Shakti represents the latest generation of
a technology that has been in use for some years in Lab settings. It's
inventor is a member of Laurentian University Behavioral Neurosciences
group, where nearly 2000 (two thousand) people have experienced neural
stimulation of this kind.
is a page that provides serious academic references for many of the
studies that provide the foundation for this class of technology, and
here is a PubMed listing for Persinger
on Complex magnetic technology.
Dr. Persinger has published more than 300 peer-reviewed academic and
medical papers. In fact, he is one of the most-often-cited authors supporting
skeptical analysis of several themes, including alien abductions, and
life after death. My own credentials from His research group are HERE
In one online forum, a man who we'll call "J.S." wrote that
what he wanted was to 'debunk something that hadn't been debunked yet".
He tried taking on Dr. M.A. Persinger - a researcher with over 350 peer-reviewed
As part of this, he created an anti-Shakti
campaign. He used a few online forums to claim that it's credentials
were faked, that Shakti produced cell-phone-like emissions, and that
Persinger, who was instrumental in the development of the first version
of this technology, is some kind of pseudoscientist.
In fact, Persinger is the first scientist
to find this-worldly explanations for otherworldly experiences. He looked
at several features of temporal lobe activation, and found that it could
produce the kinds of experiences that are attributed to God, the spirit
world, ghosts, out-of-body exepriences and a range of other experiences.
J.S. ridiculed this work on the basis
that neural explanations for paranormal experience were not valid. He
never made any critique of Persinger's methods, but only produced lists
of the (many) publications by Persinger, as though to imply that any
researcher who would venture into this field must be a faker. Tell that
to a psychiatrist treating schizophrenics who hear the 'voice of God',
and you'll learn fast that these studies are both needed and long overdue.
His main plan of attack was to accuse Shakti
of being dangerous. If he could make people afraid of it, he would cast
a shadow over Persinger, and damage his (and my) reputation. He tried
several approaches, most of them consisting of his citing evidence from
studies that looked like they might be relevant at first glance, but
actually had nothing to do with Shakti or Persinger's work at all. He
found a study about cell phone emissions, and assumed that complex magnetic
fields (like those used in Shakti) were the same thing. Forum subscribers
were quick to tell him how wrong he was. Then he concocted the story
that that 60-hz AC magnetic fields were the same as Shakti signals,
so that their hazards (to DNA) warned of risk. Of course, he glossed
over the fact that Shakti uses COMPLEX signals (unlike those that can
be expresed with a frequency - SIMPLE signals), and that Shakti doesn't
use a 60hz signal, and that it isn't driven by AC power.
The he tried claiming that no safety
studies had been done, even though thousands of people had used the
technology in the lab, hundreds of them used Shakti in their homes,
and white-rat studies abound. link
He ended a comment about placing
coils over the head with an exclamation point, as though that were something
shocking. Actually there are many devices that do just that, including
TMS (Transcranial electrical stimulation), used in clinics worldwide.
UPDATE: Later on,
J.S. openly said that he did not know of any specific danger from Shakti.
Further update: The
manager of the forum where J.S. posted his comments removed his thread
due to it's libelous and defamatory content.
This class of technology has an excellent track record for inducing
altered states of consciousness, and has been studied extensively from
One person said that he had a two-day headache, but when J.S. took his
comments out of context, he clarified his remarks (in an online forum
7/28/03 - J.S. has since been banned from that forum):
"Ok,maybe the term headache
for two days is not the appropriate description.
-I used to do visualizations with the amygdala a while ago, and I
could feel that it was in fact working. I could feel pressure and
the long term effects like feeling calm.
I say this because using the Shakti I had the same feelings and effects.
The same pressure for the 2 days (not painful) and calm feelings."
The fellow clearly did NOT have a headache, in the sense that the word
is correctly used. I don't mind his comment half so much as the interpretation
"J.S." gave them. J.S., of course, completely failed to notice
that the person had reported a two-day calm from a single Shakti session.
But J.S. never claimed Shakti didn't work.
I do NOT claim that the signals come from epileptics, as J.S. alleged.
(One can only wonder...) The signals derive from EEG traces, and one
of them does appear in epileptics, but it also appears in the EEGs of
"J.S." demanded proof that Shakti doesn't cause brain lesions,
and I replied that rat studies (commonly used to study agents that cause
neural damage) did not find any evidence to support "J.S."'s
concern. I asked Dr. Persinger about this, and he replied:
"Rats have been exposed during
their entire prenatal development as well as for several weeks during
adulthood (1). There is no evidence that adult exposures produce any
adverse affects, even when they are followed for two years. In fact
we just found that one kind of nocturnal complex field may actually
reduce the onset of chemical-induced carcinomas. "
In other words, Shakti might be better for your brain than anyone fully
The headaches that do happen associate with one signal - the one derived
from the hippocampus, are not headaches in the usual sense, but rather
feelings of pressure. They have not recurred when users persist in doing
more than three sessions. The software has a warning about headaches,
and encourages people who are prone to headaches not to begin use with
one specific signal. The order page has informed consent information
about headaches, which occur with 3% or less of Shakti helmet users,
while they have been reported with the B-Coil Shakti even less (under
The release of Shakti was preceded by a safety study, in which over
100 people used the technology. This line of research has captured the
interest of skeptic and de-bunkers because it has be used to elicit
many of the experiences ordinarily attributed to religious sources.
It has elicited reports of lucid dreaming, out-of-body experiences,
and brief visions. It has been successful with enhancing the depth of
spiritual practices done after Shakti sessions. MORE
Such a technology, demonstrating that these experiences are best explained
as artifacts of brain function, should be of considerable interest to
the serious skeptic.
There is a long history of "Shakti-bashing", much of it deriving
from a rival patent holder.
With scores of research papers supporting it, it will not be debunked.
Only libeled. In point of fact, it has been under study in lab settings
for over two years, with none of the dangers "J.S." alludes
to being evident.
This page replies to a person who alleges that Shakti
is a dangerous device in an online forum dedicated to skepticism.
1) Persinger M. A. Neuropsychological principia
brevita: an application to traumatic (acquired) brain injury. Psychol
Rep. 1995 Dec;77(3 Pt 1):707-24. link