Dr. John Fischer, Another Philosopher Tries to Debunk NDEs |431|

#1
Dr. John Fischer, Another Philosopher Tries to Debunk NDEs |431|
by Alex Tsakiris | Oct 22 | Near-Death Experience
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Dr. John Fischer thinks philosophy is the key to debunking near death experience science.
photo by: Skeptiko
Alex Tsakiris:
[00:00:06] Welcome to Skeptiko where we explore controversial science and spirituality with leading researchers, thinkers and their critics. I’m your host Alex Tsakiris and during the many years I’ve done this show I’ve never had someone ask to come on and straighten me out about something I got wrong on a previous interview with them, or in this case with their co-author, but that’s exactly what we’re going to do today.
Dr. John Martin Fischer, a distinguished professor of philosophy at the University of California Riverside, which is right up the road from me, is here to talk about a couple of books that he’s written, one that we featured in a previous episode of Skeptiko, Near-Death Experiences: Understanding Visions of the Afterlife, and another one which is more recent, Death, Immortality and Meaning in Life.
John, welcome to Skeptiko, thanks so much for joining me.
Dr. John M. Fischer: [00:01:03] Thank you Alex, I appreciate the invitation. And let me just clarify that one reason I wanted to come on the show was that when you had tried to reach me before, I was actually ill and away from my office for some months and that’s why I did not get your messages. But it was entirely my fault and it seemed very rude, I’m sure, but I apologize and I’m happy to have the opportunity now.
 
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#3
I don't think its supportable that people are incapable of having experiences while under general anesthesia. We've known that a handful of people become aware under anesthesia for a while now (termed Anesthesia Awareness), in addition to this - many people do experience dreams while under anesthesia (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17197843).

Long's claim here - (So I have dozens and dozens of near-death experiences that occurred under general anesthesia, and at this time it should be, if you will, doubly impossible to have a conscious remembrance.) seems to be unsupported, unless im misunderstanding something important here.
 
#6
I don't think its supportable that people are incapable of having experiences while under general anesthesia. We've known that a handful of people become aware under anesthesia for a while now (termed Anesthesia Awareness), in addition to this - many people do experience dreams while under anesthesia (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17197843).

Long's claim here - (So I have dozens and dozens of near-death experiences that occurred under general anesthesia, and at this time it should be, if you will, doubly impossible to have a conscious remembrance.) seems to be unsupported, unless im misunderstanding something important here.
I've covered the anesthesia awareness thing for quite a few years... it's a very lame explanation.
1. it's rare (1 in 10K I think)... no evidence that all these rare occurrences are clustered with NDEs
2. patients experience confusion and very poor recall rather than the hyper reality of an nde
3. NDEs under anesthesia seem to fit the characteristics of all other NDEs

again, this is usually argued from the apologist point of view... i.e. I know ndes can't possibly be real so let me throw a different explanation at every case I encounter.

As opposed to starting with the data and working up... i.e. NDEs are reported during a variety of medical / physical conditions ( sometimes not even life threatening) and yet they seem to share similar characteristics.
 
#7
Alex,
Thank you for debunking the lame straw man argument about anesthesia. People who are being interviewed and resort to that line of argument need to take two weeks off and quit.
 
#11
My apologies in advance, but this is typical garbage fake science, subception and obtuseness.

"Shaha Arsi in Israel who does not take a supernaturalist approach" - there is no such thing as a 'supernaturalist approach' as that is false premise for skeptical scientific study - the method of science is what it is... and its results are what they are. There is no 'approach' other than maturing and testing multiple hypotheses. If you start this category of study as a nihilist proving nihilism - then you are not a researcher. A researcher uses epoché (suspension) and attempts to disprove their a priori agency - not prove it as their 'approach'. Nihilism is the Null Hypothesis, and because it is falsifiable, a researcher's job is to seek to falsify it.

As well, departure from this practice needs to be disclosed then as a conflict of interest - if nihilism is to be used to constrain the field of prosecuted hypotheses by the manner which Dr. Fischer is suggesting.

One never assumes the answer ('not supernatural') and then goes to start looking at the evidence. If one is to 'take an approach which is not supernaturalist' - my response is for them to 'take the exit door' as well - A scientist should not be interested in abductive-inference proving their personal religion. They should be looking to falsify their preferred alternative, not inductively prove it.

This is just basic graduate research standards taught by any major university.

epoché
/philosophy : skepticism : deontological doubt/ : (Gr. ἐποχή, “suspension”) – an active suspension of disposition. The suspended state of judgement exercised by a disciplined and objective mind, in preparation to conduct research. A state of neutrality which eschews the exercise of religious, biased rational or critical, risky provisional and dogmatic dispositions when encountering new observations, ideas and data. In contrast with a wallow in passive neutrality or apathy, epoché is a form of active investigation based upon a discipline of impartiality. A desire to find the answer, tempered by the wisdom that answers do not come as easily as most people believe.
There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance – that principle is contempt prior to investigation. ~ Herbert Spencer

He keeps speaking about 'sincere' researchers. There is no such thing as 'sincere' science nor researchers - there is only ethical science and then there are researchers who understand and employ its methods. Ethical science employs falsification and deductive inference. He fails to understand that neuroscience is only abductive (or 1 or 2% inductive at best) - it cannot be used to infer a conclusion (much less to start with that conclusion as the 'approach')... Nor has it come anywhere near to demonstrating that nihilism can even be defined to a Wittgenstein level of rigor - a necessary element of its becoming a real hypothesis. This is a sleight-of-hand inflection he has employed here. A tradecraft of deception.

"We have to be skeptical about what people say (as in dismissal)" - this is not skepticism; rather cynicism. Skepticism is mute-neutrality and the desire to investigate critical path first hand. You catalog first hand experiences and observations - not trashcan them one at a time as 'claims'.

"They've all gone to heaven and talked to Jesus or ridden on butterfly wings..." and he has read 'thousands'? As Alex tried to interject, this is not even close to being accurate. This statement would cause me to fire a researcher from my lab if they mocked a serious alternative of plurality in this manner - and then in the same breath purported to be 'sincerely' researching it. He must have some kind of academic tenure, because this is that same familiar laziness/unaccountability which I have interviewed for research, development and engineering positions over 500 times. This is how one detects dishonest researchers, through slip-ups and inconsistencies in their discourse, just like this. I call this mindset being an Indigo Point Man. One who conceals their contempt or point of deception, and maintains a facade of stateliness/objectivity.

Where did this guy get his PhD? What scientific labs has he directed, where they let him pull this manner of sponsorship and prosecution of hypotheses? Who taught him philosophy? Susan Blackmore is a credible reference? Susan claimed to 'answer' this question in 36 months of research. Her hypothesis was how much smarter she was than the people she despised.

This is high school level discourse. Very disappointed. I would never trust this person to prosecute an issue of science inside my organization. D+ Could not even finish this... as it made me pessimistic about the future of humanity.
 
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#12
http://ncu9nc.blogspot.com/2013/07/materialist-explanations-of-ndes-fail.html
"None of the materialist attempts to explain NDEs can really explain them. NDEs cannot be explained by: a lack of oxygen, a dying brain, hallucinations, religious expectations, cultural expectations, hearing about medical procedures after the fact, hearing during resuscitation, brain dysfunction, inhibitory network failure, retinal dysfunction causing an image of a tunnel, brain chemicals such as ketamine, endogenous opioids, neurotransmitter imbalances, or hallucinogens including DMT, REM intrusions, epilepsy or seizures, psychopathology, unique personality traits, residual brain activity during unconsciousness, the experience occurring before or after brain activity stopped, brain activity during CPR, evolutionary adaptation, depersonalization, memory of birth, medication, naloxone, defense against dying, partial anesthesia, misuse of anecdotes, or selective reporting."​
 
#13
It appears obvious to me that Dr. Fischer, much Like Susan Blackmore are pushing back mightily with their, "science" against any material that suggests the existence of anything other than that which can be detected by the five senses. I respect them for being what they believe is realistic but I pity them for the somewhat hopeless course of dead end earthly life they adhere to. it would do no harm for them to consider the possibility of a Creator of all that exists and who's purpose is to make humans aware He never wants anyone to lead such a life. NDE's help serve this invigorating purpose.
 
#15
I've covered the anesthesia awareness thing for quite a few years... it's a very lame explanation.
1. it's rare (1 in 10K I think)... no evidence that all these rare occurrences are clustered with NDEs
2. patients experience confusion and very poor recall rather than the hyper reality of an nde
3. NDEs under anesthesia seem to fit the characteristics of all other NDEs

again, this is usually argued from the apologist point of view... i.e. I know ndes can't possibly be real so let me throw a different explanation at every case I encounter.

As opposed to starting with the data and working up... i.e. NDEs are reported during a variety of medical / physical conditions ( sometimes not even life threatening) and yet they seem to share similar characteristics.
Okay, great response but why not just say that instead of referencing Dr. Long? You get that it's confusing when Dr. Long makes the claim that its impossible to experience awareness under anesthesia yet people do actually sometimes experience awareness. This is maybe the third time I've noticed this claim come up in debates and the skeptic side, in my understanding, has reasonable confusion about what is actually being talked about. People (such as myself) aren't going to understand that this is a 'lame' take on the issue if it's not refuted at the same level its posited.
 
#16
Frustrating episode to listen to as he could not hear the audio's well. I think reading between the lines he cannot accept NDE's are being "real" because it would undermine his worldview. On the other hand I do agree that our understanding on the brain is fairly primitive, can we be sure the brain is incapable of producing experiences when our understanding is that it should not be? I am not a neuroscientist. I found it confusing about Sam Parnia's views. Does he or does he not believe in persistence of consciousness? He is a significant researcher in this area and I think his opinion is significant
 
#18
Alex, the primary disagreements seem to be 1) timing 2) naturalism (or perhaps physicalism). These are also my barriers to your degree of conviction.

A third disagreement is a perception of having a streak of mysterianism and 'this is not serious science'. Not that I believe that viewpoint-- but isn't it obvious this is their approach given their use of a philosopher to dismiss what they consider shoddy research (not including Sam or really anyone you mentioned of course).

I get you are not a scientist, etc, but instead I mean how your organize ideas.

You don't appear to reject science as a method.

You could have asked better questions. Leading questions...annoying ones. Sounds like you have given up debating.

Either people get the ideas the way you infer them or they haven't read the research. Uhh,..

Well, I've read enough. The timing issue remains an issue because we still don't understand the mind. I don't think you are wrong. I just don't get the confidence. As for the skeptics confidence, well they have books to sell, grants to award, social status to protect.

I stand by the notion that their isn't 200 research reports that directly answer the question of survival of consciousness (including ego - personality in some form). And I know, you have a list. Who cares?!

No really...who cares...

The majority of that 200 is probably quite good. But who cares. A tiny portion directly addresses the issue in a way that is 'good'. Just like i said in a previous thread.

And yeah, what madness for the guest to then imply he doesn't need to do original research. What a pompous asshole! lol. Oops, I meant respectful nice guy philosopher! Rejecting evidence a posteriori because 'because'.

I am sooooo happy he used terror management theory to deny the evidence! That made me smile ear to ear!
 
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#19
My apologies in advance, but this is typical garbage fake science, arrogance and obtuseness.

"Shaha Arsi in Israel who does not take a supernaturalist approach" - there is no such thing as a 'supernaturalist approach' as that is false premise for skeptical scientific study - the results are what they are. There is no 'approach' other than maturing and testing multiple hypotheses. If you start this category of study as a nihilist proving nihilism - then you are not a researcher. A researcher uses epoché (suspension) and attempts to disprove their a priori agency - not prove it. Nihilism is the Null Hypothesis, a researcher's job is to seek to disprove it.

As well, departure from this practice needs to be disclosed then as a conflict of interest - if nihilism is to be used to constrain the field of prosecuted hypotheses by the manner which Dr. Fischer is suggesting.

One never assumes the answer ('not supernatural') and then goes to start looking at the evidence. If one is to 'take an approach which is not supernaturalist' - my response is for them to 'take the exit door' as well - A scientist should not be interested in abductive-inference proving their personal religion. They should be looking to falsify their preferred alternative, not inductively prove it.

This is just basic graduate research standards taught by any major university.

epoché
/philosophy : skepticism : deontological doubt/ : (Gr. ἐποχή, “suspension”) – an active suspension of disposition. The suspended state of judgement exercised by a disciplined and objective mind, in preparation to conduct research. A state of neutrality which eschews the exercise of religious, biased rational or critical, risky provisional and dogmatic dispositions when encountering new observations, ideas and data. In contrast with a wallow in passive neutrality or apathy, epoché is a form of active investigation based upon a discipline of impartiality. A desire to find the answer, tempered by the wisdom that answers do not come as easily as most people believe.
There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance – that principle is contempt prior to investigation. ~ Herbert Spencer

He keeps speaking about 'sincere' researchers. There is no such thing as 'sincere' science nor researchers - there is only ethical science and then there are researchers who understand and employ its methods. Ethical science employs falsification and deductive inference. He fails to understand that neuroscience is only abductive (or 1 or 2% inductive at best) - it cannot be used to infer a conclusion (much less to start with that conclusion)... Nor has it come anywhere near to demonstrating that nihilism can even be defined to a Wittgenstein level of rigor - a necessary element of its becoming a real hypothesis. This is a sleight-of-hand inflection he has employed here. A tradecraft of deception.

"We have to be skeptical about what people say (as in dismissal)" - this is not skepticism; rather cynicism. Skepticism is mute-neutrality and the desire to investigate critical path first hand. You catalog first hand experiences and observations - not trashcan them one at a time as 'claims'.

"They've all gone to heaven and talked to Jesus or ridden on butterfly wings..." and he has read 'thousands'? As Alex tried to interject, this is not even close to being accurate. This statement would cause me to fire a researcher from my lab if they mocked a serious alternative of plurality in this manner - and then in the same breath purported to be 'sincerely' researching it. He must have some kind of academic tenure, because this is that same familiar laziness/unaccountability which I have interviewed for research, development and engineering positions over 500 times. This is how one detects dishonest researchers, through slip-ups and inconsistencies in their discourse, just like this. I call this mindset being an Indigo Point Man. One who conceals their contempt or point of deception, and maintains a facade of stateliness/objectivity.

Where did this guy get his PhD? What scientific labs has he directed, where they let him pull this manner of sponsorship and prosecution of hypotheses? Who taught him philosophy? Susan Blackmore is a credible reference? Susan claimed to 'answer' this question in 18 months of research. Her hypothesis was how much smarter she was than the people she despised.

This is high school level discourse. Very disappointed. I would never trust this person to prosecute an issue of science inside my organization. D+ Could not even finish this... as it made me pessimistic about the future of humanity.
How would you describe a supernaturalist research approach? Of course you wouldn't.

Magick = supernatural = mysterianism.

I mean only one point by that thought. Idealism is the real issue at hand, not the supernatural. There is no 'there' there though. No content, all form. I did get a 'D' in humanities btw!
 
#20
A researcher uses epoché (suspension) and attempts to disprove their a priori agency - not prove it as their 'approach'. Nihilism is the Null Hypothesis, and because it is falsifiable, a researcher's job is to seek to falsify it.

... This is just basic graduate research standards taught by any major university.
He keeps speaking about 'sincere' researchers. There is no such thing as 'sincere' science nor researchers - there is only ethical science and then there are researchers who understand and employ its methods.
This statement would cause me to fire a researcher from my lab if they mocked a serious alternative of plurality in this manner - and then in the same breath purported to be 'sincerely' researching it. He must have some kind of academic tenure, because this is that same familiar laziness/unaccountability which I have interviewed for research, development and engineering positions over 500 times. This is how one detects dishonest researchers, through slip-ups and inconsistencies in their discourse, just like this.
made me pessimistic about the future of humanity.
yep... yep... and yep. I know there wasn't a lot of meaty new content in this interview but it did leave me wondering:
1. is the entire University system broken or is it just fields like philosophy that have lost their way?
2. Is Cali worse off than the rest of the US? (I think it may be)
3. what's up with the power of cognitive dissonance? still amazes and entertains :)
 
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