Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Secret to Getting Busted

So, I saw The Secret by Rhonda Byrne, sitting on the "Breakout Bestseller!" section of the bookshelves a few years ago.

I picked it up, because I was bored and waiting for a friend, and it had that kind of cover. And I was instantly both horrified and entertained, by passages quoting All Knowing Quantum Physicists (with or without their permission, I wonder?), using the admitted weirdness and un-pin-down-ability of quantum mechanics as proof that there really is a universal law that allows good thoughts to return good things to you.

Or something like that. It was a few years ago.

Now, this is one of those things that on the one hand, you just can't argue with. After all, I'm not an eminent quantum physicist, and furthermore, I don't know it's not true. I don't know it is, of course, and that's my point of infuriation--using All Powerful Science make conceptual leaps that are not at all justified. (See Logical Fallacy).

I not writing this to get into the Science Verses Religion argument (at least not now). I do get angry when people ignore science, but science is designed to be questioned, and I get even more angry when people use science in a matter that is not consistent with its rules. You can't know a particle's position and momentum at the same time. You just can't. That means positive thoughts will allow positive things to happen to you!

Yeah. So, why should I criticize a book/movie about spirituality that has, if you believe the official website, helped thousands of people find meaning in their lives? That's what spirituality is for, right? People build their own unique spirituality all the time. That's part of the fundamental narrative of this country. If somebody wants to write a book and make a movie about theirs and sell it (and call it a secret), well, it's still a free country.

It is tacky, though.

Furthermore, if James Ray, new age giant, wants to invite his followers to a spiritual experience in a sweat lodge in the desert, well, it's still a free country. And if some of those people aren't wise enough after all to realize that they're dying, well, is that his fault?

I think yes, there is some responsibility.

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