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

As I said before…

So, I have now had a chance to review the entire paper that has been published in Resuscitation, and I hate to say it, but I told you so.

In a previous post I pointed out that it is common practice for key results to be released at conferences, and subsequent publications in journals to be a rehash of these results but with far more detail, and discussion, and that is precisely what has happened with this first full publication from the AWARE study (I say first, as I suspect that there will be more in years to come, especially given the recent sizeable grant given to the team by the Templeton foundation). This data has been presented in summary form in Dr Parnia’s book and at the American Heart Association last year.

Basically there were two NDEs which had visual or auditory recall…in other words, they saw or heard stuff. Only one of these was verifiable and involved a 57 year old man who was able to describe accurately what occurred while the resuscitation team got to work on him, and while he was fully unconscious according to the attending Health Care Professionals (HCPs) and the equipment to which he was connected. This account is as plausible as any from the hundreds, if not thousands of similar accounts that have been published in various books and scholarly journals on this subject over the past few decades.

Importantly, there were no instances where patients were able to confirm their NDE by seeing one of the objects inserted on a shelf specifically for the purpose of verifying an out of body experience (OBE). This is disappointing, but when one reads the full details from the paper, it is hardly surprising. As I discuss in my book, Aware of Aware*, the chances of anyone actually seeing one of these objects and recalling seeing it are extremely small, and now that we are able to see the full results from the study, I have come to realise they are even smaller than I originally suggested. (*available in multiple markets as a paperback or ebook at Amazon).

The numbers:

  • There were 2060 cardiac arrests that could potentially have been included in this study
  • Only 330 of these subjects survived
  • Of these 330, only 140 were eligible for further analysis
  • Of the 140, only 101 completed interviews allowing for determination of the incidence of an NDE type experience
  • Of these only 9 (9%- sound familiar?) reported sufficient core elements of the NDE scale to qualify as an NDE
  • As mentioned before, only 2 reported OBEs, one was unable to follow up due to poor health

Other noteworthy facts from the study:

  • Only 22% of the Cardiac Arrests occurred in areas that had shelves with objects installed
  • Neither of the reported OBEs occurred in these areas

The fact these numbers are very much in line with what has been stated before in other studies is reassuring as it does help to underscore the reproducability of results from NDE studies, and consistency across such measures as incidence of NDE and incidence of OBE. However, does the AWARE study say anything new of significance…answer…No. Does it prove NDEs…as much as I would like to say it does, no, it doesn’t. Does that mean that it never will…time will tell, and I suspect that eventually, due to more cases, and better techniques it will, until then we are left exactly where we were yesterday.

Finally, once again we see the figure of 10% come up. As I have mentioned and discussed in numerous posts prior to this, and I discuss in my book, this number is important and we need to ask the question, why do children experience much higher rates of NDE than adults. For reasons I have mentioned previously, it cannot just be a function of memory

While we are still waiting for hard evidence for the existence of the soul through a verified OBE/NDE, I believe those of us who already believe it, should be more concerned about the possibility that this soul we are born with can actually die, and if so, how do we avoid this outcome?

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4 thoughts on “As I said before…

  1. Reblogged this on bbnewsblog and commented:
    At last the long awaited AWARE study about the authenticity of NDEs as evidence of a surviving soul has been published; see: + .

    Here are two other links to blog articles where the findings of this study are discussed: 1) . And 2) .

    In my opinion the results from this AWARE-study must be considered disheartening and depressing for those believing that NDEs are evidence of a soul that survives the bodily (physical) death.

    Dr. Parnia lists three symptoms of clinical death: 1) Lasting cardiac arrest; 2) No breathing (= the lungs have stopped functioning); and 3) Brain death (= a non-functioning brain, i.e. no detectable electrical activity in the brain).

    I’m prone to think that Dr. Parnia is wrong in (t)his definition of clinical death.The premise #3 should – is bound to? – be reconsidered and redefined soon. See for example this article: and this one: and this one: .

    In the final paragraph of this blog that I’m now reblogging the blogger admits that “we are still waiting for hard evidence for the existence of the soul through a verified OBE/NDE”.

    In my own words that’s like saying that this AWARE-study by Dr. Sam Parnia et al. more looks like a fiasco.


  2. Pingback: As I said before… | bbnewsblog

  3. The AWARE- study notes a few more things: Memory might be lost due to potent drugs or brain damage in the the process of resuscitation. One person is here said to have had a fully clocked and verified audio/visual obe beginning a minute after the loss of blood pressure to the brain. Almost half of all interviews are said to experience some kind of presence.
    It is necessary to note that people monitoring this study are fascinated with the results. These people want to develop the techniques in order to proceed with new studies. Setting up symbols high in the air may not be the most valid technique to prove such an existential experience as your own death.


    • Great points Gustav, I think there are many from a science or medical background,including myself, who are certain this phenomenon is real, and they will work towards developing a methodology best able to capture it. However, they worked hard to get it right in this instance, and still only 22% of CAs happened in areas with the shelves…not going to happen overnight!


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