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thanks michael for that insightful analysis. when i first read that article i was disappointed at the 'flaws' it pointed out, and how this supposedly strong case had turned into another tall tale. but after reading your analysis of the article, i can finally see how the author tried to mislead people with his wordings. it seemed that the author merely forced 'facts' onto people, and provided explanations for every points, but in reality his explanations were based purely on assumptions at best.

this clearly demonstrated how the dogmatic skeptics 1. 'showed' that they're better observers and investigators, 2. that they're the voice of reason unclouded by groundless belief and faith, and 3. debunk woo-hoo as long as they can come up with an explanation, no matter how flaw it is.

i received an undergraduate degree in psychology at one of the top universities in the country, and i was also premed with another degree in engineering- and i can tell you that having training in psychology and biology do not make you a well-trained researcher. chances are, they were doing it for extra credit or course credit, and that they were already dogmatic atheists to begin with and have no experience in the field (my assumption of course, but i highly doubt they did anything other than course projects)

it's likely that those two kids, other than being dogmatic skeptics, just wanted to kiss up to the professor and volunteered for the investigation in order to debunk it. based on the tone of the paper, and their poorly-formed conclusion, i doubt they came into this open-minded at all.

i really doubt being a psychology undergraduate would make you an expert as a field investigator. and from their poorly formed conclusions and misleading tacts, i doubt those students become anything more than they're worth.


Nice analysis, but I'm not sure how credible Kimberly Sharp is. There are some fantastical elements in her book. She definitely doesn't seem to be the most sober of researchers. Check out Bruce Greyson's review:

"In the following chapter, aptly named "We’re Not in Kansas Anymore, Toto," Sharp describes the bizarre aftereffects that made her fear she’d gone crazy ("Not lunatic crazy. Just a little ‘off’"). A spiritual force pulled her away from everything she’d found security in: her family, her friends, her fiancé, and, yes, Kansas. She describes the paranormal events that became commonplace in her life as she followed the signs west, and following a ride in which her car seemed to steer itself without a driver, concluded: "The reality test was over. Reality lost" (p. 38).

Events turn from bizarre to ominous in Chapter 4, "Dance With the Demon," in which Sharp describes her new residence in a farmhouse apparently haunted by a malevolent force. Much of the apparent demonic content of this chapter is hard to integrate, as Sharp relates it as she experienced it, rather than from a clinical perspective. She rejects the notion that she was hallucinating (even though she had narcolepsy and was prone to sudden daytime nightmares), and she also rejects the notion that her house was possessed by Satan; yet she could not deny that the evil presence was real. Some of my difficulty integrating this material derives from Sharp’s continued use of humor to deal with the inexplicable; these matters are not funny, and one wonders why she continued to live in the house as long as she did. This chapter will disturb many readers who, like myself, would rather not acknowledge evil as a distinct force, rather than just a shortage of goodness. By the end of the chapter Sharp comes to terms with these experiences without fully understanding them, and tries to immerse herself in the here-and-now atmosphere of her work in the Harborview CCU--which brings us back chronologically to her encounter with Maria.

Chapter 5 outlines Sharp’s approach to patients with NDEs, not by a dry list of clinical guidelines but by a series of vignettes and quotes from her patients. She suggests gentle but effective ways to open a discussion of patients’ NDEs: "What was your last memory before losing consciousness? Do you remember anything after that?"

The next few chapters return to Sharp’s personal story, from her "going public" about NDEs when a television talk-show host surprised her on the air by asking about Maria and the tennis shoe; to further encounters with ostensible demonic spirits; to her whirlwind romance with her fiancé, his tragic death, and his visitations afterwards; to her Dark Night of the Soul, the inner explosion of wrenching doubt."

Neal's example is why I don't take this story very seriously as an NDE "classic" and why more thorough accounts from researchers like Moody and Sabom are far more interesting. Sharp was also not a trained investigator and seemed to have an emotional investment in Maria's story. That kind of non-scientific approach is one of the things that harms this field of inquiry.

As an investigative journalist, I am a trained investigator, and I didn't learn it in college. I learned it in the field and by listening to and watching reporters and authors with a lot more experience than me. I very, very seriously doubt these two students could have had any finely-tuned investigative skills. As it was, their "investigation" appears to have been little more than "Let's look around and see if we can come up with some plausible ways Maria COULD have acquired her knowledge, then present them as 90% fact." Hardly scientific. That light in the sky over my house last night COULD have been an extraterrestrial spacecraft, but more likely it was a meteorite burning up in the atmosphere.

Proper inquiry is neither skeptical nor supportive, but agnostic. It operates on, above all else, the principle of corroboration. You assume that one memory is flawed or one source could be lying. So you find corroborating information—-witnesses, documents, audiotapes, etc.—-that either back up or contradict what your main source told you. Sharp didn't do this, apparently, when she took Maria's original account, so her data must be considered unreliable. These two skeptical investigators could have spoken to Sharp's associates or checked her out to see if her motives were truly about money or fame (as they insinuated), but they didn't.

I think the whole episode is sloppy as hell on all counts. It's cool-sounding, but as a veridical NDE case, it's really second-rate.

Even there had been no shoe there doesn't mean that at one time there might of been a shoe on that ledge. "What?" you say? As the Borg Queen in Star Trek First Contact said to Jean Luc Picard, "humans tend to think so three dimensionally." Numerous near death experiencers have commented on how time and space were condensed in their experience, and how easy it was to travel backwards and forwards into time and view other time periods. And in fact, I think this is exactly what happened to Susan Blackmore in her somewhat famous drug induced OBE experience. She was disappointed the next morning to find the roofs of the houses that she viewed were a different color than the present roofs. Does this automatically dismiss her experience as being "only a hallucination?" No, it doesn't. It's entirely possible that she might have been viewing the roofs of those houses from a different time period, or another plausible explanation, the way we percieve color and light on the other side is different than the way we percieve it when we are in our bodies. Many near death experiencers say they saw more colors than what we normally see while in our bodies. Michael Talbot in his book The Holographic Universe talks about two women who were in a park looking down on it and they suddenly saw it as it was more than 100 years ago. Somehow they percieved the park as it was many years ago. If after we cross over we are privvy to information from ancient history (and possibly the future) and see in a whole different spectrum, dismissing NDE's simply because it doesn't fit our present predjudices is ignorant. The Universe is much bigger than what our five senses can percieve. We also need to remember that matter is not made out of matter, it's made out of electro-magnetic fields and strange things can happen. NDE's and Time:

"Time and space are modes by which we think and not conditions in which we live." - Albert Einstein

Once your soul leaves your body, all bets are off. Limiting the soul to just what we normally experience is ignorant.
"I was told that before we're born, we have to take an oath that we will pretend time and space are real so we can come here and advance our spirit. If you don't promise, you can't be born." (from Jeanie Dicus' near-death experience, 1974)

"Space and time are illusions that hold us to our physical realm; out there all is present simultaneously." (from Beverly Brodsky's near-death experience, 1970)

"During this experience, time had no meaning. Time was an irrelevant notion. It felt like eternity. I felt like I was there an eternity." (from Grace Bubulka's near-death experience, 1988?)

"I didn't know if I had been in that light for a minute of a day or a hundred years." (from Jayne Smith's near-death experience, 1965?)

"Earthly time had no meaning for me anymore. There was no concept of "before" or "after." Everything - past, present, future - existed simultaneously." (from Kimberly Sharp's near-death experience, date unknown)

"Time could also be contracted, I found. Centuries would condense into seconds. Millenniums would shrink into moments. The entire civilization that I was part of passed by in the blink of an eye." (from John Star's near-death experience, date unknown)\

How the New Physics Validates NDE's:

"I was told that before we're born, we have to take an oath that we will pretend time and space are real so we can come here and advance our spirit. If you don't promise, you can't be born." (from Jeanie Dicus' near-death experience, 1974)"

Assuming the above is so, then:

- Didn't it occur to "Me/Them" that I might get suspicious?

- What in heck was "I" thinking anyway? I mostly don't like it here, at least not so far.

"I think the whole episode is sloppy as hell on all counts. It's cool-sounding, but as a veridical NDE case, it's really second-rate."

Good point. The stories in Kim Clark's book that are recounted in the Greyson review made me cringe. I guess Beyerstein had a point when he wrote, "They came away with the clear impression that these people were scientifically illiterate and far more interested in bolstering their religious beliefs than they were in getting to the truth of the matter."

"They came away with the clear impression that these people were scientifically illiterate and far more interested in bolstering their religious beliefs than they were in getting to the truth of the matter."

This pertains to both sides.

I find that to be true more often than not. The search for "truth" ends up translated as "my truth." That's why third parties are so important. For a real investigation, you need someone with no emotional investment in the outcome.

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I agree with hxsrdtufwk's comment.

Levitra and chest pain, indeed!

(P.S. Don't click on hxsrdtufwk's link. It's spam, of course.)

"Wouldn't some alert staffer have said, "What's the big deal? Everybody's seen that shoe. We've been talking about it among ourselves for weeks. It's the most exciting thing to happen to this hospital since I started working here!"" ROTFLMAO!!!

I'm surprised they didn't remark on the most obvious solution. A clever conjurer could have hidden the shoe on the ledge and then sneaked into the recovery room and hypnotized Maria into believing she had seen it in an NDE.

a little disappointed you didn't keep the matter-of-factly tone you'd started out with. well, we're all human. still, very good work. AND funny. (now, about that swamp in florida, do you thinkl it would qualify as an summer refuge?)

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