Scientists debate near-death-experiences

#5
I couldn't believe how "stuck on stupid" Kevin Nelson came across as. When asked what evidence would convince him that mind did not equal brain, all he could come up with was the lame "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence". It was even more lame because most people would find Parnia's statement that the AWARE study has a confirmed case of someone remembering events that occurred while they were undergoing cardiac arrest (so there was no brain function) pretty darn extraordinary!
 
#7
I've had time to digest this discussion over the last few hours. Most interesting part for me was Parnia's brief summary of two findings from the AWARE study @ 52:00 minutes in.

He seemed to be suggesting that consciousness in the form of what he calls '...visual awareness...' may continue to be possible without a normally functioning cortex. That the current definition of somebody being unconscious and unresponsive 'no gag reflex', 'fixed dilated pupils', 'abnormal EEG' etc. may no longer be the whole story. The suggestion seemed to be that some mechanism which allows the formation of consciousness might remain viable and fully functional for some time, in contrast to our usual conclusions based on external observations of the body.

That sounds incredibly hopeful in my view, because it keeps my ideas in the running. It seems to me that they are slowly groping towards the possibility that there is indeed another extremely low-power mechanism involved in brain function, that is heavily involved in the production of consciousness. Neuronal firing I suggest, is only part of the story, acting in a sensory input/output capacity, and presenting tightly controlled sensory data to this unknown mechanism for processing in a feedback loop. The real heavy lifting is done by this other mechanism in my view, and it has to be phenomenally powerful.
 
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#8
Nelson suggested the brain can't functionally survive beyond ten seconds but Parnia said it could be hours. Or did I hear it wrongly?
 
#9
Drs. Parnia, Fenwick and Neal won that! Dr. Nelson really couldn't explain the veridical experiences. How him and others like him can explain shared NDEs within any materialistic model is beyond me. Paradigm changing stuff if we get more like this.
 
#10
There did seem to be a disconnect some of the time on what should have been basic medical facts. One of these for example was where Kevin Nelson was saying that during cardiac arrest the eyes will be open, or remain partially open. Sam Parnia on this point strongly disagreed. I mean come on guys, this isn't rocket science, we aren't talking about something which happens hidden deep with the brain, but something which even a lay person could observe, if they were present during the incident.

But that disagreement was probably welcomed by Dr Nelson, as it shifted attention away from the fact that he had raised this point in response to a question from Steve Paulson regarding the NDE patient apparently hearing a conversation which was taking place in another room. I mean, even if we give the benefit of the doubt on the question of eyes being open, how did that even begin to address the question which was asked.
(Refer to video at about 46 minutes in).
 
#11
Drs. Parnia, Fenwick and Neal won that! Dr. Nelson really couldn't explain the veridical experiences. How him and others like him can explain shared NDEs within any materialistic model is beyond me. Paradigm changing stuff if we get more like this.
Dr. Nelson's body language was interesting, and typical of so many skeptics in these debates. Here he was, up against three serious academics, one of whom had undergone an NDE, yet for most of the debate he shifted uneasily in his chair, smirked, wryly shook his head and when he spoke, it was to ignore everything they had said and keep right on delivering his party line. None of it once made him question his certainty that they were dealing with an easily explained physical phenomenon.
It would be nice to think his patent discomfort was his mind rejecting what his mouth was saying.
 
#12
A most interesting part of the video is at 1:05:15 → 1:06:12. Dr. Parnia explains how they could verify that the patient was undergoing a veridical experience when flatlining, instead of the brain coming back online.
 
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#13
It was also interesting that Mary Neal claimed she wouldn't have cared about extraneous details (with regard to the AWARE study) except for her resuscitation. While in the early OBE phase, it seems few NDErs have time, opportunity or inclination to consider the wider environment before entering the tunnel, or other phases.
 
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#14
It was also interesting that Mary Neal claimed she wouldn't have cared about extraneous details (with regard to the AWARE study) except for her resuscitation. While in the early OBE phase, it seems few NDErs have time, opportunity or inclination to consider the wider environment before entering the tunnel, or other phases.
This is absolutely right, and it is unfortunate that a study that is likely to fail for this reason, has been given such prominence.

The study seems nearly redundant - as even a trip to your dentist will demonstrate. Could you notice exactly which instruments were in use - I doubt it because you get such a restricted view tilted back in the chair. Now imagine being flat on your back receiving CPR - even if you were conscious, you couldn't possibly observe the things that people do seem to observe from their NDE's.

David
 
#15
Thanks for posting. Nice debate.
In the Q&A section, at around 01:06':30" Nelson says that we already have a model of how NDE work and cites the study by Lempert (1994, Germany) which, allegedly, perfectly matches the features described by Moody and other NDE studies.
Gerald Woerlee describes it shortly here:
http://neardth.com/consciousness-beyond-life.php (see chapter 8)

Has anyone read the study? As far as I can see this looks like another of those slick tricks played by pseudo skeptics. From the surface it looks like the study corroborates his point, it's all about physiology. But if you just take a look at the two tables shown on the website you'll notice there's no trace of the spiritual/mystical elements of the NDE. The table on Woerlee's website is also quite confusing: items such as "seeing colors" or "trascendental landscapes" don't mean anything, there's no context and no information about the quality of the experience. Similarly they mention "OBEs" but there's no detail about what kind of OBE did they have, nor there is a way to tell if the experience was organized or chaotic etc...

For example see the item "Light experience". What is it even supposed to mean? That anyone who faints and sees any type of "light" matches an NDE? If I dream seeing a light then I match the loving, all-pervasive light that NDErs can't even describe with words?

How many participants in Lempert's study had a radical personal change in their life after that experience? Let me guess... no one? And how many of those participants reported veridical elements during their OBEs? We have seen these kind of excuses pulled out of thin air more than once. For instance, the g-force induced black-out in pilots.
It is remarkable how pseudo-skeptics jump onto those cases at nearly the speed of light. :)

I find these kinds of cheap tricks very telling of the level of intellectual honesty that people like Nelson embody. Notice how they always present these arguments with a paternalistic tone and with no room for doubt. The "expert" has spoken, shut up you fools. And compare that tone with how people like Parnia or Fenwick who never take things for definitive and settled. Now, how is the skeptic and how's clown? :)

Anyways the 1994 Lempert study doesn't seem to be available. If anyone has a copy I'd like to take a closer look.

Thanks
 
#16
A most interesting part of the video is at 1:05:15 → 1:06:12. Dr. Parnia explains how they could verify that the patient was undergoing a veridical experience when flatlining, instead of the brain coming back online.
Yes, which already has happened in the case of Pam Reynolds.

Maybe the only problem I see with this kind of "experiment" is that these patients are pretty rare compared to the number of cases of cardiac arrest and we would probably need many of them before we get one who has an NDE. Typically 10% of the people who have cardiac arrest report an NDE, and not everyone reports it.
 
#17
This is absolutely right, and it is unfortunate that a study that is likely to fail for this reason, has been given such prominence.

The study seems nearly redundant - as even a trip to your dentist will demonstrate. Could you notice exactly which instruments were in use - I doubt it because you get such a restricted view tilted back in the chair. Now imagine being flat on your back receiving CPR - even if you were conscious, you couldn't possibly observe the things that people do seem to observe from their NDE's.

David
"The study seems nearly redundant"

The study is continuing indefinitely as far as Parnia has said and I believe they are using different targets or cues because if you listen to Fenwick in the video close to the end he says something about "cards on the celing being outdated" (or something like that) Apologies the video won't play for me at the moment so I can't give you the exact point.. So I would guess from that they've maybe rigged up a better way to test the claims.
 
#18
As far Kevin Nelson I respect his professional status but that's all. He's clearly wedded to his REM theory and there are so many holes in this
you'd have to be thick to accept it. He's not a fool, obviously, so what 's going on here ?

Mainstream Neurologists (and that would include 99 % of them) have to have a mechanism to formulate a theory and with the veridical NDE ie discarnate floating consciousness, there isn't one. So Dr Nelson who is the kind of guy that clearly wanted to weigh in on the debate because it's his territory, came up with REM activation.

Some of the holes are IMHO

You can't dream in cardiac arrest. There is no proven mechanism as far as I know in the ten second period before the brain goes down that would activate REM. The content of REM sleep is surely derived from the inside/internal personal content of the person's brain but patients report external observations etc.
We all dream every night, why don't we have NDE's ? No explanation for the accurate veridical observations sometimes from a different location, loved ones that you didn't know had died (Nelson would deny this occurs of course)
 
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#19
"The study seems nearly redundant"

The study is continuing indefinitely as far as Parnia has said and I believe they are using different targets or cues because if you listen to Fenwick in the video close to the end he says something about "cards on the ceiling being outdated" (or something like that) Apologies the video won't play for me at the moment so I can't give you the exact point.. So I would guess from that they've maybe rigged up a better way to test the claims.
The real problem, as I see it, is that if you found yourself 'dead', looking down on people trying to revive your body, that scene would really focus your mind - you aren't like to survey the scene for irrelevant things only visible from your vantage point. Unfortunately, skeptics have somehow persuaded themselves that people might still be able to see and hear everything in the resuscitation room - so anything that happens close to their body (where their attention is focused) is considered suspect.

I don't see this as a conscious skeptical 'trick', but I think their intense reluctance to accept the evidence of NDE's makes them discount all the evidence that normally comes from the OBE portion of an NDE, using any means possible.

David
 
#20
Just one more thing. The problem with the debate was that they were all talking about different things with the exception of Parnia and getting in a muddle. Mary Neal reckoned death is when the spirit leaves, clearly not (mountaineers falling, Alex Tanous type experience, herself going back and forth)
Fenwick telling us about the cultural diiferences in NDE which pleased Nelson's sensitivities, then disagreeing with Mary Neal (who was correct when she said that most don't want to come back) and telling us the story of Gillian ( ) who came back to iron her husbands shirts. Actually, she did not WANT to come back rather she felt it was her duty (Truth in the light) . He's told this tale before and clearly likes it but I wish
he wouldn't be so cryptic. The debate needs to be taken straight to the point, the only one that matters.

How can patients have conscious experience when their brain is not working as evidenced by veridical observations during cardiac arrest.
Paulson should have stuck to this and then Parnia and Fenwick could have made Nelson squirm .
 
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