An interesting article on scientific explanations of near-death / out-of-body experiences

by cedars 95 Replies latest jw friends

  • Juan Viejo2
    Juan Viejo2

    I didn't see anyone reference this earlier (sorry if I missed it), but Dr. Oliver Sacks is a very credible physician. The book and movie "Awakenings" was an autobiographical story about his early career. I still consider him to be very enlightened and open to new ideas. I think he is on to something...


  • prologos

    I am glad to look into the depth of the discussion here. thank you.

    I had several experience out of consciousness and conclude there is no survival of mind after brain death.

    In the 1930s I was "put out" for operations by chloroform/ether. I heard churchbells, hammering. They had a lot of church bells those days. I fought desperately not to have to take those chemicals again.

    @design, --just like the story you tell, I had a widow-maker heart attack on the beach, readying for surfing. !5 minutes later (I thought) I was loaded into a helicopter for surgery far away. elapsed time: 12 hours, -- of that 8 hours gone out of my mind with out a trace. no out of body experiences what so ever. not at all like dreams that I sometimes vividly remember. but I heard that surgery personel are warned not to make off- color remarks about their patients, because even if unconscious they might hear and retain.

    I fell off my roof in Florida, dont remember a thing because I banged my head. brainfunction interrupted. (well I remember the 5000.- medical diagnostic bill) I fell again, 16 feet at age 75, remember it all the way down, head protected, brain function continued. my conclusion and I know:

    brain function is the remembering mind. For me its solice for the passengers in those 4 planes and the jumpers on 9/11. its too fast to register.

    @ski forever. How about Maria the migrant worker? she probably could not believe her good fortune, $100 000 plus of free medical work that would bankrupt lesser tax-paying citizens. Did she believe her out -of- body, heavenly, special experience?, absolutely! but it would not have surprised her perhaps if more good monetary fortunes , largesse was forthcoming. remember Lourdes and the other Maria.

    @GromitSK: consciousness outside the brain?: --Show me please.

    of course we have a picture of the OUTSIDE world in our brain/minds. but it is an hologram created by brain function AS I OBSERVE IN MY CASE. its all possible because

    Our brains are reputed to be the most complex systems in the universe. it even has its own build in/around safety helmet.

    use it wisely.

  • sabastious
    Uh, the most obvious one: coincidence? They were both elderly, and it's not unlikely from a statistical standpoint that they'd die with the same time-frame (as contemporaries do, esp in that time period where there likely was less variability in lifespans for their common socioeconomic level).

    The easiest explanation IS that it was a coincidence, such will be enough for the rational mind. However you didn't explain why Adams said, "Thomas Jefferson lives" right before he died.

    Furthermore, there's a well-known phenomena of those who are close to death or fighting terminal illness being able to hang on to witness an important event (witnessing the 50th anniversary of the U.S. is not an unreasonable thing to think they'd share, and wish to see before they "let go", being that it's such a sentinel achievement of both of their lives). This is a well-known phenomena amongst hospice workers and medical professionals that people can somewhat control the time and day of their death, where they just give up emotionally and quit 'fighting'.

    Just because it's well known doesn't mean it's explained. The fact that Adams and Jefferson died in the manner of which they did is extremely remarkable. I know you don't disagree with this.

    Occam's razor says

    So, what this means is that you lack a suitable explanation for the event and have to lean on the philosophy of William of Ockham. In the analogy the sheep are going missing, but the explanation is lacking. We know that they are disappearing so we know SOMETHING is happening we just don't know how. This is exactly the explanation you used with Adams' and Jefferson's death. You know that they died in a remarkably mysterious manner, but the how is not well understood. You know that others can die in this way too, but that's just like saying that other sheep have gone missing too. It's NOT an explanation it's just an admittance of reality which is merely the observational stage of the scientific method. You can't call it science until you get to the end of the method. You have to call it something else.

    So your explanations are "coincidence" and "Occam's Razor." You didn't give any spiritual explanations and there are many that fit (the soul and reincarnation for example) even though I explicitly requested that you do. You are perfectly content with a non explanation which fits perfectly in my analogy.

    Lets say you have sheep too and your friend is the one that has his going missing. You don't have the motivation to solve the mystery of the disappearing sheep because you have no personal investment. However, if the same thing started happening to YOU, would you merely call it an unsolved mystery? No, you would do everything in your power to save your livelihood. You wouldn't be content with the explanation, "sheep go missing every now and then" because if you set your watch to that you'd eventually go bankrupt.

    The people on this planet are largely spiritually bankrupt. They see the evidence, but they are not interested in pursuing because they gave up their spiritual bank account number to William of Ockham.

    People die.

    "Sheep just go missing every now and then, it's just a part of life."


  • GromitSK

    Hi prologos

    You could look at the same book I recommended to Dave as a summary, or Chris Carter's 'Science and the Near Death Experience'. I am not saying read and be convinced, merely that there is a lot of interesting information in it, and quite a bit of debate about it online. It isn't 'woo woo' nor does it contain appeals to emotion (neither does the Fontana book I referred to for that matter). There are a few books on related topics.

    If you have decided there is definitely no consciousness without brain, fair enough, I don't view it as my job to convince you or anyone else otherwise. I have not reached a final conclusion myself. If you would like to discuss the book having read it then I'd be interested to hear your views on what either author says. If you want to debate the subject generally I am not sufficiently well-equipped to do it justice or mount a full defence of it.

    As a final observation, I would be wary of reading too much into my personal experiences of unconsciousness. I understand we dream every time we sleep and I remember maybe one or two a year, that's a hit rate of 2/365 :)

    I won't be back to this thread regularly so if you'd like more info please feel free to send me a private message (or anyone else for that matter).

  • DavePerez

    Sab said:

    Just because it's well known doesn't mean it's explained.

    True, but that's more the exception than the rule. Go for it: name ONE well-known common-place phenomena observed by humans today that is NOT sufficiently explained by current theories of science.

    (Oh, there ARE some I can think of, but generally most of the unresolved questions are esoteric matters observed by, and of interest only to, astronomers and physicists in CERN lab experiments and the like. I highly doubt you can come up with ONE common-place phenomena which current theories don't satisfactorily address.)

    Sab said:

    So your explanations are "coincidence" and "Occam's Razor." You didn't give any spiritual explanations and there are many that fit (the soul and reincarnation for example) even though I explicitly requested that you do. You are perfectly content with a non explanation which fits perfectly in my analogy.

    And that sentence convinces me beyond a reasonable doubt that you don't actually understand what occam's razor is, and hence shouldn't be bandying the term about as if you do: it's not an "explanation", but a guiding principle for selecting between alternative explanations.

    The reason I didn't offer any spiritual explanations (as you requested) is the same reason I didn't suggest that invisible space aliens from the invisible planet Nebula surfed on interstellar Boogie Boards on massive cosmic waves, and killed both framers at the same time: it's an incredible waste of brain glucose to fantasize and make up nonsensical hypotheses (that are arguably only valuable if you're the author of science fiction books).

    You'd have to prove the existence of an ethereal 'spirit' before you start using it in your explanation. At this point, all you have is a 'spirit realm hypothesis' with perhaps some circumstantial evidence (based on personal testimonies, which are known to be extremely unreliable) but nothing to warrant accepting it as a formal "theory of spirits" (which is what theology actually is: a collection of questionable personal experiences used to form a hypothesis that spirits exist, where the chief bit of evidence is the Holy Bible).

    Early scientists did that kind of thing in the past of imagining invisible substances (see phlogiston theory of burning) but when the evidence failed to support the particular theory, they were forced to go back to the drawing board to modify the hypothesis to account for their observations. Any other approach is putting the cart in front of the horse, since theories MUST abide by the observational evidence, not vice-versa.

    You really should head to a nearby community college and enroll in ONE evening course this upcoming semester: take just one course, maybe an intro to logic class, or a basic math class, or a general science (chemistry or intro to biology) course. Your current approach to the topic is undisciplined, yet you seem to enjoy discussing all of these science-related topics, so you really should learn more about these subjects for which you've been quite willing to form conceptions (and even share them).

  • Ucantnome

    I found it an interesting read. Who he met is hard to explain whether he had the experience moments before he awoke or earlier.

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