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"I've already read Keith Augustine's long online essay on NDEs, and although it's well researched, I found it tendentious and unconvincing."

You could write a post about that.

"You could write a post about that."

Already did, back in 2006:

Matt writes:

"But this is what the Skeptics do; they have to. Because acknowledging *any single* phenomenon means ripping up their worldview and their community and starting from scratch."

It's a bugger to find you've spent your life digging a hole in the wrong place, isn't it? ;)

"As a general rule, if people report things that seem to be impossible decade after decade and especially around the world, they are happening."

But skeptics tend not deny the existence of the experience, but they give other interpretations. They do not deny the existence of near death experiences, but they deny that NDEs are glimpses of afterlife, they do not deny the existence of experiences of apparitions, but they deny that the apparitions are spirits of the deceased, etc.

However, there are reasons to reject these negations: even though there NDEs whose content was not matched by the consensual reality and could be hallucinatory, there is also NDEs with content that corresponded with the consensual reality and could not reasonably be obtained by known senses or luck, there are cases where the apparitions were seen by several witnesses and other cases where the apparitions provided information that the witness did not know, etc., which points to the existence of spirits of deceased.

Well, Juan, one always has to be cognizant of the 'will to believe'. There is more going on in the human psyche than we know. I have read a lot of the 'evidence' for spirits of the deceased but most of those reports came through the mind of man, that is, most or all of it is anecdotal. Increasing, I question more and more everything that I read, hear or see.

After sifting through most of the 'evidence' for many years, I still believe that the 'evidence' in the Patience Worth case is the most convincing.

I agree with Matt that something definitely is going on. It's just that based on the 'evidence' I still don't know what it really is. - AOD

Julie wrote,

||It's a bugger to find you've spent your life digging a hole in the wrong place, isn't it? ;)||

Yes. There is a lot of psychological inertia behind a position long-held. This is true of anyone with belief system that is dogmatic and passionately felt.

Juan wrote,

||But skeptics tend not deny the existence of the experience, but they give other interpretations.||

They do when they need to. They will accuse people of outright lying when they can't come up with any other explanation.

Consider this: acknowledging the existence of the experience is nothing more than acknowledging the report. If Skeptics didn't acknowledge what people are talking about, they wouldn't be "in business," so to speak. They *enjoy* acknowledging--and then trashing--people's experiences. OTOH, there are a lot of what I call "soft atheists" who really do just ignore things that don't fit their worldview. They are not contentious.

I commented recently, in another thread, about a chance entry I found in the so called 'RationalWiki' concerning Robert McLuhan while I was googling his blog. Frankly, I was shocked by the tone of what I read.

The adjectives used were those of the dim-witted playground bully taunting the fine minded scholar. And yet, at the same time, it was strangely reassuring in that anyone of a more reasonable mentality can see, at a glance, the motivation and intellectual insecurity behind such puerile character assassination. The contrast between the Robert I know and the description of him and his work in that entry was almost surreal.

It saddens me to see this most important avenue of scientific enquiry deliberately ridiculed and trivialised by buffoons who write as if they're teenagers singing, "La, la, la, la, la," at the top of their voices in order not to hear. Perhaps they are all teenagers? They certainly appear to be at a difficult stage of their mental development.

Clearly, I don't understand these people, just as I don't understand playground bullies. That kind of mentality is something that the human race should have evolved beyond by now. But then things do have a way of descending to the lowest common denominator - which 'RationalWiki', an oxymoron if ever there was one, surely represents.

"I agree with Matt that something definitely is going on. It's just that based on the 'evidence' I still don't know what it really is."

But that is not enough, because the question is to find out what happens, and this blog have shown that there are reasons to favor a afterlife interpretation of certain experiences. And it is not enought accept that some experiences ocurrs, it can be considered as hallucinatory, which does not deny the experience.

I am convinced without any doubt that some people believe that they have experienced seemingly other-world realities during a so-called near death experience (NDE) or an out-of-body experience (OBE). I believe that those experiences were very personal in content to them and often related to the individual's current life and cultural situation. I think that what is reported by perhaps 100s if not 1,000s of people during an NDE or OBE seems to be very similar, not always in specifics but in overview. What they report seems reasonable to me and what I personally would expect if I accept that there is a meaningful, loving, intent to this life and to a life to come in a non-physical reality but that view is based upon my biases, hopes, fears and a developing belief system in which I have invested a good amount of time and energy. While what is reported may not be factual, the fact that it was reported, I think, has to be believed.

These reported experiences may be different for different people, not that that negates another reality but that a non-physical reality may have a certain fluidity that we do not experience in a physical existence and that an individual entity or consciousness may be able to manipulate that fluidity by some means or that that fluidity may be manipulated by some other entities.

One may believe that these reported experiences are not enough, as you say, but I think that is all that is really known---that is all the evidence there is. There is currently no way that one can know whether or not those NDE or OBE experiences were hallucinatory or not. This is not to dismiss the veridical facts related to an individual case but I have to accept and believe however that whoever verifies the facts is not making the facts fit the NDE or OBE experience.

I think that it is unlikely that hard evidence of a 'spiritual reality' will ever be found because a spiritual reality is spiritual not physical. That is why photographs of spirits and materializations of the dead and ectoplasm are difficult for me to accept as evidence of a spiritual reality. I think for the most part they are evidence of fakery and play into a person's "will to believe", mass hypnosis or personal needs, e.g. self delusion to assuage a fear of death, loss of a loved one or in the case of a medium, a need, either consciously or subconsciously for notoriety.

If everything that is reported in an NDE or OBE as evidence of an after-life existence is a true representation of a reality, then I would agree that there are good reasons to favor it. But I personally do not trust that what people say is reliable or represents another reality in which we all shall enter.

There are other things which I think are better examples of an after life than OBEs and NDEs. First and foremost I tend to think that the reports of reincarnation, especially in children are very convincing. Studies by Ian Stevenson and more recent reports e.g., James Leininger, have provided verifiable information that a person reported to have been a past life of the child, really existed. And it is highly unlikely that either the child or his family knew about the past life personality before the child reported it. However Stevenson agrees that hypnotic regressions of adults to past lives may not provide the best examples of reincarnation.

I personally believe that the Patience Worth case deserves better evaluation than it has received, excepting Dr. Walter Franklin Prince's case study in 1926-27. Dr. Prince was not a gullible man and he had a reputation for detecting fraud but at the end of his study of Pearl Curran and Patience Worth he was as perplexed as anyone as to the true explanation of Patience Worth. Patience Worth is not a simple case to evaluate as it requires reading voluminous materials written by Curran and Worth as well as Prince's study which included interviews with Curran and many people who knew her and one must have more that a basic knowledge of history and philology. Maybe it is a case of reincarnation in which Pearl Curran pulled information from her over-soul to write about societies and cultures existing over a 2,000-year period but I don't think that Curran fabricated anything either consciously or subconsciously. I don't think, based primarily upon Prince's study that she was a fraud in any way. - AOD

Largely I agree with you, Amos; what I meant is that it is not enough to say that something happens, but find out what happens.

"I think that it is unlikely that hard evidence of a 'spiritual reality' will ever be found because a spiritual reality is spiritual not physical."

But what is spiritual? NDEs, apparitions, mediumship and children who remember their past lives may be manifestations of consciousness according to a physics that we are just beginning to understand. I mean, I think that the spiritual is physical, only advance to modern physics.

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