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"According to Dr. Robert Spetzler the Neurosurgeon who operated on Pam Reynolds, interviewed in The Day I Died documentary about the case, she wouldn't have been able to hear with the clickers in her ears."

That is a good point, and I also wondered about it. I am sure that Dr. Spetzler is aware of this frequency issue. But, similarly, I was pretty much aware of it too all the while (at least since 1986, when I started to have contact with this frequency issues in human hearing), and it took my brother (who is actually far less aware of it than I am, though still well informed) to call it to my attention just yesterday...

I think that Spetzler has other things in his mind when thinking about this kind of surgery, and this may have led him to forget this detail. Or maybe he did not forget and indeed the clicks would interfere with (block) Pam's hearing capabilities. I am sure we are soon to find it out. Usually (Vitor Moura told me), Greyson replies to emails on Tuesdays. If this information is irrelevant, he will spot it right away. In the meantime maybe we could get some feedback from Woerlee (if he has not been caught, in Southeast Asian seas, by some tsunami - I my memory serves me well, he was there last December while I was serving undercover in my Jihad against poor old skeptic Victor Stenger in the avoid-L email list... :-) ).

Julio
_____

An useful experiment would be to find 50 or more volunteers, place the same model earplugs in their ears, tape their eyes shut, addminister anesthesia to them at levels comparable to where Woerlee thinks Reynolds was when she "heard" the operating room chatter, give them equivalent doses of the pain killers that Reynold had during the operation, and then see if they can accurately recall hearing statements (never mind clearly seeing objects and events as Reynolds did).

Incentivize the subjects; perhaps with monetary reward for correct recallections.

I wonder if this can be done (think human subjects ethics pannels)?

Alternatively, a meta-analysis could be done wherein data is collected pertaining to two sets of individuals; 1. operating room, anesthesia, pain killers, etc, "woke up" and perceived external events, but did not experience a classic NDE and 2. all of the same medical variables, but classic NDE reported.

Compare and contrast - both quantitatively and qualitatively - both groups.

Personally, I find it hard to believe that anyone as "drugged" as Reynolds was could have the clarity of perception that she (and others like her) claim to have had, if they were perceiving through the normal 5 senses. However, I could be very wrong about this. Studies such as those I outlined would go a long ways toward settling this issue (form me at least).

About Woerlee and Keith: I think that "skeptics" in general have helped a lot in our attempts at understanding what NDEs possibly are. Keith and Woerlee have advanced very important contributions. Yet, problems remain (no one is perfect…).

As a teaser, one very first issue that I would really like to see is that atheist-materialist skeptics could at least agree among themselves instead of eating the very same cake twice… That is, Keith and Gerald, was Pam Reynolds utterly frightened or perfectly calm at the moment she heard her skull being drilled open? Keith seems to have us believe the former. Woerlee the latter. But even though, dear Sirs, we are here most of us believers, you should not expect us to believe both of these conflicting assertions at the very same time…

In his series of articles and letters to JNDS, Keith forgot some of the points Woerlee advanced in his site, I think. Woerlee indicated the possibility that Pam's NDE was triggered by the effects of vibrations of the drilling on certain nerves of the head. Also, Woerlee talks about hearing conveyed though the bones, so to speak. Those are interesting possibilities that should be kept in mind.

I have a feeling (sorry if I understand you wrong, Gerald) that Gerald Woerlee is a little bit (or quite a lot) dismissive regarding the evidence for afterlife survival coming from mediumistic activity and cases of the reincarnation type (CORT - Ian Stevenson's et al's works). I have read a lot about CORT and a little about mediums like Mrs. Piper. The evidence is amazing. And of very good quality. I am not saying that it is compelling. What I am saying is that one should not despise it without careful/meticulous/in-depth analysis of the material. Few people do it. And I am referring both to non believers and to believers as well. Recently, Vitor Moura wrote (and got accepted for publication) an article where he pointed out potential problems in CORT research, and he analyzed, among other things, one specific article by Jim Tucker: Children Who Claim to Remember Previous Lives: Cases with Written Records Made before the Previous Personality Was Identified. H. H. Jürgen Keil & Jim B. Tucker. Journal of Scientific Exploration, Vol. 19, No. 1, pp. 91-101, 2005. I had very carefully read that article before, but this time I read it really very meticulously trying to spot any weakness in it. The case is amazingly robust. I could not find one single weakness (besides the ordinary weaknesses expected in non-laboratory observations of human affairs). I would never try to criticize this case. Keith Augustine is far less dismissive than Woelee, IMO. But he too, sometimes, gets a little dismissive, I think (I will be writing about it today, as I try to finish my part 1 of the analysis of the JNDS exchange between Keith and others). As a matter of fact, many times it is quite a laborious task to try to assess the possible evidential strength of one single case report, as I came to find out while studying the CORT Imad Elawar:
http://www.criticandokardec.com.br/imad_elawar_revisited.html
With all due respect, this is not the kind of painstaking reading and analyzing that I expect to see from Woerlee. Yet, his contributions are precious and worthy of respect and attention.

One other point is the "transmission hypothesis." I talked a lot about it in my exchange of ideas with Jime Sayaka (of the Subversive Thinking blog) and with Sebastian Dieguez.
http://www.criticandokardec.com.br/irreducible_mind.htm
http://www.criticandokardec.com.br/irreducible_skepticism.htm
http://www.criticandokardec.com.br/dieguez_vs_jime.htm

The transmission hypothesis, per se, is in good shape. As a matter of fact, it is the best that we have regarding consciousness. Actually it is the second best. But since the first best is the Everybody-is-Zombie theory (aka the Jacko Wacko Thriller Hypothesis), and since it has proven to be a little bit difficult to get funding for research this hypothesis (just imagine how convincing this plea would sound: "Come on, Bill Gates, you are but a Zombie, so give us some funding!"), the Transmission Hypothesis, for now, rules!

I hope we can get feedbacks on Pam's hearing possibility soon…

Julio
____

Just to highlight one point: I was trying to help Vitor Moura defend his paper in the Journal of Scientific Exploration. His paper was already very good, and very constructive in its criticism to some weaknesses inherent to CORT studies that may be improved. Yet, I confess that I was forced to... retire (or...ckicken out) of this mighty endeavour due to the strength of Keil/Tucker paper.

Julio

"I wonder if this can be done (think human subjects ethics pannels)?"

It would be already quite informative to have this with people fully awake (without any anesthesia). Maybe Woerlee would give us some help on that. He has assured that kids in the Netherlands can hear perfectly well with earphones playing very loud music (though we all know that this does not apply to kids in any other place of this planet...).

We have to wait for the feedbacks.

...THE MISTERIOUS HUSBAND OF PAM REYNOLDS REVEALED

Another thing that I came to learn from my readings of Woerlee was that, even though I have never left Brazil, I had been married to Pam Reynods for about twenty years, and we had two kids. And, surprisingly enough, Pam is Afro-Brazilian! I explain:

Woerlee assured us that Pam was quite confusional in her mind during her NDE (like those sober drivers: "Who is druuuunnnkk. Me not druhnnkk!") and he proved this by reminding us that, when she heard the doctor say that her leg arteries and veins were too thin, she thought "I should have told them about that." Woerlee teaches us that no one, no one, knows about the thickness of his/her own blood vessels. That is: that thought was utterly inplausible unless you are drunk. But, unbelievable as it might seem, my ex wife was pretty much aware of the thickness of her own veins and used to tell this to those nurse professionals whenever they would try to take blood samples from her arm.

So when Woerlee talks about super hero kids that can hear fine with loud playing earphones and crippled women that never know the thickness of their bloodvessels, I wonder if he is really talking about the Netherlands or, instead, about Neverland...

Julio
_____

Heck my ex girlfriend was nuts about her vein size. Women tend to notice that stuff .

Woerlee is a fanatic. No evidence of any kind will ever cause him to change his position. The evidence for veridical perception during NDE is very strong but he will have it that it is in fact weak or non-existent. What's the point in talking to someone who thinks that the clear and expanded consciousness experienced by NDEer's is explained by the amount of blood(30% max) forced up into the head by cardiac massage.
Hell, a simple faint through slightly low blood pressure is enough to snuff out your senses.

meant to sign,
anti-pseudo-skeptic

That's a good point, Julio, about the vein sizes. I believe it is true that women are often aware of these things, even if we men are clueless. My mother was very much aware of her vein size and would always comment on it when a nurse was trying to find a vein.

Perhaps Woerlee meant that no one would know the size of the veins in their groin. But Pam may have known that her veins, in general, were hard to access.

By the way, in looking over Julio's blog, I came across a reference to this site as "a nest of believers." Hmm. Not sure I like the term "nest" ... but I'll try to think of it as a nice cozy nest full of adorable baby birds.

:-)

Well we are down to vein size and if Pam could hear some clicks to determine if she had a valid NDE. What am I missing here or is it like the day almost twenty years ago when I stood on top of a mountain and asked the universe “what am I missing then in an instant I heard a distinct voice say- (just about everything).”

The voice was right as an anti religious materialist’s sort; indeed I was missing just about everything.

Beliefs appear to have a profound impact on what a person sees during their NDE. I watched a video yesterday of a person that witnessed a burning hell fire during his NDE. You can bet in Sunday school or as an adult he had been taught about a burning hell.

Surely one can see why an atheist remains an atheist. As I have stated many times research into the mysteries of life is not for the faint of heart or for those that think they are rational and open-minded. Once I talked to an atheist that watched John Edwards for ten minutes and knew it was all cold reading. I asked this person if they thought they knew how to do qualitative research and they answered to the affirmative.

I am fascinated by the human mind as the religious fundamentalist has made their God in their image and the atheist who in effect has made their God in their image with their intellect and worship at the altar of materialistic scientism and both groups believe that they hold the keys to truths. We humans are an interesting species, all of us, but of course as souls with great potential.

I think the universe is in the potential business.

The more rational and open minded we believe ourselves to be, the more we are in a mode of self-confirmatory ideas and the more our minds are closed. At least my observations have shown this to me of course others may have observed something different. That variation thing again.

"By the way, in looking over Julio's blog, I came across a reference to this site as "a nest of believers."

Probably I was referring to myself... And perhaps pulling the leg of Dieguez or of someone else. But actually I do not think anyone is a believer or a skeptic. I think we have all of it inside of us. The important thing is that people try to be honest towards facts. And this places everybody on the same ground. I think everybody here fits in this description, that is: earnest seekers of truth.

Julio

But actually I do not think anyone is a believer or a skeptic.

One of the victories of the skeptical propaganda is to call "believer" to any person who has religious beliefs or, in this case, supports survival.

But a believer in X is any person who believes the proposition X is true.

In this sense, atheists are believers in the nonexistence of God, because they believe the proposition "God doesn't exist" is true.

Materialists are believers in the proposition "consciousness is a product of the brain", or "consciousness will be extinguished after death", or "NDEs have an hallucinatory origin"

Naturalists are believers in the proposition "Only natural causes operate in the world" or "only natural facts and processess exist".

Thus, calling believer only the religious people or survivalists, and "skeptics" the materialists is clearly misleading, and it's part of the clever manipulation of the words by mainstream materialist propagandists.

However, to avoid discussing about words, I've myself called "skeptics" all the believers in materialism who reject survival or dualism, given that it's practical, sometimes, "play their own game".

By the way, I'm still wainting for Gerald' reply to the questions and comments posed here, and specially for the answers to his questions (e.g. Vitor's paper).

Zetetic chick, I think a part of the problem has to do with the "Argument from Ignorance" fallacy that so-called "believers" are making that I brought up at the beginning of the comments here. We've been accused of saying our position is true by pointing out the flaws with the naturalist position, but then again apparently having no way to prove our position. For example, it can be argued why naturalistic NDE theories can't explain everything but again we don't have empirical evidence of something like a spirit world to support our position. IMO, on that people find it easy to assume that the naturalist position is true since they have evidence to back there position.

"IMO, on that people find it easy to assume that the naturalist position is true since they have evidence to back there position."

what evidence?

Zetetic chick, I think a part of the problem has to do with the "Argument from Ignorance" fallacy that so-called "believers" are making that I brought up at the beginning of the comments here. We've been accused of saying our position is true by pointing out the flaws with the naturalist position, but then again apparently having no way to prove our position.

Hi Aftrbrnr,

I know of no serious "believer" that makes use of an argument from ignorance to support dualism or criticize materialism.

The logical structure of an argument from ignorance is that a proposition X is concluded to be true (or false) based on the absence of evidence (hence the argument "from" ignorance = absence of knowledge).

But survivalists don't argue that afterlife or dualism is true because we lack a naturalist explanation of them. This would be a tremendously silly, irrational and fallacious argument that no philosopher I know of has ever defend it.

The argument is, rather, that NDEs, mediumship and other evidence (taken individually or collectively) refutes materialism, and support dualism.

It's not based on the ignorance, but in the precise knowledge of the implications of materialism and the inconsistence of such implications with the actual evidence.

For example, it can be argued why naturalistic NDE theories can't explain everything

The question is not if naturalist theories explain everything. Is there exist some theory that explains "everything"? Of course not.

A theory doesn't need to explain everything to be refuted by the evidence. Most scientific theories are incomplete, but the reason to reject it is not their lack of completeness but the inconsistence with the evidence.

In the case of naturalism and materialism, it's the known afterlife evidence that is logically incompatible with the naturalist or materialist theories about the mind-brain relation that warrant the survivalist's belief that materialism is false.

Even naturalists accept that a positive result in the AWARE study would count as a straightforward refutation of naturalism (and a fortiori, of materialism)

The refutation of naturalism in such case is not based on ignorance, but in knowledge of one kind of evidence which is incompatible with naturalism.

But we don't have to wait to the AWARE result to know if naturalism is refuted or not. In the case of mediumship research, we have a lot of evidence that refutes naturalism and materialism.

That that evidence is rejected by naturalists and materialists is another question (they dispute the evidence, not the logical anti-naturalistic implications of the evidence if the latter is true)...

but again we don't have empirical evidence of something like a spirit world to support our position.

I disagree. Mediumship evidence is evidence of "our" survivalist position. And it's empirical evidence, evidence based on experience of testing mediums.

And just curious: you said "our position", so I assume you're a survivalist too. But if in your opinion there is not evidence for "our" (=your) position, why are you a survivalist?

IMO, on that people find it easy to assume that the naturalist position is true since they have evidence to back there position

Nobody denies that there are evidence that support naturalism and materialism.

The problem is that there is a lot of evidence that is incompatible with naturalism and materialism (like afterlife and parapsychological evidence) that materialists don't include as part of their picture, precisely because they realize that such evidence refutes their picture.

If you ignore or misrepresent all of this evidence, of course you can claim that "the evidence" support only naturalism and materialism.

Why do you think that organized skepticism exist? Why "skeptics" spend so much deal of time, and even their entire professional life, debunking parapsychology and afterlife research?

Is casuality that almost all the members of such organizations are secular humanists, materialists and naturalists? Is it pure coincidence?


Aftrbrnr

I would suggest there is plenty of evidence to support the existence of a spirit world (I use the term evidence as opposed to proof). What we make of such evidence is, IMHO, a personal decision but it is there and available in copious quantities.

Is it replicable in a laboratory by 'real' scientists - well I would cite Sir William Crookes as an example and his works. Crookes applied a logical and structured approach to his research, documented it and reported it. Some of his investigations were repeated by himself and other notables such as Sir Oliver Lodge.

Can you go out and demonstrate it for yourself? I would say not without some difficulty although many appear to have done so. Can I go and prove quantum mechanics for myself? No I can't unless I have the right equipment and the knowledge to use it.

I agree with ZC that the term 'believer' is used pejoratively by some 'sceptics'. It seems to me that it is important to understand why a person believes what they do. If they have a rational explanation then it is not the same as simple 'belief based on faith' as proposed by many organised religions. It is an acceptance of a position based on all the information available. This is what I suspect many of us are trying to get to.

As a PS.

I mention again my astonishment by Gerald's Copperfield-like disappearence in this blog!.

Gerald appeared two times with a bunch of comments and questions, and when he received argument and evidence-based replies (specially Vitor's highly relevant paper), Gerald dissapeared without leaving a trace.

As a fan of David Copperfield, I'm used to his amazing illusions of vanishing things and people.

For instance, for a long time I've considered this Copperfield' illusion of dissapearing the Statue of Liberty one of my favorites:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VAEw-gtDkO4

But after Gerald's vanishing, I rate Copperfield's trick in the second place.

Gerald, please we're waiting for your reply to our questions and arguments, and specially to Vitor's reference paper in direct reply to your question.

We want Gerald back!

"So whether the ensuing debate is productive or not (pun intended), we could still make this an opportunity to clarify the issues. Maybe we could talk to Alex about a Skeptiko debate between Keith & Chris Carter, or maybe MP if he's up for it. Or maybe a collaborative blog post/dialogue.Can we go the next step and actually turn this into a constructive dialogue and get something from it?

Posted by: Ryan | March 07, 2010 at 12:40 AM"

I'd be happy to have Keith and/or MP on... open invite.

"So whether the ensuing debate is productive or not (pun intended), we could still make this an opportunity to clarify the issues.”

How many debates have you seen where the debate clarified the issues? Usually there are two camps of thought and both walk away thinking their side won the debate and clarified the issues.

Most tend to hang on to our beliefs in spite of the evidence. Even the so-called rational logical reasoning scientists very seldom accept new ideas or even new evidence that contradicts their established beliefs.

How many committed materialists actually research the paranormal. It is said in Crookes time he invited all of his peers and only a few attended the séances. After all they already knew the séances had to be fake because examples of paranormal phenomena was impossible. That is the power of the p word.

So to discredit their most acclaimed scientist of his time many claimed he was partial to women and even had an affair with the medium.

This belief in spite of the evidence also applies to many that have beliefs in the paranormal. I know of people that believe everything a medium tells them and then of course the medium asks for payment.

“I disagree. Mediumship evidence is evidence of "our" survivalist position. And it's empirical evidence, evidence based on experience of testing mediums.”

It is what is often referred to as qualitative evidence that the skeptics refuse to address or even admit that it exists. Which of course either they don’t understand the scientific method or they are being dishonest and not admitting that such evidence does indeed exist.

Before I quoted David Lester's account of the Al Sullivan case, I wrote:

"(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.)"

So Kris cannot accuse me of misrepresenting, in Kris' words, that the surgeon "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." Nothing that I or Lester said denies that as far as I can see. The relevant part from Lester is:

"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."

Since this sentence ends on "the patient reported the experience immediately after the surgery," obviously Lester is talking about whether the surgeon flapped his arms on that particular occasion, i.e., when Sullivan was in surgery, and not whether the surgeon typically did that. And in any case, I just stated that the surgeon had made this his habit BEFORE I quoted Lester, so there is no excuse for Kris to infer otherwise except for his own sloppiness in paying attention to what was written.

Bruce Greyson wrote to Kris: "However, [the surgeon] 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."

Again, prior to quoting Lester I noted that the surgeon had kept his hands sterile this way *habitually* myself--so where is the dishonesty? In fact, rereading Lester, I see that Lester himself wrote that this was "a gesture which that surgeon habitually made during surgery."

The issue is that neither the surgeon nor his assistant could say for certain whether he had done this DURING AL SULLIVAN'S SURGERY specifically. As Bruce himself wrote, he said 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." But both I and Lester had already said he'd done it habitually.

Assuming that it's accurate, Lester's next paraphrase was: "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."

The "he" in that last clause is, I presume, the other surgeon (though it doesn't matter since neither of them recalls whether the "flapping" occurred during Sullivan's surgery specifically). So the other surgeon, the one who wasn't "flapping his arms," RECALLED THAT "the patient reported the experience immediately after the surgery."

Now tell me, Kris--how can you recall that an NDE was reported, but forget about it's most ASTOUNDING part: that a VERIDICAL idiosyncratic detail like 'flapping his arms as if trying to fly' was also reported--and moreoever, how can you fail to remember that this particular detail WAS CORRECT IF IT HAD BEEN CORRECT AT THE TIME, presuming that it had been reported to either one of the surgeons "immediately after the surgery"?

By the way, it seemed rather obvious to me that Lester suggested video or audio recording of the *report* of the experience by the NDEr in order to minimize or rule out the possibility of later embellishment of the story, since he suggested that any recording occur "immediately after the patient recovered and the details checked there and then." So your comment about the traditional view of the soul shows that you don't even understand Lester's point.

In other words, Lester suggested that the story told be recorded (not "filmed"--he said by audio or video)--you know, like the way that "paradigm-blinded" police investigators do when they interview suspects (they must be blinded else they would just take a suspect's word after enough time passed that the suspect felt like talking), to see if the story changed over time, and whether the account could be verified on the spot (as is the case in the Maria's shoe case).

Eteponge: Has anyone ever addressed the part of the Keith Augustine critique of Pam Reynolds' case where he claims that she got part of the description of the medical instrument glaringly wrong?

Yes, Mark Fox--check out what he has to say in his 2003 book in Google Books--but you won't like what he has to say, seeing as he's one of those typical fundamaterialists you'd expect the Religious Experience Research Centre to churn out ;)

One final point, Travis, you should really update your "rebuttal" claiming that my arguments are typical fundamentalist Christian fare. I cited *one* case, from Melvin Morse, which was *reported* in a fundamentalist Christian book, because Morse had not reported it anywhere else (that I knew of). Am I supposed to pretend that Melvin Morse hadn't found a discrepant case that he did because he didn't volunteer finding this case anywhere else?

As for your demonstrably false accusation that I quote near-death researchers out of context, Travis, one of the reasons that there are so many extensive quotes in my online paper is precisely so readers could see that NEAR-DEATH RESEARCHERS themselves said what they did. I didn't want to paraphrase or quote lightly so that there would be no dispute about that.

Mark Fox questions the accuracy of Pam Reynolds' visual perceptions--in his own words. Harvey J. Irwin, past president of the Parapsychological Association, himself suggests that NDErs blind from birth may simply be mimicking the visual descriptions they've heard from sighted people, not having any previous experience with vision before (and thus no visual experience to compare their purported 'NDE vision' against). Irwin also suggested sociological sources for NDE motifs; I summarized and quoted the findings of his "Images of Heaven" paper. Peter Fenwick himself is the one to DIRECTLY say that if NDEs are not hallucinations, we shouldn't find discrepancies between what is reported and what's actually happening in the physical world, before mentioning cases where there are such discrepancies, by HIS explicit admission. Carlos Alvarado is the one who says that Susan Blackmore's theory of OBEs is the one that has borne out the most confirmed predictions of all those proposed so far.

These are your new smear targets, people! Don't let them off the hook just because they're near-death researchers! They say fundamaterialist-sounding things more often than you'd like. That heresy must be punished, no?

I mention all of this now because someone (Kris?) said my essay was completely contrary to the conclusions of near-death researchers. In fact, it is only contrary to the conclusions of the near-death researchers that Kris favors. (Note how he dismisses decades of OBE research by Susan Blackmore by saying that she no longer does that research. Would it be OK to dismiss all investigations of Mrs. Piper since they're so far behind us, too?)

If you actually read my essay, you'll see that near-death researchers are the ones saying many things for me. That was intentional, so that destructive critics couldn't dodge the points that THEY made. If it just came from me, it would be all too easy for you to say, "What do you expect from an Internet Infidel?" as Kris so fondly ad hominems. Now that Irwin has said it, what to do? Say that he's not a "real parapsychologist" (like philandering televangelists aren't "true Christians")? No worries, it's a rhetorical question, as I know what you'll do--ignore that Irwin said it in the first place and pretend that the point originated with me.

Regarding ZC's comments on the word "believer," here's what I posted on another site when someone scorned another poster who used the phrase "I believe that ..." by saying that "belief" related to something unprovable.
--------

Regarding "1) the acceptance of an idea without a provable basis in reality (belief)": That's only one of the dictionary definitions of belief. Pamela was not using the definition you provided, but rather #1 below (boldfaced), found at http://www.dictionary.net/belief :


BELIEF. The conviction of the mind, arising from evidence received, or from information derived, not from actual perception by our senses, but from the relation or information of others who have had the means of acquiring actual knowledge of the facts and in whose qualifications for acquiring that knowledge, and retaining it, and afterwards in communicating it, we can place confidence. " Without recurring to the books of metaphysicians' "says Chief Justice Tilghman, 4 Serg. & Rawle, 137, "let any man of plain common sense, examine the operations of, his own mind, he will assuredly find that on different subjects his belief is different. I have a firm belief that, the moon revolves round the earth. I may believe, too, that there are mountains and valleys in the moon; but this belief is not so strong, because the evidence is weaker."

Source: Bouvier's Law Dictionary, Revised 6th Ed (1856)

Belief \Be*lief"\, n. [OE. bileafe, bileve; cf. AS. gele['a]fa. See Believe.]

1. Assent to a proposition or affirmation, or the acceptance of a fact, opinion, or assertion as real or true, without immediate personal knowledge; reliance upon word or testimony; partial or full assurance without positive knowledge or absolute certainty; persuasion; conviction; confidence; as, belief of a witness; the belief of our senses. [1913 Webster]

Belief admits of all degrees, from the slightest suspicion to the fullest assurance. --Reid. [1913 Webster]

2. (Theol.) A persuasion of the truths of religion; faith. [1913 Webster]

No man can attain [to] belief by the bare contemplation of heaven and earth. --Hooker. [1913 Webster]

3. The thing believed; the object of belief. [1913 Webster]

Superstitious prophecies are not only the belief of fools, but the talk sometimes of wise men. --Bacon. [1913 Webster]

4. A tenet, or the body of tenets, held by the advocates of any class of views; doctrine; creed. [1913 Webster]

In the heat of persecution to which Christian belief was subject upon its first promulgation. --Hooker. [1913 Webster]

Ultimate belief, a first principle incapable of proof; an intuitive truth; an intuition. --Sir W. Hamilton. [1913 Webster]

Syn: Credence; trust; reliance; assurance; opinion. [1913 Webster]

Source: The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48


@ William, you quote me then add a comment:

"So whether the ensuing debate is productive or not (pun intended), we could still make this an opportunity to clarify the issues.”

*How many debates have you seen where the debate clarified the issues? Usually there are two camps of thought and both walk away thinking their side won the debate and clarified the issues.*

It depends what you think is important. The issues can be made more clear even if people don't agree on the answers. For example, people are aware of the basic issues in, say, epistemology but that doesn't mean they agree. What we need is to anatomise the area of discourse; map out the conceptual and empirical territory. Really we want to frame the conceptual problems as clearly as possible and see what we can sketch out in terms of explanations. On the other side (pun intended), we need to get down to details on the case studies. One would hope there would be some agreement of the facts (i.e. the explanandum) and some about the cartography of the explanans.

Was it Oscar Wilde who said somewhere that arguments are repulsive? I kind of agree. Understanding the issues, paying attention to the data, sketching pictures and assessing them for intelligibility, coherence, and alignment with the full range of data, these seem to me the important things. Then later we see which considerations tilt us in one way or the other.

In this debate I can see two different strands that would benefit from some exploration and dialogue: the conceptual issue of mind/brain dependence regarding a filter/transmission theory in which the filter itself seems to account for all the unique and idiosyncratic details of a particular mind (i.e. a person), and this ties in with the issue of continuity of personal identity over time (pre-->post-mortem!). And we have some case studies to dig into and make sense of too. (And maybe there were more important issues that I can't recall).

Anyhow, you guys, give Alex a call ;-) - he's made you an offer. :-)

Here is the statement in question:

____________________________________________

Augustine- 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).
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The facts are laid out correctly,however and a huge however is it gives a very false impression on the case. This case is missing a tremendous relevant detail.
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Here is a key point about this case.
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Lester- The experience was not recorded for two years and the surgeons were not interviewed until nine years had passed.
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Let me explain the trick here. It is very difficult to remember if one did an exact event say a week or two ago much less nine years ago. However if someone asked me nine years down the road if I was say emailing someone at 7 PM I cannot say for sure I was but that is highly normal behavior for me.

So here is what happened. Sullivan's surgeon nine years after cannot swear for a 100% fact he did an arm flap at a specific moment, but he can swear that he engaged in that behavior. Which is exactly what Dr Greyson reported.

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Greyson- 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.
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My next email
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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.
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Greyson

Yes, you are reading my response correctly.
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Lester and Augustine give the impression that Sullivan's surgeon cannot remember flapping his arm, however the truth of the situation was that while his surgeon cannot 100% swear he did something like that 9 years ago, he can swear that was normal behavior for him and something he is in the habit of doing. That statement is very different then the impression Keith and Lester gave.

Lester was dishonest, there is no doubt. I debated whether Augustine was dishonest or just sloppy but I finally had to go with dishonest conduct in this case.

The moment I read Lester's statement I saw the trick. I like to believe any half way intelligent high schooler would have seen that problem too. So I have a hard time believing a trained philosopher would not have seen the problem that I did.

Keith would still be off the hook if he could not contact Dr Greyson to follow up on this. However he easily could have. He had debated the man before so he certainly has his contact info . Even if not it was easy enough to find his contact info online. It took me five minutes.

I will let others decide if I they think I am right about this one. Seriously this man can create a dozen how it could have been scenarios before breakfast but he cannot see through this statement, who can believe that? However I have certainly showed Keith at best is a sloppy researcher and that should be remembered.

I have just sent an email to Michael Sabom...

Dear Dr. Michael Sabom,

First of all, sorry to be writing to you. I tend as much as possible not to write to people who may be very busy. I am forwarding to you an email I sent to Dr. Bruce Greyson, and that I think that perhaps has as best recepient you yourself. It regards the clickings in the ear of "Pam Reynolds" during her operation, as described in your Light and Death. I have come to conclude, now, that they were delivered at frequency half below the threshold of human hearing (I am attaching the relevant article by Spetzler et al 1988, used as citation for that in the recent The Handbook of Near Death Experiences - year 2009). This would imply that she would not hear the clicks (even though at 90 decibels or so) and that the clicks, per se, would not interfere with her capacity to hear other sounds then.

I appreciate your comments and feedbacks.

Very Best Wishes,
Julio Siqueira
___________

Let's see what comes of it.

And Yes Keith your how it could have been scenario essay is completely contradictory to what mainstream NDE researchers have concluded about this subject. Yes you get an occasional Blackmore or Woerlee in the same way biology gets an occasional Behe or Wells, but it does not change the fact that Blackmore and Woerlee take the minority view on this subject. I am waiting for Keith to tell us we should not listen to IANDS, cause they are not real researchers cause they don't agree with his dying brain nonsense. However you note he only qoutes NDE researchers when they agree with his personal prejudices. He is on record about we need to listen to people who had NDES, but he refuses to listen to any point they state that goes against his dying brain nonsense.

Julio, that animation on your website is hilarious. :-D :-D I've seen that type of analysis a few times.

I have to doubt that people blind from birth or became blind early would have hallucinated a sighted NDE. Their brain would have no concept of sight after all

I did a google search for blind + dreams and here are some of the hits.

http://www.afb.org/message_board_replies.asp?topicid=638&folderid=3

http://www.answerbag.com/q_view/11187

http://health.discovery.com/centers/sleepdreams/expedition/dispatch8_pop.html


So it seems that those born blind or become blind do not see during dreams. This would make sense cause they have no experience with sight. So if NDEs originate in the brain we should expect a similar result, if not why not? The fact that this category of blind NDErs does report visual based NDEs is not easily explained by the dying brain theory but easily by the afterlife view.

Keith said:

"Now tell me, Kris--how can you recall that an NDE was reported, but forget about it's most ASTOUNDING part: that a VERIDICAL idiosyncratic detail like 'flapping his arms as if trying to fly' was also reported--and moreoever, how can you fail to remember that this particular detail WAS CORRECT IF IT HAD BEEN CORRECT AT THE TIME, presuming that it had been reported to either one of the surgeons "immediately after the surgery"?"

That is a typical case of de-embellishment :-). If embellishment can happen, as you, Keith, say, so why can't de-embellishment also happen? Many people do not care that much to the afterlife. Perhaps most people don't. In this case, the best thing to do is to follow the leads and get to the doctors in question and ask them about why they are not sure if there was hand-flapping during that specific surgery given the fact than an astonishing event happened right after it (Al Sullivan's mentioning the flapping).

Further, what is meant by "immediately after the surgery"? If Sullivan reported it really immediately after the surgery, then this is a far more striking event than the report of the flapping itself. Picture this: "Ok, guys, just closed the chest. Operation is over. Patient is alive. Full success! Hey, wait a minute, he is trying to say something, what is it?" - "Doctor, you just flapped your hands, like trying to fly!"

Now, this IS immediately after the surgery. (with the patient still intubated...) And this, surely, did not happen. When and where did Sullivan actually report the event? Was he still in the operation room? (and... still intubated!) Most likely he was already out of it. Then, who did he report it to, and with how much time delay?

All this gives pretty much room for the apparent discrepancy of, on the one hand, an unlikely memory being uttered, and, on the other hand, doctors not being sure if that flapping happened at that specific surgery.

Alternatively, we can always believe that everybody is lying and that the world is flat.

Julio
______

"Julio, that animation on your website is hilarious. :-D :-D I've seen that type of analysis a few times."

And I have felt it hard on my own head!!! (Ouch).
:-) :-) :-)
------------------

I’ve been reflecting a bit on MP’s questions about how it seems impossible to live entirely without any belief system, and how one makes decisions, from nutrition to political choices without some sort of belief system.

In looking back on my own life, I think the main difference in my post-epiphany life has to do with learning to place greater faith in the intuitive aspect of my mind as opposed to the intellectual aspect. I don’t obsess about nutrition, for example, but I seem to just naturally make more good choices than bad. I do enjoy lots of fruits and vegetables, but I also enjoy an occasional steak as well. And I like sweets too – in moderation.

It’s the same with fitness. I have no regimented fitness routine, but do like to be active. I enjoy hiking, cycling and especially canoeing. I’m pretty fit, but not because I spend endless hours in a gym.

Sort of a “Lilies of the Field” point, I guess. If we look around at the natural world, we’ll find that the birds and fish and animals don’t have rampant concerns about obesity or lack of fitness. Grazing antelope appear to naturally find the right balance of nutrition and exercise. Obesity and poor nutrition aren’t an issue in the antelope world, although I don’t think anyone would suggest that antelopes concern themselves with evaluating the nutritional content of their diet, or insist that they do 30 minutes of cardio a day.

Politics are more difficult, because it seems to me that most everyone in the political arena is especially lost. I’m pretty libertarian in my views – I think that people should be allowed to experience the consequences of whatever choices they make. Government as caretaker offends my sensibilities. Still, I did support Obama in the last election, mostly because I sensed that the demeanor he projected might help calm people down, both here in the states and internationally, which is something that’s really needed. There’s an awful lot of fear and upset in the world today.

The jury’s out on whether he will be a decent executive or not – his ideological approach to solving the health care mess does concern me, as does his willingness to follow Pelosi’s lead. She might be the most corrupt politician in government today. (My intuition tells me that as well).

So anyway, I guess what I’m saying is that as time goes on, I’m learning to live with more faith in an intuitive approach to everything. It’s not as if I don’t have any belief system at all, though. I just think the damn thing is just a part of the ego, which I see as a menace - the source of all of humanity’s problems.

It’s interesting. Fifteen years ago, I spent some twenty minutes or so in a state of transcendent consciousness, which arrived spontaneously. The experience is completely indescribable, but it’s as impossible to doubt as an NDE is for the one who’s experienced it. The one thing that stands out more than anything, though, is the understanding that the only reason I hadn’t realized any of this before had to do with my own failure to understand my own mind, and the fact that I had spent the prior years seeing things through a filter of beliefs that I alone was responsible for constructing. At the same time, it was quite obvious that what I was experiencing was how people were intended to live – free of all of our silly little beliefs, and overflowing with joy and exhilaration and compassion for everything and everyone. I’ll be forever grateful for the experience, although I have often gotten lost over the years in a sort of “why me” line of thinking, as well as a longing to experience it again. I’ve almost abandoned the questions as to why it happened to me. I’ll never understand that – I’m pretty sure that I was the least likely candidate imaginable. Of all of the contributors to this thread, I was probably more closely aligned with Keith’s current views than anyone else’s, but I was more rigid, and wasn’t very nice towards those who disagreed with me. As far as experiencing it again, I’m really trying to not try – mystical experience is simply what remains when there’s nothing on your mind, and it seems to me that it can only happen when we aren’t looking for it. It’s pretty difficult to not look, though.

Regardless, the only people who can really understand a transcendent moment are those who have experienced one. It’s an amazing and delightful experience, but it does create an absolute, revolutionary upheaval in one’s psychological make up. In my case, anyway, it seems that the years following have really been all about learning how to live on earth in an entirely new way, which in turn seems to be mostly about placing more and more faith in intuition, and less and less faith in the intellect. I think the long-term goal is to get to where I use the intellect only to solve math problems.

That may take a while, but maybe that’s why we’re immortal.

Keith wrote, "If you actually read my essay, you'll see that near-death researchers are the ones saying many things for me."

Perhaps, but many of those same researchers broadly rejected Keith's arguments and conclusions. If anyone is interested, I can post excerpts from their replies. (I would have to do this as a main post; it would be much too long for a comment.)

Since Keith specifically mentioned Harvey J. Irwin, here's what he wrote in response to Keith's essay:

"...he seems to be overstating his case in asserting that advocates of the separationist view have a vested interest in seeking to demonstrate that NDEs are
fundamentally thematically homogeneous across all experiencers because there can be only one 'afterlife reality.' Regardless of their ultimate theoretical inferences, most contemporary scientific researchers
of NDEs and OBEs strike me as being relatively objective in their efforts to identify the nature and the characteristics of these experiences. I know of no such researcher who denies, for example,
that at least some of these experiences show clearly hallucinatory elements....

"...it entails too great a leap in logic to conclude that, because NDEs show some diversity, all such experiences must be
wholly hallucinatory."

Hey Michael

I think that would be a good post

"I think that would be a good post"

Somehow I thought you might, Kris!

:-)

I don't know if it's worth a separate post, but here are some other excerpts.

Keith mentioned Peter Fenwick in his comment (above). But Fenwick certainly does not concur with Keith's overall argument or conclusions. Fenwick wrote:

"The question that Augustine sets us is whether the private experience of an individual to which we do not have access, except by description, should be allocated to one of the two classes of experience described above: brain-based hallucinations, or a peek into the afterlife. It seems to me that this quest is doomed from the outset, because there are no clear ways that we can differentiate between the two. There is not, it seems to me, a falsifiable hypothesis....

"The next problem I found with Augustine’s paper is that he has not looked at the causes of near-death experiences. He treats near-death experiences as if they are a unitary phenomenon. The data, however, are very much against that....

"Augustine treats out-of-body experiences
(OBEs) in different physiological states as if they all had the same physiological mechanism, just as he did with NDEs....

"What his paper makes abundantly clear is that many of the putative mechanisms of NDEs have been suggested by authors who have no proper grasp of the width of the field or the phenomena of NDEs, or of
the very wide range of mental and physiological states that underpin
these experiences. Most could not possibly apply to NDEs as a whole, and many are simplistic...."

Keith also mentions Mark Fox in his comment. In response to Keith's essay, Fox wrote:

"I was a little surprised that he did not
consider the epistemological complexities surrounding the issue of whether or not there is any kind of 'common core' to Western NDE reports. It is a crucial area, and one well-explored within philosophical
theology, as I attempted to show in chapter three of my book.

"Augustine does not really engage with this at all. If he had, he might have found himself – as I did – drawn to the very real possibility that a common core is at least philosophically permissible, even though it
may not be supported crossculturally...

"As things stand, Augustine is left in a bit of a bind. He has to acknowledge that there is a degree of consistency in Western reports of near-death experiences: the sheer weight of evidence demands that he
does this. On the other hand, his analysis of existing crosscultural data leads him to the conclusion that the majority of elements of the Western 'core' NDE are missing in nonWestern accounts."

In addition to these replies and that of Harvey Irwin, quoted in my previous comment, Keith's arguments have also been challenged by Bruce Greyson, Janice M. Holden, Allan Kellehear, Michael Sabom, Kimberly Clark Sharp, William Serdahely, and Charles T. Tart.

Most of these writers also praised Keith for bringing up some interesting points and advancing the discussion. My purpose in highlighting their disagreements with him is simply to dispel any suggestion that Keith's overall conclusion (that NDES are hallucinations fully explainable in terms of a malfunctioning brain) is widely accepted by leading NDE researchers.

I think I am going to chill with this discussion. I have been pissed about some stuff for awhile and I have been blowing some steam at Keith and I need to chill some. I am not quite sure if I am ready to apologize cause I think Keith has some mud on his hands too ( and I think he has at best some extreme tunnel vision) but still I think I am going to tone down some.

The comments below are my opinions and should not be taken as fact. You have the personal freedom to choose not to read them or take them as fact. From my point of view they have everything to do with spiritual reality.

“I think that people should be allowed to experience the consequences of whatever choices they make. Government as caretaker offends my sensibilities.”

If we decide to live in cave with no people around for maybe hundreds of miles this might indeed work. Once we decide to live in a clan, tribe, or nation we have societal obligations. Compete personal freedom is an oxy Moran in any society. We cannot yell fire in a crowed theater or run red lights. We may have to serve in the military to protect our nation from invasion. We have to pay or find a way to earn revenue for our societal obligations. The list is long how living in a society can hinder our desire for complete personal freedoms.

We must as a functioning society have safety nets for those unable to care for themselves for a multitude of reasons.

What would education be today without gov intervention in the mid 1800’s with our normal schools. Or would community colleges exist without help from the gov.

Then we have the soul thing. There are all different levels of soul development on this earth. Some souls don’t even have the beginnings of sympathy little lone empathy for others. Human greed would overwhelm a society with complete personal freedoms with no gov intervention of regulations. One per cent of the population would have 99% of the wealth and 95% of the people would be lower class. No middle class means a nation ripe for revolution. Often a bloody revolution with worst things to come. Power corrupts.

I have noticed those that advocate complete personal freedom feel they have done ok in their society. Kind of like “I did ok too bad if you cannot”. Did Jesus teach individualism, personal freedom or personal mind? We are all connected with this Oneness most call God.

Personal freedom like personal mind is an oxy Moran. I would say both are illusions but life is not an illusion contrary to what eastern religions teach. Life’s experiences as phenomena are temporal but not an illusion. How else would a soul advance without serial experiences? The time thing. How else would Oneness express its dynamic qualities of love and divine intelligence without we as many souls serial experiences?

As we humans are not perfect our ideologies and gov interventions will not be perfect. Gov intervention and our desire for personal freedoms are a delicate balance and appears to be in the realm of that middle path the Buddha taught. Jesus was more concerned about our souls then our personal freedoms, personal minds, or economic ideologies. If they ask you to carry their stuff one distance carry it twice as far idea.

We are expressions of that that is not personal minds with personal freedoms. In a society with an ideology of individualism this is a tough pill to swallow.

Re Eteoponge's comment on debunkers sweeping everything under the carpet - yes, it makes me wonder what their agenda is. At least, it comes across as a determination to stick to a particular position, rather than a genuine spirit of enquiry. And why? Is it what Julio mentioned, the fear of living after one's body dies? That's not something I can understand at all, but there it is.

I haven't had time to follow the whole debate here, let alone the references, but my little experience just says it's pretty simple: the soul is the self, shaped by the life it lives when it enters the body, and then it goes on for the rest of its life in Spirit. It's just the life process, same the birth-childhood-adulthood process on earth. Sure, one changes; one grows, and over a long time, that change can be great. It'd be surprising if it wasn't. My beloved has changed greatly in his long life - but he is still carries recognisable elements of who he was in his long-ago earthly days. The difference is that he's peaceful and happy. :)

MP: My purpose in highlighting their disagreements with him is simply to dispel any suggestion that Keith's overall conclusion (that NDES are hallucinations fully explainable in terms of a malfunctioning brain) is widely accepted by leading NDE researchers.

Just a clarification: My claim was never that near-death researchers tend to think "NDEs are hallucinations fully explainable in terms of a malfunctioning brain." Indeed, my suggestion in the published exchange on Part 1 was that people who reject that "NDEs are hallucinations fully explainable in terms of a malfunctioning brain" are the ones most likely to get into near-death studies in the first place.

Obviously, a person who thinks that all UFOs can be explained as stars, aircraft, or weather balloons isn't going to devote his life to doing UFOlogy; so too with near-death studies.

As evidence of this, I cited (in my reply to the Part 1 commentaries) the kind of research that near-death researchers have been doing for the last three decades into "what the NDE is," namely: "Countless examples could be enumerated. First, there are attempts to rule out all purely physiological explanations of NDEs. Second, there are experiential comparisons between NDEs and drug-induced or naturally occurring hallucinations, clearly motivated by a desire to distinguish NDEs from these other things. Similar comparisons have been made between spontaneous OBEs and electrochemically induced ones (for example, ketamine-induced OBEs or OBEs resulting from electrical stimulation of the temporo-parietal junction). Third, near-death researchers have repeatedly argued, despite few reliable data, that NDEs are remarkably consistent across cultures, no doubt to bolster the notion that purported crosscultural consistency results from a shared external reality. Finally, there is a concerted effort to corroborate the paranormal nature of NDEs, whether in the systematic search for "veridical cases," compilations of NDErs' claims to have gained psychic abilities after their NDEs or prophesied future events during them, or reports of NDErs seeing recently deceased persons they could not have known about beforehand during their experiences."

So clearly, those within near-death studies who view NDEs as hallucinations are about as prominent as those within UFOlogy who view UFOs as purely conventionally explicable. Very few, as would be expected regardless of whether the data is exceptionally good, exceptionally poor, or somewhere in between.

Those who think of OBEs/NDEs as hallucinations generally publish their research in mainstream medical journals, e.g., Olaf Blanke (and his numerous coauthors) and Kevin Nelson most recently. (Susan Blackmore is an exception because she started out from parapsychology rather than something like neurology.) If you read the Handbook of Near-Death Experiences, you'll see that the contributors are rather frank throughout in maintaining that "transcendental explanation" is required for any adequate account of NDEs (if they cover the "ontology" of NDEs at all). In that climate, is it really surprising that skeptical researchers aren't regular contributors to near-death studies? No more surprising than that Philip Klass was never a regular contributor to the MUFON UFO Journal.

Anyway, the suggestion that most of those in near-death studies think "that NDES are hallucinations fully explainable in terms of a malfunctioning brain" was one I never made; indeed, I said the exact opposite elsewhere. What is said here earlier is unassailable: "Mark Fox questions the accuracy of Pam Reynolds' visual perceptions.... Harvey J. Irwin ... suggests that NDErs blind from birth may simply be mimicking the visual descriptions they've heard from sighted people ... [and considers] sociological sources for NDE motifs..." And so on. I was very specific in my comments, so please don't attribute something else to me. Moreover, the quotes that MP cites from those researchers do not question any of those specific examples, presumably because the near-death researchers in question have not abandoned their positions on them.

At the end of the day, the points raised by these researchers are often inconvenient for a survivalist interpretation of NDEs, regardless of whether "believers" or the researchers themselves are willing to swallow the pill implied by them. The fact that Phyllis Atwater finds visions of living persons in NDEs unproblematic, for instance, doesn't mean that they shouldn't give one pause in interpreting NDE accounts literally.

Here are some small comments on the near-death researchers' comments that MP quotes:

1. The first Fenwick comment cuts both ways. If you can't distinguish an afterlife vision from a hallucination, than that certainly isn't a "survivalist-friendly" conclusion.

2. Fenwick's remaining comment I conceded in my response. It should be noted that the failure to distinguish different kinds of NDEs based on their physiological precipitants that Fenwick questions is a systemic one in near-death studies itself. Bruce Greyson could think of only one paper, by Gabbard, Twemlow, and Coyne in the late 80s or early 90s, that had ever addressed this issue before.

3. I responded to the first two comments by Fox in my reply to the Part 3 commentaries. In essence, my reply was that I did not engage these issues because I never disagreed with Fox's assessment of them. That is, I never found conceptual difficulties with a cross-cultural core to NDEs to be persuasive to begin with--so why would I dispute Fox's analysis that a cross-cultural core is coherent? My complaint was a different one: that the empirical evidence did not support a cross-cultural core. Obviously, as I pointed out in my reply, if I thought so I must have thought it possible that some evidence could do so, and thus that the idea of a cross-cultural core was NOT a conceptual quagmire. The point is that there is little if any evidence to back it up, and what evidence we do have suggests cross-cultural diversity. This is from a straightforward reading of the studies of non-Western NDE accounts least contaminated by Western influences. You simply do not find tunnels and lights in Melanesia or Thailand.

4. The point about me being in a bind is one I made myself in the lead Part 3 paper, and a point I explicitly conceded again in my reply to Fox on this! The only difference is that I stressed that all people, not just me, are in this bind in my reply. That bind is: NDEs are remarkably consistent in the West, but remarkably variable across non-Western cultures, given our current data. So what accounts for that? The most obvious suggestion is some sociocultural source for NDE motifs--the kind that Irwin explores in "Images of Heaven"--but I said in my original lead paper that if there is such a source it is not obvious. So the next logical step is to posit that NDEs are remarkably consistent across cultures; but that isn't in fact what you find when you look at the non-Western cases. The result: A bind. Do you posit hidden cross-cultural uniformity, or grant the apparent cross-cultural variability and then seek a sociological source for the culture-specific motifs, including the Western motifs of tunnels and lights? I called for further research on both fronts, something that Fox and everyone else agreed is needed to resolve this "bind"--a bind for everyone, not simply skeptics, since the bind concerns what to make of the data, skeptic or not.

For reasons explained some months ago in this blog, I've included Keith in my "ignore list", but his lastest comment illustrate the kind of trivial, irrelevant and specially "to quoque" (you too) replies that are so frequent and characteristic of his argumentation style.

In this website, the tu quoque fallacy is defined like this:

Tu Quoque is a very common fallacy in which one attempts to defend oneself or another from criticism by turning the critique back against the accuser. This is a classic Red Herring since whether the accuser is guilty of the same, or a similar, wrong is irrelevant to the truth of the original charge. However, as a diversionary tactic, Tu Quoque can be very effective, since the accuser is put on the defensive, and frequently feels compelled to defend against the accusation

http://www.fallacyfiles.org/tuquoque.html

Now we're going to see Keith's tu quoque version against the survival interpretation of NDEs.

Fenwick's first comment is: "The question that Augustine sets us is whether the private experience of an individual to which we do not have access, except by description, should be allocated to one of the two classes of experience described above: brain-based hallucinations, or a peek into the afterlife. It seems to me that this quest is doomed from the outset, because there are no clear ways that we can differentiate between the two. There is not, it seems to me, a falsifiable hypothesis...."

Michael's citation of that specific Fenwick's point was intented to prove that Fenwick didn't share Keith's conclusions (In Michael's words: "Keith mentioned Peter Fenwick in his comment (above). But Fenwick certainly does not concur with Keith's overall argument or conclusions").

Keith's reply to Michael's post, regarding Fenwick's first citation, is a purely trivial and tu quoque reply: "The first Fenwick comment cuts both ways. If you can't distinguish an afterlife vision from a hallucination, than that certainly isn't a "survivalist-friendly" conclusion"

So what? Is Fewick arguing for a "survivalist-friendly" conclusion in that specific citation?

On the contrary, Fenwick's whole explicit contention against Keith is that, if Keith is right (on that particular point), "there are no clear ways that we can differentiate between the two" (hallucinations vs. afterlife)

Hence, Keith's tu quoque reply is merely trivial and irrelevant. He's basically saying that if Fenwick's contention against him is right, his point is valid against the survival interpretation TOO.

But, explicitly, Fenwick is not defending the survivalist interpretation on that specific citation. His specific argument intends to criticize and undermine Keith's contention, not to favor the survivalist interpretation of NDEs over Keith's hypothesis.

Instead of refuting Fenwick's contention, Keith's reply is that it applies to the survival hypothesis too.

Imagine that someone says that ZC is a liar and hence she's dishonest. If I'm going to defend myself, I have to present arguments that refute or undermine such claim.

It's illogical that I reply with a "Look, you say that I'm a liar and hence I'm dishonest, but you're a liar too and hence you're dishonest too. You lied about X, Y, Z... and I can prove it. Your accusation cut both ways because, by your standards, you're dishonest too and you're not in position to accusing me of lying. But your standards, if I'm dishonest, you TOO!!!!!!! YOUR STANDARDS CUT BOTH WAYS"

Arguing like that, I'm basically conceding that I'm a liar (regardless of whether my counterclaim against my accuser is true or not).

This is why arguing with to quoques, or clever versions of it, doesn't help to clarify complex questions.

They're valid in dialectical battles (e.g. in a debate tournament... and even in such cases they would be considered fallacious), not as a way to find the truth.

We could summarize this strategy like this:

I lose... but you (e.g. NDEs survivalists) too (because your objections, survivalists, cut both ways) HA HA HA HA HA

:)

This is not a debate, ZC. I was commenting on the comments made, not attempting to "refute" them. Do I need a permission slip from you to make a point here?

If Fenwick's position is agnosticism about the interpretation of NDEs (that we can't tell whether they are either afterlife visions or hallucinations), then we should literally stop arguing that they can be construed as EITHER.

So if false perceptions don't count for NDEs being hallucinations, then veridical perceptions don't count in favor of NDEs being instances of mind-body separation.

But since, as a matter of fact, survivalists argue that veridical perceptions DO count in favor of NDEs being instances of mind-body separation, then it logically follows that, IF THOSE ARGUMENTS ARE CORRECT, then false perceptions would also count in favor of NDEs being hallucinations.

That's not tu quoque because we are talking about a logical implication here. (Of course, I've already committed the fallacy of being a skeptic, so I trust that I must commit other skeptical fallacies. It's sad that we have to play these petty games instead of talking about the issues.)

In other words, Fenwick's comment (here, anyway), in a nutshell, is that we can never tell what an NDE is.

If the results of the AWARE study are relevant to the determination of what an NDE is, though, then Fenwick is wrong. And if he is wrong, his point cuts no ice against anyone who thinks that NDE content has a bearing on how best to interpret NDEs, which is almost everyone other than Fenwick.

In fact, Fenwick himself (from later comments in the same commentary) is interested in corroborating veridical details in cardiac arrest NDEs. (Why, if their presence makes no difference?) But the possibility of finding corroboration entails the possibility of finding discrepancies, too, giving us data relevant to what an NDE if we discover either.

Now, I suppose I could argue in great detail why such content matters--but it seems a waste of time since no one here disputes that veridical NDEs are relevant to whether NDEs are instances of mind-body separation. It would be like spending time arguing that there is a world outside of my own mind when no one here is advocating solipsism in the first place. It would be, in effect, tilting windmills.

In other words, if NDE content is not relevant to figuring out what NDEs are, then that means ALL NDE content is irrelevant--including the things that most people would be suspicious of jettisoning (i.e., veridical NDEs).

Is this not a point worth making?

And, assuming that you believe that veridical NDEs are relevant to what NDEs are, ZC, why do I bear the burden of arguing for this fact? Seriously, if you believe it, shouldn't the burden fall at least equally upon you to show that this is so?

I'm sure you'll call that a tu quoque, but it isn't. A simple test will show that it isn't fallacious: Has what I've said so far about this point been wrong? If so, what particular thing that I said is wrong (and what makes you think so)?

If you can't answer that question, that's probably because no fallacy is involved.

In short, why do I bear the special burden of "proving" what both of us agree on to begin with? And given that we agree on it, as a practical matter, why would I bother to try to prove it?

Oh wait, that's tu quoque: "But you have the same burden too!" No, it's only tu quoque if I specifically said that Fenwick is wrong BECAUSE everyone else is right.

What I actually said is that I'm not going to waste my time arguing for what those posting here don't dispute. Otherwise I'd be arguing for realism over solipsism too, and I'm not gonna do that either. :)~

Addendum:

An opponent who argues like this is using some obvious slight of hand:

"I firmly believe X because my survivalist interpretation of NDEs implies it, but hallucination theories must be rejected because they all have the absurd implication that X is true."

Strictly speaking, it might actually be the case that hallucination theories must be rejected because they all have the absurd implication X; but it is incredibly disingenuous for an X-affirmer to make that kind of argument.

And the fact that someone can argue that "hallucination theories must be rejected because they all have the absurd implication X" does not entail that a hallucination theorist has an obligation to decisively refute it, anymore than the fact that philosophers can argue that "there is nothing outside of my own mind" entails that a realist has an obligation to refute solipsism.

It's common practice to start with agreed-upon propositions and tease out the reasons for areas of disagreement. Otherwise we'd never get anywhere in discourse, getting bogged down in trying to prove what no one disputes in the first place.

There is more than one way for the consciousness to experience/communicate: telepathy, travel, accessing the collective, etc. I don't know whether there is an afterlife, but I know that our consciousness can operate while the body if "off," and distance is not an issue. I know of one person who astral travels/walks around his house at night, and recently entered his kid's room twice where his wife was sleeping, and touched her foot. The next day she said that she sensed a ghost entered the room last night, and touched her foot. He laughed when he told her, it was him ! IT'S FUNNY WHEN PEOPLE USE THE KNOWN LAWS OF PHYSICS TO ADDRESS PHENOMENA. WHAT ARROGRANCE AND STUPIDITY, WHEN THE TOTAL LAWS KNOWN TODAY ARE EQUIVALENT TO KINDERGARTEN. DON'T YOU KNOW THERE'S A HUNDRED MORE ? silly ass*s.

William: The comments below are my opinions and should not be taken as fact. You have the personal freedom to choose not to read them or take them as fact.

Alternatively, you have the personal freedom to choose to read them and not take them as fact!

Personal freedom like personal mind is an oxy Moran.

Do you mean oxymoron? – “A rhetorical figure in which incongruous or contradictory terms are combined, as in a deafening silence and a mournful optimist.”

Oxymoronic phrases, like Milton's ‘darkness visible’, were especially cultivated in 16th‐ and 17th‐century poetry. Shakespeare has his Romeo utter several in one speech:

Why then, O brawling love, O loving hate,
O anything of nothing first create;
O heavy lightness, serious vanity,
Misshapen chaos of well‐seeming forms,
Feather of lead, bright smoke, cold fire, sick health,
Still‐waking sleep, that is not what it is!

We are expressions of that that is not personal minds with personal freedoms. In a society with an ideology of individualism this is a tough pill to swallow.

I realise this is only your personal opinion, William, as you stated earlier, nevertheless it comes across as a very dogmatic statement.

William, you and I are just going to have to agree to disagree. You can feel better about your position because you are going to find much more support than I will. Then again, I don't really care whether others agree with me or not.

It seems to me quite obvious that the "great promise" of socialism and communism led to tremendous suffering when put into practice. Mankind ended up with Hitler, Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot. All concluded that they were in a position to dictate the "greater good" to others.

It also seems obvious to me that when we decide that government must be a caretaker, we'll end up with a greater and greater portion of the population that wants to be taken care of, and fewer and fewer who actually choose to do something productive with their lives.

To suggest, as you have above, that the proper "spiritual path" requires the elimination of personal freedoms is not only dogmatic, it's unspeakably arrogant. If we want to hasten spiritual development in mankind, I would say that the best way to do that is to allow individuals to experience the consequences of their choices. That position only requires freedom, while your position requires force. You can justify it, of course, by claiming that you're only using your gun to further other peoples "spiritual development".

Gee. Thanks.

I'm quite sure you can't see it, but your entire post is filled with so many negative assumptions about humanity, that I can't even begin to enumerate them. I'm actually silly enough to think that people are caring and loving at their core and that they will respond to those in difficulty of their own free will - if they're allowed to exercise it.

Whatever. Find one spiritual fact for yourself - not spiritual claims that others have made. No one has ever uttered or written a single word of truth. The moment it's uttered, it's no longer truth.

By the way, Zerdini, I love Milton's phrase "darkness visible". That's a wonderful description of what's really going on here - but it too, is only a description.

By the way, Zerdini, I love Milton's phrase "darkness visible". That's a wonderful description of what's really going on here - but it too, is only a description.

I agree. Nature has perfections to show that it is the image of God and imperfections to show it is only the image.

Taoism posits that man may gain knowledge of the universe by understanding himself.

Keith wrote, "The first Fenwick comment cuts both ways."

It's an interesting point, but I don't quite see it that way. Here's why.

Survivalists generally agree that important aspects of the NDE are the product of the experiencer's imagination. This is usually explained on the grounds that the environment experienced during an NDE is more malleable, more plastic, than earthly reality; it is said to be composed of thought-forms, and these thought-forms can be manipulated by the conscious or unconscious expectations, fears, and hopes of the experiencer.

This is not, of course, a new idea. It goes back at least as far as the Tibetan Book of the Dead, which warns the newly dead person against becoming caught up in a world of his own thought-forms.

I'm currently reading a book about OBEs called Adventures Beyond the Body, by William Buhlman, which makes the same point in great detail.

So the survivalist would expect that some features of an NDE would be "hallucinatory," in the sense of being the products of imagination.

The question would be if any of the NDE's features are veridical. According to the survivalist view, at least some features should be veridical, since the experience is not a complete fantasy; it only includes certain elements of fantasy.

The test for falsifiability, then, would be if there are no veridical features in the experience (or none that could not be easily explained by "normal" means).

In other words, what the survivalist would expect to find would be a mix of veridical and imaginary elements. This would be consistent with esoteric teachings and with survivalist theory. And, IMO, this is indeed what we do find.

A similar argument would apply to the related topic of deathbed visions. A study by Osis and Haraldsson indicated that such visions betray definite cultural influences (i.e., they are influenced by personal expectations). On the other hand, some deathbed visions reportedly include accurate information that the dying person couldn't have known normally (such as the previously undisclosed fact that a friend had recently died).

It seems to me that the strength of the survivalist position is that it can incorporate both the hallucinatory and the veridical components of these experiences, while the skeptical view can accept only the hallucinatory elements and must work to debunk the veridical ones.

I realize it can look as if the survivalist is trying to have it both ways - to eat his cake and have it too. And things would be a lot simpler if NDEs were entirely free of imaginary elements. But it doesn't seem to work like that. The NDE seems to be an experience in which the boundary between objective and subjective is blurred (even more so than usual). Both the objective and the subjective features require explanation. In my opinion, the survivalist theory does a better job of covering these two combined aspects ... but I expect we will have to disagree about that!

“William, you and I are just going to have to agree to disagree.”

That is ok Michael H that is the great thing about dialog. If we humans agreed on everything there would be no expression of that that is that most call god. There would just be Isness.

“It seems to me quite obvious that the "great promise" of socialism and communism led to tremendous suffering when put into practice.”

Yes this is a common response to my posts on other blogs. This in my view is dualistic thinking. In my day it was capitalism or communism and we had our involvement in other countries civil wars to stop communism. Kind of like doing god’s work for god that appears to be a very popular human thing to do.

Today it is socialism or capitalism again dualistic thinking. The world is not dualistic it is a relative phenomenal world not a dualistic phenomenal world. This was my one revelation in life on understanding this variation that exists in this phenomenal world.

Anyone that understands variation as it applies to systems would easily see that communism was destined to fail. It only lasted as long as it did due to the fear element but self-destructed all on its own. Systems and their level of spiritual validity have a profound impact on human thinking and behaviors.

Systems if they are to be valid must reflect divine wisdom. That divine wisdom must be in alignment with love and divine intelligence. Such as love, compassion, intelligence etc. we are all connected by consciousness and neither communism, socialism, capitalism nor libertarianism understand this spiritual aspect of reality. There is no separate self but at this stage of human development we do feel separate from all others. I.e. the home of selfishness lies in this belief.

Now why have we humans not designed this ideal system? Well we were not created perfect for to be perfect is not to exist as perceived separate entities. But we can always improve on these systems that benefits the most people in their quest for love and meaning in their lives. But improvement demands understanding of spiritual realities.

“I'm actually silly enough to think that people are caring and loving at their core and that they will respond to those in difficulty of their own free will - if they're allowed to exercise it.”

I don’t think it is silly to believe such a thing but evidence does not support your beliefs. I have seen a church held a bake sale and raise 400 dollars for a family that had a 89,000 dollar medical bill due to pre existing conditions and feel good about themselves even while that family was losing their home due to those medical costs unknown in other industrialized countries. That is not personal freedom but selfishness defined.

This is what occurs if we rely on people’s charities. Please inform me of a county that evidence provides proof that the citizens are responding to those in difficulty with their own free will. Of course not only is a personal mind and personal freedom a fallacy but so is the concept of free will as least as it is taught to the masses. There is only one valid will and that is the will of that that is. Jesus told us that but few listened.

Now here is the good news no matter what system of beliefs is used by a society the statement what we sow we reap will teach us the validity of that system. If it is spiritually invalid it will self-destruct all on its own not on our time but in God’s time which is timeless.

“That position only requires freedom, while your position requires force.”

This is an assumption you made as I did not advocate any system how can my position require force. I was hoping you would ask me what system I would advocate but we humans tend to read things in and not ask questions. I.e. we already know.

“No one has ever uttered or written a single word of truth. The moment it's uttered, it's no longer truth.”

A truth reveals its self in degrees depending on the capability, sincere interest, and humility of the person’s ability to understand the underlying reality of phenomena. Again the variation thing and the meek shall inherit the earth wisdom in action.

“I'm quite sure you can't see it, but your entire post is filled with so many negative assumptions about humanity, that I can't even begin to enumerate them.”

This is a common response when we fail to understand another’s views i.e. my views are positive and your views are negative. The atheists have their own approach. They say they have a rational mind and you folks that believe in all that religious paranormal stuff are not that intelligent like us.

“To suggest, as you have above, that the proper "spiritual path" requires the elimination of personal freedoms is not only dogmatic, it's unspeakably arrogant”

Arrogance has its home in ignorance. If one could only see clearly the ignorance in such systems as communism, socialism, capitalism, and libertarianism they would stand on the tallest mountain and yell it out for all to hear. Or they would believe in the wisdom of karma and know they will self destruct all on their own in their own time. I don’t have such wisdom yet as I continue to blog on such subjects.

Sorry Michael H but I did not communicate well what I meant by not having a personal mind or personal freedoms.

There is only one Mind and that is infinite divine Mind. We are expressions of that divine Mind and live and move and have our being in that divine Mind. When Jesus stated it is not my will but god’s will that do these things he could have stated it is not my mind but divine Mind that do these things meaning miracles.

My point: it is best to look at ourselves as expressions of that divine Mind; rather then think of ourselves as persons with personal minds, personal powers, and personal freedoms with our free will without limitations. I.e. easier said then done.

Now we have a perception of a personal mind and that perception is part of the evolution of consciousness process that creates unique expressions of divine Mind. How else could Oneness express its dynamic infinite potential without our perceptions of free will, personal mind, and personal freedoms?

The home of selfishness lies in these perceptions. To offset these perceptions as becoming permanent selfishness, there is the law or principle of karma best defined as what we sow we reap.

Hope this helps. Thanks for the dialog much appreciated.

MP-
You are right about the nature of the NDE (part objectively verifiable, part not).
Keith is right to point out that you can't use evidence for if the contrary isn't evidence against.
What other evidence (if not the reports of the people having the experiences) could one use to determine the truth here?

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