Skeptical Argument: “Something amazing happens during a near-death experience. There are still profound questions, like, why doesn’t everyone who comes close to death have an NDE? And, is the NDE the brain’s final fantasy? Autoscopy (being out of body, looking down) is the sole trait of the NDE amenable to empirical validation. But even here, we must be careful. I must categorically reject out of hand anything that an experiencer says describing his environment, what people have said, what they were wearing, and so on. This isn’t enough! What I personally insist on is an accounting of what’s happening elsewhere, in a physical place far removed from the physical body of the experiencer. After all, one cannot rule out that sensory pathways are still active in the brain of the experiencer, accounting for their ability to hear and see and smell some things from their immediate physical environment. The only truly compelling proof of being out of body comes from very remote viewing.”
Dr. Kenneth Ring: “These are cogent objections, but there are in the literature on both remote viewing and NDEs many cases of the sort … where people appear to know things at a distance. (That is, demonstrate clairvoyance). I also consider some of these same objections in my book, Lessons From The Light, and Sabom treats them as well in the book of his I previously mentioned. As for why some people have NDEs whereas others don’t, I explored this question in depth in my book, The Omega Project (Quill, 1993).” (Dr. Kenneth Ring)
Dr. Jeffrey Long: “A number of experiencers describe out-of-body experiences (OBEs). These experiences frequently include visualization of their body from a vantage point outside their body. Much less commonly reported are visualizations of earthly events geographically far removed from their body. Michael Sabom, M.D, conducted an excellent study of OBE among experiencers. Dr. Sabom identified a group of thirty-two patients who had a cardiac arrest, experienced an NDE, and visualized their own resuscitation efforts during the OBE stage of their NDE.
“He found a group of twenty-three patients who had a cardiac arrest and did not have an NDE. Both groups were asked to describe their resuscitation. The NDE group was uniformly accurate, including correctly recalling readings on medical machines outside their potential line of vision. Twenty of the twenty-three patients who did not have an NDE were highly inaccurate in describing their resuscitation. This is verifiable and potentially reproducible validation of the OBE component of the NDE. Other researchers should attempt to replicate this important study. Anecdotal accounts continue to surface of experiencers with OBE experiences involving visualization far geographically removed from their body. Formal study of these accounts would be an important future area of research. For more information about an example of a verifiable OBE observation during an NDE, click on the link provided.” (Dr. Jeffery Long)
Dr. Robert Jordan: “The fact that some people who come close to physical death recall NDEs and others don’t could have several explanations that are either physical or nonphysical. Perhaps they are amnesic of the experience. Perhaps the physical process of the brain ceasing to function occurs too quickly or in the wrong sequence for a memory of the experience to be retained.” (Dr. Robert Jordan)
P.M.H. Atwater: “As long as you discount verifiable evidence that could not have been accessed through the regular senses and was indeed obtained remotely, you bias your own demands and outcomes. However, if you want to explore scientific proof of remote viewing, I suggest you contact Joe McMoneagle through his website. Joe just returned from Japan where, live and on television, he successfully demonstrated the validity of scientific remote viewing. Joe, by the way, is an experiencer.” (P.M.H. Atwater)
Kevin Williams, B.SC.: “I know of one event that came very close to providing scientific proof of autoscopy. The only reason it did not qualify as scientific proof is because the proper controls weren’t used at the time it occurred. Dr. Charles Tart was experimenting with a subject who would have spontaneous out-of-body experiences. A remote five-digit number was placed out of view of the subject. She had an out-of-body experience and successfully read the five-digit number. The subject was then able to return to her body and successfully tell Dr. Tart what the number is. This provides strong circumstantial evidence that consciousness can transcend the physical body.
There is also the NDE veridical perception case of Pam Reynolds. In 1991, at the age of 35, Pam Reynolds underwent a rare operation to remove a giant basilar artery aneurysm in her brain that threatened her life. The size and location of the aneurysm, however, precluded its safe removal using the standard neuro-surgical techniques. She was referred to a neurosurgeon, Dr. Robert F. Spetzler, of the Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix, Arizona, who had pioneered a daring surgical procedure known as deep hypothermic cardiac arrest. It allowed Pam’s aneurysm to be excised with a reasonable chance of success. This operation, nicknamed “standstill” by the doctors who perform it, required that Pam’s body temperature be lowered to 60 degrees, her heartbeat and breathing stopped, her brain waves flattened, and the blood drained from her head. In everyday terms, she was put to death. After removing the aneurysm, she was restored to life. During the time that Pam was in standstill, she experienced an NDE. Her remarkably detailed veridical (i.e., verified) out-of-body observations during her surgery were later verified to be true. Her case is considered to be one of the strongest cases of veridical evidence in NDE research because of her ability to describe the unique surgical instruments, the surgical procedures used on her, and her ability to describe in detail these events while she was clinically brain dead
“Dr. Stanislav Grof, another consciousness researcher, theorizes that consciousness may not even be localized in the brain as so many scientists assume. He theorizes the brain may be merely acting as a reducing valve for which our five senses can process the vast amount of information that bombard our senses and influences our consciousness.
“It may be asking too much of researchers to gather data that proves, beyond any doubt, that consciousness survives death. Science may never develop the tools necessary to quantify many aspects of the NDE. However, there is currently available a mountain of circumstantial evidence suggesting that consciousness does indeed survive death. Nevertheless, here are some articles providing evidence of out-of-body veridical perception evidence.
A. Journal of Near-Death Studies Articles on Evidence From Veridical OBE Perception in NDEs
Skeptical Argument: “By looking at human behavior as objectively as I can, from an anthropological perspective, all paths lead me to support the hypothesis that God is the combination of projection and transference of a given culture’s (and individual’s) ideals and ideal relationships onto an unseen (yet psychically, very real) entity. Borrowing from analytic psychology, what I believe happens is the creation (or greater potentiation) of a complex, charged emotional contents with attendant thoughts and images, continually reinforced through normal operant techniques through institutions such as churches and their various rituals.
“My latest thinking on the topic of God is that it’s hard to look at the DNA sequence for a particular trait (speaking as a software engineer), and not say, ‘You know, that looks a lot like machine code! And that, in turn, presupposes a programmer, a Creator!’ At the same time, this is far removed from the idea of a personal, loving, Christian God who cares about us individually and will somehow rescue us from extermination at death.
“Don’t get me wrong: I very much hope that there is a loving God, but in light of what I know of neuroscience, it seems unlikely. It seems much more likely that we are the miraculous products of natural selection. I also believe that religion is very much man-made, and that if God does exist, he appears to be utterly and absolutely silent, having nothing to do with humankind, other than in man’s dreams, hopes, and fantasies (though these are products of man’s minds). I don’t say any of this to be disrespectful, and I’m painfully aware of how emotional an issue religion is, but I say it in the spirit of honest exploration.”
Kevin Williams, B.Sc.: “Testimonies from those having near-death experiences probably support much, if not all, of what you are saying. Man certainly did create religion and the idea of god(s); and the idea of a “Master DNA programmer God” does seem much more like an impersonal concept compared to the Christian notion of a wrathful/loving God.
“The only realistic answer to the question, ‘What is God?,’ is that ‘God’ is only an idea representing whatever people want it to mean. Many Christians believe God is a divine Father. Hindus believe God (Brahman) to be life manifesting itself everywhere with no exceptions. Cave men may have believed God to be the sun. To tribal cults, God may be a stone statue. Certainly, people throughout history believed things that seem utterly ridiculous to our enlightened minds today. ‘God,’ as a concept, has so many different meanings to so many different people throughout history that it is practically useless to talk about the idea of a God until empirical evidence for such a Supreme Being or Supreme Consciousness can be discovered.
“However, NDE experiencers have much to say about their encounter with a light so vast and personal that words are inadequate to describe it. A consensus among NDErs seems to be that this light represents all knowledge, all consciousness and all creation which is so pervasive and yet so subtle, it borders on panentheism – minus any impersonal aspect. In quantifying the nature of his light, I have read many NDE testimonies where experiencers use descriptive words such as Love, Life, Light, the All, the Source, the Force, the Oneness, Divine Consciousness, the Master-Vibration, etc. But according to many of these same experiencers, even these descriptions are woefully inadequate. One experiencer preferred to describe this light as ‘the Light that Loves.’ Another experiencer, Chuck Griswold, stated in the NDE documentary entitled Shadows, ‘Life is love is God. If you add anymore to this definition then you are not making it any better.’
“When NDE experiencers say that life itself is ‘God,’ they usually mean everything is a part of this light or ‘God’ or simply that everything is ‘God.’ Given all these definitions, we might as well claim that all of reality is this ‘God’ – nothing excluded. For this reason, we should probably just assign the term ‘God’ to the children’s toy box – because of all the ‘baggage’ associated with it and simply say there is no ‘Grand Old Man’ sitting on a Throne ruling everything. It is possible that there is only one Ultimate Reality incorporating everything and this may be what people throughout the ages have been worshiping as ‘divinity.’
Also, religious faith implies the possibility of doubt. Knowledge implies certainty due to scientific methods. This is why knowledge will always be greater than faith; and why scientific support for the existence of God is always stronger than faith in dogma. Kurt Godel, the foremost mathematical logician of the 20th century, offered a theorem and ontological proof that atheism is not logical. If you visit the atheist Keith Augustine’s website, Infidels.org, on the home page you will find the following statement:
“Naturalism is ‘the hypothesis that the natural world is a closed system, which means that nothing that is not part of the natural world affects it.’ Thus, ‘naturalism implies that there are no supernatural entities’ – including God.” – Quote from Keith Augustine’s website
However, Kurt Godel’s Incompleteness Theorems shows that no consistent formal system can prove its own consistency. See this Wikipedia article for the mathematical logic. In plain language, it proves that all closed systems depend upon something outside the system. So according to Godel’s Incompleteness Theorem, the quote on the Infidels website cannot be correct. If the natural world is a closed, logical system, then it has an outside cause. Thus, according to Godel’s theorem, atheism violates the laws of reason and logic. Godel’s Incompleteness Theorem definitively proves that current scientific models can never fill its own gaps. We have no choice but to look outside of current scientific models for answers concerning illogical statements such as, “A God does not exist in the natural world.”
The incompleteness of the universe’s own consistency regarding its existence isn’t proof that the God of any particular religion exists; but it is proof that in order to construct a rational, scientific model of the universe, a new scientific model that includes an outside, all-powerful Cause is not just 100% logical – it’s necessary. Kurt Godel also developed an Ontological Proof of God’s existence which has been proven by German computer scientists in 2013. However, Godel’s theorems and proof cannot be applied to prove the existence of Santa Claus, nor to prove the existence of a Flying Spaghetti Monster flatulating the universe into existence.
Then there is the logical argument from the Christian philosopher C.S. Lewis whose former belief in an unjust universe led him away from atheism to theism:
“My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust? If the whole show was bad and senseless from A to Z, so to speak, why did I, who was supposed to be part of the show, find myself in such violent reaction against it? A man feels wet when he falls into water, because man is not a water animal: a fish would not feel wet. Of course I could have given up my idea of justice by saying it was nothing but a private idea of my own. But if I did that, then my argument against God collapsed too – for the argument depended on saying that the world was really unjust, not simply that it did not happen to please my fancies. Thus in the very act of trying to prove that God did not exist – in other words, that the whole of reality was senseless – I found I was forced to assume that one part of reality – namely my idea of justice – was full of sense. Consequently atheism turns out to be too simple. If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning: just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know it was dark. Dark would be a word without meaning.” (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, 1952)
So Lewis concluded that if the universe is meaningless, we would never have discovered it to be meaningless. And because the burden of proof lies with those who illogically claim the world is meaningless, and not upon those who disprove the claim by giving it meaning, shows the claim of a meaningless universe is false. The same is true of a Godless universe.
A skeptic named Thomas Westbrook posted a hoax NDE (which has been removed) on a popular NDE website on June 11, 2017. Then, two weeks later, Westbrook created a YouTube video called “Near Death Experiences Explained – Truth About NDEs” on his Holy Koolaid Channel to promote the hoax as part of an effort to “prove” such NDE testimony is “useless”. Then on June 26, 2017, I stumbled upon the skeptic’s video in an article on the Pathos Blog which profiled the hoax and video. I watched the skeptic’s video which I thought was silly and filled with arguments that have been thoroughly debunked. I contacted the webmaster of the popular NDE website and informed them about the hoax NDE on their website.
But the skeptic made a serious mistake. The hoax NDE he described in the video is not what he claimed he posted on the NDE website. For example, in the video he claimed he posted a hoax NDE that included a “golden robot-god C-3PO” (of Star Wars fame). He even placed an image of C-3PO on the cover of his video. The problem is he doesn’t mention a “golden robot-god” or “C-3PO” in the hoax NDE he posted on the NDE website. This proves the skeptic is a fraud and the only hoax he is promoting is himself on the general public. In the video, the skeptic makes many claims against the reliability of near-death studies and against any evidence supporting the Afterlife Hypothesis. This article will present his arguments and refute each one of them.
Notice: This article contains copyrighted material the use of which was not specifically authorized by the copyright owner. I am making such material available in an effort to advance understanding of issues involving near-death experiences, religious experiences, spirituality, history, education, science, current events, social justice, religious satire and others. I believe this constitutes a “fair use” of this copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information review the article at Cornell University’s Legal Information Institute. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this article for purposes of your own that go beyond “fair use” you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.
1. A Comparison of Skeptic’s Hoax NDE in His YouTube Video with His Hoax NDE Posted on the NDE Website
The following is the hoax NDE the skeptic in the video claimed he posted. The words in bold are common words used in both the video and the hoax NDE posted on the NDERF.org website. Notice the ridiculous elements included in it.
The Skeptic’s Hoax NDE in the Video:
“My leg was amputated and my heart stopped. I floated off the operating table before explosive diarrhea launched me at light speed to a beautiful rain forest paradise where I was greeted by my dead grandpa and the golden robot-god C-3PO who was floating through the air on a chair and speaking in Spanish.” (Skeptic in the video)
Now compare his claimed hoax NDE in the video with the actual hoax NDE he posted on the NDE website (which has already been removed from the Internet). They are not the same. Notice that the skeptic doesn’t mention a “paradise”. He doesn’t mention a “robot-god”. He doesn’t mention “C-3PO”. He doesn’t mention a “chair” at all. So the hoax is on those who believe the skeptic is true in what he claims.
The Skeptic’s Hoax NDE Posted on the NDERF.org Website:
“I developed a massive infection in my leg and the antibiotics weren’t working. So the doctors needed to amputate my leg. They gave me anesthesia to put me under and during the operation, I lost a lot of blood. The doctors said that what happened was extremely rare, but my heart stopped and I flatlined. What happened next was the weirdest thing I’ve ever experienced and I haven’t shared it with anyone else because they’ll think I’m crazy. But after reading these stories here, I feel like I can open up. I felt myself floating off the operating table. I looked down and saw the doctors scrambling around to bring me back. At that point, I felt my bowels completely emptying, like explosive diarrhea. It was as though that launched me upwards through space. I was propelled towards a light. It was like a tunnel. I know it sounds cliché, but I don’t know how else to describe it. I guess it was like in Star Wars when the millennium falcon enters light speed and all of the light from the stars bend towards it. I felt so warm and at peace. It was the greatest feeling I’ve ever experienced in my life. I didn’t know what was at the end of the tunnel, but I knew that it was something spectacular. Suddenly I was in a tropical forest on some spectacular world. My grandfather was there and he’s been dead for years! It was so good to see him again. He smiled at me and I knew deep down inside that he was proud of me. Then I looked up and saw the most beautiful golden man, brighter than a thousand stars! He greeted me first in Spanish and then in English. I could tell he was all knowing, because how else could he speak every single language? He floated through the air towards me and then asked why I’ve been such a skeptic. I didn’t feel threatened, but I knew I had been missing something huge in my life. I still feel the sense of urgency and the memory is ridiculously vivid. He told me that it wasn’t my time yet, but that I needed to return to earth and tell people the good news about him. That’s when I felt my body being sucked backwards. I didn’t want to leave. I still wish I could have stayed, but I guess it’s for the better. I was sent back to my hospital bed. I eventually recovered, except that I’m missing my leg. I should be getting a prosthetic soon. I feel weird sharing it, and have only told a couple of family members. They think I’m crazy, but I know that what I experienced was the real deal. I don’t want to force them to believe me, but I don’t know how else to convince them that there’s something else out there. Hopefully my story helps someone who’s in a similar boat as me.” (Skeptic’s NDE posted on the NDERF.org Website)
So, as you can see for yourself, the skeptic is perpetuating a fraud about his hoax NDE. In the video, he doesn’t mention a “paradise,” nor a “robot-god,” nor does he mention “C3PO,” nor does he mention him “on a chair.” The hoax NDE he posted on the website does not contain these ridiculous elements which would cause it to be automatically identified as a hoax.
2. Watch the Skeptic’s YouTube Video “Near Death Experiences Explained – Truth About NDEs”
3. Counter-Arguments Against the Transcript of the Skeptic’s YouTube Video
Skeptic’s Argument: “You’re surrounded by darkness, floating through the air. Suddenly a bright light approaches! You enter a great hall and are greeted by the Hindu god of death Yama who rests beside his two ferocious hellhounds, doted on by servants. His accountant Chitragupta is there flipping through a book to check your karma before realizing that whoops! They messed up! There’s been a mistake! And now they have to send you back. You wake up in a hospital bed surrounded by doctors and very confused. The Hindu’s were right all along? What the hell just happened? You’ve just had a near-death experience (NDE). But does this mean there’s a heaven or a hell?” (Skeptic in the video)
Counter-Argument: The skeptic’s argument is that, if you have an NDE with Hindu related religious elements included in it, and you are not a Hindu, then it is not evidence of a heaven or a hell. But this is not really a logical argument at all, but merely an assumption. The fact is NDEs have a variety of religious elements to them and not all are based upon the NDEr’s cultural background. For example, a Christian named Nancy Evans Bush once had an NDE involving the Taoist ying-yang symbol and beings informing her of Taoist philosophy. A Jewish person named Jeanie Dicus had an NDE and was asked by Jesus if she wanted to return to life or reincarnate. Howard Storm, an atheist, met Jesus and was accepted by him and by God. Carl G. Jung, the famous Swiss psychiatrist, had an NDE where he saw a black Hindu sitting silently in lotus position before the gate of a heavenly Hindu temple. So, although NDEs in general are interpreted by those who have them based upon their own cultural and religious background, this is not always the case.
Also, throughout the skeptic’s video, he has an obvious problem distinguishing between evidence and proof. Evidence, broadly construed, is anything presented in support of an assertion. This support may be strong or weak. The strongest type of evidence is that which provides direct proof of the truth of an assertion. At the other extreme is evidence that is merely consistent with an assertion but does not rule out other, contradictory assertions, as in circumstantial evidence. Proof (or truth) is sufficient evidence or a sufficient argument for the truth of a proposition. So it is irrelevant whether or not an NDE has Hindi elements in it. Having an NDE can provide evidence of an afterlife, or a heaven or a hell. But in no way do NDE researchers claim NDEs are proof of the same.
Skeptic’s Argument: “At first glance, near-death experiences seem to be convincing proof of an afterlife. Except for a couple major problems. First off, in the largest study of NDEs ever conducted, only 9 percent of cardiac arrest survivors who were able to complete a detailed interview had a near death experience. If people have souls and everyone who dies goes to heaven or hell, then what’s up with the other 91% who flat line, but never have an NDE?” (Skeptic in the video)
Counter-Argument: Only 9% of cardiac arrest survivors report NDEs. So the skeptic assumes “if people have souls” and “everyone who dies goes to heaven or hell” then the other 91% who flatline should report NDEs as well. Not true. According to the director of the NDE study mentioned in the video, Dr. Sam Parnia, “A number of NDErs may have vivid death experiences, but do not recall them due to the effects of brain injury or sedative drugs on memory circuits.” Also, it has been documented how some NDErs have reported NDEs in between cardiac arrest resuscitations; but when finally stabilized, they have absolutely no memories of it at all. This shows some people have NDEs but have no memories of them afterward. Also, the skeptic’s argument is a fallacy which can be demonstrated by the fact that studies show about 55% of the population will ever have a lucid dream. Some people don’t even remember their nightly dreams at all. Using the skeptic’s logic, because everyone experiences REM sleep, everyone should therefore lucid dream and remember their dreams. But this logic, as well as the skeptic’s logic, is obviously false.
Skeptic’s Argument: “But even with such a small percentage, there are still thousands of anecdotes from people who claim to have returned from the other side. In his 1975 book Life After Life, Dr. Raymond Moody’s interviewed 150 people about their near death experiences, and Dr. Jeffrey Long has accumulated over 4000 near-death experience accounts online. Both are convinced that these stories are proof of an afterlife. But in both of these cases they’re all just anecdotes. I’m not saying these people didn’t experience something odd. But I am saying that we should take it with a grain of salt, because if anecdotes meet your standard for what qualifies as evidence, then you should probably start buying tin foil and food buckets, because there are just as many people who report seeing reptilians and who have been abducted by aliens. To prove just how useless anecdotes are, I successfully submitted a fictitious near death experience account to Dr. Long’s website that’s been up for over two weeks now, in which my leg was amputated and my heart stopped. “I floated off the operating table before explosive diarrhea launched me at light speed to a beautiful rainforest paradise where I was greeted by my dead grandpa and the golden robot-god C-3PO who was floating through the air on a chair and speaking in Spanish.” (Skeptic in the video)
Counter-Argument: As previously mentioned, the skeptic is perpetuating a fraud because he did not submit the same fictitious NDE on Dr. Long’s website that he claimed he did in the video. The fictitious NDE he submitted on Dr. Long’s website did not include the words “paradise,” “robot-god,” “C3PO,” or “on a chair.” The fictitious NDE he submitted had no ridiculous elements to it and, therefore gave no reason for it to be rejected as a hoax.
But by attempting to post a hoax NDE with (he claims) ridiculous elements to it, the skeptic says his goal is to prove how “useless” anecdotal evidence is in NDE studies because, according to his logic:
“If anecdotes meet your standard for what qualifies as evidence, then you should probably start buying tin foil and food buckets, because there are just as many people who report seeing reptilians and who have been abducted by aliens.” (Skeptic in the video)
Skeptic’s Argument: “You would expect, that if any particular religious account of the afterlife were true, every NDE would be pretty much the same. But these accounts are so varied and are all based on cultural exposure. In India people see Hindu gods, in Saudi Arabia it’s Mohammad, Allah, and a bunch of virgins. The kid from the book/movie Heaven is for Real saw a Jesus with bright blue eyes, and one little girl went to heaven and was greeted by a portly man with a white beard and a red cap a.k.a. Santa Clause.” (Skeptic in the video)
Counter-Argument: The skeptic argues that all NDEs should be the same if they are real afterlife experiences. He argues they are all so varied and based upon cultural exposure; so therefore, this falsifies NDEs against being real afterlife experiences. But if all NDEs were exactly identical, this would make Susan Blackmore‘s “dying brain theory” more likely. It would show NDEs are only experiences coming from “hard-wired” brains. But because NDEs are different, this shows they are not “hard-wired” experiences, but rather dynamic experiences — as with life experiences in general. NDEs are very similar to lucid dreaming — an experience of virtual reality where all things are virtually possible. And just as one person’s dream is different from another, so do differences between NDEs correspond with reality. NDEs are very private, personal experiences – as private as a person’s clothes, hair color, language, size, etc. An NDEr’s subjective experiences can be attributed to many factors: the NDEr’s psychology, personal experience, background, etc. — not just culture. One of the truths of the NDE is each person integrates their NDE into their own preexisting belief system. Everyone is unique and everyone experiences the world in a way unique to anyone else in the universe. It is the same with NDEs. Reality exists in the mind of the beholder. In ordinary life, we create our own reality from the actions we take and the thoughts we think inwardly. You are what you think. The NDE appears to be no different.
Skeptic’s Argument: “But what about veridical NDEs – near-death experiences in which the person sees something they couldn’t otherwise have known while ‘flat-lining’ and others are able to verify that what they saw is indeed correct. The most notorious example of this is Maria’s shoe. A lady named Maria reportedly left her body floated around and saw a shoe on a ledge outside her hospital window that she ‘couldn’t have possibly seen.’ Her critical care provider, Kimberly Clark looked outside and saw the shoe just as described. But when researchers tried to track down Maria to confirm Clark’s story, they weren’t able to find any such person or anyone else to corroborate the account. And when they placed a shoe on the ledge, it was clearly visible from the hospital room, proving Clark had exaggerated at least part of the story.” (Skeptic in the video)
Skeptic’s Argument: “Not one case of veridical NDEs has ever been confirmed under a scientifically controlled setting.” (Skeptic in the video)
Counter-Argument: The skeptic is badly misinformed. One of the best cases of verified out-of-body (OBE) perception during an NDE that meets all the criteria for whole brain death is the case of Pam Reynolds. Pam’s extraordinary NDE occurred while she underwent a rare surgical procedure called a “standstill” to remove a brain aneurysm. The procedure required her to:
(1) become unconscious by use of an anesthetic; (2) have her body temperature lowered to 60 degrees; (3) have her heart and breathing stopped; (4) have her brain waves allowed to flatten; and (5) have all the blood drained from her head.
Under these conditions, conscious awareness should be medically impossible. Yet, while Pam was in this condition, she later reported how she floated out of her body and watched the doctors operate on her body. She was able to describe in specific detail the surgical instruments, the conversations among the physicians, and the procedures performed on her during her surgery. She was reunited with deceased loved ones during her NDE and was reluctant to return to her body. Pam’s ability to see and hear events while out of her body were later verified to be true — a phenomenon occurring in many NDE called “veridical perception.” You can read the entire account and the evidence on my website. More examples of veridical OBE perception can be found on my “Out-of Body Experiences and the Near-Death Experience” article and this article. There is also a book entitled, “The Self Does Not Die: Verified Paranormal Phenomena from Near-Death Experiences” containing over 100 cases of veridical OBE perception.
Skeptic’s Argument: “To quote physicist Dr. Vic Stenger, ‘To scientifically prove life after death is going to require carefully controlled experiments, not just a lot of stories. The plural of anecdote is not ‘data.’” (Skeptic in the video)
Skeptic’s Argument: “Some people reported gaining supernatural powers after an NDE, the great thing about this, is we can test it. But no one has ever proven it under a controlled setting.” (Skeptic in the video)
Counter-Argument: The skeptic’s argument is false. One of the possible aftereffects of having an NDE is becoming psychic. One of the most well known NDErs who became psychic after having an NDE is Dannion Brinkley. In an attempt to verify his psychic abilities attained from his NDE, the popular TV show “Unsolved Mysteries” asked renowned parapsychologist Dr. William Roll to conduct a series of tests. Dannion gave readings for eight people he had never met before. According to Dr. Roll, Dannion picked out several details about the lives of the individuals which he could not have known. Dr. Roll described Dannion as one of the more remarkable psychics he has ever worked with. Dannion was also asked to consult on a brutal murder case. On August 12, 1993, in Big Fork, Montana, John and Nancy Bosco had been shot to death, execution style, as they slept. The police investigation turned up absolutely no leads. Two months later, John’s mother Toni met with Dannion. Dannion described the killer as a slight-built young man with black hair who knew John and the layout of the house. Dannion said the man was in a college somewhere in the West, but predicted he would be arrested in the very early part of December. Incredibly, Dannion was correct on all counts; 18-year-old Joseph “Shadow” Clark was arrested in December, and later convicted. Just as Dannion predicted, Clark had lived in the murder house, had known the Boscos, and was attending college in the West. Dannion had apparently solved the case through the power of his own mind. Other NDErs such as Paul Elder, Joseph McMoneagle and David Morehouse attain remote viewing skills which attracted the attention of top secret U.S. government officials. Other NDErs such as Peter Anthony have been employed by law enforcement as a psychic detective; some NDErs become spiritual mediums such as Susanne Wilson; some NDErs become psychic diagnosticians such as Dr. Yvonne Kason; some NDErs become astral projection experts such as Dr. Dianne Morrissey; some NDErs become earthquake sensitives such as Elaine Durham; and some NDErs become EVP experts such as Gabbie Chase.
Counter-Argument: The skeptic’s argument assumes James Randi’s prize is a valid test to prove supernatural powers. His argument is that because no one has won James Randi’s prize; this proves there are no supernatural powers. But over the years, it has become evident to parapsychologists that Randi’s Foundation is not a real scientific research organization seeking the truth in these matters. Many articles have been written to document this fact. A recent article came out when Randi ended his prize providing some good background: The James Randi 1 Million Dollar Challenge Finally Terminated. This article includes a summary of the debate and links to some articles explaining the pseudoskeptical nature of Randi’s so-called “challenge”.
Skeptic’s Argument: “One example of post NDE supernatural claims is Dannion Brinkley who wrote a book in 1994 called Saved by the Light, in which he described his prophetic powers and claimed to have prophesied about things in 1975 that later came true. One of Dannion’s 1975 prophecies was that China would invade the Soviet Union, fight over a railroad, and proceed to march deep into the heart of the USSR. Yep. Totally happened.” (Skeptic in the video)
Counter-Argument: The skeptic argues that because a few of Dannion Brinkley’s NDE visions of the future turned out to be wrong; this proves Brinkley is a total fraud. But during Brinkley’s NDE he was shown 117 visions of the future (95 of them have already happened). These include the election of Ronald Reagan, the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the Gulf War in 1991. Dr. Raymond Moody, the “father of the NDE” has verified that Dannion did indeed predict these events in 1975 before they happened. Just because he got a few wrong – or maybe even interpreted the visions wrong – doesn’t nullify the other visions he got correct. And where does it state a psychic must be 100% accurate to be a real psychic? Only in the skeptic’s uninformed mind.
Counter-Argument: I agree that publishing a hoax NDE, such as “The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven”, and making money off of it is very wrong and unethical. But this is exactly what the skeptic is doing by publishing his hoax NDE in the video and asking for donations through Paypal or Bitcoin at the end of it.
Skeptic’s Argument: “While parapsychologists, pastors, and religious gurus are all quick to speculate and jump to conflicting conclusions that near-death experiences are proof of their god, scientists have consistently stated for decades now that we don’t know exactly what’s going on during an NDE, but they continue to do research. And here’s what we’ve found: There’s no indication whatsoever that anything supernatural is going on.” (Skeptic in the video)
Counter-Argument: The skeptic’s argument about the supernatural and NDEs has been falsified in the peer reviewed Journal of Near-Death Studies. Also, the skeptic is obviously not familiar with quantum mechanics (QM) which does not rule out the possibility of an “afterlife” universe or “afterlife” dimension (a multiverse, a multidimensional universe) or the survival of brain function after death (quantum immortality). Through quantum decoherence and quantum superposition, the idea of parallel universes offers the possibility for the existence of a communicating parallel universe acting as a person’s afterlife universe when death occurs. As derived from the Many-WORLDS interpretation of QM, and its extending concept of Many-MINDS interpretation of QM, it is theoretically possible for a living person to exist in superposition in a parallel universe (including their mental states and electrical discharges occurring throughout their brain and nervous system). Many-Worlds views reality as a many-branched tree where every possible quantum outcome is realized including the possibility of branches to universes that doesn’t lead to a living person’s death. Theoretically, this makes it possible for a living person to continue living in a parallel universe when the person dies in this current universe.
More support for the possibility of survival after death comes from the current string theory interpretation of the holographic principle of quantum physics. This principle defines our universe as existing as a hologram where all the quantum information we perceive in three dimensions is stored. First proposed by the eminent physicist David Bohm (author of Bohmian mechanics and co-author of the holonomic brain theory along with Karl Pribram), a holographic universe can theoretically encode every quantized moment of our existence and experiences from the universe. Rather than a constant flow of experience, mental states can be broken up in intervals or time-quanta of 0.042 seconds, each of which make up one moment of neural substrate. Each state consists of a certain amount of quantum information which can theoretically be stored on a hard drive for example; and there is much progress ongoing in this technology. This holographic model of reality allows for phenomena considered “paranormal” such as near-death experiences, other phenomena involving life after death, and mental telepathy for example. The universe as a single hologram also solves the mystery of quantum entanglement which Albert Einstein derisively called “spooky actions from a distance.”
Also, the materialist model of conventional science is based on the old paradigm of Newtonian classical mechanics and is fundamentally flawed. Conventional materialist concepts of reality have been falsified such as: (1)locality, (2)causality, (3)continuity, (4)determinism, and (5)certainty in the last century by the modern science of quantum electrodynamics. At the core of materialism, the fundamental component of existence – the nature of consciousness — is intentionally ignored even though the pioneers of quantum mechanics demonstrated and believed consciousness has a definite role in creating reality. Mainstream materialist theories of consciousness use classical mechanics in assuming consciousness emerged and is produced from “goo”. So they focus particularly on complex computation at synapses in the brain allowing communication between neurons. But because quantum vibrations have been discovered in microtubules in the brain, a theory known as Orchestrated Objective Reduction (Orch-OR), developed by the eminent physicist Sir Roger Penrose and anesthesiologist Stuart Hameroff, M.D., allows for a person’s quantum mind to exist in the multiverse, has garnered significant support. At death, the quantum information processed inside these microtubules doesn’t disappear. Instead, it is retained in the fine structure of the universe and on the edge of the event horizon of the singularity from which our universe projected; thereby allowing the information to be retrieved after death.
Skeptic’s Argument: “Dr. Sam Parnia took 4 years to conduct a study of 2,060 cardiac arrest patients. Of the 330 who survived, 140 were able to be interviewed, and only 9 had a near death experience. Nine people is an absolutely tiny sample size by any stretch of the imagination, but in this and several other studies, cards bearing numbers and images were placed just above the bed, but out of site of the doctors and patients so if the patients had had an out of body experience (OBE), they would have seen the images. While many of the patients in these studies described having an out of body experience and floating above the operating table, not one in any of the studies described seeing the cards.” (Skeptic in the video)
Counter-Argument: While none of the 9% of NDErs saw the targets (for a variety of reasons), there was one NDE case of veridical OBE perception confirmed under scientifically controlled settings in Dr. Sam Parnia‘s AWARE study. The skeptic is correct that of the 2,060cardiac patients in the study, only 140survived and were well enough to have an interview. Of these 140, there were 39 who were not able to complete the second interview, mostly due to fatigue. Of the 101 patients able to interviewed, only 9 were deemed to have had an NDE (9%) and of these 9 NDErs, only two reported memories of auditory/visual awareness of the physical environment. Of these two, one was not able to follow up with an in-depth third interview due to ill health. The other patient had veridical perceptions (VPs) while in cardiac arrest:
(1) During the NDE, the unconscious patient felt quite euphoric; (2) The patient heard an automated voice saying, “Shock the patient, shock the patient;” (3) The patient rose near the ceiling and looked down on his physical body, the nurse and another man, bald and “quite a chunky fella,” who wore blue scrubs and a blue hat. The patient could tell the man was bald because of where the hat was; (4) The next day, the patient recognized the bald man who attended him during the resuscitation; (5) The medical record confirmed the use of an AED (Automated External Defibrillator) that would give the automated instructions the patient heard and the role that the identified man played during the resuscitation.
To assess the accuracy of claims of VP, 50 to 100 shelves were installed in each hospital (15 of them) near the ceiling of areas where cardiac arrest resuscitation was likely to occur. Each shelf had an image that was visible only from above the shelf. The study’s hypothesis was that the images on the shelves could potentially test the validity of VP, provided enough cases of NDEs. The study’s authors concluded that: (a) In some cases of cardiac arrest, memories of visual awareness compatible with so called out-of-body experiences (OBEs) may correspond with actual events; (b) A number of NDErs may have vivid death experiences, but do not recall them due to the effects of brain injury or sedative drugs on memory circuits; (c) The recalled VP experience surrounding death merits a genuine investigation without prejudice.
Concerning that one case of VP, it was validated and timed using auditory stimuli during cardiac arrest. Dr. Sam Parnia concluded, “This is significant, since it has often been assumed that these experiences 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.
Skeptic’s Argument: “But it gets even better. Every aspect of near-death experiences can be artificially induced in a lab.” (Skeptic in the video)
Counter-Argument: This is obviously not true. Only some of the aspects of near-death-like experiences can be artificially induced in a lab. Some of them are listed below. And NDEs can be triggered by a variety of catalysts other than cardiac arrest or near-death. But not every aspect of NDEs have been artificially induced in a lab:
“Out-of-body-like” experiences induced by any of the skeptical methods are called illusions. This fact is admitted by skeptics, scientists, and NDE researchers alike. According to Wikipedia, an illusion is a distortion of the senses, revealing how the brain normally organizes and interprets sensory stimulation. However, OBEs during NDEs are realistic perceptions of real events and are not distortions of reality. Induced OBEs involve dissociation and illusionary autoscopic aspects.
Conscious awareness doesn’t occur under anesthesia using any of the skeptics methods in the same way that conscious awareness occurs during NDEs while under anesthesia. Many NDEs occur while the NDEr is under general anesthesia at a time when any conscious experience should be impossible. While some skeptics claim these NDEs may be the result of too little anesthesia, this ignores those NDEs resulting from anesthesia overdose or having no anesthesia involved. Additionally, descriptions of a NDEs differ greatly from those people who experiences “anesthetic awareness.” And the content of NDEs occurring under general anesthesia is essentially indistinguishable from NDEs that do not occur under general anesthesia. This is more strong evidence of NDEs occurring independently from the functioning of the material brain.
A “crystal-clear” level of conscious alertness during NDEs that is greater than alertness experienced in normal consciousness cannot be induced using any of the skeptics methods — even though NDEs generally occur when a person is unconscious or clinically dead. This high level of consciousness while physically unconscious is medically unexplainable. Additionally, the elements in NDEs generally follow the same consistent and logical order in all age groups and around the world, refuting the possibility of NDEs having any relation to dreams or hallucinations.
None of the skeptics methods can induce a perfect “playback” of entire lifetime memories – called a “life review” — as NDEs can. Life reviews in NDEs include a replay of minute details of events previously occurring in the lives of the NDEr — even if the events were forgotten or happened before they were old enough to remember. In fact, the life review has been described as an instantaneous “reliving” of every detail of a person’s life. In some life reviews, people are shown past lives. Others are shown possible future events based upon decisions made during their NDE. The life review has been called by many NDErs to be the most transformative aspect of their experience.
None of the skeptics methods can induce people to have NDEs without the distortions of time, place, body image and disorientations seen in drug induced experiences.
Counter-Argument: The author of the Spiritual Development website has excellent counter-evidence and summaries of the arguments for and against the skeptical arguments against the Afterlife Hypothesis interpretation of NDEs. According to Dr. R.. Craig Hogan, “Lack of oxygen (hypoxia) causes stupor without memories of the experience. People experiencing NDEs report enhanced consciousness not stupor and they remember their NDE.” Dr. Fred Schoonmaker, a cardiologist from Denver, had by 1979 carried out investigations of over 2,000 patients who had suffered cardiac arrests, many of whom reported NDEs. His findings showed NDEs occurred when there was no deprivation of oxygen.
“The primary features of acceleration-induced hypoxia, however, are myoclonic convulsions (rhythmic jerking of the limbs), impaired memory for events just prior to the onset of unconsciousness, tingling in the extremities and around the mouth, confusion and disorientation upon awakening, and paralysis, symptoms that do not occur in association with NDEs. Moreover, contrary to NDEs, the visual images Whinnery reported frequently included living people, but never deceased people; and no life review or accurate out-of-body perceptions have been reported in acceleration-induced loss of consciousness.”
J. Denosky of the SpiritualTravel.org website points out how the jet fighter pilots experience “tunnel vision” as they gradually lose consciousness as a result of blood draining from their brains because of the extreme gravity forces generated during flight. Their peripheral vision darkens and blurs while the circle of vision becomes smaller as the pilot nears unconsciousness. However, the pilot still perceives the material world during this experience. The central area of vision that remains still shows the cockpit gauges and the horizon. The person having an NDE, however, perceives light at the end of a tunnel, not material reality. The experiences have in common that the individual has a circular visual field, but they differ both in what the visual field contains (image versus light), and how the visual field changes. While the jet pilot gradually sees the visual field decrease in size to a smaller and smaller circle, the NDE experiences described by those who have had the experience do not mention this gradual narrowing over time. Instead, the field starts out as a pinpoint or small circle, which may or may not increase in size during the “tunnel experience”. It generally does not decrease in size. In some cases, the light at the end of the tunnel gradually grows to engulf the individual as he or she nears the end of the tunnel. The tunnel experienced during an NDE is usually 3-dimensional and surrounds the individual while the pilot experiences a narrowing of the visual field but not a “tunnel”.
Comparisons between NDEs and hallucinations produced by an oxygen-starved brain show that the latter are chaotic and much more similar to psychotic hallucinations. Confusion, disorientation, and fear are the typical characteristics, compared with the tranquility, calm, and sense of order of a NDE. There are some features in common: a sense of well-being and power, and themes of death and dying. But people who have experienced both at different times say that there is an unmistakable difference. Hallucinations, whether deliberately drug-induced, the result of medication, or caused by oxygen deprivation, almost always take place while the subject is awake and conscious, whereas NDEs happen during unconsciousness, sometimes when the subject is so close to death that no record of brain activity is recorded on an electroencephalograph, the machine that monitors brain waves. Also, the medical conditions that take subjects to the brink of death, and to having a NDE, do not necessarily include oxygen-deprivation, or any medication. This is particularly true of accident victims. NDEs appear to occur at the moment when the threat of death occurs, not necessarily at the time, maybe hours later, when death is close enough to be starving the brain of oxygen.
Skeptic’s Argument: “Drugs such as Ketamine which interact with your NMDA receptors can induce NDE-like experiences. This is relevant because your brain contains naturally occurring neuroprotective agents that bind to same receptors and could potentially create these experiences naturally.” (Skeptic in the video)
Counter-Argument: In the textbook Irreducible Mind: Toward a Psychology for the 21st Century, by Edward F. Kelly, Emily Williams Kelly et al, the authors point out how unlike the vast majority of NDEs are compared to drug-induced hallucinations. Ketamine experiences are often frightening and involve bizarre imagery, and patients usually express the wish not to repeat the experience. Most ketamine users also recognize the illusory character of their experience, in contrast to the many NDE experiencers who are firmly convinced of the reality of what they experienced and its lack of resemblance to illusions or dreams. Even if ketamine experiences do resemble NDEs in some respects, many important features of NDEs, such as seeing deceased people or a revival of memories, have not been reported with ketamine. Furthermore, ketamine typically exerts its effects in an otherwise more or less normal brain, while many NDEs occur under conditions in which brain function is severely compromised. [Kelly et al, pages 380-381]
“Endogenous glutamate blockade with excitotoxicity, mimicking the hallucinatory anesthetic, ketamine (occasionally used to explain NDEs in general). I occasionally saw the effects of ketamine used as an anesthetic during the earlier part of my neurosurgical career at Harvard Medical School. The hallucinatory state it induced was most chaotic and unpleasant, and bore no resemblance whatsoever to my experience in coma.”
Skeptic’s Argument: “There’s growing evidence that the temporal lobe plays a huge role in the creating NDEs. When patients had their brains scanned after an NDE, it was discovered that they had increased levels of temporal lobe activity compared with those in a control group. That could help explain why only a small percentage of people who flat line have NDEs. When Dr. Olaf Blanke implanted electrodes into the brains of patients, he was able to trigger supernatural and out of body experiences by stimulating the temporal parietal junction.” (Skeptic in the video)
Counter-Argument: Dr. Blanke assumes all OBEs are illusions. And as previously mentioned, illusions are a distortion of the senses, revealing how the brain normally organizes and interprets sensory stimulation. However, OBEs during NDEs are realistic perceptions of real events and are not distortions of reality. Induced OBEs involve dissociation and illusionary autoscopic aspects. NDE researcher Dr. Melvin Morse agrees that stimulating the right temporal lobe produces OBE-like illusions, but he sees this area of the brain as the mediating bridge for spiritual experiences in general, not reductionistically interpreting NDEs as brain activity alone (Morse, 1992). Also, the characteristic emotions resulting from temporal lobe stimulation are fear, sadness, and loneliness, not the calm and love of an NDE.
Researchers, such as Dr. Bruce Greyson of the University of Virginia, say Blanke’s brain-mapping results do not entirely explain these strange reports — nor do reductionist arguments fully explain them. Greyson said Blanke’s experiments do not necessarily prove all OBEs are illusions. He said it is possible some OBEs occur in different ways than the scientists suspect. “We cannot assume from the fact that electrical stimulation of the brain can induce OBE-like illusions that all OBEs are therefore illusions.”
And while scientists may be discovering a mechanism or trigger associated with OBEs, this does not mean OBEs and NDEs are strictly produced by this mechanism. A mechanical function associated with OBEs and NDEs does not negate the idea of them being more than a mechanical function. One must not confuse what triggers OBEs with the experience itself.
Skeptic’s Argument: “Once supernatural experiences can be packaged up and commercialized, will people finally start to realize that it’s all in their heads. Or are they going to start worshiping the god-plumber Mario?” (Skeptic in the video)
Counter-Argument: The skeptic’s argument displays no logic and makes no sense. The reference to peoples’ subjective experiences existing “all in their heads,” whether supernatural or not, is actually a good way to describe conscious subjective experiences. Materialism is a theory which posits only matter and energy exist; and everything is composed of these materials; and all phenomena are the result of physical interactions. In other words, reality is limited to objective states of energy and matter. Applied to consciousness, materialism holds that all aspects of subjective experience is explainable purely by objective states within a physical brain. But the problem with materialism, as applied to the consciousness, is it does not distinguish between mind and brain. This explanation problem of materialism suggests there exists a metaphysical, non-physical component to subjective experiences philosophically known as “qualia“. The person who has arguably done more to support the subjective nature of consciousness is Dr. David Chalmers, the distinguished Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Centre for Consciousness in Australia, who specializes in the area of philosophy of mind and philosophy of language.
Chalmers defined this explanatory problem of materialism as the “hard problem of consciousness.” Chalmers illustrated this problem using the thought experiment of a “brain in a vat” which is similar to the “dream argument.” Both experiments show the brain’s ability to create simulated realities during REM sleep meaning there is a statistical likelihood of our own reality being simulated. Lucid dreams also supports this. There is also a long philosophical and scientific history to the underlying thesis of reality being an illusion which is centered on the assumption we do not experience the environment itself but rather a projection of it created by our own minds. A serious academic debate within the field of transhumanism centers around a related argument called the “simulation argument” which proposes reality to be a simulation and our current paradigm of reality to be an illusion. Physicists have even developed a scientific experiment to determine if our universe is a computer simulation. Also, as previously mentioned, several interpretations of quantum mechanics, such as the Holographic Principle, suggests our perception of reality to be holographically an illusion. So although the skeptic ignorantly associated peoples’ subjective experiences, such as NDEs (which have also proved to be objective experiences as well), with “worshiping the god-plumber Mario” as being “all in their heads”, his statement is not totally false. After all, the so-called “god-plumber Mario” and the “golden-god C-3PO” all originated from the skeptic’s own mind and subjective experience.
Skeptic’s Argument: “Finally, a near-death experience does not mean the person died. It means that they came close.” (Skeptic in the video)
“[Death is] a process, not a moment. It’s a whole-body stroke, in which the heart stops beating but the organs don’t die immediately.” In fact, they might hang on intact for quite a while, which means that “for a significant period of time after death, death is in fact fully reversible.” Parnia continues by saying that “under proper conditions — when the body temperature is lowered, chest compression is regulated for depth and tempo, and oxygen is reintroduced slowly to avoid injuring tissue — some patients can be brought back from the dead after hours without a heartbeat, often with no long-term consequences.”
This comment by Dr. Parnia shows the skeptic is badly misinformed.
Skeptic’s Argument: “In fact, it’s a common misconception that a flat EEG indicates complete and total brain death. An EEG only measures electrical activity on the outer layers of the brain – not activity deep inside.” (Skeptic in the video)
Counter-Argument: This is true, but its irrelevant. On his Skeptiko website, Alex Tsakiris discusses EEG data from patients with NDEs with EEG expert and neurologist Dr. John Greenfield from the University of Toledo, author of Reading EEGs: A Practical Approach. Tsakiris writes: “For NDE skeptics, medical evidence of a flat EEG during an OBE has always been a stumbling block. After all, a brain dead patient can’t hallucinate. But, does a flat EEG really mean no brain activity? NDE doubters have claimed activity deep inside the brain, beyond the reach of EEG instruments, must account for the complex ‘realer than real’ experiences reported by those who briefly pass into the afterlife. Now, University of Toledo Neuroscience researcher, and EEG expert, Dr. John Greenfield explains why this claim doesn’t hold up.”
Dr. Greenfield states, “It’s very unlikely that a hypoperfused brain (someone with no blood flow to the brain), with no evidence of electrical activity could generate NDEs. Human studies as well as animal studies have typically shown very little brain perfusion (blood flow) or glucose utilization when the EEG is flat. There are deep brain areas involved in generating memories that might still operate at some very reduced level during cardiac arrest, but of course any subcortically generated activity can’t be brought to consciousness without at least one functioning cerebral hemisphere. So even if there were some way that NDEs were generated during the hypoxic state (while the brain is shut off from oxygen), you would not experience them until reperfusion (blood flow) allowed you to dream them or wake up and talk about them.”
Also, the measurement of the EEG is irrelevant when it comes to the unconscious state of those having NDEs. According to Dr. Peter Fenwick, a neuropsychiatrist and the leading authority in Britain concerning NDEs, the unconscious state of the brain during an NDE is when:
“The brain isn’t functioning. It’s not there. It’s abnormal. But, yet, it can produce these very clear experiences (NDEs) … an unconscious state is when the brain ceases to function. For example, if you faint, you fall to the floor, you don’t know what’s happening and the brain isn’t working. The memory systems are particularly sensitive to unconsciousness. So, you won’t remember anything. But, yet, after one of these experiences (an NDE), you come out with clear, lucid memories … This is a real puzzle for science. I have not yet seen any good scientific explanation which can explain that fact.”
And this is why NDE researchers conclude that materialistic theories of NDEs involving brain chemistry alone fall short of the mark.
Skeptic’s Argument: “Our brains do weird things – like hallucinate and have odd dreams. I’m not saying an NDE is the same as a dream, but both are arbitrary, unpredictable, and only occur a small percentage of the time. And neither one is proof of anything other than that our brains work in strange ways. Hell, if near death experiences are evidence of Lord Shiva, then dreams are evidence that I’m a super saiyan, a time lord, and batman.” (Skeptic in the video)
Counter-Argument: Here the skeptic is relying upon several fallacies. He uses a fallacy in informal logic by claiming that because (A) “brains do weird things” is true for dreams; therefore (B) “brains do weird things” is true for NDEs. Then he extends his fallacy even further by claiming that because (A) applies to (C) the skeptic’s dreams of being Batman; therefore (B) applies to (D) NDEs involving Lord Shiva. The skeptic also appeals to another fallacy in informal logic called the argument from ignorance. He assumes his claim that NDEs only prove our brains work in strange ways is true simply because his claim that brains work in strange ways has not yet been proven false. But as you have already read in this article, from the evidence presented, explanations for NDEs using brain anomalies have been debunked. Also here. And also here. The skeptic’s appeal to ignorance of brain functions are an attempt to shift the burden of proof of his claim to opponents of his argument. But the burden of proof belongs to him alone. The skeptic also appeals to the logical fallacy argument from personal incredulity. He states that because having an NDE of Lord Shiva is so incredible or unimaginable, it by necessity must be wrong. But for people in India who believe in Lord Shiva and who have a cultural background in Hinduism, it is not incredible or unimaginable for them to have an NDE of Lord Shiva.
Skeptic’s Argument: “If near death experiences were evidence of life after death, the evidence would be undeniable and all around us.” (Skeptic in the video)
Counter-Argument: True. And the evidence is undeniable and all around us. While it may be impossible to ever prove life after death using the scientific method, there is a mountain of evidence supporting life after death as this article and this website shows.
Skeptic’s Argument: “100% of people who flatline would have NDEs, and would return with the same vision of heaven.” (Skeptic in the video)
Counter-Argument: The skeptic’s argument defies basic logic. There is no reason to assume everyone who flatlines should have an NDE — no more than it is reasonable to assume everyone who dreams should be dreaming the same dream. Nor should we assume everyone who goes to France should have the exact same experience.
Skeptic’s Argument: “They would know things they couldn’t possibly otherwise know.” (Skeptic in the video)
Counter-Argument: Yes, we have verified (veridical) OBE perceptions during NDEs where people witness real events and conversations far removed from their physical body which they could not have witnessed any other way or otherwise known about.
Counter-Argument: Yes, we do. Veridical OBE perception in NDEs reported under laboratory conditions are more than mere anecdotes. These can be found in various NDE studies such as the Atlanta Study, the Dutch Study, and the AWARE Study.
Skeptic’s Argument:: “Instead only a fraction of the people who are resuscitated have NDEs.” (Skeptic in the video)
Counter-Argument: This argument has already been debunked above. We know many people have NDEs; but for various reasons do not remember them. There is also no reason to assume everyone near-death must have an NDE.
Skeptic’s Argument: “We have no valid evidence that NDEs are proof of life after death – evidence that should be there if there if that was indeed the case.” (Skeptic in the video)
Counter-Argument: Once again, the skeptic confuses “evidence” with “proof“.
Skeptic’s Argument: “Now I know some of you are bummed by this, hoping for some type of eternal life after death. If that’s the case, check out my video ‘Why is Heaven Bad?'” (Skeptic in the video)
Counter-Argument: The skeptic assumes that because there is no proof of heaven, some people might be “bummed” by this fact (and it is a fact for some people). He even provides his possibly “bummed” out audience a video explaining why belief in heaven is bad. And if you watch the skeptic’s silly video “Why is Heaven Bad?” you will see he makes even more uniformed arguments from ignorance. But to quote Socrates:
“To fear death is nothing other than to think oneself wise when one is not. For it is to think one knows what one does not know. No one knows whether death may not even turn out to be one of the greatest blessings of human beings. And yet people fear it as if they knew for certain it is the greatest evil.” (Socrates)
So the skeptic assumes that opponents to his arguments (who he claims are motivated by “proof” of life after death), in the absence of such proof, would cause them to be “bummed”. But the educated person knows the difference between evidence and proof. But as Socrates wisely points out, to be “bummed” by death is to think oneself wise when one is not. The skeptic appears to be measuring his opponents imaginary “bummed” reaction according to his own standard of psychological reaction rather than his opponents’ reaction. His assumption that supporters of the Afterlife Hypothesis would be disappointed by any skeptical arguments against it is assuming he is far too wise when he is not.
Skeptic’s Argument: “But disregarding wishful thinking, there’s still a bright side. If this life is all there is, then there’s no hell afterwards. If there’s no hell, there are no demons. Also, if there’s no afterlife, then there’s no angry spirits or ghosts lingering on long after they’re dead haunting houses and old buildings. That’s a good thing. Because that’s one less thing you have to be afraid of.” (Skeptic in the video)
Counter-Argument: The skeptic’s evaluation of the cost-benefit analysis of believing in life after death is obviously flawed. As previously mentioned, the skeptic appears to project his own fear of death and his own frightening psychological reaction to life after death upon the opponents of his arguments. His fear is obviously manifested in fundamental religious terms (eternal damnation, hell and demons) and Hollywood horror movies (haunting ghost houses) which have no basis in NDE studies or modern parapsychology. The benefit of life after death without the skeptic’s unfounded fears is obvious: if we assume life after death is very similar to life on earth (NDEs suggest this is true), then who would not want the opportunity to live more of life? Unless you want to commit suicide, I submit that anyone who accepts the skeptic’s flawed cost-benefit analysis of life after death, anyone who denies that the benefit of a possible life after death outweighs whatever costs, therefore sees no benefit in the life they are currently living. Because if life after death is basically an extension of this life — and the benefits of this life outweigh the costs of living — then the same is true of life after death. And the evidence from NDE studies shows the cost-benefit analysis of a possible afterlife certainly weighs much in favor toward its abundant benefits. We all are aware of the cost-benefit of no life after death which is nothing gained, nothing ventured (lost).
Skeptic’s Argument: “These experiences aren’t meaningless. They show us the value and brevity of life. Life is short. Which is what makes it so precious. You don’t have to live a life in fear of hell, but do live it with fervor, love, and curiosity because it’s probably all you’ve got. And that’s ok. Because while we’re here, we’ve got each other.” (Skeptic in the video)
Counter-Argument: NDEs do not show us that life is brief. On the contrary, NDEs suggest that life continues on after death. Those who have NDEs are almost universally convinced they are an afterlife experience and that an afterlife exists. While it is true that NDEs are not meaningless, it is not true that only by accepting the skeptic’s claim of not fearing and not accepting the idea of an afterlife can people live life with fervor, love and curiosity. The skeptic’s claim of this life probably being all we’ve got, may or may not be true, but it is not “OK” merely because “we’ve got each other.” It has to be admitted by every intelligent person, there is much more to life than holding hands and singing, “Kumbaya.”
Skeptic’s Argument: “Massive thank you to all of my incredible patrons. You guys are what make this show possible. I couldn’t do it without you. If you want to support the show and get some cool perks in the process. Head to Patreon.com/holykoolaid. Or you can donate through PayPal or Bitcoin. Make the most of this short but oh so beautiful life, and don’t Drink the Koolaid.” (Skeptic in the video)
Counter-Argument: The skeptic is seeking financial gain for his NDE hoax video and fraud. He is doing the exact same thing that he condemned the boy who had a hoax NDE was doing with his hoax NDE book he made money from. I guess this makes the skeptic a hypocrite as well as a fraud.
4. NDERF Survey Methodology Minimizing the Risk of Falsified Accounts
The following is Dr. Jeffrey Long’s NDERF.org Statement of Survey Methodology Minimizing the Risk of Falsified Accounts.
The survey on NDERF.org is very long with over 150 questions that require a response before the survey can be submitted. The survey length is a substantial disincentive to filling it out falsely or as a “joke”.
Those who take the NDERF survey receive no payment of any kind.
Experiences are virtually always posted anonymously. There are relatively rare experiencers who are authors and would like their full name posted. No falsified NDE has ever been associated with a request to post their full name. There has been no personal recognition to incentivize sharing false accounts.
In the 18 year history of NDERF, we had about four falsified NDE accounts posted on NDERF.org and later found to be falsified. Given that we have over 4,000 NDEs posted that is about one in a thousand NDEs that have been posted.
The NDERF website has about 90,000 unique visitors a month from all around the world. This greatly reduces the risk that any accounts posted are plagiarized. With so many readers, any plagiarized account would likely be recognized by NDERF readers and we would be notified. This happened once in the history of NDERF. The plagiarized NDE was not shared on the NDERF survey but by a personal interview.
My background as a physician helps me to identify NDEs that describe medical events that seem implausible.
It is rare that experiences are submitted as a “joke” on the NDERF survey, and they can be easily identified and not posted. Years ago there were two NDEs shared sequentially that described, among other fanciful things, encountering Pamela Anderson in their “experiences”. These are recognized as “joke” accounts when submitted to NDERF as quickly as they would be recognized as “joke” accounts that are shared personally. Such “joke” submissions to NDERF average about one every few years.
My experience in reviewing over 4,000 NDEs and over 10,000 experiences of all types helps me to recognize experiences which may be falsified. The experiences at higher risk of being falsified are those where the contributors have a financial incentive in their experience. This includes those who have written books about their experiences. It also includes those whose vocation, such as channelers or alternative medical healers, may benefit in gaining credibility in the view of their clients if they had a particular experience (especially an NDE).
A rare falsified NDE that slips through the filters is most harmful if it changes our understanding of NDEs as a whole. It is almost inconceivable that enough falsified NDEs would be shared that a false understanding about any aspect of NDE as a whole results. After all, what is real is consistently observed.
Finally, and most importantly, I continue to have confidence that the overwhelming majority of those sharing NDEs and related experiences will share them with integrity.
Skeptic’s Question: “If the ‘I’ does, in fact, survive bodily death, I’d like to know where the ‘I’ goes under general anesthesia. Where does it go during sleep (for those of us who don’t recall dreams)? Where does the ‘I’ go in someone who is in a coma? And is the ‘I’ still the same, fundamental spirit, for lack of a better term, if a stroke transforms the personality into something totally different from what it was like before that stroke? What I’m trying to do is to separate the ‘I’ from the brain – if it’s in fact possible to do so. Unless it’s possible to do so, then clearly the ‘I’ is annihilated at bodily death.
“I work in a lab where we study human learning and memory using functional MRI, and I spend a lot of time studying the brain and trying to make sense of the various pathways and chemical processes at work. The more that I’ve learned, the more that I’ve come to believe that who we are – the ‘I’ – is an emergent property of the brain. It’s unique and unexpected, but at the same time, it couldn’t exist without the highly connectionistic pillars of the brain.
“If you ablate area 17 of the occipital lobe, you lose vision. Ablate Broca’s area, and you take out speech. If you ablate the temporal lobes, you take out morality. Ablate the frontal lobe, and you radically transform personality, volition, and so on. What devastates this whole issue is that we know that the ‘I’ is a function of the physiology and neurochemistry of the brain, so when the brain dies, what can possibly be left, aside from oblivion?
“I was deeply alarmed to realize that damage to the frontal cortex could produce a serial killer like Jeffrey Dahmer. C.S. Lewis might as well have been on drugs when he said that each human has a sense of morality which is God-given. Nonsense. Morality is conditioned into the human organism, localized to the temporal lobe (along with religious concepts and abstractions), and mediated by the frontal cortex of the brain. I was even more troubled to reflect on the story of Phineas Gage, who in a rail accident had a piece of metal pierce his brain, and it caused profound (negative) personality changes.”
Kevin Williams, B.Sc.: “So if I ablate pieces of my television set, then I can distort the picture or stop the sound. But that doesn’t mean the television set is the actual source of the images it displays which we know it’s not.” (Kevin Williams)
Dr. Kenneth Ring: “These are philosophical or metaphysical questions, and they can’t be answered definitively through empirical research. However, on these questions, I have found the writings of Paul Brunton very helpful – he wrote many books in the 30s, 40s and 50s, and they are still available. These, however, are deep and thorny questions, and a great many philosophical perspectives are already extant from which to explore them. Research of the NDE, however, certainly suggests, but can never prove, that there is an ‘I’ that is independent of the brain, but whether it continues to survive intact after death is a debatable matter.” (Kenneth Ring)
Dr. Jeffrey Long: “One concern of NDE skeptics is the concept of a dual physical and spiritual life presence, with the spiritual presence surviving bodily death. The physical presence is easily discernible, while the spiritual presence is generally not easily discernible. It is very helpful to personally have an NDE or NDE-like experience to address such concerns. For virtually all near-death experiencers, an NDE cures NDE disbelief. However, only approximately 4% of the United States adult population have a personal history of NDEs. Others find they are opened to the possibility of a dual physical/spiritual life presence through other spiritually transformative life events.
“These life experiences may include, but are not limited to, markedly serendipitous events, other personal paranormal experiences, and acceptance of other people’s accounts of their spiritually transformative experiences. I personally believe that if such spiritually transformative experiences are sincerely sought, they are likely to be encountered. NDE research is somewhat unique due to the subjective nature of the experience. This subjectivity precludes certain conventional scientific methods of studying NDEs, such as replicating NDEs or studying physical changes associated with the experience.
“This inability to study NDEs via certain accepted methods of conventional scientific verification results in the need for some element of faith to accept the reality of NDEs. I think this necessary element of faith is a problem for many people in accepting the reality and significance of NDEs. Mitigating against this concern is the fact that NDEs are relatively common. Millions of people have had NDEs. NDEs are quite varied, but the consistency of the NDE elements (OBE experience, tunnel, light, meeting other beings, etc.) is striking. There is no plausible biological explanation of NDEs. There is no other human experience so dramatic, shared by so many people, and so relatively consistent in its elements. The preceding suggests faith in the validity of NDE accounts is the most reasonable conclusion from the evidence.” (Jeffery Long)
Dr. Robert Jordan: “On the issue of general anesthesia, some individuals under general anesthesia are able to report details of events occurring in the operating room such as what music was playing and what the operating room personnel said – often to the embarrassment of those present. If nothing can be recalled by the individual under general anesthesia, this cannot be interpreted to mean that the ‘I’ goes away. It may simply mean that the person’s ability to pay attention and to remember has been short-circuited. I work with alcoholics who black out and remember nothing of their experience during the black out. Apparently, when a person under acute intoxication blacks out, the neural pathways in the hippocampus and elsewhere, which are fundamental to retaining memories, are not functioning. Nevertheless, they are able to act and think (too much!) like themselves during that period about which they later have no recollection.
“My understanding of the psychophysiological research on dreaming is that everyone dreams whether they remember the dream or not. Often, people who report that they don’t dream, recall dreams quite vividly if they are awakened during REM sleep.
“Where does the ‘I’ go when we have no recollection of the ‘I?’ This is a question with many possible answers. One possible explanation is that the ‘I’ disappears into the non-‘I’-ness, which I believe is the deeper reality.
“I think scientists, if we possess any sense of humility, must acknowledge that science cannot provide us with Ultimate Truth, only little hints of understanding about how the universe operates. Scientists are appropriately taught that today’s comprehensive theory is merely tomorrow’s special case of an even more comprehensive theory. Personally, I feel that I have learned more about what is really true by meditating and thereby emptying my mind of concepts, rather than by creating theories or doing experiments.” (Robert Jordan)
P.M.H. Atwater: “Neither near-death research, nor any other type of scientific inquiry, can address this question. I suggest you turn to spiritual or religious sources for clues. Actually, what you seek is not contained within the providence of the mind, but only through the heart.” (P.M.H. Atwater)
“I had my training as a psychiatrist, a physician and then as a Freudian analyst. When I became interested in non-ordinary states and started serving powerful mystical experiences, also having some myself, my first idea was that it (consciousness) has to be hard-wired in the brain. I spent quite a bit of time trying to figure out how something like that is possible.
“Today, I came to the conclusion that it is not coming from the brain. In that sense, it supports what Aldous Huxley believed after he had some powerful psychedelic experiences and was trying to link them to the brain. He came to the conclusion that maybe the brain acts as a kind of reducing valve that actually protects us from too much cosmic input. So, I don’t see, for example, that experiences of archetypal realms, heavens, paradises, experiences of archetypal beings, such as deities, demons from different cultures, that people typically have in these states that they can be somehow explained as something that comes from the brain. I don’t think you can locate the source of consciousness. I am quite sure it is not in the brain not inside of the skull.
“It actually, according to my experience, would lie beyond time and space, so it is not localizable. You actually come to the source of consciousness when you dissolve any categories that imply separation, individuality, time, space and so on. You just experience it as a presence.
“People who have these experiences can either perceive that source or they can actually become the source, completely dissolved and experience that source. But such categories as time and space, localization coordinates, are not relevant for that experience. You actually have a sense that the concepts of time and space come from that place. They are generated by that place; but, the cosmic source itself, the cosmic consciousness cannot be located certainly not in the material world.” (Stanislav Grof)
Kevin Williams, B.Sc.: “From what Grof said in the previous paragraph, changes to the reducing valve function of the brain alters the way it reduces the cosmic input to produce personality. According to Grof, consciousness itself is not changed by such things as drugs and NDEs. It is personality that is changed because personality is the product of the reducing valve feature of the brain. As Grof theorizes, consciousness may not even be produced by the brain, only altered. Interestingly enough, reports of NDEs involve the experiencer feeling as if they are expanding into the universe after death. This suggests that the brain actually restricts consciousness to produce a personality. After brain death, consciousness becomes unrestricted and the personality becomes pure consciousness.
“Many near-death experiences involve the experiencer’s consciousness expanding until it fills the entire universe – even beyond. This experience has been described as literally becoming the universe by near-death experiencers. Here are some examples from NDEs to demonstrate this:
Mellen-Thomas Benedict: “Suddenly I seemed to be rocketing away from the planet on this stream of life. I saw the Earth fly away. The solar system, in all its splendor, whizzed by and disappeared. At faster than light speed, I flew through the center of the galaxy, absorbing more knowledge as I went. I learned that this galaxy, and all of the Universe, is bursting with many different varieties of LIFE. I saw many worlds. The good news is that we are not alone in this Universe! As I rode this stream of consciousness through the center of the galaxy, the stream was expanding in awesome fractal waves of energy. The super clusters of galaxies with all their ancient wisdom flew by. At first I thought I was going somewhere; actually traveling. But then I realized that, as the stream was expanding, my own consciousness was also expanding to take in everything in the Universe!” (Mellen-Thomas Benedict)
Virginia Rivers: “The stars seemed to fly past me so rapidly that they formed a tunnel around me. I began to sense awareness, knowledge. The farther forward I was propelled the more knowledge I received. My mind felt like a sponge, growing and expanding in size with each addition. The knowledge came in single words and in whole idea blocks. I just seemed to be able to understand everything as it was being soaked up or absorbed. I could feel my mind expanding and absorbing and each new piece of information somehow seemed to belong. It was as if I had known already but forgotten or mislaid it, as if it were waiting here for me to pick it up on my way by.” (Virginia Rivers)
Thomas Sawyer: “And in your life review you’ll be the universe and experience yourself in what you call your lifetime and how it affects the universe.” (Thomas Sawyer)
Jayne Smith: “I was involved in this tremendous pouring forth of gratitude and joy and as that was going inside me, this white light began to infiltrate my consciousness. It came into me. It seemed I went out into it. I expanded into it as it came into my field of consciousness.” (Jayne Smith)
Josiane Antonette: “I am love; I am understanding; I am compassion! My presence fills the room. And now I feel my presence in every room in the hospital. Even the tiniest space in the hospital is filled with this presence that is me. I sense myself beyond the hospital, above the city, even encompassing Earth. I am melting into the universe. I am everywhere at once.” (Josiane Antonette)
Dr. Timothy Leary: “You must be ready to accept the possibility that there is a limitless range of awareness for which we now have no words; that awareness can expand beyond the range of your ego, your self, your familiar identity, beyond everything you have learned, beyond your notions of space and time, beyond the differences which usually separate people from each other and from the world around them.” (Dr. Timothy Leary)
Rudolf Steiner: “So you see, stage by stage we expand into the planetary spheres, like light that has been contained within a darkened glass, when finally uncovered and released goes out into the boundless universe. The moral disposition we carry over with us allows or prevents us from moving on in a conscious manner. Seeing how we expand toward the stars and planets after death, it’s no wonder we look at the night sky in awe with feelings of reverence and maybe even memories. After death, we expand into heavenly planetary realms. Our inward spirituality allows us or prevents us from moving on in a conscious manner. After this experience with the planetary realms, we fall asleep and the cosmic forces act directly upon us preparing us for the next earthly experience. Our cosmic rest regenerates us and prepares us for the time when the desire to reincarnate starts to work on us. When that happens, we begin the process of going back through the planetary realms picking up what we will need from each in order to fulfill our purpose in the next Earth life.” (Rudolf Steiner)
Margaret Tweddell: “I felt caught up in all of this to the very depths of my being. I felt myself expanding and expanding until I thought, ‘I’m going to burst!’ The moment I thought, ‘I’m going to burst!’, I suddenly found myself alone, back where this being had met me, and he had gone.” (Margaret Tweddell)
Dr. Susan Blackmore: After hovering around New York, Blackmore floated back to her room in Oxford where she became very small and entered her body’s toes. Then she grew very big, as big as a planet at first, and then she filled the solar system and finally she became as large as the universe.” (Dr. Susan Blackmore)
Kevin Williams, B.Sc.: “Dr. Blackmore believes her NDE was only a product of her brain much like a hallucination. If she is correct, then NDEs are nothing more than a mass hallucination. The problem with this is that dead brains do not hallucinate. And even if they did, the brain cannot retain such unconscious memories.
“This suggests to me that personality is likely a function of the brain and dies along with brain death. But consciousness itself, unrestricted by the brain, is everywhere and nowhere in particular.
“Skeptics often rely on reductionism to prove that altered brain function produces NDEs. But they may only be defining the trigger in the brain that allows consciousness to expand to produce an NDE. Using an analogy, we can reduce a television set to its basic components: circuits, tube, transistors and wires. But we are unable to quantify the television signals of the program, such as I Love Lucy as opposed to Jay Leno, by examining the individual components themselves. The television signals of the program are not restricted to the television set. They are located everywhere in the airwaves as well. Continuing with the analogy, when a television is turned on (the brain is functioning), the components of the television processes the signal (the brain alters consciousness) and creates a derivation of the signal, a television program (personality).
“Scientific evidence demonstrates that certain drugs can produce hallucinations in the brain. Some scientists theorize that the same process in the brain that produces hallucinations, also produces NDEs. But, Dr. Peter Fenwick, a neuropsychiatrist and the leading authority in Britain on NDEs, disagrees with this theory. In the documentary, Into the Unknown: Strange But True, Dr. Fenwick explains:
“The difficulty with those theories is that when you create these wonderful states by taking drugs, you’re conscious. In the NDE, you are unconscious. One of the things we know about brain function in unconsciousness, is that you cannot create images and if you do, you cannot remember them.”
Dr. Fenwick describes the unconscious state of the NDE:
“The brain isn’t functioning. It’s not there. It’s destroyed. It’s abnormal. But, yet, it can produce these very clear experiences … an unconscious state is when the brain ceases to function. For example, if you faint, you fall to the floor, you don’t know what’s happening and the brain isn’t working. The memory systems are particularly sensitive to unconsciousness. So, you won’t remember anything. But, yet, after one of these experiences (an NDE), you come out with clear, lucid memories … This is a real puzzle for science. I have not yet seen any good scientific explanation which can explain that fact.” (Peter Fenwick)
“So it appears that we may never know exactly what an NDE is and what produces them, until science can define exactly what consciousness is. We may have a long way to go to learn this.” (Kevin Williams)
Dr. Susan Blackmore: “I think it is possible, in principle, to separate the ‘I’ from the brain. The brain is a physical object. The ‘I’ is a construction – a story that a brain tells, a fantasy that it weaves – an illusion of a real self who has consciousness and free will. This fantasy is constructed all the time we are awake and our brain is functioning normally. We are trapped in this fantasy world that seems to separate us from everything else. Under anesthetic and near death this false sense disintegrates because the brain can no longer build the story, but usually it comes back again. When we die, the story stops for good – except in the minds of other people who knew us.” (Susan Blackmore)
Skeptic’s Argument: “With great trepidation, I allowed myself the thought that the resurrection of Christ didn’t accord with science. Death, by definition, is a permanent and irreversible biological state. Later, that quiet tremor became a defiant reality testing rallying cry, as I boldly said: ‘I believe that Jesus Christ was killed, period.'”
Kevin Williams, B.Sc.: “Unless Jesus was beamed up by a UFO, I came to a similar conclusion myself about the resurrection of Christ in that he probably did not rise bodily from the grave. All the visitations of Jesus after his death described in the Bible can be interpreted as being the phenomenon known today as after-death communications (ADCs). As a very liberal Christian, I don’t see any need to believe in resurrection (or any religious dogma for that matter) to live a spiritual life of loving other people. In fact, the concept of resurrection did not originate with Christianity or Judaism but by the ancient Persians. This fact usually comes as a big surprise to Christians when they learn about this.
“However, I do disagree that there exists conclusive, scientific proof either way of the existence or non-existence of an afterlife – especially when there is a mountain of circumstantial evidence, albeit mostly anecdotal, suggesting the possibility of the survival of consciousness after death.
“From modern research of after-death communications, it is apparent that multitudes of people throughout history have reported experiences of some form of visitation by deceased loved ones. These are often very subtle experiences spontaneously occurring in a variety of ways including: suddenly hearing a voice, smelling a fragrance, having a lucid dream, experiencing synchronicity, or even full-blown apparitions of the deceased. My entire family experienced this phenomenon when my mother died in a tragic car accident. So because of my own experiences and related research, it is apparent to me that the appearances of Jesus to his disciples after his death were ADCs all along. This doesn’t mean Jesus didn’t actually communicate with his disciples in some way after his death. It only suggests there is a modern interpretation of these matters. Even so, I see no advantage in knowing whether Jesus’ body died permanently, or resurrected, or reincarnated. It has no special advantage to me in my endeavor to live a spiritual life.”
Skeptic’s Argument: “Another problem is that no one who has returned has ever brought back anything useful, such as, for instance, the formula for the compound curing AIDS. All we have is “the purpose of life is to love, and to acquire as much knowledge as possible” stories. That’s nice, but I personally think that a cure for AIDS would be infinitely more expressive of God’s love for humankind than catchy near-death experience books such as Betty Eadie‘s.”
Kevin Williams, B.Sc.: “Skeptics may argue that nobody brings back anything useful from a near-death experience such as a scientific discovery. The skeptic’s argument might resemble something like this: “If people are actually receiving unlimited knowledge during an NDE, then why don’t they bring back with them the cure for AIDS to help humanity? While it’s nice that they have discovered humanity’s purpose in this world is learning to love others, it would be infinitely more expressive of God’s love for humanity if someone would bring back the cure for AIDS.
“Our skeptic presents a very good argument and it’s one that researchers have an answer for. What follows is a discussion of the scientific discoveries brought back by near-death experiencers as told by several near-death researchers. A complete list of scientific advances from NDEs is available on my NDE and Science research conclusions.
“Yes, people do receive higher knowledge and information about cures for diseases such as cancer and AIDS while they are in the light of the NDE. Here are some descriptions:
Virginia Rivers: “The farther forward a person is propelled through the tunnel, the more knowledge can be received. The mind can feel like a sponge, growing and expanding in size with each addition. This knowledge may come in single words and in whole idea blocks. Everything can be understood as it is being soaked up or absorbed. The mind expands and absorbs as each new piece of information comes in. It is receiving knowledge that was already known but forgotten or mislaid, as if it were waiting to be picked up on the way by.” (Virginia Rivers)
Kimberly Clark-Sharp: “The light gave me knowledge, though I heard no words. We did not communicate in English or in any other language. This was discourse clearer and easier than the clumsy medium of language. It was something like understanding math or music – nonverbal knowledge, but knowledge no less profound. I was learning the answers to the eternal questions of life – questions so old we laugh them off as clichés. “Why are we here?” To learn. “What’s the purpose of our life?” To love. I felt as if I was re-remembering things I had once known but somehow forgotten, and it seemed incredible that I had not figured out these things before now.” (Kimberly Clark-Sharp)
Kevin Williams, B.Sc.: “The main problem preventing many people from bringing back some of this higher knowledge attained during an NDE is that it’s difficult to retain every memory of their NDE, assuming it can be remembered at all. This general inability of people being unable to retain every memory from an NDE is similar to our general inability to remember every memory of a dream we have after we wake up. However, this is not to say that higher knowledge and scientific discoveries are not attained during NDEs or dreams.
“Some people having NDEs are cured of the diseases that caused their NDEs to begin with. Mellen-Thomas Benedict died of terminal cancer, had an NDE, and was cured of his cancer. Anita Moorjani died of cancer, had an NDE, and was cured of her cancer. Dr. Kenneth Ring provides an interesting account of a man cured of cancer during his NDE. One quite remarkable instance was shared with Dr. Kenneth Ring by Howard Mikel, Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies at Wichita State University in Kansas, who investigated this case very thoroughly and can authenticate it. The story, in brief, involved a patient by the name of Ralph Duncan, who in the mid-1970s was dying of leukemia. While he was hospitalized, he had a NDE during which he encountered a luminous being whom he took to be Jesus. Ralph observed that he did not look anything like the traditional images of him. Jesus’ eyes were ‘shooting fire’ and he communicated a telepathic message: ‘That’s enough, it’s dead, it’s gone.’ Ralph understood this to mean that he no longer have leukemia. Through his eyes ‘shooting fire’ and saying ‘That’s enough,’ Ralph understood this to mean in effect, ‘I’ve zapped you with enough voltage for this to cure you.’ Ralph said this is what Jesus meant when he said, ‘It’s dead, it’s gone.’ While these people were not given the cure for cancer, their NDEs show that an NDE can result in a cure for cancer which may be determined in future near-death studies.
“Some people have returned from an NDE and have been able to successfully diagnose and heal people – even bring back useful scientific information – due to the after-effects attributed to their NDEs.
“One example of this is documented in Tom Harpur‘s documentary, Life After Death. Harpur interviews a doctor whose name is Dr. Yvonne Kason who was almost killed in a plane crash into a lake which resulted in an NDE. After she recovered, she began to have strange visions in her mind that she couldn’t explain. One of these visions concerned a friend of hers. When Dr. Kason thought of her friend, she would see a vision in her mind of a “brain covered with pus.” Dr. Kason knew that this was an excellent symbolic vision referring to the deadly disease meningitis. The problem was that her friend was perfectly healthy at the time, exhibited absolutely no signs of meningitis, and there was no reason to suspect she had it. Dr. Kason begged her friend to get tested for meningitis. After an amount of reluctance, her friend got tested. Surprisingly, the test was positive. As a result of Dr. Kason’s NDE, her friend was able to get treated for meningitis at its early stage before it had time to become deadly. Dr. Kason continues to have such visions. She now realizes that, as a result of her NDE, that is now psychic. Her story affirms that useful things are indeed brought back from NDEs.
“Another interesting case is that of Edgar Cayce (pronounced “Kay-see”) (1877-1945), a devout Christian who had regular NDEs and brought back medical cures and information on future events that ultimately came true. In 1910, the New York Times carried two pages of headlines and pictures in which he was declared the “World’s Most Mysterious Man.” In 1954, the University of Chicago accepted a Ph.D. thesis based on a study of his life and work. Cayce is also considered to be the father of holistic medicine by JAMA, the prestigious medical journal. I have a complete list of the world events which Cayce successfully foretold before they occurred.
“Cayce was a wonder to the medical community because of his ability to diagnose and specify a treatment for gravely ill people from hundreds of miles away while out of his body. It is also documented that while in his out-of-body state, Cayce successful predicted the 1929 stock-market crash more than six months before it occurred, the Great Depression, outbreak of the First and Second World Wars, Japan’s sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, the rise and fall of Adolf Hitler, the independence of India, the creation of the State of Israel fifteen years before the event, the deaths of two American presidents, the existence of an unknown Jewish sect called the Essenes eleven years before the Dead Sea Scrolls were found (which was verified through archeological excavations after his death.), invention of the laser in 1958, and his own death before his two sons returned home from overseas. For many decades now, the Edgar Cayce Foundation has been around to research the vast amount of information he received.
“Edgar Cayce is much more than just an example of how one can bring back medical cures, historical facts, and even bring back information from the future while outside of their body.”
P.M.H. Atwater responds to the argument that experiencers do not bring back anything useful:
P.M.H. Atwater: “Not true! A fellow in, I believe it was Sweden, went on to copyright over a hundred inventions that have made a significant difference in society. Mellen-Thomas Benedict invented a glasscutter that alleviates much hand fatigue in accordance to directions he received in his experience. In fact, Mellen-Thomas participated in a number of medical research projects, and because of the information he gave the researchers, they were able to advance their work significantly. He is now doing DNA research and working on instruments that can help physicians use certain frequencies of light in healing. These are just a few of many.
“In my own case, I was told in my third NDE to do the research I do – my directions were specific and detailed. Look at what has resulted! Hardly trivial, I’d say. The reason you seldom hear of people like me and Mellen-Thomas and the fellow from Sweden is that we don’t make spectacles of ourselves. We just do our work.
“Also, please refer to my last three books. All of them have a section devoted to historical figures who had an NDE and who went on to make a significant impact on the world – people like Abraham Lincoln, Mozart, Einstein, Winston Churchill, Queen Elisabeth the First, and Edward de Vere the 17th Earl of Oxford – who may well be the real Shakespeare. I would invite you to look beyond the so-called popular books on NDEs, and do some real digging. You may be surprised at what you find! Please just read my books. I am specific and give references. The answers to most of your questions are addressed.
Responding to the argument that experiencers do not bring back anything useful, Dr. Kenneth Ring replies:
DR. KENNETH RING: “This question made me laugh because the questioner clearly thinks that the light, or whatever the intelligence is that is behind the NDE, would truly be helpful to humanity if it gave us practical answers to the burning questions of our day. This is like saying, if you are psychic, then how about telling me the winning lottery number? In fact, the light gives us very practical answers – love, especially of the unconditional kind, is probably the thing that could make the world a far, far better place. It wouldn’t end suffering – there will always be suffering – but it would help us enormously to deal with the problems of living. We have brains to help us solve our practical problems – what we need and what we get from the light is something altogether different. It is dangerous, not to say presumptuous, to try to tell God (or the light or Whatever) what we humans could most use. I could probably write on this question for several pages, if I had time, but a close reading of the NDE literature will show what the real value of these experiences is, and it is not finding a cure to AIDS, etc. Nevertheless, it is clearly not even true that no experiencer ever brings back such answers. I give a few examples in my book, Lessons from the Light.
The following are examples, from Dr. Ring’s research, of NDErs bringing back scientific discoveries:
“A somewhat similar case [to Ralph Duncan] was described by Margot Grey. Five days after abdominal surgery, an English patient underwent complications and his wife as told her husband was dying. At that time, however, he was having an NDE, and during it he saw:
“…an entity clothed in a colored cloak [of] indescribably beautiful colors, and brightness most intense. This something stood at the right-hand side of my head, two hands were lightly placed on my body, slowly moved down to my feet, and up the left side, pausing at my head, and then was gone. I have no recollection of anything until [the] next day. From then I made a very rapid recovery and was soon back with my family.” (Margot Grey’s NDE research)
“Again, we seem to have a healing performed within the general context of a light-filled scene.
“Not long ago, some further cases of this kind were shared with me (Dr. Kenneth Ring) by my friend, Steve, who you might remember was himself the recipient of an apparently other-worldly stabilizing treatment rendered by a female light being when Steve experienced a respiratory arrest during surgery (see pp. 37-38 for the full account). Significantly, Steve recently told me that, as in the case of Ralph Duncan, this being had ‘intense blue eyes that shined like they were on fire.’ And as he felt this energy radiating into him, she communicated telepathically to Steve with these thoughts:
“You’re not breathing regularly. There is some concern that your respiration might stop. I’m here to stabilize it, and make sure the problem doesn’t go any further. You are very valuable, and no one is willing to take any chances with your life.”
“In some ways an even more dramatic case that Steve related to me involved a diabetic Mexican woman who speaks no English (Steve is fluent in Spanish) and who, Steve ascertained, was completely unfamiliar with NDEs before her own experience. Here is her story:
“Prior to her experience, she had lost the ability to see. Diabetes had taken away her retina, and her heart wasn’t supplying enough circulation to her brain to allow her to speak. She was in very poor shape. They prepared her for surgery. Open-heart surgery on a diabetic woman of sixty-seven is full of risk. The doctors went outside to discuss their strategy. While they were conferring, she saw the wall open up and a brilliant light pour out. A bearded man in white stepped up beside her. He was made of white light.
“You’re not ready to follow me yet … you’re not prepared. I’m going to give you back your eyesight. You’ll need it to finish your life. And I’m going to heal the heart valve, so you can speak again. You still have a few more things to do. Your grandchildren need you to teach them.”
“According to the woman’s account, he placed his hand on her chest, and her eyesight returned. [Later] she sat in a wheel chair, serene, full of confidence, and smiling. Her legs were gone, but her eyes were clear, and she was happy in a calm way. Her cardiologist later told her:
“Something has happened to change your body. We don’t have an explanation for it. I personally ascribe it to be the will of God. You can go home now. We did nothing.” (Ring, 225-226)”
Dr. Melvin Morse discusses the NDE of a man who developed over 100 patents in molecular chemistry based on the information he received from his NDE:
Dr. Melvin Morse: “I recently discussed these issues with theoretical physicists at the National Institute of Discovery Science. This is a consciousness think tank of national renown scholars in their individual fields. They explained to me that science states that reality is made of tiny nuclear particles, so tiny that it is unclear if they are actually matter or simply patterns of energy. All of the fundamental particles in this universe have at least two counterparts which have been documented as being ‘real’.
“These particles last for only a fraction of a second in this reality, yet they comprise the elemental building blocks of reality. In theory, there are at least three possible universes comprised of the three basic sets of subatomic particles.
“Furthermore, again in theory, there is one possible universe which is called the Omega Point, in which there is no time or space, and all possible universes coexist. This is why physicists such as Niels Bohr said, “Anyone who has not been shocked by quantum physics has not understood it.
“Olaf Swenson may have seen such a timeless spaceless Omega Point when he nearly died of a botched tonsillectomy at age 14. He states:
“Suddenly I rolled into a ball and smashed into another reality. The forces that brought me through the barrier were terrific. I was on the other side. I realized that the boundary between life and death is a strange creation of our own mind, very real (from the side of the living), and yet insignificant.”
“Olaf felt he was floating in a universe with no boundaries.
“I had total comprehension of everything. I stood at the annihilation point, a bright orange light. As I felt my mind transported back to my body, I thought, please let me remember this new theory of relativity.” (Melvin Morse)
Dr. Jeffrey Long: “Another concern of NDE skeptics is that experiencers do not return with information or ideas with immediate widespread use, such as a cure for cancer or verifiable new scientific understandings. There have been anecdotal reports suggesting the contrary, but in my experience, experiencers generally do not return with such information. Failure to receive a specific hoped for gift is not a valid criticism of NDEs. The gift experiencers do return with is generally varied and spiritual in nature, often including the concept of love and a lack of fear of death. The gift to experiencers of better understanding love and their purpose on Earth is a very important gift, suggesting these understandings are among the most important things we can accomplish.
“NDE studies provide a tantalizing glimpse of what this other reality is, and provides some clues to humankind‘s deepest questions of who we really are and our relationship with a greater reality. It is entirely reasonable to accept the NDE in the way the experiencers themselves almost uniformly perceive the experience: an encounter with another dimension of reality.
“Science demands verifiable evidence which can be reproduced again and again under experimental situations. Dr. Jim Whinnery, of the Naval Warfare Center, thought he was simply studying the effects of G forces on fighter pilots. He had no idea he would revolutionize the field of consciousness studies by providing experimental proof that NDEs are real.
“The pilots were placed in huge centrifuges and spun at tremendous speeds. After they lost consciousness, after they went into seizures, after they lost all muscle tone, when the blood stopped flowing in their brains, only then would they suddenly have a return to conscious awareness. They had “dreamlets” as Dr. Whinnery calls them. These dreamlets are similar to NDEs. They often involved a sense of separation from the physical body. A typical dreamlet involved a pilot leaving his physical body and traveling to a sandy beach, where he looked directly up at the sun. The pilot remarked that death is very pleasant.” (Jeffery Long)
Kevin Williams, B.Sc.: “In conclusion, experiencers have been healed of caners, given gifts of healing abilities, received knowledge that advances science, but even more important, information about universal love and life after death capable of transforming this planet into a peaceful and loving paradise.” (Kevin Williams)
SKEPTIC’S QUESTION: “Can we deny that something is going on, given the countless reports of near-death experiences, that some transpersonal reality exists? The NDE appears to happen in the Sylvian Fissure. If people really are out of their bodies and traveling remotely, why can’t this be demonstrated empirically? The answer, if autoscopy is actually happening, is that it can empirically be demonstrated.”
DR. KENNETH RING: “There have been many attempts – none of them conclusive – to demonstrate that there is a literal out-of-the body experience, that something actually separates from the physical body. Much of this research is found in the literature in parapsychology, particularly in the Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research (some of the research of Karlis Osis). Good summaries of these studies can, however, be found in books dealing with out-of-body experiences, such as Janet Mitchell’s Out-of-Body Experiences (McFarland, 1981). Of course, as you know, a good many such reports from the NDE literature are summarized in my own book, Lessons from the Light, Chapter 2 (Moment Point Press).” (Kenneth Ring)
DR. ROBERT JORDAN: “If a person believes in the traditional dualistic and religious notion that the soul is separate and distinct from the physical body, then out-of-body experiences can be explained by a non-physical reality that does not lend itself to scientific experimentation of explanation. Such a phenomenon could not be investigated scientifically because science measures physical phenomena. Of course, it is possible that there is some kind of physical manifestation of the out-of-body soul that either has not been yet measured because the appropriate scientific measures have not been applied to measuring it. (Has any scientist actually used existing scientific instruments to measure physical signs of the soul departing the body?) Alternately, from a scientist’s perspective perhaps we don’t yet even know of some physical forms of energy that correspond to the soul. Given the present astounding state of flux of the science of physics, I think that the second alternative is certainly possible.
“If the soul’s travel beyond the body is purely nonphysical, and it may well be true that it is, then we cannot decide such issues with scientific research. Even if many of the sensory phenomena associated with NDEs can be correlated with or explained by physical phenomena, the possibility that they occur in a dimension of nonphysical phenomena cannot be ruled out.” (Robert Jordan)
P.M.H. ATWATER: “You need only refer to The Complete Idiot’s Guide to NDEs, or my Brain Shift/Spirit Shift Model PDF icon. , for material that will prove helpful. The Sylvan Fissure, temporal lobes, limbic system, and other unique sections of the brain are highly charged during near-death states. There is no research at present, though, that links any of them to causal factors. Nor do any such claims address the entire phenomenon – only parts of it. In fact, there is no one explanation given by any scientist or researcher that explains near-death states. There already have been verified cases highly suggestive of out-of body states, some which simply cannot be denied. However, the type of repeatable scientific proof you refer to will not occur until researchers devise a test that applies to the subject. For instance, the digital single line board currently in use that has a nonsense message flitting across it is a waste of electricity. If you study near-death cases you will see why. Experiencers only pay attention to objects in the emotional field around them or whatever appeals to them emotionally. As long as you try to intellectualize experiencer response, you will miss the proof you want.” (P.M.H. Atwater)
DR. SUSAN BLACKMORE (NDE Skeptic): “We cannot deny that something is going on. Undoubtedly people all over the world and for many millennia have had similar experiences. This does not, however, allow us to conclude that there is some transpersonal reality. We need to approach the experiences with an open mind and try to find out just what causes them to be similar. Maybe it is because all our brains are similar in structure and organization. Maybe it is because there really is some other world to which people go. This is what the research is all about.” (Susan Blackmore)
KEVIN WILLIAMS, B.SC.: Support for the possibility of survival after death comes from the current string theory interpretation of the holographic principle of quantum physics. This principle defines our universe as existing as a hologram where all the quantum information perceived in three dimensions is stored. First proposed by the eminent physicist David Bohm (author of Bohmian mechanics and co-author of the holonomic brain theory along with Karl Pribram), a holographic universe can theoretically encode every quantized moment of our existence and experiences from the universe. Rather than a constant flow of experience, mental states can be broken up in intervals or time-quanta of 0.042 seconds, each of which make up one moment of neural substrate. Each state consists of a certain amount of quantum information which can theoretically be stored on a hard drive for example; and there is much progress ongoing in this technology. This holographic model of reality allows for phenomena considered “paranormal” such as near-death experiences, other phenomena involving life after death, and mental telepathy for example. The universe as a single hologram also solves the mystery of quantum entanglement which Albert Einstein called “spooky actions from a distance.”
Also, the materialist model of conventional science is based on the old paradigm of Newtonian classical mechanics and is fundamentally flawed. Conventional materialist concepts of reality have been falsified such as: (1) locality, (2) causality, (3) continuity, (4) determinism, and (5) certainty in the last century by the modern science of quantum electrodynamics. At the core of materialism, the fundamental component of existence — the nature of consciousness — is intentionally ignored even though the pioneers of quantum mechanics demonstrated and believed consciousness has a definite role in creating reality. Mainstream materialist theories of consciousness use classical mechanics in assuming consciousness emerged and is produced from “goo”. So they focus particularly on complex computation at synapses in the brain allowing communication between neurons. But because quantum vibrations have been discovered in microtubules in the brain, a theory known as Orchestrated Objective Reduction (Orch-OR), developed by the eminent physicist Sir Roger Penrose and anesthesiologist Stuart Hameroff, M.D., allows for a person’s quantum mind to exist in the multiverse, has garnered significant support. At death, the quantum information processed inside these microtubules doesn’t disappear. Instead, it is retained in the fine structure of the universe and on the edge of the event horizon of the singularity from which our universe projected; thereby allowing the information to be retrieved after death.
There is also much evidence suggesting NDEs are actual afterlife experiences. Here is a list of some of the best evidence:
Some of the Best Evidence of NDEs as Actual Afterlife Experiences
People have NDEs while they are brain dead.
Out-of-body perception during NDEs has been verified by independent sources.
People born blind can see for the first time in their lives during an NDE.
NDEs cannot be explained by brain chemistry alone.
Some people were dead for several days then revived.
NDEs have produced visions of the future which later became true.
People having NDEs have brought back scientific discoveries, some are scientific breakthroughs.
The so-called “dying brain” theory of NDEs has major flaws and has been falsified.
The vast majority of people having NDEs are convinced they saw an afterlife.
People can experience other people’s NDEs.
NDEs have been proven to be different from hallucinations.
NDEs change people in ways that hallucinations and dreams cannot.
Studies show that people’s memories of their NDEs are more real than normal memories.
You can read the rest of the 40+ other evidence supporting NDEs and the afterlife on this web page.
In conclusion, there is a new scientific paradigm emerging in quantum physics and medical technology which is yielding new discoveries concerning consciousness and the possibility of its survival after death. Skeptics and materialists rely mostly on the old paradigm, Newtonian physics to explain consciousness and the old explanation is becoming obsolete. New medical technology is bringing people back from death and providing research to validate out-of-body perception in NDErs.
Will science prove conclusively that consciousness survives death? Unless research laboratories become open to the idea of voluntary “flatline” experiments on a large scale to study veridical perception and long-term survival after clinical or brain death, I don’t see it. Until then, I consider myself to be the first to be on the list of volunteers.
Skeptic’s Question: “One of the characteristics of a near-death experience is being out of body. This, mercifully, is scientifically falsifiable. Whether or not someone is out of their body can be experimentally determined. There are no ifs about it. It’s either a fact, or it’s not. Studies may already be underway to try to falsify it – I don’t yet know. But if not, rest assured that they will be.”
Dr. Robert Jordan: “If I am understanding [the question] correctly, I disagree … that the phenomena of Soul awareness occurring in reality outside of the body is falsifiable. I don’t believe that it is falsifiable if the phenomena is nonphysical. This possibility would throw the whole issue back into the arena of theology and individuals’ personal beliefs.” (Robert Jordan)
Dr. Susan Blackmore (NDE Skeptic): “There have been numerous tests of whether anything actually leaves the body in an OBE. I document them up to 1982 in my book Beyond the Body and also in Dying to Live. Sadly this is not such an easy matter as your questioner seems to imply. There are many methodological difficulties in designing such experiments. In the end my own conclusion is that experiments have provided no evidence at all that something leaves the body. However, anecdotes continue to appear suggesting it does. None of these, so far, seems convincing to me. I think we will ultimately understand how out-of-body experiences come about by understanding how our brain perceives the world in other states of consciousness too – in other words by understanding ordinary consciousness better.” (Susan Blackmore)
Kevin Williams, B.Sc.: Dr. Jeffrey Long (www.nderf.org) explained how NDEs cannot be explained by brain chemistry alone, how medical evidence fails to explain them away, and why there is only one plausible explanation: that people have survived death and traveled to another dimension. Dr. Long makes his case using nine lines of evidence including how NDE provide evidence of verified out-of-body perceptions. They are the following:
(1) Crystal-Clear Consciousness: The level of conscious alertness during NDEs is usually greater than that experienced in everyday life – even though NDEs generally occur when a person is unconscious or clinically dead. This high level of consciousness while physically unconscious is medically unexplained. Additionally, the elements in NDEs generally follow the same consistent and logical order in all age groups and around the world, which refutes the possibility that NDEs have any relation to dreams or hallucinations.
(2) Realistic Out-of-Body Experiences (OBEs): Out-of-body experiences are one of the most common elements of NDEs. Events witnessed and heard by NDErs while in an out-of-body state are almost always realistic. When the NDEr or others later seek to verify what was witnessed or heard during the NDE, their OBE observations are almost always confirmed as completely accurate.
(3) Heightened Senses: Not only are heightened senses reported by most who have NDEs, normal or supernormal vision has occurred in those with significantly impaired vision, and even legal blindness. Several people who have been totally blind since birth have reported highly visual NDEs. This is medically unexplainable.
(4) Consciousness During Anesthesia: Many NDEs occur while the NDEr is under general anesthesia – at a time when any conscious experience should be impossible. While some skeptics claim these NDEs may be the result of too little anesthesia, this ignores the fact that some NDEs result from anesthesia overdose. Additionally, descriptions of a NDEs differ greatly from those people who experiences “anesthetic awareness.” The content of NDEs occurring under general anesthesia is essentially indistinguishable from NDEs that do not occur under general anesthesia. This is more strong evidence that NDEs occur independent from the functioning of the material brain.
(5) Perfect Playback:Life reviews in NDEs include real events which previously occurred in the lives of the NDEr – even if the events were forgotten or happened before they were old enough to remember.
(6) Family Reunions: During an NDE, the experiencer may encounter people who are virtually always deceased and are usually relatives of the NDEr. Sometimes they include relatives who died before the NDEr was even born. If NDEs are merely the product of memory fragments, they would almost certainly include far more living people, including those with whom they had more recently interacted.
(7) Children’s Experiences: The NDEs of children, including very young children who are too young to have developed concepts of death, religion, or NDEs, are essentially identical to those of older children and adults. This refutes the possibility that the content of NDEs is produced by preexisting beliefs or cultural conditioning.
Skeptic’s Argument: “The picture looks bleak so far for our survival. If the spiritual universe is completely outside of the material universe, then it has no true bearing on the physical universe, and if this is the case, then there might as well be no god. God’s existence is only useful if it somehow interacts with us, in the physical universe; after all, all of our thoughts are determined by molecular motion in the brain. Prayer is initiated in the brain. A response, if it’s valid, must obviously move matter through space-time. Therefore, we have this thorny problem: if we believe that there is a spiritual universe, how does it interact with the physical universe, of which we are a part?”
Kevin Williams, B.Sc.: “In my opinion, one of the best evidence supporting the Afterlife Hypothesis and NDEs comes from quantum mechanics (QM) as it relates to the survival of quantum consciousness. QM does not rule out the possibility of an “afterlife” universe or “afterlife” dimension (a multiverse, a multidimensional universe) or the survival of brain function after death (quantum immortality). Through quantum decoherence and quantum superposition, the idea of parallel universes offers the possibility for the existence of a communicating parallel universe acting as a person’s afterlife universe when death occurs. As derived from the Many-WORLDS interpretation of QM, and its extending concept of Many-MINDS interpretation of QM, it is theoretically possible for a living person to exist in superposition in a parallel universe (including their mental states and electrical discharges occurring throughout their brain and nervous system). Many-Worlds views reality as a many-branched tree where every possible quantum outcome is realized including the possibility of branches to universes that doesn’t lead to a living person’s death. Theoretically, this makes it possible for a living person to continue living in a parallel universe when the person dies in this current universe.”
Many people who refer to themselves as “skeptics” of near-death experiences are actually pseudoskeptics. A true skeptic, as defined by philosophers of ancient Greece, is a nonbeliever – a person who does not make conclusions based on inconclusive evidence.
Critics of near-death experiences who assert negative claims but call themselves skeptics often think they have no burden of proof. Such critics take this position thinking it is only necessary to present a case for a counter-claim based upon the plausibility of evidence rather than empirical evidence. Such pseudoskeptics are actually believers that survival of consciousness after death is impossible. This article examines some of the tactics such critics use to “debunk” NDEs.
A true skeptic of the afterlife hypothesis keeps an open mind and does not take a position in favor of one side of the argument or the other until the evidence proves it either true or false using the scientific method.
2. Examples of Pseudoskepticism
Examples of how pseudoskeptics attack unconventional paradigms such as the near-death experience are:
Pseudoskeptics attempted to discredit the research of a researcher, Michel Gauquelin, who yielded evidence that certain astrological signs, especially the planet Mars are associated with champion athletes. Although the pseudoskeptics’ research actually confirmed the findings, they distorted their own data when they published it and caused their statistician to go public stating that the science establishment covered up evidence supporting astrology.
A researcher published a study showing that ultrahigh dilutions of LgE effected white cells in the lab. There were 10 authors on the study and pseudoskeptics investigated and “debunked” the study. The researcher complained they made no effort to replicate his study, but only came and accused him of fraud, without reviewing the evidence.
A study was done to understand to what extent psychic mediumship works (not how it works). The study was led by a university professor with impeccable credentials, Gary Schwartz. Using five of the most credible psychic mediums in the country, a test subject underwent a reading by all five mediums including George Anderson. The test subject was selected by the researchers and known only to them. The controls used in the study are the following:
a. The mediums have never met the test subject. b. 10 to 15 minutes are allowed per reading. c. The medium and test subject would be separated by a wall so that no eye contact is possible. d. The test subject is to give only yes or no answers. e. No information can to be shared between the medium and the subject.
The result of the study were as follows:
(1) All the mediums identified the same six deceased loved ones of the subject including information about them and their passing. These include a son who committed suicide, a father with lung cancer, a mother with lung cancer, and a little dog. Eight other individuals were identified by various mediums.
(2) All the mediums were identical in average performance (in the 90 percentile).
(3) The study didn’t reveal how it works, but suggests it is a phenomenon which can be replicated.
(4) The study launched an ongoing debate between the research and a high-profile pseudoskeptic on this study. You can read about it in this article.
(5) One of the mediums involved in the study is John Edward who performed readings before a live audience on television. His impressive abilities suggested he may actually be communicating with the dead. Pseudoskeptics claim Edward is a master of reading body language to elicit information despite the fact he often does readings by phone and sometimes readings where he cannot see the subject.
Pseudoskeptics also claimed Edward manipulates people into supplying answers which he then builds on. However, Edward comes up with symbols in his head which are “hits” that sometimes even the subject doesn’t know about until they have more time to reflect about it. Edward states he receives symbols that the subject ultimately identifies with.
Pseudoskeptics also claimed there were set-ups planted in the audience even though none have come forward.
Pseudoskeptics claimed that questionnaires and bugging devices help producers learn about deceased family members; but the show’s producer revealed that viewers only fill out a standard release form.
Concerning bugging devices, the show’s producer replied, “Of course there’s microphones, but are they being fed anywhere? No. And John doesn’t see any of this.”