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And what here cannot also be explained by the transmission view? Nothing, duh

Tell me Keith, are Pam Reynolds ear plugs still considered suspect?

Is NDE testimony on what actually happened to them worthless still?

Interestingly enough lets take a look at this:

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1580392,00.html

A persons whose brain was slowly destroyed by cancer, but managed to recall his family and say goodbye to them. Needless to say this does not work well with Keith's views on things.

So the brain is removed and the body cannot function but consciousness remains. How completely what one would expect of the transmission theory and not expect of the brain creating consciousness. Lets don't let this get in the way of a good how it could have been scenario though....

However perhaps the cancer stored consciousness.....

Maybe the guy with cancer was pulling a fast one on the family, or skeptics....

Maybe the family secretly wanted to confound skeptics, you know how some people are....

Maybe it was a mass hallucination by the family....

Did I miss a skeptical explanation. Oh crap Alien Deception, opps my bad!

I guess I would be just a bit more kind in these cases if all of this hadn't been pointed out to Keith again and again. Of course he skips over cases where people had no brains and were conscious anyways, nothing like avoiding facts that aren't user friendly for your pet beliefs.

No amount of evidence will convince this apologist of materialism he is wrong. Kinda like trying to convince the late Charleton Heston gun control might be a good idea.

"If you destroy 99% of my brain and 99% of my mental functions are destroyed, all that you have shown is that I cannot do 99% of what I could do before that 99% of my brain was destroyed. What's the next logical step? If you destroy 100% of my brain (death), 100% of my mental functions will be destroyed (I will cease to exist)."

I guess you're not really buyin' into my whole "dual loci of consciousness" idea ...

:-)

But in terms of dual loci of consciousness, your mental faculties while embodied (one locus of consciousness) can be utterly destroyed - you can be insane or comatose or afflicted with Alzheimer's ... but your mind outside the body (the other locus of consciousness) is still fully functional. You just can't access it in your physical, embodied state. You will, however, access it once the body and its brain stop functioning. You will not "cease to exist." You will be reconnected with the higher locus of consciousness from which (through physical ailments) you've been temporarily estranged.

At least, I think this is the most likely possibility, and one that does not require rejecting evidence for NDEs, OBEs, after-death communications, deathbed visions, reincarnation, crisis apparitions, remote viewing, and on and on.

If you want a little more "scientific" way of looking at it, you might check out James Beichler's theory that we live in a five-dimensional universe in which consciousness is extended into the fifth dimension. I wrote about in several recent posts starting here:

http://snipurl.com/jqrbw

Beichler's theory undoubtedly needs some work, but it may offer a way of looking at these things that is not quite so dependent on metaphor and analogy.

Perhaps the soul is not our consciousness? That "voice inside our head?" The soul might be something else entirely? Perhaps after death the soul and our consciousness somehow merge to become one? I'm not sure that what we call the soul is exactly the same thing as consciousness. And as far as morality and how we act in this life? I don't think it has a thing to do with "why we are here." We aren't here to "learn how to love" nor to "become one with God." We are here simply to teach the soul what it's like to live in a physical universe and what time and space look and feel like. You don't even have to be conscious to to that, although it might help in the fact that the more emotional the experience the more powerful and long lasting the memory it creates. You can be a Tyranosaurus Rex and the soul could be experiencing the physical universe. Every living thing could be busy imprinting memories on the collective soul of the physical universe. Bits of information, like pixels on a TV screen.

"If you destroy 99% of my brain and 99% of my mental functions are destroyed..."

Who says, and what evidence shows, that destroying 99% of my brain destroys 99% of my mental functions? It may destroy 99% of my OBSERVED and OBSERVABLE mental functions. But if you are saying the observed and observable ones are the only ones that can possibly exist, then you are arguing from ignorance.

If you ASSUME that mind is produced by brain, then destroying one ALWAYS destroys the other, and there then cannot be anything left over. That is true. But as Michael rightly pointed out, you are not logically permitted to make your assumption that that is the case also perform as the evidence. That is arguing in a circle.

Destroying anything from 1 to 100 % of my brain may destroy the equal percentage of OBSERVABLE mental operation connected with my body, but what has that to do with what percentage that might survive my body that is NOT OBSERVABLE and can no longer operate in or through the body?

Exactly what method are you using to establish that nothing is left over?

What you actually should have responded with, if you were aware of such, was a single piece of evidence of non survival versus non observable survival (do you see the difference?) that does not beg the question. Your assumption that mind ONLY exists in the presence of brains does not count as evidence for that assertion, and whatever you think you can use from neuroscience to back you up, won't.

What evidence shows that there is ALSO nothing left of you when you destroy the brain?

Destroying the pinky controlling area of the brain, or the entire brain itself, and then observing the loss of mental function in the body SAYS NOTHING whatsoever about whether or not the mind ALSO survives the destruction of the brain you just caused.

It doesn't touch the question at all. And I for one will not grant you as true the supposition that mind and brain are ALWAYS connected. That is the point in contention, and you cannot prove the point by begging for my or our commitment to the point you are trying to prove. That has to come from the evidence. Problem is, the evidence doesn't support that.

All the evidence says is that if you destroy the brain, then there is no OBSERVABLE consciousness left over in the body. Which is not something we argue against anyway, so that's a straw man. (And if you attempt to argue that the unobservable = the unreal, then you are guilty of an argument from ignorance).

Now WHY we no longer observe consciousness in a body that has a destroyed brain is another question. It MAY be because brain produces consciousness, but it may ALSO be that consciousness no longer has functional machinery to inhabit.

But the evidence you would cite does not tell us at all which one of those is even more likely.

"The argument is that the mind cannot process information without a brain, and information processing is something pervasive in most, if not all, mental functions. So how could those mental functions survive--like reading, or understanding sentences, or understanding a language, or recognizing faces--once the information processing unit is destroyed?"

That may be the argument, but where's the evidence?

The mind may need the brain to process information while in a body. That doesn't mean the mind cannot be cognizant of information without a brain or a body. But if you assume it can ONLY process information with a brain, then you also end up with the conclusion that the two can never be separate, and that there is no way consciousness can know anything without a brain and its senses. I think you are assuming that the ONLY way consciousness can know is through the senses with a brain processing the data stream.

Outside of a body, consciousness may not process information at all, but may itself exist as information and know particular things that may seem seen or heard from a particular point of view or vantage point in the world, floating over a body, for example, but in a way that does not utilize senses.

If, for example, a person dies and has the experience of floating over his own body, and if he "sees" this without eyes or a brain, then the "seeing" is not optical, regardless of how it is described.

I "see" things in my dreams, sometimes very vividly, that are not optically perceived. Yes, I know that some of things I see probably first entered my consciousness through the senses, but that is irrelevant to the point I'm making by mentioning the seeming optical vividness of some dreams.

And if that is the case, then it might be that the spirit or soul is connected or returns to a realm of idea after death that knows things accurately without sensory input, and in ways that make it seem to the disembodied spirit that it is sensing things.

And by the way, let's not confuse my conjectures of how it might work with belief or certainty on my part.

I'm saying that in case there is a temptation to address my conjectures over the more substantive criticisms of the materialist's logical violations.

Even if my conjectures are totally wrong, that will not make a single argument from ignorance or petitio principii the materialist makes disappear.

Keith-
The notion that plasticity was predicted by the production hypothesis does not fit with the history at all. Sorry, but revisionist history won’t fly. (Plasticity was a somewhat surprising discovery not many years ago; the production theory has been with us for centuries.)

If I destroy the area of the brain that is responsible for the ability to speak, then what is it that learns to speak? A part of the brain that is not responsible for the ability to speak? How does something that does not have the ability demonstrate the ability?

One thing to note- the transmission theory is an attempt to come up with a model that explains all known phenomena. The production model is a model that fits a pre-existing philosophy and attempts to explain away numerous well-known, well-documented phenomena. I would not be too hasty in confusing the current working hypothesis of a science with the truth. (Think about how Newtonian physics was the final truth of the inviolate laws of nature and how today we know that Newton’s formulae give wrong answers 100% of the time.)

Just a small point,not sure if it's relevant. When Pam Reynolds recounts her NDE, specifically the part where she's about to re-enter her body(the train wreck as she described it)she often shows visable symptoms of anxiety.But why should she feel anxious about something that never really happened (if she never really left her body.) I have vivid dreams (or neural events as some skeptics like to term them)where I'm being chased by a lion.. or others where I'm falling off a skyscraper..but when I remember them,I don't get a band of perspiration breaking out across my forehead.Might it be because it 'really' did  happen the way she tells it.

Hello Keith,

I'd like to make a few comments on what you've said. First of all I'd like to say you make many intelligent comments. I do not however believe that you have shown that the production theory is forced upon is.

As a preliminary it seems to me that your comments are really attacking an interactive *non-substance* dualism rather than interactive *substance* dualism.

You state in your fist post:

Keith
"It seems inescapable to me that any form of substance dualism is committed to predicting that the mind (the controller) is largely independent from the brain (the drone's transmitter/receiver). The worst you can do to the controller by manipulating the drone's transmitter/receiver is make the controller deaf or blind regarding the drone's environment, or unable to move the drone. You cannot affect the the controller's ability to do math, to understand language, or recognize undistorted faces. You cannot get the controller to go into a psychotic rage by manipulating the drone's radio. But you can make someone psychotic by spiking his drink with PCP, or prevent him from being able to do simple addition by lesioning certain areas of his brain. In short, basic neuroscientific facts are simply inexplicable on any variety of substance dualism."

Substance dualism is committed to the idea that *mental substance* does not change but that its properties do (or the *self* does not change as I refer to mental substance in my essay. I will henceforth refer to self as shorthand for Mental substance. Apart from brevity it seems to me that it is mental substance which most closely corresponds to peoples' commonsensical notion of the self). Now clearly our ability to see or hear is not constitutive of the self. What about flying into a "psychotic rage" or other personality changes? Well as far as I'm concerned arguing that this *literally* changes the self is precisely the position for those who embrace some sort of materialist metaphysic must adopt. Contrariwise mood changes (even flying into a psychotic rage) does not literally change the *self*. But I explain all this in my essay in detail(http://existenceandreality.blogspot.com/2009_03_01_archive.html). You'll forgive me if I don't repeat myself here!

So in effect you seem to be presupposing the correctness of the materialists notion of the "self" and since this "self" constantly changes then there is nothing which can survive. But of course presupposing the materialists position from the outset is scarcely convincing to those who reject materialism. Certainly you have not argued against substance dualism. You need a philosophical argument to do this.

A better analogy in my opinion to the Mars Rover is the TV set analogy in the particular way I have argued for it in my essay. Here the mind is analogical to the quality of the picture displayed, but the self is analogical to the programme being shown.

My response to Keith comment


"It seems inescapable to me that any form of substance dualism is committed to predicting that the mind (the controller) is largely independent from the brain (the drone's transmitter/receiver). The worst you can do to the controller by manipulating the drone's transmitter/receiver is make the controller deaf or blind regarding the drone's environment, or unable to move the drone. You cannot affect the the controller's ability to do math, to understand language, or recognize undistorted faces. You cannot get the controller to go into a psychotic rage by manipulating the drone's radio. But you can make someone psychotic by spiking his drink with PCP, or prevent him from being able to do simple addition by lesioning certain areas of his brain. In short, basic neuroscientific facts are simply inexplicable on any variety of substance dualism."

Unless that receiver is very advanced, the maybe a very advanced receiver. Also you seem to be assuming that dualists believe a soul is controlling the physical body, i don't think many dualists hold that view, they hold that this soul is restricted and heavily constrained by the physical body. The brain is a reducing valve to consciousness.

Keith,

So i am suppose to assume that Arthur Ford was a fraud, because of an anecdote says that may of happened?. No doubt Phineas Gage that their was some effect on his personality, any theory that looks to Gage for support faces the difficulty that the nature and extent of the injury's effects on his mental state are highly uncertain. In fact, very little is known about what Phineas was like either before or after his injury (almost none of it first-hand),[22] the mental changes described after his death were far more dramatic than anything reported while he was alive, and even those descriptions which seem credible do not tell us the period of his post-accident life to which they are meant to apply.

He say their is no evidence that shows the mind can radically effect the brain.

That appears not to be so

http://www.springerlink.com/content/g25rl1903611j211/

Experiments on humans (some of the Buddhist monks under the Dalai Lama’s direction) seem to demonstrate that the physical organ of the brain can be shaped and transformed by choices made by the mind.

Without mind though you can't make goals to acheive arm muscle. Then their is introspection studies down that bring further evidence for dualism. Let's also not forget the failure of behaviorism which goal was to provide evidence that the mind was produced by the brain. Also artifical intelligence main goal was to show the mind can be put into an robot another failure.

These were two questions I asked Keith earlier on another website. They show why even under materialist philosophies one can still accept an afterlife etc:

a.) Are you telling us it is IMPOSSIBLE for a soul ( or something similar) to be made of some kind of material?

b.) Are you telling us that it is IMPOSSIBLE for the same forces that naturally created the entire universe, created life, created consciousness , created human level consciousness could not create naturally create something like a soul ( especially if you accept something like multiverses. In such a scenario some kind of God and Soul must exist)

Exactly even the multiverse theory doesn't fit into the view that mind is produced by the brain. If parellel universes exist they very well could then consciousness never ceases to exist for example when i die my consciousness [subjective inner life] wake up in another universe. With the same inner subjective being that i had when i was here.

"So i am suppose to assume that Arthur Ford was a fraud, because of an anecdote ...?"

Arthur Ford definitely did engage in fraudulent activity, at least in his later years. After his death, extensive notes and clippings were found among his personal effects, showing that he had researched his sitters by reading obituaries of their family members. Before his sittings he would typically "read some poetry" to put himself in the right frame of mind. Unfortunately, the "poetry" in question was actually his research notes, which he read to refresh his memory!

Nevertheless, some Ford admirers believe he did have legitimate mediumistic abilities, and point to some cases where the information he provided would arguably have been impossible to obtain through normal means. It's conceivable that he started out with real abilities, which atrophied over the years because of his excessive drinking.

The Houdini code incident remains very controversial, especially since Houdini's widow first endorsed Ford's reading and later changed her mind.

These issues are discussed in detail in "Arthur Ford: The Man who Talked with the Dead," by Allen Spraggett. Amazon sells used copies:

http://snipurl.com/js493

Spraggett is the guy who found the incriminating research notes. Despite this discovery, he still maintained that Ford had genuine psychic talents, supplemented by trickery.

with a multiverse everything happens.

Infinite universes equal infinite outcomes.

"If parellel universes exist they very well could then consciousness never ceases to exist for example when i die my consciousness [subjective inner life] wake up in another universe. With the same inner subjective being that i had when i was here."

What do you mean, Leo? Multiverse theory has no connection to consciousness. It was dreamed up to avoid the embarrassing unlikelihood of a single universe somehow tailored to support matter and life.

in a multiverse, somewhere souls must exist. I think this is what he meant.

I am talking about quantum immortality, it states that the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics implies that conscious beings are immortal.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantum_suicide

Keith has posited some interesting ideas, and to examine them in detail, we'd need a whole detailed post.

But I'll restrict my comment to one of Keith's substantive and central points:

The natural converse of this is that the more debilitated the brain, the less effective it is going to be at filtering. So the natural extrapolation of "transmission" would be that consciousness would be "freer" or "enhanced" or whatever the more of the brain is destroyed. But we find the exact opposite. The more debilitated one's brain, the more debilitated one's mind.

I think Keith partially misunderstands the filter model of consciousness.

If consciousness is temporally attached to the brain, it depends on the quality of the brain to its manifestation in the physical world. Therefore, if the brain doesn't work properly, the manifestation of consciousness will reflect that limitation.

As a logical consequence of that is Keith's correct remark "The more debilitated one's brain, the more debilitated one's mind". It confirms the temporal functional dependence of consciousness to the level of quality the brain (filter/transmitter)

However, in cases suggestives of an actual separation of consciousness from the brain, we observe precisely Keith's prediction "So the natural extrapolation of "transmission" would be that consciousness would be "freer" or "enhanced" or whatever the more of the brain is destroyed"

This comment is key, because Keith's term "enhanced" has been used by some NDE researchers to describe some cases of NDEs that manifest "enhanced mentation", confirming Keith "natural extrapolation" of the transmission theory (at least, the extrapolation as it applies to some cases of NDEs).

According to this paper by Ian Stevenson at al: "We describe three features of NDEs - enhanced mentation, the experience of seeing the physical body from a different position in space, and paranormal perceptions - that we believe might provide convergent evidence supporting the survival hypothesis."

And enhanced mentation is explicitly commented by them like this: "In two earlier papers, we called attention to the importance of normal or even enhanced mentation accompanying such severe physiological impairment (Owens et al., 1990; Stevenson & Cook, 1995). Persisting or enhanced mentation at a time when one would expect it to be diminishing, or entirely absent, because of diminishing physiological functioning at least suggests that consciousness might not be so dependent on physiological processes as most scientists now assume."

http://www.scientificexploration.org/journal/jse_12_3_cook.pdf

In other words, according to Keith's enhanced mentation is a "natural extrapolation" of the transmission theory. And this is exactly what some NDEs researchers and scholar have observed in NDEs! (confirming one prediction of the filter model)

Other afterlife evidence (e.g. in cases of mediumship communications) support the idea that consciousness is "enhanced" when it's freed from the physical brain restrictions. Again, it confirms the natural extrapolation of the transmission theory, mentioned by Keith.

So, part of Keith's argument, far from undermining the filter theory, actually support it.

Keith has made other substantive points, but I'll address them in other moment.

I think this kind of dialogue is useful, because, in my opinion, it exposes the weakness of the productive hypothesis.


"No amount of evidence will convince this apologist of materialism he is wrong."

If you really believe that, Kris, why address me with questions at all? Do you really think I'm going devote any time and energy to answer your questions when you make it clear at the outset that you're not really interested in what I think to begin with?

Unlike public high school teachers, I don't have to make a Sisyphian attempt to teach the kids who aren't interested in learning. If you're not even going to try to see how someone might rationally think as I do, I'm not going to waste my time explaining it to you. You obviously don't care what I think anyway because you already "know" what's true and false in this domain, and anyone who thinks differently than you is clearly a deluded fool. So who's the real "apologist" here?

dmduncan: I'm aware that dualists will retreat from mental states known to exist and posit, in their place, merely hypothetical "nonobserved and nonobservable mental functions." I'm interested in what happens to the actual mind we know first-hand, not some dreamed-up oversoul I've never met. If you're going to posit "nonobserved and nonobservable" things like souls, why stop at positing one soul per person? For every person, why not posit 100 nested souls--a soul in a soul in a soul ... in a body? Anything goes if one is allowed to merely posit (out of thin air) nonobserved and nonobservable things.

"What you actually should have responded with, if you were aware of such, was a single piece of evidence of non survival versus non observable survival (do you see the difference?)"

Do you have evidence of the nonexistence of Thor (versus the existence of a nonobservable Thor)? Insofar as Thor is supposed to interact with the physical world, by generating lightning bolts for instance, yes, I do have evidence for the nonexistence of Thor: the fact that lightning bolts are generated by the interaction between positive and negative ions.

There is similar evidence against the existence of a soul. Consider: If sparkplugs were invisible, but produced a spark, we would know of their existence because the sparks they produce would be detectable. If souls were invisible but interacted with the brain, we would know of their existence because neurons would function differently with the soul's extra influences than they would function in the absence of that influence. But there is no evidence in active brain states of such extra influences, so dualists like Frank Dilley invoke a soul of the gaps: such influences must exist on the quantum level, where they cannot be seen, making it impossible to ever confirm that they exist at all. How convenient! (Maybe Thor changes the motion of ions through unobservable quantum effects, too, thereby generating lightning! We can all rest easy that Thor-belief is safe for another day--and every other day so long as these ways of saving face are allowed.)

There is abundant evidence that the mental states we know we have are made possible by the brain. If the brain dies, then, they are no longer made possible. But that doesn't mean that committed dualists cannot interject forever more with their latest "...and then a miracle occurs" solution.

The question is what imaginable evidence *could* show that survival probably does not occur. If you think that no evidence can ever do that in principle, that's as bad as the nonbeliever who says that no evidence could ever make survival after death more likely than not. It is essentially a position of faith immune from any potential falsification.

"Exactly what method are you using to establish that nothing is left over?"

Inductive reasoning. That's the problem. Inductive reasoning establishs what's likely to be the case, but you survivalists typically think that showing that survival is merely logically possible is enough to defeat it. It is not, because the argument is about what is most likely given the evidence, not merely what is possible. There are a million different conjectures about what *could* be the case, but none of them changes the *likelihood* that a brain is necessary for consciousness, or at least what is distinct about particular individuals (one's unique memories, dispositions, personality traits, etc).

Ian: You say I presume a materialist model of the self. That's a convenient way for you to characterize it, given your aims. In fact, though, I presume only the sort of self psychologists encounter in observation. You invent some other merely imagined, hypothetical self. I am not interested in dreamt-of selves which may or may not exist, but the selves that we know to exist.

Neuropsychology has established that the mind we know to exist--the mind that you are using right now--is at the mercy of what happens to the brain. If you posit some other oversoul or something like that, you are talking about some alien entity I know nothing of and have no reason to believe is more than your imaginative fancy.

"I think Keith partially misunderstands the filter model of consciousness."

I don't think that I do, in fact, misunderstand it; but if I did misunderstand, that would be because survivalists themselves offer nothing more than vague analogies like this, never attempting to explain what one could expect to observe if the analogy were valid.

Considering that the analogy is the only thing we have to go on as to what theory of the mind-brain relation is being proposed, it's as if survivalists want nothing more than some superficial morsel to throw back at doubters to quiet them, without having any interest in determining what testable predictions follow from the "filter theory." Do most survivalists *want* to show that their actual position is true, or are they satisfied with a lack of indisputable objective evidence which would vindicate them and make the front page of the New York Times (if it existed)? I would think such confidence would breed a desire to demonstrate to the world, instead of being personally satisfied with evidence that is generally deemed to be arguable at best.

It reminds of me of NDE researchers who say that cultural differences in NDEs are no more than different interpretations of the same sorts of experiences, even though NDE reports from India are demonstably nothing like those from America. The differences clearly go beyond interpreting what is encountered; what is encountered itself varies.

"If consciousness is temporally attached to the brain, it depends on the quality of the brain to its manifestation in the physical world."

See, I don't know what the hell this sort of sentence means. I know what you think it means, but I don't think it has been well thought out. The consciousness "manifested here" is the only consciousness we know of. It is the consciousness people are thinking of when they ask the question, "Will *I* be reunited with my loved ones after death." If you want to pretend that "I" am someone other than who I take myself to be right now, fine; but don't expect me to swallow that. I know my "embodied self." The oversoul you imagine is just some fictional character in a story, as far as I know. I've never met my oversoul; and the way you describe him, he's a completely different kind of person than I am. My guess would be, therefore, that his survival after death would not be *my* survival. It would be like telling me that an extraterrestrial has survived death. Good for him; but what has that to do with me?

The "enhanced consciousness" of NDEs is not a prediction of the transmissive hypothesis, as NDEs do not result from brain damage. The brain is only temporarily affected in NDEs. It is altered, undoubtedly, just as the brain is altered in dreams; but it is not in radically modified in the way a lobotomy changes the brain. I know; you will say that NDEs occur when the brain is not functioning. But that is a conjecture, not a fact. We have every reason to think, at this point, that the brain is indeed functioning at the time of NDEs, just as it is functioning during dreams. There is no clear evidence to the contrary, just a lot of hopeful speculation that this is what happens.

(Indeed, the transmissive hypothesis does not predict NDEs, or any kinds of particular experiences. It predicts a relationship between mind and brain, at most. NDEs would not have been surprising to people before Life After Life was published if someone like William James had already predicted them. They would have thought "Looks like James was right!") Saying transmission entails NDEs is like saying extraterrestrial visitation entails cattle mutilations. You could easily have one true while the other is not.

"I think this kind of dialogue is useful, because, in my opinion, it exposes the weakness of the productive hypothesis."

I find comments like this disturbing, FWIW. You guys should be approaching the evidence in a manner that let's you decide between the transmissive and productive hypotheses, rather than seeking confirmation for what you already think.

This isn't about scoring points, or winning for your "side." It's about find out what is the case. I'm sure Kris will laugh at the comment, but a replicable positive result in the AWARE study would be a victory for me, not a defeat, because the "game" is not about bolstering any particular model, but finding out which model best approximates the truth. Think about it: what would be the point of holding on to an Earth-centered model of the solar system once it was made clear that the heliocentric model was closer to the truth? To inhibit space travel?

I'm a pretty pragmatic guy, so I have little sympathy for imagining all of the possible ways that the universe could be arranged, for instance. If the evidence indicates that the expansion of the universe is in fact accelerating due to the influence of dark energy, what's in it for me to pretend that that isn't the case?

Similarly, if the evidence indicates that I have no choice but to die with my brain, why would I feign belief in survival? If I just believe hard enough, that's not going to change my actual fate. And if I'm wrong and I do survive death, I'm going to actually survive whether I believe I will or not.

So contrary to the stock rhetoric about skeptics and "scientism," belief doesn't mean a whole lot to me. Finding out what's true does. Beliefs are mere thoughts. Reality is what it is, and knowing what's real could actually help me prepare for what awaits--whether that's survival or extinction. (Consider the analogy: If aliens are about to abduct me, convincing myself that they're not real isn't going to help me avoid abduction, and would actually hurt me quite a bit by hastening it.) So let's cut the rhetoric and treat those who disagree with you with some respect, please. We're all in the same boat here, after all.

The brain IS 'altered undoubtedly'...because it now believes it is immortal..but WHY does it believe that, if it isn't? Surely it doesn't fit with evolution. Experiencers become altruistic and loving to others..but this makes them easy prey.What is the benefit if extinction awaits?

Keith,

As you know science deals with probability not fact. We can never be 100 percent certain of anything, the fact that many here are not convinced by your arguments would yes be disturbing to you. Because it seems to me you want some people on here to be convinced by your arguments so they can be converted!.

You said that before in another comment, that if i lose 99 percent of my brain function i will lose 99 percent of my mental function. This isn't true, based on evidence that you appear to ignore.


http://www.flatrock.org.nz/topics/science/is_the_brain_really_necessary.htm

These are powerful cases! that show that you can have little brain matter but have high intelligence.

Keith,

You should also be aware that while neuroscience does pin point correlation between certain areas of the brain, certain actions and the brain states that arise from these, obviously via fMRI, that it doesn't explain and what it can't explain, something I guess sort of harks back to Cartesian Dualism is what a brain state is. Indeed, a problem with a lot of neurosciencists is that they're so quick to publish what they've found (and occasionally do so even in prilimnary stages of experiments) that they never consider the implications. Where do the brain states come from? What causes them? Correlation is not causation. Just because we can show that certain parts of the brain light up when certain things are done, does not mean that we know what causes those parts of the brain to light up.

There has also been studies that show that the changes in blood flow and oxygen consumption that are used to see the brain "light up", as it were, may actually not be entirely accurate. (I don't have this source to hand, I'll try and dig it out later)

Undoubtedly this comes back to consciousness. As far as I'm concerned, there is not a good biological model for consciousness. We have a few alternate theories, of course. I can't speak for the production theory, however, as I'm afraid I know very little about it.

They don't call it the hard problem for nothing. I pay equal attention to biological causes of consciousness as I do to those who say the cause lies in quantum mechanics.

Just some food for thought.


Keith stated:
"There is similar evidence against the existence of a soul. Consider: If sparkplugs were invisible, but produced a spark, we would know of their existence because the sparks they produce would be detectable. If souls were invisible but interacted with the brain, we would know of their existence because neurons would function differently with the soul's extra influences than they would function in the absence of that influence".

Remember what I said to you before about presupposing your own position.

You cannot show that a substantial self does not exist by presupposing their non-existence in your argument. If in fact we are non-physical selves, then in the absence of a non-physical self associated with a body the neurons would indeed function differently. You would in fact have a corpse.

So the very fact that neurons are doing anything at all provides proof that we are substantial selves. And yes I am begging the question just as you are doing!

Also I'm afraid I'm not impressed with this logical positivist stance that "nonobserved and nonobservable things" do not exist. The Universe beyond the cosmic horizon can never in principle be observed. The same for parallel Universes. And of course consciousness is not observable. (unless of course you presuppose reductive materialism).

Appreciate you giving your thoughts though even if I don't agree with you about anything.

If our brains are actually recievers and transmitters of information, and there is a collective warehouse of memories (Like Netflix for past life memories) - those "memories" that are sometimes reported as evidence for reincarnation might actually be the brain sometimes tuning into the memories of other souls that have lived before on Earth. Like either the brain hasn't developed a strong sense of "self" yet - like children who claim past life memories; or hypnotized adults whose own sense of self has been turned off by hypnosis.

Keith,

What would falsify survival?, if artifical intelligence people could create consciousness artifically yes that would falsify survival. You mentioned before how that could falsify survival?, my answer is it can because if consciousness is immaterial then their should be no way to recreate it in a machine. But of course artifical intelligence has failed like behaviorism!.

Wait a second, the brain isn't damaged during nde are you serious?, you cut blood flow to the brain once how fast the brain gets damaged.

As Dr. Peter Fenwick points out

What is quite clear is that any disorientation of brain function leads to a disorientation of perception and reduced memory. You can't normally get highly-structured and clearly remembered experiences from a highly damaged or disoriented brain (Fenwick 1995: 47).


The evidence shows that if you destroy the brain, we cannot observe consciousness in or of the body. That’s it.

Sorry Keith, but that is the most you can logically conclude.

Your assertion that destroying the brain destroys consciousness completely, that is, both inside and outside the body, is an argumentum ad ignorantium: You no longer observe it, therefore it no longer exists. I do not know X exists, therefore X does not exist.

And if you then use that faulty conclusion, reached through the commission of a severe informal fallacy, to inform your decisions about dualism or any other non materialist possibility, then you are begging the question, and committing a second and equally severe informal fallacy:

Since it has not been established in the first place that minds do not separate and do not exist independent of brains, each consequent usage of the same unestablished proposition constitutes a mere assertion of its truth or establishment. A petitio principii: Arguing in a circle. Begging the question.

I am not arguing for the transmission theory, and regardless of how it may seem, I’m not arguing for dualism either. I’m arguing against materialism and the faulty reasoning involved in it.

Dualism might be true, and it might not be. I personally believe that it is untrue, but I don’t really know. More importantly, you do not know either, but between the two of us, it seems I’m the only one who’s being honest about what I know and don’t.

Although I favor a non dualistic variety of panspychism, I’m not burning any bridges, because I don’t know what may develop in the future or if I might need to cross one of those bridges again.

We can only speak of what we can experience. We can’t speak of what is beyond experience. This includes what we can say about what we can infer, since inferences are extensions of experience into areas where our experience cannot be direct.

People claim and believe in an afterlife, and other paranormal phenomenon, for many different reasons. Some of those reasons are experiential: Our individual and collective experience of paranormal events, or other events that we describe as “strange,” and that evade status quo explanation. Our experience of those events constitutes both evidence and some of the reasons for belief in the paranormal.

It is not, in other words, something that we are just making up.

Now we can next have a discussion of what logically constitutes “evidence,” which will no doubt lead us into considering the merits of other staples of skeptical thought such as Occam’s Razor, “the burden of proof rests on he who makes the claim,” and “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence,” (which last idea, to its credit, at least acknowledges varieties and kinds of evidence, which is a step in the right direction for the skeptic), all of which I would be happy to address if you want to go that far.

But the bottom line is that we speak of life after death, and other paranormal things, because we do have evidence suggesting they are real. Otherwise, this conversation would not be occurring in such a serious and what I hope is an intelligent way.

You may not like that evidence. You may have a philosophical disagreement with us over what constitutes evidence, but I also have a philosophical disagreement with skeptics over the same issue, an issue which I would describe as a self serving raising and lowering of the evidence bar based on a prejudicial feeling against things considered “strange,” which regardless of how “strange” they might seem to this or that individual, is equally real, if it is real at all, as any mundane thing which that same individual does not prejudicially call “strange.”

"belief doesn't mean a whole lot to me. Finding out what's true does. Beliefs are mere thoughts."

Oh on the contrary, Keith, belief means a lot to you or you would not persist in the belief that the evidence shows that destroying the brain destroys consciousness period.

"Do you have evidence of the nonexistence of Thor (versus the existence of a nonobservable Thor)? Insofar as Thor is supposed to interact with the physical world, by generating lightning bolts for instance, yes, I do have evidence for the nonexistence of Thor: the fact that lightning bolts are generated by the interaction between positive and negative ions."

Sloppy attempt to show the nonexistence of Thor by disjunction, Keith. If I wanted to be a pain in the ass, I could say that lightning is ALSO generated without Thor by the "interaction between positive and negative ions." Or I could say, what a coincidence: That's also EXACTLY how Thor creates lightning.

I prefer to argue in the positive sense about things that do not exist by tracing them to their origin as constructs of human thought. Thus, while Dracul was a real person, Dracula was not because we can trace his origin directly to the person who created him: Bram Stoker; and that the character did not exist prior to that. Therefore, the character of Count Dracula is PURELY a fiction. This is not always possible, so persuasion that fictitious characters do not exist is not always possible and, ultimately, who knows? Maybe Thor does exist, and I will have a pie in my face. In some cases the origin of fictitious characters is lost to history, and different people will disagree about whether or not such things whose origin is hidden do really exist. Thus, while we can show that Dracula was a fiction (based on a historical person), we cannot convince everyone that vampires themselves are a fiction because their origin is much older than the origin of the character of Dracula. Personally, unless you can show me evidence that vampires are real, I will walk away and happily leave those who believe in them to continue in that wise. And I will keep my fingers crossed that I never meet a real vampire, but I'm not going to hang garlic around my doors and windows, thank you very much.

Knowledge is a slippery thing, and we call lots of things knowledge which yet have various degrees of certainty attached to them. So if you want to get into what constitutes knowledge, that's a whole other mountain to climb. But I've got my gear on if you want to go climbing.

However, the evidence for the paranormal and life after death is actually quite robust compared to the evidence for Thor or Count Dracula. That's why so many people believe in it, people who are rational and who can't be explained away as crazy or dumb or several other unflattering and untrue things, people who also do not believe in Thor, Dracula, or Frankenstein's monster.

I know the paranormal is real from my own experiences. I really don't care what a skeptic thinks at all about my personal experiences or reasons for believing there is something real to the paranormal. I can't prove it to you, but I can't prove to you I ate two tuna fish sandwiches for lunch on Monday either. The events we experience have happened whether we can prove them to Keith Augustine or not, or whether they are stamped "strange" or "mundane" by Keith Augustine, and then filed accordingly in the true and false out boxes.

And that's the way it is.

Now I don't expect Keith Augustine to marry the ideas the paranormal thinkers float. Just respect them. It's way too soon to act like all these questions are settled. They certainly are not settled to me and lots of other people. And we aren't going away any time soon, not as long as we continue having bizarre experiences that evade status quo explanations.

Keith stated:

" you survivalists typically think that showing that survival is merely logically possible is enough to defeat it. It is not, because the argument is about what is most likely given the evidence, not merely what is possible".

I entirely agree with your sentiments here. But given you hold this I find it curious that you therefore think the extinction hypothesis is so obviously correct.

We have on the one hand mind/brain correlations. These strongly suggest extinction. But I take it that you agree with me that these correlations do not *prove* extinction?

Assuming you agree with this then we should also consider all the other evidence and reasons for either subscribing to extinction or survival.

So we have the evidence from NDEs, apparent memories of previous lives, mediumship, crisis apparitions, deathbed visions.

We have indirect evidence such as ESP and so on.

A curious thing about the brain produces consciousness hypothesis is that consciousness is characteristically different from all other physical phenomena. The reality of physical phenomena can be wholly cashed out in terms of the totality of its causal impact on the environment. In other words its structure and dynamics. But consciousness can't because in addition to what consciousness *does*, there is also inner subjective experience or qualia.

So even if brains do produce consciousness we still cannot escape the conclusion that consciousness is different from all other phenomena i.e. it is special (indeed what justification would there be for calling it "physical" at all?) This is curious.

Moreover if we embrace a materialist metaphysic we have to also accept the notion that the self of commonsense is illusionary. This is staggeringly counterintuitive to say the least.

So what I would say if you look at the TOTALITY of all the evidence and reasons for either subscribing to extinction or survival, I think a fair minded rational person would not conclude that extinction is overwhelmingly the more probable. Especially since the filter hypothesis appears to explain mind-brain correlations as much as the production model (I do not agree with you BTW that a properly functioning brain would filter more. I really have no idea why you think this).

At the very least I think a rational person, in light of all this evidence, wouldn't just assume that extinction must be correct.

Keith, you wrote, "So let's cut the rhetoric and treat those who disagree with you with some respect, please."

Though some responses to your points have been rather forceful, many commenters have shown you respect. Consider these comments:

"Keith you ask good questions." - sonic

"First of all I'd like to say you make many intelligent comments." - Ian Wardell

"Keith has posited some interesting ideas, and to examine them in detail, we'd need a whole detailed post." - Jime

"Thanks, Keith, for an interesting and thought-provoking observation." - me

"I do appreciate your sharing your views, which are thought-provoking and challenging as always." - me, again

"Mr. Keith Augustine, I think it's wonderful to have you back in Prescott's blog. I think your comments and articles [are] very important. Please, appear more times." - Vitor, on the "Mrs. Piper" thread

Regarding your statement that you've never met your oversoul ... have you ever tried? Meditation, contemplation, prayer, etc. can help people get in touch with their higher self.

I've found that meditative sessions can give me insights that eluded me in my ordinary state of consciousness.

Keith

Let me tell you what annoys me about you. I consider you a fundamentally dishonest person. There is no nice way to say it so I am not going to try.

I have been curiously reading about NDEs for about 10 year and after I read your paper my first reaction was how the hell did he conclude that! It is like concluding Jesus never existed or creationism.

Keith you know vertical evidence has been produced. It was produced by Sabom, Van Lommel and Sartori. If you want I will gladly reference them for you.

You have to know your explanations on Pam Reynolds are impossible. The earplugs didn't work. Come on man. Pam hallucinated a toothbrush that happened to look like the saw used on her. Come on man, who are you kidding!

I've asked you before would you be willing to submit to these conditions and replicate what NDErs have produced. Of course you won't cause you know it is impossible.

You known visual based NDEs have been produced in people born blind or who became blind at a young age.

You misrepresent NDE views on prophecy and you know this. It has been brought to your attention before.

You know the consensus of NDErs is that they experienced the afterlife. Can you name a single NDEr who was convinced by your arguments.

You know NDEs are not dreams, that has been the consensus of people who have NDEs again and again. If they shouldn't know, why shouldn't they!

Why is it that no direct researcher ( Blackmore and Woerlee are more secondary researchers) on this subject has ever reached your conclusions? Doesn't that tell you something?

I can only reach the conclusion you are a dishonest man and I can see an obvious motive for this. You are the Vice President of Infidels.org and you stand to lose a lot if this issue is best explained by the afterlife, which the evidence seems to indicate! So damn the evidence, just create pseudo problems, misrepresent research through omission , and insist only your model of consciousness can explain all the facts, which has been proven false again and again.

"I consider you a fundamentally dishonest person."

Okay, so not all the comments have been respectful ...

;-)

"You are the Vice President of Infidels.org and you stand to lose a lot if this issue is best explained by the afterlife"

I don't like this kind of argument because it can be used on anyone. Someone could say to me, "You have a Web site about the paranormal so you have a lot to lose if this issue is best explained by materialism."

Truth is, we all have biases and vested interests. There's no way around it.

Anyway, while I admit to somtimes grinding my teeth when I read positions I disagree with, I still think it's valuable to be exposed to all points of view.

And where something as hard to nail down as the afterlife is concerned, reasonable people can (and do) differ.

When Keith first posted he wrote:

"Note that I'm not looking for a fight. If you think I'm wrong, fine; I'm willing to entertain why, specifically, my analysis of the analogy fails. But I'm not posting this comment here seeking to answer a thousand questions about issues that have nothing to do with the production/transmission issue specifically. I just want to make a point, like anyone else would, and move on."

He wants to say what he wants and "move on."??? That doesn't sound very conversational to me. Does he view his role here as a guest lecturer, and us students whose job is to sit quietly and take notes?

I for one am being no less respectful of his ideas than I am with my own when I subject them to rigorous scrutiny and find that I sometimes have to let go of something I thought was true, even though it makes a lot of extra work and rewriting for me to do.

So I'm unable to tip toe around Keith's mistakes out of fear of upsetting him.

My position isn't that he is dishonest because he is the vice president of infidels.org. My position is that he is dishonest cause he misrepresents NDE research by ignoring a lot of inconvenient facts. Facts he knows about. I can think of many times Keith has done that.

Michael and I cannot think of one time that you have done something like that, or have continued in that when corrected. ( ie honest mistake)

Keith acts in many ways like Victor Zammit does. He only presents one side of the case. That is why I stopped using Zammit's website. I have never seen you do that Mike.

Ignoring and misrepresenting facts the refute your views is dishonest. What else can you call that?

My explanation for his behavior is that he is a committed materialist, committed enough to be the Vice President of Infidels.org. If that isn't a reasonable conclusion, why isn't it.

I want to note dmduncan has noticed Keith's tendency to whine about things too. See Keith it just ain't me telling you that.

Kris, I'm not trying get on your case, really. I just prefer to keep accusations of motive out of a debate.

If Keith is a "committed materialist," it's presumably because he sincerely believes the evidence for materialism is strong and the evidence for psi is weak or nonexistent. I disagree with this assessment of the evidence, but that's what makes horse races.

You may feel you've presented facts that refute Keith's views, and I may agree with you, but it doesn't follow that Keith sees it that way. He may find your facts dubious and unproven, or open to a different interpretation, or irrelevant - just as you and I probably feel about the facts he's presented to refute our views.

Different people can look at the same evidence and reasonably come to different conclusions about it, making certain reasonable presumptions that take them in opposite directions. But it's not reasonable to be dogmatic about your presumptions. That's off the map.

See, I don't know what the hell this sort of sentence means

It means, simply, that if the brain is not functioning properly, consciousness will be correspondly affected. In other words, if you suffer an alteration in your brain, your consciousness will manifest changes too.

The "filter" is affecting of stuff being filtered.

If you want to pretend that "I" am someone other than who I take myself to be right now, fine; but don't expect me to swallow that. I know my "embodied self."

But you're identifiying the "I" with your body, and this is not certainly what most people think when they ask if they will survive death (since that asking such thing supposes the non-existence of the physical body, and the survival of the conscious self, the personal identity, after the destruction of the body)

The oversoul you imagine is just some fictional character in a story, as far as I know

If you assert that it's fictional, you're assuming it doesn't actually exist. But it's the issue at stake. Such strong belief possibly prevents you of considering alternative interpretations.

I've never met my oversoul; and the way you describe him, he's a completely different kind of person than I am

And you won't meet it, since you can't meet yourself.

It could be argue the "oversoul" is yourself (your inner conscious self), only that seen under different conditions. It doesn't imply he'll be another wholde different person or entity.

My guess would be, therefore, that his survival after death would not be *my* survival. It would be like telling me that an extraterrestrial has survived death. Good for him; but what has that to do with me?

It assumes an essential difference between your disemboided conscius self and you (as an emboided self). But if the conscious self is the essence of YOU, regardless of if it's emboided or not, the difference is not essential nor ontological, only a difference of conditions.

Regarding your extraterrestial analogy, I'd suggest it's a false analogy, since you're not an extraterrestrial being (and hence, not you); therefore, the latter survival after death is certainly not YOUR survival.

In you analogy, the extraterrestial being is an individual and you are another one (there are two entities to begin with); but in the transmission theory, is the SAME INDIVIDUAL CONSCIOUSNESS that exist in different conditions. What is different are the conditions for the manifestation of consciousness, not the ontological entity or self that is object of the changes of the conditions.

If the conscious self of Keith Augustine, after physical death, continue to exist and be conscious (e.g. having the same memories, etc.), then you have a reason to suppose you are the same consciousness who inhabited in a physical body, only that in a different (discarnated) condition.

The "enhanced consciousness" of NDEs is not a prediction of the transmissive hypothesis, as NDEs do not result from brain damage

But it's irrelevant if the brain is destroyed or not, damaged or not; what is relevant is if consciousness, when separated of and not filtered by the "filter", has a "enhanced state". And this is a prediction of the filter theory, as you has conceded above with you "natural extrapolation" idea.

Therefore, the existence of enhanced mentation in cases of NDEs (when we shouldn't expect for it to occurs) is evidence for an possible separation of consciousness from the brain and, therefore, for the filter theory. (I'm not claiming that NDEs are "proofs" of an afterlife, only that it's evidence for a dualistic conception of the mind-body connection and, by implication, sugestive of an afterlife)

If we have some reason to think that consciousness is separated from the brain, then the filter theory predicts "enhanted mentation", given that it is not restricted by the filter anymore. In your own terms "So the natural extrapolation of "transmission" would be that consciousness would be "freer" or "enhanced""

In other words, your "natural extrapolation" is a correct prediction of the filter theory, but only in the cases where consciousness is not being restricted or filtered by the brain anymore. Only in that case, it's FREED or RELEASED of the limitations of a filtering brain.

If the transmission theory is true, then when consciousness is separated from the filter (e.g. in cases of a destruction of the brain, or in some cases of NDEs), we'd expect that your "natural extrapolation" of it be confirmed because consciousness is not limited/filtered by the brain anymore. But the same could be expected in conditions where the brain is not destroyed, but where we have reason to suppose consciousness is separated from it (like in some NDEs cases with paranormal perceptions).

I know; you will say that NDEs occur when the brain is not functioning. But that is a conjecture, not a fact. We have every reason to think, at this point, that the brain is indeed functioning at the time of NDEs, just as it is functioning during dreams

This is a crude oversimplification. Comparing the functioning of the brain during some cases of NDEs with serious brain impairment or malfunctioning with the normal physiological functioning of the brain during dreams is simply incorrect.

It's correct that during NDEs the brain is not destroyed; but it doesn't mean the brain is functioning properly (or so properly as to explain enhanced mentation).

Fact is that you can't explain enhanced mentation during NDEs as described by Stevenson et al paper; you can only expect that dreams (false) analogy will work.

the transmissive hypothesis does not predict NDEs, or any kinds of particular experiences. It predicts a relationship between mind and brain, at most

The transmissive hypothesis predict that consciousness will continue to exist after death. In this sense, all the evidence for survival confirms such prediction.

It also predict, as a "natural extrapolation" (Keith) enhanced mentation when consciousness is not limited/filtered by the brain, and this is why some cases of NDEs with enhanced mentation suggest consciousness has been temporally separated from it.

I find comments like this disturbing, FWIW. You guys should be approaching the evidence in a manner that let's you decide between the transmissive and productive hypotheses, rather than seeking confirmation for what you already think.

But you're assuming that we have concluded, in advance, what the truth of the matter is and, then, we're looking for evidence for confirmation alone.

But many of us have conclude that survival is a better explanation AFTER of examining the evidence, not before. And this is why I said a dialogue like this is useful, because if give us the opportunity to fully expose the flaws and weaknessses of the arguments in support of the production hypothesis (e.g. when appealing to false comparations with extraterrestial or with dreams).

I am ultimately agnostic on NDEs, even if I few the evidence certainly points to the afterlife view.

NDEs are obviously an important area of research. We need to use facts that have been demonstrated in studies to properly understand it. Also we need to listen to the people who have had the experience. Keith if he doesn't like the facts he will ignore them or misrepresent them, and that is wrong. He will assert testimony is worthless. Then he will cry ( literally I suspect) when anyone goes after him for this. I have seen this guy scream persecution on paranormalia for God sake!

Keith claiming their is no evidence for vertical NDEs is really no different then Kent Hovind claiming that Lucy was nothing but a chimp. Both claims are equally mistaken and both are made by people who should know better and certainly do know better.

Keith simply doesn't have a right to go around and change the facts just cause he doesn't like them. Sorry his attempts at saying no new knowledge has been brought back in NDEs is every bit as goofy as saying Dec 7, 1941 was just another day at Pearl Harbor.

Lets use another example. What if Keith came in here discussing the Holocaust and said the Wannssee council never happened. Or to defend Hitler he argued that concentration camps were work out centers, that's why people were so thin. Would we be praising him for thought provoking ideas if he did this?

His denial of basic established facts with NDEs is just as screwy and it helps no one. It doesn't help serious researchers who have to answer his dribble when their is better things to do with their time. It certainly doesn't help the millions who have had this experience who will get someone shoving Keith's articles at them by some gullible skeptic. His arguments might have been useful twenty years ago but all they are now is smoke and mirrors to defend his pet world view. Who does it help?

I am not amused by this guy at all. He isn't just another skeptic. He is one of the leading figures in putting out misinformation on NDEs and he should be adamantly opposed by us.

Why Keith, why is it a conjuncture to say people haven't had NDEs while flatline?

http://www.skepticalinvestigations.org/whoswho/vanLommel.htm

Yes Keith, people do have NDEs flatline. We have only known this since 2003.

Next fact denial Keith....

Of course I will bet money that if we taped Keith's eyes shut, and plugged his ears he couldn't tell us what happened around him and what people said.

If he can do this while conscious I will give 1K.

If he can this while unconscious I will give him 5K.

Come on Keith lets put your pet theory to the test!

"Keith claiming their is no evidence for vertical NDEs" - Kris
---------------------------------------

I'm sorry but not to being picky, (I'm thinking that English is probably not your first language?) but just for future reference... the word you want is "veridical". It means truthful; veracious, corresponding to facts; not illusory; real; actual; genuine.

Vertical means being in a perpendicular position (up and down).

Please forgive me but I'm just trying to be helpful....

No I meant the word I used. Ie seeing stuff from a vantage point one should not be able to see.

Certainly their have been veridical NDEs too though :)

Oh, okay, I understand now what you are saying. Like near death experiencers saying they were up on the ceiling watching and they could see the bald spot on the doctor's head; like one child's NDE that I read. The doctor was like 6'3" tall and the kid (that had cancer and was confined to a bed) said that he could see the doctor's bald spot and he thought it was funny! (grin!)

yeah that is what I meant.

So yes I can speak English :)

Have a link to that NDE

Have a link to that NDE? - Kris


No, I think it's one I read in a book? Maybe Dr. Melvin Morse's Closer to the Light? Not sure though. I've read so many books about near death experiences and death bed visions. I would have to say though that Dr. Melvin Morse is one of my favorite near death experience investigator/writers.

How old was the kid?

Michael wrote: "Though some responses to your points have been rather forceful, many commenters have shown you respect."

That comment was directed to posters like Kris who say things like "[Augustine has] crossed over into the area of deluded and dishonest in the extreme..."

But I agree with you, Michael. In fact, I'm quite pleased with the general avoidance of irrelevant accusations of bias and so on here. That's why I'm still posting now. And that's why I didn't say anything about it until the very end.

But subsequent comments have proven my point that it was a good idea to suggest that rhetoric be avoided, as you've noted yourself since. Unfortunately, the rhetoric seems to have been taken up a notch, largely due to one disruptive poster who still doesn't see that ad hominem attacks and so forth distract from the real issues, accomplishing nothing. They just waste commenters' time.

That said, I'm quite pleased that this ratcheting up of the rhetoric has not been infectious to other posters. I can't realistically expect the usual suspects to stop engaging in their usual behavior--but I am glad that others have not followed that lead.

So I think that acknowledgement of that professional behavior on the part of the majority here is due. That you can tolerate a supposedly "fundamentally dishonest person" like myself for so long is surely a testament to your stoic restraint :)

Kris wrote: "I've asked you before would you be willing to submit to these conditions and replicate what NDErs have produced. Of course you won't cause you know it is impossible."

This is a ridiculous challenge. I obviously don't have my own research lab to test these sorts of things properly myself, anymore than Kris does. Those who do have access to such resources are the ones who should do the testing, as I noted when I responded to Kris on this point on Paranormalia. Kris might as well disparage me for failing to personally launch the AWARE study. That the question of whether something separates during NDEs is being asked in an empirical manner is what matters, not who does the asking. And I do greatly appreciate those who do go to bother of setting up these sorts of experiments, which can be more difficult to set up than you can imagine until you read some of Jan Holden's early attempts to adequately design NDE target identification experiments that might have some chance of being both properly controlled and successful.

Kris wrote: "You misrepresent NDE views on prophecy and you know this. It has been brought to your attention before."

I responded to this accusation of yours on Paranormalia, and if you did not like what I said there, you're not going to like it when I repeat my response here. So I'm not going to copy and paste it for you, and I'm not going to repeat myself.

Funny that when such allegations are responded to, you (and some others here) just repeat them as if I never took the time to respond in the first place. What guarantee do I have that if I did repeat myself now, you would not simply trod out the same accusation next time around?

"Why is it that no direct researcher ( Blackmore and Woerlee are more secondary researchers) on this subject has ever reached your conclusions? Doesn't that tell you something?"

These are issues I've addressed in print. I'm tempted to leave it at that since my answer will only enrage you further. But instead, let me put it this way: Why is it that no direct researcher (instead of the on-and-off again "secondary researcher") on the subject of the purported UFO crash at Roswell has ever concluded that a UFO did NOT crash at Roswell? Could it be that only those trying to prove that something extraterrestrial happened at Roswell choose to make a career out of studying that case, or UFOs more generally? It is really surprising that half-hearted agnostics and skeptics of Roswell would never invest the kind of time and money into a potential boondoggle, whereas a true believer would because he's trying to vindicate his point of view?

"I can only reach the conclusion you are a dishonest man and I can see an obvious motive for this. You are the Vice President of Infidels.org and you stand to lose a lot if this issue is best explained by the afterlife, which the evidence seems to indicate!"

Nope. Again, another recycled allegation I have already responded to on Paranormalia, but which went in one ear and out the other. Shall I copy and paste it here for you?

As I said before, even if naturalism were false, there would plenty of support for the thesis that all religions are man-made inventions that tell us nothing reliable about a spiritual world. The falsification of naturalism, then, would compel the concession of that falsification, of course; but the falsity of religions would still persist and give us plenty to work on. So Internet Infidels doesn't need an afterlife to be nonexistent, as there are plenty of other religious falsehoods out there that should be exposed for what they are. The fact of the matter is, though, that naturalism hasn't been falsified, and that's why it's the central focus of the site now. If it were falsified, a different focus would be adopted. But were not there yet, which is why there are as many conceptions of the afterlife out there as can be imagined. There simply are no facts about what an afterlife is like, just imaginative speculations.

dmduncan wrote: "He wants to say what he wants and 'move on.'??? That doesn't sound very conversational to me. Does he view his role here as a guest lecturer, and us students whose job is to sit quietly and take notes?"

I view my role here as you do: to throw out ideas and let others run with them or not as they see fit; to correct mistakes (the original point of my first post in this entry); and so on. I do think I have some things to teach, though, just as I have some things to learn. Just as all of us do, and always will.

This is a blog, not a forum. Blogs are not meant for extended conversations. The maintainer makes an extended point, and readers add their 2 cents. And that's how far it is supposed to go.

I try to avoid forums because I don't have the time to participate in them day after day, hour after hour. Whenever I make the mistake of posting in forums, I have to stop posting there, even when posting to fellow naturalists. Hence I try to stay clear of all of them. Not everyone can surf the web all day long. It's that simple.

"Ignoring and misrepresenting facts the refute your views is dishonest. What else can you call that?"

Kris, why do you always assume the worst of those who commit the heresy of thinking differently than you? It's not as if an impartial researcher would conclude that the grounds for Kris' view are irrefutable, as Michael himself has acknowledged. Kris would do well to read Ian Stevenson's old Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease article summarizing the evidence for survival. Stevenson concludes that belief in survival is (I don't recall the exact words) permissible given the evidence, but not compelling. So why do you act as if it is compelling?

"I want to note dmduncan has noticed Keith's tendency to whine about things too. See Keith it just ain't me telling you that."

I wasn't whining, I was telling you at the outset that I'm not going to respond to each and every one of dozens of comments. That just leads to dozens more questions, and if you think I'm even going to attempt to answer 12 x 12 x 12... questions, well, it just ain't gonna happen.

"Regarding your extraterrestial analogy, I'd suggest it's a false analogy, since you're not an extraterrestrial being (and hence, not you); therefore, the latter survival after death is certainly not YOUR survival."

I think you missed my point. My point is not the one you take. My point is that I know the self I have now, and don't know any higher self you say I have. I know the former is a reality, but all I have to go on for the latter is a character in a story you tell. I don't know that that character corresponds to any real person. That's the sense in which that character might as well be an extraterrestrial to me. It's not anyone I've "met" in a figurative sense. Sorry if I was not clear enough about that.

"Yes Keith, people do have NDEs flatline. We have only known this since 2003."

Van Lommel's say-so doesn't make it so. Did you read Jason Braithwaite's critique of his conclusions? I imagine not. But suppose you did. Suppose by some miracle you concluded that Braithwaite's analysis was ultimately correct.

Would van Lommel's say-so have indicated the truth, even if no one (such as Braithwaite) had never taken the time to critique him?

"It doesn't help serious researchers who have to answer his dribble when their is better things to do with their time."

Your "agnosticism" just shines through in comments like this, Kris.

More of the same, little bit louder, a little bit worse. Second verse, same as the first.....

Keith, recycling is only meant to be used with garbage. It is not intended to be used with research. NDE researchers should be researching NDEs, not having to respond to arguments that are at least ten years dated. So yes it is a waste of time.

Perhaps researchers could be doing research on the test that I recommended you undertake ( I will note Keith will avoid any such test cause he certainly knows this will falsify his "explanations") but they are perhaps too busy having to deal with pseudo skeptics, just a thought....

Keith I would be prepared to give you the benefit of the doubt on many, many suspects but you are way too versed in this subject to hold your views honestly. You hold them for what is certainly ideological reasons and you are very, very vested in that ideology. Really it is no different then Goebbels with Nazism.

Gee I think refuting naturalism would be how do I say this score one for religion. I highly suspect many many, naturalist would jump ship for some religion, figuring they are closer then skepticism, which just got a major burning anyways. So yeah, you might find yourself very under employed if such a thing was to happen.

Oh where do I begin with that Roswell stuff.

Hum first off if you cannot see the difference between a one off odd event and something that is happening to millions of people and being observed by doctors around the world then whatever university gave you a masters in philosophy owes the public a major apology.

Second, if you cannot see why mainstream doctors researching an event happening to millions of people is like Roswell shows again why your university owes the public a major apology.

No Van Lommels word doesn't make this true, his evidence does.

Critique of Braithwaite-http://monkeywah.typepad.com/paranormalia/2008/10/dying-brain-hypothesis-not-dead.html

I so wish Keith would be consistent. Evidently skepticism of anything is enough to prove the skeptical view of the subject. If he was more consistent then he would be a creationist, Jew( cause people doubt Christianity), who denied the Holocaust. Now that would be a lot more amusing.

more on flatline NDEs

http://forum.mind-energy.net/skeptiko-podcast/103-nde-research-christian-perspective-podcast-8.html#post983

"More of the same, little bit louder, a little bit worse. Second verse, same as the first...."

If my comments bother you so much, stop addressing me. I'm quite happy to ignore you and address the substantive points that other people make. Why should you get to dominate the discussion, especially when you are just rabble-rousing instead of sticking to the issues?

Don't complain that I didn't answer your questions if, when I do answer them, you "whine" about my answers not being ones to your liking. If you want to talk to a bunch of dittoheads who will just parrot back what you tell them, there are plenty places on the web to get that sort of self-validation.

"you are way too versed in this subject to hold your views honestly."

I've never been accused of knowing too much about a subject to know what I'm talking about. So thanks!

By your reasoning, BTW, those who've been in near-death research for decades "are way too versed in this subject to hold their views honestly." Funny how that rule only applies to those you disagree with.

"Gee I think refuting naturalism would be how do I say this score one for religion. I highly suspect many many, naturalist would jump ship for some religion"

I don't think settling in favor of the reality of one thing is any reason to open the floodgates and credulously believe in every other fancy that has been imagined before.

If only one supernatural thing were demonstrated, the rational response would be skepticism about the reality of other supernatural things that have not been demonstrated. The relevant distinction is not the natural-supernatural one here. It is the demonstrated-undemonstrated distinction.

Things that have been demonstrated to be true by scientific standards should be at least tentatively accepted, while one should not make a leap of faith to believe in mere maybes that have not been demonstrated to the same degree. That probably sounds like "pseudoskeptical" heresy to you, but it is common practice and common sense within science.

It's why black holes were at one point merely hypothetical, until compelling evidence emerged demonstrating their reality. Skeptics have no obligation to believe in things in the absence of compelling evidence. Perhaps you may forgive us for coming to our own conclusions before consulting you first! (Come to think of it, I'm sure that I've disagreeably come to all manner of conclusions about all manner of things without consulting you first, such as before I knew you even existed. How rude of me! But that's not nearly as rude as those who came to conclusions on their own before you were born, of course.)

There are always certain individuals with pet theories, but the scientific community (or historical community) needs the sort of evidence strong enough to build consensus before accepting X as true. It is those sort of "pseudoskeptical" safeguards against falsehood that make medicine and computers possible, not prayer or shamanism.

So a demonstration that one supernatural thing exists would not be a reason to abandon skepticism in favor of believing whatever you fancy. The strength of the evidence would still be the deciding factor.

"...whatever university gave you a masters in philosophy owes the public a major apology."

Nice. The epitomy of impartiality, of objectivity, wouldn't you say? Your own words betray you in the eyes of others far better than any response by me would.

Instead of all this inuendo, perhaps you should ask religious believers like Darek Barefoot and Paul Herrick how biased I am in considering alternate points of view, considering that I helped them tighten up their arguments *against* naturalism when they submitted them for Secular Web publication.

I've read with interest all the above comments; but I suspect that something is avoiding to get us to the core of the matter.

The point of disagreement is if the transmission theory is correct or incorrect; or more correct than other alternatives like the production theory.

Any other comment or references, including labels, speculations about hidden motives, biases, etc are secondaries and a waste of time.

I'd recommend to return to the original problem about the merits of the transmission theory.

As Keith Augustine is explicitly defending the production theory or, perhaps more precisely, arguing against the trasmission theory, I suggest Augustine to do the following:

Enumerate and list your specific objections against the transmission theory. Please, avoid references to man-made religions, God, angels, ufos or aliens. Simply, enumerate with precision what are your objections against the transmission theory.

Once fully and explicitly known and understood your specific objections, we can examine them objectively and give them proper evaluation.

Only like that, we'll know if your objections are good, definitive, irrelevant, strong or weak, and if they pose a serious challenge or not to the transmission theory.

We'll know what are the exact points of agreement and disagreement, and we'll focus in the latter.

This is, in my view, the only way to get a high level, serious exchange about this important problem. Exchanging labels or insults, is infantile, sterile and a waste of time.

Most of us want to know the truth; thus let's to give Keith Augustine the opportunity of give his best shot against the transmission theory.

ZC: I'll try to get us back on track. Instead of a list of objections, it might be useful just to consider one argument at a time. I think just one argument is likely to lead to all sort of responses, so I think it would be more productive, at this point, to narrow the focus a bit, at least for now. It is so easy to lose focus in this sort of venue that I think we should take baby steps.

So, if you want my first argument, it is already here, the aforementioned dilemma of the last four paragraphs of my June 7th post. Perhaps that needs more explanation; but for now, I'll simply refer back to it and see what you think needs clarification or defense. (It might also help to re-read my comments before the disruptive posts to jog your memory.)

Note: The dilemma isn't an argument against the transmissive hypothesis per se, but an argument that "transmission" would not allow personal survival even if it occurred.

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