A Critical Look at the Evidence

#1
I've spoken with several researchers and experiencers in various areas of extended/enhanced consciousness over the first year of my research blog. The main area has been NDEs (there's simply more people willing to talk about them than in most other experiences), but have also touched upon OBEs, mediumship, and other like topics. I recently had the opportunity to interview someone more skeptical to the subjects, needless to say I might refrain from doing so in the future, especially if their audience are anything like the one I came across. I'm not interested in closed-mindedness on either side of the fence to these subjects and have found such cases on both. My aim is to look at the evidence and follow it wherever it leads, and hopefully provide some of that evidence to whoever follows me. I'm curious to hear of current research being done in these fields and what the current evidence suggests. To me there is a very strong case for continuation of consciousness after death (my main area of focus) and of some "spiritual" nature that as of yet we don't understand.
 
#4
I've spoken with several researchers and experiencers in various areas of extended/enhanced consciousness over the first year of my research blog. The main area has been NDEs (there's simply more people willing to talk about them than in most other experiences), but have also touched upon OBEs, mediumship, and other like topics. I recently had the opportunity to interview someone more skeptical to the subjects, needless to say I might refrain from doing so in the future, especially if their audience are anything like the one I came across. I'm not interested in closed-mindedness on either side of the fence to these subjects and have found such cases on both. My aim is to look at the evidence and follow it wherever it leads, and hopefully provide some of that evidence to whoever follows me. I'm curious to hear of current research being done in these fields and what the current evidence suggests. To me there is a very strong case for continuation of consciousness after death (my main area of focus) and of some "spiritual" nature that as of yet we don't understand.
Hi, and welcome to Skeptiko!
I am not quite sure what you mean by a 'research blog'. You might mean something you are doing for a PhD, or you might mean that you are researching the subject of NDE's for your own and others benefit.

Alex used to interview sceptics - and still does sometimes - but it is rarely illuminating. In effect they are looking for explanations under the strict assumption that the answer has to be totally reducible to calculations going on in the brain.

The fact that the brain is starved of blood during a cardiac arrest is soon dismissed by assuming that there are still traces of oxygen in there, or by assuming that during resuscitation the blood that gets pushed through artificially is sufficient! The fact that NDE's are vivid and well remembered is just ignored. Also the fact that most people seem to view the scene from above, is overlooked!

Thus they try to insist on ever more rigorous tests of NDE's, knowing that NDE's happen while people are franticly trying to save the person, not collect research data.

You might want to interview Julie Beischel on hr research on mediums - or listen to Alex's discussions with her on Skeptiko.

Enjoy Skeptiko!

David
 
#5
Hey David,

The blog is just a site where I can mark down interviews I've done and things I've looked into for my own reference and whoever wants to look (currently an audience of maybe 20 people haha).

The sceptic I spoke to I know is also someone Alex spoke to (T Jump). His approach and his manner was commendable and I had no problem with him at all, his audience on the other hand during his live premier of the video were something special. I can see why so many researchers prefer to keep under the radar if they are faced with people like that. The points Tom made were reasonable; mainly the possibility that NDE experiences are created unconsciously in the brain, and then saved AS IF consciously experienced on the patients' resumption of wakefulness. I asked Dr Jan Holden, whom I had previously interviewed, to give her opinions. She did so and showed clearly why his explanations don't fully work. And to be honest, I'm more inclined to take the word of a researcher awarded with honors, whom works at an R-1 university over a person who has not fully familiarized himself with the literature.

Thanks for the recommendation of Julie, I emailed her a few weeks ago via a recommendation after my chat with Jan, but as of yet no response. I'm due to chat with Jan again tomorrow so I might ask if she can give Julie a nudge for me. I hope I can have the chance to chat with Alex also (for the podcast or not, doesn't matter to me) about what he's learned after all the years he's been doing this kind of research.
 
#6
The points Tom made were reasonable; mainly the possibility that NDE experiences are created unconsciously in the brain, and then saved AS IF consciously experienced on the patients' resumption of wakefulness.
There's nothing reasonable about that. The problem is that that hypothesis doesn't explain the evidence. It can only be made to appear reasonable by ignoring or otherwise neglecting to consider the evidence.
 
#7
There's nothing reasonable about that. The problem is that that hypothesis doesn't explain the evidence. It can only be made to appear reasonable by ignoring or otherwise neglecting to consider the evidence.
It's reasonable for many NDEs, even though for me you'd still need to explain how impaired brain function (ie in cases during cardiac arrest) would allow this to occur. Surely you'd still need a reasonable amount of measurable brain function to record memories even unconsciously. I don't know, I'm not a neuroscientist. The problem for this explanation comes when you add veridical perception. Tom's explanation for this was that essentially the nurses/doctors would talk about the situations of surgery/other situations around the patient during or after the event which is then used to create a mental scenario which was believed to be consciously experienced. To me this seems a stretch.
 
#8
"Surely you'd still need a reasonable amount of measurable brain function to record memories even unconsciously. "

This is something I'm not qualified to give a serious comment on. However, I do think we need to consider more difficult questions of the nature of memory and where memories are actually stored. As well as that we need to consider what happens, and where, during memory formation, memory storage and memory recall. Bringing memories into our conscious awareness so that we can for example, talk about them, or write them down does require brain function. But that doesn't necessarily imply that memories are stored in the brain.

I think in all these things we need to try to form a picture of what is going on, the nature of consciousness and who we are as humans, by considering a wide range of phenomena. One example apart from NDEs would be past-life recall. There is serious and legitimate research in this area, but it would clearly indicate memories being stored somewhere other than in any part of the physical body.
 

Alex

Administrator
#9
I've spoken with several researchers and experiencers in various areas of extended/enhanced consciousness over the first year of my research blog. The main area has been NDEs (there's simply more people willing to talk about them than in most other experiences), but have also touched upon OBEs, mediumship, and other like topics. I recently had the opportunity to interview someone more skeptical to the subjects, needless to say I might refrain from doing so in the future, especially if their audience are anything like the one I came across. I'm not interested in closed-mindedness on either side of the fence to these subjects and have found such cases on both. My aim is to look at the evidence and follow it wherever it leads, and hopefully provide some of that evidence to whoever follows me. I'm curious to hear of current research being done in these fields and what the current evidence suggests. To me there is a very strong case for continuation of consciousness after death (my main area of focus) and of some "spiritual" nature that as of yet we don't understand.
nice. I'd be happy to chat about this on yr show. I will email you. Jan is great.
 
#10
It's reasonable for many NDEs, even though for me you'd still need to explain how impaired brain function (ie in cases during cardiac arrest) would allow this to occur.
The problem is that a lot of NDE's include details of what happened in the resuscitation room.

Also in at least one NDE, a man transitioned straight from his NDE into conscious awareness!

David
 

Alex

Administrator
#11
There's nothing reasonable about that. The problem is that that hypothesis doesn't explain the evidence. It can only be made to appear reasonable by ignoring or otherwise neglecting to consider the evidence.
It's reasonable for many NDEs, even though for me you'd still need to explain how impaired brain function (ie in cases during cardiac arrest) would allow this to occur. Surely you'd still need a reasonable amount of measurable brain function to record memories even unconsciously. I don't know, I'm not a neuroscientist. The problem for this explanation comes when you add veridical perception. Tom's explanation for this was that essentially the nurses/doctors would talk about the situations of surgery/other situations around the patient during or after the event which is then used to create a mental scenario which was believed to be consciously experienced. To me this seems a stretch.
I'm glad I did the debate with TJump because it reminded me how persistent beliefs can be... and in particular, how powerful the "biological robot meaningless universe" meme is. for years we've been saying that Skeptics sound like fundy Christians... but it helps to occasionally revisit this territory... and turn the mirror back on ourselves and ask if our blindspots are similarly limiting us :)
 
#12
I'm glad I did the debate with TJump because it reminded me how persistent beliefs can be... and in particular, how powerful the "biological robot meaningless universe" meme is. for years we've been saying that Skeptics sound like fundy Christians... but it helps to occasionally revisit this territory... and turn the mirror back on ourselves and ask if our blindspots are similarly limiting us :)
I'm also glad I had a chat with Tom. It's always proper and fair to approach a subject like NDEs from both sides of the fence. As I say, Tom himself seems like a genuinely intelligent friendly guy to talk to and made reasonable points based on, as Typoz mentions, his apparently narrow grasp of the evidence. What I resent is the snarky comments from the live audience members misinterpreting what I say and calling me "pathetic". Apparently it wasn't clear that I was looking for Tom's interpretation of the evidence I provided, and not making claims and trying to make an argument for that evidence as people were harshly insinuating. If that's what you've had to put up with in your podcast Alex, all the respect for you for going as long as you have without succumbing to a frustration fueled breakdown.
 
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