Defense of the M Scale

The M scale is a survey devised by psychologist Ralph Hood to function as a control on religious experience so that we can understand weather or not a recipient has had real mystical experience. It's the main methodology used in studies today in studies on religious experience. I write about it extensively in my book.

A British philosopher reads all the mystics of the world and summarizes the things they say that mark their experiences as unique and draws up a list.

50 years latter studies all over the world ask various people chosen at random if they ever had these experiences, 32 items. all those who say "Yes I have had these" choose the very same things the msytics that Stace read said they had.

the those don't check "I have had this" don't have the same things that mystics say they had.

It would be ridiculous to assume that pest ants in Iran and India read Stace. the things they saying they experienced are unique they are not things people normally experience. Since the people can't ling, the odds of them all in six countries saying exactly what they need to say in 32 items to confirm Stace, then it's pretty obvious that Stace got it right.

there has to be a certain kind of experience that some people have that has these characteristics and marks them out as those who have experienced something most people don't experience.

now when we examine the characteristics they say they had they are all about God. the are about experiencing the divine even if they didn't believe in the divine. Moreover, those who have those experiences across the board have these amazing revitalization of their lives.

when psychologists compare the characteristics to those of mental illness, delusion, and other pathological states they find no comparison. So that is not what it is.

The M Scale is the major validating construct in social science research that demonstrates the validity of religious experience. By that I mean it shows when a person's responses coincide with the theories of W.T. Stace. Because several studies validate the scale in a half dozen different cultures from Sweden to Iran to India and Japan, we have a standard that tells us when a person has a valid mystical experience and when they do not. For example some researchers feel they have evoked religoius experience becuase they go someone with a dream about Jesus who felt something when they shocked him and they this proves he had an experience so they evoked it by shocking him. Yet Stace's theories don't include dreams so there's no way to say this is a mystical experience.

On the other hand Stace finds that all the major mystics speak of undifferentiated unity so he theorize that this is the core of mysticism.

It's threatening to a lot of atheists to think that some scientific research could validate some aspect of belief becuase you have so much vested in believing that science disproves all religion. Yet the M scale is validated and it is accepted as the standard in psychology of religion and in the research of religious experience. The modern studies using the M scale find that a significant portion of people who claim t have had an experience state that it was undifferentiated unity. When enough of the correlations stack up then we know someone has had an experience. They could not get that many people to lie about the same things in all those different cultures.

This is the lynch pin of my religious experience studies because it shows a standard by which we can validate and establish controls for knowing when a religiosity experience is really a valid one and when it's not. If you can establish that you can study it by studying the effects f the experience on the experience. If you can't determine what is a valid religious experience you can't determine the effects of having such an experience. Though M scale we can. That's why atheists are just duty bound to treat the m scale like crap.

here's a post on CARM that brought up a lot of criticisms and offered a good opportunity to answer many things about the M scale.

Misconceptions about the M scale abound on this board. most of the atheist here have never read squat about it but are nevertheless totally convinced that it's no good. they are convinced based upon nothing. I put the link to the chapter on Hood's own text book where he talks about the scale I put that up here 244 times and four people looked at it. none of them understood it. Yet they still shoot off their mouths about the M scale.

One post today that give me a good vehicle for answering a lot of things about the M Scale because it makes so many bad assumptions and bald faced assertions about it.

Originally Posted by MFFJM2 View Post
The M-scale is a joke that purports to measure and determine the validity of transcendental experiences.

no it doesn't. It does not say "this is a means of measuring transcend expedience" it's not a measurement but a control. don't you know what the phrase "control" means in relation to scientific study?

Like a control group. it's a way of knowing what the standard is so you can compare the experimental group.

If it's a joke why does the major study atheists always sight on drugs and RE use it? Grifithis who did the Johns Hopkins study used the M scale to determine who had a valid RE and who did not . why did he that if it's a joke? That's the study atheists use against my augments! Yet it uses the M scale.

It is based entirely on written answers to preconceived questions from people claiming to have experienced the supernatural. There was no attempt to actually talk to the subjects to see if they were mentally unbalanced or lying.

that betrays a great deal of naivete in social scinece research.

(1) the no 1 major research mechanism in social science is written answers to pre conceived questions on a survey, studies, survey questions asked of respondents. that's how it's done! that's the 99% most used way of doing it. it's accepted ti's scientific there's unscientific about it.

GESIS-Summer School Survey Methodology
9-25 August 2012, Cologne, Germany
"Surveys are the main method of systematic data collection in the Social Sciences. Surveys provide empirical data for researchers to analyse, and are an important source of information for business, charities and policy makers. There are numerous types of surveys suited for different purposes. Given the variety and complexity of survey research, designing and conducting a survey that effectively and efficiently serves a specific purpose requires specialised expertise and skill (as well as a good team). The GESIS Summer School offers high quality training in state of the art techniques and methods of survey research. It aims to equip participants with essential skills in the design, planning, execution, documentation and quality assurance of surveys of households, individuals or organisations."

writing guide Colorado State U.

"Surveys represent one of the most common types of quantitative, social science research. In survey research, the researcher selects a sample of respondents from a population and administers a standardized questionnaire to them. The questionnaire, or survey, can be a written document that is completed by the person being surveyed, an online questionnaire, a face-to-face interview, or a telephone interview. Using surveys, it is possible to collect data from large or small populations" (sometimes referred to as the universe of a study).

"Statistical survey is a method used to collect in a systematic way, information from a sample of individuals. Although most people are familiar with public opinion surveys that are reported in the press, most surveys are not public opinion polls (such as political polling), but are used for scientific purposes. Surveys provide important information for all kinds of research fields, e.g., marketing research, psychology, health professionals and sociology.[1] A survey may focus on different topics such as preferences (e.g., for a presidential candidate), behavior (smoking and drinking behavior), or factual information (e.g., income), depending on its purpose. Since survey research is always based on a sample of the population, the success of the research is dependent on the representativeness of the population of concern (see also sampling (statistics) and survey sampling)."

(2) You don't need to ask them "are you lying" becuase if they lie they are going to lie and you can't trust what they say.

(3) the questions; themselves ask "have you experienced X" so it's stupid to say they don't ask what they experienced because that's the whole point, they ask them that in 32 different ways.

(4) based on pre conceived idea; that is not a valid criticism in any sense. any social science research method would do that. of cousre they would, how else are they going to know what they are looking for if they haven't preconceived the questions?

(5) the questions are based upon the theories of Stace. that's the only way to validate estate's theory is to see if people's experiences stack up to it.
btw there are plenty of other studies that use opened answered that the subject supplied without pre conceived questions, or very slight questions such "write your experiencing here." All if it agrees all the 200 studies agree in general ways, they do not disprove any of the major parts of Stace's theory.

(6) we know the people aren't lying because it would be impossible to lie adn validate Stace's theory. that would assume all the subjects have read Stace and want to validate his work. since they did studies in India, Iran, Japan, that's a tall assumption.

if the experiences didn't stack up to validate Stace then it might be plausible that they lie but there's no way they can like in significant number and have all the different studies around the world mach both each other and Stace.

And there was no attempt to try to experience the mystical experiences themselves at the location where they supposedly might happen.
why do that? it would be ridiculous to try and experience what others experience. that's just a foolish misconception.

The Mysticism Scale, created by Hood in 1975, is a well known instrument for testing spirituality. Hood managed to pull a rabbit out of a hat, but first he had to put the rabbit in the hat. Hood wanted to find out whether there is a common core to all kinds of mysticism, which is a valid and relevant question. He set out to answer it empirically (Hood 2003b). He designed an instrument (32 question test) to answer the question, tested it out, and lo and behold, a common core shows up, but the instrument was based on a conceptualization of mysticism, by Stace (1960), that presupposes a common core. So, Hood got a common core out of the empiricist's hat, so to speak, but only after he put it (Stace's theory of a common core) in there beforehand.
this is stupid beyond belief. it shows that you really don't understand the concepts you are dealing with. you think that Hood biased his questions in such a way as to get a result that supported Stace, but you really can't demonstrate how that's possible.

(1) the study has been refereed many many times over the years. the version used now is the version Hood started with. Hood himself has done about a hundreds of his own. maybe 50 but a lot. Then the validating studies are all done by other people.

(2) the vacating studies are done in cultures as diverse as Sweden, Iran, India, Japan. the people are chosen are random thy haven o indicative of what to answer.

how are they going to answer in ways that validate Stace? why would they want to? where are you going to find all those Iranians who have read the guy?

IOW, the instrument used to verify Stace's conceptualization is not independent of Stace, but based on him.
truly missing the point this guy has not thought about this ridiculous criticism. this s just gross ignorance. It doesn't say "do you agree with Stance?"

It asked questions that deal with Stace's assumptions. Stace says the majority of mystics experience an undifferentiated sense of unity of all things. So it as "have you experienced an undifferentiated unity of all things?"

how are you going to know "have you experienced X?" without asking? but how does that bias it? It also asked other things not of Stace so you can't form a pattern and guess what he's doing.

this is rank ignorance of social science research. all social scinece research is about asking questions that deal with what you want to know, and to avoid typing the subject off they ask other things too. you ask the same stuff in different ways. the M scale does all of this.

It also has in the refined segments a three tier structure to the questions. you are are getting findings that deal with three different levels.

to have a biased study you you would have to find people who want to screw it up, some one plant them in India and Iran and tell them what Stace says. It's pretty safe to assume that didn't happen.

the M scale has been used as the standard for about 20 years now so it's been validated over a hundred times.

Ralph Hood who invented the M scale is a major figure in the field.

Katherine A. MacLean, Roland R. Griffithis, et al

"Factor Analysis of the mystical experience Questionnaire: A study of experiences occasioned by the Hallucinogen Psilocybin," Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion PDF

"Beginning with Hood (1975), the modern empirical study of mysticism has focused on char-
acterizing mystical experiences that individuals have had across their lifetime. Hood’s Mysticism
Scale ...developed according to Stace’s (1960) framework, is the most widely used quantitative mea-sure of mystical experience. The Mysticism Scale has generally been shown to be a reliable
and cross-culturally valid measure of lifetime experiences."

Michael E. Neilsen
Georgia Southern University
Feb, 2000
Psychology of Religion in USA

Ralph Hood (1998), a major figure in American psychology of religion, suggests six psychological schools of thought regarding religion. The psychoanalytical schools draw from the work of Freud, and attempt to reveal unconscious motives for religious belief.

Dale Caird
originally in journal for the Scientific study of religion 1988, 27 (1) 122-126

"Research into mystical experience has been greatly facilitated over the last decade by Hood (1975). Utilizing the conceptual framework of Stace (1960) he devised a 32 item questionnaire tapping eight categories of mysticism. This questionnaire the M scale was shown by Hood to have respectable internal consistency and reasonable construct validity.

Michael E. Nielsen, Ph.D.
Georgia Southern University
feb 2000

"Ralph Hood (1998), a major figure in American psychology of religion, suggests six psychological schools of thought regarding religion. The psychoanalytical schools draw from the work of Freud, and attempt to reveal unconscious motives for religious belief. Although Freud reduced religious belief to a natural, if ultimately flawed, attempt to cope with life's stresses, contemporary psychoanalytic interpretations are not necessarily hostile to religious faith. Analytical schools find their inspiration in Jung's description of spiritual life. Most psychologists, however, consider such descriptions to be undemonstrated by scientific research, and therefore it plays a limited role in psychology. Object relations schools also draw from psychoanalysis, but focus their efforts on maternal influences on the child. Each of these three schools rely on clinical case studies and other descriptive methods based on small samples, which runs counter to the prevailing practice of psychology in America." \\

"Modern social scientific evidence does not refute the possibility that some mystical experiences are associated with scientifically unknown processes. Parapsychologists have accumulated a body of evidence supporting belief in paranormal phenomena (Broughton 1992). Even though their evidence has been criticized, the existence of universal features within collections of mystical experience accounts supports the argument that some forms of these perceptions are not fully cultural products but have important impacts on religious belief (Hufford 1982, McClenon 1994)"

 The Religious Studies Project (blog) May 20, 2013.
 "Dr. Ralph W. Hood Jr. has extensive experience in the field of psychology of religion and particularly in the study of mysticism and mystical experience. As an early pioneer in the renaissance of the field of psychology of religion, Hood’s work is extensive and prolific exploring a variety of research topics in the social sciences of religion. Moreover, much of his collaborative work extends beyond the field of psychology to include sociology, religious studies, medicine, and a variety of other disciplines in the social scientific study of religion. In this week’s podcast, Chris SIlver is joined by Ralph Hood to discuss in detail his work on mysticism and the benefits and disadvantages of this academic exercise."

 Ralph W. Hood Jr. is professor of psychology at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. He is a former editor of the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, and former co-editor of the Archive for the Psychology of Religion and The International Journal for the Psychology of Religion.  He is a past president of division 36 (psychology of religion) of the American Psychological Association and a recipient of its William James, Mentor, and Distinguished Service awards. He has published over 200 articles in the psychology of religion and has authored, co-authored, or edited numerous book chapters and eleven books, all dealing with the psychology of religion.
(One of the primary interests of scholars and researchers from diverse academic disciplines has been in exploration of mysticism. Mysticism has been observed within a variety of traditions and philosophies from Neo-Platonism to Hinduism and Christianity. Mysticism as a field of study is pregnant with possibilities for academic inquiry, both cross-disciplinary and discipline specific. The field of psychology is one of those disciplines which have sought to explore the richness of individual claims of mystical experience. This has been done with theoretical depth and methodological sophistication and is centralized within a variety of tools of empirical inquiry.) (Ibid)

Description of Hood's book on Amazon:

 "Scholarly and comprehensive yet accessible, this state-of-the-science work is widely regarded as the definitive psychology of religion text. The authors synthesize classic and contemporary empirical research on numerous different religious groups. Coverage includes religious thought, belief, and behavior across the lifespan; links between religion and biology; the forms and meaning of religious experience; the social psychology of religious organizations; and connections to morality, coping, mental health, and psychopathology. Designed for optimal use in advanced undergraduate- and graduate-level courses, every chapter features thought-provoking quotations and examples that bring key concepts to life."

Reviews quoted on amazon for Hood's book:

"A splendid update of the definitive text in the psychology of religion. Important new developments in the psychology of atheism, conversion, evolutionary perspectives, and the cognitive science of religion receive extensive coverage. This is an authoritative and cutting-edge resource that can be used in either undergraduate courses or graduate seminars. Research in the psychology of religion has accelerated in the past decade, and these authors capture the excitement and main threads of contemporary developments without ignoring classic work in the field."--Robert A. Emmons, PhD, Department of Psychology, University of California, Davis; Editor-in-Chief, Journal of Positive Psychology
"A truly marvelous work of scholarship--an indispensable resource for anyone with a serious interest in the scientific study of religion. Hood, Hill, and Spilka offer a highly readable text that systematically presents the growing body of research in a comprehensive yet concise way. The fourth edition has a restructured format that makes it even more practical and adaptable for classroom use. Without doubt, this fourth edition will retain its place as the leading text in the field."--W. Paul Williamson, PhD, Department of Psychology, Henderson State University, Arkansas

Page 2

article on M scale by Hood himself that shows universal reactions.
In P, McNamar (Ed.), Where God and science meet, Vol. 3, pp. 119-138. Westport, CT: Praeger.