Do Near-Death Experiences Prove the Soul Exists?

“A qualitative and quantitative study of the incidence, features, and aetiology of near death experiences in cardiac arrest survivors.” Resuscitation 48 (2001): 149-156.

In my most recent post on Case for a Creator, I mentioned that Lee Strobel referenced a February 2001 paper which allegedly provided proof that people had conscious experiences during the time that their brains were not functioning. I have a copy of that paper now, thanks to several helpful readers, so in this post I’m going to dissect it.

The principal researcher, Sam Parnia, carried out a study in which he interviewed all survivors of cardiac arrest at his hospital over one year, asking them if they had any memories and, if so, to describe what they experienced. There were 63 such people over the course of the study. Here’s the first important point: the vast majority of those who were revived from cardiac arrest had no memories or experiences of any kind:

During the 1 year period 63 patients survived and were interviewed. Of those, 56 (88.8%) had no memory recall of their period of unconsciousness; the remaining seven survivors (11.1%) had some memory.

Only seven people had any memories at all, and only four of those had enough of the “classic” NDE elements (feelings of bliss and peace, seeing a bright light, the sensation of traveling through a tunnel or entering some other world) for Parnia to classify them as such. The other three had only vague hallucinations (one reported a sense of peace but no other elements, one reported seeing deceased relatives but with no other accompanying experiences, and one just saw “some unknown people jumping off a mountain”). This is difficult to explain under theistic assumptions. If everyone has a soul, shouldn’t everyone who suffers cardiac arrest have an NDE?

There’s also this part, which must have made Strobel decidedly uncomfortable if he read the actual paper:

All the NDE group were Christians. However, none of them described themselves as practising members and nor did they see a figure during their NDE specifically related to Christianity. One of the four also described himself as a Pagan. [According to a table later in the paper, three described themselves as non-practicing Anglican, while one identified as non-practicing Catholic and pagan. —Ebonmuse]

How is it that non-practicing Christians – one who described himself as a pagan, no less – had the same blissful hallucinations that are the most common kind of NDE? If Strobel’s born-again beliefs are true, shouldn’t these people have had only the frightening, “hellish” NDEs that are sometimes reported?

Again, please note that every conclusion in this study is inferred on the basis of just four people’s experiences. This is hardly enough to draw any kind of firm conclusion, and Parnia and his co-authors say so themselves:

In this study possible physiological causative factors could not be investigated adequately in view of the relatively small number in the study (NDE) group. Nevertheless it was interesting that patients in the study group had higher oxygen levels than those in the control group. This may simply be a skewed result due to the low patient numbers. Alternatively it may indicate that patients who had NDEs had better oxygenation during the resuscitation, allowing better cortical function…. However, it would be unwise, with such small numbers, to draw any significant conclusion from this finding.

Strobel, meanwhile, inflates this noncommittal, tentative statement into a clangingly unequivocal conclusion:

“About ten percent reported having well-structured, lucid thought processes, with memory formation and reasoning, during the time that their brains were not functioning. The effects of oxygen starvation or drugs – objections commonly offered by skeptics – were ruled out as factors.” [The Case for a Creator, p.251]

Not only is this a ridiculous exaggeration of what the study claims, it’s also factually inaccurate. Parnia says only that “all patients followed a standard resuscitation protocol”, which includes the administering of emergency drugs. He says nothing about whether these could or couldn’t contribute to an NDE. As for oxygen starvation, of course patients with cardiac arrest experience oxygen starvation! That’s what happens when your heart stops. What Parnia says, and what Strobel misunderstands, is that patients who had NDEs had higher blood oxygenation levels while they were being resuscitated, compared to those who had no such experiences. And even though the small numbers don’t allow for robust conclusions, this is a very suggestive detail. It raises the possibility that NDEs are the result of neural activity starting up again in the brain as it’s being revived.

Despite their small sample size, Parnia and his co-authors do argue that NDEs happen while the brain is unconscious, not at the onset of unconsciousness or during the process of revival. Here’s how they defend that conclusion:

An alternative explanation would be that the observed experiences arise during the loss of, or on regaining, consciousness. However, it is unlikely that the NDE arises either when the cortical modules are failing, that is, during the process of becoming unconscious, or when the cortical modules are coming back on line, that is, when consciousness is returning… The EEG data during fainting shows a gradual slowing of the cerebral rhythms with the appearance of delta activity before finally, in a minority of cases, the EEG becomes flat. In the case of cardiac arrest, the process is accelerated, with the EEG showing changes within a few seconds. The transition from consciousness to unconsciousness is thus rapid, appearing immediate to the subjects.

So, their argument is that people suffering cardiac arrest become unconscious too quickly for the entire NDE to take place during that time. But that’s a weak argument: We know of drugs that can skew the sense of time, and Parnia himself points out that one of the elements of a classic NDE is a sense that “time [has] speeded up”. Why is it not possible that a few seconds of activity in a dying brain can produce experiences which subjectively seem much longer when the person is later revived?

Even if the unconscious brain is flooded by neurotransmitters this should not produce clear, lucid remembered experiences, as those cerebral modules which generate conscious experience and underpin memory are impaired by cerebral anoxia… Experiences which occur during the recovery of consciousness are confusional, which these were not.

Now hold on, there – Parnia is treating this claim as a matter of fact, when clearly it’s a matter of opinion. The classic NDE isn’t dreamlike or confusional? The feeling that a person has left their body, is entering a mystical realm, and encounters religious figures and deceased relatives? I think an atheist would reply that that’s as hallucinatory and dreamlike an experience as you could hope to get.

Furthermore, Parnia’s very small sample size may have caused him to overlook the fact that many NDEs which otherwise conform to the standard definition have unambiguously hallucinatory elements. Keith Augustine’s essay on the Secular Web, which surveys reports of NDEs, has many examples: people who saw living friends and relatives in the afterlife, people who met talking animals or fictional characters, and in one amusing case, a winged centaur Jesus. Even Parnia’s study had one case that he dismissed as merely confusional in nature, a man who saw “some unknown people jumping off a mountain” – but the only reason he dismissed it is that it didn’t fit the classic NDE description, even though the man went through a cardiac arrest and revival the same as his other subjects.

And how do we know that his NDE subjects didn’t omit dreamlike elements when telling him their stories? Parnia and his co-authors say they didn’t prompt their subjects with leading questions, but the possibility can’t be overlooked that people who are familiar with NDEs from pop culture prune the discordant elements from their story to make their experience more of a coherent narrative, making it sound more like the way they thought it “should” be.

In sum, Parnia’s study, despite Strobel’s overblown and grandiose assertions, doesn’t prove anything about the timing of NDEs or demonstrate that they occur while the brain is nonfunctional. The only conclusive way to prove that they result from the soul leaving the body would be for people in such a state to gain information they couldn’t have accessed through ordinary methods – but as I said earlier, aside from unverifiable hearsay and anecdotes, this never happens. Every careful, controlled experiment set up to prove this has turned up empty.

About Adam Lee

Adam Lee is an atheist writer and speaker living in New York City. His new novel, Broken Ring, is available in paperback and e-book. Read his full bio, or follow him on Twitter.

  • Lion IRC

    So…

    Anecdotal evidence is out.

    Aspects and details of the afterlife need to be consistent in order to qualify.

    Simply “calling” yourself a Christian isnt worth much more than being a pagan.

    Drugs complicate things.

    11% of any number of clinically dead / brain dead people reporting discarnate conscious awareness apparently isnt newsworthy.

    OK – got IT

    Thanks

    Lion (IRC)

  • Reginald Selkirk

    How soon after the experience did Parnia interview the patients? It couldn’t be right away, because they would be in intensive care. The longer the wait, the more chance for the patients to do some retrofitting of their experience to their expectations.

  • Karen

    Today’s NY Times has a long story about hallucinatory episodes in people who are hospitalized, particularly the elderly. These are very common and often caused by medication reactions – which may factor into NDEs as well, I’d imagine.

    However, someone’s description of an NDE is nearly impossible to refute. My book club discussed Mary Roach’s “Spook” about the afterlife, and one member recounted her NDE. That was enough to stop all discussion of scientific inquiry, empirical information, etc.

    This woman said, “I saw a bright light and felt such unbelievable peace and serenity that it got me through the next eight months” (during which she was seriously ill).

    How can you bring up scientific studies after that? This is what religion has on us: The power of a “personal testimony” is irresistible to the human brain, even if it’s often wrong or misleading at best.

  • http://she-who-chatters.blogspot.com D

    Great post! There’s nothing quite like seeing a religiot’s claim to truth get undermined by a sober consideration of the source.

    I recall hearing about an experiment done by putting people in a centrifuge (like they use for astronaut training) and ramping up the Gs to induce a blackout. Subject recollections of the experience were remarkably similar to those of patients describing NDEs. To all appearances, it looks like the brain simply puts on a fireworks display when it’s on its way out.

  • roscomac

    Wouldn’t a “real” NDE indicate a glitch in God’s system? That an individual could begin to experience death/loss of soul before the person was actually dying? Wouldn’t God know when the person was going to die, making the term “near-death” meaningless?

  • DSimon

    This woman said, “I saw a bright light and felt such unbelievable peace and serenity that it got me through the next eight months” (during which she was seriously ill).

    How can you bring up scientific studies after that?

    One conversational tactic to use in this instance is to point out that, according to the science, it was purely her own effort that got her through that tough time. She didn’t need spiritual help.

  • Joffan

    Although, DSimon, don’t forget that the placebo effect is real. Her belief that she was getting some spiritual support may well have materially improved her recovery.

    I hope we find a way to use the mechanism of the placebo effect some time…

  • Peter N

    “I hope we find a way to use the mechanism of the placebo effect some time…”

    Ebon, there’s a great topic for one or your thoughtful science essays. I’ve heard everything from “if only we could harness the power of ‘the mysterious placebo effect’, we could do away with drugs and surgery”, through “the placebo effect works by materialistic means, with the brain triggering the the release of endorphins, thus reducing stress hormones and facilitating healing”, all the way to “there is no physical ‘placebo effect’ at all — it’s just that the patient’s subjective assessment of her/his symptoms is skewed by the expectation of the efficacy of a therapy’.

  • http://www.skepticaloccultism.com pendens proditor

    “I hope we find a way to use the mechanism of the placebo effect some time…”

    Isn’t this basically what hypnosis is? Though hypnosis isn’t the magical tool that alt-med practitioners claim it to be, placebos work via the power of suggestion and hypnosis is a way of deliberately planting suggestions. Results vary, of course, given the individual’s suggestibility. We skeptics may be out of luck.

  • colluvial

    Why is it not possible that a few seconds of activity in a dying brain can produce experiences which subjectively seem much longer when the person is later revived?

    And might it also be possible that activity in a dying brain is later interpreted as a memory of an actual experience?

  • Lion IRC

    The afterlife as a placebo effect!

    WOW. What a great theory.

    Discarnate conscious awareness as a function of will power.

    The “ne plus ultra” of mind over matter.

    Conscious awareness as pure quantum weirdness defying “matter” and existing as energy.

    What next? Souls passing through worm holes and disappearing into a different dimension? Higher Beings traveling from those places and becoming incarnate?

    Spine tingling.

    Lion (IRC)

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org Ebonmuse

    If anyone has the slightest idea what commenter #11 is talking about, please do let me know.

    And might it also be possible that activity in a dying brain is later interpreted as a memory of an actual experience?

    That’s an excellent suggestion, colluvial, and it gives me an idea that might even be testable. Parnia and his coauthors debate whether NDEs occur while the brain is dying or while it’s being revived, but my hypothesis is: it’s both.

    Specifically, I’m theorizing that the shock of oxygen starvation causes a storm of nerve firing in the brain, in all kinds of different regions. As Parnia’s study says, this process only takes a few seconds before unconsciousness sets in, and probably doesn’t produce much in the way of conscious experience by itself.

    But then the person is revived, and the brain comes back online as the heart starts beating again. And when that happens, I theorize that those last neural firings from before the arrest are still present in the “buffer” of short-term memory. (We have reason to believe that memories are somehow encoded in the connections between nerves, which get reinforced when signals are repeatedly transmitted between them – so the neural firing before a cardiac arrest may produce a temporary reinforcement by the same mechanism.)

    We already know that the brain is very good at blending a slurry of sensory perceptions into a unified conscious experience: when you perceive a dog, you don’t see the color of its coat, see the motion of its tail, smell the aroma of its fur, and hear its barking as unrelated experiences, but as different aspects of a single object. So, it’s possible that the same thing happens here: as the brain reboots, it finds these scattered memory buffers, these temporary patterns of neural reinforcement resulting from frantic, random firing in many different parts of the brain. It blends these together, interprets them as a single continuous experience, and there’s your NDE.

    This hypothesis has the virtue that it also explains why some NDEs lack various parts of the classic definition: a person who only sees a bright light, for example, or only experiences a sense of bliss, or only has hallucinations of dead relatives. This happens because the neural traces in other regions of the brain weren’t strong enough, didn’t last long enough, to be picked up and blended into the NDE experience to supply those missing parts.

    This hypothesis also predicts that the longer a person is clinically dead, the less likely they are to have an NDE, since these temporary patterns are more likely to become fragmented and erased the longer the brain isn’t functioning. By contrast, you could argue that the dualist explanation predicts that NDEs are more likely the longer a person is dead before being revived.

  • John Nernoff

    I wonder why the placebo effect is not tested in cases of acute appendicitis with rupture and peritonitis, automobile accidents with real compound fractures and acute massive blood loss, and excruciatingly painful sport injuries such as torn ligaments or shoulder dislocations or achilles heel tendon ruptures? What about homeopathic remedies in such cases. Prayer to Jesus? Charm bracelets and rabbits feet? I can’t wait for the controlled studies to be published and the Vatican and Lee Strobel to comment.

  • Eurekus

    I have to ask this question, the subject does point the finger at my atheism.

    If anyone thinks I’m being irrational in asking this question just tell me staight, at least then I’ll know I’m ready for the insane asylum, ha ha ha.

    What do you think about the late Dr Ian Stevenson? I’ve briefly read about his work on trying to prove reincarnation. From what I have read, his methods were more convincing than most.

  • 2-D Man

    If anyone has the slightest idea what commenter #11 is talking about, please do let me know.

    I speak a bit of troll and I think it’s suggesting that more than 89% of humans are incapable of misremembering things for emotional reasons.

    Also, Lion said,

    11% of any number of clinically dead / brain dead people reporting discarnate conscious awareness apparently isnt newsworthy.

    Whoa, kiddo! Slow down here. No one’s saying it’s not newsworthy, Ebon’s just pointed out that this isn’t good evidence of the soul.

    Lastly,

    I hope we find a way to use the mechanism of the placebo effect some time…

    AFAIK, this is could be done. According to Wikipedia:

    Injection and acupuncture have larger [placebo] effect than pills.

    So give a medication in the form of a pill, you get the medication effect and a placebo effect. Give the same medication in the form of an injection, you get the medication effect and a larger placebo effect.

    One more: Eurekus, the Council of Athe has determined that you are no longer an atheist! Please hand over your EAC membership card and handbook at your earliest convenience.

  • Eurekus

    Damn, now I’ve done it. You were dismissive, but I can dig it. I’ll shut up now.

  • 2-D Man

    Rats, I was going for facetious, not dismissive.

    I read a little bit about the doctor, but not enough to know one way or the other of whether or not his research was any good. At this stage I’d go with ‘probably not good’ since there doesn’t seem to be any way of reproducing his results, but not having seen any of the actual research, I’m being a bit harsh. I’ll have to do more digging before I can go any further. In the meantime, do you have any links to his most convincing case studies?

  • John

    A little over ten years ago, I had a heart attack though I do not think I ever experienced cardiac arrest. I have a very clear memory of being in the operating room. I remember voices discussing stents and they seemed to be having trouble finding the size that they wanted. I felt some discomfort as something pressing on my head and I opened my eyes. I might have started to move as the doctors/nurses seemed to get a bit excited as they noticed I was awake. The object that was annoying me was moved. There were monitors some of which showed snake/worm like patterns on them that I interpret as displaying my veins/arteries. Several people were in the room wearing green uniforms and masks. Within probably seconds, I lost conscious again.

    A couple years ago I had a bypass. I remember nothing about the process after being placed on the operating table until I woke up in my room. My wife told me of a pretty scary part where I was waking up and tore out of the restraints they had on my arms. I then removed the tubes they had going down my throat/up my nose. It caused quite a ruckus. I have no memory of this at all.

    So what’s the point? Lot’s of shit can go down when someone is being operated on. I think both of these things probably happened, but if I had to choose one, I’d have to say it was the second even though I have no recollection of it at all. The only reason the first one seems believable is that there was nothing in my memory of that incident seems out of the ordinary other than the fact that I woke up. Though if it didn’t happen, then it would be anecdotal evidence of “memories” during surgery that seem very real.

  • Mrnaglfar

    I remember hearing before that NDEs are not always experienced by people actually ND. I think this is basically the gist of what little I’ve heard about it:

    However, NDEs are not always related to death (despite the ‘D’ in NDE).

    For example, the training of combat fighter pilots can involve high G forces in a centrifuge, which sends the blood away from the brain to the feet, leading to unconsciousness. The typical pathway involves a greying of the vision, followed by total blackout and vivid dreams.

    Some 20 per cent of pilots who blackout in this centrifuge training report classic NDEs, with the out-of-body experience. And to further separate the NDE from death, in hospital situations where patients report an NDE, some 50 per cent of them would have survived without any medical intervention.

    Source: http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2007/03/08/1866095.htm

  • Lion IRC

    I wonder what the actual percentage is for people who are NOT resuscitated.

    How many have the experience of enduring consciousness and how many don’t?

    Kerry Packer, a one-time media magnate and former atheist had an after death experience.

    He described it as feeling like “nothingness”. He reportedly said…’there’s (expletive deleted) nothing”

    At least we know what one atheist felt in the afterlife even if only temporarily. Of course he had a second afterlife experience but sadly it was one which made him a “former atheist” on a much more permanent basis.

    Oh well. Maybe that’s what he wished for. Or maybe, from where he was looking he couldn’t see anything on the other side of that “eye of the needle”.

    Lion (IRC)

  • Reginald Selkirk
  • http://www.whyihatejesus.blogspot.com/ OMGF

    Kerry Packer, a one-time media magnate and former atheist had an after death experience.

    He described it as feeling like “nothingness”. He reportedly said…’there’s (expletive deleted) nothing”

    He also famously said that the good news is there’s no devil, but the bad news is there’s no heaven. Sounds like he was still an atheist.

    Of course he had a second afterlife experience but sadly it was one which made him a “former atheist” on a much more permanent basis.

    Says you. Where’s your evidence for an afterlife?

  • bbk

    NDE’s seem to me like a bunch of null pointers getting dereferenced all at once and formatting someone’s hard drive. So to speak. It seems to me that a few seconds of random writes to short term memory could then take hours for an individual to re-interpret after they have been revived. The brain probably doesn’t have very well-defined shut-down routines to write “oxygen critical… powering off” on the back of someone’s eyelids. I wouldn’t even call this a hallucination because a hallucination is something that can be consciously experienced in real time as some agent is messing up cognitive function. This is more like a memory of a hallucination that was never actually experienced.

    I have blacked out several times while practicing choke holds during my combat training and during Judo practice. Trying to get out of a good hold, I forgot to tap out a couple times because I was already starting to experience that euphoric “peaceful” sensation. I was not in danger of dying, I just blacked out for a second or two. Lots of other people experience this as well and I have never heard a single one of them claiming that they had a NDE. I’m pretty sure that the same sensations can be readily reproduced by sucking on an aerosol can. So it seems that the only qualitative difference between a common experience in sports and a dangerous way of getting a quick high is that NDE’s involve people who suffered through a traumatic experience that scared the living daylights out of them. I would love to see a study that correlates the occurrence of NDE’s with a person’s susceptibility to PTSD.

  • http://she-who-chatters.blogspot.com D

    Ebonmuse, I think your hypothesis in #12 is an excellent one, mainly because it incorporates both of the most obvious sources for NDE content (such as it is). I can’t remember where I read this, but I am reminded of some time in the last couple days, someone mentioned a Donald Hebb quote. When asked whether nature or nurture is more responsible for a human’s personality, he responded by asking whether length or width is more responsible for the area of a rectangle. (Apologies if it was someone here, but I can’t even remember what the discussion was about.)

    Let me see if I can translate #11:

    The totally legitimate afterlife, in which I believe, as a placebo effect! You dismissive twits.

    WOW, feigned shock. What a great theory opportunity for sarcasm.

    Discarnate conscious awareness as a function of will power. You think pure willpower can propel you into the hereafter, huh? That doesn’t explain the discarnate consciousness right in front of your eyes!

    The “ne plus ultra” of mind over matter. If only you’d admit that souls exist, this would be way easier on your ontology.

    Conscious awareness as pure quantum weirdness defying “matter” and existing as energy. I mean, how else could you explain your ridiculous idea of people having experiences while clinically dead? Please ignore my presupposition that these experiences have any connection to external reality, as well as my ignorance of the scales at which quantum weirdness may be meaningfully discussed.

    What next? There are so many things that could be possible with my misunderstanding of your proposed explanation. For example, [s]ouls passing through worm holes and disappearing into a different dimension? Because I think “dimensions” are whole new places and not just different aspects of the same physical reality we currently inhabit. Higher Beings traveling from those places and becoming incarnate? ANUNNAKI! ANUNNAKI!

    Spine tingling. The possibilities are endless when you don’t know what you’re talking about!

    Does that clarify it enough for you, Ebon?

  • Mrnaglfar

    I can’t remember where I read this, but I am reminded of some time in the last couple days, someone mentioned a Donald Hebb quote. When asked whether nature or nurture is more responsible for a human’s personality, he responded by asking whether length or width is more responsible for the area of a rectangle.

    If the area of a rectangle is, let’s say, 100 square inches, and width happens to be 50 inches and the length is 2 inches, you can’t really conclude that both are equally important for the area. If you change the width by 1, say to 51, the area then becomes 102 square inches, whereas if you change the length by one, say to 3, the area then becomes 150.

    The analogy holds in that to have an area you need both length and width, but it does not in the sense that size of that area is not dictated equally by the two sides.

  • Joffan

    John Nernoff #13

    I wonder why the placebo effect is not tested in cases of acute appendicitis with rupture and peritonitis, automobile accidents with real compound fractures and acute massive blood loss, and excruciatingly painful sport injuries such as torn ligaments or shoulder dislocations or achilles heel tendon ruptures?

    You appear to be dismissing the well-documented evidence of the placebo effect. It will not replace surgery (and neither will analgesics or antidepressants or blood-thinners or…) but if we know how it works, the mechanism behind the placebo effect could potentially replace or enhance many existing drug treatments. Indeed by the choice of drug form and delivery (2-D Man #15) we do to some extent use the placebo effect, but only by “riding” on it rather than understanding how it works.

  • http://she-who-chatters.blogspot.com D

    @Mrnaglfar (#25): Well, yeah, every analogy breaks down at some point. And sure, nature and nurture offer different contributions to an individual’s personality. But I think Hebb’s point is that the exact difference in contribution is unimportant next to the necessity of both components. I.E., you can’t have area without both length and width, and you can’t have personality without both genes and environment, the way in which you acknowledge the analogy holds.

    I do want to talk math, though, just for funsies. See, you propose an absolute change in magnitude between the two dimensions, but what makes you think that changing one aspect or the other by a fixed amount should be what we’re comparing? What about changing relative amounts? If we reduce width by 50% (from 50 to 25), we get the same area as if we had reduced the length by 50% (from 2 to 1). This method works when we consider calculating areas under curves in which the two dimensions cannot be directly compared. For example, consider eating fifty candy bars per hour for two hours: eating one less candy bar per hour for the same time interval is not the same as eating for one less hour at that rate, but reducing time spent eating or candy bars eaten per hour by the same proportion will work, given a constant rate of consumption. Since there is no clear way to make absolute comparisons between genes and environment, I think that talking in relative terms will be more useful here. Now, if we apply this to a fifteen-year-old, we can see that removing half of the subject’s genes (say, those located on the left side of the body) will clearly result in death. Similarly, reducing the time the subject has an environment (say, by placing the subject in absolute vacuum for 7.5 years) will have the same result of subject death. Clearly, this is the interpretation we ought to adopt.

    I think I’ve got the start of a paper for the Journal of Irreproducible Results!

  • http://www.croonersunlimited.com Jim Speiser

    I vaguely remember a Susan-somebody publishing a paper in The Skeptical Inquirer on the subject of NDEs. (Matter of fact I recall meeting her later at a CSICOP conference, and coming very close to asking her out to dinner…then some tall Nordic-looking professorial type with John Lennon glasses swooped in and beat me to it…) Anyway, her study led her to propose that the “bright light” was the brain simultaneously fading out and trying desperately to “pull in” whatever sensory input is available. The most prominent such input would be from the optic nerve. She compared it to old-style tube TV sets (way before your time, Ebon) that when turned off, would squeeze down to a single bright dot on the screen that would linger for a second or two before finally winking off.

    I also recall that her talk at the CSICOP conference was a desperate plea to the gathered skeptics NOT to take her work as complete invalidation of the NDE as a viable subject for scrutiny.

    Interesting lady. I shouldn’t have hesitated.

    @BBK: So NDE’s are the “Blue Screen of Death” of death?

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org Ebonmuse

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