Can quantum mechanics really explain the “law of attraction”?

"Dogs are so cute when they try to comprehend quantum mechanics!"

I’ll be the first to admit I am no scientist, although I did spend 20 years with one, amid scintillating breakfast conversations on topics like zinc and copper sediment in the Fraser River estuary. Does that count at all? Far brighter minds than mine, however, tell us what real scientists have often pondered: people believe an awful lot of “science” that isn’t scientific at all. Take the recent Reuters report from Russia that showed:

  • 32% of Russians surveyed believed the Earth is the centre of the solar system
  • 55% believed that all radioactivity is man-made
  • 29% believed that the first humans lived when dinosaurs still roamed the Earth 

Study author Dr. Olga Kamenchuk wrote:

“It’s really quite amazing – it speaks of the low levels of education in the country.”

Well, it either speaks of their impoverished education, or it speaks of the universal willingness to believe what other (non-scientist) people tell us.

For example, consider the very brainy and self-described “moderately photogenic” Dr. Lawrence Krauss, an Arizona theoretical physicist and author of many books including The Physics of Star Trek (in which he explores concepts like time travel, light speed, pure energy beings, wormholes, and other concepts of physics that make my head hurt).

Dr. Krauss wrote in Scientific American last year about the way that the strange and utterly misunderstood science of quantum mechanics has been hijacked by those who may not necessarily know what the heck they’re talking about.  But millions of us around the world are paying close attention to these people just as if they did.  According to Dr. Krauss:

“No one intuitively understands quantum mechanics.”

This statement is really the only part of his explanation that I actually understood.

My own loose, and I do mean loose, grasp on this science is that it’s the branch of physics that interprets physical phenomena occurring on a very small scale (like the motion of electrons). The rest, however, Dr. Krauss reduced to its reader-friendly core by stating that confusion around this science inevitably brings the opportunity for profit. So Dr. Krauss has devised a list of what he calls the Worst Abusers of Quantum Mechanics for Fun and Profit (but Mostly Profit) including:

1. Deepak Chopra: “I have read numerous pieces by him on why quantum mechanics provides rationales for everything from the existence of God to the possibility of changing the past. Nothing I have ever read, however, suggests he has enough understanding of quantum mechanics to pass an undergraduate course I might teach on the subject.”

2. The Secret: “This best-selling book, which spawned a self-help industry, seems to be built in part on the claim that quantum physics implies a ‘law of attraction’ that suggests good thoughts will make good things happen. It doesn’t. Quantum mechanics does not deny the existence of objective reality. Nor does it imply that mere thoughts can change external events. Effects still require causes, so if you want to change the universe, you need to act on it.”

3. Transcendental meditation: “TMers argue that they can fly by achieving a lower ‘quantum-mechanical ground state’ and that the more people who practice TM, the less violent the world will become. This last idea at least is in accord with quantum mechanics, to the extent that if everyone on the planet did nothing but meditate there wouldn’t be time for violence (or acts of kindness, either).” Note: watch the late Maharishi Mahesh Yogi explain transcendental flying.

Find out more from Dr. Krauss during this lecture called “A Universe from Nothing“.

16 thoughts on “Can quantum mechanics really explain the “law of attraction”?

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  3. and then, what about the former (Harvard?) professor in quantum mechanics John Hagelin, who preferred to join the Maharishi and now, beside being a leading figure in the transcendental meditation movement, teaches quantum physics, with the inclusion of consciousness, at the Maharishi University of Management in Iowa and starts with an internet course on this subject on 28 february. .

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    • Well, my understanding is that Dr. Hagelin also now calls himself the “Minister of Science and Technology” in the Global Country of World Peace, a virtual country with no land invented by the Maharishi. The Washington Post reported shortly after 9/11 terrorist attacks that the Maharishi had announced that if some government would give him a billion dollars, he would “end terrorism and create peace by hiring 40,000 yogic fliers to start hopping full time”. Perhaps Dr. Hagelin is working on that plan?

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  4. the first thing was that John Hagelin can not be called a “non-scientist”.
    a second thing, noteworthy now you mention 9/11 , is that Maharishi on April 12, 1999 (!!) placed an advertisement in the Wall Street Journal, the (Europe) International Herald Tribune and the Financial Times of London (and later, translated, in other countries also) , in which we find this text: “Can you imagine if bombs began to fall on Washington DC , and to destroy the high-rises of the money markets of New York?”
    Interesting, isn’t it?
    And answering the question: yes, he is working on that.
    And at the moment there is a video available, in which Hagelin speaks about these things and about his coming course:

    “that’s all for today, folks.”

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  5. The Secret never claims that because I think good thoughts good things will happen simply by visioning alone. It’s ignorant to think that this is a viable concept. What it does explain, in a scientific way, is that our thoughts make our actions. And if anyone ever really delved into the Law of Attraction, which any good scientist would do, they would know this.

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    • That’s the point, Stephen. Dr. Krauss, a “good scientist”, has delved into the theory and finds its scientific evidence lacking. According to The Secret’s own website, for example: “You are a magnet attracting to you all things, via the signal you are emitting through your thoughts and feelings.” And as Dr. Krauss wrote in a 2004 SA interview:

      “Science isn’t fair. It’s testable. In science, we prove things by empirical methods.”

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  6. Well if Einstein knew anything, energy equals mass, times (the speed of light squared). What this means is, Energy, or our thoughts, are equal to matter and thus everything we are observing. (Light). This is an extremely basic explanation of this process, i believe this man simply was a stern scientist. Now when you run the odds of belief in something and it actually happening, such as getting a specific phone call,letters, etc. you can record these results and calculator the actual probability of reviving those many calls simply off thought, or whatever your experiment is.

    I’ve done this several times, within 24 hours for each study with my utter belief. So “Scientifically yes, we do prove things by empirical methods”

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  7. Why would you compare Einstein to quantum mechanics? The two theories (general relativity and quantum mechanics), have not been reconciled yet. Its like taking something Descartes said (substance dualism), to prove something Churchland said (eliminative materialism), it just wouldn’t make sense.

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  8. Carolyn, why so eager to endorse Mr. Strauss? If I can recall, there are several “good scientists” who delve into qm and DO find qm to explain the law of attraction. Amit gaswani, phd, physics says ” qm is defined, most succinctly, as the science of possibilities.”

    Sure, we have physics and mathematics that govern what can and can’t happen, and surely we can’t change these possibilities… but we can choose from them. Qm suggests that particles don’t exist until we realize them. The rest of the time, they are undefined, as waves, or even non existent at all (electrons appear and dissappear in this state, and it’s unknown where they go or are from).

    Ponder this. Do we even know what reality is? Our body, mind, and senses are only translators for us. They translate the universe around us into a language we can decipher. So what actually is the universe? .. Untranslated?

    Carolyn do you seek to debunk the law of attraction? Do you believe qm and law of attr. are unrelated? Do you think either the law of a or qm itself is nonsense? Remember that quantum mechanics can’t make any defined statement about a particle in particular without an ‘observer’. QM needs someone or something to choose, realize, or experience an event, otherwise it exists inexplicably.

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    • Hi Adam – I think you meant to say Dr. Krauss, not Mr. Strauss. And no, I don’t seek to debunk many things in life, except for those quasi-scientific theories that “bring the opportunity for profit” to a few at the expense of many.

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    • “Qm suggests that particles don’t exist until we realize them”. No it doesn’t. What’s your source for this assertion?
      The LoA is a belief system, like prayer is, and is unrelated to QM. QM is science, LoA isn’t (it is unprovable, unfalsifiable, and makes no predictions that can be tested)
      “Remember that quantum mechanics can’t make any defined statement about a particle in particular without an ‘observer’”. Again, what’s your source for this assertion?
      “QM needs someone or something to choose, realize, or experience an event, otherwise it exists inexplicably.” You’re just making this stuff up aren’t you?

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  9. Regarding the film The Secret, the entire “law of attraction” process is loosely defined. Essentially, the idea is “like attracts like” and “thoughts are things.” What these quotes illustrate is that your thoughts attract things that are like your thoughts.

    What The Secret fails to delve into is that of course mere thought alone will not manifest something into existence. Something that is very important to remember regarding the LoA is that thoughts alone will not produce your reality; however, they will lead you towards it. The missing ingredient is your own actions and your behavior.

    The Secret actually touches this topic, too, expressing that you must “believe” with all of your thoughts and emotion that you are wealthy, or famous, or whatever you’re trying to attract with the law. It says that you must act as if it is already that way, e.g. being generous with money since you have an abundance of it.

    If Quantum Mechanics suggests that particles don’t exist until you are aware of them, then perhaps certain situations (coincidences, as you’ve called them) may not exist until we realize them; through the law of attraction and focus on our thoughts, we realize these situations that lead us to what we’re thinking about.

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    • Hello Nick,
      “…you must “believe” with all of your thoughts and emotion that you are wealthy, or famous, or whatever you’re trying to attract with the law…” My own observation is that I’ve seen some very sad cases of people “acting as if” they are already all those things (particularly wealthy) – including some truly irresponsible cases of going into heavy debt and putting one’s family into peril while living in the LaLa Land of the LoA. As Dr. Kraus reminds us, “mere thoughts can’t change external events”, or as my late Mum used to say: “You don’t spend money you don’t have.”

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  10. I believe society will look back on this era in 500 years and laugh at the hubris of science and its dogmatic belief in newtonian physics and begrudging attitude toward quantum weirdness. Imagine telling the intelligentsia 150 years ago we would be carrying object called an iphone and doing all the magic with it we do today. You would have been considered insane. How would those images be transported? Radio waves? Foo-foo nonsense! Con artist! Same thing here, this blog will be in a museum as an example of the fundamentalist materialist movement and it dogmatic efforts to dissuade innovative thinking in the 21st century.

    Please read Rupert Sheldrake’s Science Set Free. It undeniably explains just how cloistered conventional science has become. New discoveries are not welcome if they invalidate existing beliefs. Plain and simple. No funding. No grants. Only derision for the mavericks.

    The reason LOAttraction has such a following is because it works, albeit intermittently because of the variable nature of consciousness. Those that are good at it are the cutting edge of human evolution.

    The physicist you quote “might” teach an introductory course and parrots the cliche that QP can’t be understood. Bless the innovators who have moved beyond the textbooks, they’re always castigated before being celebrated.

    Peace out.

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