Oct 09 2014

AWARE Results Finally Published – No Evidence of NDE

Back in May I participated in a debate for Intelligence Squared regarding “Death is not Final.” At the time I was updating myself on the published literature regarding alleged near death experiences or NDEs, and noticed that the AWARE study (AWAreness during REsuscitation) had been completed but the data not yet published. I was disappointed that I would not have these results available to me during the debate.

I had read about the study several years earlier. This is a prospective study of cardiac arrest patients to not only describe their NDEs when they occur, but to conduct a large prospective test looking for objective evidence of conscious awareness during resuscitation. The lead researcher, Sam Parnia, is a believer in NDEs, but designed a study theoretically capable of finding objective evidence.

The multi-center study involved placing an image in a location that was hidden from normal view but could be viewed by a person floating above their body during an NDE. This could be a way to objectively differentiate between the two leading hypotheses. Parnia and others believe that reports of NDEs represent actual awareness during cardiac arrest when the brain is not functioning. This, of course, would be compelling evidence for cognition separate from brain function.

I and most scientist favor the more mundane and likely explanation that memories of NDEs are formed at other times, when the brain is functioning, for example during the long recovery process. At least the memories themselves do not differential between these two hypotheses, and this explanation does not require inventing entirely new non-materialist phenomena.

So, I anxiously awaited the results of the AWARE study. I admit I was fairly confident that the results would be negative. My major concern was that the study had been criticized for not having tight protocols – for example, some have charged that the “hidden” images were visible to ER workers and this could provide a mundane conduit for knowledge of the images to get to cardiac arrest survivors. But I hoped this did not occur or affect the results.

Here, finally, is the published study.

But wait a minute – there is no mention in the abstract of the hidden images. How can that be? I understood this to be the main outcome of the study, the one thing that would set it apart from the merely descriptive studies of the past. What happened?

There are two mentions of the hidden images in the discussion only.

While the low incidence (2%) of explicit recall of VA impaired our ability to use images to objectively examine the validity of specific claims associated with VA, nonetheless our verified case of VA suggests conscious awareness may occur beyond the first 20–30 s after CA (when some residual brain electrical activity may occur) while providing a quantifiable time period of awareness after the brain ordinarily reaches an isolectric state.

and

While pre-placement of visual targets in resuscitation areas aimed at testing VA was feasible from a practical viewpoint (there were no reported adverse incidents), the observation that 78% of CA events took place in areas without shelves illustrates the challenge in objectively testing the claims of VA in CA using our proposed methodology.

Well that’s disappointing. However, apparently there were no cases of cardiac arrest patients who were able to see, remember, and report the hidden images. Collecting data was more difficult than they hoped, but the results they did get were negative.

Why, then, am I seeing headlines like this one from the Telegraph: First hint of ‘life after death’ in biggest ever scientific study. And what was that reference above to “our verified case?”

Failing to obtain any actual evidence that NDEs represent non-corporeal cognition, Parnia apparently decided to fall back on the old, let’s just report what people say and present that as if it were actual objective evidence. Let’s take a look again at the results:

Among 2060 CA events, 140 survivors completed stage 1 interviews, while 101 of 140 patients completed stage 2 interviews. 46% had memories with 7 major cognitive themes: fear; animals/plants; bright light; violence/persecution; deja-vu; family; recalling events post-CA and 9% had NDEs, while 2% described awareness with explicit recall of ‘seeing’ and ‘hearing’ actual events related to their resuscitation. One had a verifiable period of conscious awareness during which time cerebral function was not expected.

The one case that is being touted as evidence is a patient who apparently described details of the cardiac resuscitation. Parnia is referring to this as “verifiable conscious awareness.” Not so fast.

Let’s put this into some perspective. Out of the 140 cases that were interviewed, only 1 case reported memories of events during the cardiac arrest that Parnia deemed “verified.” All 140 cases were given one interview, 101 were given a stage 2 interview, and the one patient was given a stage 3 interview by Parnia.

The discussion gives the reason the multiple interviews is significant:

Furthermore owing to the acuity and severity of the critical illness associated with CA, the time to interview for patients was invariably not exactly the same for every patient, which may have introduced biases (such as recall bias and confabulation) in the recollections.

Subjects were often interviewed after they were discharged from the hospital, even for the first interview (although some were interviewed while still in the hospital). Imagine slowly waking from a delirium, over hours or even days. Even when you appear awake and are able to answer questions and interact, your brain has still not quite recovered from trauma of cardiac arrest, and you may also still be ill, even receiving sedating medications.

Your brain is struggling to reconstruct memories of what happened through the fog of delirium, and will do what it can to construct a narrative of what occurred. We know from countless psychological experiments that our brains will happily fill in the gaps any way in can (this is called confabulation) – it will fuse memories, make up memories, incorporate details from outside sources, and morph over time to fit an evolving narrative of what happened.

So yeah – biased and confabulated recollections recalled long after the event, influenced by multiple interviews, is certainly a weakness of the study.

What is a little surprising to me is that Parnia could only come up with one case with a memory that can be presented as matching events during cardiac arrest. This does not make that one case “verified”, it makes it highly selected and filtered from a larger set of data.

As an analogy, this is similar to an alleged psychic working a room with 40 people, and making a cold reading guess that is a good match to one of the people. It is fallacious (known as the lottery fallacy) to ask what the odds are that the alleged psychic would have had a hit to that one person. Rather, we need to consider the odds of hitting any of the 40 people, and to expand it further to any possible hit, not just the one made.

We need to consider what the odds are that one of the 140 people would have a memory (almost certainly contaminated, as no procedure was in place to prevent contamination) that matched events during cardiac arrest in some arbitrary details. This certainly sound consistent with random background noise in the data, and is therefore not evidence of anything.

Conclusion

The much anticipated AWARE study, designed to be the first large rigorous study of NDEs with objective outcomes that could potentially differentiate between the two major hypotheses, is essentially a bust. The study, for the main outcome measure for which it was designed, did not return as much data as was hoped, but the data it did return was entirely negative. This is a negative study.

Parnia, in my opinion, is desperately trying to rescue the study by falling back on simply reporting subjective accounts of what people remember long after the event. This type of information is nothing new, and cannot objectively resolve the debate. The results are also completely unimpressive, perfectly consistent with what we would expect given what is already well documented about human memory.

The only relevant part of the study is Parnia’s admission that the results may be due entirely to confabulation. Spinning of this study in the popular press as evidence of life after death is not justified.

249 responses so far

249 Responses to “AWARE Results Finally Published – No Evidence of NDE”

  1. mumadaddon 09 Oct 2014 at 8:56 am

    Steve,

    Thanks, I was hoping you’d cover this. One question:

    (Your quote from the study) “While the low incidence (2%) of explicit recall of VA…”

    It’s not clear what ‘VA’ means, and it referenced several times.

  2. idoubtiton 09 Oct 2014 at 9:36 am

    Not only did the media go overboard with this study, but at least one overly enthusiastic fringe researcher did as well. I’m not sure he read the paper. But an actual parapsychologists was not impressed.

    http://web.randi.org/swift/no-this-study-is-not-evidence-for-life-after-death

  3. faircommentson 09 Oct 2014 at 9:54 am

    mumadadd, you have to go into the linked report to find where “VA” is given an explanation – it’s “Visual Awareness”.

  4. MJCon 09 Oct 2014 at 10:10 am

    VA = Visual Awareness

    Personally I have hypoperfused a number of times due to polymorphic VT and sadly never had one single instance of so called NDE. I would have rather liked to have a chat with my brain. However, I did have two experiences I remember. One was just barely regaining consciousness for a brief moment whilst being resuscitated before promptly going back into torsade. The other was a dream about 2-3 weeks post surgery where I remembered through the fog of propofol waking up in the cath lab. Is it possible my brain was able to write down a few memo’s despite the drug induced amnesia or did I confabulate the whole thing? Only my brain knows, and he is not saying much. In either case it would be all to easy to weave these little bits and pieces into a compelling narrative.

  5. Nomen Nescioon 09 Oct 2014 at 10:20 am

    There are some ‘believer’ arguments against the ‘before or after flatline’ objection to which i have not seen any skeptical responses – like for example, they (people like Parnia, but also Penny Sartori and Peter Fenwick) would argue that events such as a cardiac arrest leave people amnesic and confusional (delirious) for events immediately preceding and following these avents – and that the clear, vivid, often expanded consciousness and mentation that occurs during an NDE is not like that, for example.

    http://folk.uio.no/benjamil/neardeath/neardeath3.pdf

    And here Sam Parnia and Peter Fenwick, besides giving the same argument as described above, are also arguing that events that occur just prior to or just after loss of consciousness would not be expected to be recalled. Is this correct?

  6. mumadaddon 09 Oct 2014 at 10:48 am

    Nomen,

    I wouldn’t think they’d need to retain anything but a vague impression of their surroundings in order to stitch something together, and with a ready supply of friends/family on hand to supply anecdotal detail, then a bit retrodicting and conforming of memory to cultural and personal narrative, the recollections being ‘vivid’ doesn’t add any credibility in my opinion.

    Even if they were completely unconscious during the whole process up until coming round after the event, I would think the expectation of what had happened to them en route could easily account for an easy hit – ‘ambulance, cpr, paramedics’ – seems pretty likely they’d get some hits there. Any detail could be supplied after the fact and incorporated into the narrative, or simply be a lucky, chance hit.

    Put it this way – if we were to put someone in a hallucinogenic trance, then, through the power of suggestion, have them ‘trip’ CPR and hospitalisation, then compare that to one of a selection of 100 video recordings of real life versions of this situation, how many ‘hits’ on some obscure detail would we see? If we repeated this 100 times?

  7. CKavaon 09 Oct 2014 at 8:12 pm

    Well said Steve, I had a very similar analysis:
    http://god-knows-what.com/2014/10/08/new-evidence-for-life-after-death/

    Although not mentioned in the paper it seems the single ‘positive’ case was based on an interview conducted around 1 year later. Parnia has published more details about it in one of his books.

  8. grabulaon 09 Oct 2014 at 8:44 pm

    CKava, good write up as well though your title is misleading.

    Can’t wait for the NDE proponents to hit this thread. Sonic will be along shortly to redefine most of the critical wording, don’t you worry!

    @nomen

    I’m with mumadadd, I think it has been addressed, but possibly not as obvious as it first seems. Memory is ridiculously unreliable, especially over time. Someone attempting to recall something during a traumatic moment is just as likely to ‘remember’ something ‘vividly’ during that experience. In fact I think the vividness is provided by motivation – you WANT NDE to be real so it becomes real in your mind. Overall I think addressing the way the mind can trick you is a response to these sorts of claims.

  9. CKavaon 10 Oct 2014 at 2:52 am

    grabula, yes I did realise that but was somewhat hoping that it might make the article show up randomly when people are googling the topic rather than just for people seeking skeptical sources. The wordpress theme I use is bad at handling subtitles unfortunately!

    In regards those defending the study, it seems with NDEs to always come down to the fact that people intuitively regard memories as being accurate, despite the wealth of studies we have showing this is not the case. See the responses under my post by Tim for a clear illustration of someone who cannot imagine that the patient could be unaware of how they constructed their memory/narrative. I think that viewpoint is common and is part of the reason for the hostility to skeptics i.e. they think skeptics are claiming that the people providing the accounts are intentionally lying.

  10. Nomen Nescioon 10 Oct 2014 at 6:00 am

    Mumadadd and grabula, thanks for your responses. But, it’s not just that they remember that they had a vivid experience. Phenomenologically, the NDE as a state of consciousness can be characterized by a higher level of consciousness and alertness/arousal than normal, and even thinking processes can be more faster and clearer, this is even a part of the Greyson NDE Scale. – or at least these things are also a part of their recollections, so they to need to be taken into account.

    Is this something that can occur in an altered state, like in an delirium?

  11. grabulaon 10 Oct 2014 at 6:34 am

    ” the NDE as a state of consciousness can be characterized by a higher level of consciousness and alertness/arousal than normal, and even thinking processes can be more faster and clearer, this is even a part of the Greyson NDE Scale.”

    Perceived as such is one thing but again I think it falls back on gap filling and perception.

    A lot of the descriptions of NDE ‘effects’ are also described by soldiers in combat, or cops in a shoot out and whatnot. They don’t appear to be exclusive to NDE’s.

  12. grabulaon 10 Oct 2014 at 6:36 am

    Dr, Novella can probably address this more effectively but in essence the description of NDE’s has always struck me as similar to vivid dreaming, nothing more.

  13. Bruceon 10 Oct 2014 at 6:44 am

    I was pretty disappointed to see the Parnia study posted quite credulously on IFL Science on facebook.

  14. mumadaddon 10 Oct 2014 at 6:55 am

    Nomen,

    I should say right up front that I’m not an expert – my knowledge on this is purely pop science books and blogs, and fascination with this topic. That said:

    How could you ever verify that what they were recounting was what they experienced during the NDE, and not confabulated after the fact? You’d have to interview subjects immediately after they regained consciousness (and that would still be no guarantee), which would present its own set of challenges. I’d love to know how many, if any, of the subjects in this study were interviewed that quickly.

    “Is this something that can occur in an altered state, like in an delirium?”

    People often report heightened awareness and a subjective sense of time slowing down/thinking processes speeding up during life or death situations, and as far as I recall there have been studies to establish whether this is actually the case – ie. proceses really do speed up – or just a subjective illusion, and the evidence comes down on subjective illusion. Sorry I can’t quote the specific study(s), but somebody else might be able to point you to it.

    I don’t think you are trying to make a case for disembodied consciousness, but those who would use this as evidence are on the wrong track, in my opinion. This is one of a bunch of common NDE experiences, but it’s not universal by any stretch. Brains are complicated, and there are different routes to similar effects, and different effects from similar routes. In my own experience of hallucinogens, it’s definitely possible to feel and remember a subjective sense of heightened awareness and control, whilst to any observer appearing quite the opposite, and to forget specific events that happened during this state or remember things that did not happen. Maybe these people are genuinely remembering this feeling, but not the duration or other details, which again could be incorporated after the event.

    I’m by no means an expert on brains, but I don’t think this sort of thing gives any credibility to disembodied consciousness. Let’s say that below a certain threshold of activity or oxygen supply, brains can’t form new memories – what sort of memories are we talking about? If we’re talking about autobiographical memories, no problem, there’s nothing to refute the idea that these are formed later and incorporated into the narrative. I think (somebody correct me if I’m wrong) there’s a different pathway to emotional memories though, and this might still function below that threshold, leaving the subject with a sense of an experience. You’d have to look at it on a case by case basis, and establish what level of brain activity was happening and when, then build a case as to why the neurological explanations fall down. I don’t think they can do this.

    The whole thing to me just seems like childish grasping at straws and special pleading.

  15. grabulaon 10 Oct 2014 at 7:33 am

    @mumadadd

    “I’d love to know how many, if any, of the subjects in this study were interviewed that quickly. ”

    In the post:

    “Subjects were often interviewed after they were discharged from the hospital, even for the first interview (although some were interviewed while still in the hospital). Imagine slowly waking from a delirium, over hours or even days. Even when you appear awake and are able to answer questions and interact, your brain has still not quite recovered from trauma of cardiac arrest, and you may also still be ill, even receiving sedating medications.”

    That info might be in the study itself though I haven’t had time to read it yet. It sounds to me like most interviews were not conducted directly upon awakening/recovering – nor would this be a reliable way to interview an individual anyway taking into account their condition at that time. It just reinforces what we were both saying, though you said more clearly lol.

  16. Steven Novellaon 10 Oct 2014 at 7:37 am

    Inhibiting brain function can induce vivid dreams and mental states. I write about psilocybin doing this, for example.

    The “vividness” argument is used by both NDE and dualist proponents, but is a very weak argument. The functioning of our brains, specifically consciousness, is significantly slowed by the fact that there are many circuits communicating with each other. Our brains are like bloatware – relatively slow because of all the complex processing.

    If you inhibit a circuit, the other circuits it connects to may function more robustly. For example, if the brain does not have to get bogged down in all that reality testing, vivid hallucinations or dreams may result.

    Vividness, simply put, is not evidence for anomalous cognition of any kind.

  17. mumadaddon 10 Oct 2014 at 7:46 am

    Steve,

    Do you know which study or studies looked at the sense of time slowing down during accidents? I’m pretty sure it was discussed on SGU.

  18. BillyJoe7on 10 Oct 2014 at 7:48 am

    Someone else who is unimpressed:

    http://mysteriousuniverse.org/2014/10/aware-study-results-finally-published-does-not-prove-life-after-death/

  19. The Other John Mcon 10 Oct 2014 at 7:56 am

    Nomen & mumadadd:

    “People often report heightened awareness and a subjective sense of time slowing down/thinking processes speeding up during life or death situations, and as far as I recall there have been studies to establish whether this is actually the case – ie. proceses really do speed up – or just a subjective illusion, and the evidence comes down on subjective illusion.”

    Here’s a nice review of the topic of time perception under stress: http://peterhancock.ucf.edu/Downloads/ref_pubs/Hancock_Weaver_2005.pdf

    Humans don’t have an internal metronome (or a dedicated sensory system equivalent), so all perceptions about the passage of time are in this sense subjective constructs. The Wikipedia entry is good but highlights how little we understand about time perception: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Time_perception

    The punchline: people often have the perception of severe time distortions caused by emotional stress, meditation, aging, drugs, changes in body temperature, psychological disorders, etc.

  20. mumadaddon 10 Oct 2014 at 8:15 am

    Other John,

    Much appreciated. :)

  21. Bruceon 10 Oct 2014 at 8:52 am

    Mumadadd,

    I remember the discussion around time apparently slowing and “life flashing in front of your eyes” was due to the brain panicking and very quickly flipping through the memories to try and find something that might help in a very desperate situation.

  22. mumadaddon 10 Oct 2014 at 8:56 am

    I ripped this from CKava’s article (http://god-knows-what.com/2014/10/08/new-evidence-for-life-after-death/):

    (UPDATE: It seems the interview in question was conducted over a year later, see the comments below for more details)

    As for the precise ‘verified’ details of the account reported in the study, these are:

    The use of an AED (a defibrillator).
    The medical team present during the cardiac arrest.
    The identification of a bald man in blue scrubs.

    That’s absolutely pathetic. Oh dear…

  23. mumadaddon 10 Oct 2014 at 9:11 am

    Bruce,

    Thanks. I was meaning more just the heightened awareness/time slowing down aspect. I’m just reading through the Wikipedia link provided by Other John now – seems pretty comprehensive so I expect I’ll find the answer in there.

  24. mumadaddon 10 Oct 2014 at 9:15 am

    This is pretty surprising:

    From Wikipedia:

    Experiments have shown that rats can successfully estimate a time interval of approximately 40 seconds, despite having their cortex entirely removed.[11] This suggests that time estimation may be a low level (subcortical) process.[12]

    Citation: Jaldow EJ, Oakley DA, Davey GC (September 1989). “Performance of Decorticated Rats on Fixed Interval and Fixed Time Schedules”. Eur. J. Neurosci. 1 (5): 461–470. doi:10.1111/j.1460-9568.1989.tb00352.x. PMID 12106131

  25. The Other John Mcon 10 Oct 2014 at 1:11 pm

    I think this is the snippet of info you were looking for earlier, mumadadd:
    From the wiki page, under Oddball Effect:

    “Research conducted by David Eagleman has suggested that time does not actually run in slow motion for a person during a life-threatening event, but, rather, it is only a retrospective assessment that brings that person to such a conclusion. To bring this into the realm of scientific study, he measured time perception during free-fall by strapping palm-top computers to subjects’ wrists and having them perform psychophysical experiments as they fall. By measuring their speed of information intake, they concluded that participants do not obtain increased temporal resolution during the fall, but, instead, because their memories are more densely packed during a frightening situation, the event seems to have taken longer only in retrospect.”

    Sensory/perceptual processing speeds do not change during extreme/stressful events; but this still leaves open the question as to whether higher-level cognitive functions (e.g., consciousness) might be changing speeds — whatever that might mean — or whether people are just mis-remembering this). This seems like a much harder question to get at.

  26. mumadaddon 10 Oct 2014 at 1:27 pm

    Boom! Thanks, John mc.

  27. The Other John Mcon 10 Oct 2014 at 1:57 pm

    No problem, really interesting topic. I meant to post the original source for Eagleman along with my previous comment, is worth a read:
    http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0001295

    The Wikipedia sub-entry on “oddball effect” is misleading. Eagleman’s work is interesting and cool, but it’s not *exactly* about the oddball effect, from what I can tell. This effect is worth mentioning because it highlights how arousal influences time dilation.

    The ‘oddball effect’ concept is: You watch a bunch of simple, ‘standard’ events that have a specific time duration (say, a circle is shown). Somewhere in a bunch of trials is an ‘odd-ball’ (say, a square, or a looming circle, or whatever), which can have a variable duration. Your task is to say whether the oddball matches the standard in duration. With enough trials and duration manipulations, you find that odd-balls always seem to be perceived as being shown for longer periods of time than the standards. See this paper for a more detailed example:

    http://perception.research.yale.edu/papers/09-New-Scholl-JoV.pdf

    The interpretation is that this oddball stimulus or event captures your attentional resources, and devotes some added/extra cognitive processing towards this stimulus, which is thereafter interpreted as lasting longer than it really did. One aspect of time perception, then, must be based upon how much cognitive work is used to estimate a time interval. So, in Eagleman’s work, extremely stressful (and/or unique) events trigger arousal and the deployment of attentional cognitive resources towards processing what’s happening.

  28. mumadaddon 10 Oct 2014 at 2:39 pm

    This is ringing a bell. I’ve watched some of his talks on YouTube and I think I might have actually seen a demo of the experiment you describe for the oddball effect. The wider topic was ‘The Specious Present’, and how far in the past our experience of the ‘present moment’ is actually occurring, due to the fact that different sensory inputs are processed at different speeds and the resulting lag in the brain stitching it all together into a unified experience of ‘now’. It is indeed very interesting.

  29. mumadaddon 10 Oct 2014 at 2:43 pm

    Actually, it might have been a similar model but nothing to do with the oddball effect. I seem to recall a very similar sounding model used by… Lumet? – something like that. He was trying to gauge the time difference between action and perception – very vague, sorry!

    Is this a fairly common type for this sort of experiment?

  30. mumadaddon 10 Oct 2014 at 2:45 pm

    “Is this a fairly common type for this sort of experiment?”

    I mean, type of model.

  31. steve12on 10 Oct 2014 at 3:16 pm

    Wow – that is embarrassing. To spin those results a evidence…that is the smell of desperation.

    I file this under Enough With the Bullshit Already. The whole idea of the study was to see if people saw the hidden messages, and they didn’t. A retain-the-null result like this still allows you to BS going forward because you can’t prove a negative. He can say that their spirits were too occupied with Candyland to want to read the messages, or whatever.

    But to not step up to the plate after the data comes in and admit it didn’t work is sort of intellectually dishonest and cowardly. He knows what the experiment was about. I heard him on NPR a few years ago (and called in, actually) touting this experiment and talking about how Earth-shattering the result would be if they reported the messages. Now, it’s all about interviews?

    Be an adult, be honest, and move on.

  32. leo100on 10 Oct 2014 at 7:45 pm

    @steve12

    Wow – that is embarrassing. To spin those results a evidence…that is the smell of desperation.

    I file this under Enough With the Bullshit Already. The whole idea of the study was to see if people saw the hidden messages, and they didn’t. A retain-the-null result like this still allows you to BS going forward because you can’t prove a negative. He can say that their spirits were too occupied with Candyland to want to read the messages, or whatever.

    But to not step up to the plate after the data comes in and admit it didn’t work is sort of intellectually dishonest and cowardly. He knows what the experiment was about. I heard him on NPR a few years ago (and called in, actually) touting this experiment and talking about how Earth-shattering the result would be if they reported the messages. Now, it’s all about interviews?

    Be an adult, be honest, and move on.

    He wasn’t spinning the results. Steven Novella mentioned in his post about confabulation can explain cases of apparent verification of near death experiences. Well it can’t as Dr. Penny Sartori’s study clearly showed.

    “For the people who had a near-death experience and out of body experience [their recollection of resuscitation] was really quite accurate and I decided then to ask the control group, the people who’d had a cardiac arrest but had no recollection of anything at all. I asked them if they would reenact their resuscitation scenario and tell me what they thought that we had done to resuscitate them. And what I found is that many of the patients couldn’t even guess as to what we’d done. They had no idea at all. And then some of them did make guesses, but these were based on TV hospital dramas that they’d seen. I found that what they reported was widely inaccurate. So there was a stark contrast really in the very accurate out of body experiences reported and then the guesses that the control group had made.”, Dr. Sartori reported.

    http://www.skeptiko.com/eeg-expert-on-near-death-experience/

    Also, about near death experiencer’s not seeing the signs only about 2 percent of patients had visual experiences according to the study. The two cases that did, didn’t have any signs placed in those rooms. I was impressed that they did in fact has a patient who was timed for 3 minutes well his heart stopped. His brain functioning ceased within 20-30 seconds of the heart stop beating. This shows that these experiences are not hallucinations but are in fact real experiences with an afterlife. I am also glad that the scientific community is finally starting to take this phenomenon seriously with more research being done in the future.

  33. grabulaon 10 Oct 2014 at 10:13 pm

    Ah yes leo, here we go, round n round

    “I am also glad that the scientific community is finally starting to take this phenomenon seriously with more research being done in the future.”

    Science will look into any phenomenon that looks like there might be going on. The difference between the breathless way you believe science is addressing it and the way science is actually addressing it is that some scientist will acknowledge that SOMETHING might be going on – and most will hypothesize that it’s a brain function and not contact with an afterlife. That is to say, they move forward on a theory that is the most plausible – a real example of occam’s razor being applied.

    “Also, about near death experiencer’s not seeing the signs only about 2 percent of patients had visual experiences according to the study. The two cases that did, didn’t have any signs placed in those rooms.”

    Here comes the special pleading!

    ” I was impressed that they did in fact has a patient who was timed for 3 minutes well his heart stopped. His brain functioning ceased within 20-30 seconds of the heart stop beating. This shows that these experiences are not hallucinations but are in fact real experiences with an afterlife.”

    I can’t find this anywhere, the closest I came to your claim is this “…Based on current AED algorithms, this likely corresponded with up to 3 min of conscious awareness during CA and CPR…”

    Dr. Penny sartori: ““The man in bed 2, he’ll die shortly because he’s already started communicating with his dead mother.” Now I thought this was something to scare me because it was my first day on the ward. But I looked around and the other nurses just carried on as if this was something normal. Then lo and behold, within two or three hours of the shift beginning, this man actually did die. That is something that’s always stuck with me.”

    Yeah, no way she’s completely credulous…

  34. leo100on 10 Oct 2014 at 10:34 pm

    Its not special pleading its a fact that the signs were not in those rooms. I mentioned before about the problems with the signs because the patients agenda is different from the doctor’s agenda. The doctor’s agenda is to see if a patient can see a sign, on the other hand the patient agenda doesn’t care about a silly sign up above. There would have to have some emotional attachment to them for them to care about it.

  35. grabulaon 10 Oct 2014 at 10:52 pm

    Leo

    “Its not special pleading its a fact that the signs were not in those rooms. I mentioned before about the problems with the signs because the patients agenda is different from the doctor’s agenda. The doctor’s agenda is to see if a patient can see a sign, on the other hand the patient agenda doesn’t care about a silly sign up above. There would have to have some emotional attachment to them for them to care about it.”

    You’re not real clear on what special pleading is since you followed up your ‘it’s not special pleading’ with well, an example of special pleading.

    It’s also a good example moving the goalpost you woo believers are so good at. Skeptics and science suggest a simple and effective test, and you somehow find a way to dismiss it as ineffective. But let’s be clear on where you’re completely wrong. Those who claim to have NDE sometimes claim to see perfectly things going on in the operating room – hence some of the questions for these types of studies are in the vein of can you describe the resuscitation process etc. Now you’re claiming if it doesn’t have emotional import they won’t notice? Tunnel vision in the afterlife maybe? How about the vividness you guys fall back on when claiming absolute proof it’s not just int he head? You’d think someone observing themselves being resuscitated in stunning and vivid detail could notice something so simple as a card with a number, symbol or letter on it. Yet now you’re going to backpedal and try to apply more stipulations on how and what people experience during NDE’s, effectively painting yourselves into a corner of unverifiability.

  36. leo100on 10 Oct 2014 at 11:23 pm

    Why isn’t verification of seeing what a doctor that walks in a room wore, or seeing a shoe from a ledge, or other cases isn’t enough?. A simple test that you mentioned doesn’t mean anything because if out of the 2 percent let’s say someone did see a sign that means nothing!!!. As you materialist’s would say that one patient experience seeing a sign is very insignificant. Your looking at a 70 percent success rate or higher but you won’t get nowhere near that in near death experience research. A physical marker like audio stimuli is good enough to show that these experiences are not hallucinations, false memory. That is what happened in this study. It will be interesting when they do this again in a new study for a longer period of time than 3 minutes if the patient keeps getting verification.

    One case was validated and timed using auditory stimuli during cardiac arrest. Dr Parnia concluded: “This is significant, since it has often been assumed that experiences in relation to death are likely hallucinations or illusions, occurring either before the heart stops or after the heart has been successfully restarted, but not an experience corresponding with ‘real’ events when the heart isn’t beating. In this case, consciousness and awareness appeared to occur during a three-minute period when there was no heartbeat. This is paradoxical, since the brain typically ceases functioning within 20-30 seconds of the heart stopping and doesn’t resume again until the heart has been restarted. Furthermore, the detailed recollections of visual awareness in this case were consistent with verified events.

    “Thus, while it was not possible to absolutely prove the reality or meaning of patients’ experiences and claims of awareness, (due to the very low incidence (2 per cent) of explicit recall of visual awareness or so called OBE’s), it was impossible to disclaim them either and more work is needed in this area. Clearly, the recalled experience surrounding death now merits further genuine investigation without prejudice.

    Obviously, none of you materialists and even many of pro believers care about the last two sentences described above. You materialist’s also failed to understand that their is no such thing as proof that is only found in mathematics.

  37. grabulaon 10 Oct 2014 at 11:38 pm

    @Leo

    “Why isn’t verification of seeing what a doctor that walks in a room wore, or seeing a shoe from a ledge, or other cases isn’t enough?. A simple test that you mentioned doesn’t mean anything because if out of the 2 percent let’s say someone did see a sign that means nothing!!!.”

    Pointing out generic, common details is not proof of anything but that you’re passingly familiar with what’s in a hospital room/ambulance. not to mention you consider those details ‘validation’ while following it up by dismissing the actual test. You’re full of all sorts of contradictions tonight leo.

    “As you materialist’s would say that one patient experience seeing a sign is very insignificant.”
    If ONE patient passes the test you know what happens then leo? You run more tests. Science doesn’t make assumptions based on a little evidence – it continues to test the hypothesis until enough evidence mounts to point in one direction or another. You can build this kind of strawman all you want but you know you’re being disingenuous about it.

    “Your looking at a 70 percent success rate or higher but you won’t get nowhere near that in near death experience research”
    One, anything close to 70% might be significant if consistent. Two, moving the goalpost now claiming you can’t get that. Again, you’re moving that goalpost so far it’s getting into unverifiable territory – do you understand why that is a problem leo?

    “It will be interesting when they do this again in a new study for a longer period of time than 3 minutes if the patient keeps getting verification. ”

    Leo, the study required most participants be questioned long after they’re experience. We can monitor EKG and all that ad nauseum but if patients can’t consistently respond positively to a simple test – identifying beyond the shadow of a doubt something key and purposeful – there’s no evidence. There’s already been a discussion on the difficulty of understanding the subjective experience of time – if I say 10 minutes after I died I remember this, we don’t actually know in my state of mind whether I really understood it’s actually been ten minutes or not. This is where you woo believers get lost in detail. A persons perception and opinion is not evidence. They have to pass a quantifiable and verifiable test in order to show evidence for anything but simple brain activity during death.

    “Obviously, none of you materialists and even many of pro believers care about the last two sentences described above.”

    Leo, please bother to read Dr. Novellas blog entry – his conclusion summarizes the problems with these statements succinctly.

    ” You materialist’s also failed to understand that their is no such thing as proof that is only found in mathematics.”

    Now you’re just being purposely moronic. Feel free to sift through the mountains of blog posts here by actual skeptics pointing out exactly what you are pointing out here. We certainly understand the concept, you should try harder to as well and not attempt to use it as a NDE of the gaps argument.

  38. steve12on 11 Oct 2014 at 12:32 am

    I need a distraction from the ALCS….

    LEO! LEO! LEO!

    What’s up kid? How’s the lead guitar coming?

    I’ll be honest. I’m afraid to die too.. If the world were made of magic, I might be persuaded that the blue pill is possible., so I get it.

    But…there’s just no evidence.

    Re: the current effort, this guy designed a q-experiment with a straightforward prediction that could have falsified the null and it just didn’t work. He (et al.) need to suck it up and either admit (at least temporarily) defeat and explain why a different & better experiment might work. It’s just that simple.

    Weaseling out after the results come in is so awful….

    Go Royals. I think…..

  39. Lukas1986on 11 Oct 2014 at 1:42 am

    Parnia was doing this for years along with the pro-NDE crowd. All results were negative, no one ever saw the pictures:

    http://infidels.org/library/modern/keith_augustine/HNDEs.html#experiments

    http://heresycorner.blogspot.com/2008/09/out-of-body-again.html

  40. grabulaon 11 Oct 2014 at 2:37 am

    Some good links Lukas1986

    from http://infidels.org/library/modern/keith_augustine/HNDEs.html#experiments

    ” Of these 7, 4 had NDEs as defined by the Greyson NDE Scale, 2 had NDE-like memories (e.g., feelings of peace or seeing deceased relatives), and 1 had memories unlike NDEs (e.g., seeing “some unknown people jumping off a mountain”). ”

    “Sartori reports, this study also yielded negative results, as “not all of the patients rose high enough out of their bodies and some reported viewing the situation from a position opposite to where the symbols were situated” (Sartori 38).”

    This stuff literally never sounds like anything but dreaming to me. There’s nothing to ever indicate it’s anything more. People who claim to have NDE’s tell some great stories but every time it comes under serious scrutiny you get things like the above two comments – one a dream like situation, and the other an excuse for getting negative results. It’s really fallen into the same traps of goalpost moving and null results that bigfoot hunting has.

  41. wyocowboy62on 11 Oct 2014 at 4:21 am

    One thing i would want to know about NDE ppl and those tyat say tyere is a heaven or life after death, r they religious? Our minds play tricks on and even at death. I dont buy that there is life after death.

  42. Steven Novellaon 11 Oct 2014 at 7:02 am

    Leo – the bottom line is this: Patients reporting non-specific details after the fact, after the opportunity for memory contamination etc., is never going to be definitive. It’s like a cold reading – the details that seem compelling are right in the gray zone, they seem specific but they really aren’t. So believers can say the bald man in the blue scrubs is specific, while the skeptic can say that was a random hit, or memory contamination.

    How do we resolve this? With controlled details. Highly specific details that are very unlikely to be random guesses, that are blinded to avoid contamination.

    That was the whole point of the hidden images.

    You could interpret this study two ways, as negative, or as a failure of the model. Either way, it failed to provide evidence for genuine NDEs of the nature it was designed to detect.

    Falling back on the old type of evidence does not solve anything, it just reverts to the type of evidence that will never resolve the dispute.

  43. mumadaddon 11 Oct 2014 at 7:25 am

    It’s like déjà vu all over again…

    Leo, you’re taking every ‘hit’ as confirmation but completely excluding, without consideration, any explanation that doesn’t fit your predetermined conclusion; then you’re explaining away and making excuses for the vast majority of the data that disconfirms your conclusion. That, sir, is confirmation bias and special pleading.

    I’ve never seen wishful thinking and cognitive bias embodied so perfectly. Only your sheer dogged persistence and consistently sloppy grammar betray the fact that you’re not a Poe…

  44. Alanon 11 Oct 2014 at 7:55 am

    There is actually other evidence for an afterlife from the Scole experiments in the late 1990’s. Quite spectacular “spirit lights” were multiply witnessed (and by several scientists) at various locations in Europe, one of a plethora of phenomena. Details are to found here…

    http://www.afterlife101.com/Light_display.html

    NDEs are quite spontaneous but from what I’ve read there are veridical cases which cannot be explained by the current mind-brain paradigm. But “The Scole Report” (obtainable online) details what seems to be intentional contact from some nonphysical intelligences (purported discarnate). Interestingly similar light phenomena were seen by William Crookes and other scientists and detailed in a report by him. So there is repeatability – as required by science.

  45. leo100on 11 Oct 2014 at 1:18 pm

    Mumadadd,

    I am but previous studies such as Penny Sartori’s study showed clearly that people who have near death experiences don’t make up stories. Unlike non near death experiencer do the ones who didn’t have an nde.

    @Steven Novella

    Interviewing a patient right after a near death experience isn’t going to work either as their memory is effected and needs to heal after a traumatic event. Nonetheless, I think a physical marker such as a beeper that was used on a patient who has a verifiable experience is good evidence. Because the beeper was on for 3 minutes and the patient heard two beeps from a machine that makes a noise every 3 minutes. This is when the patient was unconsciousness, his heart stopped brain activity ceased between 20-30 seconds after his heart stopped. This shows that these experiences are not hallucinations, neither are they false memories.

    Grabula,

    If you understand the phenomenon itself and the problems with it you wouldn’t be making such statements. Also death is a process not something that happens right away. So why should an out of body experience happen quickly?. I don’t know why they didn’t have signs up on every single patient of the 6066 patients in the study. I guess it had to do with the hospital itself or there wasn’t enough signs.

  46. aidenskyon 11 Oct 2014 at 1:39 pm

    Why is it so important for people to debunk NDE? No one is hurting anyone with their experiences and it seems to give comfort/peace to many. Why anyone would want to deny them that is beyond me.
    If they find comfort in believing that “Something else” happens after death then so be it. Perhaps the alternative of lights out and stay out and worm food that you guys here are proposing is simply too terrifying for many to comprehend.

    I Find it kinda evil and nasty to take something so deeply felt and offers such comfort to many, to basically trash it and trash it with gusto and send them back to a reality where fear & skepticism are the order of the day.

    Many NDE experiences are very “Real” for the recipients and many recipients will say they have never been of the “mystical” persuasion in the past or indeed afterwards & many report losing all fears of death/dying…A good thing…Right?

    I can Only trust/hope that those who have experienced NDE know what they know and are confident in the strength of their belief that “studies” like this do not dampen their spirits nor shake their belief.

    On my deathbed i know i would like to “think” my energy was on its way to somewhere since nowhere doesn’t sit as comfortable. 😉

  47. mumadaddon 11 Oct 2014 at 2:47 pm

    Leo,

    “Mumadadd,

    I am but previous studies…”

    You are what?

  48. leo100on 11 Oct 2014 at 3:39 pm

    Mumadadd,

    I am taking the other explanations seriously. But they simply don’t work the evidence is against them.

  49. leo100on 11 Oct 2014 at 3:41 pm

    I should point out I don’t think near death experiences and out of body experiences provide very strong evidence that there is an afterlife. However it does provide evidence indicative of it.

  50. steve12on 11 Oct 2014 at 8:05 pm

    “I am taking the other explanations seriously. ”

    No. All of your evidence = low quality nonsense. Essentially you have a bunch of ghost stories. And then you bend over backward to discount more prosaic explanations.

    Unfortunately, you’ll never get it because you can’t admit to what you don’t know and don’t understand. I mean, you were explaining to a Yale neurologist how memory and the brain works above. This makes learning impossible for you. What can you learn when you know it all already? I think it’s just sort of over for you. This is as far as you can get.

    Hence my trying to mold you into the lead guitar player for a science denial super-group. That would be a much better way to spend your time.

  51. steve12on 11 Oct 2014 at 8:07 pm

    “I guess it had to do with the hospital itself or there wasn’t enough signs.”

    Jesus Christ…..

  52. leo100on 11 Oct 2014 at 8:41 pm

    Steve12,

    The study stated there was only some signs put up, there was 6,000 plus patients. Only 2 experience consciousness experience outside the body. I ain’t saying I know it all the brain may well be the producer of consciousness. But I ain’t going to place my bets on it.

  53. grabulaon 11 Oct 2014 at 8:59 pm

    @leo

    “I think a physical marker such as a beeper that was used on a patient who has a verifiable experience is good evidence.”

    How is this any different from confirming pictures leo? First, the patient knows there’s a beeper so whats to stop them from saying ‘I heard beeps for 5 minutes’?

    “If you understand the phenomenon itself and the problems with it you wouldn’t be making such statements.”

    You’re going to have to be more specific. It seems I have a better grasp on the phenomena than you do.

    “I am taking the other explanations seriously. But they simply don’t work the evidence is against them.”

    So you’re not…

    “The study stated there was only some signs put up, there was 6,000 plus patients.”

    Leo, dear god. You realize why they selected the rooms they did for those cards right? Please tell me you understand atleast the very basic reasoning behind that?

  54. Steven Novellaon 11 Oct 2014 at 10:07 pm

    aidensky – I don’t care what people believe to comfort themselves. This case is entirely different – this is a published scientific study. When you publish a study claiming scientific evidence, it is perfectly reasonable for the study to be picked apart in tiny detail. That is how science works.

  55. Steven Novellaon 11 Oct 2014 at 10:11 pm

    Leo – Science progresses more by trying to prove a hypothesis wrong than by trying to prove it correct. When you try to prove it correct you are susceptible to a host of biases, such as confirmation bias, post hoc reasoning, using open ended criteria, etc.

    Anyone familiar with psychological research, ESP research, etc. should understand that protocols have to be air tight for the results to mean anything. The more extreme the hypothesis being tested, the tighter the protocols needs to be.

    Any protocol that allows for interpretation, contamination, or relies on memory without strict blinded controls, is essentially useless. It’s a Rorschach test – you see what you want to see.

    Again – the controlled bit of this experiment failed. That’s really the end of the story. Everything else is hand waving.

  56. leo100on 11 Oct 2014 at 10:11 pm

    The problems with the phenomenon is for example in this study only 2 percent have consciousness awareness outside the body. The other 98 percent didn’t report that and most died. Putting up some signs when there is over 6,000 patients how do you know which ones will make it and which ones will when you go into a study like this. You don’t and that is the risk you take. You also don’t know which ones will have consciousness outside the body especially knowing now its such a tiny percent of 2 percent. Who’s to say the patient, didn’t see the signs before the study was being done maybe they were being sneaky. Your using the same logic here with the beeper, but how can the patient hear this beeper when they were unconsciousness with no brain activity?.

  57. grabulaon 11 Oct 2014 at 10:17 pm

    @aidensky

    “I can Only trust/hope that those who have experienced NDE know what they know and are confident in the strength of their belief that “studies” like this do not dampen their spirits nor shake their belief.”

    Make believe diety forbid we try to live in a rational world.

    “I Find it kinda evil and nasty to take something so deeply felt and offers such comfort to many, to basically trash it and trash it with gusto and send them back to a reality where fear & skepticism are the order of the day.”

    fear and skepticism….wonder what side of the rational fence you’re on.

  58. grabulaon 11 Oct 2014 at 10:21 pm

    @leo

    “The problems with the phenomenon is for example in this study only 2 percent have consciousness awareness outside the body.”

    You mean claimed they did.

    “The other 98 percent didn’t report that and most died. Putting up some signs when there is over 6,000 patients how do you know which ones will make it and which ones will when you go into a study like this.”

    Dude, answer my effin question on this…

    “Who’s to say the patient, didn’t see the signs before the study was being done maybe they were being sneaky”

    You know how idiotic that sounds? You know you’ve now moved the goalpost to an unattainable location?

    ” Your using the same logic here with the beeper, but how can the patient hear this beeper when they were unconsciousness with no brain activity?.”

    You must have completely missed my last post…

  59. Steven Novellaon 11 Oct 2014 at 10:28 pm

    leo – you keep assuming that the patient actually experienced what they report they experienced and when they report they experienced it. These are huge assumptions. The details (hearing beeps in a hospital – who could possibly imagine that?) are not that specific, leaving random hits as a reasonable possibility. The person underwent three interviews, the third a year after the fact. Interviews are opportunities for suggestions and contamination. Do we know for sure that a relative was not in the ER with this person, and then discussed what happened with them after they were awake? Did he hear a conversation containing any details when people did not realize he was awake enough to listen? Did any of the interviewers, looking for corroboration, perhaps pull a bit too enthusiastically on a thread in his story?

    It is incredibly easy to inadvertently feed details to someone when you are trying to get information out of them. I see this happen all the time. Don’t forget – I’m a physician. I interview patients every day. I see residents and students interview patients. I read charts. It’s all an evolving narrative, contaminated with erroneous details, mixing of sources, confusing suggestions with conclusions, and weird coincidences and anomalies. The art of getting a good history is deconstructing this confusing mess and trying to figure out which bits are verifiable and reliable.

    This is all incredibly far from compelling evidence for a drastic change in our fundamental view of the universe.

  60. leo100on 11 Oct 2014 at 11:06 pm

    Grabula,

    “Who’s to say the patient, didn’t see the signs before the study was being done maybe they were being sneaky”

    I said that because that is something a skeptic would probably say if someone did see one of the signs.

    How is this any different from confirming pictures leo? First, the patient knows there’s a beeper so whats to stop them from saying ‘I heard beeps for 5 minutes’?

    But he didn’t he was precise the patient knew the beep lasted for three minutes because he was outside his body in those three minutes.

    Steven Novella,

    Isn’t this more of a cop out though?. Your assumptions appear to actually be huge as previous studies clearly show there is a big difference between non near death patients and near death patients when you control for it. For example in Dr. Penny Sartori’s study. It’s not something you can effectively rule out even if you interview the patient right away and even if you did it takes for a person’s memory to come back after such a traumatic event. I have no doubt you have experience with contamination.

  61. grabulaon 11 Oct 2014 at 11:57 pm

    @leo

    “I said that because that is something a skeptic would probably say if someone did see one of the signs.”

    If someone, especially a patient sees the sign that invalidates the experiment so…yeah. What you won’t see is a good skeptic hand waving away good, solid evidence. So far NDE is sorely lacking in it, and this is another study you’re trying to make excuses for.

    “But he didn’t he was precise the patient knew the beep lasted for three minutes because he was outside his body in those three minutes. ”

    I see you’re being exceptionally dense on this thread Leo. Let’s break this down Barney style. You need to point out what in this specific study provides any evidence what so ever for NDE. You’re certainly defending it, now give us specifics and address why exactly you think they provide evidence.

    “For example in Dr. Penny Sartori’s study”

    How about referencing more than one crappy study for your evidence?

  62. Lukas1986on 12 Oct 2014 at 1:51 am

    For the info Dr. Penny Sartori is a believer in paranormal NDEs and her study was also negative because she placed also cards above the patients and no one saw them. She got only one patient who reported something similar to Dr. Parnia’s study. Again the thing which would convince the world that there is something more to NDEs was again negative:

    “Under the supervision of neuropsychiatrist Peter Fenwick and Religious Experience Research Centre (RERC) Director Paul Badham, Penny Sartori conducted a fourth target identification experiment, also in the United Kingdom, at Morriston Hospital, Swansea from January 1998 to January 2003 (Sartori 34). As Sartori explains:

    At each patient’s bedside in ITU [the intensive therapy unit], mounted on the wall, is a cardiac monitor. Symbols which were mounted on brightly coloured day glow paper to attract attention were placed on the top of each monitor. These symbols were above head height and concealed behind ridges to prevent them being viewed from a standing position, thus ensuring they could only be viewed from an out-of-body perspective (Sartori 35).

    Sartori adds that the symbols were inconspicuously changed every two months and covered by a card removed away from her sight, “ensuring that not even the author knew which symbol was on which monitor” (35). Though all ITU patients were interviewed in the first year of the study, for logistical reasons interviews in the remaining four years were limited to cardiac arrest survivors, those who came so close to death that their survival was unexpected, and spontaneous OBErs and NDErs (36). Consistent with van Lommel and colleagues’ findings, about 18% of the cardiac arrest survivors reported NDEs; about 5% of them reported OBEs (37-38). In the entirety of Sartori’s 5-year study, 15 patients reported NDEs or NDE-like experiences, and 8 OBEs were reported (37-38). Nevertheless, Sartori reports, this study also yielded negative results, as “not all of the patients rose high enough out of their bodies and some reported viewing the situation from a position opposite to where the symbols were situated” (Sartori 38).”

    Source: http://infidels.org/library/modern/keith_augustine/HNDEs.html#experiments

    How many failed studies with the numbers people want to see that NDEs are not proof of some paranormal? That they are clearly brain based experiences during a shock.

  63. Lukas1986on 12 Oct 2014 at 1:52 am

    As for the patient experiences during the operation like what he heard or “seen” there are many other plausible explanations besides a paranormal one in Sartori’s study.

  64. Lukas1986on 12 Oct 2014 at 2:00 am

    Also on Skeptoid that Sartori’s study was negative:

    What science would love to find is a win in a controlled test, consisting of the disembodied consciousness successfully completing a task under controlled conditions. If the claims of the most interesting such stories are true, this should not be a problem. It hasn’t happened yet — nobody’s yet seen Dr. Sartori’s hidden cards, or beaten any other similar tests — but here’s to hoping that they do.

    Source: http://skeptoid.com/episodes/4261

    Sorry for the triple post. If there was a edit button it would be better.

  65. Lukas1986on 12 Oct 2014 at 2:12 am

    Dr. Penny Sartori is behaving similar like Dr. Sam Parnia even when her research was negative she still believes it will one day prove a soul-like consciousness. This is from her own blog:

    “In my research eight patients reported an out of body type experience but none of them reported the hidden symbol. The reasons for this were the varying qualities of the OBEs reported.

    Some patients floated to locations opposite to where the symbols were situated. Some did not rise high enough out of their body and some were simply more concerned with what was going on with their body.

    There were two patients who reported an OBE where they were high enough and in the correct location to view the symbols but they were not looking on the top of the monitor. One of those patients remarked that if he knew before his OBE that there was a hidden symbol there he would have looked at it and told me what it was.

    Obviously, if patients report OBEs then if the actions of the staff present were reported then this could be verified by interviewing the staff present.

    However, all that being said it is still worth persevering with this research because I have also come across people who reported an OBE anecdotally (not patients in my hospital research). Some were able to ‘float’ around the room at will – one lady was a nurse and she was looking at her cardiac monitor. There are also similar reports in the literature.

    So the most important point I realised having conducted this research was that OBEs are of varying qualities and quite rare. It was incredibly hard work to undertake the research project. In the five years of my research there were only two OBEs that were of sufficient quality to actually view the symbol. During those five years approximately 7000 patients were admitted to ITU. Hence to accumulate convincing results will take a very long time, many thousands of patients and a lot of patience from the researchers.

    So when the results are considered at surface value it may be wrongly assumed that the OBE veridicality research is producing negative results when in fact it is not – it is simply far too early to yield good quality OBEs in sufficient quantities. I predict it could take at least 20 years of continuous research to get any satisfying results. All results from the AWARE study will contribute greatly to our understanding of consciousness.”

    Source: http://drpennysartori.wordpress.com/2011/08/13/obe-veridicality-research/

    You can see the bias here of the researchers. She is behaving similar like Parnia. It was negative but for them it was NOT negative. Oh Boy.

  66. aidenskyon 12 Oct 2014 at 2:31 am

    I Honestly dont think the signs are important to the separated consciousness. I Believe the consciousness trancends the physical self and the physical self has no control whatsoever over what the consciousness sees or in any way influence or manipulate its actions…Remember the brain/mind is not in play here, that is still within the body on the op table and is most likely not sending signal/messages to check the room for “Signs” to the separated consciousness in the corner of the room, or wherever

    Many NDEs speak of an awareness of being separated from the physical self but are able to explain that although the physical body holds all the components (brain, eyes, ears) necessary to experience the actual experience, they describe an All seeing, All sensing, knowing understanding without the eyes, ears etc.

    Whats confusing though is if indeed the consciousness is separate from the body and then returns after resuscitation then who/what has created the memory of the experience. If the body/brain isn’t having the experience or wasn’t aware and the viewer was the “consciousness” would imply the consciousness held the details and took the memory of the experience back to the body/brain after resus for the NDEer to recall the particulars…Its too much to try understand for me at this late hour folks

  67. grabulaon 12 Oct 2014 at 3:34 am

    @Aidensky

    “I Honestly dont think the signs are important to the separated consciousness.”

    You need to follow the narrative of this conversation if you want to participate. Leo already trotted this one out. It falls on its face when on the other hand proponents of NDE will claim vivid and clear experiences even more so then they experienced in life. If this were the case it should be no trouble at all identifying a card (sometimes even brightly colored) in the hospital room you’re floating around in.

    “Remember the brain/mind is not in play here, that is still within the body on the op table and is most likely not sending signal/messages to check the room for “Signs” to the separated consciousness in the corner of the room, or wherever ”

    Ah, a dualist, it should have been obvious I suppose.

    “Many NDEs speak of an awareness of being separated from the physical self but are able to explain that although the physical body holds all the components (brain, eyes, ears) necessary to experience the actual experience, they describe an All seeing, All sensing, knowing understanding without the eyes, ears etc.”

    Many people describe dreams in this way too, coincidence? Your mind has evolved to support all of these senses so is it any wonder when you dream, you still ‘experience’ within those limitations?

    “Whats confusing though is if indeed the consciousness is separate from the body and then returns after resuscitation then who/what has created the memory of the experience.”

    It’s not confusing, you’re just confused about what is actually going on. It’s NOT separate from the body, and this is yet another test adding to the pile of evidence for it.

    “Its too much to try understand for me at this late hour folks”

    Yes, this ‘hour’ definitely seems to be overly complex for you.

    I’ve come to the conclusion that Dualists are the worst. Is ay that because as despicable as say the CT people who circle things like sandy hook and whatnot, dualists are the most pretentious of the woo lot. Notice for example Aidensky doesn’t even bother actually engaging in the conversation, he has his own thoughts he’s imparting to the world and shouldn’t we be thankful he’s deigning to do so but really he’s just a humble man moving through this crazy universe…

    He’s already beginning to breech the ‘I’m mistaking philosophy for science’ error so many (in fact in my experience ALL) dualists make.

  68. mumadaddon 12 Oct 2014 at 3:38 am

    Leo,

    The study stated there was only some signs put up, there was 6,000 plus patients. Only 2 experience consciousness experience outside the body. I ain’t saying I know it all the brain may well be the producer of consciousness. But I ain’t going to place my bets on it.

    So the null hypothesis is that brains aren’t the origin of consciousness, and those pesky neuroscientists have to build their case against this. Hell, you’re right, there’s no evidence for that at all.

  69. Steven Novellaon 12 Oct 2014 at 7:18 am

    Leo – I am not making any assumptions. Everything I stated is well-established psychology/neuroscience.

    The research showing differences in NDE and non-NDE subjects is not conclusive, so you cannot take it as a solid premise. The quality of this evidence is lacking, and needs independent replication.

    But even if we accept it at face value, it does not prove NDE. Differences between NDE and non-NDE patients can be explained without having had a true life-after-death or OOB experience. Remember, NDE subjects have constructed a narrative surrounding their NDE. Non-NDE subjects have not constructed a narrative – so it makes sense that their descriptions are different.

    And Leo – skeptics are not explaining away or dismissing the evidence. We are doing what scientists do, proposing alternate and more mundane explanations, all of which have to be specifically eliminated before the extraordinary hypothesis should be accepted. The process of science is about trying to prove something wrong, and only those theories that survive dedicated efforts to do so are worthy of acceptance. The NDE hypothesis is not even close.

  70. leo100on 12 Oct 2014 at 11:35 am

    Steven Novella,

    You mean non-nde subjects constructed a narrative as what is clearly shown in Dr. Penny Sartori’s study

    “When contrasted with the control group, who had undergone resuscitation but did not report an OBE, many discrepancies were discovered. Having been asked to re-enact their resuscitation, the control group’s reports were very inaccurate and demonstrated misconceptions and errors between the actual procedures performed, as well as equipment used. Many of these patients either had no idea as to how they had been resuscitated or made guesses, based on what they had previously seen on television”

    Some NDEs reported in this study differed slightly from those reported in the literature. Except for the two deepest NDEs (Patients 10 and 11), they lacked the narrative quality and the patients did not appear to attach any significance to them or didn’t understand them. This suggests that there could be a sub-set of NDErs who have fragments of the NDE, but do not think about it again unless asked.

    https://iands.org/research/important-research-articles/80-penny-sartori-phd-prospective-study.html?showall=1

  71. steve12on 12 Oct 2014 at 11:39 am

    aidensky:

    “I Honestly dont think the signs are important to the separated consciousness.”

    It is important – vital, in fact – because it would be an objective test, and was a priori the whole point of the experiment.

    “I Believe the consciousness trancends the physical self and the physical self has no control whatsoever over what the consciousness sees or in any way influence or manipulate its actions…”

    I believe that I’m the fastest man on the planet. But I would need to beat Usain Bolt to PROVE that I’m the fastest man on the planet. As of now my belief counts for nothing.

    “Remember the brain/mind is not in play here, that is still within the body on the op table and is most likely not sending signal/messages to check the room for “Signs” to the separated consciousness in the corner of the room, or wherever”

    But there’s no evidence that brain/body and consciousness are in fact separate. You can’t just assume this – you need evidence and there is none.

    The rest of your post talks about things that do not constitute evidence for al of the reasons that have been repeated here many times.

  72. steve12on 12 Oct 2014 at 11:51 am

    Grabula:

    “I’ve come to the conclusion that Dualists are the worst. Is ay that because as despicable as say the CT people who circle things like sandy hook and whatnot, dualists are the most pretentious of the woo lot.”

    The dualists do have that “silly materialist” routine down pat. And it is annoying, but…

    The conspiracy theorists piss me off more than anything. I grew up near Sandy Hook and so I know people that were colleagues of the principle who was killed, and I know some others that were friends with parents who lost children. I was also an hour away from 9/11 and know many people who lost loved ones. This has made it personal, my bias no doubt.

    These nuts were calling the guy whose house the kids ran to at Sandy Hook and telling him he’s an actor. HE was trying to tell the story and just started crying. They tell 9/11 widows to wake up – Bush killed their family members. If someone at a party started talking about NDE, I could politely disagree. If someone tells me Sandy Hook didn’t happen, I’d have to go for a walk and compose myself, lest I end up in jail.

    I reserve an unmatched enmity for those people.

  73. aidenskyon 12 Oct 2014 at 3:10 pm

    Please forgive my ignorance here but what exactly is a dualist? I Assume it to mean something akin to fence sitting, a hankering to both sides of the debate, so to speak.

    I stumbled upon this article whilst reading another site where NDEs were being discussed & someone had linked to this site.
    I Do have a personal interest in NDE studies as i had a similar experience when i was 6 years old and underwent emergency surgery for a burst appendix and some 30 years later i am still at a loss to understand what happened to me. The experience hasn’t changed me as i was most likely too young to have any firm beliefs altered. What i can say is how vivid and real the experience was and still “Is” to this day.

    I Have spoken about the experience on a few occasions but have always been aware how far fetched it all sounds and i hate for people to think of me as all unicorns and rainbows ends, because i am not that guy.

    I have been told by many i “dreamed” it to which i usually respond “Probably” so as not to explain it any further and “probably” is a great conversation change.
    I Have accepted the possibility of the brain being deprived of oxygen and neurons firing all over thus triggering the sensation of being perched on a wheelchair in the corner of the operating theatre curiously observing two surgeons operating on me.

    If it was a dream (allbeit vivid) or the brain gradually preparing for shut down, it was all rather peaceful and that feeling of separation and being a curious spectator was tremendous and lives with me to this day although never repeated.

    I Will no doubt never know for sure what went down, however the evidence tends to lean towards brain chemistry which makes sense if wer’e “keeping it real” but such was the feelings associated with that night that it has held my attention for many, many years

  74. leo100on 12 Oct 2014 at 3:43 pm

    You may want to respond to my comment about Dr. Penny Sartori’s study that clearly showed the big differences between a non nde group and a nde group. You materialist’s need to show some honesty when it obvious that the evidence is not on your side. I am sure Steven Novella among other skeptics on here are are angry about how the media has spun this. However, are not angry when the media spuns silliness such as near death experiences explained, or the brain’s last hurrah.

  75. leo100on 12 Oct 2014 at 3:43 pm

    That is too Grabula.

  76. energymanon 12 Oct 2014 at 3:56 pm

    I find it somewhat disturbing that Mr Novella, in reviewing evidence, does not appear to consider evidence that opposes his opinion or materialistic world view. If he were a true scientist he would consider ALL evidence and if it does not fit his hypothesis then it must be wrong and not the evidence. If you do not search you most assuredly will not find. Case in point is a documented story of a lady, I have met twice, who was involved in a terrible car accident in Seattle WA and taken to hospital unconscious. She required 8 hours of surgery and was taken to the ICU. When she awoke she was able to describe in detail all aspects of the operation including the people involved, where they were standing, the instruments and equipment used. Even conversations. Her surgeons were so astounded that wrote an affidavit testifying to the story. The reason they were astounded? this lady had been light blind from birth and had never “seen” anything in her life.
    Her’s is not the only similar story. I would love to see Mr. Novella’s explanation of this.

  77. steve12on 12 Oct 2014 at 4:32 pm

    Leo:

    Wake up and read through the BS you’re linking to.

    “You may want to respond to my comment about Dr. Penny Sartori’s study”

    What study? Subjective interviews are not a “study”. It’s not science, it’s folklore.

    She’s also misleading people re: her credentials. She’s not a medical doctor, she’s a nurse. On her site it says:

    “In 2005 she was awarded a PhD for her research into NDEs”.

    So this book was a dissertation of some sort, but obviously it isn’t a science degree. When you say that you’re doing medical research and preface your name with ‘Dr.’, your leading people to think that you’re a scientist. She is not.

    Even her LinedIn page is squirrelly re: her PhD. No mention of where it was from, in what.

    So you have a non-science book of stories by someone who is not qualified to do any scientific inquiry anyway. ADd to this that – at best – she’s misleading us re: her credentials. Way to bring out the heavy hitters Leo.

    Evidence my ass.

  78. steve12on 12 Oct 2014 at 4:52 pm

    A little more digging, and I found out that Sartori got her PhD from:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/University_of_Wales,_Lampeter

    And they don’t grant science degrees. So the vaunted researcher, Dr. Penny Sartori, has a humanities PhD despite her being characterized as a medical researcher in many quarters, including wikipedia:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Penny_Sartori

    Basically, she should be leaving the Dr. off of her name, or she should be explicit that she has no scientific or medical training for making claims re: scientific matters. HEr qualifications are not germane to her claims.

    But instead, leave the Dr. on, never talk about your qualifications beyond this, and convince lay people and the media that these claims are coming from someone with proper qualifications.

    I call that lying.

    In any case, she’s a charlatan and her work is meaningless folklore.

  79. leo100on 12 Oct 2014 at 5:08 pm

    Steve12,

    Haha, when you can’t debunk the evidence you go right for the personal attacks on the person. That is so typical of you skeptics that claim by the way that you are skeptics.

  80. steve12on 12 Oct 2014 at 5:45 pm

    Oh, Leo. If only you could admit that you don’t know some stuff, you might be able to learn. Until you get over yourself, there is no hope. I guess you and your ilk have outsmarted the entire scientific community from the comfort of your bedroom. Think about that for a second.

    1. I did take on the evidence. Subjective stories are weak at best for all the reasons we’ve mentioned + common sense. She also tried leaving words around the ER. None of it worked (shocking) and she’s left with stories that are evidence of nothing. If they’re floating around, how come they don’t see the words Leo? They said people were trying to resuscitate them. No kidding. What’s the alternative? The doctors and nurses got together and danced a soft shoe?

    2. Credibility is important. E.g., If you told me you did the research, I would dismiss it immediately, obviously.

    She’s not qualified, and is essentially a fraud in how she’s portraying herself and her work. That is important. It’s not ad hom for me to tell my baker friend that he’s not qualified to perform surgery on me.

  81. leo100on 12 Oct 2014 at 6:58 pm

    Steve12,

    She never claimed to be a neuroscientist or other such titles given to scientists who do have Phds. Instead she clearly comes out and says she is a nurse. Again, I can easily imagine if I was outside my body I would care at all about a silly sign. It has no relevance to me. If you say it would have relevance to you your obviously just lying to yourself. It’s doesn’t matter what the pro nde proponents in nde’s like me and the anti nde proponents think is correct. The evidence is what matters and it appears that more studies will be done in the future unlike what you materialists were hoping for. You were hoping for this study to show clearly that no more investigation should be done in this area.

  82. grabulaon 12 Oct 2014 at 9:29 pm

    @leo

    “This suggests that there could be a sub-set of NDErs who have fragments of the NDE, but do not think about it again unless asked. ”

    probably the most reasonable assumption right Leo? Can’t remember those vivid NDE’s without a little prompting? I’ve got a facilitated communication center you just have to come visit.

    “You may want to respond to my comment about Dr. Penny Sartori’s study that clearly showed the big differences between a non nde group and a nde group. You materialist’s need to show some honesty when it obvious that the evidence is not on your side. I am sure Steven Novella among other skeptics on here are are angry about how the media has spun this. However, are not angry when the media spuns silliness such as near death experiences explained, or the brain’s last hurrah.”

    Leo, your fav study the SINGLE study you seem to believe supports all of your ridiculous claims has been addressed ad nauseum in this thread alone, not to mention the other discussions you’ve shown up to. How about you move this discussion along with some more evidence. You still haven’t answered my simple question.

  83. grabulaon 12 Oct 2014 at 9:30 pm

    @steve12

    “I reserve an unmatched enmity for those people.”

    As you should, they deserve a special place in every make believe hell ever. That’s why I hold them as worse than dualists, but beyond those kinds of CT, dualists are the WORST!

  84. grabulaon 12 Oct 2014 at 9:36 pm

    @Aidensky

    You’re reading about NDE’s, an important subject to you, you make dualists claims but have no idea what I dualist is AND you’re close to 40? Something smells fishy here. google dualism if I’m wrong.

    “I Do have a personal interest in NDE studies as i had a similar experience when i was 6 years old and underwent emergency surgery for a burst appendix and some 30 years later i am still at a loss to understand what happened to me. ”

    I went into surgery when I was about 4 because the tv stand we owned tipped over and dropped the tv on my head. I clearly ‘remember’ waking up and realizing I was surrounded by monster/aliens and I must have been abducted – long before I knew what an alien abduction was. Later I realized they were doctors and nurses in head to toe green surgery gear and they were just doing their job. It’s not unexplainable, I was young, impressionable and had experienced a trauma and was disorientated. These things aren’t as big a mystery as people WANT them to be.

    “I Will no doubt never know for sure what went down, however the evidence tends to lean towards brain chemistry which makes sense if we’re “keeping it real” but such was the feelings associated with that night that it has held my attention for many, many years”

    This doesn’t jibe with your previous statements Aidensky and I’m starting to suspect you have ulterior motives than to discuss this issue in a genuine manner. You’ve flopped from being a dualist who states : “I Believe the consciousness trancends the physical self and the physical self has no control whatsoever over what the consciousness sees or in any way influence or manipulate its actions…” to someone who ‘leans towards brain chemistry…’ as an explanation. Which is it?

  85. grabulaon 12 Oct 2014 at 9:51 pm

    @Leo

    ” Again, I can easily imagine if I was outside my body I would care at all about a silly sign.”

    Good for you Leo, you still haven’t acknowledged the ridiculousness of this claim when laid against the pro-NDE claim that many of these are vivid experiences (never mind that these studies don’t seem to back this claim up).

    “If you say it would have relevance to you your obviously just lying to yourself.”
    Mind reading now Leo? Will you assume everything relevant or irrelevant to you is the same for everyone else? It would be convenient to your narrative for sure.

    ” It’s doesn’t matter what the pro nde proponents in nde’s like me and the anti nde proponents think is correct. The evidence is what matters and it appears that more studies will be done in the future unlike what you materialists were hoping for.”

    Ah yes, more mind reading. We “materialists”, at least as far as I’m concerned don’t care whether more studies are done. The evidence is already stacked against the idea. Sartori and the others can perform the same ridiculous experiments until they themselves have NDE’s. The point is that when their studies fall flat they need to accept that. Touting any of these as a victory of any kind is disingenuous and unscientific.

    “You were hoping for this study to show clearly that no more investigation should be done in this area.”

    and the mind reading goes on, can you channel dead relatives as well?

    Also Leo, can you explain why you show up here arguing sartori this and sartori that and it takes other commentators to post links to those studies? It’s as sloppy as your arguments.

  86. Alanon 13 Oct 2014 at 4:30 am

    Grabula,

    What you haven’t considered (or choose not to) are shared experiences that have been documented and spoken of by Ray Moody and Peter Fenwick (AWARE study co-author). This means they cannot have an origin from inside the brain. Also, as I said just above (see my above comment), there is physical evidence, multiply witnessed, that imply some kind of non-physical consciousness (NPC). As fraud has been ruled out, if you look at *all* the phenomena involved in that study – and the report authors were highly experienced – that doesn’t leave much else apart from some manifestation of NPC.
    That opens up the NDE issue.

  87. grabulaon 13 Oct 2014 at 5:03 am

    I don’t get while each of this articles is on a progression in science (unless it’s just fighting stupidity) we have to rehash all the same old arguments?

    Alan, Ray Moody and his whole thing is ridiculous and has been handled in excruciating detail by someone like midnightrunner on this blog before. Let’s all just ignore the fact that Moody is obviously as credulous as anyone else who believes in this crap (he also believes in a whole lot of other crap with no evidence to support it), why don’t you feel free to post some links to some specific studies. You’ll have to cite where the fraud has been ruled out – tough to do since most of his research is done at his institute but feel free.

    * a quick note to all proponents of woo, feel free to just automatically drop in some links to some reasonable evidence to support your claim right away when you post so we don’t have to continuously point out that you can say whatever you want but until you have evidence you have nothing. Notice the article initiating this discussion has plenty of links to support it. Feel free to follow that model if you want to be taken seriously.

  88. steve12on 13 Oct 2014 at 10:52 am

    Grabula<

    "As you should, they deserve a special place in every make believe hell ever. That’s why I hold them as worse than dualists, but beyond those kinds of CT, dualists are the WORST!"

    Well, if this thread goes long enough I might be coming over to your side….

  89. steve12on 13 Oct 2014 at 10:56 am

    Alan:

    I second Grabula. Please link a specific finding with explanation of why you find that piece of evidence compelling.

  90. Steven Novellaon 13 Oct 2014 at 12:47 pm

    Leo – Sartori’s “study” was barely that, and never peer reviewed. She questioned 8 NDE subjects adn 33 controls, without any blinding or statistical analysis. We only have her subjective judgement – those of an unblinded advocate – for the accuracy of the reports.

    This is pathetically weak evidence. At best you can consider this preliminary.

    Show me some follow up replication with some actual scientific rigor.

  91. leo100on 13 Oct 2014 at 1:04 pm

    Steven Novella,

    I guess you actually didn’t look at the study because there clearly is statistical analysis being done. https://iands.org/research/important-research-articles/80-penny-sartori-phd-prospective-study.html?showall=1

  92. Steven Novellaon 13 Oct 2014 at 1:22 pm

    Leo – I did read the entire study. Can you please point me to the statistical analysis?

  93. leo100on 13 Oct 2014 at 1:50 pm

    You claim there was been no replication of studies but there has been showing huge differences from hallucinations and nde’s. The statistics themselves are shown in the charts of the link I gave you.

    At the time of commencement of this study, most NDE research was retrospective (Moody 1975, Ring 1980, Sabom 1982, Morse et al., 1985). A similar study (Parnia et al., 2001) was commenced at the same time as this study and followed a similar protocol, both projects being supervised by Dr Peter Fenwick. Further prospective studies have since been published (Parnia et al., 2001, van Lommel et al., 2001, Schwaninger et al., 2002, Greyson 2003).

    Even though the findings were not statistically significant they do add to other studies showing the differences between hallucinations and nde’s.

    http://www.systemsphilosophy.org/publications/Rousseau_Journal_of_the_Society_for_Psychical_Research_75.1_902_47-49.pdf

  94. jsterritton 13 Oct 2014 at 1:50 pm

    I think leo100 thinks expressing results as percentages is “statistical analysis.”

  95. Bruceon 13 Oct 2014 at 1:56 pm

    jsterritt,

    I have managers who are super excited when you take a number and put it in a table. Making it a percentage is really quite beyond them… and if you make into a pie chart, then you are a statistical genius.

    (For the record… this is the only useful pie chart: http://i.imgur.com/yynXdFV.jpg)

  96. Steven Novellaon 13 Oct 2014 at 2:01 pm

    Exactly – that was my point. There is no statistical analysis in that paper.

    The studies still are just preliminary observational studies, largely descriptive, including some demographics and percentages, but that’s it. It still relies heavily on later recollection in uncontrolled environments, reported to unblinded interviewers.

    To portray any of this evidence as convincing is to be completely naive (despite my having spelled it out numerous times) of the many lines of evidence supporting the conclusion that there is almost no limit to the degree that memories can be constructed to reflect expectation, suggestion, and a compelling narrative. We have the added further element of people trying to reconstruct a memory from fragments emerging from a pathological situation.

  97. leo100on 13 Oct 2014 at 2:15 pm

    Steven Novella,

    Why because 8 percent of nde’s that were interviewed didn’t make guesses, were far different from the ones that didn’t have nde’s but were making guesses?

  98. leo100on 13 Oct 2014 at 2:20 pm

    Well Statistical analysis was used in this study. http://profezie3m.altervista.org/archivio/TheLancet_NDE.htm

  99. Alanon 13 Oct 2014 at 2:30 pm

    Leo100

    You said:

    “Even though the findings were not statistically significant they do add to other studies showing the differences between hallucinations and nde’s.”

    This paper by Thonnard et. al in PLOS ONE (2013) is interesting in this regard:

    http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0057620

    They say: “the present study shows that NDE memories have more characteristics than any kind of memory of real or imagined events and of other memories of a period of coma or impaired consciousness following an acquired severe brain dysfunction. In our opinion, the presented data demonstrate that NDEs cannot be considered as imagined events. We rather propose that the physiological origins of NDEs lead them to be really perceived although not lived in reality (i.e., being hallucination- or dream-like events), having as rich characteristics as memories of real events.”

    The problem with a physiological origin is that this has been ruled out…see here:

    http://www.horizonresearch.org/main_page.php?cat_id=292

    So if they are not imagined events but the memories are to do with “having as rich characteristics as memories of real events”, not of physiological origin and not of psychological origin (see the second link) *and* people are reporting back accurate details of operating room procedures that seems to leave only one possibility…A transcendental event.

  100. tmac57on 13 Oct 2014 at 2:57 pm

    I have a little cognitive test that can be applied to see if you really believe something,or just want it to be true:

    Note,that this has to be a personal and internal test,so there is no point in asking someone else to tell you the result,because they will possibly lie to you.

    Ask yourself this question:
    If there were a situation where your life absolutely depended on the truth of (some disputed ‘fact’);
    Which would you choose as being the most likely correct answer (assuming you want to continue living)? You have to choose now and with only your current knowledge.

    Even if you had a feeling that there was a possibility that something might be true,this test should help to focus your mind on the more probable answer,since everything you are depends on the outcome.
    Of course,for this to work,you have to be exquisitely honest with yourself.

  101. Steven Novellaon 13 Oct 2014 at 3:39 pm

    leo – that is a serious non-sequitur – different study, different comparison:

    “Significantly more patients who had an NDE, especially a deep experience, died within 30 days of CPR (p<0·0001). "

    So what? What does this even mean? How many comparisons did they make and did they control for multiple comparisons (doesn't look like it). With such small numbers, this is impossible to interpret.

    Right now we don't know why some people who survive CPR remember an NDE and others do not. It's nothing obvious. It likely has to do with how the various parts of the brain recover. But, just because there are differences between those who remember an NDE and those who don't, that does not mean the difference is that the NDE was real. That conclusion is nowhere supported in the existing data. You have to be a motivated believer to see that in the data.

    I am also not impressed overall with the quality of the data, which likely has something to do with the fact that it is mostly collected by believers who are trying to prove NDEs are real, rather than creatively control for variables that can really answer questions. To the extent that they have (such as having hidden images) the results are negative, and then we get special pleading.

  102. leo100on 13 Oct 2014 at 3:46 pm

    Steven Novella,

    I would not call it special pleading if you actually understand how the phenomenon works. Honestly, how do you expect such a low number of patients who have near death experiences 2 percent in the recent study to see a sign when the sign also wasn’t even in those two rooms. Ducksoup on Michael’s Prescott’s blog mentioned something very interesting about the Mr A case.

    http://michaelprescott.typepad.com/michael_prescotts_blog/2014/10/flatliners.html#comments

  103. steve12on 13 Oct 2014 at 4:07 pm

    Oh, Leo…

    You can’t even hold on to a thread of conversation. You just jump around from one non-sequitor to the next.

    How does your response at (13 Oct 2014 at 3:46 pm) answer what Steve said at (13 Oct 2014 at 3:39 pm)?

    How can you have a conversation when you just want to jump around like that? You’re acting a little wacky, honestly.

  104. steve12on 13 Oct 2014 at 4:21 pm

    Alan:

    This study:
    http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0057620

    Simply shows that NDE’s may be phenomenologically distinct. Doesn’t show NDE involve any non-material anything. I think you know this.

    But here..
    The problem with a physiological origin is that this has been ruled out…see here:
    http://www.horizonresearch.org/main_page.php?cat_id=292

    Non peer reviewed opinion pieces from non-science advocacy groups are not the kind of thing that can rule out anything, obviously. And it’s largely nonsense interpretations that seem based on physiology. See discussion of time perception above re: the timeline of brain functioning and NDE recall. Add to this our brain’s need to fill time in during recall, and general recall issues, and this is a far, far, far cry from ruling out anything.

    In science, you have to be super careful about interpretation. There are explanations that seem to jump out from the data, but you have to be a lot more conservative about entertaining other explanations. You’re simply not being very careful.

  105. Bill Openthalton 13 Oct 2014 at 5:41 pm

    Alan —

    From the Horizon Research page you linked to:

    The most favorable scientific arguments have largely centred around the first two concepts because the current prevailing brain/mind model is one where consciousness and mind are the result of brain processes or neurological events. But given that the brain is non functional during cardiac arrest, we will have to look for other explanations.

    Of course, the brain is functional (albeit shutting down, to use a computer analogy) during cardiac arrest. If a sufficient blood flow is maintained through CPR, the brain will continue to live (not be significantly damaged) until heart function is restored. In those cases, the person suffering cardiac arrest will never have died. If anything, we need to revise our definition of “death”, rather than venture into wishful thinking.

  106. Kaion 13 Oct 2014 at 6:06 pm

    It’s true that the Aware study does nothing in particular for the claim that people can see local environment by paranormal means during an NDE. However, neither does it really do much to refute the possibility that some form of awareness transmutes through death into some other form of awareness nonetheless. Really, the study, and the critiques of it, are neither ontologically nor epistemically equipped to answer such an existential question. As Chris French says, a few minutes post cardiac arrest don’t give us an answer. However, this smokescreens the fact, imo, that 100 mins or 1000 mins wouldn’t really give us the answer either, unless under dualism “spirit” can reanimate dead corpses. And if under monism, it is also highly unlikely to be true that consciousness could recover to human capability once irreversible degradation of the organism has taken place. Thus, I think that question is moot.

    Whatever “plausibilities” people see in the situation (either for paranormal perception or for neurological basis of consciousness), these arguments are not demonstrations. Human mentation may be functionally dependent upon the organized system of the human brain, without actually being produced by it. Or: it might be produced by it. Again, no current forms of experiment can discern this difference, nor do I see any likelihood in the foreseeable future of them being able to do so, perhaps ever.

    Additionally, the question of whether NDEs are of metaphysical import *never was* necessarily tied to the idea that veridical, anomalous perceptions were to be had in the vicinity of the incapacitated body, in order to either prove or strengthen that case. Even if such targets *were* seen, regularly, it would really not be capable of proving more than the fact that the mind in death has peculiar nonsensory aptitudes, not that those aptitudes can be assumed to exist in absence of the organized structure that is the brain. In fact, this insistence that the metaphysical issue somehow resides with the “realism” issue in order to be true, is a creature of modern bias. Go in search of “realistic OBEs” before 1800 and you’ll catch my drift. Something that is, ironically, also a problem for the Nelson camp, because our brains weren’t fundamentally different before 1800.

    Additionally again, there are (to my mind) other issues at least as important, if not more important, to the metaphysical question, than this somewhat silly business of “OBEs” ever was. The first is the great clarity of thought and perception often reported in these experiences. While (by my own argument above) it cannot be formally disproved that that this is sponsored solely by neurology in crisis (and I take descent into crisis and recovery from crisis to be the shoulders of a crisis) the argument begins to take on a farfetched aspect. Demented perceptions can be had readily by just a little bit of fever or eating the wrong food or a mild dose of the flu, whereas some NDEs are luxurious in their thematic drama and imagistic content at a time (or near a time) when the CNS is in deep trouble. Again, something about that just doesn’t jive, try as we might to make it do so.

    Also, the sense NDERs have of making an authentic “choice” between realms of life and death, the moral or therapeutic content of the experience, and the very strong “destinal” sense that comes bundled with it, can all (legitimately in my view) be considered at least provisional indicators that something else may be in the mix here. All of this is a lot to ask for a body under CPR and a brainstem that isn’t furnishing a gag reflex *(or even one which has newly just recovered such a reflex). The brain behavior of awareness, if I can put it that way, may be dying, but something else may be waking, and taking a neutral monist view, the material form transformed through death into other material forms carries with it an implication of awareness transformed into some other species or variant of awareness. Again, I do not think that any arguments appearing on this page or elsewhere successfully counter such a possibility.

    On the other hand, I also think it rather farfetched that no “OBEs” were had in the AWARE study simply because people “didn’t have them in the right places.” That doesn’t really address the fact that very few people had them AT ALL, and the historical circumstance suggests that this is more of a cultural meme than a necessary aspect of the experience.

  107. LeonKennedyon 13 Oct 2014 at 6:09 pm

    Alan,

    You have slightly misrepresented the paper by Thonnard et. al in PLOS ONE (2013).

    The paper concludes that NDEs are flashbulb memories of perceived hallucinations:

    “NDE memories could meet the definition of “flashbulb memories”. Indeed, a highly emotional, personally important, and surprising event can benefit from a preferential encoding that makes them more detailed and longer-lasting than everyday memories and that leads to what is called a flashbulb memory”

    “Considering together the concept of flashbulb memories and the similarity of NDEs with hallucinations, the higher amount of characteristics for NDEs that was here observed suggest that the memories of NDEs are flashbulb memories of hallucinations.”

    “This suggests that memories of NDEs are flashbulb memories of really perceived hallucinations. Although the similarities of NDEs with hallucinations are striking, further research is needed to characterize the relationship between these phenomena more precisely. Finally, additional neuroimaging studies are needed in order to better understand the neural signature of NDEs.”

    This is not evidence for anything “transcendental” like you assumed.

  108. Alanon 13 Oct 2014 at 6:58 pm

    Bill Openhalt

    You said:

    “Of course, the brain is functional (albeit shutting down, to use a computer analogy) during cardiac arrest.”

    From this interview with Prof. Sam Parnia (AWARE) in 2013

    http://nhne-pulse.org/new-book-erasing-death/

    He says…”I call these an actual death experience, because the physiology and the biology of the human brain is very well-studied, it’s very well-understood, and it’s standardized, which means that we can study it in a scientific fashion.”

    followed by…”what I find most fascinating about the experiences are the cases where people have come back and described to their physicians, with astonishing detail, of what had been going on. And they described watching things, and described hearing conversations – and recalling them incredibly accurately.”

    GROSS: “When you say what had been going on, you mean going on in the hospital room after the patient’s heart had stopped, while doctors were trying to resuscitate them?”

    PARNIA: “Absolutely. So they may describe events that were going on while they were being resuscitated. They may describe events that were going on outside their room, family members’ conversations that were going on that were not even in the room they were in, but things that have been verified.”

    The question then is of memories (from the Thonnard study above) that “cannot be considered as imagined events” and “having as rich characteristics as memories of real events”, where as Parnia says they describe events with “astonishing detail” and “recalling them incredibly accurately” and where these are “actual death experiences” re the non-functioning of the brain as far as not measuring any functioning.

    The next question is how can people recall such events so accurately without a functioning brain. Of course, this is what one might expect if the mind was separated from the brain during these times. If your view prevailed there would be *zero* recall and experiences such as these.

  109. Alanon 13 Oct 2014 at 7:02 pm

    Bill Openhalt

    …in that a fully functioning brain precludes these experiences. Less functioning = more of this kind of experience. Less is more.

  110. steve12on 13 Oct 2014 at 8:49 pm

    Alan, this is BS.

    Parnia talks about verified events, but the fact is that these are subjective interviews and it’s up to interpretation of the researchers / interviewers for how close the account has to be. I mean, we know that they’re not having dinner in the ER when someone’s heart stops. How close does the account have to be to be counted? “Then the doctor started CPR on me”. That gets a “hit” every time, right? Hard to know what would be due to chance considering the circumstances.

    You need to have standards a priori for what’s a hit.

    So Parnia HIMSELF realizes this, then puts up the signs to use a test that we all agree would be meaningful if the hits were above chance. When it fails, what does he do? HE goes back to subjective interviews, fraught with all of the same problems they’ve always had.

    IOW, when it comes time to put up or shut up, it doesn’t ever work

  111. grabulaon 13 Oct 2014 at 9:05 pm

    @leo

    “http://www.systemsphilosophy.org/publications/Rousseau_Journal_of_the_Society_for_Psychical_Research_75.1_902_47-49.pdf”

    This is a book review Leo.

    “Ducksoup on Michael’s Prescott’s blog mentioned something very interesting about the Mr A case. ”

    Prescott states from the study that ” Of these, 46 patients described memories said to be “incompatible with a NDE,” while the remaining nine had NDEs”
    So the vast majority had ‘memories’ during equivalent periods of time but can’t be considered NDE like…This doesn’t seem odd to you Leo? That many more people reported memories that just don’t fall into a per-conceived notion of what an NDE should be so they don’t count? Effectively these people are even cherry picking for NDE’s that fit their description of an NDE while ignoring the rest of the data because it’s inconvenient and doesn’t sound like ‘heaven’. Prescott at least addresses this issue in some fashion. Finally Prescott comes to the conclusion that this study was a null result as well.

    “I think leo100 thinks expressing results as percentages is “statistical analysis.””
    jsteritt, she does have those sweet tables to convert to percentages, it’s got to be legit!

  112. grabulaon 13 Oct 2014 at 9:10 pm

    @Alan

    “http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0057620”

    What is this evidence for other than that NDE’s occur under different situations than other memories and may have different characteristics? The horizon Foundation certainly seems like a non biased source for information on this subject…(Steve12 covers it more eloquently)

    “The next question is how can people recall such events so accurately without a functioning brain”

    Anecdotal stories from Parnia don’t count as evidence. Beyond that I highly doubt the veracity of the claim ‘described to their physicians, with astonishing detail, of what had been going on.’ specifically astonishing detail. ‘Hey doc, I remember some guy with brown hair in a white overcoat hitting me with the paddles a few times while a nurse assisted him. Also I remember my family talking about how much they hope I’m ok and that they’ll pray for me’ like stories often turn into ‘astonishing detail’, especially when a bunch of credulous idiots are swallowing that tripe and self correcting in their minds to make it more acceptable to their world view.

    “Of course, this is what one might expect if the mind was separated from the brain during these times. If your view prevailed there would be *zero* recall and experiences such as these.”

    So we’re back to dualism again Alan?

    steve12 seems to be expressing better the points I’m getting at today lol: “When it fails, what does he do? HE goes back to subjective interviews, fraught with all of the same problems they’ve always had.”

  113. grabulaon 13 Oct 2014 at 9:11 pm

    Dr.Novella said: “Right now we don’t know why some people who survive CPR remember an NDE and others do not. It’s nothing obvious.”

    Isn’t this in some way comparable to why some people remember dreams better, or that some dreams are remembered while others aren’t?

  114. leo100on 13 Oct 2014 at 9:26 pm

    Grabula,

    I guess you didn’t read close to the end of his post where, Michael Prescott admits there is some evidence for near death experiences in this study.That is because these elements, as Michael Prescott mention that are classified as incompatible with nde’s share in fact many elements to traditional nde’s however the main reason why that data wasn’t included is because it cannot be verified. The Mr. A case however was verified.

  115. grabulaon 13 Oct 2014 at 9:54 pm

    Leo,

    It’s unimportant to me that he’s as credulous as you are. What is important is that he acknowledges the study is a null result AND that the other memories dismissed out of hand by those conducting the study might have some relevance, regardless of his meaning. In fact, I guess this would make him less credulous than you.

    So one hit, that is suspect to all but NDE-proponents, and that’s good enough for you buddy?

  116. leo100on 13 Oct 2014 at 10:54 pm

    Well it is because I understand the phenomenon. What you think there is going to be 50 hits?. That is not how the phenomenon works this was well known in previous nde studies. There is a very low percentage of nde’s who have verifiable experiences.

  117. leo100on 13 Oct 2014 at 10:57 pm

    I acknowledge what the result is but I know there is numerous real problems with why it failed.

  118. grabulaon 13 Oct 2014 at 11:25 pm

    So you acknowledge the result with this study is null, how is it the other studies you reference aren’t’ when they have the same level of success AND they all share the same problems you’ve pointed out?

    “That is not how the phenomenon works this was well known in previous nde studies. There is a very low percentage of nde’s who have verifiable experiences.”

    pleading and moving, pleading and moving!

  119. Alanon 14 Oct 2014 at 4:21 am

    LeonKennedy

    You said:

    “You have slightly misrepresented the paper by Thonnard et. al in PLOS ONE (2013).”

    I didn’t mean to. Yes, I read this. Again…

    “This suggests that memories of NDEs are flashbulb memories of really perceived hallucinations. Although the similarities of NDEs with hallucinations are striking, further research is needed to characterize the relationship between these phenomena more precisely. Finally, additional neuroimaging studies are needed in order to better understand the neural signature of NDEs.”

    This is a “working hypothesis”, I would say, and if this is *falsified* (which is science) then what else is left? If “really perceived hallucinations” are falsified? The problem is that you need a functioning brain to have an hallucination. Blood flow, electrical activity etc. – which is not there during some people’s “actual death experiences”.

    It seems that one possibility is something going on in the brain much deeper than can be detected at present and this may be able to “save”, in some way, the current brain-mind paradigm. But I don’t know how this then explains tunnels, meeting dead relatives, enhanced perceptions, clarity, life review…
    Why should all that go on?

  120. Bruceon 14 Oct 2014 at 4:24 am

    “Well it is because I understand the phenomenon. What you think there is going to be 50 hits?. That is not how the phenomenon works this was well known in previous nde studies. There is a very low percentage of nde’s who have verifiable experiences.”

    Thank you for my morning chuckle Leo.

    Perhaps you should spend some time looking up the basics of study design, statistical noise and elementary formal logic. A body of evidence based on studies that are badly designed, that show the same results that can be attributed to chance alone cannot then be used to say that the newest study showing the same thing somehow backs up the already (for all intents and purposes) rejected hypothesis. The overwhelming weight of the negative results is much more significant than a few random chance hits that may actually be a result of bad study design or bias.

    It is like designing an experiment to prove gravity does not exist by standing in a field and throwing 100 balls in the air and then coming back the next morning to count them and claiming that only finding 98 balls proves that the other 2 flew to the moon and therefore gravity does not exist! And then doing this repeatedly saying after the 100th “experiment” that 200 odd missing balls cannot be chance alone.

  121. Bruceon 14 Oct 2014 at 4:33 am

    “But I don’t know how this then explains tunnels, meeting dead relatives, enhanced perceptions, clarity, life review…
    Why should all that go on?”

    Why do we dream, what is deja-vu, why do some people suffer mental illnesses? Many many questions… the simple answer is that the brain is the single most complicated structure we have encountered as of yet and we are only starting to understand how it works (though a neurologist would most likely know more about how much we actually do know that I do).

    How about we rule out the mundane before we start jumping to metaphysical answers?

  122. Bill Openthalton 14 Oct 2014 at 4:51 am

    Leo100 —

    I acknowledge what the result is but I know there is numerous real problems with why it failed.

    … because my gut tells me life after death is true, so if the experiment failed it’s because it wasn’t set up properly. Because I just cannot stomach the idea there’s nothing after death. Yay.

  123. mumadaddon 14 Oct 2014 at 9:31 am

    Leo, Alan, & other woos,

    What would you say if we could replicate NDE experiences without subjecting people to the trauma of flatlining or some other serious injury and actual risk of death, using transcranial magnetic stimulation, drugs, or whatever? If we ran the same sorts of observations, in the same time frames, and got the same results, ie. no verified hits for the objective measure (the cards) but a few hits on details such as location, scenery, people present etc.

    Would you accept this as evidence for disembodied cognition? Would you be happy with a 12 month delay before interviewing subjects? Would you be okay with the fact that the subject had been exposed to one of the details that supposedly verify their experience in the intervening time? Or would you insist that we tighten up our protocols and use only the objective, predetermined criteria for a ‘hit’?

    If you can see the problems with the example above then you just need to realise that wishful thinking is preventing you from applying the same standard to your own pet beliefs. If you can’t see the problems then you’re beyond hope, and you’ll never be able to get anything but confirmation from reading the sources you reference.

  124. mumadaddon 14 Oct 2014 at 9:32 am

    Sorry…

    Leo, Alan, & other woos,

    What would you say if we could replicate NDE experiences without subjecting people to the trauma of flatlining or some other serious injury and actual risk of death, using transcranial magnetic stimulation, drugs, or whatever? If we ran the same sorts of observations, in the same time frames, and got the same results, ie. no verified hits for the objective measure (the cards) but a few hits on details such as location, scenery, people present etc.

    Would you accept this as evidence for disembodied cognition? Would you be happy with a 12 month delay before interviewing subjects? Would you be okay with the fact that the subject had been exposed to one of the details that supposedly verify their experience in the intervening time? Or would you insist that we tighten up our protocols and use only the objective, predetermined criteria for a ‘hit’?

    If you can see the problems with the example above then you just need to realise that wishful thinking is preventing you from applying the same standard to your own pet beliefs. If you can’t see the problems then you’re beyond hope, and you’ll never be able to get anything but confirmation from reading the sources you reference.

  125. steve12on 14 Oct 2014 at 11:38 am

    “What would you say if we could replicate NDE experiences without subjecting people to the trauma of flatlining or some other serious injury and actual risk of death, using transcranial magnetic stimulation, drugs, or whatever? ”

    This is a great point, which means Alan simply won’t respond and Leo will give a review of his favorite band’s new album.

    It’s well known that TMS applied to visual cortices can produce hallucination and surreal sensations. Ever take acid? No question you will get many symptoms like NDE, including hallucinations and serious time distortion. There are cases of tumors causing a sensation of being with God. Going back you have, God’s helmet, an apparatus using low volt current to the temporal lobes (if memory serves me) to induce the feeling of a presence. ON it goes.

    I have no doubt that the self reports for all of these are real. (And I’ve personally experienced 1 of them).

    Is this evidence of consciousness outside the body? Must we conclude that my consciousness travelled outside of me from this? Why would these manipulations cause that to happen?

    Again, these personal reports are honest and real in most cases, no doubt. But they’re in no way, shape or form evidence for an afterlife, consciousness outside the body, etc.

  126. steve12on 14 Oct 2014 at 11:49 am

    I forgot to add:

    In college, while experimenting with acid, my friend and I got separated. I really wanted a grinder, and I had this uncanny feeling that my friend did as well. Long story short, I get to the grinder shop and guess who’s there? My friend. Now get this: he had the same experience, and said he just KNEW he’d find me at the grinder shop.

    So what can we conclude? Well obviously, some form of telepathy was at play. I think parts of each of our consciousness became quantum-entangled when we dropped (cause ya know, quantum consciousness and all) and then our disembodied selves tracked each other to the grinder shop.

    I got a ham and cheese grinder and pondered what this meant for the universe. Science as I knew had been destroyed.

  127. steve12on 14 Oct 2014 at 11:55 am

    Shit, I forgot the key piece of evidence.

    The whole thing seemed REAL VIVID, so we can falsify the null of impaired college students coincidentally stumbling into the same food trough after not eating for 5 hours

  128. leo100on 14 Oct 2014 at 3:13 pm

    Mumadadd,

    Have you actually looked at the paper of the aware study?. It says:

    Among 2060 CA events, 140 survivors completed stage 1 interviews, while 101 of 140 patients completed stage 2 interviews. 46% had memories with 7 major cognitive themes: fear; animals/plants; bright light; violence/persecution; deja-vu; family; recalling events post-CA and 9% had NDEs, while 2% described awareness with explicit recall of ‘seeing’ and ‘hearing’ actual events related to their resuscitation. One had a verifiable period of conscious awareness during which time cerebral function was not expected.

    As you can see there. There was more than 1 interview done on most of the patients. So if confabulation were apparent it would show up most likely in as time passed.

  129. leo100on 14 Oct 2014 at 3:14 pm

    http://www.resuscitationjournal.com/…739-4/fulltext. There is the link to the full study.

  130. The Other John Mcon 14 Oct 2014 at 4:25 pm

    leo: “One had a verifiable period of conscious awareness during which time cerebral function was not expected.”

    Your (and apparently the study authors’) definition of ‘verifiable’ seems to be different than the general scientific community’s. I wish it wasn’t such a waste of time explaining this concept to you.

  131. BillyJoe7on 14 Oct 2014 at 4:56 pm

    “I wish it wasn’t such a waste of time explaining this concept to you” :)

    I think the only reason posters here are wasting time on Leo is that he so cute…he certainly reminds me of my kid brother as we were growing up. But even cute becomes a little tiresome after a while. You eventually want your kid brother to grow up. No hope here though. I mean, despite appearances, I don’t think Leo is only twelve years old. I don’t think there is any more “growing up” to do in his case.

    That’s a little sad.

  132. steve12on 14 Oct 2014 at 4:57 pm

    To add on to what TOJM is saying, the range of what can happen in a hospital when someone goes into CA is exceedingly small. So you can’t count the majority of the recall, as the events themselves are 90% the same across cases.

    Looking for differences relies on the memories of the people who are around. Either family members who are going through a trauma (memory is affected), or medical personnel who are (a.) distracted by the task at hand and (b.) do this often and can confuse episodes (interference in memory).

    This technique of doing interviews to look for memories corroborated by others is not a good one. It never has borne fruit, and it never will. Because by design, it cannot produce anything reliable.

    So what’s left? Nothing. Every valid test has failed.

    So NDE Dualists, here’s your challenge: stop crying about the interviews, and design a valid test that works. I’ll help you brainstorm.

  133. BillyJoe7on 14 Oct 2014 at 5:11 pm

    I think, deep down, they realise that there is no valid test that will work for them.

  134. steve12on 14 Oct 2014 at 5:19 pm

    I agree BJ7. Why conduct a valid test that will only disappoint when you can endlessly say that it’s real anyway AND simultaneously claim superiority to the scientific community?

    That’s a win / win.

  135. leo100on 14 Oct 2014 at 6:08 pm

    BillyJ7, Steve12

    I think of some valid tests as you say that would bring out hits I mentioned it before on you but was attacked about it. I mentioned why not write something on the sign that would hold relevance to the patient and have it on every single patient’s bed on both sides of the bed too.

  136. leo100on 14 Oct 2014 at 6:11 pm

    I am not the one crying about the interviews, I am not the one crying and pouting about a case that was verifiable that you skeptics proclaim can be explained by false memory. One of the skeptics favorite cards to play by the way.

  137. Bruceon 14 Oct 2014 at 6:42 pm

    False memory is real and testable and has been proven to exist. Your precious NDEs have not.

  138. grabulaon 14 Oct 2014 at 9:04 pm

    @mumadadd

    “What would you say if we could replicate NDE experiences without subjecting people to the trauma of flatlining or some other serious injury and actual risk of death, using transcranial magnetic stimulation, drugs, or whatever? ”

    That’s been kind of my point all along though I haven’t been able to communicate it effectively. The differences being attributed to NDE’s compared to other hallucinations so far appears to me to be made up. Leo posted one study but from a credulous source looking for results. Every description I’ve seen of an NDE smacks of dreaming – not to mention they conveniently discard anything that doesn’t seem ‘NDE like’ whatever that means.

  139. grabulaon 14 Oct 2014 at 9:27 pm

    @leo

    “I am not the one crying about the interviews, I am not the one crying and pouting about a case that was verifiable that you skeptics proclaim can be explained by false memory. One of the skeptics favorite cards to play by the way.”

    Uh, Leo, you’ve been ‘crying’ this whole thread about this study because you seem to think it shows evidence for something and it doesn’t.

  140. leo100on 14 Oct 2014 at 10:12 pm

    Grabula,

    Again the reason why is because the skeptics would not be interested in cases such as that because nothing can be verified from them. I haven’t been crying I have been talking to a brick wall all of this time.

  141. grabulaon 14 Oct 2014 at 10:49 pm

    @leo

    “I have been talking to a brick wall all of this time.”

    Hello pot!

    “Again the reason why is because the skeptics would not be interested in cases such as that because nothing can be verified from them.”

    One of the problems with your stance and your claim here Leo is that we’re not asking for anything unreasonable. A good study would be a great start. Acknowledging so far the studies have shown absolutely nothing would also be a great start. A case that verifies anything in any reasonable manner would be a great start but currently you don’t have that.

  142. steve12on 15 Oct 2014 at 12:13 am

    LEo:

    “I mentioned why not write something on the sign that would hold relevance to the patient and have it on every single patient’s bed on both sides of the bed too.”

    This is a good start, but there are problems…

    Assuming that extra-body consciousness is real, why would they notice signs with personal relevance but NEVER signs with random words? Wouldn’t weird signs with random words be occasionally noticed if for no other reason than their novelty?

  143. Alanon 15 Oct 2014 at 3:44 am

    This academic article by Facco and Agrillo from Frontiers in Neuroscience (2012) gives a good overview of current NDE research and highlights dogma in science which can preclude paradigm changes: “Near-death experiences between science and prejudice”.

    http://journal.frontiersin.org/Journal/10.3389/fnhum.2012.00209/full

    “Science exists to refute dogmas; nevertheless, dogmas may be introduced when undemonstrated scientific axioms lead us to reject facts incompatible with them.” …. they begin, which is a powerful point dogmatic sceptics will not like.

  144. grabulaon 15 Oct 2014 at 4:41 am

    ” …. they begin, which is a powerful point dogmatic sceptics will not like.”

    So devastating! And yet, like Leo misses the mark you too miss the mark Alan. We’re not asking for anything unreasonable – just reasonable, well performed experiments to provide evidence for these extraordinary claims. We already know your dualist claims fall flat on their face when faced with evidence for mind/brain connection because we’ve used science to eliminate the idea of something else. Woo believers commit horrendous fallacies, and ignore inconvenient science so where do you think the fault lies?

    It kills me that guys like you and Leo would wander in here in the first place to tell Dr. Novella how the brain works and that he can’t possibly understand what’s going on with it.

    Finally, a quick search on your boy shows that he’s on the credulous side of the science, the Dr. Oz of neuroscience perhaps?

    http://community.frontiersin.org/people/EnricoFacco/48199

  145. Bill Openthalton 15 Oct 2014 at 4:42 am

    Alan —

    Dogmatic skeptics === people who keep insisting on real evidence.

  146. mumadaddon 15 Oct 2014 at 5:23 am

    Alan,

    That remark about skeptics being dogmatic is just silly. For me, a huge part, if not the main point, of skepticism is to make an effort to understand why I, or we in general, think and believe what we do and the way we do, and to try to apply this to ourselves to avoid falling into false beliefs and futile or harmful bahaviours, particularly when we want, sometimes desperately, a particular conclusion to be true. Thinking critically is about putting some rigour, humility and self-awareness into the process of assessing truth claims, and applying that rigour across the board, including to your own beliefs. And this to you is dogmatic?

    Sorry to say it, but no matter how much you or I want NDEs and ultimately a soul and life after death to be real, the evidence you’re touting doesn’t hold up to even the barest scrutiny. Dr. N and other posters here have been trying to explain to you the foibles in human recall and cognition that undermine your evidence, and you’re retorting with lame platitudes and links to articles written by credulous people who have drunk the same Koolaid as you. Try doing what has already been suggested and provide some evidence that doesn’t fall foul of the same weaknesses that have been repeatedly explained to you.

    Leo,

    No, I did not read the study, I read Dr. N’s and CKav’s writeups, and the 12 months before interview I was referring to are for the single verified account touted by Parnia: The subject was interview over 12 months after the fact and in the interim had met the medic whose identification later ‘verified’ his NDE. Those two facts totally undermine the validity of this person’s testimony.

    Leo, FFS, let’s just take NDEs out of the equation for a moment. If you were an eyewitness to a crime, and you got a good look at the perpetrator, when would the police take your testimony? As soon as possible, or after a year? Now ask yourself why? Now let’s say after a year they have a suspect in custody, and you’re asked to pick him out of a line up. What do you thing a good defence attorney would make of the fact that you’d actually been introduced to the suspect ahead of the line up? Again ask yourself why.

    Like I said before, if you can grasp these problems when they don’t relate to your pet conclusion, all you need to do is apply the same standard to your own conclusion to understand why we aren’t buying it. This is basic stuff, leo.

  147. Bill Openthalton 15 Oct 2014 at 5:30 am

    I like this sentence from the article by Facco and Agrillo:

    Most available psychobiological interpretations remain so far speculations to be demonstrated,

    The mind boggles.

  148. BillyJoe7on 15 Oct 2014 at 8:07 am

    Can I take him home now?

    http://www.collegehumor.com/embed/6850295/cute-baby-leo-fighting-sleep

  149. steve12on 15 Oct 2014 at 1:22 pm

    Alan:

    Whay can’t you answer specific questions to points that are put to you?

  150. steve12on 15 Oct 2014 at 1:26 pm

    More generally, has anyone noticed this “technique” that woosters use of simply ignoring all the points that are put to them that they don’t like? I think Hardnose is certainly the King of this approach, but it is a pattern across the majority.

    It’s easy to say they’re running and hiding when they don’t like things that they can’t refute, but I’m beginning to think something weird is going on. Like a form of psychological denial or something. It is just ODD to behave this way.

  151. The Other John Mcon 15 Oct 2014 at 1:45 pm

    steve, that is a good observation, although not sure why leo didn’t get that memo.

    It’s an argumentative tactic, and can be effective. It would take a seriously long response to reply to every single point or question people are (rightly) making. So they pick and choose the easy ones, or just change the topic. In my experience, for these types of people, it’s more about “winning” the debate/argument, than about being right. Would probably make good lawyers?

  152. steve12on 15 Oct 2014 at 1:59 pm

    I actually read Alan’s frontiers link.

    It’s like an academic jaqing off, essentially. But there are some nuggets in there that are fn.

    Just an e.g. of the bad resoning – Here they are shooting down a more pedestrian explanation for NDE:

    “The topic of neurotransmitter imbalance and hallucinogens is very complex and far beyond the limits of this analysis; however, even though some psychedelic drugs such as DMT and ayahuasca can give rise to quite similar experiences (Strassman, 2001), aside from providing usable analogies for NDEs, there are marked differences between the hallucinations that accompany use of psychedelic drugs and NDEs, preventing the latter’s interpretation as a simple byproduct of the release of specific neurotransmitters (see Facco, 2010, as a review of the topic).”

    So the phenomenology is “quite similar”, but not identical. No shit. In one you’re remembering dropping DMT with some friends, in the other you’re remembering an episode where you were dying and your brain was running out of o2. The only thing that WOULD be weird is if they were identical. Very similar, in this instance, still makes it a much better explanation for the phenomenology than a soul or some other paranormal nonsense.

    And then, we throw science under the bus outright. Because if science has to change into something unrecognizable to accommodate NDE phenomenology, it’s just gonna have to be like that:

    “NDEs are an intriguing and relevant phenomenon, the nature of which is still under debate. Their apparent trascendent tone may wrongly lead one to take them as clues of an afterlife, glossing over the neurobiological mechanisms involved in producing them; on the other hand, a prejudicial refusal of facts that appear trascendent or paranormal might wrongly lead to neglecting them due to their apparent incompatibility with the widely accepted materialistic view of the world and known scientific laws.”

    Translation: “Look at me! I’m a scientist (ostensibly) that doesn’t know what science is!” Naturalism is an assumption we must have to do science and it is incompatible with the paranormal, obviously. Abandoning naturalism means there is no science.

    ******

    I really object to their overall premise. Their argument doesn’t rest on stupid interviews and all that. They seem smart enough to know that that’s all BS. It rests instead on the idea that the phenomenology for NDE is so different than the rest of human experience that it may require a re-thinking of science itself.

    This is silly.

    There are many states people can enter due to drugs, brain damage, social situations, etc that this argument can be made for. You can make this argument for strong emotional reactions, like how you feel when your child is born. YOu can make this argument based on the fact that we experience at all, that we are conscious. The notion of qualia itself invites this notion (and as we know, man accept said invitation).

    So why does THIS phenomenology get SPECIAL status? Absurd.

  153. leo100on 15 Oct 2014 at 2:50 pm

    Mumadadd,

    You do realize that if you were unconscious, with no heart beat and no brain activity for three minutes and come back from the brink of death. That your memory of what happened would be very fuzzy so if you interviewed him right away you likely wouldn’t get any account out of him. Plus, if there was contamination there I would suspect a more elaborate account there than what he described. By the way, this is an interesting debate video on youtube I have watched before.

    You may also want to look at this paper. “Consistency of near-death experience accounts over two decades: are reports embellished over time?”

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17289247

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sYkFNvtohdE

  154. mumadaddon 15 Oct 2014 at 3:11 pm

    leo,

    More excuses, eh? Please answer the questions I asked you:

    If you were an eyewitness to a crime, and you got a good look at the perpetrator, when would the police take your testimony? As soon as possible, or after a year? Now ask yourself why? Now let’s say after a year they have a suspect in custody, and you’re asked to pick him out of a line up. What do you thing a good defence attorney would make of the fact that you’d actually been introduced to the suspect ahead of the line up? Again ask yourself why.

  155. The Other John Mcon 15 Oct 2014 at 3:28 pm

    Leo, a few new rules for you:

    (1) I am now expressly forbidding you (or anyone) from treating YouTube videos as citations, and pretending they are evidence of anything other than the fact that idiots can upload movies to the interwebs.

    (2) No posting links to academic articles you haven’t read and/or don’t understand. I will retract this rule if you can explain what the technical term ‘reliability’ means in the paper whose link you posted:
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17289247

    Hopefully, during your attempt to explain it, you will see that it does not mean what you think it does. And it doesn’t prove happy horse shit for anything you are claiming. Happy hump day!

  156. leo100on 15 Oct 2014 at 3:37 pm

    Mumadadd,

    He would take it as soon as possible but that same standard doesn’t apply to nde’s as we are talking about someone have an dramatic event. Would you like to be interviewed right away after having a verifiable nde?. I would think your verifiable experience would be very fuzzy until your brain has recovered.

    I know it doesn’t prove it however it shows that nde’s are consistent over time and the accounts don’t change.

  157. mumadaddon 15 Oct 2014 at 3:54 pm

    leo,

    Would you like to be interviewed right away after having a verifiable nde?.

    It doesn’t matter if it’s kinder to the subject to wait before conducting the interview – memory contamination and confabulation don’t care. It might be impossible or unethical to interview the subjects immediately, but this doesn’t alter the fact that the longer wait times introduce unreliability to the testimony.

    Do you really not get that?

  158. leo100on 15 Oct 2014 at 3:58 pm

    Mumadadd,

    I get that, that is why a lot of the accounts are usually followed up again and again as time goes on to see if any of the details have changed. Guess what? they don’t.

  159. The Other John Mcon 15 Oct 2014 at 4:33 pm

    “guess what? they don’t”

    Guess what — yes they do. The paper you cited shows this. It’s right there in their data.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17289247

    The test-retest reliability coefficients of each item ranged from about .5 to at most .79. These aren’t that good, and probably should have had a control group/condition to test against. Here’s how test-retest coefficients in this range are generally interpreted:
    •Between 0.8 and 0.7: Acceptable reliability
    •Between 0.7 and 0.6: Questionable reliability
    •Between 0.6 and 0.5: Poor reliability

    So the test items actually ranged from sometimes ‘acceptable’ reliability all the way down to ‘poor.’ Not looking good for your preferred interpretation.

    Plus, they forgot to correct for their 16 multiple comparisons. Plus, their null hypothesis was trivial (was correlation non-zero? Duh, it would be incredible if it WERE zero since you are giving the same people the same test with the same questions). Plus, reliability isn’t validity, but you already knew that (wink wink).

  160. mumadaddon 15 Oct 2014 at 4:52 pm

    leo,

    Even if the conclusion of the study you linked were reliable, it pertains to a gap of 20 years between completing the NDE scale twice. This doesn’t address any of the reliability issues resulting from the gap before the first completion. We’re talking about the brain trying to stitch together a narrative of events that occurred during a physical trauma, while recovering from that trauma, vs two datapoints taken from an extended period of ‘normal’ function.

  161. leo100on 15 Oct 2014 at 6:19 pm

    Mumadadd,

    You mentioned the fact that it probably would be unethical to interview the patients right away so when should they be interviewed?. I think 1 year is way better than 7 years or less. Also, I am curious where is it cited that it was a year that the patient was interviewed?. I don’t see anything in the journal resuscitation about the patient being interview a year later?.

  162. Alanon 15 Oct 2014 at 6:23 pm

    Leo has referenced an important article that points to the consistency of NDEs. Note this is a peer-reviewed publication in the journal Resuscitation (2007), the same that published the recent AWARE paper.

    So we have consistency over time of NDE accounts, “NDEs cannot be considered as imagined events” (from the Thonnard study I refd. above (peer-reviewed paper), that NDEs cannot be hallucinations because you cannot hallucinate under cardiac arrest (Parnia and others, peer-reviewed work), clarity, meaning, meeting dead relatives, meaningful life reviews, sometimes “veridical seeing” and sometimes “shared death experiences” as reported by Moody and Perry (this book was also refd. in the Facco and Agrillo article above – which was again another peer reviewed article, note.). I’d like to see an explanation for these as being located in the “blood and circuitry” of the human brain.

    One would expect a deviation *away* from NDEs being something extraordinary not towards.

    Another point that occurs is that we don’t behave as if we are just brain stuff and neuron firings. Indeed many NDE experiencers are certain we are not. Perhaps we should begin to trust many of these accounts and some of the peer-reviewed work that seems to support this.

  163. steve12on 15 Oct 2014 at 11:54 pm

    Hey Alan:

    You’re being rude. You make claim after claim that I have personally made scientific objections to. Now, I might be wrong. But if you want to have a DISCUSSION, you have to address those objections, not simply move along and repost. Ignoring what myself and other people here say when we engage your posts is acting in bad faith at best.

    “NDEs cannot be hallucinations because you cannot hallucinate under cardiac arrest (Parnia and others, peer-reviewed work)”

    refuted above, no answer

    “I’d like to see an explanation for these as being located in the “blood and circuitry” of the human brain.”

    WHA-WHA-WHAT???!!!! Now you’re going to claim that you’re not getting answers? WTF? How about me at
    on 13 Oct 2014 at 4:21 pm
    on 13 Oct 2014 at 8:49 pm
    on 14 Oct 2014 at 11:38 am

    I can also specifically recall that Mumaddad and Grabula, et al. have also responded to these points.

    YOU JUST REFUSE TO ACKNOWLEDGE AND RESPOND!!!!!!

    Maybe if you pretend we didn’t say those things, you can make believe that none of it happened. I mean, hey, you do believe in magic!

    So do you want to have a discussion or what’s the story? Have the courage of your convictions and take our comments straight on.

    for fuck’s sake, the guy’s worse than Hardnose….

  164. steve12on 15 Oct 2014 at 11:55 pm

    I think I’m using too much of the foul language…I’ll repost a PG version and see if I can get around the moderation bit

  165. steve12on 15 Oct 2014 at 11:56 pm

    Hey Alan:
    You’re being rude. You make claim after claim that I have personally made scientific objections to. Now, I might be wrong. But if you want to have a DISCUSSION, you have to address those objections, not simply move along and repost. Ignoring what myself and other people here say when we engage your posts is acting in bad faith at best.
    “NDEs cannot be hallucinations because you cannot hallucinate under cardiac arrest (Parnia and others, peer-reviewed work)”
    refuted above, no answer
    “I’d like to see an explanation for these as being located in the “blood and circuitry” of the human brain.”
    WHA-WHA-WHAT???!!!! Now you’re going to claim that you’re not getting answers? WTF? How about me at
    on 13 Oct 2014 at 4:21 pm
    on 13 Oct 2014 at 8:49 pm
    on 14 Oct 2014 at 11:38 am
    I can also specifically recall that Mumaddad and Grabula, et al. have also responded to these points.
    YOU JUST REFUSE TO ACKNOWLEDGE AND RESPOND!!!!!!
    Maybe if you pretend we didn’t say those things, you can make believe that none of it happened. I mean, hey, you do believe in magic!
    So do you want to have a discussion or what’s the story? Have the courage of your convictions and take our comments straight on.

  166. Alanon 16 Oct 2014 at 4:01 am

    Reading the comments at 13 Oct 2014 at 4:21 pm, 13 Oct 2014 at 8:49 pm, 14 Oct 2014 at 11:38 am – they don’t deal with statement I gave you refer to…“I’d like to see an explanation for these as being located in the “blood and circuitry” of the human brain.” – to do with “shared experiences.”

    And point to where you refuted that hallucinations cannot occur in a brain under cardiac arrest? I believe this is a scientific point made by researchers.

    Do you not think that now the boot is on the other foot and “you” are going to have to account for these “internal brain epiphenomena”, as they would be from the present paradigm?

  167. mumadaddon 16 Oct 2014 at 5:22 am

    Do you not think that now the boot is on the other foot and “you” are going to have to account for these “internal brain epiphenomena”, as they would be from the present paradigm?

    No, Alan, the burden of proof is most decidedly on you. There are multiple, some mature, scientific disciplines that strongly support the mind = brain function hypothesis. We may not know the exact neurological path to every NDE, but we can replicate almost every component of NDEs through stimulation/inhibition of specific brain regions or narcotics.

    If the AWARE study had yielded positive results, and was rigorously designed and replicable, it would have been solid evidence for disembodied consciousness. But it was dead negative. Now you’re seeking to deny that NDEs are even possible to explain neurologically. This is transparent nonsense. Have you even looked?

    Here’s a study that showed a surge of brain activity in rats for 30 seconds after having their hearts stopped:

    http://www.pnas.org/content/110/35/14432.abstract

    If you don’t want to read the study here’s a BBC article about it:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-23672150

    So here you have a possible route to vivid experiences occurring during cardiac arrest, never mind the rich opportunities while in a minimally conscious state recovering from the trauma.

    Consciousness is a spectrum, not just on or off; depending on which parts of the brain are damaged and in what way, there will be varying degrees and types of consciousness occurring in a recovering brain.

    If you were in hospital, seemingly unconscious and recovering from a cardiac arrest, do you think your family would talk to you or each other about what had happened? Try to reassure you or each other? Would there be medical staff occasionally in the room discussing your case and prognosis? All the while you might appear to be totally unconscious but may in fact be flitting in and out of limited conscious awareness, or between different states of consciousness, and some of the anecdotal detail creeps into whatever story your brain is trying to spin to interpret the activity it’s experiencing into something it can understand, through the lens of personal and cultural experience and expectation.

    Then you finally regain consciousness, and you report having seen a tunnel and a bright light, and feeling a sense of clarity and euphoria, (the surge of neuronal activity after arrest), and then seeing your family talking to each other about you having nearly died (the anecdotal detail leaking into your narrative during your recovery). Then your family think ‘That’s amazing, he had an NDE!’, and they affirm some of the details you recounted, but feed them back subtly (not deliberately) embellished and cleaned up for accuracy. You then incorporate the cleaned up narrative detail into your memory and start to tell the story with the seemingly impossible detail that occurred while you were either ‘dead’ (which you weren’t) or ‘unconscious’ (which you weren’t).

    Well, either that or magic and unicorns.

    Your sort of pseudoscientific facade is the thin edge of the wedge for all sorts of nonsense, in my opinion. What else has to be true if you’re right? What vast piles of accumulated evidence, successfully tested predictions and well established theories do we need to throw out?

  168. mumadaddon 16 Oct 2014 at 5:35 am

    Shit, forgot to include REM/REM intrusion:

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110815113536.htm

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16606911

  169. Alanon 16 Oct 2014 at 7:26 am

    The rats study is questioned here by Parnia with the 30 second issue being the problem… “comparing the rat results to the intense visions that humans recount after NDEs “is extremely premature and unsupported by evidence”. ”

    http://phenomena.nationalgeographic.com/2013/08/12/in-dying-brains-signs-of-heightened-consciousness/

    This also does not explain the other features of NDEs, especially when one goes beyond this 30 seconds, e.g. veridical perceptions and shared experiences between the carer or family member and the experiencer (which you only comment on in general and rather hand waving terms).

    REM intrusion was critiqued in the Frontiers article (2012) above… “REM intrusions (Nelson et al., 2006) is not compatible with cardiac arrest, a condition in which brain electrical activity is silent”.

  170. Bruceon 16 Oct 2014 at 8:21 am

    Wow…

    Alan, answer this one question:

    Do we understand the brain and its functions fully?

    Your and every single other person should answer “no” to this. If they don’t they are lying.

    Given this is the case, how can we even begin to attribute subjective experiences created by those brains as something that does not originate in the brain?

    Essentially your argument is: We don’t understand all of the brain: therefore MAGIC. At. Every. Single. Point. You do not even have one data point that is repeatable that is not subjective.

    Case in point: That link you just linked soundly refutes your claims:

    “Borjigin’s research suggests that these experiences could just be a natural product of a dying brain.”

    Please understand these words:

    “natural” – Not supernatural.
    “product of a dying brain” – as in not something that has come from outside of the brain.

    In that very same article:

    “Parnia also notes that other EEG studies of humans during cardiac arrest haven’t found similar patterns, suggesting that these results might be due to some quirk of the experiment. But Borjigin counters that other groups have mostly placed electrodes on their patients’ scalps, with bone, flesh and skin standing between them and the underlying neurons. Her team, however, surgically implanted their electrodes right on top of the rats’ brains, making them more sensitive to subtle signals.”

    Do you understand the massive difference in how the signals were recorded? Yes, it is preliminary, but the rat study is a much better indicator of brain activity than anything done on humans so far and guess what… it adds to the ever growing body of evidence pointing towards NDEs being a purely physical and natural phenomenon.

    The corner of doubt that you are fighting from continues to shrink, and I suspect even when that patch of doubt is the size of a pinhead, you and Parnia will be dancing on it like the NDE angels you are.

  171. mumadaddon 16 Oct 2014 at 8:59 am

    Bruce – you beat me to it, and I agree with everything you say.

    Alan,

    The rats study is questioned here by Parnia with the 30 second issue being the problem… “comparing the rat results to the intense visions that humans recount after NDEs “is extremely premature and unsupported by evidence”. ”

    Parnia has made it his mission to prove that NDEs provide evidence of life after death. His reasoning is highly motivated towards a particular conclusion. Of course Parnia has managed to find some problem with the rat study.

    The studies I linked to were the product of 20 minutes’ Googling, and I had an absolute ton of stuff I could have chosen from, but I wanted to cite things in context so I tried to pick some that had an NDE spin. Somehow I get the impression that you know the studies you quote very well because they’re part of the believer literature; I bet there’s a dearth of studies for you to choose from, and every time something that seems to support your case slips through peer review you run around touting it as proof that those nasty materialist are wrong and NDEs really are proof of magic. Compare that with the vast body of research and evidence pointing firmly to mind = brain function, and the replicability of the components of NDEs.

    This also does not explain the other features of NDEs, especially when one goes beyond this 30 seconds, e.g. veridical perceptions and shared experiences between the carer or family member and the experiencer (which you only comment on in general and rather hand waving terms).

    A. You have no evidence of “veridical perceptions and shared experiences” beyond anecdote.
    B. Just because we can’t explain exactly what’s happening neurologically in each specific NDE experiance, and the unreliable anecdotes of those experiences don’t match known neurological effects exactly, does not mean we need to start considering magic as an explanation.

    There is no way to tell in detail what’s happening in a brain that’s going through or recovering from a trauma, short of putting patients in an fMRI machine during the whole process, which is obviously difficult logistically and ethically. Short of a ‘Flatliners’ type scenario (I might have to watch that film again) we may never know. For now, the best test we can hope for, and which isn’t reliant on anecdotes of subjective experience, is something like the AWARE study set out to do. Disembodied cognition is a classic NDE component, and the study design was a really good idea in my opinion. And again, dead negative.

    I’ve said this before but you weren’t posting here (though you may have been lurking) so I don’t know if you’re aware of my position, but I sincerely want you to be right. I’m terrified of dying because I can’t see it as anything but the end of my existence. My whole descent into the rabbit hole of skepticism started because I was trying to find a good case for an afterilfe and god, but none of it stacks up. You’re deluding yourself by getting you info from biased sources and letting the normal heuristics of thought shape your conclusions.

  172. Alanon 16 Oct 2014 at 10:07 am

    Ok, the issue of fearing dying. In Prof. Parnia’s book, Erasing Death (which I’ve read), he says at the end…”For now, though, we can be certain that we humans no longer need to fear death.”… largely because of the peaceful experiences people have. So from this medical professional’s quote (from years of studies) I think you can take it that you are wrong on that one.

    Though you seem to be going round and round a bit…there is this from him above (my comment 13 Oct)……”what I find most fascinating about the experiences are the cases where people have come back and described to their physicians, with astonishing detail, of what had been going on. And they described watching things, and described hearing conversations – and recalling them incredibly accurately.”
    So that’s to “their physicians” – not just one man.

    I would, though, study again the Frontiers (2012) article above and carefully consider whether physiological (inc. chemical) or psychological explanations fit these experiences. I’m going to leave it there? And howdy (from the UK).

  173. The Other John Mcon 16 Oct 2014 at 10:16 am

    Alan — so you take one medical professional’s quote based on years of experience and study (Dr. Parnia) because what he says agrees with your views. Why wouldn’t you then consider Dr. Novella’s opinion to be of the same caliber?

    In any case, opinion matters not. The AWARE study, specifically designed by true believers to detect the afterlife, failed utterly and miserably, and yet the believers refuse to accept the results. On the one hand, you want the support of science (and scientists like Dr. Parnia), yet you refuse to listen to what the clear consensus science is on the matter: NDE’s aren’t evidence for anything magical.

  174. mumadaddon 16 Oct 2014 at 10:34 am

    Alan,

    Seriously, more anecdotes? Okay then, you win, magic is real and we have immortal souls that live on in eternal bliss when we die.

  175. Bruceon 16 Oct 2014 at 10:35 am

    So, you have no answers to my questions.

    I thought not.

    Quoting Parnia who seems to think there is a life after death as proof that Mumadadd is “wrong” in being afraid of death is really quite astonishing and backs up Mumadadd’s observation of you deluding yourself.

    Subjective anecdotes are not evidence of a supernatural explanation for NDEs. Unless you can absolutely rule out every other explanation for their experience you have to assume the mundane before you jump to magic. You really don’t seem to get this, not sure if it is stubborn-ness or stupidity, I will go with stubborn as that is less derogatory.

    The Frontiers article has been discussed two days ago and it provides nothing more than a very long and convoluted JAQing off. It provides no new evidence so I am not sure why you are referencing it when we have specifically and repeatedly asked for some kind of hard evidence. You, like others here seem to be claiming between the lines that you know more than we do and that is just arrogance.

    You are not a visionary philosopher, you are not a persistent and dogged great thinker for continuing to ask questions when answers are being provided, you have no more information or insight on this than anyone else here… you are merely someone sitting at their computer trying to look smart and coming across as a stubborn, arrogant and deluded individual.

  176. mumadaddon 16 Oct 2014 at 10:36 am

    And, this is true because I read it in a book, and the author is a doctor.

    Classic argument from authority.

  177. Bruceon 16 Oct 2014 at 10:40 am

    “I speak hengleesh verrry welll… I read it in a boooook.”

    I started writing that in direct response to your post mumadadd… but Basil Fawlty’s conversations with Manuel very often mirror conversations with some true believers on this and other skeptical sites.

  178. steve12on 16 Oct 2014 at 12:19 pm

    Look at Alan responding. A little shaming goes a long way I guess.

    “Do you not think that now the boot is on the other foot and “you” are going to have to account for these “internal brain epiphenomena”, as they would be from the present paradigm?”

    What I wrote does refute this. Why?

    There is no need to account for the physiology of the brain over ground-truth timecourse vs. the recalled timecourse, because the recalled timecourse is subject to distortions that make it unreliable.

    In the comment I provided and in other places, I and others explained this to you.

    You guys are asking “How could he remember Item A at Time X, when at Time X his brain couldn’t have processed that!”. But this is ill posed because you HAVE NOT SATISFIED THAT HE REMEMBERED IT!!!

    So all the talk about basic neuroscience and physiological timecourses is moot. True, maybe, but moot.

    This is what you’re not addressing. But kudos for engaging.

  179. steve12on 16 Oct 2014 at 12:31 pm

    There was no need for me to comment, Mumaddad, Bruce and TOJM said it better.

    Echoing Mumaddad’s point, I soooo want to be wrong! Ya think I wanna lie in a box for eternity? If those people came back saying “Why do you guys put signs with random words around your hospital?” I’d be the happiest dude around. It would not only mean that there was life after death, but it would mean that there’s this whole weird part of the universe that we know nothing about…it would be the most fascinating result.

    But it didn’t happen! Form a larger skeptic’s point, it’s a good lesson that empirical outcomes mean nothing to believers. Think of it this way: they had one of the most miserable experimental failures possible, and immediately went on a media blitz that they’re right anyway! WTF is that?

  180. The Other John Mcon 16 Oct 2014 at 1:17 pm

    “they had one of the most miserable experimental failures possible, and immediately went on a media blitz that they’re right anyway! WTF is that?”

    — perfectly put. Seriously, what IS that? Completely impervious to empirical data, it’s just amazing.

  181. leo100on 16 Oct 2014 at 4:38 pm

    I have to ask the skeptics here why the study design was so good?. It was far from good the signs were not in the rooms where the two verifiable cases occurred. Do you get that?. To the otherjohnmc, I and others do accept the results however we realize the numerous real problems such as the fact that patients don’t give a rat’s ass about silly random signs.

  182. The Other John Mcon 16 Oct 2014 at 4:48 pm

    The design was “good” because it was double-blinded, and controlled for contamination and other similar factors which could unduly influence the outcomes, used large sample size, etc. This is science 101 stuff, I’m sure you know.

    You say you accept the results, and yet earlier you said things like “This shows that these experiences are not hallucinations but are in fact real experiences with an afterlife” and special pleading that the apparent failure in the reported results was due to poor study design instead of due to the non-existence of souls as an explanation for NDE’s.

    “patients don’t give a rat’s ass about silly random signs” — no one does. But they should still notice them; novelty, oddness, outliers attract attention. This is what we would expect, and its failure to appear should tell you something important.

  183. leo100on 16 Oct 2014 at 5:05 pm

    The two patients rooms didn’t have signs so you think there souls were checking in on other rooms patients I doubt it. It shows it because one of the cases was verifiable with a buzzing machine. The experience was carefully timed for 3 minutes. This suggests that consciousness survives for at least three minutes after brain activity ceases. Yes it was double blinded and so on and I don’t disagree with that however with the problems from other studies done testing on out of body experiences you think they would try to eliminate those problems. Outliers attract attention if they have some relevance to the patient.

  184. steve12on 16 Oct 2014 at 5:17 pm

    Leo, I’ll simplify:

    The sign were there. No one reported them. Fail.

  185. steve12on 16 Oct 2014 at 5:17 pm

    “It shows it because one of the cases was verifiable…”

    But they weren’t verifiable. It was chance.

  186. steve12on 16 Oct 2014 at 5:19 pm

    verified, actually. i know English isn’t your first language – I’m not trying to be a dick.

  187. Bruceon 16 Oct 2014 at 5:32 pm

    This is like the most frustrating game of whack-a-mole ever.

  188. leo100on 16 Oct 2014 at 6:09 pm

    I should point out even Chris French a well known skeptic has admitted that the case of Mr. A does demonstrate consciousness for at least three minutes after brain activity ceased. However is far from answering any existential questions. The study stays that the two patients who verified events happening to them there was no signs put up in those two rooms.

  189. leo100on 16 Oct 2014 at 6:37 pm

    I found this rather interesting post going on the username “John”. He says. He says he has read the study in the journal from front to back.

    Regarding the targets, the authors state: “only 22% of CA [cardiac arrests, in general] events actually took place in the critical and acute medical wards where the shelves had been installed and consequently over 78% of CA events took place in rooms without a shelf.” Furthermore, as it was already mentioned, only 2 of all those patients attested to even having an OBE that could be put to the test and matched against events of their CA – and they were NOT in areas where the targets were placed. It’s no surprise the target results weren’t interesting – the sample size of survivors who a) were in a room where targets were located , and b) even had an OBE, is quite small.

    http://doubtfulnews.com/2014/10/one-not-too-impressive-study-does-not-prove-life-after-death/

  190. Bill Openthalton 16 Oct 2014 at 7:00 pm

    leo100 —

    Why do you keep arguing? It’s quite OK to believe in life after death without any scientific proof. People believe all kinds of things that cannot be proved, or even things that have been disproved, and that’s no problem whatsoever. But if you can only believe if you manage to convince a bunch of skeptics, you need to come up with sound arguments and valid proofs.

    The AWARE study doesn’t prove there is no life after death, or that awareness is independent of the brain (remember, one cannot prove a negative), but it is an epic fail (as my son would say) in its attempt to prove its hypothesis. It really doesn’t matter how many OBEs or NDEs happened in rooms with cards, or whether dying people are interested in cards stuck on the top of cupboards — the study doesn’t prove what it set out to prove.

    No-one is ruling out life after death, it’s just not very likely, and until now, remains wholly unproved. You will have to live with that, no matter how uncomfortable it feels.

  191. leo100on 16 Oct 2014 at 7:39 pm

    Bill,

    The study wasn’t set out to prove life after death and it wasn’t set out to disprove it either.

  192. grabulaon 17 Oct 2014 at 2:11 am

    @leo

    wtf do you think an NDE implies?

  193. mumadaddon 17 Oct 2014 at 9:15 am

    Aside from a study like this bearing fruit (and being replicated), the other thing that would get my hopes up would be that if NDEs were universal, or at least highly prevalent, and everybody saw the same thing, irrespective of culture. Doesn’t really even matter what that same thing is, it would be interesting.

  194. Alanon 17 Oct 2014 at 9:32 am

    “No-one is ruling out life after death, it’s just not very likely, and until now, remains wholly unproved. You will have to live with that, no matter how uncomfortable it feels.”

    Setting your “prior” to a low level is not wise and in fact is not scientific. I hope you see this. In fact, if you combine veridical NDE data with the extensive studies on reincarnation in children by Profs. Ian Stevenson and Jim Tucker (and others) from DOPS at the University of Virginia (several thousand cases) you have two sets of unrelated observations which converge, to some extent, on there being some kind of consciousness after life. Whereas one would expect none.

    (as an example of “priors”, if you asked the average man in the street on the possibility of multiple separated universes he would probably think it impossible and not include it his personal model of reality. Yet such “landscape” solutions are deemed quite acceptable in current ideas on M theory/superstrings, even though they may forever remain unobservable. Interestingly, there is more data suggestive of an afterlife than there is for the multiverse)

  195. Alanon 17 Oct 2014 at 9:43 am

    “the other thing that would get my hopes up would be that if NDEs were universal, or at least highly prevalent, and everybody saw the same thing, irrespective of culture. Doesn’t really even matter what that same thing is, it would be interesting.”

    “Do Religion and Culture Affect a Near Death Experience?”

    The key point here is (Conclusions) … “although it does seem that the central features of near death experiences have been recorded throughout history and across numerous cultures, the actual interpretation of what people claim to have observed, of the experience they claim to have lived through, may reflect personal religious or cultural views…”

    So similar phenomena are observed/experienced over history but interpreted differently according to culture/religion.

    http://www.horizonresearch.org/main_page.php?cat_id=66

  196. mumadaddon 17 Oct 2014 at 9:53 am

    Alan,

    If we have immortal, immaterial souls that live on after our bodies die, what is the point of the physical reality we’re experiencing now? What’s the point of 0-118 years trapped in a vulnerable fleshy prison, at the mercy of whatever circumstance throws at you?

  197. mumadaddon 17 Oct 2014 at 10:06 am

    Alan,

    You know what? I can make myself see the tunnel to the other side by pressing hard on my eyeballs with the palms of my hands. If I do that for about 30 seconds I start to go through a bright tunnel of light. That’s evidence of the afterlife – there’s no other explanation.

  198. Hosson 17 Oct 2014 at 10:19 am

    Alan
    You believe in life after death and reincarnation. How do your beliefs mesh with evolution, or do you not believe in evolution? I can’t imagine how the mechanisms behind life after death or reincarnation could have possibly evolved(the onerous is on you to show that it evolved and not on me to prove that it can’t) . Also, what mechanisms cause life after death and reincarnation?

    You’ve been very vague discussing what you actually believe. All you’ve done is cherry pick studies that support your beliefs and ignore answering difficult questions posed to you by other commenters, while displaying a Galileo complex.

    Can you actually defend your beliefs or do you have another cherry picked NDE study to distract us with?

  199. mumadaddon 17 Oct 2014 at 10:30 am

    Hoss,

    I’m thinking along the same lines as you. For example, if a disembodied consciousness can form and retain memories, the by implication the brain is not involved in forming and retaining memories; or are there dual systems in operation? Same thing with consciousness, obviously, and then you’re left having to explain how consciousness can be altered by known methods that act on the brain.

    And then, from a wider perspective, you get to the evolution question. I really can’t take a stab at how you’d reconcile this with immaterial consciousness. I don’t necessarily think Alan denies evolution; he probably doesn’t understand it, but believes in it nonetheless, and has compartmentalised his beliefs rather than try to make them fit together logically.

  200. Hosson 17 Oct 2014 at 10:48 am

    mumadadd
    “[He] has compartmentalised his beliefs rather than try to make them fit together logically.”

    I agree. It seems like compartmentalization is a must with false beliefs to avoid cognitive dissonance. I’m hoping with the strategy I’m employing with Alan will cause at least some cognitive dissonance. Hopefully he hasn’t insulated himself to the point were reason and evidence have no effect, which seems to be the case so far.

  201. mumadaddon 17 Oct 2014 at 10:52 am

    Has he said he believes in reincarnation?

  202. Hosson 17 Oct 2014 at 10:57 am

    He hasn’t explicitly said he believes in reincarnation, but….

    “Setting your “prior” to a low level is not wise and in fact is not scientific. I hope you see this. In fact, if you combine veridical NDE data with the extensive studies on reincarnation in children by Profs. Ian Stevenson and Jim Tucker (and others) from DOPS at the University of Virginia (several thousand cases) you have two sets of unrelated observations which converge, to some extent, on there being some kind of consciousness after life. Whereas one would expect none.”

    I’m assuming since he’s using it as evidence for converging lines of evidence of “consciousness after life”.

  203. mumadaddon 17 Oct 2014 at 11:14 am

    Alan,

    If reincarnation happens, how do you account for the fact that there aren’t at least some babies born with adult level intelligence? I’m not talking about IQ – I mean things like theory of mind (ability to attribute mental states — beliefs, intents, desires, pretending, knowledge, etc. — to oneself and others and to understand that others have beliefs, desires, and intentions that are different from one’s own.*) We know (well, it’s slightly contested) that children develop this at age 3-4. What is it that is stripped from a soul when its host body dies that means that its next inhabitant is missing this ability?

    *definition from Wikipedia

  204. steve12on 17 Oct 2014 at 11:44 am

    Alan:

    “Setting your “prior” to a low level is not wise and in fact is not scientific. I hope you see this. In fact, if you combine veridical NDE data”

    No, no, no no and no again. There IS no veridical NDE data.

    1. The normal protocol for hospital responses to CA is too well known to count the “hits”.
    2. We already know that there is some sort of altered state induced under these brain conditions.
    3. We already know that these states can induce time distortions and hallucinations
    4. We already know that memory is malleable and the brain wants to “fill in” what’s missing, so people in an altered state who think they’re dying are essentially the worst reporters possible.

    What you would need are UNIQUE hits. Information that could not have been gleaned by sinply knowing what happens in a ER.

    I think someone tried this! Same Parnia actually. Result:fail. Now try again.

  205. steve12on 17 Oct 2014 at 11:48 am

    Oh, and Alan,

    Don’t try the prior bit, you don’t understand what Bayesian analysis is and the way you’re applying it would be wrong anyway.

    I think you’re trying to flip the Null and Experimental hypothesis, but that can’t to happen. The null is that there’s no phenomena, i.e., no life after death. It’s theoretically impossible to prove that there’s NOT life after death (can’t prove a negative), so it must be set up this way.

    Welcome to science! It’s gonna tie your hands a bit if you stick around….

  206. Bruceon 17 Oct 2014 at 12:27 pm

    mumadadd,

    Something something quantam something.

  207. Alanon 17 Oct 2014 at 1:22 pm

    Reincarnation…Ok, the evidence from the sources I gave above is *suggestive* of this. Again, there is peer-reviewed work (if you bother to look).

    Evolution…clearly there is physical evolution by Natural Selection but the implication from these other studies is some kind of “spiritual” evolution. Over lifetimes.

    Given this, it’s difficult to reconcile this anomalous data with the electroweak model, QCD and general relativity (or superstring theory – the best unified attempt so far). However, science is actually data-driven not theory-driven (and these theories do *work*, I hasten) and I have actually read of attempts by some physicists to reconcile in the form of an information-based model of reality incorporating the fundamental forces (esp. one senior cosmologist – you guys know what cosmology is?…I studied it in my first physics degree).

    BTW…you got your answer on “Culture and NDEs”. Still waiting for a reply on that one… 😉

    mmm…ever wondered why quite a few physicists are religious? I know of several particle physicists and cosmologists who are.

  208. mumadaddon 17 Oct 2014 at 1:33 pm

    Just re-read it, don’t see a question…

    You, on the other hand……..

  209. mumadaddon 17 Oct 2014 at 1:34 pm

    Bruce,

    You were spot on, almost…prescient. are you psychic?

  210. mumadaddon 17 Oct 2014 at 1:39 pm

    Alan,

    If you’re trying to give the impression that your beliefs are scientific, then refer to the scientific theory that incorporates them. Saying that some physicists believe this hold no water when the beliefs have nothing to do with physics.

  211. Bruceon 17 Oct 2014 at 2:28 pm

    When I see Alan’s words all I see now is:

    “I say to man in shop “Is rat.” He say “No, no, no. Is a special kind of hamster. Is filigree Siberian hamster.” Only one in shop. He make special price: only five pound.”

  212. mumadaddon 17 Oct 2014 at 2:31 pm

    Reincarnation…Ok, the evidence from the sources I gave above is *suggestive* of this. Again, there is peer-reviewed work (if you bother to look).

    Okay, where? If it’s based on anecdotes I’ll rightly discard it without looking. See most of the comments in this thread for the explanation as to why anecdotes don’t cut it.

    Evolution…clearly there is physical evolution by Natural Selection but the implication from these other studies is some kind of “spiritual” evolution. Over lifetimes.

    Please show me the evidence for spiritual evolution. Again, no anecdotes please. This is your chain of reasoning as I see it: we are the product of evolution, we have spirits, therefore spirits evolved.

    Given this, it’s difficult to reconcile this anomalous data with the electroweak model, QCD and general relativity (or superstring theory – the best unified attempt so far).

    Impossible, in fact. That’s because your data is the product of sloppy methodology and weak study design. And cognitive bias, of course.

    However, science is actually data-driven not theory-driven

    Okay, but your data is made up.

    (and these theories do *work*, I hasten)

    What ‘theories’? I see what you did there – flipped the definition of theory to try and equate your musings (the colloquial version) with science.

    and I have actually read of attempts by some physicists to reconcile in the form of an information-based model of reality incorporating the fundamental forces

    And how did that work out?

    (esp. one senior cosmologist – you guys know what cosmology is?…I studied it in my first physics degree).

    I almost can’t believe you went there – two arguments from authority in one sentence.

    Alan, if you’re bright enough to have more than one physics degree (as you heavily implied), how is it you’ve come to believe in such childish silliness as this? If there is something that’s doing information processing independent of our physical body, where is it getting its energy from? Why has this anomalous energy not been detected? Why can we not measure its absence after death?

  213. mumadaddon 17 Oct 2014 at 2:39 pm

    Alan,

    Can I ask some serious questions? Well I will anyway:

    What do you think the scientific method is? (Just a basic sketch is fine)
    Do you think it’s important?
    If so, why?

  214. mumadaddon 17 Oct 2014 at 2:39 pm

    Bruce,

    Wouldn’t have a YouTube link for that would you?

  215. Hosson 17 Oct 2014 at 3:13 pm

    Alan
    “Evolution…clearly there is physical evolution by Natural Selection but the implication from these other studies is some kind of “spiritual” evolution. Over lifetimes.”

    How would that work? Any evidence for it? Cause it seems like you’re guessing and inventing physics based on an ideology supported by anecdotes.

    Are there undetectable “spiritual” bosons and “spiritual” fermions that create the spirit and interacts with matter or does it only interact with our brains? Why are the “spiritual” particle structures only capable of consciousness and not normal particle structures? What structural change involving death causes the spirit particles to disengage from the brain, and when a person “comes back to life” what causes the spirit particles to reattach? Why doesn’t this detachment happen while a person is awake but only with certain types of brain malfunctions? Why attribute certain types of brain malfunctions to “spirit” particles?

    Curious how the only evidence for all this mystery physics is eye witness testimony.

    I think I know why these particles haven’t been discovered. The only known place containing these “spiritual” particles are in the brain. Perhaps we should do an experiment using accelerators to collide two brains together and observe what happens. Maybe then we will finally discover the “spirit” particle. Oh damn, a fatal flaw. Only a living brain contains the “spiritual particles”. I guess the experiment will have to be ran using living people(or will mice work…I don’t know if mice have souls too) with exposed brain tissue.

  216. The Other John Mcon 17 Oct 2014 at 3:20 pm

    brain-smashing! I love it, top notch idea.

  217. Ekkoon 17 Oct 2014 at 3:27 pm

    “mmm…ever wondered why quite a few physicists are religious? I know of several particle physicists and cosmologists who are.”

    Probably for the same reasons anyone is religious…
    Not sure how this is relevant to anything. Your implied logic seems to be:
    1. Physicist
    2. Religious
    3. Therefore…reincarnation, life after death, etc. is true?

    Because of course no human ever held conflicting beliefs…and if they do, well that must be proof enough for something right!? In any case, I would wager that the % of physicists/cosmologists who are “religious” (vague as that can be) is vanishingly smaller than the general population. Also, I think it’s important to distinguish between people who are “religious” and people who express wonder and curiosity and sometimes wonder aloud about the mysteries of life, the universe, and everything. The latter is certainly possible without evoking magic or the supernatural.

  218. mumadaddon 17 Oct 2014 at 3:32 pm

    Why doesn’t this detachment happen while a person is awake but only with certain types of brain malfunctions?

    You know, actually, when we dream we’re traversing the astral plane, so our souls do leave our bodies while we’re still alive. It’s just that without the clinical death of the ‘brain’, the memories can’t be properly reintegrated into our physical ‘brain’, so the recall end up all vague; not like NDEs which are VIVID!!

    I’ll bet the empirical evidence for my theory is as robust as Alan’s.

    You do know what cosmology is, right???

  219. mumadaddon 17 Oct 2014 at 3:34 pm

    Reincarnation, FFS………

  220. mumadaddon 17 Oct 2014 at 3:38 pm

    There’s a part of me that wants to agree some sort of common ground with Alan, then walk through a chain of reasoning together and at every stage make him agree that this conclusion follows from that thing we just agreed on.

    But f*ck it. Sometimes the appropriate response to the ridiculous is ridicule.

  221. steve12on 17 Oct 2014 at 3:38 pm

    “You were spot on, almost…prescient. are you psychic?”

    Spit up water at this point.

    As much evidence for all this horseshit as the rest of the thread combined.

  222. mumadaddon 17 Oct 2014 at 3:51 pm

    Spit up water at this point.

    I don’t know that one… What will happen to me if I don’t do it?! I’m in a tizz now – I’ve never done it, and can’t ever know how much of my previous misfortune is due to not knowing about it! AAAaaargh!!!

  223. Hosson 17 Oct 2014 at 3:51 pm

    “I’ll bet the empirical evidence for my theory is as robust as Alan’s.
    You do know what cosmology is, right???”

    lol I’m pretty sure you’re right about the empirical evidence.

    Cosmology….I had a girlfriend who was a cosmologist. I don’t know why she went into that field. She had Parkinson’s and would give truly horrendous haircuts.

  224. mumadaddon 17 Oct 2014 at 3:55 pm

    …I’ll have to wait till the next life then.. but then I’ll lose my intentional stance for a few years and all my memories of this conversation, and I still won’t know what this one means! Unless I get reincarnated into one of those people who have a cluster of weird, non-evidence-based beliefs! Shit, what to do!

  225. steve12on 17 Oct 2014 at 3:56 pm

    Mumadadd:

    How the hell are you gonna get to the astral plain if you don’t know when to spit up water?

    Amateurs here….

  226. mumadaddon 17 Oct 2014 at 3:57 pm

    Cosmology….I had a girlfriend who was a cosmologist. I don’t know why she went into that field. She had Parkinson’s and would give truly horrendous haircuts.

    Awesome. Too bad I can’t tell that one to anyone I know.

  227. mumadaddon 17 Oct 2014 at 4:01 pm

    How the hell are you gonna get to the astral plain if you don’t know when to spit up water?

    When? I don’t even know how. Hold on… let me consult me chicken bones.

  228. Bruceon 17 Oct 2014 at 5:13 pm

    mumadadd… unfortunately i can’t seem to find it.

    Perhaps someone with more advanced google-fu could do better?

  229. mumadaddon 17 Oct 2014 at 5:33 pm

    Alan,

    Sorry!

    You:

    BTW…you got your answer on “Culture and NDEs”. Still waiting for a reply on that one… 😉

    Me:

    Just re-read it, don’t see a question…

    You, on the other hand……..

    I apologise for skimming your post and then shooting what I already had locked and loaded in the chamber. That one’s on me; I owe you a response.

    “Do Religion and Culture Affect a Near Death Experience?”

    The key point here is (Conclusions) … “although it does seem that the central features of near death experiences have been recorded throughout history and across numerous cultures, the actual interpretation of what people claim to have observed, of the experience they claim to have lived through, may reflect personal religious or cultural views…”

    Central features = we all have brains.
    interpretation = cultural.

    And… that’s it.

    I’m a bit sorry about my tone towards you. If you’d properly engage we could have discussion.

  230. mumadaddon 17 Oct 2014 at 5:37 pm

    Bruce,

    I’ve been able to establish that it’s somewhere in the episode ‘Basil the Rat’, but couldn’t find it on YouTube myself, short of watching the whole episode. But then I’m too young to really remember Fawlty Towers, just loved the sound of that exchange.

  231. mumadaddon 20 Oct 2014 at 4:49 am

    It’s not something you can effectively rule out even if you interview the patient right away and even if you did it takes for a person’s memory to come back after such a traumatic event. I have no doubt you have experience with contamination.

    Would you like to be interviewed right away after having a verifiable nde?. I would think your verifiable experience would be very fuzzy until your brain has recovered.

    Two quotes above from leo. So the brain, the physical medium for memories, needs to recover from a trauma before the memories can be considered reliable. But also, the brain isn’t required for consciousness or the formation of those memories that are being recalled. Hmm.

    I know it’s easy to pick on leo, but I use these quotes just because they’re a really obvious example of two ‘factual’ claims that are in flat contradiction with each other. I don’t think (although obviously I could be conning myself) that I ever run into this issue with my own beliefs; there’s nothing I believe that requires me to temporarily forget/ignore something else I believe.

    I know it’s old hat and it’s been said many times before on this blog, but it bears repeating as I think it’s foundational to this kind of mindset: they aren’t reasoning their way to a conclusion; they’re starting with the conclusion and then molding the facts to support that conclusion. There isn’t one single link in their arguments that doesn’t completely fall apart under scrutiny.

  232. mumadaddon 20 Oct 2014 at 5:42 am

    leo,

    Steven Novella,

    I guess you actually didn’t look at the study because there clearly is statistical analysis being done. https://iands.org/research/important-research-articles/80-penny-sartori-phd-prospective-study.html?showall=1

    Hah! leo, you’re famous – your above gaff was discussed on this week’s SGU.

  233. Bruceon 20 Oct 2014 at 6:08 am

    mumadadd,

    I was just chuckling along to that on my way in to work.

    Had very little time to look on the weekend but could not find anything further than what you found re Basil The Rat. Might have to watch the whole episode again.

    As for Leo’s cognitive dissonance, you will either get no response to you pointing that out or expect a huge spoonful of that sauce we call Special Pleading.

  234. leo100on 20 Oct 2014 at 8:08 pm

    Mumadadd, Bruce

    This goes back to a gross misunderstanding of dualism, dualism doesn’t ignore the fact the brain can influence the brain. I am showing no cognitive dissonance, I don’t suffer from mental stress, bad nerves because I am confronted with new information. I am sure, however that at least of some of you skeptics have it however, when I mentioned the Mr. A case that demonstrates near death experiences do not occur before or after an cardiac arrest but right where it’s suppose to not happen. I am sure many skeptics will ignore this important article by a neuro-scientist discussing what the aware study established (consciousness continuing for at least three minutes after brain activity). Before, you jump to the argument of authority or argument from popularity the evidence does point in this direction that consciousness can at least persist for 3 minutes how much longer we don’t know.

    http://brainblogger.com/2014/10/19/life-after-death-the-science-of-near-death-experiences/

  235. grabulaon 20 Oct 2014 at 8:48 pm

    @Alan

    ” In fact, if you combine veridical NDE data with the extensive studies on reincarnation in children…”

    Got it, so you’re a full on woo believer. No sense in discussing these topics any further – you can’t and won’t be able to provide evidence for your beliefs that passes any resemblance of scientific inquiry.

  236. grabulaon 20 Oct 2014 at 8:48 pm

    @mumadadd

    “But f*ck it. Sometimes the appropriate response to the ridiculous is ridicule.”

    It is effectively the only response at this point. Alan has shown he’s ‘confident’ in his alternative belief system and so as has been historically shown, engaging in serious discussion only leads to frustration and dead ends. As I stated in response to his admission to a belief in reincarnation, there’s no scientific evidence he can provide to support his beliefs so where exactly would the conversation end? It’s the same issue with why Leo continues to engage no matter how much his beliefs and thinking are shown to be false. It’s not science he believes in and he has a faulty way of approaching what he wants to believe so there’s no end to the argument with these guys because they can’t accept the facts of the issues.

  237. grabulaon 20 Oct 2014 at 8:49 pm

    @Leo

    “I am sure, however that at least of some of you skeptics have it however, when I mentioned the Mr. A case that demonstrates near death experiences do not occur before or after an cardiac arrest but right where it’s suppose to not happen. ”

    Leo, you’re spinning your wheels and wasting all of our time. It’s already been pointed out to you where you are wrong on this and why you single case is not evidence for anything, ever. That you continue to ignore those facts shows your dogmatic approach to this whole issue. The science is unimportant to you because you can fall back on one faulty, non evidence providing case, and the ole ‘why would a soul care about a symbol on a card’ special pleading. You’ve painted yourself into a cognitive corner you can’t get out of, so you repeat over and over again the same things without acknowledging they’ve already been discussed and put to bed.

    “Before, you jump to the argument of authority or argument from popularity the evidence does point in this direction that consciousness can at least persist for 3 minutes how much longer we don’t know.”

    You seem stuck on this idea that because consciousness might occur for 3 minutes after death (where ever you want to draw that line) is evidence for anything but a possible biological process. Consciousness could go on for 15 minutes after death and it still wouldn’t be evidence for life after death.

    Can you, in anyway way, bring new evidence or a new angle to this discussion, because so far everything you’ve put forward has fallen flat on its face, and hard.

  238. Bill Openthalton 21 Oct 2014 at 3:02 am

    grabula —

    Consciousness could go on for 15 minutes after death and it still wouldn’t be evidence for life after death.

    It would simply mean we need to refine our definition of “death”.

    I am now completely convinced it is impossible to get through to believers (call them ideologues if you want). They are impervious to logic and any scientific data not in line with their beliefs.

  239. Bruceon 21 Oct 2014 at 5:30 am

    Leo,

    There is no getting through to you. I think you really don’t get that most of us here WANT to be wrong, we want life after death (at least I do). The fear of oblivion scares the bejesus out of me but I have read the literature, I have pushed the limits fo my own special pleading and at every point where I found myself starting to believe because of sketchy “evidence” much like (and often the very same) evidence you have presented, in the end logic has to prevail and you have to admit that what we have does not prove anything that backs up the dualist model and life after death is a very highly improbable possibility, verging on not bloody likely at all.

    Grabula says it best when he says you are spinning wheels… you are spending a lot of energy to get nowhere while creating a lot of noise and smelliing the place out with your spewing of smokey/hazy ideas.

  240. BillyJoe7on 21 Oct 2014 at 7:54 am

    Bruce,

    “we want life after death (at least I do). The fear of oblivion scares the bejesus out of me”

    What scares me more is eternal life.
    A trillion trillion trillion years and you’ve not even started. It aint never going to end. Ever.
    I would rather die than face that prospect.
    But I don’t want to die just yet.

  241. Bruceon 21 Oct 2014 at 9:16 am

    BJ7,

    Just imagine the things we would see, the advances in technology… the future to me is a very exciting place! My attitude might change with age, but right now, in my mid 30s I think there is so much to learn and to see and to experience.

    I think the idea of an afterlife where we would know the “secrets of the universe” and finally find out “what it is all about” was the biggest attraction for me along with the lack of oblivion. The longer I live with the idea of a final mortality, the more I am comfortable with it, but if I had a choice right now, I would still choose the chance at eternal life.

    If you didn’t age do you think there would ever come a time when you would welcome an end that was not necessary? I think until someone is truly immortal (perhaps through uploading into a computer or other kinds of cyborgisation) we will never really know what feelings we might have on it. I do think it would be a very personal thing though and no two people would agree exactly on how they would or would not want to spend eternity, or whatever portion of it they would want to exist in.

    It is an interesting philosophical talking point.

  242. leo100on 21 Oct 2014 at 2:50 pm

    Consciousness could go on for 15 minutes after death and it still wouldn’t be evidence for life after death.

    What happens if it went on for an hour? a day? a month? year? for eternity?. See how faulty your statement?. If it can survive for 15 minutes what makes you think it will stop after that?. Bruce, I could care less if there is an afterlife or not because I realize I can’t allow my emotions to get into this issue.

  243. mumadaddon 21 Oct 2014 at 3:39 pm

    The point was that the definition of ‘death’ is somewhat arbitrary and open to being coopted to push a certain conclusion. Personally I’d say that if you ultimately survived whatever trauma it was, then you were never dead in the first place.

    We could say cardiac arrest is death, but now we know the brain has some function beyond this point. Increased resolution of brain activity measurements might show us that there is still brain activity beyond the point we previously thought it had all ceased, so we’d push the point of ‘death’s back slightly further.

    Nobody is suggesting that consciousness can continue in an anoxic brain for a day.

  244. leo100on 21 Oct 2014 at 6:33 pm

    Mumadadd,

    Pam Reyold’s nde is such a case where she was brain dead. But this was an interesting thread and should be all wrapped up now. It was fun.

  245. grabulaon 21 Oct 2014 at 9:29 pm

    @Leo

    “What happens if it went on for an hour? a day? a month? year? for eternity?. See how faulty your statement?. If it can survive for 15 minutes what makes you think it will stop after that?. Bruce, I could care less if there is an afterlife or not because I realize I can’t allow my emotions to get into this issue.”

    You’re being obtuse has finally jumped the shark here Leo. First, the point I was making completely went over your head – You stated 3 minutes of consciousness after “death” however you want to define that (Like Bill O points out, it’s simply that we’d need to redefine what death is, we all know how difficult pinning down organic processes can be) somehow supplies proof of life after that death. That’s YOUR ridiculous implication not mine. I was pointing out that that’s nothing more than evidence that we then need to redefine what it means to be ‘dead’. You then commit an argument ad absurdem. We know the brain has a short and finite existence after the blood and oxygen stops flowing, even you in all your glorious silliness can’t deny that. Beyond that there is absolutely no evidence for anything that continues to exist beyond the organic death. You and Parnia can gloss over the total failures of his experiments and favor a single “positive” as all the evidence you need but don’t think we don’t realize you have to know how ridiculously stupid that is Leo. You’re both being extremely disingenuous when it comes to this topic because you want it so bad you can’t even admit when a failure is a failure.

  246. grabulaon 21 Oct 2014 at 9:32 pm

    “It was fun.”

    Not even a little bit.

  247. Bronze Dogon 22 Oct 2014 at 1:53 pm

    Are there undetectable “spiritual” bosons and “spiritual” fermions that create the spirit and interacts with matter or does it only interact with our brains? Why are the “spiritual” particle structures only capable of consciousness and not normal particle structures? What structural change involving death causes the spirit particles to disengage from the brain, and when a person “comes back to life” what causes the spirit particles to reattach? Why doesn’t this detachment happen while a person is awake but only with certain types of brain malfunctions? Why attribute certain types of brain malfunctions to “spirit” particles?

    One thing that hit me when I was an emerging skeptic kind of makes dualism redundant as an explanation for how consciousness works: How would souls produce consciousness?

    I’ve brought up the anime, Bleach, in other threads. In it, souls and other spiritual entities have anatomy and can be (double) killed. One character comments that he can regenerate any part of his (entirely spiritual, non-physical) body except for his internal organs and brain. It seems a rather ironic/inconsistent way to depict souls as having brains since the main character’s physical body goes comatose whenever he leaves it unoccupied. What exactly does his physical brain do, anyway?

    In my view, dualism just moves the question of how brains produce consciousness to how a soul-brain produces consciousness, but sometimes it comes across as if the intent is to preserve the mystery by relocating it to an invisible entity. It doesn’t answer any tough questions, but it pretends they’re simple.

  248. mumadaddon 22 Oct 2014 at 2:08 pm

    In my view, dualism just moves the question of how brains produce consciousness to how a soul-brain produces consciousness, but sometimes it comes across as if the intent is to preserve the mystery by relocating it to an invisible entity. It doesn’t answer any tough questions, but it pretends they’re simple.

    Well put. To some people a mystery is better than a physical explanation as it leaves some wriggle room to deny that the existence of souls has been disproven.

  249. Lukas1986on 28 Oct 2014 at 2:46 pm

    AWARE II in the works. So all again from the start. Done again by the same people:

    “Research Summary
    We propose a two year multicenter observational study of 900-1500 patients experiencing cardiac arrests. Cardiac arrest is defined as the cessation of heartbeat and respiration [the heart stops pumping blood causing sudden collapse and absence of breathing]. These patients need cardiopulmonary resuscitation [CPR] which is delivered as chest compressions from a rescuer or mechanical device with artificial breathing. These measures can avert death and allow potential for survival. A number of recent studies have indicated that 10% of cardiac arrest survivors report memories and thought processes from their period of resuscitation. A small proportion of survivors have also described the ability to “see” and “hear” details of their cardiac arrest. The significance and mechanisms that lead to these experiences are not fully understood – we do not know if they matter or why they happen. It is possible that patients who are able to recount these experiences may have better patient outcomes in terms of reduced brain damage, improved functional ability and better psychological adjustment to the event. We think that these patients may have had better blood flow to the brain during cardiac arrest, leading to consciousness and activity of the mind. Our target population is patients experiencing cardiac arrest in hospital [in the emergency department or hospital wards] or out of hospital [in whom resuscitation efforts are ongoing at ED arrival]. Emergency Department or Research staff will be alerted to cardiac arrest and will attend with portable brain oxygen monitoring devices and a tablet which will display visual images upwards above the patient as resuscitation is taking place. Measurements obtained during cardiac arrest will be used to compare data from all cardiac arrest patients independent of outcome [whether they live or die]. Survivors will then be followed up and with their consent will have in-depth, audio recorded interviews.”

    Taken from: http://public.ukcrn.org.uk/Search/StudyDetail.aspx?StudyID=17129

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