Wednesday, April 25, 2012


On 21 April 2012, at Salon, there is an article by MARIO BEAUREGARD on Near Death and out-of-body experiences, adapted from the new book "Brain Wars", from Harper One.

Near death, explained - Neuroscience -

Mario Beauregard is associate research professor at the Departments of Psychology and Radiology and the Neuroscience Research Center at the University of Montreal.
According to the article in Salon:
1. Surveys conducted in the United States and Germany suggest that approximately 4.2 percent of the population have reported a Near Death Experience.
2. During these experiences, 'people retain consciousness, perception, lucid thinking, memory, emotions, and their sense of personal identity'. 
'Thinking is vivid; hearing is sharp; and vision can extend to 360 degrees'. 
Without physical bodies, people are able to move through walls and doors and project themselves wherever they want. 
They frequently report the ability to read people's thoughts.

3. Research in the United States, European and Australia has shown that most people are deeply and positively transformed by the experience. 
One woman says, "I was completely altered after the accident. I was another person, according to those who lived near me. I was happy, laughing, appreciated little things, joked, smiled a lot, became friends with everyone … so completely different than I was before!"
4. During the last few decades, some self-reports of Near Death Experiences have been independently corroborated by witnesses.
Maria's case was documented by her critical care social worker, Kimberly Clark.
Maria told Clark that during her near death experience she found herself outside the hospital and spotted a tennis shoe on the ledge of the north side of the third floor of the building. 
Clark went to the location described by Maria - and found the tennis shoe. 
5. Studies conducted in the Netherlands, United Kingdom, and United States have revealed that approximately 15 percent of cardiac arrest survivors do report some recollection from the time when they were clinically dead. 
These studies indicate that consciousness, perceptions, thoughts, and feelings can be experienced during a period when the brain shows no measurable activity.

6. In 1994, researchers Kenneth Ring and Sharon Cooper researched cases of Near Death Experience and Out Of Body Experience in the blind. 
The blind were able to see, while out of their bodies.
7. British psychologist Susan Blackmore has put forward the 'dying brain' hypothesis: that a lack of oxygen (or anoxia) during the dying process might induce odd experiences.
But, as pointed out by researcher Sam Parnia, some individuals have reported out of body experiences when they had not been ill and so would have had normal levels of oxygen in their brains.
Medical observations indicate that patients with low oxygen levels do not report seeing a light, a tunnel, or any other such features.
8. "After physical death, mind and consciousness may continue in a transcendent level of reality that normally is not accessible to our senses and awareness." 
Mario Beauregard is associate research professor at the Departments of Psychology and Radiology and the Neuroscience Research Center at the University of Montreal. He is the coauthor of "The Spiritual Brain" and more than one hundred publications in neuroscience, psychology and psychiatry.


Anonymous said...

I find Susan Blackmore's anoxia hypothesis interesting.

As this is a canonical example of what ideological scientists generally do nowadays. They will fit an utterly inadequate set of observations into a preconceived theory and worldview. Round peg, square hole.

Even worse, their views are increasingly warped by the money of megacorporates. What is the comparative return on equity of the truth versus lies?

Richard Feynman nicely described this phenomenon, minus money, when he recounted the history of the measurement of electron charge using Millikan's oil drop experiment. Scientists often fear reality and the truth; safer to be one of the mob, certainly safer for an uninspired but well-paid career.

Those engaged in scientific groupthink have this in common:

They look but do not see. They listen but do not hear.

In short, they seek to fulfill standard expectations rather than to passively observe the world as much as possible and formulate their models from that.

Moreover, they should be actively seeking strange phenomena that violate received notions of reality.

Passive observation, pure empiricism, rather than judgmental preconception requires humility.

Moreover, only through humble observation can you appreciate the intense beauty of the world.

This is something young children excel at. In their innocence, they merely apprehend the world, without interpretation constrained by preconceived notions.

Mostly scientists find technically plausible "the Singularity is near". But even Nick Bostrom is doubtless uncomfortable with "the Singularity already happened a long, long time ago and we're in it".

An understandable failure of the imagination.

Well, not that understandable given that the natural world in all its glory, from stellar nucleosynthesis to the informatics of molecular biology, is more bizarre, overwhelmingly awesome and blindingly beautiful than any science fiction hypothesis.

Of course, "the Singularity" is just a certain way of looking at it. Ultimately, the knowledge of the inhabitants of a simulacrum is limited to what they can observe within their own world. Although they may reasonably surmise that mathematics is true in all possible worlds.

Once you accept the truth that minds and worlds are simulable and synthesizable, it is not a stretch to consider the monistic idea that a Supreme Mind is the bedrock of all reality.

There is nothing inevitable about our world. Our souls could just as easily be dropped into robots in a world where we inhabit a machine planet with an internally consistent and entirely plausible "creation story", involving say a digital automata Big Bang. The story may be theistic or not. The world may have its own religions, its own robot Abrahams, Buddhas and Dawkinses. The robots could even have their own notions of "informational correlates of consciousness".

By the spiritual and non-materialist view, we are not prisoners of the molecules that we perceive to comprise us.

We are not prisoners of this world.

These ideas may seem outlandish and unpalatable.

But it will all be obvious in retrospect.

Painfully obvious.

"Diet. Climate. Environment. Accident. Surgery. The stars. God."

Anon said...

Many thanks for the detailed comment.

- Aangirfan

Anonymous said...

Oops... One correction:

By "digital automata", I meant "cellular automata".

Anonymous said...

That was a beautiful comment.
Thank you Anon.


Franz said...

Anthony Peake has a cult following about this very subject.

Easy way to check his stuff out is at his forum:

Anon said...

Many thanks for all the comments.

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