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#24
165. Dr. Caroline Watt Defends, There is Nothing Paranormal About Near-Death Experiences
by Alex Tsakiris | Mar 20 | Near-Death Experience | 0 comments
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Interview with Parapsychology researcher Dr. Caroline Watt explains why, despite criticism, she maintains, “there is nothing paranormal about near-death experiences.”
Join Skeptiko host Alex Tsakiris for an interview with University of Edinburgh professor Dr. Caroline Watt, co-author of, There is nothing paranormal about near-death experiences: how neuroscience can explain seeing bright lights, meeting the dead, or being convinced you are one of them. During the interview Watt discusses her research into near-death experiences:
Alex Tsakiris: The other thing that upset me about the paper was the way it was picked up by so many science publications; Scientific America, NPR, BBC, Discovery, Discovery News. It’s not a strong paper. Yet, it gets echoed back through the mainstream science media as some kind of breakthrough about near-death experiences. Even though it directly contradicts all the leading researchers in the NDE field.
Dr. Caroline Watt: The leading researchers in the NDE field may publish their papers and have them reported as well. It’s an open forum. If it says something interesting, then it will be reported. Everybody can have a say. It’s not like I have some kind of privileged access.
Alex Tsakiris: I’m not suggesting that. I’m saying that what gets picked up and perpetuated through the science media is reflective of the current position, even if that position isn’t supported by the best data.
I’m saying your paper got traction even though there’s not a lot behind it. I’m saying you cited references incorrectly. And you referenced skeptics like Dr. Susan Blackmore who admits to not being current in the field.
Dr. Caroline Watt: As I said, it was intended to be a provocative piece. It’s not claiming to be balanced. The paper, if it wasn’t limited to two or three pages, I could have dealt more thoroughly with many different aspects because there’s more to near-death experiences then the dying brain hypothesis. It would have been a longer and more in-depth paper, but that wasn’t the paper that we wrote.
Yeah, let's be pedantic. What does she mean by supernatural? Supernatural is like Spiritual. Its a word we use to define a boundary. Everything is natural essentially, but we distinguish between what is natural and what is 'man-made'[outside nature?]. Likewise 'supernatural' is still kinda natural but beyond accepted theories about nature - ventures into the spiirtual and mystical - but still natural.
 
#25
Yeah, let's be pedantic. What does she mean by supernatural? Supernatural is like Spiritual. Its a word we use to define a boundary. Everything is natural essentially, but we distinguish between what is natural and what is 'man-made'[outside nature?]. Likewise 'supernatural' is still kinda natural but beyond accepted theories about nature - ventures into the spiirtual and mystical - but still natural.
To be picky, she used the word "Paranormal".

David
 
#27
Yeah, let's be pedantic. What does she mean by supernatural? Supernatural is like Spiritual. Its a word we use to define a boundary. Everything is natural essentially, but we distinguish between what is natural and what is 'man-made'[outside nature?]. Likewise 'supernatural' is still kinda natural but beyond accepted theories about nature - ventures into the spiirtual and mystical - but still natural.
Its totally obvious to me no one can know who is really right here.

Until there is a good theory...all we have is description and experience. But what causes experience? If not the brain, what?

Right, consciousness. All that exists is experience within consciousness. Than when we die, we die. That is just an historical system we are contacting. Consciousness lives on but we do not organize it. I think that is the key takeaway. Something else organizes our minds -- not us. We make decisions, it seems, but we do not determine the outcome. Something else does.
 
#28
Its totally obvious to me no one can know who is really right here.

Until there is a good theory...all we have is description and experience. But what causes experience? If not the brain, what?
Well as you know, the problem with saying that the that the brain causes experience, is that materialists say that as an article of faith, but then can't tell you how it works.

There was a time in my life when I was committed to the materialist view of life. I was quite fascinated by the idea that computers can be made to be conscious, but always in the back of my mind was the caveat that there was really no way those machines could be aware of anything. This problem isn't a temporary one, is goes way back into history.

The fundamental (though excusable at the time) mistake was to take matter and energy as primitive. They can't explain experience - which means they can't explain consciousness.


Right, consciousness. All that exists is experience within consciousness.
Very likely, but it is probably best not to jump to conclusions. Consciousness obviously is a fundamental component of physics.
Than when we die, we die. That is just an historical system we are contacting. Consciousness lives on but we do not organise it. I think that is the key takeaway. Something else organizes our minds -- not us. We make decisions, it seems, but we do not determine the outcome. Something else does.
I don't really follow where the organising comes in!

David
 
#29
Well as you know, the problem with saying that the that the brain causes experience, is that materialists say that as an article of faith, but then can't tell you how it works.

There was a time in my life when I was committed to the materialist view of life. I was quite fascinated by the idea that computers can be made to be conscious, but always in the back of my mind was the caveat that there was really no way those machines could be aware of anything. This problem isn't a temporary one, is goes way back into history.

The fundamental (though excusable at the time) mistake was to take matter and energy as primitive. They can't explain experience - which means they can't explain consciousness.



Very likely, but it is probably best not to jump to conclusions. Consciousness obviously is a fundamental component of physics.

I don't really follow where the organising comes in!

David
We die and what do we take with us? Our treasure presumably is our experience. But what use is that in a place like 'heaven' or whatever exists beyond this world? To exist beyond death means we must be part of a higher order process, a larger system. That system has its own ends and treats us like we treat our arms and legs.

How do we know that is true? I think we will find out.
 
#30
We die and what do we take with us? Our treasure presumably is our experience. But what use is that in a place like 'heaven' or whatever exists beyond this world? To exist beyond death means we must be part of a higher order process, a larger system. That system has its own ends and treats us like we treat our arms and legs.

How do we know that is true? I think we will find out.
I think it only makes sense to speculate so far. Think of the point when scientists began to realise that the atomic theory of matter had real consequences, and developed the kinetic theory of gasses. That was a wonderful leap forward, but just as with ideas about consciousness, that left some serious unanswered questions - notably what force hold atoms together in solids, and holds atoms linked to other atoms in the form of molecules. That is now unraveled by means of Quantum Mechanics, but QM has its own problems........

You seem convinced by dystopian visions of reality, whereas somehow I'm not!

David
 
#31
I think it only makes sense to speculate so far. Think of the point when scientists began to realise that the atomic theory of matter had real consequences, and developed the kinetic theory of gasses. That was a wonderful leap forward, but just as with ideas about consciousness, that left some serious unanswered questions - notably what force hold atoms together in solids, and holds atoms linked to other atoms in the form of molecules. That is now unraveled by means of Quantum Mechanics, but QM has its own problems........

You seem convinced by dystopian visions of reality, whereas somehow I'm not!

David
Well, it depends on whose information you trust. What I see in multiple different ways is this:

1. We are blended beings
2. The afterlife is a kind of posthuman state
3. Getting off track means pain

Sanaya says we are blended beings. That's hardly authoritative for me. But when Dr. Schwartz says the same thing in a different way, I am becoming convinced that might be correct. Obviously, how do "we" integrate our past lives? Who does the integrating. Not me, for sure. Something else. Alien.

The concept of posthumanity is only explored philosophically. The key point is this: a posthuman is a disjunction. Now, reports appear to be that we feel like more of ourselves, an enhanced version of us. But clearly, no matter how you slice it (and we do get sliced!) that is not us here.

Finally, the moral dimension of reality is not up to us. This is clear in every religion and used to its ends. Like with terrorism, or claims of the correct form of marriage and so on. Instead, we are the 'ends' our pain is the path forward through trial and error.

That last part is the dystopian part. Nothing we do is up to us and all destinations end in the same place -- the one we didn't decide here. That is a dystopia to me.
 
#32
Karl Jansen also once stated the following...

“After 12 years of studying ketamine, I now believe that there most definitely is a soul that is independent of experience. It exists when we begin, and may persist when we end. Ketamine is a door to a place we cannot normally get to; it is definitely not evidence that such a place does not exist.”

Jansen, Karl. (1997). Response to Commentaries on “The Ketamine Model of the Near-Death Experience.” Journal of Near-Death Studies. 16, 79-95.
Karl Jansen's book Ketamine: Dreams and Realities is available on Kindle Unlimited so I took a look at it. He gives evidence that ketamine can produce NDEs including accounts from someone who experienced both.

The paranormal aspects of NDEs (veridical NDE's, shared NDE's) are definitive. If there is a substance that can loose the soul from the body it does not contradict the evidence that NDEs are prarnormal

However, I have read that Ketamine trips are not like NDE's, but maybe those studies are out of date, so I am wondering if anyone knows of any current studies that show differences between Ketamine trips and NDE's or if there are any researchers who dispute Jansen's claims. Is Jansen generally correct or is he pushing a few rare cases to argue something the totality of the evidence does not support?
 
#33
Karl Jansen's book Ketamine: Dreams and Realities is available on Kindle Unlimited so I took a look at it. He gives evidence that ketamine can produce NDEs including accounts from someone who experienced both.

The paranormal aspects of NDEs (veridical NDE's, shared NDE's) are definitive. If there is a substance that can loose the soul from the body it does not contradict the evidence that NDEs are prarnormal

However, I have read that Ketamine trips are not like NDE's, but maybe those studies are out of date, so I am wondering if anyone knows of any current studies that show differences between Ketamine trips and NDE's or if there are any researchers who dispute Jansen's claims. Is Jansen generally correct or is he pushing a few rare cases to argue something the totality of the evidence does not support?
If you will Google "differences between Ketamine trips and NDEs" you'll get quite a few results.
 
#34
If you will Google "differences between Ketamine trips and NDEs" you'll get quite a few results.
I know. It returns 151,000 results and it uses a secret algorithm to decide which to show first and which to show 151,000th. Because of my past experiences with search engines, I would prefer to pose my question to people on this forum who have a conscious understanding of it rather than to a silicon machine using a secret algorithm programmed by progressive materialist atheists.

I am wondering if anyone knows of any current studies that show differences between Ketamine trips and NDE's or if there are any researchers who dispute Jansen's claims that there are none. Is Jansen generally correct or is he pushing a few rare cases to argue something the totality of the evidence does not support?
 
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#35
The paranormal aspects of NDEs (veridical NDE's, shared NDE's) are definitive. If there is a substance that can loose the soul from the body it does not contradict the evidence that NDEs are prarnormal
I agree. I can't say I am familiar enough with Jansen's work but my impression is this is also his view as well, or at least it at some point in his study.
I have read from some ketamine users that afterwards they are convinced of the reality of a spiritual existence and survival of consciousness.
Basically it is not as black and white as most people think.

However, I have read that Ketamine trips are not like NDE's, but maybe those studies are out of date, so I am wondering if anyone knows of any current studies that show differences between Ketamine trips and NDE's or if there are any researchers who dispute Jansen's claims. Is Jansen generally correct or is he pushing a few rare cases to argue something the totality of the evidence does not support?
True not all ketamine trips are like NDE's. I think the argument is that likewise not all NDE's fall into the typical defined NDE parameters.
I think there are many things to consider. There are reports in the case of accidents where the NDE experience is instantaneous, the person is abruptly ejected from the body. In these cases there is no time for the chemical interactions to induce a such a phenomena. This definitely refutes a one fits all scenario such as simple glutamate response.

I will also say that linguistic comparisons can easily give a false comparison. I have never used ketamine although I would use terms often used by NDE experiencers to describe some psychedelic experiences. This is quite common, but it is certainly not the same experience. I think this could easily be misinterpreted from an outside perspective and has been IMO.
 
#36
I know. It returns 151,000 results and it uses a secret algorithm to decide which to show first and which to show 151,000th. Because of my past experiences with search engines, I would prefer to pose my question to people on this forum who have a conscious understanding of it rather than to a silicon machine using a secret algorithm programmed by progressive materialist atheists.

I am wondering if anyone knows of any current studies that show differences between Ketamine trips and NDE's or if there are any researchers who dispute Jansen's claims that there are none. Is Jansen generally correct or is he pushing a few rare cases to argue something the totality of the evidence does not support?
Just trying to help, old bean. I rarely use use Google myself; my standard is DuckDuckGo, but I also use Startpage.com and there are others out there that might help. Compare what you get with "researchers who dispute Jansen's claims about ketamine and ndes" on DuckDuckGo and Google and I think you'll see the difference; the former seems less biased and on the first page references Michael Prescot's blog where he mentions this very issue:

Here's what Irreducible Mind has to say about ketamine (citations omitted):
Ketamine ... can at subanesthetic doses produce feelings of being out of the body. Moreover, ketamine sometimes produces other features common to NDEs, such as travel through a dark tunnel into light, believing that one has died, or communing with God.

This hypothesis, however, also has problems. First, it is not at all clear that ketamine experiences do in fact resemble NDEs. Unlike the vast majority of NDEs, ketamine experiences are often frightening and involve bizarre imagery, and patients usually express the wish not to repeat the experience. Most ketamine users also recognize the illusory character of their experience ... Many important features of NDEs, such as seeing deceased people or a revival of memories, have not been reported with ketamine. Furthermore, ketamine typically causes its effects in an otherwise more or less normal brain, while many NDEs occur under conditions in which brain function is severely compromised....

A naturally occuring ketamine-like substance has not been identified in humans ...

As Parnia and Fenwick point out, "any acute alteration in cerbral physiology such as occurring in hypoxia, hypercarbia, metabolic, and drug induced disturbances and seizures leads to disorganized and compromised cerebral function ... [and] impaired attention," whereas "NDEs in cardiac arrest are clearly not confusional and in fact indicate heightened awareness, attention and consciousness ..."
pp. 380-384​
 
#39
1. We are blended beings
2. The afterlife is a kind of posthuman state
3. Getting off track means pain
As to point 1. all sentient beings are a fusion of 'soul' and physical biology. In that sense our sense of who we are is 'blended' and this is what mystics of all traditions ask us to move away from - to the singular nature of spiritual being.

As to point 2. I would suggest that the afterlife is the actual 'human' state. We constantly define humanity in terms that are beyond the 'animal' nature of our physical bodies and relate to ideals or principles that are attributed to what we presume animals do not possess. We are wrong of course, but the conceit we call 'humanity' at least expresses a set of ideals we think we should exhibit. We are more able to be 'humane' without the distractions of animal instincts - so being 'dead' makes us more human.

As tom point 3. yes. Sinning means to 'miss the mark' - to go off track. That's a moral claim that differs from the Buddhist notion of suffering - unless you agree being incarnate in physical being is wrong. There are a lot of mystical teachings that assert this. I do not agree. Physical being might be crap but its not wrong.
 
#40
A little more looking reveals that there are differences between S - ketamine and R - ketamine. Apparently there are no psychedelic effects with S- ketamine. It is a different isomer, that is it has the same chemical formula but a different chemical structure. (more support for quantum cognition?). So my question is If both block NMDA receptors, which is the hypothesis, where one produces psychedelic effects and the other does not then it is not merely the binding and blocking of these receptors that is responsible for the effects. If correct, how does the theory stand in light of this? This may be a far too simplistic question given the complex pharmacology involved. However this in itself points to the simplicity of the hypothesis.

Also to highlight some of the major differences in experience that appear to contradict the hypothesis.

Megalomania.
Dissociation from emotion.
Thought disorder.
Cognition fragmented.
Vigilance reduction.
Impaired learning and attention.
Mnestic disturbances (amnesia). Impaired memory.
More a feeling of floating than out of body. (in opinion of Torsten Passie)
Clouding of consciousness.
Scenic imagery rare.
Insightfulness low.

The much more ordered religious type experiences are quite rare and usually occur on the tail end of the experience. This seems to be a weak and unproductive psychedelic experiences (racemate ketamine) let alone a profoundly life changing one. Although it may have some value in treating some mental conditions. It certainly is a far cry from the life changing effects of a NDE.

Personally I think you really have to be very far reaching and selective in order to draw comparisons to the experiences. For the most part much is in complete contradiction.
 
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