“An area of scientific research that’s here to stay”
by Dr. Sidney Weinstein, Editor-in-Chief, International Journal of Neuroscience
“Over the past 10 years the editors and reviewers of IJN have accepted several papers on Transcendental Meditation because they have met the rigorous standards of scientific publication. IJN is honored to have two Nobel laureates on its editorial board, and has a distinguished group of scientists from leading universities on every continent who judge the scientific value of the papers submitted for consideration. Not once have these scientists ever questioned the integrity or scientific validity of the papers on Transcendental Meditation. The fact that the articles on Transcendental Meditation continue to appear in large numbers in reputable journals in addition to IJN demonstrates, at least to me, that this is an area of scientific research that’s here to stay. Any review of Transcendental Meditation literature that overlooks these publications smacks of scientific censorship. Perhaps such reviewers would find it instructive to read about the Galileo affair."
Note: Dr. Weinstein does not practice the Transcendental Meditation program.
The peer-review process
Even though most of the several hundred peer-reviewed studies on the TM technique did not involve MUM faculty or scientists associated with the TM organization, a small handful of critics on the Internet charge that research studies involving scientists from MUM are necessarily weak or invalid due to an alleged lack of objectivity. Yet scientists and peer-reviewers from the research community at large generally do not charge that MUM-affiliated studies (or research on the TM program in general) are lacking in rigor. Typically, accusations of “biased research” are made by non-scientists and remain unsupported by empirical evidence.
The peer-review process strives to filter out weak research or studies that may have been biased by the orientation of the scientists. While this process is far from flawless, it involves layers of independent, professional scientific reviewers, editors and publishers who filter out the vast majority of weak experimental designs and analyses before accepting papers for publication. It is certainly possible that less-than-topnotch studies in any field of research can slip through the peer-review process. But the fact that hundreds of studies on the Transcendental Meditation technique have met the high standards of peer-review — and that scientific journals continue publishing new research on the TM technique year after year — speaks for the professionalism and integrity of the body of research supportive of the TM technique.
Bias in scientific research
It may be true that one should be suspicious of studies funded by big pharma about their drug products, but it is a fallacy that scientists who care about a topic they are studying are necessarily biased. For example, the researcher Ian Mitroff studied 40 scientists involved in Apollo lunar missions. The study suggested that attachment to one's ideas is not necessarily a liability in the scientific arena. The scientists Mitroff surveyed considered the notion of an emotionally uninvolved, objective scientist to be naive and also not an ideal worth emulating. The most successful and respected scientists, the study found, were actually those most committed to the theory being investigated.
Unlike pharmaceutical companies, the TM organization does not pay for research on the TM technique. Scientists researching the TM program, meditating and not meditating, get their own funding because they are dedicated to people's well-being and see the TM program as a promising field of research. It seems "biased" to automatically conclude that just because a meditating research scientist has participated a particular study on meditation, that the study is necessarily biased and therefore to be doubted.
Myth #2: Meditation and relaxation practices are basically all the same and produce the same effects.
Myth #5: The research studies were conducted only by “TM scientists” and are not impartial scientific studies.
Myth #6: Independent scientific reviews show that Transcendental Meditation practice produces no significant health benefits. (On the AHRQ report.)
Myth #7: Yikes! It's a cult!
Myth #8: TM began as a religion, then became scientific to reach more people.