are excerpts from articles, books and other studies which analyze the
problems with research conducted by the TM Organization. These
problems include allegations of suppression of negative evidence,
of fraud and of "gross scientific incompetence", lack of double-blind
controls, refusal to submit raw data, failure to control for set effects,
failure to control for expectancy of relief, failure to control
for placebo/suggestible-prone subjects, and others.
, by Professor of Sociology,
Asymmetry #3: Who Conducts the Research and Who Pays For It?
"Who sponsors research on TM? Mostly the TM organization. Who conducts
research on TM? Almost exclusively researchers having a tremendous vested
interest--material, psychological, professional and social--in the outcomes
of their research.
"Historically, this state of affairs has proven to be a recipe for biased
results. [Suggested reading: "Betrayers of the Truth" by William Broad
and Nicholas Wade--although they over-generalize their observations to
all of science.] Bringing us back to the first point, how many TM
researchers would you guess have conducted studies making a serious
effort to detect and characterize negative effects of TM? How much
money would you guess the TM organization has invested in such research?
How many grant proposals to external funding sources for carrying out
such research would you guess TM researchers have submitted?"
"The best method of testing hypotheses, however, is to try your hardest
to disprove them--not merely to verify them. If they survive the most
stringent of tests, you can be that much more confident in their validity.
So what if TM researchers never seek to disprove their claims but only to
"The thing is, much of the TM research is very non-controversial, and
the much smaller volume of potentially controversial stuff that has
been published is tucked away in 3rd-rate journals (or worse). So the
TM organization can point to the publications and say 'Look, we're
published in prestigious, main-stream scientific journals!' Most
scientists are not interested in trying to counter such hype in the court
of public opinion, and most are not interested in following up the
breathless claims of TM research because--quite contrary to the way
the TM propaganda machine portrays things--the more controversial TM
research is widely ignored (even among consciousness researchers who
you would expect to be very sympathetic), and the bulk of the rest is
pretty mundane from the perspective of journal readers."
Peer review analysis of the "Maharishi Effect",
. Markovsky, Barry and Fales,
Evan. The University of North Carolina Press. Published
December 1997 in Social Forces Volume 76 (2):511-25
Note to text:
 A re-analysis of the data also would have been desirable,
though not essential for our case. However, David Orme-Johnson has
refused numerous requests for a copy of the raw data set.
First hand article about TM's leading researcher, Dr. Hari Sharma, lying about
"A Study in Alternative Truth"
by Andrew Skolnick.
On May 22, 1995, just weeks before taking early retirement from Ohio State University, where
he was professor of pathology, Sharma chaired a session on Maharishi Ayur-Veda at the First
International Congress on Alternative & Complementary Medicine, in Arlington, Va. During
his presentation, Sharma described the many health benefits of TM, and Maharishi Ayur-Veda
products and services. At the end of the session, Ridgley Ochs, a science reporter for
Newsday, went up to the podium to speak with Sharma. As any good journalist would, she
asked him if he had received funding from the company that sells the products described
in his report.
"No," said Sharma.
"Then who funded your research?" Ochs asked. "I receive funding from the Maharishi Ayur-Veda
Foundation," he replied. Outraged by this obfuscation, I jumped in: "Yes, and Maharishi
Ayur-Veda Foundation owns MAPI [Maharishi Ayur-Veda Products International], Inc, which
is the company that sells the products described in your report."
"I do not know about that," Sharma said. "You certainly do know about that," I said. "You
have a million dollar grant from the Maharishi Ayur-Veda Foundation, which owns the
marketing company MAPI."
How do I know he "knows about that"? Because I have a copy of the results of Ohio State
University's investigation of conflict of interest charges that were brought against Sharma
in 1991. In the report, a university's Committee of Inquiry admonished Sharma for not
disclosing a major grant from the foundation that owns the company that markets the
products he studies.
Sharma looked surprised. He took a step forward to read my press badge, which read: "Andrew
Skolnick, The Skeptical Inquirer" -- the publication for which I was covering the conference.
Turning to his followers, he said, "Oh, this is that journalist who thinks there is
something wrong in taking money for research."
"No, I do not think it is wrong for a researcher to take money," I said. "I think it
is wrong for a researcher to take money and then to lie to journalists that they don't."
In response to a complaint from within the university community, Ohio State University
appointed a Committee of Inquiry to investigate charges that Sharma misled the editors
and readers of the Journal of the American Medical Association in his article on
Maharishi Ayur-Veda, published in May 22/29, 1991. The committee concluded that Sharma did
not deliberately mislead the scientific community, although it admonished him for not
disclosing that he is funded by the foundation that owns the company that sells
the products he studies.
The Committee of Inquiry said it was "troubled" by Sharma's failure to disclose receiving
a [$1.2 million dollar] research grant [with the university receiving
an additional $1 million] from Maharishi Ayur-Veda Foundation, which owns the company
that sells the products Sharma touted in his JAMA article, "since the JAMA form
[that Sharma signed] explicitly called for such disclosure."
A University of Ohio source says that, as a result of this affair, the university has
adopted ethical guidelines that more clearly define such conduct as improper
Did Sharma learn anything from the admonition? Apparently not. Approximately 5 months
after the committee's admonition, the journal Psychosomatic Medicine received a
manuscript from Sharma and Charles N. Alexander, Ph.D., Maharishi International
University, Fairfield, Iowa, entitled: "Research Review of Maharishi Ayur-Veda:
A Multi-Strategy System of Natural Medicine. The article states that the work
was supported by grants from the Lancaster and Maharishi Ayur-Veda Foundations,
but does not inform the editors or readers that MAF owns the company that sells
the cure-alls touted in the review. One of the outside peer reviewers pointed
out this hidden financial connection and urged rejection. The journal did not
publish the report.
To view full article
, former MIU Dean of
Faculty and head of Physics Department, to Pat Ryan in Philadelphia, PA.
From TM-EX Newsletter,
"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
"Confirmed to me by
investigators at MIU was the suppression of negative evidence that these
investigators had collected. Strong bias was present in selecting only
data favourable to a conclusion that was made prior to the data collection.
Because of the strong authoritarian (essentially cultic) aspects of the
movement, only results supporting ideas generated by the movement
leadership could receive any hearing. The 'scientific research' is
without objectivity and is at times simply untrue."
Bensheim, Germany: (Institut fur Jugend Und Gesellschaft,
Ernst-Ludwig-Strasse 45, 6140.) Institute for Youth and Society, 1980
"The T.M. movement only reports on positive effects of transcendental
meditation, a rather different story has become known through parents and ex-meditators."
"Also, medicinal, psychological and sociological research ... is instigated by
the 'Maharishi European Research University' (MERU), and is conducted mostly by scientists
who themselves belong to the T.M. movement. ...Possible negative effects, are either not mentioned at all
in the investigations, or are barely mentioned."
"The uncountable investigations, (billed as scientific) which the T.M. movement has instigated or have
been conducted by active T.M. meditators, show the determination of the movement to keep up the image
of 'the scientifically proven relaxation technique with a high therapeutic success rate', and to deny
the general public an insight into the completely different meaning of T.M. for the 'insider'."
"It was only after negative changes which parents observed in their children, or married partners in their
meditating spouse, that the initial favorable disposition of the parent/married partner became unfavorable.
This shows that the claim made by the T.M. movement that the critical stance of parents has its roots in
'generation conflict' is without any foundation and obscures the actual state of affairs."
"A drastic alteration in the field of social intercourse becomes clear to the onlooker, as well as such changes occurring
in school and career performance. Also documented are changes in the mental and physical health of the meditator."
"This major reduction in positive characteristics stands in total opposition to the promises made by the T.M. movement.
...It is a deliberate deception for the T.M. movement to claim greater achievements and social activity for meditators.
...The social behavior of meditators and the attitude of the T.M. movement towards
social life exhibit sect-like tendencies, which have nothing to do with the relaxation technique presented to the public
by the movement. The personality profile once more gives the trend of changes in all three groups: there is no
development of personal attributes in the sense of an improvement in those attributes. Various attributes, like
the emotions and a social responsibility, lose all importance throughout. T.M., however, promises an improvement
of and increase in these attributes. Most strongly affected are the perception of reality, openness, and the ability
to make critical evaluations."
"The mainly positive experiences in the earlier stages (pictures, feelings of happiness) are replaced in time - according
to reports of the ex-meditators - by terrifying images and feelings of fear or anguish. This is known to the T.M. movement.
The theory states that 'unstressing' is taking place during these conditions. It is advised that one should meditate more
intensively. Only when all of that stress was released, would pleasant experiences again be had.
"Over 70% of those in our
study had difficulties, statements made on tape list these difficulties mainly as being: problems with sleeping, anguish,
increasing pain in the head, stomach, and back, (compare with section 6 of this chapter), problems with concentration,
hallucinations, feelings of isolation, depression, over-sensitivity, and instability.
"It is significant that the percentage is high in each group. This shows that even the so-called easy meditation (2x20)
can lead to serious problems. This is confirmed by comparing the ordinary meditators with sidhas, T.M. teachers,
and governors. 70% of ordinary meditators had experienced difficulties as a result of the meditation, 82% of insiders."
Sworn affirmation from
, former Professor of
Economics and Business Law and Director of Grants Administration at MIU.
July 16, 1986. Presented to Judge Gasch of the
United States District Court for the District of Columbia as part of
Kropinsky civil suit, #85-2848.
"9. The deliberate pattern and practice of fraud, deceit and
misrepresentation by knowledgeable, aware, educated and intelligent
people, including lawyers, Tarabilda and Druker in tax (IRS) matters,
corruption of the curricula, inter alia, is very pertinent and material
to understanding and gaining some insight into how and why the practices
of the defendants was able to continue without interruption for so long.
It also suggests why they are seeking to cover-up a very substantial and
injurious pattern of deception, fraud and corruption:
"They demonstrate, for example, that:
"d) Scienter [informed or guilty knowledge] was clearly present in the
frauds, but was justified in the name of a higher ideology, which
presumably means they can lie, come into a federal court, and commit
"e) More significantly, an understanding of their wilful deceits and
machinations in these areas, provides a useful insight and perspective
into the more serious areas resulting in psychological and physical injury
to very vulnerable, and easily manipulated young men and women;
"f) If it can be demonstrated that the zealous, and often fanatical,
educated people, including lawyers associated with the TM cult, are
willing, even eager, to engage in an active, deliberate, systematic
pattern and practice of major fraud involving hundreds of millions of
dollars against the federal government, it might reasonably be inferred
that they are willing to deceive and injure (if necessary) innocent and
very vulnerable private citizens, i.e., young students;"
"11. I have read an affidavit consisting of one and a half pages, sworn
and subscribed to by Professor John W. Patterson on June 30, 1986, and
agree with his observations and conclusions.
"At para 3, page 1, Professor Patterson suggests more than 'gross
scientific incompetence' is involved and believes the misrepresentations
are the result of 'dishonesty, deliberate deceit and fraud.' I agree
"12. The deceptions are intricate, fairly sophisticated, intentional,
and are mainly designed to sell or market TM. ..."
, member of the Iowa
Academy of Sciences and consultant to Committee for the Scientific
Investigation of claims of the Paranormal. Notarized June 30, 1986
in the state of Iowa.
"Many of the claims issued by the TM organization in their news releases
and recruitment campaigns are not just badly mistaken and ill-conceived;
they are worse. No competent scientist, on the basis of present scientific
understanding, could seriously subscribe to the TM views. Mass meditation
cannot be used to lessen the force of gravity, to effect levitation, to
modify weather patterns, or to lessen social and economic stresses in
distant places. Religious believers often hold such views, but only for
religious reasons - never on the basis of scientific findings. There is
no compelling evidence to suggest that natural forces exist which are
capable of such "actions through a distance" and indeed the law of the
conservation of energy implies such things are impossible. If no educated
scientists were among the leadership of the TM movement or on the faculty
at MIU, one could write such absurd claims off to mere incompetence.
However, 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."
"Much of the research reported by MIU involves elaborate procedures but
also involves what might be called 'cleverly poor' experimental controls
and a great deal of unjustified 'leaping' to favorable conclusions. Herein
lies another source of circumstantial evidence for the fraud or deliberate
deceit mentioned above. Were the experimental mistakes and errors of
judgment due mainly to naivete or mere incompetence, one would find about
as many unfavorable results as favorable ones as regards the alleged
benefits of TM and the so-called Sidhi and "Maharishi" effect(s). But
one finds nothing of the sort. In virtually all their reports, the
results tend to to never be negative, but are almost always cited as
"statistically significant" confirmations of their hypotheses. So one-sided
is the tally, in fact, that one may justifiably question the honesty if not
the competence of the TM researchers."
Book by Persinger, Michael A, Norman J. Carrey and Lynn A. Suess. TM
Mania (198 pages). North Quincy, Massachusetts: Christopher Publishing
"Claims of the TM effects are neither unique nor special but are the
consequences of procedures associated with suggestion, placebo
reactions, simple relaxation, neurotic belief, and the mislabeling of
vauge emotional experiences. In this book we investigate the precise
psychological and social procedures by which this movement manipulates
human behavior." p.7
Chapter 3. "Flaws in the TM Experiments: A Critical Evaluation"
Chapter 5. "The TM Sell Job"
- Failure to Control for Set Effects
- Failure to Control for Expectancy of Relief
- Failure to Control for Placebo/Suggestible-Prone Subjects
- TM is not a Unique State of Consciousness
- The Mantra Is an Aritifact
- No Comparitors
- Solicited Testimonials
- The Fasces Method or "Drown 'Em With Data Approach"
- No Direct Verification
- The Biased Experimenter
- Proof by Numbers
- Proof by Affirmation
- The Einstein Sanction
- Proof by Television
- Proof by Lack of Disproof
- TM Teachers: Portrait of Pseudotherapists
- The Maharishi: Manipulator of Images
"In the Name of Science"
, by A. Miller.
From TM-EX Newsletter, Spring 1991
"They declare these studies to be scientific proof of TM's plethoric
physiological and behavioral benefits. That's the hook. You won't hear
at the TM lecture that the studies they quote from are performed by TM
movement people or by people they sponsor (at Maharishi International
University and at other universities) without using double-blind (1) or
expectancy controls. Since 1973 when MIU was founded, it has been in the
TM movement's direct interest to create and then flaunt this selfserving
research to support increasing claims for the efficacy of TM practice and
their 'ideal' SCI (2) educational system, to attract meditating
proselytes, to recruit students for MIU, to enhance belief among followers
and to promote Maharishi's world government and international Vedalands,
his enlightenment enterprises, services and products worth $3.5 billion
plus, and his plans for a quantum leap in new sales and influence (3)."
"Aside from outright fraud charged by two former MIU faculty members (4,5),
such non-controlled TM studies are proven to be influenced by the tendency
a priori to confirm the researcher's indoctrinated belief in TM
(expectancy). Conversely, the motivation of subjects being tested who
began TM on their
own (pre-selection), plus the movement's subsequent influencing of those
subjects to expect benefits from TM (placebo)--each of these phenomenon
in a tightly controlled research study by Jonathan Smith has been proven
to produce by itself the observed benefits and not the practice of TM per
"Suppressed by the TM movement are many carefully controlled nonmovement
research studies that have uncovered the following actual effects from TM,
especially from its long-term practice or from its more intense daily use,
called rounding: 1. No specific or broad scale special benefits. 2.
Partially impaired mental faculties. 3. Depersonalization. 4. Loss of
self-determination and motivation. 5. A high percentage of psychological
disorders. 6. Adverse effects in social relationships. 7. Aggravation of
pre-existing mental illness."
1-Double-blind denotes a comparative research experiment in which
the identities of the control group are known neither to the subjects
nor to the researchers.
2-The Science of Creative Intelligence, TM's philosophy.
3-David Friend, The Return of Mr. Bliss. LIFE magazine, November
1990, pp. 82.92.
4-Anthony D. Denaro, counsellor at law. Affidavit - equivalent (12
pages) Sea Cliff, NY: July 16, 1986. Former MIU legal counsel and
professor of law and economics, and former MIU Director of Grants
5-Dennis E. Roark, Letter to Pat Ryan: Confirming a conversation
of July 11, 1987 (2 pages). Physics Department head, Warner Pacific
College, Oregon. (Dr. Roark was former head of the MIU Physics Department
and former MIU Dean of Faculty.)
6-A ten page listing of such research, abstracted and with related
subject documtation is available from TM-EX.
Example of faulty TMO research methodology, from Enlightenment
Maharishi Vedic Science and Technology, Sept 2000; page
13, article entitled "Opening the Door to Life".
"Jackie and 34 others are learning the TM technique as part of a study
examining its effects on cancer patients' longevity and quality of life."
"...The only glitch in implementing the study came when we created the
control group -- people who wouldn't be learning the TM technique. In the
face of overwhelming scientific evidence that TM would improve their mental
and physical health, not one person was willing to be part of the control
, by Andrew Skolnick, Journal of the
American Medical Association (JAMA), Oct. 2, 1991, vol. 266: pp. 1741-45, 1749-50
"IF THE CLAIMS of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi prove true, those who follow him soon will be
blessed with eternal youth, 'perfect health,' and the 'strength of an elephant.' They
will be able to 'walk through walls,' make themselves 'invisible,' and 'fly through the air'
without the benefit of machines. In addition, there will be no more war or crime. Automobile
accidents will be a thing of the past, and even the weather will have to obey their collective
consciousness. Such are the widely promoted claims of the Transcendental Meditation (TM)
movement and Maharishi Ayur-Veda, some of which were presented by authors Deepak Chopra, MD,
Hari M. Sharma, MD, FRCPC, and Brihaspati Dev Triguna, in their
'Letter From New Delhi' ('Maharishi Ayur-Veda: Modern Insights Into Ancient Medicine,'
"But according to representatives of the TM movement, the Maharishi's plan to turn earth into
heaven is not just wishful thinking; they say they have more than 500 scientific studies to
prove they can do it. Among them now is the 'Letter From New Delhi,' which is being pointed
to throughout the TM movement as a sign that the Maharishi's plan is gaining scientific
respectability. However, among many authorities on quackery and long-time watchers of this
movement, the article in JAMA has brought anger and dismay. (Please see Letters, pages 1769
through 1774.) They say that Maharishi Ayur-Veda is not traditional Indian medicine, but the
latest of the Maharishi's schemes to boost the declining numbers of people taking TM courses,
through which the movement recruits new members. This June, members of the TM community
in Fairfield, Iowa, were called to a special assembly at one of the Maharishi International
University's "Golden Domes of Pure Knowledge" to celebrate the news of JAMA's publication of
'Letter From New Delhi.' The same month, The Fairfield (Iowa) Source, a monthly newspaper that
is run by members of the movement, reported that the 'Letter From New Delhi' was 'the lead
article in JAMA.' (The newspaper has since published a correction identifying it as the
first article in the issue rather than the lead scientific article --a subtle but important
"What the newspaper didn't report was what editors of THE JOURNAL learned shortly after
the article was published: The authors are involved in organizations that promote and sell
the products and services about which they wrote. Despite this, they submitted a signed
financial disclosure form with their manuscript indicating that they had no such affiliations.
The statement, which all authors of articles accepted by JAMA must sign before publication,
says: "I certify that any affiliations with or involvement in any organization or entity
with a direct financial interest in the subject matter or materials discussed in the
manuscript (eg, employment, consultancies, stock ownership, honoraria, expert testimony)
are listed below. Otherwise, my signature indicates that I have no such financial interest.
"The authors of the "Letter from New Delhi" listed no involvements or affiliations. Upon
learning otherwise, THE JOURNAL immediately requested a full accounting from the authors,
which was published as a financial disclosure correction (JAMA.1991;266:798). Although the
confusing list apparently holds the record in terms of length for corrections published in
THE JOURNAL, it still is incomplete. In addition to being the medical director of TM's
premiere health facility, the Maharishi Ayurveda Health Center for Stress Management
and Behavioral Medicine, in Lancaster, Mass, and a former consultant and board member
for Maharishi Ayur-Veda Products International (MAPI) Inc, also in Lancaster (the sole
distributor of Maharishi Ayur-Veda TM products, an extensive line of herbs, teas, oils,
food supplements, incense, and devices said to prevent or treat disease and reverse aging),
Chopra performs many of the unproven and expensive Maharishi Ayur-Veda services throughout
the country. Indeed, he claims to have treated more than 10,000 patients with these remedies
between 1985 and 1990 (Perfect Health: The Complete Mind/Body Guide.New York, NY:
Harmony Books; 1990:6).
"The authors misrepresented Maharishi Ayur-Veda to JAMA as Ayurvedic medicine, the ancient,
traditional health care system of India, rather than a trademark for a brand of products
and services marketed since 1985 by the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi's complex network of research,
educational, and commercial organizations.
"An investigation of the movement's marketing practices reveals what appears to be a widespread
pattern of misinformation, deception, and manipulation of lay and scientific news media.
This campaign appears to be aimed at earning at least the look of scientific respectability
for the TM movement, as well as at making profits from sales of the many products and
services that carry the Maharishi's name."
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