In the book Supernormal, Dean Radin talked about an experiment in Washington in 1993 that caught my attention. It was an experiment where a group of meditators tried to use meditation alone, over a period of two months, to reduce the crime rate in Washington. Of course, the experiment was closely monitored, and it worked out that the crime rate reduced by up to 23% during the experiment and then went back up again afterwards.
Reading this caused me to have another one of those “What?!” moments. It doesn’t fit with what we’ve told about the world. How can some people meditating have any effect on what other people do? If this really is true, then I have to question everything I think I know about the world.
The experiment showing that meditation reduces crime
The results of the experiment have been published in a scientific journal;
Hagelin, J.S., Rainforth, M.V., Orme-Johnson, D.W., Cavanaugh, K. L., Alexander, C.N., Shatkin, S.F., Davies, J.L, Hughes, A.O, and Ross, E. 1999. Effects of group practice of the Transcendental Meditation program on preventing violent crime in Washington D.C.: Results of the National Demonstration Project, June-July, 1993. Social Indicators Research, 47(2): 153-201.
If you want to get a copy of this paper, you can get one here but you have to pay for it. Otherwise, you can read some articles about the experiment here or here, for example. The experiment was pre-approved by the police, government, etc., and a 27-person review board was setup to monitor the project’s progress. The review board consisted of independent people from universities (sociologists and criminologists), the police department, local government and civic leaders.
The results of the experiment are best summarized with this graph;
There’s a remarkable correlation here between the number of people meditating for reduced crime in Washington and the decrease in the crime rate. The experiment was well controlled and they tried hard to make sure that no other factors could be the cause of the decrease in crime rate. In the end, nobody can find an explanation for it except for the meditation. Statistically, the results obtained have only a 1 in 500 million chance of arising through luck. It all appears pretty convincing.
Meditation reduces crime, but it’s not easy
If the results can be so good, why not just meditate for reduced crime rates in every city in the world? Well, it’s not so easy to do. Notice in the graph above that the number of meditators started at around 600 and ended at around 4000 at the end of the two months. And, all these people were experienced meditators, not just randomly selected people. So it’s actually a lot of effort to get the results shown above.
If it’s true, what does it mean
This is where it gets interesting for me. If meditation reduces crime for real, then what does that mean? Well maybe;
- our minds are much more powerful than we’ve ever been led to believe
- somehow all our minds are connected
- intentions that we have in our minds can have a material effect on the world
and probably a whole lot more. Considering this along with the recent posts of Can our minds predict the future? and Double-slit experiment defines weirdness makes me ponder what’s real and what’s not.
I’m starting to get the pretty clear feeling that reality is not what I thought it was.
What do you think? Do you know of anything else like this that’s a bit astonishing?