John Gravois on Oprah and the Secret

A must read from Slate on Oprah, the Secret, and the American excess of wishful thinking – starting with a lovely story about a woman who stopped taking her cancer meds because of the secret.

I find the Secret to be pretty typical idiotic woo, that taken to its logical conclusions becomes dangerous, nasty and ugly woo. Beyond the stupid quantum mechanics fallacy, and the outrageous woo claims which have no credibility whatsoever, If you think about it, they’re really just blaming the victims and offering false hope.


6 responses to “John Gravois on Oprah and the Secret”

  1. Tony L

    I’m loving your blog; great stuff on climate change denialism, which is my own interest.

    But I have to ask. When and where was “woo” first coined? I’ve seen it used here and on other blogs, and I have a general idea of what it means from the context, but I’d be curious to see its first occurrence, which presumably comes with a definition attached.

  2. Brian Thompson

    A few months ago, I worked at Borders. It wasn’t the greatest job in the world, and saying “it paid the bills” would be a gross exaggeration, but it was fun.

    At least until The Secret. I can’t tell you how many soccer moms have come in looking for that book since it was featured on Oprah. It was a best seller. We couldn’t keep it on the shelves. I remember having awkward conversations with people who were purchasing this book.

    “Have you read it?”
    “I read the cover and a couple reviews. I didn’t find it too compelling.”
    “Its great, you should really check it out. It will change your life.”

    The idea that Oprah could be wrong, about ANYTHING, is absurd to these ladies. She is their new messiah. And its the DUMBEST IDEA EVER. At least I thought so until I started reading scienceblogs.

  3. I would like to point to the comments of Robert Fritz on the subject. Robert Fritz is the author of the books “The Path of No Resistance”, “Your Life as Art” and others on how to live a more creative life using what he calls “structural dynamics”. He says “For the record, I shared these very same ideas thirty years ago. Ironically, a few of the contributing authors studied with me during the time I was fostering these types of notions and before I discovered how structural dynamics is even more causally powerful than various forms of positive thinking or mental programming.”

  4. Hmmm. Brian. Was it the dumbest idea ever until you started reading scienceblogs because we have the dumbest idea ever? Or because we write about people with even dumber ideas?

  5. Tony L

    Skeptico — Now you’ve gone and got me addicted to SkepticWiki. DAMN YOU, IRREPRESSIBLE SENSE OF CURIOSITY!!

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