Ilchi Lee, founder of Dahn Yoga, has another mind-body training method called Brain Education System Training (BEST) (formerly known as Brain Respiration). Ilchi is the founder of the Korea Institute of Brain Science (KIBS) and claims his training method can help to develop paranormal abilities in children.
Dr William Matt Briggs, a statistician from Cornell University and author of ?So, You Think You're Psychic?? conducted an experiment with Dr Sung Won Lee to test the paranormal abilities of three young Brain Respiration students from Korea. Unfortunately, they found no evidence of paranormal abilities.
(Excellent webpage by Lorie Anderson)
By W. M. Briggs, Jan 2009
The MIT Dahn Yoga Brain Respiration Experiment: Part I
On 20 September 2004, in the Physics Department at MIT, sponsored locally by the Body and Brain Student Club, I proctored a test I had designed to probe the psychic powers of three Korean children.
The kids were under the tutelage of Ilchi Lee and the Korean Institute of Brain Science (KIBS). That group claimed that kids who had training in their methods of Brain Respiration and Dahn Yoga would be able to ?read? the colors of cards inside opaque envelopes while blindfolded.
KIBS called this ability ?non-visual, heightened sensory perception?, or HSP. They insisted that this is not the same as extra-sensory perception, or ESP, though the differences seem largely semantic.
This, in five parts, is the story of that experiment, what events led up to it, what happened during, and the sad but predictable aftermath.
I have written about this experiment before, but this is the first time I present all details. This will take us some time, and might even be tedious at times, but it is, you will see, necessary to be explicit as I can
Part II: STUDY DESIGN
Part III: THE EXPERIMENT
Part IV: AFTERMATH
The test was clearly a failure, the kids bombed. The only time they succeeded was when the opportunity?and temptation?for cheating was available. It was not just that they couldn?t read the colors inside the envelopes?though the KIBS people claimed they could in Korea, and all sides agreed to the experimental protocol?but they could not read the cards when all three kids were blindfolded, taking away the opportunity for cuing.
All evidence, therefore, rationally points to the simplest explanation: HSP is false and the kids cheat. They might cheat with the best of intentions, but it?s still cheating. In other words, with this evidence, it would be irrational to increase your believe that brain respiration is real. It is rational, however, to decrease your belief in it.
Before the test, I emailed James Randi, a well known expert in designing tests of psychic phenomena. Randi has for years held out the ?Million Dollar Challenge?, which will pay to the individual who can demonstrate, under test conditions, any psychic ability, what is now over one million U.S.A. dollars.
My email to Randi was unsolicited (he didn?t know me, but I called him a ?hero? of mine), so I only gave a sketch of my request. He did not get back to me until the test was over, at which time I emailed him again, briefly outlining what had happened. At no time did I not mean for my sketch to be a complete report of what occurred. But Randi, without my knowledge, published my email on his popular site, and added interstitial comments, taking me to task for deviating from the protocol and allowing the non-scheduled blindfold trials after the main trial had failed.
He said, ?Matt, sympathetic as I am to your situation, you let the kids run away with the situation. That doesn?t happen when I get going on such a test.? Well, Randi is an old man and curmudgeonly, and certainly has had more experience than I ever will, so I accept his criticisms gracefully.
I want to stress that had Randi asked for permission to publish my email, I probably would have given it, but I would have liked the opportunity to be more explicit about what happened. I have had no further communication with Randi since, except that I mailed his educational foundation library a copy of my book (also unsolicited).
It is important also to note that Randi had written negative commentary on Ilchi Lee prior to receiving my email. I didn?t know about these posts until afterwards, but my favorite is the one explaining the $4000 cost of a small metal turtle that Dahn Yoga followers could purchase and place by the side of their bed to ?increase energy flow.?
Part V: NOW
I am often told by proponents of psychic powers that ?I should keep an open mind.? That if my mind was ?closed? I would never be able to appreciate what they could.
An open mind is important. This is why I design and conduct tests like the KIBS kids test. I will not dismiss somebody?s claims out of hand. If the KIBS kids test would have been a success, I would have been willing to believe that the theory behind brain respiration, now ?brain education?, had validity. But the test did not work, and so, rationally, I conclude that brain respiration is yet another failed theory, that it is invalid.
I now ask those who believe in Ilchi Lee to have an open mind. To prove you have it, answer this question: What evidence will convince you that brain respiration/education is false?
To people who believe in ESP, I ask the same thing: What evidence will convince you that ESP is false?
To people who believe in any controversial theory in which the only evidence for or against it is observational: What evidence will convince you that it is false?
If you find you cannot or do not want to answer this question, then it?s your mind that is closed, it is you that is unwilling to face the truth, it is you that is stuck in old ways of thinking.
I have never yet met a True Believer who gave me an answer.