If there’s one thing (modern western American whatever) Buddhists love is to make the claim that not only is Buddhism freakin’ awesome but we’ve got the science to prove it. Here, let us show you these monks with electrodes taped to their heads; let’s conveniently ignore two millennia of ghost stories and karma theory because we’re uncomfortable with stuff that isn’t readily explained by science; and, here, check this out chanting the divine syllable makes you a better person, and we’ve got the science to prove it!
Of course, we don’t really.
The good folks over at Language Log, always on the look-out for not only poorly conducted scientific research but also poorly conducted reporting on scientific research, point out that this particular claim isn’t supported by science at all. Rather, the researchers recording om-chanters chanting om and then looked at some pretty pictures to conclude that these om chanters are really relaxed and mindful.
I’m all for the happy marriage of science and Buddhism (or science and religion more generally), provided of course that it’s good science.