William M. Briggs

Statistician to the Stars!

The MIT Dahn Yoga Brain Respiration Experiment: Part V

NOW

I lost track of Sung, and had not given much thought to Dahn Yoga or KIBS in a long time. But my memory was jogged when I finally saw somebody in the window of a Dahn Yoga center, which is on my route to the dreaded F train (the center is on the second floor on the southwest corner of 66th and 3rd in Manhattan).

I did a search and found this video, which shows Dr Sung Won Lee in a conference sponsored by KIBS, held this past summer at the United Nations.

More on that conference can be found here.

Sung uses a lot of words, but says little other than that strong emotions can sometimes cause difficulties, something we have known since the men of Sumner first drank the byproducts of moistened barely. Intriguingly, he mentions that a later speaker will be Antonio Damasio, a best selling author of The Feeling of What Happens and Descartes’ Error. Damasio is a neurologist whose main interest is in consciousness, and is somewhat well known. This means that Ilchi Lee is still reaching out.

And Dahn Yoga and KIBS is going strong. Is this a good thing?

PRESSURE

I am not, in any way, an expert of cult behavior and so cannot say too much about this. But a quick search reveals stories like this one, not at all atypical. At the very least, Dahn Yoga practitioners like to put the hard sell on people to spend a lot quickly. Many more links are at Lorie Anderson’s site.

This video is typical of what you will find:

As is this video and this one.

The Rick Ross Institute is an “Internet archive of information about cults, destructive cults, controversial groups and movements.” They have a page on various Dahn Yoga activities that I highly recommend perusing.

Cult or no? I don’t know, but none of the evidence points to Dahn Yoga being an entirely benign organization.

I worry very much about the kids back in Korea who are undergoing “training” in brain respiration/education methods.

OPEN MIND

I am often told by proponents of psychic powers that “I should keep an open mind.” That if my mind was “closed” I would never be able to appreciate what they could.

I agree.

An open mind is important. This is why I design and conduct tests like the KIBS kids test. I will not dismiss somebody’s claims out of hand. If the KIBS kids test would have been a success, I would have been willing to believe that the theory behind brain respiration, now “brain education”, had validity. But the test did not work, and so, rationally, I conclude that brain respiration is yet another failed theory, that it is invalid.

I now ask those who believe in Ilchi Lee to have an open mind. To prove you have it, answer this question: What evidence will convince you that brain respiration/education is false?

To people who believe in ESP, I ask the same thing: What evidence will convince you that ESP is false?

To people who believe in any controversial theory in which the only evidence for or against it is observational: What evidence will convince you that it is false?

If you find you cannot or do not want to answer this question, then it’s your mind that is closed, it is you that is unwilling to face the truth, it is you that is stuck in old ways of thinking.

I have never yet met a True Believer who gave me an answer.

Part I, II, III, IV, V

14 Comments

  1. Thanks for this group of posts. I took me on a stroll through past experiences related to other groups with a simalar frame work.
    By the way the answer is yes and no. There is anecdotal evidence that these phenomena exist and no factual evidence that they do not. IMO neither theory has been falsified. So I give equal weight to each and wiegh each incident on its merits or demerits.

  2. Extremely interesting posts, but did you forget this question?

    To people who believe in catastrophic AGW, I ask the same thing: What evidence will convince you that catastrophic AGW is false?

    Mike Davis: But you won’t be paying any money to sighn up for Brain Respiration, right?

  3. People just want to be saved from themselves. And lo and behold, there are always people who are willing to do just that, given that you pay them with your and your family’s money really good.

    The secret of success is to do just this but softly. Without having too many people noticing the “hard sell”. If you are seriously successful, you’ll even end up “making” an organization that demands nothing in return that you don’t want to give and let social pressures do the rest.

    Then, call it a “Church”.

  4. Briggs, thank you for sharing this captivating story. I love to read people’s life experience. To me, sharing one’s experience is a practice of generosity. Good Job, (says Hancock ).

  5. You might enjoy reading some of Susan Blackmore’s writings on this subject. She attempted for a long time to do serious scientific research in parapsychology, got only negative results, and changed fields in frustration. See for example “The Elusive Open Mind – Ten Years of Negative Research in Parapsychology” http://www.susanblackmore.co.uk/Articles/si87.html

    ../JJD

  6. jae:
    I have always found more interesting things to waste my money on. As far as Extra sensory or hieghtened sensory perseption is concerned. Think of these facts. Sight is one of the senses if a person has better visiion than average would that not be called ESP or HSP? If a person has better hearing or smell would those gifts not be considered likewise? As perseption deals with ones ability to see, hear, smell, taste, or feel and any combination of these for input from our enviorment. I could say that my dog has ESP/HSP due to the ability to hear and smell far better than humans. People have mistakenly talked about a sixth sence which does not exist due to when they try to describe that mysterious sixth sense they are describing one of the five as being heightened.

  7. I got to the point in Dr. Lee’s video where he talked about the need to train our brains to recognize signal and ignore noise, and so I took his advice and stopped his video.

  8. The dirty little secret is that the Big Money is in sensory numbification, not heightening. Scuse me while I crack open another six-pack.

  9. Thanks for this series. It demonstrates well the initial charm or even amusement of pseudoscience and the subsequent emergence of distasteful or even sinister sequelae. Great post….

  10. Susan Blackmore is very interesting. She has written a fascinating autobiography. the piece IID quotes was written some 20 years ago. A more recent account of her views and experiences can be found at

    http://www.susanblackmore.co.uk/Chapters/Kurtz.htm

    And her website, http://www.susanblackmore.co.uk, is well worth a visit.

  11. jae
    There is an interesting parallel on Climate Audit http://www.climateaudit.org/?p=4811#comments particularly Roger Pielke Jnr’s comments in the Yulsman’s Q & A.

  12. Comes to mind certain climate scientists refusal to tell what future weather would invalidate their models…

  13. I attended the experiment at MIT in 2004 as a practicing member of Dahn Yoga in Boston. This is a group that people should stay far, far away from. The negative things I can say (and prove) about the group can be found elsewhere on the internet by other authors with the same experiences and thus don’t need to be repeated here.
    A huge problem with the group that often goes unmentioned though is the willingness to completely suspend rational thought, as you have clearly demonstrated through your experiences with Dr. S. Lee (with whom I worked to promote this experiment and downplay the result). I regret the amount of time I wasted with this organization, and I really appreciate hearing your side of the experiment. It validates a lot of thoughts I’ve had since distancing myself from Dahn.

  14. I live round the corner from a Dahn center and, as it was so convenient and i’d been planning to do something healthy for the new year, I decided to check it out. I paid $20 for a trial session and energy check (should have been $29, but it was all the cash I had on me and they were ok with that). The yoga exercise felt like it was doing me good, but the energy check part was a very strange experience. I was taken into a small, dark room and was prodded rather severely from head to toe, followed by a very vigorous intestinal massage. The outcome was that I had ‘energy blockages’ due to holding in emotions, and that I needed to release them. In the end I was shown a range of membership programs costing several thousand dollars. I said I was not in a position to sign up for a full program as my job meant I travelled round a lot. So we agreed agreed on 10 sessions for $180, which I felt was OK. As I was about to pay for that, the guy then sprung another $70 on me as a ‘registration fee’, inc white outfit and Ilchi Lee’s Brainwave Vibration book. I wasnt too happy about that, but rationalised that at least it would save me spending the same at a store on expensive yoga kit. I was a little taken aback by the intense hugs I received as I left but brushed that off, and generally felt pleased I had done something positive for myself.

    This week I had the first of my 10 sessions. I changed into my suit and felt a little nervous as my previous experience had been so weird, but i was determined to keep an open mind. We certainly got off to an odd start when we kicked off with hitting ourselves in the abdomen with our fists to the count of 300. The idea was to warm up our energy centres. After that the yoga part started and that was fine – it felt like good exercise. The instructor was kind and encouraging when I found some of the stretches difficult. I found the calling out of Korean words during the sessions strange, but I kind of ignored that. After the session we sat in a circle and had tea and shared our experiences. The instructor talked about some of the workshops that were coming up.

    The people seemed sweet, but probably not the sort of people I would normally go for a beer or cocktail with. The leader asked me about work, gave me a calendar, and gave me another strange hug as I left. I didnt feel like I was being sold anything more this time though.

    It wasnt until after this first session that I thought I would google this kind of yoga, so I was fascinated to see all the ‘cult’ stories. I had already told myself I was going for the exercise and the convenient location and that I would plan to ignore the more quirky stuff. Now after reading all these stories my curiosity is really roused, and I look forward to the next 9 sessions with interest!

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