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

Discussion in 'Skeptiko Shows' started by Alex, Oct 20, 2015.

  1. DaveB

    DaveB New

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    I believe a lot can be gleaned from OBE writers but not just from their writings directly. Perhaps more of us should try to emulate them. The techniques are widely published. I believe personal experience is the only way forward in the short term. At least until mainstream science wakes up. I had an OBE a couple of years ago; a short but unforgettable experience.

    I suspect most people wouldn't want to come close enough to physical death to experience an NDE, but an OBE can be experience in good health, albeit after considerable effort.

    As Robert Monroe would have put it... "turning beliefs into knowns".
     
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  2. Doug

    Doug New

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    Yes thats all well and good but Alex's original question is why neuroscientists don't respect the body of NDE research evidence. I think it is just too great a leap for them to accept that consciousness can persist after bodily death no matter how compelling the evidence because there is no good working hypothesis of how this could occur. For example before Einstein came up with his theory of relativity, most scientists would not have considered the possibility that time would slow down the faster you travel. His theory was mathematical and was accepted well before it was proven by experimentation. If there was a good theory how consciousness could exist after death I think the whole paradigm would change.
     
  3. Steve

    Steve Member

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    But surely we're being held back from finding such a theory if people are 'afraid' of making their ideas public? I think its human nature thats holding us back, nothing more. I communicate with a highly qualified physicist from a very respected University in the US, he, like Dean Radin, reports that there are many scientists who, behind the scenes, are really interested in subjects that would do their career no good whatsoever if their interest in them was made public. I find that amazing in the 21st century. It is all about ego, until we move past that we're going to find it difficult.
     
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  4. Max_B

    Max_B Member

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    I like thinking about us as a single organism, like perhaps a worm... and that those who resist change are probably fulfilling a vital role that allows the rest of the organism to move forward.
     
  5. Johnny

    Johnny New

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    In a nut shell.
     
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  6. Johnny

    Johnny New

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    I agree, Human nature is to blame for many things, But at the end of the day I think it goes beyond that and it is not just human nature holding us back but a conscious effort by a few committed evil people who sit at the top and pull the strings. They are afraid their vested interests will collapse if people knew their true worth, and that is that we are more than just a bunch of thrown together jumbled up molecules with no meaning or purpose to life, but instead we are spiritual beings on a journey discovering the divine purpose within us.
     
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  7. There are huge vested interests in materialism. The politicians don't want to have to compete with a higher authority. Scientists don't want to have to compete with a higher source of knowledge. Corporatists don't want people to think there is any other way to measure self worth other than by the amount of material wealth and material goods one has amassed. And an objective morality is a huge problem for all three.
     
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  8. tim

    tim New

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    Doug said > " I think the reason neuroscientists are so reluctant to even look at the evidence from NDE's is because they cannot postulate a mechanism or process within the known laws whereby an afterlife could exist."

    That's true, Doug but they also cannot postulate a mechanism for consciousness either. In my opinion (for what it's worth) we're going to have o make some allowances for the OBE (during cardiac arrest and non brain function) . If you think about your "consciousness" or your "psyche" you know it's there but you're never going to be ale to "see" or quantify it, surely. I don't see why it's such a big leap that this "entity" can move away from where it resides most of the time. And if it is a big leap then why does it keep happening in 5 % (possibly) of NDE's (during cardiac arrest)

    Doug said > "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"

    To lose your wife or (anyone close) is really tough. That part of life sucks, highly unsatisfactory even if it's natural. If you stick to the research and the data that we have from the dying themselves, at least it's not unpleasant for them (as I'm sure you know). And you will see her again, whether or not sceptics want to say it's an hallucination (it's not hallucination)

    http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/near-death...ife-are-comforting-part-dying-process-1525704
     
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2015
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  9. tim

    tim New

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    A friend of mine is a fairly high ranking academic. To sum up his position, he believes we go to heaven when we die. That's what he's told me over a beer or six quite often but there is not a chance that he would ever express that opinion to any of his colleagues. The "rules" of the club don't allow it.
     
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  10. tradingdavid

    tradingdavid New

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    Dang I got sucked into it!
    Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.

    The skeptics repeat trueish statement to set the ground rules and we just go with it since we're reasonable intellectually honest people. (And the Carl Sagan statement is trueish but for example the statement "extraordinary claims require being extra carefull" encompasses the problem with extraordinary claims and is to me more accurate if one is trying to set general rules for a truth seeking discourse".
    However any skeptic listening to you isn't using a reasonable framework they are using a skeptic logic where science is in the business of effectively providing proof.
    So the point I trying to make is that by arguing voraciously and showing emotional investment in the argument it would seem to skeptics that you are saying NDE's 100% prove survival of consciousness.
    They refute this by saying essentially we shouldn't give up on science/ god of the gaps(curiously a favorite skeptic TV mythbusters is based on the if we can't figure it out it must be impossible logic).
    Then they completely dismiss the line of argument since they are using high school debate club rules where if you say something that .1% deflects the opposing point you've won!
    If I was arguing it I'd try to lock in that it was a real phenomenon with informational content suggestive of survival that current theories try to explain in at best an intellectual driveby.
    Then present all the other interesting psi/deathbed viewing data that all points to the same thing.

    Also, I'm not sure that accepting that science is the be all end all of the discussion.
    It seems to lead to a rather exclusionary definition of evidence as being exclusively lab science conducted by a skeptic.
    This drives me nuts since I'm a lawyer and the commonsense legal definition of evidence is anything that makes the fact of a matter more or less likely. Evidence such as current NDE science that works by excluding other explanations seems logically very similar to circumstantial evidence that needs to be coordinated with other evidence that's as diverse as possible (say physical evidence if you have a witness ID) since the biggest risk is that you are missing something in your analysis.

    I really think science is being used as an excuse for intellectual laziness and some sort of fear of making an error.
    It's great if you had that gold standard. Then you don't have to think about things like bias. Or read background material.
    If the aware study got some large number of hits and was replicated under the direction of say Sam Harris, then even a hardened skeptic would probably at least entertain the notion consciousness was non-local based on a short article in the Huff Po that cited a Nature article.

    So basically just be like a ninja in the mind of the skeptics.




     
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  11. tradingdavid

    tradingdavid New

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  12. David Bailey

    David Bailey Administrator

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    First, I think it is important, if possible, to get rid of the idea of wanting to believe, or 'believing' in a rush of emotion, because this is ultimately meaningless, and I suspect that those who think that way probably come to suspect their 'belief' as time goes on.

    The problem is that various areas of science have come to believe that they know more than they do. Neuroscientists treat the brain as some sort of information processing machine - oblivious to the fact - pointed out by the philosopher David Chalmers and others - that it can't be just an information processing machine, or if it is, the mind must reside elsewhere. The most obvious example of an information processing machine, is a computer, and does anyone think that when it is processing emotionally charged data (recognising cancer cells, say) that it feels angst? Does anyone believe that it may not want to be turned off (ignoring for now Microsoft updates!) because it fears oblivion?

    Supposedly, real science enjoys paradigm breaking ideas, and neuroscience should be eager to explore NDE's, yet with rare exceptions, neuroscientists want to ignore this evidence. There is also the related phenomenon of so called 'deathbed visions', described here by practising nurses:

    http://allnurses.com/general-nursing-discussion/death-bed-visions-301825.html

    My advice, is to explore more of what SKEPTIKO has to offer, before coming to any conclusion. I would also suggest that, like me, you try to come to a tentative conclusion. I think conventional religion is in a mess because it prizes belief above reason.

    David
     
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2015
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  13. tim

    tim New

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    David "I would also suggest that, like me, you try to come to a tentative conclusion."

    It's more sensible than my position of certainty. Thing is with my own experience and some forty years of examining the evidence I prefer to just say it like it is.
    I was listening to John Searle giving his take on "survival" on Closer to the truth. It's frustrating to listen to academics with influence like him who
    are clearly not familiar with the remarkable NDE cases, reincarnation, ADC, Death bed visions etc. You can detect even without him saying so that he "knows" that's all crap and it's been debunked anyway by Susan Blackmore kinda thing.

    If I could just get twenty minutes with him I could go through some of the veridical NDE cases and demand a mundane explanation ..but he would no doubt get up and walk swiftly away because...that can't happen...it's not science. And this is where we are. Parnia is telling us that consciousness continues even after the brain has stopped working and it seems to count for nothing even though what he's said is quite remarkable if you think about it.
     
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  14. David Bailey

    David Bailey Administrator

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    Maybe it is just my thing, but I think absolute certainty about anything is a sort of trap. I mean, am I certain that electrons exist? Well something exists, but even fundamental particles have an elusive quality when you dig deep enough - so imagine someone who digs into QFT and finds that they become uneasy because they believe absolutely in electrons, and then they aren't quite sure.

    I don't need absolute certainty! If I had had a lot of personal experiences like you have, my p value might have an extra couple of zeros after the decimal point, but I think I would still feel it necessary to acknowledge that I might be somehow fooled. I actually feel a lot more comfortable defending a position of high probability rather than one of certainty.
    I think he would ultimately say that he thinks that the evidence you present is somehow distorted by people (not you) who want to believe. That is what I think a lot of materialists think - if they think at all. My view is that you can only take that explanation so far - otherwise you end up in a vicious circle - only believing in things that don't contradict your belief!

    I also think that conventional science has been caught by the absolute certainty trap. We are told that the "science is settled" regarding Global Warming, and the sceince is also supposed to be settled regarding other things - such as the supposed dangers of saturated fat - it is a frame of mind that is really damaging to science.

    David
     
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  15. tim

    tim New

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    David said > "Maybe it is just my thing, but I think absolute certainty about anything is a sort of trap"

    Yes, it is,,, as Arouet ( Voltaire) is fond of reminding us. But I'm not trying to be popular or sophisticated...I sort of wear my heart on my sleeve in these matters and it must be highly amusing to some members of the forum. I should qualify such statements with something like I could be wrong. Yet .. I cannot realistically on the grounds of probability see how I could have misjudged every single veridical OBE during cardiac arrest. We only need >one< to have occurred exactly as it was reported (one white crow) to falsify the current paradigm.

    David said >"I think he would ultimately say that he thinks that the evidence you present is somehow distorted by people (not you) who want to believe."

    Sure, he probably would say that and I would ask him on what basis he was making that claim. The people who have undertaken the best research on NDE's were not wanting to believe anything, they wanted to get to the truth. Oh I know that studies like Michael Sabom's (Atlanta) have been smeared, in his case by his Christianity but when he undertook his work he didn't believe in such notions as out of body experiences.

    It seems quite significant to me that all those who actually do the hard research come away as believers and all those who sit on their backsides thinking they are being scientific by ignoring their findings, refuse to.
     
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2015
  16. Doug

    Doug New

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    Thanks David, I do voraciously listen to Skeptiko as well as other excellent resources such as Closer to truth. I think I have an open mind, I respect the evidence but do struggle to overcome my scientific materialistic training and understanding how an 'afterlife' or non physical consciousness derives from and fits into the cosmos as we understand it. Deathbed visions are also impressive evidence but lets not kid ourselves, none of us know 100% what the truth is. We have to sit with the mystery to some degree.
     
  17. Doug

    Doug New

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    It seems quite significant to me that all those who actually do the hard research come away as believers and all those who sit on their backsides thinking they are being scientific by ignoring their findings, refuse to.[/QUOTE]
    Yes good point but I wonder what Sam Parnia believes now after the Aware study results. As I understand it the results were disappointing.
     
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  18. Johnny

    Johnny New

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    Yes good point but I wonder what Sam Parnia believes now after the Aware study results. As I understand it the results were disappointing.[/QUOTE]


    I think you'll find that the majority of academics are in the sceptic camp but not because they are sceptics but because they are afraid to oppose the status quo.
     
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  19. David Bailey

    David Bailey Administrator

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    I also have a science background, but I also realise just how far science has slipped from its ideals. It is fascinating to remember that some of the great figures - such as Pauli - had strong leanings towards the existence of a non-material realm. In more recent years, science has taken to condemning those with unorthodox views by simple abuse!

    Have you read Rupert Sheldrake's "The Sceince Delusion"?

    David
     
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  20. E.Flowers

    E.Flowers New

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    The results of AWARE were "disappointing" due to the methodology, no OBEs reported in rigged rooms meant that it was not possible to gauge anything. The "No afterlife proven!" headline used by skeptic sites was both ridiculous and misleading. However, it was not "disappointing" enough to drop the research, Parnia is now leading AWARE II with a simpler and likely more efficient setup involving portable targets.
     
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