Only 47 high-quality studies on meditation.

24 Dec

I practice meditation everyday, so I have a bias in favor of the practice. However, the point of science is to control for our biases. We have been told that the evidence for meditation is overwhelming, but how good is the evidence? To its credit, the Buddhist magazine Tricycle discusses a recent meta-analysis of research on meditation and the results are sobering:

“only 47 out of over 18,000 studies had them, which is pretty telling: it suggests that there are fewer than 50 high-quality studies on meditation”

In the article, scientist Willoughby Britton offers some perspective:

“With any new discovery, there is usually some initial craze before it gets too popular, and then there is a backlash. A lot of things that were overhyped get torn down. And whatever is really legitimately true is left standing in the end. So I think we are at the peak of this first phase. There have already been a couple rounds of criticism.”

Science is good for meditation. Not all claims on its behalf will turn out to be true, but that’s OK. In the long run, we are better off having a nuanced rational understanding of our practice.

One Response to “Only 47 high-quality studies on meditation.”

  1. locksleyu December 24, 2014 at 1:50 pm #

    For a long time I have always been a big proponent of meditation and feel like I have frequently read about studies that show about meditation’s many benefits. So I’m really surprised that the studies that showed good results were so few, and such a small percentage of the total studies done in this area.

    Like many other things, I think meditation has the most benefits when it’s done properly, and that is harder to test unless you have a big sample of people who are experts (like those who meditate daily).

    Anyway, will have to continue looking for high quality studies in the area while keeping an open mind.

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