AwareofAware

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

Update on AWARE II study:

Thanks to Samwise for this find. The event took place back in September, but the video has only just surfaced. Fast forward to 35 mins in to see Dr Parnia’s talk.

 

Firstly, while there are lots of interesting tidbits, particularly his discussion on the fact that NDEs occur during the period when the brain is least active, there is no “news” regarding evidence of the nature of NDEs. Much of the talk is a summary of the progress so far that has been discussed on this site, and others in great detail. The setting is much improved over the TV studio though, as this is an academic conference.

Dr Parnia does however give the most detailed update yet of the design of the AWARE II study, the number of sites involved, the anticipated timelines and current numbers recruited.

So here we have a picture of the equipment setup:

 

In addition to the cerebral oximetry equipment that will be used to measure flow of oxygen to the brain, we have audio stimulation, which includes putting headphones on the patient (need to watch again to confirm that one) AND the all important iPad. This is the potential game changer.

This is the recruitment status as of March this year before they ramped up the number of sites. This is real news:

4FB85277-2172-4ED7-BFF5-51926A89BB01

At that stage they had 38 patients make it to the end zone. Of those, past research would predict that 3-4 were able to recall NDEs, and if OBEs are real I would estimate 1-2 may have seen an image.

The study is expected to end in 2020, and maybe it will be at this conference that he will present initial results with a more complete dataset published in a serious journal later.

There is quite a bit more in the video worthy of further discussion, but I am on a weekend break, and not able to expand on this just at the moment, but I am sure it will be picked up by the regulars on here who make such valuable contributions…none more so than Samwise!

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50 thoughts on “Update on AWARE II study:

  1. Towards the end he’s suggesting NDEs might be due to some blood flow during CPR. Yet in here https://www.today.com/video/doctor-describes-the-science-behind-a-near-death-experience-1301059139948 he’s suggesting they’re real. His tone isnt very enthusiastic in the video, but he has a different tone in the news article. Can someone who knows him well send him an email asking about the ipad? He put his email at the end and I don’t think he’ll respond to a random like me. 38 isn’t enough for high chance of 1 OBE, and I realized some OBE happen at the corner of the room not right above the body, in that case they won’t be able to see the ipad. I fking hate the mainstream materialists who control the funding and materialist hospital managers who rejected previous NDE studies, these kind of studies would have been done long time ago if there wasn’t such a stigma. Scientists are meant to be open minded and question everything, yet as soon as you suggest anything non material your rep goes through the floor and you get called a charlatan. Their motto is “question everything except materialism”.

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  2. It will be really interesting to see their final results, although nobody will recall any hidden, secret and real-time visual targets anyway.

    Because of the lack of hits on these visual targets, those who still believe something leaves the body will say they need more time and further studies. The rest will say the lack of hits suggests an integration / hallucination type of explanation, and say we should stop running hidden target hospital studies.

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    • I admire your confidence in your ability to predict the future Max. What evidence do you use as foundation for these predictions?

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      • He has his own hypothesis of how NDEs work… And acts as if its the gospel. AFAIK, its all theoretical and I don’t think that Max has ever published any work done by him personally (prove me wrong).

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    • Max you do of course realise you are basically contradicting yourself ? You know full well… and fully accept that patients are certainly acquiring information that they shouldn’t be able to acquire whilst their brains are not functioning…

      They also see things that are way above the level of the doctors heads (way above.. such as name plates on machines, pennies on top of cupboards, shoes on the roof/window ledges etc the list is long now.

      You can’t selectively ignore those “sightings” and only accept the objects seen at or below the level of the doctors, just to make your quantum entanglement theory fit, can you.

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  3. He says NDEs occur when brain is least active . That one is the key statement to me Chad.Is that from current studies too?
    i think he is referring to past claims that CPR could keep tge brain active but all studies have indicated to eeg during cpr. ie brain is inactive. What cpr does is keep brain cells alive so beain activity kicks in when heart starts. I think he is studying several things here.

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  4. In the initial aware 2 proposal the blood flow is one area they are looking at. And he infers to a link between the blood flow and ndes. However on the other hand is not supportive of the physiological claims of ndes or the recent DMT studies either. Also briefed upon the slides is hypothermic circulatory arrest and consciousness whereby blood flow to the brain is stopped as far as I know. And there are two cases (that I am aware of) whereby ndes have supposedly occurred in this state, most famously the Pam Reynolds case and Breauguards JS case (https://www.resuscitationjournal.com/article/S0300-9572(11)00575-2/fulltext)

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    • Studying the possible link is actually among the stated goals of AWARE II, I would find it odd if he did not make reference to it.

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    • Pam Reynolds didn’t have veridical perception during no blood flow. Her first veridical perception occurred when her brain was fully healthy, second occurred after surgery was finished. She said her experience was continuous but you can’t rule out her brain somehow continuing the NDE after the stand still period, it’s very unlikely but not irrefutable. I don’t know of a credible case where there was veridical perception during NO blood flow, i.e. no cpr no EEG no blood pressure was measured at time of perception (the one from AWARE 1 was under going cpr so he had a bit of blood).

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      • If I recall correctly, she described an specialized instrument used during her surgery. That seems quite “veridical”.

        Also, Gerald Woerlee is a mediocre case “investigator” for a self-proclaimed debunker. He has been caught on slippery ground, and even outright lying, a few times. If you want to know about the Reynolds case, try asking Tim instead. Who besides posting here, has also done his homework with it.

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      • Chad,

        It’s a little bit irritating to read statements like that about the Pam Reynolds case! Meticulous researchers Smit and Rivas and myself (I’m not a researcher) studied this case in minute detail).

        Her first veridical perception occurred when she was under burst suppression, a pattern of mostly flat brainwaves in which consciousness is categorically not possible. We have the clear statements from the surgeons who conducted the operation on this matter.

        I doubt if you have any real conception of the brutality of the operation that Pam was subjected to. That’s not your fault of course; mischievous pseudo sceptics have been quite successful in spreading misinformation and downright lies about the case because they don’t like the obvious implications.

        When surgeons are removing your eye socket (bone flap) to get into an area inside the skull so they can get down to the base of the brain in an area called the circle of Willis (apparently) they don’t want anyone to wake up… believe it or not. That is why they place you in the deepest anaesthetic state possible without killing the patient…burst suppression. Her EEG was monitored all the way through the operation and no brainwaves were detected at that time so it is impossible that she woke up.

        However, even if she had been wide awake (as the sceptics prefer 😉 she still had
        100 decibel clicking nodules (11 clicks per second) securely fixed in her ears which is comparable to hearing the sound of a pneumatic jack hammer several feet away. Pam would have heard these incredibly loud sounds in her ears if she had been awake but she never mentioned them.

        Her second set of veridical observations occurred when she was not only without brainwaves, but her heart had stopped when they were starting the process of rewarming her on circulatory by pass. That occurred at 27 degrees C (I discovered that fact) a temperature at which consciousness is not possible. She was dead. And she still had the loud clicking nodules hammering away in her ear canals.

        It was previously thought that this veridical observation occurred at 32 degrees C. Keith Augustine has it at 32 degrees C and refuses to change it. However even Gerry Woerlee had to admit that I was right.

        So, the Pam Reynolds case is indeed absolutely solid (as it always was) but because there is no law to prevent people telling lies and spreading misinformation online, the popular misconceptions continue to this day.

        I hope that will clarify the matter for you, Chad.

        @Eric. Thanks. Just to reiterate, I’m not an expert, just someone interested in the facts.

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      • ricierijr on said:

        CPR in hospitals are different from the methods used when the Cardiac Arrest happens on the streets and people use cardiac massages to keep some circulation until the emergency services arrive. In hospitals they rely solely on defibrilators without any pumping and therefore, any blood flow. They just set the machine to give a shock when indicated by the own equipment.

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  5. Like Z says Chad. Anyway this is meaningless but my gut tells me he has something.

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  6. “Least active” here must be taken in the context that Parnia has -for a while- been positing that death is not a moment, but a process… And a reversible one at that. He is not going to say that the brain is dead, or even inactive, as long as the cells are alive.

    Also, 38 completed does not necessarily mean that he doesn’t have more. There was mention of follow up interviews, if I’m remembering correctly. So these may only be the early “recruits”.

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  7. Eduardo fulco on said:

    I do not speak English, but I read that Parnia talks about finding a link between Ndes and blood flow. Does he really say so during this academic conference? I understand well? What does it say in this regard?

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  8. Eduardo fulco on said:

    In previous articles, if I remember correctly, Parnia had stated that during resuscitation the blood flow to the brain can reach up to 15% of its normal values ​​but this is not enough for the consciousness to be re-established nor reflections.

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  9. I did not understand that Parnia believes that NDE are due to blood flow from the video at all…if anything I felt he was inferring the opposite but would need to look at it again. Which I will do later. What we have to remember here is that he is speaking to peers from the resuscitation world…doctors, who may also be scientists, so he would tone down anything that was without verifiable scientific evidence supporting it.

    What Dr Parnia is doing in AWARE II is a thorough investigation of the state of the brain from a physiological perspective, in terms of EEG blood flow etc, and at the same time trying to have verifiable experiences through time stamped media input, thereby being able to correlate any of these visual or auditory experiences with exact time points on the oximetry and EEG read outs. An iPad hit is the daddy though…doesn’t matter if your brain is lit up like a Christmas tree, there’s no way you can see an image from above you through natural means…at least not ones we know about. Quantum physicists will do their best to try to bewilder us with an explanation though.

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    • I agree, Ben. I was also very impressed with the equipment they are now using to nail this down. The brain oxygen measurer, portable EEG to rule out brainwaves and the ear phones to determine where the consciousness of the patient is…in or out of the body (If I have that right).

      Also they have doubled the number of sites which is fantastic work (if it’s actually correct). Many reasons to be positive IMHO.

      Happy Christmas to everyone !

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  10. I was thinking about this https://edition.cnn.com/2018/06/04/health/cpr-awareness-resuscitation-study/index.html not Woerlee

    At 1:00:08 he says about possible link between NDE and higher oxygenation.

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    • As mentioned above, studying that was stated in the study’s original proposal (which was published in a British government site). It would be odd if he did not address it.

      I, however, fail to see how that would relate to your assertions about the Reynolds case.

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    • ricierijr on said:

      As I remember, he says that perfusory damage prevents the memory consolidationa and later recalling and the low blood flow is able to prevent this damage. The idea implied here is that everyone experiences an NDE during a cardiac arrest, but only those who were “cooled” or had some circulation to protect them from perfusion damage would be able to remember the experiences. And those who were not so well protected would forget entirely or at least have some residual memories that would correspond to lower scores in the Greyson Scale.

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  11. At least the QM people dont engage in fake debunking! I want to hear more about the fake debunking

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  12. Happy Christmas Everyone!

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  13. William Parham on said:

    Hi, all. I’ve written to Drs. Parnia and Van Lommel with this question and gotten responses from both, but neither has really addressed the specifics of the question and thought I’d try here:

    Has anyone ever attempted to explain how the brain would know to create a fictional heaven it can escape to when it knows it is dying, as has been suggested by materialists? In other words, if everything we do is based on learning or heredity, and neither of these would seem possible explanations, where does the brain come up with it?

    Thanks in advance

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    • What did both vom lommell and parina state William?

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    • Did you ask him about the ipad and if anyone has seen anything?

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      • Its obvious that he won’t answer that.

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      • Yes I did, and he did answer. He obviously said he couldn’t share anything and no data would be released before the end of the study, which would be in 2020. I think that email was about 6 months ago. He told me look at his twitter account for updates…mmm.

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    • I would say that is outside the scope of AWARE II, which is just to the establish and that something odd is happening. However, I doubt that social conditioning could explain the visions experienced by the very young, who still lack a real concept of death. There was one researcher who gathered such accounts, it’s probably worth a Google search…

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  14. William Parham on said:

    Here are their replies (in truth, I asked Parnia a couple of things, so his reply is more general):

    Parnia:

    I must apologize as it is quite difficult to answer questions on NDE’s via email in a meaningful manner. However, I have summarized all the studies and main topics related to this in my book. Would you perhaps be able to get a copy from your local library? It addresses the issues you have raised.

    I don’t think I can comment on the case you have raised and I don’t think that what you suggest would be feasible.

    Von Lommel:

    There is no materialistic (skeptic) explanation at all about how the brain could possibly ‘produce’ consciousness, let alone ‘produce’ an NDE during the period of cardiac arrest when the brain does not function anymore.

    See my book ‘Consciousness beyond Life’ and my article ‘Nonlocal Consciousness ( see: https://pimvanlommel.nl/en/pim-van-lommel/scientific-publications/ )

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    • What was your proposal and case your related William

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    • Oh and when was the email dated. Thanks

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      • I suspect that Dr Parnia’s inbox is pretty busy. I’ve had some good replies from him, sometimes months after I sent them. Given he’s on US TV a fair bit I would wager that he gets more than his fair share of cranks.

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    • I think it’s a great question, but one that should be directed at sceptical neuroscientists. Parnia is a specialist in emergency medicine, and while I’m sure his knowledge of neuroscience is way above the layman given his interest in the subject of NDEs and his focus on brain survival, he would not be best the person to answer these questions…neither Van Lommel. You need to pin down a neuroscientist, maybe one who has an expertise in evolutionary biology as well, because as you say it is a question that is asked, but it doesn’t actually make sense for the mind to feel calm and detached. If anything suvival would rely on a surge of Adrenalin associated with fear.

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      • I find the evolutionary reasoning for psychology to be nonsense. E.g. read couple of “scientific article” on dating, some authors think women select men purely based on salary and men are willing to impregnate anything they see, others think women find some tall chiseled face model looking type to seed them and then find a “beta provider” to raise their kids. I mean do these idiots even leave their house? I find evolution articles to be completely useless for things related to psychology/mind, they do wonders explaining the mechanical aspects of life, but even then most of it are postdictions, how do we know random mutations/selection are the only driving force behind evolution? (I’m thinking about “anti entropic force” like what stuart kauffman suggested). Personality/mind is mostly a socially/cultural determined property, yet these idiots think all mental phenomenon, likes NDEs, must be due to some selection pressure during evolution. If NDEs are hallucinations, they have nothing to do with evolution, because survival dictates the brain shuts down to conserve energy, spending tons of energy with no oxygen fantasising hyper real lala land is going to kill the person. Not to mention for most of human history, if u get a CA you’re DEAD, you wont be able to pass on your NDE genes.

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  15. My background is evolution and neo Darwinian or punctuationalist I cant give you a good case fir consciousness let alone the NDE or ADE.I have not met many doctors who are familiar with evolutionary theory. But most mechanical engineers are probably not familiar with general relativity.

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  16. Google The evolutionary argument against reality. Its an jnterview with cognitive scientist Donald Hoffman in quanta. I suggest the self aware fish story at the bottom too. It has links to his website and papers. I think some of you may find it interesting.

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  17. I’ve been looking at spiritual experiences and some core NDE features are present in other spiritual experience. E.g. oneness/universal consciousness/bliss/peace is consistently experienced by deep meditators, other worldly environment/seeing outter space/oneness is present in dmt hallucinations (e.g. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T2wQurlHtJs). The core features NDE have that i’ve yet to see elsewhere is the life review/judgement/deceased relatives telling you to go back, i.e. things related to a newly dead person, the underlying world NDErs experience seem to be eerily similar to dmt users and meditators. Dmt cannot be causing NDEs because along with what i just mentioned, the geometric patterns are copiously missing, but maybe some other similar unknown drug is causing NDEs. But I remember reading someone online say they were severely depressed for a few days and somehow temporarily went to a world “where people have vastly different values than here”, it sounds like the NDE world with unconditional love people, he didn’t take any drugs or have life threatening injury to his brain, and meditators don’t have chemicals in their brain.

    What do other people make of this? I’d like to think only CA patients have NDEs, but from my research spiritual experiences occur from many unrelated causes having nothing to do with fatal damage to the brain. This is one of the 2 main reasons I’m so skeptical about the veridical perceptions in NDEs, and some cases like pam reynolds the NDEr got out of their body when their brain is no where close to death. Sorry if this sounds like spam, just want to hear other people’s thoughts.

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    • Chad, it’s true that people can have elements of NDEs, even OBEs maybe, through means other than having to die. As you point out, they don’t have the whole being told to go back or life review thing, which to me adds support to the validity and authenticity of NDEs. The experience is relevant to the situation. Also, if the conscious is a separate entity not generated by the brain, but hosted by it, then temporary detachment should be possible through drugs or other means. This is what my next novel is about…might be a while before it sees the light of day though given I have been writing it for ten years!

      On that note my book on the origin of DNA is going to be launched later this week or early next week.

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    • @Chad

      I’ve given you the facts about the Pam Reynolds case and you just keep ignoring it for reasons best known to yourself.

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  18. @Chad

    “There seems little doubt that NDEs occur in all cultures and have occurred at all times through recorded history… the NDE happens to young and old, to people from all walks of life, to those whose life has a spiritual dimension and to those who profess no faith at all… there are many examples of people who have a NDE at a time when they did not even know that such a phenomenon existed.”
    Dr Peter Fenwick

    The Near Death Experience (NDE) is a powerful argument for the existence of the afterlife which because of recent advances in medical science is becoming widely reported. As medical resuscitation techniques are being improved more and more people are being brought back from the border of clinical death. A number of them recount an intense profoundly meaningful experience in which they seem to be alive and functioning outside their body. For many, a Near Death Experience is an extremely powerful emotional and spiritual experience.

    The evidence for the NDE is consistent, overwhelming and experienced by the many. It is also consistent with evidence for other psychic phenomena—OBEs, with the information obtained from mental and physical mediums, and with apparitions.

    The more informed closed-minded skeptics now acknowledge that there is no dispute at all about the existence of the NDE. The dispute is about what it means.

    Psychics say that in a crisis situation, where death is almost inevitable or is perceived to be inevitable, the duplicate physical body, the astral or etheric body, sometimes leaves the physical body and experiences the first stages of the afterlife. When death does not occur, the duplicate body resumes its place in the physical body. Studies have shown that NDEs occurred following illness, surgery, childbirth, accident, heart attack and attempted suicide.

    Skeptics say that there is no such thing as a duplicate body and whatever one experiences has to do with the problems of the physical body itself?it’s all in the mind.

    One pioneer in this area was Dr Raymond Moody Jr., who began his work as a skeptic. His first book Life After Life in 1975 is considered the classic work which opened this area to modern research was followed by two others in 1983 and 1988.

    Since 1975 there have been many studies in many countries—so much so that there are now several international associations and journals for the investigation of near-death studies. Cherie Sutherland’s excellent Australian book (1992) contains a selected bibliography of over 150 scholarly research reports.

    Fifteen common elements

    Moody found a striking similarity in accounts of 150 people who had these experiences—so much so that he was able to identify fifteen different elements which recur again and again in these reports. He constructed a typical experience which contains all of these elements:

    A man is dying and, as he reaches the point of greatest physical distress, he hears himself pronounced dead by his doctor. He begins to hear an uncomfortable noise, a loud ringing or buzzing, and at the same time feels himself moving very rapidly through a long dark tunnel. After this he finds himself outside of his own physical body, but still in the immediate physical environment, and he sees his own body from a distance, as though he is a spectator. He watches the resuscitation attempt from this unusual vantage point and is in a state of emotional upheaval.

    After a while he collects himself and becomes more accustomed to his odd condition. He notices that he still has a ‘body’, but one of a very different nature and with very different powers from the physical body he has left behind. Soon other things begin to happen. Others come to meet and help him. He glimpses the spirits of relatives and friends who have already died, and a loving, warm spirit of a kind he has never encountered before—a being of light—appears before him. This being asks him a question, nonverbal, to make him evaluate his life and helps him along by showing him a panoramic instantaneous playback of the major events of his life. At some point he finds himself approaching some sort of barrier or border, apparently representing the limit between earthly life and the next life. Yet, he finds that he must go back to the earth, that the time for his death has not yet come. At this point he resists, for by now he is taken up with his experiences in the afterlife and does not want to return. He is overwhelmed by intense feelings of joy, love, and peace. Despite his attitude, though, he somehow reunites with his physical body and lives.

    Later he tries to tell others, but he has trouble doing so. In the first place, he can find no human words adequate to describe these unearthly experiences. He also finds that others scoff, so he stops telling other people. Still the experience affects his life profoundly, especially his view about death and its relationship to life (Moody 1975: 21-23).

    Dr Kenneth Ring, who produced a scientific study of Near-Death Experiences in 1980, confirmed Dr Moody’s findings but found that people went through the experience in stages and a large number of people experienced only the first ones.

    Other studies by Karlis Osis and Erlendur Haraldsson (1977), Michael Sabom and Sarah Kreutziger (1976), Elisabeth Kübler-Ross (1983), Craig Lundahl (1981) and Bruce Greyson and Ian Stevenson (1980) all described a similar set of experiences.

    Seeing while unconscious

    Dr Michael Sabom, a Georgia cardiologist, interviewed 100 hospital patients who had narrowly escaped death. Of these 61 per cent reported experiencing classical NDE of the type closely corresponding to those published in 1975 by Moody.

    Many of the patients who have been revived have been able to describe in great technical detail exactly what went on in the operating room during the time they were supposedly unconscious or dead. Dr Sabom investigated the hypothesis that these patients were merely using their creative imagination, or knowledge that they had subconsciously picked up through earlier exposure to emergency care.

    He interviewed a group of seasoned cardiac patients who had not undergone Near-Death Experiences and asked them to imagine watching a medical team reviving a heart attack victim and to describe in as much detail as possible the steps being taken. To his surprise 80% of them misdescribed the procedures. On the other hand none of the group which claimed to have witnessed their resuscitation while out of their bodies made an error about the procedure (Sabom 1980: 120-121).

    A common experience

    There are now literally millions of people from all over the world who have undergone a Near-Death Experience. In 1983 a major American survey by George Gallup Junior reported that eight million Americans, approximately five per cent of the adult population had experienced one (Gallup 1982). A 1989 Australian survey by Allan Kellehear and Patrick Heaven found that ten percent of 179 people claimed to have experienced at least five typical elements of a NDE.

    Studies in widely differing geographic locations have produced remarkably similar findings: Margot Grey’s study of NDEs in England (Grey 1985); Paola Giovetti’s study in Italy (Giovetti 1982); Dorothy Counts’ study in Melanesia (Counts 1983); Satwant Pasricha and Ian Stevenson’s (1986) study in India. More studies are coming out from different countries on a regular basis, and historical examples show that the experience has been remarkably consistent over time (see Plato’s example of Er’s NDE in The Republic).

    Yet while these experiences have been happening throughout human history, in western culture it is only in the last twenty years that people have felt free to talk about them and the effect that they have had on their lives.

    Coming back with unexplained information

    There are many accounts of people having Near Death Experiences returning with factual information which they had no prior knowledge of. These include being able to identify ancestors from pictures, learning about siblings who had died before their own birth, learning about family secrets etc. Others were able to document information they had learned about future events (see for example Eadie 1992, Brinkley 1994 and Atwater 2000: 204).

    Common after-effects

    According to the International Association for Near Death Studies, around eighty percent of the people who experience near-death states claim that their lives are changed forever. They experience specific psychological and physiological differences on a massive scale which may cause major adjustment difficulties for, on average, seven years but especially during the first three years. This is true with child experiencers, as well as with teenagers and adults.
    These after-effects are shared by people, including children, who had intense experiences in a particularly vivid dream, while meditating or who have narrowly escaped death.

    Cherie Sutherland, an Australian researcher, interviewed 50 NDE survivors in depth and found that the effects on the lives of survivors had been remarkably consistent and quite different from the effects of drug or chemical induced hallucinations. She identified many effects which have been substantiated by other studies e.g. Ring (1980 and 1984) Atwater (1988). These included:

    • a universal belief in life after death
    • a high proportion (80%) now believed in re-incarnation
    • a total absence of fear of death
    • a large shift from organized religion to personal spiritual practice
    • a statistically significant increase in psychic sensitivity
    • a more positive view of self and of others
    • an increased desire for solitude
    • an increased sense of purpose
    • a lack of interest in material success coupled with a marked increase in interest in spiritual development
    • fifty per cent experienced major difficulties in close relationships as a result of their changed priorities
    • an increase in health consciousness
    • most drank less alcohol
    • almost all gave up smoking
    • most gave up prescription drugs
    • most watched less television
    • most read fewer newspapers
    • an increased interest in alternative healing
    • an increased interest in learning and self-development
    • seventy five per cent experienced a major career change in which they moved towards areas of helping others.

    Survivors become more psychic

    An independent American study by Dr Melvin Morse found that NDE survivors have three times the number of verifiable psychic experiences as the general population, were frequently unable to wear watches and often had electrical conduction problems such as shorting out lap top computers and erasing credit cards (Morse 1992). He also found that adults who had near-death experiences gave more money to charity than control subjects, were more likely to do volunteer work in the community, worked more in helping professions, did not suffer from drug abuse and ate more fresh fruit and vegetables than control populations (Morse 1992).

    Alternative explanations.

    Naturally, the near death experience cannot be taken simply at face value without examining the following alternative explanations.

    Are they making it up? As stated above, those who studied the NDE—scientists, doctors, psychologists, other investigators and skeptics—all now claim with absolute certainty that the NDE does exist.

    Some open-minded cardiologist investigators assumed the NDE did not exist but subsequently changed their mind. Michael Sabom, the cardiologist mentioned above, admitted that before he started to investigate he felt sure that NDEs must be ‘conscious fabrications’ either on the part of those reporting them or those writing about them. However, once he began to investigate he was absolutely staggered by the genuineness of the phenomena.

    A cardiologist who was initially skeptical was Maurice Rawlings who states in his book Beyond Death’s Door (1978) that he had always believed in death as total extinction until one day a forty eight year old postman dropped ‘dead’ in his office. As he began to resuscitate him the patient began screaming: ‘I’m in Hell! Keep me out of hell!’. At first Rawlings says he told him: ‘Keep your hell to yourself—I’m busy trying to save your life’ but gradually he became convinced by the sheer terror of the man he was working on. So absolutely traumatic and convincing was the experience that Dr Rawlings went on to write books about it. If you accept the word of a highly credible and highly qualified cardiologist, his whole life changed after this experience.

    Frightening or hell-like near death experiences are quite common and have been the subject of in depth research by Bruce Greyson, MD and
    Nancy Evans Bush, MA.

    The Pharmacological Explanation? Some suggest that NDE’s are caused by drugs administered to the patient at the time of his crisis. Drugs such as ketamine and morphine have been suggested. Moody investigated this hypothesis and rejected it (Moody 1975: 160-161). This was because many of the patients who experienced NDEs had not been given drugs, that drug-induced visions were markedly different from each other and from genuine NDEs in content and intensity and had no profound long-term effects.

    Some investigators including R.K. Siegel reported that some of those who have taken hallucinogenic drugs such as LSD have experiences similar to NDEs. But we are also informed that there are distinct differences between the effect of LSD and the NDE. This has been effectively dealt with by Moody and others.

    Oxygen Deprivation? It is sometimes argued that the NDE is caused by oxygen starvation and is a normal response of a ‘dying brain’. However many people have experienced Near-Death Experience before there was any physiological stress and in some case when there was no physical injury at all (Moody 1975: 163). Sabom, consistent with Dr Fenwick, noted that in genuine cases of oxygen deprivation there is a ‘progressive muddling and confusion of cognitive abilities’ which is in direct contrast to the clarity and expansion of consciousness reported by those having a NDE (Sabom 1980:176).

    There have been various attempts to claim that NDEs are basically ‘wish fulfillment’—that you see what you have been culturally conditioned to expect. However Ring (1984) Sabom (1982) and Grosso (1981) have all found that there is no link, no correlation between religious beliefs and experience of a NDE.

    Other psychologists like Uri Lowental (1981) have argued, without giving any evidence, that NDEs are ‘a reliving of the birth experience’. Their hypotheses are generally considered unhelpful speculation.

    Psychologists Kletti and Noyes (1981) have claimed that NDEs represent ‘depersonalization and pleasurable fantasies which represent a form of psychic protection against the threat of destruction’. However this explanation has also been refuted by Gabbard and Twemlow (1981) who point out that while depersonalization usually occurs in persons between 15 and 30 it is virtually unheard of in people over 40.

    Others have proposed that NDEs are forms of ‘autoscopic hallucination’—a rare psychiatric disorder. However both Sabom (1982) and Gabbard and Twemlow (1981) found this implausible on the basis of a number of significant differences.

    Neurophysiological Explanations? Moody considered parallels between the past life review of NDE patients and the flashbacks experienced by people with neurological abnormalities. He concluded that both were essentially different in that whereas the flashbacks were random and of trivial events not remembered after the attack, in the life review typical of a NDE the events were in chronological order and were of highlights of the life. They were all seen at once and constituted a ‘unifying vision’ which gave the person insight into his life’s purpose (Moody 1975: 166).

    The dying brain? Dr Peter Fenwick is a Fellow of the Royal College of Psychiatrists and a neuropsychiatrist with an international reputation—a specialist in the mind/brain interface and the problem of consciousness. He is Britain’s leading clinical authority on the NDE and is President of the International Association for the Near-Death Studies.

    With his wife Elizabeth, also a Cambridge-trained professional scientist, Dr Peter Fenwick made a thorough investigation of the argument by skeptics and materialist psychologists that a near death experience is caused by the physiological effects of the dying brain (Fenwick 1996).

    The argument by psychologists against the NDE has to be seen in the light of their very limited knowledge of the functioning of the brain. Psychologists do not have the necessary depth of academic and practical professional training of neuropsychiatrists like Dr Peter Fenwick to professionally assess the physiology of the NDE. The professional training of psychologists includes only a very basic training in physiology. A look at five standard textbooks on university Psychology shows that study of brain functioning constitutes less than 5% of the overall learning on psychology. Psychologists in training do not practice surgery, let alone the highly specialized field of human brain surgery.

    Certainly, someone in the position of Dr Fenwick would have all the technical knowledge to accurately assess whether or not the NDE can be explained by what is happening in the dying brain. Dr Fenwick states that these psychologists write absolute rubbish when they venture into areas of knowledge outside their technical expertise, knowledge they don’t have, don’t understand and which is outside their everyday work.

    He is scathing with the skeptics:

    (They) just don’t have the knowledge…So much rubbish is talked about Near-Death Experiences by people who don’t have to deal with these things on a daily basis. So I’m absolutely sure that such experiences are not caused by oxygen shortages, endorphins or anything of that kind. And certainly none of these things would account for the transcendental quality of many of these experiences, the fact that people feel an infinite sense of loss when they leave them behind (Fenwick 1995: 47).

    As a consultant neuro-psychiatrist he constantly works with people who are confused, disoriented and brain-damaged and as Dr Fenwick points out:

    What is quite clear is that any disorientation of brain function leads to a disorientation of perception and reduced memory. You can’t normally get highly-structured and clearly remembered experiences from a highly damaged or disoriented brain (Fenwick 1995: 47).

    He likewise refutes the endorphin argument:

    As for that stuff about endorphins, we’re boosting the effect they have all the time because thousands of people are given morphine every day. That certainly produces calmness, but it doesn’t produce structured experiences (Fenwick 1995: 47).

    Closed-minded skeptics are asked to answer the following questions:

    • If the NDE is the effect of a dying brain it should happen to everyone who is dying. Why is it that not all of those who are near death whose brain is ‘dying’ experience a NDE?

    • If the NDE is wish fulfillment, why is it that not every NDE experience is a positive one? Why is it that some experience a neutral and/or a horrific negative NDE as documented by Phyllis Atwater (1994).

    • If the NDE is caused by the release of endorphins, what objective evidence exists to show that the release of endorphins necessarily elicits a life review in an orderly way?

    • What objective evidence exists to show that the release of endorphins leads to the breakdown of a sense of time and its relationship to ‘self’?

    • Why is it that nearly all those who have a NDE undergo a permanent transformation which is consistent with spiritual refinement, a more refined way of living?

    • Why is it that most experiencers relate their newly found intrinsic motivation to the powerful experience they had out of the body?

    • What objective proof is presented to show that understanding of the role of the limbic system and temporal lobe can account for the experiences of familiarity, insight and deja vu and the statistically significant increase in psychic experiences that follow NDEs?

    • How do the skeptics explain the incredible consistencies between NDEs and OBEs?

    The critical Pam Reynolds case

    The leading skeptics used to say that the near death experience was the result of the activity of the dying brain or the recovering brain; that no one can have a NDE while ‘dead’ – no one.

    But Dr Michael Sabom, cardiologist, reports on a well documented case of a person have a prolonged NDE with veridical out of body perception while clinically dead for an hour.

    Pam Reynolds underwent a rare operation to remove a life threatening giant aneurysm (an abnormal widening or ballooning of a portion of an artery, related to weakness in the wall of the blood vessel) in her brain. The only way that the doctors could operate was to connect her to a machine to process her blood, lower her body temperature to 60 degrees, and stop her heartbeat and brain activity.

    During the hour that Pam was in standstill, she experienced remarkably detailed veridical out-of-body observations during her surgery were later verified to be very accurate.

    According to Dr Sabom “This case is considered to be one of the strongest cases of veridical evidence in NDE research because of Pam’s ability to describe in detail the unique surgical instruments used while she was dead, what the nurses said to the doctors while operating other and procedures used. Pam Reynolds’ had this spectacular ability to describe in detail these events while she was clinically and brain dead.”
    (See http://www.near-death.com/experiences/evidence01.html)

    Physical explanations insufficient

    Elizabeth Fenwick, co-writer of the book The Truth in the Light—An investigation of Over 300 Near-Death Experiences (1996) actually began her research thinking that all could be explained in scientific terms. But, after investigating, she concluded:

    While you may be able to find scientific reasons for bits of the Near-Death Experience, I can’t find any explanation which covers the whole thing. You have to account for it as a package and skeptics… simply don’t do that. None of the purely physical explanations will do. They (Skeptics) vastly underestimate the extent to which Near-Death Experiences are not just a set of random things happening, but a highly organized and detailed affair (Fenwick 1995: 47).

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    • @Six

      Yes, great post ! I don’t know where you got that from (in total) but I’m familiar with all of it and the point that Peter Fenwick makes about the legion of psychologists who make it their business to debunk NDE’s, is spot on.

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  19. Look up the Nest appirition. Ant computer experts could that be faked and what would be the motive.

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