Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.
If you live in the Bay Area, as I do, it's almost compulsory to believe in the meditative arts.
You sit quietly. You ponder. And then you're at the peak of your passive-aggressive powers.
At least, that's what I've noticed over the years.
Still, the power of meditation has seemed like a given the world over.
However, a new study offers a radiant Um? to the power of Om.
Performed by researchers from the UK and New Zealand and entitled The Limited Prosocial Effects of Meditation, the study questions many of the received wisdoms of meditation.
Claims made for it have been transcendental.
It's supposed to dampen our violent tendencies and make us more connected and compassionate.
The researchers, however, went through thousands of studies to see how they were performed.
They found that almost half the studies were at least co-authored by a meditation teacher.
Indeed, the more they delved, the more skeptical they became.
Meditation interventions had an effect on compassion and empathy, but not on aggression, connectedness or prejudice. We further found that compassion levels only increased under two conditions: when the teacher in the meditation intervention was a co-author in the published study; and when the study employed a passive (waiting list) control group but not an active one.
Here's something more to meditate on from the researchers:
The media portrayal of meditation as a cure for a range of mental health problems or to improve well-being is very likely to feedback into participants.
They say that they're not trying to suggest that Buddhism or other religions make unfounded claims.
They're more concerned about the scientific support for such claims:
The adaptation of spiritual practices into the lab suffers from methodological weaknesses and is partly immersed in theoretical mist.
Of course, humanity seems permanently mired in theoretical mist.
We strive for peace and we keep creating conflict.
We want to be pleasant and loving and, too often, are slightly nasty pieces of work.
If meditation gives us something, what possible harm can there be?
Let's meditate on that.