The researchers, led by John Hagelin a renowned quantum physicist, set up this major prospective social study. The idea was to show how easy and simple it is to reduce crime and social stress by using meditation to intervene from the field of consciousness.
As with earlier studies, the method for achieving this crime reduction was the deployment of a coherence-creating or Super Radiance group of meditators known as TM-Sidhas (What is a TM-Sidha?).
About forty earlier studies had already demonstrated the power of the Super Radiance effect to create more coherence in society. So the understanding of coherence creation with groups of meditators was already well established, at least with the research team if not the authorities.
This time, what the researchers aimed to do was make a big impression in the most important capital city of the world. The idea was to attract attention from the relevant authorities as to the immense possibilities for crime fighting and war prevention using group meditation.
Part of the plan was to create a cast iron research protocol that would withstand all critical challenges as to the fairness and thoroughness of the experiment.
With this in mind, a 27-member Project Review Board was set-up comprising independent scientists and leading citizens. Their task was to ensure objectivity and research rigour by reviewing and approving the research protocol and then subsequently monitoring the research process.
The research team itself was broad based also to ensure against bias. Apart from the scientists from Maharishi Universtity of Management, the team included members from the Center for International Development and Conflict Management, University of Maryland, the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of the District of Columbia, and the Planning and Research Division, District of Columbia Metropolitan Police Department.
These precautions proved worthwhile. Ultimately, the research project was considered sufficiently sound, balanced and thorough enough to be published in the peer reviewed scientific journal 'Social Indicators Research'.
The project took place between June 7th and July 30th 1993. Based on previous experience, the researchers predicted in advance that the TM-Sidha group would reduce crime by over 20% in the city during the study period. The researchers confirmed that the group would achieve this effect without any verbal, social, political or physical interaction between the meditators and the local community. The positive impact would be made quietly and discreetly from the field of consciousness.
At the time the local police authority ridiculed this prediction. The police chief actually went on record to assert that the only event that would reduce crime that much in Washington during the summer months would be 20 inches of snow. The police were well used to crime rising year on year and also rising during the summer months as the weather got hotter and the days longer.
Undeterred by this professional cynicism, 800 TM-Sidhas arrived in the first week of the trial period. This influx gave the group a comfortable Super Radiance level straight away for the conurbation around Washington. By the last two weeks of the two-month trial period the group had grown to 4,000 in number.
Normally, the Super Radiance threshold for an area is the number of TM-Sidhas it takes to equal or exceed the square root of 1% (√1 %) of the local population, (About 173 TM-Sidhas for Washington DC). However, in this instance it was felt safer to create or exceed the Super Radiance effect for the whole country.
So instead of aiming to attract 173 TM-Sidhas, the study team set out to attract in excess of 1,750 TM-Sidhas, the √1 % of the entire US population.
There were important reasons for this change in the standard Super Radiance formula.
The reasoning was based on Washington DC’s prominence as the national capital of the world’s major super power. The city not only includes national institutions such as the Presidency, the Supreme Court of Justice, Congress and many other government organisations nearby, it also houses the Pentagon, The State Department and the CIA headquarters.
These powerful institutions of state spread their influence right across the world. And on the level of consciousness this influence is entirely reciprocal. Unfortunately for the US it is a case of “As you sow, so shall you reap.”
As such, the researchers saw the city, as a focal point of collective stress both from the nation and the international community. They surmised that it was this exposure to global collective stress that provoked such a high level of crime within the area - over three times the national average crime level.
In other words, the researchers reckoned that to instigate a rapid decline in local crime, the TM-Sidha group would have to be able to handle a lot more than just the locally generated level of collective stress.
Washington’s immediate history showed that during the first five months of the year prior to the research project, violent crime had been steadily increasing. This increase continued on into the first two weeks of the project when homicides actually continued to increase.
But after this initial period and as the numbers of the meditating group grew, violent crime began a steep decline (to help standardise the statistical study, the researchers adopted the FBI's Uniform Crime Statistics definition of violent crime or HRA crime: homicides, rapes and aggravated assaults). From then on until the end of the two-month experiment, HRA crime stayed well below the time series prediction for that period of the year.
The maximum impact was an unprecedented drop in HRA crime of 23.3%. This maximum effect occurred when the size of the group was at its largest in the final phase of the project.
The statistical probability that this result could reflect chance variation in crime levels was less than 2 in 1 billion (p < .000000002).
Soon after the project and as predicted by the researchers, HRA crime began to rise again.
The researchers tested their findings for other possible causes, such as temperature, precipitation, weekends, and police and community anti-crime activities and found that the drop in crime could not be attributed to any of these other possibilities.
Contrary to the Police chief’s predictions, Washington did not benefit from 20 inches of snow. In fact throughout the project the city experienced extremely hot weather conditions. In effect the project broke the regular cycle of rising crime seen during the increasingly hot weather as the summer season wears on in Washington.
Importantly, when the research team analysed the same period in each of the five previous years they found no significant decreases in HRA crimes in those periods. The 1993 results were a one off event.
Also, as predicted by the researchers before the project, there was a range of other improvements during the study period.
• President Clinton experienced improved approval ratings (p =5.29 x 10-8).
• Media positivity toward Clinton showed a net change increase (p =.01).
• Emergency psychiatric calls decreased (p =.009).
• Hospital trauma cases decreased (p =.02).
• Complaints against the police decreased (p =.01).
• Accidental deaths decreased (p =.05).
• Quality of life index improved (p =3.22 x 10-5).
Hagelin JS1; Orme-Johnson DW; Rainforth M1; Cavanaugh K1; Alexander CN1; Shatkin SF1; Davies JL2; Hughs AO3; Ross E4; "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", D.C.Institute of Science, Technology and Public Policy Technical Report 94:1, 1994. Social Indicators Research (vol 47 issue 2: 153-201, 1999)
1. Institute of Science, Technology and Public Policy, Maharishi University of Management, Fairfield, Iowa, USA
2. Center for International Development and Conflict Management, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland, USA
3. Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of the District of Columbia, Washington, D.C., USA
4. Planning and Research Division, District of Columbia Metropolitan Police Department, Crime Research and Statistics Section, Washington, D.C., USA
The full paper can be read in the Collected Papers of the Scientific Research on Maharishi’s Transcendental Meditation and TM-Sidhi Program vol 6 - 489; published by Maharishi European Research University and Maharishi International University.
“... The potential impact of this research exceeds that of any other ongoing social or psychological research program. It has survived a broader array of statistical tests than most research in the field of conflict resolution.
This work and the theory that informs it deserve the most serious consideration by academics and policy makers alike.”
David Edwards Ph.D., Professor of Government, University of Texas at Austin