The end of the near-death experience

(134 Posts)

I've always sat on the believer/non-believer fence.

One of my strongest beliefs in the after-life was the bafflement of scientists over near-death experiences. I would get into debates with athiests over this: "How could a person who is dead still have mental awareness to have these?!"

Well, scientific evidence has come out this week, here:

I have to say, the article has really shaken me. I don't know why, because I'm sure it's not that surprising, but it's one of the things that have kept me on this side of believing in God, and now I'm feeling really confused and sad about it.

I'd like to hear from Believers (of any faith!), who can read that and tell me why it's inconsequential to them regarding their faith.

I have a fear of dying, so please be gentle if you're Athiest...reinforcing to me there is nothing after death will make me feel worse.

Thanks x

Stripedmum Sat 31-Aug-13 08:31:11

Marking place. Want to come back later and read through everyone's responses.

MostlyLovingLurchers Thu 29-Aug-13 16:18:09

I think that is the biggest stumbling block. Brain death is defined as the irreversible loss of all functions of the brain, including the brainstem. With NDE the process is reversible, so by definition the patient cannot be brain dead. Surely?

headinhands Thu 29-Aug-13 16:13:50

If the data shows clear testable and repeatable evidence that our mind can exist outside our brain in the same way evidence shows that, say asbestos damages our lungs then it would be difficult to deny it.

GrimmaTheNome Thu 29-Aug-13 15:44:22

Begs the question how you define 'truly dead'.

MostlyLovingLurchers Thu 29-Aug-13 15:34:36

Apparently in a US radio interview January last year Dr Sam Parnia, who is leading the study, said the following about the results so far:

In the AWARE study, Parnia says only 10% (400 or so) actually survived their cardiac arrest. One case for sure (veridical evidence) strongly suggests consciousness continues to exist after death. He states only about 7% in his study – those people who were truly DEAD, not nearly dead – who survived could recall their actual-death-experience. And the percentage who had the OBE component – able to perceive their physical surroundings out-of-body – was much lower (about 1% according to his NPR interview). Work/the study is still continuing, and they are adapting the experiment as they learn more along the way.

However careful the methodology, I don't think it will satisfy the skeptics. Have a read of this:

headinhands Thu 29-Aug-13 14:17:33

This is why they aren't just testing one person in one hospital. There will be lots of opportunities for the images to be seen. Iirc many OBEees do mention lots of objects they could see which I suspect is why the researchers have chosen this method because its a feature of OBEs, that is, the recalling of non consequential details.

expatinscotland Thu 29-Aug-13 13:58:21

Exactly, Mostly.

MostlyLovingLurchers Thu 29-Aug-13 12:57:46

Springy - he had his pulse taken at the scene of the accident. That is not sufficient to confirm someone is clinically dead and has no brain activity.

MostlyLovingLurchers Thu 29-Aug-13 12:50:46

I hope so. I think they will still have the problem that the patient may not notice the trigger objects despite having an experience. I can imagine that your attention would be elsewhere! When i had my OBE i noticed some things in great detail but was completely oblivious to some fairly major things - i couldn't have told you anything about the car that hit me for example, not until afterwards, but it didn't mean that I wasn't hit by a car. However, you would expect at least some subjects to notice the objects - if even one person did and all other explanations could be ruled out, and all scans showed that the person met the criteria for clinical death, then that would be quite profound.

springytoffy Thu 29-Aug-13 12:43:07

Dead people don't come back. Ever.

Tell that to him expat

He was pronounced dead at the scene. Tarpaulin was put over the car by the emergency services.

yy you could put it down to brain waves/whatever - but which is the chicken and which is the egg?

headinhands Thu 29-Aug-13 10:57:51

The ethics council are very stringent and reckon that the researchers looked at all the potential issues you outlined and worked on safeguards. Dd designed a small questionnaire for part of her dissertation and even that had to be approved so think they're super hot on this sort of thing or it invalidates any findings.

MostlyLovingLurchers Thu 29-Aug-13 10:29:26
MostlyLovingLurchers Thu 29-Aug-13 10:28:49

HeadinHands - that is the study I linked to earlier:

It is still ongoing but I think the basic conclusion was that more research was needed! I think studies in this area are always going to be flawed to an extent because of the unpredictability of when an event will occur and of course the opportunity for fraud.

If someone has an experience spontaneously then it is virtually impossible to verify. If they have one as part of an experiment there is still always going to be room for other explanations. The patient having the experiment may have other things on their mind (so to speak) than looking for pictures or word cards on top of cabinets, so they may have genuinely had an experience but not noticed the props. If you brief the patient beforehand there is the problem of the patient being influenced by the expectation of something happening (not to mention the fear that their hcp's think they are going to nearly die). You could also argue that hospital staff who knew of the experiment had talked to the patient beforehand or after.

All the cases of NDE that I have read have the same fundamental problem. They are, by definition, nearly dead not actually dead. While there is any brain activity whatsoever it is always possible that the brain is responsible for the experience. I am certainly not saying that people do not have the experience - I have had an OBE myself that I posted about on here recently. I just don't think the evidence is there to use this as proof for life after death. The results of the above study are out in the next few months.

headinhands Thu 29-Aug-13 10:04:39

Sometimes scientists do explore paranormal claims which is obviously a contentious area. I read about a large number of hospitals being involved in a NDE/OBE experiment where researchers had placed pictures on shelves that were too high to be seen by someone moving about normally but could be seen by someone floating higher up. The plan being that someone recounting an OBE could be asked to recall details of the room from above.

DioneTheDiabolist Wed 28-Aug-13 22:22:06

Snorbs, are you saying that evidence for NDE would be present if there was no discernible psychological reaction in the brain?confused

DioneTheDiabolist Wed 28-Aug-13 22:19:20

Don't worry Snorbs, there is little risk that my brain will fall out. I am still in possession of all the critical faculties and skepticism that I had when I was an Athiest. I absolutely still support scientific exploration into unexplained occurrences. It's just that now I have an awareness of something else as well. If anything, my faith has increased my thirst for knowledge and

Snorbs Wed 28-Aug-13 22:12:25

There's always rethinks going around all sorts of ideas in science. That's how science works. New ideas come up all the time. What matters is evidence. If the evidence supports a new theory better than an old one then great. The new theory might be solid enough to stand by itself or you might get new some experiments to find out for sure one way or another.

But you need a lot of solid evidence to throw out the huge amounts of science that would need to be discarded if NDEs turn out to be caused by people's spirits literally leaving their bodies and roaming around before returning. By contrast, no science would need to be discarded if NDEs turn out to be caused by more prosaic reasons such as dreaming.

So far all the serious scientific research into NDEs tend to suggest that they're purely psychological and have no basis in reality.

bumbleymummy Wed 28-Aug-13 21:30:29

Iirc there is currently a bit of a rethink going ok around some ideas in physics - apparently some new discoveries aren't tying in with what we currently know to be true.

Snorbs Wed 28-Aug-13 21:05:33

True. On the other hand, if you have one possible explanation that is broadly in agreement with generally accepted laws of physics, psychology, medicine etc and another that would require a top-to-bottom rewrite of pretty much all of physics, psychology, medicine etc then the one that fits in with existing knowledge is more likely to be the correct one.

It's important to keep an open mind but one needs to be careful that it's not so open that ones brains fall out.

bumbleymummy Wed 28-Aug-13 19:12:36

There may be a possible explanation that doesn't involve the paranormal but that doesn't mean it's the only one - or the correct one for that matter smile If we only based our beliefs on what we know to be true at the time we would never discover anything new...

headinhands Wed 28-Aug-13 19:03:47

Remember the Essex Lion? The witnesses were so convinced that the police called in a big cat expert I think? Turned out to be a large moggy. I suspect the heat rising off the stubble of the corn field caused a distorting/magnifying affect that made the cat seem much much larger. The witnesses didn't lie but their interpretation was wrong.

Please do, bumble smile

headinhands Wed 28-Aug-13 18:54:53

Thanks for the reply. I don't doubt that some have experiences that make them think they are out of their body and so on, indeed there are explanations for why someone might think they are having an OBE or NDE or seeing a ghost but they involve psychology, physiology and physics, not the supernatural. I'm not saying 'you say you had an OBE/saw a ghost/witnessed a miracle but I think you're lying' I'm saying 'there is an explanation for your experience that doesn't require anything paranormal'. That said there are even people who greatly embellish or even totally fabricate a story for any number of reasons. All that aside I've yet to hear of an experience that can't be explained

bumbleymummy Wed 28-Aug-13 18:49:15

I believe there is actually Grimma, I remember reading some very interesting stuff a while ago. Must try to dig it up again.

DioneTheDiabolist Wed 28-Aug-13 18:43:48

Oh Head, I missed your 16:27 post. Apologies blush. I tend to use my knowledge of the person who is telling me. As long as they are not asking me to change my beliefs or being superior or preachy about it, I don't need proof. I don't need to believe what they do in order to believe that they had whatever experience they're telling me about. I'm ok with the diversity of the human experience. It's one of the things I live about my species.

For example, my sister and my brother go to dinner. Sis says says the food was awful. Bro says that the food was great. Who do I believe? I believe both, but personally I will not be eating there. If my Bro wishes to prove his point, he can take me there and buy me lunch.grin.

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