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(Newsweek)   Neurosurgeon who says he saw Heaven during near-death experience responds to critics, insists he's a "deep believer in science" despite special pleading for experience during least reliable mental state short of death   (thedailybeast.com) divider line 162
    More: Followup, Nobel Prize in Physics, cerebral cortex, imaging science, modern physics, Heisenberg, proof, bacterial meningitis, physical environment  
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2613 clicks; posted to Geek » on 25 Nov 2012 at 7:40 AM (1 year ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2012-11-25 12:32:38 AM
Doc.... even if your brain had no activity, which I doubt, that does not mean the visions you had are proof of an afterlife. Whose to say you had those "vision" while your brain was offline? Most likely they arose when your brain activity was restored and your sense of time was distorted because of the trauma you suffered.
 
2012-11-25 12:48:55 AM
Interesting read, but...

Make no mistake: consciousness is a total mystery. As total a mystery now as it was 10, or 100, or 1,000 years ago. We simply do not know what it is. But consciousness is so familiar to all of us, so central to our identities, that we have learned to overlook this most obvious of facts.


This just ain't so. Consciousness is certainly a phenomenon we haven't understood completely, but we do understand what it is, we understand where it takes place, and we are rapidly learning exactly how it can be altered, damaged, or lost. It's an absolutely fascinating area where science is starting to explain morality, rather than the other way around, for example.

What happened to you, doc, is no doubt a life-altering experience, but it really doesn't bring our understanding of the conscience, (the "soul" to theologians) into question, it kind of adds to and enriches it.
 
2012-11-25 12:51:11 AM
I also experienced that transitional period, when my mind began to regain consciousness: I remember a vivid paranoid nightmare in which my wife and doctors were trying to kill me, and I was only saved from certain death by a ninja couple after being pushed from a 60-story cancer hospital in south Florida. But that period of disorientation and delusion had absolutely nothing to do with what happened to me before my cortex began to recover: the period, that is, when it was shut down and incapable of supporting consciousness at all. During that period, I experienced something very similar to what countless other people who have undergone near-death experiences have witnessed: the transition to a realm beyond the physical, and a vast broadening of my consciousness. The only real difference between my experience and those others is that my brain was, essentially, deader than theirs.

One of these things is real and the other is not real. I've concluded this based on nothing, which is the most reliable form of evidence available.
 
2012-11-25 12:51:52 AM
Yeah, iw as there too -- we were lucky -- welcome to the club, don't take it for granted cuz you haven't gone all the way yet
 
2012-11-25 12:52:38 AM

Relatively Obscure: One of these things is real and the other is not real. I've concluded this based on nothing, which is the most reliable form of evidence available.


Oh, someone who hasn't been there pipes his whistle
 
2012-11-25 12:57:06 AM

urban.derelict: Relatively Obscure: One of these things is real and the other is not real. I've concluded this based on nothing, which is the most reliable form of evidence available.

Oh, someone who hasn't been there pipes his whistle


I'm glad your brain malfunction gave you warm and fuzzies, rather than anything worse, and I'm glad you're alive.
 
2012-11-25 01:04:26 AM
You know your own brain can fake experiences in near death situations, and you suddenly decide to toss aside all of your knowledge once experiencing it yourself in favor of mystical happy-go-lucky bullshiat? Yeah, you're just out for money. Of course, putting out a book makes that plain.

At least you're not exploring your children for it, like that one book. I wanted to punch every single person that came in looking for that when I worked at B&N.
 
2012-11-25 01:05:37 AM
That bowtie, although not proof, is compelling evidence that this guy is a douche.

And a charlatan.
 
2012-11-25 01:17:32 AM
That should really not be 'exploring.' It should be 'exploiting.'
 
2012-11-25 01:42:47 AM

ecmoRandomNumbers: That bowtie, although not proof, is compelling evidence that this guy is a douche.

And a charlatan.


I couldn't agree with you more about the bowtie douchebag connection.
 
2012-11-25 02:03:07 AM
I reserve judgment on the whole near-death thing, mostly because tales of people seeing things happening a great distance from where they were "dying" and then recounting details of those events they could not have possibly seen or overheard while semi-conscious on an operating table or hospital bed.

The euphoria, seeing people who died long ago, life review, flood of memories...all that can possibly be explained by the massive release of neurotransmitters and feel-good chemicals in the brain.

But having knowledge of things happening simultaneously a distance from where you are while you are in between life and death? Unexplainable by science (so far.)

Sadly, when I croak I will not be able to come back and tell you all what's what.
 
2012-11-25 02:06:50 AM

AdolfOliverPanties: I reserve judgment on the whole near-death thing, mostly because tales of people seeing things happening a great distance from where they were "dying" and then recounting details of those events they could not have possibly seen or overheard while semi-conscious on an operating table or hospital bed.

The euphoria, seeing people who died long ago, life review, flood of memories...all that can possibly be explained by the massive release of neurotransmitters and feel-good chemicals in the brain.

But having knowledge of things happening simultaneously a distance from where you are while you are in between life and death? Unexplainable by science (so far.)

Sadly, when I croak I will not be able to come back and tell you all what's what.


People say the same or similar things about psychics and astrologers.
 
2012-11-25 03:13:12 AM
My wife is making me read that damn book so I'll "believe in something". Halfway through and still nothing that can't be explained by normal dreaming.

/she said she was fine with me being an atheist when we married
//should have known better
 
2012-11-25 05:40:09 AM

m3000: My wife is making me read that damn book so I'll "believe in something". Halfway through and still nothing that can't be explained by normal dreaming.

/she said she was fine with me being an atheist when we married
//should have known better


I think you should kick her ass out.

/but that's like my opinion, man
 
2012-11-25 08:00:06 AM

m3000: My wife is making me read that damn book so I'll "believe in something". Halfway through and still nothing that can't be explained by normal dreaming.

/she said she was fine with me being an atheist when we married
//should have known better


Why the hell did you get married? Was there a gun to your head?
 
2012-11-25 08:06:58 AM

AdolfOliverPanties: I reserve judgment on the whole near-death thing, mostly because tales of people seeing things happening a great distance from where they were "dying" and then recounting details of those events they could not have possibly seen or overheard while semi-conscious on an operating table or hospital bed.


I remember reports of a surgeon who often received reports of near death experiences by his patients who claimed their consciousness floated up from their body while on the operating table and they could watch everybody in the operating room. So he positioned some objects in the operating theater that couldn't be seen from the table but could be seen from a position above the table. Not a single patient reported seeing the plastic apple, the number 68, or whatever he was using.
 
2012-11-25 08:28:04 AM
And of course, we all know that the sun revolves around the flat earth!

Enough said.
 
2012-11-25 08:34:07 AM
As an atheist I want to believe. In the off chance there is consciousness after death I'll be pleasantly surprised, but either way I won't be disappointed.
 
2012-11-25 08:43:17 AM
He's a neurosurgeon, not a neuroscientist. He's a highly-trained brain-plumber. I don't expect him to understand the way this actually works.
 
2012-11-25 08:50:27 AM
The weird thing I found the old tunnel of light and sound phenomenon can be reproduced by going into high g-forces to reduce blood flow to the brain and has been shown thousands of times but it is the most stated evidence of going to heaven on a near death experience. The feeling of floating has also been simulated and people do that regularly in non close to death environments. Delusional visions are also quite common with low blood flow to the brain. So really nothing there can't be explained, other than why they chose this interpretation, other than the need to satisfy a lack of faith in their own believes where they need physical evidence to say they are correct in what they read in Bronze age and Iron age books.
 
2012-11-25 08:53:28 AM
Least reliable mental state, period, subby. The mental state during death is *extremely* reliable.
 
2012-11-25 08:54:36 AM

m3000: My wife is making me read that damn book so I'll "believe in something". Halfway through and still nothing that can't be explained by normal dreaming.

/she said she was fine with me being an atheist when we married
//should have known better


It can sometimes work. My grandmother was a Christian and my grandfather was an atheist. But they loved each other and just agreed to disagree.
 
2012-11-25 08:57:47 AM

urban.derelict: Oh, someone who hasn't been there pipes his whistle


I've had a near death experience! I got the floating away from my body, the light and the tunnel and the whole shebang. Of coures, I wasn't actually near death. I had just fainted due to hypoxia. Turns out, when your brain doesn't have enough oxygen, that's what starts to happen.

lh5.googleusercontent.com
 
2012-11-25 09:02:56 AM
I've always felt that the brain may want to make the user feel happy before death - endorphins, hallucinations, mental clarity, whatever works. If the brain weren't a total assbag that makes think about jumping off the top of a parking structure for no goddamned good reason other than "love the height. Don't you just feel like jumping?".
 
2012-11-25 09:03:30 AM
I'm an atheist and my wife is a Christian (really a deist). It works just fine as she doesn't push it on anyone (including her voting record!).

Darwin was an atheist while his wife was a fundamentalist Christian (actually some interesting letters along that subject).
 
2012-11-25 09:06:08 AM

gadian: I've always felt that the brain may want to make the user feel happy before death


There's no reason to expect that. There's no evolutionary benefit. It's far more likely that we find the experience pleasant simply as a side-effect.
 
2012-11-25 09:08:33 AM

t3knomanser: There's no reason to expect that. There's no evolutionary benefit. It's far more likely that we find the experience pleasant simply as a side-effect.


A lot of things about humanity have no evolutionary benefit. While you're probably right, I wouldn't put it past our cunning little minds to have all sorts of weird functions we're not really aware of, just for the hell of it.
 
2012-11-25 09:10:20 AM

gadian: A lot of things about humanity have no evolutionary benefit.


And they're mostly side effects of adaptive traits. Remember, evolution doesn't build the most efficient organism, it builds one that's efficient enough.
 
2012-11-25 09:10:42 AM
3 pages of pitching a book? Fark your and your jesus shiat.
 
2012-11-25 09:14:39 AM
Most hallucinations of this nature occur under the conditions of hypoxia (All those religious folks some of you like to take the word of as gospel tripped balls climbing too high up a mountain) or a premature release of endogenous dimethyltryptamine or a combination of both. Nothing to see here folks.
 
2012-11-25 09:21:27 AM
So if his brain was inactive and he went on this cosmic journey how was he able to lay down memory engrams?
 
2012-11-25 09:27:26 AM
Once upon a time, due to a loss of blood (blood work, so nothing major and not even a large quantity) while not having eating on over 12 hours and me getting up too fast, I lost consciousness.

I dreamed for what felt so many hours, some very wild stuff, very lively, very intense. I "woke" up from what felt like many many hours... I mean like it felt as it had been at least 12 hours, maybe even days.

I had been out for less than 5 seconds.

I was out of it for most of that day.

It was quite the experience, but in no way did I believe that I was out of my body, but I could imagine if someone would be suffering from a lot worse than I did (my thing was extremely minor), and how they could see and believe so much.

Even today, I remember how weird it had been... to have lived something that felt so long, but in reality, was a few seconds... it gave me a perspective of what the brain is capable of.

But who knows... maybe there's more to it.
 
2012-11-25 09:27:41 AM

m3000: /she said she was fine with me being an atheist when we married
//should have known better


Sounds like you are not fine with her. When are you going to betray your wedding vows, did you even make any?
 
2012-11-25 09:27:55 AM

MayoSlather: As an atheist I want to believe. In the off chance there is consciousness after death I'll be pleasantly surprised, but either way I won't be.


FTFY
 
2012-11-25 09:29:32 AM

TheAgeOfEgos: I'm an atheist and my wife is a Christian (really a deist). It works just fine as she doesn't push it on anyone (including her voting record!).

Darwin was an atheist while his wife was a fundamentalist Christian (actually some interesting letters along that subject).


From Wikipedia:
Though he thought of religion as a tribal survival strategy, Darwin was reluctant to give up the idea of God as an ultimate lawgiver.
 
2012-11-25 09:37:38 AM
Where were you before you were born? Why all this complicated biological hardware if we have this ethereal soul?
 
2012-11-25 09:39:07 AM
He had a DMT experience. DMT flooded his pineal gland resulting in his NDE. I've experienced something extremely similar.
 
2012-11-25 09:39:27 AM
Isn't that whole thing able to be replicated in testing environments meant to simulate high G forces?
 
2012-11-25 09:39:45 AM

MayoSlather: As an atheist I want to believe. In the off chance there is consciousness after death I'll be pleasantly surprised, but either way I won't be disappointed.


Extract some DMT and smoke 3 hits. You won't be an atheist anymore.

/Former atheist
 
2012-11-25 09:39:59 AM

MayoSlather: As an atheist I want to believe. In the off chance there is consciousness after death I'll be pleasantly surprised, but either way I won't be disappointed.


I'm a Christian though I attend worship with a group that some would categorize as "not real Christians." I don't know whether there is consciousness after death and it doesn't particularly concern me. Either there will be or there won't and there is nothing I can do about it. I think it is more important to concentrate on how I live my life; to let my life speak. I don't think you have to be utterly convinced of an after-life to be a believer.
 
2012-11-25 09:40:31 AM

keepitcherry: MayoSlather: As an atheist I want to believe. In the off chance there is consciousness after death I'll be pleasantly surprised, but either way I won't be disappointed.

Extract some DMT and smoke 3 hits. You won't be an atheist anymore.

/Former atheist


I think this is the part where someone asks you what DMT is.
 
2012-11-25 09:42:31 AM

keepitcherry: He had a DMT experience. DMT flooded his pineal gland resulting in his NDE. I've experienced something extremely similar.


Barfmaker: keepitcherry: MayoSlather: As an atheist I want to believe. In the off chance there is consciousness after death I'll be pleasantly surprised, but either way I won't be disappointed.

Extract some DMT and smoke 3 hits. You won't be an atheist anymore.

/Former atheist

I think this is the part where someone asks you what DMT is.


Dimethyltryptamine doesn't flood your pineal gland, it is produced in the pineal gland. I don't see how hitting a DMT pipe would make you religious. In fact, an intelligent person would conclude the opposite.
 
2012-11-25 09:43:14 AM

t3knomanser: gadian: A lot of things about humanity have no evolutionary benefit.

And they're mostly side effects of adaptive traits. Remember, evolution doesn't build the most efficient organism, it builds one that's efficient enough.


Have you looked at the human body? I don't think evolution gets credit for even "efficient enough."

"Technically functional, for certain values of functional" is the best I'm willing to give to evolution.
 
2012-11-25 09:46:44 AM
A DMT trip is characterized by a genuine out of body experience and being surrounded by what some literature describes as "machine elves." Essentially they are formless beings that are perceived as being constructed by some ethereal energy but are nearly always seen as benign superpowerful figures. People under the influence of DMT in clinical trials report feelings of acceptance and peace of being with these... things. Religious folk believe them to be angels, backwards hicks report them to be UFOs, and really strange folk can come up with some wild ass explanations (In Rick Straussman's book "The Spirit Molecule" he reports a mark that believed he was being raped by two crocodiles, very interesting book). People who undergo these experiences are really hard to convince that they didn't enter another world, despite the fact that their hallucinations are characteristic of similar brain phenomenon.
 
2012-11-25 09:48:58 AM
After you die, your consciousness is uploaded to the resurrection hub for reassignment.
 
2012-11-25 09:50:24 AM
As far as an evolutionary purpose, it is all theoretical, but we do know DMT exists and is produced endogenously. Obviously nature wouldn't select for people that have the experience and then immediately die after, which is the majority of people (DMT seems to be consistently released during trauma right before time of death). However, people who tripped balls in this manner before they died and survived would generally be revered by more primitive humans as Shamans and religious heads. These people become remarkably successful in passing along their genes.
 
2012-11-25 09:52:10 AM

Cinaed: Isn't that whole thing able to be replicated in testing environments meant to simulate high G forces?


Tunnel vision. A result of decreased blood flow to the brain?
Interesting how this discussion devolves into religion and evolution.
 
2012-11-25 09:52:39 AM
what i find interesting here on Fark is... the very thing Athiests biatch about with believers (lack of evidence, or the convenient i don't understand therefore God) is the very same thing they rely on when stories like this come out... (lack of evidence, he's not really a Neurosurgeon/bad evidence/looses his special club ring because he believes in something now).

images.sodahead.com

/wonders if God came down and sat next to an Athiest if they would believe or have to denounce themselves :P
 
2012-11-25 09:58:19 AM

MisterTweak: Interesting read, but...

Make no mistake: consciousness is a total mystery. As total a mystery now as it was 10, or 100, or 1,000 years ago. We simply do not know what it is. But consciousness is so familiar to all of us, so central to our identities, that we have learned to overlook this most obvious of facts.


This just ain't so. Consciousness is certainly a phenomenon we haven't understood completely, but we do understand what it is, we understand where it takes place, and we are rapidly learning exactly how it can be altered, damaged, or lost. It's an absolutely fascinating area where science is starting to explain morality, rather than the other way around, for example.

What happened to you, doc, is no doubt a life-altering experience, but it really doesn't bring our understanding of the conscience, (the "soul" to theologians) into question, it kind of adds to and enriches it.


I disagree with your assertion and reaffirm his : we don't actually understand consciousness.

That's why we still have debates about a ghost in the machine.
 
2012-11-25 09:59:10 AM

LazarusLong42: I don't think evolution gets credit for even "efficient enough."


We're not extinct, yet. That's "efficient enough" by evolutionary standards.
 
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