Dr. Michael Shermer on Near-Death Experience Science |379|

Discussion in 'Skeptiko Shows' started by Alex, May 1, 2018.

  1. Alex

    Alex New

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    Dr. Michael Shermer on Near-Death Experience Science |379|
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    Dr. Michael Shermer isn’t swayed by near death experience science, but has he read the literature?
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    photo by: Skeptiko
    Today we welcome Dr. Michael Shermer back to Skeptiko. Dr. Shermer is a best selling author and creator of Skeptic Magazine. His latest book on consciousness and the afterlife is Heavens on Earth:

    Alex Tsakiris: A couple of years ago I interviewed Jan Holden from the University of North Texas, who, along with Dr. Bruce Greyson from the University of Virginia, two of the most prominent names in near-death experience research, they compiled the book, “The Handbook of Near-Death Experiences,” mainly for people in the medical community, so that when they encounter someone who comes up out of a cardiac arrest and says, “Hey, I had this incredible experience,” they can be, at least, familiar with what they tell them.

    At the time they published this book Michael, in 2009, they had over a hundred peer-reviewed papers they included in their book. By now, there’s over 200 peer-reviewed papers. I don’t see any of that in your book.

    Michael Shermer: I think it’s important to make it… Well, look, I don’t have to cite everybody that’s ever written on the subject.

    Alex Tsakiris: But you don’t cite any of them.

    Michael Shermer: Yes, I do, oh yes, I do.

    Alex Tsakiris: Pim van Lommel, Sam Parnia, who else?

    Michael Shermer: Yeah, yeah.

    Alex Tsakiris: You misrepresented both of them, but you at least cited them.

    Michael Shermer: But anyway, let’s back up for a second and…

    Alex Tsakiris: And I’d have to say, Eben Alexander, I want to talk about him, but technically he’s not a near-death experience researcher, he’s a Harvard neurosurgeon who had a near-death experience and wrote a book about it, right?

    Michael Shermer: That’s right, but he knows a lot about it, he knows as much as you do, as much as I do, because he’s…

    Alex Tsakiris: But he hasn’t published peer-reviewed papers on looking at the science.

    Michael Shermer: A peer-reviewed paper thing, that’s a red herring. I’m not denying that people have real experiences. You’re treating this as if the experiences represent some other dimension, a heaven, a place to go, and that is not at all what these peer-reviewed papers indicate. All they say is that the people that have the experiences, have very real experiences, which I agree. The experiences these people have are very real.

    The question is, is do they represent just neural activity or neural activity and something else, and I claim that none of the research I’ve read, none of the stories, none of the papers are evidence of an afterlife.
     
    Last edited: May 1, 2018
  2. Wormwood

    Wormwood Member

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    "The question is, is do they represent just neural activity or neural activity and something else, and I claim that none of the research I’ve read, none of the stories, none of the papers are evidence of an afterlife."

    Shermer is confusing the idea of "evidence" with "proof." Of course we don't have incontrovertible proof, or else we would have no debate. But not evidence? Come on.
     
  3. Alex

    Alex New

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    I think he's just confused about "evidence"
     
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  4. Number 22

    Number 22 Member

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    Why does he think he knows we did not exist before we was born?
    This guy is simply out of the question of consciousness, he uses his magic logic to deny the afterlife , I find it silly that all he does is simply Use ambiguous things to get rid of the other world instead of accepting the evidence.
     
    Last edited: May 1, 2018
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  5. KindaGamey

    KindaGamey Member

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    Can't wait to hear this though I'm sure I'll be bashing my head against a wall in frustration. Replying so I get updated on this thread.
     
  6. Number 22

    Number 22 Member

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    I'm mistaken or this guy does not have any knowledge of spirituality!
     
  7. Baccarat

    Baccarat New

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    Not to be an arse, but is this worth watching?
     
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  8. TheRaven

    TheRaven Member

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    Yes! I’ve been anxiously awaiting for this podcast! Replying so I can get updates.
     
  9. Number 22

    Number 22 Member

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    Not Worthy.
    Shemer uses the same arguments and materialistic beliefs.
    But alex has done so well should also go through a bit
     
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  10. wildewurst

    wildewurst Member

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    Read it in excerpts... The whole discussion sounds a lot like discussions of that kind have sounded 10 years ago...

    Re the neural correlate thing: One major cornerstone was made by the AWARE study in reporting at least one case of veridical perception during cardiac arrest including enough events to fix the timing 100%.

    Re going beyond those discussions: One very interesting figure is this guy: http://isha.sadhguru.org/ who has also published huge amounts of material incl. long discussions and interviews on youtube.com/sadhguru

    It takes some time to get a proper picuture of him and the organisation behind but I found it worth it. There are a lot of things I agree on, still some more or less problematic claims. Seems to be a busy guy, but maybe you can get him on for a short interview?
     
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  11. TheRaven

    TheRaven Member

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    Well, that was very frustrating to read.
     
  12. David Bailey

    David Bailey Administrator

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    Alex,

    Usually the title links across to the other Skeptiko website from which I can download the audio. Did you forget something?

    David
     
  13. Seth

    Seth Member

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    Why Shermer spends so much time talking about things unrelated to the problem Alex presented?

    The question is about the amount of evidence we have that consciousness survives after death, and he starts talking about what people think the afterdeath is like.
    What christians think, what hindus think, etc. If the physical body ressurects, if we just reincarnate, etc. He presents it as if it is evidence against the existence of the afterlife itself. But these questions are about the NATURE of that afterlife, not of its existence or validity. In my opinion they should be asked AFTER we've settled with the question of its existence, thats when we can investigate how it is.

    It's like arguing against the discovery of the Americas in the end of the middle ages by stating what spanish people, portuguese people or english people think about that land. Who cares. They think different things, so America doesn't exist? They think different things because it was not explored enough at that time. With time, after they accepted that America exists, it was possible to explore the land and then make conclusions about it.
     
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  14. Michael Larkin

    Michael Larkin Member

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    Alex's question at the end of the interview:

    What do you think Michael's best point is -- what's his best argument from the many different topics we discussed?
     
  15. Mr. Curious About Things

    Mr. Curious About Things Member

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    I couldn't finish listening to it, too frustrating. Here's a fantastic video showing how his treatment of another subject misrepresents what's actually going on. He went to the Electric Universe conference a few years ago and basically misunderstood everything. Fortunately the EU people didn't take that lying down and shot back with the video below. It's really worth watching.



    I really wish Alex would interview Wal Thornhill or David Talbott of the Thunderbolts Project, it's another area that fits into the milieu of Skeptiko.
     
  16. KindaGamey

    KindaGamey Member

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    Oof. That might be the toughest question he's asked us yet.
     
  17. jerbear_13

    jerbear_13 We behold what we are, and we are what we behold Member

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    I won't lie, this was really hard to listen to. I know I've really hammered at my story on this forum but I just can't do the Atheism thing any more. Maybe that puts me an echo chamber of idealism but been there done that. Spent 8 years in it, don't think there is really anything new to hear. Glad you got him on but it's just like listening to nails scratching a chalk board. Keep up the good work, Alex.
     
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  18. David Bailey

    David Bailey Administrator

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    I think that might be very interesting, but I think those guys would not express interest in ψ, so it really would be important for Alex to keep focussed on the subject of the Electric Universe.

    I honestly do not know if the EU is possible, so I'd really like to listen to such a podcast, and it would be nice to have a discussion about questions they should be asked.

    David
     
  19. Michael Larkin

    Michael Larkin Member

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    What do you think Michael's best point is -- what's his best argument from the many different topics we discussed?

    That's a bit like like asking what I think L.Ron Hubbard's best argument was. Truth is, Shermer's views are just so naive and pedantic that it's impossible to hold a productive conversation with him. He isn't in the same intellectual ballpark as people like Bernardo Kastrup or David Chalmers. It's absolutely pointless arguing with him: his world is just so restrictive and limited in scope that the nearest comparison I can make is with religious fundamentalists.

    I was screaming out at Alex to say that extended consciousness experiences correlate not with increased or even normal levels of neural activity, but with reduced levels thereof. Shermer hinted at it himself when he talked about cerebral anoxia. I would have concentrated on that...
     
  20. David Bailey

    David Bailey Administrator

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    For me, one of the remarkable things about these podcasts, is the weak performance of the extreme sceptics - even though they have written best selling books etc.

    I'd actually say Shermer is possibly slightly better than many of the other sceptics!

    David
     

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