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The Maharishi Effect paranormal hypothesis that a significant number of individuals practicing the Transcendental Meditation technique (TM) and the TM-Sidhi program have an effect on their environment. This hypothetical influence was described by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in the 1960s and was later termed the Maharishi Effect.
The Maharishi Effect is a hypothetical societal benefit resulting from a "significant proportion of the population" practicing the Transcendental Meditation technique. In the 1960s the Maharishi postulated that the quality of life, the growth of harmony and order in society, would be noticeably improved if ten percent of the population practiced the Transcendental Meditation technique. This requirement was later changed to one percent in 1960 and became known as the "Maharishi Effect".
With the introduction of the TM-Sidhi program in 1976 it was proposed that only square root of 1 percent of the population practicing the TM-Sidhi program, together at the same time and in the same place, would increase "life-supporting trends". This was referred to as the "Extended Maharishi Effect". A 1986 study on the Maharishi Effect, by researchers at Maharishi University of Management said that a minimum of about 100 practitioners would be needed for there to be observable coherence.[need quotation to verify]
In 1976, a study conducted by researchers at Maharishi University of Management, documented changes in crime, sickness and other parameters in 16 communities where 1% of the population was practicing the TM technique.
1983 Middle East study 
Design and conduct 
A study conducted in the Middle East in 1983 by David Orme-Johnson, et al., was published in Journal of Conflict Resolution and presented statistical evidence for the Maharishi Effect. This was a prospective experiment (one in which the outcome is predicted in advance). All the variables were publicly available data, and a list of the variables used in the study was placed with an outside Project Review Board prior to the experiment.
According to the study, which was conducted in Israel and applied Box-Jenkins impact assessment, cross-correlation, and transfer function analysis, it determined that a group of individuals practicing the Transcendental Meditation and TM-Sidhi techniques located in Jerusalem had a statistically significant, positive effect on the quality of life in that city. Analysis indicated fewer automobile accidents and fires, and less crime, in Jerusalem during the time of the experiment. Additionally, the authors claimed that the Transcendental Meditation and TM-Sidhi group practice caused statistically measurable improvements in the quality of life in the country as a whole. The study claimed a reduction in key indicators. According to the study, the effects of religious holidays, temperature, weekends, and other forms of seasonality were controlled for and did not account for the results. Additionally, according to the authors, all cross-correlations and transfer functions supported a causal interpretation.
Subsequent to this study, Philip Schrodt published a critique of the study in the Journal of Conflict Resolution. He contested that the study’s measurement of the critical independent variable did not correspond to the most obvious interpretation of the theory, since it was obtained using political boundaries rather than geographical radius. Had the study used geographic radius (a method used in all later studies of the Maharishi effect), the observed effects would not have taken place, Schrodt maintained. According to Schrodt, the study does not account for reverse causation, nor properly test for the existence of spurious relationships. The study failed to randomize their independent variable - the number of meditators. Rather than being random, there was a systematic rise in the number of meditators over the first month of the study, followed by a clear weekly cycle in the second month. The failure to explicitly and adequately account for artifactural time patterning makes the claimed correlation very weak datum, because the claimed correlations over time are notoriously susceptible to artifacts.
In an article published in the same issue as the critique by Schrodt, the authors responded to the points in the critique. Regarding the independent variable, the authors state that previous research also used political units rather. The authors said that the issue of randomization was addressed in the original paper.
Fales and Markovsky's article also criticized the study and its findings. After discussing specific criticisms, they concluded, "it is hardly unreasonable to suppose that the fluctuations of the dependent variables measured by O88 would have remained exactly as they were even if there had been no meditators at all. The claim that TM provides the only plausible explanation of these data cannot be sustained. There are alternative explanations that do not depend on esoteric or paranormal influences".
A critique of the project published in the International Cultic Studies Association's Cultic Studies Journal by Mordecai Kaffman characterized the methods of the project as unscientific, the claims of positive results unconvincing, anecdotal, and based on a conceptual error, and concluded that the theory of a unified field of consciousness was no more credible than was Blondot's theory that metals gave off N-rays. In their response published in Cultic Studies Journal, Charles Alexander and David Orme-Johnson say that Kaffman did not provide any data, analytic procedures, or specific results. Also, they said the period of time he considered was different from that of the study and that he did not assess the two most important variables. To his assertion that the theory is no more credible than N-rays, Alexander and Orme-Johnson say that there are many examples where implausible new theories were resisted by were eventually born out, such as the germ theory of disease.
Natural Law Party 
In the 1990s the political Natural Law Party said that the Invincible Defense Technology, created by Yogic Flying and the Maharishi Effect, was the defense policy of their party. According to literature from the Canadian branch, "by creating this effect, Canada will radiate a peaceful influence to all nations, naturally disallowing the birth of an enemy...the result is an invincible armour for the nation, which automatically prevents incoherent influences from disturbing the country's internal peace and harmony."
1993 Washington D.C. 
A study on the Maharishi Effect was authored by John Hagelin, David W. Orme-Johnson, Maxwell Rainforth, K. Cavanaugh, C.N. Alexander, S.F. Shatkin, J.L. Davies, A.O. Hughes and E. Ross, some of whom were TM practitioners. It was published in 1999 in the journal Social Indicators Research and concluded that there was a correlation between the gathering of a group of 4,000 participants in the Transcendental Meditation and TM-Sidhi programs, including Yogic Flying, in the District of Columbia, and a reduction in violent crime in that city. The experiment took place from June 7 to July 30, 1993 using a Project Review Board consisting of 27 criminologists, sociologists and representatives from the District of Columbia including government and police officials and civic leaders. All of the members of the review board were TM practitioners.  At a 1994 press conference to announce the analysis of the study, Hagelin said that, during the experiment Washington, D.C. experienced a significant reduction in psychiatric emergency calls, fewer police complaints, and increased public approval for President Bill Clinton. Overall, he told the press, there was an 18% reduction in violent crime.
Physicist and skeptic Robert L. Park called the study a "clinic in data distortion". Park questioned the validity of the study by saying that during the weeks of the experiment Washington, D.C.'s weekly murder count hit the highest level ever recorded. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, "those outside the movement" did not see the cause and effect that Hagelin asserted. The Maharishi called the study, which cost $6 million, a "waste of time" and said that scientific research is a fraud. As a result of this study, John Hagelin received the 1994 Ig Nobel Prize in peace, a parody of the Nobel Prize, described at the time as an award for discoveries "that cannot, or should not, be reproduced."
1996 Merseyside study 
In 1996, Guy Hatchard, the director of the movement's Skelmersdale facility, and four Maharishi University professors published an analysis of the Maharishi Effect on crime in Merseyside, England (a metropolitan high crime area which includes Liverpool) from 1988 to 1992. Hatchard, who holds an M.A. in education from Maharishi International University, published his findings in Psychology, Crime and Law. Hatchard, et al., used a time series analysis to conclude that the crime rate fell as the number practicing the TM-Sidhi program in a group (the Maharishi Effect Threshold), combined with the number of people trained in TM (the Maharishi Effect Threshold Index), reached the designated threshold percentage. When the researchers analyzed the percentage of crime rate changes for the years 1987/90 and 1987/92, they found that of all the 42 police districts of England and Wales, Merseyside was the only one where the crime rate decreased, whereas it rose everywhere else. Hatchard dismissed other possible causes for the crime reduction, including an expansion in a drug treatment program mentioned below. Since the average cost of crime was valued at over £5,000 each, the researchers estimated that the reduction in crime saved Merseyside over £1,250,000,000, or about US $2.1 billion. According to the researchers, this was the 41st replication of the Maharishi Effect findings. Hatchard said later that the study's conclusions were 99.96% accurate.
These figures were cited by the Natural Law Party in their campaign literature. Political journalist Andrew Rawnsley, referring to these claims, characterized the party as "no different to any normal political party" in its "use of bogus statistics". An analysis by Howard Parker, a sociology professor at Manchester University, published by the Home Office Police Research Group in 1996, showed that the decrease in aggregated crime was driven by a sharp decrease in acquisitive crimes typically committed by drug users; other types of crime, such as violent crime against persons and criminal vandalism, increased during the same period. It was suggested that a large methadone program implemented during the mid to late 1980s may have accounted for the reduction in crime. In The New Believers, author David V. Barrett says that data supplied by the Merseyside Police show that crime rose each year from 1989 to 1992, and that a dip in reported crime in 1993 was perhaps due to "many policing initiatives".
Other studies 
Research by Michael Dillbeck of the Maharishi International University published in 1987 in Journal of Mind and Behavior found a correlation between quality of life in Rhode Island, the Philippines, New Delhi, Puerto Rico and the group practice of the Transcendental Meditation and TM-Sidhi programs. According to Dillbeck, quality of life in Rhode Island during a three-month period in 1978 improved significantly when the group practicing was large enough, but not in the control state of Delaware. Crime fell by 11% in New Delhi in 1980 during a five-month period in which enough people were practicing the TM-Sidhi program. Similar results were found in Puerto Rico in 1984 and two studies of TM-Sidhi practices in Metro Manila during 1980 and 1984.
A paper published in Psychological Reports in 1995 by Panayotis Assimakis, a graduate of Maharishi University of Management teaching at University of Crete, and Dillbeck, used time series analysis to argue that the quality of life for Canadians improved significantly when the number of Yogic Flyers in Fairfield, Iowa, combined with Yogic Flyers in Washington, D.C. and The Hague, exceeded the square root of 1% of the combined populations of Canada and the U.S. Improvement in the quality of life was measured in the first study as a decline in a composite index made up of three causes of violent death: motor vehicle fatalities, suicide and homicide, from 1983 to 1985, and in a second study, by a decline in the same three causes of violent death, plus cigarette consumption and worker-days lost in strike, from 1972 to 1986.
Demonstration projects 
In Sweden, November 1990, a group of 5,000 meditators, out of an expected 15,000, attended a mass-meditation event at the Globe stadium in Stockholm with the intent of avoiding war in the Persian Gulf following the invasion of Kuwait by Saddam Hussein. Three-quarters of the attendees, who paid USD$ 35 each for the 20-minute event, were already experienced meditators. David Orme-Johnson expected the event to produce "some softening, some kind of statement that is more reconciliatory". He said that an event in Iowa with 3,000 meditators in October 1990 was responsible for Hussein talking about reducing troop levels in Kuwait.
In 1992, President Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique learned Transcendental Meditation and yogic flying  along with 1500 military personal and civil service officials and their families. According to Maharishi literature, Chissano said that the meditation practice led to "political peace and balance in nature. In 1993, Chissano received an honorary degree from one of the movement's universities. He told the Maharishi at meeting in MERU, the Netherlands that "Crime and accidents are down. We still have to do a thorough study, but we can feel the positive effects." However, a deputy defence minister said he did not believe the TM and yogic flying had ended the war. Over 16,000 soldiers and 30,000 civilians were taught the TM and the TM-Sidhi techniques. From the end of 1994, all military and police recruits were ordered to meditate for 20 minutes, twice a day. Chissano entered into an agreement to turn over control of 25% of the arable land in Mozambique to the Maharishi Heaven on Earth Development Company, but the agreement was nullified when it became public in 1994. In 2001, the Defense Minister said that the country had experienced triple the expected economic growth and crime levels had dropped". Some individual units maintained the practice when the program ended in 2001 for what the local Maharishi center described as "administrative reasons".
In 2004, the Maharishi directed Transcendental Meditation practitioners at the Maharishi village at Skelmersdale, Lancashire to employ the Maharishi Effect with the aim of overturning the Labour government. Tony Blair's Labour Party won reelection in May 2005. In response, the Maharishi withdrew all instruction in Transcendental Meditation in the UK, eventually lifting the ban two years later, around the same time Blair left office as Prime Minister. UK TM Movement spokesman Geoffry Clements explained that while 100 yogic flyers were able to affect the Merseyside crime rates, the election experiment failed due to the inability to obtain a critical mass of yogic flyers of more than 800 needed to affect the entire country, other than for brief periods during the summer.
Hagelin predicted that when the number of assembly participants reached 2,500, America would have a major drop in crime, and would see the virtual elimination of all major social and political woes in the United States. He said that the Assembly was responsible for the Dow Jones Industrial Average reaching a record high of 14,022 in July 2007, and predicted that the Dow would top 17,000 within a year. On the first trading day after the Assembly began in July 2006, the Dow had closed at 11,051.05, up 182.67 from 10,868.38. In the weeks that followed the S&P 500 as well as the Domini 400 Social Equity Index rose an average of 0.7% per week in contrast to a weekly average decrease of .06% going back to 2000. The Dow failed to reach 17,000 as predicted and peaked on October 9, 2007 at 14,164.53. The Dow then declined, closed under 7,000 in March 2009 for the first time since May 1997, and did not again close above 10,868 until March 23, 2010.
In 2007, Emanuel Schiffgens, Raja of Germany and film director David Lynch were presenting a plan to build the Invincible Germany University atop Teufelsberg (literally: "Devils Mountain", built with the rubble of Berlin during the twenty years of rebuilding the city), near the German capital. but created controversy at a lecture in Berlin when Schiffgens exhorted the audience to create an "Invincible Germany". When a student retorted "That's exactly what Hitler wanted", Raja Schiffgens replied "ake things worse, when some guy shouted, “Adolf Hitler wanted the same!”, his answer was: “Yes, but unfortunately he didn’t succeed because he didn’t have the right technique", enraging the crowd.  Schiffgens then tried to explain to the crowd that invincibility meant no negativity.
Practitioners at the Invincible America Assembly, held at Maharishi University of Management, have asserted that their efforts would lead to invincibility from terrorist attacks. The supposed achievement of "Invincible America" was allegedly facilitated partly by a $12 million grant from the Howard and Alice Settle Foundation for an Invincible America, which provides stipends for Yogic Flyers.
Critiques and responses 
In his book Flim Flam! Psychics, ESP, Unicorns and Other Delusions, James Randi reports the account of University of Oregon professor Ray Hyman of a talk made at the University of Oregon in 1978 by Maharishi International University physics professor Robert Rabinoff. In this talk, Rabinoff claimed that the large number of TM-Sidhi practitioners on the MIU campus had reduced crime and accidents and increased crop production in the vicinity of MIU in Fairfield, Iowa. Randi followed-up with the Fairfield Police Department, the Iowa Department of Agriculture, and Iowa Department of Motor Vehicles and was unable to substantiate Rabinoff's claims.
Physicist Peter Woit characterized the theory that there is an unified field of consciousness as wishful thinking that is viewed by most physicists as nonsense. Christopher Anderson wrote in a 1992 news article in Nature that Hagelin's investigations into how the extension of grand unified theories of physics to human consciousness could explain how Transcendental Meditation influences world events "disturbs many researchers" and "infuriates his former collaborators". Anderson says that John Ellis, director of CERN, was worried about guilt by association. Anderson quotes Ellis as saying "I was afraid that people might regard [Hagelin's assertions] as rather flaky, and that might rub off on the theory or on us”. Dallas Observer political reporter Jonathan Fox wrote in 2000 that "Once considered a top scientist, Hagelin's former academic peers ostracized him after the candidate attempted to shoehorn Eastern metaphysical musings into the realm of quantum physics."
According to Robert P. Abelson, there is no known physical principle that could account for the Maharishi Effect, nor any articulation by its proponents of how the "unified field", if it is active on the targeted people and institutions, could translate into the desired psychological and political behaviors. There is no currently-accepted causal relationship that would link group meditation to the claimed phenomenon. In a review of Abelson's book, Peter McBurney says that if an experiment identifies a phenomenon for which no known explanation exists, this is in itself interesting and deserving of publication. According to Abelson, who looked at the 1983 Middle East study, the prior probability, in Bayesian statistics, of there being a Maharishi Effect, is practically zero. According to Abelson, "Maharishi adherents" say that the probability is closer to 1.0.
Philip Schrodt wrote that validation of the Maharishi Effect theory would contradict virtually the whole of contemporary understanding of causality in social behavior. University of Iowa professors Evan Fales and Barry Markovsky critiqued the Maharishi Effect and its underlying master theory in the journal Social Forces. They concluded that there are serious problems with the theory, that it does not cohere well with other strongly confirmed theories, conflicts with evidence supporting those theories, is vague, relies upon specious analyses, is silent about key processes that link causes to their alleged effects, and "does not pass minimal criteria of meaningfulness and logical integrity." They state that the Maharishi Effect predictions cannot be derived from the master theory, because of a lack of causal connection, an inability to specify time lags, and the fact that the model that can be derived from the formal component of the theory to make specific Maharishi Effect predictions is ignored by its researchers. Thus, they concluded that the evidence offered by researchers as support for the Maharishi Effect "cannot significantly enhance confidence in the veracity" of the theory.
In his book, Why People Believe Weird Things: Pseudoscience, Superstition, and Other Confusions of Our Time, Historian of science Michael Shermer says that the disproven Hundredth monkey effect and the Maharishi Effect both involve the concept of a collective consciousness.
According to the 2010 documentary film David Wants to Fly the TM movement has raised millions of dollars toward its plan for world peace, a portion of which is claimed to fund 10,000 vedic pandits to chant and perform yagyas 24 hours a day, seven days a week in the Brahmasthan (or geographical center) of India. The Brahmasthan, however, is a "ghost town".
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