title splash of The Secret
Reading Time: 25 minutes title splash
Reading Time: 25 minutes

Hi and welcome back! This is the full review of The Secret documentary. See the previous post–and the amazing comments on it from our wonderful community–for the warmup! In essence, it’s painfully obvious that The Secret documentary revolves around pseudoscience trash masquerading as self-help.

title splash of The Secret
title splash

(Ahead there be typos. I fixed anything that detracted from the meaning of the sentences involved. Also, a Duper’s Delight smile, also called duping delight, is a little leaked smile or smirk that a liar makes after selling a lie successfully. The idea behind it is that the liar feels glee at deceiving others. Look for it when someone lies about a terrible event — and then flashes a very quick, faint smirk. This video’s FULL of that quick expression, and I noted it when I caught it.)

Sucky Life Syndrome.

The beginning opens with an Australian-accented woman’s voice, probably Rhonda Byrnes’, telling us about how awful her life was. Oh, okay, it’s a testimony!

(I heard a doctor once describe fibromyalgia as sucky life syndrome because so many people diagnosed with it have terrible diets, little to no activity, little social support, and in dead-end jobs or unemployed/unemployable. It fits so well here, where Byrne tries hard to make a case for her being a totally suffering individual. This is her version of that, it seems, but as I saw on her IMDB page, she actually had a few TV gigs to her name.)

A woman emerges into the picture — a well-past-her-youth woman with bleached-blonde hair. She sets her suitcase down while a voiceover tells us how terrible her life was. Inside the suitcase is a book. A note is stuck to the book: Mom this will help OXOX. Ah, so this is Rhonda Byrne herself, I guess?

a post-it note on a book: mom I hope this helps
I’m sure it looked exactly like this too.

She opens the book and GASPS like she just had an orgasm. All these pictures of old-timey men doing great things flashes before her eyes. OMG! She tells us via voice-over that she’d “been given a glimpse of a great secret!”

OMG! What will it be?!?

Montage: Tracing the Secret.

As the pics become a montage, the voice-over voice tells us that she began “tracing the Secret back through history.”

I’m guessing she’s not trained to do that on any kind of professional basis.

In the main set of images, a young-ish guy in Ancient Near Eastern scrubs makes a rubbing of Ancient Egyptian cave art while Roman soldiers advance on him amid ominous music. An old dude rushes in with a fake scroll, the young dude rushes out, the soldiers arrive. The movie implies they’ll kill the old dude, who they mistakenly think made the rubbings and is holding them. OMG! They kept the Secret from happening, almost! Oh, and the young dude buries the Secret rubbings in sandy soil somewhere.

“THE SECRET WAS BURIED,” words onscreen tell us.

More manic montage nonsense.

“THE SECRET WAS SUPPRESSED,” words onscreen tell us.

Eventually, we cut to the modern day. White dudes in suits look at each other ominously. A typewriter spells out the words, “The Secret will never be released to the public.”

Voice-Over-Australian-Lady (Rhonda Byrne, I’m assuming) tells us that she couldn’t believe how many important people had believed this “Secret.” Why didn’t everyone know it, she asks as the camera begins to focus on her lips moving to the words.

Why indeed?

Yeah, that montage didn’t happen. 100% did not. Are we forgetting that this whole Law of Attraction thing was a well-attested, well-supported popular notion for centuries beforehand? Or that Byrne got her ideas from a self-help get-rich-quick scheme book?

The Initial Panel of Experts.

Voice-Over-Australian-Lady (VOAL) offers us a panel of “experts,” photographed of course in front of what look like old-timey drawings that are supposed to look like Michelangelo or something. We don’t hear from her much again though.

Bob Proctor, Philosopher. Cream suit, silver hair. He shows up repeatedly. Once he asks, “What do you really want?”

Dr. Joe Vitale, MSC.D., Metaphysician. Priest’s cassock without white collar. Weird necklaces. Crazy eyes.

John Assaraf, Entrepreneur. Dresses like an Amway Diamond. Probably is one. Very tanned older fellow.

Loral Langemeier, Financial Strategist. Red-suited middle-aged lady. Looks like a real estate agent.

Marie Diamond, Feng Shui Consultant. Red dress, gold necklaces, looks like Overweight!Carol Burnett, and I’m not kidding. Her illustration depicts a yin-yang symbol and a hand holding a modern-looking compass.

Rev. Dr. Michael Beckwith, Visionary. Middle-aged black man with a brown suit and tie, blue shirt. His hair amazes me. It’s very long cornrows caught in back in a ponytail. He assures us that this Secret can bring “miracles” of literally all kinds — including magical healing!

Jack Canfield, Author. Old white dude in a button-down short-sleeve shirt. Behind him we see a box labeled “Chicken Soup for the Soul.” I’m assuming he wrote it. He tells us that The Secret inspired his work. That’s pretty good considering it didn’t exist till 2006 and he published his first book in 1993.

Splash Screen!

The montage ends with a splash screen for the doco and a quote that says it’s from Ralph Waldo Emerson:

The Secret is the answer to all that has been, all that is, and all that will ever be.

Wow. I wonder if he really said that?

This subsection will be expanded later into a post. And we’ll find out.

(Peter Byrne did Emerson’s voice-over, Amazon tells me. Aww, that’s sweet; she let her husband do something.)

Finally Sort of the Point.

Proctor shows up in his cream suit to tell us that science is super-exact. Yay! Something true! We get scenes of the lunar landing, sort of.

Then he tells us that everybody on Earth works according to a single, similarly-precise set of rules. “One law. It’s Attraction.”

Oh my gosh, he is SO EXCITED RIGHT NOW.

“Everything that’s coming into your life, you are attracting into your life. And it’s attracted to you by virtue of the images you’re holding in your mind.”

Oh, that’ll be nice for the poor gutter rats of Rio to know. This is YOUR fault, kiddos. And he made this face right after he laid that truth-bomb down:

joe vitale victim-blaming

He dives from there into claiming that the “Ancient Babylonians” totally knew this law. Why oh why, he asks, don’t we wonder how it is that the 1% earns “around 96% of all the money that’s being earned? Do you think that’s an accident?”

No, I think they got born to super-rich parents and got really lucky with connections. Their thinking had very little to do with it. But Proctor cries out that it’s “no accident! It’s designed that way!”

And then we see that shadowy image of the dark office full of old white dudes in suits from the first montage. SEE? SEE?

Magnets, How Dafuq Do They Work?

Assaraf pops in. He says he thinks of himself “as a magnet. And a magnet will attract to it.” Uh, magnets, how do they work? They attract opposite charges to themselves. A positive end attracts negative stuff. I guess he’s not a science-gadgets entrepreneur.

New Expert: Mike Dooley, Writer. Middle-aged bald white dude in casual clothes. He tells us that the Secret can be summed up “in three. Simple. Words. Thoughts. Become. Things.”

Assaraf joins us to tell us that thoughts totally have frequencies.

Wild-eyed Joe Vitale shows up. He informs us that “thoughts are sending out that magnetic signal.” Oh, do they? That must be why nobody can have MRIs. These guys are remarkably poorly-informed about magnets.

A naked guy looks in the mirror, gets a smug expression, and suddenly he’s dressed in a nearly-identical cream suit as Proctor’s. He gets into a fancy limousine.

SEE what his thoughts brought him? SEE?

New Experts Galore.

New Expert: Bob Doyle, Author. Middle-aged white dude in casual clothes. He informs us that the Law of Attraction doesn’t care if you’re thinking about stuff you don’t want or do, good stuff or bad. If you’re thinking it, you’ll be getting lots of it! He accidentally leaks a smirk that is pure Duper’s Delight. He thinks we bought this load of bullshit that not even he believes. Silly Bob.

New Expert: Lisa Nichols, Author. Middle-aged black lady with an impressive red afro. She wears a red blouse printed with yellow leaves. Her illustration background depicts a line of people with their arms on each other’s shoulders. Above them floats the word “therapist.” But her byline says “Author.” I’m guessing not even Rhonda Byrne wanted to risk accusations by calling her a therapist, so the documentary just hints about it instead.

lisa nichols, labeled as not a therapist
Guessing she’s not a real therapist.

A lady wishes super-hard at a display of jewelry in a window. The doco does this whoosh-sound and a golden light emanates from her. We’ve seen this before already a couple times. She wants a necklace sooooo bad. She performs the magic of The Secret, and the next scene is a guy giving her that very same necklace! OMG!

By contrast, a guy driving a car gets caught in traffic. Oh, he doesn’t wanna be late for work! He’s thinking about being late to work, and he gets the whoosh and the golden emanation. The Universe, the voice-over tells us, doesn’t “know” we don’t want this thing, only that we’re thinking about it, so that’s what it gives us! Oh, that silly Universe!

I guess nobody’s talking about what happens if lots of people want conflicting things? Like maybe the Asian lady’s boyfriend wants her not to want expensive gifts? Or someone living along the road getting construction really needs that expansion so their home isn’t right smack up against the middle of traffic twice a day? We only see one whoosh-emanation at once.

I need a refill.

I’m eight minutes in.

And MORE Experts.

New expert: Bill Harris, Therapist. Seriously, we get another big expert. This one’s a middle-aged white dude in casual clothes. He’s a real therapist though, so he gets the byline.

At 9:20, he starts his story with “Robert was a gay man,” and then he gives this weird little sharp intake of breath and rearranges his shoulders up and down. I wish I knew how to make a gif of Amazon videos. Dang, it is striking.

Boy, that bit doesn’t look at all hugely significant. NOPE! Mr. Captain thinks he was disgusted by the gayness. I think he was way into Robert. I’m open to the commentariat’s interpretation. At the moment I’m leaning toward both.

my take

Anyway, Robert was a student in Bill’s online teaching course. Robert revealed a life full of discrimination and failure. Bill told him it was all his fault for thinking about and expecting that stuff. Robert took The Secret to heart, then golden-whooshed his way to success in every single part of his life!

Wow! This anecdote has totally changed my mind! Let’s all get our lil asses to Bill’s online course!

New expert: Dr. John Hagelin Ph.D A.B.M.A., Quantum Physicist. Ohhh, Snek Fren gonna get mad. This one’s another old white dude in a nice tan suit. His background: An orrery and a Peace Dove. He tells us it’s all our fault if we experience probelms. Michael Beckwith shows up again to confirm.

New expert: Dr. John F. DeMartini D.C. BsC., Philosopher. He looks exactly like Luke Wilson. Not even kidding. Hjs background: big stack of books because no humans would stack books like that AMIRITE? And a Grey’s Anatomy sort of drawing of the human spinal column. He’s a chiropractor. Gonna call this one now. He just tells us that all we have to do to see the truth is “open our eyes — and look!”

john demartini
John F. DeMartini. On that note: I’m building quite a Rogue’s Gallery of “experts” here.

Lisa Nichols voice-overs to tell us that every bad thing we experience is all our fault for thinking the wrong things.

This Is All Totally Sane, They Swear.

New expert: Fred Alan Wolf, Ph.D., Quantum Physicist. Oh great, another one. Balding old white dude in casual clothes. He uses hand gestures and a super-sarcastic voice to say this isn’t WiShFuL tHiNkiNg oR iMaGiNaRy CrAziNeSs. It’s really off-putting to see SquareBob typing verbalized. No no, this is much deeper and more basic than that nuttiness. Oh for sure. It’s not exactly the same because that would be really bad. See, his totally-sane viewpoint is that our minds actually created the universe by shaping what we measure.

I wonder if he's really working in the field
He’s got that Sarcasto-Vision! 

I’m 99% sure that Snek Fren, Infinite Automaton, would have some things to say here.

If this doco hadn’t taken off, I guarantee Rhonda Byrnes would have called it a mockumentary instead and pretended it was all a big joke or social engineering.

Proctor shows up to tell us that nobody knows how electricity works, but we still use electricity. (Calling shenanigans.) Consequently, we’re not allowed to ignore The Secret if we don’t understand it. SEE? SEE? It just works! They swear!

The Time Delay.

Lisa Nichols pops in to voice-over to tell us “Thank GOD there’s a time delay” to how the magic happens.

We see a man looking at his mail in his home. He gets a postcard and smiles longingly at the elephant. Nichols tells us that there’s always a time delay in the Universe giving us our wishes, because wow wouldn’t it be hard otherwise! And an elephant appears in the man’s living room.

But no word on why the delay exists or how we know, or what kind of delay it is, or how people might measure it. It just means that you can wish all you want, but you don’t get the magic spell’s fruition until the Universe decides it’s time.

Joe Vitale shows up here. His crazy eyes tell us to “have fun with this!” He means, I think, your newfound magical powers.

Oh of course!

Suppressing the Secret.

Any good conspiracy theory needs a dark, shadowy Cabal of Evil: an evil, powerful, secret Them to be the dread enemies keeping DA TROOF from DA PIPPLE. Now we get this one’s Big Bad. Amid scenes of old-timey factories full of oppressed workers, we get told that some select group of powerful men have kept this big Secret from the people they wanted to oppress. Boo! Oppression!

New expert: Denis Waitley, Ph.D, Psychologist. Old white dude in a dark suit. Very fundagelical facial movements, if that makes sense. He tells us about this suppression of the Secret.

Joe Vitale’s crazy eyes come into frame to tell us that yes, of course, a lot of people will not like hearing that they attracted bad fortune to themselves. And he says “I’m here to be a little in your face and tell you yes, you did attract it.”

Oh, okay. All I needed was to hear him say so. Now I believe it!

Don’t miss his Duper’s Delight smirk right after he does his victim-blaming! It’s glorious.

Oh Wait, It’s Our EMOTIONS Now.

New expert: Marci Shimoff, MBA, Author. Pretty redheaded middle-aged woman in a peach-colored suit. She tells us that researchers say we have 60k thoughts a day. Gosh, it’s too hard to control each and every thought! So instead, our feelings actually bring the magic. So our thoughts provoke feelings, which then work the actual magic. That’s not what they originally said, but whatever; I’m already bored.

Suddenly a bunch of other experts chime in about how emotions actually make all this difference.

New expert: Dr. Ben Johnson, M.D., N.M.D, D.O., Physician. They don’t wanna admit he’s a naturopath, how cute. Old white dude with a goatee and a cream suit. He doesn’t even bother hiding his Duper’s Delight smirk — he wears it the whole time he’s on camera. He tells us that our thoughts give off good or bad “vibes,” which is another way to say “frequency,” so obviously our thoughts have literal frequencies “or whatever you wanna call it!” Then he loses his composure and outright laughs; he thinks we bought his bullshit.

How much less scientific does an idea need to be to merit being called literally whatever someone wants?

Lisa Nichols tells us that we can tell the difference between good emotions and bad emotions because the former make us feel good, while the latter make us feel bad. Thanks for the tip!

Other experts tell us that our feelings will determine what we get. So if you’re happy, you’ll draw good fortune. If you’re unhappy, you’ll go “off-track.” Marci Shimoff comes in to tell us, “Whatever you’re thinking and feeling today is creating your future.”

Start Now!

The experts tell us that we can start right NOW, and the Universe will start complying.

But what about the time delay?!?

Then we get a lesson in confirmation bias: we’ll start noticing changes once we put The Secret into practice!

Oh, and a Winston Churchill quote:

You create your own universe as you go along.

I wonder if he really said that? Also, who knew he invented Choose Your Own Adventure books?!?

Becoming Happy.

But see, even super-poor Chinese peasants can totally be enthralled with life if they just think happy thoughts. Bet that’ll help them with coronavirus!

Proctor pops in to tell us to change our moods immediately through the power of music! He snaps his fingers so he must mean it!

New expert: James Arthur Ray, Philosopher. Middle-aged white dude in a striking royal-blue shirt. He suggests pet ownership as the route to joy.

The accompanying image is great though: a cat stuffing her head into an empty crisps bag and getting stuck like that. Her humans laugh and don’t help her. Joy = lack of compassion for a pet obviously in distress. Got it!

Enter a montage of happy people, mostly thanks to the great power of spending money. Jack Canfield talks about his enormous wealth and his expensive leisure pursuits. He says that the Secret is how he got that wealth and leisure. Yep, writing a bestseller series of pure glurge had nothing to do with it.

The Rosicrucians. Again.

From my days in Pentecostalism, I’m well-used to conspiracy theories involving the Rosicrucians. We see the word flash briefly by the screen at about 22:30 in. Oh yay. (Spoiler: it never comes up again.)

James Arthur Ray tells us the story of Aladdin’s Lamp. The Genie tells Aladdin, “Your wish is my command.” Ray thinks the original story involved unlimited wishes. Then he tells us that the “Genie” actually means any angelic being or fairy godmother or supernatural protector ever mentioned by any mythology ever created. Who guessed?!?

Lisa Nichols tell us the three steps of getting what we want out of life:

  1. Ask (Proctor tells us to name it and claim it) (Vitale tells us “it’s like placing an order with the Universe”)
  2. Believe you’ll get it (don’t doubt even a little! Nope! The experts tell us not to worry about how either)
  3. Receive it (“begin to feel wonderful about it,” Nichols tells us)

Proctor tells us that these three steps comprise what he calls “the creative process.”

This is such obvious bullshit. This is not what my creative process is all about, nor that of anybody else I’ve ever known who was in fact involved in creativity as a vocation or avocation.

Act Now!

Oh, and Joe Vitale’s Duggar gaze commands us: the Universe does not like delay. So you must be ready to act on a moment’s notice! But wait, Lisa Nichols said there’s a time delay?!?

wow she really is a wacko ain't she
THIS Duggar gaze.

Proctor lectures us: we must be very attentive to opportunities.

Quote mined MLK Jr. quote:

Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.

I’m gonna bet he wasn’t into anything like the Law of Attraction. I love how this doco likes to pretend all these famous people were totally into their wackadoodlery.

New expert: David Schirmer, Investment Trainer. I have no idea what an “investment trainer” is, but this guy looks like he actually sells used cars. Disreputable-looking middle-aged white guy in a dark suit, blue shirt, bright yellow loud tie. And he, too, doesn’t bother concealing his Duper’s Delight smirks. He says everyone’s amazed at how successful he is at finding parking spots in parking garages.

Parking garages.

david schirmer
I wouldn’t buy a used car from him, no.

Pfft, any Pentecostal has miracle stories just like that. Seriously, this video just briefly became hilarious.

Why Debt Letters Arrive, Wackadoodle Edition.

Lisa Nichols laughingly tells us that if we expect bills to arrive in the mail, guess what? We get bills! It’s not because we did stuff to get ourselves into debt and then didn’t pay it back. Oh no! It’s because we expected bills! So the Universe apparently manufactured them for us!

She and other experts imply that if we just go through life not expecting collections letters, we’ll just never get them. Instead, we should expect a check and bully ourselves into emotionally feeling good about getting a check. Then we’ll get them out of nowhere!

I’ve got a better solution: don’t get into debt at all in the first place. You can’t get collection letters without first going into debt. If you want checks, do stuff that makes it possible for you to get checks in the mail for doing it. An eBay store works well for this, as does freelance writing.

And a quote mine from Buddha, who probably didn’t mean this at all to apply to magical thinking:

All that we are is the result of what we have thought.


The Process: Gratitude.

Joe Vitale’s wild eyes tell us to start changing our lives by making a list of whatever we’re grateful for in our lives. Gratitude figures very prominently in with this ideology, I’ve noticed. The experts pour in to confirm this suggestion.

New expert: John Freakin’ Gray, Ph.D, Psychologist. FINALLY, someone I’ve heard of already. And what I know is that he’s a quack and a snake-oil vendor who isn’t qualified to give marriage advice. His background image: holding hands and a Mars-and-Venus label. He uses a marriage example: if a man gets appreciated, he wants to do more to get more appreciation. Of course! How totally transactional, too.

john gray
Oh for the love of little orange kittens.

New expert: Lee Brower, Teacher. This guy gives off maaaaajor fundie vibes to me. Old white dude in a black polo shirt. A brightly-shining light bulb is drawn in his background. No honorifics of achievement, I noticed. He suggests using a rock to remind himself of what he’s grateful for. I heard this same technique in therapy years ago in the 90s, and I think Alcoholics Anonymous uses it too.

Anyway, some South African guy asked him to send three of those rocks so his super-sick son would recover. They’re just regular rocks, but Brower found him some nice little rocks. The guy’s sick son recovered! And they started selling “gratitude rocks” for $10 each and got totally rich!

Predictably, Brower takes the entirely wrong lesson from this story.

Visualize Whirled Peas.

Denis Waitley shows up to tell us “When you visualize, then you materialize.” OMG it rhymes! We must acquit!

Waitley claims that Olympic athletes who visualized their events used the same muscles in the same ways. “How could this be?” Oh, of course: it’s because our minds don’t understand visualization being different from practice.

But Mike Dooley shows up to tell us only to focus on the end result, not on performing the actions leading to it, which directly contradicts what Waitley literally just told us. He advises us to see our hands gripping the steering wheel OF OUR NEW SPORTSCAR! And a guy does that on screen from his recliner.

Joe Vitale’s Rasputin-like lynx-eyes show up to tell us that gosh, we won’t even need a real sportscar, cuz our visualization of driving it will be that great!

Now, a quote mine from Alexander Graham Bell, who I can virtually guarantee wasn’t involved with this nonsense cult:

What this power is, I cannot say. All I know is that it exists.

This almost certainly refers to electricity, and these numpties want us to think it’s about The Secret. Hey, they don’t understand either one, after all.

The MLM Connection.

Marci Shimoff shows up to babble incoherently. Literally, I have no idea what she’s talking about. I zoned out.

Assaraf tells us about making a vision board. Ambots get told to do that, incidentally. Same for visualizing having a new sportscar. The Ambot who loved me was way into all that stuff in the 90s. Assaraf foresaw the house he bought thanks to it, and that’s when he says he finally understood the Law of Attraction. (He cried! In the dramatization, I mean. Not in his expert appearance.)

And now, a quote mine from Albert Einstein, who I can 100% guarantee wasn’t into this nonsense:

Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions.

Maybe so, but not the way these guys use it. This is how financial predators ensnare MLM recruits.

Chicken Soup for the Wallet.

Jack Canfield (author of Chicken Soup for the Soul) pops up to tell us that he originally had very negative views of rich people. Then he quotes W. Clement Stone, who I’ve never heard of:

Whatever the mind can conceive, it can achieve.

Here is why I’d never heard of him:

This guy was someone Canfield met and worked for. He told Canfield to visualize a big goal. Canfield chose making $100k a year. For a month, nothing much happened but he visualized his lil heart out anyway. Then he thought of selling a book he’d just written! Probably it’d taken him longer than a month to write. But then he saw The National Enquirer for sale and went ZOMG! He could use a mention in that magazine! Then he gave a talk and a reporter asked him afterward for an interview. Her main buyer? The National Freakin’ Enquirer. Of course!

Gosh, I guess he didn’t really have such negative views of rich people if he wanted to be rich anyway.

However, he didn’t make $100k that year. He made $92k. But he still considered it a solid vote of confidence in the snake oil Stone had sold him. Then he wished for a MILLION! And he got it! After he struck it rich, he guessed he could strike it even richer! Who’d’a guessed?!?

Pivot to Wealth-Building.

Now the documentary nonstop focuses on wealth. Very briefly, King Midas turns stuff to gold. James Arthur Ray declares that wealth also includes non-money elements like health and relationships.

New expert: Loral Langemeier, Financial Strategist. No honorifics. Middle-aged blonde lady in a nice crisp red suit. A bank vault and bills drawn behind her. Of course. She makes, she makes money!

Marci Shimoff informs us gravely that “our research” (whose? which? sorry) reveals that wealthy people can too be miserable! Who could have thought that?!?

Pivot to Relationships.

Now the documentary concentrates on relationships.

Marie Diamond, the Feng Shui Consultant, discusses relationships. She relates an anecdote about meeting an artist. On his walls, he decorated with images of a beautiful woman who never looked directly at the viewer. She told the artist that he had trouble with relationships, warm reading him based on his art! He asked if she was a clairvoyant — cuz wow, how’d she know that? She revealed how she’d come by her guess. Then he said he had painted those images himself! And she utilized that in her warm reading by expanding and drilling-down on her earlier guess. She suggested he draw himself dating several women.

Six months later, she met with him in France. There, he told her his love life looked stupendous — he was dating so many great women now! But now he desired marriage. So Marie Diamond instructed him to paint himself in a happy marriage with one woman. Very quickly, he got married! And they lived Happily Ever After!

This anecdote convinced me! I don’t even need to know who it was.

Other experts, including John Gray, show up to tell us we must first love ourselves before we can love others. No comment. I hope they go through the importance next of not putting beans up our noses.

Proctor pops in to say he wishes he could kiss himself sometimes cuz he’s so in love with himself. I CAN TELL.

Oh, and we create our own happiness. We choose our own bliss. Okay. This represents profound widsom. Profound.

Magical Healing.

TOTALLY A REAL QUANTUM WIZARD John Hagelin pops in to tell us that our bodies’ health really depends on how we think. Of course. And medical science is totally starting to know this truth!

Luke Wilson John DeMartini pops in for a nanosecond to talk about the “placebo effect.”

Proctor shows up to lecture us about disease being dis-ease of the body. Brilliant!

Ben Johnson, who is almost certainly a naturopath, uses scare quotes around “diagnoses” to demonstrate his contempt for real medicine. He claims that illness comes entirely from stress.

She Never Says How She Knew She Was Healed.

So far I don’t think an actual conventional-medicine doctor has actually shown up yet. Maybe we’ll get a new expert with those credentials.

As I type this, up pops up:

New expert: Cathy Goodman. No credentials or honorifics. Theater masks in her background on one side, breast-tissue scans on the other. She talks about getting diagnosed with breast cancer. So she decided to thank her god for her healing: she believed in her heart she was totally healed. She and her husband watched nothing but funny movies.

watching tv cures cancer!
Curing cancer with Groucho Marx.

And ZOMG! Between November (the diagnosis) and her “healing,” three months passed. She didn’t do real medicine, and she doesn’t say how she knows her cancer was really there AND in remission. We’re meant to assume a scan picked it up. But she never says it explicitly. She was “diagnosed,” she says. But that’s it. She says she kept repeating to herself that she totally believed she was healed, and thanked her god for it. And she specifically states that she was “healed” without chemo or radiation therapy.

This is so irresponsible.

Speaking as the child of a woman who died of cancer, I can officially say to these nutjobs:

Cancer patients must think happy thoughts or they will die of cancer. So my mom’s death was all her fault.

Same expression. Exact same expression.

A line of “experts,” utterly unversed in real medicine, declare one after the other that people can THINK themselves cancer-free. And almost all of them can’t help the little squeak-through of Duper’s Delight smiles as they talk like this. Haha, they think they’re totally NAILING their bullshit lines! Not on me, buddies. Not on me.

A rare, very artistic double-bird.

The Plane Crash Dude.

In 1981, Morris Goodman crashed his small plane. He was, as you might imagine, quite badly injured. He claims doctors told him he’d be “a vegetable” who could only blink his eyes (which, if they did, was kind of weird and jerky to say). Through sheer effort of will and belief, he says, he totally healed himself of his injuries and walked mostly on his own by Christmas. Medical technology had nothing to do with it. Of course.

Sorry, I had to take a Bother break. She’s been agitated all evening.

Lisa Nichols shows up to talk about how often we “fight” this or that: drugs, cancer, etc.

New expert: Dale Hwoskin Hale Dwoskin, Author. Old white dude in casual shirt. A red balloon drawn behind him. No honorifics. Of course. He’s onscreen such a short time I had to rewind twice to find his nameplate. He confirms Nichols’ voice-over. We mustn’t think negative fighty thoughts! Or we get into fights!

Quote mine from Carl Jung, who might have had similar ideas but wasn’t part of these numnuts’ cult:

What you resist persists.

More rhyming! Sounds like that silly rhyme from my elementary school days: “We must — we must — we must increase our busts!” Remember the chicken-wing-flapping gestures that went with it? The 80s were weird, man.

Now We Finally Learn Why the War on Drugs Failed!

Canfield shows up to illuminate for us exactly why the War on Drugs failed.

It’s not cuz it totally was a bit of a Baptists and Bootleggers situation. Nope! Not because it misused money in the worst possible ways. Not even cuz it sorta-kinda created a huge black market for drugs.

Oh no! It failed cuz people thought fighty fighty thoughts!

I hate every one of the people involved in this fiasco.

They show a lot of famous people who tried to bring peace: Nelson Mandela, etc. They show a Thanksgiving dinner too. And Canfield shows up to somehow peacesplain Mother Teresa to us all, like she’s some kind of Peace Goddess Kwan Yin because she said she wouldn’t attend a war rally. Hate to tell him, but she ain’t any paragon to look up to.

He says, “Look what she manifested in the world.” Oh, you mean like entrenched systems of suffering, pain, and poverty?

Abdicating All Care For Others.

“It’s not your job to change the world,” Lisa Nichols informs us. I see why they had her do most of the voice-overs. She has a lovely rich full voice that can say the most evil and wicked things and make them sound sweet as sugar-pie. Her exhortation to screw alla them, you get yours goes on for quite some time.

I reject this idea with all of my being.

If not us, then who?

Michael Beckwith comes in to say that it’s totally a lie that there’s just not enough to go around to everybody. That’s almost funny. I don’t know how someone can say that with a straight face. I’m impressed he managed it. I think most of the rest of the doco’s “experts” would fail hard there.

I’m not one to shake my finger about selfishness, but this is seriously a very selfish ideology.

God = Energy. Apparently.

We’re now at the end, and they sneak religion into it. They try to make an equivalence between the “energy” they say makes up atoms and the “energy” of gods, and then say that obviously a god is energy and is within us and all that woo stuff I can’t be bothered to care about right now.

Nobody’s ever proven the gods exist, so this is a really bad argument to make. If elephants exist then obviously drop bears do too! Sorry, it doesn’t work like that.

They throw up a quote from a “Robert Collier,” who might actually be affiliated with this “Secret” nonsense:

All power is from within and is therefore under our own control.

Jack Canfield shows up to richwhitemansplain at us about how poor, dysfunctional families are that way because they just all think the wrong way. Yes yes, all these self-appointed “experts” had tough lives growing up somehow. Canfield declares, “So what?”

Ah, I love how these people leak just how awful they really are.

Wait Wait, We’re Done?

Wait, seriously, did we go through this whole boring skidmark of a documentary without anybody offering a single shred of even really piss-poor proof that any of it really works and isn’t just confirmation bias?

Michael Beckwith almost smirks when he tells us, “The power that is within you is greater than the power that is in the world.” But he doesn’t mean Jesus. Oh, I bet fundagelicals burst into flames hearing that!

Fred Alan Wolfe shows up to sarcasti-splain at us about not taking The Secret seriously enough. Seriously, he seems like such a deeply unpleasant person. This is not a good look for him or for The Secret.

Oh my god, a new expert.

New expert 8 minutes from the freakin’ end: Neal Donald Walsh, Author. No honorifics or credentials offered. Very old white dude in a blue polo shirt. He points out that you’ll never find a blackboard in the sky printed with people’s missions and purposes from “God.” To him, that means people make up their own purposes and missions.

That part’s quite true.

John Gray says I called this movie into my life. LOL.

Quote mine from Joseph Campbell, who probably wasn’t involved with these guys:

Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors for you where there were only walls.

I suspect he intends that to bring different things to people than these guys want it to bring.

Borrowing Credibility.

Proctor shows up at the very end, amid sweet violin music, to tell us that all these totally reputable people and institutions have pushed The Secret’s ideas. But we also most think that The Evil Cabal has mysteriously suppressed all info about it so they could oppress everyone. Got it?!?

While he speaks, we zero in on a book’s text. It’s not the Bible. Here’s a snippet:

. . . are many stories about Thoth as he played many import[ant?] . . . He is the Alchemist – the Magician . . . among others. He plays a good game. . . one step ahead of you – until now.

Found it! It’s THOTH – God of the Moon, Magic and Writing by Tenzin Gyume. It was published in 2007, which is odd because it’s in this 2006 doco. The author doesn’t appear to pretend that he’s writing about a literal person, or even about a literal religion. And sorry, but it fails to qualify as anything Proctor is about to invoke.

The list of people/institutions Proctor borrows his credibility from:

  • every religion
  • every “great philosophy”
  • Emerson, Edison, Einstein

Ugh. Sweeping vistas of waterfalls and craggy mountains and babies. Lisa Nichols issues the altar call. And Michael Beckwith is using The Secret on us to help us adopt it as our ideology! So we have to now!


Actually No.

The thing ends with Rhonda Byrne closing the book we saw in the beginning. This book was, I remind you, about wishfully thinking your way to enormous wealth (and I don’t think we ever see its title in this doco). She apparently got as far as the title page, because it looks like she only had it open there. We zoom out on the note about it helping her.

With the power of some 15 years removed from this video’s creation, I can say with utter certainty that the book really, really did help her mom.

Oh thank goodness, it’s over finally.


The Secret was hands down one of the most boring things I have ever seen in my life, at least where it didn’t actively anger me. It sounds exactly like I’d expect a movie to sound when someone’s making claims they know they can’t back up, but really wanna hard-sell the idea to gullible people.

  • Interest: -500/10
  • Experts Hiding Their Lack of Actual Scientific and Medical Expertise: -1200/10
  • Experts Nobody’s Ever Heard Of: -1200/10
  • Quote Mining: -1000/10
  • Hiding a Total Lack of Research: Absolute
  • John Freakin’ Gray: Somehow made everything worse
  • Luke Wilson: Really and truly I thought so
  • My Back Hurts: Big lots
  • Breeding Ground for Terrible People: Confirmed 100%
  • FINAL SCORE: A NEGATIVE NUMBER somewhere “between [negative] ten quadrillion vigintillion and [negative] one-hundred thousand quadrillion vigintillion” which is apparently (in positive terms) the number of atoms in the universe so that must mean something in this movie’s ideology

In short, nobody should watch this unless they really want to know for themselves just how bad this ideology really is, how empty it truly is at its core, and what an obvious cash-grab it was for its author. And we’ll be tearing it apart for a bit here. So I’m glad I saw it. I know exactly how morally bankrupt it is and how absolutely without rational basis it is.

And I’m glad you got to “see” it through this post! Thank you for spending the evening with me. Truly, there’s not a crew I would want by my side more than this one — for any adventure.

NEXT UP: Lord Snow Presides! And then we look at these self-proclaimed experts. I have no idea who they are (with that one exception), but oh honey, I will by Tuesday. See you soon!

Please Support What I Do!

Come join us on FacebookTumblrPinterestTwitter, and our forum at rolltodisbelieve.com! (Also Instagram, where I mostly post cat pictures. About 99% of my insta consists of Bother being adorable.)

Also check out our Graceful Atheist podcast interview! It was a blast.

If you like what you see, I gratefully welcome your support. Please consider becoming one of my monthly patrons via Patreon with Roll to Disbelieve for as little as $1/month! My PayPal is captain_cassidy@yahoo.com (that’s an underscore in there) for one-time tips. You can also support this blog through my Amazon Affiliate link–and, of course, by liking and sharing my posts on social media! This blog exists because of readers’ support, and I appreciate every single bit of it.

ROLL TO DISBELIEVE "Captain Cassidy" is Cassidy McGillicuddy, a Gen Xer and ex-Pentecostal. (The title is metaphorical.) She writes about the intersection of psychology, belief, popular culture, science,...

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments