Here's an excellent article by Robert Mays on Esquire's recent debunking of Eben Alexander's bestselling book Proof of Heaven. (Thanks to commenter MitiL for providing me with the link.)
The article speaks for itself, and I urge you to read it. It covers the major allegations made against Alexander, including the claims that he was not in a real coma, that his condition was not as serious as he made it out to be, that the Dalai Lama impugned his credibility, and that he has a history of malpractice suits.
Mays even takes the trouble to refute more trivial claims, such as the contention that Alexander's family members could not have seen a rainbow on the day when he emerged from his coma.
He shows that the Dalai Lama's comments were grossly misrepresented; that the coma was indeed real and that Alexander accurately described his condition; and that having performed more than 4,000 surgeries, Alexander has faced a few suits (as I presume most surgeons have in our litigious society), but without any evident misconduct on his part.
Some of these mischaracterizations can be chalked up to simple incompetence; possibly the Esquire reporter didn't bother to read the appendix to Alexander's book, which consisted of a doctor's testimony on Alexander's medical condition; and possibly the reporter missed the passages in the body of the book where Alexander himself mentioned that, even while in a coma, he was occasionally sedated to inhibit the muscle spasms racking his body (a fact that apparently led Esquire to label the coma "medically induced").
Other errors are less easy to understand. The Dalai Lama's comments are available in full on video, and though his English is imperfect, his meaning is more than clear. Moreover, as Mays points out, Alexander was the Dalai Lama's invited guest, and it would hardly make sense to invite Alexander to an event in order to publicly humiliate him.
With regard to the malpractice issue, I think No One summed it up well in a comment on the previous thread:
Most surgeons will experience malpractice suits of the course of a 25 year career. Things go wrong during surgery because surgery is risky and patients/surviving family get upset and look to blame and/or smell the opportunity to make a quick buck. Most plaintiff's attorneys will allege tampering with medical records. Dittrich [the Esquire writer] neglects to mentions this fact or to demonstrate that Alexander is outside the norm in this regard. He is hoping that the reader is ignorant of the facts of the context and will be swayed by the seemingly appalling "facts" he presents.
What is the motivation behind such an article? I'm only guessing, but I'd suggest that the good people at Esquire simply could not believe that Alexander's story was legitimate. It was too cornball, too hokey, too feel-good to be real. Besides, it wasn't scientific - i.e., it didn't fit the narrative favored by the smart set: that human beings are insignificant accidents in a meaningless cosmos. They already knew the story had to be false, so anything that seemed to falsify it had to be true.
There's a blurry line between cynicism and malice, a line brilliantly explored in Billy Wilder's great film Ace in the Hole, which just happens to concern an unprincipled journalist who destroys people's lives in pursuit of a byline. A case can be made that Esquire crossed that line. We can hope the magazine will issue a retraction and apology - but I wouldn't count on it.