Tag Archives: NDE

Just face the facts, there is no soul, there is no afterlife. It’s your wishful thinking that deceives you.

In the autumn of 2014 Dr. Sam Parnia’s long awaited AWARE study about the authenticity of Near-Death Experiences (NDEs) as evidence of a surviving soul was published.

Dr. Parnia’s study can, at best, be described as very disheartening and depressing for those believing that NDEs are evidence of a soul that survives the bodily (physical) death.

Almost exactly a year ago I posted this blog focusing that interesting subject, see: https://bbnewsblog.wordpress.com/2014/10/07/as-i-said-before/

Now, a year later, I think it’s about time to have a new look at the NDE phenomena and how they can be explained without involving religious bullshit concepts like god(s), soul(s) or afterlife.

Let me start by asking you this question: Are you acquainted with a blog named “Imperfect Cognitions”?
Anyhow, it’s a site where all kinds of delusional beliefs, hallucinations and distorted memories are discussed:
In today’s newsletter from “Imperfect Cognitions” I found this blog post, written by Hayley Dewe, a PhD student from the School of Psychology at the University of Birmingham. The title is: “Debunking Dualist Notions of Near-Death Experiences”.  You find her article here:  http://imperfectcognitions.blogspot.se/2015/09/debunking-dualist-notions-of-near-death.html .
Hayley Dewe’s research is based in The Selective Attention and Awareness laboratory, directed by Jason Braithwaite. Her research focuses on the neurocognitive correlates of anomalous (for example hallucinatory) experience, specifically pertaining to the ‘self’, embodiment, and consciousness.She explains NDEs in the following way:

NDEs are striking experiences that typically occur when one is close to death or exposed to life-threatening situations of intense physical and/or emotional danger (first coined by Moody 1975, Life after Life. New York: Bantam Books). This unusual experience includes a variety of aberrant components such as: sensations of peace and vivid imagery, bright flashes of light, the sensation of travelling through a dark tunnel towards a bright light, a disconnection from the physical body (a shift in perspective: the Out-of-Body Experience), and the sensation of entering a light / visions of an ‘afterlife’ etc.

And she continues:

From a parapsychological (or survivalist / supernatural) perspective, NDEs are understood as mystical and spiritual experiences that expose the individual to another world (or afterlife). This is taken as evidence for the survival of bodily death (i.e. dualism); that the mind/consciousness is not dependent on the brain.

In stark contrast is the scientific/neuroscience perspective. Here, it is argued that NDEs are hallucinatory phenomena, generated by a disinhibited and highly confused, dying brain (known as the ‘dying brain account’).

After this introduction she argues that:

#1: There are a host of logical fallacies and methodological discrepancies within the parapsychological literature.
#2: There appears to be no objective study validating the presence of an entirely inactive human brain with the simultaneous occurrence of an NDE!
#3: Even if there were evidence of a completely inactive brain, and subsequent recollection of an NDE, how could one pinpoint the precise time frame during which the NDE components occurred? That is, the NDE itself may well have occurred before levels of brain activity became ‘inactive’ (or ‘flattened’), or even experienced and recalled afterwards, during recovery.
#4: No component of the NDE is actually unique to the ‘near-death’ experience.
#5: As a matter of fact, you needn’t necessarily be ‘near to death’ to experience NDE phenomena.
So the only reasonable and likely conclusion seems to be: Dualist / Survivalist arguments of NDEs are, at the very best, flawed.
And I myself want to add here: They are not only flawed. They are completely wrong, built as they seem to be on wishful magical and religious bullshit thinking .
In short: THERE IS NO SOUL! Forget what you’ve read or heard about that religious bullshit concept.
And if souls don’t exist, the corollary must be: YOU’D BETTER FORGET ABOUT THE BELIEF IN AN AFTERLIFE, TOO.
For more details, see: https://www.skeptic.org.uk/magazine/onlinearticles/497-braithwaite-dying-brain (Towards a Cognitive Neuroscience of the Dying Brain), and:  https://www.academia.edu/10060970/Occams_Chainsaw_Neuroscientific_Nails_in_the_coffin_of_dualist_notions_of_the_Near-death_experience_NDE_  (Occam’s Chainsaw: Neuroscientific Nails in the Coffin of Dualist Notions of the Near-death Experience [NDE]).
In the coming weeks or months I hope to have time to blog about the non-existent soul and non-existent afterlife.
But for the time being I have to confine myself to recommend all (true) soul believers – that is those who refuse to abandon their bullshit ideas of soul and afterlife – to study the contents in blog posts like these: https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2011/05/26/sean-carroll-we-dont-have-immortal-souls/ , http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/cosmicvariance/2011/05/23/physics-and-the-immortality-of-the-soul/#.Vgrou3qqqko , and http://jayarava.blogspot.co.uk/2015/01/there-is-no-life-after-death-sorry.html .
Need I say more? Yes, I think I also need to say that true believers are not so easily convinced that soul and afterlife are typical religious bullshit concepts. Sacrosanct beliefs, anchored in religious faith, are unfortunately extremely difficult to eradicate. For more details, see: https://victorianeuronotes.wordpress.com/2015/09/08/are-brainwashing-techniques-in-the-bible-and-strategically-used-in-churches/ .
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19. What evidence is there that humans have a spirit? Part 1: The Science of the Soul

This article I found at the blog “500 Questions”. It’s about concepts like “spirit” and “soul”.

The article has the following subheading, “The Science of the Soul”.

That subheading looks like an oxymoron to me. I’d not even call it “The Pseudoscience of the Soul”.

To me the soul concept is so full of bullshit, contradictions and misunderstandings that it should be tossed into the rubbish-heap immediately.

BTW, here’s an article discussing the similarities and differences between Islam and Christianity in their view of the soul, http://www.123helpme.com/islamic-beliefs-on-the-soul-view.asp?id=163194 .

I quote from the end paragraphs of that article,

Muslims and Christians both believe that a person is not just made from his or her mind and body, there is also the soul. They both believe that each person has an immortal soul (cannot die) which cannot be seen and makes people different from each other, however Christians believe that only humans were given souls as they were in the image of God whereas Muslims believe that humans, plants and animals have souls too. Christians believing that animals don’t have souls allows them to eat meat normally, but because Muslims believe that animals do have souls, they have to sacrifice the animal properly in order to eat the meat. Christians believe that people were made in the image of God meaning that God put something of his own divine and everlasting nature into each person, which is the soul, but Muslims don’t believe that exactly as they believe animals and plants have souls too. Both Muslims and Christians both believe that the soul was put into the body during birth, and the soul leaves the body at death.

Muslims and Christians both believe that a person is not just made from his or her mind and body, there is also the soul. They both believe that each person has an immortal soul (cannot die) which cannot be seen and makes people different from each other, however Christians believe that only humans were given souls as they were in the image of God whereas Muslims believe that humans, plants and animals have souls too. Christians believing that animals don’t have souls allows them to eat meat normally, but because Muslims believe that animals do have souls, they have to sacrifice the animal properly in order to eat the meat. Christians believe that people were made in the image of God meaning that God put something of his own divine and everlasting nature into each person, which is the soul, but Muslims don’t believe that exactly as they believe animals and plants have souls too. Both Muslims and Christians both believe that the soul was put into the body during birth, and the soul leaves the body at death.

In other words, almost the same bullshit is taught to Muslims and Christians.

500 Questions about God & Christianity

As much as we talk about the idea of the spirit, you’d think it was a well documented fact, but is there any empirical evidence that proves spirits actually exists?

The Science of the Soul

Since science usually limits itself to studying that which can be observed, measured, and experimented upon, there’s seemingly little work that can be done in the area of the spirit; but there have been a few studies (oft labeled “pseudo-science” by skeptics) that infer the existence of a spirit, such as near death experiences, out of body experiences, communication with the dead, the mind/brain connection, reincarnation, etc.

That’s a lot of ground to cover, so let’s dig in…

21 Grams – Weighing the Soul

In the 1880s, pictures of ghostly images caught on film were once used as evidence for the soul. And later, in 1911, the x-ray machine was even used to try and photograph the…

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20. What evidence is there that humans have a spirit? Part 2: Near Death Experiences (NDEs)

Very good summary of the NDE delusion. But as always, comforting lies are preferred to unpleasant truths.

500 Questions about God & Christianity

I confess. I once spent a couple of years as an absolute NDE junkie. In my early search for evidence of the soul, NDE survivors seemed to have the proof I was searching for. I read everything I could get my hands on; I was hooked by all the similar and compelling stories… at least for a while.

My interest in NDEs eventually waned after reading a book by Christian cardiologist Dr. H. Leon Greene.  In his book If I Should Die Before I Wake, Dr. Greene reports having revived hundreds of patients, none of whom ever reported having a single NDE. This, along with his distaste for non-Christians having positive NDEs, led him to write a thorough and critical examination of the NDE. While biased by Christianity, his arguments against the NDE were nonetheless logical and compelling.

Still… all the people who report having NDEs seem so sincere and…

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NDE: Spirituality vs Religiosity

Very good blog article about the difference between THICK BOUNDARY and THIN BOUNDARY personality types.

A quote from the article: Thick boundary types would prefer organized religion because it’s clearly defined in its social structure and in its belief system. However, thin boundary types prefer more open-endedness and inconclusiveness which goes against most organized religion, especially of the highly organized variety such as the Catholic Church.

Research shows that thin boundary types are more open to non-ordinary experiences (i.e., spiritual, paranormal; et cetera). An NDE, by definition, is a thin boundary experience in that it’s a very personal experience of thin boundary between life and death.

Also have a look at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boundaries_of_the_mind .

Here’s a quote from that article:

Relationship to other personality traits: The Boundary Questionnaire has been related to the Five Factor Model of personality, and “thin boundaries” are mostly associated with openness to experience, particularly the facets of openness to fantasy, aesthetics, and feelings, although some of the content was correlated with neuroticism, extraversion, and low conscientiousness. Scores on the questionnaire are also positively correlated with absorption, transliminality, hypnotisability, and suggestibility. Thin boundaries are also associated with the Feeling and Intuition scales of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.

Marmalade

Last night, I was listening to Coast to Coast AM. The host mentioned a study in passing which caught my interest. The study was about the impact of NDEs on spirituality and religion. He said the results of NDE experiencers was the opposite of those church attenders who never had an NDE. After their NDE, experiencers were increasingly interested in spirituality and yet their church attendance decreased. On the other hand, non-experiencers over time (as they aged?) became less interested in spirituality all the while attending church more often.

I tried to find this study, but was unable to find it. NDEs is the topic of tonight’s show on Coast to Coast Am. The guest is Pin van Lommel who has written about the topic, but I don’t know if the study is discussed in one of his books. I did find other research which was related. In the following paper, I found a description of research…

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The Paranormal and Psychology: Personality traits correlated to SPEs ( Subjective Paranormal Experiences)

Very good overview of personality traits (and personality theories) applicable and relevant to people prone to magical & religious woo-bullshit thinking.

Marmalade

A hallucination may occur in a person in a state of good mental and physical health, even in the apparent absence of a transient trigger factor such as fatigue, intoxication or sensory deprivation.

It is not widely recognised that hallucinatory experiences are not merely the prerogative of the insane, or normal people in abnormal states, but that they occur spontaneously in a significant proportion of the normal population, when in good health and not undergoing particular stress or other abnormal circumstance.

The evidence for this statement has been accumulating for more than a century. Studies of hallucinatory experience in the sane go back to 1886 and the early work of the Society for Psychical Research[1][2], which suggested approximately 10% of the population had experienced at least one hallucinatory episode in the course of their life. More recent…

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Two articles by Victor Stenger that woos like Deepak Chopra and Robert Lanza should read and try to understand

The late physicist Victor Stenger didn’t like the ideas of Deepak Chopra, Robert Lanza, and other woos. So he tried to debunk their thought paradigms. In the two articles below you can all see that professor Stenger has got many very good arguments against Chopra, Lanza and others who believe in a soul and that consciousness survives the physical death of the human body.

1) See http://www.csicop.org/si/show/quantum_quackery/ . An article by Victor Stenger. A quote: Quantum physics is claimed to support the mystical notion that the mind creates reality. However, an objective reality, with no special role for consciousness, human or cosmic, is consistent with all observations.

2)See http://www.colorado.edu/philosophy/vstenger/Quantum/QuantumConsciousness.pdf . Yet another article by Victor Stenger. A quote: The overwhelming weight of evidence […] shows not a hint of a violation of reductionist, local, discrete, nonsuperluminal, nonholistic relativity and quantum mechanics – with no fundamental involvement of human consciousness other than in our own subjective perception of whatever reality is out there. Of course, our thinking processes have a strong influence on what we perceive. But to say that what we perceive therefore determines, or even controls, what is out there is without rational foundation.

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A very good and extensive – and therefore highly commendable – Dictionary of Hallucination

I found this site the other day while surfing on the internet: http://hallucinations.enacademic.com/ .

A whole dictionary full of hallucination-related entries. From A to Z.

Let me quote one of the many posts in that dictionary, the one about heautoscopy:

Heautoscopy

   Also written as héautoscopy. Both terms stem from the Greek words heautou (‘of oneself’) and skopeô (I am looking at). They translate loosely as ‘seeing oneself’ or ‘seeing [something] of oneself’. In the older literature heau-toscopy is also designated as heautoscopy proper, autohallucination, hallucination of the self, and ” dissimilar autoscopy.
The German-Greek neologism Heautoskopie was introduced in or shortly before 1935 by the Austrian psychiatrist Erich Menninger-Lerchenthal (d. 1966) to denote an ” autoscopic phenomenon in which a hallucinated “doppelgänger or “double is identified as one-self,despite the lack of an exact physica lresemblance to the affected individual. In Menninger-Lerchental’s own words, “All of a sudden an individual sees himself facing himself.
This manifestation looks more or less like himself, but is experienced at any rate, also when it displays certain dissimilarities with the real person, as identical with it, i.e., with one self. This scares the percipient out of his wits, and for a long time it makes a profound impression on him; he cannot ignore this manifestation. To him it is an experience.
This act does not constitute a mere visual misperception. It is nothing less than a part of him that is experiencedduring a few moments.” To this Menninger-Lerchenthal adds, “More important than the absolute semblance are any differences between the genuine and the hallucinated body. The latter can be significantly older or younger in appearance. It can also strike the heautoscopist as alien, even though he knows that it is he himself.”
To emphasize the relative unimportance of the lack of semblance with one’s actual physical appearance, the French physician and psychologist Paul Auguste Sollier (1861-1933) had priorly coined the term dissimilar autoscopy to denote this phenomenon. Before Sollier, the German psychiatrist Friedrich Wilhelm Hagen (1814-1888) had referred to the same phenomenon by the term “deuteroscopy.
Heautoscopy may be accompanied by somaesthetic or vestibular sensations and feelings of derealization and depersonalization. Phenomenologically, heautoscopic doubles tend to present as diaphanous or ‘ghost-like’ three-dimensional bodies.
In cases where more than one double is perceived, the term ” polyopic heautoscopy applies. The earliest known account of polyopic heautoscopy was published in 1826 by the German physiologist and zoologist Johannes Peter Müller (1801-1858).
Where some doubles in polyopic heautoscopy are perceived as men and others as women, the term “heterosexual heautoscopy is used. The term ” negative heautoscopy is a synonym for “negative autoscopy (i.e. the transient failure to perceive one’s own mirror image in a mirror [cf. vampires who are also not seen in mirrors; this remark added by me]).
The term ‘heautoscopy without optical image’ is a synonym for ” sensed presence.
Heautoscopy may occur in healthy individuals, but it has also been described in the context of a variety of neurological and psychiatric disorders.
Etiologically, it is associated with conditions such as epilepsy, migraine, brain tumour, ischaemia, and infection, but also with psychiatric disorders such as ” psychotic disorder, mood disorder, anxiety disorder, and ” dissociative disorder.
Pathophysiologically, heautoscopy is associated primarily with aberrant neuronal activity in an area at the temporo-parieto-occipital junction. It is sometimes classified as a variant of the group of “reduplicative hallucinations”
MY COMMENT: Isn’t this thrilling reading? At least it is to me.
BTW: Read about Temporo-parietal-junction (TPJ) here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Temporoparietal_junction . Especially this section: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Temporoparietal_junction#Out-of-body_experiences .
And if you’re not too tired, take a look also at this article: http://science.howstuffworks.com/science-vs-myth/afterlife/science-life-after-death1.htm . The title is: Has science explained life after death?
Finally, don’t forget to read this blog here on bbnewsblog: https://bbnewsblog.wordpress.com/2014/10/07/as-i-said-before/

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Dr. Sam Parnia’s AWARE-study at last being published. As I said before…

At last the long awaited AWARE study about the authenticity of NDEs as evidence of a surviving soul has been published; see: http://www.resuscitationjournal.com/article/S0300-9572(14)00739-4/fulltext + http://awareofaware.co/2014/10/07/as-i-said-before/ .

Here are two other links to blog articles where the findings of this study are discussed: 1) http://awareofaware.co/2014/10/07/breaking-news-the-aware-study-is-finally-published/ . And 2) http://www.spring.org.uk/2014/10/life-after-death-this-is-what-people-experience-as-the-brain-shuts-down.php .

In my opinion the results from this AWARE-study must be considered disheartening and depressing for those believing that NDEs are evidence of a soul that survives the bodily (physical) death.

Dr. Parnia lists three symptoms of clinical death: 1) Lasting cardiac arrest; 2) No breathing (= the lungs have stopped functioning); and 3) Brain death (= a non-functioning brain, i.e. no detectable electrical activity in the brain).

I’m prone to think that Dr. Parnia is wrong in (t)his definition of clinical death. The premise #3 should – is bound to? – be reconsidered and redefined soon. See for example this article: http://www.thenakedscientists.com/HTML/content/interviews/interview/1000360/ and this one: http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-23672150 and this one: http://io9.com/a-new-scientific-explanation-for-near-death-experiences-1110395345 .

In the final paragraph of this blog that I’m now reblogging the blogger admits that “we are still waiting for hard evidence for the existence of the soul through a verified OBE/NDE”.

In my own words that’s like saying that this AWARE-study by Dr. Sam Parnia et al. more looks like a fiasco.

AwareofAware

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…

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15 hallucinatory patterns or classes of figures + Hypothesis explaining the brilliant light experiences in NDEs

TWO ARTICLES worth reading, especially for UFO non-believers and atheists.

ARTICLE #1: Click this link: http://www.oubliette.org.uk/Three.html  An article about entoptic phenomena including the findings of Max Knoll and his research team, who investigated the spontaneous creation of phosphenes by electrical stimulation of the surface of the brain (the cerebral cortex).

Knoll found that pulses in the same frequency range as brain waves (from 5 cycles per second to about 40) were most effective in producing phosphenes. He tested more than 1000 people and about half of these subjects could see geometric figures. By varying the frequency of the pulses the patterns also changed. The patterns induced were divided into 15 classes or groups of figures (plus a number of variations within each class/group/category). Even more interesting is the fact that for each person tested the spectrum of phosphenes (i. e. the kind of pattern at each frequency) was repeatable, even after six months.

MY OWN HYPOTHESIS is that these classes of geometric patterns probably can explain many (most?) UFO observations containing some kind of geometrical pattern observations (like stars, triangles, diamond shapes, lattices, spirals and so on) in the sky. For more information, see for example this Wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Entoptic_phenomenon .

ARTICLE #2: Click this link: http://bokkon-brain-imagery.5mp.eu/web.php?a=bokkon-brain-imagery&o=LtVfeyyeI8 . That article has the following title: Hypothesis about brilliant lights by bioluminescent photons in near deat experiences (and is written by István Bókkon and Vahid Salari).

To explain their hypothesis I quote from the article’s abstract: [M]eeting brilliant light in NDEs is due to the reperfusion that induces unregulated overproduction of free radicals and excited biomolecules among them in numerous parts in the visual system. Unregulated free radicals and excited species can produce a transient increase of bioluminescent photons in different areas of the visual system. If this excess of bioluminescent photon emission exceeds a threshold, they can appear as (phosphene) lights in our mind. In other words, seeing a brilliant light in NDEs may due to bioluminescent photons simultaneously generated in the recovery phase of numerous areas of the visual system and the brain interprets these intrinsic bioluminescent photons as if they were originated from the external visual world. [End of quote]

MY OWN HYPOTHESIS is that phosphenes created by bioluminescent photons in the retina and the visual cortex can explain the brilliant light experiences in NDEs. That is: There’s no need of supernatural (= religious) entities in order to explain this light phenomenon.

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