AwareofAware

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

Silence is golden

Firstly, thank you to all those who downloaded the first 3 chapters of my attempt at a novel (over 300 so far). However, bar a few positive comments, the silence has been deafening, which leads me to conclude that the book is not really going to be worth pursuing further. While disappointing, this is valuable for me to know, and unless there are a significant number of positive comments about the book in the next few days, it will die…which brings me on to the latest post on the Parnia Lab’s Instagram feed.

Parnia lab post

There is nothing new from a research perspective, but I do have reservations about this statement:

Near Death Experiences are different from recalled experiences of death.

This position has arisen from Parnia’s long struggle to precisely define the experiences his lab have been reporting on, and his (and other’s) dissatisfaction with the term NDE and the way that it has come to embrace a multitude of different experiences.

I get that, I really do, however, in doing so he/they are going against the global understanding of what an NDE is. The vast majority of people, who are not familiar with the contents of the consensus paper, or some of the accounts from IANDS, would understand a Near Death Experience to be precisely the same as a recalled experience of death. In other words if you were to ask your regular person what they understand a Near Death Experience to be they would say it was an experience that someone described after they died and then came back to life.

I agree that the term Recalled Experience of Death is more precise, but to suddenly change the meaning of the term NDE into something that most people do not understand it to mean, seems a bit premature.

What do you think?

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73 thoughts on “Silence is golden

  1. Eduardo on said:

    (Apple translation of original comment below,so may be wrong)

    I don’t think… For Parnia, remembered death experience is synonymous with near death experience. And it aims to differentiate it, for example, from a dream that can be achieved when waking up from coma after the patient has been resuscitated. That’s how I see it.

    [Creo que no…Para Parnia experiencia recordada de muerte es sinónimo de experiencia de muerte resl. Y lo pretende diferenciar por ejemplo de un sueño que se puede llegar a tener al ir despertando del coma después de que haya el paciente haya sido reanimado. Así lo veo.yo.]

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    • I agree that he is differentiating, but I am not sure I agree with doing that. the term NDE has come to encompass a whole range of experiences over the years, but in the understanding of 99% of people on planet earth, REDs would be included within that range of experiences, and probably for the majority, would be the only understanding of it. Therefore suddenly saying that NDEs do not mean what people believe it to mean, is going to be disconcerting for those outside the research community, and given that this is a subject of popular interest, that means many would be confused by this position.

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  2. Hello.
    I agree with Eduardo in that Parnia is trying to focus that the difference is whether the experience happened during clinical death or not (the statement “the survivors of both death and near-death situations” clarified). Because in the kind of research Parnia does you try to obtain a sample as homogeneous as possible to fully understand a phenomenon. The contents of the experience might seem similar but the clinical context isn’t and Parnia tries to separate groups on behalf of research I believe.

    However you are right Ben, it can be confusing, and I hope people who had a NDE while not in clinical death don’t feel understimated or put aside now. I don’t believe that is the in ntention of Parnia…

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  3. And after reading the article they are talking about in the Instagram post, I believe they are only trying to politely say “remember this guy was not dead, our patients were”. Nothing more. But at the end of the day, maybe the experience is basically the same. But it will definitely confuse people…
    Maybe renaming the whole thing RED was not so necessary after all, maybe just for research they could have set strong inclusion criteria, such as clinical death, but then again, Parnia seems to try to avoid comparing patients with different clinical status.

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    • I think that it would be better to state that the Near death Experience encompasses a range of experiences, with some overlap in terms of phenomenology despite different physiological parameters. Then to include REDs as a sub-category of NDE that has to meet specific physiological criteria. this would be in line with their consensus statement, and would avoid the confusion that saying “they are different” will inevitably produce. In addition to REDs you could have RECs, recorded experience of Coma, as the other main sub-category of NDE. Also, you could add in CIPRIC, and disturbing episodes as sub categories (although from my understanding, and contrary to the consensus statement, there are negative REDs too).

      I know that Parnia, and others, have a problem with the term “Near”, but given that people’s understanding of death is different, and that in fact even scientifically now the precise moment of actual death is becoming harder to nail down, I think that using the word Near is very helpful as they were near to death.

      Anyway, this is what it has come to in the absence of new data, fussing over acronyms 🙂

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  4. Shawn O'Brien on said:

    First, I’m sorry I didn’t have a chance to read your chapter. My silence was not a reflection of your writing. I haven’t been reading much fiction lately. I think I understand where Parnia is coming from, as I just heard somebody say he had an NDE, but I personally would not consider his experience to be an NDE. So it seems the public is already using the term in different ways and is confused on exactly what it means. I think the RED term is more precise, with less chance of confusion, when it comes to generic use by laypeople. For researchers, there needs to be a taxonomy of a variety of terms, all with precise operational definitions, if the science is to be advanced in a meaningful way.

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  5. As I understand this, it’s really just about moving the debate on, once and for all. Many people that have reported NDE’s, have certainly had the experience when their brains were not functioning. We know that but sceptics have refused to concede, coming up with evermore creative objections and we all know what they are.

    Parnia is obviously not going to say this, but what is at stake here is the future of physicalism that currently reigns. NDE’s have always challenged that and because the stakes are so high, they’re not going to let go it. One only needs to look at the mountain of vitriol on the net around this issue, to see that. So, the definition had to be tightened up simply to remove the “wriggle room” fuelling the debate. Otherwise the debate will never move on.

    Recalled experience of death has to mean that the patient retained full consciousness without a functioning brain, which according to reductionist science is impossible. By using this new precise term, only related to patients that were actually dead (for at least five minutes), they eliminate the critics.

    Of course, that’s a ‘high bar’ and Parnia has to come up with the evidence that this really happens. He has to have recollections that can only have occurred during that flatlined period.

    When he has enough of those (and this is going to take time) I suspect that the sceptics will eventually have to let go and then the arguments about nearly dead, a bit dead, not quite dead enough, can be put aside and the term near death experience won’t be so controversial. So maybe it won’t matter anymore. Who knows.

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    • Shawn O'Brien on said:

      I agree that most scientists are materialists (physicalists), and the lay public often confuses the two. Even many practicing scientists seem to forget that “science” is short for “scientific method,” and that this method does not depend on, nor has it proven, the materialism hypothesis. As philosopher of mind (and AI scientist) Bernardo Kastrup explains, “Science tells us how nature BEHAVES. It does NOT tell us what it IS.” But materialism is a difficult hypothesis for many scientists to relinquish. They can always say that a person who is resuscitated was never actually dead, since not all of their cells died. (The brain dies relatively quickly without oxygen, but a person receives oxygen during cardiopulmonary resuscitation, and need for oxygen can be reduced by cold temps). If a person rises from the dead with memories after 3 days without oxygen, that MIGHT convince the materialists, or NOT! 🙂

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      • Hi Shawn,
        it is possible that things have changed since 2009, but at that time just over half of scientists ( https://www.pewresearch.org/religion/2009/11/05/scientists-and-belief/_) had some sort of belief. I am a scientist and believe in God, and while many of my colleagues are less open about their faith, I have had many come forward over the years and tell me that science has actually undermined their materialism.
        I don’t think we need someone to be dead for 3 days, we just need a scientifically verifiable recollection of an event (e.g. time-stamped image flashed on a screen) that occurred while the patient was scientifically proven to be physiologically incapable of being conscious (flat ECG and EEG). That is what we have been waiting for for over 10 years now.

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      • @Shawn

        Shawn said >”They can always say that a person who is resuscitated was never actually dead, since not all of their cells died. ”

        Hi, Sean ! This comes up a lot, ‘they weren’t really dead’ unless they stayed dead. In fact when someone’s heart stops, that is the first stage in the process of death and that process (the destruction of the cells in the brain and body) can take many hours depending on the circumstances, according to the experts.

        When the heart has stopped, it doesn’t mean they aren’t dead. They are dead, but there is the possibility (because of resuscitation science) that they can be brought back.

        So why are they dead even when they can be brought back ? Simply because, if nothing is done to that patient, if the patient is just left alone (as in DNR’s) then that patient will STAY dead. They are dead when their hearts stopped and they were still dead when nothing was done.

        There was a case in Japan of a young lady who committed suicide in a forest. She was found the next day and according to her core temperature, had been dead for about 12 hours or so. They tried CPR for a long time and of course it didn’t work.

        Nearly anywhere else in the world (certainly then), this young lady would have been taken to the morgue, but because Japan routinely utilised ECMO, extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, they gave her one last chance and hooked her up to that.

        She was eventually revived and walked out of the hospital 2 weeks later. Now the point is, no one can say that young woman wasn’t dead. In the UK, they would have taken her to the morgue without delay and when someone is in the morgue, no one says they are not dead, surely. She was dead, alright but resuscitation science made her undead.

        I’m not claiming any expertise BTW, these are just facts, even though they are always challenged for some reason.

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    • Hi Tim,
      I get the rationale behind why they have done what they have, and I agree that using the term RED leaves no wiggle room for alternative explanations and once proven explodes materialism. I have no objection to addition of the term RED to the field’s lexicon, what I object to is the way that the term NDE, which is used by the lay community to describe phenomena which include REDs, has now been redefined to be phenomena that are not REDs…at least that is what the statement in this post suggests.

      Wikipedia has not changed: “A near-death experience (NDE) is a profound personal experience associated with death or impending death which researchers claim share similar characteristics.”

      It does not feel good practise redefining the meaning of a word overnight by decree of a consensus statement. The way I look at it the following is a true statement:

      “All REDs are NDEs, but not all NDEs are REDs.”

      But according to the Parnia lab, unless I have misunderstood, they are saying the two are now mutually exclusive, which is enforcing their altered terminology on a world that has not agreed with this change.

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      • Good points, Ben ! I can’t really disagree with what you’ve said there. Of course, you are correct that some people have had all the features of an NDE without their hearts stopping or their brains ceasing to function. And to tell them that what they experienced was not the same as that which is encountered by those that have had a cardiac arrest, seems unfair.

        However, I don’t necessarily think that Parnia and his colleagues are issuing any kind of “decree” or “edict” to anyone else in that respect. Others can carry on calling them whatever they like, just that Parnia and his team who are the only ones that move this debate forward, are not. That’s my take on it, anyway. Might be wrong.

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      • It’s hard to say. Obviously, as a field leader, and with the backing of the members of the consensus group, he can claim to be in a position to redefine the terms. Whether anyone outside of the research field will follow suit remains to be seen. I guess if he has scientifically verified evidence of a RED, and he calls it a RED, then that could be the moment that everyone follows him.

        By the way, I always bridle at authority…if someone tells me to do something, I tend to go “why?” Or ignore them, or do something silly…it hasn’t always served me well!

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      • Eduardo on said:

        Ben, pero no te olvides que Parnia tiene la obligación de, si es un científico honesto y digno de ese nombre, informar en primer lugar sobre los hallazgos de su PRoPIA investigación: las ECMs que se producen EN EL CONTEXTO DE UN PARO CARDÍACO COMPROBADO.

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  6. Shawn O'Brien on said:

    I saw that Pew poll years ago, but thanks for the reminder. Sorry if I painted scientists with a broad brush, even though they ARE far less likely than the general public to believe in God/Higher Power. I wonder if the poll results would have been different had the question been posed, “Are you a materialist?” Polls about religion can be “messy,” because one’s cultural identity can get tapped, and all the messy trappings of tribalism. (I think the work of psychologists Jonathan Haidt and Sheldon Solomon is very illuminating when it comes to religious beliefs). Even if half of scientists believe in some sort of Higher Power, the half that doesn’t can be quite vocal and seem to have the power, at least within academic institutions that decide who gets grant money to study what. Not to mention we now live in an age of cancel culture and violent threats. I also wonder if non-materialism necessitates a belief in a Higher Power?
    https://mindmatters.ai/2021/08/non-materialist-science-is-wanted-dead-or-alive/

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    • No, non-materialism does not necessarily mean theism, but it begs the question…and in my book on the origin of life, I do answer that. Also, reports of the Being Of Light provide exceptionally strong corroborating evidence of the existence of a Higher Power, as I suggest in my book on NDEs.

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      • Ben said >”By the way, I always bridle at authority…if someone tells me to do something, I tend to go “why?”

        Me too ! I’m currently very unhappy about these new social edicts being forced upon us by a tiny minority, but that’s another issue of course.

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      • Indeed, and an issue I would rather not got onto this forum, although…it is an interesting question, and do REDs answer it? Do we retain our sexual identity when we die, or are our souls completely indistinguishable from their former physical “avatars”. Then there’s the whole reincarnation can of worms.

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  7. Shawn O'Brien on said:

    So just to be clear, I’m playing devil’s advocate here as to what a materialist would say. When it comes to NDE’s and death, I think what matters to them is brain death, because, per materialists, you can’t have an experience with a fully dead brain. Without oxygen, all the brain’s cells die relatively quickly at “room temperature,” so to speak. If it’s cold, it can survive much longer. It was reported that the woman in Japan had been dead for about 5 hours before they started ECMO. They didn’t report the ambient temperature, but if it was cold, that could explain her ability to be resuscitated without brain damage. Even Parnia says the cooling part is necessary. But the only place you’re going to get that is New York. I don’t want to be brought back with brain damage, even IF consciousness is primary and it creates the brain, there’s still a strong correlation between them!
    https://nypost.com/2013/03/10/back-from-the-dead-3/

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    • Hi again, Sean !

      The woman’s core temperature was 20 degrees C, that’s 17.5 degrees down from normal. Body temperature drops by one to two degrees every hour so at the very minimum (best) she had been dead for nearly nine hours and probably twelve, averaging it out.

      May I just point out something else which I think is important. When referring to brain death, this means the irretrievable loss of brain function and can be due to many factors according to the medical literature. If the brain cells have burst then that is brain death. If the lobes of the brain are irretrievably damaged (smashed) as in an a bad accident, that is brain death.

      Someone who is in cardiac arrest is not brain dead. They have no brain function but some expert physicians might say loosely refer to them as brain dead anyway meaning that their brain is off line. More so when they are utilising heavy anaesthesia. I only know this because I’ve asked some of the experts directly and it is rather confusing, I admit.

      Administering massive amounts of thiopental barbiturate(deep anaesthesia) to patients makes them brain dead according to the surgeons that operate on them but they can obviously be brought back. They are brain dead as in there is nothing going on in the brain. But said brain is still retrievable apparently.

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      • Shawn O'Brien on said:

        I don’t know if there are any journal articles about the lady in Japan with verifiable relevant information, but this article says she was rapidly cooled by the cold weather. If cooling weren’t essential to the success of resuscitation without brain damage, I can’t imagine Parnia would be saying it, or New York would have spent all that money. I’m not an expert, but my strictly intuitive definition of brain death would be “all brain cells are dead,” not simply that the brain is “off line,” as in not registering on an EEG. My intuition is that when all brain cells are dead, that person can’t be revived, and if that’s true, then materialists will not likely be convinced by NDE’s when the person was simply “off line.” I think NDE’s are interesting, but IMO, they aren’t one of the stronger arguments for non-materialism.

        https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2291113/Heart-machine-save-cardiac-patient-SEVEN-hours-apparently-died.html

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      • @Sean

        Sean said > “My intuition is that when all brain cells are dead, that person can’t be revived, and if that’s true, then materialists will not likely be convinced by NDE’s when the person was simply “off line.”

        Yes, of course, but that’s precisely what I was trying to say. But you can’t bring someone back who is literally/actually brain dead, can you. So if you say materialists won’t be convinced by Parnia’s patients telling their stories (cardiac arrest patients with their brains off line but not of course having been brain literally/actually dead) what will convince them ? Obviously nothing. So if that’s the case, what the point of Parnia’s study, all he has to work with is patients that were off line for a few minutes, doesn’t make sense. Never mind, lets leave it.

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      • It’s not the materialists we need to convince, it’s the fence sitters.

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    • Wiktor fiegler on said:

      @Ben
      to be honest when i started visiting this blog i was really pesymistic but later after these research Aware and one made by one oncologist i am more confident about how these things work. One guy posted a comment in one of your previous post, this one about brain, where he put article about brain activity after dmt and during death, and i am curious what an expert has to say about it
      (sorry for bad english)

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      • Shawn O'Brien on said:

        Again, I’m playing “materialist devil’s advocate” here. Yes, the the brain is electrically inactive (or low-active) both with NDE’s and also psychodelics. But there’s a lot we still don’t know about brain functioning, and I think a materialist would be unconvinced unless and until you prove a person has a phenomenological experience AFTER all their brain cells are dead, and I don’t think science will be proving that any time soon. It’s too bad we can’t measure whether brain cells are alive or dead from outside the skull. (A flatline EEG doesn’t prove brain cells are dead any more than a flatline ECG proves all heart cells are dead, which is good for transplant recipients!) I suspect a person with all-dead brain cells cannot be resuscitated, which is why Parnia keeps his patients cold, to keep their brain cells alive. I’d like to think NDE’s are evidence of consciousness after death, but when I put on my materialist hat, I can see the evidence at this point in time is inconclusive at best, and some might say underwhelming. I think there are other arguments (e.g., by Bernardo Kastrup) that present a stronger case for non-materialism, but I’m not sure it could ever be “proven” scientifically. For folks who are hopeful Parnia’s research will do that, I’m afraid they are likely to be disappointed. Parnia himself has said he is not trying to “prove” anything; merely improve rates of resuscitation. Maybe he actually means it. But I’m open! 🙂

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      • Wiktor fiegler on said:

        Sean, we have EEG of dying brain and psychodelics, and what i understood without help of Ben and Tim, is that during death we have gamma waves and some alpha beta, theta and delta waves, and when somebody uses DMT(the most popular theory what causes NDE) the alpha waves are going lower and delta waves go higher during the trip, that is what i read from articles, did i understood that correctly?

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      • Shawn O'Brien on said:

        Wiktor, as far as anybody knows, there has only been one case of a dying person having an EEG on at the time of death to record their brain waves, and it happened this year. (see link below). Because he had suffered injury, seizures and swelling, the authors of the study cautioned the results might not generalize to everybody. I’m not sure that we can draw any conclusions from it, since his brain cells were still alive when the EEG recordings took place, even though his heart had stopped. (Brain cells don’t die immediately after the heart stops pumping).
        This is an extremely difficult topic to study, which is why we know so little about it.

        https://blog.frontiersin.org/2022/02/22/what-happens-in-our-brain-when-we-die/

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      • Wiktor fiegler on said:

        Hi again Shawn, i have read and watched some interviews with Bernard Kastrup, and i must say, all he said is really interesting and makes sense, and the most important thing is that all he says was observed by scientists. I agree with most of his arguments.

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      • Shawn on said:

        Glad you found him interesting. Let me know if you ever find any definitive proof of anything! 🙂

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  8. I’ve heard Parnia say multiple times that the problem with the term near death experience is the the people weren’t near death, they were dead, a corpse. Then he goes on to say that death is not a black and white event, but a process that is potentially reversible in the early stages and when we do revive the patients, 10-20% will have recollections from that time when they were dead. Of course if they are not revived we can’t ask them what they experienced. So that’s why I think he’s using the term recalled experience of death. Correct me if I’m wrong but I believe you can experience a near death experience from an event that is perceived to be life threatening.

    I think the issue is him saying that death is a process makes it hard to define terms which is what he and others are working on.

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  9. Nemesis on said:

    Wiktor brain waves or dmt or anything like that explains the ecm point.

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    • Wiktor fiegler on said:

      what do you exactly mean, i am not sure that i did understood you right, i do not say that NDE or RED are caused by brain or DMT, these things cannot explain when someone can say how one girl died and nobody knew about it

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  10. New Instagram post from @ nyugsom_ccrs out now.

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    • Thanks Z. As usual, somewhat enigmatic. Meat for materialists and meat for believers, although slightly favouring the latter. However, he is only referring to moments in which there is measurable brain activity…this completely avoids the much more awkward discussion around OBEs or EVAs…no amount of brain activity can explain those.

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      • SeanD on said:

        There’s strangely been no mention of veridical perception in any of his recent interviews, only the subjective aspects of REDs. He’s also not elaborating on the “dimensions of reality” phrase, which is frustrating. This is some pretty profound and novel terminology for someone in his field to be using. I’d like to see him pressed a little more on this during his next interview.

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    • Thanks Z !

      The interview has been edited/shortened for whatever reason, maybe the phone went dead or something.

      “What about the tunnel of white light?

      (Parna) People report seeing a luminous, kind, and perfect entity that is perceived as a light because it is so luminous. It is not some random white light like we see when looking at a light.

      However, none of the aspects of the experience of death, whether the experience of a personified luminous entity or [a] perception of travel back home (the perception of a tunnel) are representative of the human experience of death.”

      I think what Parnia is actually saying here is that one element alone is never representative of the human experience of death. The features are consistent but they are also many and varied.

      As to the neural disinhibition, I’m glad he’s working with that. It means he will get more funding for Aware 3 and 4. All good !

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      • What I understand from the comments on desinhibition is that despite the brain is mostly flat there are markers of lucidity (observed as electrical activity)? This was also his comment in the Lucid dying pannel, but again (sorry, we already discussed this topic) the paper on REDs (see supplementary material) and the Bigelow essay stated that the brain was flat and dismissed any importance to the gamma waves findings. And they already had they own aware 2 results.
        So again, confusing. It feels like despite now defending the gamma waves, his general speech has turned more dualistic. At least that is my impression when I read his interviews, and watched the Lucid dying pannel.

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      • @Mery

        Mery said > ” What I understand from the comments on desinhibition is that despite the brain is mostly flat there are markers of lucidity (observed as electrical activity)?”

        Hi, Mery ! Yes, but it doesn’t make any sense and never did. One doesn’t need to be a brain expert to work this out. Doctors can’t just make up their own rules about the how the brain works. The text books are already written and there is a broad agreement on most physiological aspects.

        Reductionist materialist science says that the whole brain must work together to create thoughts, with reasoning and memory formation. That dying man’s brain was isoelectric. They said so. His brain was also massively damaged so if they think they were observing some conscious activity, from where was it coming ?

        How can a small area of brain that has never previously been able to create consciousness on it’s own, suddenly kick in and take over. And for what reason if the brain is all that there is and it’s about to be annihilated ?

        I’m sure if I was fortunate to sitting next to Parnia in the pub, he would say it’s absolute nonsense. Neurologists themselves have said that there are many reasons why this gamma activity is seen in dying brains and none of them are anything to do with consciousness. But as I’ve said, as long as he gets more funding, does it matter.

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    • Anthony on said:

      I have read the interview, and my feeling is that Sam Parnia moves between two lands. On the one hand, I think he knows perfectly well that near-death experiences are due to brain activity in the first moments after a person’s clinical death. On the other hand, he also mentions the issue of access to alternative dimensions. I think that at some point he will position himself in favor of the materialist evidence, but for now this is not the case. Looking forward to seeing the results of the study in the coming months

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      • Hey Anthony, good to hear from our resident sceptic since Chad moved on. Other than in these ambivalent articles where he gives a nod to researchers looking into this, and the possibility that this is the cause, he has never ever seriously attributed NDEs to brain activity in the few moments immediately after death and has repeatedly stated in numerous interviews, popular publications and indeed scientific articles, that this is a highly unlikely explanation.

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  11. Shawn O'Brien on said:

    Parnia said, “This disinhibition…seems to give people access to dimensions of reality that they would ordinarily not have access to…This may be important from an evolutionary perspective, as they may not be needed until we reach death.” Um, huh? While evolutionists may disagree on details, they all seem to agree that its purpose is to promote survival so one can pass along one’s genes. This would be impossible at death, so there cannot be an evolutionary purpose. Parnia also said, “This includes the experience of being able to recall every…detail in their lives and to evaluate the quality of their actions, intentions, and thoughts towards others.” What (if anything) do we know about this experience in malignant narcissists and psychopaths? Do they suddenly get a conscience during their NDE and experience regret, or do they think, “Torturing that person was such fun!” ??

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    • I like your thinking 🙂

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    • By the way Shawn, I have to manually approve every comment of yours…have you been naughty on other blogs or something because I have never had to do that before? However, I do like your thinking…there is no evolutionary benefit to NDEs ,especially given that prior to 1950 and the advent of CPR they were exceptionally rare. I think he is trying to walk an ever thinning tightrope by trying to please materialists and dualists at the same time.

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      • Shawn O'Brien on said:

        It’s hard to know Parnia’s true thoughts because he does seem to contradict himself at times. Either he is internally conflicted, or he’s trying to maintain his standing with materialist scientists, which would support my earlier contention that the powers-that-be in science are primarily materialists. I don’t do a lot of commenting, but when I do, I always try to be respectful even when disagreeing, and as far as I know, have never had comments deleted on other websites. I didn’t even know there was a Big Brother out there that would require you to manually approve my comments. Is it based on my email address? I have two of them, but the one I use here is personal, and not the one I normally use when commenting, so even more strange. My primary sin is that I’m long-winded!

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      • I have no idea what the reason, but your comments are always labelled as pending, so if they don’t appear straight away, then I am not on my iPad.

        Indeed, it is hard to know his true thoughts, as I said, he is enigmatic.

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  12. Cobra on said:

    I have a few questions. It would be kind if someone could help me out, as I’m no expert on the subject but very interested.

    Does really everyone have a life review? I was thinking some have, some not.

    Do people, who experience life review really experience their whole life by every second they have lived? I hear this the first time. I was under impression they would see parts of their lives, some highlights but not the whole life.

    At this point, isn’t it just guessing from Parnias’s side that the life review takes place when the brain shuts down, but some gamma wave is still recordable? How does he know it is the life review?

    Thanks alot. Thinking you could live your life once more by a whole life review is not that bad, but I’m wondering what it could mean to people who have suffered their whole lives and now have to go through it once more.

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    • Hi Cobra,
      I don’t know if everyone who has an NDE has a life review. In general the life review tends to occur after any OBE (if they have one) and after travelling “home” through the tunnel. Not everyone gets that far, not everyone has identical experiences…but there are common themes that are reported consistently.

      Again, reports suggest that the whole of life is reviewed, every detail, every second and the impact it had. You are now possibly outside of the dimension of time, so this happens in a blink of an eye.

      I suspect that Parnia knows full well that this is not happening when the brain shuts down, but is throwing a bone to the materialists. It is theoretically possible that the life review occurs as the brain shuts down, but as Tim as so expertly pointed on numerous occasions, the type of EEG signal associated with this shutdown is not consistent with the conscious activity. It is a materialist theory and the rat study and Feb 2022 case study provide a slither of circumstantial evidence.

      Like

      • Cobra on said:

        Thanks Ben, for explaining. Apprechiate it. If patients really experience every second of their life again, to them it must feel like decades passing by. Very fascinating. Also I didn’t expect the life review to be after the OBE and home coming.

        Like

    • Shawn O'Brien on said:

      Cobra, according to researchers at the University of Virginia, who have been studying NDE’s for over 50 years, life reviews are common but no, they do not happen to everybody. There is quite a bit of variability in what people experience, and for some, it is not a pleasant experience. The link below will take you to the UVA page on NDE’s where you can explore a wealth of information. At the bottom of the web page, there is a link to other resources, including books and podcasts. Most accounts of the life review indicate that one judges one’s actions in life through a moral lens. What really intrigues me is whether a psychopath with no capacity for empathy would suddenly have the ability to empathize and truly regret their actions that harmed others. Like, what was the life review like for Ted Bundy?

      https://med.virginia.edu/perceptual-studies/our-research/near-death-experiences-ndes/

      Liked by 1 person

      • Wiktor fiegler on said:

        here we have interesting case of nde. I found it in the internet, so i don’t know how much we can trust.
        ” This is what got me interested in NDEs:

        So my grandmother was not a nice person. She was one of the meanest, most vindictive people I’ve ever met. A malignant narcissist, physically and mentally abusive to my sweet, kind grandfather and absolutely nasty to anyone who wasn’t putting her on a pedestal. She was a monster to my mom.

        Anyway, she’s 93. Breaks her hip. Goes in for surgery. Touch and go, as it always is at that age. She survives.

        We go see her in recovery and she’s screaming and yelling and snarling names at my mother. So dad decided it was time to get dinner and get a break from her bs, so we go.

        She flatlined it soMething while we were gone and we come back.

        Walk into the room. She looks up from her bed, straight at my mom, with tears in her eyes and says ‘oh honey, I have been so, so horrible to you over the years. I have been an awful person. I am so sorry’

        This woman had never apologized in her life. Thunder struck is the world you’d use to describe us. She apologized for an hour and a half to my mom. Owned everytbing. Eventually we get out of her that she’d gone someplace ‘full of light’ and was surrounded by ‘beings’ who ‘told her everything she’d done wrong’ and helped her understand her life’ (we suspect she’d been abused as a child).

        From that day on, until her death, I got a new grandma: honest, kind, genuine and sweet. It was like someone flipped a switch and healed her mind. She was healthy in mind, cogent, and sharp (more so than she’d been by a mile). She was also hilarious afterwards, suddenly developing this impish, self deprecating sense of humor

        It was amazing. I’ve never seen the like.”

        Like

      • Shawn O'Brien on said:

        When I did a Google search, I saw that. It’s certainly interesting, if true. It was a response to a posed question, so who knows? I guess I need to dig deeper into the UVA research to see whether this topic has even been examined. They’re conducting research now on psychological traits among children who report documentable past lives, so hopefully they are doing this with NDE’s and looking for correlations between types of NDE experiences, including life reviews, and psychological traits.

        Like

      • That is a great NDE.

        Like

      • Cobra on said:

        Hello Shawn, thanks for the link, I’ll have a look at it.
        Good question, if a psychopath would experience empathy. I believe I’ve read somewhere that psychopaths have differently developed brain areas than people who experience empathy. I could imagine that they might feel empathy during the life review, if it is uncoupled from the brain, but as they return in their body, they have the same brain as before, which might surpress empathy again? But I’m only guessing, could be nonsense ;o)

        Like

      • Shawn O'Brien on said:

        You’re correct that psychopaths have differences in both brain structure and function than non-psychopaths (link below). They’re hoping to find treatments. Maybe have an NDE! Or a psychodelic trip! I wonder if that would literally change their brains? Does the brain create consciousness, or does consciousness create the brain? Of course, not everybody has a life review, and not all NDE’s and psychodelic trips are positive, so maybe it would only help some to have a moral conversion. Do we have any free will in this matter? So many questions…

        https://www.med.wisc.edu/news-and-events/2011/november/psychopaths-brains-differences-structure-function/#:~:text=The study showed that psychopaths,which mediates fear and anxiety.

        Liked by 1 person

  13. Kent Kiehl has been doing this research for decades now. Leaving aside whether or not his analysis of the brain scans and comparisons with non psychopaths have any value in determining the likelihood of that person to offend, he is also working with the assumption that the brain is all we are, and there is no separate mind. And I think that is untenable for many reasons.

    If we are just brains, a collection of billions of neurons, connected together with chemicals and electricity, then no one can legitimately be held responsible for anything. They didn’t “do it”, their faulty brain committed the crime ! There is no in there (no self/soul) to hold responsible in the first place, just a three pound, slightly misfiring lump of protoplasm. A rogue robot, basically.

    This kind of nonsense has been peddled since the early twentieth century by psychologists and behaviourists trying to save the world from what they perceive as irrational and unnecessary, namely a belief that mankind has a soul.

    But it can’t be made to work, because they can’t explain how the piece of meat (the brain) could ever give rise to consciousness, they just assume that it must.

    Furthermore, if we were to break into the houses of these psychologists while they were espousing this piffle at their conferences, and steal all their possessions, they wouldn’t forgive us and let us off with the excuse that it was just our brains that did it.

    They would prosecute. So would Kent Kiehl and for that reason alone it’s enormous hypocrisy and hubris.

    Like

    • Shawn O'Brien on said:

      Sounds like somebody doesn’t like psychologists! I couldn’t find a survey like the Pew poll of hard scientists, but I know a lot of psychologists (including me). I don’t know many strict behaviorists any more. (I’m primarily a Rogerian humanistic psychologist, and have also been influenced by solution-focused therapy.) I don’t find behaviorism very useful for humans except in limited circumstances. Works good on my dog, though. One of my favorite cognitive psychologists is Donald Hoffman. You might like his thesis:

      Click to access ConsciousRealism2.pdf

      Liked by 1 person

      • You seem to make a lot of assumptions, Sean. I didn’t say I don’t like psychologists. One of my oldest friends is a professor of Psychology, very nice guy. Rather, I just do not agree with the standard belief/doctrine of psychologists that “the self” is an illusion.

        If you are a psychologist, may I suggest that you formulate your posts a little more precisely as I find some of them rather confusing. And when I tried to reply to a couple of them, you seemed not be able to understand what I was getting at and then went off at a tangent.

        I know my stuff about NDE’s, I’ve been studying them for 47 years, so you’ll have to forgive me if I seem a bit irritable (well, you don’t have to forgive me, you can tell me to pip off, fair enough). Plenty of stuff I don’t know, I can assure you.

        Like

      • Shawn O'Brien on said:

        You said, “This kind of nonsense has been peddled since the early twentieth century by psychologists and behaviourists trying to save the world from what they perceive as irrational and unnecessary, namely a belief that mankind has a soul.” I shouldn’t have said you don’t “like” psychologists. I’m sure it’s nothing personal. But it does sound like you’re saying all (most?) psychologists think that people are irrational if they believe mankind has a soul. I know many psychologists who are religious, and I’m not sure where you’re getting your information about psychologists. Now you’re saying psychologists have a “standard/belief doctrine” that “the self is an illusion.” The American Psychological Association definition of “self” is linked below. It references many different theories about “self,” but none of them mention that it is illusory. Maybe you’re confusing psychologists with neuroscientists, since most of them tend towards materialism, and often present their ideas as “fact” when they’re actually theories. I didn’t even mention NDE’s in my post you referenced, so I obviously did not suggest that you didn’t “know your stuff” about NDE’s. I’m also sorry if you find my posts confusing. Making a generic statement like that doesn’t help me improve, but if you could provide a specific example of what I said that confused you and why, I’d be happy to do my best to clarify. Thanks. Ben, I hope this passes muster.

        https://dictionary.apa.org/self

        Liked by 1 person

      • All good with me 🙂

        Like

    • FourDoorThreat on said:

      “Furthermore, if we were to break into the houses of these psychologists while they were espousing this piffle at their conferences, and steal all their possessions, they wouldn’t forgive us and let us off with the excuse that it was just our brains that did it.”

      I think Parnia hinted at something similar during the Zoom talk back in March. I think the analogy he used was even the biggest materialists aren’t going to be happy if someone slaps or punches them. They aren’t going to hand wave away the pain they feel as merely chemical reactions in the brain, nor are they going to say that to justify the assaulter’s actions.

      Like

  14. @Shawn O’Brien

    Shawn said >” I’m sure it’s nothing personal. But it does sound like you’re saying all (most?) psychologists think that people are irrational if they believe mankind has a soul. I know many psychologists who are religious, and I’m not sure where you’re getting your information about psychologists.

    Shawn, this really is rather bizarre, I have to say but bizarre is okay, you seem like a very, nice polite guy. Academia, in the UK and the USA, is in the control, by and large by those who have been educated in the standard doctrine (the dogma) of physicalism, reductionist materialism, use whatever definition you prefer.

    If for some reason you don’t know this, then I’m not sure what to say. I know it, my oldest friend knows it and everyone who I have ever spoken to about this subject, knows it as well. If you don’t, frankly, I am truly amazed.

    Maybe when you apply for your next job, tell them that you don’t believe that the mind is created by the brain and that there is a divine intelligence responsible for the universe. Let me know how you get on.

    As to your post that I found illogical, you made a statement that materialists would only accept testimony from someone who had been brain dead, meaning his/her brain/cells were irretrievably damaged. Since someone with an irretrievably damaged brain could never come back to life again to tell the story, I don’t know how that demand could ever be met.

    No serious materialist sceptic that I have spoken to, has ever made such an unscientific proposition. I was going to reply at the time but no one seems to be interested in facts, even the basics, so I just let it go. Who cares.

    Like

    • Shawn O'Brien on said:

      Hi Tim….thanks for saying I’m a “nice, polite guy,” but you’re wrong. I’m a female, but hopefully the other 2 adjectives apply. I’m aware that hard science departments in academia are largely controlled by materialists, and in fact, I said that in a post. I got some push-back from Ben. Maybe it was more about scientists being mostly materialists that he gave me some push-back on, citing a Pew Poll. It may depend on the setting in which you work. With MD’s like Parnia, he is in both worlds, clinical and academia, which may be why he sometimes seems contradictory. As I said in a post, I think the materialist scientists have most of the power to decide things like tenure, grants, etc., no disagreement with you at all on that. Luckily, I’m not in academia, as I’ve always worked in K-12 schools and private practice. Because of my husband’s career, I’ve had to move a lot, so I’ve been in many job interviews in schools. This subject has NEVER come up, not even tangentially, since it’s simply not relevant to the job. If I told them I was religious (and thus obviously not a materialist), nobody would have had a problem with that, since many of them were religious. In my 8 years of psychology coursework, both undergraduate and graduate, I only recall one professor bringing up briefly that she was a materialist. It’s just not relevant to what psychologists do. You’re right that a person dead for 3 days would never be able to be resuscitated. When I said that’s what it would take to convince a materialist, that was my facetious way of saying NDE’s will likely never convince a materialist. Cheerio!

      Liked by 1 person

      • @Shawn

        Shawn said >” thanks for saying I’m a “nice, polite guy,” but you’re wrong. I’m a female”

        Oh well, we’re all one or the other, or we used to be, that is. And yes the other two adjectives certainly do apply. BTW there’s no need to leave this blog (Ben’s blog certainly not mine) just because of what we’ve said or I’ve said, as far as I’m concerned you are most welcome.

        Robust discussion is the life blood of places like this and there’s no bad feeling behind any of it as I’m sure you’re aware. I would, however, just like to point out another “error” though, this time in your last post.

        Shawn said >”If I told them I was religious (and thus obviously not a materialist), nobody would have had a problem with that, since many of them were religious”

        This is absolutely correct. No one >would< have a problem with it, I agree. But the reason for that is simply because you are talking about a different thing altogether, namely religion. Academics don't worry about religion. If you declare yourself to be religious, that's allowed because it's seen as a matter of faith, not science, hence not a threat to them or their science books.

        They don't care if you believe in a divine being, pulling the strings from somewhere up near Jupiter (I'm being sarcastic to make the point). So the point you were making is not a good or a relevant one, in my estimation. Isn't that fair ?

        NDE's, however are an enormous threat to their world view and their text books. That is why there is such fierce resistance amongst materialist science.

        Why not stick around? In a few months this blog will be rocking. Either with the sceptics wildly celebrating or the proponents say I told you so.

        Like

      • Shawn O'Brien on said:

        Hi Tim….I agree that robust discussions in which disagreements are tolerated are a good thing. I wasn’t contemplating leaving the blog. Perhaps my comment to Ben made you think that. He had asked me if I’d been “naughty” elsewhere, because he had to review my posts and allow them manually. I don’t know why, because I always try to be respectful when disagreeing with somebody. Also, I don’t do a lot of commenting because it’s very time consuming, so if you don’t see me on here, that would be the reason. I agree with you that materialism and religion are not the same thing, although an authentic belief in a Higher Power DOES require a belief in non-materialism. However, in response to my question in a post, Ben responded that belief in non-materialism doesn’t necessitate a belief in a Higher Power, or as he put it, theism. But I think if you asked most religious people about materialism (after first explaining it), they would reject it because they would understand that to accept it means rejecting a belief in both God and an after-life. Anyway, I used religion as a proxy for materialism simply because I’m pretty sure that NOBODY in any of my job interviews would have thought to bring up materialism. I suspect that most of them have never even thought much about it. Your final statement was interesting, although I don’t know what you’re referring to. Has Parnia announced he’ll be releasing findings soon? You said that either the skeptics will be wildly celebrating OR the proponents will be saying I told you so. My prediction is slightly different: the skeptics will be wildly celebrating AND the proponents will be saying I told you so. I also predict that Parnia will NOT suggest that his findings are evidence of life-after-death, regardless of the outcomes. Humans are great at coming up with justifications for their beliefs, especially when they are deeply held beliefs. (Yes, that’s the psychologist in me speaking, especially channeling Jonathan Haidt). It would very interesting to see what skeptics would say of positive NDE findings about the functioning of the brain. They might have to create an entirely new model of brain functioning. That will keep them busy! In the meantime, I’m listening to a fascinating recent podcast by Bernardo Kastrup, who has convinced me that non-materialism makes sense more than the NDE literature has. He does talk about NDE’s and psychodelic experiences, including his own. He uses them more to illuminate/describe consciousness than to support his non-materialist arguments. For that he relies primarily on physics and logic. Gotta run! Life is busy!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Shawn, like I said, no problem with you posting here…good to see a lively discussion. I think you are wrong about Parnia though, he has already intimated that the consciousness persists for at least a short period after death, so that is effectively life after death. It would also be very unscientific to not consider the possibility that it persists indefinitely.

        Anyway, as Tim said, this forum may well light up in the Fall if the data is interesting. I will be starting a new job, but will keep my eye on things!

        Like

      • Dr Reincarnation on said:

        @ tim
        Tim said: Why not stick around? In a few months this blog will be rocking. Either with the sceptics wildly celebrating or the proponents say I told you so.

        but the matter will not be a foregone conclusion?
        There will be still hope for non materialism?

        Like

      • I agree. It’s very hard for the sceptics to prove a negative.

        Like

  15. @Shawn

    Thanks, Shawn. I won’t respond to the points about Parnia, not because I don’t have anything to say, rather because it wouldn’t add anything useful to the discussion. People must draw their own conclusions from the data we already have and that which is currently pending.

    @Ben I only wish I could be a fly on the wall in Parnia’s office/lab. I’m defintely not expecting any visual hits of the lap top target, though, that’s for sure.

    @ Dr Reincarnation Personally, I think materialsm has already been falsified, I think the data is there.

    Like

    • @Tim, why are you not expecting any visual hits? Do you have inside information, or have you been part of the paper publication process? Or is it just based on the numbers involved in this study, which seem to have not grown much since 2019, and therefore would be unlikely from a statistical point of view to have produced a hit?

      Like

      • @Ben

        Absolutely the latter, Ben, and yes for no other reason than he can’t possibly have had enough OBE’s to test it properly. The recruited numbers didn’t increase anywhere near enough from 2019. And as for being part of the publication process. in my dreams.

        As I’ve said (like a broken record) they must have something notable, otherwise why the instagram bait ?

        Like

  16. Found this folks, Sam Parnia interview (published August 4).
    https://neo.life/2022/08/your-brain-at-the-moment-of-death/

    Still on message, looks like.

    Like

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