Apologetics Index

Dahn Hak – Pseudoscience

Though he calls himself a doctor, Lee has no medical degree –only an honorary doctorate from a California university.

Critics question his claim that “brain respiration” increases brain functioning and induces “hyper-sensory perception.”

Pseudoscience would actually be a generous term for what they do,” said Brian Cummings, a scientist at the University of California at Irvine, where Lee gave a demonstration two years ago. “The real term should be that this is a cult or religion of some sort.”

At the university’s Institute for Brain Aging, Lee attempted to demonstrate the power of brain respiration by holding up cards and having his child “trainees” see through them and identify objects on the back side.

It didn’t work, Cummings said.

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“He was there for two reasons: One, to advertise that he was invited to give a lecture at UC Irvine so he could have an official brochure saying he went there and, second, to convince us that there’s something to this brain respiration and that we should study it,” he said. “It was just silly.” – Source: Dahnhak sued after member dies trying to master art, The Journal News, USA, Aug. 7, 2005

Debunker James Randi writes:

In the 1970s the “Moonies” emerged as a still-growing cult following the bizarre ideas of Reverend Sun Myung Moon, who founded the Unification Church. Moon has now moved far beyond that humble beginning to become the friend of presidents, to own the Washington Times, and to flaunt his status as a multi-billionaire — despite his IRS conviction and the resulting 13-month vacation in federal prison in 1984.

Well, there’s a new Moon on the horizon, with an organization boasting centers in Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Northern California, Texas, and Virginia. His name is Ilchi Lee, aka Seung Heun Lee, founder of Dahn Centers and many other organizations. And he espouses “Brain Respiration,” whatever that may be.

His “spiritual name” Ilchi literally means “a finger pointing to the truth,” we’re told. I have to wonder which finger is being referred to….

Lee’s group claims that it’s here to “save the world” through “energy” and “healing.” This is supposedly done by “sharing love with the world.” Lee, not about to ignore one of the tired old favorite canards of the mystics — that humans only use 10% of their brains — says:

I say “find the 90%!” I mean take control of the 90% of your brain that you are still not using. The aim of the development of our brain lies in the installation of Peace. Enlightenment has no meaning if it does not contribute to peace, health and happiness. So where does enlightenment occur? It occurs in our brain. I was struggling to find that answer for twenty years, and the result is Brain Respiration and HSP.

(“HSP” is “Heightened Somato-Sensory Perception,” in case you’re not up on the latest claptrap.)

The “Ilchi Center for Brain Research” sells products such as necklaces and bracelets that they say “help energy flow,” a $90 “power brain,” and a “portable brain energizer” in the form of a spongy, yellow lump that vibrates and fits in one’s palm. Lee preaches that at first, he just “transfers cosmic energy to people.” New students have “aura pictures” taken, and they get an “energy checkup” before their “individualized training plan” is created for them. And, Lee has established “Peaceology for Earth Humans,” all a part of the huggy, lovey, vague, dreamy, and juvenile atmosphere in which the na�ve and desperate become so easily trapped and submerged.

Lee claims that his center studies the brain, “Brain Respiration,” and HSP “in conjunction with the Korea Brain Research Institute, University of California, Harvard Medical Department, and Cornell Medical Department.” Frankly, I doubt that claim. Perhaps some readers may care to ask Harvard and Cornell if they are associated with Lee? It appears that he did lecture for the Harvard school of Divinity, but that does not indicate any “association” of Harvard with his eccentric notions. On his website, we read that the University of California at Irvine’s Center for Brain Aging and Dementia is specifically studying his methodology. Not so, says the director there, Dr. Carl Cotman: “We do not endorse him. At all.”

This is another of those Moonie-like schemes in which “students'” are encouraged to leave their families and work for only room and board, proselytizing others constantly and worshipping their guru. Many of the victims awaken before they drown in this syrup of nonsense-and-hype, but those who don’t either drop out or suicide, grow older and poorer by the day — both financially and emotionally. But it’s safe from government interference; that veteran of scam Reverend Moon is living proof of this country’s protection and support of such quackery. – Source: A New Moon, James Randi newsletter, Nov. 19, 2004

So is there any peer-reviewed journal evidence to back up Brain Respiration? Yes! It’s from the Korea Institute of Brain Sciences (proprietor Dr Ilchi Lee), and it’s published in the American Journal of Chinese Medicine. It measured the EEG of children meditating (in the special brain respiration way), and found that meditating kids had EEG findings characteristic of meditation, when compared with a bunch of kids just sitting “relaxing” with some electrodes on their heads, presumably baffled, certainly not meditating, and therefore producing EEG recordings characteristic of kids sitting around in a room. Which goes to show the importance of choosing your control group carefully.

There is another paper, which claims to show the effect of brain respiration on stress hormones, but it’s only published in the Korea Institute of Brain Sciences journal, which, little surprise, isn’t carried by my usual academic libraries. – Source: Brain sensitising, Ben Goldrace, Bad Science colum,The Guardian, UK, Oct. 28, 2004

Article details

Category: Dahn Yoga / Dahn Hak
Related topic(s): ,

First published (or major update) on Tuesday, February 7, 2006.
Last updated on January 05, 2010.

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