What would Oliver Sacks say about the afterlife now? |291|

#1
What would Oliver Sacks say about the afterlife now? |291|
by Alex Tsakiris | Oct 19 | Consciousness Science, Near-Death Experience

Near-Death Experience Research, Dr. Jan Holden and her colleagues reveal their latest findings.

photo by: Steve Jurvetson

The question might sound crass, but then again, why should it? Dr. Oliver Sacks was one of the world’s best known and beloved neuroscientists, but at the time of his passing he was also an outspoken opponent of scientific findings suggestive of an afterlife. So, should a question contemplating a reality he was never willing to consider offend? Our cultural reflex to respect the dead may be trying to tell us something about underlying scientific question — what happens after we die?
 
#2
How do the mainstream science types, the neuroscience types, continue to dodge near-death experience science? Why isn't any of this science ever referenced. I called up Sam Harris on this about a year ago when he had this big Eben Alexenader fiasco was blowing up. It's like go look on his web site search for any reference to any near-death experience science. It doesn't exist. These guys just completely ignore the research. How can they do that? How can they call themselves scientists and do that? I don't get that.
I agree it is pathetic it is also harmful. They can call themselves scientists because that is what scientists do. Most published research findings are false. There have been many important scientific discoveries that were initially ridiculed. Your consternation is caused by a false expectation that scientists are objective truth seekers. They are not. In The Conscious Universe Dean Radin discusses perceptual bias - how scientists have too much self-interest in the materialistic world view to be able to see psi. Even some parapsychologists are para-pseudo-skeptics who believe in super-psi because they suffer from perceptual bias caused by studying ESP and cannot see the evidence for the afterlife. I also think scientists are affected by neuroplasticity when after a life time of education and career, their brain becomes so accustomed to reductionist thinking that they cannot conceive that something might not be explainable in terms of simple particles and forces. But the problem of cognitive bias is not restricted to scientists. We all suffer from it to some extent when we are wrong about strongly held beliefs.

http://ncu9nc.blogspot.com/p/62014-...erlife.html#articles_by_subject_bogus_science
"Der Spiegel protested all of this discussion with the statement, that what they hear is that 'journalists want to earn money, whereas scientists are only seeking the truth.' This brought loud guffaws from all three [professors]. 'Scientists,' answered Dr. Fischer, 'want success; they want a wife, a hotel room, an invitation, or perhaps a car!'"
http://www.uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/der-spiegel-discovers-the-truth-from-science/
https://sites.google.com/site/chs4o8pt/suppressed_parapsychology
Dean Radin, in his book "The Conscious Universe" in the chapter "Seeing Psi" proposes that some scientists may have too much self interest in preserving the materialist status quo to be objective about psychic phenomena. He writes that if this is true, belief in psychic phenomena should depend how committed a person is to the materialist world view. He then presents evidence to support this contention showing that 68% of the general public believe in the possibility of psychic phenomena, 55% of college professors also believe, 30% of American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) division heads believe, but only 6% of the members of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) believe in psychic phenomena.
http://ncu9nc.blogspot.com/2014/04/perceptual-bias-in-parapsychology.html
In this excerpt from The Conscious Universe, Dean Radin discusses this phenomenon:
All this leads us to predict that a person's level of commitment to the current scientific worldview will determine his or her beliefs about psi. Because perception is linked so closely to one's adopted view of reality, people who do not wish to "see" psi will in fact not see it. Nor will they view any evidence for psi, scientific or otherwise, as valid. This effect should be strongest in people who are committed to a particular view, motivated to maintain it, and clever enough to create good rationalizations for ignoring conflicting evidence.

...

[T]he expectations of the scientific elite actually put them more at risk for being swayed by perceptual biases than the general public. After all, the scientific elite have lifelong careers and their credibility is on the line. They are strongly motivated to maintain certain belief systems. By contrast, most members of the general public do not know or care about the expectations of science. So if Joe Sixpack and Dr. Scientist both witness a remarkable feat of clairvoyance, we can predict that later, when we ask Joe what he saw, he will describe the incident in matter-of-fact terms. In contrast when we ask Dr. Scientist what he saw he may become angry or confused, or deny having seen anything unusual at all.
 
Last edited:
#3
How do the mainstream science types, the neuroscience types, continue to dodge near-death experience science? Why isn't any of this science ever referenced. I called up Sam Harris on this about a year ago when he had this big Eben Alexenader fiasco was blowing up. It's like go look on his web site search for any reference to any near-death experience science. It doesn't exist. These guys just completely ignore the research. How can they do that? How can they call themselves scientists and do that? I don't get that.
Buggered if I know either. It's like their curiosity and open-mindedness faculties have been amputated or something.

I greatly enjoyed this podcast--particularly Jan Holden's contribution, which was super-articulate. I've tracked down some videos of hers which I'll presently watch--they're here:





I may also re-listen to Alex's interview with her in Skeptiko #164, which I've forgotten.
 
#4
Thinking about it, my metaphor of amputation is a rather a good one. We're speaking of narratives on another thread, and their narratives about the way things are do effectively excise their critical thinking ability: make them select only the evidence that fits in with their conditioning. It's exactly the same thing with religious fundamentalists: you simply can't have a reasoned discussion with them because of their feeling of certainty about, and devotion to, a scriptural narrative. They can't, literally can't, see the point in wasting their time checking out contradictory literature, and that's maddening, but there you go.

Every now and then, you'll come across someone who despite it all, manages to see things from a different perspective. I'll transpose it to the religious framework to make it plain--see this:


Now re-imagine the sheikh--who is part of the Saudi establishment, believe it or not--as someone like Rupert Sheldrake or Jan Holden; they reject the materialistic narrative, and to Alex, me, and doubtless a lot of others here, what they say seems blindingly obvious.

We're completely nonplussed, simply can't wrap our heads around, why all scientists aren't the counterpart of this sheikh. This kind of thing is allowed in Saudi Arabia, because Islam itself isn't being criticised, rather just Arabs. Notice that the sheikh doesn't wear the usual Saudi headband: this is a sign that he's a particularly devout Muslim, and that's one means of getting away with speaking truth to power.

I can't help remarking that some scientists who manage to evade the ire of the thought police do so through subtly paying homage to the status quo. You can't openly criticise neo-Darwinism, but you're okay if you publish evidence contradicting it as long as you don't explicitly say it's total bollocks: in fact pay a little lip-service to it. In the end, this may be the most effective--perhaps only--way of bringing about change.
 
Last edited:
#5
My feeling about your question is that even if Sachs is wrong on this point (and he is), he may continue to believe there is no afterlife even after he has entered it. There is quite a lot of precedent for this, and no infallible explanation for why some people continue to disbelieve after death and others immediately understand their error.
 
#6
My feeling about your question is that even if Sachs is wrong on this point (and he is), he may continue to believe there is no afterlife even after he has entered it. There is quite a lot of precedent for this, and no infallible explanation for why some people continue to disbelieve after death and others immediately understand their error.
Interesting. What references do you have that represent "precedent"?
 
#9
@Alex or any of the sysops, I posted a thread about this in the "Other stuff" section, but for some reason the post/like requirement to post links in the forums appears to have been disabled. The result, as can be seen from the post above (assuming that it has not been deleted by the time this is read), is that accounts with no posts have been spamming the hell out of all the forums. Is there are reason why this was disabled or is it just a hiccup in the platform?
 
#10
The guests were interesting, but I don't know if the question adds anything.

After having listened to a number of podcasts I feel it's fairly circular at this point. Alex insists that there's no good explanation other then some sort of afterlife thesis and skeptics point out that something else could be going on.

I really think Alex is getting sucked into the materialist mindset of demanding zero error no creativity logic in this.

The thing is it's really correct to say NDE's don't prove an afterlife and something else could be going on that's just unknown or not understood.

What's incorrect is to take from that that NDE evidence isn't evidence for afterlife.

The conservative approach (and I think correct approach) is to look for similar phenomenon where it appears to imply the same thing but there's some sort of risk of unlikely error or way of thinking that we're missing.

If two pieces of evidence exist then they each strengthen each other since the probability of some sort of unlikely analytical hole goes down. (psi, NDE, reincarnation, etc)

However, skeptics materialist argue in a way that by engaging with them we accept implicit assumption in their arguments.

For example

Null hypothesis - Skeptics argue that there should be some sort of binary choice between reality A and reality B with the most likely being the null hypothesis. Shouldn't in a quest for knowledge the real goal be a probabilistic understanding of likelihood.

Burden of Proof - Skeptics keep using the term burden of proof, but it's really a term for a trial or debate. Scientific theories are all the time advanced because they are elegant explanations.



I don't know sometimes I get frustrated and start doubting myself. It's the exact same kind of passing doubt I get with local religious fundamentalists. They are so sure of themselves. But I can consciously identify the errors in their logic and reasoning.

It's like those bumper stickers with some profound slogan like "I'm a conservative because everyone can't be on welfare" and your like everyone knows that it it's just way more complicated

I know this gets into philosophy I guess, but to be honest I've always found philosophy to be an intellectual bagatelle in most cases.

Does anyone know of an author who really breaks down the skeptical mindframe and where they are vearing off course?
 
#11
I very much enjoyed this episode, especially having a contribution from a researcher from New Zealand close to where I am in Australia. I think the reason neuroscientists are so reluctant to even look at the evidence fron NDE's is because they cannot postulate a mechanism or process within the known laws whereby an afterlife could exist. I get stuck on this too. I find the NDE and other evidence very compelling and I truly want to believe (because I lost my wife from cancer and I want to think I could meet her again) but then I find it difficult to imagine how an afterlife fits into the cosmos as we know it. Who sets the laws for an afterlife?, how does it work?, does it imply there is a God and if so why is there so much evil on the planet?, do we retain our individuality or morph into a common consciousness? what will we be doing and for how long and what is our purpose in an afterlife and then what happens? I can't get my head around those issues but I fully accept it may be we are not meant to understand it or are even capable of understanding it. I think no matter how much evidence we find, it will remain a mystery at least from our perspective as human intellects here on earth. While the idea of living a meaningless life as a 'biological robot' until I die and then absolute oblivion is not attractive to me, the thought of an eternity of existence in another plane or endless cycles of more or less pleasant existences here on Earth does not really appeal either and ultimately also seem meaningless. But these issues have to be faced if mind does not equal brain.
 
Last edited:
#12
Buggered if I know either. It's like their curiosity and open-mindedness faculties have been amputated or something.

I greatly enjoyed this podcast--particularly Jan Holden's contribution, which was super-articulate. I've tracked down some videos of hers which I'll presently watch--they're here:





I may also re-listen to Alex's interview with her in Skeptiko #164, which I've forgotten.
The podcast mentioned in the question period after Jan Holden\s talk can be found here:

http://inceptionradionetwork.com/ep...iences-to-dr-jan-holdens-valuable-research-2/
 
#13
I very much enjoyed this episode, especially having a contribution from a researcher from New Zealand close to where I am in Australia. I think the reason neuroscientists are so reluctant to even look at the evidence fron NDE's is because they cannot postulate a mechanism or process within the known laws whereby an afterlife could exist. I get stuck on this too. I find the NDE and other evidence very compelling and I truly want to believe (because I lost my wife from cancer and I want to think I could meet her again) but then I find it difficult to imagine how an afterlife fits into the cosmos as we know it. Who sets the laws for an afterlife?, how does it work?, does it imply there is a God and if so why is there so much evil on the planet?, do we retain our individuality or morph into a common consciousness? what will we be doing and for how long and what is our purpose in an afterlife and then what happens? I can't get my head around those issues but I fully accept it may be we are not meant to understand it or are even capable of understanding it. I think no matter how much evidence we find, it will remain a mystery at least from our perspective as human intellects here on earth. While the idea of living a meaningless life as a 'biological robot' until I die and then absolute oblivion is not attractive to me, the thought of an eternity of existence in another plane or endless cycles of more or less pleasant existences here on Earth does not really appeal either and ultimately also seem meaningless. But these issues have to be faced if mind does not equal brain.
Hi Doug. I'm sorry to hear about your wife's passing. I find it hard to understand why neuroscientists and others can't just accept the evidence without postulating a mechanism or process within the known laws. If a member of a primitive tribe saw an aircraft taking off for the first time, he would just have to accept that they exist and really fly without having any knowledge of the science behind it. I think we should show some humility and accept that there is tons that we don't really know.

I think I can provide some sort of answers to some of the questions that you ask, but I am quite content with not knowing others. I find it very interesting how different we are, but at the same time, how alike. Coming to terms with what is unknown might be a kind of key to unlocking some answers.
 
#14
Hi Doug. I'm sorry to hear about your wife's passing. I find it hard to understand why neuroscientists and others can't just accept the evidence without postulating a mechanism or process within the known laws. If a member of a primitive tribe saw an aircraft taking off for the first time, he would just have to accept that they exist and really fly without having any knowledge of the science behind it. I think we should show some humility and accept that there is tons that we don't really know.

I think I can provide some sort of answers to some of the questions that you ask, but I am quite content with not knowing others. I find it very interesting how different we are, but at the same time, how alike. Coming to terms with what is unknown might be a kind of key to unlocking some answers.
Thanks Steve, I do accept that perhaps we have to just sit with the mystery of what might happen when we die but I do think it is valid to ask questions. The ancient tribe seeing an aircraft taking off for the first time would contain some members who would look past the wonder of something so incredible and ask how does this happen? I do think that materialist scientists struggle with that. If we do accept the evidence then naturally the next step is to hypothesise a mechanisn and that becomes speculation for any of us.
 
#15
Thanks Steve, I do accept that perhaps we have to just sit with the mystery of what might happen when we die but I do think it is valid to ask questions. The ancient tribe seeing an aircraft taking off for the first time would contain some members who would look past the wonder of something so incredible and ask how does this happen? I do think that materialist scientists struggle with that. If we do accept the evidence then naturally the next step is to hypothesise a mechanisn and that becomes speculation for any of us.
Certainly I would encourage asking questions, of course there would be those in the tribe that are driven more than others to find out 'how it works'. But while they do that the fact remains that aircraft are part of their reality, best to use them to their advantage in the meantime. This is quite a useful metaphor for the situation we find ourselves in I think. :)
 
#16
It is a good metaphor because whilst those in the tribe who actually saw the aircraft with their own eyes would not doubt its existence, those who did not might question whether it was just their imagination or hallucinations. Thus the issue with NDE's and other manifestations of extended consciousness is for those who have not experienced it first hand it can be easier to doubt the validity than accept something that does not fit with a worldview they have. I'd be interested in understanding what postulated ways we could exist after bodily death. It must imply there is a God or creative intelligence I think.
 
#19
Yes, but that was not my point. I have my fair share of experience with synchronicity and know that some paranormal experiences are of very personal nature, but I don't expect a fatherly intervention every time that trouble brews.

There is little difference between constant deus ex machina and determinism. If the idea of life is to learn, constant hand holding is a hindrance. Pain and suffering are required for collective growth, even if it doesn't seem fair.
 
#20
Yes, but that was not my point. I have my fair share of experience with synchronicity and know that some paranormal experiences are of very personal nature, but I don't expect a fatherly intervention every time that trouble brews.

There is little difference between constant deus ex machina and determinism. If the idea of life is to learn, constant hand holding is a hindrance. Pain and suffering are required for collective growth, even if it doesn't seem fair.
No it doesn't seem fair and personally I think evil and suffering are the most powerful arguments for a materialistic /atheistist worldview. If suffering is part of 'collective growth' then each individual life is meaningless and Alex goes on repeatedly that he does not belive we are biological robots living a meaningless life in a meaningless universe but if an individual life of suffering only has meaning as a part of collective growth then I don’t think that is real meaning.
 
Top