, Volume 47, Issue 2, pp 153-201

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

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Abstract

This paper reports the results of a prospective experiment in which a group of approximately 4,000 participants in the Transcendental Meditation and TM-Sidhi programs of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi assembled in Washington, D.C., from June 7 to July 30, 1993. It was hypothesized that levels of violent crime in the District of Columbia would fall substantially during the Demonstration Project, as a result of the group's effect of increasing coherence and reducing stress in the collective consciousness of the District. A 27-member Project Review Board comprising independent scientists and leading citizens approved the research protocol and monitored the research process. Weekly crime data was derived from database records provided by the District of Columbia Metropolitan Police Department (DCMPD), which are used in the FBI Uniform Crime Reports. Statistical analysis considered the effect of weather variables, daylight, historical crime trends and annual patterns in the District of Columbia, as well as trends in neighboring cities. Consistent with previous research, levels of homicides, rapes and assaults (HRA crimes) correlated with average weekly temperature. Robberies approximately followed an annually recurring cycle. Time series analysis of 1993 data, controlling for temperature, showed that HRA crimes dropped significantly during the Demonstration Project, corresponding with increases in the size of the group; the maximum decrease was 23.3% (p < 2 × 10−9) [24.6% using a longer baseline, with 1988--1993 data (p < 3 × 10−5)], coincident with the peak number of participants in the group during the final week of the assembly. When the same period in each of the five previous years was examined, no significant decreases in HRA crimes were found. Robberies did not decrease significantly. However, a model that jointly estimated the effect of the Demonstration Project on both HRA crimes and robberies showed a significant reduction in violent crimes overall of 15.6% (p = 0.0008). Further analysis showed that the effect of the coherence-creating group on reducing HRA crimes could not be accounted for by additional police staffing. The time series analysis for HRA crimes gave results that are highly robust to alternative model specifications, and showed that the effect of the group size was cumulative and persisted after the Demonstration Project ended. Also, calculation of the steady state gain based on the time series model predicted that a permanent group of 4,000 coherence-creating experts in the District would have a long-term effect of reducing HRA crimes by 48%.