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excellent video thanks for sharing.

that is what I love about this blog.

he states correctly there tends to be two types of people those that accept everything on the paranoramal and those that accept nothing. with exceptions of course. Braude being one of those exceptions.

neither side understands the role of science or the scientific method.

paradigms was mentioned in this video. :-)

Braude proves some scientists are able to step outside the prevailing paradigm and seek deeply into these mysteries of life.

Excellent video! Thanks for posting.

Nice video! There are some good podcasts featuring Stephen Braude as well:

Speaking of better late then never....

A few months ago when we were discussing NDE experiences I mentioned the Al Sullivan Case to Keith Augustine.

Keith's rebuttal of this was to link to his article on struck me as suspicious but I didn't follow up on it till recently by emailing Dr Greyson. Here are the emails. You be the judge.


My first email

Dear Dr Greyson

I have a question about this NDE case

1. The case of Al Sullivan: Al was a 55 year old truck driver who was undergoing triple by-pass surgery when he had a powerful NDE that included an encounter with his deceased mother and brother-in-law, who told Al to go back to his to tell one of his neighbors that their son with lymphoma will be OK. Furthermore, during the NDE, Al accurately noticed that the surgeon operating on him was flapping his arms in an unusual fashion, with his hands in his armpits. When he came back to his body after the surgery was over, the surgeon was startled that Al could describe his own arm flapping, which was his idiosyncratic method of keeping his hands sterile.

However when I read about this case this is what Keith Augustine reported.

] In his first commentary Bruce Greyson denied that near-death researchers ever appeal to such "'high probability' guesses" when making a case for veridical paranormal perception during NDEs—which is a bit too strong given that such instances can be cited. (In fact, in my response I cited three examples of 'high probability guesses' proffered by near-death researchers). More importantly, though, Greyson maintained that there have been cases of NDErs accurately reporting quite unpredictable details, noting for instance "one man's accurate description of his cardiac surgeon during his open-heart surgery 'flapping his arms as if trying to fly'," a detail which Greyson described as "corroborated by independent interviews with the doctors and nurses involved" (Greyson, "Paranormal" 240). (The surgeon in question had developed a habit of keeping his arms close to his chest and pointing with his elbows to keep his hands sterile.)

But psychologist David Lester had already noted that the 'corroboration' for this case was sorely lacking, writing in an earlier book:

The case [Emily Williams] Cook [and coauthors Bruce Greyson and Ian Stevenson] felt was most supportive [of veridical paranormal perception during NDEs] was that of a 56-year-old man who was operated on for quadruple bypass surgery. During the surgery, he had a near-death experience, including the sensation of floating out of his body and observing the operation. In particular, he described the surgeons working on his leg (they stripped some veins to create a bypass graft) and one of the team flapping his arms as if trying to fly, a gesture which that surgeon habitually made during surgery. The patient wrote the experience down in 1990, and Cook's team interviewed the surgeons in 1997. The surgeon who flapped his arms did not recall whether he did so or not, and the other surgeon did not recall him doing so, although he did confirm that the patient reported the experience immediately after the surgery.

In this case, the best case that Cook could produce, the experience was not recorded for two years and the surgeons were not interviewed until nine years had passed. Given that many patients report near-death experiences and that many of the researchers (such as Ian Stevenson and his team) are located in a university with a medical school, it is amazing that no case has yet appeared in which a near-death experience (let alone one with the features that Cook focused on) has been recorded (with audio or video recorders) immediately after the patient recovered and the details checked there and then. This needs to be done, and it is surprising that it has not yet been done [emphasis mine] (Lester 96).

This looks very suspicious to me. My guess is that Psychologist David Lester is trying to pull a fast one. Many people cannot recall exact what they did at a given moment and if I was asked if somebody engaged in a certain activity at a specific time I would be hard pressed too.

However we can still ask this question. Was the Dr who performed the surgery on Al Sullivan known for regularly flapping his arms , even if he cannot recall if he did it at one specific time.




Dr Greyson's 1st response

Dear Kris,

Thanks for your -email. I was actually the member of Cook's team who interviewed Al Sullivan, his cardiologist, and the cardiac surgeon. The surgeon was not "known" for regularly flapping his arms, as far as I could ascertain. That is, surgical nurses and residents who had not worked with him were not aware of this idiosyncratic habit. However, he did acknowledge to me that he typically did that in all his surgeries when Al had his operation, although he couldn't swear that he had done so for Al's.

As for the suggestion that no NDE had been captured on audio or videotape immediately after recovery, I am not aware of any hospital that has ever permitted research of that kind. Certainly my hospital is much too concerned about patient confidentiality to permit recording without extensive prior permissions, which of course would be impossible to obtain immediately after a cardiac carrest. This strikes me as another illustration that no evidence, no matter how good, will ever satisfy the debunkers.


My next email

Dear Dr Greyson

Thanks for your rapid response. I am not sure per say sure how one would film an NDE anyways, seems a bit screwy to me. If it is happening inside the head obviously a camera would not pick it up and if I do recall the traditional view of the soul is that it is invisible...

Make sure I am reading your response correctly. While the doctor cannot swear that he did the arm flapping during Mr Sullivan's surgery he did state he was in the habit of doing that and he knows he did it in the time period when Mr Sullivan had his surgery.




Greyson's response


Yes, you are reading my response correctly.

Best wishes,


I debated whether I should post this or not. However I have before questioned Keith's motives and I think this proves my case.

There is no way it didn't occur to Keith to simply verify the possibility I verified with Dr Greyson.

Either he contacted Greyson and got an answer he didn't like or he didn't contact him in the first place, knowing this was a very distinct possibly. I will let you all be the judge.

I don't think you've proven anything about "Keith's motives," and I wish you would stop casting aspersions on someone who simply happens to disagree with you.

The case involving the doctor who flapped his arms seems pretty strong to me, but it would be even stronger if it had been investigated sooner and if the doctor had been sure he really did flap his arms on that occasion. Lester's objection strikes me as overstated, but it does raise relevant questions.

It's interesting to get this new info on the case, but I wish you wouldn't couch it in personal terms.

My problem is here

" The surgeon who flapped his arms did not recall whether he did so or not, and the other surgeon did not recall him doing so, although he did confirm that the patient reported the experience immediately after the surgery."

That statement is highly deceptive. It is meant to fool people. It leaves out something that was readily verifiable just by asking Dr Greyson. While the Dr. in question cannot remember his exact actions he can state he does regularly do the arm flapping.

However we know the following.

a.) The NDE was reported immediately
b.) the doctor did engage in the habit of arm flapping, even if he cannot recall exactly when he did it.

A skeptic would have to argue that the man coincidentally hallucinated something as unlikely as arm flapping, in a room with a doctor who is known for arm flapping, but this time did not do that.

I simply do not like it when people try to pull fast ones and that was an attempted fast one.

"That statement is highly deceptive. It is meant to fool people."

I agree that Lester's statement is tendentious and misleading. Whether or not it is *intentionally* misleading, I can't say. Maybe Lester misunderstood the details or had inaccurate information. Who knows?

Regardless of what Lester said, I can't fault Keith for relying on it. After all, 95% of what I've posted on this blog comes from books I've read. I don't check the accuracy of every source. I don't email every researcher whose name comes up, trying to verify or clarify every point. Within reason, I assume that seemingly authoritative sources can be trusted. I don't think this policy implies dishonesty on my part.

Laziness, sure. But I've never tried to hide that.


Thank-you for the link to the interview.
I wonder what would happen if academic freedom was such that a graduate student would feel free to discuss something he had seen that was fascinating before reaching tenure. (I don't think Braude is alone here)
The only problem is that I'm now going to have to read some of his books. So much to read, so much time to read it in...

Maybe I am not in a very forgiving mood .

It was dishonest or at least bloody incompetent on Lester's part( I lean toward dishonest though cause of that misleading dribble about video taping NDEs). Perpetuating it seems best explained by dishonesty to me for the reasons below.

Keith is a trained philosopher. He should have seen the blatant fallacy in that statement instantly. Any half way intelligent high school student would realize it instantly. I hate to sound mean but frankly it is worse if a trained philosopher truly made such a silly error.

I managed to find Dr Greyson's email in about five minutes. My email took me about five minutes to write. I did not take me long at all to unravel this trick.

Keith has debated Greyson before so he certainly knows how to contact him. Being a trained philosopher he certainly should have realized the problem I did instantly and should have followed up.

I am left with two options; incompetence or dishonesty. I lean toward dishonesty for the simple fact that Keith can create the most creative " how it could have been scenarios" and can spot other people's fallacies but he couldn't spot this elementary error. Who can believe that?

I would have been a lot more forgiving if Keith did not know Dr Greyson and could not contact him. Certainly both apply to Keith.

Michael, what would happen if a major Paranormalist got caught misrepresenting skeptics in such a manner?

Stephen Braude's The Gold Leaf Lady should really have been called The Brass Leaf Lady as that appears to be what it apparently was but 'Gold' is more eye-catching!

Braude stated in his book: Materializations (assuming they really occur) are cases where objects seem to be produced out of nothing.

Well they DO occur and are not produced out of nothing - quite the reverse.

I don't doubt the appearance of brass leaf on Katie's body and clothes even though I haven't seen it. From what Braude writes:

In addition to being gratifyingly cooperative, Katie is an unusually versatile psychic subject. The apparent gold foil on her body is only one of the interesting phenomena swirling around her. For example, Katie frequently seems to receive apported objects; seeds reportedly germinate rapidly in her cupped hands; and observers have also claimed to see Katie bend metal. Katie is also reported to be both a healer and a medium (or channel). And in that latter capacity she has been observed and videotaped writing quatrains in medieval French, ostensibly from Nostradamus, and similar in both style and content to Nostradamus’s actual quatrains , Katie appears to be an undeveloped psychic.

He gives credence to this view by adding:
Regrettably, I didn’t observe any foil on the several occasions when Katie lifted her shirt. But I did observe stigmata-like raised and reddish patches on her skin that had not been there before, in the shapes of a cross and of a butterfly. I also observed several instances of automatic writing in medieval French, some other displays of ostensible mediumship, and also a peculiar incident with a video lamp bulb.

Kris, all I can say is that you seem to have a personal animus against Keith, and I think it would be useful to ask yourself why he bothers you so much.

There are many skeptics and always will be. If you let them get under your skin like this, you'll be in a state of perpetual agitation.

For the record, I doubt it would have occurred to me to contact Dr. Greyson, so I guess I'm either incompetent or dishonest, too.

However, I appreciate your providing more information on the case. It's always good to get more facts.

Zerdini, thanks for the quotes. I'd forgotten about the medieval quatrains. I do remember that Katie helped the police solve a case, as briefly described in Braude's book. The gold leaf phenomenon is puzzling, since one would think that hammered metal must originate in a factory. Somehow I would find it easier to accept if she were producing something natural, like flower petals, though I guess there is no intrinsic difference between apporting man-made and natural items.

Braude acknowledges (in his book) that skepticism about Katie is warranted, inasmuch as he and other observers were never able to capture the actual emergence of the gold leaf on videotape. He says he saw it with his own eyes, but doesn't expect others to take his word for it.

It's also worth pointing out that the book is a collection of strange and memorable cases in which Braude personally participated, not a collection of the strongest cases on record. In other words, Braude isn't saying that the gold leaf lady is proof of anything. He's only saying that it was an interesting (and amusing) personal experience.

The gold leaf phenomenon is puzzling, since one would think that hammered metal must originate in a factory.

Maybe it was apported from a factory! lol

It seems to me that it could be poltergeist-like phenomena or a spirit with a highly developed sense of humour.

I agree that it is interesting and amusing.


Keith per say does not get under my skin. His "how it could have been scenarios" get under my skin. They do not strike me as remotely honest.

Maybe I am wrong but over the years I have bee told I am good judge of people.

The Al Sullivan case is certainly an unusual one. Why did Mr Sullivan 'hallucinate' heart surgeon Dr Takata doing an impersonation of a chicken ?

Technically, the hallucination should only contain normal surgical scenarios. Maybe this type of thing is more routine than we think, though, to lighten things up a bit. Takata could have trying to top Dr La-Sala's,( his assistant)rather boring impression of a goldfish.

Very unusual indeed and now in fact we know Dr Takata in fact does the chicken on occasion. However like most human beings he cannot exactly recall when and where he did it.

We also know that Al Sullivan reported his NDE instantly.

Here is how

" The patient wrote the experience down in 1990, and Cook's team interviewed the surgeons in 1997. The surgeon who flapped his arms did not recall whether he did so or not, and the other surgeon did not recall him doing so, although he did confirm that the patient reported the experience IMMEDIATELY after the surgery"

We also know that Mr Sullivan wrote down his experience in 1990.

So we can eliminate the possibility that the following.

a.) Sullivan seeing Dr Takata flapping his arms

b.) Surely we don't think he heard Dr Takata flapping his arms

c.) he recounted his NDE instantly, mentioning this odd detail. Therefore he could not have had time to hear about it normally.

Here is the only possibility open to a skeptic. He coincidentally hallucinated a chicken routine for whatever reason ( maybe he ate KFC the night before I don't know) and against all odds had a surgeon who did the chicken the routine. Surely that is the best explanation isn't it :)

Anything is possibly in skeptic land after all :)

c.) he recounted his NDE instantly, mentioning this odd detail.
Therefore he could not have had time to hear about it normally.

Heres the thing. Did Sullivan report NDE to surgeons instantly or did
they hear about it then? Did Sullivan mention the odd detail to them?
Its hard to believe both of them would not know for sure whether one of
them was flapping his arms at this occasion if it was mentioned to them
right after surgery. Is an astonishing thing to forget!

Since I believe that many NDES and OBES are genuine, I have no reason to doubt the story. However, if I were inclined to doubt, I might hypothesize:

a) that Sullivan heard someone refer to the doctor's idiosyncratic behavior, either before or after the surgery; or

b) that Sullivan was not fully unconscious, despite sedation, and heard someone remark about the "chicken routine" at the time when it was performed.

As I say, I have no reason to doubt Sullivan's recollection, since I'm already convinced by other evidence. But for those who are not convinced, other explanations are at least within the realm of possibility.

Mark also raises an interesting point about how the surgeons could possibly have forgotten such a detail if it was reported to them the same day. I would have to assume that Sullivan did not tell the surgeons, and that they did not hear about his recollection until long afterward, when the case was being investigated. This is not necessarily surprising, since your surgeon may not be the person you'd want to talk to about such an intense, personal experience. (My impression is that many surgeons don't have the most endearing bedside manner.)

Yes he recounted it instantly. Read here Mark

" The patient wrote the experience down in 1990, and Cook's team interviewed the surgeons in 1997. The surgeon who flapped his arms did not recall whether he did so or not, and the other surgeon did not recall him doing so, although he did confirm that the patient reported the experience IMMEDIATELY after the surgery"

However they were interviewed in 1997, seven years later.

The Dr who confirmed that the NDE report probably did not see Dr Takata " doing the chicken".

However this is not remarkable in itself. The other doctor certainly would have focused on the patient while Dr Takata was in another area " doing the chicken".

However Dr Takata cannot per say swear what he was doing seven years ago at an exact location and time, most people cannot. However he can testify if such behavior is normal, and he indicates that it was.

So we are stuck with a very unusual skeptical explanation to explain this one away.

Lets look at these two arguments from Michael

a) that Sullivan heard someone refer to the doctor's idiosyncratic behavior, either before or after the surgery; or

Not likely. If the letter from Greyson is correct then it was not common knowledge. Why would people discuss that anyways. Why would Mr Sullivan recall such a trivial detail.

b) that Sullivan was not fully unconscious, despite sedation, and heard someone remark about the "chicken routine" at the time when it was performed.

I doubt surgeons would discuss such trivial things in the middle of surgery for obvious reasons.

The account mentions he discussed it immediately. I think I gave a very plausible explanation on why the other surgeon didn't see it.

I just did a quick experiment.

I used my watch for this.

I wet my hands. I used the " chicken method to dry them"

It took me three seconds.

so my scenario of the other doctor not seeing this it is very very plausible

It just requires Dr Takata to be out of his view for three seconds. I suspect that would be very likely during a surgery.

I agree that the nonskeptical explanation is more convincing. But it's not airtight. These things rarely are.

I agree with you Michael

I am playing on the web a lot today cause I am sick as hades so not much else I can do :(

A skeptic has to explain why a person would hallucinate such an odd thing and he also has to postulate that a person did said odd thing with a doctor in a the room who was known to do that, but this time didn't.

I have to explain why another doctor missed the event in question. I think I did it well enough. The event was only a few seconds and the doctor more then likely would have been focused on the patient for obvious reasons. If the doctor should have been focused on Dr Takata and not the patient why should he have been focused on Dr Takata and not the patient?

Intriguingly, I think the particular routine that Dr Takata performed, involved his hands being flatened onto his chest(I know I read that some time ago but why that should be more hygenic, not certain) and his elbows flapping, exactly like a real chicken(shape wise), but not really like a simple chicken impression.
I might be wrong, though. cluck cluck. :<

On the topic of Braude, I think he's come a long way from being a big proponent of Super-PSI to being sympathetic to life after death. Here's another video of him discussing life after death, had this interview been made back in the early '90s, I think Braude would've had much different opinions.

Just another point.

I can't really believe that he came out of deep anaesthesia, saw the 'arm flapping' and then went back under, deep enough that he wouldn't be aware of his chest being cut open.I think we have to put this report down to fraud/made it all up. Just like the other two hundred.

Hey Steve

I just called it the chicken cause I had to call it something. What are these two hundred you speak of.

Hey Chris,
I think you might have called it 'the chicken' because I made reference to Dr Takata previously(impersonating a chicken)
Thankyou for that.

' What are these two hundred you speak of '

The number of very evidential veridical accounts during NDE, worldwide, is into the hundreds(maybe more)and I think you know that.(Greyson has over a hundred)I don't have time or the ability to list them all here. You know where to find them, I 'm sure.
Check out Alois Serwaty/Von Jankovitch, for example- Arbeitskreis origenes.

Actually I don't

Tell me where please.

I am slightly surprised we have not seen Keith with this one. I thought he was like Beetlejuice. Say his name three times in any NDE discussion and he appears.

"I am slightly surprised we have not seen Keith with this one"

Obviously you're trying to bait him.

Equally obviously, he is too smart to take the bait.

I respect him for that.

The video aftbrnr links to is really good.
Braude seems to understand the issues surrounding the subject of life after death very well and I have enjoyed his communications in the two videos I've seen so far.
That does it--I'm looking for one of his books tomorrow.

I do like the fact that his interviewer, who seems to be sympathetic to parapsychology, still drills Braude about other possibilities such as fraud. You still need a balanced picture in my own opinion, and I think it is right of the interviewer to ask those questions.

Closer to Truth is a wonderful show. I'd recommend it to anyone interested in our favorite topics here.

Kris, The accounts are veridical but they are in the main anecdotal/retrospective accounts.Life after life contains many. I don't know exactly how many Ken Ring claims to have come across in his first study Life at death. His 'last' was Mindsight in which he produced several good cases of obe observations in the blind. Then there are Sabom's cases can't remember how many exactly(six in particular stand out). Peter fenwick has published some good ones in The Truth in the Light(Major Derek Scull and the red trouser suit case,for eg). Melvin Morse has a nice collection of Childrens OBE's(many verifiable). Elizabeth Kubler Ross(deceased) published some but tended not to worry too much about details. Maurice Rawlings has a few.Fred Schoonmaker claimed to have come across fifteen hundred NDE'S in his surgical career(don't know how many OBE'S were in that figure) There are more researchers than this and not just the English speaking variety. Dr Jaques Charbonier in France, for instance.
Isn't there some data from Germany?

Hey now!!

Saying right now that pretend Augustine comment was not me!

Good God. If that's Kris, sort it out, mate.

Seriously that was not me at all. I posted the discussion but I am not in any way impersonating Keith. Michael can easily verify my claim.

Obviously the comment signed "Keith Augustine" is not really Keith.

It wasn't Kris, either. Not his IP address. In fact, it's an IP address that has not been used for comments before. The user is in Kansas City.

I've blocked that IP address to prevent further comments.

Jeez ...

Oh, I also deleted the fake comment.

Hey Steve

Thanks for the references, it will give me something to look into it later.

Michael, thanks for removing it and thanks for the vindication. That was pretty slimy.

Sorry for jumping to the wrong conclusion, Kris.

I thought that fake comment was funny. Obviously, it had to be deleted - but it's not like it was a real to attempt to be deceitful.

Kris, if you're bored and sick, check out the new Skeptiko podcast for a heated NDE debate. Actually I think the guest makes some good points, he seems reasonable, it's just a tetchy conversation.

There is an excellent interview on NDE's with a skeptic researcher at

Yeah, I fired an e-mail to Michael about the recent interview, hopefully he'll post it on his blog and/or have comments about it.

Looks like we got a rumble!!!

However unfortunately the rumble is a non issue....

Holden was squashed like a bug in 2006....

I always wondered about that REM argument. The basic problem with it is this. There is no way to know if NDErs had a greater rate of REM intrusions before their NDE. Until you can show that, you have nothing, the argument is still born. Increased REM intrusion could simply be an after affect of NDES. Truth be told with all the problems of the REM explanation that is probably what it is.

All is forgiven Major. I can be a prick but I don't resort to dishonest tricks. Honest tricks is another thing though :)

What did the fake Augustine comment say? who was it do you know Michael? or rather not say.

Seems like there is a few people on this blog that don't like that guy, But Sceptics will be Sceptics even if you bash their head against a Brick Wall it won't change their thinking in any way.

I am still a little sceptical of NDE's and Mediums.

"who was it do you know Michael?"

I have no idea. Someone from Kansas City, who had never left a comment here before (at least using that IP address).

Just a silly hit-and-run post.

I should feel bad. Skeptics are never mean to us after all.

some might find this of interest. It's the latest Edge magazine from the Society of Scientific Exploration. There is a book review of Maria Coffey’s Explorers of the Infinite by Michael Schmicker. It details NDE / Paranormal type experiences in extreme athletes.


Sorry MP!

"The user is in Kansas City. ... ...I also deleted the fake comment."

So I guess we are not in Kansas anymore... :-)

Hi, Michael. One more time, congratulations for your good blog. As usual, I come at the end of the party. Anyway, I wanted to leave a note here saying that I intend to write this year two articles on my webpage, the first one "criticizing" Keith Augustine's "The Case Against Immortality," and the second one "criticizing" his online article on "Hallucinatory NDE" and also the whole of his exchange of ideas on this matter with the IANDS guys. I will try to be as constructive as possible, despite a recent information that I received about Keith a couple of days ago. After all, I think, IMHO, that we must always bear in mind that we all have our vices and our agendas, and perhaps we should not go to hard on other people's vices and agendas. Maybe...

Kris said: "I should feel bad. Skeptics are never mean to us after all."

You are a lucky man, Kris. I have been often abused by skeptics and internet atheist-materialists. Some of them seem to be real Bad Boys... :-)

Best Wishes to you all,
Julio Siqueira

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