NDE's the problem ??

#1
Hi all,

I am very new to this forum, but not to the Skeptiko podcast, which I listen to in the UK. I have spent many years looking at the question of survival, and I am a retired academic. I Think the shows are great and some great speakers. I have one issue which I think overides all the considerations of the NDE. I cannot get a clear answer on the IANS web site, ( or any other ) and its a major issue with the skeptiks.

If the NDE phenomena is real, and is applicable to ALL humans ( just as -breathing or dreaming is for instance ) why do we only get a small percentage reporting NDE's or at least having memory of them ??. I do not think you can say this is a universal phenomena if only a small % of people report this. Many more report nothing after say a cardiac arrest, ie consciousness ceases to exist, or at leas to them it seems to.

This has been the problem with the AWARE study, it has failed to establish that 'anything' leaves the body at death. If the phenomena is a real as we say it is, then many more people should be experiencing this...Any ideas, suggestions on this. Responses will be welcome.

Thanks again

Dr Malcolm Lewis
Fleetwood
England
 
#2
While I am not convinced either that NDE research has established life beyond death, I don't think the mere fact that not everyone experiences an NDE provides much evidence one way or the other.

There could be any number of reasons, from either perspective, for why not everyone experiences (or remembers experiencing) an NDE in similar circumstances.

For that matter, I don't recall reading any prominent mind =/ brain advocate suggest that the NDE experience is universal.

What do you think turns on the answer?

(edit: welcome to the forum!)
 
#3
Hi all,

I am very new to this forum, but not to the Skeptiko podcast, which I listen to in the UK. I have spent many years looking at the question of survival, and I am a retired academic. I Think the shows are great and some great speakers. I have one issue which I think overides all the considerations of the NDE. I cannot get a clear answer on the IANS web site, ( or any other ) and its a major issue with the skeptiks.

If the NDE phenomena is real, and is applicable to ALL humans ( just as -breathing or dreaming is for instance ) why do we only get a small percentage reporting NDE's or at least having memory of them ??. I do not think you can say this is a universal phenomena if only a small % of people report this. Many more report nothing after say a cardiac arrest, ie consciousness ceases to exist, or at leas to them it seems to.

This has been the problem with the AWARE study, it has failed to establish that 'anything' leaves the body at death. If the phenomena is a real as we say it is, then many more people should be experiencing this...Any ideas, suggestions on this. Responses will be welcome.

Thanks again

Dr Malcolm Lewis
Fleetwood
England
Short response, Dr Lewis:

The NDE is a universal phenomenon. They are reported from all over the world.
This week I received two reports from Congo (i.e. from african people, not western-style educated),
some time ago a report from New Zealand (Mauri), etc.

Nobody knows why not everyone on the verge of death has an NDE.
It remains a rather rare and elusive phenomenon. But real nonetheless.
 
#4
If you are assuming that the fact that some people don't have an NDE suggests the NDE is not evidence of the afterlife, can you justify that assumption? What principle says that everyone who comes near death should have or remember an NDE? What do you base belief in that principle upon?

NDE's may not be "accidental". They may be planned by the people on the other side for specific purposes that do not / cannot involve everyone who comes near death.

http://ncu9nc.blogspot.com/2014/06/why-doesnt-everyone-who-survives-near.html

If the mind is not the brain but the brain is a filter of consciousness, there might have to be a certain type of brain "anomaly" to remember your experiences that occurred when you were not in the body. This anomaly could be caused by brain damage during the life threatening event, or due to some developmental or genetic condition. People often report an increased frequency of psychic experiences after an NDE.

Some NDE's seem to be organized by the spirit side, for example when someone is met by a guide and given a tour of the afterlife. Someone might not be hosted for an NDE if they would not make a good reporter to tell the rest of us what happened, some people might need to be materialists to fulfill their life plans, some spiritual people might not need spiritual encouragement.


When people with no electrical activity in the brain perceive things that they could not perceive with their normal senses even if they were conscious, it is hard to explain as anything other than out-of-the-body consciousness.
http://ncu9nc.blogspot.com/2014/04/anomalous-characteristics-of-near-death.html
 
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#5
Hi all,

I am very new to this forum, but not to the Skeptiko podcast, which I listen to in the UK. I have spent many years looking at the question of survival, and I am a retired academic. I Think the shows are great and some great speakers. I have one issue which I think overides all the considerations of the NDE. I cannot get a clear answer on the IANS web site, ( or any other ) and its a major issue with the skeptiks.

If the NDE phenomena is real, and is applicable to ALL humans ( just as -breathing or dreaming is for instance ) why do we only get a small percentage reporting NDE's or at least having memory of them ??. I do not think you can say this is a universal phenomena if only a small % of people report this. Many more report nothing after say a cardiac arrest, ie consciousness ceases to exist, or at leas to them it seems to.

This has been the problem with the AWARE study, it has failed to establish that 'anything' leaves the body at death. If the phenomena is a real as we say it is, then many more people should be experiencing this...Any ideas, suggestions on this. Responses will be welcome.

Thanks again

Dr Malcolm Lewis
Fleetwood
England
I don't see your overriding issue as hugely important, but then I don't agree that anything leaves the experients body, I think quite the opposite, rather that something enters the experients body.

More important to me is establishing that experient's have come into procession of information that they could not have been aware of.
 
#6
Short response, Dr Lewis:

The NDE is a universal phenomenon. They are reported from all over the world.
I agree what you say in terms of NDEs applying across a broad spectrum of people. I don't want to speak for the OP, but I think he was thinking of universal in a more comprehensive sense, in terms of happening to everyone:

u·ni·ver·sal
ˌyo͞onəˈvərsəl/
adjective
  1. 1.
    of, affecting, or done by all people or things in the world or in a particular group; applicable to all cases.
    "universal adult suffrage"
    synonyms:general, ubiquitous, comprehensive, common, omnipresent, all-inclusive, all-embracing, across-the-board; More
 
#7
Welcome - I hope you stick around!
If the NDE phenomena is real, and is applicable to ALL humans ( just as -breathing or dreaming is for instance ) why do we only get a small percentage reporting NDE's or at least having memory of them ??. I do not think you can say this is a universal phenomena if only a small % of people report this. Many more report nothing after say a cardiac arrest, ie consciousness ceases to exist, or at leas to them it seems to.
Well I think I have seen a figure that 20% of people who survive a cardiac arrest have an NDE - so it isn't that small a figure. As to why it isn't 100%, I don't think anyone knows - but given that these things have happened to a large number of people, it is hard to ignore them.

My favourite explanation is that we all seem to have a powerful forgetting mechanism that happens when we wake up. Typically we remember what we were dreaming, but the memory fades incredibly rapidly. My partner has the occasional night terror. They only last a few seconds, and sometimes I ask her what she was dreaming - and just seconds after a terrifying event she has forgotten!

I think that for some reason that forgetting mechanism operates in most people as they recover from an NDE. Note in particular, that some people can remember their dreams better than others.
This has been the problem with the AWARE study, it has failed to establish that 'anything' leaves the body at death. If the phenomena is a real as we say it is, then many more people should be experiencing this...Any ideas, suggestions on this. Responses will be welcome.
From what I have read, there were lots of problems with the AWARE study - the special shelf containing objects or pictures could not be placed in every relevant location, many people who had had cardiac arrests were never actually interviewed about their experiences, etc. It doesn't seem to be an easy study to perform.

It is important to remember why the AWARE study was called for. Many people in NDE's do observe details of their resuscitation procedure that they could not reasonably have guessed. There was a study done comparing patients reports of NDE's vs patient's imagined resuscitation procedures, and the former were far more accurate. As a doctor, do you think it is feasible that people in cardiac arrest are sufficiently conscious to absorb information like that (the suggestion that AWARE was meant to rule out) - particularly when it usually involves a different perspective - looking down from the ceiling!

One thing that I find fascinating, is that there are young children who report NDE's - e.g. after suffering hypothermia from falling through ice. These kids will know very little about death, and yet they come out with similar stories.

My cynical feeling is that a standard materialist approach to any anomalous evidence, is to keep on imposing extra conditions on the evidence until it just becomes too hard to collect evidence!

I think it might be better to focus on the related phenomenon of OBE's. People who have an OBE need no medical treatment, and can be studied over and over.

Another approach might be to concentrate on those people who undergo a brain cooling procedure such as that performed on Pam Reynolds. Such people are not in immediate danger of death, and the process is prolonged, so it should be possible to look for evidence that they 'saw' the operation. The concept that such people are still awake during such a procedure is surely very far fetched.

David
 

Paul C. Anagnostopoulos

Nap, interrupted.
Member
#8
My cynical feeling is that a standard materialist approach to any anomalous evidence, is to keep on imposing extra conditions on the evidence until it just becomes too hard to collect evidence!
That's not the reason for imposing extra conditions. The extra conditions are added so perhaps we can move from the afterlife being a mere interpretation of the data to the afterlife being a reasonable conclusion. If, in the meantime, it becomes too hard to collect the extra data, then perhaps we can draw another conclusion from that. Not that I would, of course.

~~Paul
 
#9
In its raw form this is probably too complicated a research question to bear fruit. It is certainly a concern, but it is a situation where there are so many variables, most of which cannot be isolated in the real situation. Just the fact that individuals vary in all sorts of ways, means that no two near-fatal circumstances can ever really be considered “equal.”

Don’t get me wrong. It IS an important question to ask. But we do not at this point have anything approaching a proper map of triggering factors. It is possible that what triggers one individual organism (it may be on a “hair trigger” we might say) won’t trigger another at all. It is possible (though by no means certain) that NDEs may initiate for the majority of people deeper and more irreversibly into the death process. This notion has an empirical handle…if it is true, more advanced and more penetrating resuscitation techniques of the near future should “unmask” a greater portion of NDEs.

All in though, at this point, I kind of take the view that the NDE is a bomb that only triggers once in every so many “throws.” We are also assuming that we get to "see" NDEs by chance.
 
#10
Welcome, Dr. Lewis. One reason that not all people report an NDE may be that not all people near death actually have one. It may be that the circumstances which allow for an NDE aren't universally applicable. I'm personally convinced that in those who do have one, however, and are prepared to discuss it, their NDE is a life-changing experience that often makes better people of them.
 
#11
Short response, Dr Lewis:

The NDE is a universal phenomenon. They are reported from all over the world.
This week I received two reports from Congo (i.e. from african people, not western-style educated),
some time ago a report from New Zealand (Mauri), etc.

Nobody knows why not everyone on the verge of death has an NDE.
It remains a rather rare and elusive phenomenon. But real nonetheless.
You mean not everyone on the verge of death reports an NDE don't you? They may have them and not remember yes?
 
#12
While I am, most likely, in the same camp as Arouet in that I don't think NDE research has established survival of consciousness etc,. I can see a few flaws in the logic used in your opening paragraph.

You say, "If the NDE phenomena is real, and is applicable to ALL humans ( just as -breathing or dreaming is for instance ) why do we only get a small percentage reporting NDE's or at least having memory of them ??"

What if it isn't applicable to all humans? There isn't a scale on which to measure one's ability to have an NDE, right? So, if an NDE is a glimpse of an afterlife (or whatever) who is to say that specific reality is available to everyone? What if some were born without a "soul" and they only get one life, while others do not. This universe is a pretty big place and let's say souls do exist. Does every living creature have to be imbued with one? What if there are creatures without souls and just have one go around while living among creatures with souls? I wouldn't bet on it though, but that's just me...

And, there are many people who do not have dreams to be remembered. The human mind is capable of remembering dreams but also able to forget them. Dream repression is a real phenomena and is often associated with one's environment in their waking life ie, stressed, depressed, tired etc. and they do not remember having dreams at all. I'm no expert on dream psychology but I wouldn't be surprised to see if there is a case where someone has never had a dream and is unable to.

Perhaps the people experiencing and not remembering an NDE are physically incapable, within their brain's mechanics, of remembering such, possibly, intense and extensive experience. The people reporting NDE may have the proper brain blueprint to allow a smooth transition from observing one reality to another, whereas another brain might explode :P

You also say, "This has been the problem with the AWARE study, it has failed to establish that 'anything' leaves the body at death. If the phenomena is a real as we say it is, then many more people should be experiencing this...Any ideas, suggestions on this. Responses will be welcome."

What if we adopt the philosophy of hard idealism and its close counterparts? Whereas everything, or most of reality, is an outward projection of the mind or consciousness or whatever term one wants to smack on to it? Then you lose the problem of nothing leaving the body because the body was a physical expression of the mental (I know I know.. already treading on soft, ridiculous, ground). The consciousness wouldn't need to leave anywhere as it was creating the body in the first place, and not the other way around.

So, while I don't believe NDE research has enough evidence yet to start peering in to the next world conclusively, I am inclined to reject your logic in this case.
 
#13
As with all paranormal phneomena, our natural tendency is the 'experimental mindset' that does not assume any agency on the part of the phenomenon itself. I have never felt this way about near death experiences. They have always seemed agentic to me. In other words, they even seem aimed not just at the individual, but to the ecology of human connections (society) that individual will later interface with.
 
#14
You mean not everyone on the verge of death reports an NDE don't you? They may have them and not remember yes?
Probably. As someone else said in this thread, one can have the experience but forgets everything about after coming to. We just do not know. Maybe sessions of deep hypnosis might reveal them.
And besides, how many NDE'rs are there who do not wish to talk about their experience, for fear to be ridiculed? That happens too often. How about a skeptic in my home country who says that all NDE'rs have a loose screw in their heads?
 
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#15
That's not the reason for imposing extra conditions. The extra conditions are added so perhaps we can move from the afterlife being a mere interpretation of the data to the afterlife being a reasonable conclusion. If, in the meantime, it becomes too hard to collect the extra data, then perhaps we can draw another conclusion from that. Not that I would, of course.

~~Paul
The problem is that lots of new phenomena present themselves in a tenuous form. Suppose someone a few centuries ago was exploring the phenomenon that if you combed a cat the comb would often (probably not on humid days) attract bits of paper. A cynic might decide that the paper might stick to the comb because of grease - even though all present could see the paper jump on to the comb (maybe a draught of air?).
So you comb the cat and then wash the comb to remove all grease - and bingo the phenomenon vanishes!

Science can't study phenomena that it really doesn't like!

David
 
#16
As with all paranormal phneomena, our natural tendency is the 'experimental mindset' that does not assume any agency on the part of the phenomenon itself. I have never felt this way about near death experiences. They have always seemed agentic to me. In other words, they even seem aimed not just at the individual, but to the ecology of human connections (society) that individual will later interface with.
I do wish you would write in plain English!

For example:
As with all paranormal phenomena, our natural tendency is to adopt an experimental mindset that does not assume that some entity produced a phenomenon for a reason. I have never felt this way about near death experiences. They have always seemed to me to be a deliberate act for a purpose. In other words, these phenomena are designed to carry a message for the individual and for society at large.
Responding to what I think you meant - I am not sure because many NDE's happen so randomly - car crashes, lightening, accidents on ice, etc. Unless you think that our whole lives are scripted by some entities (and I know some do), this form of communication would be very hit or miss! Also a lot of NDE reports seem to imply an element of mistake - "Not your time".

David[/quote]
 
#17
I do wish you would write in plain English!

For example:


Responding to what I think you meant - I am not sure because many NDE's happen so randomly - car crashes, lightening, accidents on ice, etc. Unless you think that our whole lives are scripted by some entities (and I know some do), this form of communication would be very hit or miss! Also a lot of NDE reports seem to imply an element of mistake - "Not your time".

David
[/quote]

...And yet another aspect of what people are 'told' in NDEs is that "there are no accidents"...can't both be true, can they?

Certainly, it would not seem to me impossible that they can operate within what we call "accidents." Those might be events by which a membrane between putative worlds is thin enough for contact.
 
#18
...And yet another aspect of what people are 'told' in NDEs is that "there are no accidents"...can't both be true, can they?
[/QUOTE]
I haven't read that, but I can believe it - NDE's are not all consistent.
Certainly, it would not seem to me impossible that they can operate within what we call "accidents." Those might be events by which a membrane between putative worlds is thin enough for contact.
But it would mean that our lives are tightly scripted. For example, if some entity had wished to communicate with me by NDE, so far he hasn't had the chance, and I am 65!

I think the best way to approach these matters is to try to collect information without jumping to any conclusion - there are just too many contradictions.

David
 
#19
...And yet another aspect of what people are 'told' in NDEs is that "there are no accidents"...can't both be true, can they?
I haven't read that, but I can believe it - NDE's are not all consistent.


But it would mean that our lives are tightly scripted. For example, if some entity had wished to communicate with me by NDE, so far he hasn't had the chance, and I am 65!

I think the best way to approach these matters is to try to collect information without jumping to any conclusion - there are just too many contradictions.

David[/quote]

David, I'm not sure why you think that means your life is scripted. Whether or not "accidents" are from some higher perspective really accidents, we need only consider this in terms of the fact that this 'entity' hasn't had the opportunity to contact you because you haven't fallen off a mountain, or whatever.
 
#20
While I am, most likely, in the same camp as Arouet in that I don't think NDE research has established survival of consciousness etc,. I can see a few flaws in the logic used in your opening paragraph..
I think the whole concept of proof beyond doubt has bedevilled the whole study of the paranormal. The difficulty is that sceptics will say, "Oh this isn't an absolute proof!" to one anomaly after another, not realising that this could be used to dismiss any form of evidence that isn't instantly reproducible.

Archaeologists have to deal with that sort of evidence all the time. Wiseman thinks (or wants to pretend) he has dismissed Sheldrake's dog experiments, but at the very most, all he has done is insert a scintilla of doubt. In normal science such a result would be treated as a hint of something important, and flogged to death in lab after lab. The problem is, hardly anyone wants to touch these subjects except to dismiss them.

Science isn't (or shouldn't be) about coming to instant absolute decisions, it is about collecting interesting evidence and weighing alternatives.

David
 
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