Near Death Experience: theoretical implications contingent upon validity of claim?

  1. [During the pilot phase in one of the hospitals, a
    coronary-care-unit nurse reported a veridical out-ofbody
    experience of a resuscitated patient:
    “During a night shift an ambulance brings in a 44-
    year-old cyanotic, comatose man into the coronary care
    unit. He had been found about an hour before in a
    meadow by passers-by. After admission, he receives
    artificial respiration without intubation, while heart
    massage and defibrillation are also applied. When we
    want to intubate the patient, he turns out to have
    dentures in his mouth. I remove these upper dentures
    and put them onto the ‘crash car’. Meanwhile, we
    continue extensive CPR. After about an hour and a half
    the patient has sufficient heart rhythm and blood
    pressure, but he is still ventilated and intubated, and he
    is still comatose. He is transferred to the intensive care
    unit to continue the necessary artificial respiration. Only
    after more than a week do I meet again with the patient,
    who is by now back on the cardiac ward. I distribute his
    medication. The moment he sees me he says: ‘Oh, that
    nurse knows where my dentures are’. I am very
    surprised. Then he elucidates: ‘Yes, you were there
    when I was brought into hospital and you took my
    dentures out of my mouth and put them onto that car, it
    had all these bottles on it and there was this sliding
    drawer underneath and there you put my teeth.’ I was
    especially amazed because I remembered this happening
    while the man was in deep coma and in the process of
    CPR. When I asked further, it appeared the man had
    seen himself lying in bed, that he had perceived from
    above how nurses and doctors had been busy with CPR.
    He was also able to describe correctly and in detail the
    small room in which he had been resuscitated as well as
    the appearance of those present like myself. At the time
    that he observed the situation he had been very much
    afraid that we would stop CPR and that he would die.
    And it is true that we had been very negative about the
    patient’s prognosis due to his very poor medical
    condition when admitted. The patient tells me that he
    desperately and unsuccessfully tried to make it clear to
    us that he was still alive and that we should continue
    CPR. He is deeply impressed by his experience and says
    he is no longer afraid of death. 4 weeks later he left
    hospital as a healthy man.”]

    Source: http://www.zarqon.co.uk/Lancet.pdf (p.3)

    This information was published in 2001, a) how are more people not talking about this, and b) regardless of the ambiguity that derives from such a claim, why are we (assuming we're not or haven't) investigating this more?

    Thoughts?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Re: Near Death Experience: theoretical implications contingent upon validity of claim

    We are not investigating because as with all other NDE claims, it is purely anecdotal evidence and in the eyes of science - completely worthless.
     
  4. Mech_Engineer

    Mech_Engineer 2,299
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Re: Near Death Experience: theoretical implications contingent upon validity of claim

    Near-death experiences are hallucinations created by the brain due to hypoxia. It has been shown that pilots undergoing g-force stress training have similar experiences.

    More than you probably ever wanted to know about out-of-body-experiences: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Out-of-body_experience
     
  5. Re: Near Death Experience: theoretical implications contingent upon validity of claim

    Are they able to perceive physical reality from some sort of lateral metaphysical standpoint?
    It is unclear to me why this alleged patient and nurse would fabricate such a story; there is no monetary incentive, fame incentive - the man, if the story is true, didn't care at all that much about its implications. It seems highly unlikely that this was fabricated as it was published by what popular opinion has dictated as a heavily credible source.

    The point being: if what this study says is true, then there are profound implications regarding the mutual compatibility of perceptual reality and 'metaphysical' reality. And I see no reason for disinformation.


    Entirely separate, but am I correct I'm deducing that, generally speaking, nobody seems to be interested pursuing a complete understanding of the dream-state? That would be amazing.
     
  6. Re: Near Death Experience: theoretical implications contingent upon validity of claim

    I direct you to the other NDE thread, this exact item has been posted there.

    This is a lovely collection of stories, but that's all it is. Like I said, anecdote doesn't mean jack in science.
    What? There are lots of people working on dreams.
     
  7. Re: Near Death Experience: theoretical implications contingent upon validity of claim

    a. I understand that. However, consider the discovery (and rarity) of synesthesia; interest developed, I assume, from "anecdotal evidence". We know now that synesthesia is real as it has been experimentally verified. Where do we draw the line between pursuing (and at the very least an interest) the verification of anecdotal evidence with potentially profound implications toward our understanding of reality? There has been one William Sidis, one Isaac Newton, one Galileo; all of whom's intellect and in turn contribution has derived from the physical components of their body inherited at birth - just as one who could theoretically "perceive reality from a metaphysical standpoint as it were truly happening" would probably derive that ability from birth, and may very well be one of a kind relative to their times.

    b. Nobody talks about dreams in everyday conversation. Thus the extent of my observation.
     
  8. Re: Near Death Experience: theoretical implications contingent upon validity of claim

    I'd recommend the philosophy forum for this lot.
    That means nothing. There is plenty of research on dreams out there already and still being conducted.
     
  9. Evo

    Staff: Mentor

    Re: Near Death Experience: theoretical implications contingent upon validity of claim

    The Lancet isn't very credible right now, what with the HUGE scandal over the editors backing the MMR/autism fraud.
     
  10. Re: Near Death Experience: theoretical implications contingent upon validity of claim

    I know what all of those words mean individually, but I have no idea what they mean in that order. Can you please rephrase this in everyday English instead of Woo-speak?
     
  11. Re: Near Death Experience: theoretical implications contingent upon validity of claim

    Have you read the paper you posted thoroughly and looked at the discussion at the end. The discussion starts with why only small no. of patients experience this, why not a large majority.


    Interesting fact about the study -

     
  12. Re: Near Death Experience: theoretical implications contingent upon validity of claim

    I'm an agnostic on near death experiences but, as a retired scientist, I'm a bit appalled at some of the responses to the OP. He posed two scientifically reasonable questions to anectdotal data:

    a) how are more people not talking about this, and b) regardless of the ambiguity that derives from such a claim, why are we (assuming we're not or haven't) investigating this more?

    While there may be good answers to these, "anecdote doesn't mean jack in science" is not one of them, nor is "near-death experiences are hallucinations created by the brain due to hypoxia." The first rejects the role of observation in scientific advance, the second assumes a result based on results whose conditions do not match the reported observation. Granted, the anectode must be screened to ensure it was correctly reported by a good witness, etc, but we have enough of these to meet the basic criteria for a good observational data set.

    Not to be condescending, but science begins with interesting observations, then hypotheses, then tests to confirm or reject the hypotheses. The anectode posted is not in itself proof of anything but, if enough similar anectdotes are posted, a case could be made that these are observations worthy of a hyothesis and a test. This was the situation with the hypothesis of spontaneous generation and the Martian canals, proven wrong, and Galileo's heliocentric theory, proved correct. All of these, and every other scientific theory, began with interesting observations that were new or didn't fit the mainstream. The vast majority of such observations are found to be false, or incorrect interpretations, but the few that are valid form the basis for scientific advancement.

    So the NDE anectodes may be hallucinations, may be misinterpretations, etc, but to reject them out of hand as being merely anectodes is to misunderstand the nature of the scientific method.
     
  13. Evo

    Staff: Mentor

    Re: Near Death Experience: theoretical implications contingent upon validity of claim

    And how do you propose to do scientific testing of these anecdotes?

    I am not aware that any NDE's have been scientifically proven.
     
  14. Re: Near Death Experience: theoretical implications contingent upon validity of claim

    "And how do you propose to do scientific testing of these anecdotes?"
    That's a premature question. First, tell me your hypothesis, then I'll suggest how to test it.

    "The few that are valid...
    I am not aware that any NDE's have been scientifically proven."


    Validity does not equate with provability. Data validity is the process of ensuring that the data captured is internally consistent, gathered under the same set of rules, as free of bias as possible, with due diligence on the data source, the manner of reporting, etc.

    Provability is well down stream. Data may be valid, as in Lowell's drawings of smudges on his observations of Mars, yet his hypothesis failed to be proven. Or the data may be invalid, in which case it's probably a waste of time to hypothesize.

    For the sake of argument, suppose the hypothesis is that consciousness continues to exist for a certain period of time after clinical death. First thing is to critically define what we mean by consciousness, clinical death, etc. Again, for the sake of argument, suppose we agree on consciousness as being the ability to use one or more of our five senses to probe the same reality as those living. And clinical death as the stoppage for an agreed period of time of measurable brain activity. Then a reasonable observational study would be to compare reported observations by those clinically dead for that agreed-upon period of time with those living in the same space and time. If they didn't match to some statistical threshold, we could reject the hypothesis. If they did agree, we could entertain its correctness and wait for replication by other experiments. In either case, the best we could do it to demonstrate that such a hypothesis was experimentally tenable -- we could not, of course, prove it without recourse to random experimentation, nor could we extend its results to those who were clinically dead for more than the agreed-upon timeframe, for practical reasons.

    Even with these constraints, such an experiment would be equally valid as those used today for other clinical observational studies on interventions such as experimental cancer therapies, for which double blind studies are the exceptions rather than the norm.

    Again, I'm an agnostic on the topic under discussion, but a proponent of the scientific method.
     
  15. Evo

    Staff: Mentor

    Re: Near Death Experience: theoretical implications contingent upon validity of claim

    Apparently you don't understand that the onus of proof lies with the one making the claim.

    So let's see your proof.
     
  16. Re: Near Death Experience: theoretical implications contingent upon validity of claim

    "Apparently you don't understand that the onus of proof lies with the one making the claim.
    So let's see your proof. "

    What claim have I made?
    Is basic science still taught?
    How about basic reading skills?
     
  17. Evo

    Staff: Mentor

    Re: Near Death Experience: theoretical implications contingent upon validity of claim

    You made the claim
    All right, let's see those scientific studies that verified these valid NDE's. You'll find that you can't just throw nonsense out on this forum and not be asked to prove it.
     
  18. Re: Near Death Experience: theoretical implications contingent upon validity of claim

    "You made the claim

    but the few that are valid form the basis for scientific advancement.

    All right, let's see those scientific studies that verified these valid NDE's. You'll find that you can't just throw nonsense out on this forum and not be asked to prove it."



    Well, this is worse than I thought. Quoting out of context is not in the best spirit of scientific studies. Perhaps it would help if you read my entire post,

    "This was the situation with the hypothesis of spontaneous generation and the Martian canals, proven wrong, and Galileo's heliocentric theory, proved correct. All of these, and every other scientific theory, began with interesting observations that were new or didn't fit the mainstream. The vast majority of such observations are found to be false, or incorrect interpretations, but the few that are valid form the basis for scientific advancement."

    I used well-known scientific observations, not NDEs, as an example of the use of the scientific method. As far as NDE's, you'll have to ask the OP. If you would read my entire post, you will note I was objecting to the casual dismissal of the questions asked in that post. I have no position on NDE's nor have I made any claims.

    Now, would you like to post an scientifically objective, rather than an emotional, or knee-jerk, response to the OP's questions?

    a) how are more people not talking about this, and b) regardless of the ambiguity that derives from such a claim, why are we (assuming we're not or haven't) investigating this more?

    I don't know the answers, but I'm confident that "anecdote doesn't mean jack in science" is not the best answer.
     
  19. Evo

    Staff: Mentor

    Re: Near Death Experience: theoretical implications contingent upon validity of claim

    Please learn how to use the quote button.

    Perhaps I did misunderstand you, my apologies, you lost me at Galileo.

    So back to your post, anecdotes are meaningless in science. You seem to disagree, so post some evidence to show why we should consider unproven anecdotes.
     
  20. Re: Near Death Experience: theoretical implications contingent upon validity of claim

    Apology accepted, let's start over.
    Sorry, I don't know how to use the quote button so if that's the price of entry, I'm out.

    "So back to your post, anecdotes are meaningless in science. You seem to disagree, so post some evidence to show why we should consider unproven anecdotes."

    - Prior to Chladni's "On the Origin of the Mass of Iron Discovered by Pallas and Others Similar to It, and on Some Natural Phenomena Related to Them," (1794) rocks falling from the sky were rejected as merely anecdotal. And they were, since no scientific studies had been done, and no theories had been advanced, other than quasi-religious ones, for meteorites.

    - Ball lightning has been reported anecdotaly since at least the 1600s, and it's only recently that plasma theory has been advanced and tested as a hypothesis.

    - Curing or betterment of an illness through extra-medical means has been anectdotaly reported for eons, and was only validated by science through double blind studies of placebo effects.

    I could go on, but you get the idea. None of these were proven until science took the anecdotes sufficiently serious to begin hypothesizing and testing.

    This has nothing to do with NDEs, but neither does my original post.
     
  21. Evo

    Staff: Mentor

    Re: Near Death Experience: theoretical implications contingent upon validity of claim

    And the sun used to revolve around the earth, and evil spirits and witches caused disease.

    In other words, nothing you've posted has added anything of value to this thread.

    The quote button is at the bottom right of all posts.
     
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