cheesiness.
Regardless of if it works or not, the fact that I imagined what I wanted, actually made me make that idea concrete and think of practical steps to work towards it. Like you, I also realised that I think two many negative thoughts and it was my first introduction to thinking positively. I realised that positive thoughts make me feel good and that there is not point to think negatively, so overall it gave me a better quality of life.

David August 28, 2012 at 7:17 am

>…so overall it gave me a better quality of life.

This is what has kept me interested. It doesn’t matter on what level it works. Clearly it changes a lot of practical aspects of a person’s life if it is practiced.

Rob August 27, 2012 at 1:42 pm

Thanks David for the insights. I was less critical of the movie when I first saw it probably because I had been following Abraham (Ester Hicks) for several years and had even had a few personal sessions with her. I believe that just the act of expecting will do little good without action added to the mix. I have come to realize that hard work and knowing I did a good job makes me feel more grateful (and better about myself in general) and that in return helps me attract that which I want. What most fail to see is that the act of “wanting something” states that you are lacking it and so the universe will give you more of that…”wanting it”….so you go nowhere and achieve little. Not a day goes by now that I do not stop (sometimes several times a day) and look at what I am grateful for. In my opinion gratitude is the single most important factor in finding what most are looking for. Funny enough, most of what I am looking for is not of a physical nature and can be summoned quicker than material possessions. I personally would much rather have a kind act occur than a new tv…I get to take the kind act with me when I pass…….Rob

Trish Scott August 27, 2012 at 8:32 pm

I suppose I’m one of the fruit loops – after all I do talk to animals, do energy healing, intuitive coaching etc. I have loosely followed Abraham-Hicks, proponents of LOA long before the Secret, which was largely based on their work (and even they bowed out of the project before the movie came out). I still have not seen the movie and don’t intend to unless I find my self in a really, really weakened condition as you did.

I’m the first to say I’m in the business of woo woo but I’m not big on all the trappings. I’m the psychic without the turban and the tent. I’m not a big fan of LOA simply because it devolves so rapidly into affirmation which I find to be counter productive due to it’s seed being that of fear/lack/discontent. Nothing good can come from that seed.

The crux of the matter for me is simply to be as aware of what I allow into my mind as I am about what I allow into my body. Diet. Conscious determination about direction. Responsibility. I think that is the same conclusion you have come to. Another fine post David. Thanks.

David August 28, 2012 at 7:15 am

>I’m not a big fan of LOA simply because it devolves so rapidly into affirmation which I find to be counter productive due to it’s seed being that of fear/lack/discontent. Nothing good can come from that seed.

This is interesting. Would you say all desires come from discontent?

Trish Scott August 28, 2012 at 10:12 am

Probably if I had to quantify it, fear would stay at the top of the list. Feelings of lack and discontent come from the fear of being left at the edges of the herd, where there is actual danger, or shunned from the herd entirely, which is usually a death sentence. The desires we have, have to do with staying safely in the middle of the herd and maybe even in the alpha position. Think like a prey animal and you get the picture of where fear comes from. That is where the human race resides energetically now. If on the other hand we think like a creator species we can break that thought habit pattern and become a viable, sustainable species. Some are making the transition. Soon enough, fast enough to save us? Don’t know. Time is getting short.

Fantasia August 27, 2012 at 8:32 pm

Does this mean the parking fairy isn’t real? I mean, really — sorta… The thing is I watched the secret as well – in both English and Spanish as well as read the book in both languages just to be sure I was understanding it right. I agree, the movie is a bit on the materialistic side but it did make me go crazy trying to understand the LoA. It wasn’t until I took a class about how to manifest that the LoA finally made some sense. I learned that it was about practicing how things felt and basking in that energy – The energy of positivity of imagining what I would feel like should I achieve that goal was super motivational for me. I start changing my behaviour and outlook and I started receiving what I asked for..the good and the bad. So, of course, I started asking for only the good! It’s been working so far — including random silly things like superb parking spots. I’m 10/10 so far…but who’s counting! :)

David August 28, 2012 at 7:12 am

I haven’t experiment with the parking fairy, but I’ve heard good things. I guess I’m one of those strange people who doesn’t care if my parking spot is close or far.

Adelina August 27, 2012 at 10:15 pm

A fine insight on the LOA. It is as old as old can be. How do we know? According to Yoga and Vedanta, all knowledge- everything we know- is born of the modification of the mind (vriti).
When we see, hear or think something, the mind becomes that thing seen. Man is not bound by any other laws excepting those he makes for himself. Every thought that we think, every deed that we do, after a certain time becomes fine, goes into seed form, and lives in the fine body in the potential form, and after a time it emerges again and bears its results. So be careful what you wish for ;)

David Ocano August 27, 2012 at 10:55 pm

First of all, it’s hard for something so complex and manifold as ‘the universe’ to heed your thoughts and expectations. The universe is all inanimate matter without a consciousness to care for our human problems. I do agree though, that the quality of your thoughts affects your moods and your decisions, thus coloring the shade of your existence. Responsability for our own thoughts, there’s something to think about and act upon.

P.S. I don’t believe the universe cares for me, though I do believe God does.

David August 28, 2012 at 7:11 am

>The universe is all inanimate matter without a consciousness to care for our human problems.

I am not inanimate matter. Are you? I don’t know if it makes sense to presume that human beings are a tiny island of consciousness in a sea of rocks and debris.

>I don’t believe the universe cares for me, though I do believe God does.


Gustavo August 27, 2012 at 11:42 pm

The double slit experiment shows that matter (at elementary level) changes from a wave nature to a particle nature. The Copenhagen interpretation (quantum mechanics) suggested that “perception causes the collapse of the wavefunction”; in other words: at that elementary level, perception forces matter to choose from a number of mathematical possibilities. To go from there to assume that your perception may change matter at your will is a very tall jump.

David August 28, 2012 at 7:09 am

The double slit experiment does not prove the law of attraction and I didn’t say that it did.

But it suggests that subjectivity cannot be escaped in trying to understand the world. The classical model is that observation is inert, and that the universe does its own thing irrespective of who is looking at it or how.

Many people are probably interested in the idea of the law of attraction but believe that what they know about science precludes its possibility, and therefore they can never really experiment with it because they already believe it’s pointless. The double slit experiment is a simple demonstration that observation is not inert — that it is part of the system too — that it does something to some aspect of the universe, or at least does something to how we experience it.

Angus August 28, 2012 at 7:41 am

“Pascal’s Wager for the new age.”

GREAT line, must steal – thanks!

I’ll just say it: I loved The Secret, even though I’d heard it all before. It fired me up and got me interested again.

And, whenever I have consistently paid attention to my thoughts and speech around any aspect of my life, I have always seen dramatic results. When I have taken further steps to intensify my thoughts and speech, like visualization, spells, meditation, ceremonies, etc. I have nearly always seen dramatically intensified results. So I totally believe LoA, and that the universe is a wish-granting machine.

Do I have everything I desire? Not yet, but I love my life and have had a lot of amazing experiences and life circumstances that I feel I wouldn’t have had without applying LoA. And delayed responses are actually a defined and sensible aspect of LoA ‘theory.’

I think one reason people are skeptical of LoA is that they think it should be easy. In fact, it takes a fair amount of discipline, especially when you first start to deal with negative self talk. So people start, don’t stay with it… and conclude it doesn’t work.

It does work. For me, anyway.

David August 31, 2012 at 6:23 pm

>“Pascal’s Wager for the new age.”

This is the most important line in the whole article. It’s about hedging bets. It absolutely makes the most sense to experiment with the law of attraction as though it works rather than find reasons why it ought not to be considered. That’s the whole point of this post.

Angus September 2, 2012 at 4:21 pm

And it’s positive, rather than negative. The original Pascal’s wager was framed as a way of avoiding hell, this is a way of optimizing your chances of bliss.

Oshen August 28, 2012 at 8:03 am

I do agree with the point – not knowing how the LoA might possibly work does not prevent it from actually working in some yet-unknown way.

Just not quantum stuff.

Popular talk about quantum physics are often misunderstand observation as “being watched by a conscious mind”.

Only thing these experiments show is that whether it is a particle or wave depends on the setup of the experiment.
You cannot detect a photon without interacting with it.
Any detection is interaction – there is no observing apparatus that is outside of the universe and not interacting with it.

Double slit experiment and it’s variations will show the same results whether performed by a human, by computer, by accident, and so on.
It’s not the consciousness that makes the observation, it’s the interaction in the patterns that make up the experiment.

Remembering your own articles, if it takes a conscious mind to change the interference pattern to a diffraction one, then there is a consciousness outside of the universe, and thus there is a “you”.

It’s a popular example, but it’s a wrong one.
Did you want to make a point convincingly or stay rigorous?

It just hurts to hear that “watch=change” example for anyone aware of the subject, so it will be anti-convincing for them. And sceptics are often aware of what they are sceptical about.

Angus August 28, 2012 at 11:33 am

You seem to be saying you know exactly how the ‘quantum stuff’ works. I don’t think you do.

Emmanuel van der Meulen August 28, 2012 at 8:42 am

Why not ask another question altogether: Why do I have negative thoughts in the first place.

Siboney LaLuz August 29, 2012 at 9:27 am

Dear David,
You are indeed, as you have wished to be: “Famous” (else, why would I know you exist at all?) “Uncannily Lucky” (what bad luck has NOT transpired which you are oblivious to, and some of which you are). As for “Rich” it is relative and I think you actually know at a gut level that compared to a large percentage of the world’s population you flourish in luxury.
PS Another good take on all this is the book/movie Down The Rabbit Hole by the same folks who did What The Bleep Do We Know.
In gratitude and friendship

Joel Shiver August 29, 2012 at 10:56 am

I rather expect that the phenomenon can experienced on the scale of the nation. Right now, the significantly negative attitude in the United States is making it all but impossible to advance our culture.

Nitya August 30, 2012 at 2:35 am

I thought I’d wait before commenting, just to see what other readers had to say. The topic is so interesting and can lead in many different directions and interpretations.
Your “tree falling in the forest ” type predictions , left me in a quandary as usual, having, as I do, a far more pragmatic turn of mind. I have great deal of difficulty thinking about the vibrations that may or may not land on a receptive eardrum. Agggh! It’s all too hard! This also applies to the universe analogy. If the universe only exists because a type of consciousness is able to perceive it, how can it be measured and dated. Surely it would spring into existence with the first glimmer of understanding.
The very word “quantum” seems to be an excuse for all sorts Of speculative ruminations. More often than not, it seems to be some sort of catch-phrase used by snake oil salesmen. The double slit experiment is not known by many and quite possibly not understood .
My final gripe is about the LoA. Does this positive outlook also influence the lives of say, modern day slaves in many impoverished countries. Can they better their life chances by looking on the sunny side of life, or is this phenomenon limited to those in affluent countries who actually have options?

David August 30, 2012 at 7:14 am

Hi Nitya. Your anxieties here illustrate perfectly the curse of the science-head: the compulsive need to have nailed down a conceptual model of everything that feels mostly complete, in order to even experiment with other possibilities. I am still recovering from that habit.

The whole point of involving quantum physics in this discussion was to remind us that a) the deeper we look into the structure of reality, the more bizarre and complex it is and the more we realize we don’t know, and b) that it is becoming clearer that there is an inextricable two-way relationship between the physical universe and consciousness.

Why do we need “excuses” for speculation? I don’t care if the materialists excuse me. Anecdotal evidence from people I respect and trust is reason enough for me to try something. The issue with the law of attraction is that by its definition, if you cannot allow for its possibility, then it can’t work, it can’t even be given a proper try. This post is an attempt to give people who feel trapped by their “knowing better” a chance to play around with it.

>My final gripe is about the LoA. Does this positive outlook also influence the lives of say, modern day slaves in many impoverished countries. Can they better their life chances by looking on the sunny side of life, or is this phenomenon limited to those in affluent countries who actually have options?

I don’t know. Maybe Viktor Frankl does. The point is you don’t need to know all that if you just take an agnostic attitude towards the relationship between your consciousness and the universe you are perceiving through it. That is the most logical stance anyway, to admit you don’t know.

Matthew September 3, 2012 at 12:10 pm

If anyone did, it was Viktor Frankl. And there are stories from non-affluent countries, very poor countries (I read one from the Congo the other day), of people who make the most out of even the most extreme circumstances in war-torn, povery stricken countries. Its truly amazing. They find purpose in their own suffering, as did Dr. Frankl. I hestitate to mention this though, because although they find meaning, it shouldn’t change the responsibility we, as affluent countries, have toward those in dire conditions all over the world.

Great blog David, just discovered it and am enjoying the reading.

Siboney LaLuz August 30, 2012 at 9:25 am

Hi All,
This is certainly an interesting discussion. I have noticed that several people have mentioned that the original idea of LoA comes from the books by Esther Hicks. In fact the original idea was first and best presented by Wallace Wattle in his book Think and Grow Rich. Written in 1910. He also authored other books along the same ideas but applied to health etc…
I don’t know much of anything except…As the poet Hafiz wrote:

I rarely let the word NO
escape from my mouth
Because it is so plain to my soul
that God has shouted
Yes! Yes! Yes!
To every luminous movement
in existence

Jamie August 30, 2012 at 9:47 am

This is an interesting subject. I first saw The Secret back in 2007 I believe, or at least close to that time, and I’ll be honest and say that i thought it was a lot of wishy washy nonsense.

Of course I understood the sentiment, but the way it was presented was amateurish and without wanting to cause offence, ‘Americanised’.

I don’t believe that our thoughts alone can influence the world/universe by itself, but I do believe that our thoughts influence how we see the world and how the world perceives us.

For example; by believing in something, we focus on all the things that support our theory and discard everything that we deem irrelevant. This way of thinking changes our subconscious mind and enables us to act without consciously deciding to do something. It’s as if we are being guided along towards a destination without knowing what or why it is happening.

We give off cues that are so subtle, we don’t know what we are conveying or what others are actually seeing, but we can be sure that whatever is going on inside our heads and bodies is influencing everyone around is.

This to me is what The Secret really is. If you truly focus your energy in a certain direction, then you are more likely to reach that destination. People can say that the universe guides us there, but really it us and our own subconscious thoughts that create the world we live in.

This is just my opinion. Anyway, good post and well thought out.

Abe August 30, 2012 at 8:58 pm

I invite you to consider this topic from another angle. Replace the concept of “the universe” with God. I ask you to keep an open mind and listen to a religious perspective on this, i am sure you will find it interesting.

start at 00:00:40

Nitya August 31, 2012 at 6:58 am

Back to the LoA. In order for a proposition to be valid, it needs to apply equally across the globe. In your opinion , what do you think the chances would be for say, a girl from a poverty stricken background , with no education, absolutely no power in any aspect of her life, even the ability to select her own life partner, to alter the course of her destinity by adopting some sort of positive demeanor? It is remotely possible, I suppose, but what are the chances? This has been the direction of discussion so far… that is to say that anything is possible if you you want it enough. Let’s not rule out any potential outcome because as we well know, we’ve been wrong before.
But what is the likelihood of such an eventuality? Highly improbable? I can’t see anything to be gained but focussing on such an unlikely line of causation. This seems to be a trivial parlour game for middle class folk in affluent countries, not a tool to be used by those aspiring to better their life chances.

David August 31, 2012 at 6:19 pm

>This has been the direction of discussion so far… that is to say that anything is possible if you you want it enough.

Who said that? Again, I don’t know if the law of attraction works or how it works. People have different ideas about what the LoA is supposed to do. In any case your intention has to be believable to yourself, obviously. If you believe it is unlikely then it is unlikely. If you believe it is impossible then it is impossible. Improving your quality of life by adopting a positive demeanor is a given though, not that everyone is capable of it at any given time.

“Trivial parlor game” is pretty condescending. If somebody finds a way to make a dramatic change in their quality of life, is that an indulgent, trivial thing to do?

Nitya August 31, 2012 at 8:46 pm

Sorry, I didnt mean that. I meant these things are easy to say, but when put to the test in all situations, they don’t hold true. As I haven’t seen “The Secret” & have no intention of so doing, I’m really talking through my hat.
I suppose what I’m really on about is these ideas are put up as an either or possibility , that is a fifty/fifty chance and so it’s easier to throw one’s hands up in the air and say “who knows”.
However, the likelihood of such an outcome is not an each way bet. There is a minuscule chance that the universe/ laws of physics/ physical world can be altered or influenced by one’s intentions, but it is highly unlikely.
I noticed that you didn’t reply to the responses that mentioned confirmation bias . I think this is a very valid point and needs to be given a lot of weight.
Please don’t get me wrong, I find such discussions incredibly interesting. They are a great exercise in thinking.

David September 1, 2012 at 3:47 pm

You are still trying to create and evaluate an objective conceptual model of what can only be a subjective phenomenon. Trying to nail down probabilities is totally missing the point. The only meaningful way to evaluate the law of attraction is to try it *yourself*. And one can only give the LoA a proper try if they admit to themselves that anecdotal claims about its validity cannot reasonably be presumed to be all lies. Maybe they are all bullshit (I doubt it) but the *presumption* of that is foolish.

If you insist on some kind of non-existent statistical evidence first, then obviously you are deciding that it is not worth trying.

Confirmation bias doesn’t matter. If it works for me only because of confirmation bias, then great. That means it works. Just like if a sugar pill cures my cold, then good.

LunaJune September 1, 2012 at 9:23 am

When the Secret first came out.. I too was skeptical…having spent most of my life believing I’d never afford a house by myself… that shit just happens… and that as you did too that my actions spoke louder than words. But.. after coming across “A Complaint Free Life ” and watching Abraham-Hicks a few times I started paying attention to the thoughts that just floated through my head…and the bitching that I was doing…. half of that bitching was just stuff that I didn’t really care about but standing around with others complaining about life I’d join in….and once you pay total attention to where your thoughts take you, you do see that the shitty mood you are in is because for 8 hours at work all you did was bitch about the boss, the drivers, the co-workers, etc….so I started the complaint free life test…. if you can go 3 weeks without complaining, and noticing your thoughts, you can change the way your life is. As a skeptic I tried… it meant that I stopped hanging around with the cranky people, walked away when they started bitching, or tried to point out positive things about any situation….the man the started it, as far as I know, it took him a year to go 3 weeks without one single complaint… I’ve been at it for 3 years … and still haven’t gone 3 weeks… I’m about 2 weeks… but living in the now makes it all even out :~) As for attracting what I want to me… I could give you a million examples of it… to start with… my bank which has never given a 40 year mortgage to anyone offered it to me… so now I own my own house… 4 months later they stopped offering it… did my thoughts once I changed the way I interacted with life on a daily basis help that? I can only believe yes. And in the end…. the stress free life I live now… compared to the stressed life I had 3 years ago…. bliss…. the only real thing that changed…. me :~) and being aware of what I want… and only focusing on it.
I guess with everything in life… if you really want it.. you will find a way

thanks for the great discussion

Nitya September 1, 2012 at 10:31 pm

Back again David. I’m afraid we’ll go to our respective graves without reaching agreement on this one. Anyway, I’ll plough on.
You place so much store on subjective experience ( I realize this is your point exactly), but I cannot share your thinking on this at all. If I paid heed to every remedy for real and imaginary ailments I’ve had in my life , I would have very little money left and no space in my cupboards. I strongly resist the placebo effect ( pity really), so that a great deal of the efficacy of the recommended product or procedure is removed. Can, what works at one particular instance, in one particular place to a particular individual , be classified as a principle?
I suggest a hypothetical case; an individual is diagnosed with terminal cancer. After taking a bizarre remedy or course of action the cancer disappears. The individual understandably attributes the miracle to the product or agency employed to bring about this result. Unfortunately , the same result never ever happens again to another sufferer. Does this one positive result warrant the method employed to be given the status of a principle ?
It wouldn’t matter if it were one positive result or many million , it still doesn’t make it any more than a subjective experience.

David September 2, 2012 at 10:43 am

I guess I see it as a particularly good bet. There are a number of people in my life whom I know not to be morons who have only good things to say about their experiments with the law of attraction. This is enough to convince me to suspend my cynicism enough to experiment and see what happens.

I think it is far more likely to have some worthwhile returns than things like crystal healing, dowsing, psychic readings and phrenology. You seem to think they are all equally likely to be wastes of time.

Also, the potential for spinoff effects is extremely high. Even if there is absolutely no direct relationship between thoughts and what the universe does independent of your actions, the resulting shifts in attitude and personal standards are almost bound to happen. This is happening to me already and my moment-to-moment quality of life is improving. It really doesn’t matter if it works the way some people say it does. How many times can I say that?

About subjective experience: *all* your experiences are subjective. You are the subject of an experience. You cannot experience anything outside of it. Any impression you have of an objective universe outside you can only take place as an abstract collection of thoughts and conclusions in your head. Objectivity is an abstract structure each of us superimposes on our actual experience — which is always subjective and private — in order to make sense of the universe. We commonly make the mistake that this abstract structure of thoughts is the actual universe, and that our personal experience of it comes second in terms of how “real” it is. That’s backwards. Subjectivity is primary. It comprises your entire experience in life. Objectivity is a secondary aspect of that subjective experience. It is a personal collection of conclusions you harbor in order to explain and predict your personal experience.

Dale September 2, 2012 at 12:15 am

Great, great article. The quantum strangeness that is being uncovered is so exciting. An agnostic POV is always the way for me. I loved your last quote “I used to reason that it made no sense to act as though the universe heeded the Law of Attraction unless I knew that it did. Resoundingly, it makes sense to act as though it does, regardless of your confidence in it.” I think we live the LoA whether we realize it or not, everyday. It only makes sense. Waking up to the reality of it could help us to coax it towards that which we really want to happen. Again outstanding article.

Nitya September 2, 2012 at 3:44 pm

Good point. Touché.

Kelly September 3, 2012 at 10:29 am

I am something of a worrier. I can spend an awful lot of mental and emotional energy thinking of possible outcomes to things. It has been a lifelong issue of mine and only very recently have I been able to put the brakes on some of that. The biggest change was in considering the “self-fulfilling prophecy” idea. If worrying can make negative outcomes happen, then so should positive visualization. I had heard this all before, but it finally clicked. I may or may not be able to make direct change in the world around me just by thinking about it, but I certainly have made an internal change that directly affects my choices and outlook. I may always worry a little bit, but I hope to divert that energy more quickly into thinking about what I would prefer to have happen than what the worst case scenario might be. I can already see the positive outcomes of this change in thought. I suppose I can look at it like a personal experiment- keep putting out good vibes and see what happens. :)

Siboney LaLuz September 5, 2012 at 9:09 am

In reading through other people’s comments, I was reminded of something my daughter once quoted in a letter to me. I don’t know the source but it seems to be a succinct explanation of why we struggle with the idea of LoA.

“Its not the things you don’t know that will get you. Its the things you do know, that just ain’t so.”

She was only around 12. Kids! Huh?

Leul September 6, 2012 at 7:57 pm

I was wondering when you would post about the Law of Attraction. I first came across it when I was WWOOFing and I have read many books on the subject since then. “The secret” is a more recent book and it has a more Hollywood feel to it but it still conveys the same message: Your thoughts are the basis for which your world is created. What they fail to address is the fact that thought is action, in the same way you raise money for something you want through work, putting yourself in a mindset to receive that something is also work. It takes conscious attention to your thoughts to be in a state where your desires can come to you.I believe in the law because I experience it everyday, in the way people treat me, the opportunities that come my way, and the way I see the world.

I suggest you read the books by Esther and Jerry hicks if you want to continue your research on the topic.

Marilyn September 8, 2012 at 7:26 pm

Hmm… Having blindly stumbled upon this website only this morning, I feel overwhelmingly humbled and thoughtful and–cheesy as this may sound–as I type this I have to wonder if perhaps my stumbling onto this site is proof of the law of attraction. Without boring anyone with the specifics of my personal worries and woes–I experienced such monumental doubt and sadness earlier this week about the direction in which our culture–and my life–is headed that I thought incessantly about how I needed to change that. I should note: I’m not a depressed person but 6 people I knew died this summer; life is fleeting. We are all supposedly responsible for our own existences; yet, I really dislike the way I’ve been living. I ruminating on this, then surrendered these incessant thoughts doing yoga; a few days later, I stumbled upon this site. Coincidence? Attraction? I didn’t watch The Secret–but I skimmed it. It’s nothing new–philosophers, some religious leaders, and writers have said this all before. And I can’t help but believe–not think but feel–that there’s some core truth in it all that cannot be explained but must just be practiced and believed. I know that sounds incredibly cheesy … and as someone is is regularly accused of over-analyzing, I can scarcely believe I’m writing it… Anyway, all of this is to say: thank you and I’m grateful that people like you all–thoughtful enough to engage in deep discussion–exist in this world.

Michael Dickens September 24, 2012 at 6:04 pm

> Science is already showing us that observation invariably affects whatever’s being observed. You can do experiments in a high school science lab that demonstrate that how you observe matter and energy changes how they behave, even if everything else is the same. You probably have, it’s called the double slit experiment.

What? No. This is completely wrong. In terms of quantum mechanics, observation has nothing to do with consciousness. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Double-slit_experiment

Michelle October 4, 2012 at 2:56 pm

so, I was thinking about money when I read this, and afterward decided to go buy a couple of lotto tickets with the 8 quarters in my desk drawer. On the way to the lotto vendor I say hello to a man at the vending machine, he asked how much change I had because he needed a soda (he heard me playing with the change as I walked down the hall). I said $2, he said, “it’s your lucky day” and handed me a $5 bill. No lie.

Scientist October 6, 2012 at 2:07 pm

> “Your thoughts and intentions may indeed be making a difference in what the universe around you does. Unless you claim an airtight understanding of consciousness and its role in the universe, you have to allow for the possibility, at least.”

This is an incredibly weak argument. You can allow for the possibility, but it no more likely true than the possibility that thinking very intently about elephants will have the same effect. You have to allow for that possibility too. This is the fundamental flaw in any sort of pascal’s wager argument – you’re failing to recognise that its not one or the other, its one out of an infinity of possibilities.

So why aren’t you also testing thinking about elephants? Or red pens for that matter?

PS. Your reference to the double slit experiment as a model is a poor one, modern physicists reject the “human observation causes wavelengths to collapse” theory – you are promoting a relatively discredited theory.

PPS. The placebo effect is very interesting because it does in fact make people better. It is, in this way, a very solid scientific theory which explains why positive thinking can improve human health. In this way it does rather neatly present a much more likely (occams razor) explanation of any “success stories” coming out of notions such as the Law of Attraction.

Devlin October 9, 2012 at 1:05 am

Another one seduced by The Secret eh? I was hoping for something better from the title. You seem to be basically saying “We don’t know anything, so anything is possible.” This really feels like a copout. You’re entitled to that if you like, but there’s nothing deep or “scientific” about it…it seems like a weak argument for justifying wanting to be in with the LOA crowd and hoping to reap all the promised benefits, while protecting your ego by trying to appear to be more intelligent and rational than the “fruitcakes”. IMHO, yes LOA works just fine…for as long as things seem to be going well and confirmation bias is working in your favor. But sooner or later, at some point something major will come along and kick your ass, as life has a tendency to. And then, by the demands of LOA logic, you’ll need to justify “attracting” this terrible thing to you. After all if you’re responsible for attracting all the good stuff, you must be responsible for the bad too. And then watch yourself go into paroxysms of convoluted logic trying to reason out this paradox. All the best. We’re all trying to find our path.

Alex October 22, 2012 at 7:53 pm

Doesn’t the Law of Attraction require itself to be false? Provided it is already true, then those who believe it is true are not having any additional affect on its truth, as it would have needed to be true to begin with for their faith to engender the law anyway. This leaves only those who are neutral toward it and those who deny it. Neutrality wouldn’t have any affect on the law either, so we’re really left with those who believe it is false. Thus, if what we believe to be true affects what IS true about the universe, and there are those who affirmatively believe this law is false, shouldn’t the law become false? And once it IS false, all the faith in it’s being true won’t help bring it back. Just sayin’. Would definitely find it engaging to hear why my proposition doesn’t follow.

Alex October 22, 2012 at 8:03 pm

oops, “effect on” x2.

Pheobe October 22, 2012 at 8:27 pm

The Secret taught me 2 very valuable lessons 5 years ago that changed my life. I am not embarrassed that the information came to me from this particular book either.

1. I am not my thoughts. My thoughts don’t control me– I read The Secret when I was 18 and had never considered this before. It was a revelation for me. An epiphany. I knew it was true immediately and couldn’t un-know it. I had been reacting to my thoughts instead of changing them my entire life.

2. Everything is connected– I had heard it a thousand times… Everything is made up of energy. Energy cannot be created or destroyed. I am made up of the same things as the inanimate objects all around me (mostly empty space). What makes us special as components of the universe is that we have the capacity to recognize ourselves for what we are. I don’t see this as hokey. Science backs it up.

If everything is connected and changes with observation then the simple answer is that the LoA does have an effect. Is it so outlandish to claim that what you choose to do and believe is directly correlated to the components of your life? There is also randomness in the universe. It can’t all be controlled, but there is something real going on here. I’m not too arrogant to admit it.

Oliver November 30, 2012 at 5:32 pm

Fantastic Article, and very well written…

I think, ‘The Secret’ was a good intro into the loa, but missed many crucial points. And being cynical tends to lead to more cynical realities, so you need to give the possibility that a, ‘positive’ thought, ‘might’ manifest.

Also, being in the, ‘Now’ helps;-)

Thanks for the good read

Karl January 8, 2013 at 12:02 am

It is the way in which the concept of the law of attraction and positive thinking are sold to the public that cause many to dismiss the idea and become cynical. Unfortunately, authors have to use attractive titles such as “think and grow rich” and make absurd promises of an overnight drastic change for the best in peoples lives in order to drive sales and profit.

I think the best approach to this subject is to quickly establish what we know to be rubbish and then talk about what we know to be fact! So here is my rubbish list:

The Rubbish

1: If we constantly believe with conviction that we will win the lottery and take the positive action of putting it on, it is only a matter of time before we win. Everyone knows this to be rubbish, and only lunatics on the far end of each scale will use this argument for or against the concepts of PMA or LOA.

2: If we constantly remain positive, we will never experience misfortune or the loss of loved ones because we refuse to think negatively and therefore will never attract negative events in our lives. This again we know to be nonsense, and falls under the area of our lives that we have no or very little control of in life.

3: If we think negatively and sad, we will attract nothing but misery and misfortune. This I find to be the most disturbing idea pushed forward by what I would term the lunatics again. For example, grieving for the loss of a loved one is a very important process in life which involves going through the cycle of many negative emotions and reflections, anyone who tries to block these emotions out for fear of more misfortune is heading for a major breakdown or personality disorder. I would refer to the case of James Ray who starred in the secret.

Summary of the rubbish

When reading through the rubbish list, we see that most of the list is concerned with those things that we have absolutely no control of in life, and so, any idea of our thoughts in anyway controlling or helping to shape the destiny of these events is simply absurd.

The facts

1: Our thoughts have a direct impact on the nature of our health!! How can I state this as fact? Simple, only a few hours ago, I read an article on AOL about a student who found chicken brains in his kfc, and when I was exposed to the picture, I actually vomited! My perception of the idea and picture caused a pyshical response from my body! Many people also suffer with IBS despite healthy lifestyles, and if you look into this, they know that stress alone can be the single cause of this condition. The placebo affect for positive health promotion has already been discussed here.

2: Working with dogs! It may well seem a little funny at first, but if you have ever watched the dog whisperer (Cesar Millan), you will know exactly where I am coming from. On countless occasions, Cesar has clearly demonstrated that the way in which dog owners think and anticipate situations is the result they will get! Look at how he controls a pack, it is all the result of his positive energy and thoughts that attract the dogs to him and make them follow his commands! This is a clear example of the LOA in action.

3: Getting a date. I had a mate who was not really brad pitt, but was always pretty successful at pulling the birds. One night we asked a few of the girls why he seemed to pull alot in what seemed like an effortless manner? They said, “He’s not great looking, but he is confident and outgoing and lets off a nice vibe”. Don’t get me wrong here, I am not saying that if you are the elephant man you can go out and pull a stunner, just that inner confidence shows on the outside and definetly helps towards the goal.

Overall summary

Their will be times in life were we have no control over the difficulties we face and the pain and anguish that results, but, on the flipside, their will also be plenty of times in life were we do have control, were we do have choices, and these are the times I believe we should all approach with belief, hope, optimism and hardwork! For how can any positive results possibly occur from approaching them in any other way?

Anya January 8, 2013 at 10:21 pm

I really liked this post. I always suspected that our world is what we make of it. I know that everything is relative to my perception, knowledge, and beliefs. If I don’t know about something or someone, they do not exist for me. After all, I have no other way to experience the univers, but through my conciesnes. Douglas Harding’s idea that I am the source of everything in my world is the best one I found, thanks to you David. It is mind-bending, but also magical. The spoon bends for me.

shane February 2, 2013 at 8:05 am

I have found myself amongst a puzzle. It seems that all my actions are monitored by the universe. Accordingly ta that there are consequences from the universe. Oh you want to eat healthy. Suddenly the world begins to offer less opportunities to binge. One after the other there are cases that show that you should eat healthy. It seems the universe thrives with thought. Thought in its purest form must manifest tirades of possibilities!

Jon Ray February 26, 2013 at 1:39 pm

Thanks for this. I had a very similar experience with The Secret—cheesy yet intriguing. A couple of things that you said really resonated with me:

1) It’s interesting to wonder, though, if maybe our skeptical thoughts have created these crackpots, only to deliver reasons for us to be skeptical.
2) My negative thoughts seem a lot dumber now, when before they made me feel clever.

Personally, I believe you’re right on with those statements. In my own life, I’ve found that when I want to be skeptical, then wackjobs abound. Yet, when I keep an open mind, the “right” information I need to further understand something appears. With the Law of Attraction, my longing for a better understanding led me into quantum physics and some of the work being done there, which as you mentioned, mimics some of the LoA marketing messages out there.

Anyhow, enjoyed the article. Thanks for writing.

Megan March 13, 2013 at 2:17 am

First of all, you’re writing style and message is wonderfully real and intelligent. As a great believer in the LoA, I’m also aware of the flack that The Secret always gets. It seems to have a pretty clear divide. People love it or hate it. Reading your article has given me a much better understanding of why that is. But it also conveys, very well, I might add, that no one can ever be truly enlightened to how the universe works. So why not choose to get on board with thinking that your positive thoughts can create a positive reality? It’s awesome that individuals that were once resistant can still find themselves on the road of manifestation. But again, I’m always reminded of the possibility of another universe. But it’s a great realistic and most likely the best way to convey the LoA. Through openness and on a positive outlook, not closing off any one side of the spectrum completely.
Thanks for this article.

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Sarah Brooks April 21, 2013 at 1:13 am

Hi David,

Thanks for this. I made a comment about The Secret on Amazon (how stupid of me!) and I already got a comment back disagreeing with me. Ridiculous really. I belong to both camps on the LoA issue. I think I can too because I am an individual with my own thoughts, freedoms (here in the US) and personal beliefs.

My personal beliefs had a major problem with page 28 of the book where they are claiming that mass killings are caused by people being on the same “frequency” as the event. This goes against common sense and everything I believe in. I mistakenly (or wisely) used the Serenity Prayer in my defense. I don’t think you can control what other people do, their actions, and such. Could we control Hitler…probably not! Could we control John Wilkes Booth for killing Lincoln…I really don’t think so. As for innocent children being killed like what happened at Newtown…well we can’t control that either. The person did it and it is there responsibility period!

You are very brave in having this website because there are so many people who to be FOR The Secret and have to accept the damn thing in it’s entirety and not read it with the same objective mind you should use when you read anything.

Peace out.


bj bowen April 21, 2013 at 11:40 pm

Very great read. Comments too. I’m with Sarah. This “law” doesn’t isn’t a universal law. Universal laws, gravity comes to mind first and foremost, apply to every single thing the exact same way. Inanimate objects, plants, animals and humans… doesn’t matter.

I know forests, mountain ranges of forests full of dead trees, and if this “law” of attraction is true, then those trees really need to quit worrying so much.

Maybe I’ll hold a $95/tree workshop and teach them how to raise their vibration.

Thanks for the read and the discussion.

RAM May 20, 2013 at 8:17 am

Good post. Taoists and buddhists knew that we are not separated from the whole. Think of me (the ego) and the outside world as two different things, for them, its just an illusion or maya as Buddha said. Modern physicists knows that on the atomic level the matter behaves as they observe it. Einstein said all models of the science and mathematics are just our impression of the nature, a creation of the mind, not the truth. That not means (for sure!) my thoughts can change the universe, the nature, etc. But it can do changes on my perception of that same universe. What Napoleon Hill did was new fashion of old wisdom, especially from the Bible and LoA is the lean version driven to money.

BigmeBrainsBiggerMeBalls June 14, 2013 at 5:43 am

As a big time skeptic i once thought of the law of attraction as nothing but some pie in the bull,nut since the start of last year ive been gradually opening up,researching and doing my own strict experiments with the law of attraction,the results thus far has been,well,interesting to say the least,a few times ive also been totally gob smacked by the string of incredible co-incidences,it seams to give much credence to those who believe in a universal consciousness that interacts with everything in the the universe

that one guy August 15, 2013 at 12:31 am

Who cares about all this. We do!!. But it is Idiotic to pretend we know what’s going on. Probably worst top try and explain it. Here is what we know, . Just enjoy the moment, there’s so much more to wonder of and please let’s not explain things we don’t know / can’t prove.

Drusilla September 11, 2013 at 6:33 pm

Generally I don’t read article on blogs, but I would
like to say that this write-up very forced me to take a look at and do so!

Your writing taste has been surprised me.
Thanks, very nice article.

Focault October 3, 2013 at 12:44 pm

What does science tell about the Law of Attraction? It tells that LoA doesn’t work. Do you need a proof by scientific evidence? Read this:

But if you are a hard die believer in LoA, affected by cognitive bias, then please refuse to believe in science. For instance refuse to believe that your personal computer was built by using science knowledge, refuse to believe in Newton gravity law, refuse to believe in scientific evidence in general. Program your brain with positive thinking like a robot. Don’t accept your feelings as they are. Don’t love yourself as you are. Throw your life experience and your own judgment into the trash. Never desire to save your emotions.


George December 28, 2013 at 4:27 pm

The only thing these experiments prove, is that the LoA doesn’t work in the naive way represented in “The Sercet”. Which, of-course, isn’t surprising given the fact that the version of LoA presented there makes no farking sense whatsoever.

But the LoA does work, in more subtle ways. The simple fact is, that if you transform the way you look at the world, your experiences of the world will change and drastically so. Even if it is nothing more than a placebo effect (which I doubt), it is still very real – subjectively.

And frankly, I don’t particularly care if my healthy attitude towards life actually creates more opportunities, or I’m simply noticing them more because of my mindset. The bottom line is that it works, and that – really – is the only thing that matters.

David Cain December 29, 2013 at 8:36 pm

That’s really what my point was here — that going into it with even an agnostic attitude is likely to have benefits, because it will at least transform your outlook.

katie December 4, 2013 at 4:09 pm

“The LoA crowd seems to be rife with fruit loops, which has naturally made us skeptical of the whole thing. It’s interesting to wonder, though, if maybe our skeptical thoughts have created these crackpots, only to deliver reasons for us to be skeptical.”

Thank you for this sentence. Perhaps one of my favorite sentences in relation to LoA. I am a total believer by the way

George December 25, 2013 at 2:24 am

“1) Those who believe that the universe (“the outside world”) is bound to do its own thing, as determined by its own internal laws, regardless of what you think about it or intend for it to do.

2) Those who believe that the course of the universe, or at least what any one person experiences of it, is altered by one’s perceptions, by their thoughts about it and their intentions for it.”

Those two statements are not necessarily at odds with one another. In fact, I happen to believe that both of them are true.

I think that 400 years of science have proved, beyond all reasonable doubt, that the universe *is* operating according to immutable natural laws. The part the so-called skeptics aren’t getting, is that our minds are part of this system. And the LoA (in its more sensible versions) is simply one the ways our mind can interact with the material universe – according to natural laws.

At any rate, I personally have no doubt that some form of the LoA is real. This belief is based on both my knowledge of modern physics and my personal experience. And as a rationalist person, I actually think that this view makes much more sense then the “materialistic” alternative.

Focault January 4, 2014 at 7:54 pm

Jerry Hicks passed away because of cancer. Although he believed in LoA he used the mainstream medicine for trying to heal. Why? Perhaps because several people used LoA and died faster then the ones who used the mainstream medicine (eg. Kim Tinkham)? Just type on Google “law of attraction” & “cancer death” and you’ll find out so many sad stories. Do you still think that using LoA is a good and rensponsible advise? When it is useful? When it isn’t? Do you feel rensponsible when you suggest people to use LoA? Are you really offering a good service to humanity?

Sharaz January 23, 2014 at 10:48 pm

I read the article above and all the comments. Many of you truly do not understand the LoA. For myself, I watched the movie the Secret and I too thought it was just a really watered down way of showing people how they can change their lives. I think it did more harm than good.

LoA goes far beyond just thoughts and that that think it’s just positive thoughts then all they will have is positive thinking life. Still a good thing than being a negative person all the time but it will not create the life they want.

Many should learn some of the simple parts that are powerful givers in the LoA – Appreciation, Gratitude, Thank You, understanding abundance… there are so many things that I can write a book on.

I live my life engulfed in the LoA. Great things are constantly flowing into my life on a daily basis.

Remember, not because you practice the LoA doesn’t mean you won’t die. We all will die, it’s inevitable. What matters is when you are capable of creating the life you want you do it to the fullest.

A starting point to truly start living life using the LoA is to learn to tame the ego within. Understand the difference between the subconscious and the conscious mind. Tip, Conscious mind = EGO.

Those of you who want to live a life creating the joyous outcome that you want and desire I will suggest, study the complete works of Abraham-Hicks, read Think and Grow Rich by Napolean Hill, read the books based the lives of great men like the Buddha, Ghandi, Abraham Lincoln, Einstein, etc. Read the Bible, the Torah, the Quran, the Bhagavad Gita and many more great books. Read with a non-judgmental mind. Once the ego out of the way then an open mind is all that is left.

In light my dear friends, we are within the universe and one cannot exist without the other, mould it your desires as it awaits your command.

Gina Corcoran February 2, 2014 at 10:15 pm

Hi David. It’s been a while since you
Wrote this. It’s 2014 now. I actually
Saw the secret when it first came out.
At first I was really pumped on it and
Then not long after I started to have my
Droughts. Like you, I have negative
Thoughts and I began to think all of
These LOA peeps where just nuts. Now
Recently I’m interested again because
A friend brought it up and she herself
Is all pumped on it. So I got online and
Started reading all sorts of blogs, articles
And stuff and came across yours. Guess
What? Yours is what has got me thinking
Of giving it a try. I am so all about thinking
I know about how the world and universe
Works and that I’m just one of those
Unlucky negative jaded suckers, but then
After reading this you made it very clear
To me that I don’t know shit. How can
I say that LOA for the good things doesn’t
Work when all along I could have been
Practicing it myself my whole life. Who’s
To say that my negative attitude and hard
Times haven’t resulted from the LOA
Thing in the first place? You said so much
More that made so much sense but this
What you made me realize and it’s so
True. So after all the research I have
Been doing trying to convince myself
That this thing is worth trying, I wished
I would have come across your reasonable
Words of wisdom first. It would have
Saved me so much more time this Sunday
Evening and I still would have come away
With the motivation to try this and that
I really don’t know as much as I think I
Do. Thanks :-)

Linda February 11, 2014 at 12:02 pm

Excellent article David! Coming from a long career in medicine I concluded I will never know how the universe really works. For me personally, the incidents of patients arresting on the table under general anesthesia verbalizing details occurring during their arrest was difficult to wrap my head around. This phenomenon goes against everything I had learned about consciousness vs unconsciousness under general anesthetic agents, and cardiac arrest. This doesn’t mean I can discount the validity of the experiences, only admit that I
don’t understand them scientifically with the current knowledge that I have. Taking thesame agnostic approach to LOA, so far it’s serving me well!

David Cain February 11, 2014 at 2:38 pm

That’s about where I’ve settled. I just don’t know, and I no longer believe I have a very complete understanding of how consciousness works. And I don’t think we need to in order to experiment. In fact, we need to admit that we don’t know in order to experiment.

aastha February 21, 2014 at 7:53 am

great article… I’ve always wanted to read about loa from an unbiased perspective. made a great read. I’m a believer for the simple reason that it makes me a better me. Cheers! :D

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