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

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

  1. Wormwood

    Wormwood Member

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    Agree. I've grown quite fond of the forum. There are a number of brilliant people here which I have learned from. You are one of them. I wish Alex was more involved with our conversations.
     
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  2. David Bailey

    David Bailey Administrator

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    Radish,

    I have taken the written version of your first link so we can think about it here:
    Bob Olson certainly gave the whole thing a shallow new age quality - something like a tele-evangelist, so I thought it might be better to look at the actual transcript. Superficially it does look like something from Newton's books.

    I haven't read it all yet, but I wonder just what the limits of hypnotism are - can one invent a scenario almost, and get some hypnotic subjects to recall it?

    David
     
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  3. David Bailey

    David Bailey Administrator

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    @Alex Yes I wish he would share more of his thoughts here!

    I suspect part of the reason is that he is kept very busy producing a podcast every 2 weeks, and running his business to make money for it all!

    I too really appreciate this forum, because we really can discuss subjects without becoming part of a clique with just one narrow point of view. Alex selects those who can join, and I think that makes a huge difference - some years ago, we seemed to be plagued with lightweights who simply wanted to fool about. When the disruption happened about a year ago, we did lose a number of very interesting people, but fortunately new people have joined.

    At the moment, I barely do any moderation - you all contribute to making this forum work well!

    David
     
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  4. Baccarat

    Baccarat New

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  5. LetsEat

    LetsEat Member

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    I am a hypnotherapist trained by HMI and yes, a big reason why hypnosis has been snubbed for years is because of what we call 'memory falsification syndrome'. Back when hypnosis was first picking up steam Freud thought it could be used as a truth telling serum by questioning the subconscious mind directly so he immediately went out to prove his theories that neurotic women had been abused sexually by a father figure. One after another his patients revealed under hypnosis that their uncles, their fathers and grandfathers had raped them such that iirc every single one of his patients had one of these experiences. Well an investigation was performed into this and found not a single one of these stories were true. Freud, disgruntled, then abandoned hypnosis as a tool entirely. Later hypnosis was used to diagnose Satanic Abuse in children at industrial levels but for similar reasons was refuted. Now its illegal to use hypnosis on witnesses because even a single session would relegate that witness invalid in the court of law.

    I was trained to avoid all forms of regression because I could be found liable for any damages a false memory could cause and because they are easy to produce.

    Through inflection, leading questions and false choices we can accidentally produce false memories. In addition the deeper into the trance state you go the more random images and sensations are produced by hypnogogia.

    IIRC Michael Newton specifically goes into his methods on how he prevented leading questions but ultimately rests on the variety of experiences people have being extremely similar. I'm not sure if Dollores Cannon also talks about memory falsification syndrome but I know she also believes her accounts are authentic because its many people reporting the same experiences.
     
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  6. David Bailey

    David Bailey Administrator

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    So what do you think of Newton's research - is it worth considering?

    I take it you can't simply use a preliminary suggestion that they will always tell the truth?

    David
     
  7. LetsEat

    LetsEat Member

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    I think its the most optimistic stuff I've ever come across, if we can get a compilation of similar reports we can analyze them in a way that examines how they differ across cultures similarly to what we do with NDE's. Sadly the protocol for performing a between lives regression is quite tiresome as the induction alone is several hours.

    I'd assume not, from my own self hypnosis attempts the subconscious mind does not seem to have any concept of true or false. I'd probably have heard about it if this was possible by now also.
     
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  8. Trancestate

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    CIA Report: Hypnosis in interrogation
    Doug
     
  9. Wormwood

    Wormwood Member

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    I think it’s similar to what we see with mediums. (Though obviously it is markedly different in several ways). But I think it’s similar in that there are those who are good at it, but not perfect. Then ther are those who have SOME luck mixed with the bad. Then there are the charlatans. LetsEat addressed some of the potential pitfalls mentioned in the article you posted, particularly suggestibility. You have to find somebody who has a natural talent for it, have developed themselves and honed their skills, and understand the potential pitfalls of the practice if not done carefully. If all these things are accounted for, I am generally confident in the practice. LetsEat can tell me if
    my assessment is accurate. That being the case, I believe it’s probay hard to find somebody you can trust.

    If a hypnotist is TRULY being careful with suggestibility, then uniformity of the reports he/she gets back from his patients is good evidence. Particularly if this is reproduced by other careful therapists.

    One thing that bothered me with Newton was how neat the verbiage was for each patient in his book. I realize he probably cleaned it up to make a better book, but for those who are discerning, it looks bad from an evidence standpoint. I have a hard time believing those are the exact transcripts. Not saying I don’t believe him. I like his work, but I’m not 100 perfect sold. What do you think LetsEat? And maybe those WERE the original transcripts. It just seems cleaned up to me, at the least.
     
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  10. LetsEat

    LetsEat Member

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    It's been about a year since I read his books but iirc he uses the same few people for most of his books despite claiming that he's done it with hundreds of people. I didn't at the time consider it to be superbly evidential because I would have wanted all the original transcripts. For all we know he had 94 failures and 6 quality patients, or there could be other obvious problems. He may have left out some of the more bizarre and fantastical or nonsensical stories as is common in other areas like NDE's and OBE's.

    I'd like to see a nice compendium such as this http://www.oberf.org/prebirth.htm but much larger.
     
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  11. LetsEat

    LetsEat Member

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    Iirc one of the past lives claimed in the book says they were in a state during a time when it wasn't actually a state but a territory. I'll update this if I can remember/find out more.
     
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  12. Wormwood

    Wormwood Member

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    Why do you think this? I agree that the verbiage appears similar (perhaps, it’s hard to get a real sense through written words), but they do tell different stories, and perhaps they were cleaned up by him to appear more reader friendly?

    There are also lots of people with testimonials who are happy with the work they did under hypnosis by him. But then again, maybe suggestion played a role there too. What do you think?
     
  13. David Bailey

    David Bailey Administrator

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    That might not be a distinction that the person made in their former life and/or their current life - so it might not be significant.

    I had to look up iirc before I knew what it meant. I don't really like it at all, but at least it would help to capitalise it - IIRC so it is obviously an acronym!

    David
     
  14. David Bailey

    David Bailey Administrator

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    Do you think it might be simplified to something like "Go back to the period before you were born, and describe what is happening." It might be less revealing, but at least if it was consistent with Newton's books it would be encouraging.

    Are you up for a little experimentation with this?

    David
     
  15. Love Knowledge

    Love Knowledge Member

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    Alex,

    During the interview, Shermer brought up the fact that different people experience different afterlifes. Christians see Jesus, Buddhists see Buddha, etc...and you said he "got you, can't explain that one". Shermer claims it should "be the same for everyone" if it's really this one place. A couple of objections though...

    1 - I have heard more than once I believe, some NDErs discussing how people are sometimes shown what would make their experience more acceptable or comfortable. So therefore a Christian may be expecting or wishing to see Jesus so some guiding spirit or being of light can represent themselves as they think the NDEr would want. Or perhaps it's tied to the person's own expectations and projections and that guides the perception of some being of light. Either way, this still would allow for the possibility that there is "a heaven" and yet it seems different based on different NDEr religions/backgrounds.

    2 - why can't this just be different realms of the afterlife? Maybe some or all religions are true and their messiahs existed, perhaps they are in different areas of an afterlife realm. Ignoring the Jesus/Buddha/etc encounters, any other descriptions could simply be descriptions of different places. A real problem would be contradictions between different NDE accounts that really cannot both be true (like everything is made out of light vs. someone saying everything is made out of matter). It would be different (and a real contradiction) if the "Jesus" encountered in an NDE said "I am the one and only son of God, Christianity is the only true religion" etc....and other prophets encountered said the same of their religion. But to my knowledge, "religious truth" is not professed in NDEs, none that I've ever read.

    I researched NDEs some years ago and am getting back into it again (thanks to discovering your podcast) but I'd be curious if people have encountered NDEs contrary to my depiction above.

    Thanks,
    Jon
     
    Last edited: May 16, 2018
  16. Michael Patterson

    Michael Patterson New

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    I am interested that you do not find validation of the belief in Psi/Magic as part of that cultural transformation, given the emphasis we place on then intellect. Do you mean that the technical elements of the matter are less interesting than the cultural? If so I get that.

    I was watching a Dynamo Magician Impossible episode in which a woman, who seemed to me to be not blessed with a significant education, responded to a magical performance by saying it "wasn't scientific". I suspected she wouldn't know "scientific" from a chocolate bar, to be frank. But her point was that the language she used reflected an aspiration to a mentality that the performance violated.

    Another witness described what he saw as "wrong". According to what? His notion of a scientifically informed worldview, I guessed. I am a huge fan of Dynamo because, regardless of what I think about his art, he routinely transgresses against our collective sense of the normal and right and real. He exposes people to an unfamiliar ontological danger, and how they respond is intriguing.

    Materialism is our cognitive bedrock. Movement into any alternative (for me animism) is going to be traumatic and dis-orientating. So we will use entertainment rather than any form of intentional rational discourse to facilitate that transition - and we are talking decades, or more likely, centuries. Just look at how long Quantum Physics has taken to become almost acceptable.

    For me animism is a political term. The reality of a real post-materialist mentality will be bigger than that. But animism has the perfect transitional clout. Look at the top 100 grossing movies to get a real sense of the degree to which the sci fi/fantasy/magic theme is simply blowing other categories out of the water. I admit that the data is influenced by marketing dominated by a younger age group relative to past movies - but the overall cultural impact remains significant. We are being stupefied into a magical mentality.

    I wrote a really bad thesis related to this theme. But I do not resile from the core ideas, and I do not have time to rewrite it. I am happy to make it available to any hardy soul.

    Transition from materialism to post materialism is a really important thinking area.
     
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  17. Hurmanetar

    Hurmanetar New

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    I DO see validation of it as part of the cultural transformation. I only meant that many of the forum members and audience of Skeptiko have already seen enough validation of Psi/Magic that we don't feel a great need to see more of it, and being personally satisfied we are interested in seeing a broader cultural transformation.

    Having a contrarian thought right now: Talking about people not blessed with a significant education or cognitive abilities... perhaps these people at this stage of cognitive development actually benefit more from the materialist dogma... maybe a person needs to master rationalism before opening to magic so that magical thinking doesn't become the dominant mode of operation in the world ...this could result in insane or sub-optimal life-decisions.

    Literally! ...I wrote a short blog on how materialism is a metaphor for reality rooted in our long history of experience with rocks. Materialism was perhaps a necessary stage of cognitive development, but it is certainly not the ultimate ontological truth and it has left the scientific mainstream blind to things like Psi.

    Yes, I agree that dramatic paradigm shifts can be traumatic and some people might not fully recover... which is probably why we have all these built in defense mechanisms to avoid any contradicting ideas which might result in cognitive dissonance.

    I think the transition will happen exponentially quickly and has already rapidly accelerated in only a decade. The internet is providing a huge IQ boost to the noosphere.

    Post a link to the thesis!
     
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  18. Radish

    Radish Member

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    Welcome to the forum, Love Knowledge.

    You get it in one -- I'm very certain myself that the afterlife is vast beyond our incarnate imaginings. Most of what I've read on it points in the direction that there are indeed a multiplicity of 'realms' there. I have an NDE experience of my own, can be read here: Peter N NDE (so I'm saying what I'm saying with that experience as my guiding light). Shermer's notion that an NDE should be the same for everyone is laughably misguided as to the nature of the afterlife realms.

    As to people claiming that their NDE proves that only Jesus is the one true saviour I have read a few accounts on NDERF where the NDEr decides this is so and they are quite vocal on this point in their responses to questions connected to their NDE accounts. I would though note that in all accounts of that type that I read (and there weren't many of them) the NDEr comes to this 'realisation' after coming too after the actual NDE -- so it's kind of like an interpretive afterthought. I usually find such, after-the-fact proclamations on the part of a handful of NDErs to be; (a) deeply misguided; (b) probably due to a huge and pretty blind personal investment in a fundamentalist Christian religion (which may only develop after the NDE), particularly on the 'literal' truth of Bible; (c) deeply disturbing. Unfortunately, I didn't keep any links to the odds and ends of NDERF accounts where this kind of thing is reported. There was one such after-the-fact experience of an NDEr where the poor woman was raving about the 'rapture' being an imminent event -- to that one that I thought that if she had and NDE at all (which I doubted) then she had lost all her marbles as a result of it, and I thought that would be a highly improbable follow-through to anyone having and NDE.

    One person that does take this kind of strident tack and which sticks in my mind is the NDEr Ian McCormack. There was a Skeptiko podcast a while ago featuring Ian here: http://skeptiko.com/255-ian-mccomacks-exclusively-christian-near-death-expeience/ and the forum discussion of that show here: Forum - Ian MacCormack
    There are lots of Youtube videos with Ian: https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=ian+mccormack -- it would be a good idea to watch a couple of those before listening to the Skeptiko podcast. And there was even a movie made of a dramatisation of his experience. Don't really know what to make of Ian's NDE other than it was clearly a 'Christian-themed' one but I do think that he has totally missed the point in his interpretation of it -- in this life it seems he is just never going to get beyond Jesus as the one true saviour and a fairly literal interpretation of the Bible. Personally, I think when Ian does finally pass over, at least in the beginning, he'll land in an afterlife realm that is populated with people that are spiritual affines with his own proclivities. How long it would take him to get beyond that (I suspect 'bind') is anyone's guess.

    P.S. Love Knowledge, when I click on the link to your website I get an error message that says, "403: Access Forbidden
    Your location (GB) has been blacklisted."
     
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  19. Love Knowledge

    Love Knowledge Member

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    Thanks Radish! Feel free to call me Jon by the way, or Love Knowledge if you prefer :)

    Key word for me here is "decides". Sounds like an interpretation on their part vs. being told that this is the case. Can you clarify? If it's their interpretation, I'm not so worried by this because that's just their interpretation, we don't need to oblige to their take on the NDE. But if they claim they were told this, that's more problematic (given that it contradicts the majority of cases on this point).

    Ok then I read a couple more lines and you addressed my point above lol.....so ignore that. I like what you say here, makes sense to me. As for Ian McCormack, haven't heard of him and I'm not up to #255 yet (been blasting through episodes from the beginning for the last 2-3 months, I'm up to like 205 or so). Without knowing anything about him or other NDErs who claim a very religious interpretation for their NDE, I would simply say there could always be some kind of agenda going on. Now maybe I'm wrong, maybe the NDE really does reveal some kind of religious truth out there, but again, from my research (albeit years ago and not the most up-to-date), that doesn't seem to be what the consensus report. The consensus seems to be a non-religious, universal type of truth, love is most important, we're all spiritual beings, trying to develop and be more loving, and so forth. That message, to me, makes more sense (and again, seems to be the consensus of NDE accounts) than one particular religion, especially if multiple ones are saying the same thing about their own.

    Thanks for pointing this out to me, I've had difficulties trying to get my website in order recently. First hackers, then I had to put up firewall protection, etc....that may be why you're being blocked. I'll look into that. In the meantime, if you're curious, you can find out more about my non-profit organization on our Facebook page here https://www.facebook.com/loveknowledge.org/. Haven't explored NDEs and the paranormal on my site/page yet but I will eventually!
     
  20. SciFiFanatic101

    SciFiFanatic101 New

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    Michael Newton was my first exposure to past life regression accounts and it impressed me deeply when I read it in high school. His whole structuring of the afterlife is too neat and tidy, with halls of learning, decontamination centers, council of elders and life review planning facilities. OBE accounts like Monroe's and Ziewe's describe a more hectic and chaotic place.
     
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