Chinese Review of Transcendental Meditation Reveals Blood Pressure Research Bias and Bad Methodology

A recent (2015) paper is interesting for what is tells us, honestly, about Transcendental Meditation and its history of shady research.

The paper is entitled Investigating the effect of transcendental meditation on blood pressure: a systematic review and meta-analysis, this Chinese review reveals a number of issues surrounding the frequent and ubiquitous TM Org sponsored PR about the alleged benefits of TM  and blood pressure. It points out that even the American Heart Association only gave it as “potentially beneficial”,  far from a glowing endorsement. In fact a spokesman from the America Heart Association (AHA) indicated that the Transcendental Meditation Org itself was exaggerating their statements regarding TM and Blood Pressure. Such statements pointing out TM research exaggeration are old, going back decades and are borne out in the opinions several independent reviews.

Another common complaint in TM research, is bias. Many TM researchers are actually TM employees, TM university affiliates or TM teachers, etc. and often this bias is concealed. For example, after an independent government review was performed on meditation research found TM worst at lowering blood pressure, an undisclosed TM affiliated “review” was pushed to the web claiming the opposite. Obviously this was not lost on the present reviewers who state clearly:

“…biases may have influenced the results, primarily a lack of information about study design and methods of BP measurement in primary studies.” 

It’s worth pointing out to non-scientists that bias elimination is a essential element in the scientific method. If a study is biased, as many, many TM research studies (and reviews) appear to be, they are effectively null and void as a piece of science. Conflict of Interest bias is common, as is Experimenter bias and Cognitive bias. Bias due to poor study design or deliberate study mis-design is very common since the earliest days of TM marketing research.

So this latest review from China is interesting, as it highlights several well known issues with TM research:

  1. Bias
  2. Poor or unknown (!) methodology.
  3. Undisclosed conflicts of interest
  4. Exaggeration
  5. Poor or unknown study design

While previous reviews have been particularly hard on Transcendental Meditation and shown little benefit, or the worst benefit regarding BP, a quick reworking by TM insiders of an old paper with “new data” fudged in has garnered some minor interest. Most of the interest it turns out is fabricated by TM PR circles who push even these minor kudos, as a simple Google search will reveal, all over the web. As Digital Patriot Julian Asange and Wikileaks discovered from mining inner Transcendental Meditation org doc, handfuls of TM “bots” stand at the ready to love bomb any website that is unsuspecting enough to publish their latest PR BS. Maharishi insiders similarly guard Wikipedia entries from the Truth.

We would guess the TM org is getting pretty desperate after the US Military dumped them regarding their PTSD claims. In the BP realm it look like the Mindfulness Meditation (MM) folks are the winners in terms of pure science. Not only have they recently published a paper with dramatically better BP lowering results, results so compelling, immediate independent replication is in the pipes. There is still no independent interest in TM BP replication. Also MM is still the only major meditation form present virtually all major hospitals. TM is not currently taught at any major hospitals.

“Chinese Review of Transcendental Meditation Reveals Blood Pressure Research Bias and Bad Methodology”