Are the consequences of awe measurable?

A preliminary conference report.

Just back from a four-day conference on whether the physiological and psychosocial consequences of awe-inspiring experiences (aka “mystical experiences,” “primary relgious experiences,” “peak experiences,” “being born again”) might be scientifically measurable.

The tentative consensus of the extremely sharp psychologists in the room was “yes.” And the leaders of several organizations, religious and non-religious, that attempt to create contexts within which people undergo such experiences tentatively agreed to encourage their participants to take a battery of before-and-after tests (both of the paper-and-pencil variety and biochemical measurements) to find out.

We worked like dogs and the conference site had only primitive Internet connections, which is why there hasn’t been much posting lately. I hope to make up for it this week. Lots of interesting insights to report, about the central topic of the conference and other things.

For example: Not taking prescribed medicine as prescribed is so widespread a problem, even for low-side-effect medications that address life-threatening conditions, that some people consider it the second-leading behavioral cause of mortality and morbidity in the United States. Question: What, if anything, can be done about it?

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact:

One thought on “Are the consequences of awe measurable?”

  1. Kleiman On Mysticism

    Mark Kleiman has just returned from a conference on the scientific study of mystical experiences. I note with approval that he has the domain

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