Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Your Brain on East-Facing Buildings, and open thread

Here are a few images found on the web. These are from an online presentation, "Intro To Maharishi Sthapatya Veda," which is the TM movement's architecture and construction product, promoted by the very same people who attempt to sell Transcendental Meditation as some kind of "scientifically validated" practice.

Despite the reference to "neuro-scientific research" in the second slide, there is zero scientific evidence that indicates that physical orientation has any direct effect on the human brain. Of course, that doesn't stop the promoters of TM from making these sorts of outrageous claims, that aren't even clearly supported by the religious traditions of India. In other words, it appears "Maharishi" and his entourage may have made this stuff up. It's a uniquely megalomaniacal stance, this claim that almost all buildings across the planet should be bulldozed and rebuilt according to their rigid strictures.

The first slide is very similar to a poster I once found taped to the doors of a since-demolished building at the Maharishi University of Management, announcing that certain doors were not to be used. Here's my previous article with a picture of that poster, and more about the 70 million dollar office building that was built near Washington, DC, to comfort those few people who've developed this kind of peculiar phobia about the orientation and design of buildings. Or as a peculiar gimmick to sell the building to renters - funny, that trick doesn't seem to have worked, at last glance the building still sits mostly empty.

The TM-Free News Brief is on hiatus this week.

If you don't see an "add your comment" link below, click on the article title to see the comments. Disqus seems to have broken something this morning. It's fixed.


John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

25 Years ago I visited India it was back in the 80ies at that time one still feldt the past of the British colonial era, I had trouble buying train tickets, post stamps etc. Due to negative feelings against Europeans amongst Indians. I later realised that Mahesh hated Englishmen, and this mayby just nonsens or hot air but west in MSV (West=USA) is negative, and in MSV East (East=India) is very positive and create entlightenment or is this just a plain incidence. I write this because this East-west idea is not absolute. There other Stapata Veda books claiming that West is the correct to exit and entrance and East is a bad way to enter or leave

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

In some places in the US entire cites are laid out on the grid. All they need to do is show that on the side of the street where the houses face due east the income level is higher than those across the street. They specifically predict facing west will lead to poverty or less prosperity, BTW.

The 'research' shows neurons fire according to their orientation. Assume for a moment the unlikely possibility that this is independently verified and further that this phenomenon has anything to do with better brain function or health, what does this have to do with the orientation of your FRONT DOOR, which is the main tenet of their version of Stapatya Veda?

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

On TTCs, people faced Mahesh, so, even if he faced east, they faced west, so everything was totally out of sync. If the "trainees" faced east, then Mahesh was facing west, so he obviously was not functioning properly.

Mahesh's gimmickry might have sold a few people on the woo-woo mysterious, but, beyond that, he didn't rise above your borderline mediocre as far as having something interesting to dabble in.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Agree with Darth, seems like the last couple of drugged years for mr mahahesh gave a few glimpses back to the past, and "east is best" was born.
(That opinion has always been the driving force behind TM, that the west got something to learn from the east, like meditation.)

Michael Borden, who also build Fairfield houses, has learned sthapatya veda in India,and answers questions on .
All directions got their value, though room placement according to natures cycles still is a science. ( )

I think MVS is like an analogy of the world, more like a commentary from the anti-colonial voices and times in India. (acutally many indians when I was in India said they liked nazi germany because they bombed england.....thats how far out it gets sometimes).

That we should face our head in a specific direction, intellectually and dogmatic think of this, is ridicilous ! It only fits with the analogy of learning from the East, from asia, from India.
And essentially meditate to find ourself, to listen to ourself, which I basically agree with.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

I wonder how well ones neurons fire when one is face down in a drunke stupor?

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

I'd love to see the TM movement's gold-leafed pastel-colored illustration for THAT!

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

As others have pointed out, these things that the TMO pushes as alleged scientific theories - including the value of east-facing buildings of their design - do not "pass minimal criteria of meaningfulness and logical integrity" (Fales and Markovsky). Again, they apparently see the vagueness of their claims as a virtue, and the relationship between brain orientation and door orientation is just not a factor that the faithful need to consider. The only thing that seems to matter is that if "Maharishi" approved it (if not "discovered" it or made it up out of thin air), therefore it must be valid. This is, of course, not science, but is indicative of the ridiculousness of every allegedly "scientific" claim that the TMO makes; TMO products are based on "Vedic" scripture which does not change and cannot be changed through scientific research.

The TMO's stance toward science only sees the scientific method as a means of gaining secular approval and thus marketability. Researchers working on TMO-approved research cannot consider anything else, as that would be "test[ing] something other than what they're supposed to test."

Some people relax or rest during TM and find that beneficial? Maybe that's of scientific interest. TM leads to "enlightenment" and supernormal capabilities including this widely touted "invincibility" to nations? That kind of claim, along with the ridiculous claims made for all the rest of the movement's products, rituals and fetishes, is too vague to even be scientifically tested.

As one data point, it seems the TMO's experience in buying, renovating and selling one of the few exactly east-facing buildings in Lower Manhattan was a real bust. But I doubt any of the dead-ending true-believers around and in the movement would ever see it that way, and would no doubt figure out how to blame everybody else other than the movement's fundamental beliefs and management.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

I spent an afternoon checking the "east is best" research and I'm surprised the TMO had the nerve to claim that it's evidence of any of their bizarre claims.

The papers are in the Journal of Neurscience and I follwed a link from a TM shtapatya ved site. There are 8 research papers on brain direction affecting neuron firing but they are all to do with how rats find there way around familiar surroundings in the dark. Nothing to do with compass points at all! The claim that the brain works differently when facing different directions is true but only in the sense that when a part of the cortex faces one direction a neuron fires to act as a memory trigger for where the rat is. No mention that when it's facing east the whole thing works better. There isn't any difference at all.

The TMO must not care about its scientific credibility very much to extrapolate a valdiation of sthapatya veda from this. I know people who wont go into your house if it faces south. A little knowledge can be a dangerous thing.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Thank you, Krishna, for not only stating the obvious (that The TMO must not care about its scientific credibility very much to extrapolate a validation of sthapatya veda from this.), but for your very informative material regarding neuronal firing.

The TMO can only care about one thing, surviving. The moronic and desperate attempts it so blatantly exhibits speak only to this: money and the gasping of a dying organization.

Maheshism and the TMO might have had a chance at survival had there been any effort to understand the reality of what they had and then proceeded on that basis.

Instead they took the snake-oil salesman approach.

Whilst the TMO's approach is undoubtedly colourful, it is also a feckless waste of what might have been.

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