Law of Attraction Arguments, Part 6: “No Challenges”

Titlepic: Law of Attraction Arguments, Part 6: 'No Challenges'

What, exactly, is Neil Farber’s “No Challenges” argument against the Law of Attraction? Does it prove that Law of Attraction is not true?

KEYWORDS: action, arguments, challenges, goals, goal-achieving, law of attraction, negative beliefs, negative thoughts, no-challenges, philosophy, planning, psychology.

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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?

In an article called “The Truth About the Law of Attraction“, Neil Farber presents more than a dozen arguments against the Law of Attraction.

Previously I have discussed five of those: the “Metaphysical Psedoscience” argument, the “No Purpose” argument, the “No Action” argument, the “No Plan” argument, and the “No Date” argument. In this article I am therefore going to look at his sixth one, which he has titled the “No Challenges” argument.

So what are we up to in this article? Well, first of all we can ask this: How does Farber put together his argument, so that it becomes valid? And what does the phrase “no challenges” really mean, or imply? And, the most important question is of course this: Does he succeed in proving that the Law of Attraction is not true?

PART 1: THE ARGUMENT

Here is how Farber ends his own presentation of the “No Date” argument:

“There are many goal-achieving benefits to acknowledging and planning for challenges that may arise. Unfortunately, a belief in a law of attraction does not allow for you to accomplish this.”

At this stage we can already see that his conclusion seems almost identical to the one that he has presented in Argument 5 (the “No Date” argument). And it is also somewhat similar to Argument 4 (the “No Plan” argument) in its structure.

Nevertheless, the “No Challenges” argument offers some new ideas to think about. And the basic idea is communicated in the form of a quote from Abraham-Hicks, where they talk about the idea that thinking negative thoughts only leads to more negative thoughts.

So the question at this stage is: What does “challenges” or “no challenges” have to do with negative thoughts? What is the exact argument? What is it that Farber is trying to say?

Well, since Farber’s argument is not presented in a structured and strict philosophical manner, we need to reconstruct it, in order to understand how the different propositions are related to each other. So let’s see how we can do that.

Argument 6: “No Challenges”

Here is my reconstruction of Farber’s “No Challenges” argument, which I am calling Argument 6:

P1.Authors of the Law of Attraction typically advice their students not to focus on problems, since the philosophy is that if they focus like that, they will get more problems, since problems attract more problems.

P2.Planning for challenges may bring many “goal-achieving benefits”.

P3.But the students of the Law of Attraction will not get such benefits, since they avoid planning for challenges.

P4.This must indicate that the Law of Attraction is a false principle.

PART 2: MY RESPONSE

The focus in Part 2 is that I am here analyzing the individual components of Argument 6, so that I can find out whether each of them has something to offer, or not.

The core question is this: Are each of these propositions true and relevant to the argument as a whole?For if they are not both true and relevant, then Argument 6 is to be considered unsound and thus fails to show that which Farber wants it to show.

Proposition P1: Students Should Not Focus on Problems

In this section I am looking at proposition P1 in Argument 6, which goes like this:

P1.Authors of the Law of Attraction typically advice their followers not to focus on problems, since the philosophy is that if they focus like that, they will get more problems, since problems attract more problems.

This is an unusually good proposition coming from Farber. For it is basically correct. One potential problem, however, is this quotation that Farber uses, which he claims is coming from Esther Hicks (i.e., Abraham-Hicks):

“Once you have recognized that thinking of what you do not want only attracts more of what you do not want into your experience, controlling your thoughts will not be a difficult thing…”

But since he does not give us any references to that quote, we cannot be cent percent sure that those words ever were uttered. For it is the presenter’s (i.e., Farber’s) responsibility to provide evidence so that we can determine whether or not P1 is true.

In any case, after having researched the matter, I found out that Abraham-Hicks indeed did say that in their book called The Law of Attraction. And that quote is on page 125. So now we can be sure that this is something that they actually have said.

Therefore, there is little else to discuss. Students of the Law of Attraction are not interested in attracting negative things into their space-time experience. So they practice navigating their thoughts in such a way as to minimize their negative thoughts and negative emotions.

Summing up: Even though Farber has technically failed to provide enough evidence for proposition P1, we now have the references to it. And because of this, we now consider proposition P1 to be true.

Proposition P2: Planning May Bring Benefits

Here is what proposition P2 in Argument 6 says:

P2.But planning for challenges may bring many “goal-achieving benefits”.

This proposition is not easily accepted. Why? Because Farber has not explained what those “goal-achieving benefits” are all about. There are no references, no examples, no analogies, or any other information that tells the reader what these “goal-achieving benefits” amount to, and how and why they occur (if they at all occur). [note 1]

Therefore, proposition P2 cannot be accepted as it stands, since there is no evidence provided for P2. This means then that P2 has no power to support Argument 6, which in turn means that the argument as a whole is unsound. So it’s a no-go. [note 2]

Proposition P3: But Students Get No Such Benefits

Here is proposition P3 in Argument 6:

P3.But the students of the Law of Attraction will not get such benefits, since they avoid planning for challenges.

Premise P3 may be correct. For since the students of the Law of Attraction do not think and act in the same way that “ordinary” people do, it is also quite logical that they should receive different results.

So let’s take an example with insurances. It is a common thing among “ordinary people” to be proactive and buy an insurance, in order to be prepared for the worst scenario. And if that worst scenario plays out, then they will (hopefully) get reimbursed by the insurance company. So their “benefit” is then the money paid out by the insurance company, minus, of course, the cost of the insurance itself.

But many students of Law of Attraction would decide not to get such an insurance. And therefore, if a similar scenario would play out with them, they would not get reimbursed by any insurance company. So they would receive no such “benefit”. Sure. So what?

The assumption that Farber is making is most probably that what happens to “ordinary” people can also happen to the students of the Law of Attraction. So according to him, those students will, on average, be just as much victim of such events as the “ordinary” people will.

But that, of course, is not proven. So there may still be lots of room for the possibility that everything plays out exactly how the authorized versions of the Law of Attraction describe it: People who deliberately turn away from negative thoughts and negative feelings do not typically experience the same negative events that “ordinary” people do. The more positivity they accumulate, the more trouble-free their life will become.

So then the idea is very logical and straightforward. Since students of the Law of Attraction are so positive and happy (being mostly at P1 and P2 on the negativity-positivity spectrum), they will not experience as many, or as severe, negative events that “ordinary” people (being mostly at N2 and N1 on the NP spectrum) will experience.

The students therefore will typically not need to have an insurance, since they don’t focus on any “worst scenarios” at all. So they don’t need the reimbursement from any insurance company, since nothing has happened to them in the first place.

In other words, such students are consciously avoiding getting into trouble by avoiding to think about trouble. It is perfectly logical.

Summing up: Sure, the students of the Law of Attraction may not get the kind of “benefits” that the “ordinary” people get. But the students don’t need such benefits, because, unlike the “ordinary” people, they will typically not experience any “worst scenario” in the first place. Instead they experience a very “smooth ride” with minimal disturbances, compared to “ordinary” people.

Proposition P4: Law of Attraction Must Be a False Principle

Here I am discussing proposition P4 in Argument 6, which goes like this:

P4.This must indicate that the Law of Attraction is a false principle.

Farber wants to draw the conclusion that Law of Attraction is false. But some of this premises are so ineffective, so he is not able to. Why? Let’s do a quick recap.

Even though Farber, technically speaking, has not provided us with complete references to the Abraham-Hicks quotation that he used in proposition P1, I myself did succeed in locating it. So we can say that Proposition P1 is more or less true. Law of Attraction practitioners typically try to avoid negative thoughts and feelings in order to minimize their negative manifestations. And they do so for good reason.

In proposition P2 Farber does not give any type of evidence for his statement. So P2 cannot be used. Thus it makes the whole argument (P1-P4) unsound. And this means that the conclusion (P4) cannot be reached.

Proposition P3 is more or less true, at least in some situations. So students of the Law of Attraction may not get the same benefits as “ordinary” people. But the students don’t need them, because they typically, because of their much more positive attitude, do not experience serious trouble to the same extent as “ordinary” people do. So instead of getting the “breadcrumb” benefits that “ordinary” people are shooting for, the students of the Law of Attraction are instead receiving the “everything-is-always-working-out-for-me” type of benefits from the Universe.

So even though we may consider P3 to be correct, it does not describe all the other benefits that the student of Law of Attraction typically experiences. So when Farber concludes P4, then he has dismissed all the other benefits that the students of the Law of Attraction might be getting, which “ordinary” people typically are not getting.

Therefore, Farber’s “mistake” in P3 is to assume that there is only type of benefits in the life of people, and that is the benefits connected to “planning for challenges”. So when the students of the Law of Attraction circumvent the whole negative situation, that “smooth ride” is not counted as a “benefit”, and consequently Farber’s arithmetic concludes that Law of Attraction doesn’t deliver what it promises (or something along those lines). [note 3]

In any case, because of the problem with P2, and with the faulty deduction from P3 to P4, Farber’s conclusion (P4) is a no-go. His argument is not sound.

CONCLUSION

Farber’s “No Challenges” argument (Argument 6) is neither a cogent argument nor a sound one. Although P1 and P3 are mostly correct, P2 is not true (lack of evidence), and the conclusion (P4) cannot safely be drawn from P3. [note 4]

In summary, then, Farber’s “No Challenges” argument is non-functional. Therefore, Farber has, once again, failed to prove that Law of Attraction is not true. So for those of you who want to learn how to master the Law of Attraction, there has never been a better time than now!

Chris Bocay

NOTES

  1. It is difficult to understand exactly what “goal-achieving benefits” might mean and include. In fact, it is not entirely easy to understand what “benefits” might mean, let alone “goal-achieving” ones. So what could “benefits” be? According to the latest edition of The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, it might mean this (Pickett 2018, p. 168a): “1a. Something that promotes or enhances well-being; an advantage: The nurse explained the benefits of regular exercise. b. Help; aid: The field trip was of great benefit to the students. 2a. A payment made by a government agency or insurance company to qualifying persons in time of need: an increase in welfare benefits. b. A form of compensation, such as paid vacation time, subsidized health insurance, or a pension, provided to employees in addition to wages or salary as part of an employment arrangement. Also called fringe benefit. 3. A public entertainment, performance, or social event held to raise funds for a person or cause. 4. archaic A kindly deed.”
  2. It is not easy to understand what Farber is up to. Why does he not give any explanation of how it is he has arrived at proposition P2? I mean, who would ever accept P2 as it stands? So, in my opinion, I think that P2 is not clear enough. Maybe Farber simply has missed Vaughn’s recommendation (2006, p. 49) to view his own (Farber’s) writing “as others might”?
  3. The idea here is that there are only two options available in this argument. One option is that the student of the Law of Attraction gets the same benefits that “ordinary” people get. And the other option is that such a student does not get those same benefits. But there may, of course, be other benefits that the student may get that are not the same as those that “ordinary” people get. So one might perhaps classify this as a fallacy of type “false dilemma” or, more generally, as an “oversimplification” (cf. Weddle, pp. 18-20).
  4. Although one might challenge the idea that Argument 6 is not a cogent argument (since cogent arguments are “person relative”; cf. Martinich, pp. 20-21), there is little scope for accepting this argument as sound.

REFERENCES

  • Hicks, Esther and Jerry Hicks (2006), The Law of Attraction: The Basics of the Teachings of Abraham. Foreword by Neale Donald Walsch. Carlsbad, CA: Hay House, Inc. [Link to book]
  • Martinich, A. P. (1989), Philosophical Writing: An Introduction. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall. [Link to book (but 2nd ed.)]
  • Pickett, Joseph P., et al., eds. (2018), The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language. Fifth Edition. Fiftieth Anniversary. Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. [Link to book]
  • Vaughn, Lewis (2006), Writing Philosophy: A Student’s Guide to Writing Philsophy Essays. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press. [Link to book]
  • Weddle, Perry (1978), Argument: A Guide to Critical Thinking. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company. [Link to book]

Copyright © 2022 by Chris Bocay. All rights reserved.

First published: Sat 10 Sep 2022
Last revised: Sun 11 Sep 2022

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