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Nice summary. I look forward to Mr. Smit's writings on "skepticism in general."



And just wait for the double article (Woerlee’s and mine) in the Summer Issue of JNDS.

That should be interesting!

If you want a solid veridical NDE case that will stand up to scrutiny you need to be able to:

a) verify and document the incident ASAP, with follow-up interviews of all relevant staff

a) prove beyond doubt that the patient's cortex was out of commission at the time of the alleged NDE, ideally by pointing to the total absence of brain-stem reflexes, this will render any debate about blood flow to the brain and possible consciousness irrelevant.

It is also necessary to assess how the evidence is collected, who it comes from and how well corroborated it is. Without this consideration the testimony of others, particularly rd parties, is potentially unreliable and would not be acceptable in a Court, or would at least not be given much weight.

I am not sure the cortex has to be proven to be out of commission if the patient was able to report events that there was no-way they could have observed (not just heard), and that such observations can be corroborated soon after the event.

Here's the comment I just posted on one of the source threads from which the comments above were taken:

Rudolf Smit wrote:

"It is also a pity that we could not find the three other people of the resuscitation team. As for that, the strict privacy laws of the Netherlands stand in the way."

I suspect there may be a way to find a loophole. After all, those laws weren't intended to apply to this sort of situation. If you could approach the sponsors of those laws, such as sponsoring legislators and privacy organizations, and ask them for their opinion on whether this case would or should be an exception, they might speak out on your behalf. Then you could go to the local prosecutor and ask if he'd have any objection to "looking the other way." Then you could go to the hospital administrators.

It might help if the hospital administrators stated at the outset that they'd like to help with your investigation, but that they'd need to be "covered" before doing so by the statements you're seeking from officials and pressure groups.

It would obviously strengthen this case if more witnesses confirmed it. I suppose you could say doing so is overkill. OTOH, "The sufficient is insufficient." (DeMaistre)

From Rudolf Smit

A correction and some additions

First of all, I have to point at a mistake in Woerlee’s second contribution: Cardiologist Pim van Lommel commenced working for the Rijnstate Hospital (Arnhem, the Netherlands) in 1977, not in 1980.

Second, I was told that in the very early nineties there had been a BBC-documentary on NDE. Someone corrected me: there were two documentaries about NDE on the Discovery Channel. Herein both Van Lommel and nurse TG featured.

@Roger Knights, @Paul and @Mark Hesse:
Of course the three of you are in principle correct as far as the evdential value of the case is concerned. I am all too aware of that. Therefore, in case you have not read my JNDS paper in its entirety, then let me quote the final paragraphs and then you will better appreciate my position.

In conclusion, the story as related in The Lancet corresponds well with the account corroborated here by the eyewitness testimony of nurse T.G. The patient B. appeared to have had an NDE OBE and was not sufficiently aware of the environment he was then in to have perceived by normal means the removal and storing of his dentures.
But of course the event happened too long ago to permit corroboration now of all the relevant details, and although the evidence includes the first-hand testimony of an important and reliable witness, it does not include an interview with the patient himself.
The main purpose of this article was to set the record straight as to the facts of this case, while admitting that this case cannot constitute definitive proof of continuation of consciousness, let alone survival of death. But it does provide corroborating testimony that something extraordinary happened at the time, an event that should not be dismissed out of hand as a ridiculous story made up by naïve believers.

In addition, Mark Hesse, your suggestions seem to be accommodated for in the AWARE study (see more about that elsewhere on this site).

Finally, Roger Knights suggested that there would a loophole regarding the privacy laws.
In am sorry, but I believe that Roger is a little bit too optimistic. To begin with, one has to be realistic about the degree of NDE-acceptance in the Netherlands. The public at large seems ready to accept the reality of the NDE, but a substantial majority of the medical professionals still does not. A lot of them still dismiss the phenomenon out of hand, and in many hospitals nursing staff is even discouraged to talk to patients who had an NDE.

Now, as for the hospital where the case occurred we did hardly get any assistence when we tried to find out more about the staff members that worked with TG in 1979. Even a printed appeal for information in the hospital’s staff magazine was refused.

And so we can go on and on. Obviously, it is all easier said than done.

That’s it for now. Rudolf

Hi Rudolf - thanks for that. My own objection was to this event being cited (not by you, clearly) as 'highly evidential' - not an objection to NDEs per se or to whether this was an NDE or not. For what my opinion is worth, I am in full agreement with the sentiment in the the paragraph you pasted in.

Kind regards

I was just reading an NDE account today (Alexa Hartung) and saw this:

"The next thing I knew I had lifted out of my body and was looking at myself! A bit surprised, I said, "Gee, I don't look so bad!" All my life I had felt large and fat compared to my 5', 100 lb. sister. As I now saw myself, I looked different from what I thought I’d seen in the mirror."

I've seen that basic idea expressed countless times in NDE accounts. Again and again, people are surprised at how they look when they see themselves for the first time while out of body.

This strikes me as a counter-argument to Susan Blackmore's "mental model" theory. She says that during an NDE, because we have no actual visual input, we "see" an imaginary world based on what we expect to see or have seen before.

Then why are people always surprised at their appearance? And surprised in precisely the way you'd expect them to be, because seeing yourself in 3D is, in fact, different from seeing yourself in the mirror.

Anyway, there's no proof here, but it's a very suggestive piece of evidence I've thought about often. What do you all think?

Mulling over things it occurred to me that the debate about 'survival' is perhaps often presented as one between sceptics and believers.

If a sceptic is someone who is 'inclined to doubt' (and I might have the wrong definition here as there seems to be a number of different definitions), then is the opposite someone who is 'inclined to believe'?

It occurs to me that a 'natural inclination to believe' perhaps doesn't seem prudent (in matters such as the 'supernatural' at any rate, or on any subject that makes a significant difference) unless there is sufficient evidence to reasonably support the belief.

If there is such evidence, and I don't mean categoric unchallengeable proof, then it seems odd to me, for a an honest sceptic, according to the above definition, to exclude it. The sceptic may not become a 'believer' but might simply accept that it is possible but remain unconvinced it is a fact.

That is, unless the person concerned is not simply 'inclined to disbelieve', but actually determined not to accept the 'believers' position. In which case perhaps they are something other than simply sceptical.

It occurred to me that the argument between those who accept there is a case for survival and those opposed is more about convinced materialists -v- those who believe in survival or psi-related pheomena, rather than a struggle with those who are simply sceptical because they have not seen, in their own view, sufficient evidence of a type acceptable to them, but who would be prepared to at least accept that there is a case for survival, and other phenomena if they did. It occurred to me that 'motive' is at the heart determining whether a person is genuinely sceptical or has a determined opposing viewpoint.

In short scepticism seems to me to be a sensible starting point. When such scepticism becomes a refusal to admit any evidence to the contrary, I am not sure that it can still be described as scepticism, but I am not sure what word best describes it.

I am not trying to provoke an argument here but rather to clarify my own thinking and would genuinely appreciate other opinions.

@MP if this is the wrong place or not of interest then please don't hesitate to delete the post.

I think skepticism is healthy and natural, as long as it doesn't morph into willful blindness.

In my case, when I first saw John Edward on TV, I assumed he had to be a fake, so I searched skeptical websites to find out how he did it. But their explanations were unsatisfactory to me. Often, the skeptics misrepresented what happened on the show, ignored the most amazing hits, and offered only vague, hand-waving generalities (and mockery).

Because I didn't find the explanations convincing, I continued to look into the subject and eventually found out about the better-tested mediums like Gladys Leonard and Leonora Piper.

So skepticism was my default position, but it was gradually worn down by a) the weakness (as I saw it) of the skeptics' arguments and b) the quality and quantity of evidence I eventually unearthed.

Skepticism is still my default position for most seemingly oddball ideas and conjectures, though I hope I'm not as much of a knee-jerk skeptic as I once was. Admittedly, once you have opened your mind to one bizarre notion, it becomes easier to open your mind to others. This can be good and bad - good if it leads you to explore new possibilities in an intelligent way, bad if it short-circuits your critical faculty.

The type of skepticism I dislike is the dogmatic kind epitomized by Paul Kurtz, founder of CSICOP. In a TV documentary some years ago, Kurtz said (this is a paraphrase), "We'd all like to believe in an afterlife, but the trouble is, there is simply NO EVIDENCE for it." Kurtz should have known that this claim is wildly overstated. It is one thing to say there's some evidence but not enough, or that there's some evidence but it's problematic, but to say there's no evidence at all...? Either he was being intentionally deceptive or he is simply unable or unwilling to see any evidence that conflicts with his assumptions.

In the end, though, it doesn't matter what skeptics or believers of any stripe think. It only matters what you think. The meaning, purpose, and ultimate realities of life are personal questions that each individual has to decide for himself.

Thanks for the reply Michael. Your view resonates with my own. From my own perspective, I think had assumed, like many, that there was no categorical proof of survival and inferred that there was also no evidence, at least none of any significance, to support the idea either.

What I have not found so far is undeniable proof of survival but what I did find was an astonishing amount of evidence from highly reputable sources. I also found a great deal of ignorance (some of it wilful) of this vast body of evidence that, perhaps naiively, shocked me.

I think you are probably right that these questions are personal and require us to make our own decisions based on whatever evidence we can discover.

Paul said:
"That is, unless the person concerned is not simply 'inclined to disbelieve', but actually determined not to accept the 'believers' position. In which case perhaps they are something other than simply sceptical.
"In short scepticism seems to me to be a sensible starting point. When such scepticism becomes a refusal to admit any evidence to the contrary, I am not sure that it can still be described as scepticism, but I am not sure what word best describes it."

The term I've coined is Scofticism.

Marcello Truzzi (the originator of the "extraordinary claims" chestnut--which he subsequently disowned) categorized self-described "skeptics" as scoffers in disguise. He called them pseudo-skeptics; but "scoftics" makes a neater bundle--and has more sting.

Ah Yes! I like that word.Thanks Roger :)

From Rudolf Smit

Hi! Some time ago I received the proofs of the Summer Issue of the Journal of Near-Death Studies, containing an article by Woerlee critizising my dentures man story, followed by my rebuttal. It is now only a matter of time and I can supply a URL referring to the website where my article is posted.

Regards to all.

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