This from another thread...
My stepfather knew I was into Buddhism so he thought to buy me a Buddhist book. He got ‘The Buddha Pill’, a scientific debunking of meditation and mindfulness, about the closest you will find to an anti-Buddhist book! Thanks step-dad, looking forward to reading all the scientific arguments about why not to meditate.
So I have just finished reading it, and thought I would give you a bit of a write-up, for the sake of completeness. It was written by Dr Miguel Farias and Dr Catherine Wikholm, both UK-based psychologists, and bills itself as “putting meditation and mindfulness under the microscope.” It also describes their latest study, about the effects of yoga on prisoners.
A lot of the writing in the book is a series of anecdotes, talking about the history of yoga and meditation amongst the UK prison service and worldwide. There is also a chapter on whether meditation is for everyone, talking about some negative cases such as the American Buddhist mass shooter Aaron Alexis, various people who have been negatively affected by intensive meditation retreats and ended up having psychosis.
There are also various sections where it talks about the two main waves of scientific research into meditation, first with Transcendental Meditation in the 1970’s through 1990’s, and then later mindfulness. They are generally critical of the design of the studies, talking about how very few of them developed a placebo, an activity for the control group in the experiments to do to mimic all the stuff around meditation, so that scientists can be sure the effect is caused by meditation itself.
In the end they talk about a take-away message, of a number of myths around meditation... these...
For each point they provide a page of ‘factual corrections’ which tell you why it’s not the case.
I thought in the end it was a useful addition to the debate around the scientific backing for meditation. There’s nothing wrong with taking a critical look at things, and it’s true that expectations of meditation’s effects are sometimes unrealistic.
Wishing you all the best,