TranceNet: Independent TM Research Archive
"The Report of Germany's Institute for Youth and Society on TM" For the first time on the Web, TranceNet presents the entire text of this seminal report in English translation -- with charts. The TM movement attempted to suppress this report in German courts, but its findings were upheld by the German high court (The Federal Republic of Germany: OVG Muenster: 5 A 1152/84, The Bundesverwaltungsgericht: 23.5.87 7 C 2.87, The Bundesverfassungsgericht: 1 BvR 881/89). Among the subjects studied:
This translation from the German was prepared for and entered into the court record of the Kropinski trial.
"The Report of Germany's Institute for Youth and Society on TM"
Reader Update, 2/16/96:Bernd Kassler, an outspoken critic of TM in Germany, sent TranceNet the entire text of a 1985 lower German court ruling that found in favor of the TM movement (overruled by the German High Court in 1989). German only.
Reader Update, 2/16/96: An anonymous pro-TM contributor sent TranceNet two statements by German experts that disagree with the High courts ruling. German only, unauthenticated.
Reader Update, 2/16/96: Relevant extracts from the German High Court's 1989 ruling that TM is a destructive cult -- overruling all lower court findings. The current law of the land in Germany. Submitted by Bernd Kassler. German only.
"The Problems with TM Research"
by Professor Barry Markovsky
Is TM universally benign? Does long-term TM practice cause negative side effects? Why is the scientific research on these issues so contradictory. Professor Barry Markovsky, Director of the Center for the Study of Group Processes, the University of Iowa Sociology Department, talks about the issues facing researchers into consciousness phenomena. Problems with TM Research
"Negative and Inconclusive TM Research: Abstracts"
©1996 by Albert B. Miller
When TM champion, Robert Keith Wallace, wrote his doctoral thesis in 1970 on the physiological effects of transcendental meditation, and proposed a fourth major state of consciousness, the TM movement had a prototype for the future. One year later Wallace became the founding president of Maharishi International University.
In the two decades that followed, Wallace and associates produced more than 500 studies on the physiological, psychological and sociological effects of the TM practice. Their research portfolio gradually evolved into a collection that is highly supportive of the claims made by TM promoters. One cannot help but wonder about their objectivity when performing studies and in selecting them for inclusion.
'Studies Have Shown' . . .
In the early 1970s, TM teachers began to promote the meditation program in their lectures by saying, "Studies have shown". . . viz., "that TM improves health, reverses aging, stops crime," etc. This new phrase soon became a slogan that permeated movement rhetoric. Today, every form of TM promotion, whether video, electronic, print or oral depends on that slogan to sell the program and hold on to followers who may have doubts. It works well for them, unless the person who hears it knows about independent TM research.
A guest column special to the Des Moines Register on Dec. 28, 1990, "A View of TM from the MIU Perspective" by MIU public relations director, Robert Oates, made imposing claims for the TM program. To support his claims he said that 430 researches to date " clearly validated" (a variation of "studies have shown") the many behavioral and physiological benefits.
Oates went on to emphasize that "Far more scientific research on the TM method has appeared than for any other program of self-improvement." He neglected to say that many if not most of those 430 studies, which "have appeared," were done by TM movement people.1 Critics allege that movement studies are performed without using legitimate double-blind controls in their experimental protocols.2
It is in the movement's self-interest to create and then refer to ever more positive research results as evidence in support of many claims put forth about the practice. The studies serve not only to attract proselytes, but to undergird TM movement front groups, Maharishi's $3.5 billion worldwide enterprise and his aspirations for a quantum leap in new sales and influence.3
However refined the statistical method may be in a TM study, without legitimate double-blind or other controls, the outcome of the experimental work can be unreliable. For example, the researcher's indoctrinating belief in the TM method under study (i.e., expectancy) can influence the outcome of the study by an inclination to confirm that belief.
Test subjects who began TM on their own (i.e., preselection) can have a concurrent influence on the outcome of uncontrolled studies. Subsequent indoctrination by the movement to expect broad scale benefits from TM would probably enhance this influence. In a landmark study, Jonathan Smith showed that expectancy and preselection influences produce the so-called benefit and not the practice of TM per se.
In addition, there is the questions fraud perpetrated by movement researchers -- possibly justified in the name of a higher ideology. In sworn court documents Anthony DeNaro, MIU professor of economics and business law, alleged TM-research fraud at the school in 1986. One year later, Dennis Roark, MIU dean of faculty and chair of the department of physics, claimed he had seen routine suppression of negative data collected in movement research studies. See, also, Personal Stories by former members of the transcendental meditation movement.
Negative Side Effects of TM
Apparently suppressed by MIU and the movement are independent scientific researches that measured the negative side effects of long-term TM practice. Table 1 is a summary of these effects and the independent researchers.
Abstracts: Negative or Inconclusive Research on the TM Program
1. TM research is done mainly at MIU, but favorable studies by people at other universities are put together and quoted by the movement as being research "by that university" to further enhance their image and the credibility of their claims.
2. Double-blind refers to a comparative experiment or testing procedure in which neither the researcher nor the subjects know who is receiving the substance or treatment (or practicing the TM technique) being studied. Legitimate scientific studies use d double-blinded research protocols to prevent any influence from a researcher's expectation of results, preselection of the method studied, or vested interest.
3. David Friend. "The Return of Mister Bliss." Life, Nov. 1990. pp82-92.
"TM & Dissociation, Part I" Dissociation -- what is it? The most frequently mentioned negative side effect of TM in our "Personal Stories Archive," we begin a series on "atypical dissociation" with an article from the DSM-IV that gives its standard diagnosis. With quotations from Maharishi Mahesh Yogi on the Bhagavad-Gita for comparison.
"TM & Dissociation, Part I"
"TM & Dissociation, Part II" In court deposition, psychiatrist Dr. Gary Glass outlines his diagnosis of "John Doe," a TM teacher experiencing severe dissociation after years of TM and TM-Sidhi practice. A must read to understand the alleged dissociative effects of TM practice.
Also included, "Pseudo-Identity and the Treatment of Personality Change in Victims of Captivity and Cults," by Louis Jolyon West and Paul Martin. Intended for professional therapists, this article gives startling insight into the "split personality" that the authors allege develops in cult victims. Includes selections from TM-EX co-founder Pat Ryan.
Excerpts from the Deposition of Dr. Gary Glass, Part I, History
Excerpts from the Deposition of Dr. Gary Glass, Part 2, Analysis
Pseudo-Identity and the Treatment of Personality Change in Victims of Captivity and Cults
We inaugurate our "Independent TM Research Archive" with Dr. Michael A. Persinger's studies done at Laurentian University that indicate that TM and other forms of meditation can have disastrous side-effects, including partial-complex seizures, hallucinations of "sensed presence," and more. Also Dr. Persinger's devastating critique of research conducted by the TM movement
"Persinger's Research: Meditation and Neurophysiological Damage"
Executive Director of The New York Academy of Sciences Heinz Pagels decries deception, distortion, and hints at fraud regarding TM research and 'scientific' principles. "Reading these materials authorized by the Maharishi causes me distress because I am a man who values the truth.... I would like to be generous to the Maharishi and his movement because it supports world peace and other high ideals. But none of these ideals could possibly be realized within the framework of a philosophy that so willfully distorts scientific truth."
Professor John W. Patterson -- a member of the Iowa Academy of Sciences and consultant to Committee for the Scientific Investigation of claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP) strongly denounces TM movement-sponsored research: "The TM movement, like the creation 'science' movement, is in my considered opinion a religiously-based and fraudulent pseudo-science.... No competent scientist, on the basis of present scientific understanding, could seriously subscribe to the TM views.... Maharishi Mahesh Yogi professes to hold a degree in physics and there have been at least two Ph.D. holders in the MIU Physics Department alone over the years. This, along with other considerations, causes me to rule out the charges of gross scientific incompetence and opt instead for the charges of dishonesty, deliberate deceit and or fraud."
In this balanced and deeply researched paper, philosopher of science Evan Fales and sociologist Barry Markovsky, both of the University of Iowa, discuss standards to which exotic scientific theories should be held. Using the "Maharishi Effect" -- Transcendental Meditation's claim that groups of advanced meditators can bring about peace in war- or crime-torn areas -- as an example, they give strong reasons why unusual theories deserve a hearing -- but not necessarily an endorsement -- from serious scientists.
As they point out, newspaper accounts, promotional materials, subsequent research reports, and their own communications with TM researchers, representatives, followers and defectors all indicate that the "Maharishi Effect" provides a special source of pride, vindication, and scientific legitimation for all affiliated with the movement. But when the authors analyze the theory and methods with the tools of the scientific method, they find the probability of the Maharishi Effect Theory is very close to zero. The Maharishi Effect Theory fails to predict or explain its purported effects, a crucial property of any scientific theory. Worse yet, the authors find mundane alternatives to the Maharishi Effect that may explain the data.
Their final conclusion? The Maharishi Effect theory and evidence are not ready to be given serious scientific consideration. The theory is vague and poorly constructed, and aspects of the methods and statistics used to test it are highly questionable.
As an interesting side note, Professor David Orme-Johnson, lead author of the study that was examined by Fales and Markovsky, repeatedly refused to supply Professor Markovsky with his raw data. This violates a standard scientific practice designed to allow the replication and further analysis of results. Within the scientific community, refusal to supply data generally calls into question any findings based on those data, and may severely damage the reputations of researchers who engage in such behavior.
Reprinted with permission from December 1997 in Social Forces Volume 76 (2):511-25.
Renowned social scientist Daniel Druckman, of the Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution, discusses social science research consulting in the context of a three-year study undertaken for the National Research Council on improving human performance. This study is of importance to TranceNet readers for its findings that: (1) TM is ineffectual in improving human performance, and (2) its finding that the meta-analysis that pro-TM researchers have put forward as finding benefit for the technique are deeply flawed in their methodology.
This article, by Alberto Perez-De-Albeniz and Jeremy Holmes, reviews 75 scientific selected articles in the field of meditation, including Transcendental Meditation among others. It summarizes definitions of meditation, psychological and physiological changes, and negative side-effects encountered by 62.9% of meditators studied. While the authors did not restrict their study to TM, the side-effects reported were similar to those found in the "German Study" of Transcendental Meditators: relaxation-induced anxiety and panic; paradoxical increases in tension; less motivation in life; boredom; pain; impaired reality testing; confusion and disorientation; feeling 'spaced out'; depression; increased negativity; being more judgmental; feeling addicted to meditation; uncomfortable kinaesthetic sensations; mild dissociation; feelings of guilt; psychosis-like symptoms; grandiosity; elation; destructive behavior; suicidal feelings; defenselessness; fear; anger; apprehension; and despair.
This article, >by Kaia E. Thiese and Sharon Huddleston, presents research on 147 female collegiate swimmers, approximately 50% of whom use psychological "skills" to enhance performance, such as autohypnosis, autogenic training, blank meditation, bracing, color, cue words, mantra meditation, and Transcendental Meditation. Of interest to TranceNet readers are the results that Transcendental Meditation had no significant effect, although techniques ridiculed by the Maharishi, such as positive self-talk, showed some indication of value.
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