The problem with the DMT explanation for NDEs....

#1
....is that it does not work. The pineal gland would need to produce 1000xs as much DMT in a few minutes as it usually produces melatonin in a typical day to explain the affects of an NDE:

https://www.psypost.org/2018/01/no-...creting-dmt-psychedelic-researcher-says-50609

Sagan's Standard suggests that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. It seems an extraordinary claim, to me at least, that a gland of the brain that has never been observed to produce DMT under normal circumstances is able to accomplish the herculean feat of producing 25 milligrams of the drug during an NDE.

Will Sean Carroll et al provide us with an alternative physical explanation for NDEs that does work? Or am I missing something important in my line of reasoning?

I am all for NDEs being explained by a "normal" or "physical" means, if such means exist.
 
#2
Well first of all, I think the idea that the body makes some chemical to help us as we die, is pure nonsense. I mean from a strictly material viewpoint, the things that the body does are the result of evolution by natural selection. Clearly there can't be any way natural selection would operate to provide for an easier death.

Secondly, it seems to me that entheogens all work by binding to receptors in the brain - in effect they activate some switches. However, that explains practically nothing about the experience - any more than you can explain how a computer works by examining how the on/off switch works!

As you can possibly tell, I have become fairly tired of these so called scientific explanations that don't explain much at all.

BTW I keep wondering how you chose your forum name?

David
 
#3
Well first of all, I think the idea that the body makes some chemical to help us as we die, is pure nonsense. I mean from a strictly material viewpoint, the things that the body does are the result of evolution by natural selection. Clearly there can't be any way natural selection would operate to provide for an easier death.
I haven't thought about this before, but it makes perfect sense. After all, fear of death is a big part of what keeps us alive (in my opinion). It is purely a biological drive, I suppose. But you are correct, I think, that if we were all to count on a pleasant, hallucinogenic death experience, it would somewhat negate the urge to stay alive.

Secondly, it seems to me that entheogens all work by binding to receptors in the brain - in effect they activate some switches. However, that explains practically nothing about the experience - any more than you can explain how a computer works by examining how the on/off switch works!
I'm dubious that the brain naturally produces any ethneogens besides the ones that it has already been clearly identified to: serotonin and melatonin (perhaps there are a few more). The idea that it would produce large amounts of DMT in one and only one instance (NDE's) is quite dubious to me.

I know that that does not get us any further in "explaining" the NDE in a materialist sense.

I see your point though, or I think I do: there must be something that is not material to account for how a "drug rush" in the brain is activated. And in the "dying brain" scenario, the brain is deprived of oxygen, entirely or mostly. If one were inclined to a materialist explanation, one would think that the pineal gland would work less efficiently under such conditions and not more so. Which makes the idea that it rapidly produces a large amount of a complex hallucinogen even more suspicious, if you ask me.

As you can possibly tell, I have become fairly tired of these so called scientific explanations that don't explain much at all.
I'm getting there, too. I mean, I could respect any scientist's explanation if it were reasonable. But when it doesn't make any sense, they should be held to account for what they say.

BTW I keep wondering how you chose your forum name?

David
No real good reason. I always struggle to pick clever usernames, and I was just feeling especially happy to have a cat yesterday when I registered my account.
 
#4
I haven't thought about this before, but it makes perfect sense. After all, fear of death is a big part of what keeps us alive (in my opinion). It is purely a biological drive, I suppose. But you are correct, I think, that if we were all to count on a pleasant, hallucinogenic death experience, it would somewhat negate the urge to stay alive.
Well what I really meant was that NS works by only preserving changes in organisms that survive to pass on their genes. Therefore a mechanism that makes death more pleasant has no survival value at all - either the organism has passed on its genes or it hasn't! There is no way such a feature can evolve by natural selection.

Incidentally, I have gradually come to realise that the normal concept of evolution by natural selection doesn't explain the origin or evolution of life on earth. The Intelligent Design(ID) crowd are worth exploring, but I would forget the idea that the intelligence is Yaweh!
I'm dubious that the brain naturally produces any ethneogens besides the ones that it has already been clearly identified to: serotonin and melatonin (perhaps there are a few more). The idea that it would produce large amounts of DMT in one and only one instance (NDE's) is quite dubious to me.

I know that that does not get us any further in "explaining" the NDE in a materialist sense.
Maybe the body does produce a little, and it helps us to communicate with the non-material world to some extent. I mean if the idea of consciousness not residing in the brain is true, possibly we need to turn on the NDE experience a little bit all the time - obviously I am just speculating! Is it possible that the NDE receptors react weakly to something else, and that is their normal mode of operation, but DMT overloads them?
I see your point though, or I think I do: there must be something that is not material to account for how a "drug rush" in the brain is activated. And in the "dying brain" scenario, the brain is deprived of oxygen, entirely or mostly. If one were inclined to a materialist explanation, one would think that the pineal gland would work less efficiently under such conditions and not more so. Which makes the idea that it rapidly produces a large amount of a complex hallucinogen even more suspicious, if you ask me.
I expect you are familiar with the concept of qualia, and it seems to me that every qualia experience has to be in a non-material realm.
I'm getting there, too. I mean, I could respect any scientist's explanation if it were reasonable. But when it doesn't make any sense, they should be held to account for what they say.
Exactly, it is only when scientists such as Dawkins are really, really pushed that they start to show how weak their ideas are. I mean how often in everyday life do you come across the idea that free will doesn't exist, or is an illusion? This 'explanation' only comes out when they are really pushed by detailed questioning - because they know that the more they expose, the less plausible it all appears to be.
No real good reason. I always struggle to pick clever usernames, and I was just feeling especially happy to have a cat yesterday when I registered my account.
I like cats too. I take it your avatar is a picture of your cat, but what is it sitting next to?

David
 
#5
....is that it does not work. The pineal gland would need to produce 1000xs as much DMT in a few minutes as it usually produces melatonin in a typical day to explain the affects of an NDE:

https://www.psypost.org/2018/01/no-...creting-dmt-psychedelic-researcher-says-50609

Sagan's Standard suggests that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. It seems an extraordinary claim, to me at least, that a gland of the brain that has never been observed to produce DMT under normal circumstances is able to accomplish the herculean feat of producing 25 milligrams of the drug during an NDE.

Will Sean Carroll et al provide us with an alternative physical explanation for NDEs that does work? Or am I missing something important in my line of reasoning?

I am all for NDEs being explained by a "normal" or "physical" means, if such means exist.
From the guy who proposed that DMT could cause NDE's, Rick Straussman.
" There are no data one way or the other regarding elevations in endogenous DMT in any non-drug-induced altered state, except perhaps for some old British data demonstrating increased urinary DMT in psychotic patients when their psychosis becomes worse. Even in that case, the specificity of the measuring tools for DMT may not have been ideal. One of the problems with my original DMT book is that people took as fact several speculative theories such as the suggestion that DMT may rise endogenously in near-death states, dreams, birth, the alien contact experience, and so on. I thought I made sure to distinguish between fact and theory but obviously I could have been more successful in doing so "
reddit AMA - https://www.reddit.com/r/Psychonaut/comments/2hj10k
Also Jim mantains a list of refutations of materialist explanations here https://ncu9nc.blogspot.com/2013/07...-of-ndes-fail.html#nde_explain_brain_chemical
 
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#6
Well what I really meant was that NS works by only preserving changes in organisms that survive to pass on their genes. Therefore a mechanism that makes death more pleasant has no survival value at all - either the organism has passed on its genes or it hasn't! There is no way such a feature can evolve by natural selection.

Incidentally, I have gradually come to realise that the normal concept of evolution by natural selection doesn't explain the origin or evolution of life on earth. The Intelligent Design(ID) crowd are worth exploring, but I would forget the idea that the intelligence is Yaweh!
Got it. Yes, as an adaptation, a pleasant death experience makes no sense....as you note, there is no biological value.

To your second point, it's Donald Hoffman that talks about the "magic" of science (i.e., that every scientific theory is based upon assumptions that are granted, and that these assumptions are essentially scientific "magic," because they are not proved through any means of observation). I suspect some magic may be occurring with Evolution. It is a perfectly fine theory for explaining how-- through the process of adaptation-- our species (or any species) may have biologically changed, but it does not do much for us on the subject of Consciousness.

Maybe the body does produce a little, and it helps us to communicate with the non-material world to some extent. I mean if the idea of consciousness not residing in the brain is true, possibly we need to turn on the NDE experience a little bit all the time - obviously I am just speculating! Is it possible that the NDE receptors react weakly to something else, and that is their normal mode of operation, but DMT overloads them?
I would suggest that these are quantum affects. We have observed, already, how quantum affects between blue light photons and cry4 proteins in bird brains help the bird to navigate. The prevalent theory (and this piece is still a theory) is that the quantum entanglement allows the bird to literally see the earth's magnetic field.

In other words, quantum entanglement is changing the bird's perception. What is Consciousness, I would argue, besides the compound of various sensory experiences and perceptions?

Perhaps there is some chemical that we naturally produce, the quarks of which become entangled with quantum material outside of the brain, and this helps our brains in processing a "Conscious Experience," that is to say, codes what cinnamon smells like for instance, and tells our brain that we are smelling cinnamon and not something else. Of course, this is also just me speculating, and I am a lay person in this (although an enthusiast). I don't think that that is too far off from Orch-OR or other Quantum Consciousness models, however.

I expect you are familiar with the concept of qualia, and it seems to me that every qualia experience has to be in a non-material realm.
I'm somewhat familiar. I see the concept of qualia as a philosophical equivalent with the aforementioned quarks, but I could be wrong.

Yes-- this is non-material. Or, at least, quarks are so small and behave in ways so contrary to conventional wisdom of physics that they may as well be said to be non-material, even if we can-- at times-- observe that they behave as material particles.

I'm not a quantum physicist by a long shot, or a trained philosopher of the mind. So I can't speak too in depth on these subjects. But the more that I do read-- if I am understanding the arguments-- the more I am convinced.

Exactly, it is only when scientists such as Dawkins are really, really pushed that they start to show how weak their ideas are. I mean how often in everyday life do you come across the idea that free will doesn't exist, or is an illusion? This 'explanation' only comes out when they are really pushed by detailed questioning - because they know that the more they expose, the less plausible it all appears to be.
Dawkins is a hack. I like Neil Degrasse-Tyson, who I take to be more on the materialist side of things. He seems a bit more sincere than Dawkins, who clearly has an ax to grind.

I like cats too. I take it your avatar is a picture of your cat, but what is it sitting next to?
It was Halloween, so she is next to a candy bowl :)
 
#7
Perhaps there is some chemical that we naturally produce, the quarks
I think I'd definitely stay away from quarks! They are the hypothetical constituents of protons (3 per proton), but they have never been seen in isolation, and may be just a figment of a theoretical imagination. In any case they won't play any part, I imagine, in the low energy processes of chemistry or the brain.

I tend to keep away from theorising about the exact nature of the mind-brain link - except to say that consciousness plays a part in QM according to the original interpretation of QM. I feel that science has to proceed some way, and recognise that consciousness is fundamental in some way before we will see real progress on that front. However, Roger Penrose is a bright guy, so maybe micro-tubules do form the connection. I am sure that conscious processes are important for a lot of life's processes, so microtubules seem attractive from that point of view, because they are components of most cells.

David
 
#8
The cardiac arrest-induced increase of endogenous DMT release may be related to near-death experiences (NDEs), as a recent study reports NDE-like mental states in human subjects given exogenous DMT50. Not all rats in our current study exhibited a surge of DMT following cardiac arrest (Fig. 4), an interesting observation in light of the fact that NDEs are reported by less than 20% of patients who survive cardiac arrests51. It is unknown whether the concentrations of DMT reported in our study at cardiac arrest can elicit the effects of an exogenous psychedelic dose of DMT, or whether this surge of endogenous DMT similarly occurs in humans. Moreover, the conscious states reported by NDE survivors may involve contributions from several of the other neurotransmitters found to surge at cardiac arrest in our prior rodent study21. Further investigation is clearly warranted to investigate whether DMT plays a role in generating neural correlates of near-death consciousness.
New study done on DMT in rat brains following cardiac arrest. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-019-45812-w#Fig4

Not all of the rats had DMT present following CA. Why some would and others would not is a mystery.

Some speculation from the authors that DMT + other unknown chemicals = NDE.

The authors claim that it is unknown whether or not the amount of DMT released in the rats would be sufficient to induce a trip that would be NDE-like. The purpose of the DMT being released and its function is also unknown according to the study.

My questions would be, if DMT is discovered in humans as well to be released in a surge would it refute NDEs?

Personally, I'm not sure it would. It's very hard to imagine that the DMT binding to the receptors in an unconscious brain state could cause an experience like an NDE.

The study they cited for the DMT similarity with NDEs was discussed before as well I thought and was shown that there were major differences, not similarities?

Would be interesting to see if anything like this would happen if the rats were on anesthesia, since people have NDEs and OBEs on anesthesia as well. Doubt a study like that would ever happen, though.

Regardless if DMT is present during CA, they would still have to account for SDEs, group NDEs, and all NDEs not during cardiac arrest (and I doubt DMT is being released in instances where the brain does not have a severe threat or lack of oxygen, if it even does happen).

Biggest thing that has to happen is to measure the DMT found in the rats and compare it to the amount of DMT a regular trip would take to produce an NDE-like experience. Not sure why the authors did not do this already as I would imagine they have the tools at their disposal.

EDIT: After further research, it seems to be able to induce a strong DMT trip it would take 25 milligrams. Pineal gland produces about 30 micrograms of melatonin over an entire day. So, it seems extremely unlikely it would be able to produce even 10 milligrams of DMT in a couple of minutes while dying, much less 25. https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/...1810/does-dmt-model-the-near-death-experience

Additionally, the article I found goes into the main differences between NDEs and DMT for anyone interested.

From a purely materialistic perspective, a DMT explanation would satisfy me, but it seems so unlikely and farfetched based on the amount that would have to be produced to trigger a real trip rivaling a described NDE experience. Really shows how weak the position is, its seriously grasping at straws. I mean I understand its rats, but theyre measuring the DMT in nanomolars! Its so small.

How the measurement would translate to humans we can only speculate.

Based on what happened in this study, the DMT doubled or tripled at times during CA. Even if you doubled or tripled what the baseline DMT amount is in the human brain (assuming its in micrograms like melatonin) you would not even get close to even 2 or 3 milligrams. And you need MUCH more to produce a trip.

I am in disbelief over how disingenious these scientists are. I can't believe I used to respect these people. If you take 10 minutes to look into how much DMT would be needed in reality to produce the effect, it is so absurdly irrational to even speculate that it's the main cause of the NDE. Its just so basic... to a rational minded person it just makes zero sense. To anyone just looking at the data it makes zero sense. Really makes me wonder about academia.

Am I missing something or is this as absurd as I am seeing it?
 
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#9
New study done on DMT in rat brains following cardiac arrest. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-019-45812-w#Fig4

Not all of the rats had DMT present following CA. Why some would and others would not is a mystery.

Some speculation from the authors that DMT + other unknown chemicals = NDE.

The authors claim that it is unknown whether or not the amount of DMT released in the rats would be sufficient to induce a trip that would be NDE-like. The purpose of the DMT being released and its function is also unknown according to the study.

My questions would be, if DMT is discovered in humans as well to be released in a surge would it refute NDEs?

Personally, I'm not sure it would. It's very hard to imagine that the DMT binding to the receptors in an unconscious brain state could cause an experience like an NDE.

The study they cited for the DMT similarity with NDEs was discussed before as well I thought and was shown that there were major differences, not similarities?

Would be interesting to see if anything like this would happen if the rats were on anesthesia, since people have NDEs and OBEs on anesthesia as well. Doubt a study like that would ever happen, though.

Regardless if DMT is present during CA, they would still have to account for SDEs, group NDEs, and all NDEs not during cardiac arrest (and I doubt DMT is being released in instances where the brain does not have a severe threat or lack of oxygen, if it even does happen).

Biggest thing that has to happen is to measure the DMT found in the rats and compare it to the amount of DMT a regular trip would take to produce an NDE-like experience. Not sure why the authors did not do this already as I would imagine they have the tools at their disposal.

EDIT: After further research, it seems to be able to induce a strong DMT trip it would take 25 milligrams. Pineal gland produces about 30 micrograms of melatonin over an entire day. So, it seems extremely unlikely it would be able to produce even 10 milligrams of DMT in a couple of minutes while dying, much less 25. https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/...1810/does-dmt-model-the-near-death-experience

Additionally, the article I found goes into the main differences between NDEs and DMT for anyone interested.

From a purely materialistic perspective, a DMT explanation would satisfy me, but it seems so unlikely and farfetched based on the amount that would have to be produced to trigger a real trip rivaling a described NDE experience. Really shows how weak the position is, its seriously grasping at straws. I mean I understand its rats, but theyre measuring the DMT in nanomolars! Its so small.

How the measurement would translate to humans we can only speculate.

Based on what happened in this study, the DMT doubled or tripled at times during CA. Even if you doubled or tripled what the baseline DMT amount is in the human brain (assuming its in micrograms like melatonin) you would not even get close to even 2 or 3 milligrams. And you need MUCH more to produce a trip.

I am in disbelief over how disingenious these scientists are. I can't believe I used to respect these people. If you take 10 minutes to look into how much DMT would be needed in reality to produce the effect, it is so absurdly irrational to even speculate that it's the main cause of the NDE. Its just so basic... to a rational minded person it just makes zero sense. To anyone just looking at the data it makes zero sense. Really makes me wonder about academia.

Am I missing something or is this as absurd as I am seeing it?
Even if DMT were responsible for NDE's, it would not explain why people would come back with veridical explanations for things such as how resusitation is performed. Also a DMT explanation is still modifiable to fit within a filter based theory of consciousness, according to Bernardo Kastrup's take on recent neuroscience findings - DMT reduces brain activity rather than increases it. Therefore its unlikely a hyper vivid experience is taking place purely within the brain, which does not have the corresponding activation levels we would expect from a person having vivid experiences.

On the scientists - from my limited understanding of the scientific process, scientists produce research on where the money is because in the end scientists need to eat too. Therefore it's likely that they're playing the odds towards materialistic explanations because that is seen as both more likely and more valuable from a monetary point of view as well as from a prestigious point of view. The narrative of the calm, cool and collected scientist laboriously excising his own soul from matter is a prevalent and powerful one. That the charade can be kept up indefinitely merely means the scientists two sources of gratification, money and prestige, are inexhaustable.
 
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