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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?

Rationale Behind the Hypothesis

So while we wait for the illusive AWARE results, I will briefly state the rationale behind my hypothesis:

“Even if the AWARE study only has one or two verified OBEs, then this will prove the existence of the soul.”

Firstly, let me qualify that statement as there is an element of hyperbole in the use of the word prove (I’m a writer, it’s in my nature). It’s an extreme position out of a spectrum of possible positions to take if the results of the AWARE study do indeed produce these results. The other extreme is “These patients were clearly told by a nurse or other attending healthcare professional (HCP) what the objects were.” Both are subjective based on personal bias. One comes from complete trust in the data and a pre-existing belief in the existence of the soul (my position). The other comes from complete distrust in the data and a pre-existing belief that there is no spiritual dimension to existence (the Atheist or materialist position).

So why do I have this pre-existing belief?

  • Personal experience: I have had various experiences over the years that have led me to be convinced that man has a soul, and that this part of our being exists beyond the end of physical life
  • Countless millions of others have also had similar experiences
  • Virtually every culture that has come into existence has also believed this (of course, since we all come from the same source, it is possible that our ancestors all inherited a false understanding from the original meme creator)
  • However, the most compelling piece of pre-existing data is the thousands of accounts from credible witnesses (patients and HCPs alike) who have reported NDEs with OBEs, many of these verified verbally by doctors who claim that there is no way the patient could have seen what they did unless they were actually outside of themselves.

From this wealth of pre-existing data about NDEs and the existence of the soul, and due to issues with the design of the original AWARE study, I am of the opinion that only one or two validated OBEs are needed to become the final piece of the jigsaw that proves the existence of the soul. In isolation, no, it would not be enough, but when combined with everything else, it is enough.

Of course there will be plenty who disagree.

Will we be aware of the results of AWARE by the end of the week?

I first became aware of the AWARE study back in 2008. I had become very interested in NDEs after briefly dating a girl who had experienced one herself, this in turn revived memories of my father’s NDE which had so intrigued me when he first described it to me. I read dozens of books on the subject and trawled the web for articles relating to it, and after absorbing the multitude of data, I came to the conclusion that it was highly likely that this was a real experience due to the high number of credible witnesses and the consistency across different demographics. But could I say that it was proven to be real? In all honesty, as a scientist, I could not.

As far as I could see the only way to prove that NDEs were real, was to prove that the OBE (Out of Body Experience) was real. This should be a fairly simple experiment, so I dug deeper to see if anyone had attempted this and that is when I came across the AWARE study. Unfortunately, at that stage it was only just beginning so I knew that there would be a long wait for the data to arrive. I decided to use that interval to write the book Aware of Aware, which I first published in January 2012. The premise of this book was a hypothesis based on my understanding of the design of the AWARE study (abstract on horizon website) , and that due to various factors, only one or two people would need to have proven OBEs to validate NDEs and all the associated core elements.

Over the intervening years there have been a number of dates floated around as to when the results would be available. Firstly it was some time in 2012, then it got pushed back to the end of 2012, early 2013. Anyone who has followed this with the kind of interest I have, will have raised their hopes when Dr. Sam Parnia, an emergency physician and the lead investigator of the study, published his book Erasing Death ( The Lazarus Effect in the UK). Alas, whilst the book itself was very interesting, there was only a hint at the results which he stated at that stage had not produced any positives with regard to proving the reality of OBEs. He also mentioned that the initial results from the study would be published formally in the Fall of 2013. The months of September and October were initially mentioned, then in an interview in Der Spiegel in July, Dr. Parnia very specifically stated that it would be November.

Well here we are, November 24th, and still nothing from the great Dr. Parnia (and I am not being facetious, as I know that he has stuck his neck out a long way in a field dominated by materialist thinking). Have there been a couple of last minute confirmed OBEs that made it worth delaying the publication? Or has he been so busy in his day job of saving lives that he hasn’t been able to spare the time for writing up? Whatever the reason for the delay, he has 7 more days to fulfill his promise.

I for one am on tenterhooks!


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