Do Similar Near-Death Experiences Validate an Afterlife?

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In summary: This can (in theory) lead to several different possible introspective situations, depending on which parts of the brain, underlying which functions, in what order, drop...
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LightningInAJar
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Summary:: What conclusions can actually be made from near death experiences and metaphysical research?

If people describe the experience of biological death and subsequent recovery in very similar terms such as the classic white light down dark tunnel, seeing loved ones that died, hearing beautiful music, etc, Is that a better or worse argument for existence after death than if everyone experienced something different? Scientifically what makes a good argument for continued existence after the body dies?
 
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The question is more about neurological science than it is about After-Life, or Parapsychology or Metaphysics.
 
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I am old enough to remember an old Westinghouse radio with tubes that we had in the house. There was no television and listening to the radio was our evening's entertainment. That thing took about a minute to warm up. Most interestingly, when it was clicked off, the music faded gradually over 1-2 seconds. A different brand radio in my grandmother's house behaved likewise. Eventually, I figured out that the fading of the sound was correlated to the fading of the tubes' glow. The amplifier kept going as long as the tube filaments were hot enough to emit electrons. The explanation why a tube radio keeps playing for a brief time after being turned off can be couched scientifically in electronics arguments.

Do you see where I am going with this? The experiences shared in common by people who were brought back from biological death are not in themselves proof of continued existence. They could very well be a transient effect just like the fading radio sound. I agree with @symbolipoint that a scientific argument of the shared experiences that you describe must be couched in neuroscience and neurophysiology.
 
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  • #4
kuruman said:
I am old enough to remember an old Westinghouse radio with tubes that we had in the house. There was no television and listening to the radio was our evening's entertainment. That thing took about a minute to warm up. Most interestingly, when it was clicked off, the music faded gradually over 1-2 seconds. A different brand radio in my grandmother's house behaved likewise. Eventually, I figured out that the fading of the sound was correlated to the fading of the tubes' glow. The amplifier kept going as long as the tube filaments were hot enough to emit electrons. The explanation why a tube radio keeps playing for a brief time after being turned off can be couched scientifically in electronics arguments.

Do you see where I am going with this? The experiences shared in common by people who were brought back from biological death are not in themselves proof of continued existence. They could very well be a transient effect just like the fading radio sound. I agree with @symbolipoint that a scientific argument of the shared experiences that you describe must be couched in neuroscience and neurophysiology.

People claim their experience was even more lucid than normal and they often recall things in the room that a clinically dead person with their eyes closed should not be privy to. This isn't proof. But would vastly different experiences scientifically sound more compelling?
 
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  • #5
LightningInAJar said:
This isn't proof. But would vastly different experiences scientifically sound more compelling?
There have been cases where brain activity has gradually faded and withdrawn to the stem, then a few days later the activity has expanded again, with no known explanation. Different people dream different primitive things under different circumstances.

Part of the problem is language. We use the terms learned from others to express ourselves. You should expect that the stories will all sound the same, or involve the same neurological primitives, such as tunnel vision of a bright area. There is nothing to say we actually understand each other, indeed the opposite appears to be the case with friends, or in non-hostile situations.
 
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My view on near death experiences is based on my belief that the mind is a kind of information system manifested on the neurophysiological functioning of the brain. Tweek the neurological-functioning, tweek the mind.
To me the most basic fact of consciousness is that one's mind can detect the functioning of one's mind (what your thiniking about, what kind of mood your in), and can at times control it.
This requires a circularity of the system to be able to detect itself and function in this way. (Control loops are rampant in biology.)

The internal view of approaching the bodily death state can take several different pathways, with different results on the mind's experience.
If consciousness is lost first, you will sense nothing (by definition).
However, if the functional foundation of consciousness is preserved, than the conscious mind can watch what happens as other parts of the brain shut down.

This can (in theory) lead to several different possible introspective situations, depending on which parts of the brain, underlying which functions, in what order, drop out of operation before consciousness is lost.
If you lose the sense of time (which I believe is a neurological condition), you might have a sense of timelessness.
If some circular loops in your brain lose negative influences and become strictly (or mostly) positive feedback loops, you might perceive general good feeling, euphoria, and bright lights.
If your sense of self is lost (I think also another neurological symptom), then you might feel detached from your body.
You might revel in your fulfilling experiences or feel, down about some bad things in your past, as your unconscious reviews your life's events.

These things could well occur as one approaches death, one's physiological systems are failing, and some parts of the brain are turning off (which can be reversible) before others.

If one then reverts from their course to death and "comes back to life", then they might remember some strange events.
 
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LightningInAJar said:
Summary:: What conclusions can actually be made from near death experiences and metaphysical research?
...
Scientifically what makes a good argument for continued existence after the body dies?

None. You can consider this (and the various attempts to approach this on scientific basis) as kind of a grindstone, grinding down false science and whetting scientific methods, but no solid result yet apart from some strictly biological phenomena.

The point is, you know, that only a really dead are really dead. And from that point they are just not good witness.
 
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  • #8
LightningInAJar said:
Summary:: What conclusions can actually be made from near death experiences and metaphysical research?

If people describe the experience of biological death and subsequent recovery in very similar terms such as the classic white light down dark tunnel, seeing loved ones that died, hearing beautiful music, etc, Is that a better or worse argument for existence after death than if everyone experienced something different? Scientifically what makes a good argument for continued existence after the body dies?
we release hormones under stress, pain, that can have a physiological effect

https://www.ed.ac.uk/news/all-news/paranormal-311011

As has been pointed out near death is not death, dead is dead and there is zero evidence that there is any part of our brain, consciousness or anything else that survives that event.
 
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LightningInAJar said:
People claim their experience was even more lucid than normal and they often recall things in the room that a clinically dead person with their eyes closed should not be privy to. This isn't proof. But would vastly different experiences scientifically sound more compelling?
I'm not sure if you are aware, but the definition of biological death has changed over time. It's when brain activity ceases, not when the heart stops. There is no returning from death (caveat that it isn't exactly measurable).

The experiences people describe when near death are generally consistent with medical science, particularly the "light at the end of the tunnel" (tunnel vision).

There is no scientific basis for an afterlife. By definition there can't be.
 
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  • #10
pinball1970 said:
we release hormones under stress, pain, that can have a physiological effect
And then there's the morphine...
 
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@russ_watters Morphine? Possibly if you are in hospital

We release endorphins under stress/pain naturally which are opioids.
 
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  • #12
pinball1970 said:
@russ_watters Morphine? Possibly if you are in hospital

We release endorphins under stress/pain naturally which are opioids.
Do these sort of near-death experiences happen outside of hospitals? Particularly with the heart-stopped-but-not-dead-yet variety, it is hard to re-start a heart outside of a hospital.

...er, well, with defibrillators required in public buildings now, maybe it's getting more common. Maybe someone could study the frequency of occurrence inside vs outside of hospitals.
 
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russ_watters said:
Do these sort of near-death experiences happen outside of hospitals? Particularly with the heart-stopped-but-not-dead-yet variety, it is hard to re-start a heart outside of a hospital.

...er, well, with defibrillators required in public buildings now, maybe it's getting more common. Maybe someone could study the frequency of occurrence inside and outside of hospitals.
There have been some fairly high profile heart attacks on football pitches during matches.

Fabrice Muamba heart stopped for 78 minutes and more recently Christian Erikson.

CPR was administered quickly so they were probably only “dead” for seconds.

These were super fit young sportsmen so I suppose anyone could just drop dead in the street from a CVA before they get to hospital to be brought back.

The case I read in the national library of medicine involved a lady in a car accident who had a NDE, I will post the link if I can find it again.

EDIT: this one. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4117086/

First case in a car accident. Glassgow scale was low

It did not say if her heart had stopped beating in the summary.

On the gods part, Vishnu Shiva etc there are other article claiming NDE are debunked because cross culture experiences are not reported.

So for instance a Hindu will not have a NDE involving Jesus and a Christian will not Allah or Mohammed.

This illustrates that whatever is going on is happening on the inside not outside.

However NDE has this mystical thing attached to it that people seem to buy into like clairvoyance, star signs and artists like psychic Sally (who had part of her tour canceled due to Covid…..)
 
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pinball1970 said:
As has been pointed out near death is not death, dead is dead and there is zero evidence that there is any part of our brain, consciousness or anything else that survives that event.
Yet, according to some, the dead have been known to vote ##\dots##
 
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  • #15
russ_watters said:
I'm not sure if you are aware, but the definition of biological death has changed over time. It's when brain activity ceases, not when the heart stops. There is no returning from death (caveat that it isn't exactly measurable).

The experiences people describe when near death are generally consistent with medical science, particularly the "light at the end of the tunnel" (tunnel vision).

There is no scientific basis for an afterlife. By definition there can't be.

I don't know the definition of death as a doctor would. But I know the measurable neurological activity stops and can be stopped for hours and still be restarted. I think the reintroduce of oxygen is what causes brain death than the lack. So it's a careful mix of gases used to get the brain going again. The heart isn't even a huge factor at this point.
 
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  • #16
So a similar story of "current death" experience is equally credible as a bunch of different stories? I assume similar stories would be possibly reflective of a same human anatomy dying versus different stories which would indicate imagination. Neither come close as evidence of continued consciousness, but which is more aimed in that direction?
 
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Could anyone bring some focus for this topic? If not, then this discussion will be unproductive.
 
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  • #18
symbolipoint said:
will continue to be unproductive.
Fixed that for you.
 
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Huh. Care to give a reference? I'd be interested in that.
LightningInAJar said:
I don't know the definition of death as a doctor would. But I know the measurable neurological activity stops and can be stopped for hours and still be restarted. I think the reintroduce of oxygen is what causes brain death than the lack. So it's a careful mix of gases used to get the brain going again. The heart isn't even a huge factor at this point.
 
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  • #21
Hornbein said:
Huh. Care to give a reference? I'd be interested in that.
Don't bother. It's bogus. It's a popular account of Parnia et al. AWARE—AWAreness during REsuscitation—A prospective study which says nothing whatever about this. The only possible number in the paper that could possily be be misconstrued as "measurable neurological activity stops and can be stopped for hours" is 3 minutes.

This isn't just a low-quality thread. It's a low quality thread with made-up sources.
 
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  • #22
This thread is closed. If any would like to have a related scientific discussion, please start a thread in the biology and medicine section based on a specific peer-reviewed scientific paper. Popular accounts, rumors, and personal opinions are not sufficient for this topic here on PF
 
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Related to Do Similar Near-Death Experiences Validate an Afterlife?

1. What is parapsychology?

Parapsychology is the study of phenomena that are beyond the scope of traditional scientific explanation, such as extrasensory perception (ESP), telekinesis, and near-death experiences. It seeks to understand and explore these phenomena through scientific methods and theories.

2. Is parapsychology considered a legitimate field of science?

The legitimacy of parapsychology as a scientific field is still a topic of debate among scientists. While some believe that it is a legitimate field and should be studied, others argue that it lacks sufficient evidence and replicable results to be considered a true science.

3. Can parapsychology and metaphysics be studied together?

Yes, parapsychology and metaphysics can be studied together, as they both deal with phenomena that are outside the realm of traditional science. However, it is important to note that metaphysics is a broad and diverse field, and not all aspects of it may align with the principles of parapsychology.

4. What is the difference between parapsychology and paranormal activity?

Parapsychology is a scientific study of phenomena that cannot be explained by traditional science, while paranormal activity refers to unexplainable events or experiences that may involve ghosts, spirits, or other supernatural entities. Parapsychology seeks to understand and explain these phenomena through scientific methods, while paranormal activity is often seen as a more subjective and unverifiable concept.

5. Are there any practical applications of parapsychology?

While the study of parapsychology may not have practical applications in the traditional sense, it has been used in various fields such as psychology, medicine, and law enforcement. For example, some psychologists use parapsychology techniques to help patients with mental health issues, while some law enforcement agencies have used it to gather information in criminal investigations. However, more research is needed to fully understand and utilize the potential practical applications of parapsychology.

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