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Michael said:

"I'm not entirely happy about that approach, since it necessarily means blurring the details of individual accounts and suggesting a more elaborate experience than any one person may have reported."

I agree. When describing NDE's, a phenomenon that many consider to be exaggerated or over-rated, it's important to be *un*creative and stick to the facts! Shades of Larry Dossey. (Who, in fairness, has mended his ways and is now footnote-obsessed.)

Great post, Michael!

I have an orb experience that I think I have described here before. I was waking up from sleep, though this was unlike any dream I've ever had, and I feel it was not a dream. I was in a black void with many orange orbs in it, and the feeling I got was that all of the attributes of the orbs were contained in all of the other attributes of the other orbs. Hard to explain! Aside from there being color and light, it was a world completely different from our own. The mode of cognition was also completely different. It is one of the key spiritual experiences of my life.

One question: There is an account in this book that was also in another book? How do they relate? Thanks!

"When choosing is not an act of escape but an act of completion, then you will stay.’"

I really like that thought.

Great stuff, but I have to agree that sticking to the details and facts of each case and NOT combining features of multiple cases would be much better.

Thank you for your review, Michael.

I think the requirement to return to this world against one's will is a crucial issue that needs a much fuller explanation. If there is indeed a greater self making these decisions, what exactly is it and what is it's purpose?

It doesn't appear to make any sense for a body to return for further learning in this world if in the astral world more elaborate senses, greater love and greater knowledge is instantly and automatically available (as indicated in your extracts). Why not just do the learning there? Why bother to come here at all?

Yes, I agree. I think that composite ‘stories’, especially with a topic such as survival of consciousness, are reason to discredit the whole book. There is nothing scientific about this technique. The author becomes a ‘story teller’ not a scientific investigator. But, better stories make better sales I guess. There can be no other reason to do this except to increase sales by making the story more interesting. Perhaps she deserves credit for admitting it. - AOD

I'm not surprised by the story about the blue orb. I have personally photographed more than 750 mysterious blue orbs, many transparent, many moving very fast, and some with recurring symbols such as an inverted Y symbol that has shown up in 7 orbs I have photographed.

M. Mahin,

Not that I put stock in this book since NDE stories within are puzzled together, but I have read many other reports of those trying to "escape" and being denied. To me this shows the the other side (provided it exists) knows just how awful it is over here.

Like Barbara above noted it makes zero sense to put up with this life when another much more easy one exists. The notion of this being some type of school where individuals use themselves as object lessons for others seems absolutely senseless to me as well.

I prefer to think of this life as merely a formality. Like a butterfly that must pass through its crawling larval stage before becoming that butterfly. Its the only way it makes any sense to me.

Have to sadly agree with others that blending the stories really hurts the book.

In general I think NDEs need to be more inclusive of experiences that parallel the NDE but happen either on drugs or to someone not near death.

That as well as cases that come off as clean as the classic NDE.

dang that should be "not as clean as the classic NDE". apologies.

As a child, I often would "lift" out of my body after bedtime, so that I could wander through the house or play with my toys...unseen by anyone else. Moving through the walls as shortcuts up and down stairs was so much easier than actually walking the steps. But one night I could actually feel the interiors of the walls as they became more dense. I also began to feel myself "bump" along the corners of my bedroom ceiling. Concerned that I might get "stuck" in the wall materials, I began to stop voluntarily "lifting out". I actually missed doing it, but felt safer.

Sometimes the spirit is given no choice but is simply told "You have to go back." Often the indication is that there is unfinished business to attend to and usually it involves another person, most often a child.

At other times the spirit seems to have a choice to stay but chose to return, (obviously) again usually because of another person still on earth needing their help in one form or another.

Many of course don't choose to return.

It seems that it is not so much about a benefit for the spirit, who wants to stay, but more often for the benefit for someone else who is left behind. - AOD

I've just finished reading this. I have to say I think it is an excellent book. Firstly, I think it is very well written. Secondly, it speaks with the authority of an experienced medical practitioner based on both her direct personal experiences and those who have reported their experiences to her very soon after they occurred in most cases. The experiences reported do not seem to me to have been embellished by her or made to be anything other than what was reported to the author. It is very matter-of-fact. There is no hype.

It isn't meant to be a science book. There are no fancy statistics in it. We do of course, have to rely on the honesty of the author, however there is nothing in it that suggests to me any sense that it isn't an honest report. The elements of the book that talk about the importance of listening with an open mind and not judging the experiences of others is very important I think.

I'd certainly recommend it to anyone with an open mind or to those who have had, or know people who have had similar experiences, or to those supporting seriously ill friends or relatives.

As MP mentioned, the author says that some of the experiences are actually composite. The only the observation I would make is that it is not possible to identify which experiences are composite and which are not in the book. I don't think this detracts from it necessarily and the author makes the point herself in the introduction.

Great post, Michael, thank you for taking the time.

I agree with everyone that NDEs should never be embellished, it diminishes them and casts doubt, which of course we don't need.

I found it interesting - well not really - that several experiences involved light, as the following two experiences will sho:

First, a relative of mine who was expecting, states that in the middle of the night, she was woken up by an extremely bright light. She then shortly went into labor and gave birth that night.

Second, the ghost that I'm sure I saw when I was about six years old seemed to me to be made entirely of light. I could clearly see that he was a person (a Native American) and he had all of the details of a person, but his whole body seemed to be made of light, and he was illuminated (multi-colored) light from within him.

This isn't related to light, but I find it really interesting that two (or more?) of the NDErs went through floors and saw piping and duct work between the floors. It's hard to imagine that a dying or dead brain would just come up with that.

My husband was in the ICU at Cedars Sinai, dying of liver failure. He was deeply interested in NDE, and there was an incident where his heart stopped. They were able to do chest compressions and bring him back, so as soon as I could, I asked him if he'd had an NDE. With some disappointment, he said that all he saw was "a blue light". A couple of weeks later he had the real death experience, so no further information has been forthcoming.

I have many times read of people feeling 'intense love' as if coming from outside themselves. In this plane, feelings come from within, though they are sometimes felt as a result of behaviors of others toward us. So, my reaction is that people are generating these feelings themselves and may be attributing them to external sources. Of course, I have only experiences on this plane to refer to.

Thanks for the review Michael. I appreciate it but this book doesn't not sound as good as The Self Does Not Die.

I plan on buying The Self Does Not Die but Near Death in the ICU doesn't appeal to me as much. I'm sure there is some good stuff in there but it's just not my cup of tea and I might have a more difficult time relating to it.

Maybe if I see Near Death in the ICU some time in the big used bookstore in Nashville I visit some time I might buy and read it? Thanks again though for the review.

Good review, Michael. I'll definitely see if my library has this one, though I can only add my voice to the others saying that combing stories is a big no-no. That Crystal story, however, is especially interesting. I've only read a handful of stories where people meet someone who will be their child or otherwise important in life, and then later on meet up with that same individual, who remembers the encounter. Those, I think, can provide some of the strongest evidence that NDE's are real and not hallucinations of the brain.

Sidthecat - I'm sorry to hear about your husband, hope you're coping ok :).

I have not read the book, although I agree not to do composite reports.

"It doesn't appear to make any sense for a body to return for further learning in this world if in the astral world more elaborate senses, greater love and greater knowledge is instantly and automatically available (as indicated in your extracts). Why not just do the learning there? Why bother to come here at all?"

It makes sense, because it is something achieved with your own effort, through overcoming obstacles; It does not make sense that everything is done for you.

The whole "Crystal" story rings all kind of alarm bells. The Readers Digest style descriptives "lost in a soft gaze that connected her to something far away" "Crystal became pensive as tears poured down Marlene's cheeks" immediately spells story telling rather than factual reporting. And the "facts" don't ring much truer. She never tells her daughter about the girl called Crystal...ok..but she still doesn't tell her when the daughter decides to give her that name? (or whatever the real name was). Is that likely? The fact the author of the book knows every detail down to pensive looks and far away glances confirms Marlene isn't keeping it as some kind of sacred secret. So she surely must have mentioned the little girl part of her experience to the daughter after it came true. We are left merely to presuppose that she didn't and, more than that, essentially forgot about such a profound life defining experience! But if she did tell her daughter that immediately undermines the significance of Crystal relating the incident back to her. How do we rule out her mother having told the child the story about how special she was and how grandma met her in "heaven"?

It's a cutesy story but in its telling it doesn't sound remotely persuasive.

Having said that though, I am fascinated by tales of children referencing their pre-birth existence. In July of last year a contributer to one of these blogs...this one perhaps..stated that they had absolute knowledge of life after death as "I remember coming here". I can't recall who it was but I copied and pasted their comments elsewhere so stil have them...

"Sure, I remember coming here (earth) from over there (heaven I suppose) actually travelling, arriving and planning my life strategy as I lay in the darkness of my mother's womb (presumably)
I know this to be without any question because of how I behaved in my early life, trying to be good (to get a good life review yes there is definitely a life review)...trying to face up to things I couldn't "do" last time. I've always felt like a stranger or an actor playing a role (I didn't really want) in a farce.

I don't know why more people don't remember but I do know my brother did by what he said to me but that's another tale."

Similarly William Peter Blatty in his book about his late son and his - as interpreted by Blatty - post death communications, relates several incidents in the childs infancy.

Including that at three, staring out of a window he said to his mother behind him, without turning round at any point "Do you know why I came here, Mommy?" When she replied no, why?, he answered "I came here to help people".

Blatty draws the readers attention to the extraordinary choice of words.. came here, rather than was born.

Other incidents reported include, again at 3, asking his dad how he learns - reading and experience he's told. " He shook his head and said ' that's not how I learn. I learn from the sky. God teaches me."

Finally at 5 the child is recorded as saying to his motherr "You know Mom, when God was making me I was a little bit scared and a little bit sad. But then I saw you."

Hello Art,

Nice of you to consider purchasing our book "The Self Does Not Die."

As for the cases provided by Ms Lauring Bellg, some of them we have adopted in The Self, such as the Howard story Michael has been referring to.

We, i.e. Titus Rivas, Robert Mays (of IANDS) and myself, have had lengthy email exchanges with Laurin and on top of that I was so lucky to see her on the IANDS conference near Orlando FL this year.

Not only does she come across as a very pleasant person, but also as a trustworthy, knowledgeable en highly experienced physician.

As regards the Howard story, some (pseudo-)skeptics offered their "definitive" explanation: The man had been in the hospital before and had entered that training room for nurses.

I asked Laurin about this allegation. Her response: This man Howard had never ever been in that hospital before. He was brought in from a town one hour drive away.

Besides, no one can enter at will that particular training area. Only after special permission. Not even Laurin herself could get there without special permission!

Another skeptic alleged that patient Howard could have overheard nurses in the ICU, telling each other about that training centre. Ms Bellg: that is sheer nonsense. First of all, nurses have better things to do in the ICU ward, and secondly, even if there was something mentioned about that training centre, then never in that intricate detail that Howard provided.

Anyway, it won't be a bad bargain when you buy NDE in the ICU.

Regard to all


Hi Michael,

I had addressed the same issue u brought up to the author herself. And I shared our email exchange on skeptiko, with her permission. I will copy and paste that exchange here as well :

I was given permission from the author to share this part of her email back to me, which she so kindly wrote back in about 12 hours of my initial email. I will copy and paste my email below and the permission she allowed me to share from her email response:

My email:

Hi Laurin, I really enjoyed reading your book. I bought the kindle version and have recommended it already to several others. I was very disappointed that I was not able to see you when you came to speak at IANDS at Unity of Mesa in Mesa, AZ the other day. I would have asked the question in person that I am posing now, and it has to do with this from your book: "In some cases, I’ve combined accounts where events were similar in order to further limit personal identifiers and preserve anonymity, yet still reveal the heart of these often-transformative moments." That message has left me confused. Honestly I didn't even catch it or notice it until it was pointed out in a forum in which individuals were commenting on your book and recommending it because of how good it was. Can you clarify that statement please. It makes me wonder about the genuiness or accuracy of some of the accounts. And by the way U don't have to answer this but it sounds like the individual that u were talking about who believes in NDE's but is dogmatic in their beliefs is probably PMH Atwater. She seems to be big into the after effects and I can visualize her saying that. Anyways.. Thank you again for an awesome book and if you ever head out to AZ again on a lecture circuit, I'll be sure to make sure that I don't miss it!! Thanks Again, Bill

Her response :

Hello Bill,

Thank you so much for taking the time to reach out. My response below may be something you wish to cut and paste to the forum, if you like. I’ve italicized it so that it is clear what is separate from my personal response to you.

When writing about real people, it is not uncommon to be asked to conceal their identity, especially if they are uncomfortable with sharing their story, as many NDErs are - unfortunately. Sometimes that is possible just with a name change, sometimes it is not. Some of the physical circumstances were merged in two separate cases in my book at the request of the experiencers before they were comfortable giving permission for me to print them. In each of these two cases (four patients), the circumstances of their medical situation and the features of their NDEs were so very close that they were much more comfortable with a combined story. Everything that was represented was an accurate representation of what they shared with me. But remember, with NDEs, we are still talking about reporting on a subjective experience that we cannot film or record in anyway at this time in our evolution. All of us are taking a leap of faith (and respect) to choose to believe someone who has the courage to share. Actually, this highlights the whole theme of the book - choosing to honor someone’s experience for what they share - their reality; their truth. With any such approach to something an author is presenting, there has to be a disclaimer. Otherwise, it is false representation. This will hopefully explain this literary convention a little further. And, it is just that - a literary convention.
Actually, the benefit for the four experiencers themselves was surprising. In combining stories, they found each other and were able to provide a support and level of acceptance as an experiencer of something so similar that I, by merely listening and documenting, would never have been able to do. I don’t think this makes the experiences any less genuine or accurate - especially when I am honoring the requests of the very people who so generously allowed me to share them in my book in the first place. This concept may be uncomfortable for some readers - and I can’t help that much although I understand - but I remained true to the people who’s stories I shared and how I was able to share them in ways that were acceptable to them. This book would have been missing two incredible (and important!) examples of the impact of dismissal of a personal experience had I not been allowed to include them. In order to do that I had to work with the four patients very closely so that they felt their truth was honored and their experience represented in a way that was comfortable for them. It is unfortunate that they felt that unsafe, but that is the reality of our current societal environment.
There were some stories I would have LOVED to have included in this book, but the level of discomfort of the experiencer was such that they were willing to share it with me but did not want it in print. Let us be grateful to those who were willing to share in whatever way they were comfortable with - even if it was sharing their experience with someone else’s very similar to their own.

My sympathies also to sidthecat on the loss of your husband. No matter what you believe about life after death, losing a loved one leaves a hole in your life here on earth.

Matt wrote, "One question: There is an account in this book that was also in another book? How do they relate?"

The account in "The Self Does Not Die" is taken directly from Dr. Bellg's book. See this post:

Being “a very pleasant person, but also as a trustworthy, knowledgeable highly experienced physician” has absolutely nothing to do with the factual credibility of anything reported by that person, especially when such judgement is based on one relatively brief meeting at a near-death conference. It is easy to be charmed by a pretty young woman.

It boggles my mind how many people accept something they have read in a fad book obviously filled with story-telling as factual. I agree with Lawrence that “cutesy stories” may be entertaining but often have nothing “remotely persuasive’. These stories appeal to the non-critical reader wanting something to assuage their fears of the unknown and in a form that doesn’t require any critical thinking on their part. In my opinion these books do not add anything new to the study of alternate realities. There probably are hundreds of them on the market today. I don’t understand the need for one more other than personal notoriety and financial gain.

This is exactly the reason why I prefer the serious writers from a hundred years ago or so, writers like Walter Franklin Prince, Alfred Russel Wallace, Robert Dale Owen, Ian Stevenson, Eleanor Sidgwick, Richard Hodgson, and James Hyslop. Hyslop might have had his ‘favorites’ but overall he was one of the most skeptical credible investigators of the paranormal. No one would describe the writing of any of those writers as ‘cutesy’.

As one reads and studies the various and sundry reports of the paranormal written over the past 150 years, one begins to doubt everything one reads about the topic. There are very few, if any, of these reports, studies, books that I could say convinces me of survival of consciousness after death of the body. - AOD


Just wanted to commend you for addressing your concerns to the author directly. Perhaps I should have done the same before complaining - it sadly comes too easily to throw out critiques through the faceless net.

"I am honoring the requests of the very people who so generously allowed me to share them in my book in the first place."

I'm glad to see this explanation, even if the details of the "blending" are still a bit mysterious. It also helps to know that only two of the book's stated experiencers are involved. (Who apparently translate to four *actual* experiencers—do I have that right?)

Tony Higgins wrote,

||I have many times read of people feeling 'intense love' as if coming from outside themselves.||

It's true. I've felt this on two occasions. I also had the "unbearable" feeling, or nearly so. It really is quite something, and it is real.

Interesting. As someone who experienced OBE exit symptoms (at age 12 - I'm now 42!) when I followed the instructions from an OBE book, I can personally confirm the following sensations, some of which Michael mentioned in his blog post:

1) strong vibrations coursing though body
2) heart thumping so hard it felt like it was about to burst out of my chest. It soon went beyond merely a beating heart to become a pulsating energetic pulsing in the heart area; I now realise that it was actually what mystics would call the 'heart chakra'. I'm not sure about the reason for the activity, but it seems to have been connected with raising the vibrations which were coursing through my body
3) Distinct buzzing in the ears
4) Distinct 'itchiness' or energy activity around the brow area. Again, I now recognise this as a form of 'brow chakra' activity
5) Finally a rush of energy as I felt the vibrations rush to my head in what I knew was going to be a cannonball exit from my body.

and then...

I bottled it.

You have to understand, I was only 12. I read about this technique, and thought it would be a 'really cool idea'.

I succeeded on my first attempt, but although I thought beforehand that I was making a serious attempt at this, I don't think I was really prepared for the reality of the experience. The difference between theory and direct experience of this is like night and day.

I remember sitting bolt upright in bed in abject terror, thinking what have I done.

I then resolved to ditch the whole idea. That calmed me down again until I decided to go to bed to get some sleep. As soon as I lay down, the vibrations and projection onset came on again. This time I almost leapt out of bed in fear.

That really set the pattern for the next 10 years or so. Whenever I felt the sensations begin I would get up and stay awake all night. I eventually worked out that if I was tired enough I would fall asleep before the sensations would begin.

Basically, in my teenage years, i didn't get much sleep (but not in a good way!).

Over the years, the exit symptoms have occurred with far less frequency and now they very rarely happen at all.

Ironically, my fear has gradually receded so that I now *want* to induce an OBE, but when I do, I get nothing.

I'm only relating this exactly as I experienced it, regardless of how nuts it sounds.

I guess I would now class it as a form of Negative NDE, in terms of the impact it had, and this was without a full exit. I know there's a difference between OBEs and NDEs but in terms of personal impact, I think i would have to class this as an NDE-type experience. The fact that this affected me so much even although it was not a full exit demonstrates just how powerful these experiences are - even the edge of one is life changing.

However, over the years, I'm glad for the experience, as it has established beyond personal doubt that this stuff is real. Trust me, when you have personal experience of this, there's no going back.

I lived in terror of this experience for years, but I'm glad to have finally accepted it and would go so far as to say I'm glad I had the experience, despite the trauma it caused me at the time. Remember, this was 1987 and there was no internet forum to turn to for advice. I was left alone with this for years. It's hardly something you take to your parents or your teacher.

AOD, I can't agree on Hyslop. I think he was rather gullible.

I do agree that the others you listed were generally serious researchers, though Prince was so hard of hearing that he was not always the best observer. Hodgson and Sidgwick were probably the cream of the crop. I've also been always been impressed by Charles Drayton Thomas, who investigated Gladys Leonard. His account of the Bobby Newlove case is still remarkable today.

On the other hand, some of the 19th century researchers could be quite treacly. William Crookes' farewell to Katie King, in which he lovingly embraced the coquettish "spirit" and bade her adieu, was ridiculed even at the time.

As for the larger point, I think there's always been a wide spectrum of reading matter on this subject, ranging from popular accounts to more serious, technical treatments. Catherine Crowe's 1848 book "The Night-Side of Nature" occupies the popular side of the spectrum; Arthur Conan Doyle's paranormal writings are in a slightly more serious vein, but still not always reliable; Hodgson and Sidgwick are the gold standard for serious research in that era. Each serves a purpose - even Crowe, whose work was helpful in drawing attention to claims that challenged the prevailing materialism of the era.

Some writers, then and now, may have been motivated by money or fame, but for the most part there's never been a lot of either to be found in writing about the paranormal.

By the way, here is a link to the text of Drayton Thomas's investigation of the Newlove case:

Yes Michael I agree about Hyslop. I admit that I generalize without thinking at times in order to make a short quick readable comment. I wrote comments on the Patience Worth blog about Hyslop which, having taken more time to cogitate about him, I think better reflects my thoughts.

Hyslop apparently was highly respected at the time as the ASPR wrote the following about him after his death. “Few men ever succeeded so well in separating the reasoning faculty from the emotional factor, and nothing aroused his contempt as did a professional scientific judgment which took counsel of prejudices and sentimental scruples.” He was called by Sir Oliver Lodge as the chief representative of psychical research in America. His obituary in the New York Times states that he was “indefatigable in pushing every phase of the work of psychical research. He exerted himself not only in the experiments themselves, but strove to bring the subject fairly before the public.”

Well, I don’t necessarily agree with the ASPR evaluation of Hyslop as I do think he was very emotional about spirit communications and about some people he didn’t know or like or disagreed with him and perhaps he was very egotistical thinking that he was the final authority on the validity of spirit contacts. In his critique of John and Pearl Curran and by extension---Patience Worth, I think he was too easily swayed by gossip provided by Emily Hutchings, a charming woman who surreptitiously provided him with innuendoes and rumors about Pearl and her husband John which Hyslop took up cause without checking out the source and validity of the gossip. I wrote on the Patience Worth site that, “Evidence meant everything to him and after a time, he regarded himself as the expert and unquestioned authority on spirit communication. He clearly believed without a doubt, that spirits existed but required his own brand of evidence before he would commit himself to endorsing a purported spirit contact by someone other than himself.”

Hyslop reportedly wrote that, “I regard the existence of discarnate spirits as scientifically proved, and I no longer refer to the skeptic as having any right to speak on the subject. Any man who does not accept the existence of discarnate spirits and the proof of it is either ignorant or a moral coward I give him short shrift, and do not propose any longer to argue with him on the supposition that he knows anything about the subject.”

Like the rest of us, Hyslop was human and subject to human foibles. - AOD

AOD! Not nice of you to quote me in this way:

Being “a very pleasant person, but also as a trustworthy, knowledgeable highly experienced physician” has absolutely nothing to do with the factual credibility of anything reported by that person, especially when such judgement is based on one relatively brief meeting at a near-death conference. It is easy to be charmed by a pretty young woman.

First of all, apparently you have not read my implicit assurance that we, the authors of The Self Does No Die, had a lengthy mail exchance with Ms Bellg, for the sake of checking out her stories. We have no reason whatsoever to disbelieve her. Besides, she has a repuation to lose, hasn't she?

Hence, our judgement is not based on "one relatively brief meeting at a near-death conference." We are not a couple of gullible believers, far from it!

As for the appearance of Ms Bellg, yes, she is pretty alright, but she is not a truly young woman, because in her early fifties.

So AOD, next time please choose your words a little more carefully.


Hey Smithy, I ordered The Self Does Not Die last night from Amazon. I look forward to receiving it. It's my Christmas present to myself. Now ya'll should work on writing a book on Death Bed Visions because I loves me some death bed vision stories! {smile}

Right now I'm in the process of reading two books, Incredible Coincidence: The Baffling World of Synchronicity and True Mystic Experiences by Jennifer Spees. One is a compilation of stories from Fate Magazine and the other is of course about synchronicities.

To me it is like a puzzle with lots of pieces and when I stand back and look it paints a picture that life has meaning and purpose and we are here for a reason and that this life is not all there is.

I don't understand why anyone would be reluctant to allow an author to write about their NDE experience if their anonymity were protected. If I, AOD, were to have an NDE experience and it was reported as being told by "Patient #2" or Patient XYZ or Patient 'Jim', why would I not allow it to be reported under those pseudonyms? I would just keep my mouth shut and not tell anyone that one of the stories in the book was mine. Only if the story were untrue or if I had elaborated upon it would I be reluctant or embarrassed to see it in print and perhaps feel guilty about bamboozling the writer with a story that was fabricated.

On second thought, maybe they were thinking about writing their own book and wanted to save the story for their own use. - AOD

I am perhaps the least 'psychic' person there is. I don't think I have ever had any contact with another reality or 'spirits'. However, I used to meditate a little bit when I was younger and as I tinkered with the meditation once in a while I would feel that I was about to leave my body behind and enter into some other place but fearful, I would never allow myself to continue on into whatever void there might have been there. I think it was all mind games now but I was afraid then (and still am) to continue. I can understand your fear for what you began to experience. - AOD

Sorry I am not nice enough for you Smithy, I stand by what I said. Bellg may be a "pleasant person" but what does that have to do with her truthfulness? Just how do you know she is trustworthy? On what criteria do you judge her to be a highly trustworthy physician? And, what difference does it make that she is a physician? Physicians are not infallible you know and I ought to know because I am married to one.
Your implicit assurance means nothing to me. Show me the evidence. And how does a "lengthy mail exchange" with Bellg allow you to "check out her stories"? Are you so gullible to believe everything she tells you in those lengthy mail exchanges? You may have no reason to disbelieve her but I have no reason to believe her over anybody else and people risk their reputations every day. As far as I am concerned, she is a story-teller (and I am not alone in that view) not a credible near-death researcher. Believe me there is no one more enticing than a good-looking 50-year old woman. At that age she has nothing to lose.

Maybe you need to practice being challenged rather than worrying about me choosing my words carefully.

(For your information I did purchase your book!) - AOD

AOD, it seems to me that Smithy, who has been investigating NDEs for many years and has written extensively on the topic, can be expected to have asked Dr. Bellg intelligent and probing questions.

I agree that the highly emotional tone of that particular account, as well as its "too good to be true" quality, raises some issues, but I think it's going a bit far to start impugning people's motives and competence. Unlike you (I believe), I've actually read Bellg's book, and I found her approach generally serious and thoughtful.

And yes, I think the fact that she is an ICU physician with decades of experience does count for something. If the book had been written by a non-physician, critics would seize on that fact to discredit it.

AOd said:
I am perhaps the least 'psychic' person there is. I don't think I have ever had any contact with another reality or 'spirits'. However, I used to meditate a little bit when I was younger and as I tinkered with the meditation once in a while I would feel that I was about to leave my body behind and enter into some other place but fearful, I would never allow myself to continue on into whatever void there might have been there.


AOD, this wasn't some vague sense of foreboding or imagined sensations experienced through meditation. These were visceral, direct bodily sensations.

If someone ran a spear through your chest, how would you feel those sensations?

That's the kind of real I'm talking about.

AOD, it seems to me that Smithy, who has been investigating NDEs for many years and has written extensively on the topic, can be expected to have asked Dr. Bellg intelligent and probing questions.

Thanks Michael for your supportive remarks.
I could not agree more.

Yes, Rivas and I have been pretty critical during the fifteen years that both of us are involved in all sorts of NDE-research projects. However, we refuse to follow similar tactics as those by (pseudo-)skeptics whose only aim it seems to discredit NDE'rs as well as witnesses of these phenomena. Treating such people with third-degree interrogation techniques won't be of much help. We have a saying in the Netherlands which tells it all: je vangt vliegen met stroop in plaats van azijn. In translation: honey catches more flies than vinegar.. In other words: a friendly approach while showing genuine interest gives more and better results than an explicit, or even implicit hostile one in the sense of "you are telling me this but how I can be sure that it is the truth?"

I also agree with you, Michael, when you say that Dr Bellg's experience as an ICU physician counts for something.

There are many qualities of (pseudo-)skeptics which I find repulsive, if not obnoxious, but to my mind one stands out: their almost paranoid distrust of those they disagree with. (This is a general observation by the way! I am not referring to you AOD!)

I value your opinions and I know you can appreciate the opinions of others but in matters of presenting proof or evidence of alternate realities, I think it is important, especially if one is a physician, since that lends perceived credibility to issues presented to the lay public in any writings, to insure that such evidence is presented in an unembellished manner. I surmise that Rivas, Driven Smit and Bellg are nice people and enthusiastic in what they are presenting but there are some of us who have read widely in matters of near death experiences and other intimations of survival and there is too much unverified fabricated information out there now to add another shovel full to the heap. - AOD

I must add that reports or studies about the paranormal are not about the writer. Such studies or reports either stand or fall based upon the credible evidence provided. Either the evidence provides validity for the report or not. Take a look at the work of Ian Stevenson and you will see that he went to extremes to provide evidence “suggestive of reincarnation”. Note that he said “suggestive’. Even after years of investigation he knew that what he was presenting might have weaknesses and be subject to criticism. One needs to guard against overlooking flaws in studies because it was written by ‘one of our own’ or that it seems to support our own belief system. And, writers of the paranormal need to develop a ‘thick skin’, knowing that what they are presenting will undoubtedly be picked apart by skeptical people, someone like me for example. - AOD

Here is an entertaining YouTube presentation by Dr. Bellg recalling her experiences with people who had had a near death experience. She appears to indeed be a charming young woman. This YouTube is 2 years old and about 55 minutes in length. Perhaps you might find it interesting. - AOD

"We have a saying in the Netherlands which tells it all ... In translation: honey catches more flies than vinegar."

We have that saying in the US too! Although as someone once pointed out, who wants to catch flies?


I will make one last comment. I am sure that Smit, Bellg and others are very nice people, seemingly trustworthy and truthful. That is not the point of my comments. Whenever a researcher combines data from several sources, whether it is from stories told by several people or information gleaned from several laboratory experiments, and presents that data as if it were coming from one person or lab experiment, for me, that discredits the report. I understand why some would want to defend Dr. Bellg and the way she presented her information about NDEs but combining data and not providing a good ‘who’, ‘what’ ‘when’, where,‘why’ and ‘how’ in my opinion does not lend credibility to any report or study.
(Note to Michael: I have purchased Bellg’s book and look forward to reading it. Thanks for the recommendation.) - AOD

Yes, it sounds as though she should have clearly presented those two reports (and only those two) as composites illustrative of certain phenomena. Better yet, it would have been even more illustrative to deal with each pair of cases and present how they were similar without revealing personal details in any of them. I am led to assume that the good doctor has not dealt with Skeptics, who will cease upon anything so small and instantly magnify it to discredit the whole in the eyes of the undecided.

Very similar, powerful experiences can occur during deep prayer. Humility and self-forgetfulness, an urgent need for reassurance are immensely helpful.

Out of body experiences can also occur during dreaming.

Pavel wrote,

||Out of body experiences can also occur during dreaming.||

Indeed. I am of the opinion that *all* dreams are OBEs in the Astral, actually.

Matt said:

"I am of the opinion that *all* dreams are OBEs in the Astral, actually."

You may be on to something, Matt. It would explain why precognitive dreams are common—because while dreaming, we're "out there" beyond time and space.

"This is exactly the reason why I prefer the serious writers from a hundred years ago or so, writers like Walter Franklin Prince, Alfred Russel Wallace, Robert Dale Owen, Ian Stevenson, Eleanor Sidgwick, Richard Hodgson, and James Hyslop. Hyslop might have had his ‘favorites’ but overall he was one of the most skeptical credible investigators of the paranormal. No one would describe the writing of any of those writers as ‘cutesy’."

Agreed all those writers were decent investigators. You are forgetting a few though. How about Frank Podmore, W. W. Baggally, or count Perovsky-Petrovo-Solovovo?

My only disagreement is Wallace.

He claimed this spirit photograph of his mother was genuine:

It was taken by a dubious spirit photographer called Frederick Hudson. I think it is double exposure, any thoughts??

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