Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, introduced to the USA by the Beetles in 1965, made TM (Transcendental Meditation) famous. Later, he founded the Maharishi International University in Iowa, claiming that, “Five hundred studies have proven TM.”
- “University education is baseless everywhere, and baseless education can only produce disintegrated, stressful, and frustrated individuals, and a society full of problems and suffering…my Absolute Theory of Education, eliminating the path of gaining knowledge, delivers total knowledge.”
However, there has been no lack of counter-claims:
- “Frankly, the reported effects of TM upon human behavior are trivial!” Michael Persinger, coordinator of the behavioral neuropsych program at Laurentian U.
- “The studies…have been performed primarily by the TM organization or by people they sponsor…”
- “allegations of suppression of negative evidence, of fraud and gross scientific incompetence…”
Maharishi also claimed that TM reduces crime and misery. However, according to an August 25, 2000 news article:
· “On the other hand, in Fairfiled [Iowa, home of MIU] – where 20% percent of the population meditates on a daily basis – ‘criminal arrests on drug charges, weapons charges and for drunken driving increased dramatically in 1999,’ according to the Fairfield Ledger. The town’s overcrowded jail was forced to send prisoners to five other Iowa jails in late 1999.”
It is not simply that TM is ineffectual. It also seems to be lethal, according to John Weldon writing for the Christian Research Journal:
· “TM may lead to serious maladies such as mental illness, suicide, seizures and demon possession.”
Indeed, a study by Otis at the Stanford Research Institute involving 574 subjects revealed that the longer a person practiced TM, the more adverse mental effects were recorded; that 70% of subjects recorded mental disorders of one degree or another.
· “A review of 75 articles in the International Journal of Psychotherapy noted the positive and negative effects found in studies…It reported that negative side effects were encountered by more than 62% of the meditators studied.” (Weldon)
· “According to TranceNet, an extensive analysis of a small sample of meditators done by Germany’s Institute for Youth and Society found that 76% of long-term meditators experience psychological problems. The report also notes that 26% experienced nervous breakdowns, 63% experienced serious physical complaints, and 70% recorded a worsening ability to concentrate. Researchers, ironically, also found a ‘startling drop in honesty among long-term meditators.’” (Weldon)
There has also been a systematic and aggressive campaign of disinformation to promote TM:
· “It was obvious to me that the organization [MIU] was so deeply immersed in a systematic, willful pattern of fraud including tax fraud, lobbying problems and other deceptions, that it was ethically impossible for me to become involved further as a legal counsel… A disturbing denial or avoidance syndrome…even outright lies and deception are used to cover-up or sanitize the dangerous reality on campus of very serious nervous breakdowns, episodes of dangerous and bizarre behavior, suicidal and homicidal ideation, threats and attempts, psychotic episodes, crimes depression and manic behavior that often accompanied roundings (group meditations).” Anthony DeNaro presented this in an affidavit to US District Court
More recently, TM has reportedly overrun Wikipedia with their own biased editors.
TM’s patterns of disinformation seems to continue unabated:
- Matthew Bannister, Executive Vice President of Communications for the American Heart Association issued a statement on the recent abuse of their recommendations by the Transcendental Meditation Disinformation Complex: “Unfortunately, we have found that some in the media, and many in the Transcendental Meditation community, have tried to overstate our findings to promote their own agendas.”
- Transcendental Meditation has been shown to produce Insufficient Evidence for Lowering Blood Pressure according to a recent review by the American Heart Association… As if this wasn't enough terrible news for the sellers of Transcendental Meditation, numerous improprieties were found in the research methodology that calls it's statistical manipulations into question.
- As is typical in Transcendental Meditation research, the fact that there was a major conflict of interest with one of its researchers is never mentioned. The person in question, Robert Schneider, MD (a cardiologist) … a long time follower of the Maharishi's teachings and active in sales promotion for the organization.
- A recent review of meditation research has shown that, when compared to other interventions for lowering blood pressure Transcendental Meditation was worst at lowering blood pressure than any other intervention. The review, sponsored by the United States Department of Health and Human Services was performed by the prestigious University of Alberta Evidence-based Practice Center. It was titled Meditation Practices for Health: State of the Research.
Why then it’s continued popularity? Perhaps fashion prevails over truth and rationality.