Friday, July 1, 2011

Article rejected when Transcendental Meditation researchers caught data "massaging"

Transcendental Meditation researchers have a long history of deceptive "research" practices spanning decades. Transcendental Meditation research has often been performed and promoted by longtime Transcendental Meditation associates, initiators and zealots, rather than by sincere, independent scientists.

If recent behaviour is any indication, rather than improving their research over the decades, Transcendental Meditation researchers have simply become better liars. Rather then promoting the discovery of truth, they've instead become an outlet for exaggeration and under-handed misrepresentation of findings, in the name of promoting and selling an overpriced meditation technique.

Enter a recent study the Archives of Internal Medicine and a gullible reporter at the Telegraph.
The Telegraph beamed rumours of a 50% reduction in heart attacks and strokes on their website, but mere minutes before publication the Archives of Internal Medicine pulled the paper. As it turns out, there was "additional data" that was still being submitted by the researchers at the very last minute.

On closer examination, the research looks highly suspect and very likely the result of "data massaging", the unscientific manipulation of data to assure a certain end. In this case there seems to be a great desire by the Transcendental Meditation Org researchers to have their brand of meditation look good to sell more of their product, the TM pagan-goddess mantras.

According the blog of Larry Husten, Ph.D., a veteran reviewer of cardiology studies, the study seems at best represent "hypothesis generating", that is, it does not represent final conclusions but merely preliminary gropings for answers. "They tell us absolutely nothing about the actual value of TM" Husten points out.

Here a few "items of concern" listed in the Forbes entry:

  • Although 201 patients are reported in the analysis, the study assessed 451 patients for eligibility and randomized 213 patients.
  • Of the 105 patients randomized to TM, 19 didn’t even receive TM.
  • 12 patients– 6 in each arm– were randomized but then excluded because they did not meet the trial’s inclusion criteria.
  • 41 patients– 20 in the TM arm, 21 in the control arm– were lost to followup.

Dr. Husten goes on to point out the more ominous problems with the study:

But my biggest concern is with the analysis of the primary endpoint, which was the composite of all-cause mortality, MI, or stroke. This occurred in 17 patients in the TM group compared with 23 patients in the control group, a difference that the authors claim achieved significance (p=0.03) after adjusting for differences in the age, sex, and use of lipid-lowering drugs between the groups. However, there was no significant difference between the groups in any of these factors. Even worse, there were very significant differences in the amount of education (11.3 years in the TM group versus 9.9 years in the control group, p=0.003) and the CES-D clinical depression scale (13.8 versus 17.7) for which the authors did notmake an adjustment, although in both cases the imbalance would appear to favor the TM group. In other words, to use the old cliché, they tortured the data until they made it talk. Strange behavior, perhaps, for supposedly laid back TM types, no?

Looks like TM researchers have been caught once again at what they do best: dishonesty, advertising their product(s) and trying to pose it as real science.

1 comment:

  1. I had a bad experience with TM, I speak spanish so my english is bad srry. TM always say "lots of publications and research", "scientific evidence in quantum physics" But they never show clearly one of thouse studies and also base some "religious practice" on physics is the worst thing u can do. Because physics changes and works with "models" of the universe made by humans, they never say that "the truth is.." they only say "thinks works like..or thinks works with this"
    My mom is MT teacher, imagine.I am studying engineering and she (who only know a bit of math/physics and doesnt know about science models) comes and tells me that TM is "science based" and talks me about quantum, with some draws that seems like a fairy tale for kids. As i dont talk when I dont know about a topic I told her, "i dont know if that is truth so I will wait for my physics modern class" and she tells me "but i dont need to know to say that this is logical and truth". For my best this month I have started my modern physics class, now I am with relativity but in a month and a half I will be learning an introduction to quantum physics in order to be prepear to say with racional arguments "TM doesnt give valid physics arguments".
    When mum told me to learn TM I told her OK (because I wanted to see if her personal experience will be as mine), I will tell you that first months it was cool, relaxation etc..a new.. but i started to notice that if I didnt meditate in the morning I had a terrible headheck, so it became like some "addiction" so i said, "i dont like addictions" and i left it.
    I can tell you that for me the best way to be good is to take a nup in the afternoon of one hour.
    But mum still belives slighltly in TM and if i tell her something she gets angry and also tells me that "everyone has is conciusness, accept what your mind lets u, and this is not a religion".
    About the researchs I would like to see a good evidence of a real test, I mean different people learning TM WITHOUT knowing what it is ,what is expected and its benefits, etc etc.. A real scientific test made by a non related org.