Friday, February 19, 2016

Why "The Secret" is complete BS

During the last decade or so, a strange kind of "new age" spiritualism has become more and more popular. (It's in fact such a new iteration on the older "new age" philosophies, that you could call it "new new age" spiritualism.) It's a really strange ideology that makes lots of esoteric claims with literally zero evidence, and these claims are often just outright preposterous, and they have become so bold that they don't even try to masquerade or "sell" these ideas to make them more palatable. They just make the outlandish claims outright. And the claims are almost always really vague and fuzzy, with no explanations or anything. And somehow many people are swallowing them whole.

One example of this is a best-selling book called "The Secret". To summarize it in one sentence, it claims that if you want something, you should actively think about it and visualize it in your mind, and that will make that something more likely to happen. Because reasons.

The implication seems to be that we have some kind of supernatural powers which we just have to tap into, in order to quasi-supernaturally affect our world. Just visualizing something in our minds allegedly affects the world and makes it more likely to happen.

One could try to shove aside the supernatural and spiritualist implications, and just try to approach the subject in a purely psychological manner. One could think like: "Sure, all that spiritualist stuff is crap, but the core idea might work on a psychological level. Visualizing what you want may make you subconsciously act and work towards making it happen, thus increasing its likelihood even if you are not aware of it."

Ironically, however, at least one study has shown that it might be the exact opposite: Visualizing and fantasizing about something (the study uses people seeking for a job, students who have a crush on someone they like, students expecting to pass an exam, and patients undergoing hip-replacement surgery) may actually make it less likely to happen successfully.

The result might be a bit surprising, but thinking about it, it's actually not completely illogical. After all, when you fantasize about something that you really want, when you truly desire that something, you put pressure on yourself to achieve it, and people are notoriously bad at doing things under pressure.

So, quite ironically, "The Secret" may be making people less likely to achieve what they want.

1 comment:

  1. Visualizing the end goal is what makes it less likely to happen; visualizing the work it takes to get there and the skills you need to accomplish your goals will help you better achieve them.