Can Crime Be Meditated Away?

Okay, how’s this for an example of crime prevention: transcendental meditation. Several years ago in Washington D.C., 3,000 people got together to meditate and … yes, drove drown crime throughout the city. That’s their story, at least. For all I know, this is an old story; it may also be totally insane. But it makes for interesting reading: click here for details. Thanks to David Flusche for the tip.


Interesting. I'm sceptical about how this would work, but I don't have any experience with meditation so I guess I can't just dismiss it. There is a documentary called, "Doing Time, Doing Vipisanna," about teaching meditation to prisoners and guards in Indian prisons, but I haven't seen it yet.


But what about pre-meditated murder?



First, I hope this turns out to be true. It seems like a relatively cheap solution to an expensive problem (in terms of money, lives, quality of life, etc).

However, this brings up a few thoughts, critiques, questions:

1. It only covers 8 weeks. Based on the results for 8 weeks, lets see how it does for a year. Or, lets see 8 weeks on, 8 weeks off, 8 weeks on, etc. for a year.

2. We only see the decrease in crime related to the increase in group size. What about a dummy variable for whether there's a group or not. Couldn't they run the regression for a year's worth of data with the dummy variable turned on for 8 weeks and see what the correlation is?

3. Aren't there already people meditating in DC? Does it only work if there are 4K extra people?

4. Are the effects of meditation localized? Why didn't crime go down in the entire US during those 8 weeks? Did it? If so, and the effects of meditation are assumed to be localized, it would seem to negate the effect.

5. Did they run any causality tests on this? How do we know there's a causal relationship?

6. Did you notice how the chart makes it look like an increase in crime, since the percentages on the right aren't negative?! :)



seeing as how the RZA promotes eastern religions like Buddhism, this is definitely an interesting find. If Wu-Tang is meditating I mean come on man, get with it. and get a head band too and some camoflogue shirts =)


Jonathan Schwartz

When does Levitt get back from Hong Kong???!!!! I can't take any more of these ridiculous studies showing that canola oil drinking and meditation are the solution to all our problems.


Since the study was done by the group trying to promote Transcendental Meditation -- the Institute of Science, Technology and Public Policy is just a wing of the Maharishi -- I put zero stock in what their findings might be.


So if we combine the olive oil and the meditation.... we can save the world!


I will admit the slight possibility that those three thousand meditators might have otherwise been out committing crimes. Apart from that, though, this is a joke.


This reminds me of the time my orthodontist abandoned traditional anaesthetics for self-hypnosis. His goal was to transcend dental medication.


I was thrown out of college for cheating on the metaphysics exam; I looked into the soul of the boy sitting next to me.

--Woody Allen


Oh, for heaven's sake. This Maharishi Yogi Transcendental Meditation claptrap has been smacked down again and again. Robert Park dismisses it here, and oh look, it got an Ig Nobel award in 1994!

Google is your friend.

-- Cardinal Fang


Ah, the old logical fallacy of mistaking coincidence and correlation. great example for my principles classes..


Crime will be a thing of the past oncepeople realise the power of the wireless revolution, go here and see what I mean>>>>>>>>
Great Blog, keep up the good work...Do you want to link to me?


basically the usual suspects


Wasn't this debunked in "Voodo Science" by Whatshisname?


"Wasn't this debunked in "Voodo Science" by Whatshisname?"

"Voodoo Science" would be Robert Park, referenced earlier. It's also debunked in "Flim Flam" by James Randi, but not having either book in front of me, I think that was an "experiment" done in the 70s or 80s.

Honestly, I hope the authors are a little more careful in their own research.


In the past, I had looked up details on this TM study. I found several things. First, there was a crime spree in DC in 1993 (the year of the study) - causing something like 30% higher rates of crime that year. The TM group came in around the end of the summer. After the TM group came in, the crime rates dropped. However, when I say that "they dropped", I mean they dropped from their 30% elevated rates. They were still above average (+10%) when compared to the previous 5 years. So, that raises the question: did TM reduce the crime rate or were we merely witnessing the end of the crime spree that year? The study is far from conclusive, and the researchers (surprise, surprise, some of whom were from Maharishi University, which has an interest in promoting the power of meditation) conceil information which might help people dismiss the results of the study.

Also, you'll notice that they lump "homicides, rapes, and assults" together. Wonder why they do this? Based on my research, the number of homicides increased slightly during the course of the study. They can effectively cover-up this information by lumping homicides with the other crimes which were much more numerous and which did show some downward trend.

You really need to look closely at their information and pick it apart before accepting their inflated claims ("The statistical probability that this result could reflect chance variation in crime levels was less than 2 in 1 billion") because they really are playing some games here.



They also believe that they can levitate.

John K

I've seen this. The science is surprisingly good--articles have been published in peer-reviewed scientific journals, and some of the studies have been overseen by independent (non-practicing) scientists. Can't dismiss it blindly like some below.


Would John K tell me which the peer reviewed journal have carried articles about this experiment. I would love to take a look at them.