Law of Attraction Arguments, Part 4: “No Plan”

Titlepic: Law of Attraction Arguments, Part 4: 'No Plan'

In this article I am presenting the “No Plan” argument against the Law of Attraction. Does that argument prove or indicate that Law of Attraction is false?

KEYWORDS: action, arguments, goals, goal setting, law of attraction, no-plan, philosophy, psychology, planning.

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Note: This article is part of a series on arguments against the Law of Attraction. All articles in this series are available from the overview page called “Law of Attraction: Is It Real?

Neil Farber has presented fourteen different arguments against the existence of the Law of Attraction in an interesting article named “The Truth About the Law of Attraction“.

Previously I have discussed three of his arguments in my articles the “Metaphysical Psedoscience” argument, the “No Purpose” argument, and the “No Action” argument. In this article, however, I am going to focus on his fourth one, the “No Plan” argument.

So what are some questions for this article? Well, what is Farber’s claim, more precisely? And what does “planning” or “no planning” have to do with the existence (or non-existence) of the Law of Attraction itself? Most important, though, is the following question: Does he succeed in proving that the Law of Attraction is not true?

PART 1: THE ARGUMENT

Here is what Farber is saying in the beginning of his presentation of the “No Plan” argument:

“If the best way for me to achieve my goals is to live as if I’ve already achieved them, then there is no reason to make further plans to do so! Making plans shows the universe that you doubt its ability and lack faith.”

So there is something about “no reason to make further plans” that is important here. But what is that, exactly?

Well, since he has christened his argument “No Plan”, the idea is supposedly that the Law of Attraction somehow or other “supports” or “requires” that there should be no plan involved for the practitioner.

But having no plan is not a sin in itself, of course, so there must be more to the story. And the essence of that, I think, is to be found at the end of his argument, where he introduces the idea of some research, which suggests that the kind of no-plan life of a Law of Attraction follower may be good in the short term. But in the long run it will not be beneficial, according to that research.

However, before he arrived at that conclusion he also talked about the idea that, according to him, Law of Attraction philosophy teaches that the practitioner must live as if he or she already has accomplished his goal.

The overall problem here is that Farber only presents his argument in a loose and informal way, not in a strict and robust philosophical fashion. So in order to really see what his argument is, we first have to reconstruct it. That way it will be easier to evaluate it in a correct manner.

Argument 4: “No Plan”

So here is my reconstruction of his argument:

P1.In order to reach their goals, a Law of Attraction practitioner must live as if they already have reached those goals.

P2.Thus, there is no reason to make new plans. For making new plans shows the universe that you doubt its ability and that you lack faith in the process.

P3.But scientific studies show that this way of thinking results in greater short-term satisfaction but less motivation and a lower chance of achieving goals.

P4.And if scientific studies show something, then that is how things truly are.

P5.Therefore, Law of Attraction is false.

PART 2: MY RESPONSE

Here in Part 2 I am analyzing each of the five propositions in Argument 4, to see whether they are permissible or not. Are the premises true, and relevant? Is the argument as a whole valid as well as sound?

Proposition P1: Live As If Having Reached the Goal

In this section I am looking at proposition P1 in Argument 4, which goes like this:

P1.In order to reach their goals, a Law of Attraction practitioner must live as if they already have reached those goals.

First of all, a very similar premise has already been discussed in my article on the “No Action” argument. The only difference is that in the “No Action” article, it is, in addition to the “living it” part, also about “believing it” or “thinking it”.

Because of this, there is not so much to talk about here. So let me just quickly run through the reasons why P1 is not very impressive. First of all, because Farber has given no evidence to support the idea that any author of Law of Attraction has ever said something like that. So there are no quotes, no references, no author names, etc. This results in that P1 is unusable as a premise in his overall argument. So his argument simply falls apart.

And even if it were to turn out that some author of Law of Attraction philosophy has said something like that, it would have little significance. For if someone were to say something like that, that author would immediately be labeled as a non-authorized author of Law of Attraction philosophy. For no authorized author of the Law of Attraction would ever utter proposition P1, except perhaps as an example of what they are NOT about.

In other words, P1 has no power (either alone, or in combination with other premises) to invalidate or discredit the authorized version of the Law of Attraction.

Proposition P2: No Reason to Make New Plans

Here is what proposition P2 in Argument 4 says:

P2.Thus, there is no reason to make new plans. For making new plans shows the universe that you doubt its ability and that you lack faith in the process.

First, let me point out that P2 in this argument is quite similar to the P2 that I discussed in my article on the “No Action” argument. So the question is: Is the P2 of this argument (“No Plan”) better than the P2 of that argument (“No Action”)?

No, not really. For it suffers from a similar problem, namely that it assumes that P1 is correct. But since I have already indicated above that P1 is a no-go for someone who wants to disprove the authorized version of the Law of Attraction, then P2 is also similarly a no-go.

And because of that, the whole argument (P1-P5) falls apart. So this premise does not support the idea that the authorized version of the Law of Attraction is false.

Proposition P3: Scientific Studies Shows Less Motivation

Here is proposition P3 in Argument 4:

P3.But scientific studies show that this way of thinking results in greater short-term satisfaction but less motivation and a lower chance of achieving goals.

Premise P3 seems interesting, especially since there seemingly is research available. So will a practitioner who has the mindset expressed in P1 and P2 get more short-term satisfaction, but less (long-term) motivation and less chance of reaching their goals? Where can we read more about that?

Well, we really don’t know. For since Farber has not shown us the research, we don’t know who has written it (is it written by a well-recognized international authority on the subject, or is it a product of some graduate student?), or when it was published (is it old and irrelevant?), or what the particular focus was (what was the study really trying to achieve, and who paid for it?), or who the “lab rats” were (how suitable or non-suitable were the participants of the study?), or the procedure (who did what, and when?), etc. [note 1]

And even if we were able to get the exact references for such articles or books, that would most probably not help anyway. For it is highly improbable that any successful Law of Attraction student would ever team up with some scientists to be part of a scientific study.

Also, since the conclusion of these (presumed) research studies is that the efforts of those “lab rats” don’t work in the long run, it simply indicates to me that they are not practitioners of the authorized version of the Law of Attraction. Or, alternatively, that they are not following the many guidelines that a successful deliberate creator must adhere to (see some of the many requirements in the two sections “Why Do People Not Succeed?” and “Who Succeeds?” in my article on how to master the Law of Attraction).

To sum up: there is no way for us to accept proposition P3 as true, before we have thoroughly scrutinized the research study (or studies) that he is alluding to. Thus, once again, Farber has achieved nothing. For since P3 is not true, his whole argument goes out the window.

Proposition P4: If Scientific Studies Shows It, It Is So

Here I am discussing proposition P4 in Argument 4, which goes like this:

P4.And if scientific studies show something, then that is how things truly are.

Proposition P4 is problematic. For the question can always be raised: What exactly does the scientific research show? In fact, there is little research that is taken as “true” by all scientists. So it is a “normal state of affairs” that any theory may be challenged by some (or many) in the scientific community.

And this is of course especially so in the social sciences, where much of the research is conducted by using various “indirect” approaches (such as interviewing, for example). In any case, in the overwhelming majority of scientific experiments and research reports that are produced, there are always many things that may be problematic for the conclusion to be drawn. So even if the author(s) of a particular paper writes their abstract in a certain way, the community will typically still have many ways to not agree with that conclusion. [notes 2 and 3]

Therefore, once again, Farber’s premise is not working, which has the consequence that his argument as a whole (P1-P5) is also not working. So this is no threat for the validity of the authorized version of the Law of Attraction.

Proposition P5: Law of Attraction Is False

In this section I am discussing proposition P5 in Argument 4, which goes like this:

P5.Therefore, Law of Attraction is false.

The conclusion that Farber wants to be able to draw is that Law of Attraction is false. But he is not capable of drawing such a conclusion, since his premises are so ineffective. So let’s do a quick recap.

Proposition P1 does not work, since it is a misrepresentation of the authorized versions of the Law of Attraction. Another problem is that Farber has not given any references (no author, no book title, no year, no publisher, etc.). So P1 is out.

Proposition P2 assumes that P1 is correct. But P1 is not correct, which invalidates P2.

Proposition P3 sounds interesting, but we don’t know any details. For Farber has given us no references to this supposed research (no author, no title of the paper, no year, no name of journal, etc.). So Proposition P3 is also a no-go.

Proposition P4 assumes that all scientific studies represent the truth of the world, or something along those lines. But that is not always the case. So P4 doesn’t really follow.

All in all, P1-P4 certainly do not lead to the conclusion that he wants to make (P5).

CONCLUSION

Farber’s “No Plan” argument is not a very good one. For none of the four premises (P1-P4) are unproblematic. There is no evidence provided for proposition P1 or for proposition P3. And because P2 is built on P1, P2 is also ineffective. And P4, of course, is a too strong claim.

Hence, Farber’s “No Plan” argument really fails in its attempt to discredit the authorized version of the Law of Attraction. There is no evidence anywhere in his argument that proves that the Law of Attraction is not true.

Chris Bocay

NOTES

  1. Note especially that one of the most important aspects when scrutinizing such a research report would be to see what the phrase “this way of thinking” really amounts to. Which scientific study has studied those people who are thinking and acting exactly as described in P1? How does the study ascertain that all of the participants thoroughly believed it and are living it? For it’s one thing to just think a thought, and another to actually believe it, and live it. So the research study we would like to see is where all the participants of the study are fully convinced that they already have reached those goals, and are thinking and acting accordingly. But if their goal is become millionaires (as it so often is with people are trying to manifest with Law of Attraction), how can they live their dream before they get the millions? If they don’t already have a private jet, how can they travel to work every day with a private jet, before they have one?
  2. A good place to start learning about different scientific theories in the realm of the social sciences (including psychology) is Alexander Rosenberg’s Philosophy of Social Science (2012). Interesting sections to explore might be: “The Empiricist’s Diagnosis: Why Social Science Fails to Discover Laws” (p. 19), “Rejecting Empiricism for Intelligibility” (p. 23); “Taking Sides in the Philosophy of Social Sciences” (p. 28), “Darwin’s ‘Holism’ and Its Problems” (p. 208), “Farewell to the Standard Social Science Model?” (p. 221), and “Moral Problems of Controlled Research” (p. 254).
  3. A great place to start to learn about the philosophy of science (not just in the social science realm) is the book A Companion to the Philosophy of Science, edited by Alan Sica. This volume contains many excellent essays by leading researchers in the field. A very clear and non-pretentious introductory essay by Sica gives a nice overview what the philosophy of science is all about. Other interesting essays are: “Naturalism” (p. 308), “Pragmatic Factors in Theory Acceptance” (p. 349), “Realism and Instrumentalism” (p. 393), “Reductionism” (p. 402), “Relativism” (p. 405), “Theories” (p. 515), and “Underdetermination of Theory by Data” (p. 532). Recommended reading for all scientists.

REFERENCES

  • Newton-Smith, W. H., ed. (2001), A Companion to the Philosophy of Science. Reprint. First published 2000. Malden, MA and Oxford: Blackwell. [Link to book]
  • Rosenberg, Alex (2012), Philosophy of Social Science. Boulder, CO: Westview Press. [Link to book]

Copyright © 2022 by Chris Bocay. All rights reserved.

First published: Thu 8 Sep 2022
Last revised: Fri 9 Sep 2022

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