Are NDEs merely hallucinations?

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This is a quite in depth article and I think anybody who is more deeply interested in the subject (Tim?) might take a look and tell us where it goes wrong.  It attempts to prove that NDEs are merely hallucinations.

https://infidels.org/library/modern/keit...ine-hndes/

Quote:Even if we disregard the overwhelming evidence for the dependence of consciousness on the brain, there remains strong evidence from reports of near-death experiences themselves that NDEs are not glimpses of an afterlife. This evidence includes:

(1) discrepancies between what is seen in the out-of-body component of an NDE and what’s actually happening in the physical world;

(2) bodily sensations incorporated into the NDE, either as they are or experienced as NDE imagery;

(3) encountering living persons during NDEs;

(4) the greater variety of differences than similarities between different NDEs, where specific details of NDEs generally conform to cultural expectation;

(5) the typical randomness or insignificance of the memories retrieved during those few NDEs that include a life review;

(6) NDEs where the experiencer makes a decision not to return to life by crossing a barrier or threshold viewed as a ‘point of no return,’ but is restored to life anyway;

(7) hallucinatory imagery in NDEs, including encounters with mythological creatures and fictional characters; and

(8) the failure of predictions in those instances in which experiencers report seeing future events during NDEs or gaining psychic abilities after them.
I think the part you quoted goes wrong from beginning, claiming there is a dependence on the brain for consciousness. There aren't any good explanations for how a brain could produce consciousness if it's made from matter that has no consciousness.


The part about religious expectations being fulfilled is a valid criticism, to an extent. But it also ignores the work of people like Gregory Shushan on noting the commonalities between cultures, and the times an NDE would inspire changes in a culture.

That said, I think one can acknowledge varied issues with certain NDE cases while still noting the reports that are good. Bruce Greyson was convinced by an NDE had by a patient, to give an example.

The only way, IMO, to completely dismiss NDEs is if every witness in every case is a liar or bizarrely incompetent/insane.

edit: One caveat is that while I think NDEs can give us reason to think Survival is true, I don't think we should make the mistake of thinking the evidence gives us any clear indication of what the afterlife is like. The cases are too diverse - and arguably too flawed - for that.
'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell


(This post was last modified: 2024-07-03, 09:51 PM by Sciborg_S_Patel. Edited 1 time in total.)
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(2024-07-03, 05:29 PM)Brian Wrote: This is a quite in depth article and I think anybody who is more deeply interested in the subject (Tim?) might take a look and tell us where it goes wrong.  It attempts to prove that NDEs are merely hallucinations.

https://infidels.org/library/modern/keit...ine-hndes/

There are of course multiple errors in this assemblage of supposed flaws in the experiential evidence from NDEs.

First of all, the author's basic premise that he is trying to establish is debunked by the research which has showed that the characteristics of the reported lucidly clear NDE experiences out of body closely match the characteristics of actual experience, and do not match the known characteristics of hallucinations. 

But the two most important problems of this summary list are really egregious: The first severe problem is the implicit ignoring of the extensive veridical evidence, every single case of which this materialist skeptic has to plausibly explain away. A short perusal of the compilation The Self Does Not Die (documenting more than 125 investigated and verified veridical NDEs) shows how very difficult or impossible that really is.

The second severe problem is the fact that in many or most of the cases the NDEer experienced greatly enhanced clarity of consciousness while their brain was completely dysfunctional after trauma such as cardiac arrest, something that is impossible according to materialist neurology. In fact, the skeptic materialist author still has to explain how a lucidly clear NDE hallucination could occur in the NDEr's consciousness, which consciousness still somehow continued in enhanced form despite in most of the cases an almost completely dysfunctional brain, where the vast arrays of neurons and synapses were mostly disorganized or inactive and in the beginning of the process or dying.
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Ah I didn't realize at first the author was Keith Augustine, I think @tim has posted quite a few things challenging his views.

edit: One example.

On a general note, Infidels.org is one of those materialist evangelical sites I can't take seriously. It's not just NDEs, but everything supernatural, that they reject. They seem more afraid some religion might be true than actually trying to find the truth.

I recall going through NDEs and also being somewhat skeptical due to certain issues like an NDEr meeting a cartoon character in a Japanese NDE. And I still do think there are proponents who make a bit too much of the positive NDEs while ignoring not just the negative ones but also the outright Weird ones...

Yet ultimately the more I looked into NDEs the harder it was for me to be overly dismissive, because metaphysically consciousness is irreducible to the "physical" so there was no a priori reason to reject such cases.

Then the idea that all these people, including doctors like Greyson or Fenwick, were liars or fools just didn't seem credible. In fact they seem more measured than the pseudo-skeptics, who seemed like fundamentalists for the illogical materialist paradigm.
'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell


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With regard to the cross-cultural and racial universality of NDEs (which is questioned in this skeptic materialist list of flaws in the NDE evidence), it turns out that there are many implications from reincarnation data.

The cross-cultural and racial universality of cases of the reincarnation type recently got a boost from the publication of a new book on Japanese cases, which mirror reincarnation cases from many other countries including the United States. I have just read this book and can testify that it is a very good, thorough and detailed survey.

NDEs and cases of the reincarnation type very much appear to be closely related. There are many parallel connections between the two paranormal phenomena, such as leaving the body, traveling to other (spiritual) realms, meeting beings there, and remembering making decisions in the between-lives state. This is most likely due to NDEs and reincarnation phenomena really in fact being closely related, such that evidence of cross-cultural and racial universality of reincarnation bears directly on the cross-cultural and racial universality of NDEs, with the strong implication that both of these phenomena are merely different aspects of the same spiritual truth as to the existence and nature of the spirit and the afterlife. 

From the publisher White Crow's description of this new publication, "Katsugoro and Other Reincarnation Cases in Japan", at https://whitecrowbooks.com/books/page/ka..._in_japan/  (paraphrased excerpts):

Quote:"In this book, the Japanese linguist and parapsychologist Ohkado Masayuki examines historical Japanese cases suggestive of reincarnation (in particular the excellent case of the 8-year-old boy Katsugoru who claimed to have been the second son of Genzo, a farmer in another village, giving many later to be found correct details about this previous life), alongside his own contemporary research into the phenomenon. One of his most impressive cases involves two-year-old Takeharu, who remembered being killed on the Japanese battleship Yamato in World War II. The author’s efforts to verify the memories and to discover the identities of the past personalities are ingenious.

The majority of the cases involve Japanese children, though some remember past lives in countries they had never visited: three-year-old Tomo recalled a former life in Scotland working in his family’s restaurant. Two-year-old Akane recalled being a Hindu who died in a fire in India. Conversely, there are cases of non-Japanese children remembering past lives in Japan. Some of the children also remember the state between lives, and the transition to their present life."
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(2024-07-04, 02:22 AM)Sciborg_S_Patel Wrote: Ah I didn't realize at first the author was Keith Augustine, I think @tim has posted quite a few things challenging his views.

edit: One example.


I thought I recognized his name from somewhere!
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(2024-07-03, 05:29 PM)Brian Wrote: This is a quite in depth article and I think anybody who is more deeply interested in the subject (Tim?) might take a look and tell us where it goes wrong.  It attempts to prove that NDEs are merely hallucinations.

https://infidels.org/library/modern/keit...ine-hndes/

Back to front reasoning.. the brain exists within experience... there is no getting outside of experience...

The strongest problem of the NDE OBE... are Near Death Experiences under Anesthesia during Cardiac Arrest... and the Little Known Temporal Connection.

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring 
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
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(2024-07-03, 05:29 PM)Brian Wrote: This is a quite in depth article and I think anybody who is more deeply interested in the subject (Tim?) might take a look and tell us where it goes wrong.  It attempts to prove that NDEs are merely hallucinations.

https://infidels.org/library/modern/keit...ine-hndes/
Gregory Shushan responds to some of Augustine's arguments in his book, The Next World. He claims that Augustine doesn't understand the cross-cultural NDE literature.

Augustine originally published a version of the paper that you link to here: https://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/675...adc799161/

A number of responses were written:

https://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/675...adc798944/
https://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/675...adc799193/
https://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/675...adc799328/
https://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/675...adc799028/

Augustine responded to some of the above here: https://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc798990

Augustine’s papers in that journal (he wrote more than one attacking transcendent models of NDEs) occasioned a lot of replies and counter-replies. I don’t think I’ve linked to everything here, but it's easy to search at the site those links take you to for more.
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(2024-07-03, 11:52 PM)nbtruthman Wrote: There are of course multiple errors in this assemblage of supposed flaws in the experiential evidence from NDEs.

First of all, the author's basic premise that he is trying to establish is debunked by the research which has showed that the characteristics of the reported lucidly clear NDE experiences out of body closely match the characteristics of actual experience, and do not match the known characteristics of hallucinations. 

But the two most important problems of this summary list are really egregious: The first severe problem is the implicit ignoring of the extensive veridical evidence, every single case of which this materialist skeptic has to plausibly explain away. A short perusal of the compilation The Self Does Not Die (documenting more than 125 investigated and verified veridical NDEs) shows how very difficult or impossible that really is.

The second severe problem is the fact that in many or most of the cases the NDEer experienced greatly enhanced clarity of consciousness while their brain was completely dysfunctional after trauma such as cardiac arrest, something that is impossible according to materialist neurology. In fact, the skeptic materialist author still has to explain how a lucidly clear NDE hallucination could occur in the NDEr's consciousness, which consciousness still somehow continued in enhanced form despite in most of the cases an almost completely dysfunctional brain, where the vast arrays of neurons and synapses were mostly disorganized or inactive and in the beginning of the process or dying.
I'm inclined to think there are genuine supernatural NDEs. But this claim just doesn't hold water:

>documenting more than 125 investigated and verified veridical NDEs

There are NDEs in that book that have practically nothing in the way of real evidence going for them. One of the more prima facie astonishing cases involves a hospital patient allegedly memorizing during an OB-NDE and accurately recalling after regaining consciousness a twelve-digit serial number on the top of a piece of medical equipment. Supposedly a hospital worker got a ladder to view the top of this equipment and confirmed that the serial number was accurately recalled.

But we have no reason at all to believe that that actually happened, apart from the say-so of a nurse, recounting the event an unknown number of years after it occurred (it isn't even known, apparently, what year this took place!). The identity of this patient has never been given out. If that is "investigated" and "verified," those terms mean very little.
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(2024-07-14, 06:59 AM)RViewer88 Wrote: I'm inclined to think there are genuine supernatural NDEs. But this claim just doesn't hold water:

>documenting more than 125 investigated and verified veridical NDEs

There are NDEs in that book that have practically nothing in the way of real evidence going for them. One of the more prima facie astonishing cases involves a hospital patient allegedly memorizing during an OB-NDE and accurately recalling after regaining consciousness a twelve-digit serial number on the top of a piece of medical equipment. Supposedly a hospital worker got a ladder to view the top of this equipment and confirmed that the serial number was accurately recalled.

But we have no reason at all to believe that that actually happened, apart from the say-so of a nurse, recounting the event an unknown number of years after it occurred (it isn't even known, apparently, what year this took place!). The identity of this patient has never been given out. If that is "investigated" and "verified," those terms mean very little.

Like in most skeptic attacks on the spiritual reality of NDEs, this ignores the strong correlation of the time period of NDE consciousness and the time period during which the NDEr's brain was disfunctional, which correlation directly contradicts the physicalist assumption that the mind and consciousness are the physical brain. This existing correlation factor automatically drastically raises the likelihood that at least some number of veridical NDE OBE cases are genuine. And some of the cases in The Self Does Not Die are like the one you cite, but most are much better, and to contend that genuine afterlife-glimpsing NDE OBEs do not exist (presumably because they are impossible under physicalism), it is necessary for the skeptic to plausibly explain away every single one of the over 100 documented cases - even one genuine case would establish the reality of the NDE phenomenon as a glimpse of the afterlife, and cannot remain. This is William James' well-known "one white crow" principle. This mass explain-away means that you are assuming that everybody involved in all the cases and their investigations were completely unreliable as witnesses due to hallucinating or drastically misperceiving or misremembering, or deliberately lying and fabricating stories. This mass denial of human testimony is not remotely plausible, whether the witnesses and experiencers were medical personnel including doctors and nurses, or in other walks of life.
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