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The Secret of Mass Delusion

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The leaders of Delta Zeta - the sorority which just made national news by expelling all overweight and nonwhite members from its Depauw University chapter - must have read The Secret. In this runaway self-help bestseller, author Rhonda Byrne advises that you can keep your weight down by avoiding the sight of fat people. "If you see people who are overweight, do not observe them, but immediately switch your mind to the picture of you in your perfect body and feel it." Don't worry about calories, just get rid of that 150-pound sorority sister down the hall.

Here's The Secret, in case you missed it: You can have anything you want simply by visualizing it intensely enough. I don't have to write this blog, I can simply visualize it already written - or could, if I'd bothered to read the whole book and finish the DVD. To be fair to Byrne, she does not suggest avoiding nonwhite people; in fact one of the teachers of "the secret" she cites is the African-American motivational speaker Lisa Nichols. The Delta Zeta leaders probably just thought: Why take a chance?

Can you really get anything you want through some mysterious "Law of Attraction"? It may not be as easy as it seems. Take the case of Esther Hicks, spirit-channeler, motivational speaker, and co-author of a book entitled The Law of Attraction. Byrne had told Hicks she would have a starring role in the DVD of The Secret, but her face was never shown in the film's first cut (although her voice, channeling a group of spirits called "Abraham" was used throughout.) Hicks was furious and demanded that her voice, or Abraham's, also be excised from the DVD, which has now sold about 1.5 million copies.

Possibly Hicks was just too fat for the film, or at least too dowdy. It's hard to judge her weight from a photo in the New York Times, which shows Hicks seated - eyes closed in channeling mode - inside her $1.4 million bus. But just underneath is a photo of a sylph-like Byrnes frolicking on a beach in a fur-trimmed jacket. From a Delta Zeta perspective, who would you rather look at?

Hicks says she is not going to sue, and why should she? She could just use the Law of Attraction to reinsert herself back into the DVD. Or to deflect Byrne's profits into her own bank account. Or to take off 15 pounds and have them padded onto Byrne's tiny waist.

If a leading proponent of the Law of Attraction cannot control a little thing like a DVD with her thoughts, then why are millions of Americans spending good money to find out how to use that Law to control the entire universe? The scary thing is that the subscribers to the Law aren't just a bunch of wistful, isolated, misfits. Read the reviews of the DVD of The Secret and you find that companies are beginning to impose it on their employees. An N.Van Buskirk writes that:

I was presented this DVD at work and I found it disturbing. A gimmick to say the least, but the real issue is that I felt like I was being indoctrinated into a cult -- I had to leave about half-way through.

And Steven E. Cramer, an employer, reports that "I had my sales staff watch 'The Secret,' and saw an immediate jump in morale, goals and production."

Or check out the credentials of the "teachers" enlisted in The Secret. Most are well-known motivational speakers who claim to instruct such business heavy-weights as financial advisors, developers and a "master marketer." One of The Secret's teachers, Denis Waitley, includes on his website testimonials from Merrill Lynch, WorldCom, 3M, Dell Computers and IBM, among many others.

Well, here's a little secret I'd like to share, channeled to me by Einstein, Newton and thousands of enlightenment thinkers: When the leaders of a major economy lapse into mysticism and come to believe they can accomplish things through their mental vibrations, without lifting a finger - then it's time to start thinking about going into subsistence farming on a remote compound in Idaho. I'll have the DVD out in no time.