But hasn't TM been "scientifically validated"?
Since you managed to find this site from among the many websites run by the TM organization you must have been doing some diligent research. You will have read many times in those pro-TM sites that that "TM has been scientifically validated."
So has it? Well... yes. And no!
Well... yes, it has been scientifically validated
There has been some good solid research indicating that TM practice can have some health benefits. TM trumpets this to the world. It is their main PR thrust.
But what does this research indicate? It just means that regular relaxation can have significant health benefits, and that TM does an extremely good job of producing relaxation in some people (i.e., in those who are susceptible to trance and suggestion, and in particular to the elaborate trance-induction script used during TM instruction). Hey, that's a good thing, as far as it goes. But they are only studying people who limit their involvement to "twenty minutes twice a day"!
The only problem with these research studies is that no researchers have made a diligent effort to uncover long term problems resulting from heavy TM involvement. This is largely because the TM organization will not fund such research. Also, it would require active participation from the TM organization to obtain a proper sampling of research subjects, and to authorize their cooperation (they wouldn't otherwise).
As a result, the research doesn't reflect the dangers introduced by the fact that the TM technique is being taught by a psychologically dangerous mind-control cult, and that some of the people who learn TM will end up with at least some involvement with the cult, and that whatever benefits TM might have had for them will be severely undone by the psychological problems that some of those who learn TM will later develop.
The research doesn't, for example, reflect that many people who learn TM will end up thinking that they can physically levitate. Personally, I consider that significantly losing one's touch with reality is an extremely negative psychological outcome!
Well... NO, it definitely hasn't been validated!
The TM propaganda machine goes way beyond what any legitimate researchers have substantiated. The propaganda rides on the coat-tails of the legitimate research to give the impression that every nonsensical TM claim has also been "scientifically validated."
For one thing, TMers are the absolute masters of spin-doctoring.
As stated by Professor Barry Markovsky (at the time a Professor of Sociology at the University of Iowa, now with the University of South Carolina in his article: "Problems with TM Research" (emphasis mine):
"The thing is, much of the TM research is very non-controversial, and the much smaller volume of potentially controversial stuff that has been published is tucked away in 3rd-rate journals (or worse). So the TM organization can point to the publications and say "Look, we're published in prestigious, main-stream scientific journals!" Most scientists are not interested in trying to counter such hype in the court of public opinion, and most are not interested in following up the breathless claims of TM research because--quite contrary to the way the TM propaganda machine portrays things-- the more controversial TM research is widely ignored (even among consciousness researchers who you would expect to be very sympathetic), and the bulk of the rest is pretty mundane from the perspective of journal readers."
The Maharishi Effect
TM propaganda pushes lots and lots of perfectly crazy stuff, dizzyingly wrapped in a combination of a very little science and a lot of pseudoscience. And to read the TM propaganda you'd think that everything that TM pushes has been scientifically validated!
In fact most of the TM "research" that is touted in TM propaganda is incredibly outrageous pseudoscience.
In order to understand TM "pseudoscience" you have to understand its fundamental "scientific discovery", The Maharishi Effect (ME). I strongly suggest reading the page at that link if you really want to "understand", but basically, the "Maharishi Effect" is the nonsensical notion that TMers produce such incredibly powerful "good vibrations" (TM calls it "coherence") from their meditation and yogic flying that literally all world problems can be solved by just getting a small percentage of the population to start meditating and flying! And TM claims that the ME has been scientifically validated!
For example, in 1993 four thousand TMers moved to Washington DC and did their meditating and butt-hopping (despite the whimsical music that's actual footage) there for two months. TM propaganda asks us to swallow the idea that it has been "scientifically validated" that this created a "field effect of consciousness" that directly caused a 23% reduction in crime!
What TMers hang their claims on in the case is that there was a study in the journal "Social Indicators Research". This was a retrospective study which calculated the odds that (a) Mahesh's prediction that a reduction in crime would occur (b) would in fact be followed by a reduction in crime in the D.C. area. And somehow the study concluded that it was extremely unlikely that the one event, i.e. the prediction, would in fact be followed by the second event, i.e. the actual reduction that occurred. This provided fuel for spin-doctoring that TMers have run with for decades.
The thing to remember is that just because something in published in a scientific journal that doesn't make it true. A well known example of this is the "Bible Code." The Bible Code was "verified" by legitimate scientists in a respected peer-reviewed journal, with a mathematical margin-of-doubt of only 0.000016! So is the "Bible Code "scientifically validated" (to use the TMers' favorite phrase)? Well... no. Keep reading that article, or at least the last paragraph.
Here is a quote from Professor Markovsky's analysis of similar "research" done when TMers claimed to have brought increased peace to Lebanon:
The "coherence group" included roughly 38,000 non-Sidhi meditators in Israel and 2,000 more in Lebanon. However, the TMO provides "no information about the geographic distribution of these meditators or evidence to support their assumption that they were in the area and meditating during the vacation month of August which comprises half the test period."
Lagged effects were not specified prior to the research. The TMO "researchers then interpret any significant correlation at any non-negative time lag for any indicator as supporting their theory." A number of specific factors were not included in the TMO analysis but readily could have influenced the dependent variables. The TMO "research design also prevents us from knowing how many other factors may have contributed to a spurious correlation."
As stated in summary of the evidence below, "ME predictions cannot be derived from the MT." Also, "The claim that MT provides the only plausible explanation of these data cannot be sustained. There are alternative explanations that do not depend on esoteric or paranormal influences. [emphasis mine]
I also recommend reading the section that follows on that same page titled "Evaluating Heterodox Theories." Also this page on peer reviews of the ME.
The ME doesn't even work in the one place in the world where it would be most likely to work. That is, it doesn't work in Fairfield Iowa, home of TM's private university. The students, plus the thousands of other TMers who have moved there over the decades, has made Fairfield by far the largest concentration of TMers in the world. Yet the ME doesn't work there.
Be all of this as it may, TMers unabashedly claim that the ME has been "scientifically proven", and that it can give us "Heaven on Earth."
The Maharishi Caper
Here's another example of why you don't want to believe every claim that you read or hear that TM dogma has been "scientifically verified."
In May 1991 "The Journal of the American Medical Association" (JAMA) published an article named "Maharishi Ayur-Veda: Modern Insights Into Ancient Medicine." The article was supportive of Ayurvedic Medicine. The JAMA editors discovered that they had been deceived by the article's authors and published a retraction in the August 14th issue. An expose of the deception was published in the October 2nd issue.
The journalist who exposed the incident describes the whole thing here.
The wacky world of Hagelin's Pseudo-Quantum-Physics
By far the greatest contributor to TM pseudoscience is Dr. John Hagelin. Dr. Hagelin is a world-class quantum physicist who, when he focuses on legitimate science, has made significant contributions to "String Theory."
He has also turned his truly incredible (sincerely) genius to churning out huge amounts of the most extraordinary fantasies. Hagelin has single-handedly taken TM completely out of the realm of mere pseudoscience and has ushered it into the lofty realms of pseudo-quantum-physics! He has "accomplished" this with his "research" into the "The Unified Field of Consciousness."
His "discoveries" have become the fundamental pseudoscience underlying all of the rest of TM's "scientifically validated" nonsense, in particular underlying the Maharishi Effect. There's a video primer on UFC here. That fascinating chart is hard to see on the video, but you can go here and click on the chart to see a larger version. His lecture spans a couple of clips. As a game try to actually pay attention and to understand what he is saying through all of them. I'll bet your eyes glaze within the first few minutes.
It may help to make things clearer if you read a primer in print. Now do you understand it?
Here's an opinion from Dr. Heinz Pagels, who was Executive Director of the New York Academy of Sciences when he wrote this:
"My summary opinion, as a theoretical physicist specializing in the area of quantum field theory, is that the views expressed in the literature issued by the Maharishi International University, and appearing in the "World Government News" and other publications associated with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi that purport to find a connection between the recent ideas of theoretical physics--unified field theory, the vacuum state and collective phenomena--and states of consciousness attained by transcendental meditation are false and profoundly misleading. No qualified physicist that I know would claim to find such a connection without knowingly committing fraud." [emphasis mine]
"Individuals not trained professionally in modern physics could easily come to believe, on the basis of the presentations in the Maharishi literature, that a large number of qualified scientists agree with the purported connection between modern physics and meditation methods. Nothing could be further from the truth." "What was especially interesting to me, in reviewing this literature, is the claim put forth by the Maharishi and his followers, that transcendental meditation and 'The Science of Creative Intelligence' qualify as a science. Although the word 'science' is much abused, it continues to imply an adherent to logic, the clear presentation of assumptions and deductions, and the experimental method. Most importantly, any science necessarily contains a recipe for its own falsification. None of these central features of the Western concept of science are present in 'The Science of Creative Intelligence.' This is not science."
Hagelin's Unified Field of Consciousness is wonderful example of TM spin-doctoring at work. He takes some actual concepts from physics and spins them into a fantastic (literally) edifice.
It's also a wonderful example of how high intelligence, genius-level
intelligence in this case, is no barrier to cult recruitment.
Invincible Defense Technology
The most prominent practical application of UFC theory is "Invincible Defense Technology", as described here. IDT is a natural outcome of the Maharishi Effect, which of course has it's theoretical foundation in UFC theory. From that page:
During the last 25 years, a powerful, innovative approach to peace has been extensively field tested -- in the Middle East and throughout the world. The consistent result has been dramatic reductions in terrorism, war, and other social violence. These findings have been replicated, published in leading academic journals, and endorsed by hundreds of independent scientists and scholars. The efficacy of this approach is now beyond question. [emphasis mine]
These studies verify that the scientific knowledge and technologies are now available to end terrorism and conflict, to achieve indomitable national strength and security, and to create permanent world peace. By implementing these technologies, every government can rise to invincibility and secure the peace and safety of its citizens. But the time to act is now.
(By the way, achieving invincibility for Germany via IDT is what the "Raja of Germany" is blathering about here.)
Grand Unified Nonsense Theory
The UFC, and it's corollaries and applications such as IDT, may not be completely clear yet. Go here, look for "Dr. Hagelin presents the Invincible Defense Technology", and click on "Watch on Flash Streaming."
There Hagelin explains the whole grand vision with irrefutable scientific proof, including some very cool-looking mathematical formulas.
I'm King of the World!
Dr. Tony Nader is a neurobiologist who developed a theory "proving" that:
...the forty branches of Veda and the Vedic Literature, which present the mechanics of the creation and evolution of Natural Law, are the fundamental basis and essential ingredient of the human physiology, and that there is a one-to-one correspondence between the structures and functions of the different branches of Vedic Literature and the structures and functions of the human physiology.
Basically, Nader "proved" that human physiology can be described by Unified Field Theory. As a reward for making this "scientific discovery" Mahesh awarded Nader his weight in gold.
Even better, Mahesh made him King of the World!. His coronation ceremony is here.
Obviously, a person can be a respected scientist and still vigorously shovel out complete nonsense, while believing every word
Continuing our tour of scientists whose intelligence and knowledge have been channeled into the service of nonsense, take a look at "Ask the Doctors." Some of these experts actually are unbiased. What the unbiased people have to say is, again, that TM can induce deep relaxation in some people, and that relaxation can have significant benefits. These people stick to science.
My only problem with the unbiased experts is that they don't realize that the TM technique is being taught by a psychologically dangerous mind-control cult , and that whatever benefits TM might have will be severely undone by the psychological problems that some of those who learn TM will develop.
But there are also some "tame experts" on the site. You can identify a tame expert by the TM dogma mixed in with the science jargon. The unbiased scientists mentioned in the preceding paragraph don't mix TM mumbo-jumbo into their comments.
"The TM technique...allows the mind to consciously rest within itself, turning attention inward to the source of creativity and intelligence at the innermost foundation of the mind..."
That statement is a pure parroting of TM religious dogma! Dr. Rector has gotten himself to the point where he doesn't bother to distinguish science from spiritual doctrine when pitching TM to the public. Or maybe, like Hagelin, he can't distinguish; it's a tragic possibility.
Of course perhaps I'm wrong. Perhaps Dr. Rector does in fact know of some sort of double-blind university study proving that there is indeed an "innermost foundation of the mind" (perhaps accompanied by charts mapping the various levels of the foundation of the mind, starting from the outermost level to the innermost level) and that this innermost level is indeed a source of creativity and intelligence. Otherwise he is pitching pseudoscience while flashing his credentials.
I'm sure that, like Hagelin, that he's a wonderful person (sincerely). I'm sure that he, like Hagelin, he is brilliant when he sticks to real science, it's when he drifts into pseudoscience that there's a problem.
Here's more pseudoscience, this time from a Dr. Belok who has seriously impressive credentials (they're on that page). Click on "I'm constantly under pressure". Here's the good part:
...the mind effortlessly settling down to quieter and quieter levels of the thinking process. Finally, the mind comes to the source of the thinking process, awareness itself. This experience is called restful alertness. In this state, the body is deeply rested and the mind is fully alert. Stress is dissolved by this experience by the quiet and soothing experience of inner being.
This is also mindlessly parroted literally word-for-word from TM dogmatic teachings. Or, again, perhaps not. Perhaps Dr. Belok knows of yet another double-blind university study that has discovered "the source of the thinking process." And that has objectively demonstrated the existence of "inner being." And that has proven scientifically that "stress is dissolved" by the experience of this inner being.
Otherwise he's completely lost scientific objectivity when dealing with TM.
Intelligence is no protection from cult recruitment!
The thing to remember here is that just because someone has impressive scientific credentials it doesn't mean that they have any competence whatever in their personal lives! And that includes psychologists and psychiatrists, who are no better off psychologically then the rest of us. You may have to sign up for a free subscription to view that article, but here is the part I am referring to:
Blachly et al gathered data on 249 physicians listed in JAMA obituary columns and made extrapolations to determine which specialties had the highest risk. They interpreted their data to show that psychiatrists had the highest suicide rate and pediatricians had the lowest rate. Further support for the notion that psychiatrists might be at higher risk is found in the work of Rich and Pitts, who found that psychiatrists committed suicide at twice the expected rate.
The article goes on to say that maybe psychiatrists only have the same suicide rate as other specialties, but I think I've made my point.
One must always keep in mind that even very high intelligence is no protection against coming under cult influence. Dr. Hagelin is the poster child for this, they don't make them much more intelligent than he is. Yet here he is wearing a Burger King crown and white sheets because he thinks he's a "Raja" (he actually is "Raja of Invincible America" -- more on Rajas here).
So don't believe everyone who flashes an MD or a PhD, and maybe some journal citations, and on that basis starts expecting you to believe mumbo-jumbo. They are only human and are just as likely to get screwed up in their personal lives as anyone else.
Distortion through omission
The main problem with TM research is actually the research that hasn't been done. And what hasn't been done are any studies that track (a) a statistically significant population of people who learn TM, who are (b) chosen without introducing "selection bias", (c) over significant period of time. If that were done then the percentage of people who end up in the cult would show up. And the problems of these people would show up too.
But this will never happen. That's because selecting the study population without introducing selection bias will never happen without the active cooperation of the TM organization, and they will never cooperate with something like this.
As Professor Markovsky puts it (emphasis mine):
"Who sponsors research on TM? Mostly the TM organization. Who conducts research on TM? Almost exclusively researchers having a tremendous vested interest--material, psychological, professional and social--in the outcomes of their research.
"Historically, this state of affairs has proven to be a recipe for biased results. [Suggested reading: "Betrayers of the Truth" by William Broad and Nicholas Wade--although they over-generalize their observations to all of science.] Bringing us back to the first point, how many TM researchers would you guess have conducted studies making a serious effort to detect and characterize negative effects of TM? How much money would you guess the TM organization has invested in such research? How many grant proposals to external funding sources for carrying out such research would you guess TM researchers have submitted?"
"The best method of testing hypotheses, however, is to try your hardest to disprove them--not merely to verify them. If they survive the most stringent of tests, you can be that much more confident in their validity. So what if TM researchers never seek to disprove their claims but only to verify them?"