Shakti – a safe and well tested device – reply to “J.S.”
Shakti represents the latest generation of a technology that has been used for years in laboratory settings. Its inventor is a member of Laurentian University Behavioral Neurosciences group, where nearly 2000 (two thousand) people have experienced neural stimulation of this kind.
Here 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 500 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 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 publications at that time (as of 2016 the number is over 500).
As part of this, he created an anti-Shakti campaign. He used a few online forums to claim that its 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 experiences 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 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 (the “straw man fallacy”). 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 a risk. Of course, he glossed over the facts that Shakti uses complex signals (unlike those that can be expressed with a frequency – simple signals), and that Shakti doesn’t use a 60hz signal, and that it isn’t driven by AC power.
Then 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, and ordinary stereo headphones, which also use magnetic coils.
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 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 several perspectives.
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 it):
“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. (Update – we now know that such feelings of pressure can be avoided by lowering the volume (field strength) by 1/3).
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 “normals”.
“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. ” reference (opens in a new Window).
In other words, Shakti might be better for your brain than anyone fully realizes yet.
The headaches that do happen associate with one signal – the one derived from the hippocampus, are not headaches in the usual sense, but rather mild 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 8-Coil Shakti even less (under two percent).
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 skeptics and debunkers because it’s been 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 alleged 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” Psychological Reports. 1995 Dec;77(3 Pt 1):707-24. link
NOTE: The Four-Coil Shakti is no longer available.