Today's Guardian offers Improbable research: The repetitive physics of Om. Tantalizing. In turn, this links to Ajay Anil Gurjar and Siddharth A. Ladhak, Time-Frequency Analysis of Chanting Sanskrit Divine Sound "OM" Mantra, International Journal of Computer Science and Network Security, VOL.8 No.8, August 2008. Even more tantalizing. A new field of theophonetics!
Unfortunately, the article is not divine.
The first step seems fair enough: ommmmmm chants are analyzed using standard transform techniques, that represent signals as superpositions of wavelet forms. The second step is… well, there is no second step.
The conclusion of the IJCSNS article includes, e.g., the following two claims: "The time-frequency analysis has been carried out using wavelet transforms for the divine sound OM. We have concluded that OM chanting affords steadiness in the mind scientifically.", and on the same lines "we have confirmed scientifically the accomplishments of OM chanting in reducing the stress from the human mind." But in fact all that the article does is present wavelet analyses in pictorial form (like the one above), inviting the reader to spot the uniformity of the signal over time, and hence infer reduced stress and increased mental steadiness. There is no actual measure of psychological state other than the acoustic analysis of the ommm chants themselves.
Even the acoustic analysis is ridiculously limited. Wavelets are used in signal processing and signal analysis, e.g. for compression, so the claim might have been made that better ommming was measurable by increased compression ratio. But no such claim is made. We just see pictures, and a hint that the ommm pictures of experienced chanters are steadier than those of less experienced chanters. As you gather from the conclusions I listed above, this is supposed to show that experienced ommmmers have reached a steadier mental state than less experienced ommmmers, but in fact all it shows, if anything, is that experienced ommmmers are better at ommmming.
Perhaps the pictures mean more to the enlightened than they do to me. The article is so bad that I can't see it as anything other than a spoof. And the premise is amusing enough. But I don't know enough about the IJCSNS article genre to really get the joke. If there is one. Maybe the journal in question simply has very low standards.
I wonder whether the good journalists at the Guardian know whether they are reporting on a spoof or not?