The Real Secret is a different kind of self help. We debunk the empty promises of so many books and DVDs and bring you a simple, sensible approach to real life fulfillment. We don't believe you can achieve happiness, or anything else, by simply wishing for, thinking about or visualising it. Our book - and this blog - takes only the best of what really works and turns it into a positive, practical 12-step programme that will enable you to take control of your life and raise your happiness levels.

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The Real Secret is simple, sensible, scientifically supported self help
by Lucy McCarraher & Annabel Shaw


The Secret and The Lies

Rhonda Byrne has just brought out a new book called The Magic. Her first bestseller was The Secret, and she followed this up with The Power, which said nothing very different. The Magic is perhaps the most honest title, because it says explicitly that there is nothing 'real' about her theories. Why, though, have they attracted such a massive following? Here's The Real Secret to her success.

We bought (and bought into) the The Secret by Rhonda Byrne because we are human, and therefore fallible. We were looking for happiness, or something; at the very least an improvement in our lives. So when we heard about this book called The Secret which has the answer, we thought, maybe what Byrne is saying is true ..maybe there is a secret way of getting everything you ever wanted... I’ll give it a try...what harm is there? Twenty million people can’t all be wrong? Surely?...and anyway I can find out for less than £20, so no great loss if it’s just a scam. 

So lots of us bought the book - just to see what it says  just to make sure we hadn’t missed out on something important that 20 million others seemed to know about.

We bought the book(s), and then we - most of us, surely - knew just how stupid we had been. How embarrassing. I hang my head in shame. But I hang it only once - some of you did it twice. Shame on you twice. Maybe you thought you weren’t doing it properly the first time...that's what she told us. If it didn't work, it was all our fault. I know, I know... it’s not easy. I forgive you.

According to Rhonda Byrne, these experiences are much more than mere coincidences. We apparently bought the book(s) because we were attracted to the message that they held for us. She claims the "Law of Attraction" means that whatever you experience in life is a direct result of what you think about. It really is that simple. If you think about being fat, you will get fatter. If you think about thin people, you will become thin yourself. If you think about your debts, you will get more debts, but if you think about how much you love money instead, you will attract money. Simples!  And very attractive.

You may not have known this but apparently your thoughts and feelings have magnetic properties and “frequencies". They “vibrate” and "resonate" with the “universe,” somehow attracting events that share those frequencies back to their thinker. That will explain cancer then - bad vibrations. And the Tsunami - negative frequencies. Let's not mention all those unfortunate people in Pakistan who drowned in the floods, or those currently inundated in Australia. They must have asked for it by thinking about it. Serves them right. Don’t you agree? No, of course you don’t, because it's obviously nonsense. What if a thousand people started sincerely visualising winning the lottery? They probably do, every week. Strange how only one or two ever win.

The Secret and The Power deliver their wisdom in a tone of voice that evokes The Bible on the one hand, and Albert Einstein on the other. The problem is, the message is neither religion nor  science. So why is this particular pseudo-scientific, quasi-religious and totally illogical concept so persistent and so attractive?

The first trick Byrne uses is what psychologists call “social proof.” People like to do things other people are doing because it seems to prove the value of their own action, and why advice seems more credible if it appears to come from many different people rather than one. The Secret is peppered with quotations from a group of about 20 “teachers” or “avatars,” many of whom are themselves popular self-help gurus  (so that’s why we bought the first book - they know what sells). In The Power, Byrne’s second book, she also quotes sages like Thoreau, Gandhi and St. Augustine. This ploy, an example of a related logical fallacy called the "argument from authority" is likewise very persuasive. After all, we like to take the opinions of those we consider better informed - like plumbers when our pipes leak, or doctors when our health fails (so that’s why we fell for the second book). 

Byrne also exploits our readiness to believe that we have a vast reservoir of untapped abilities just waiting to be released, if we only knew as much about how the brain and the universe works as she claims to. Byrne’s onslaught of pseudo-scientific jargon serves mostly to establish an “illusion of knowledge”. In psychological terms this is the tendency to believe we understand something much better than we really do. When it comes to scientific knowledge, we can safely say that Rhonda Byrne exploits this illusion to the full.

Lets have a look at her evidence. For example, in The Power we hear about one anonymous woman who left a long, abusive relationship and “never talked negatively about her ex-husband but instead gave only positive thoughts and words about a new, perfect, beautiful husband.” Sure enough, we are told, she soon met her “perfect and beautiful” new husband, and they now live happily ever after in Spain — which happens to be in Europe, the very continent the woman had dreamed of visiting. Good grief! Would you believe it? But we are never told the name of the woman or offered any proof that she existed, and most of Byrne's examples centre on her own experience

The intuitive appeal of such stories illustrates the human tendency to see things that happen in sequence — first the positive thinking, then the positive results — as forming a chain of cause and effect. This is even more likely to happen when all the stories we hear fit an expected pattern, a phenomenon psychologists call “illusory correlation”.

The powerful psychology behind these rhetorical tricks can distract readers from the dangers. Lucy has coached people whose self esteem has been severely damaged by their "failure" to manifest their desires. And what about the women with cancer I have watched die because they believed in the "Law of Attraction"? Yes, they died.

I worked as a radiotherapist treating cancer and I have watched women (always women) die because they read - and believed - in the so called Law of Attraction.

I’ve cried my eyes out in frustration and anger, but it’s useless to argue with books like The Secret and The Power. They demonstrate an exquisite grasp of the reality and falibility of human nature. After all, the only other force that could explain how Rhonda Byrne put two books on top of the best-seller list is the "Law of Attraction" itself.

There you have it - The Secret and The Lies     

Post by Annabel  

The Real Secret - what to do when the universe hasn't delivered everything you ever wanted is available in paperback and kindle on and

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