Commentary on
ME in US Cities: 1976 TMO Report
'Maharishi Effect': 1976 Report Debunked
1976 TMO Report on US Cities

  Reference: Borland, C. & Landrith, G., III. (1976). Improved quality of city life through the Transcendental Meditation program: Decreased crime rate. In D.W. Orme-Johnson & J.T. Farrow (Eds.), Scientific Research on the Transcendental Meditation Program: Collected Papers (Vol. 1, pp. 639-648). Rheinweiler, W. Germany: Maharishi European Research University Press.

Claimed results: "Crime rate decreased an average of 8.2% from 1972 to 1973 in 11 cities in which 1% or more of their population began the practice of Maharishi's Transcendental Meditation program by 1972. In contrast, crime rate increased an average of 8.3% in 11 matched control cities."[1]

Basis for results: "Coherence group: More than 1% of the population instructed in the TM program by 1972."[1]

COMMENTARY:   The alleged "coherence group" was not even known to be still living in the area(s) of original TM instruction, or even known to be still practicing TM. Yet the TMO claims a probability for error of p<.001 that the effect of this unknown group caused an 8.2% decrease in crime.

What do we know about the "probability" of individuals continuing in TM practice? The 1989 Royer-Bounouar study showed that 20 months after 505 individuals began TM, only 18.8% still practiced TM twice daily as instructed.[2] Also, the 1980 report from the Federal Republic of German concludes that 50-80% of those initiated give up TM.[3]

What would be another way to obtain these "predicted" results? (TMO claim: "In 1960, Maharishi predicted that one percent of a population practicing the Transcendental Meditation technique would produce measurable improvements in the quality of life for the whole population."[4])

1) Obtain crime statistics for the nation covering several previous years. (TMO claim: "This phenomenon was first noticed in 1974 and reported in a paper published in 1976."[4] Their study looked back at 1972-1973.)

2) Look for cities with a drop in crime rate. Match them to similar cities with an increase in crime rate.

3) Claim that the drop in crime was because of the impact of your particular product, service or influence. ("Shoot an arrow. Draw a target around it.")

4) Voila! You now have the "proven" and "predicted" results.


Notes to Text:

[1] Source:

[2] Royer-Bounouar, P. A. The Transcendental Meditation Technique: a New Direction for Smoking Cessation Programs. Ph.D. thesis: D, MIU, 1989, T735,494, in the MIU library.

In this study, 60 percent of smokers who began TM and were still practicing TM twice daily after 20 months, quit smoking. TM may help someone to quit smoking if the individual stays with the practice for 20 months. Data also revealed that 20 months after 505 individuals began TM, 29.7 percent were no longer meditating, 38.2 percent were occasional practitioners, 13.3 percent practiced TM once a day, and only 18.8 percent still practiced TM twice daily as instructed. Some people have long suspected that it is inaccurate for the TM movement to base assertions regarding the number of people who practice TM on the number of people who have been instructed.

[3] The Various Implications Arising from the Practice of Transcendental Meditation: An empirical analysis of pathogenic structures as an aid in counseling. Bensheim, Germany: (Institut fur Jugend Und Gesellschaft, Ernst-Ludwig-Strasse 45, 6140.) Institute for Youth and Society, 1980 (188 pgs).

In the Federal Republic of Germany there were over seventy centers with approximately one thousand teachers and three thousand five hundred Sidhas. About seventy three thousand five hundred people were initiated into T.M., 28.8% of which were under twenty five years of age.

The number of active participants is actually much smaller. On the one hand about 50-80% of those initiated give up TM, for various reasons, on the other, many meditate without contact of any kind with the organization, and have no part in its many activities.

[4] Source: TMO's Maharishi University of Management