The law of attraction

I think that most people who know me would regard me as a very positive and optimistic person, but I think that the so-called law of attraction is utter nonsense. I’ve blogged on this subject before here, but I’m returning to the idea now because it has featured quite prominently in a series of e-mail exchanges that I’ve had this week with someone who takes a very different view from on the work of Richard Dawkins and posted her views here.
Now one of the numerous problems with this ‘law’ of attraction is defining it, but basically it states that your thoughts determine your experience. My e-mail correspondent referred me to this site which actually offers 18 other names for the law of attraction – which adds to my view that it is meaningless.
My correspondent eventually responded to my skeptism in this way: “OK, the law of attraction..well, proof is in the pudding..if you don;t believe it then that is what you get. if you do you get that”. But, as I pointed out to her: “Then, it isn’t a law. If I throw a ball in the air, it will always come down whether I believe in gravity or not. That is a law.”
The web site I mentioned earlier has the following claim: “Don’t believe that the Law of Attraction is real, well, you’re just about the only one.” It then quotes a successor of figures from Jesus to Winston Churchill who apparently believed in the ‘law’.
If I really am “about the only one” who rejects this new age nonsense, then maybe mumbo-jumbo is conquering the world [see my book review here].


  • Janet

    Roger, like you I regard this “law of attraction” as “New Age” mumbo jumbo. The quotations listed on the website you mention are almost all taken out of context.
    But there are plenty of examples of what you think affecting the OUTCOME of an event (not the occurrence of the event). One of these is the “Wallenda effect” named after the tightrope walker who lost confidence in his abilities and fell to his death from a high wire.
    A more everyday example is telling a child that they can ride their new tricycle “anywhere on the lawn but don’t hit the tree” resulting in the child hitting the tree, supposedly due to their subconcious registering “tree” instead of “not tree”.
    This I think is something psychologists have studied and come up with statistical evidence for.

  • Roger Darlington

    This is a good point, Janet – although there seem to be different definitions of the “Wallenda effect” such as this and this.

  • Andy R

    Clearly the way we think affects our experience, but not in some mystic pseudo-scientific way.
    There’s a very oft-cited quotation from Henry Ford
    “Whether you think you can or think you can’t – you are right.” To me this means that your optimism or pessimism can hugely affects the outcome of any venture. If you are optimistic, your mood and actions will maximise your chances of success – for example in a job interview, or putting together a rock band, or sailing round the world. (Why? Well, surely I don’t need to spell it out.)
    What it does NOT mean is that if you think you can leap tall buildings in a single bound then you can. There’s also a real world out there with it’s own “laws” – of physics, in this case. So … Don’t try this at home.