IMG_0569
Blog powered by Typepad

« The case of Gretchen | Main | It's just me »

Comments

The "literally deafening" part should be a bit of a concern. Do we know at what point they were inserted an turned on? As far as I can ascertain, a 100 dBs would cause damage to the ear drum in under an hour. Perhaps the fact that they are a clicking source, rather than a steady one, mitigates this enough to leave them in for longer periods of time...I don't know. Basically, can it be established that they were both in and on at the time of the conversations between the Dr. Spetzler and the nurse?

From my point of view NDE’s are just one piece of the puzzle and they only provide evidence that supports the idea that consciousness can leave the body during a time of crisis. The evidence adds much support that life after death exists.

As NDE’s were the first research I conducted into life after death they hold a special place for me but they did not convince me that life after death exists. Those NDE’s that the person comes back with information that they could only have obtained if their soul or consciousness left their body are intriguing to say the least.

To discount all NDE’s as hallucinations is to hide one’s head in the sand. At the very least they should put doubt into ones mind that materialism is a fact.

There may be a very good reason the veil between this world and others is so thick at this stage of the evolution of our souls.

PROFESSOR ALBERT EINSTEIN: “It is well possible that behind our sensory perceptions hide entire whole worlds we have no idea of."

"Do we know at what point they were inserted and turned on?"

Click on the link in the first paragraph of the main post to go to the Wikipedia page on Reynolds. There's a pretty detailed timeline. It indicates that the earplugs were inserted quite early -- well before the use of the bone saw that seemed to trigger the NDE. The timeline does not specify when the earplugs were turned on.

Does anyone know?

I was rather disappointed to see Tart reference his reply to my paper while ignoring my reply to his commentary. My reply asked two relatively simple questions that it would be easy to answer for someone in the know, and here Tart had an opportunity to answer them: First, were clicks being generated at the time of the conversation Pam reported? Second, if so, were the pauses between clicks (or sets of clicks) sufficiently long to allow a patient to hear an operating room conversation during the interval?

I was rather disappointed to see Tart reference his reply to my paper while ignoring my reply to his commentary. My reply asked two relatively simple questions that it would be easy to answer for someone in the know, and here Tart had an opportunity to answer them: First, were clicks being generated at the time of the conversation Pam reported? Second, if so, were the pauses between clicks (or sets of clicks) sufficiently long to allow a patient to hear an operating room conversation during the interval?

As Michael notes, Irreducible Mind seems to have answered the second question negatively (but unfortunately I hadn't read that until I was already working on my Part 2 JNDS paper). But the primary question has not been unequivocally answered to my knowledge. I've heard that those clicks were not continuous throughout her anesthesia (and Hafiz is not the first person to wonder how they could be without permanently damaging Pam's eardrums), but a clear-cut answer on the timing would benefit everyone.

When I say that such questions would be relatively "easy to answer" I mean that they don't require any hard-to-show metaphysical speculation: the publication of Pam's timestamped AEP or other instrument tracings during the procedure, with any confidential information blacked out, would do the trick. Tart notes that he can verify that Pam was heavily sedated at the time due to such records, but unfortunately they are unavailable to the rest of us. (And documentation of her level of sedation would be equally valuable to one who wants to decide the issue straightforwardly on the basis of the data.)

Anyway, subsequently the closest thing that I could find to an answer to the first question was written in a preprint of Robert G. and Suzanne B. Mays' 2008 JNDS "The Phenomenology of the Self-Conscious Mind." The preprint reads:

"These tests are conducted about 25 times during the procedure: prior to surgical opening, during the bypass, cooling, arrest and rewarming, and prior to surgical closing. Reynolds could hear the doctor's voice through the coverings in and around her ears but not the 100 dB tests directly in her ears."

Perhaps the Mays are correct, but their inference is ambiguous: They never explicitly state that the AEPs were being generated at the time of the overheard conversation in particular, nor (at least in my preprint) do they offer any sort of citation for their statement (not even a personal communication), so there is no one else to turn to corroborate its accuracy. In fact, when they say that "These tests are conducted about 25 times during the procedure..." it's not clear whether they are referring to records of Pam's procedure specifically, or simply what is standard operating procedure in standstill operations today.

If (and this is a big if) the AEP clicks were evenly spaced throughout her anesthesia, 25 times during a 420-minute (7-hour) period of general anesthesia is about once every 15 minutes (420/25 = 16.8).

Since I seriously doubt that it took anything near 15 minutes for Pam to overhear the sliver of conservation that she reported, I think it important to get documentation that her brainstem EEG readings indicate that the AEP clicks were being generated at the same time that Dr. Robert Spetzler's operative report, or Dr. Murray's operative report, note the need for bilateral groin cannulation.

(BTW, I would appreciate it if future commenters refrained from attacking me for sharing information important to answering Michael's question. I could have kept my mouth shut instead of trying to narrow down the answer, after all.)

This is kind of an aside, but as long as we're talking about The End of Materialism: I was disappointed to see psi-skeptics constantly stereotyped as paragons of dogmatic scientism and selfishness in the opening chapters, and then again in the final chapter. Suffice it to say that the more I encountered such polemic, I asked myself: Who is this book written for, anyway? A book whose conclusions aim to be evidence-based, whatever the subject, ought not merely try to preach to the converted. They, after all, don't need convincing. A scholarly treatment in a controversial field ought to try to persuade the thus-far unpersuaded. The disparagement of those who don't already accept the reality of psi--or at least otherworldly psi--tends to undermine your credibility to those yet to be persuaded. Imagine if someone skeptical of anything spiritual--as Michael Prescott himself once was--was open-minded enough to see what Dr. Tart had to offer, only to be told that he ought to say "Why bother?" when he encounters a drowning child whom it would not endanger him to rescue since he doesn't believe in spirits (p. 298). That kind of polemic doesn't tend to win over those you should try to persuade most.

“We are all hardwired for fantasy and for dreams. Lofty sensations of mystical experience is probably no more than a variant on this predisposition in the brain for peace, comfort, and security.”
“I still get goosebumps when I watch a beautiful sunset while listening to the music of Tangerine Dream. However, regardless of deeply I am "moved," I could not be so moved without a body and brain. Everything in my consciousness, even the memory of that day back in August of 1981, will cease to exist, the moment I die.”

These quotes above from the confessions of a mystic. This is a person that went from probably in one paragraph to certainly in the very next paragraph that everything in my consciousness will cease to exist the moment I die. Very conflicting statements.

Reading this person’s short overview of his book it appears to me of someone that had spiritual ambition. We as yet do not know all of the causable variables involved in attainting mystical experiences. Effort does not appear to be one of those significant variables.

As far as the statement “I could not be moved without a body and a brain” is materialism defined. Some of my research into such matters suggests that we can be more moved in these higher viibrational dimensions than we are in this physical dimension.

As far as nature it very well may be very profound and indeed it may be the incubator for consciousness to develop. Or not. We know so little about consciousness, awareness, nature, and indeed the universe but yet we tend to make such statements of certainty.

Someday children will visit a local museum and be told what humans believed in the 20th and the beginning of the 21st century about these mysteries of life and they will smile much like we smile now when we are told of those that believed in a flat earth.

were clicks being generated at the time of the conversation Pam reported?

That's a good question by Keith Augustine.

For the argument's sake, let us to imagine that the clicks weren't being generated at the time of the conversation Pam reported.

But adds the following fact:

She was heavily anesthetized (deep enough to feel no pain from the cutting and sawing on her scalp and skull).

Keith Augustine's objection is in order here "Tart notes that he can verify that Pam was heavily sedated at the time due to such records, but unfortunately they are unavailable to the rest of us"

But we know at least one fact supporting the idea she was heavily sedated: she felt no pain from the cutting and sawing on her scalp and skull. This fact warrant the inference that she was heavily sedated.

Given that fact, we can reasonably assume the levels of sedation were the correct ones required to that important, extreme and unusual surgical procedure. And in these levels, it's unlikely a person could hear accurately a conversation.

And if we are not convinced of that above inference and we don't have direct proof of the levels of sedation, we can try to get an indirect answer posing a technical question: In what levels of sedation is possible to a person hear accurately a conversation? If the levels of sedation to attain that are below the levels required to feel no pain when the skull is being cutted, then Keith Augustine's assumption of incorrect sedation would be proven wrong.

In summary, to weaken Pam case, we have to assume (without any evidence) at least:

1-The clicks weren't generated at time.

2)If they were generated, we have to assume the pauses between clicks (or sets of clicks) were sufficiently long to allow Pam to hear the conversation, during the interval. (This assumption seems to be refuted: the earplugs produced a rapid-fire series of clicks: 11.3 clicks per second)

3-Pam was incorrectly or insufficiently sedated.

4-That insufficient sedation enable her to feel no pain when her skull was being cutted.

5-But the same levels of sedation enabled her to hear accurately and remember that conversation.

(Is likely that 4 and 5 be true?)

All of these assumptions are not entirely unreasonable, but it seems to me they're unlikely given what we know of the case and so I don't consider the case has been seriously undermined.

However, like Keith Augustine, I'd like to know explicit and straighfoward responses and details about these assumptions.

Is likely that 4 and 5 be true?

That's the most common form of anesthesia awareness, yes. Of those who've undergone anesthesia awareness:

* 48% report auditory recollections
* 28% report feeling pain

Why? Because anesthetics are combinations of drugs: sedatives keep one "under"; muscle relaxants keep one paralyzed; and painkillers keep one from feeling pain.

The most frequent insufficient combination, given the statistics above, is sufficient quantities of muscle relaxant, sufficient quantities of painkillers, and insufficient quantities of sedatives.

That's why more anesthetically aware patients report hearing sounds than feeling pain.

Well said, Zetetic chick.
In an NBC special on The near death experience broadcast in April 2001, Dr Spetzler was interviewed(AGAIN)regarding the operation. He stated firmly that Pam's level of sedation was the deepest possible and no one could hear anything in that state,let alone with the clicking nodules/ evoked potentials(many clicks per second), producing a very robust signal. Spetzler didn't make any mistakes in the operation.But If Pam HAD been conscious enough to hear the comments of the cardiologist about her arteries being too small, she should also have been in a state of terror when her head was being sawn open,but she wasn't.

It seems to me that the questions Keith and Hafiz have raised are reasonable.As is often (always?) the case we have a collection of statements about a phenomenon or event that are susceptible to being interpreted differently because there is some uncertainty about some of the detail and in this case none of the participants in this discussion were present at the time.

I suspect that even the surgical staff who were present would not be able to guarantee what was or wasn't happening at every stage in the procedure so there will always be room for some degree of uncertainty. At the end of the day the objective was to fix a medical problem not provide an air-tight basis for proving that consciousness is or could be separate from the physical body.

On a personal level I guess it depends on what degree of 'proof' we are satisfied with. I think it is a very interesting report and suggestive but I don't think it could be regarded as conclusive.

With ref to Prof Charles Tart trying to contact Dr Alan Hamilton.... I posted several weeks ago that Dr Hamilton responded in a very full way to an email from me, requesting information about the Sarah Gideon case which is an amalgam of three 'cases,' one being Pam Reynolds.
He(Dr Hamilton)said,he has repeatedly warned that it is not to be regarded as a scientific treatise but stated that these were REAL EXPERIENCES from REAL PATIENTS.
I think Professor Tart must have the wrong email address because if 'I' can get an answer, then I can't imagine why HE couldn't.
Finally, I take Dr Hamilton at his word,the same way that I take Professor Tart at his, when he assures us that miss Z correctly read the 25132 number in his laboratory, without cheating.
As Tart has quite often said in response to mischevious interrogation." If your going to suggest that(foul play),you may as well just say I made the whole thing up."

I think you hit the nail on the head Steve. You are prepared to take Dr Hamilton and Charles Tart at their word and assume they made no errors. I think Keith and Hafiz are not (apologies to both if I am incorrect in assuming this).

Paul,Hi,
I would rather not give Keith encouragement(not that he's bothered what I say)by debating whether or not the clicking nodules were functioning when they were stuck in her ears.Spetzler says that they were.That particular piece of information gained, would,on it's own of course not be enough to 'prove' anything paranormal,especially if one is a die-hard skeptic.But we have the electric toothbrush etc...and we have many other cases.
Penny Sartori produced some excellent veridical information just recently...it's never enough though.

Just to add to the discussion, science journo outlets consistently publish these small tidbits of 'discovery':

http://dsc.discovery.com/news/2009/10/06/near-death-brain.html

Not that this is definitive by any means, but it outlines the alternative position which is that dying is the greatest, and last, thirty seconds of your life (to paraphrase Erik Davis). If you have a hammer, everything is a nail, if you are a materialist, everything is a neuron firing.

I, too, would like a clear timeline regarding the clicks. But for all I know, even the records of the operation don't include this information.

Let's not forget, however, that the veridical part of Reynolds' NDE consisted of more than hearing a doctor's statement. She saw the way her head had been shaved ("I expected them to take all of the hair, but they did not"). She described the bone saw in detail, including the interchangeable blades stored in a special case. "I remember the heart-lung machine. I didn't like the respirator." Note that her eyes were taped shut, she was anesthetized, etc. She remembered her perceptions as unusually vivid, much more so than ordinary perception. Also remember that this is hardly the only NDE with veridical elements.

Skeptics sometimes argue that it's only natural for someone to describe a bone saw as looking like an electric toothbrush, as Reynolds did. I can't speak for anyone else, but before reading about this case I never had the slightest idea what a bone saw looked like, and I very much doubt I would have imagined it as resembling toothbrush.

Exactly,Michael...and why is the absurd,unproven concept of the all singing and dancing mind model,so happily accepted. How do you accomplish this brilliant act of self deceit,which convinces the experiencer that he/she has actually seen or witnessed something visually, when they in fact(according to the skeptics) haven't.
Why does it always work selectively in near death experiences and not in dreams etc or normal waking states.

"Penny Sartori produced some excellent veridical information just recently..."

From a 2004 newspaper article:

----

More research was called for and Mrs Sartori was ideally placed at the intensive care unit in Morriston, where many accident victims or other gravely ill people "clinically die" but are revived by resuscitation techniques.

She said, "What I found is incredible. One man, whose life signs completely went, said he floated above his body and saw everything.

"He described our attempts to revive him in perfect detail, even talking about a doctor who came in while off-duty then left.

"The patient's eyes were not even open when this happened and he was not only unconscious he was clinically dead.

"The man described seeing a Jesus-like, bearded figure standing next to his dead father.

"He said the figure touched him on the hand and told him to return as it was not his time.

"The amazing thing was that this patient, in his 50s, had suffered a life-long contracture of the hand from birth.

"Afterwards the movement returned to his hand."

Source: http://snipurl.com/sf86k

----

In a paper published in the Journal of Near-Death Studies (Winter 2006), Sartori wrote:

"Another remarkable aspect of this NDE was the fact that the patient was later able to open his previously contracted hand. This
was established during follow-up when he misunderstood one of the questions. When born, the patient had cerebral palsy, which resulted in a contracture of his right hand. He had previously worn a splint on
his hand and had never been able to open it."

Excerpts from Sartori's interview with the patient:

"... when I came back down I could open my hand. This hand has always been strong [left] but this hand [right] used to be like this [fist clenched and contracted under]. All my life, for 60 years, my arm has always been like this; I could never open it. My father used to say, 'The monkey is in the cage.' Now I can open it.... Even my sister was surprised about my hand. I’ve got cerebral palsy and my hand used to be like this [clenched and twisted underneath]; now I can open it. It feels a bit tight, but I do open it."

Penny: "Have you ever been able to open it like that before?"

"No, I’ve never been able to open it like that, Penny. Never; only a little bit."

Penny: "That is only since the experience? Or was it before?"

"Since the experience. I can do everything with it, all the cooking."

Source (PDF): http://snipurl.com/sf8d5

Sartori's paper is worth reading in full.

HI Steve
I agree I doubt Keith is interested in whether you encourage him or not. Having said that, I do think it is important to acknowledge where opponents to one's view are coming from and accept that they are perfectly at liberty to take their own stance on the same set of facts.

Actually, I don't think Keith's view is going to change as a result of anything mentioned on here, not least because it is a debate between people who are were not present at the events described and can't answer his obections from experience. I do think the discussion is useful and interesting but at least from my own perspective is does not appear to lend itself to a categorical conclusion one way or another.

Keith

In those auditory recognition how accurate are they?

Another point, this case doesn't stand alone. There are others ones that one really has to create a highly unlikely scenario to explain them away For example the case documented by Sartori and the Al Sullivan case ( I will confess I would be curious to your explanation for that. What is the odds he would just happen to hallucinate the doctor flapping his arms that way. Did he hear it and that is how he knows ?? Surely they wouldn't keep his eyes open during triple by pass surgery. If that explanation was even viable it would have been stated by now)

This is your problem Keith. You have to cook up way to many unlikely scenarios for your view to work. One of two we could give it to you, but not all this. It isn't just the Reynolds case either. You would have to cook up something again for the Sullivan case and Sartori case. Then when another comes around like that you have to cook it up again, and you still have the last three cook ups. You are not going to convince anyone who isn't deeply committed to your brand of materialism. You seriously have the same problem a creationist does. You have too much to explain away. By gosh it looks like the afterlife ( or at least Dualism), maybe it is. By gosh it looks like animals change over times, maybe they are. Common Sense.

Okay slightly off focus but have you read any of the really strong cases of reincarnation documented by Stevenson? Again you would have to cook up something highly unlikely to explain it away, and that is for every strong case.

How likely is it that two things that seem to strongly point to life after death, that their strongest cases can only be explained away with highly unlikely scenarios are not best explained by life after death? And there are more evidences then just NDEs and Reincarnation where again you have to cook up something highly unlikely to explain them away.

MP: Skeptics sometimes argue that it's only natural for someone to describe a bone saw as looking like an electric toothbrush, as Reynolds did. I can't speak for anyone else, but before reading about this case I never had the slightest idea what a bone saw looked like, and I very much doubt I would have imagined it as resembling toothbrush.

If you heard it and the closest thing in your experience to that sound was a dental drill, the most likely thing for you to imagine would be something that looked like a dental drill.

sw: why is the absurd,unproven concept of the all singing and dancing mind model,so happily accepted. How do you accomplish this brilliant act of self deceit,which convinces the experiencer that he/she has actually seen or witnessed something visually, when they in fact(according to the skeptics) haven't.

The issue isn't whether the "mind model hypothesis" established fact. Clearly it isn't (just as the separation hypothesis isn't). But the "mind model hypothesis" posits uncontroversial explanations for the phenomenon. The "separation hypothesis" posits the existence of things whose reality is not established, and is controversial: souls that can see without eyes, hear without ears, etc.

The burden of proof, then, on the separation hypothesis. Just as the burden of proof is on UFOlogists to show that extraterrestrial spacecraft are responsible for UFO sightings and not military aircraft.

Kris: On Al Sullivan, see: http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/keith_augustine/HNDEs.html#5

I'm out the door, so I have to cut this short...

From the link: http://inicia.es/de/luisfountain/archivos/a-prospectively-studied-nde.pdf

“Penny: On the monitor next to your bed was something hidden on
top. Could you see what it was?”

“No, I’ll be honest with you, Pen, I didn’t look. I didn’t twist my head
back that way; I was just looking at my side. I could see you and the
doctor and two to three others around me. Pen, if that’s death, it’s
wonderful, there’s no pain at all.”

Maybe putting random numbers high above the patient will not reveal much about the NDE. They appear to have other interest than looking for numbers on a screen. I hope everyone realizes that even if someone comes back from an NDE and knows those random numbers there will be those that proclaim fraud or a lucky guess. That is the power of paradigm paralysis.

“Penny: Was there any part of this experience that frightened you?
No, not at all. In fact it was beautiful; it was wonderful.
Penny: Is the experience still very clear in your mind?
Oh, yes, yes. It’s as if it happened yesterday; I’ll never forget it. Not
like the hallucinations.
Penny: What do you remember about the hallucinations?
Oh, they used to happen every time I pressed my morphine button,
you know, the PAC or PCA [patient-controlled analgesia].”

Guarantee you if you have a materialist paradigm then all NDE’s have to be hallucinations and if you are a Christian that other person in a robe you don’t recognize that has loving thoughts you will think is Jesus or suspect it was Jesus.

“Penny: Do you feel like you’ve learned anything from the experience?
Well … no fear about death.”

This is a common outcome of a NDE. Hallucinations don’t give us this outcome or level of certainty there is no such thing as death.

“This interesting case history was elicited from one small prospective
study, conducted in one hospital. Further prospective research on
a much larger scale is warranted in order to provide a wider
understanding of the NDE and, indeed, consciousness. Although this
is only one case, it strengthens the cumulative experience derived
from many other individual cases”

Spoken like a very good researcher. This an example of what the ultra skeptics should have ended with after doing research on the Russian girl that was doing medical diagnosis on patients using her claimed psychic abilities. For the materialist to proclaim that all NDE’s are hallucinations is a large stretch of the imagination but then a materialist lives on a very steep and slippery slope. Even steeper than a religious fundamentalist.

“The issue isn't whether the "mind model hypothesis" established fact. Clearly it isn't (just as the separation hypothesis isn't). But the "mind model hypothesis" posits uncontroversial explanations for the phenomenon”

This is a matter of opinion and beliefs. A materialist would call the separation hypothesis controversial but a person that has experienced a NDE may not think the separation hypothesis controversial at all. What is controversial or uncontroversial says more about our beliefs and paradigms than reality.

This comment about “the mind model hypothesis posits uncontroversial explanations of the phenomena” says much about the materialist paradigm or system of beliefs. It also in my mind at least tells us how a reverence for science can become scientism. I.e. if most scientists believe it then it is uncontroversial.

The history of science should make us very wary of believing something just because most scientists believe it. The same applies to religious beliefs and much that has come out of paranormal beliefs.

By making these comments I am not suggesting that the separation hypothesis is fact anymore than I am suggesting that the mind model hypothesis is not a fact. My comments are only meant to reflect how our use of words reveals how our paradigms that are unknown to us. Our beliefs we see as uncontroversial but others that disagree with us have controversial beliefs.

“The burden of proof, then, on the separation hypothesis.”

By calling others beliefs controversial and our beliefs uncontroversial we then can use the burden of proof agenda. Controversial and uncontroversial are in the eyes of the beholder. I have never considered reading, study, and research into the paranormal a burden; frustrating at times but what better inquiry to make in one’s life then into the mysteries of life.

Oh consciousness and awareness are continually the hard problem.

I really don't have enough time to dwell deeply into the Al Sullivan case, anyone have some comments on what Keith said in his infidels link about it?

I do think Keith is royally stretching things with the toothbrush argument, I mean heck even after reading the Sabom study I am not sure I could really describe a bone saw. Very odd hallucination though that mirrors reality so closely though...

Keith keeps arguing the burden of proof is on the separation hypothesis but for the life of me I cannot see why. Simply put as of now in Oct of 2009 we do not know how consciousness arose, how it functions and exactly what it is so to proclaim it must be one way seems to be a big of a rush to judgment, now isn't it. He has earlier called this a God of the Gaps fallacy but he fails to realize that in the absence of data you can use more then one explanation until further data narrows it down. If not why not? I would suggest that for the problems with the separation hypothesis the problems with the dying brain hypothesis remain, far, far greater.

William is right and noting this a paradigm issue and not really a fact issue. Materialist consider dualism/separation to be an extraordinary claim, therefore it needs extraordinary proof. Others do note. I will note though Materialist for whatever reason think they are the soul judge of this evidence which is really a situation no better then say the KKK claiming that Negroes having intelligence equal to Caucasians is an extraordinary claim requiring extraordinary evidence of which only they are allowed to judge.

Just out of curiosity Keith have you read much of Ian Stevenson's research on Reincarnation? Personally I think they provide better evidence then NDE studies.

William, it's quite simple, as I've explained before, and has nothing to do with paradigms.

I'm not a "fundamaterialist," I'm "metaphysically conservative." I posit only things already known to exist to explain our world. Things not known to exist might be nothing more than fantasies. I will know that they are realities when they are shown to exist.

Between now and then, though, they are merely ideas in someone's head. I do not have sufficient grounds to affirm that those ideas correspond to reality. Maybe in the future that will happen, but it hasn't happened yet.

The issue is epistemological: What do we know, as opposed to merely believe? I choose not to believe in things that are not yet known to be true, because there's a high probability that they are false. There have been far more wrong ideas in the history of thought than right ones; we only learn the right ones. As Hume put it, a wise man proportions his beliefs to the evidence. And the evidence for the things most commenters here believe in falls short of knowledge.

If an NDEr comes back absolutely convinced that he's been to the afterlife and back, good for him: he might have private knowledge that I do not. Just like the alien abductee absolutely convinced that he's been on board an extraterrestrial spacecraft might have private knowledge that I do not. But in both cases all I have are the reports, which are "revelations" to the experients only, and "hearsay" to everyone else, as Thomas Paine put it. To take those reports at face value is in some sense taking a leap of faith.

But to me their evidential value is the same. I am consistently applying the same standard to both reports, and not whimsically accepting one report because it conforms to what I'd like to believe or concerns something that I am interested in, while rejecting the other because I don't particularly want to believe that we're being visited or don't care if we are.

Most of the posters here are "metaphysically liberal," at least when it comes to their own pet areas of interest, though they may not be so liberal about things that they don't care about. And in those cases there's often a kind of odd double standard in what is posited to exist. The unsaid expectation seems to be: "Everyone unblinded by dogma should accept the existence of the things that I believe in and am interested in, but no, I'm not strident that everyone unblinded by dogma accept the existence of things that I don't believe in or care about."

I don't think we should posit things whose existence remains a matter of dispute. Whether it be souls, vital forces, chi, demons, greys, reptilians, Yeti, or whatever.

Kris' argument can be exactly modified by someone enthusiastic about a different area of dispute to make the same case for that phenomenon. So to be consistent, believers should be consistently skeptical, or consistently believe in every half-way plausible controversial claim. Consistent skepticism seems obviously more reasonable to me than affirming everything people have believed in and thought they had good evidence for. Let's modify Kris' comment to illustrate the point:

"This is your problem Kris. You have to cook up way too many unlikely scenarios for your explanations of cattle mutiliations to work. One or two we could give it to you as being due to predators or natural decomposition after a natural death, but not all of them. It isn't just the black helicopter cases either. You would have to cook up something again for surgical-like removal of the organs of cattle, with no traces of blood anywhere. Then when another case like that comes around you have to cook it up again, and you still have the last three cook ups. You are not going to convince anyone who isn't deeply committed to your brand of terrestrialism. You seriously have the same problem a creationist does. You have too much to explain away. By gosh it looks like extraterrestrials are mutilating cattle (or at the government using secret technology), maybe it is. By gosh it looks like animals change over times, maybe they are. Common Sense."

Or not...

Paul,
I don't think I have ever proposed the view that skeptics(in this case Keith)are not entitled to their opinion.
Ref Keith..'But the mind model hypothesis posits uncontroversial explanations for the phenomenon'
'Souls that can see without eyes,hear without ears etc.'
ka .... We are after the truth, here,whether or not it is controversial is irrelevant. Of course finding evidence for the invisable human soul is(that can see without eyes etc) controversial...you and seventy five per cent of Academia don't want it. Your text books would have to ripped up.Many of you would lose your jobs.

Some great points made by all above.

“Just out of curiosity Keith have you read much of Ian Stevenson's research on Reincarnation?”

Stevenson was a very through researcher and ended his articles and books by stating that it is highly suggestive that reincarnation exists. The same applies to NDE’s it is highly suggestive that consciousness survives physical death. Taken alone neither from my point of view is enough evidence that proves that life after death exists but with all the cumulative evidence that exists plus some events in my life that has occurred suggests to me that we are more than our physical bodies.

“William, it's quite simple, as I've explained before, and has nothing to do with paradigms.”

Sorry to disagree but it has everything to do with paradigms and beliefs. No one is immune from paradigms and if a person thinks they are immune from paradigms they are much more deeply controlled by paradigms then they ever could imagine. Paradigms are hidden from our view if they were not hidden from out view they would not be paradigms but cherished beliefs.

We can get a hint of our paradigms with several areas of our life. Like how we respond to others beliefs that are different than ours or how we reject information that does not agree with us, etc.

Example by making this statement this may reveal a paradigm. "This is your problem Kris.” The other person always has the problem or is not a rational thinker or is not as smart or whatever. Once we think the other guy has a problem that should be a huge red flag for us that there is a paradigm at work in our consciousness or sub consciousness.

Also the statement “its quite simple” is another hint that a paradigm is at work here. Our beliefs fostered by our paradigms are simple but the person that does not agree with us well not so simple.

At least with a materialist paradigm you appear to be seeking out answers that may disagree with your beliefs. That is a very impressive level of interest and consciousness. As a former materialist and with much materialism left in my consciousness I may understand this journey much better than you can realize.

Great dialog thanks for that.

"Maybe putting random numbers high above the patient will not reveal much about the NDE. They appear to have other interest than looking for numbers on a screen."

I think the AWARE study uses pictures, not numbers, but I agree that if I were having an NDE, my attention would not be focused on extraneous details. A person having an NDE does not know that he will be "coming back." For all he knows, he is really dead and is not going to return. So a hunt for verifiable details that may impress NDE researchers is not going to be at the top of his agenda.

It's like asking a woman who is giving birth to notice some trivial detail in the delivery room. My guess is that her attention will be focused elsewhere. Dying is probably as big a shock to the system as giving birth, I would think.


Wow what a long post to basically say, I don't like the evidence, I don't like the evidence, you cannot make me like the evidence. If I jump up and down and say it isn't evidence it isn't evidence. I am going to hold my breath till you say it isn't evidence.

Get over it Keith. NDErs have accurately described their medical operations while unconscious, they have seen while blind etc. A dying brain cannot do that. Simple as that. Keith no one but deeply ideological materialists have ever reached your conclusions on NDEs because they don't fit your view too well. For the same reason why no one but very fundamentalist scientist reach the conclusion the Earth is 10,000 years old max. It just doesn't fit.

You are free to believe the universe must operate in a certain way, however I prefer to study the universe and let it tell me how it operates. Sorry buddy but it seems the universe did not feel the need to make consciousness the way you want it to be. Sorry again, to bad, so sad, oh well.

Gee Keith you would never cook up unlikely explanations. Dem earplugs broke, that pain killer didn't work, she had a tooth brush fixation, even if dem earpluggie things worked right sound snuck through them 11 beats per second, them doctors were incompetent she was just too damn dumb to realize she was hallucinating cause well if she wasn't then my pet philosophy is wrong and well I can't be wrong.... All that happening in one person is far more likely then me possibly being wrong. Nah, you would never cook things up, how wrong of me to suggest the possibility.Do you forgive me, oh worthy philosopher?

Of course Keith notes more ideas have been wrong then right, but hey his idea couldn't be wrong now could they?

"Get over it Kris. Alien abductees have returned with inexplicable implants, they have produced veridical maps of star systems etc. Sleep paralysis cannot do that. Simple as that. Kris no one but deeply ideological terrestrialists have ever reached your conclusions on alien abduction experiences because they don't fit your view too well. For the same reason why no one but very fundamentalist scientist reach the conclusion the Earth is 10,000 years old max. It just doesn't fit."

Well Keith you are right for once after a fashion.....

Sleep paralysis cannot give someone implants, I completely agree with that.

Might I highly recommend you try harder in creating real explanations for NDEs that actually explain all the facts then getting in a tit over everything I say. Researching burning is a time honored method of getting rid of inconvenient facts, you could go that route if you wanted to.

Keith will do this all day but he never ever will actually defend his crazy ideas. Makes you wonder if he even believes them.

Keith

I get on your case cause you keep using explanations that are blatantly wrong. I don't know if NDEs are glimpses of the here after, but I do know what your have argued is absurd. It clearly doesn't fit the facts of the Pam Reynolds case or NDEs in general.

Keith, just for curiosity and with intention of seeking mutual understanding, I have some questions:

1- What evidence would convince you that afterlfe exist? Can you tell us, in advance, that evidence would convince you of an afterlife?

I'm not asking if you think that evidence currently exist or not. My question is that possible evidence would convince you.

2-For the argument's sake, suppose that that evidence has been gotten and you're satisfy with it. It meets all your standards.

How do you armonize that evidence for survival that convince you of the existence of an afterlife with the evidence from neuroscience/neurophysiology that (currently) you think support mind-body monism or materialism?

I mean, what mind-body hypothesis would you consider or posit to explain both the evidence from neuroscience and the evidence that for an afterlife have you already accepted?

To be more explicit, what mind-body hypothesis, in your opinion, would account for all the evidence (survivalist and neurophyisological alike)?

3-Whatever is that hypothesis that you posit to account for point 2 (for instance, a variation of the transmission thesis or any other hypothesis), how do you reply to a critic or skeptic who says that hypothesis is nonfalsifiable?

If my questions have not been clear, let me know for formulate them again in a better and more explicit form.

Wow what a long post to go in one ear and out the other is more like it.

Kris wrote: them doctors were incompetent she was just too damn dumb to realize she was hallucinating cause well if she wasn't then my pet philosophy is wrong and well I can't be wrong.

I can be wrong; can you? Indeed, it's virtually guaranteed that I'm wrong about some things, and for all I know this could be one of them.

But pet philosophy has nothing to do with it. You haven't established that your controversial claim is true. No fundamaterialism, fundaterrestrialism, or acryptozoologism needed. The burden of proof is on the one affirming the claim, and it is a sign of intellectual maturity to be skeptical of unproven claims. As in medicine, so in parapsychology.

The issue isn't what might be true. The issue is whether you are justified in affirming your positive existence claim to be true. Just because you feel that your conclusion is a "slam dunk" (to use a notorious expression of false confidence) doesn't mean that it is.

If your position is true, then I'll ultimately find out about it one way or the other, either in this life or afterward, and you can gloat then. So why do you get so testy about it? (Whereas if I'm right, you'll likely never know. Wow, no satisfaction for me. So sad...)

As I said, the issue isn't about whether I am right or wrong; indeed, it isn't about me or "my" explanations at all. It's about whether you know that something leaves the body, or are merely guessing that something does. All agreed-upon experiences occur "in the body"; none occur outside of it. Thus the burden on proof is on anyone who says that some experiences occur outside of the body. Just as with other phenomena that don't suit you but have their own other "Kris's" to defend them just as vigorously.

Kris wrote: I get on your case cause you keep using explanations that are blatantly wrong.

The majority of "my" explanations are intentionally drawn from those in the field, such that if "my" explanations are "blatantly wrong," then the explanations of Harvey J. Irwin, Mark Fox, Allan Kellehear, and so on, are "blatantly wrong." (I wonder, then, why they get a pass from the wrath of Kris.) "Ownership" of the explanations is irrelevant anyway, but if they are so ridiculous, maybe you can explain to me why you think you are intellectually superior to the researchers I just mentioned. Or to any number of mainstream scientists who don't accept a paranormal explanation of the phenomenon either.

Kris wrote: I don't know if NDEs are glimpses of the here after, but I do know what your have argued is absurd.

Ahem, let's not exclude anybody now: "I don't know if NDEs are glimpses of the here after, but I do know what you, Harvey J. Irwin, Mark Fox, Allan Kellehear, and so on and so forth have argued is absurd."

Kris wrote: It clearly doesn't fit the facts of the Pam Reynolds case or NDEs in general.

So... Kris said it; I believe it; that settles it?

ZC: I've answered this question numerous times before. If the late Ian Stevenson could get a medium to open his combination lock at UVA (it's been a few years now; what's the hold up?), or if replicable positive results from studies like AWARE could be obtained, or OBE adepts could consistently project to specific areas to set off sensing devices, then any of that would produce compelling evidence that something leaves the body.

ZC asks: How do you harmonize that evidence for survival that convince you of the existence of an afterlife with the evidence from neuroscience/neurophysiology that (currently) you think support mind-body monism or materialism?

I suppose that we might conclude that the contents of our brains are copied over on to some "spiritual back-up brain" just prior to death (or continuously during life). That is, our minds are brain-based, but copies of them are made. (But then why do we never access the backup while alive to make up for brain damage?)

ZC asks: To be more explicit, what mind-body hypothesis, in your opinion, would account for all the evidence (survivalist and neurophyisological alike)?

To be honest, the "redundant brain hypothesis" I just mused about seems artificially ad hoc to me. Asking what would account for both the survivalist and neuroscientific evidence is a bit like asking what would account for both the evidence for phlogistin and the evidence for the mean molecular theory of heat. They don't really sit well together. Strong evidence that one is true is strong evidence that the other is likely false.

So if we had overwhelming evidence for survival, I suppose that that would mean that neuroscience is way off, and survival would win the balance of probabilities. I guess the neuroscientific evidence would have to be flawed in some way, hard as that is to believe at present.

ZC asks: how do you reply to a critic or skeptic who says that hypothesis is nonfalsifiable?

I'm not sure that this is applicable to my preferred answer to the previous question because there is no hypothesis. There is just proof of survival, and the implication that the neuroscientific evidence is deeply flawed. I guess the next move would be to investigate how it could be so deeply flawed, and how we couldn't detect those flaws before.

BTW, I missed this earlier:

Kris wrote: Sleep paralysis cannot give someone implants, I completely agree with that.

Yes, but someone suffering from sleep paralysis, a condition that caused that person to believe he was being abducted by aliens, could very well go looking for (perhaps with the help of UFOlogists) everyday "scrapnel" like glass or shredded metal and then interpret that as an "implant" when found.

If you go looking for extraterrestrial landing sites, you might find some dead grass that you interpret as just that (when in fact it is just dead grass, perhaps caused by a kind of fungus known to kill grass in a circular pattern, for instance).

Similar misinterpretations of evidence can occur with other phenomena, too.

Keith, I'm satisfied with your answer to my first question.

But I'm not sure I understand well your other answers. I'd like some more clarification, if you don't mind.

I think you misunderstand my second and third questions. You asserts "I'm not sure that this is applicable to my preferred answer to the previous question because there is no hypothesis. There is just proof of survival"

But my question is what hypothesis would account for mind-body relationship, not if survival is a fact or not.

I mean, we have many facts like:

1-Survival (provided it has been proved)

2-Drugs and blows affect the mind.

3-Cerebral lesions affec the mind.

All of these are observable facts.

But (and this is my question) what mind-brain hypothesis would account for all of them?

As a matter of fact, when you says "I suppose that we might conclude that the contents of our brains are copied over on to some "spiritual back-up brain" just prior to death (or continuously during life)." your supposition is a reasonable hypothesis to account for the facts proving an afterlife.

And here my third question is relevant: How would you reply to a critic who says that your supposition of "brains are copied over on to some "spiritual back-up brain" just prior to death (or continuously during life)" is nonfalsifiable?

Is there any way to falsify your supposition?

Facts don't explain by themselves, we have to formulate hypothesis to explain them.

In summary:

-Survival is a fact (for the sake of the argument)

-Blows, drugs and brain operations change the mind (these are another facts)

My question is: How do you explain all these facts? What hypothesis would you posit to account for them?

And if you pose the hypothesis of a "brain being copied", is it falsifiable?

Another point of clarification is this : "That is, our minds are brain-based, but copies of them are made. (But then why do we never access the backup while alive to make up for brain damage?)"

But in that case, is not myself who is surviving, but a copy of me. And a copy of me is not me.

Hence, it seems to me you answer implies that only copies survives, but the "original" is dead.

In simply words: if the AWARE study (and other ones) is positive, even in that case, I'll die too. Only copies of me (but not me) will survive.

Your answer seems to imply extinction of the original (and this the only one I know, because the "copies" is only a supposition to account for the survival fact).

Have I misunderstood your point of view?

Please, clarify a little bit these questions.

Thanks.

Well at least you can admit to being wrong, there is hope.

I have already told you why I get testy with you, so no need to rehash it.

So basically you just rehash other people claims then.... Interesting. Why do I get the very distinct feeling a Dr before a name impresses you. I call arguments involving hallucinations of tooth brushes and stuff of that nature absurd be it from a Doctor, a high school graduate or a philosopher trying to make a name for himself. I call it like I see. Seriously Keith hallucinating a tooth brush, if I didn't know better I would think you were trying out for a comedy show.

Keith why is it you don't think you have to defend the dying brain and it's glaring flaws. Why is it that materialist tend to be so lazy in this regard that they never feel they have to defend their assertions no matter how wild. I would love to see proof positive from you that in fact the ear plugs did not work and even if they did work sound could still get through them, I would love to see proof from you that Reynolds had a tooth brush fantasy or any of the other things you assert. Oh of course you won't defend that, cause your a materialistic and materialist say we are the default position and we get to pitch fits when people demand we have evidence.

Now in defense of Ufologists. Do you really think they would really be as stupid as you just suggested, especially in research? Seriously? It wouldn't occur to them that this glass etc looked down right Earthly.

Let me translate this. Clearly they are stupid cause they are Ufologists so they would clearly do something that stupid. They are stupid cause they don't know the truth that we materialists have determined through our prejudices, that aliens cannot exist. Hey we haven't remotely explored the universe but hey why do that when you know the truth.....

I think this shows an interesting insight in the materialist mind. Incompetence causes positive results into any research that materialists disagree with. Now that is prejudice.

Not really a UFO person myself but that statement from Keith about Ufologists showed everything in a shell that is wrong with the disciples of materialism.

The arguments from Skeptics like Keith and Blackmore etc... on this case are in my mind ridiculous, sure her case should be examined more thoroughly.

But when Pam said in her experience that it felt like she popped out through her head and returning to her body felt like plunging into a pool of ice sounds highly suggestive of a seperation of conciousness to me.

Was she making this up? I highly doubt it and to say something like this is a hallucination as result of a dying brain is clutching at straws, Skeptics never cease to amaze me. lol

Clearly when she felt herself popping through her head she was fantasizing about rice crispies cause she skipped breakfast that morning. ( no evidence of that but hey it is possible)

They make a popping noise and she was hungry so she confused that hallucination with her consciousness leaving her body. Of course being hungry she thought of her head, cause that is how food enters the body.

And this caused her to think of her dead relatives, cause she used to have breakfast with them as a kid. And they had to send her back to brush her teeth. Which gives us the toothbrush, which was saw, which was in fact oh I don't know...

I have no mastered the Augustine school of explanations and now completed his research on this subject. Rice crispies was the missing element in this case.

slightly corrected for two errors I made

Clearly when she felt herself popping through her head she was fantasizing about rice crispies cause she skipped breakfast that morning. ( no evidence of that but hey it is possible)

They make a popping noise and she was hungry so she confused that hallucination with her consciousness leaving her body. Of course being hungry she thought of her head, cause that is how food enters the body.

And this caused her to think of her dead relatives, cause she used to have breakfast with them as a kid. And they had to send her back to brush her teeth. Which gives us the toothbrush, which was the saw, which was in fact oh I don't know...

I have now mastered the Augustine school of explanations and now completed his research on this subject. Rice crispies was the missing element in this case. Snap crackle poop went the NDE.

ZC asked: But (and this is my question) what mind-brain hypothesis would account for all of them?

I don't think you understood my answer. It was essentially that either (1) mind-brain dependence is true, and we are fully biological creatures, but our mental content is copied over to a SEPARATE dualistic system that survives (and that would explain any survival evidence whether or not you called whatever survived death "you"); or (2) substance dualism was true all along, and we are spirits temporarily shackled in a bodily prison, and thus all evidence for mind-brain dependence was erroneous though it seemed true. If (2), we'd have to dig deeper to find out why mind-brain dependence seemed to be true when in fact it was not.

I don't see any other option that would allow personal survival (or at least what would look like personal survival to an external observer, whether you want to call whatever survives "you" or not).

Of those two options, the first option seems too ad hoc, like trying to force two completely opposite theories to mesh when they simply do not mesh, but at least it has the virtue of admitting that observations like "Drugs and blows affect the mind" are not erroneous.

So what theory of mind could explain both neuroscientific observations and evidence of survival? Neuroscience-denying substance dualism on the one hand, or neuroscience-affirming materialism/property dualism/neutral monism where mental content is copied from the brain on to some separate "spiritual substance."

We've been over this ground before with C. D. Broad's compound theory. While alive, according to Broad, your mind is the combination of brain and psi factor. After death, the psi factor might survive. But it would have to be less than a person since the brain-side of the mind would be missing. It would be like getting a lobotomy and saying you survived that. So I don't think Broad can allow personal survival. Impersonal survival of mental traces, maybe. What I like about Broad, though, is that he tried to stretch substance dualism as far as it could go while remaining true to the neuroscientific facts. I just don't think being true to the neuroscientific facts can allow the sort of substance dualism which would be necessary for personal survival. So if dualistic personal survival is true (i.e., ignoring bodily resurrection), than neuroscience has to be wrong. Or else neuroscience is right and a copy survives.

ZC: How would you reply to a critic who says that your supposition of "brains are copied over on to some "spiritual back-up brain" just prior to death (or continuously during life)" is nonfalsifiable?

That it is indeed unfalsifiable so long as the "spiritual back-up brain" is impossible to detect and experiment with (in principle or in practice). It would just be a hypothetical construct and would be rightly treated as such, without that detection. We can observe brains and experiment with them, so there's no doubt that brains exist. The soul, on the other hand, is just an idea.

That's why I take neuroscientific facts to be so damning to personal-survival-permitting dualism in real life, of course. Attempts to reconcile personal-survival-permitting dualism with neuroscience seem like trying to force a square peg to fit into a round hole. The reconcilation is indeed forced.

ZC wrote: But in that case, is not myself who is surviving, but a copy of me. And a copy of me is not me.

Two points:

(1) One wouldn't be able to tell the difference between "you" surviving and a mentally identical "copy" of you surviving. The copy would provide the same information to mediums, etc. Even from a first-person perspective, the copy wouldn't know that it was a copy. (It would be like the movie The 6th Day, where Arnold Schwarzenegger sets out to kill all the clones of himself only to find out in the end that he is a clone.)

(2) I think a person is the sum total of his/her mental content. Questions about whether that sum total is really "you" are just issues of semantics. The issue is whether that sum total survives, or is annihilated. In copying, it survives. Whether you want to call it "you" or not seems nothing more than a matter of personal preference, in my view.

Kris mentioned "hallucinating a tooth brush." Look how far we've traveled: from the original "dental drill, to an electric toothbrush, to a regular old toothbrush. And the irony is that, if I recall correctly, it is Pam Reynolds herself who said that the instrument that she saw looked like a toothbrush, not I.

Kris asked: Keith why is it you don't think you have to defend the dying brain...

I though we all agreed that dying brains exist. People with functioning brains exist, and they all eventually die. (Some already have died.) Ergo, dying brains exist :)

But seriously, we are talking about different potential explanations of a phenomenon. There are two main classes: (1) those that appeal to uncontroversial factors to explain the phenomenon, and (2) those that appeal to controversial factors to explain it. There is a greater burden of proof on the latter precisely because the factors being appealed to are themselves controversial.

In essence, you are explaining one unknown in terms of another unknown, and this is no explanation at all. If you say "crop circles" and I say "ETs," what has been explained? One mystery has been replaced with another. The mystery remains. Nothing has been solved. It's just like saying "Well God made the fossils look that way!" That doesn't tell us anything about why the fossil record has the patterns it does. Evolution, on the other hand, does explain the patterns, in terms of known processes like natural selection, genetic drift, geographical distribution of species, and so on.

So, on the contrary, I'm seeking explanations which are in principle falsifiable. The AWARE study could, for instance, falsify my explanations. The lazy answer "the soul did it" is just like the lazy answer "God did it." What could falsify your lazy "explanations"?

Why are my explanations wild? Deafening earphones not being on constantly during a 7-hour condition is way out there? That the Midas Rex saw sounds like a dental drill is out there? (In fact, isn't it Pam Reynolds' own testimony that the sound reminded her of a dental drill?!)

Kris wrote: materialist say we are the default position and we get to pitch fits when people demand we have evidence.

Nope. The "default position" is that things that are known to be true (by scientific or historical standards) are known to be true, and things that are not known to be true (by those standards) are unknown to be true. Paradigm-talk is just rhetoric. The default is the known, and the burden to move one's belief from the unknown to the known falls upon the one affirming that belief. Whether it be that black holes exist (once unknown, but now known!), or that souls exist (still unknown so far!). The standard is the same, consistently, across the board.

Kris wrote: Do you really think they would really be as stupid as you just suggested, especially in research? Seriously? It wouldn't occur to them that this glass etc looked down right Earthly.

This shard of glass evidently seemed unearthly to this UFOlogist:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RUki-07sp2E

Indeed, analysis revealed that it had odd features! Does this mean that we know that ETs are abducting people? What is your evidential standard for deciding that question? Why is the odd composition of that purported implant not decisive in affirming the reality of alien abductions to you, but reports of veridical NDEs are decisive? Why the double standard?

Indeed, a report is just written words to describe, accurately or not, an unrepeatable event. Here we have something that can be continuously analyzed. Physical traces, even! Shouldn't that be even more decisive than your NDE lore? (Lest you be offended, "NDE lore" is a term used by Bruce Greyson, BTW, or a colleague paraphrasing his research: http://www.esalenctr.org/display/confpage.cfm?confid=3&pageid=22&pgtype=1 )

Kris wrote: Clearly they are stupid cause they are Ufologists so they would clearly do something that stupid. They are stupid cause they don't know the truth that we materialists have determined through our prejudices, that aliens cannot exist. Hey we haven't remotely explored the universe but hey why do that when you know the truth.....

You're putting words into my mouth that I would never utter. In fact you've read me completely wrong.

You might be surprised to learn that I actually believed in ET visitation until I was about 16 years old, eating up books like Budd Hopkins' Intruders and Whitley Streiber's Communion. I even had a subscription to the MUFON UFO Journal. (Why do you think that I know about all of these cases?)

What "deconverted" me was a comment by a critic to the effect that my belief in ET visitation was akin to a religious belief, not based on good evidence, but ultimately on faith. That seed of doubt rolled around in my head for a while. I did not seek out evidence refuting the cases that I thought so compelling up to that point, but reflected upon whether those cases really demonstrated that ETs were abducting people.

Was that evidence as airtight as the authors claimed? Could they be wrong? And then I realized that that evidence was not decisive in that way. It was ultimately just stories, with impressive circumstantial evidence in some cases, but nothing decisive. So I stopped believing in ET visitation. It was not due to some emotional commitment to terrestrialism (if anything, my emotional commitment was to the opposite conclusion, that we were being visited).

Since then I've "grown up" (literally and figuratively), and applied the same evidential standard to all controversial claims. Consistent skepticism, not pick-and-choose skepticism. Skepticism about all such claims, not just skepticism about everything except the claims you fancy.

So I know a little something about being a strident believer in something, and moving past that. I know that those lobbing accusations of fundamaterialism on skeptics are just being juvenile, because I used to feel the same way about skeptics of ET visitation. I don't anymore, because I see that skepticism about controversial topics is legitimate. The skeptics never had an obligation to disprove what I believed in. I had an obligation to prove what I believed in to the rest of the world. And when I realized that I could not do that, I stopped believing myself.

If you doubt my dual perspective, Google "Freedom of Information Act Kit Useful to UFO Researchers." It is the only online evidence of my former self that I'm aware of, back from stone age of bulletin board systems (BBSs) and System Operators (sysops) before there were web pages.

Kris wrote: Not really a UFO person myself but that statement from Keith about Ufologists showed everything in a shell that is wrong with the disciples of materialism.

A disciple to you maybe. Someone who grew up a long time ago to me. I know exactly what it is like to think like you, having been there myself. The difference is that I've long since abandoned believing something to be true just because someone reported it.

“Since then I've "grown up" (literally and figuratively), and applied the same evidential standard to all controversial claims.”

This comment says a lot about how you feel about anyone that does not share your beliefs. Those that don’t share your beliefs are not grown up yet like you. This is one of the most common arguments the atheists use to defend their beliefs. They are smarter and more rational than those that do not share their beliefs.

As far as evidence there is not just stories there have been many scientists that have done their research and come out in favor of consciousness being able to survive outside the human body.

Your website says a lot about your beliefs. It is quite frankly a materialist website as much as if I visited a religious website. But what interests me is why you would spend time on this blog. There is I suspect some doubts in your mind or you would have no need to blog or try to convince others of your beliefs.

Your resources on your website appear to be only those that are materialists and share your beliefs. There is never enough information to convince anyone of anything, it takes personal experience and usually a significant emotional event in someone’s life to begin to question their cherished beliefs.

Concerning UFO’s it is in my opinion that the ultimate in arrogance is to believe we are alone in the universe. I suspect there are far advanced life forms than ours and life forms not as advanced as us.

William wrote: This comment says a lot about how you feel about anyone that does not share your beliefs.

Sigh... If everything I have to say is going to be misconstrued anyway, perhaps I should just be on my way.

My comment was directed at strident believers like Kris, Eteponge, or Leo MacDonald, who talk about survival as if it were all but proven.

It was not directed at cautious researchers like Ian Stevenson or Stephen Braude. Stevenson was careful to point out that the survival evidence is at best suggestive, and conceded that it was not compelling.

William wrote: Those that don’t share your beliefs are not grown up yet like you.

Wrong. Those who act like the answers are so obvious that only a buffoon could disagree with them are not grown up yet. Kris certainly acts like this.

William wrote: This is one of the most common arguments the atheists use to defend their beliefs. They are smarter and more rational than those that do not share their beliefs.

I must have missed that argument in the atheistic arguments that have been published in International Journal of Philosophy of Religion...

William wrote: As far as evidence there is not just stories there have been many scientists that have done their research and come out in favor of consciousness being able to survive outside the human body.

And so there has been "corroboration" for alien abduction experiences too, from physical traces to implants. The question is whether that corroboration really shows what the believers think it shows.

William wrote: Your website says a lot about your beliefs. It is quite frankly a materialist website as much as if I visited a religious website.

I don't get this often trotted out argument. Is it that those who don't care enough to take an interest in an issue, and thus never form an opinion about that issue, are the best qualified to judge that issue?

It seems as if the moment you come to any sort of conclusion on any controversial topic, that conclusion is your branded bias for life, and so you're better off being an ignoramus who never learns enough about something to form an opinion about it.

Is this your advice to people who might (gasp!) come to skeptical conclusions: Don't look into it, because if by chance you come to a conclusion contrary to my own, I'll consider you biased? Who is biased, the one who can tolerate differences of opinion, or the one who scoffs at them? Why does anyone have to believe as you do to be unbiased?

William wrote: But what interests me is why you would spend time on this blog.

As I'm not looking for validation, why should I go to a blog that will pat me on the back simply for agreeing with others on that blog? What could be more intellectually boring than corresponding with people who will just say "Ditto"?

William wrote: There is I suspect some doubts in your mind or you would have no need to blog or try to convince others of your beliefs.

Nope. Disagreement is where actual reflection and learning occurs. Ever heard of the Socratic method?

Anyway, thanks for proving me right in my prediction that I would be criticized for answering Michael's question. Clearly, I should have either kept my mouth shut or wrote an answer and then never returned.

Note to self: Don't answer questions unless those who already agree with you ask them...

William wrote: Your resources on your website appear to be only those that are materialists and share your beliefs.

You mean like these?

http://www.infidels.org/infidels/faq.html#two-sided

William wrote: There is never enough information to convince anyone of anything

Are you recommending a relaxed unexamined life where we never question our own presumptions? "Don't ask questions" has worked well for the wars we've waged, the economy that nearly tanked, and many other things. I prefer more depth than television drama, but YMMV.

William wrote: it takes personal experience and usually a significant emotional event in someone’s life to begin to question their cherished beliefs.

"It does" does not equal "it should."

William wrote: Concerning UFO’s it is in my opinion that the ultimate in arrogance is to believe we are alone in the universe.

And even if that is true, we should believe that ETs are here, and not somewhere else, why exactly? Let me guess: "There is never enough information to convince anyone of anything, so best not to think about it too much. A brain is a terrible thing to use."

The Pam Reynolds is an old case. At this point it should not make too much of a difference because the AWARE study has 1500+ patients involved. Within 3-5 years, we will see if their is any Pam Reyolds-like NDE's that occur. Until then, everything people say is mostly opinion or "anecdotal"

It was essentially that either (1) mind-brain dependence is true, and we are fully biological creatures, but our mental content is copied over to a SEPARATE dualistic system that survives (and that would explain any survival evidence whether or not you called whatever survived death "you"); or (2) substance dualism was true all along, and we are spirits temporarily shackled in a bodily prison, and thus all evidence for mind-brain dependence was erroneous though it seemed true. If (2), we'd have to dig deeper to find out why mind-brain dependence seemed to be true when in fact it was not

Ok, I understand your answer. It includes a dilemma:

1)Copies of brain-generated mental content to another separate system

2)Substance dualism

Only the first option is compatible with neuroscience, the second one is not.

You have not said which of these two options seem to be likely for you (if survival is a fact, which is the fact we're assuming for the argument's sake)

I assume you're more sympathetic to option 1, because it's compatible with neuroscience.

But in this case, it's very interesting that the Keith's "copy hypothesis" (option 1) is unfalsifiable: "That it is indeed unfalsifiable so long as the "spiritual back-up brain" is impossible to detect and experiment with (in principle or in practice). It would just be a hypothetical construct and would be rightly treated as such, without that detection

So, you're admitting that an unfalsifiable hypothesis has to be true, if survival is a fact.

If it's true, then no critic is justified in appealing to "falseability" as an objection of the survivalist position, because if that survivalist is defending Keith Augustine's copy hypothesis to account for survival, he's justified in defending that hypothesis because (granted survival) it's likely to be true, even if it's unfalsifiable.

One wouldn't be able to tell the difference between "you" surviving and a mentally identical "copy" of you surviving.

If that's true, then how do you know what survives is a copy and not the original? A distitncion between copy and the original is made when you say "mental content is copied over to a SEPARATE dualistic system"

But if they are identical, then not difference between them exists, and your thesis of mental content being "copied over" makes no sense. They'll be the same person, and your copy hypothesis (which implies an original which is copied) seem to be merely semantic and metaphoric.

You could reply that the original included a brain, while the copy not, and this make the difference. But if it's true, then 1)They're not identical; and 2)Your definition of person doesn't include the brain as a element: "I think a person is the sum total of his/her mental content", so reference to the brain is irrelevant in this point.

If it's true, you are not justified in making an implicit differentiation between a copy and an original.

In summary:

1-If survival is a fact, survivalists only could explain it with unfalsifiable hypotheses (Keith's copy hypothesis or substance dualism). Hence, not critic can appeal to falseability as an objection to both hypotheses, because one of these hypothesis has to be true even if they're unfalsifiable.

So, survivalists (who believe that survival is a fact) are epistemologically justified in defending a unfalsifiable hypothesis, and the debate with a materialist/neutral monist will be centered only about if survival has been proved or not.

2- Keith defines a person as the sum of his/her mental states (the brain is not part of the definition).

That entails that it is not possible to differentiate a "copy" from the original.

But if it's true, does it make sense to say "our mental content is copied over to a SEPARATE dualistic system? why should we think that what's surviving is a "copy" and not the original?

If the copy is identical to the original, then it's not a copy (because a copy implies the existence of an original, and implicitly it is differentiated of it. Otherwise, it would be the same thing and any differentiation would arbitrary and false)

As addendum to my previous comment, in other writings, Keith has said that the transmission hypothesis is unfalsifiable.

But Keith's own alternative (the copy hypothesis) to account for survival is unfalsifiable too.

So, as far falsibility is concerned, Keith's proposed hypothesis and the transmission hypothesis are equivalent.

Making explicit this aspect of the debate is important, because Keith nor any other critic of the survival position will can employ the "falseability" argument as a valid objection to any hypothesis that attempt to account for survival as a fact.

The dabate would be only about if survival has been proved as a fact or not.

I think we're in a more advanced point in this debate and in understanding Keith Augustine's own position.

This is positive for all of us.

"It was not directed at cautious researchers like Ian Stevenson or Stephen Braude. Stevenson was careful to point out that the survival evidence is at best suggestive, and conceded that it was not compelling."

I don't think this is a correct representation of Stevenson's mature position. It is true that he cautiously titled one of his earlier books "Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation" (1966), but he became more convinced by the evidence as the cases piled up. Tom Shroder's book "Old Souls," written by a journalist who accompanied Stevenson on some of his final trips, makes it clear that by the end of his career Stevenson did find the evidence compelling and was frustrated by the refusal of the scientific establishment to come to grips with it.

Also, Stevenson was thoroughly convinced that at least some psi phenomena occur. The same is true of Braude. Any doubts they may express about life after death are grounded in the possibility that some other paranormal phenomenon -- like super-psi -- may be taking place. Braude's book "Immortal Remains" makes this clear.

Personally I found the following debate interesting. As an agnostic regarding most things (I'm one of those intellectually lazy people mentioned ;)) I found Kieth's arguments generally fair and well thought out. He didn't come across as a frothing godbasher to me, just a bloke who doesn't think the evidence is very good.

I thought I'd add that just so as he doesn't think we're all so eager to ignore or ridicule dissenters on this blog. I have to respect anyone who actually attempts to debate reasonably on "away" ground when they know they won't automatically be among supporters of their views.

"I have to respect anyone who actually attempts to debate reasonably on "away" ground when they know they won't automatically be among supporters of their views."

I agree. Though I disagree with much of Keith's reasoning, his arguments always make me think, and that's a good thing.

I do wish he would ease up on the "cattle mutilations" trope, though. I haven't studied cattle mutilations, but I very much doubt that the (alleged) phenomenon has been subjected to serious study by medical doctors and scientists around the world, as NDEs have, or that the research has been published in peer-reviewed journals (including medical journals). To me, it's apples and oranges. The only common denominator is that both subjects are seen as "weird." But everything seems weird until we understand it, so if we dismiss all weirdness out of hand we will never learn anything new.

The comments to this entry are closed.