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

Procrastination or necessary gestation?

If you’ve been following the comments on my previous post “Secret Squirrel” then this will be somewhat of a repeat of some of what is contained in there.

In February the following tweet appeared on Dr Parnia’s feed:

 Parnia Tweet


Given that the study was supposed to complete recruitment by May of this year, one’s first reaction might be to groan “oh no, not another delay”. However, the comments that people have made regarding this announcement have probably best captured how I feel about this, namely that extending the study duration is a positive sign. Combined with the previous information that surfaced about the new drive for recruitment, this suggests just how serious the AWARE study team are about completing this ambitious study and recruiting sufficient numbers to have statistically, clinically and scientifically meaningful result.

There has also been the suggestion that they may already have one hit, and that this is providing the extra impetus, or belief in what they are doing. This is obviously pure speculation, but not without a strong rationale. When I was involved in HIV research, the organization I worked for was running a study on women, a notoriously difficult population to recruit into HIV trials, and they had fallen well behind the planned recruitment numbers. However, those who had access to the raw data, were confident the study was well powered and would produce the intended result if completed. On the basis of this, the company went ahead and extended the duration, and increased the number of recruitment sites, interestingly adding Canada, my current home. It appears that Parnia is also targeting Canada.

The AWARE II team have behaved exactly as any study team would if they believed they were pursuing an achievable objective:

1.       Incentivized existing sites to recruit more patients.

2.       Recruited additional study sites.

3.       Increased the duration of the study.

As I’ve said before, my gut feeling is that they do indeed have at least one hit, and that the immediate drive is intended to get at least one more. If that were to occur, I would expect Parnia to go public before 2020, possibly following the route he did before and publish a new book. Personally, I think it would be more beneficial if he were to announce any development like this as an interim analysis at a scientific meeting, or via some other means as this would not only serve the wider community better, but would improve recruitment of new sites.

We will see, but I doubt that we will have to wait till July 2020 before we hear more about this.

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51 thoughts on “Procrastination or necessary gestation?

  1. Yes, I think it is good news. The study can be as in depth as the first. Guessing that the interim meeting we think they had brought good results then. It shows at least that the resources and staff willingness are there, which in itself is a positive. Hopefully Dr Parnia will get acquainted with his tweeting, and let us know his thoughts on progress as it goes on, information release protocol notwithstanding.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Bippy123 on said:

    Do you guys think parnia will be up for a Nobel prize if it’s a successful study ?
    I mean guys, we are talking about evidence for the soul and afterlife .


  3. Bippy123 on said:

    Ben you mean the brain=mind materialist establishment ?
    Yea they will fight hard to hold onto their paradigm but the atheist philosopher john beloff warned his fellow atheists that one day this day will come and for them to hedge their bets .

    If the aware 2 study is a success it could be a long day and night at the local pubs for these guys 😉


    • And for us, but for different reasons!


      • Bippy123 on said:

        Beers will be on me Ben and I don’t even drink lol


      • Henry on said:

        Ben, I’m a lurker on your site and I think I agree with your analysis (finger crossed and don’t want to get my hopes too high). I mean why would they extend it if they would have found nothing, money must be coming in so that they can continue it and maybe he’s expecting some excellent book sales to also fund research [ if you can read between the lines 😉 ]? Have you seen any recent interviews of Sam Parnia following this tweet? Maybe there is something to glean from facial expressions and mood. I don’t want to get too excited because maybe the find is something to do with other parts of their research, like how monitoring brain oxygen can increase survivability in cardiac arrest cases. But would that be enough to extend the study 3 years, i don’t think so but that might be wishful thinking. Keep us posted.


      • I would read nothing from Dr Parnia’s facial expression…one day I hope there will be facts to deal with.


  4. Bartl on said:

    Really think you have a Hit?
    Then the World wout Chance
    Best wishes from austria


  5. What is the suggestion that they may already have one hit?


  6. That’s good to know, i thought they were searching other things, but what really happened with the OBE in the previous study?


  7. Bippy123 on said:

    Ben I have a question about the veridical nde in aware 1 . Did mister A see and hear the device attached to him or did he only hear it bleep twice ?


    • He didn’t mention seeing the AED but he heard it’s automated, voice “shock advised”…twice. I emailed Dr Parnia (a few years ago) and asked him if the patient actually heard it two separate times. The answer was yes, so this patient was somehow consciously “aware” during a three to five minute period of cardiac arrest when his brain, including the brainstem, were not functioning.

      Another point which is very relevant is that if the patient HAD been conscious in a normal way, through his ordinary senses, then he would have felt the intense pain of the shocks and the uncomfortable force of the chest compressions, something which the ‘sceptics’ (ideological debunkers actually) don’t mention.

      The sceptics (Like French) also ought to ask themselves why, if these are simply retrospective confabulations, more patients didn’t/don’t confabulate similar OBE’s and report them. This whole thing is just a “game,” frankly. It’s quite obvious what’s going on with these patients and it’s quite obvious why the people who run the institutions don’t want to know.


      • Great answer. I have been travelling so not had the chance to look up myself, but this is spot on.

        So Tim, my question to you is this…why do the people in these institutions not want to know? I have my own ideas, but would like to hear yours…and others.


  8. Thank you. They don’t want to know for several reasons. Their careers have been founded and fuelled on reductionist materialism, critical rationalism etc and any notions of a soul, spirit or a separate consciousness are anathema. To admit that near death experiences are actually what they appear to be would be the end of their world (view) and all the progress that has been made (as they see it) in ridding it of what they regard as fairy tales and superstition.

    I think NDE research is the most important and potentially beneficial field of science being investigated. I have no doubts that someone will see ‘the target,’ we already have hundreds of excellent cases where specific objects and scenarios have been noted.

    IMHO The very best case (a red hot smoking gun) is Pam Reynolds (case). Pseudo sceptics such as Keith Augustine have done everything they can to try and spoil it, creatively altering the facts and spreading misinformation but it’s absolutely solid. She was actually dead when she made some of her observations (the ones after standstill). Of course she was actually dead with no blood in her during standstill for one hour but her observations did not pertain to that period.

    But during the process of rewarming, her heart stopped (in VF) at a temp of 27 degrees C (a temp at which consciousness is not possible) .. she was still full of barbiturates (that eradicate consciousness) and she still had the BAER functioning in her ears which is as loud as a jackhammer.

    In this state she saw her body jump twice (from the defibrillation) from a position at the ceiling (as she reported) and heard the song Hotel California which was being played at that time. And that’s impossible but it happened. I’ve omitted the first set of observations but they were also remarkable as she had no brainwaves at the time of those. These are facts, not conjecture, the surgeons confirmed it when we contacted them.


    • Hi Tim, we think along the same lines.

      Pam Reynold’s case is indeed very compelling, and it does make you wonder that if people won’t accept that as strong evidence, then they won’t accept anything.

      On the subject of the academic establishment doing all they can to maintain the materialistic domination of all scientific research and interpretation of results, the conspiracy theorist in me wonders whether the COOL study in Montreal got nobbled because it threatened to provide conclusive data very quickly.


      • Hi, Ben, you could always ask Beauregard, I suppose. I would guess that there wasn’t the funding to carry on with it…or maybe that amounts to the same thing ?

        We’re just going to have to be patient and wait for Dr Parnia to officially give us our souls back 🙂
        In the meantime I’m quite happy with the data we already have. Having personally spoken to quite a few survivors of cardiac arrest who had out of body experiences, I can tell they are not confabulating or hallucinating anything.


  9. Hi Tim, the reason for the COOL study not continuing is in the blog post link posted below by Penny Sartori. Also Beauregard has now moved to Arizona. I have sent a message via his blog requesting more on whether there was any data collected from the COOL study prior to its demise, but I suspect not, otherwise we would have heard about it already. I am actually in Montreal in a few weeks time so could do some sniffing around at McGill, but as usual I will be very busy, so would need a good reason to.

    All down to the AWARE study really, and it looks like it will be a while before we hear more on that.


    • Noted, Ben

      Thanks for that.


      • Dr Beauregard has replied to my request for information stating that he cannot discuss details of the study until it has been published. Working in medical research as I have, and will very shortly be doing again, I totally understand that. The last thing I would want to do is in any way undermine the validity or credibility of any findings by being the cause of important data leaking out before it had been presented in a peer reviewed journal. On the other hand, this may limit the scope of what is presented along with discussions and conclusions since there is a lot of hostility to the OBE aspect of this type of research in the materialist dominated scientific establishment…which is why I write under a pseudonym, as I do not have the luxury of ruining my career at this stage!


  10. Click to access beauregard-2012.pdf

    was part of the retrospective part of the cool study (the first part)


    • I always feel embarrassed when people point out stuff I should have seen! Thank you though Z.
      Of note in your comment is the fact that the article you linked to was PART ONE, the retrospective part, which I believe inspired PART TWO, wherein, I believe, monitors were placed in the theater displaying images in case a patient had an OBE.
      I am very excited that Dr Beauregard has suggested that there will be more data published, as I hope very much this will be from part two, and may even pip AWARE to the post with a scientifically validated OBE.
      I actually speculate on this in my book, Aware of Aware which I wrote a couple of years ago, since the COOL study was a controlled environment deliberately creating the circumstances under which NDEs and OBEs might occur, whereas relying on ER cases is far more random. In fact, to hedge my bets I published a book which is all but identical to the Aware of aware book, and called it Cool about Cool in case the COOL study published first! Think it sold two copies, but may be worth dusting it off and touching it up after all!
      I must point out for fairness that both books are biased towards my faith, Christianity, because of an experience I had as a teenager, which was very much like the Being of Light element of an NDE, but was in fact in a dream, and was induced as a result of a specific Christian prayer. Therefore I believe it is right for me to fight the Christian intellectual corner, as should Buddhists fight their corner, Hindus theirs etc…only that way can the truth be arrived at.


  11. I actually thought that Cool was cancelled altogether. The last update was from 2010 I think on horizon research foundation website.

    Also regarding aware 2. It seems to me that is it an updated version of the brain study (even the wording is similar) from the horizon website as can be seen here and aware 2 a sort if a hybrid of the aware and brain study:

    Just to clarify regarding the Mario breaugard letter I posted up to the case is the case that penny sartori is referring to in her blog. I think that case is very interesting and very alike to the Pamela Reynolds case too.

    Finally, I a Christian (Catholic meets Anglican meets possiblism meets etc lol) too and always thought it be interesting from a philosophical point of view mystical experiences (like that in medjugore for example) and how they sort of cross relate to ndes.


    • I too thought that COOL was dead. We will see I guess. Horizon do not update their site much. I do wonder if these guys like to fly as much below the radar as possible so as to avoid the attention of materialist academics who would try to oppose or discredit their work and thereby hinder recruitment. There is an interesting case that I will posting on soon that someone else sent me, and it speaks directly to the issue of going up against an academic establishment that is hostile to anything that opposes the central scientific dogma of there being a natural/material explanation for everything.


  12. I think so . However I would never put it in terms of dogma as that a loaded term. Neither do I buy into the “conspiracy theory” that mainstream science is putting materlism in front of all things as that in my view discredits proponents as it nsjrs us all look like conspiracy nuts. I think it just more so a question of paradigm shifting and we need to argue with reason our position whilst take on board the materialist view too and account for it fairly. One can hold one or more metaphysical positions and integrate them as one see fit (for example Hobbes Descartes and Berkeley were all Christian monthesism but held respectively materlism, dualism and idealism views also.) I think materlism is important in science as science or to be more precise the natural sciences subject matter is the material world (I including maths eyc in this for simplicity sake). The question is more so is there a reality beyond this and if so would the tools of science be able to examine it as it would be as such made from different compositions and play by different rules. Perhaps maybe trying to apply natural science to a non phyical reality be like applying the rules if baseball whilst trying to play Australian rules (or some bad analogy like that). I just think that it is a question if gradual change. When plank accidentally discovered the quantum world it shocked him (and for him it was not a metaphysical thing as he was Christian). I think we all (from atheists to thesits from materialist to idealist to everything in between) not involved in any grand metaphysical or scientific conspiracies. I think we all just trying to figure it out as best we can.

    Also looking forward to the case you could to post about.


    • I agree with you to a point, however, having completed a Ph.D. in organic chemistry myself, and worked in pharmaceutical industry for most of my life, I have encountered some extremely hostile attitudes towards anyone espousing theistic explanations for certain phenomena, so it is not totally in the realm of conspiracy theory to believe that many in the scientific world are putting materialism in front of all things and have no room at all for other positions. This is somewhat informally a part of the scientific method which includes methodological naturalism (there can only be a natural explanation for physical observations) as a central tenet. Again, this may not be formal, but it is assumed by the majority of scientists and teachers of science. Furthermore, people who publicly declare that certain aspects of the natural world can only be explained by theistic answers may find their careers limited…not everywhere, but in institutions where senior leaders are passionately materialistic.

      I actually prefer things to stay this way for the most part as it forces people to look harder for explanations, and therefore results in more scientific discovery. The “God of the gaps” leads to lazy research. However, we have reached the point where we now have the “Science of the gaps”, usually replacing God with quantum mechanics.

      I wrote a long essay on the origin of DNA (link below), and since my specialism in Organic chemistry was the manipulation of nucleosides, nucleotides and amino acids, I am probably as well qualified as anyone else to have undertaken this task. The struggle to even hypothesize how DNA might have come into existence by natural means is so difficult that modern science has all but given up, let alone provided evidence for a hyposthesis. The RNA world never got close, but it is still cited by biologists who do not have an understanding of the fundamental issues to be overcome. Ultimately, after reading many journal articles etc on the subject, and from my own understanding of the system, I concluded that the only current viable hypothesis is that DNA, and the translation machinery that creates into proteins from DNA, was the result of intelligence, and that there is in fact evidence in the nature of DNA itself to support this hypothesis, but because methodological naturalism (or materialism), science will not countenance this hypothesis. Unfortunately the same goes for NDE research, and some institutions will not touch any research that may seek to invoke a “supernatural” explanation.


  13. That fair. I suppose I should have stated it not an organised conspiracy theory in terms of having secret meetings etc ( which I heavily doubt is occurring) as opposed to just a Informal general mind set within the scientific community (that for the majority though not all the the material world is all there is) (which I think is so). Either way I think there is lack of of both an understanding of both metaphysical and Epistemology framework from all these things emit from all (be it the scientific or otherwise).

    My two cents anyhow 😀


  14. Just realised the above also looks like it reads I a materlist. I not. Just unable to edit it.


    • I get what you are saying. Like I said, my next post will discuss an interesting case study that was sent to me that appears to have encountered the kind of opposition that I describe. I agree that there is unlikely to be a formal conspiracy, but as a “meme” it is a thought virus that has infected academia and the establishment, and made it very hard for viable theistic theories to get off the ground.


  15. Looking forward to reading it


  16. Hi, Ben

    I emailed Beauregard about the cool study but I didn’t get any reply. Are you sure the message you received was ‘current’ and not some subtle automated response ?


    • It may have been an automated response, but it I don’t think so. It wasn’t an email, it was through his website. I guess that time will tell…not going to hold my breath though!


      • Right, yes I tried to reach him through his website as well but no response. Puzzling then that I didn’t get the same if it was an automated response. I think I prefer to assume the study has been abandoned until he publishes something concrete about it.


    • Thanks. Notice the comment that recruitment is expected to end July 2020. Again this doesn’t necessarily mean we won’t hear anything before then but just that it will take that long to enroll the numbers they intended.

      Also of note is the way the summary of the study focuses on the health benefits of perceptions of consciousness, but also notice the ipad facing the ceiling.

      All is good and in line with what has been discussed in this and previous posts. Parnia is a professional researcher, and his niche area of improving survival after resuscitation, just so happens to overlap with NDE research. Both are of value, but if you believe in the eternal soul, the latter is of greatest interest.


  17. Where is the iPad bit Ben? I unable to see it (ironically)


  18. Surely there wouldn’t be a lap top in place until a real patient was involved ?
    Take a look at this video, maybe the Brazilians will beat us to it ? (Go to 7.55)


  19. Stefan on said:

    Are they still using laptops in the study and if so, on which patients?


  20. What are the differences between AWARE I and II? i’m afraid about another study with the same results in the next years to come


  21. AWARE I must’ve been close for Parnia to go forth with AWARE II. Since he hasn’t abandoned AWARE II in the middle of it, he must’ve gotten a hit in AWARE II already!

    And when he goes forth with AWARE VI, that must mean that there was a hit in AWARE V. And since he went on to do AWARE V, that must mean that there was a hit in AWARE IV. Etc, etc.

    Confirmation bias much?

    Parnia ‘went public’ before AWARE I even started, and was talking even then about how consciousness continues after the brain stops. He has been talking that talk all along, so continuing to talk that way doesn’t mean anything.

    Parnia will keep adjusting the targets in study after study until he gets a hit, even if that means holding the target right in front of patients’ eyes.


  22. Jenn on said:

    As long as you get the hit you want, do you really care how Parnia gets it?


  23. Jenn, I care very much how he gets it. Any hit has to be validated in a way that stands up to reasonable scrutiny from a sceptical scientific community. The fact is that there have already been thousands of “hits” recorded all over the world, but in spite of the way these hits corroborate each other through commonalities, they rely on the word of other people, and in our modern era that does not hold much value.

    Parnia has learned from AWARE I and has, as far as possible, implemented these lessons into AWARE II. This study is a genuine, credible research effort to identify whether conscious activity is occurring during resuscitation and determine whether this may be due to physical brain activity through measuring blood flow etc. It also aims to establish if these experiences lead to improved outcomes for the survivors, and finally it attempts to validate whether or not OBEs are a real phenomenon. The implications of the latter are obviously most relevant for us as it will either, for the first time, provide empirical evidence to support the unproven proposition that the conscious can exist independently of the body or provide the sceptics with sufficient ammo to permanently file NDEs on the same shelf as UFOs.


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