One of my most popular posts ever was The Secret: New Age Stupidity and the ‘Law’ of Attraction, about author Rhonda Byrne’s bestselling tome of new age überbullshit, about how if we just visualize positive things, they will come true, as though the universe gives a flying shit about us bipeds on this tiny rock here. Like most new age crap, there’s plenty of appeals to quantum physics (from a non-physicist, of course) and pesudo-scientific jargon which, to the gullible types that would read this tripe, give it an air of credibility. Heh.
Byrne made millions off of this, as well as several other Secret books, and I believe there was even a movie, too. The fact that Oprah, who’s apparently never met a ridiculous “inspirational” story that she couldn’t shill, pushed this one relentlessly didn’t hurt, either.With over 19 million in print, there are surprisingly more idiots reading Byrne than Glenn Beck. Although she’s not a paranoid, lunatic conspiracist/hatemonger, I still don’t take a lot of comfort in that fact.
So now Byrne’s back with an all- new tome of hucksterism called The Power. Jerry Adler’s review of it over at Newsweek reveals that it’s more of the same “Law of Attraction” nonsense we saw in The Secret, but it gets even worse in regard to the pesudo-scientific crap. Get this:
But there are some new observations in The Power, such as the importance of being nice to your water. Researchers in several countries, she writes, “have discovered that when water is exposed to positive words and feelings such as love and gratitude, the energy level of the water not only increases, but the structure of the water changes, making it perfectly harmonious … When water is exposed to negative emotions, such as hate, the energy level of the water decreases and chaotic changes occur.” Since “the inside of your head is 80 percent water,” you can see how important this is.
My eyes just rolled so far into the back of my head, I think I hurt something. I remember something like this vaguely in that silly and similar movie, What the Bleep Do We Know?
Let’s talk about energy for a minute, because people that buy into this kind of new age pseudoscientific crap (as well as astrology, reiki, homeopathy, etc.) LOVE to talk about energy. Energy, as physicists describe it, is simply “thermodynamic quantity equivalent to the capacity of a physical system to do work”. And of course, there are multiple definitions of energy, that go outside of the realm of physics. But new agers seem to have their own definition, which sounds like some sort of perversion of the physics definition. Brian Dunning at Skeptoid, explains it better than I could, in his bit on New Age Energy (podcast here):
In popular New Age culture, “energy” has somehow become a noun unto itself. “Energy” is considered to be literally like a glowing, hovering, shimmering cloud, from which adepts can draw power, and feel rejuvenated. Imagine a vaporous creature from the original Star Trek series, and you’ll have a good idea of what New Agers think energy is.
In fact, energy is not really a noun at all. Energy is a measurement of something’s ability to perform work. Given this context, when spiritualists talk about your body’s energy fields, they’re really saying nothing that’s even remotely meaningful. Yet this kind of talk has become so pervasive in our society that the vast majority of Americans accept that energy exists as a self-contained force, floating around in glowing clouds, and can be commanded by spiritualist adepts to do just about anything.
He then cites numerous example of the pseudoscientific babble we hear all the time, and how they are essentially meaningless. I’ve always laughed in particular, at the use of the terms “positive” and “negative” energy, which, of course, have specific meanings in physics, in relation to the electric charges, yet, once again, new agers pervert those terms to have “positive” and “negative” mean “in an emotional context”. Which is fucking ridiculous of course, as though protons and electrons give a rat’s ass about human-defined emotions. Puh-leeaze. Like the universe gives a shit if I’m in a bad mood. Yes, people who put out “negative energy” tend to attract negativity and negative people. But there’s nothing mystical about that; humans tend to seek out others who are familiar and similar. Duh. If I’m an asshole, there’s a good chance that I like to hang around with other assholes. No energy field necessary for that.
Byrne’s book will undoubtedly sell millions, as America is chock full of people who are always looking for he quick and easy fix, and don’t have a friggin’ clue as to how science and physics really work. They just see “quantum theory” in a book somewhere and assume it’s legit. Godless help us.