Books by Robert Cialdini
I've read a very good book "Influence" by Robert Cialdini. I started reading the book because of my interest in marketing, but in the chapter "Social Proof" I've found something very interesting connected with manifestation and the law of attraction.
In this chapter, Dr. Cialdini gives interesting statistics: immediately after highly publicized suicide stories, the number of people who die in commercial-airline crashes increases by 1,000 percent. The number of people who die in car crashes increases dramatically as well.
The author analyzes the reasons why so many people die in crashes after highly publicized suicides. The first suggestion is that people commit suicides because of stressful socio-economic conditions. While some people commit suicides in such conditions, the others because of stress, become angry or nervous or impatient or distracted and cause fatal crashes.
But the socio-economic conditions are not the reason. The increase in accidents happens only in places where the suicides are highly publicized. In the places with the same conditions or even worse, if the suicides are not publicized, there is no increase in airplane and car crashes.
Another suggestion is that usually the suicides of famous and respected people are most publicized. This makes people so sad that they become careless around cars and airplanes. It's a "bereavement" explanation. But from the statistics, we know that "newspaper stories reporting on suicide victims who died alone produce an increase in the frequency of single-fatality wrecks only, whereas stories reporting on suicide-plus-murder incidents produce an increase in multiple-fatality wrecks only" (Influence p.141) We can clearly see that plane and car crashes are influenced by suicide stories, not by social conditions or sadness caused by deaths of respected people.
Another explanation comes from David Phillips; Dr. Cialdini finds it brilliant. It's called "Werther effect." Werther is a hero from Johann von Goethe's novel "The Sorrows of Young Werther" In the book, the hero Werther commits suicide. The book had strong influence on many young people in Europe two centuries ago. Many people committed suicide, copying Werther. The book was banned in several countries.
According to Phillips, some people kill themselves in imitation. Others who for different reasons, such as reputations, insurance policies etc., decide to crash airplanes or cars to make their suicides look accidental.
There is more interesting information in Cialdini's book, but there's no space in this article to write about it. For most scientists, David Phillips' explanation seems the best one. Of course there are some quantum physicists now who find the law of attraction the best explanation for sharp increases in plane and car crashes after highly publicized suicides.
According to the law of attraction, we attract what we mostly think about. When someone commits suicide and there's a lot about it in the news, people think about it, become emotional, think about death and attract death. Of course I can't scientifically prove the law of attraction, but I'm personally convinced that we attract the things we think about a lot, especially with emotion and when we worry about something.
About fifteen years ago when I traveled in India with a group of friends, two of my friends after reading about all bacteria and amoebas which can cause serious illnesses became very afraid of drinking water. We were all careful, but my two friends became so afraid that they used bottled water even to clean their teeth. The rest of us enjoyed traveling in India and didn't worry about amoebas. When we came back to Europe, my "worried" friends became sick and amoeba was found in their bodies. They vowed never to go to India again. The rest of us were fine, we didn't attract amoeba. Was it an accident that only my two "worried" friends got ill?
Later I moved to Thailand, where I felt very safe. I didn't worry about any dangers, because I'd heard from other foreigners that is a very safe place and my experience was the same. Later when I got cable TV, I also got a free subscription of the local newspaper, so I started reading it every day. Then I learned about fighting between students of vocational schools, when they not only sometimes kill each other, but also innocent people on the street sometimes die during the fights. I learned about suicides, murders and robberies. I was pretty shocked and not knowing about the law of attraction started thinking that it's not really such a safe place. Soon I saw a fight with knives between students on the bus I was traveling. I saw drivers fighting on the street. I started seeing more fights and aggression than ever before. Clearly I started attracting what I read about in the papers. Or was it just an accident?
When I learned about Manifestation and the Law of Attraction I stopped reading the newspapers regularly. I read them rarely. I sometimes watch the news, but I don't allow my mind to dwell on murders and suicides. You might think that it's bad and that I don't feel compassion for human suffering, but I think that dwelling on tragedies brings more tragedies. People talk a lot about war against terrorism, drugs and crime, and we have more terrorism, drugs and crime. Of course terrorism, drugs and crime must be eliminated, but by dwelling on them I personally can't eliminate them; I can only attract them into my life, which I don't want.
"Where there is light, there is no darkness". We can't remove darkness, but when we bring light there is no darkness. We can replace negative things with positive things. I'm not talking here about being naïve or foolish and not seeing the reality, but to change my current situation I need first to change my mental state. I need to think positively, and reading the news about crime, suicides and wars won't improve my life. It makes me depressed and stressed, and brings more depression and stress into my life, so I've made a decision to concentrate on positive emotions.
You don't have to believe in the law of attraction. There's no need for scientific proof. You can make an experiment. Stop reading about the bad news and try to read more about happy things. Avoid reading about crime, suicides and violence. Read more about great and successful people. Watch more comedies than violent movies. Continue your experiment for some time and you'll see the difference in your life.
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