AwareofAware

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

Answer to Oxygen levels and OBE report question – sort of

The second video on the page in the link below is a recording of Grand Rounds from March 2020, which for some reason, I had missed until recently.

Link to videos from Parnia lab

This video should be compulsory viewing for anyone who is interested in a scientific overview of NDEs, the AWARE studies and the work of the Parnia lab. It really highlights to me how amazing Sam Parnia is in terms of his persistence, his thoroughness, his balance, and his humanity in his approach to this subject. Lot’s of amazing tidbits in this video, including anecdotal accounts of NDEs, some discussion around explanations (or lack of) for consciousness and the philosophy of it all. Remember, this is in the context of Grand Rounds at one of the world’s leading hospitals…not a meeting of your local chapter of IANDS. This is one of the world’s leading scientists on the science of consciousness during “death” speaking to fellow physicians and scientists.

Anyway, the reason I made a post about it is that I get an answer to a question that has been bugging me for ages, namely the link between R02 (blood oxygen in the brain as measured by brain oximetry) and episodes of conscious recollection. I have repeatedly tried to get some comment from Dr Parnia or one of his research colleagues on whether any of the reports of sufficient oxygen levels to potentially experience consciousness were correlated with reports of auditory OBEs or other conscious recollections, or not. In this video, at about 50 mins, one of the attendees at rounds asks a similar question, and Dr Parnia replies that there is currently insufficient data to comment on that. That’s why it is only sort of an answer.

This was a year ago. It’s hard to assess how much impact COVID has had on AWARE II, but if they were going by their original study plan, they would have completed recruitment by now and be writing it up. Hopefully we won’t have too long to wait before we receive a full read out from this study.

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43 thoughts on “Answer to Oxygen levels and OBE report question – sort of

  1. “It really highlights to me how amazing Sam Parnia is in terms of his persistence, his thoroughness, his balance, and his humanity in his approach to this subject. ”

    Very well put, Ben, I wholeheartedly agree. Just to add to the point you made about brain oxygen levels, at 51 minutes approximately, he inadvertently deals with Woerlee’s NDE by CPR.

    Woerlee only started touting this (NDE by CPR) when he realised he had to come up with some way to try to explain the NDE’s of those in cardiac arrest. I think it was on the basis of one or two (originally anyway) in the literature, where the patients showed some signs of consciousness coming back during CPR.

    Parnia :

    “There are some people who clearly have a pulse, although we think they are in cardiac arrest…but technically they are not in true cardiac arrest and when they get chest compressions they can sometimes wake up…but that’s a very different beast, because these people we’re talking about (here) have no heartbeat.”

    I like Parnia’s impartiality in this. Sceptics can have nothing to complain about and neither can proponents, which is how it should be.

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    • There is an extremely rare case study written up in the literature, which I cite in my book, in which a patient was fully conscious with no heart beat for nearly an hour and was kept alive with an artificial supply of oxygen…they eventually had to stop the oxygen and allow him to die. Horrific. I absolutely believe from a scientific perspective that it is possible to provide sufficient oxygenated blood to the brain through highly effective CPR to allow for conscious activity, however, I do not believe that is what is happening with NDEs or OBEs, and I am hoping that Parnia will prove this when he releases the full results from AWARE II. If he had doubts, he would not talk the way he does in the video. No way.

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      • Ben said >”I absolutely believe from a scientific perspective that it is possible to provide sufficient oxygenated blood to the brain through highly effective CPR to allow for conscious activity”

        Thanks, Ben. I’ll just state this once as I don’t wish to make an argument about it, it’s not borne out by what the experts say.

        In cardiologist Pim Van Lommel’s book, he states that CPR on it’s own can only perfuse 5% of the required blood into the brain. They can increase this (apparently) with certain drugs (atropine?) up to a maximum of about 30% (of the blood) but that’s it. The brain swells in cardiac arrest and actually resists the flow of blood, so they tell us.

        Also, the process of CPR breaks ribs (to do it properly to the correct depth) which would be extremely (agonisingly so) painful. But this pain is almost never reported, nor the pain from the defibrillator shocks which has been described as like being kicked by a mule or having your insides torn out, in those unfortunates who were incorrectly shocked in the past.

        So, to suggest that CPR can restore consciousness, you would have to postulate that the brain can somehow still function with only one third (at best) of it’s necessary blood supply. As the brain has by far the greatest requirement for blood out of all the body’s organs, this is clearly highly unlikely.

        Secondly, you have to explain why the pain of the patient’s ribs being broken is not felt, nor the powerful electrical shocks.

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      • I have to agree with tim on this, if the conciousness was somehow brought back it still would not explain the blind reports, and the large differences of being able to repeat what events took place, as shown by Michael sabom

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  2. David on said:

    Tim for the first time I disagree. The sceptics will just make stuff up or take out of context. Just like this with people not in CA.

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  3. David on said:

    One of the UAP pseudo said he didn’t need the additional evidence the Pentagon has said it has because it’s irrelevant because he can deny its real based on what he has seen.
    Yes I am aware that’s what we care dealing with.

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  4. @Josh

    Josh said >”I have to agree with tim on this, if consciousness was somehow brought back (during CPR) it still would not explain the blind reports (the reports from blind people?) and the large differences of being able to repeat what events took place, as shown by Michael Sabom.

    Thanks, Josh!

    Woorlee uses (quoted in ‘The Self Does not Die’) three cases where consciousness appeared to be gained during CPR (Bihari and Rajajee 2008 by means of hands on massage)
    Lewinter et all 1989 by a thumper -mechanical device)

    and internal (open chest massage Miller et all 1961)

    Cardiologist Pim Van Lommel refuted all of these in the above book which I would love to post but I don’t have the time to write it out. Aside from that, CPR in (true) cardiac arrest does not restore consciousness. It’s just a fact, I’m not claiming to be a source of expertise.

    The heart is not beating and human beings need a constant supply of oxygenated blood (and glucose) into the brain to support and maintain consciousness. The brain is so sensitive to it’s blood supply, that even the slightest reduction results in unconsciousness (passing out/fainting for instance).

    CPR doesn’t get the chambers of the heart working properly. The compressions simply squeeze the whole bag (as it were) and doctors hope for the best. Definitely don’t want to fall out with Ben, though, he might ban me 😉 Having said that, at least I’d stop boring everyone to death.

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    • Haha…no chance of banning some of my favourite and most knowledgeable contributors! I’m being quiet because I’m busy and haven’t had a chance to do some more digging. I suspect you’re probably right, I just need to look up that case that I cited. Also, what about the poster that was presented at AHA that suggested there was sufficient oxygen due to CPR in a number of cases to potentially support consciousness? They don’t say there was consciousness, just that there might be enough oxygen to support it.

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      • Concerning the statement in the AHA poster, I wonder what level (what kind) of consciousness would that oxigen levels support. I mean, people with low oxigen levels who are still concious are usually drowsy, disoriented, not very focused, etc. So I wonder, if they seem unconscious but some level of consciousness could be sustained, could it be so vivid/focused/hyperreal/with strong memory formation, etc? I personally doubt it, but who knows…
        I also read some of those case reports of people being concious during CPR but if I remember correctly, they were confused and a bit aggressive, and second, none of those patients reported a NDE. I haven’t read any case report on conciousness during CPR with associated NDE.

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      • @Mery. You make some excellent points. Again, just working off memory here, but the oxygen levels were about 30% of normal, and while there may be some momentary flickers of consciousness, they are extremely unlikely to be the lucid kind described in NDEs.

        That poster has been the bane of my non-fiction writing existence this past 18 months, since when placed against the other poster, it makes it impossible to infer anything. Given Parnia’s refusal to comment on these details, and perhaps also because they lack sufficient data to draw definitive conclusions, as he suggests at the rounds in the video, I suspect that may have been his intent. I would expect more data later this year, maybe even a publication.

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      • Phew ! 😉 Thanks, Ben. That poster was a real puzzle, wasn’t it. He didn’t tell us in which context the brainwaves were observed, though. As I recall, they were not brainwaves directly associated with waking consciousness though, rather they were the next step down ?, theta or Alpha waves, can’t remember and I can’t find the poster.

        Were they the brainwaves of a patient or two who’s heart hadn’t actually stopped but were still being resuscitated anyway ? I wish I knew.

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      • @Tim. I think I have only banned two people in total as they were clearly trolls and not here to engage in informed discussion. I miss Chad. He was our resident semi-skeptic, but engaged in an intelligent manner, and attitude of genuine curiosity. There are lots of people I haven’t “let in” though. This place would be quite different if I had. Much more “noisy”.

        I don’t have ads, I don’t have a huge number of signed up followers…a few thousand maybe with about a 150k hits a year. It is a modest site that makes absolutely no money, and only costs me a few hundred dollars to run. If I have an ulterior motive, it is to help launch my book one day…but I suspect that even then, I may only get a hundred or so sales off the back of this. Ultimately it is a pleasure to engage with thoughtful people on a subject that is central to our understanding of existence.

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    • @Tim this is the citation I was talking about, and that I use in my book. Of particular interest

      “At several points during the resuscitation the patient regained some consciousness. He made purposeful movements to push CPR providers away and verbalized with defibrillations. When signs of consciousness were recognized, CPR was immediately stopped and pulse checks were performed. During pulse checks there was no palpable pulse and the patient lost consciousness shortly after cessation of CPR.”

      Thoughts?

      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6042660/

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      • Mery on said:

        That is one of the case reports I was referring to. I have thoughts, but don’t really know how to put them together.
        -that patient was disoriented and aggressive when concious.
        -the AHA 2019 poster stated that they were unsure if the alpha waves corresponded to transient periods of ROSC
        -the AHA 2020 poster on NDE stated that memories like those of a NDE corresponded to no circulation, and memories of (phisical) pain, discomfort, etc corresponded to ROSC.
        -when the heart stops first you get slow waves and then flat line in less than a minute. However, nobody has related those slow waves to NDEs yet. Not even Parnia.
        -slow waves (theta and delta) are related to several processes, like non rem sleep (not as vivid as Rem dreams), drowsiness, etc.
        -memories corresponding to trance states and hallucinations correspond to Delta waves in retrieval processes, such as NDE memories which led authors to suggest that NDE memories are really lived in a period of altered state of consciousness.
        -Parnia is a real expert in CPR. So, if he states that conciousness during CPR is usually due to some form of pulse being present I also believe him.
        I have all this information in my head but there are no studies correlating anything with anything. One researcher talked about the “uniqueness” of memories of NDE. And most NDE researchers agree on the vividness and congruence of this experience in a period where the brain is not functioning properly (or very low activity).

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      • @Ben

        Sorry I didn’t see this post of yours.

        “At several points during the resuscitation the patient regained some consciousness. He made purposeful movements to push CPR providers away and verbalized with defibrillations. When signs of consciousness were recognized, CPR was immediately stopped.

        My thoughts on this would be irrelevant because it’s a matter for experts (cardiologists etc) to debate. I would guess that his heart hadn’t fully stopped, though. He doesn’t appear to have had an NDE but maybe he didn’t volunteer the information, who knows. They usually do, though, don’t they, when being specifically questioned about what he remembered about his resuscitation.

        “When interviewed 3 months later about his recollection of his resuscitation, he recalled experiencing discomfort in his chest and neck, and that he felt 2 “shocks” that made his muscles tense. He had no recollection of CPR specifically and denied any recollection of pain.

        Although the patient’s outcome in this case was positive, several care providers who participated in this patient’s resuscitation reported feeling personal distress during the resuscitation. None of the care providers had ever experienced a patient regaining consciousness with CPR, nor were they aware that it was possible. They were therefore uncertain whether the case had been appropriately managed and whether the patient should have been sedated rather than restrained.”

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  5. Josh on said:

    @Ben funnily enough I have been showing this blog to a lot of my friends who are interested in NDEs. Iam also a part of a page on reddit which is quite small but is for the discussion of NDE’s we also have a lot of NDErs there who have shared a lotnof input as to our ‘purpose’. Another funny fact tim is somewhat of a ‘celebrity’ since many users have seen his comments on here and skeptico apparently.

    Liked by 1 person

    • @Ben

      Thanks again, Ben. Of course I was only kidding but all of that (above) is noted!
      And maybe Chad will reappear when there’s something major to discuss, that’s what we need at the moment but I don’t see it coming anytime soon and that’s no ones fault of course, we’ve just got to let him get on with it.

      @Josh

      Thanks, it’s funny how others see us, isn’t it. I see myself as just the opposite, though. I wouldn’t have even come onto the internet in the first place if sceptics had just been more honest about the evidence, but there it is.

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      • Mery on said:

        @Ben

        I really like this site. You are very well informed and updated in news on Aware, Parnia’s research, NDE research, and this is really needed. I find some discussions here really stimulating, even when they go completely off topic concerning the original post. I think anyone looking for NDE research information will eventually come to this site. So congrats, and please, don’t close this blog even if Parnia doesn’t release any more information on the Aware results!
        I have sometimes entered the skeptiko forum but eventually had to leave, since it was as you accurately defined “too noisy” and got myself really confused about NDE cases, and points of views, etc. And yes, Tim was a celebrity.
        @Tim were you the same Tim that got answers from Spetzler (don’t know if I spelled correctly) on Pam Reynolds burst suppression when she heard the conversation??? Really impressive!

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      • Glad to here that Tim is a celebrity! Certainly his views are very much appreciated here, along with many others.

        @Mery, I won’t be closing this down, but I don’t like posting just for the sake of it either, so there are often long gaps between posts, which is one of the reasons why it has always stayed quite small and niche, but also why it retains that specific interest that you mention. I do like getting into tussles on various subjects in other forums, but I have strived hard to keep that out of here. It may be that one day the AWARE study makes the breakthrough discovery that we all believe it should, and if that were the case, then it is possible that there may be a significant uptick in interest in this site given its specificity, and if folks come here and find it full of people shrieking at each other, it won’t be helpful. I want it to be genuinely informative on the science behind the subject and enlightening on the possibility of the nature of the soul, which I believe it is if you look through all the different posts and discussions that have occurred. That is why I vet every new member’s first comment. There are a lot of trolls and people wanting to flood this place with ads.

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      • @Mery

        Yes, I am. Woerlee actually informed me that I asked him the wrong question, LOL.

        It was certainly the wrong question as far as Woerlee was concerned; he didn’t like the answer one little bit. Oh well, you can’t please everybody 😉

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      • Mery on said:

        @Tim

        Why was it the wrong question? As far as I remember, you asked whether she was under BS when she heard the conversation about her femoral veins, right? And he answered yes.
        I wonder what question would Woerlee have asked…

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      • Josh on said:

        Looks like you upset woerlee by pointing out his flawed logic. Iam actually in disbelief thay skeptics would go as far to say ‘he was coerced’ is actually amazing. Cyinics always show their true colours when cornerd.

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  6. Alan on said:

    @Hey Mery and all, You mentioned Skeptiko so I had a quick look and saw Bruce Greyson was interviewed there March 31 … interesting I noticed about future studies. Best.

    https://skeptiko.com/bruce-greyson-near-death-experience-pioneer-494/

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    • @Mery

      “As far as I remember, you asked whether she was under BS when she heard the conversation about her femoral veins, right? And he answered yes.”

      Yes, that’s right, Mery. We (me in this case) had ONE opportunity to try to get a definitive answer to this crucial question. Sceptics kept stating repeatedly that she had anaesthesia awareness, even though Spetzler had already told us several times
      that she did not, and that it was impossible that she could have been aware of anything in any normal way.

      But nevertheless, they (the sceptics) continued insinuating that when Spetzler made his statements on various documentaries about the case, he was being imprecise, he didn’t really mean what he said, or the producers had somehow coerced him into to saying it. Laughable, really but sadly those are the lengths they are prepared to go to.

      So, I formulated a concise and very simple question, that there could be absolutely no misunderstanding about (later from sceptics looking to twist his words) and that wouldn’t take up more than a few moments of Spetzler’s time, because he was a busy neurosurgeon and under no obligation to answer questions, never mind one from myself, a layperson.

      The reply came back, yes (her brainwaves were effectively flat). And then a certain notorious sceptic told us we asked the wrong question(s). Hilarious !

      The absurdity of this is that if Speztler had said “no” to my question, then he (the sceptic) would have been quite happy. As it was, he was furious and tried to contact Spetzler himself who subsequently ignored him. Doubly hilarious.

      What I’ve discovered over the years is that with few exceptions, sceptics are ideologically driven, mischievous and often downright dishonest. Why can the facts not be upheld ?

      It doesn’t of course ‘prove’ life after death, that’s another question, but the fact is she was somehow conscious without a brain and that needs to be investigated because it’s very significant for us all I would have thought. Well, maybe not the sceptics.

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      • My run ins with “ideological” sceptics, whether it be about NDEs, or the origins of life, have left me with a healthy aversion to engaging with them at all. One thing I found fascinating, and a little surprising, from the video of last year’s rounds was the reference that Parnia mentioned about 60 odd percent of scientists and physicians believing in God. It shouldn’t surprise me, since I am a scientist myself and science is one of the reasons I have faith…did I ever mention I wrote a book about DNA and the origins of life 🙂 ?

        This is why I avoid forums like skeptico when it comes to this subject…not interested in fruitless mud slinging. On other subjects, yes, but this….no.

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      • @Ben

        Interesting, Ben and yes I did know about your book, hope it’s a success for you.
        As regards the sceptics, I’m of course referring to the self professed guardians of science and reason (that’s the way they see themselves) who won’t even consider that they might be wrong or any evidence that contradicts their worldview.

        But science isn’t a position, it’s a method. It’s not scientific to ignore thousands of
        well researched, consistently verified case reports just because they don’t fit previous conceptions. That’s just dogma and prejudice of the same kind that science categorises religion.

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  7. David on said:

    Let me tell you about the lead UAP skeptic. He tried to tell the former head of the program that our navy pilots were finding to recognize air plane exhaust and the he the sceptic could tell third and needed no more information.
    Then the DNI said we the feds have tons of data on these things and the Pentagon is 99 % sure we are dealing with an unknown non human intelligence.

    Hey UFO Twitter like a month to flame keeps tweeting the skeptics.

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    • Certainly is, Z well spotted ! After a quick look through it, I can’t see anything that
      we aren’t already aware of. According to this (below) the incidence of CPR induced consciousness is very low, unless I’m reading it incorrectly.

      “Based on 2 observational studies [Olaussen 2016 44; Doan 2020 769] with 39569 patients, CPR induced consciousness has an estimated true prevalence rate of between 0.23% to 0.7%. (average 0.5%)”

      That amounts to around 200 patients out of nearly 40,000. If 40,000 patients had a cardiac arrest and were able to be revived (in theory) then 10-20% should report an NDE, just in theory. So if we take the lowest percentage (10%) that’s 4000 NDE’s.

      So by my reasoning (and apologies if my reasoning is flawed or plain wrong) the hypotheses that CPR induced consciousness (whatever the cause) can account for NDE’s isn’t even remotely plausible, as 150-200 patients is only 5% of the 4000 patients with NDE.

      There may of course be other ways of analysing this, which may need further thought.

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      • I think your reasoning is good, but I don’t think we should under estimate the succour that such reports give to skeptics. The very fact that it happens, and that Parnia’s own data suggests that it is physiologically possible, means that this provides evidence that consciousness is possible without a heartbeat. However, what is absolutely certain is that consciousness is not possible without an EEG signal where one is taken.

        We know that this rare phenomenon does not account for NDEs, but until we have full datasets of either NDE/OBEs with no EEG and insufficient RO2 to support consciousness, or a validated visual OBE, then in my view we cannot completely discount this explanation from a scientific perspective.

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      • Can’t argue with that, Ben. Scientifically, of course we have to remain open to the possibility that NDE’s may yet have an explainable physiological cause. I don’t believe that personally, but it doesn’t matter what I think.

        There are other ways to slice that data (above) too; we could just concentrate on percentages of out of body experiences previously recorded in prospective studies or further narrow it down to just the veridical out of body experiences.

        But then we have to find out how many of those that appeared to be or reported being conscious during CPR actually had or claimed to have an out of body experience, from a position out and above the scene and were they able to see something that they couldn’t possibly have seen just because they had some awareness during their cardiac arrest?

        This is where NDE/OBE by CPR fails. If you are simply physiologically conscious and not really out of your body, then you can’t see what’s going on in the whole room from above in detail and down the hallway.

        As you say, we need to wait for more data.

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      • Tim, I agree with what you are saying, and would feel reasonably confident making the assumption that the people who experience the kind of consciousness during CPR that these rare cases document, are not having NDEs, but until the data comes in to prove that, it is just an assumption…albeit based on reasonable observations. Ultimately, the argument that these occurrences prove that NDEs are due to momentary states of physical consciousness is a straw man, but until we have data to completely burn it down, it is not worth engaging with more than to say what you do…namely the rarity of these instances does not account for the wider prevalence of NDEs nor the fact that NDEs sometimes occur before CPR has started or in the complete absence of any medical intervention. Just my thoughts.

        Like

      • Mery on said:

        @Ben

        I have been looking through the videos you posted.
        I can’t find the date you mentioned “march 2020”.
        I saw these videos last year, the first I believe corresponds to may 2019.
        The second video I believe corresponds to 2018 (since the title corresponds to a scientific talk for a Bolognia conference). Initially I thought it was from May 2019, when the results for the AHA poster were already analized for the abstract submission, and Parnia stated that actually they didn’t have enough data to confirm the NDE because people were not surviving.
        So I am veeeery confused now. In a posterior talk were he showed the first results with the EEG waves he stated that he would hypothesize that people with better oxigen levels would show EEG activity and therefore concious experiences during resuscitation. But that was just an hypothesis and nothing else trascended.
        I still believe they couldn’t correlate NDE/auditory memories with EEG data. Maybe the patient with the alpha waves died…

        Are there not any new conferences or videos about this?

        Liked by 1 person

      • @Mery, you may be right. I think what threw me was when he said that these were results “from a year ago” with a slide that said March 2019, but he did say that wasn’t completely correct. It is different from the May 2019 one where he presented at a lectern…here he is sitting down. Frankly, I have no idea…guess I’m just clutching at straws while we endure this ongoing radio silence from the Parnia lab!

        Like

  8. Side ways question. Is your first books aware of aware or cool about cool available to buy anywhere in paperback? Saw aware of aware but it in sage for near 1k us dollars

    Like

    • 1k US dollars! I think I made about 30 bucks in total from the sales of those. I have taken them down as they are just very badly written versions of my latest offering…which you have now helped improve 🙂 thank you. I’ve been flip flopping about publishing this…I published it then took it down, but I have finally decided to go ahead as Greyson didn’t really cover the topic of why only 10-20% of people have NDEs in sufficient depth. I feel it is a big issue and needs to be discussed more. It will be relaunched on KDP select and in paperback in a couple of weeks time.

      If you can’t wait for that I have a couple of dusty first editions of Aware of Aware in a box that I would be happy to pass on for $500 😉

      Like

  9. Ben,

    Have family who are in the health care industry in NYC. Last paragraph is completely accurate. Unfortunately with what happened with COVID, this project would have quickly looked like a study into how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. This probably set everything back 3-5 years.

    That is also part of my question as to whether you know if AWARE type studies are being done anywhere else?

    Like

    • The only one I could find in clinicaltrials.gov is this one:

      https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT04279171?cond=Near+death+experience&draw=2&rank=1

      I don’t think they are looking to validate OBEs though. I.m sure there are others out there, but the AWARE one is the most famous, and possibly the best funded and designed.

      I think the fact that Dr Parnia started the hypothermic study is a very positive thing since that occurred in the middle of the pandemic so will be recruiting now. I think 3-5 years may be a bit pessimistic for AWARE II…hard to say, but i suspect at the beginning of 2020 they were about 2/3rds the way through recruiting, so maybe by mid 2022 they will have completed recruited, then another year to process the data and write up. Who knows really though.

      Like

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