• Taking Sam Harris to task


    I love Sam Harris, but I cringe every time he says something about Buddhism, meditation, or that feudal dictator known as the Dalai Lama.

    Going through his blog, I ran into two guided meditations Harris posted, along with this:

    There is nothing spooky or irrational about mindfulness, and the literature on its psychological benefits is now substantial.


    Developing this quality of mind has been shown to reduce pain, anxiety, and depression; improve cognitive function; and even produce changes in gray matter density in regions of the brain related to learning and memory, emotional regulation, and self-awareness.

    Wow, that sounds a lot like… quackery.

    Despite Harris saying there’s “substantial (scientific) literature”, and that these effects “have been shown”, he fails to link to a single peer-reviewed paper, published by a magazine with extensive background to support his claims. I know he says he’ll cover all the science (!) on his book, but a single link wouldn’t kill him, right?

    And then it comes the “changes in gray matter density in regions of the brain” claim. As far as I know, what have been linked to meditation is having thicker cortical areas, but those studies fail to define meditation in an objectively measurable way, and they established a correlation; and as we all know, correlation doesn’t imply causation.

    By the way, we know for fact, with peer-reviewed papers, that meditation is dangerous. I hope I am misunderstanding Harris and he will provide evidence for his claims.

    Category: Uncategorized


    Article by: Ðavid A. Osorio S

    Skeptic | Blogger | Fact-checker