by Tom McKinley Ball
“The reader is forewarned that The Skeptic’s Dictionary does not try to present a balanced account…” —"Skeptic's Dictionary" author Robert Todd Carroll
The Skeptic's Dictionary offers a hardcore skeptic's usual denouncements of God, angels and other so-called “myths and dangerous delusions,” but also targets a surprising variety of more earthly subjects—from vitamins and organic food to psychology and chiropratic.
While it's doubtful that many readers will find solace from knowing that "professional skeptics" are on guard to protect us from the likes of Sigmund Freud, Big Foot and the Mothman, such skeptical evaluations may nonetheless prove useful for the slam-dunk debunking of certain ill-founded or outlandish beliefs.
However, readers seeking an honest assessment of the Transcendental Meditation technique may find The Skeptic’s Dictionary appraisal frustratingly biased. The author cites no empirical evidence to support his criticisms of the TM program, uses only speculative, non-science sources as references and disregards the body of peer-reviewed scientific literature that supports the program. The fact that millions of people around the world have learned the TM technique and report benefits in their daily life also seems to carry little weight in the Skeptic's Dictionary evaluation. MORE
Is the "relaxation response" an alternative to Transcendental Meditation?
by the Editors
The idea of a “relaxation response” emerged in the 1970s after the first scientific studies on the Transcendental Meditation technique were published in Scientific American and other scientific journals. Those studies found that the TM technique produces a distinct physiological state. It was hypothesized by some that all other meditation and relaxation practices would produce the same “low-stress” state and therefore the same benefits as the TM technique.
Although the relaxation response theory gained widespread acceptance for decades and was even taught in medical schools, comparative data on different practices never substantiated the hypothesis and it has now been invalidated by subsequent research, including randomized controlled studies and meta-analyses showing that different relaxation and meditation techniques have different effects. MORE
Review: Down Joe Kellett's Rabbit Hole
by Tom McKinley Ball
Beginning with the faulty premise that TM practice produces a trance, the author of this critical site quickly descends into a labyrinth of personal issues and idiosyncratic interpretations.
“The story of my own fall…”
“This is not the experience that everyone has…”
—Joe Kellett, creator of "Down the TM Rabbit Hole"
Using detailed narrative, repetition of assertions, and storybook illustrations, the author of “suggestibility.org” tries his own powers of suggestion to argue that the most widely practiced and extensively researched meditation technique in the world has no significant benefit and produces harmful effects.
I acknowledge the author’s apparent sincerity, but find the website’s basic premise untenable and the barrage of negative assertions without merit.
If the sweeping accusations on the site were true, Transcendental Meditation would not have enjoyed such tremendous success around the world over the past 50 years, and the David Lynch Foundation—with growing numbers of scientists, scholars, physicians, businesspeople and educators—would not show continuing enthusiasm and support for the Transcendental Meditation program. MORE
Pseudoscience and Victor Stenger’s Quantum Gods: Mistaken, Misinformed and Misleading
by David Scharf
Department of Physics
Maharishi University of Management
“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed.”—Albert Einstein
Quantum spirituality—the idea that some aspect of consciousness plays a fundamental role in the universe and that advanced physics should be interpreted as having to some extent already incorporated this principle—has had distinguished representation among both physicists and philosophers. It has generated an upsurge of grassroots enthusiasm because of the widespread sense that science and spirituality, rather than being fundamentally separate or even opposed, are in fact deeply connected and mutually reinforcing. Victor Stenger’s purpose in writing "Quantum Gods: Creation, Chaos, and the Search for Cosmic Consciousness" is to “debunk” this idea—but attention to the details shows that it is actually Stenger’s arguments that need the debunking. MORE
Natural Stress Relief (NSR) Meditation
by Tom Mckinley Ball
Advertisements and marketing articles about a form of meditation called "Natural Stress Relief" (NSR) have been posted by it's promoters throughout the Internet. The pitch typically begins with a few facts about the Transcendental Meditation program, which, as a certified instructor of the TM technique, I'm glad to see—it's wonderful that people wish to teach meditation and spread its benefits. But unfortunately the NSR articles quickly veer off into inaccuracy and make several misleading statements about the Transcendental Meditation technique and TM organization. However, a close look at the mechanics of the TM technique, the body of scientific research, and the non-profit system of teaching reveals that NSR meditation differs from the TM technique in fundamental ways—in both practice and results. MORE