AwareofAware

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

Archive for the tag “aware study results 2014”

As I said before…

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

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

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

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

The numbers:

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

Other noteworthy facts from the study:

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

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

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

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

Why Do We See a Decline In Reports Of NDEs With Age?

Over the past month I have summarized the key findings from the 3 main prospective studies looking into NDEs that all reported their results in the early 2000s. Since then there have been no large trials of this kind reporting in major medical journals – the research has reached a point where using the methods of the time, no more results of genuine academic interest will be discovered. The Parnia pilot study, like all the others, had established that NDEs were relatively rare (about 10%) and that there would need to be a very large number of Cardiac Arrest (CA) survivors to produce a “proven” out of body experience (OBE), the ultimate scientific result. Dr. Parnia and his team of co-investigators set up the AWARE study in 2008, with the objective of recruiting just such a high number in the hope of discovering this “smoking gun”.

If the NDE is real, and the OBE is a real element of NDEs, then it is inevitable that one day the AWARE study will produce one or more proven OBEs, and that afterwards more studies will produce an increasing number of similar results. This is the baseline that I assume in the book Aware of Aware, because for me, someone who has always believed in the existence of the soul, and having encountered credible people who have told me about their NDEs (usually reluctantly), this result is not the most interesting that can come out of this area of research. It is a bit like when man first went into outer space, or reached a high enough altitude to notice the curvature of the earth, the observation that the earth was not flat was not a surprise. So it is with believers in NDEs, a proven OBE will only tell us what we already knew. However, for the large numbers who don’t believe that NDEs are real or that the soul exists, this piece of evidence is crucial, and in my view has the potential to be the most important scientific finding ever as it will end the materialistic view that modern man has developed of life and his own existence.

For me, one of the most interesting findings from NDE studies is the correlation between age at the time of CA and reporting an NDE. The most common and palatable explanation for this is that the ability to report declines with age due to loss of memory function. This seems like an acceptable hypothesis until you look into it in a bit more detail.

Firstly, it is just a hypothesis. None of the three studies performed prospective investigations to link memory function with reporting an NDE – (there were no differences in psychological factors between experiencers and non-experiencers). To link memory directly to reporting an NDE would require adding a comprehensive memory test, or questionnaire, to the interviews that were conducted.

Personally, I am not convinced about the lack of NDEs in older patients being memory related. The first reason for this is the huge difference between reports of NDEs in the young (especially pre-adolescent) and old, with younger patients having an incidence of more than 50%. Whilst memory function does decline with age, older people do still report NDEs, so it is not the fact that a younger brain has a unique ability to remember this kind of experience. Nor can age-related decline in function account for such a huge disparity. Unless a patient has Alzheimer’s, older people do still remember dreams and recent events, maybe not quite so well, but the differences of reported events would require a decline of function many orders of magnitude higher than is generally the case.

Another very interesting piece of data that comes out of the Van Lommel study is the fact that women are more likely to have an NDE than men. In the Dutch study the overall incidence of reported NDE is 12%, however with women it is 21% (p=0.011 – p values relate to statistical significance; in general a p value lower than 0.05 is considered statistically significant as there is less than a 1 in 20 chance that this outcome could have occurred randomly). The fact that women were on average 5 years older, is also directly relevant to this discussion (mean age for men 61 vs 66 for women).

To put this result into the context of the issue of memory being the driving factor behind age related differences in reporting of NDEs, for this to be true, a 61 year old man would have to be nearly twice as likely to have severe memory problems as a 66 year old woman. This doesn’t ring true, and there is nothing in the literature to support this. There was some recent data to suggest minor differences between sexes with regard to reported changes in memory (in the HUNT3 study, Holmen et al. reported that 1.2% of women and 1.6% of men, aged 30-89, reported severe memory problems, changing to 0.9 vs 1.5% age range 60-69), but this does not account for the differences in reported NDE. Incidentally this study also showed that there was little difference in reports of severe memory problems between younger and older patients, however there was an increase in reporting of some minor memory problems as age progressed, but this again would not account for the greater than 5-fold difference between reports of NDEs in young subjects vs old.

So what is going on? For me that is the biggest question of all. If physiological and psychological factors cannot account for age related reduction in reporting of NDEs then maybe there is some other “unscientific” factor. Given that we are entering uncharted territory with regard to science potentially proving the existence of the soul, it should not be surprising that conventional science cannot answer questions regarding the incidence of NDE occurrence.

In Aware of Aware I propose some potential answers as to why it is that we observe these differences in reporting of NDEs, including the potential for Soul Death. Such an idea might be extremely disturbing to some, but to those familiar with various religious texts, this is very familiar.

I have a favor to ask regular readers of this blog. For a short time (till the end of June) I will be making Aware of Aware available at the lowest price Amazon will allow. If you have the time, and want to help me, please could you buy a copy, read the book and then do one of two things:

  1. If you enjoy the book and feel it is relevant to the discussion, post a review on Amazon.
  2. If you don’t enjoy it, please refrain from posting a negative review at this stage, rather, please could you contact me through this site, using the “contact me” link in the header or complete the form below and let me know how I could improve it.

(to buy click on one of the links below to Aware of Aware or search on your local Amazon site in either the kindle or book section – NB: it’s not always on the first page of a search!):

Aware of Aware US Amazon Kindle ($0.99)

Aware of Aware US Amazon Hard Copy (should be $7.63 by end of June 2nd)

I will shortly be updating the book with some of the data that I have been posting here, as well as trying to improve the overall content in any other ways possible, so your suggestions or comments would be very timely.

Cheers!

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