Keith Augustine - NDEs with Hallucinatory Features

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So, Keith Augustine, bit of old news and this article of his is 13 years old so potentially quite out of date. However, I reread it today and there's some very interesting things buried down deep.

So, to get general points out of the road:
- His whole out of body discrepancies section is crap, points that have been debated in disproved ages ago
-Every single case he cites in his Living Persons section has the living person in the NDE beckoning the person back, rather than something like "Man come to the other side lets go!". Make of that what you will.
-Cultural differences are the REAL meat of this post and I'll come back to it
-Random memories is just junk. Not even everyone has them so yknow move on let alone why they have to be important memories.
-Threashold crossing. The best example he can get is a dude boarding a train, and even then there isn't any reason why someone couldn't be brought back. His point about who decides to come back also seems to be a bit of a stretch. 
-Hallucinatory imagery is interesting, though we do know that NDEs can be surreal, though they're tame compare to most drug trips. Could it be a case of form you're comfortable with or choose the form of your destroyer? I dunno.
-Unfulilled predictions is something I've seen you guys discuss around here a bit so I don't think they need to be pointed out. 

All in all the entire thing seems to have a lot of dismissal of evidence simply because it doesn't fit Keith's idea of what an afterlife should be, rejecting of information because NDEs are different but should all be exactly the same without ever considering the afterlife might not be....the same for everyone? And just cherry picking info while ignoring other bits, the quotes he has are a really keen example because he does these full in context quotes but goes "well I agree with these bits but not the rest of it" like all the time. I'd encourage all of you though to give it a read to highlight your own objections. Or at least skip to the bits you might think will be challenging.

However, the MOST interesting thing about this that I would recommend everyone read is the cross cultural section, specifically for the NDEs from other countries and the comparisons. I'll give it to Keith here, it is hard to keep up an idea that NDEs are different interpretations of the same event after reading these. They are very keenly different, with people's NDEs being themed based on their culture. The points of NDEs from other countries not always being benevolent or nice and instead being neutral or judgementive is also extremely interesting, since it may actually narrow down what NDEs could be. Hard for them to be happy brain chemicals if they can be realiably completely not happy, but also potentially not universally blissful? The idea that there are not as many universal aspects to NDEs as what we might normally assume is also something to consider (though some of the ones he labels as not counting are cheap. Your life is read to you instead of a life review, basically the same shit). It's also something that I might be willing to cede, our very Western centric view of NDEs may not be accurate for NDEs from other countries and may not be as universal as what researchers have said it is. This is an old article and there may have been new developments (I know Bruce Greyson has BEEN to India to talk about NDEs) so if you guys have any info be sure to share. I don't think any of this is awfully dangerous for NDEs, again considering its so outdated, but it's definitely worth reading and not just passing off as one of those dang skeptics.
Here's the PDF with the article + varied rebuttals.

Now that we have The Self Does Not Die I can't see Augustine's essay having any merit.

Not to say it had any merit beforehand.
'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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  • Raimo
(2021-02-04, 11:08 AM)Smaw Wrote: So, Keith Augustine, bit of old news and this article of his is 13 years old so potentially quite out of date. However, I reread it today and there's some very interesting things buried down deep.

So, to get general points out of the road:
- His whole out of body discrepancies section is crap, points that have been debated in disproved ages ago
-Every single case he cites in his Living Persons section has the living person in the NDE beckoning the person back, rather than something like "Man come to the other side lets go!". Make of that what you will.
-Cultural differences are the REAL meat of this post and I'll come back to it
-Random memories is just junk. Not even everyone has them so yknow move on let alone why they have to be important memories.
-Threashold crossing. The best example he can get is a dude boarding a train, and even then there isn't any reason why someone couldn't be brought back. His point about who decides to come back also seems to be a bit of a stretch. 
-Hallucinatory imagery is interesting, though we do know that NDEs can be surreal, though they're tame compare to most drug trips. Could it be a case of form you're comfortable with or choose the form of your destroyer? I dunno.
-Unfulilled predictions is something I've seen you guys discuss around here a bit so I don't think they need to be pointed out. 

All in all the entire thing seems to have a lot of dismissal of evidence simply because it doesn't fit Keith's idea of what an afterlife should be, rejecting of information because NDEs are different but should all be exactly the same without ever considering the afterlife might not be....the same for everyone? And just cherry picking info while ignoring other bits, the quotes he has are a really keen example because he does these full in context quotes but goes "well I agree with these bits but not the rest of it" like all the time. I'd encourage all of you though to give it a read to highlight your own objections. Or at least skip to the bits you might think will be challenging.

However, the MOST interesting thing about this that I would recommend everyone read is the cross cultural section, specifically for the NDEs from other countries and the comparisons. I'll give it to Keith here, it is hard to keep up an idea that NDEs are different interpretations of the same event after reading these. They are very keenly different, with people's NDEs being themed based on their culture. The points of NDEs from other countries not always being benevolent or nice and instead being neutral or judgementive is also extremely interesting, since it may actually narrow down what NDEs could be. Hard for them to be happy brain chemicals if they can be realiably completely not happy, but also potentially not universally blissful? The idea that there are not as many universal aspects to NDEs as what we might normally assume is also something to consider (though some of the ones he labels as not counting are cheap. Your life is read to you instead of a life review, basically the same shit). It's also something that I might be willing to cede, our very Western centric view of NDEs may not be accurate for NDEs from other countries and may not be as universal as what researchers have said it is. This is an old article and there may have been new developments (I know Bruce Greyson has BEEN to India to talk about NDEs) so if you guys have any info be sure to share. I don't think any of this is awfully dangerous for NDEs, again considering its so outdated, but it's definitely worth reading and not just passing off as one of those dang skeptics.

I think the most plausible explanation of this is something along the lines of the heirarchical multi-level or multi-realm concept of the afterlife. What if the immediate levels of consciousness and experience that NDEers go into are the lowest spiritually and are organized according to the culture. Cultural expectations would be the local reality of these lowermost spiritual realms, which would in part at least be formed from these culturally based beliefs. Hence the cultural differences between NDEs. 

The events in consciousness experienced during the NDE would literally be the local environment and would be expected to be different in many ways to the experiences of an NDEer from a different culture. Yet the overall near death experience would certainly be paranormal and spiritual and of going to a fundamentally different nonphysical realm where to varying extents veridical evidential experiences can occur.
(This post was last modified: 2021-02-04, 08:46 PM by nbtruthman.)
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(2021-02-04, 08:45 PM)nbtruthman Wrote: I think the most plausible explanation of this is something along the lines of the heirarchical multi-level or multi-realm concept of the afterlife. What if the immediate levels of consciousness and experience that NDEers go into are the lowest spiritually and are organized according to the culture. Cultural expectations would be the local reality of these lowermost spiritual realms, which would in part at least be formed from these culturally based beliefs. Hence the cultural differences between NDEs. 

The events in consciousness experienced during the NDE would literally be the local environment and would be expected to be different in many ways to the experiences of an NDEer from a different culture. Yet the overall near death experience would certainly be paranormal and spiritual and of going to a fundamentally different nonphysical realm where to varying extents veridical evidential experiences can occur.

There's also the idea of the Imaginal Space which it seems people pass through or interact with whether it's an NDE, a shamanic psychedelic trip, a telepathic dream, or mediumship.

Sometimes you get veridical information, other times the fictional/confused content is all you get.

Mundus Imaginalis or the Imaginary and the Imaginal

Henry Corbin

Quote:...In other words, if we usually speak of the imaginary as the unreal, the utopian, this must contain the symptom of something. In contrast to this something, we may examine briefly together the order of reality that I designate as mundus imaginalis, and what our theosophers in Islam designate as the “eighth climate”; we will then examine the organ that perceives this reality, namely, the imaginative consciousness, thecognitive Imagination; and finally, we will present several examples, among many others, of course, that suggest to us the topography of these interworlds, as they have been seen by those who actually have been there...
edit: Chris Carter has also covered the cross-cultural aspect of NDEs in his books.
'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: 2021-02-04, 09:32 PM by Sciborg_S_Patel.)
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  • tim
(2021-02-04, 07:42 PM)Sciborg_S_Patel Wrote: Here's the PDF with the article + varied rebuttals.

Now that we have The Self Does Not Die I can't see Augustine's essay having any merit.

Not to say it had any merit beforehand.

Good stuff, read over it and they cover some of the other points I had in mind. Does not adress the big cross cultural differences though, but does tackle some hallucinatory features. An interesting point that's brought up is if they were hallucinations they would be a lot wilder even within cultures, but it seems to be they are consistent depending on the culture you're a part of along with a few cross cultural elements. 

The hallucinatory features also seem to be a bit of a stand out but like Holden I think pointed out, 8% of NDEs in a study with 1 discrepancy compared to numerous others with perfect memory. Could itbe a trick of the memory? I don't know. Again, it's a bit dated, I like to assume we've figured out more by 2021.
(2021-02-04, 10:00 PM)Smaw Wrote: Good stuff, read over it and they cover some of the other points I had in mind. Does not adress the big cross cultural differences though, but does tackle some hallucinatory features. An interesting point that's brought up is if they were hallucinations they would be a lot wilder even within cultures, but it seems to be they are consistent depending on the culture you're a part of along with a few cross cultural elements. 

The hallucinatory features also seem to be a bit of a stand out but like Holden I think pointed out, 8% of NDEs in a study with 1 discrepancy compared to numerous others with perfect memory. Could itbe a trick of the memory? I don't know. Again, it's a bit dated, I like to assume we've figured out more by 2021.

I'm not sure I see what the problem is with cross-cultural features?

Even Alex on Skeptiko ultimately accepted NDEs couldn't be pure sources of knowledge regarding what the afterlife is like, but I think this is a separate concern from whether a person survives after death? I also repeatedly noted this issue, specifically with the NDEs that pushed Pureland Buddhism (though many of these could be faked for the purpose of proselytizing).

As I noted in my reply to Nbtruthman above, varied kinds of anomalous communication involve crossing a path through imagination - for example I recall one account in (IIRC) Edge Science where telepathic communication in dreams involves a human head popping up when the head of a fish is cut off. 

Beyond that, it's an open question what aspects of culture are born of spinning fiction and what aspects are born of spiritual truths. (Gordon White gets into some of this in Star Ships where he tries to dig into how spirits influenced human civilization.)

I would say, looking at the cases in The Self Does Not Die, that we should separate the question of Survival from an attempted cartography of the spiritual/subtle worlds.
'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


(2021-02-04, 09:24 PM)Sciborg_S_Patel Wrote: There's also the idea of the Imaginal Space which it seems people pass through or interact with whether it's an NDE, a shamanic psychedelic trip, a telepathic dream, or mediumship.

Sometimes you get veridical information, other times the fictional/confused content is all you get.

Mundus Imaginalis or the Imaginary and the Imaginal

Henry Corbin

edit: Chris Carter has also covered the cross-cultural aspect of NDEs in his books.
I'm assuming Gregory Shushan has as well? AFAIK he's more neutral on NDEs but is interested in studying them across cultures.
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  • Sciborg_S_Patel
(2021-02-04, 10:30 PM)OmniVersalNexus Wrote: I'm assuming Gregory Shushan has as well? AFAIK he's more neutral on NDEs but is interested in studying them across cultures.

Probably...his Kindle editions are pretty expensive so I haven't taken the plunge.

But even if there was a singular story across NDEs from different countries people would - and do - say that's because of some common mythic/archetypal themes or some psychological/biological reasons.

I mean skeptics don't think it matters that there are various commonalities in mystic vision accounts, or in belief in things like 4-5 elements, etc.
'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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