Peer Review of
"Maharishi Effect"

  Philosopher of Science Evan Fales of the Univ. of Iowa, Professor of Sociology Barry Markovsky of the Univ. of Iowa. 1997, The University of North Carolina Press. Published December 1997 in Social Forces Volume 76 (2):511-25.

Here are some excerpts from their study:

"Our criticisms may be divided into those directed against the MT [Master Thesis] and those disputing interpretations of their data. As to the first, the main points were that the MT has serious problems regarding the clarity and integrity of its arguments, and it does not cohere well with other strongly confirmed theories, hence conflicting with the evidence supporting those theories. MT is under-articulated, often vague or enigmatic, reliant upon specious analyses, and silent about key processes that link causes to their alleged effects. These defects are not uncommon in novel theories, but in this case they allow nothing better than crude plausibility arguments for its extraordinary predictions."

"The theory receives low marks for meaningfulness. Key terms are undefined or only roughly characterized using other complex, undefined terms or metaphors. 'Planck scale' and 'unified quantum field' are defined in physics, but the meanings of many crucial expressions are not so clear, including 'consciousness,' 'collective consciousness' (CC), 'pure consciousness,' and 'experientially connected.'"

"We consulted several nuclear and particle physicists and learned that detailed experimental evidence is lacking for Planck scale phenomena. Also, a number of unified theories compatible with the existing experimental constraints have been considered in this highly speculative area (Davies and Brown 1988). Moreover, physicists examining purported links to MT find them highly dubious (e.g., Stenger 1990; Pagels 1986). Thus, although O88 give the impression that their assumptions are well-grounded, the soundness of MT’s quantum field connections is an open question at best."

"In sum, O88’s theory does not pass minimal criteria of meaningfulness and logical integrity."

"...ME predictions cannot be derived from the MT. There are gaps in the causal chain from group meditation to the phenomena supposedly affected, there are no specified time lags for the ME, and despite the capacity of MT’s formal component to generate specific ME predictions, the model is ignored. Thus, evidence offered for the ME cannot significantly increase confidence in the veracity of the MT."

"First, when research is conducted on behalf of an organized group (as was O88), its results will often find publication in arenas that do not afford an opportunity for informed rebuttal. Second, such rebuttals (as we have shown) need not be overly expansive to undermine an unorthodox theory."

"As for the second issue, publication confers a certain aura of legitimacy in the eyes of the lay public and even the research community. Proponents of unorthodox theories know this and, as with TM proponents, often attempt to parlay such recognition into research grants, influence upon public policy-makers, and influence with the public at large. To what extent does the scientific community have a responsibility to allow--or not allow--these considerations to influence its handling of unconventional proposals? ...It is here, in any case, that a much wider understanding of the principle that publication should not be taken to confer respectability in the sense of acceptability, would be beneficial."

  Mordecai Kaffman. The Use of Transcendental Meditation to Promote Social Progress in Israel. Cultic Studies Journal, Volume 3, No. 1, 1986, pp. 135-141.

A criticism of TM's "International Peace Project in the Middle East" which later appeared in the Journal of Conflict Resolution in December 1988.

The methods of TM Peace Project researchers are dismissed as unscientific, and their claims of positive results in the Israeli context are deemed unconvincing, anecdotal, and based on a conceptual error. The TM theory of the "unified field" is stated to be no more credible than was Blondot's 1913 claim--supported by many papers from his collaborators--that metals gave off N-rays.

  Heinz R. Pagels, Ph.D. New York Academy of Sciences. Affidavit dated July 1, 1986. (2 pages)

Dr. Pagels was Executive Director of the New York Academy of Sciences when he wrote this opinion. Excerpts:

"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."

"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."

  Barte HN, Bastien BA. Cold look at transcendental meditation. [Article in French] Ann Med Psychol (Paris) 1980 Jul-Sep;138(7):839-48

The transcendental meditation, which has been initiated in Occident for twenty years, is being more and more popular with the general public. So, its more and more numerous devotees may bear witness to that fact. In this article, the authors are looking over the diverse publications which have been done about that mental technique up to now. In spite of many demands of the transcendental meditation movement, the authors, with their own analysis, are induced to formulate a few reserves on the scientific credit to be given to that movement; for, in a way, it may look like an 'organized magic' within humane agony.

Letter from , former MIU Dean of Faculty and head of Physics Department, dated July 11, 1987, to Pat Ryan. TM-EX Newsletter, Spring 1992.


"During my time at MIU, I had occasion to examine the scientific claims of the movement, to interact with those who had reportedly performed the research, to study the metaphysics, philosophy and religion associated with the TM technique, and to work with the founder of the movement and the college. It is my certain belief that the many scientific claims both to factual evidences of unique, beneficial effects of TM and to theoretical relationships between the experience of TM and physics are not only without any reasonable basis, but are in fact in many ways fraudulent."

"The 'scientific research' is without objectivity and is at times simply untrue. While Chairman of Physics at MIU, I was asked to develop a quantum theory, a unified field theory, which would incorporate consciousness in such a way as to explain the 'flying' technique as non-ordinary and which would give to the subjective experience of meditation a fundamental role in physics. I found then and I continue to find now such claims preposterous. This is what is normally called 'crackpot science.'"

"The early attempts to relate the experience of TM to the physical nature of reality were by fuzzy analogies. Analogous reasoning may be useful to clarify ideas, but never to establish connecting relationships. Subsequent attempts to produce some sort of physical theory involving TM merely carry the analogies further into the realm of obscure thinking that can perhaps fool the person not conversant with the language of physics but will be usually quickly described as crackpot by the expert physicist."