‘The Secret’ Law of Attraction Doesn’t Work: Here’s Proof

The Secret

Have you ever met someone who was really into The Secret Law of Attraction? Maybe they’ve said something like “you can have whatever you want; you just have to make it manifest in your life. You can attract whatever good fortune you wish just by thinking about it the right way!” People who are into The Secret believe that the laws of quantum physics prove that like attracts like; in other words: if you think about something in a positive way often enough and properly, that thing will magically manifest in your life because “the universe” will provide it to you.

One example of how The Secret works which is frequently cited is: you receive an envelope in the mail. If you think a bill will be inside, then a bill will be inside; but if you think a check will be inside, then you will open the envelope and find a check. There is one major problem with this way of thinking: quantum physics doesn’t work that way, and neither does The Secret Law of Attraction. In fact, there is no “law of attraction” in quantum physics. Here’s proof.

First, Rhonda Byrne, author of The Secret, has no scientific background or training whatsoever. She is a television producer and writer. She claims she based her book on another book published in 1910, called The Science of Getting Rich. Unfortunately, the author of that book, Wallace Wattles, did not have any science background either. He was a farm laborer. Therefore, the two books on which the Law of Attraction is based were both written by people who had/have no understanding of quantum physics.

According to real physicist Andrew Zimmerman Jones, the idea that quantum physics dictates that thoughts can control the “material world” is simply not true, and scientists who have training in quantum physics do not believe it is true based upon their expertise. Byrne’s ideas, extracted from Wattles’ earlier book, are just fabricated nonsense. Consciousness does not affect reality.

The people who believe in Byrne’s ideas are buying advice from someone who has no knowledge of quantum physics and then applying it to their lives, often with disappointing results. Besides physicists scoffing at Byrne’s ideas, those in the field of neuroscience also say the Law of Attraction does not exist.

According to neuroscientist Russell Poldrack, energy fields that are emitted from our brains are much too small to directly impact anything material or cause items, money, situations or other material things to manifest magically:

..these fields are minuscule…Plus, remember the inverse square law: the intensity of an energy wave radiating from a source is inversely proportional to the square of the distance from that source…The brain’s magnetic field of 10–15 teslas quickly dissipates from the skull and is promptly swamped by other magneticsources, not to mention the earth’s magnetic field of 10–5 teslas, which overpowers it by 10 orders of magnitude!

So, it is clear that when actual scientists get involved in the discussion, Byrne’s ideas carry no weight at all; but it’s not just scientists who state that The Secret Law of Attraction doesn’t work; studies have shown that positive thinking can actually be detrimental to achieving goals. A study out of Germany proved that people who concentrated on positive thoughts about getting a job not only failed to manifest that job, but actually ended up making lower salaries than those who did not purposely think positively. Fantasizing led to less action and thus, fewer positive outcomes overall.

The German study supports previous research out of London which showed that students who thought positively about their week got less accomplished during that week than the control group. It’s as if spending time thinking and fantasizing about positive things prohibits action which might otherwise have been taken during that time. This wasted time could have potentially actually led to a positive outcome had the person not simply thought about the outcome.

Despite plenty of anecdotal evidence of The Secret Law of Attraction working, no real science is available to support it, and plenty of anecdotal evidence of it not working also exists. The anecdotal evidence that supports the Law of Attraction is no more than the result of a placebo effect combined with confirmation bias.

So what’s wrong with the placebo effect if it helps some people? The problem is, for the many more people it doesn’t help, a much worse, more depressed, more vulnerable psychological state is often realized. This can lead to worse outcomes in the short term and a poor quality of life overall.

One of the most devious aspects of The Secret is that if someone fails to get what they want, The Secret dictates it is the person’s own fault. The Secret also blames cancer patients for manifesting negative energy and therefore causing their own cancer. It is this kind of victim-blaming mentality that makes this way of thinking so dangerous.

In addition to leading people into a destructive state of mind, psychologist Jenna Baddeley says that adopting the Law of Attraction as valid “promotes a relationship between the individual and the world that is akin to a glorified infancy.” She also says that believing that bad things are the fault of the person experiencing them leads people to a decreased state of empathy, since the victim is the one who is blamed for what’s happening to them.

The Secret also removes the very natural human state of anxiety from the equation; anxiety that can potentially be life saving. Anxiety and fear are survival tools that humans have relied on for centuries. For example, fear of starving in the winter is what propelled people to save and store food in the summer, and so on. The mindset that The Secret promotes takes this fundamental element of survival out of practice and could potentially lead to loss of these necessary fear instincts through disuse. The inevitable end point would be people who become unaware of the legitimate potential of dangerous situations.

Anecdotally, it is easy to meet people whose lives seem to be falling apart; who have no money; who may even be utilizing public assistance, who believe in The Secret and blame their troubles on themselves for not applying the principles of The Law of Attraction correctly. It is less common to meet people who have been highly successful using The Secret, no matter what Oprah Winfrey wants everyone to believe.

Anecdotal evidence abounds that sitting around thinking positive thoughts will not make anything magically manifest in someone’s life, and that doing so wastes time that could be spent taking action instead. Now, in addition to anecdotal evidence, numerous peer reviewed studies have proven the same.

In an article in Psychology Today entitled Positive Thinking Leads to Economic Decline, scientist Matthew Hutson describes the phenomenon of positive thinking being detrimental:

If you vividly picture a desired outcome (weight loss, a job offer), without also thinking in detail about what stands in your way, it’s a bit like you already have the prize, so you don’t strive so hard… all those vision boards that readers of The Secret have constructed—covered with magazine cut-outs of mansions and beach vacations and slim waists (but never world peace)—are likely to remain mere visions dancing in their heads.

The Secret Law of Attraction doesn’t work, and that has been proven by both scientific expert opinion as well as numerous peer reviewed studies. Now, researchers ought to move on to finding out the reason why people would purchase advice based on “quantum physics” from someone who is the furthest thing from a scientist, and why they would persist in believing it despite its lack of positive effect in their lives.

An Editorial By: Rebecca Savastio


Psychology Today

Journal of Experimental Psychology

Journal of Personality and Social Psychology

The New Yorker

Pub Med

Psychology Today

Michael Shermer

Psychology Today

176 Responses to "‘The Secret’ Law of Attraction Doesn’t Work: Here’s Proof"

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  4. some one like you   January 13, 2018 at 12:35 pm

    Dear author of this article,
    I have no right to judge your opinions or even yourself, so please just listen to my opinions about law of attraction.
    Let me start from the beginning, I’m just a simple 14 years old girl. I’m not expecting you to actually believe me. I have felt law of attraction by my soul. I used to be extremely depressed, and it totally ruined my life. Negative thoughts made me lose every thing. Before even reading and knowing loa, I felt an energy telling me that If I be happier, manifestation will be easier.
    Unlike the fact that doctors believed I’m gonna die, both my asthma and depression got cured by only a few simple rules I determined for myself, be grateful, visualize your goals, be sure that you will reach your goals even if it takes time until death. I healed myself by these rules, I visualized myself being healthy and happy, I acted like I dont have asthma, or any other kind of disease. I made myself feel the fact that I am fine. At that time I had no idea about LOA, but I simply used it without even knowing it. Science is not complete yet, and one should not be allowed to say some thing doesnt work just because science doesnt approve it. Years ago, sun moved around earth because science approved it. Earth was flat because science approved it. I some times read Quran, because it has alot of interesting facts in it, as its said in Quran there are some hidden doors, we just should believe. We are stronger than what we think. Science has never been complete, and it will never be complete. Yeah, after 2 years that I cured myself I told every thing to my b.f.f, and she said I simply had used law of attraction. That’s how I got familiar with it. And I gladly help whoever who asks me, not because I love money, just because I want to help people. Its not really right to call every loa teacher a money stealer. Anyway, back to the main subject, some people are like loa doesnt work for them. Hey may have simply not been consistent enough. I achieved a Xbox one with this loa, and it took me around 1 year. I also achieved my desired room in 6 month using that loa. My room is even better than what I imagined. I have achieved alot of things through loa, things that no one could even think I would be able to get, and the interesting part is that I even got more than what I wanted and I succeeded in paying all of those by myself. I dont say that I just sat in a corner and fantasized, I had hard times as well. But I also see people working harder than me to achieve half of the things I uave ever got, and yet they arent successful at all. Because they simply feel negative. And about the earth quake, disease and … Part. I have experience with war and earth quake. Every one were screaming and shouting and running like crazies. I have a good influence on my feelings, so I just ignored my bad feelings. Unlike other people I felt extememely calm. And I can say that I didnt even get injured. My mother who was the most worried person got both physically and emotionally hurt. Negative emotions arent good at all, and they are not defensive at all. What can you really do when you feel stressed? Who would have a higher chance in the test, the one who is stressed or the one who feels calm and happy? I have felt all these situations by myself, I’m not saying these based on what I imagine, I say these based on what I have experienced.I have used loa in negative ways as well. I was simply in a park, and I imagined myself falling into the lake, getting wet and getting dirty, I was feeling every thing, how wet I would feel, how diagusting it would feel, and I suddenly felt that there is nothing under my feet and I felt into water. A stupid way to experience it but yeah it was just a very simple one. I was watching my way, and yet I felt into the lake. Or like the time I made myself get sick to jus ignore school. I rapidly repeated I’m sick while imagining how it would feel and stuff. Even tho I was completely fine, I got so sick the next day, in a way that I couldnt even move my body. There are lots of things we cant see, like god.and yet we keep believing it. Can science prove god’s existence? No. It all depends on what we believe. So dear author, please stop insulting other people for sharing their ideas, maybe their ideas are not same with you, but that doesnt mean that they are wrong. I have read the book secret, I cant say that it was very professional and blah blah blah, but it was telling what the author herself believed, she didnt say bad things about science and logic.

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