Evolving news on the science, writing and thinking about Near Death Experiences (NDEs)

Blink and You Missed It

Well, it appears that I owe Dr. Parnia an apology. It turns out that he was true to his word and did indeed present the preliminary results of the AWARE study in November at the American Heart Association convention in Dallas. The reason I say “blink and you missed it” is because the results were presented in a poster on Sunday 17th November at 7.00am. In other words, it was not considered a headline grabbing piece of science, and looking at the details of the results, I am inclined to agree. Part of the reason I missed it was the fact I was relying on the Horizon website and the Nour foundation website for reports as I believe that both organizations are closely linked to this project. Neither have reported the results which can be found at the conference website.

Overview of the abstract:

Design: A prospective cohort study in 25 hospitals from the UK, US and Austria to determine the incidence of awareness (auditory and visual) during Cardiac Arrest (CA). The accuracy of these accounts was assessed by installing shelves in various locations with images on them. Also, staff were encouraged to use various auditory cues during resuscitation procedures (this conjures up some potential comedy moments during an otherwise very serious situation – did they suddenly talk about the latest episode of Breaking Bad while they were pumping 300 joules through a defibrillator?).

Results: 2060 cardiac events, 32% (657) survived of whom 23% (152) were interviewed. Of the 152, 37% had auditory or visual recollections from the period of unconsciousness, and 30% of these achieved a Greyson score ≥ 7 (the Greyson score is a composite of different classic elements of an NDE developed by Bruce Greyson, one of the pioneers of research into NDEs). Only two patients remembered actually seeing events, but neither of these were in areas with images. One of the patients accurately described verifiable events during a 3-5 minute period.

These results are very much in line with what Dr. Parnia wrote in his book Erasing Death. There is a little detail added, but most importantly still no fully verified OBEs, the vital smoking gun that is needed to provide hard scientific evidence of the existence of a consciousness (soul) that is able to survive death.

These results are disappointing but also not surprising, for reasons outlined in the book Aware of Aware, and by Dr. Parnia himself. There were limitations in the methods used to verify the OBEs and also in other aspects such as the age of the subjects, and the time between the CA and interview.

Whilst the data itself does not add anything new (previous studies have showed similar results), the fact that the study is ongoing, and that the methods are being refined, suggests that the investigators are hopeful of getting that illusive verified OBE. They believe that NDEs are real, and these are people who have witnessed with their own eyes the numerous inexplicable incidences of those who have returned from death with accounts of events that can only be explained by the fact that the conscious lives beyond death.

So, for those of us who are “believers”, it is very much business as usual…our discussions with others on this subject are still largely based on “faith”.

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4 thoughts on “Blink and You Missed It

  1. How utterly disappointing!!


    • Imagine if you had written a book based on a positive outcome…then it is even more disappointing! Whilst this first set of data from the study is not what we would have hoped for, I believe that the phenomenon is real, and with the improvements in monitoring techniques applied to the study, the investigators will validate an OBE before long.


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