Is the afterlife full of fluffy clouds and angels?

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What does the neuroscientist Colin Blakemore make of an American neurosurgeon’s account of the afterlife?


Have you ever noticed that more people come back from Heaven than from Hell? We have all read those astonishing reports of near-death experiences (NDEs, as the aficionados call them) – the things that people say have happened to them when they almost, but don’t quite, shuffle off the coil.

They are nearly always pleasant and deeply reassuring in a saccharin-soaked way. Lots of spinning down warm, dark tunnels to the sound of celestial music; lots of trips along country lanes lined with hedges, towards the light of a welcoming cottage at the end of the road; lots of tumbling down Alice-in-Wonderland rabbit holes, but without the damaging effects of gravity.

True, Dr Maurice S Rawlings Jr, MD, heart surgeon in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and author of To Hell and Back, did have patients who reported very nasty NDEs after they came back on his operating table. Booming noises; licking flames and all that Mephistophelian stuff. But perhaps that tells us more about the challenges of living in Chattanooga, Tennessee, than about the metaphysics of life after death.

Predictably, the amazingly consistent, remarkably heaven-like experiences recounted by the majority of NDE-ers (yes, that really is what the experts call them) have been summarily dismissed by materialist sceptics – like me. Of course the brain does funny things when it’s running out of oxygen. The odd perceptions are just the consequences of confused activity in the temporal lobes.

But NDEs have taken on a new cloak of respectability with a book by a Harvard doctor. Proof of Heaven, by Eben Alexander, will make your toes wiggle or curl, depending on your prejudices. What’s special about his account of being dead is that he’s a neurosurgeon. At least that’s what the publicity is telling us. It’s a cover story in Newsweek magazine, with a screaming headline: “Heaven is Real: a doctor’s account of the afterlife”.

Written By: Colin Blakemore
continue to source article at telegraph.co.uk

58 COMMENTS

  1. Two initial thoughts:

    1. I think it’s telling that Dr. Alexander is a neurosurgeon and not a neuroscientist.  Just because he knows how to operate on the brain doesn’t mean he actually understands how it works.

    2. Has anybody considered the possibility that, rather than simply misinterpreting his experiences, he is blatantly lying?  It wouldn’t be the first time that a “faith promoting story” was fabricated out of whole cloth.  I think they call that “lying for Jesus”…

  2. If people of all religions and none have similar NDEs, doesn’t that suggest that those religions are all wrong? They can’t all be right, since they contradict each other on so many matters, and many think that non-adherents to their religion automatically go to hell.

  3. Think of the book royalties! 
    All those impressionable semi-literate sheeples who REEEEEEALLLY want to believe this!

    Does anyone know what pre-meds he had in addition to oxygen deprivation?

  4. I have had many such experiences with my personal god His Holiness the Flying Spaghetti Monster(marinara sauce be upon him).Usually after several glasses of good red wine I slip away into this wonderful afterlife of pasta,bolognese and parmesan.A warm feeling spreads across my chest as he works his magic, at this point I usually wake up to find spaghetti bolognese all down my shirt! Mystical man, mystical!

  5. So far, none of these heavenly out-of-body experiences can be differentiated from the material effects of stressed or dying nerve cells. How about some evidence? How about if we put a license plate face up on the top shelf of the operating room, and when their soul hovers above the operating table near the ceiling  they can look over at the license plate number and tell me what it is when they come back.

  6. I’ve read the Newsweek article and the guy sure tries to sell himself as a scientist, even though there is a big difference between neurosurgeon and neuroscientist.  If he truly were a scientist he would not refer to his NDE as “proof”. 

    It will be interesting to see how the evangelicals react since this tale undermines their belief that the only way to heaven is through Jesus.

  7. Strange how the good doctor, being a Christian, didn’t experience the Valhalla banqueting hall of the Viking heaven, nor the happy hunting ground of the native north Americans? No it had to be angels and clouds!

    Very strange indeed!

  8. faith promoting story

    A few years ago there was much ado concerning a book based on a 4 year olds “NDE”.
    His father, a pastor, wrote down everything the kid supposedly said.
    Media, book buyers, and their dogs all fell in love with this feel good story. After all, a cute 4 year old wouldn’t lie!(?)

     http://heavenisforreal.net/

  9. Well, if heaven is made Of the same elements as Earth and the universe, then one thing is for sure, heaven isn’t forever, because if it’s made of the same elements, it’s sure to break down.

  10. Apparently, Eben Alexander has been recently appointed as director of the research and education program of the Focused Ultrasound Foundation. The FUF promotes the Magnetic Resonance-Guided Focused Ultrasound Surgery, which pledges to “destroy tumors…in our lifetime”. Seemingly the technology is still “in the early stages of development”, even if I have found an academic article on it which dates 1993. The Wikipedia article on the FUF is just a piece of advertisement and the encyclopedia has no entry on magnetic resonance based surgery.

    Why does all that (included the NDE, of course) sound like a hoax to me?

  11. Neurosurgeon eh! I wonder if his self-administered frontal lobotomy went drastically wrong? I guess we will have to pull his head out of the clouds, or elsewhere, to accurately answer that question.

  12.  So far, none of these heavenly out-of-body experiences can be differentiated from the material effects of stressed or dying nerve cells. How about some evidence? How about if we put a license plate face up on the top shelf of the operating room, and when their soul hovers above the operating table near the ceiling  they can look over at the license plate number and tell me what it is when they come back.

    This kind of basic research is being done.  See the reference to Parnia’s work here 

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/N

    The question of cultural dependence of NDEs has also been looked at. 

    While amusing this article isn’t a particularly good introduction to our current state of knowledge about NDEs. 

    Michael

  13. “The crucial question is not whether such astounding experiences should lead us to abandon materialist accounts of brain function, but whether materialist accounts can possibly explain them.”

    It’s not a crucial question. It’s a fact. If we can’t account for these experiences within a material framework then we we have not tried hard enough. Immaterial explanations are not explanations. That’s people making up stuff!

    There’s a reason we call these experiences “near death experiences”… No one has yet returned from death! End of discussion for goodness sake! These experiences are really interesting and might give us insights about the brain and how it works, but they have nothing to do with an alleged after life…

  14. In 1979 I had a conversation with a man in Redwood City California who was  familiar with the exploding problem of nitrous oxide addiction.  He said that with most drugs, people don’t particularly like them at first. They are an acquired taste. Yet they will even from the first use fight over who is next on the nitrous oxide hose. People were deliberately overdosing to the point of death simply because the experience was so pleasant.

    In an NDE, the body shuts down. Oxygen concentrations drop and nitrous oxide levels increase. This is why dead people usually look so happy.

    Presumably in ancient times, there were some NDEs. The people would have told the tale of their wonderful blissful nitrous oxide drug trip, and would logically have interpreted it as the first taste of what being dead is like. Hence the myth of heaven was born.

    That is not what being dead is like. Bliss is the prelude to death.  When you are dead, even deep anaesthesia, you don’t experience anything at all.  When you wake up, it is as if no time at all has passed.

    I have talked to people who have had NDEs.  They said it was so pleasant, they no longer have any fear of death.  There is no reason to fear an pleasant dying experience.  And there is no reason to fear total lack of experience once you are dead.  The church leads by the nose making up lies to make people fear both.

  15. The notion of heaven presumes your consciousness is separate from your body. It is a ghost or soul that inhabits bodies. There is no evidence for this demonic possession theory of consciousness.  Without this imaginary soul, heaven is moot, since you won’t be there to enjoy it.

  16. I know OOBEs (Out of Body Experiences) are possible since I have experienced them.  I talk about them in an an essay called Reality is a Hallucination on my website. I don’t think there is anything supernatural about them.

    However, I had a friend, I considered quite trustworthy, who used to have them quite often.  She had spent a year or so in a coma after a traffic accident. She told me that one day she had one at her office.  She is an accountant.  Out of her body, she went into the next room where she watched two co-workers doing some accounting.  She saw them make an error.  Later when she was back in her body she visited the coworkers who were trying to find the error.  She immediately pointed it out to them. They were quite amazed.  She did not explain how she knew where it was.

    My guess as how this happened, is, while in her trance state, she heard the pair doing their accounting, and deduced from that conversation that they were making an error.  However, she presented that information to herself as a little movie dream of actually watching them do it. Later all she had to do was see the name of the account.

  17. If Heaven exists, why wouldn’t a loving God have put us there in the 1st place? Is this some kind of test?Joke? Are we here for his entertainment? Does he enjoy watching our species struggle/kill each other? I just don’t buy it. Why is he hiding? Better yet, what exactly does he do? I really would like to know! Seems like the answer is absolutely nothing.

  18. “But I am trying (not very convincingly, I know) to keep an open mind.”  
    To keep an open mind about what?  That people have had an experience?  or That people have given a particular interpretation to an experience?  I think it’s probably the latter, and I just wish that they would make it clear that “they dispute the interpretation some people place on their NDE”.

  19. To the best of my knowledge, there has been no verified case of anybody ever coming back from any kind of “out of body” excursion (be it a near death experience, or merely astral traveling while having a snooze) and then telling the doctor(s) something the person who had the experience would otherwise have no way of knowing about. It’s always something along the lines of “I floated above my body, looked down, and saw the doctors/ambulance attendants trying to revive me.” Never anything like “I can give an exact description of the pattern of the bird-droppings on top of this building.”

  20. mmurray
    Sam Harris writes about this article 

    http://www.samharris.org/blog/

    I have picked out this part which seems to sum it up nicely!

      – Sam  Harris link

    Once upon a time, a neurosurgeon named Eben Alexander contracted a bad case of bacterial meningitis and fell into a coma.  While immobile in his hospital bed, he experienced visions of such intense beauty that they changed everything  ….. ….. 

    Mmmmm! – a bad case of bacterial meningitis – that’s a BRAIN DISEASE  – presumably being treated with DRUGS -  connection?????

    I confess that I found Alexander’s account so alarmingly unscientific that I began to worry that something had gone wrong with my own brain.
    So I sought the opinion of Mark Cohen, a pioneer in the field of neuroimaging who holds appointments in the Departments of Psychiatry & Biobehavioral Science, Neurology, Psychology, Radiological Science, and Bioengineering at UCLA. (He was also my thesis advisor.)

    Here is part of what he had to say: 

      This poetic interpretation of his experience is not supported by evidence of any kind. As you correctly point out, coma does not equate to “inactivation of the cerebral cortex” or “higher-order brain functions totally offline” or “neurons of [my] cortex stunned into complete inactivity”. These describe brain death, a one hundred percent lethal condition.
    There are many excellent scholarly articles that discuss the definitions of coma. (For example: 1 & 2)

    We are not privy to his EEG records, but high alpha activity is common in coma. Also common is “flat” EEG. The EEG can appear flat even in the presence of high activity, when that activity is not synchronous.
    For example, the EEG flattens in regions involved in direct task processing. This phenomenon is known as event-related desynchronization (hundreds of references).

    As is obvious to you, this is truth by authority. Neurosurgeons, however, are rarely well-trained in brain function.
    Dr. Alexander cuts brains; he does not appear to study them.
    “There is no scientific explanation for the fact that while my body lay in coma, my mind—my conscious, inner self—was alive and well. While the neurons of my cortex were stunned to complete inactivity by the bacteria that had attacked them, my brain-free consciousness …”
    True, science cannot explain brain-free consciousness. Of course, science cannot explain consciousness anyway. In this case, however, it would be parsimonious to reject the whole idea of consciousness in the absence of brain activity. Either his brain was active when he had these dreams, or they are a confabulation of whatever took place in his state of minimally conscious coma.

    There are many reports of people remembering dream-like states while in medical coma. They lack consistency, of course, but there is nothing particularly unique in Dr. Alexander’s unfortunate episode.

    Okay, so it appears that my own cortex hasn’t completely shut down.
    In fact, there are further problems with Alexander’s account.
    Not only does he appear ignorant of the relevant science, but he doesn’t realize how many people have experienced visions similar to his while their brains were operational.

    It seems Alexander’s claims are unevidenced assertions expressing ignorance of current work in neuroscience and an absence of research into available studies!

    The above quoted “peer-review” looks very clear!

  21. Something that always bothers me about these NDE reports is that people state that they had these experience, when actually what is going on is that they are reporting about the memories that they have. We are used to remembering things that have actually happened, but we know from psych studies that we can have false memories or induced memories by hypnosis. A report of an NDE is always after the fact, not about the experience as it is happening, but about whatever someone’s brain is currently making out of whatever cells use to store memory.

    Sam Harris points out that the good doctor can’t establish what parts of his brain were or were not working during his coma, but it is worse than that. The doctor has no way of knowing when the structures that he now feels are memories were put down. He has no external events in time to associate. The things that he remembers now may be random neural connections made by his brain that have been processed into some kind of accessible narrative while his brain was healing (i.e. alive and active).

    As others have pointed out, proper, deep anesthesia leaves nothing. No NDE, no sense of time lapse, no memories of anything except the mask going on and then waking up in recovery. (Been there, done that.) If our bodies were haunted by minds that can experience a bigger reality on their own, it would be happening in hospitals on every operating table, and the depth of the anesthesia would not matter. In that world, drugs could not change the way you think, or what is important to you (which they can). In normal life we have dreams at night that can seem completely real while you are having them, but we have a brain mech that kicks in after we wake up to let us know that those things did not happen. What if something goes wrong with that? You might wake up thinking that what you dreamed was not like a dream, but like it really happened. 

    I agree with Sam, in that just because you have been trained to be able to operate on someone’s brain, that does not mean you have necessarily spent a great deal of time studying how someone’s brain actually works. I invite the good doctor to go do so.

  22. I got into this very subject recently with a woo-believer on another blog.  I got so tired of pointing out the fact that an anecdote is not scientific evidence.  Ten thousand anecdotes are not scientific evidence.  A million anecdotes over thousands of years are still not scientific evidence.  They are just stories, evidence of nothing but human imagination; and the commonalities of the “experience” nothing but an indicator that human brains all function in similar ways. Students in any scientific discipline learn this in their first year.  As others have commented, this neurosurgeon is simply relying on the old logical fallacy of appeal to authority to sell his book and promote his Christian viewpoint.  He’s not a scientist – he’s a surgeon.  Of course, he’s counting on the fact that most laypeople don’t know the difference.

    I’ve always wondered how people who claim this experience happened to them when they were “flatlined” and “clinically dead”  know that this is, in fact, when they actually had this experience.  They could have had it just before losing consciousness completely, or just after beginning to come around.  Or they could have dreamed it under the influence of powerful drugs typically given to people in life-threatening circumstances.  A clinically dead brain is one with no discernible activity, so an fMRI or cerebral bloodflow/oxygenation probe would pick up nothing.  People who make these claims contend that the experience can’t be measured because it takes place outside of the dead or nearly dead brain – the consciousness somehow floats free.  Attempts to verify NDEs by placing random objects on computer screens placed high out of view of patients in operating rooms, EDs, and the like have not produced any results as far as I’ve heard.  And most of the stories about patients who could describe objects and events outside of their hospital rooms (such as the infamous “red shoe on the roof” case) have fallen apart under scrutiny, with untraceable witnesses and conflicting accounts.  Mary Roach, in her entertaining book “Spook”, does a great job of skeptically probing NDE tropes.  

    To me, the whole issue boils down to the problem of dualism – people still thinking that their mind is somehow separate from their brain, that there’s an ethereal little person sitting inside their heads – one that can apparently crawl out of their ears and wander around.  It’s like they’re still four years old when it comes to this subject, believing in ghosts and monsters in the closet and little people inside the TV.  It’s just so obvious to any thinking person that the brain IS us.  When it’s damaged or dead, we simply cease to be.  

  23. There was an infamous case in Seattle where a woman claimed to have had an NDE in which she saw a red tennis shoe sitting on a ledge that could only be seen from the roof of the hospital.  According to the story, a nurse went up to the roof and – dramatic drum roll!” – there was a red tennis shoe!  There are several variations of this story circulating among NDE aficionados; the problem is that none of them hold up to scrutiny.  Witnesses can’t be found or tell conflicting stories.  There’s no way to verify that the person making the claim didn’t make the whole thing up.

  24. The only reason why the religious will believe THIS doctor’s opinion is because it coincides with their dogma. When doctors/scientists etc. give facts about climate change, evolution or birth control, for example, then it is disregarded as secular propaganda.

  25. Ah, yes. You are talking about THIS. There have been many variations over the years regarding the color of the shoe, the location of the shoe, the location of the hospital, the name of the nurse, and the name of the patient.

  26. Thought you’d never ask, LinguisticApe. I died (again) the other day, and (again) it was all oodles of noodles: macaroni horns blowing beautiful Bach, angel-hair pasta angel-hairing, and everything was just awash in this lovely, warm Alphabet soup. Then the Noodly Lord Himself came on down and let me munch (in that time-honored Lordly tradition) on his blessed appendages. Sigh. It was so much better than that other guy’s old blood-and-cracker routine. Soup’s always better with infinite  noodles. Crackers and blood just coagulate everything up.

  27.   Left Ahead –
    Thought you’d never ask, LinguisticApe. I died (again) the other day, and (again) it was all oodles of noodles: macaroni horns blowing beautiful Bach, angel-hair pasta angel-hairing, and everything was just awash in this lovely, warm Alphabet soup. Then the Noodly Lord Himself came on down and let me munch (in that time-honored Lordly tradition) on his blessed appendages.

    Halleluja!  Peace be upon His noodly appendages!

    Glad to have you back!

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wi

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wi

  28. The first time I heard about NDE (many decades ago) the program interviewed people who experienced “heaven” and “hell.” Then there was one guy who said, he experienced nothing. Everything went black and all memory was lost and that was the end of that. He was a skinny young guy, not very animated or special in any way – a bit dry and dull. Except for him, everyone else had a special message or attributed special meaning onto the experience. I remembered his response more than anyone else. My guess is that if it were today, producers would have pulled him from the show because he wasn’t very interesting.

  29. When I was younger I lost my favorite yellow comb for an entire year. I knew I left it on my bed, but then it was gone. I searched everywhere for it. A year later, I thought about my comb, prayed, and had a dream that night that it was inside the vent. I took out a screwdriver removed the panel, reached down and viola! there it was! Strangely, the comb was too thick to fit through the slots on the front of the panel. So how in the world did it get in there, get screwed shut,  and how did my dream reveal its location?

    Here is what happened: I absolutely looked everywhere in the room and was certain of where I left it. The panel to the vent was on the wall directly below the area in which I last saw my comb. The panel to the vent was not tightly screwed onto the wall leaving a small yet large enough space for the comb to fall through. By sitting on the bed, there must have been enough bounce for the comb to move off the bed. At some point in time, pushing the bed against the wall closed the gap of the vent making it look securely closed. Subconsciously, I must have realized this was the last possible place to look and my brain processed this information during my dream. My guess is that I was reluctant all that time to take the trouble and unscrew the vent. It took a revealing dream for me to get enough motivation to look. For the longest time, it seemed like a psychic revelation; I overlooked the fact that the panel was loosely secured to the wall until I took an honest look at the situation years later.

    Our brains spin mighty elaborate scenarios. I could only imagine what it took to dream up the red shoes.

  30. Great news! If Dr.Alexander is right, even  half-hearted,  sceptical christians go to heaven. So theres is no need to be a fundamentalistic, hardcore believer, who visits the church every sunday, to get saved.

  31. Yes, people have returned from death. Look into the writings of Dr. Atwater, Dr, Greyson, Dr. Van Lommel, Dr. Moody etc..etc..etc..etc..etc..etc..etc..etc..etc..etc..   One man was dead…no heartbeat…flatlined brain..no respiration for THREE days….woke up in the morgue as they were about to cut into his sternum. This is ON RECORD…available..and his name is readily available. He had no brain damage and had an NDE that was extensive. 
       And these accounts that have been verified by the medical staffs involved with them, are evidence of consciousness outside the brain. When people can verify specific things that have happened in a room where they were in cardiac arrest…telling details about what they saw which after they wake up are found out to have coincided exactly with the facts of what occurred when they were completely unconscious, then you can certainly take that as one proof of consciousness outside the brain. There are thousands of these accounts.

  32. There is no way that people can can have the proposed “drug trip” that you suggest here after the 11 to 20 second time point after the heart has stopped. This has been proven in peer reviewed studies such as those by Cardiologist Pim Van Lommel. After that period, the brain cannot image anything..cannot dream…cannot hallucinate, yet, people have had NDE’s and described what happened in the room they “died” in long after the 11-20 second limit I just mentioned. Further you are not knowledgable about so many NDE experiences…as can be seen by your comments. You stated that when a person is in deep anesthesia, they do not experience anything at all. RIGHT. This has been proven…though scientists still do not know WHY it blocks brain consciousness….they just know that it does. However, there are endless cases of NDE’s where people were under general anesthesia and yet had a VIVID NDE where they knew everything that was occurring in a room where they had “expired” while their body was completely unconscious. Things they just could not possibly know by any means other than that they were conscious outside their body. 
    Why do blind people who have been blind since birth…and have never had vision where they could have had any images stored in the visual storage areas of the brain, while in cardiac arrest with no heartbeat or respiration at all, have vivid, active NDE’s where they also see things happening above the surgeons and other medical professionals working on them..and can SEE things for the first time in their lives…and explain what was happening in complete detail..things they could not have known by an means?
      Rather than being skeptical for the sake of being skeptical, you people should actually LOOK INTO and research the NDE literature that is out there, written by not only experiencers, but also studied and written about by very respected scientists and physicians. Only then, should you make your criticisms and comments against them….yet I don’t think you will have such doubts and criticisms once you do actually see/READ the evidence which is abundant. 
            

  33. Are you serious? There are TONS of these incidences. No offense as I guess you just haven’t looked.
    Research as one of thousands of examples, the NDE of a woman, PAM REYNOLDS. See if you can find any holes in her incident that you can criticize. 

  34. Sam Harris does not know the entire experience and details of Dr. Alexander’s account. He has not yet even read the book. Further, Dr. Alexander’s credentials are not as long as your arm..but as long as your body/height. Harris further is refusing to debate with Alexander…I wonder what he might be afraid of. 

  35. Snake oil…..are you high on something Amos?  Have you read his book? The man has risked his entire 25 + year professional career by making this his purpose to spread what he learned in his experience. 
    And it is not in any way an “excellent takedown” by SH. Harris, in fact has not even read the book yet. He is judging without knowing the medical facts….only 2 or 3 lines which he has his mentor dissect. This is NOT how science/research is done. Harris should know better but chooses to be skeptical for the sake of being skeptical/cynical rather than looking at the facts of the experience and all the medical records. I suggest he read the book. Perhaps you would be well to do the same. 

  36. Wrong. Harris and his mentor have not even read Alexander’s book and are dissecting and dismissing the entire experience without knowing all the medical facts and other facts involved with the experience and what occurred and was found out by Alexander AFTER his experience. (Regards his sister who he never knew…and never saw)  Do yourself a favor before you come to conclusions..as Harris should, and read the book. 

  37. The good doctor is not only a neurosurgeon..though that would really be enough..but a scientist of quite high order. Read his credentials which are more than impressive and literally the length of your entire body should you be over 5 ft tall. Dr. Alexander is no meat cutter my friend. And people have been under DEEP anesthesia and had VIVID NDE’s. See the case of PAM REYNOLDS….who had an aneurysm at the base of her brain stem which was huge. She had a very unique and at the time breakthrough surgery where, not only was she under general anesthesia before the operation..but then had ALL the blood drained from her brain…and THEN had the temperature of her brain lowered to about 41 degrees F. All this while her eyes were taped closed and loud electronic clicker monitors were put in her ears and taped over to hold them in. A partition was also across her chest so that even if she were awake with a functioning brain and eyes open, she could not have seen ANYTHING occurring in the Operating Room. She came out of her body and described many details..including the exact description of the drill used..which she described as looking like a metallic electric toothbrush..she saw the drill bit holders in the case that doctor was using.etc..etc..etc.. The neurosurgeon has stated on record (available on Youtube by the way should you wish to check on it) that he ONLY opened the drill case right BEFORE cutting into her skull. He said that he waits until just before actual surgery, before opening the case, to keep as sterile an environment as possible. That is protocol. She had an extensive NDE knowing things she simply could NEVER have known unless she was conscious outside of her brain. Explain that and thousands of experiences like it….away, if you feel you can. I’d love to hear what your argument base is.

  38. Hee hee hee….I’ll need to stock up on popcorn and lemonade….not Kool-Aid though, junfan has OD’d on it already. 
    Let the fireworks begin..

    And it is not in any way an “excellent takedown” by SH. Harris, in fact has not even read the book yet.

    Well SH was commenting on the ludicrous ‘Newsweek’ article by Alexander, so it is Alexander’s ridiculous nonsense that was getting the take down…. here, read it yourself. 

    http://www.samharris.org/blog/

    So…junfan….are you high on something? Harris couldn’t have read the book at the time of commenting on the ‘Newsweek’ article because it hadn’t been released yet.

    “Alexander is also releasing a book at the end of the month, Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife, which seems destined to become an instant bestseller. As much as I would like to simply ignore the unfolding travesty, it would be derelict of me to do so.”

    But there was sufficient bollocks written by Alexander in the magazine article to enable SH, a neuroscientist, to rip Alexander a new one for the woo woo he was espousing.

     I suggest he read the book.Perhaps you would be well to do the same.

    How do you know he hasn’t? In fact, he has read the book, so you’d do better to try and keep up on things, for by really making an arse of yourself. My time and life are finite. I have no interest, inclination or time to read this kook’s deluded ramblings. A neurosurgeon he might be, but a neuroscientist he is not.

    http://www.samharris.org/blog/

    “Having now read Alexander’s book, I can say that it is every bit as remarkable as his Newsweek cover article suggested it would be. Unfortunately, it is not remarkable in the way that its author believes. I find that my original criticism of Alexander’s thinking can stand without revision.”

  39. Harris further is refusing to debate with Alexander…I wonder what he might be afraid of.

    You really should be careful when coming to a site such as this with erroneous waffle and conspiracy theories….it makes you look asinine.

    ” There is also a rumor circulating online that, after attacking Alexander from the safety of my blog, I have refused to debate him in public. This is untrue. I merely declined the privilege of appearing with him on a parapsychology podcast, in the company of an irritating and unscrupulous host. I would be happy to have a public discussion with Alexander, should it ever seem worth doing.”

  40. One man was dead…no heartbeat…flatlined brain..no respiration for THREE days….woke up in the morgue as they were about to cut into his sternum. This is ON RECORD…available..and his name is readily available. He had no brain damage and had an NDE that was extensive.

    REALLY??? You’ll be able to cite a reference then, because that is something on the level of a miracle of the biblical kind…why are the religious not putting this example forward as evidence that the resurrection is possible?

    Go on, let’s see this one..PLEASE, go on, go on, go on, GO ON!

  41.  Sam Harris does not know the entire experience and details of Dr. Alexander’s account. He has not yet even read the book. Further, Dr. Alexander’s credentials are not as long as your arm..but as long as your body/height. Harris further is refusing to debate with Alexander…I wonder what he might be afraid of.

    If you know anything about Sam Harris you would find that he is  very unlikely to be afraid of a discovery that hints of something “supernatural” like this.  In fact Sam has a great deal of experience with meditative practices and is criticised by many in the sceptical community for being a bit too open to the idea that consciousness might be a fundamental property of reality.  But if this is true then it overturns a great deal of what we know about the world already and in such a case the sensible thing to do is look for a more mundane explanation first.  

    Me I’m waiting for Parnia’s results.  They seem to be a long time coming.

    Michael

  42. Me I’m waiting for Parnia’s results.  They seem to be a long time coming.

    The results of Sam Parnia’s “AWARE” study are well overdue now. I hope it’s because he is being very detailed and particular on what he is planning to publish.

    I’m guessing that data is a hard thing to collect in the NDE field, if very few claims are made, then the study may need to be extended. Van Pimmel stated that only 24% of those that claim NDE have also claimed OBE, that’s not many people at all, even though this is the largest ever study of it’s kind. The results are about a year and a half late, so if Parnia got a few positive hits, I’m guessing he would want to get the facts ‘right on the button’ before publishing what could be a damning report either way if he got it wrong. Of course, it could still just be a case of insufficient data. In any case, Parnia is definitely playing his cards close to his chest, which is frustrating to us lot chomping at the bit for info.

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