Archive for the ‘Rhonda Byrne’ Category


Subliminal Advertising in The Secret (Part 4) — In Bed With Einstein

September 8, 2012

In the earlier posts (see Part 1), we saw how the advertisers who made The Secret used various standard advertising tricks to sell Rhonda Byrne’s story and turn her audience into active promoters as well as consumers of the product. In this post, as well as some more subliminal images and some good old-fashioned lying, we will notice the way discovering The Secret has been carefully constructed around the framework of a sexual encounter….

The film makers face their most difficult challenge in this section of the film. They have built up an entirely bogus story linking “The Secret” with ancient mystical traditions, and upped its value by claiming that people were burned alive in order for you to see it; and that the content you are about to see is the first time these ancient life secrets have ever been revealed to a mass audience.

The stage will finally be set for the dramatic entrance of The Secret’s teachers with a triumphal sequence which reaches its climax with the entirely bogus claim that Albert Einstein “knew The Secret”….

….And then somehow they have to make the transition to Bob Proctor, a man who believes no one knows how electricity works, and that receiving social benefits will alter your DNA.

But I want to back track slightly and pick up a sexually related image that I missed in the previous post.

I speculated about the possibility that the film makers used the only white sheet of paper in the entire film to present an image that looked like a child being tucked in to bed, thus reinforcing the association of The Secret with a child. The person in sequence who laid that sheet of paper over the Emerald Tablet was the young man with shoulder length hair. But in the actual sequence, Rhonda Byrne’s hair has been photoshopped over the man’s hair. (Not so clear in this still, but it’s carried through three frames. Click on the images to enlarge.)


Rhonda is making a bed and is about to lie on it. (Or lay in it, for US readers. Lying or laying, they both have appropriate double meanings.)

Rhonda Byrne, we shall see is going to need to go to bed with Albert Einstein in order for the film makers to ease the transition from the great men of history to a bunch of successful, fraudulent, backstabbing losers.

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Subliminal Advertising in The Secret (Part 3) — Be positive & get burned alive

September 2, 2012

My apologies for the rather ghoulish title, but that’s what The Secret is about. As we will see in this post, one of the strongest messages buried in this opening sequence is that people were burned so that YOU could have the product that Rhonda Byrne wants to sell you.

This message is left subtly implied rather than overtly stated, because you’re not supposed to be thinking “Well if The Secret will give me everything I want, then why did so many people who knew it previously get roasted?” Instead they want people to feel the intensity of the flames and feel the fear all at a subconscious level.

The Secret runs on subconscious fear just as much as it runs on appeals to hope and greed. The latter two are masked by claims that they are simply telling you the facts: The universe really IS a massive conspiracy to make you rich…. Or to break you. It all depends on how you use the Law of Attraction, and these mystical heroes are willing to sell you the secret key.

The parallel with the Dark Ages and Catholic Church selling indulgences to rescue people from the flames of hell, will become even clearer in this post.

The use of subliminal images in the film (already explored in Part 1 and Part 2) not only reveals the film makers’ contempt for the audience; it also reveals the way in which they attempt to manipulate people into reacting in certain ways. Subliminal advertising seems to have only limited effects in very limited contexts, but following it frame by frame provides a glimpse in to the thoughts and intentions of the film makers. It shows the way they have stitched the whole fabric of lies, distortions, fear-mongering and emotional blackmail together.

Of course, no advertiser would be worth his salt if he didn’t use plenty of sexual innuendo, and that is where we will start.

Remember, so far we are barely 40 seconds into the film, in this the third post in this series. The viewer has little idea how much information they have swallowed up to this point.


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Subliminal Advertising in The Secret: (Part 2) — Frightened Eyes and a Dollar Bill

August 14, 2012

Welcome to the second installment of this in-depth look at subliminal advertising and manipulative persuasion techniques in the first few minutes of The Secret.

Part 1, which should be read first to understand what’s going on, got us about 35 seconds into the film. The focus in this post is on a short burst of images of less than two seconds’ duration.

But first, let’s back up half a second or so, and look at an image I left out from the end of the last post.

It’s worth emphasizing that the film aims to make the viewer identify with Rhonda Byrne’s character. Later we will see Byrne wishing to “share this Secret with the world”. The viewer is tacitly instructed to do the same, and is immediately given an avenue to act this out: the complete film was initially released on You Tube, and viewers were invited to share it with their friends, “as a gift”. This concept is called viral marketing and the strategy for The Secret was developed by Dan Hollings

Anyway, that’s why I kept pointing out in the last post that they were careful to use visuals to get the viewer to see Byrne handling a what looks like a video as well as a book. (See above image.)

I also emphasized the “OXOX” (hugs & kisses) on the note from Byrne’s child as a theme which will recur. Remember that Byrne has just told us her father died, and a male face appeared behind her as she finds the “gift”. Look what happens to that OXOX as she opens the book – it now appears to spell out DADX. (I might be writing a bit much into that, but we’ll see more on this father theme soon.)

This is all quite subtle. But more crass, blatant and brutal subliminals are about to come. (*NB the focus here is on what these methods reveal about the intentions of the film makers. There’s little evidence for the effectiveness of such techniques.)

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Subliminal Advertising in The Secret: (Part 1)

August 12, 2012

So, who knew that the film The Secret uses a relentless barrage of subliminal images in the opening sequences, to achieve its extraordinarily high emotional impact?

Subliminal advertising is of course illegal in many countries, but the advertisers who made this film present it as a kind of artistic docu-drama, and not an advertisement. That legal loophole, however, doesn’t negate the ethical considerations involved in the use of such methods. It’s also important to note that the effectiveness of such methods seems to be grossly exaggerated and often misunderstood.

The fact that there is almost no empirical support for the usefulness of subliminal messaging has not prevented numerous industries from producing and marketing tapes which allegedly communicate directly with the unconscious mind… —Skeptic’s Dictionary

But I will lay that discussion aside, and ask both fans and critics of The Secret, if you were aware that in the first minutes of the film you saw images of Ku Klux Klan ceremonies, images of people being burned alive, single frame inserts of money, single frame inserts of the Secret logo, and even subliminal flashes of the teachers themselves before they “appear” properly in the film?


Me neither, until I slowed it down and went through it frame by frame.

Subliminals are just one of a few dozen dirty tricks these advertising wizzkids pulled on their audience. I’ll try to note a few of these other ones too as they fly past at the speed of light.

(Click on the images to enlarge them.)

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Blogging “The Power”: A Critique of Rhonda Byrne – Part 6: Gregg Braden

June 7, 2012

Welcome to the second last installment in the series on Rhonda Byrne’s Secret follow up, called The Power.

So far, Ms Byrne has informed us that positive poles of a magnet attract each other, that love is literally the same force as gravity, and that a glass of water can get angry with you. What does she have in store for us today?

The inside of your body is an exact map of the solar system and the universe. Your heart is the sun and the center of your body system. Your organs are the planets, and just as the planets depend on the sun to remain in balance and harmony, so do all the organs in your body depend on the heart to remain in balance and harmony.

An exact map. Not just a metaphor, or a “you might like to think of it as-“, but an exact map. Not even a schematic map, or a badly drawn map from 300 years ago which got some ram’s blood spilled on it and made all the lines run together so the distances aren’t exact anymore…. No, the inside of your body is an exact map of the solar system and the universe.

It’s no surprise that someone who thinks the entire universe is a vast conspiracy to make her rich, should fail to distinguish between metaphor and reality. Rhonda Byrne has been doing this all the way through the book: taking a traditional mystical idea that would sound familiar to most of her readers, and then calmly asserting that the idea is literally true and is now an established part of science.

And then of course, following it with some work by a qualified pseudo-scientist. Cue Gregg Braden, qualified pseudo-scientist….

Scientists at the Institute of Heartmath in California have shown that the magnetic field of the heart is 5000 times more powerful than that of the brain.

Surprisingly, the heart’s magnetic field is indeed greater than that of the brain! Ok, it’s only 100 times greater, and not 5000 like Braden claims, but still this is quite an event. Braden has exaggerated it by a mere order of magnitude, making it one of Rhonda Byrne’s closest approaches to a fact in the entire book! Congratulations to both of you!

Byrne then babbles on for a while about how the heart organizes your world for you by the force of its almighty magnetic field. Everything has a frequency, she claims, radio stations and words and dogs and cats and caterpillars and subordinate clauses and zebra-crossings. And they radiate their frequencies out into the ether where you can attract them if you truly love them. She’s a bit more wild eyed than Gregg Braden on these things, because although Braden likes to build up systems too, he also likes to base his distortions on at least some content which is at least tangentially connected to reality.

Gregg Braden and 9/11 

Braden has written a lot on frequencies and magnetic fields. He sees all that stuff as the “field of consciousness”, the “ether” which connects all things and surrounds the earth in dense layers. In a particularly effective piece of pseudo-scientific research, Braden looked at data from satellites which measure the earth’s geomagnetic field and found that on September 11 2001 a distinct spike in measurements was recorded!!!


Satellite reading from September 2001, showing dramatic spike on the 11th 


As can be seen, the readings usually hover around 100 nT (nanoTeslas), but then suddenly leap up to an unprecedented high of 153 nT before dropping down again. Is this clear evidence that the emotions of masses of people can affect the earth’s magnetic field so much that it can even be measured by scientific instruments?

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Blogging “The Power”: A critique of Rhonda Byrne – Part 5: Masuro Emoto

May 13, 2012

The in depth look at Rhonda Byrne’s Secret follow up, The Power continues….

The brain, Rhonda Byrne tells us, is 80% water.

In Ms Byrne’s case this is extremely easy to believe…..

She continues:

Researchers in Japan, Russia, Europe, and the United States 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.

The higher the positive feeling, the more beautiful and harmonious the water becomes. When water is exposed to negative emotions, such as hate, the energy level of the water decreases, and chaotic changes occur, negatively affecting the structure of the water.

So, if water is affected by our thoughts and emotions, we can turn our brains into big slush puddles of positivity, just by controlling our thoughts. We can use this positively magnetized pot of gruel to attract other positively magnetized objects to ourselves, through the “scientifically proven” Law of Attraction!!!

But before we get too carried away, let’s look at some of the fascinating “research” that Byrne is referring to. (I’ve dealt in previous posts with Byrne’s failure to realize that magnets attract their opposite pole, and the narcissistic stupidity of trying to attribute “positive” and “negative” charges to events and objects; and the stubborn refusal of human flesh to behave like a magnet, whether positive or negative.)


One of Byrne’s heroes, Masuro Emoto, is probably already known to her readers, as he was featured in the smash hit pseudo-science-fiction movie What the Bleep. Emoto’s work certainly demonstrates the extraordinary power of classical pseudo-scientific method:

1. Rig up an experiment to produce the effects you desire

2. Carefully record the results

3. Run with them to the PR department as quickly as possible

Emoto’s experiments were simple and elegant: he put water in scientific looking vials and taped words to the outside, or played music, or prayed. He froze the water and photographed the crystals that formed with a powerful microscope. Without fail, the photographs reflected his hypothesis: the vials that had words like “love” taped to them formed nice crystals; those with words like “hate” or “scamming shit-weasel” taped to them produced ugly ones.


 “You make me sick”

As chemist Stephen Lower points out, ice crystals form differently according to the rate of freezing and other conditions. Furthermore, the different crystal formations don’t mean that the water’s chemical structure is changed as Byrne claims. It just means that the water formed different shaped crystals.

Emoto didn’t blind his experiments either – of course, he doesn’t have to, being a practicing pseudo-scientist. Instead, he informs us, he explicitly instructed his photographers to choose the best photographs.

Just in case it’s still not clear, Emoto went looking for pretty crystals in the vials with the nice words on them, and ignored the ugly looking crystals; then he looked for ugly crystals in the vials with nasty words on them and ignored the pretty ones.

In other words, he faked his results.

He covers himself legally by saying he’s not a scientist, so the worst charge that can be made against him is slackness and stupidity, rather than fraud. People who sell useless and expensive water filters love this kind of thing, and use his faked results in their advertising. They are also saved by Emoto’s disclaimer from from being prosecuted for fraud, but the disclaimer is now one step removed from their customer’s eyes. The entire edifice of esoteric pseudo-science is built up through such progressive blurring of lines, supporting a massive industry based on claims of legitimacy that leave customers chasing their own tails if they try to verify any of it. The dictionary calls this a scam. New Agers call it Quantum Physics.

I don’t know if Rhonda Byrne has any financial interests in any water filter company, but I do know that their preferred medium is multi level marketing (aka pyramid schemes). Byrne could easily be sitting near the top of an MLM line without needing to advertise the fact anywhere on the internet. And I also know that Byrne’s colleague James Ray is involved in Kanga Water Filters. (One of his witnesses for the defense in his manslaughter trial turned out to be in his downline. She was dropped as a witness soon after Salty Droid broke the story about this apparently undeclared financial interest.)

Anyway, Byrne is taking Emoto’s faked results and is about to build them into her even more outlandish architecture.

The center of every cell is water, and each cell is completely surrounded by a layer of water.

If this were true it would have profound implications for life on this planet. Who knows, maybe some form of amphibious life could have developed, but it would not have been the kind of thing you would want to invite home to meet your parents.

Can you imagine the impact of love and gratitude on your body? Can you imagine the power of love and gratitude to restore health? When you feel love, your love affects the water of the 100 trillion cells in your body!

There is of course, no need to imagine that. The impact of love and gratitude on the structure of your body’s water can in fact be measured with 100% accuracy. Byrne’s fans won’t be happy about it, though. It is exactly zero. The good news is that we don’t need to do anything special to the structure of our H-O-H molecules in order for our bodies to feel love and gratitude. There are much more complex and refined hormones and neuro-chemicals that do that job quite successfully.

Water has a fairly simple yet really quite wonderful structure. That’s why it’s good for splashing about in. You can also drink clean water without having to worry that it will subtly destroy you from within because it has been “exposed to negative emotions”. Really, Byrne fans, you can relax about that. And once you’ve gotten over it, you might like to apologize to your friends for trying to frighten them into buying a useless water filter from you too.

In Part 6 we will learn more about the wonders of modern pseudo-science.

Earlier parts can be found here:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4 



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?

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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.

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Blogging “The Power”: A Critique of Rhonda Byrne – Part 2: Love is Gravity

August 22, 2011

The first post in this series covered the introductory pages of Rhonda Byrne’s Secret follow-up, The Power. This post covers the opening chapters, including Byrne’s ideas about everything in the universe being either positive or negative, and finishes up with Ms Byrne’s extremely unusual claims about the nature of love.

As always, Byrne starts off chapter one in her usual bold “assertion-as-fact” style.

You are meant to have an amazing life! You are meant to have everything you love and desire. Your work is meant to to be exciting, and you are meant to accomplish all the things you would love to accomplish…

She continues in this vain for quite some time. Now this all sounds very nice, but there is a hidden agenda in all this inspiring motivational talk. If your life is not the way she says it was “meant” to be, there’s something wrong with you. You’re not using the LoA the way you “should” be. The reader is to measure their unhappiness against the amount of joy they imagine they would feel if all their wishes were granted. The difference shows how much they are going wrong, and how much they need Byrne’s help.

Soon, the ground is laid for this assertion:

Your life is made up of only two kinds of things – positive and negative things.

Everyone who believes in the Law of Attraction has swallowed this notion whole. But a little reflection would make it clear to anyone above the age of five that life doesn’t cut up so neatly into good and bad. How we experience an event at the time, reflects neither its real significance nor its actual consequences. Yet Byrne instructs the reader to label events according to their spur of the moment emotional fluctuations. Learning a measure of equanimity when faced with apparent good or bad fortune is not one of Byrne’s goals.

She’s also no fan of self acceptance or self awareness. Instead Byrne endorses jealousy, envy and a narcissistic sense of entitlement:

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Blogging “The Power”: A Critique of Rhonda Byrne – Part 1: Hommage to Her Lawyers

August 19, 2011

Rhonda Byrne has written a follow up to The Secret, called The Power. In it she claims to have discovered “the most powerful force in the universe” and that her readers can learn to manipulate this “Power” to make all their dreams materialize.

The power she is talking about is “the power of love”. This might seem like a let down to those who were hoping for nano-death-rays or a mini-black-hole-invisibility-cloak…..But surely Ms Byrne is just indulging in a little harmless rhetoric in order to encourage us to allow a little more love in our lives….isn’t she?

…Nope. Ms Byrne is not being rhetorical. Incredibly, she is attempting to talk straight science to her readers, presenting “facts” that no scientist on the planet (at least none over the age of eight) would take seriously.  Even more incredibly, she has taken a silly factual error from The Secret and instead of quietly correcting it, she has magnified it and made it the centerpiece of her entire teaching.

Worse still, her self-help advice is of an extraordinarily low quality, even by the low standards that genre usually maintains. Yet somehow she managed to achieve stupendous success.

This will be a fairly snark-free series of blog posts, focusing largely on the way Byrne achieves the effect with which she has won over so many people, rather than spending too much time debunking her factual errors. I’ll go into some detail in the first few posts, at times taking it line by line, and move a bit faster in the later parts.

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