I was all set to publish a blog post I’d just about completed. Then my faithful friend Tony Michalski sent me a couple of links to some recent threads on the official discussion forum of The Secret. Well, that threw me off schedule a bit, blogging-wise. "Darn you, Tony!" I e-mailed to him.
And he e’d back, "No use darning me, you keep me in stitches as it is!"
Damn. I wish I’d thought of that one. Anyway…
Looking at Tony’s emails, I was particularly taken by a thread titled, "Manifesting unicorns." A guy named Leo started the ball rolling by mentioning that according to The Secret video, "Thoughts become things." Here’s what Leo wanted to know:
What's the difference between manifesting 10 billion dollars and 10 thousand dollars?
Why do we settle for $10,000 when the universe, according to the secret video, doesn't make a distinction between how huge or tiny a wish that we make?
How about going to the extreme and wish for a unicorn?
Joe Vitale mentioned that it has to be something we can believe in.
However what we can believe in is probably what is already do-able in the physical plane.
For instance, a 40 year-old can never be 20 again. We can't genuinely believe in its happening.
If LOA only works on do-able things, so what's the difference between LOA and working out a plan to achieve what we wanted?
Just curious, how about a mentally ill person who genuinely believes and wishes for a unicorn? Well he believed it, and wished for it. Will his wish be granted?
Anyway, Leo's question led to a brilliant discussion that surely must rival some of those legendary debates of old, regarding how many angels can stand on the point of a needle (no, the argument apparently never was about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin). Naturally, a few folks brought up Abraham’s opinion about such matters – not the Biblical Abraham, of course, but Esther and Jerry Hicks’ imaginary buds. One person pointed out that Abraham said something to the effect that when we agree to incarnate in this plane of existence, we also agree to abide by its physical laws. Others seemed to think that was too limiting. At one point a bubbly soul named Sandy wrote:
Unicorns.. fairies.. they exist energetically as do many other beautiful beings! :) And the manifesting is instant, because there is no space in between asking and connecting with them :)
Well, that should settle that.
This unicorn thread hit me for a couple of reasons, beyond its sheer absurdity. To begin with, I used to like unicorns and fairies and such myself…when I was a kid, that is. I suppose I could access my inner Little Connie (as I was recently advised to do), and see if she still fancies those things. But I’m afraid she’d kick the crap out of me.
At any rate, the main reason this thread hit me was that it somehow reminded me of a recent op-ed piece by author and New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman. The topic was, "China needs an Einstein, and U.S. could use one, too." Friedman had been reading Walter Isaacson’s new biography of Albert Einstein, and it dawned on him that the book had a lot to say about the relationship between freedom and creativity – and, by extension, about China and the US.
Though China isn’t mentioned in the book, Friedman points out that Isaacson’s recounting of Einstein’s career is relevant to a couple of ongoing debates about China. One question is this: Can China become as innovative as America – can it truly become the force to be reckoned with in the twenty-first century, as so many have predicted – when it insists on censoring Google and maintaining tight political controls while establishing its market economy?
Einstein was a rebel all of his life, as Isaacson pointed out in a recent interview, and he fled Hitler’s Germany to come to America, where he resisted both Stalinism and McCarthyism. His major theories, Isaacson noted, "come from taking rebellious imaginative leaps that throw out old conventional wisdom." The implication is that a repressive cultural and political climate such as China’s could never have nurtured an Einstein.
On the other hand, Chinese students consistently outperform American students in math and science. China’s education system may not be set up to nurture a creative, rebellious genius such as Einstein, but it is apparently structured to produce a population of scientifically and mathematically literate students. China, in other words, is doing some things right. By comparison to their Chinese counterparts (and those from other countries as well), American students are still pretty abysmal in math and science. The fault, it could be argued, lies in large part with the way these subjects are taught in the US.
Granted, China’s rigorous education system is arguably a product of a repressive culture, and what works there might not necessarily work in our relatively free society. Even so, US schools could and should encourage interest in science and math. And they could do it, perhaps, by teaching these subjects in a more creative way.
As Friedman puts it, "[Einstein] found sheer beauty and creative joy in science and equations. If only we could convey that in the way we teach science and math, maybe we could nurture another Einstein – male or female – and not have to worry that so many engineers and scientists in our graduate schools are from China that the classes could be taught in Chinese."
Isaacson agrees, saying, "We have to remind our kids that a math equation or a scientific formula is just a brush stroke that the good Lord uses to paint one of the wonders of nature," Isaacson said, "and we should look at it as being as beautiful as art or literature or music."
Now, Isaacson may or may not have a handle on Einstein’s views of God, but his point is well taken nonetheless. Besides, my atheist friends tell me that it is not necessary to believe in God in order to appreciate the beauty and order in math equations. I’ll just have to take that on faith, since I am so mathematically ignorant that all I can see when I look at a math equation is a jumbled bunch of numbers. In fact that TV show Numb3rs makes me want to run out of the room screaming. Not only do I find the characters and dialogue annoying (I liked Rob Morrow way better as a whiny Jewish doc who’d been exiled to Alaska), but the math stuff is way above my head, even with the cool graphics and effects. Still, even I can intellectually grasp that math and physics can be things of beauty, and that if they were taught differently in our schools – maybe even using shows like Numb3rs – they could be as fascinating as fairies and unicorns.
I am particularly interested in Einstein these days not so much because of that new bio, but because he is one of the dead geniuses extracted from the pages of history by Rhonda Byrne and plunked into The Secret. Supposedly our pal Al was one of those who were privy to the Law Of Attraction, along with Jesus and Plato and Mother Theresa and other famous dead people. But darn those buggers; they kept LOA from the rest of us until Rhonda dug it up and repackaged it for the world. (There was an amusing discussion about this on Blair Warren’s blog not too long ago.) One of the major criticisms of The Secret is that it portrays LOA as a scientific law akin to the law of gravity; proponents say that LOA is backed by quantum physics. And as you probably know, quantum physics is a real big thing in New-Wage circles, as evidenced by the success of The Secret, Ramtha infomercial What The Bleep Do We Know?!?, and authors such as Gregg Braden and Bruce Lipton.
And that, to me, only reinforces Friedman and Isaacson’s points about the need for a new approach to science and math education in the US. The way I see it, we in the US have two choices in this matter.
We can insist that our schools revamp math and science ed – beginning at the elementary-school level – in a way that ensures that real science and math (as opposed to the mostly imaginary, magical-thinking "science" being touted by New-Wage hustlers) actually has a chance of being understood and embraced by students.
Or we can throw up our hands in exasperation as Asia continues to produce brilliant scientists and mathematicians, and Americans continue to make Rhonda Byrne and JZ Knight obscenely rich, as we look to The Secret and What The Bleep for our "science" information, and we spend our days engaging in scintillating discussions about manifesting unicorns.
The choice is ours.
PS – Though I’m no fan of The Secret, I understand its appeal. What I cannot understand is why huckster extraordinaire Kevin Trudeau’s latest scam, The Weight Loss Cure They Don’t Want You To Know About is doing so well. It was number 3 in its category on the New York Times Bestseller list as of last week, and number 23 on Amazon as I write this. Well, okay… there’s the "weight loss" theme – a perennially popular one, to be sure – and there’s the "forbidden secrets" appeal. BUT HAVEN’T THE PEOPLE WHO ARE BUYING THIS BOOK READ ANYTHING ABOUT TRUDEAU?!? Don’t they know what a fraud this guy is? Don’t they know they shouldn’t trust him as far as they can throw one of his books? If nothing else, why don't they read the Amazon reader reviews, and the discussion forums at the bottom of the Amazon page, before they buy?
PPS – Now that I’m done ranting, I want to remind you: Don’t forget to vote in my MystiCouple contest if you haven’t already. Or even if you have.