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Blogging “The Power”: A Critique of Rhonda Byrne – Part 3: The Truth About Magnets…Or Not

August 29, 2011

This is the third installment of a series of posts looking at Rhonda Byrne’s new book, The Power.

As we saw in Parts one and two, Byrne claims to have discovered the most powerful force in the universe; a force every bit as real as the force of gravity. Strangely, however, she also claims it actually IS gravity, too.  And it is love. That’s right. According to Rhonda Byrne, love is the same thing as gravity. But that’s not all. This force also governs the “law of attraction” and all the known laws of science. And it finds you are parking spot. It IS a parking spot. And so much more….But above all, it is love.

Now, after confusing everyone including herself, Byrne is ready to add the final element to our understanding of the law of attraction: like attracts like.


In an interview a few years ago, Bob Procter, a “scientist” from The Secret explained explained the science behind the law of attraction:

BOB PROCTOR: You’re not going to attract something to you that you’re not in harmony with.

INTERVIEWER: Now, do you mean literally attract?

BOB PROCTOR: Absolutely, just like a magnet…

INTERVIEWER: But I thought magnets attracted their opposite.

At this point, Procter realizes his analogy actually says the opposite of what he wanted it to say. He swiftly back-pedals:

BOB PROCTOR: Well, magnets complete a chain.

Rhonda Byrne is now heading for the same unpleasant confrontation with elementary school science. But she is in a much worse position than Procter, because, as we saw in the previous post, she is not merely using magnetism as an analogy for her “law of attraction”. Rather, she has been claiming the law of attraction itself governs all the laws of nature, including “gravity and electro-magnetism”.  Ms Byrne has dug herself in so deeply on this point that she can no longer back out of it like Procter did.

Nevertheless, she wants to talk about magnets.

She continues, oblivious to the approaching metaphorical train smash….

The law of attraction is the law of love, and it is the all-powerful law that keeps everything in harmony, from countless galaxies to atoms. And it is the law that is operating in your life. In universal terms, the law of attraction says like attracts like.

Okay, so far she really does want to repeat her claim that “like attracts like” governs everything.

What that means in simple terms for your life is: what you give out in life is what you receive back. Whatever you give out in life is what you receive back in life. Whatever you give, by the law of attraction, is exactly what you attract back to yourself.

(Some advice, Ms Byrne: get an editor.)

Then, in a box separate from the text, she quotes Isaac Newton: To every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

Then she dives back into that horrible string of repetitive, poorly punctuated sentences:

Every action of giving creates an opposite action of receiving and what you receive is always equal to what you’ve given.

Huh?

She tries again:

Whatever you give out in life, must return to you. It is the physics and the mathematics of the universe. Give positivity, you receive back positivity; give negativity and you receive back negativity.

Yup, “like attracts like”. But what was with Newton? Newton’s laws of motion don’t hold that like attracts like. In any case, he would have found it hilarious that someone would try and carry it over into the realm of economics or match-making. No matter, Byrne plows on:

Give positivity and you receive back positivity; give negativity and you receive back negativity. Give positivity and you receive back a life full of positive things. Give negativity and you will receive back a life filled with negative things.

Byrne says that everything in the universe – events and objects – are charged with some kind of (+) or (-) that mysteriously attract. We already saw in Part 1, that even simple events in life (losing a lover or buying a house) are impossible to divide up into positive or negative, even subjectively. How on earth is she going to explain how this can be an objective quality in the universe?

And how does the law of attraction “hold everything from galaxies to atoms together” if it involves like attracting like? What if (-) electrons suddenly started attracting each other? Maybe they’d start clumping together in an inseparable glob. Touching things might feel nice at first in some cases, but letting go of them again would be impossible. Sex would be unending but rather static; exhaling would be impossible, and all other things in the universe would start attaching themselves to you one by one.  Not so nice. Is Byrne really sure she wants this?

Incredibly though, she doesn’t even seem to have noticed what she has done. Even more incredibly, none of her friends or colleagues have told her either. So she pushes on obliviously. The next chapter is titled:

You Are a Magnet

Oh dear. Why didn’t anyone rescue her from this?

The law of attraction is unfailingly giving you every single thing in your life based on what you are giving out.

Byrne is making things difficult for her readers. Even if they want to believe everything she says, how can they know what to believe? Is it like attracts like, or is it like magnetism? No matter, Byrne blunders on:

You magnetize and receive the circumstances of wealth, health and relationships, your job, and every single even and experience in your life, based on the thoughts and feelings you are giving out.

Forget Newton. Byrne’s Law states that identically charged poles of a magnet attract, just as positively charged protons attract other positively charged objects and events to them. This happens by….well….Byrne’s Law doesn’t actually state that bit, but it’s love, it’s gravity, it’s magnetism, it’s E=mc2….. it’s…..it’s……Oh that’s right, it is all caused by the Law of Attraction. There. I’m glad that’s settled.

… 

The train wreck continues….See Part 4.

… 

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6 comments

  1. […] By this view, of course, the most tragic and horrifying events are inevitably portrayed as something the victims somehow brought upon themselves. Now, if anyone wants to tell me that people who got burned as witches brought it on themselves with their negative thoughts, they had better have a damned good argument for advocating such grotesque ideas. And they don’t. […]


  2. […] Of course, as Yakaru points out in his post, this method of blaming the victim serves to shield newage teachers and practitioners from responsibility: By this view, of course, the most tragic and horrifying events are inevitably portrayed as something the victims somehow brought upon themselves. Now, if anyone wants to tell me that people who got burned as witches brought it on themselves with their negative thoughts, they had better have a damned good argument for advocating such grotesque ideas. And they don’t. […]


  3. […] Part 3: The Truth About Magnets…Or Not […]


  4. Boy, I am astounded by my own total lack of scientific understanding regarding Law of Attraction. Of course, of course, magnets attract the opposite. And as far as “Love” goes, the old saying “Opposites Attract” has to be left out of Law of Attraction altogether doesn’t it? Thanks so much for pointing out what a grade school child knows. Now the saying “Birds of a feather flock together,” means just that, people who have same values, likes, dislikes, hang out together, cause it feels safer, the herding instinct, I guess, not Law of Attraction. ( which as you so clearly pointed out cannot exist,or we couldn’t exist.) Well, thanks so much for your clear headedness, I have read and enjoyed your comments so very much on Mariah’s postabe blog about the scam of Abraham Hicks. I never realized what a terrible scammer Louis Hays is till I read some of what you have written about her here. I wish you could make a documentary titled ” Here is what we F**king know, or simple science”


  5. That’s a great idea for a documentary! It might finish up as a blogpost here before long too. (I’ll try and remember to acknowledge it, if I do!)

    I can fully understand why people wouldn’t immediately pick up on the magnet thing, especially when it’s been so blithely presented as fact. Anyway, the intellect is distracted by the greater claim that it works. And normally, when someone gets world famous talking about Einstein and quantum physics, you can usually assume they didn’t flunk third grade science.

    Yeh, the whole business is a massive scam. It’s such a contrast to many of its customers, who are often some of the nicest people around…..



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