Blogging “The Power”: A Critique of Rhonda Byrne – Part 4: Dollars Want You

August 31, 2011

Here we are again, bogging our way through Rhonda Byrne’s new book, The Power.

The previous post covered Ms Byrne’s claim that her “like attracts like” principle governs not only the supposed Law of Attraction, but also governs everything in the entire universe and all the laws of science.

This of course is pure bullshit.

In fact, I would argue this is probably the most spectacularly wrong notion ever to find its way into print. Byrne went into considerable detail, explaining how everything from plant nutrition to cell biology, to astrophysics is governed by this singular notion.  If this were true, the consequences would be way beyond anything I could conceive, let alone write about in a few short sentences.

But here’s a start. If electrons started attracting instead of repelling each other, we would instantly and permanently meld with everything we touch. Light would disappear entirely from the universe, and in fact there probably wouldn’t even be a universe. Rarely is an an idea so immediately and obviously demonstrably wrong. You don’t even need to read a science text. Just the fact that you can open your eyes is already enough.

Unfortunately Ms Byrne’s book centers on using this extraordinarily stupid idea as the launching pad for her great conception of the the Law of Attraction. The fact that this book even got published is a testament to the general lack of standards in Byrne’s appallingly slack profession.

This also makes it a bit tricky to review. I didn’t have high hopes for this book anyway. I was expecting lots of hollow assertions and empty rhetoric mixed in with some specious, self-serving lies; I was hoping to deftly show how people have been seduced into believing something that might initially appear plausible, but disintegrates on closer examination.  Instead, Rhonda Byrne herself has completely demolished her own ideas without any help from me at all. Should I even continue?

Sigh…. I’ll push on. I said I’d speed up once the main points have been covered, and I’ll have to. We are barely one tenth of the way through this book and Byrne has already pulled off one of the most spectacular crash-and-burns in history. Maybe it will get a bit better?

It’s not a fluke or an accident that good feelings feel amazing and that bad feelings feel really bad.

Oh my god, why am I doing this?…And it’s no fluke stupid statements are stupid because of the amount of stupidity in them.

Dollars want you. Health wants you. Happiness wants you. All the the things you love want you! They are bursting to come into your life…

Not only are all the good things and events charged with good, but they are also imbued with a will of their own. They all have a magnetic frequency and by altering your own magnetic frequency you can attract the things you want. Of course with this logic, if the law of attraction existed, good thoughts would attract bad results.

Pages and pages of repetitions follow about magnetic fields, and anecdotes about people “attracting” the things they wanted. She claims that the people who die from an injury are the people who couldn’t clearly imagine being “completely healed”. Well, no dead person has ever come back to contradict her, so she’s finally picked an argument she can win.

Byrne babbles on about the importance of “doing what you love”. If this was all she was saying, her book wouldn’t be so bad. Her fans, when confronted with Byrne’s mistakes, often claim that this really is all she’s saying. But it isn’t. There is a truly nasty and manipulative side to all this.

When you talk about a bad event in the news or a person or event that frustrated you, you are not talking about what you love.

…..And the strongest force in the universe starts actively plotting your downfall…. It’s the same trick the Catholic Church was playing in the dark ages – putting the fear of hell into people and then hanging around with the collection plate for them to buy their salvation. 

Byrne provides a list of dangerous forms of negativity:

Blame, criticism, finding fault, and complaining are all forms of negativity. All of them bring so much strife. With every little complaint and every moment you criticize anything, you are giving negativity.

This is of course, why Byrne’s fans freak out so much when anyone criticizes her ideas. They are terrified of the negative “criticism and fault finding”. Of course, when they themselves turn nasty and insult the critic and gloat over their imagined magic powers and imminent good fortune, they don’t recognize this as negative. Byrne has already revved them up so much with the idea that they are right and powerful, that they don’t recognize their missionary zeal for what it is: fear born of ignorance.

But the real lesson here could hardly be more obvious. Had Byrne been open to criticism of her book before publishing it, she would not be making such a screaming fool of herself now. It will surprise Byrne’s readers to hear this, but usually learning involves finding someone who knows more about something than you do, and listening to their criticism of your efforts. 

The situation in the self help industry, where the teachers know less about the subject than their students, is both rare and undesirable. Byrne has left her followers wandering through life scared of their own feelings and with their desire for real self improvement disabled.

IMPORTANT NOTE TO BYRNE’S READERS: The spiritual self help industry has lower standards than any other form of business and, being “spiritual”, is not restricted by truth in advertising laws. This leads to bizarre and unrealistic claims of product value and efficacy which if attempted in any other line of work, would lead to instant failure or criminal prosecution. If you are in any other form of employment you will be expected to pay careful attention to criticism and reflect on the quality of your work, or risk losing your job.

Next chapter:  How to Eliminate Bad Feelings

When you change how you feel about any subject, the subject must change!

Because…? Thankfully, Byrne doesn’t attempt to mangle quantum physics in the standard fashion at this point. She couldn’t be bothered. Instead talks about how to drop bad feelings.

To lighten up about bad feelings, imagine them as wild horses you climb on. If you climbed on them, you can climb off them too.

For day to day stuff, that’s probably not too bad. You can talk yourself out of a bad mood sometimes, and often we only need a reminder to do it. But Byrne talks as if all problems fall into that category, stupid and ignorant person that she is. Severe depression, raised susceptibility to stress in those who were severely traumatized as infants, or people who have been tortured or whatever. For Byrne though, such people created all that for themselves by climbing onto those feelings in the first place, the losers! So if they don’t simply climb off them again they can’t be helped.

Allow me to add a public health warning to this book:

The ideas in this book are likely to exacerbate previously existing psychological difficulties.

Now we get to fat people. Fat people of course, have made themselves fat with their fear of fatness. But luckily Byrne is there to explain to them how to develop the perfect body.

If you want to lose weight or have a better body, then create a game so you feel as though you have that body now. You can surround yourself with pictures of great bodies, but you must imagine and feel that you are looking at your body, not someone else’s body.

What a strange person this Rhonda Byrne woman is.

If you are overweight or underweight, and you had the perfect weight right now, how would you feel? You would feel different from how you feel now. You would walk differently, talk differently… Whatever you imagine with feeling, you are giving to the law of attraction, and you must receive it.

What? You will really finish up with a completely different body and a different voice? The “before and after” photos from this must be really impressive. She continues…

Lance Armstrong, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Nikola Tesla…..

Nikola Tesla? Now I am genuinely surprised. What has Nikola Tesla got in common with Schwarzenegger and Lance Armstrong? What is going on? Did I miss something? Did I fall asleep?

Lance Armstrong, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Nikola Tesla, all these people played with their imaginations and felt their dreams with all their heart.

Ah, yes. That’s it. Those three, eh?…Well, Armstrong and Schwarzenegger started off with a strong physique anyway, thanks to their genetic inheritance. They also trained fanatically and pumped themselves up with steroids. I highly doubt that Armstrong owes his success to pinning pics to his wall and prancing about in his bedroom. Arnie? Well maybe. And Tesla? I will leave the reader to ponder….


Part 5 is now finally up!



  1. Thank you, a voice of reason. The law of attraction industry is a bit like religion in some ways, Just have faith and it will happen. Instead of pray and leave it to god, you imagine and project your happy thoughts. No mention of having a plan, learning, working hard. Although I guess Rhonda is a perfect example of not working to hard, doing what you like and raking it in!!!

  2. Thanks for commenting! I’ll have to get around to finishing off this series.

    Yes it is a lot like religion, and as an industry it uses “spirituality” as a cover to evade advertising regulations and consumer protection laws. Strange that people selling paper clips or shoe laces are subjected to stricter advertising standards than people selling entirely non-existent products which can completely ruin your life in a month or two.

  3. Hi Yakaru! I’ve been pondering the plausibility factor of the “law of attraction” lately. As one who did fall for it, I think it seemed plausible to me because I could recall times when I thought about something and it happened, or worried about something and it turned out just as I’d feared. Common myths like “if an infertile couple adopts, they are likely to conceive” are brought in. I guess I wanted to believe it was so. Now that my law of attraction days are behind me, I can see that sometimes those things just happen, it doesn’t mean that there is a law of attraction matching my thoughts/moods/whatever with events in my life. The whole time I was studying Abraham-Hicks, I did have questions about this so-called law of attraction. I eventually woke up from the haze. As I just commented on my blog, at first felt like Abraham-Hicks explained so many questions I’d had throughout my life. Now I realize that they explain nothing and create further confusion!

    Thanks as always for your blog!

  4. Yeh, it’s interesting how it works, isn’t it. I guess I kind of believed something like it in some form at different times in the past (though never strictly the LOA). I always notice that for all this way out metaphysics and “we create our own reality” stuff, I’ve never heard any gurus use terms like confirmation bias, or false positive, or post hoc reasoning. Anyway, I guess I never questioned it closely, just took it for granted that sometimes one gets “signs” from nature, or whatever. Within limits, it’s probably mostly harmless, as long as one doesn’t get carried away….

    I don’t know what the Abrahickses said about it, (or that silly Wattles woman) but Rhonda B is always babbling about it being ancient wisdom, which is about as true as everything else she says. I’ve come across similar ideas in different traditions before, but the LOA has more in common with modern advertising culture than any tradition. In fact it would have been considered black magic more often than not.

    I know of a Hindu myth about a wish fulfilling tree, and of course the famous Genie in the lamp (which, as James Ray informed us in The Secret, offered “unlimited wishes, not just three! Yes think on that one!”). King Midas doesn’t seem to get mentioned much though, come to think of it! There’s also a lovely old Persian tale about a guy who throws away his smelly old shoes and they keep getting given back to him in bizarre was that always leads to more and more trouble.

    I also recall a meditation technique which I think is from some Sufi tradition that tries to get people to take more responsibility by, for example, saying “Today I decided to get my money stolen by not paying attention”, and then getting used to the feeling of that. But that had nothing to do with blaming the victim or quantum physics.

    While I’m raving, I might add that a lot of the techniques that all these “abundance” trainers use were also stolen from native traditions and distorted away from their original purpose. James Ray’s use of the sweat lodge as a torture device is well known (though rarely reported as such). And the “homelessness exercise” that he and many others use was also ripped off. It was the final part of a much longer technique in a Mayan shamanic tradition. It was done after long preparation, and was never intended to be any kind of life-threatening horror story as Ray turned it into. It was all about just sitting and watching, as an animal might watch other animals, without the usual social identity factors registering constantly in the mind. (It’s described in Martin Prechtel’s books, and at least that part seems to be a fair description of older practices.)

    Anyway, on reading your recent article —
    — I remembered quite a few old experiences which which seemed portentous at the time, but eventually turned out to be highly insignificant!

    ….Thanks for commenting, Mariah. Maybe I should formulate all that babble into a blogpost….Thanks for triggering it!

  5. That would be a very interesting blog post!

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