Bigelow's Competition for Best Evidence of Life after Death

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Thought I may as well post this here since this kind of encompasses most of the topics discussed on here. This caused quite the controversy/stir in the comments in the New York Times, particularly given how responsive the author was in the comments. Bruce Fenton also left a comment I noticed. 

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/21/style...death.html

Quote:Last June, four months after bone marrow disease and leukemia claimed the life of his wife of 55 years, Diane Mona Bigelow, at 72, Mr. Bigelow quietly founded the Bigelow Institute for Consciousness Studies to support research into what happens after death.

It set the stage for his new afterlife contest, seeking the best available evidence of survival of consciousness, with prizes of $500,000, $300,000 and $150,000 for first, second and third place. The winners will be announced on Nov. 1. Entrants must qualify as serious researchers by Feb. 28, with a record of at least five years of study of the field and preferably an affiliation with groups like the Society for Psychical Research in Britain. Submissions of up to 25,000 words are due by Aug. 1, to be judged by a panel of specialists. Mr. Bigelow said he had an idea what that best evidence might be, but “it would be prejudicial to say.”...

...The panel to judge the submissions includes Dr. Christopher C. Green, a psychiatrist and neuroscientist at the Detroit Medical Center and Wayne State College of Medicine who served with the Central Intelligence Agency; Jeffrey J. Kripal, a professor of philosophy and religious thought at Rice University; and the investigative reporter Leslie Kean, the author of the 2017 book “Surviving Death: A Journalist Investigates Evidence For an Afterlife,” the basis of a six-part series on Netflix.

Mr. Bigelow said that of two “Holy Grail” questions — whether bodily death marked the end of existence and whether we are alone in the cosmos — he put survival of consciousness first, with a special moral aspect. “It may matter what you do while you’re here,” he said. “It could make a difference on the other side.”

A lot of argumentative comments followed, including the usual "There's been no hard evidence for hundreds of years so why would we have any now" and "but brain damage, anaesthesia and electrical stimulation prove physicalism!". 

Arrogant assertions and accusations of wishful thinking included as well, worded as if they didn't even read the article and only the headline (wouldn't surprise me). When someone mentioned veridical NDEs, one retort was the usual excuse "they weren't specific enough though" and "they weren't documented properly". Both, to my knowledge, are made by people who don't understand the difference between an anecdote and a case study. 

Similarly, the responses from that 'boingboing' forum were brief but equally as ignorant and rude:
Quote:Setting up a prize like this is just commiting yourself to fielding nonsense from religious zealots, NDE crackpots, and paranormal believers for however long you can put up with it.

The problem is that people think their life experience is evidence. They think their feelings about something are also probably evidence (or at least directional). Throw in a lack of science knowledge, and you get things like people swearing they saw a brightly lit tunnel, or floated above the operating room table near death (both neurologically well understood phenomena related to your brain shutting down).

If 200 years of science haven’t turned up even a shred of evidence for dualism, then some rich guy scared of death sure isn’t gonna do it.
I shouldn't be surprised by this pseudo-intellectual and insultingly ignorant crap given this is the same community that reacted incredibly harshly to the article criticising James Randi. But the BoingBoing piece was incredibly short and so warranted even more ignorant responses. 

For those interested, this is the official website: http://bigelowinstitute.org/

Apparently Bigelow was heavily invested in all kinds of paranormal topics, but most notably UFOs. 

Edit: Hot takes all around it seems, though plenty are just variations of 'waste of money': https://www.unexplained-mysteries.com/fo.../#comments
Quote:What a tremendous waste of money. I hope I don't get that delusional at an advanced age. I'd rather just pass with my faculties intact. 

I commend Bigelow for his bravery in this as he faces such ridicule, with several people notably not understanding that he's not looking for 'proof'. He's looking for an essay on the 'best evidence'. 

Perhaps some here might feel up to the challenge?  Wink
(This post was last modified: 2021-01-28, 11:35 PM by OmniVersalNexus.)
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Would've liked to read the comments but they're behind a paywall.

Things like this make me cringe a little bit. They're almost kinda desperate feeling? I'd like to think there's an afterlife but I'm not after it THAT badly. Though, it's interesting it was all posted about, I suppose we'll see how it goes. I kind of doubt that any of the survival researchers we know would take the bait.
This guy already believes in Psi and aliens, from what I gather. So this isn't a Randi challenge type thing.

My guess is he's looking for something specific, something inline with his experiences [that led to his existing acceptance of Psi & aliens]. Perhaps some confirmation of some cases he's read or experienced that suggests an afterlife. After all why bother with prizes when most of the case/data summaries are in free PDFs or relatively cheap books?

Also why the rules are so stringent, basically only parapsychologists or guys like Dr. Parnia could even pass the initial requirements to get to the judges.

It's like those movies where a rich dude hires a scientist to look into some weird stuff, with said rich guy already having some idea of what the scientist is going to find.

edit: Actually, given the requirements, this might just be a cheap way of filtering the research for a new documentary that can be sold to Netflix or some other streaming site for way more than the approx $1 million in prize money. Also good publicity to tie this to a competition, then making the documentary.
'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: 2021-01-29, 06:44 AM by Sciborg_S_Patel.)
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(2021-01-29, 06:29 AM)Sciborg_S_Patel Wrote: This guy already believes in Psi and aliens, from what I gather. So this isn't a Randi challenge type thing.

My guess is he's looking for something specific, something inline with his experiences [that led to his existing acceptance of Psi & aliens]. Perhaps some confirmation of some cases he's read or experienced that suggests an afterlife. After all why bother with prizes when most of the case/data summaries are in free PDFs or relatively cheap books?

Also why the rules are so stringent, basically only parapsychologists or guys like Dr. Parnia could even pass the initial requirements to get to the judges.

It's like those movies where a rich dude hires a scientist to look into some weird stuff, with said rich guy already having some idea of what the scientist is going to find.

edit: Actually, given the requirements, this might just be a cheap way of filtering the research for a new documentary that can be sold to Netflix or some other streaming site for way more than the approx $1 million in prize money. Also good publicity to tie this to a competition, then making the documentary.

I've no idea who this guy is but he really just needs to hand it (the biggest proportion anyway) to Sam Parnia and his group. And if anyone else in the world is carrying out similar high quality research, divide it up, appropriately. That would be money well spent with the diverse range of studies Parnia's group is looking at.
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(2021-01-29, 07:17 PM)tim Wrote: I've no idea who this guy is but he really just needs to hand it (the biggest proportion anyway) to Sam Parnia and his group. And if anyone else in the world is carrying out similar high quality research, divide it up, appropriately. That would be money well spent with the diverse range of studies Parnia's group is looking at.

I mean this guy has his own private stash of evidence, or so he claims. And he is allowing people to make submissions based on historical cases as well.

It seems like he wants something specific, or just wants to gather the best summaries of evidence from major people in the field?
'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


(2021-01-29, 08:03 PM)Sciborg_S_Patel Wrote: I mean this guy has his own private stash of evidence, or so he claims. And he is allowing people to make submissions based on historical cases as well.

It seems like he wants something specific, or just wants to gather the best summaries of evidence from major people in the field?

Don't know, Sci. But I do know if I had that kind of money to give away, I'd be flying to New York to see Parnia and write him a very large cheque. 

I cannot understand (well maybe I can) why he's had to struggle so hard to get proper funding for what is the most exciting frontier in science, ever IMHO. 

When he started off he was scratting around here and there for bits of money. Now he's been given (I believe) a decent sum to work with, but to get the numbers of cardiac arrests that he's going to need to get enough data, I suspect he still doesn't have enough.
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I honestly don't think Parnia would touch this with a 10ft pole. Considering how blatantly afterlife it is, would probably be too much to a hit to his reputation, if he was interested in it at all since he's still more focused on the ressucitation part of NDEs than the afterlife part.
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