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Here is a link to a rather well known NDE, Dr. George Ritchie's.

George had both the OBE features and the transcendental features. His "death" was due to a severe case of pneumonia during world war two.

Note that the transcendental phase of the experience occurred well after the 30 second max window for the electrical surge in dying rat brains. The hospital staff had time to call the time of death and cover the body and then leave the room before the transcendental aspects kicked in.

Ritchie's NDE came to my mind when reading the rat brain electrical surge series here, but I pretty sure I've encountered a number of other NDEs that obviously extended well beyond the electrical surge phase in the dying brain.

IMO, it's really irresponsible - and desperate - materialist ideology (as opposed to science) to propose that the electrical surge has anything to do with NDEs.

I'm sure there must be some transcendental NDEs in cases of anesthesia too.

" might suggest that the autoscopic NDE/OBE is a manifestation of latent psi powers (perhaps activated by the shutdown of ordinary consciousness) while the transcendent NDE is linked to the end-of-life electrical surge recorded in rats and in some human subjects."

So veridical OBEs could still be counted as evidence for an afterlife or consciousness out of the brain?

I'm curious about the link between NDEs (transcendent) and spontaneous experiences such as "cosmic consciousness" as described in Richard Bucke's book. Experiences that are very unlikely to rely on a dying brain surge. Just a thought.

Well... there you go :P George Ritchie's NDE completely contradicts what we would expect if the trascendental parts on NDE were the last 30-seconds electrical surges of a dying brain.

Also, the NDErs experience continuity in their NDEs: the veridical OBE part of a Near Death Experience and the trascendental part is one and the same experience to them, no separation.

By the way, I always liked how you name your posts ;)

Another great post!

Nanci Danison's NDE, clearly of the transcendent type, happened while she was under anesthesia with no complications at all IIRC. In fact, again IIRC, she was no even having a major health problem but was having surgery for something relatively minor. Bruce and others who have read her book will probably remember more.

I personally have had my doubts whether anesthesia-induced NDEs are the same as flatline NDEs. I don't doubt that the former are genuine spiritual experiences, however.

I have traveled to different places in my dreams, OBEs, etc., including to the Afterlife in my belief. However, I think that during these experiences I retained the overlay of my physical brain, so to speak, which influenced how I experienced things. It may be the case that flatline NDErs do not have this overlay and experience things differently than those under anesthesia. I could be wrong, however!

Surely Ritchie's NDE is amazing. It shows that the electrical surge explanation does not explain away transcendental NDEs, but I'm still inclined to think that while transcendental aspects of NDEs do provide evidence for an afterlife, they seem to be shaped by thoughts or beliefs.

"What's needed is more info. If someone can point me to a case(s) of a transcendental NDE occurring during anesthesia, in the absence of a life-threatening surgical complication,..."

That's not really possible because anyone that needs general anaesthesia is going to have some kind of surgery and could in theory die from a complication.

This well known case partly fits the bill

The Al Sullivan case linked by Duck Soup (first video in the results that come up) is a good example of what I was looking for. The NDE combines autoscopic and transcendent aspects, and AFAIK, Sullivan did not die on the operating table. Thanks, Duck Soup!

BTW, for a laugh see how some uninformed "skeptics" try to debunk the Sullivan case without knowing the first thing about it:

Their arguments include:

-It's an urban legend, and there is no such person as Al Sullivan.
-All surgeons flap their arms that way (they don't understand the distinctive flapping motion Sullivan described).
-Sullivan saw the doctor flapping his arms in pre-op (they don't know that Sullivan never met the doc in pre-op).
-Someone told Sullivan about the doc's arm-flapping habit and won't 'fess up now (just like in "a criminal case").
-And when all else fails: "Pretty much anything would likely be closer to the truth than an NDE ... I'll go with basically any off-the-wall explanation, so long as it's possible without positing a supernatural phenomenon, before I'll accept an NDE."


Duck Soup wrote, "That's not really possible because anyone that needs general anesthesia is going to have some kind of surgery and could in theory die from a complication."

In theory, yes, but if a patient's heart stops during the procedure, the event ought to be part of the medical record.

The George Ritchie case is a little more problematic, IMO. I'm a little suspicious of NDEs that are so epically detailed. I'm not saying the NDE didn't happen, but I wonder if it's been embellished (perhaps unconsciously) to better fit Ritchie's Christian belief system. I feel the same way about Betty Eadie's well-known NDE, incidentally.

Matt, you're right about Danison's NDE, though as I recall, there were some who doubted she'd had a real NDE at all. I'd have to reread her book, or at least the first part, in order to refresh my memory on the details.

I wonder if we can really know until we die. I just listened to a really good interview that Alex Tsakiris did with Tim Freke on Skeptiko. I have often wondered if discovering God or ultimate truth is an eternal journey. Maybe God is so big that we spend forever on the journey to knowing. then I heard and went back and read this part of the interview:

Tim Freke:When I talk about, The Mystery – The Great Mystery. For me when I say life is a mystery in its deepest sense. I don’t mean like a mystery we haven’t solved yet. Like is there life on Mars. Well, what we could find out – yes, there wasn’t. It’s not like that sort of mystery. Oh, we don’t know yet. I mean the deepest thing which we are confronted with about life in our nature is a mystery. That’s what it is. It’s the absolute mystery.

Well... I googled Al Sullivan + Cardiac Arrest and couldn't find anything about it... If he had had a cardiac arrest, it would be on the records... but it's not :)

One basic problem with the NDE hallucination implications drawn by the investigators from their rat brain research is that there is really no reason for the last spasms of electrical activity after cardiac arrest to produce these specific kinds of experiences, whether spiritual and transcendental or autoscopic. Why not any of the innumerable other possible kinds of experiences that might result from a disruption of neural processing? There would have to be some sort of neurological mechanism designed to produce these particular kinds of hallucinations rather than any other possible hallucinations. If there is such a mechanism, then there would have to be some sort of evolutionary explanation for its existence. Any evolutionary explanation would seem to be extremely far-fetched, making the hallucination hypothesis also far-fetched.

Well... I googled Al Sullivan + Cardiac Arrest and couldn't find anything about it... If he had had a cardiac arrest, it would be on the records... but it's not :)

Posted by: Luciano | July 15, 2014 at 11:51 AM

Try "Al Sullivan" heart attack

Here's an excerpt from a paper about the Sullivan case. I found it on a skeptics' forum (the skeptics appear to think the paper "debunks" the episode, but they're misreading it). In any event, here's the relevant quote:

"Mr. Sullivan said that Dr. LaSala reported this experience to Dr. Takata, but
that Dr. Takata’ s only response had been, rather defensively, to insist that Mr.
Sullivan had never 'died' during the surgery. Mr. Sullivan himself did not talk
with Dr. Takata about the experience until a follow-up visit, probably a couple
of years later. At that time, Dr. Takata said only: 'Well, you’ re here, you’ re
alive, so I must do something right!'"

So it appears Sullivan's heart did not go into arrest on the operating table.

Skeptics' discussion:

The actual paper is here:

The Sullivan case is discussed on pp. 399ff.

"Try "Al Sullivan" heart attack"

Nope... I found nothing. This is the one case MP needed. It refutes the "electrical surge" hypotheses.

The George Ritchie link comment was by me. I don't know how I put my name as the commenter ( Erich Avedisian ).Doesn't matter.

I hear you Michael, re; doubting an NDE that confirms a certain religious perspective. I feel the same way. However, I make an exception in Ritchie's case as his NDE contains the classic OBE and transcendental elements and, I believe, it was recorded many years before NDEs were common knowledge. In fact, according to the link, It was one of the seminal cases investigated by Moody before he wrote his first book on the topic. Remove identifying the light with Jesus and we have the classic message of the transcendental NDE. All of the philosophy in there is really quite different from traditional Christian dogma. That's why I file it in the "keep" drawer.

If true then why do they exist at all? How do they improve the evolutionary fitness of the individual? It's not like someone with a dying brain would be able to pass down those traits to their offspring? According to evolutionary theory only those traits that increase the evolutionary fitness of the individual would survive. Those traits which are superfluous would tend to disappear. Evolution doesn't care about comforting someone as they lay dying. All it cares about is getting DNA into the next generation.

Just to clarify, when I said I have some doubts about the details of Ritchie's NDE, it's not just because he said he saw Jesus. Many Christians say that. It's because of the elaborateness of his story.

Here's the summary found at the link:

a. His Out-of-Body Experience and Life Review with Jesus
b. His Guided Tour of the Earthbound Realm with Jesus
c. His Experience of the "Receiving Station"
d. His Description of the Horrors of Hell
e. His Observations of the Temple of Wisdom
f. His Vision of the Heavenly City

I don't doubt he had an NDE, but I wonder if it became more elaborate with each retelling.

Art: || .....Evolution doesn't care about comforting someone as they lay dying. All it cares about is getting DNA into the next generation.||

I agree that it is preposterous that natural selection would favor accumulating a set of mutations that code for specific neurological changes that cause comforting hallucinations near death. This is what the rat brain researchers seem to be implying, unless they think that such a mechanism came about purely by chance out of all possible kinds of hallucinations and other distortions of consciousness.

I've had a transcendental experience not associated with any medical emergency or procedure, but in a state of and perhaps as a result of what one might call deep prayer concerning the death of someone known to me.

There is much anecdotal material indicating that this kind of experience, while perhaps not common, is fairly well known and not unusual. I would venture that a certain small but constant percentage of people can report similar experiences.

One of my reactions to the experience was that it could not have been completely internally generated because I simply do not possess inner imaginative resources capable of fabricating the vivid and powerful substance of the experience.

"I don't doubt he had an NDE, but I wonder if it became more elaborate with each retelling."

Perhaps it became more elaborate because he remembered more of it.

Each of us comes to our own truth, and I mean literally. That's what I think anyway. So our dogmas and religious beliefs don't change the minute we die, and we experience what we believe is consistent with our religious or spiritual ideology.

So receiving stations, hell etc may all play their part.

The book "Life After Life" by Raymond Moody alludes to some of these experiences I think.

Lyn x.

"I simply do not possess inner imaginative resources capable of fabricating the vivid and powerful substance of the experience."

Pavel, that's exactly what I think, when I remember my first LSD experience. The visions I saw--which I can liken a bit to the Disney movie Fantasia, but which were infinitely richer and more detailed--were certainly beyond my poor brain's ability to generate!

Not to mention the overwhelming love I felt, which I knew to be beyond science's power to explain.

So does LSD (or NDE, or, in your case, deep prayer) suddenly *create* this artistic genius and this extraordinary capacity to love, or does it temporarily disable the brain's filter and allow an already existing larger-than-human mind to pour into physical reality?

I vote for the latter.

The most famous case, I think, is Pam Reynolds' NDE, she was frozen, but not dead!

Michael... Knowing that you are an humorous guy, I think you won't get offended if I've made a picture of you like this...

BTW; I'll never publish it if you think that's offensive, so I apologize with you in advance.

The problem with this study is that it's yet another attempt to find a single explanation for NDEs, when NDEs cannot be reduced to a single cause.

We've had this before, whether it's oxygen starvation, endorphin rush etc.

This electrical surge idea is yet another example of an explanation which attempts to provide a single cause for NDEs.

This is problematic for precisely the same reason as the previous explanations fall down: there is no single cause of NDEs.

People from all walks of life and with a variety of belief systems have NDEs. A scan of reported cases tells us that some people have NDEs who are in fact nowhere near death - it can be spontaneous experience that occurs in apparently healthy brains. Cardiac arrest is just one particular circumstance in which NDEs appear.

This should tell us that the NDE phenomenon cannot be reduced to a single cause in this way.

As a side note, we haven't even started on how this electrical surge idea explains the related phenomenon of Shared Death Experience. Are we to believe that the 'surge of electrical activity' also affects those around the bedside? Is this surge so great that it creates an electrical field so wide that it affects the brains of people nearby? Now we're reaching...

"It's not like someone with a dying brain would be able to pass down those traits to their offspring?"

It is conceivable that NDEs have appeared because they increase the odds of survival of the dying; but I do not accept this because the veridical and extrasensory experiences of some NDEs and the common features of NDEs suggest a quasi-objective existence independent of the observer.

"Each of us comes to our own truth, and I mean literally."

As the bardos of Tibetan Buddhism?

I posted the following link on the 14th August 2013 in the Human Consciousness Project group on Facebook.

Apparently 20% of people don't have this surge in brain activity. The author of the letter suggests that these 20% are the ones who can recollect NDEs. The other 80% who don't recollect an NDE don't separate from their bodies so readily. The brain surge is hypothesized to occur when they separate from their bodies.

This is way OT, but I don't know anywhere else to go with this. To the point - does anybody know what happened to the Subversive Thinking blog? Is Jime okay?

I haven't been there for a while, but I just tried to access it, and I get a message saying "blog has been removed" and "This address is not available for new blogs."
Jime had built up several years of archives and put way too much work into his blog to just toss it away on a whim. Something's wrong here.

The idea that those rats experienced an electrical surge just before they died made me think about the previous posts regarding hallucinogens and using drugs to try and have spiritual experiences. Using the idea that the brain is a filter to reduce the input we get from the universe, so to speak, is it possible that that electrical surge is actually allowing it to open up very briefly, giving the individual a glimpse of the greater dimensions? It's possible that drugs, via altering the chemistry of the brain, could allow someone to momentarily experience different dimensions; could that last surge of electricity be the same thing? It might explain stories of how terminally ill patients have one last grasp of lucidity before death, and either see what's coming, see their deceased loved ones, or, in my favourite instances, manage to briefly return to normal after suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia for so long.

Reply to Luciano.

I google search 'Al Sullivan' Heart Attack.
And 9 out of the 10 first search results linked me to video, skeptics forums and some blogs related to Al Sullivan case.
I have no clue why your browser cannot yield any results, maybe try using a different browser or search engine.

"I have no clue why your browser cannot yield any results."

I think Luciano probably meant that no results came up indicating that Sullivan's heart stopped on the operating table.

"I think you won't get offended if I've made a picture of you like this..."

I'm not offended. It's funny! :-)

"The most famous case, I think, is Pam Reynolds' NDE, she was frozen, but not dead!"

Well, her heart did stop, so possibly she had an "end-of-life surge." However, I agree with Robert Mays' point (linked in the post) that since overall electrical activity in the rats' brains was so low, the spikes recorded on a couple of frequencies hardly qualify as a "surge."

Actually, the more I think about this surge theory, the less I like it. It seems to have been wildly over-hyped.

THANK YOU, MICHAEL! Glad you liked my photoshop, LOL!
BTW, I've asked to my Readers if someone had had an NDE while under surgery. Will let you know in case of replies.
I knew that Pam Reynolds' heart hadn't been stopped, only slowed down...will check her NDE...
Have a nice day.

Checked, OK, she was clinically dead with no heartbeats, sorry for the error.
IMHO , NDE's of both kinds are real only if, during the OBE phase, the patients report veridical speeches, or facts happened while he was unconscious. The best are those of blind people, can skeptics to explain us how did they see what they report?

I used the Google search engine. Yes MP that's what I meant: no article indicating Al's heart stopped.

Hello, Michael. This is off topic, but what do you think of this page? I exposed one of your posts:

"I knew that Pam Reynolds' heart hadn't been stopped, only slowed down..."

I believe her heart did stop. She was clinically dead during the standstill part of the procedure.

Juan, it looks like your link to my post didn't get much of a response. I think the other commenters were more interested in arguing about dualism vs. idealism vs. neutral monism vs. physicalism than in talking about the afterlife vs. super-psi.

"I simply do not possess inner imaginative resources capable of fabricating the vivid and powerful substance of the experience."

Perhaps the drug allowed you to separate from the ego and join the quantum consciousness? People have a variety of experiences it seems, some connect quite readily to an expanded consciousness, while others have a more limited experience. Mellon Thomas it seems was prepared to question, and received an expanded consciousness.

But then you read of say a scientist who passed and saw only dark, and atoms consistent with his beliefs. Then thought well if if dark, then why not light? Then all became light. So it seems to me, your thinking has some influence by inhibiting or allowing an experience. Lyn x.

Heads up Lynn Claire Dennis's book is published this weekend.

"Juan, it looks like your link to my post didn't get much of a response."

You're right, but I was referring to the following. I (Haruhi) exposed this post:

Response of a poster called Kai:

"Logical fallacies. Such as the idea that people get better at giving readings shows that there is a "real spirit" there giving the reading. No. On a psi hypothesis it is just as plausible that a stronger link is established between the sitter's mind and the reader's mind. On a psychological hypothesis, it is just just as likely that the reader learns how to give the sitter the kind of information they want.

The jury fallacy. The idea that because juries are rquired to come up with verdicts, this means those verdicts have any special merit in knowledge to be considered correct. In fact, they don't. For all we know (without considering other matters of evidence), every single jury returned may have given the wrong verdict. There is no necessary relationship between a jury's verdict and fact."

I reply that there is no logical fallacies because we are not intended to be the conclusion necessarily follows from the premises, but the conclusion is most likely in the light of the premises; also if it is true that there is no necessary relation between the verdict and fact, most likely remains a survivalist interpretation of the evidence. What do you think?

"For all we know (without considering other matters of evidence), every single jury returned may have given the wrong verdict."

To me, this is an example of something that is logically possible, but so unlikely that it can be safely ignored. It's like saying: For all we know, every single jury may have been composed of holograms created by a secret government conspiracy. This can't be disproven, but in the real world no one would take it seriously.

I don't see how the so-called jury fallacy even relates to the points I was making.

"Such as the idea that people get better at giving readings shows that there is a 'real spirit' there giving the reading."

What's persuasive, I think, is that the communicators often start off confused and disoriented, and become more clearheaded over time. This is at least consistent with the idea that the adjustment to a new environment requires time.

I don't see this pattern in cold reading; how many cold readers say that the communicator is confused, but if you come back in a week the message may be clearer? They wouldn't get much business that way.

As for establishing a stronger psi connection with the sitter, is there any evidence that repeated sittings result in a stronger psychic bond? Did the Rhine card tests produce progressively better results the longer they went on? I believe the opposite was true; there tended to be a decline in the results.


You can still access the blog via the wayback machine internet archive. The last post archived is from May 31st.

Pure speculation here, but it seemed Jime was entertaining a lot of incompatible lines of thought and inquiry on that blog - with more and more focus on triumphantly trumpeting conservative Christian theological points over the past year or so. I wouldn't be too surprised if he resurfaces with a blog dedicated solely to Christian philosophy sans the parapsychological explorations. The two simply don't mix all that well. Who needs data for an afterlife when apologetics and faith should be sufficient?

RabbitDawg. I too wondered how Jimes blog could just disappear without trace ! But when I look back over the past 12 months I note that one or two more subject related sites have headed in a similar direction, One I joined for a week or two (Spiritualist Chatroom) has virtually ceased due to lack of interest.Michael Tymn's page, and Paranormalia each have a relatively small handful of posters commenting. God help me for being so desperate, but Victor Z's Friday afterlife report has skipped several weeks, and even our gracious host Michael Prescott considered pulling the pin on this blog recently. I do wonder if due to the lack of any recent 'breakthroughs' in paranormal phenomena , whether the subject is gradually running out of steam ?

My post should have read "one or two 'Other' subject related sites".

Snorkler, I think blogs and websites come and go. Usually people stop blogging because they just get burned out. Offhand I can think of some paranormal sites that seem pretty active:

I'm not endorsing all the content on these sites, but they are all interesting.

Of course there are also Paranormalia and Michael Tymn's blog, which you mentioned.

I'm sure there are many others, which perhaps other commenters can list.

Also, as you may know, there are two different psi-related online encyclopedia projects in the works:

thank you for the links Michael.I have visited a few of them in the past, but there may have been a few stories I haven't read.

Studies on OBE's if anyone is interested.

The International Academy of Consciousness is also organising their first congress on consciousness I see-

"In beautiful Portugal, experts from the International Academy of Consciousness, or the IAC, are currently hard at work to organise the world's first Congress of Conscientiology on May 24, 2015 - a worldwide event that aims to host debates "centered upon the consciousness". "

Cheers Lyn.

I found this blog out a few weeks ago and I appreciate the quality of the posts and the open-minded debates. I'm interested in NED research from a personal point of view. I would like to submit to the discussion some thoughts that came to me after reading many arguments posted on web sites about this particular study on rat brains.
First of all, I wonder how could one deduce from a study on RAT brains what an HUMAN NED really is (that causes the NDE, what is the nature of NDE?), what the experiencers really live? I am quite shocked by the highly speculative conclusion drawn by the authors of the study! Moreover, does registering neural electric activity already give any information about the subjective content of an experience whatever it is? (although I'm not a specialist in neuroscience). When someone is reading a book let's suppose its neural activity will be registered: so the corresponding brain areas will be activated but how could we know the person is reading "War and Peace" or " Moby Dick" only by examining a curve?
Another question: some NDErs report to SEE medical staff trying to resuscite them with defibrillator or so; thus these persons get cardiac arrest, that means that NED, or least the OBE phase occurs DURING the cardiac arrest.
I'm sorry for my bad English, I'm not a native-speaker (I'm French).

Christine I wouldn't worry about it too much. What most skeptics know about NDEs, death bed visions, and other life after death research wouldn't fill a thimble. They spout off about stuff they know little to nothing about. I wouldn't pay them too much attention.

The truth is the only one that is important is you and what you think. That is how I feel about it. I can read and have studied it for about 14 years and I feel pretty good about it. Like the book says, "Stop Worrying! There Probably Is An Afterlife!"

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