Friday, November 19, 2010

Never been hugged

OK, I'm a frustrated outsider. How can I possibly lead a happy life when I've never been hugged by 57-year-old Mata Amritanandamayi, aka Amma, the Mahatma (honorific title once applied to Ghandi)?

[Click the photo to access a Wiki article.]

She was in France for a week in October, and it's said that she hugged 38,000 individuals. That's a massive amount of cuddling, and one hopes that the results justified such a mammoth grizzly act. And what exactly is the fallout that Amma seeks to produce by means of her powerful arms? Somebody said that she's a saint who's capable of fending off evil. That suits me fine as an explanation, because me, too, I've never liked evil, and anybody who's good at fending it off will get my votes all the time. But an underlying question remains to be answered. Is this lady truly good at fending off evil with her hugs?

In my article of 4 March 2010 entitled Autosuggestion [display], I spoke of the necessity of using a well-organized double-blind trial to settle questions of this nature. We would only need to gather together a few hundred subjects who feel that they're beset by some kind of evil. These days, that shouldn't be too hard, particularly since the global financial crisis. As I explained in the above-mentioned article, they would be split into an experimental group, who would be hugged by the authentic Mahatma, and a control group, who would be hugged by a plausible but inauthentic Indian guru of the following kind:

We must, of course, anticipate the possibility that various hot-blooded male subjects might be exhilarated by the placebo effect of being cuddled by the fake guru. These deluded individuals might be led to believe momentarily that the Devil had indeed abandoned them. But a statistical analysis would soon reveal where truth lies, and the outcome of this trial would surely cast light upon Amma's marvelous powers.

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