Evidence of the Afterlife The Science of Near-Death Experiences. A book review.
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20-12-2013, 03:55 PM (This post was last modified: 20-12-2013 05:00 PM by anonymous66.)
Evidence of the Afterlife The Science of Near-Death Experiences. A book review.
I wrote a book review of Evidence of the Afterlife: The Science of Near-Death Experiences by Jeffrey Long. It was published in 2010. Thought some on this site might like it.

First off, let me open by saying “I'm a materialist”. That means I doubt the existence of the supernatural. But, I'm willing to admit, that if the supernatural were to exist, we would be able to measure it's effects on the physical world. In that regard, I'm always willing to consider evidence of the supernatural. I see no need to consider something to be true in the absence of evidence.
The book makes having a Near Death Experience sound like a good experience, overall. I wouldn't be afraid to have one. They are also almost universally life-changing events, according to the book.
Jeffrey Long has been studying NDE's since 1984 and founded the Near Death Experience Foundation ad the NDERF.org website. Over the course of the first 10 years, more than 1300 people with NDE's answered over 100 questions in NDERF's detailed questionnaire. 95% of the respondents described their experiences as “definitely real”, while most of the remainder described them as “probably real”.
From the book....
Quote:Researchers have concluded that NDE's may include some or all of the following twelve elements:
1. Out of body experience (OBE): Separation of the consciousness from the physical body
2. Heightened senses
3. Intense and generally positive motions or feelings
4. Passing into or through a tunnel
5. Encountering a mystical or brilliant light
6. Encountering other beings, either mystical beings or deceased relatives or friends
7. A sense of alteration of time or space
8. Life review
9. Encountering unworldly (“heavenly”) realms
10. Encountering or learning special knowledge
11. Encountering a boundary of barrier
12. A return to the body, either voluntary or involuntary
There are numerous stories to back up all the elements.
Quote: The results of the NDERF study clearly indicate remarkable consistency among NDE case studies. This study finds that what people discovered during their near-death experience about God, love, afterlife, reason for our earthly existence, earthly hardships, forgiveness, and many other concepts is strikingly consistent across cultures, races, and creeds.

Also from the book:
Quote:Experience Provides the Best Evidence: As far as I'm concerned, it makes perfect sense that the best evidence for understanding what happens when we die would come from those who actually did nearly die or even experienced clinical death. This commonsense perspective is certainly validated in the NDERF study. The substantial majority of people who have had a near-death experience believe their NDE's are real and are evidence of an afterlife. For NDErs, having a near-death experience is their personal proof of both the reality of the NDE and an afterlife.


The problem I have with the book is the fact that these are all merely stories. They may be true, at least it's possible that the people telling the stories believed they were true. I have to wonder why some of these stories weren't written up in medical journals. If verified, they would change the way we understand the world.
The biggest problem is that there is no attempt to determine when any of the memories were formed. Many scientists (http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/this-must-be-heaven , http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archiv...um/266134/ )believe that NDE's are formed as the patient was returning to consciousness, not during the time they were brain-dead (if they were brain-dead). Nothing in this book does anything to challenge that notion.
I have no reason to doubt most of the stories, they merely describe positive personal experiences like having a life-review, a feeling of love, talking to deceased loved ones, etc. There are a few, that if they could be verified, would do much to prove the assertion that NDE's are proof of consciousness existing without a body or brain. Here are the stories in the book most worth considering.
Quote:a woman named maria was rushed to the hospital with a severe heart attack. After successful resuscitation, Maria told Sharp (a NDE researcher) about her near-death experience, including detailed out-of-body observations of her resuscitation. Then she went one step beyond. Her consciousness passed outside the hospital, she said, where she observed a tennis shoe on the third-story window ledge of the hospital. Maria provided detailed information about the shoe. It has a man's shoe, she said, left-footed and dark blue with a wear mark over the little toe and a shoelace tucked under the heel.
Being the dedicated researcher that she is, Sharp went window to window on the hospital's third floor looking on the ledges. Finally she found the shoe, exactly as Maria had described it. This account stands are remarkably evidential in spite of the efforts of some skeptics to cast doubts.
Sharp reported this story in 1984.
Quote:Another widely quoted experience of OBE perception was reported by Pim van Lommel, MD, and published in The Lancet, one of the world's more prestigious medical journals. The patient suffered a cardiac arrest and was not breathing. At the time that a tube was being placed in the airway to ventilate him, it was noted that he had upper dentures. The dentures were removed and placed in a crash-cart drawer while the patient was deeply comatose. Over a week later the patient reported having an OBE and accurately described the room he was resuscitated in and the people present. Remarkably, he declared that his lost dentures could be found in the crash-cart drawer.
This is the only example in the book (that I'm aware of) that recounts a study published in a respected medical journal.
There is another remarkable story about a woman born blind, who was able to describe the rings she was wearing, after a NDE with an OBE, and there are reports of several blind people who report being able to see during their NDE.
If I were the author of this book, I would have stopped with the assertion that NDE's were proof of consciousness existing without a brain or body, but Long goes a step further. He makes the claim that people have been physically healed after having a NDE. A woman from Hong Kong claimed she was dying of stage 4 Hodgkin's lymphoma. Her doctors estimated she had 36 hours to live, but after her NDE, she was healed, and no trace of her cancer could be found. There is also a story of a 13 year old who was dramatically healed of Burkitt's lymphoma after a NDE. And there is a story about a man born with cerebral palsy that caused a contracted and deformed hand, after the NDE, he has able to open and use his hand for the first time in his life.
Quote: Another story of unexplained healing came from a man named Denver who lived in Florida. Denver was in the hospital with blood clots in his lungs, a very dangerous condition that often leads to death. As Denver struggled to breathe, the doctor made in the decision to give him high doses of blood thinner.
Although the blood thinner began to treat the clots, another equally serious problem arose. Denver's stomach and other organs began to hemorrhage due to the large dose of blood thinner.
While he was hovering close to death, he had a NDE. His doctor decided to move him to a larger hospital, and the doctor there declared
Quote:he saw no other alternative but to call this a miracle from God!
So, Long is trying to make the case that not only are NDE's proof of an afterlife, that but that there are miraculous things happening to some that have them.
The book also mentions psychic changes.
Quote:People who have near death experiences often believe they have increased psychic abilities following their experience. In the NDERF study, 45.0 percent of those surveyed answered “Yes” to the question “Did you have any psychic, paranormal, or other special gifts following the experience you did not have prior to the experience?"

To sum up.... I don't have any problems with the fact that many people have had NDE's. I don't have any problems accepting that what they experienced was real to them, that it was a spiritual experience, and that it was a life-changing experience. What I have problems with is the assertion that because people have had these experiences, it is somehow proof that the afterlife exists, and that it is somehow proof that consciousness can exist without a body or brain.
If they exist, publish confirmed cases of OBE's! If Dr Long truly wants to convince people that these experiences are proof that a consciousness can exist without a brain, then he will have to provide convincing evidence that these memories were formed while the patient was actually brain-dead. As it is, it merely appears that NDEr's had some type of very realistic hallucinations while they were recovering. That is, the memories were formed in the form of a hallucination in a working brain and merely provided the experience with false memories. If there are stories where it's been verified that the NDEr's saw things they could have only seen by floating around as some sort of disembodied consciousness, then these would definitely be considered evidence, and should be submitted to respected scientific journals.
As it is, there was only one story (about the false teeth) that was published in the Lancet in 2001. Is there more evidence of this nature? This is the type of evidence I'd be interested in reading about. Keep in mind that I've been reading stories of OBE's that supposedly proved a disembodied consciousness since the 1980's. But, nothing has been confirmed. One story, is interesting, I suppose, but it is hardly convincing evidence.

While studying the effects of g forces on pilots, Dr. James Whinnery, http://www.near-death.com/experiences/triggers06.html documented http://www.magarchive.tcu.edu/articles/2008-01-AN2.asp the fact that pilots subjected to high g's have many of the same symptoms as NDEr's.

Including
1.Tunnel vision / Bright light
2.Floating
3.Automatic movement
4.Autoscopy
5.Out-of-body experience
6.Not wanting to be disturbed
7.Paralysis
8.Vivid dreamlets / Beautiful places
 a.Euphoria
b.Dissociation
9.Pleasurable
10.Psychologic state alteration
11.Friends / Family inclusion
12.Prior memories / Thoughts inclusion
13.Very memorable (when remembered)
14.Confabulation
15.Strong urge to understand
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04-01-2014, 08:24 PM
RE: Evidence of the Afterlife The Science of Near-Death Experiences. A book review.
(20-12-2013 03:55 PM)anonymous66 Wrote:  I wrote a book review of Evidence of the Afterlife: The Science of Near-Death Experiences by Jeffrey Long. It was published in 2010. Thought some on this site might like it.

First off, let me open by saying “I'm a materialist”. That means I doubt the existence of the supernatural. But, I'm willing to admit, that if the supernatural were to exist, we would be able to measure it's effects on the physical world. In that regard, I'm always willing to consider evidence of the supernatural. I see no need to consider something to be true in the absence of evidence.
The book makes having a Near Death Experience sound like a good experience, overall. I wouldn't be afraid to have one. They are also almost universally life-changing events, according to the book.
Jeffrey Long has been studying NDE's since 1984 and founded the Near Death Experience Foundation ad the NDERF.org website. Over the course of the first 10 years, more than 1300 people with NDE's answered over 100 questions in NDERF's detailed questionnaire. 95% of the respondents described their experiences as “definitely real”, while most of the remainder described them as “probably real”.
From the book....
Quote:Researchers have concluded that NDE's may include some or all of the following twelve elements:
1. Out of body experience (OBE): Separation of the consciousness from the physical body
2. Heightened senses
3. Intense and generally positive motions or feelings
4. Passing into or through a tunnel
5. Encountering a mystical or brilliant light
6. Encountering other beings, either mystical beings or deceased relatives or friends
7. A sense of alteration of time or space
8. Life review
9. Encountering unworldly (“heavenly”) realms
10. Encountering or learning special knowledge
11. Encountering a boundary of barrier
12. A return to the body, either voluntary or involuntary
There are numerous stories to back up all the elements.
Quote: The results of the NDERF study clearly indicate remarkable consistency among NDE case studies. This study finds that what people discovered during their near-death experience about God, love, afterlife, reason for our earthly existence, earthly hardships, forgiveness, and many other concepts is strikingly consistent across cultures, races, and creeds.

Also from the book:
Quote:Experience Provides the Best Evidence: As far as I'm concerned, it makes perfect sense that the best evidence for understanding what happens when we die would come from those who actually did nearly die or even experienced clinical death. This commonsense perspective is certainly validated in the NDERF study. The substantial majority of people who have had a near-death experience believe their NDE's are real and are evidence of an afterlife. For NDErs, having a near-death experience is their personal proof of both the reality of the NDE and an afterlife.


The problem I have with the book is the fact that these are all merely stories. They may be true, at least it's possible that the people telling the stories believed they were true. I have to wonder why some of these stories weren't written up in medical journals. If verified, they would change the way we understand the world.
The biggest problem is that there is no attempt to determine when any of the memories were formed. Many scientists (http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/this-must-be-heaven , http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archiv...um/266134/ )believe that NDE's are formed as the patient was returning to consciousness, not during the time they were brain-dead (if they were brain-dead). Nothing in this book does anything to challenge that notion.
I have no reason to doubt most of the stories, they merely describe positive personal experiences like having a life-review, a feeling of love, talking to deceased loved ones, etc. There are a few, that if they could be verified, would do much to prove the assertion that NDE's are proof of consciousness existing without a body or brain. Here are the stories in the book most worth considering.
Quote:a woman named maria was rushed to the hospital with a severe heart attack. After successful resuscitation, Maria told Sharp (a NDE researcher) about her near-death experience, including detailed out-of-body observations of her resuscitation. Then she went one step beyond. Her consciousness passed outside the hospital, she said, where she observed a tennis shoe on the third-story window ledge of the hospital. Maria provided detailed information about the shoe. It has a man's shoe, she said, left-footed and dark blue with a wear mark over the little toe and a shoelace tucked under the heel.
Being the dedicated researcher that she is, Sharp went window to window on the hospital's third floor looking on the ledges. Finally she found the shoe, exactly as Maria had described it. This account stands are remarkably evidential in spite of the efforts of some skeptics to cast doubts.
Sharp reported this story in 1984.
Quote:Another widely quoted experience of OBE perception was reported by Pim van Lommel, MD, and published in The Lancet, one of the world's more prestigious medical journals. The patient suffered a cardiac arrest and was not breathing. At the time that a tube was being placed in the airway to ventilate him, it was noted that he had upper dentures. The dentures were removed and placed in a crash-cart drawer while the patient was deeply comatose. Over a week later the patient reported having an OBE and accurately described the room he was resuscitated in and the people present. Remarkably, he declared that his lost dentures could be found in the crash-cart drawer.
This is the only example in the book (that I'm aware of) that recounts a study published in a respected medical journal.
There is another remarkable story about a woman born blind, who was able to describe the rings she was wearing, after a NDE with an OBE, and there are reports of several blind people who report being able to see during their NDE.
If I were the author of this book, I would have stopped with the assertion that NDE's were proof of consciousness existing without a brain or body, but Long goes a step further. He makes the claim that people have been physically healed after having a NDE. A woman from Hong Kong claimed she was dying of stage 4 Hodgkin's lymphoma. Her doctors estimated she had 36 hours to live, but after her NDE, she was healed, and no trace of her cancer could be found. There is also a story of a 13 year old who was dramatically healed of Burkitt's lymphoma after a NDE. And there is a story about a man born with cerebral palsy that caused a contracted and deformed hand, after the NDE, he has able to open and use his hand for the first time in his life.
Quote: Another story of unexplained healing came from a man named Denver who lived in Florida. Denver was in the hospital with blood clots in his lungs, a very dangerous condition that often leads to death. As Denver struggled to breathe, the doctor made in the decision to give him high doses of blood thinner.
Although the blood thinner began to treat the clots, another equally serious problem arose. Denver's stomach and other organs began to hemorrhage due to the large dose of blood thinner.
While he was hovering close to death, he had a NDE. His doctor decided to move him to a larger hospital, and the doctor there declared
Quote:he saw no other alternative but to call this a miracle from God!
So, Long is trying to make the case that not only are NDE's proof of an afterlife, that but that there are miraculous things happening to some that have them.
The book also mentions psychic changes.
Quote:People who have near death experiences often believe they have increased psychic abilities following their experience. In the NDERF study, 45.0 percent of those surveyed answered “Yes” to the question “Did you have any psychic, paranormal, or other special gifts following the experience you did not have prior to the experience?"

To sum up.... I don't have any problems with the fact that many people have had NDE's. I don't have any problems accepting that what they experienced was real to them, that it was a spiritual experience, and that it was a life-changing experience. What I have problems with is the assertion that because people have had these experiences, it is somehow proof that the afterlife exists, and that it is somehow proof that consciousness can exist without a body or brain.
If they exist, publish confirmed cases of OBE's! If Dr Long truly wants to convince people that these experiences are proof that a consciousness can exist without a brain, then he will have to provide convincing evidence that these memories were formed while the patient was actually brain-dead. As it is, it merely appears that NDEr's had some type of very realistic hallucinations while they were recovering. That is, the memories were formed in the form of a hallucination in a working brain and merely provided the experience with false memories. If there are stories where it's been verified that the NDEr's saw things they could have only seen by floating around as some sort of disembodied consciousness, then these would definitely be considered evidence, and should be submitted to respected scientific journals.
As it is, there was only one story (about the false teeth) that was published in the Lancet in 2001. Is there more evidence of this nature? This is the type of evidence I'd be interested in reading about. Keep in mind that I've been reading stories of OBE's that supposedly proved a disembodied consciousness since the 1980's. But, nothing has been confirmed. One story, is interesting, I suppose, but it is hardly convincing evidence.

While studying the effects of g forces on pilots, Dr. James Whinnery, http://www.near-death.com/experiences/triggers06.html documented http://www.magarchive.tcu.edu/articles/2008-01-AN2.asp the fact that pilots subjected to high g's have many of the same symptoms as NDEr's.

Including
1.Tunnel vision / Bright light
2.Floating
3.Automatic movement
4.Autoscopy
5.Out-of-body experience
6.Not wanting to be disturbed
7.Paralysis
8.Vivid dreamlets / Beautiful places
 a.Euphoria
b.Dissociation
9.Pleasurable
10.Psychologic state alteration
11.Friends / Family inclusion
12.Prior memories / Thoughts inclusion
13.Very memorable (when remembered)
14.Confabulation
15.Strong urge to understand


The drug Ketamine can induce NDE's. As you say these are stories told by those experiencing NDE and I'm sure they feel strongly about their experience but Science needs to confirm whether the brain is actually dead. I doubt it.

No one seems to do any real investigation into the medical background of these patients they just take them at their word.

http://disinfo.com/2012/08/ketamine-can-...xperience/

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04-01-2014, 08:37 PM
RE: Evidence of the Afterlife The Science of Near-Death Experiences. A book review.
Rats have NDE's.
NDE's have been debunked.
http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2013/08/...xperiences

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04-01-2014, 10:06 PM
RE: Evidence of the Afterlife The Science of Near-Death Experiences. A book review.
I'm convinced NDE's are nothing more than interesting experiences of a brain "rebooting". They are nothing more than a dream-like state the victim experiences as they return to consciousness.
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04-01-2014, 10:14 PM
RE: Evidence of the Afterlife The Science of Near-Death Experiences. A book review.
(04-01-2014 08:37 PM)Bucky Ball Wrote:  Rats have NDE's.
NDE's have been debunked.
http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2013/08/...xperiences

That article doesn't debunk anything, it proves there's a mouse heaven. Angel

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05-01-2014, 02:36 PM
RE: Evidence of the Afterlife The Science of Near-Death Experiences. A book review.
(04-01-2014 10:06 PM)anonymous66 Wrote:  I'm convinced NDE's are nothing more than interesting experiences of a brain "rebooting". They are nothing more than a dream-like state the victim experiences as they return to consciousness.

At the very least it's nice to know that when we die we'll have a pleasant time descending into death. As for death itself, it's nothing. Really, it's nothing.

Shakespeare Insult 13 – Henry IV Part 1
“That trunk of humours, that bolting-hutch of beastliness, that swollen parcel of dropsies, that huge bombard of sack, that stuffed cloak-bag of guts, that reverend vice, that grey Iniquity, that father ruffian, that vanity in years?”
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07-01-2014, 11:49 AM
RE: Evidence of the Afterlife The Science of Near-Death Experiences. A book review.
(05-01-2014 02:36 PM)dancefortwo Wrote:  
(04-01-2014 10:06 PM)anonymous66 Wrote:  I'm convinced NDE's are nothing more than interesting experiences of a brain "rebooting". They are nothing more than a dream-like state the victim experiences as they return to consciousness.

At the very least it's nice to know that when we die we'll have a pleasant time descending into death. As for death itself, it's nothing. Really, it's nothing.

I see your point... but, in all honesty, NDE's and OBE's may not even happen to those who die, but rather only to those who come back from near death.... or those who regain consciousness, after a lack of oxygen to the brain... as in the high-G study.
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07-01-2014, 12:08 PM
RE: Evidence of the Afterlife The Science of Near-Death Experiences. A book review.
I had a near death experience.

I was nearly dead.

Not something I want to experience again.

No euphoria. No pleasantness. No zombie family members.

WTAF? I want a full refund!

You have just begun reading the sentence you have just finished reading.
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07-01-2014, 12:16 PM
RE: Evidence of the Afterlife The Science of Near-Death Experiences. A book review.
(07-01-2014 12:08 PM)Stark Raving Wrote:  I had a near death experience.

I was nearly dead.

Not something I want to experience again.

No euphoria. No pleasantness. No zombie family members.

WTAF? I want a full refund!

Just more proof. You ain't goin' ta mouse heaven.

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07-01-2014, 12:22 PM (This post was last modified: 07-01-2014 12:25 PM by houseofcantor.)
RE: Evidence of the Afterlife The Science of Near-Death Experiences. A book review.
I've got a value

5.13 x 10^-41 seconds

And one question,

What part of "the brain has evolved to simulate reality" do you not understand? True story. Angel

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