Defusing Acute Societal Stress and Associated Conflict

On June 14, 2017 I presented the following PowerPoint at the conference on Science and Peace: Proven Solutions to Violence and Global Conflict, held in Kiev, Ukraine. The conference was hosted by the Global Union of Scientists for Peace (GUSP).

By David Orme-Johnson


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GUSP Ukraine Peace Summit Audience

GUSP Ukraine Peace Summit Audience

David speaking at GUSP Ukraine Peace Summit

David speaking at GUSP Ukraine Peace Summit

David Orme-Johnson, PhD and Howard Chancellor, PhD

David Orme-Johnson, PhD and Howard Chancellor, PhD

Today I will be presenting an overview of some of the key studies on the Brain-Based Approach to creating peace. I won’t have time to go into the technical details of each study, but, for those interested, we have the original research papers for you and I will be available during the conference to go over them with those interested. I hope we can accomplish that during this conference.


Research has shown that social stress from economic stresses, family stressors, and other stressors increase violent crime, diseases of all kinds, alcoholism, and drug abuse, to give just a few examples.


The Brain-Based Approach to Peace restores balanced neurological functioning to the individual and society through the widespread application of the Transcendental Meditation technique. I will be presenting evidence how that has been accomplished.


There have been 600 studies showing that a particular form of meditation (the Transcendental Meditation and related advanced techniques) reduces individual stress and increases brain coherence. Moreover, more than 50 scientific replications show that groups practicing this technology improve the quality of life in the larger society, including reducing violent crime, war intensity, and war deaths.


Research Hypothesis. Our research hypothesis is that 1. group practice of the Transcendental Meditation and TM-Sidhi program by the √1% of a population will have measureable effects on improving objective social indicators, and 2. those effects will be holistic, improving many diverse social indicators at a time, supporting the view that the effect operates from the level of the unified field of natural law.


D.C. Demonstration Project: A two-month study. From June 7 to July 30, 1993, a critical demonstration of the effectiveness of this technology was experimentally tested on its ability to reduce violent crime and increase governmental effectiveness in Washington, D.C. You may have heard of this place. At the time, Washington had one of the highest levels of violent crime of any city in the world, providing a highly stressed collective consciousness for government to work in. In advance of the project, a research protocol was developed by an independent Project Review Board working with scientists of the Institute of Science, Technology and Public Policy of Maharishi International University.(1) The protocol predicted decreased crime and specified time series methods, control variables, and specific statistical criteria of success for evaluating the project.(2)


The dotted line represents a mathematical model of violent crime. You can see that before the Demonstration Period (blue area) it predicted actual crime shown by the black line very well. However, during the Demonstration Period crime actually decreased 23.3% below the predicted level. Something new and different happened during the Demonstration Period that could not be predicted by the past history of violent crime, cycles and trends in crime data, recent crime trends, or annual seasonal patterns. Statistical analysis also controlled weather variables, daylight hours, and changes in police staffing. The only exogenous variable that predicted crime levels was temperature (violent crime is higher on hot days), which was explicitly controlled for in the analysis.


D.C. Demonstration Project (cont.). This chart shows that as the size of the TM and TM-Sidhi group increased, shown by the green line, violent crime decreased, shown by the gold line. The reduction in violent crime is particularly evident after week 4 when the size of the group greatly increased. The correlation was r = -.76, which is a relatively strong negative correlation.


The D.C. Demonstration Project also improved the quality of life of the people living in Washington, as indicated by fewer psychiatric emergency room calls, and reduced complaints against the police, as well as trauma cases, and accidental deaths. It also had an effect on the entire population of the US, as indicated by the improved approval rating of President Clinton, and as indicated by increased bipartisan cooperation in the Congress in both the Senate and the House.


Interestingly, the effect size on the nation as a whole was twice as strong as the effect on the local population, something we have seen in several studies. This indicates that group practice of the TM and TM-Sidhi program has a stronger effect on individuals acting on behalf national interests than when they are acting on behalf of their own personal interests.


These results confirmed both hypotheses: that the meditating groups have an effect on objective social indictors and that the effect is holistic, supporting the view that it organizes society from the level of the unified field of natural law. We were happy about that!


Invincible America Assembly (8-Year study on the National Level). Next up are the results of a remarkable series of four peer-reviewed articles published in 2016 and 2017 3-6 by Dr. Michael Dillbeck and Dr. Ken Cavanaugh on the effects the group practice of the Transcendental Meditation and TM-Sidhi program on multiple social indicators for the United States.


Here are the Golden Dome meditation halls at Maharishi University of Management in Fairfield Iowa, and twice daily group meditation inside the domes.


The red line shows that the number of meditators in the Domes was low during the baseline period and increased to near or above the √1% of the US population, which is predicted to be enough to create coherence in the entire country during the Experimental Period (1725 participants, shown by the dotted blue line). Did the quality of life in the US improve during the Experimental Period?


Yes! The murder rate in cities decreased by 28.4%, 4,136 fewer murders. Similarly, drug-related deaths decreased by 30.4%, 26,425 fatalities averted.


In addition, motor vehicle fatalities, violent crime (homicides, aggravated assault, robbery and rape), fatalities due to other accidents, and infant mortality all decreased. In all, 55,009 deaths and 186,774 fewer violent crimes were averted during the experimental period.

Note on Temperature and Violent Crime. The large fluctuations seen in Homicides and Violent Crime are due to more violence during hot months (peaks in Julys) and less during cold months (lowest crime in Januarys). (AyurVeda, explains this is due to pitta aggravation of the physiology). This relationship of more violent crime with increasing temperature predicts that rising global temperatures due to climate change will results in increased violence worldwide. The groups of TM and TM-Sidhi participants decreased violent crime at all temperature levels, suggesting that a group for the whole world population would help mitigate the effects of rising temperature on increasing violence. However, we certainly must reduce carbon emissions for numerous other reasons as well, as Dr. Pauchauri and other pointed out in this conference.(7)


Post Experimental Period: 17 year study. The Experiment Period of the IAA studies ended after 2010, and after that, the size of the group of TM and TM-Sidhi participants decreased dramatically, due to loss of funding. What happened to the quality of life in the U.S. when the size of the group decreased?


Murder rate increased again by 18.3%, an increase of an estimated 3,142 murders from 2012 to 2016, returning to previous levels.


Studies in Conflict Areas of the World.

World Peace Project. In October through December 1978 Maharishi sent over a thousand experienced experts in the Brain-Based Technology to the world’s five major trouble-spot areas, located in Central America, principally in Nicaragua; the Middle East, with two separate foci in Lebanon and Iran; Southeast Asia, primarily Kampuchea (formerly Cambodia); and Southern Africa, especially Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). The project was evaluated using the world’s largest independent data source on international conflicts, the Conflict and Peace Data Bank file of the University of Maryland. There was a significant proportional decrease of hostile acts and increase of cooperative events in domestic affairs and international relations during the World Peace Project compared with the preceding baseline (p < 0.0001, based on Chi squared contingency table analysis.(8)


World-wide there was a significant shift towards reduced hostile acts, less verbal hostility, and increased cooperative acts during the world peace project.


Dangerous. Going into conflict areas proved dangerous. In both Nicaragua and Iran our groups were threatened and had to leave. After that, Maharishi’s policy was to create groups in one safe place and have an effect on conflict from a distance. One such project was in located Israel in 1983 in order to have an effect on quelling the war in Lebanon.

International Peace Project in the Middle East.
This was a prospective experiment. All the variables were measured by publicly available data, and a list of the variables used in the study was posited prior to the experiment with an outside Project Review Board. This chart shows that the Overall Composite index of war intensity, crime, auto accidents, fires, stock market prices, and national mood closely tracked the size of the group. Increased group size led to a higher quality of life, indicating that a unified influence across all variables was being created by the group.


War Intensity. This chart shows that when the size of the TM and TM-Sidhi group in Israel increased, war intensity (and war deaths) in Lebanon decreased. When the group decreased in size, war increased.

Controls. The study showed that the effects of high religious holidays, temperature, weekends, and other forms of seasonality, as well as important political and military events at the time could not explain the results.(9,10) Cross-correlations and transfer function analyses showed that changes in the size of the Maharishi Technology of the Unified Field (MTUF) group were followed in time by changes in social indicators and not vice versa, supporting the interpretation that the meditation group was causing the changes in society.(11,12)


Replications of reduced war in Lebanon
The results of reduced war in Lebanon during the International Peace Project in the Middle East were subsequently replicated in seven consecutive experiments over a two-year period during the peak of the Lebanon war. The results of these interventions included:
war-related fatalities decreased by 71% (p < 10-10); war-related injuries fell by 68% (p < 10-6); the level of conflict dropped by 48% (p < 108); cooperation among antagonists increased by 66% (p < 10-6).
The likelihood that these combined results were due to chance is less than one part in 1019, making this effect of reducing societal stress and conflict the most rigorously established phenomenon in the history of the social sciences.


√1% World Population = 8,000. On three occasions during 1981 to 1985, 8,000 groups were formed, ranging in length from 8 to 21 days.


International conflict decreased on each occasion, by 36%, 24%, and 35%, based on three time series analyses generated from blind rating of news events in major international newspapers (New York Times for two assemblies, London Times for one), using a standard methodology for scoring international conflict events.(13)


Decreased global Terrorism. A second variable was casualties and injuries due to international terrorism from the Rand Corporation data bank for 1983 to 1985, which showed a 72% reduction in terrorism. In addition, Capital International’s world index of stock prices was also obtained daily from mid-1983 to mid-1985 as a measure of global short-term economic confidence. It showed a small but significant increase in the world stock index during the three assemblies taken together. Control analyses conducted for previous years indicated that these results could not reasonably be attributed to year-end effects, the time of two of the assemblies.(13) As with previous studies, both the hypothesis were supported: 1) groups practicing the TM and TM-Sidhi techniques have a measurable effect on objective indicators and 2) the effect is global, which suggests that it organizes society from the unified field level of natural law.


This approach has the support of the top academic and scientific leaders in the field of conflict management


This is a play on General George Patton’s famous statement that “Compared to war all other forms of human endeavor shrink to insignificance.”


At the end of the first day of the conference we took a celebratory dinner cruise on beautiful Dnipro River. This was the day when we presented the research on defusing acute societal stress, research on our programs on consciousness-based education around the world, breakthroughs in military science, and case histories where group practice of the TM and TM-Sidhi program had ended civil wars in Mozambique, Colombia, and Ecuador. To the delight of the Summit participants, a glorious double rainbow came out, spanning from the land to our boat. I ran upstairs to the deck and took this picture with my iPhone 7+, set on Panorama mode. The rainbow traditionally symbolizes the covenant between the Total Potential of Natural Law and the earth (Genesis 9:13–17). We took it to mean that we had done well to help bring World Peace. Maybe it means that World Peace is going to start in Ukraine?


A saying from the Vedic tradition of India expresses the universal truth that “The world is my family.” Let us create peace in our family.


1. J. Hagelin. "The Institute of Science, Technology and Public Policy " Maharishi University of Management,
2. J. S. Hagelin, Rainforth M. V., Orme-Johnson D. W., et al. "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, no. 2 (1999): 153-201.
3. M. C. Dillbeck, Cavanaugh K. L. "Societal violence and collective consciousness: Reduction of U.S. homicide and urban violent crime rates." SAGE Open April-June (2016): 1-16.
4. K. L. Cavanaugh, Dillbeck M. C. "The contribution of proposed field effects of consciousness to the prevention of U.S. accidental fatalities: Theory and empirical tests." Journal of Consciousness Studies 24, no. 1-2 (2017): 53–86.
5. K. L. Cavanaugh, Dillbeck M. C. "Field Effects of Consciousness and Reduction in U.S. Urban Murder Rates: Evaluation of a Prospective Quasi-Experiment." Journal of Health and Environmental Research 3, no. 3-1 (2017): 32-43.
6. M. C. Dillbeck, Cavanaugh K. L. "Group Practice of the Transcendental Meditation® and TM-Sidhi® Program and Reductions in Infant Mortality and Drug-Related Death: A Quasi-Experimental Analysis." SAGE Open January-March (2017): 1-15.
7. R. K. Pachauri. "Climate and conflict: Managing the risks of global climate change for social conflict." In Science and Peace: Proven Solutions to Violence and Global Conflict, edited by Hagelin J. Kiev, Urkraine: Global Union of Scientist for Peace (GUSP), 2017.
8. D. W. Orme-Johnson, Dillbeck M. C., Bousquet J. G., Alexander C. N. "The World Peace Project of 1978: An experimental analysis of the application of the Maharishi Technology of the Unified Field in major world trouble spots: Increased harmony in international affairs." In Transcendental Meditation and TM-Sidhi program: Collected papers, Vol. 4 Vlodrop, edited by Chalmers RA, Clements G, Schenkluhn H, Weinless M, 2532-2548. The Netherlands: Maharishi Vedic University Press, 1989.
9. D. W. Orme-Johnson, Oates R. M. "A field-theoretic view of consciousness: Reply to critics." Journal of Scientific Exploration 32, no. 2 (2009): 139-166.
10. D. W. Orme-Johnson. "Factor analysis of social indicators in the Middle East: Effects of cultural, military, political, and climatic events and group practice of the Transcendental Meditation and TM-Sidhi programs." Journal of Maharishi Vedic Research Institute 1, no. 1 (2016).
11. D. W. Orme-Johnson, Alexander C. N., Davies J. L., et al. "International Peace Project: The Effects of the Maharishi Technology of the Unified Field." Journal of Conflict Resolution 32, no. 4 (1988): 776-812.
12. D. W. Orme-Johnson, Alexander C. N., Davies J. L. "The effects of the Maharishi Technology of the Unified Field: Reply to a methodological critique." Journal of Conflict Resolution 34 (1990): 756–768.
13. D. W. Orme-Johnson, Dillbeck M. C., Alexander C. N. "Preventing terrorism and international conflict: Effects of large assemblies of participants in the Transcendental Meditation and TM-Sidhi programs." Journal of Offender Rehabilitation 36 (2003): 283-302.

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