Like many teachers, perhaps, I have found that one of my least favorite things is one of my favorite things to talk about in class. In this case, The Secret, a trumped up argument for the Law of Attraction (LoA). The foundation of LoA is that you attract good and ill to yourself, by what you radiate out into the world. This hyper-individualized thinking is the opposite of how most serious people look at the social world: Big, social forces like sexism and racism are always at work, somehow. If you are not a sociologist and read this blurb, I’ll say this: The secret of the Secret is that it blinds you to the deep, hidden social structures at work. I find it particularly appalling that an African-American woman like Oprah would offer such full-throated endorsements of LoA. One of the charlatans in this video (the opening ten minutes is available online) claims that a hurricane was diverted because of all the positive vibes pumped out by his local radio listeners. See it here:
What do you have to say to the folks further up the coastline? What of a Glass ceiling? The Secret blames individuals for their failings–Have you been turned away from a job based on your skin color? Perhaps you are to blame!–and offers a battery of books and self-help lectures as the cure. One of the people behind The Secret is back with a #1 best-seller, The Power. Ugh. Kelefa Sanneh reviews it here.