Law of Attraction Arguments, Part 7: “No Compassion”

Titlepic: Law of Attraction Arguments, Part 7: 'No Compassion'

How does Neil Farber’s “No Compassion” argument against the Law of Attraction work? Does it succeed in proving that the Law of Attraction is false?

KEYWORDS: action, arguments, charity, compassion, empathy, goals, goal-achieving, law of attraction, negative beliefs, negative thoughts, negativity, no-challenges, philosophy, poverty, psychology, sympathy.

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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 many arguments against the Law of Attraction.

I have discussed six of those previously: the “Metaphysical Psedoscience” argument, the “No Purpose” argument, the “No Action” argument, the “No Plan” argument, the “No Date” argument, and the “No Challenges” argument. In this article I am taking a look at his seventh one, the “No Compassion” argument.

So what’s the plan for this article? Well, first of all we must understand Farber’s argument. And then we must try to understand what “no compassion” has to do with whether or not the Law of Attraction is a valid principle playing out in our lives. And, ultimately, of course, we must try to understand how strong or weak Farber’s argument really is: Does his argument hold up under scrutiny?

PART 1: THE ARGUMENT

Here is Farber’s concluding sentence in his own presentation of the “No Compassion” argument:

“While research shows that charitable work, empathy, and volunteering are beneficial to both the giver and receiver, avoid these things if you believe in LOA.”

As we can see from this quotation, Farber does not explicitly claim that there is anything wrong with the Law of Attraction principle itself. Rather, he just says that a student of the Law of Attraction should avoid charitable work, empathy, and volunteering (but his intention is presumably not to encourage students of the Law of Attraction to do so, but to indicate to the reader how selfish they are who are turning their back on all those people who need support).

Prior to this closing sentence, he presents two quotes by Wallace Wattles, and one by Rhonda Byrne (see my book review of The Secret). Both are basically saying the same thing, namely that Law of Attraction practitioners must stop looking at situations where negativity and sickness and poverty “flourish”.

So the question now is this: What does “compassion” or “no compassion” have to do with negative situations and the existence (or non-existence) of the Law of Attraction?

To answer that question we need to reconstruct his argument in a more formal way, since it is not presented in a strict and structured way. And when we do, we can more easily see how the different ideas are related to each other. So let’s go!

Argument 7: “No Compassion”

Here is how I have reconstructed Farber’s “No Compassion” argument (Argument 7):

P1.Authors of the Law of Attraction recommend their students to refrain from associating with negative situations involving poverty or helping the needy. For that association will bring more poverty and neediness into the students own lives.

P2.But research shows that charitable work and empathy are beneficial both to the giver and receiver.

P3.So those authors’ recommendation to not associate with negative situations is nonsense.

P4.Hence, the Law of Attraction is a bogus principle.

PART 2: MY RESPONSE

Here in Part 2 I am now looking at the individual propositions in Argument 7, in order to figure out if they are permissible or not.

The main consideration is this: Are all of these statements true, and also relevant to the argument as a whole? Otherwise, if all of them are not both true and relevant, then Argument 7 must be considered unsound. And then the whole argument must be dismissed.

Proposition P1: Authors Recommend No Empathy

In this section I am focusing on proposition P1 in Argument 7, which goes like this:

P1.Authors of the Law of Attraction recommend their students to refrain from associating with negative situations involving poverty or helping the needy. For that association will bring more poverty and neediness into the students own lives.

My first impression of this proposition is that it seems quite good. And the quotes he supplies also seem, at first glance, to be in order.

Farber does not give us any references along with his quotes, but that’s just how he does it in his article. So technically, of course, this would have made proposition P1 false, since he does not provide us with enough evidence. But we will let that pass, just for fun.

So let’s take a look at the quotes. Here’s the first (alleged) quotation from Wallace Wattles that Farber uses:

“Do not talk about poverty; do not investigate it, or concern yourself with it. Do not spend your time in charitable work, or charity movements, all charity only tends to perpetuate the wretchedness it aims to eradicate.”

This, of course, sounds very much like Wallace Wattles. The problem, however, is that, according to my own research, he never said those words like that, in that exact sequence.

All the words are found in Chapter 9 (“How to Use the Will”) of Wattles’s The Science of Getting Rich. But sentence two above is not the sentence two of the original text. So the correct sequence of Wattles’s original words is this: [note 1]

“Do not talk about poverty; do not investigate it, or concern yourself with it. Never mind what its causes are; you have nothing to do with them. What concerns you is the cure. Do not spend your time in charitable work, or charity movements; all charity only tends to perpetuate the wretchedness it aims to eradicate.”

So since Farber’s quote actually isn’t a quote, really, his evidence fails also on that point. Of course, one may argue that it is simply a matter of an ellipsis character (“…”) that is left out, and that it is no big deal. Sure, that would be a possibility. But it still gives his article and his argument a not-so-good feel. His article feels sloppy and imprecise. And therefore unscientific.

In any case, the overall proposition more or less correctly represents the authorized version of the Law of Attraction. There is no scope for empathy or other feelings that bring one’s positive feelings down. A student of the Law of Attraction should not associate with people who need empathy.

Here is what Abraham-Hicks say on this topic (Money, and the Law of Attraction, p. 50):

“In simple terms: You are never of value to another (and you never offer a solution) when you are feeling negative emotion, because the presence of negative emotion with you means you are focused upon the lack of what is wanted, rather than what is wanted.”

Summing up: Even though Farber has technically failed to provide evidence for proposition P1, we do accept it nevertheless. So we consider proposition P1 to be true.

Proposition P2: But Showing Empathy Benefits Both Parties

Here is what proposition P2 in Argument 7 says:

P2.But research shows that charitable work and empathy are beneficial both to the giver and receiver.

This proposition is problematic. For how could anyone accept such a loosely formulated proposition? I mean, what research? This, of course, does not rule out the possibility that there is some research somewhere showing some benefits for both parties. But since Farber has not shown us a single example, his proposition cannot be accepted as true.

And then, even if such research had been presented, the question would still be how that could be so. For what kind of benefits would that be? What, exactly, does the giver gain by associating with poor people or people in trouble? Admiration of others? Free bone broth soup?

Serious students of the Law of Attraction are not concerned with being admired by others, or attaining “social respectability” or engaging in “political correctness” and other such things. For they have no desire “fitting in”. So it is hard to image that there even could be any benefits for such a student, whose motto typically is “there is nothing more important to me than to always be happy and in a good mood”.

To sum up: The first problem is that there is no research presented: no title of the paper, no authors, and no details of what the research was about (target group; year; institution; scope; etc.). So that makes this proposition useless.

And then, of course, the second point is that what Farber sees as a “benefit” most probably will not be recognized as a benefit by the authors and practitioners of the Law of Attraction. All in all, proposition P2 cannot be accepted, and that therefore automatically makes Argument 7 unsound.

Proposition P3: So Those Authors Are Wrong

Here is proposition P3 in Argument 7:

P3.So those authors’ recommendation to not associate with negative situations is nonsense.

Because P2 is not true, Premise P3 is also not true.

And even if we granted P2, proposition P3 would still not work. Why? Because what Farber counts as “benefit” is not the same as the benefits that the authors and students of the Law of Attraction are talking about.

So even if some “ordinary” people, typically in N1 (“weak negativity”) and N2 (“medium negativity”) would be able to get some small benefits from it, the students of the Law of Attraction, typically in P1 (“weak positivity”) and P2 (“medium positivity”), would not be benefited by it, in a “real” sense. In fact, they would, as the authentic version of the Law of Attraction correctly states, instead be “giving up” part of their positivity in their attention to poverty, pain and suffering.

Figure 1. This diagram illustrates the idea that a certain association with a negative environment (here: Destination Zone ‘Worry 1’) may benefit an unhappy person starting out in N2, but be counterproductive for a happy person in P2 (or even in P1) who may ‘fall down’. [see also note 2]

Therefore, if there is some research out there that shows that both the giver and receiver would benefit, there are basically two possibilities. One possibility is that such research has only used “ordinary” people in their studies, not students of the authorized version of the Law of Attraction.

Another possibility is that the researchers did use some such students in their research, but did not count “increased positivity” as the only type of “benefit”. For if they had done that, that would have been applicable only to those in the study that already were so low on the emotional spectrum (N2, N3) that they could raise their energy level a little by their empathy. But for those who already are on the positive side of the spectrum (P1, P2, P3), they would not gain that benefit, but instead slide downwards, toward the negative half of the spectrum.

So overall, proposition P3 does not work, and therefore Argument 7 as a whole is nullified.

Proposition P4: Hence the Law of Attraction Is False

Here I am discussing proposition P4 in Argument 7, which goes like this:

P4.Hence, the Law of Attraction is a bogus principle.

Farber wants to arrive at the conclusion that Law of Attraction is a bogus principle. But some of this premises don’t work, so he is not able to. So let’s recap.

In proposition P1 Farber technically failed to provide proper evidence. Not only did he not give us any references for this quote (no name of book, no publisher, no publishing date, no page numbers), but he also managed to give us a quote that wasn’t really a quote. Nevertheless, we accepted proposition 1 as true, because the idea in it truly represented the authorized version of the Law of Attraction.

Proposition P2, however, is out. There is not a shred of evidence that there is such research done. And even if there were, it would be of no relevance to the teachings of the authorized version of the Law of Attraction. So we cannot consider P2 true, and therefore Argument 7 is unsound. Thus his whole argument can technically be dismissed.

Proposition P3 is also not proven true. For P3 is dependent on P2. So since P2 cannot be considered true, then P3 also cannot be considered true. Consequently, Argument 7 is unsound, and can be rejected.

And proposition P4, of course, is dependent on P1, P2, and P3. But both P2 and P3 are not proven true, so P4 is also not proven true. Farber’s conclusion (P4) is a no-go. His argument is unsound.

CONCLUSION

Farber’s “No Compassion” argument (Argument 7) is not a sound one. Although P1 is true, P2 is not (lack of evidence) and P3 is not (needs P2). So the conclusion (P4) cannot safely be drawn, because it requires P1, P2, and P3 all be true, which they are not.

In other words, the conclusions that Farber is looking for cannot be drawn. This is because the “benefits” that are talked about in the research (if it at all exists) are not the same benefits that the authors of the Law of Attraction are talking about. So one cannot safely conclude (in P3) that the authors’ recommendation are contradicting the results of the research (which supposedly is his tactic).

And because of this, one cannot safely conclude (in P4) that the Law of Attraction is false, since P4 needs P3 to be true to make it work.

In conclusion, then, Farber’s “No Compassion” argument does not hold up under scrutiny. Argument 7 has failed to prove that Law of Attraction is not true.

So why not take this opportunity to learn more about how to master the Law of Attraction?

Chris Bocay

NOTES

  1. I do not have Wallace Wattles’s The Science of Getting Rich in my own library, so I have used the edition that is available on Google Books, which is simply one of the many books that are reprinted in The Prosperity Bible, published by Jeremy P. Tarcher (Penguin Group). Note that there are many other books in that Bible as well that pertain to the same subject, by authors such as Napoleon Hill, P. T. Barnum, Benjamin Franklin, Charles Fillmore, etc. Note also that Google Books does not show us any page numbers; therefore, I have not been able to use any page number for this quote.
  2. Figure 1 is a simplified illustration. Note especially that the vertical distance between the unhappy person’s starting place (at N2) and the spot where he or she may “land” (at N1) is much too big here. In other words, it would be unrealistic to assume that an unhappy person at N2 (“medium negativity”) typically could transform his or her emotional profile as to permanently end up at N1 (“weak negativity”) just by applying some empathy and engaging in other types of social work. It may not be impossible to make such a jump, but it most probably would only happen to a very small percentage of those participating in the study, and perhaps only on a temporary basis. A more realistic expectation would be that an unhappy person at N2 could move up the scale by, say, a distance of about 10% of the width of N2. So if we divide N2 into ten equal areas (N2a, N2b, N2c, N2d, etc.), the unhappy person who starts at, say, N2b might succeed in moving up to N2c.

REFERENCES

  • Byrne, Rhonda (2006), The Secret. London: Simon & Schuster UK. [Link to book]
  • Hicks, Esther and Jerry Hicks (2008), Money, and the Law of Attraction: Learning to Attract Wealth, Health, and Happiness. Carlsbad, CA: Hay House, Inc. [Link to book]
  • The Prosperity Bible (2007). London: Jeremy P. Tarcher (Penguin Books) [Link to book]

Copyright © 2022 by Chris Bocay. All rights reserved.

First published: Sun 11 Sep 2022
Last revised: Mon 12 Sep 2022

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