November 7th 2014, I had the pleasure of attending Dr. Karim’s talk about his latest album The Sirius Odyssey. No, Dr. Karim is not a Dr. of Hip Hop, like Dr. Dre or even a musician, but a D. Sc in Tourist Planning, the founder of BioGeometry and now newly established composer! I don’t know about you, but I was set for a chaotic ride up, down, and through the curves of the 8th dimensional WuWu roller coaster.
We’ll start with my favorite anecdote by the spiritual community that Dr. Karim enthusiastically summarized: Dr. Emoto’s water experiments. In this study a petri dish with water was assigned one of 2 conditions: good or bad. The “good” water condition was praised, while “bad” water condition was scolded. Amazing results appeared! It seemed that water that was in a “good” condition, when frozen, turned into beautiful crystalline structures, while the water in the “bad” condition, when frozen, crystallized into ugly cancer like tumors. ICK! If only it were repeatable… Dr. Tiller from Standford University, who was featured in What the Bleep Do We Know which popularized these experiments, wrote In Scientific Visions that, “Dr. Emoto’s experiments was neither controlled nor measured, a necessary requirement to be fulfilled if one wanted to prove that it was the new factor of specific human intention that was causative.” Searching the internet you will find many scientists debunking Dr. Emoto’s “scientific” studies. You will also find people, such as Carrie Poppy, on the internet who tried to reproduce his results with zero luck (cause that’s exactly what anyone would need). Repeatability: A necessary evil in the spiritual community when something magical needs a basis in reality.
Why am I saying all this? Dr. Karim praised Dr. Emoto’s experiments and posited that his music will have similar results. This was the first dip on the WuWu roller coaster. “Did Dr. Karim not do his research,” I thought. Does he just believe because you have to have faith? He proclaimed himself a scientist and so does the Vesica website! I’m so confused, LORD HELP ME!
Then it came. Dr, Karim exclaimed, “We did brain tests with the music.” I rejoiced! He showed us a picture of a man hooked up to an electroencephalography machine. I was impressed. This man is surely a scientist! I could feel the car on the roller coaster climbing up a steep slope, all the harsh discorded metal clanking as we climbed higher and higher. “You see we did these tests,” he said assuredly, “we hooked up a person and did not play the music then we played the music. Then we shut off the music and then played the music. As you can see from the picture there was a difference, a significant difference, we sent it to a lab.”
We had reached the summit and it was a vertical drop. It took all the will power in my body not to stand up and say, “That proves nothing, except your music does something to the brain. GUESS WHAT!? ALL MUSIC DOES THAT.” The audience was impressed though. “WHY!!!,” I snarled in my head. For this to have been an effective study, he would have had to demonstrate that the effects of his music on the brain were significantly different from both no music at all, AND another genre or two of music. For example Cradle of Filth & Snatam Kaur would have had to produce different results. He also could have induced stress into the subject by using a basic stroop test and use his “no music, then music” design to demonstrate its ability to reduce tension. Any undergraduate student who paid attention in experimental psychology class could have fixed this study from supporting a conclusion that read, “Yes, music has an effect on the brain,” to “Yes, The Sirius Odyssey has a significant effect on the brain beyond that of a variety of other musics,” or “Yes, The Sirius Odyssey has a significant effect on the brain, beyond that of a variety of other musics and evidence supports its ability to reduce tension beyond that of a variety of other musics.” Now that science baby!
In the beginning, he said he doesn’t make any medical claims, but he does claim that this music combined with the series of BioGeometric patterns will fix your, “bad stomach,” or “cure your depression.” To know whether listening to The Sirius Odyssey while dancing around creating biogeometric patterns with your hands has a better or worse effect on your brain than listening to Depeche Mode would, is critical! Personally, I feel fantastic dancing around to Personal Jesus, without placing my hands in a prayer position and drawing the patterns shown in the picture below.
It’s not that I don’t like Dr. Karim. I don’t know the man. He seemed very jovial and excited. I would probably be too if 200 people came to see me talk at $15.00 a pop and were buying my merchandise. But that aside, I believe he really wants to help people, and that I applaud. However, to make scientific claims like his weakens the idea of what scientific research represents: Testability, repeatability with logical causal inference. Furthermore, it continues to add to the many, poorly designed, far fetched conclusions other spiritual “scientists” have made. The WuWu Roller coaster stopped around 9:00 PM, where I safely dismounted the car unaffected, and curled up at home shortly after with Cook, Campbell & Shadish’s Experimental and Quasi-Experiment Design for Generalized Causal Inference book.
I pride myself on not being an internet troll per say. If a member of Dr. Karim’s staff happens to read this, I would happily donate 5 hours of my time to assuring his next experiment could claim causal inference. Furthermore, if there is more to this study please release it to the public so it can be repeated. 🙂
William A. Tiller, What the BLEEP Do We Know!?: A Personal Perspective
A Grain of Truth: Recreating Dr. Emoto’s Rice Experiment
Personal Witness to: A Special Evening with Ibrahim Karim, Ph.D. The Ancient Egyptian Sirius Odyssey: A Journey into Spirit and Sound.