Horse & BMAC & TM

Koenraad Elst koenraad.elst at PANDORA.BE
Mon Mar 20 17:38:15 UTC 2000

Claude Setzer <cssetzer at MUM.EDU> wrote:

> Since you and Dominik seem so insistent that "Humanists" are superior in
> their care about getting the facts straight, you should be rather ashamed
> yourself for doing so little research about something you publish.
> 1) The correct number is 0.1% of the population to be effected, as is
> clearly stated in many research papers published by studies both within
> outside of the TM organizations.

And in my own report.  But an E-mail to a discussion list is not a Ph.D.
thesis, so perhaps you may forgive me for not enumerating all the details

> Several years ago, the number 7,000 was
> 0.1% of the world's population, so it was projected that locally proven
> effects could be scaled to include the entire world with one group of
> To be "safe" this was extended to several groups of 7,000. It was not said
> (or perhaps was said by accident) that "each" (implying "every" ) country
> needed 7,000. But even if someone did say this, a "good Humanist" would do
> his research and get the correct data before publication.

In the election manifestoes of the NLP of a number of countries, the number
of 7,000 "yogic fliers" is given as the target for the country itself.  But
I'll readily accept any correction on these data which you may offer.

> 2) You seem to make very light of this, but some of the most conservative
> and skeptical professional journals have taken it very seriously. In the
> for example, even the FBI (federal police) statistics have confirmed a
> substantial decrease in crime during a TM project specifically designed to
> do so in the nation's capitol, Washington DC. And the (very skeptical)
> federal government of the US has put very substantial funding into TM
> research because, in some areas of need, it has been clearly proven to be
> more effective than anything else, sometimes even the only thing that is
> proven to work.

Writing for the generally skeptical readership of Trends business magazine,
I did point these things out.  On the other hand, these data have so far not
kept professional skeptics (Skeptical Enquirer and the like) from dismissing
the claims for Transcendental Meditation, so even more convincing data are
called for.  But in principle I still concede that there may be something to
it.  Recent news of prayer being shown to be effective in prolonging the
lives of terminal patients might be cited as another indication that good
vibrations have a tangible effect.   In the little paragraph of mine which
you read, I did not intend to judge TM one way or the other, merely to point
out that scholars are much less attracted to this than scientists are.
Indologists might look up what the Yoga Sutra or the Shiva Sutra have to say
about the effect of yoga on the yogi's environment, and what about siddhis
like levitation, and that would not uniformly support the Maharishi's
teachings.  But if you care to know my opinion, I think that a possibly good
project of promoting meditation and putting it to some socially beneficial
use has been delivered to ridicule with this levitation gimmick, especially
since after all these years of hopping, not one TM champion has been seen

 K. Elst

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