I could really use some help on this.

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Hi.
Hope you're all having a great day, cuz I'm definitely not.
Recently, I've done some internet digging on NDEs, and stumbled upon this.
(PDF) Occam's Chainsaw: Neuroscientific Nails in the coffin of dualist notions of the Near-death experience (NDE) | Dr Jason J Braithwaite - Academia.edu
Usually, I was basically expecting some recycled, run off the mill material, but this one really stumped me.
I know that this paper isn't really used a lot, and is a good six years old, but it still irritates the hell out of me. 
If you can, I could really use some links, articles, and help to refute this. As someone who really wants an afterlife, 
this article is REALLY fucking me up.   Sad
If any of y'all can help, that would make my day.

Thank you.
[-] The following 1 user Likes Hehexd1's post:
  • OmniVersalNexus
So just a few things right off the bat:
  • It's from 2014 like you said, so it's likely to be outdated. In my experience, pseudo-skeptics make outdated or inaccurate claims regarding NDEs all the time.
  • That title is sensationalist as hell (and so quite questionable). 
  • It comes from a very biased source by the looks of it, and a magazine no less. 
  • We've mentioned Braithwaite on here before, such as in this thread: https://psiencequest.net/forums/thread-j...raithwaite
  • I noticed he cites Borjigin's work which is largely debated to my understanding when it comes to relevance to NDEs. 

I sympathise with your position and I suggest you look through some of the threads on here on this guy first. A lengthier rebuttal would be appreciated though from some of the experts here in regards to his comments on EEGs and flatlining.  Smile

Edit: Welcome to the forum by the way. Like Laird said, it would help to make an introductory post.
(This post was last modified: 2020-12-14, 06:34 PM by OmniVersalNexus.)
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Two GIANT elephants in the room after my first reading of this paper are:
  1. Veridical perceptions, which the paper doesn't even acknowledge, mention, or refer to, let alone try to address.
  2. The hard problem, which the paper again fails to even acknowledge, mention, or refer to: the closest it gets is referring - in an only brief section of the introductory paragraphs - to "an explanatory gap between quantifying a symphony of neural processes and relating them to the contents of consciousness." The hard problem though goes beyond the question and nature of any mere relationship between neurons and experiences; it goes to the very fundamental question of how neural activity creates or generates consciousness in the first place. Thus, the paper's subsequent grumble that "This is something that paranormalists are always keen to exploit" is misleading, because "paranormalists" generally[1] don't have a problem with, nor try to exploit any gaps in, the fact that neural processes tend more or less to correlate with the contents of consciousness; what they (we) "exploit" is that there remains no plausible and generally-accepted theory as to how the bunch of (on the physicalist view) non-conscious matter that constitutes the brain could bring into being that which, ontologically, is diametrically opposed to it: consciousness - and there is no such theory in sight nor even conceivable, as is increasingly being acknowledged in the academic mainstream.
I won't try to address any other of the paper's claims as I don't have the relevant information at my fingertips, nor the motivation to spend my spare time on digging it up.

However: without intending to be rude or inhospitable, would you please identify yourself or at least tell us a little bit about what led you to make this post on this forum? I ask because suspicions will naturally be raised on a forum of this type by a new poster joining only to immediately post a skeptical paper under the guise of being a proponent seeking assistance in refuting it. You could very well be that proponent, but please help us out a little in deciding that.

[1] Bernardo Kastrup is one exception I know of to this generalisation.
(This post was last modified: 2020-12-14, 06:34 PM by Laird.)
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I'd also add that many of the people Braithwaite cites as credible have also made very questionable, inaccurate or outdated claims on NDEs and have been called out for it numerous times. These include both Blackmore and Woerlee. 

He also accuses folks like Parnia, Sabom and Fenwick of having flawed logic but doesn't bother refuting their work individually or examples of it, just quotes he attributes to them. He does not even go into any specific examples of NDEs, which is frankly quite lazy, but it is likely he is referencing the Pam Reynolds case implicitly. He instead cherry-picks aspects of NDEs and does not take all the aspects into consideration, which shouldn't be a surprise to anyone. 

It would also be inaccurate to accuse Parnia of being a 'paranormalist' given the other things he's said.

Many of his criticisms weren't new for 2014 either. The argument that NDEs could have formed 'before or after and not during' the flat EEG or cardiac arrest or whatever has been around for a while.

I also found a specific thread where Braithwaite's paper was referenced by a skeptical troll: https://psiencequest.net/forums/thread-d...raithwaite ...he apparently made no reference to the brainstem during cardiac arrest.

Btw Hehexd1, if you're worried about this topic, I'd argue to to look up books about the subject from those such as Titus Rivas rather than scouring the Internet and social media. Reading the published papers from 'proponents', some of which can be found on here, is also advisable. I speak from experience.  Thumbs Up
(This post was last modified: 2020-12-14, 07:39 PM by OmniVersalNexus.)
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The paper claims emergence makes sense...I stopped there as nothing makes less sense than Something (Consciousness) coming from Nothing (matter w/ no mental characteristics).

Does it have any compelling quotes after 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


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(2020-12-14, 09:55 PM)Sciborg_S_Patel Wrote: Does it have any compelling quotes after that?

I'm not sure about "compelling", but here are its key claims as direct quotes:

Quote:Despite an extensive search of the leading international peer-reviewed literature, there appears to be no study clearly and objectively demonstrating both the presence of a completely inactive human brain and the synchronous co-presence of striking and vivid NDEs taking place at that specific and exact point in time. Not one single study.

Quote:[T]here are actually two main issues being confused by the paranormalists concerning the role of flat EEG measurements and the NDE. One is the notion that EEG measures reflect all neural activity and that when flat, the brain can be said to be completely inactive. The other is the somewhat milder idea that flat EEG profiles index a brain state that is insufficient to support consciousness, and even more so the vivid conscious experience reported by NDEers. This latter proposition does not assume that the EEG captures all neural activity, just the important bits for consciousness.

Over the next several pages, a bunch of studies are then referenced which the authors purport to show that "paranormalists" are wrong on both issues. Then they move on to the next "nails" (in the coffin of "paranormalist" interpretations of NDEs):

Quote:[E]xperiences in syncope were similar in thematic content, frequency and intensity to that reported by NDEers. This evidence is difficult to ignore and seems to go against the common claim from paranormalists that the experiences reported in the NDE are completely qualitatively distinct (i.e., much more intense and convincing) from similar experiences reported in other contexts.

Quote:One of the important findings from research on syncope is that all these vivid and meaningful experiences occur in a very short period of time. Instances of syncope have an average period of around 20-40 seconds from beginning to end - but only the periods of recovery from isoelectric states and unconsciousness are implicated in hallucination. This shortens the window of duration underlying such experiences even further. This is important to note as common generic arguments from paranormalists often imply that NDEs (with all their intense emotional feelings and life-changing effects) must be based in prolonged periods of time (i.e., an almost literal interpretation of anecdotal reports; Fenwick & Fenwick, 1995; van Lommel et al., 2001; van Lommel, 2010).

Quote:A number of recent studies have been published which generally support the predictions of the dying brain account and, hence, the neuroscientific position on NDEs.

Those seem to me to capture the core of the paper.
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Ah the usual claims of not-so-near-death-experiences paralleling NDEs.

But we've known about this going back to the Neo-Platonists at the least, that was arguably the whole point of the Mystery Schools.
'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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Additionally, according to Tim's analysis in the other thread I cited, there is no mention of the brainstem and it's relevance to the subject in his paper if I'm not mistaken.
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