Along with quantum pseudoscience, there’s another topic I wish I’d covered in more depth in The Maharishi Effect. That’s the role of women in the Transcendental Meditation movement. Fortunately, I got a second chance thanks to the monthly newsletter Women In Higher Education. My article “Maharishi: ‘Delicate Nervous Systems’ Prevent Equity” appears in the March issue. You can check out the WIHE web site here.
To date, over 2,000 people have downloaded my “Quantum Failure” essay. The response has been overwhelmingly positive, although a couple of readers have questioned one aspect of the fictional “Law of Quantum Failure.”
If you’ve read the essay, you may recall my assertion that Quantum Failure applies to believers across the ideological spectrum. The essay was mainly about those who promote new age beliefs—meditating for world peace and such—who I characterize as the “left wing occult.” I mentioned a “right wing occult” in passing, implying that the Law of Quantum Failure would apply to conservatives and neocons as well as new agers and counterculture types. I left the matter hanging there, which prompted one fellow to write:
“It’s not clear how the principle of ‘Quantum Failure’ applies to the neo-cons. They have tried to build their own reality and it’s had bad consequences. But I don’t think they have realized the goals of their enemies.”
This is a fair criticism, which I’ve addressed in a new essay. The title is “Republican Occultism and the Law of Quantum Failure.” It’s available here as a PDF file.
This morning I taped a brief interview for “Last Word,” a weekly program of obituaries on the BBC. The show will air tomorrow, Friday the 8th, on BBC Radio 4 at 16:00 GMT. They repeat the program on Sunday at 20:30 GMT and they have an audio archive of past shows. The Last Word home page is here.
By the way, I think the idea of a weekly obit show is great. Does anyone know if there’s something like that in the US?
Tomorrow I’ll be appearing on On Point with Tom Ashbrook, a news and current events program broadcast nationally over NPR. They’re devoting one hour of the program to discussing the life and legacy of Maharishi. The show originates on WBUR in Boston, where it airs from 10:00 AM to noon ET. I’ll be appearing during the second hour of the show. You can find a list of affiliate stations and air times for your area here. The On Point home page is here.
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, founder of the Transcendental Meditation movement, died this afternoon at his home in Vlodrop, Netherlands. Believed to be in his early nineties, Maharishi formally resigned as the head of his organization last month. The cause of death is currently unknown.
Maharishi was a major influence in a lot of lives. It will be a time of loss and grieving for many. Peace to them and to us all.
If you missed the interview I did on “To the Best of Our Knowledge,” you can hear it online at:
Click the “Listen” button to hear the show. Note that the audio is in streaming RealMedia format, which may not be compatible with your software. If your media player doesn’t handle the audio, you can download RealPlayer from www.real.com. I personally use the VLC media player available at www.videolan.org.
I’ll be discussing “The Maharishi Effect” on “To the Best of Our Knowledge,” a program that airs nationally on the NPR, PRI and XM satellite radio networks. Dates and times vary by station, but most listeners will hear the program on Sunday, December 30th. Click here to see a program schedule and here for a list of stations and air times. I’m the third author interviewed in the first hour of the show, after Satish Kumar and A.J. Jacobs but before Philip Roth.
I’m really pleased with this interview. Of all the media appearances I did to support my book, this was the best by far.
One of the unexpected joys of managing a web site is monitoring the traffic that comes in through search engines like Google. The web host software gives me a list of the search terms that people use to find my site. Usually, it’s just some variation of my name and the title of my book. Sometimes, though, the search engines cough up comedy bits or Zen koans. I’ve had people searching for “Volvo” and “Paxil,” neither of which have anything to do with my site. One person was looking for “Maharishi bullshit.” A couple of days after I posted my “Quantum Failure” essay, somebody got to my site by searching for “double slit mysticism.” Money can’t buy stuff that good.
The Maharishi Effect has been out for a little over a year. By now, I’ve had plenty of time to think of all the things I would have done differently. If I had it all to do over again, I’d beef up the scientific material, particularly the sections where I discuss how quantum physics gets filtered through pop culture. I’d also like to say more about the new age belief that “you create your own reality” and the effects it has on believers and the culture as a whole.
I put my current thoughts on these subjects into an essay called “Quantum Consciousness, Quantum Miracles, Quantum Failure.” It’s available here as a PDF file.
Comments welcome, of course.
I’m going to be one of the talking heads in a new TV documentary about Maharishi and Transcendental Meditation. The program is “Maharishi Mahesh Yogi: A Biography,” produced by ITN Factual of London for the Arts & Entertainment network. The program premieres on the History Channel International on Wednesday, November 28, at 8:00 AM and 2:00 PM Eastern. Click here to see the HCI web page with the schedule for the air date.
I assume that the show will go into rotation after that. Also, I’ve been told that the program will air on the Biography Channel at some point.
If you’d like, feel free to discuss the show in comments to this post.