The Secret is out.

It was published in November 2006, and since then, the book and DVD, promising “anything your heart desires” using the “law of attraction,” has sold millions of copies.

Even Oprah got into the act. She devoted two whole shows (now you know it’s serious) to the book. Its author, Rhonda Byrne has even been seen buddying up to the legendary talk show host in social circles.

Despite the ringing endorsement from Ms. Authenticity herself, the question should be raised: Does the theory outlined in the book actually work, or is it one more successful informational con perpetrated on people with pockets too deep for their own good?

The Secret promises wealth, health and social acceptance to those who practice the “law of attraction” (which it describes as “the law in the universe that states that whatever we envision with passion and vigor will materialize for us”).

In other words, we are like mob bosses and the universe is a hired goon doing our bidding. The book also claims we will become more spiritually enlightened as well.

The DVD companion to the book features a story about a homosexual man whose co-workers were harassing him. People on the street were mocking him, and even when he tried to pursue his dream to be a stand-up comedian, he faced more heckling than applause. He was in need of a morale make-over.

He began “visualizing the life you want to live,” and suddenly, his life changed. Those who harassed him at work were re-assigned to another department. He stopped receiving dirty looks on the street. Even his stand-up benefited, as the heckling stopped and was replaced by appreciative applause.

The idea that one can overcome problems by visualizing them away is ludicrous. If that were the case, we could all simply visualize peace in the Middle East, and the troops could come home.

Why am I bashing a book that promotes “spiritual enlightenment” and “positive thinking?” For three reasons:

One, because the “results” it’s impossible to substantiate the validity of any of the book’s theories. If you buy CLR to remove rust stains from the bathtub, you know right away whether it works. If you’re facing foreclosure and use your “law of attraction” theory to ward off evil lenders, and still have a Century 21 sign outside, you can’t say it didn’t work. Were you visualizing hard enough? Does the universe want you to be homeless? Who knows?

Second, there’s a list of famous experts who supposedly ascribed to the book’s theory. Among those mentioned: Galileo, Lincoln, Aristotle and Socrates (none of whom appear in the advertising for the book). As a marketing ploy, this one is particularly lame.

Take a well known, though long-deceased historical figure, say they agree with your theory and use it to hawk books. But there is no evidence proving the book’s claim of having such esteemed support. Poet William Blake did once say “what man most strongly believes to be so, will make it so,” but you have to add, “if you think negative thoughts you are doomed to life-long suffering.”

Finally, the book argues that much of the suffering in the world (poverty, natural disasters, terminal illness) are directly linked to one’s thoughts. You see, ladies and gentlemen, it’s the negative thoughts of the victims of Hurricane Katrina that caused so much suffering in New Orleans, not our incompetent government. That ought to make the displaced victims feel better.

Such overly simplistic approaches to societal problems is laughably irresponsible.

Ultimately, The Secret is little more than self-help claptrap cooked up by people who have found the secret to amassing a fortune. The secret is to make the gullible think there’s a secret.