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There seems to be alot of resistence to this study but the guy who did the study says himself he is not trying to sway people from believing that the NDE's aren't real or proof of life after death he seems like he is trying to understand the biological link which he has connected to the limbis system of the brain. The area known to house the right temporal lobe. This Dr should read the work that Dr Melvin Morse has already concluded. Of course we don't understand what causes dreams and dreaming in the first place but there are some biological links. I don't understand personally why the need to seperate human physiology and spirituality I remember reading that this guy actually thinks science and spirituality will merge. I am certainly waiting for that to happen. Of course the psudo-skeptics will jump on this and dig their teeth in but who cares let em.

When I had an NDE, I was in my early twenties. Unbeknowst to me, I had a ruptured tubal pregnancy, and was hemorrhaging internally. I collapsed on Ellston Avenue in Chicago, my eyesight gone, and was quickly put into a patrol car and taken to NW Hospital.I later learned that the loss of blood had triggered a ministroke, and that was the reason I had gone temporarily blind. Once at NW, they put me on blood transfusions and stabilized me. I remember seeing my body laying on a hospital bed in the emergency room, and seeing all the medical personnel feverishly working on that body. I remember everything they were saying, and every move they made. I saw a white light, and I started going toward it, because the white light emitted the most peaceful feelings I have ever felt. I got very close to the light, and then had a jarring sensation of being jerked abruptly back to that body on the table.I remember being very upset with the medical personnel for bringing me away from the light.The next day, the Chief of Staff, who had been one of my doctors, came to my room and asked me to tell him any details I could remember from the NDE. I don't know if he was writing a book, or just had an intense interest in NDE'S. He was very shocked when I told him what everyone had been saying and doing in the emergency room. I remember I seemed to be in a left hand corner near the ceiling of the room watching the body on the bed before I started going toward the light. He wrote everything I told him in a spiral notebook, where he had many, many other NDE accounts, also.
I have never been afraid of death since having this experience, it completely changed my views on many things.
The "scientific" views of what happened to me just make my blood boil. I know what happened to me, and it cannot be explained away in scientific terms. It could also never be duplicated in scientific terms. And that is just the way it is....

Okay, I officially love you now. Do you need a married-with-four stalker? I kid, of course. But do you?

I've never had a NDE, but I have experienced astral travel and I believe the way to tell the difference between an astral travel experience and a dream is that astral travel unfolds sequentially and 'regular dreams' are more fragmented. Proof to me that souls and bodies are seperate, and explains why a soul who leaves a dying body is still aware of 'being', surroundings, conversations, and events.

You can't really blame the scientists for their viewpoint. We all have jobs to do, and they chose scientific reason. A much narrower field than writers and spiritualists. Still, I think we all end up in the same place, and oh the wonder the scientists must feel upon arrival!

I, too, have experienced astral projection. It was an amazing experience....
You seem to have a pretty good handle on spiritualism, and on NDE's, whether you have ever experienced one, or not.
I can only tell you, if it ever happens to you, Cheryl, it will completely change your life from then on.
Don't you just love the intelligent people who offer such diverse theories here in Michael's blog? I live way out in the country in SW Missouri, and such intellectual stimulation has literally kept me from going nuts at times. LOL! It certainly takes one away from the mundane chores of daily life!
It was nice talking with you. Later, Diana

Thanks to Mike, Diana, and Cheryl for contributing excellent comments. I was particularly intrigued by Diana's NDE, which occurred when she was "temporarily blind," yet involved very clear visual perceptions.

I'm curious, Diana, as to whether or not you had read or heard anything about NDEs before you experienced yours. (Oddly, reading about NDEs seems to make it less likely that a person will have one. I don't know how to explain that ...)

NR "proves" that spending $$$ on fighting cancer makes no sense. In the end, it was a crook Nixon who started all this.

Ned Rice. Miserable Failure

No, no, no, I am not a political junkie!!! What happens is that, IMHO, correct term for NDE, ghosts, etc is surrealism. With surrealistic technique, all this stuff becomes 100% legitimate.

Yes, MP, I read accounts in childhood about NDE's ....particularly the case with Shanti Devi, the Indian girl.
However, I felt myself to be immortal in my twenties, and never thought such a thing could happen to me. I didn't even know if I actually believed in it back then.
Now, I do....there is something so peaceful about being absorbed by that white light. I will never, ever, forget it, and I feel rather sorry for the "experts" who have never experienced it for themselves! Till later, Diana

Michael, have you read the paper?

>Michael, have you read the paper?

No, only the news coverage. It's possible, of course, that the study is being misreported, the way Scientific American misrepresented Pim Van Lommel's earlier study on NDEs. (Lommel concluded that NDEs could not be explained away as purely biological phenomena, but SA's Michael Shermer attributed the opposite viewpoint to him.)

Sorry, didn't mean for my last post to be anonymous. I just forgot.

The paper isn't available on-line (without paying) but the abstract is. It begins: "The neurophysiologic basis of near death experience (NDE) is unknown. Clinical observations suggest that REM state intrusion contributes to NDE."

When I google "near death experience nelson" (Nelson being the principal author) I find a lot of news stories giving a wide range of interpretations, from "It's been explained!" (popular press) to "There's an interesting correlation" (scientific press).

In an interview, Dr Nelson himself said his work did not take away from the spiritual aspect. He said it described only the how, not the why.

The abstract is here:

I'm a little surprised that Michael should take this so seriously. Science is misrepresented in the mainstream media fairly regularly so any story about a breakthrough in any science should be taken with a pinch of salt. Is Michael's post another case of someone not doing "the most rudimentary research"?

>In an interview, Dr Nelson himself said his work did not take away from the spiritual aspect. He said it described only the how, not the why.

It cannot describe the how, because at least some NDEs occur when the brain is inactive. Therefore they cannot be explained by neurological activity.

Oops. Too much ego involvement in my last comment - and maybe in this whole post. What I mean to say is this: There may be some correlation between NDEs and REM state intrusion, and this may shed some light in NDEs in a limited way. But correlation is not causation. To the extent that the researchers are saying they have explained NDEs, or even "described the how," they are overstating their case and failing to address salient facts about NDEs that any attempted explanation must take into account.

What sources are you using to make the statement "To the extent that the researchers are saying they have explained NDEs"? They've noticed an interesting correlation which concerns elements of NDEs. That's my understanding at least.

Honestly, I'm agnostic about life after death. I haven't read up on it to make any kind of judgement. I'm surprised that this paper is as controversial as it is. It's a very small step towards an understanding of the phenomenon. We'll need to see how these figures stand up to replication, etc. I'm not getting too excited about this, and I certainly don't understand why anyone would get angry about it.

As for "describing the how", I looked back at the quote (from the BBC website) and I misquoted. My bad. Dr Nelson said: "We, as neurologists, address the how of these experiences coming about but not the why"

>What sources are you using to make the statement "To the extent that the researchers are saying they have explained NDEs"?

My source was you: "In an interview, Dr Nelson himself said his work did not take away from the spiritual aspect. He said it described only the how, not the why."

I now understand that what Nelson actually said was "We, as neurologists, address the how of these experiences coming about but not the why."

I still maintain that he is not addressing the "how of these experiences coming about" unless he can account for all the facts - including lack of brain activity on the part of some NDErs.

His position reminds me of Gould's "non-overlapping magisteria" of science and religion, which had the effect of saying that science would determine what was true, and religion would determine how we feel about it. My own view is that science is arrogating too much authority to itself, and that in most of the really important areas of life, it has nothing worthwhile to say.

The average person, if asked what is important to him, would probably say the people he loves, his religious faith, his artistic preferences, patriotism, his sense of self, his moral values - and not one of those things can even be addressed by science. Science, in fact, has attempted to denigrate most of those things, saying that love is merely an evolutionary adaptation or a biochemical phenomenon, that religion is nonsense, that the self is an illusion, that morality is subjective and arbitrary, etc. Science, in its modern incarnation, is profoundly hostile to the things that the average person cherishes most.

With respect to the above, you can count me as anti-science. That is to say, I appreciate the accomplishments of science in many areas, but I think that science itself has overstepped its bounds and acquired a distasteful hubris. And you know what happened to all those characters in Greek myth who exhibited hubris ...

The reason for my first post was not to say it's bad to be anti-science. Merely to point out that Michael was falling foul to the same flaws he was criticising in others.

I can see the splinter in my friend's eye but not the log in my own ... Undoubtedly true. And human, all too human ...

Some people here might find this website interesting: It's the website of Todd Murphy, a behavioural neuroscientist who studies the human brain's role in mystical, religious and near-death experiences. Although he may be classed as "reductionist", he's still very open-minded about possibilities of psychic phenomena. The website also contains some fascinating accounts of Thai NDEs.

You may be interested in the Rhine center's upcoming After Death Conference. Dr. Bruce Grayson and Dr. Ginette Nachman (among others) will be speaking about near-death experiences and other scientific evidence of survival after death. Should be pretty fascinating.

The conference is in Durham, NC the first weekend of May. Head to for more information.

Mark Turner

P.M.H. Atwater, who has written several books on NDEs, has this note on her Web site:

>Dateline April 10, 2006, ABC News carried an article headlined "Neuroscientist Finds Possible Explanation of Near-Death Experiences - Mysterious Phenomenon May Be Related to Sleep Disorder."

>Dr. Kevin Nelson of the University of Kentucky is the author of this study. An official reply to this will be coming from Jeffrey Long, M.D. Until then, please know this. The questions asked of participants were extremely ambiguous, so much so as to miss the point of the study. The control group consisted of friends and colleagues of Nelson - not the type of people representative of the public at large. And, it was ABC News who claimed Dr. Nelson's study "explained" near-death experiences. Dr. Nelson made no such claim in his paper.

>The sensationalism caused by this study is entirely the result of ABC News and their failure to properly investigate the report as submitted to them. Apparently their staff was more interested in making headlines than in reporting news. ...PMH

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