Clearly this charlatanry doesn’t measure up to the work of the maestro Samuel Hahnemann, but it may be on a par with the chicanery of Jamie Sherrill. Maybe.

Back in 2005, a woman called Rhonda Byrne released a book titled ‘The Secret.’ It was a self-help book, and if we judge by the sheer number of those available, we rapidly reach the conclusion that not all of them work. You might reach the conclusion that none of them works. They’re a bit like fad diets in that respect.

Ms Byrne wrote an entire opus on the idea that you could have anything you want as long as you ask. Positive attitude and all that. But the clincher was she specified that you have to ask ‘the right way.’ You may by now be sharing my scepticism.

The ‘right way’ to ask is to create a ‘Vision Board.’ That sounded like a mumbojumbo to me, but I persisted. This ‘Vision Board’ is required to contain ‘inspirational quotes.’ Hmmm. I see quite a few of those on Facebook, thank you very much.* There should also be pictures/images of what it is you wish for. Hence if you’re childless, you need to see lots of happy, smiley families. That’s not going to make you feel inadequate or despairing at all, is it?

One of the tales you can find on the website is a woman who was desperate for a new boyfriend, figured out her life wasn’t physically ready to accommodate one, moved her car in the garage to make room for a new paramour’s, chucked out half her wardrobe, and started to sleep on one side of the bed. Well I never! She found a boyfriend.

This tale may well be one of the ’35,000’ testimonials on the website. That sounds an impressive number until you factor in worldwide sales of 19M. Do the sums and there’s a satisfied customer rating of about 1 in 500. That sort of figure would you get slung off eBay pretty pronto.

Then we have the perennial problem with anecdotal evidence, and that is that we have no controls. The smart thing to do would be to set up two groups of, say, 50 people who all aspire to the same thing. One group has free access to ‘Vision Boards’ etc, and the other group simply crosses its collective fingers. At the end of some arbitrary time period you compare the outcomes and see if there’s any statistically meaningful difference. You can guess where my money would go.

On the subject of money, Ms Byrne must have made a few bob, mustn’t she? I wonder if she had a ‘Vision Board’ of a lot of sheep with golden fleeces?

*I blame Ms Byrne for the flourishing cottage industry that creates all those saccharin memes on Facebook. It’s all her fault.