Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Super Rich Use “The Secret”…to Dupe the Masses

Attention all paranoids: you can put away your tin foil hats now. The Orbital Mind Control Radar has been out of commission for years (yet another legacy of the failed Bush Administration). Besides, the Insiders have found a much more powerful mind control tool: New Age gurus. Who needs public school, the FBI, the CIA, or the Orbital Mind Control Radar when New Age gurus can dupe the disgruntled into believing they are already rich and blaming their problems on their own stray thoughts. The elite can rest easy while the hapless masses waste their time – and their sanity – applying The Secret.

I have been wading my way through The Secret video for the last few nights, and I must give the creators credit: they do know how to stretch out a few simple ideas into an interminably long movie. But at least those ideas are wrong – for the most part.

The Secret begins with the same sort of conspiratorial silliness that I began with in the first paragraph, except they are serious. In their version the rich elite have been hiding The Secret from the masses throughout history – apparently solipsism, superstition, and wishful thinking were the tools of the rich and powerful throughout the centuries while the rest of humanity were duped into believing in physical reality. This is why the masses slave away learning science, engineering, economics, accounting, and other worthless disciplines while the Insiders happily visualize positive outcomes, follow hunches, and buy winning lottery tickets. That’s why you can find the world’s most rich and powerful people hanging out at the convenience store on Friday afternoons chatting about their fabulous weekend plans while playing Scratch and Win.

Or maybe not.

The writers of The Secret even had the gall to invoke the authority of history’s most enlightened thinkers – the very people who got us out of superstitious “New Age” thinking and into the very successful empirical mindset which dominates the West today. The Secret pulls their quotations out of context, most dishonestly. For example, Einstein was big on imagination, but Einstein was not wasting his time imagining what it would be like to be a great physicist! Einstein was imagining possible mechanisms to explain real physical phenomena. (Speaking of physics, I have forgotten way more quantum mechanics that all the so-called “quantum physicists” interviewed in the movie combined.)

This is not to say that The Secret contains nothing but falsehood. That wouldn’t fly. As C.S. Lewis noted decades ago, effective evil is goodness bent, not goodness broken. Lenin and Stalin were incredibly deadly because they mixed some good intentions toward the working class with their envy, hatred and bad economic theories. Adolph Hitler was dangerous because he mixed a good intention – the defeat of communism – with his anti-Semitism and fascism.

Visualization works as a way to motivate yourself, not to modify the universe. If you spend more time visualizing your goals instead of complaining about your problems, you are more likely to do something useful to make good things happen – at least, as long as you don’t expect your goals to simply manifest themselves while you kick back in your Lazy Boy.

“Manifestation” also appears to happen if you practice visualization. Scientific fact: the brain filters out most of what the senses receive well before the signals reach your conscious mind. This is why camouflage works. This is why many optical illusions work. You may have received several of these illusions as an email from a friend; they go around like chain letters. Visualization can help program your subconscious filters to bring different objective facts to your attention. “Manifestation” happens because your mind is not infinitely powerful. It has limited storage and processing power; it cannot handle all the data from your five senses, much less rearrange reality to your liking.

Speaking of low-level thought processes, positive statements of goals do work better than negative statements for programming reflexes and habits. “Remember your car keys” works better than “Don’t forget your car keys” if you want avoid getting locked out of your car. “Eat more raw veggies and dry tuna” works better than “Don’t eat donuts” if you are trying to lose weight. Statements in the negative require more processing. Negative thinking is great for contemplation, strategic planning and creative thought. It just works poorly for fast reactions. This is why nerds rarely make the varsity basketball squad.

Positive thinking, as in believing you will succeed, also has its uses. (Believing you already have when you don’t is pure silliness, however.) If you believe you will fail, you will not try, or you will put in a mediocre effort while focusing most of your energies on your fallback position. If you truly believe you will succeed, you can ditch your fallback position and other expensive insurance. This increases your chance of success. But it also increases the price of failure! Worse yet, if you are too positive, you can underestimate the work required. Excess positive thinking demotivates! I’ve seen it happen hundreds of times. (Just go to a typical college campus and note the parties. Things quiet down right before exams.)

Study the truly successful. Bill Gates is a multi-billionaire in large part because of his pessimism. He worried about potential competitors and took action early and aggressively. Andrew Grove, former CEO of a little company called Intel, has a book out titled Only the Paranoid Survive. Warren Buffet, a rather successful investor, buys companies on the assumption that the financial markets could collapse at any time, that he may find no buyer for years.

So, if you want to make more money, learn to make money. Get an MBA or at least read The Portable MBA. Master a useful skill and how to market it. Read a make money website  which has actionable information instead of feel-good fluff.

But if you want to understand the super rich, those whose wealth defies the bell curve and boggles the imagination, come back here in a bit. I’m working on a series of posts that will expose the real secret of the super rich. Be forewarned: this series won’t be feel-good fluff; it will have graphs and even mathematics. If you want to grow rich, you might need to actually think.


Matt Stone said...

Flawless post. Years ago I published a satirical essay on The Secret in a super new-agey magazine. It was hilarious. Right up your alley. The gist was that because what you think about most with concentrated effort and postive feelings manifests into reality, I had a great time making out with Kathy Ireland and playing Nintendo until the sun came up at age 12.

Believe it or not, that didn't actually happen.

Trump also is known for his team of "skeptics" which troubleshoot every idea and try to expose the loopholes, pitfalls, and so on of his ideas and investment decisions. I wouldn't exactly call your typically rich person pathologically positive in nature either.

Ironically, some of the people they use in that film don't support such new age garbage at all. I've been a close follower of Demartini for years. His advice is exactly as you state it - find what you love to do, spend 10,000 hours doing it to master it, then find a way to make money with your skill. Don't stop till you find it.

The Secret of course is hopelessly polluted with the "happily ever after" human fantasy, and the totally wrong work of the Hicks.

The funniest contradiction, without question, is that they use a magnet as the prop for explaining the secret "law of attraction," which they define as "like attracts like."

Dude, what kind of magnet have they been using?

Carl M. said...

Matt: if you believe in magnetic monopoles, and visualize them diligently, then magnetic monopoles exist! That's the kind of magnets they were talking about;-)

WordVixen said...

I'm certain that I was going to say something brilliant and insightful in the comments... until I got distracted by monopoles. *sigh* The monopoles seem to have sucked my brain out.

On the upside, it's so nice to see someone debunking The Secret with, oh, sense?

Anonymous said...

I think that the secret is definitely over the top in its anxiety to express the law of attraction. There are more steps than just visualizing your wish however, and it seems that this post really harps on the first part of it. Everyone has wishes that they could just sit in their house and become instantly successful and rich.

Its all about goals. Obviously if you want to become a scientist you must go out and apply that wish by studying. There are steps to it. visualization. you visualize your goal. try to see yourself in the place that you want to be.

you have to then apply that situation. by studying or doing whatever it is needed to obtain the goal.

you then must attach yourself to people with the same likeminded goal, be it people who have already acheived that goal or people who want to do the same as you. this is like getting connections.Hanging around rich people will most likely land you a position you were looking for, or a rich husband. lol.

You can of course consider negative posibilities- anything that would hinder such success or hurt your cause and try and destroy them. distraction from your goal can be a deterrant. and many people get distracted by life's little interferences.

I don't necessarily believe there is some force waiting for you to just sit there and focus your mind to the flow of some strange untapped dimension. If this was true everyone would be successful. But I do remember watching a show on TLC about a woman who wanted to win the lottery and thought of nothing else. She said even wrote down the amount she wanted and slept with it under her pillow. She won exactly the amount she had dreamt of for a few years. I don't think she mentioned "the secret" once. But it does remind me of it. I don't think the super rich put out "the secret" as a tool, however, I don't believe they were hiding it in ancient scrolls in the vatican either. It is silly to blame the 'illuminati' for conspiracies that control the world. I do believe the super rich are able to control us simply through the media, as there are only six media corps in all of the US and they are owned by owners of other corporations with their own interests be them good or evil such as General Electric. Why is GE, an electric company owning a media corp? hmm. We don't need some crazy new age "secret" to be fooled. All we need is to read the paper or watch the "news". thanks for your consideration.