The Progress of Science. Minus the Science. July 30, 2007

The Progress of Science. Minus the Science.

First, here’s a quotation from a news story:

“We have control over things we didn’t have control over before. That’s the progress of science,” [John] Hagelin said.

The progress of science! Yes! Good, right?

What’s he talking about?


More specifically, meditating for a rise in the Dow Jones, fewer hurricanes, and better relations with North Korea.

I should also mention that there’s no explanation as to how any of this is scientific. Hagelin just says it is.

I’m not sure whether I should be upset with the morons who do the meditating or Reuters for considering this a worthy news story.

Through group transcendental meditation the [Invincible America Assembly]– which has 1,800 people meditating daily in Iowa since it was formed in July 2006 — releases harmonious waves which benefit all aspects of U.S. life, spokesman Bob Roth told Reuters.

Here are some more wonderfully idiotic in-context excerpts from the article:

Asked what it would take to achieve world peace, Hagelin said such a utopia would need 8,000 meditators.

The group takes credit for, among other things: the Dow Jones Industrial Average reaching a record high of 14,022 last week, unemployment rates falling to a six-year low at 4.5 percent, and North Korea shutting down its nuclear reactor.

Oh, and if you read on, there’s also a comparison between “transcendental meditation” and the invention of electricity.

At least we’ll now have something to look forward to– the group’s backtracking– when North Korea does develop nukes.

Ok. I said there’s no science in the Reuters article. But if you look at Invincible America’s press releases, they do mention some unnamed peer-reviewed research publications without citations. That’s a step up, yes? Look at this quotation, for example:

“Extensive research published in leading, peer-reviewed scientific journals documents reduced negative trends, including reduced crime and violence, and improved economic and social trends—when as few as the square root of one percent of a population practice Yogic Flying together in a group,” Dr. Hagelin said.

Ooh. There’s math in there, too. It must be true.

And look at this one:

“This is not wishful thinking,” Dr. Hagelin said. “This is hard science that has been field tested for over 50 years and documented through more than 600 studies conducted at over 250 independent universities and research institutes throughout the world.”

But there’s no link to the studies or a list of the universities.

By the way, the Invincible America Assembly exists because of a $12,000,000 grant from the Howard and Alice Settle Foundation for Invincible America.

Crazy eccentric rich people ruin everything…

I’m going to go cry now.

(Thanks to Kyle for the link)

[tags]atheist, atheism, John Hagelin, science, Dow Jones, hurricane, North Korea, Reuters, transcendental meditation, Invincible America Assembly, Bob Roth, Howard and Alice Settle Foundation for Invincible America[/tags]

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  • THz

    when as few as the square root of one percent of a population

    1% = 1/100
    sqrt( 1% ) = sqrt( 1 / 100 ) = 1 / sqrt( 100 ) = 1/10 (= 10%)

    So as few as 1/10th the population? So 600 million people when assuming a world population of 6 billion. So when 600 million people really really want something at the same time and it happens, then I’ll give them some credit.

    Or maybe their math is off.

  • Maria

    well, there is proof that mediation relaxes people and helps them focus, and that it’s a great stress reliever. but influencing the stock market and north korea??? uh, I don’t think so. and what’s up with that math???? I’d be very interested to see these so called “peer reviews”………..

  • Richard Wade

    THz, actually close to a billion people really really want the same thing at the same time every day and it’s no big deal. Every day when the sun sets over the east coast of China, close to a billion people really really want dinner. And every day when the sun rises over the east coast of China, close to a billion people really really want to go to the bathroom.

    Not all of them get their dinner, but one way or another they all take a leak.

  • Taisen

    TM researchers have indeed published in the region of 600 papers. Some of them are even quite good. But a lot of them aren’t… the alleged ‘Maharishi effect’ has been cited as doing all sorts of things, statistically significantly, most often the reduction of crime rate and even reduction of political violence. It’s twaddle, of course. It’s a shame, because it means that even some of the better research that goes on at the “Maharishi University of Management” (I think that’s what they still call themselves) gets tarnished with the same patina of self-delusion at best, academic impropriety at worst. Some of the neuropsych research by, e.g. Travis and Wallace, is actually really productive stuff. Sigh.

    [Travis F, Wallace RK. (1999). Autonomic and EEG patterns during eyes-closed rest and Transcendental Meditation (TM) practice: A basis for a neural model of TM practice. Consciousness and Cognition, 8, pp. 302-318.]

  • Is your problem with meditation or the inflated claims made for it by these people?

    As long as they’re using no public funds or resources I say let them do whatever they want as long as no one is getting hurt. And by that I don’t mean losing money in the stock market. The stock market is nothing but legal theft of the profits of other peoples’ work.

  • Maria

    Is your problem with meditation or the inflated claims made for it by these people?

    The inflated claims for me. I use meditation quite a bit for personal relaxation.

  • Lee

    I think these meditators should be held responsible for not focusing their scientific ‘powers’ where they are most needed: poverty, child abuse, starvation, violence, cancer, birth defects, disease… after all, if only 8,000 of them are needed for world peace, then we could solve ALL problems and have a perfect world if we recruit only about 4,000 more.

    But wait… doesn’t this whole story sound familiar? I think I may be experiencing a bit of Deja Vu:

  • @THz: I read that as sqrt(1) % … so …. 1 % …. so maybe their math is off 😀

  • Isn’t this stuff kind of like shooting fish in a barrell?

    Out there is an endless parade of spiritually nutty/immature/naive/obnoxious people. They do all sorts of stupid/laugable/atrocious/evil things in the name of their respective religions.

    I’m not saying that’s not a problem. It is. But it is a predictable one.

  • John M. Knapp, LMSW

    Many critics consider Transcendental Meditation a cult led by the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. For an alternative view of the TM Movement, readers may be interested in checking out TM-Free Blog,, or my counseling web site,, where those recovering from TM and similar groups will find information.

    John M. Knapp, LMSW

  • Viktor

    It’s easy to laugh at something we know nothing about, but all we do is display our lack of paradigm to integrate the new information. Edison was considered crazy, so was Marconi and Newton, and Bruno and Copernicus were burned for being too ahead of their time. If you study history of science, you will see that practically every originator of a new idea was first laughed at, then persecuted or at least discredited, then accepted, and finally revered. Many innovators were not that fortunate. Have you heard of Reich or Kervran? Most likely Tesla, but how about the discoverer of the cause of cancer Otto Warburg? And he got 2 Nobel Prizes! His truth is inconvenient to the disease industry, that’s all. Want to know more? Geniusindiapers at g mail.

  • If we all relaxed to image relaxation videos the world may be a better place. Image relaxation videos show you lovely natural scenery whilst listening to peaceful music to relax you. You can read a description of image relaxation video types here: Image Relaxation Videos

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