Although there are some cases where positive or negative attitudes can produce corresponding results (principally the placebo and nocebo effects), there is no scientific basis to the law of attraction.*
HistoryThomas Troward, who was a strong influence in the New Thought Movement, claimed that thought precedes physical form and "the action of Mind plants that nucleus which, if allowed to grow undisturbed, will eventually attract to itself all the conditions necessary for its manifestation in outward visible form."*From 1901 to 1912 the English New Thought writer James Allen started to write a series of books and articles, after which his wife Lilly Allen continued his work. James is best known for writing "As a Man Thinketh" in 1902.
In 1906, William Walker Atkinson (1862–1932) used the phrase in his New Thought Movement book Thought Vibration or the Law of Attraction in the Thought World, stating that "like attracts like."* The following year, Elizabeth Towne, the editor of The Nautilus (Magazine)|The Nautilus Magazine, a Journal of New Thought, published Bruce MacLelland's prosperity theology book Prosperity Through Thought Force, in which he summarized the principle, stating: "You are what you think, not what you think you are." *The book, The Science of Getting Rich by Wallace D. Wattles, espouses similar principles — that truly believing in the object of your desire and focusing onto it will lead to that object or goal being realized on the material plane (Wattles indicates in the Preface and later chapters of this book that his premise stems from the monistic Hindu view that God pervades everything and can deliver what we focus on). In addition, the book also indicates that negative thinking will manifest negative results.*Richard Weiss explains in his book, The American Myth of Success, that during the New Thought movement, the "principle of "non-resistance" was a popular concept taught in conjunction with the law of attraction.*The phrase "law of attraction" appeared in the writings of the Theosophy|Theosophical authors William Quan Judge in 1915,* and Annie Besant in 1919.* Besant compared her version of the 'law of attraction' to gravitation, and said that the law represented a form of karma.*
Israel Regardie published many books with the Law of Attraction theme as one of the prevailing Universal Laws. His book, The Art of True Healing: A Treatise on the Mechanism of Prayer and the Operation of the Law of Attraction in Nature (1937), teaches a focused meditation technique to help the mind to learn to heal itself on both a physical and spiritual level. Regardie goes on to explain that The Law of Attraction is not only a valid method for attracting good physical health; it is also applicable in the pursuit of any aspect of life one would like to see changed.
Napoleon Hill published two books on this theme. The first was The Law of Success|The Law of Success in 16 Lessons (1928), which directly and repeatedly referenced the law of attraction and proposed that it operates by use of radio waves transmitted by the brain. Then in 1937, he published Think and Grow Rich, which went on to become one of the best selling books of all time, selling over 60 million copies. In this book, Hill discusses the importance of controlling one's own thoughts in order to achieve success, as well as the energy that thoughts have and their ability to attract other thoughts. In the beginning of the book, Hill mentions a "secret" to success and promises to indirectly describe it at least once in every chapter of the book. It is never named directly, for he says that discovering it on one's own is far more beneficial. Many people have argued over what the secret actually is; some argue that it was the law of attraction. Hill states the "secret" to which he refers is mentioned no fewer than a hundred times, yet reference to "attract" is used less than 30 times in the text. Most students of the book claim the secret is hidden in its title: THINK (i.e., thoughts).
After this, the book, Three Magic Words (1954) by American author, U.S. Anderson, became a forerunner to the present phase of information on the subconscious mind and the law of attraction.* This work was expanded upon by W. Clement Stone in W. Clement Stone|Success Through a Positive Mental Attitude.
The Secret (2006 film)|The Secret (2006 in film|2006) was a film based on the law of attraction. It was then developed into a book of the same title in 2007. The movie and book gained widespread attention in the media, from such diverse outlets as Saturday Night Live to The Oprah Winfrey Show in the United States;* Winfrey devoted two episodes of her show to discussing the film and the law of attraction,* talk show host Larry King also discussed it on his show with Bob Solis, but criticized it for several reasons. He pointed to the sufferings in the world and asked: "If the Universe manifests abundance at a mere thought, why is there so much poverty, starvation, and death?"
In August 2008, Esther Hicks|Esther and Jerry Hicks' book Money and the Law of Attraction: Learning to Attract Health, Wealth & Happiness appeared on the New York Times Best Seller list.*