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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 139
    More: Followup, Nobel Prize in Physics, cerebral cortex, imaging science, modern physics, Heisenberg, proof, bacterial meningitis, physical environment  
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2619 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 02:01:50 PM  

Farking Canuck: bookman: Because there has never, ever been any instance whatsoever of scientific consensus being wrong....

Has there ever been a case of a scientific consensus being proven wrong by one anecdote from a person who's brain was clearly compromised?


Like someone who can't tell "who is" from "whose"?
 
2012-11-25 02:14:28 PM  

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


That's what they all say, along with "I won't try to change you, honey!" (with their fingers crossed behind their backs)
 
2012-11-25 02:19:00 PM  

bookman: Schroedinger's Glory Hole: HindiDiscoMonster: Farking Canuck: HindiDiscoMonster: 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.

Except there is evidence. Evidence that near-death experiences are fantasies produced by the random chemical soup the brain is exposed to when it is near death.

You are suggesting that we should take an anecdote (from a guy who just happens to be selling a book based on that anecdote), which was produced when the subject's brain was clearly in a compromised state, as evidence of something?? If so, you obviously don't understand what constitutes quality evidence (or you have confirmation bias because you like what his delusions said).

I am suggesting, that unless you are a neuroscientist like the person in the article, you are unqualified to judge his conclusions.

If the neuroscientist begins offering explanations for his own anecdote that are not consistent with the scientific consensus in order to sell a book, then yes, he no longer gets to represent himself as an authority.

Because there has never, ever been any instance whatsoever of scientific consensus being wrong....


Has there ever been any modern (past 100 years or so) scientific consensus which was wrong but was shown to be wrong by non-scientific methods?
 
2012-11-25 02:19:49 PM  

Bontesla: That's why we still have debates about a ghost in the machine.


Yeah, a lot of people keep arguing that Synchronicity was better, but I think Ghost In The Machine was the best album by The Police.
 
2012-11-25 02:20:07 PM  

Quantum Apostrophe: Farking Canuck: bookman: Because there has never, ever been any instance whatsoever of scientific consensus being wrong....

Has there ever been a case of a scientific consensus being proven wrong by one anecdote from a person who's brain was clearly compromised?

Like someone who can't tell "who is" from "whose"?


shiat happens. I don't usually get caught by these types of grammar errors but I type faster than I think sometimes.

/Nice bust! I can just imagine all the Cheetos stained high-5s you must be getting around the 'grammar police' squad room.
 
2012-11-25 02:27:25 PM  

bookman: Mjeck: What is the evolutionary advantage to believing/experiencing an afterlife/god??

In terms of living evolution (rather than survival), absolutely nothing. Which, of course, is why God and the afterlife is debated at all.



While I'm not sure what you mean by "living" evolution that is somehow decoupled from survival and therefore natural selection, be aware that there is a body of work that attempts to tease apart the adaptive significance of religious thought (or discounts it as an incidental side-effect of cognitive adaptations or 'mind').

Off the top of my head, two adaptive explanations are increased social cohesion and costly signaling in terms of ritual, but I've only had the briefest of exposure to the literature. What we need right now is an evolutionary anthropologist, or we could pull up some papers if you're interested.
 
2012-11-25 02:34:55 PM  

Farking Canuck: Quantum Apostrophe: Farking Canuck: bookman: Because there has never, ever been any instance whatsoever of scientific consensus being wrong....

Has there ever been a case of a scientific consensus being proven wrong by one anecdote from a person who's brain was clearly compromised?

Like someone who can't tell "who is" from "whose"?

shiat happens. I don't usually get caught by these types of grammar errors but I type faster than I think sometimes.

/Nice bust! I can just imagine all the Cheetos stained high-5s you must be getting around the 'grammar police' squad room.


Considering that his smarmy grammar retort to your other post wasn't actually structurally correct, I'm pretty sure he's just getting head-shakes from his squad mates.
 
2012-11-25 02:37:37 PM  

Damnhippyfreak: While I'm not sure what you mean by "living" evolution that is somehow decoupled from survival and therefore natural selection,


Besides genetic drift, of course.

/should get a slap on the hand for that
 
2012-11-25 03:50:25 PM  
If there is a consciousness I have after complete death, I hope it's not some bad shiat. Otherwise I'd prefer nonexistence, which is what I think happens when one dies.

/atheist
 
2012-11-25 04:10:15 PM  
*Cough* ... endorphins ... *cough*

When the body in in trouble and shutting down it releases endorphins, natural opioids. in high enough doses we see heaven, while lights or whatever. When my time comes (in many years time) I intend to relax and enjoy the ride.
 
2012-11-25 04:48:31 PM  
"C'mon guys--I'm trying to sell a book here."
 
2012-11-25 05:08:17 PM  
Yet in spite of the complete absence of neural activity in all but the deepest, most primitive portions of my brain, my identity-my sense of self-did not go dark. Instead, I underwent the most staggering experience of my life, my consciousness traveling to another level, or dimension, or world.

Last night I had a dream where I was smoking a joint with Bill Murray. It was like my consciousness was traveling to another level.

But it wasn't real, either.
 
2012-11-25 05:34:05 PM  

Schroedinger's Glory Hole: HindiDiscoMonster: Schroedinger's Glory Hole: HindiDiscoMonster: Farking Canuck: HindiDiscoMonster: 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.

Except there is evidence. Evidence that near-death experiences are fantasies produced by the random chemical soup the brain is exposed to when it is near death.

You are suggesting that we should take an anecdote (from a guy who just happens to be selling a book based on that anecdote), which was produced when the subject's brain was clearly in a compromised state, as evidence of something?? If so, you obviously don't understand what constitutes quality evidence (or you have confirmation bias because you like what his delusions said).

I am suggesting, that unless you are a neuroscientist like the person in the article, you are unqualified to judge his conclusions.

If the neuroscientist begins offering explanations for his own anecdote that are not consistent with the scientific consensus in order to sell a book, then yes, he no longer gets to represent himself as an authority.

oh i agree...

the earth is still flat, right?

Except nobody offered their own altered state of consciousness as proof of a spherical Earth. Instead there was specific empirical observations made: the top of a ship appears before the bottom as it comes in from the horizon, the earth casts an elliptical shadow on the moon, etc.


In the Old Testament, Moses says god took him up in a ship, and Moses relayed seeing "the round of the earth." So yeah, somebody did.
 
2012-11-25 05:44:47 PM  
I also experienced that transitional period, when my mind began to regain consciousness: I remember a vivid paranoid nightmare....But that period of disorientation and delusion had absolutely nothing to do with what happened to me before my cortex began to recover.

Strong believer in Science boy is asserting that it's impossible to have two or more dreams in sequence?
 
2012-11-25 05:49:32 PM  

Quantum Apostrophe: s2s2s2: Quantum Apostrophe: Where were you before you were born? Why all this complicated biological hardware if we have this ethereal soul?

And why isn't a question an answer?

You don't want answers. Like a Space Nutter, all you want are fantasies.


And you base this on what evidence? Gut feeling?
Well at least you prove that's a shifty way forward.
 
2012-11-25 05:50:13 PM  

Farking Canuck: s2s2s2: Yeah! Someone should burn that guy at the stake for not following the rules!

Yes. Science has very clear, well documented rules.

If you don't follow the rules you can't call it science. Which is what this guy is trying to do.

/scientists don't burn people at the stake ... that is what religious people do (historically anyway)


... = "yet"
 
2012-11-25 06:26:34 PM  

Lunaville: 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.


This man is a gentleman and a scholar.

The point of Jesus' teachings weren't as much to get you to believe in some system of an afterlife or cycle as much as they were to teach how to be a good person.

Of course, the afterlife is a nice addition to support some of the arguments made in the Bible, but it's neither here nor there to me in the context of the Gospels.
 
2012-11-25 06:29:08 PM  

MacWizard: Yet in spite of the complete absence of neural activity in all but the deepest, most primitive portions of my brain, my identity-my sense of self-did not go dark. Instead, I underwent the most staggering experience of my life, my consciousness traveling to another level, or dimension, or world.

Last night I had a dream where I was smoking a joint with Bill Murray. It was like my consciousness was traveling to another level.

But it wasn't real, either.


I'm wondering how he could time-stamp his "experiences" and directly compare them to his EEG readings.
 
2012-11-25 07:08:48 PM  
s2s2s2
In the Old Testament, Moses says god took him up in a ship, and Moses relayed seeing "the round of the earth." So yeah, somebody did

[citation needed]. Unless you were saying this sarcastically. I can't tell because my sacasti-meter malfunctioned over thanksgiving listening to kentucky hillbillies talk about "Obamer".
 
2012-11-25 08:50:49 PM  
Sounds pretty interesting to me. Ordered the book this morning.
 
2012-11-25 09:15:31 PM  

Buddha Belly: Sounds pretty interesting to me. Ordered the book this morning.


One sucker identified.
 
2012-11-25 10:10:27 PM  

HindiDiscoMonster: Dismissing any theory (no matter how wackadoo) just out of hand is exactly the same thing that contemporary science has done since day #1 in science


Wackadoo hypothesis are dismissed out of hand when they have no credible evidence supporting them. The crazier the idea (as in, the more it contradicts established science) the more evidence is needed before it should be taken seriously. Some guy's near death experience barely registers on the evidence scale and flies in the face of what we do know about the brain and consciousness. Why should we take him seriously when all he's given us to go on is his word?

/Give me evidence or give me a near death experience!
 
2012-11-25 10:41:21 PM  
Let me just ask those who want to believe, "how does this guy's near death experience shed any light on afterlives, heaven, or hell?"

As the earlier comments have pointed out, while you're experiencing hallucinations caused by an oxygen starved or malfunctioning brain, the experiences that you have are not to be considered reliable. This is common sense and the simplest answer to the question of how to interpret what he saw.

This author seems to be seizing upon an opportunity to become rich by becoming the next enlightened one in a society that "wants to believe". To paraphrase Carl Sagan, "Extraordinary claims, extraordinary evidence..." Keeping in mind that a story about a vision doesn't really qualify as evidence at all, much less extraordinary evidence.
 
2012-11-26 12:29:59 AM  
let me help you atheist blowhards out.

thought requires relationships between neurons built on Biochemical activity.

Biochemical activity is built from particle physics. Particles have to have a relationship with one another in order to interact.

Where do particles come from? And why should they have relationships with one another?

Our best guess is from another dimension... String theory -or the multiverse via the other side of a singularity... but they are unscientific, but creative guesses built from mathematical models without a known way to measure them.

For all we know, the source of particles is Heaven.
 
2012-11-26 01:15:59 AM  

threeoclockrock: let me help you atheist blowhards out.

thought requires relationships between neurons built on Biochemical activity.

Biochemical activity is built from particle physics. Particles have to have a relationship with one another in order to interact.

Where do particles come from? And why should they have relationships with one another?

Our best guess is from another dimension... String theory -or the multiverse via the other side of a singularity... but they are unscientific, but creative guesses built from mathematical models without a known way to measure them.

For all we know, the source of particles is Heaven.


Ok, but aren't you just telling us what we don't know? To state it differently, "For all we know, the source of particles is Hell."

Neither statement accomplishes anything.
 
2012-11-26 02:09:39 AM  
The guy had a tower vision. Wooo good for you. Your brain went spastic for whatever reason and you got to see the starter motor for conciousness.

Been there. Done that. Although being blissed out for three days solid was a nice after effect of the experience I do admit.
 
2012-11-26 02:13:44 AM  
I think you're all missing the more important point here.

FTFA: 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.

Now why the hell isn't he writing a book about that instead? That sounds awesome!
 
2012-11-26 02:29:24 AM  
I actually read the book. Basically he had zero brain function so some things mentioned here like a DMT flood he discounted since that would only work if the part of his brain that responds to that was also working. He goes through a list of possible things that could cause it and rules them out based on his knowledge as a neurosurgeon. He also goes into a coma in the first place after being infected in a 1 in ten million chance and then survives six days of being comatose which is several days longer than they would normally try to keep you alive considering the raging out of control infection and the fact that it is almost a total certainty that you will be a vegetable if you do survive the entire ordeal.

He manages to not only survive it but to not lose any functionality to the point where he resumes treating patients and performing surgeries again. The guy is a highly educated specialist doctor and surgeon who was worked at places like Harvard etc. His resume is really bulletproof. To say he is writing the book for money makes little sense when you consider he most likely earns a fortune as a brain surgeon. He also wasn't much of a believer or church goer before the experience but started up afterwards. He admits to being a kind of atheist but in the passive way a doctor would who is convinced he knows about all the biology and functioning of the human body and when you are dead your truly all done.

One of the things he does after he recovers is starts a scientific inquiry into the phenomenon and funds a kind of information collection and review operation so its not like he just runs for the ghost writer and waits for a payday. I found the book to be very interesting and thought provoking and if you are inclined to take the word of a pilot who sees a UFO from the cockpit of a jet over a drunk in a bass boat who claims to be abducted by aliens you have to admit that he makes probably the most compelling written account of NDEs ever made. He is able to tie all of it together with his medical experience in a way nobody else has ever been able to do and frankly I believe the guy.

/yeah I said it.
 
2012-11-26 02:49:12 AM  

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

 
Are you sure about that?


OK, clearly I haven't thought this all the way through. I would have Bill Nye's babies if I could.
 
2012-11-26 04:10:17 AM  

Schroedinger's Glory Hole: 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.


That's completely unfair. I'm sure that some of them were tripping balls from eating ergot or something similar..
 
2012-11-26 04:14:07 AM  

Son of Byrne: threeoclockrock: let me help you atheist blowhards out.

thought requires relationships between neurons built on Biochemical activity.

Biochemical activity is built from particle physics. Particles have to have a relationship with one another in order to interact.

Where do particles come from? And why should they have relationships with one another?

Our best guess is from another dimension... String theory -or the multiverse via the other side of a singularity... but they are unscientific, but creative guesses built from mathematical models without a known way to measure them.

For all we know, the source of particles is Heaven.

Ok, but aren't you just telling us what we don't know? To state it differently, "For all we know, the source of particles is Hell."

Neither statement accomplishes anything.


For all we know, the source of particles is a huge amount of time, quantum randomness, and a local peculiarity where anti particles repel normal matter when they clump together.

But of course that makes less sense than heaven to some people ....

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

 
Are you sure about that?

OK, clearly I haven't thought this all the way through. I would have Bill Nye's babies if I could.


Hey!

Bowties are cool.
 
2012-11-26 07:01:58 AM  

Mjeck: What is the evolutionary advantage to believing/experiencing an afterlife/god??


None. Evolution weeds out such mistakes. See: Middle East
 
2012-11-26 09:14:11 AM  
Supposedly, there is a second book coming out that is based more in the science realm of his experience that gives a lot of detail about his position and the various explanations of NDEs and how they dont fit with his experience. I believe its coming out sometime next year.

The interesting thing about NDEs and some OBEs are that for all the scientific explanations that people try to throw at them, none of them completely explain why this is happening. Most of them are best-guesses (evolutionary comfort of dying, a random shutdown of the brain) or half-explanations that don't fully explain why or explain the experience (DMT dumps, lack of oxygen, etc). They are also the most significant and life changing experiences of these peoples lives. They remember them in full detail, never forget them, and they alter people's attitudes and perceptions about pretty much everything once they have experienced it. Even materialists (atheists isn't the right word, since you can believe in spirits and consciousness after death and not believe in a god) tend to change views after having one. The only famous ones I know of that didn't were Susan Blackmore and A.J. Ayers.

There is something behind all of this, and we may find out about it soon enough. However, dismissing it because of some half-ass explanation like a DMT dump is being intellectually dumb.
 
2012-11-26 09:35:09 AM  

dready zim: Son of Byrne: threeoclockrock: let me help you atheist blowhards out.

thought requires relationships between neurons built on Biochemical activity.

Biochemical activity is built from particle physics. Particles have to have a relationship with one another in order to interact.

Where do particles come from? And why should they have relationships with one another?

Our best guess is from another dimension... String theory -or the multiverse via the other side of a singularity... but they are unscientific, but creative guesses built from mathematical models without a known way to measure them.

For all we know, the source of particles is Heaven.

Ok, but aren't you just telling us what we don't know? To state it differently, "For all we know, the source of particles is Hell."

Neither statement accomplishes anything.

For all we know, the source of particles is a huge amount of time, quantum randomness, and a local peculiarity where anti particles repel normal matter when they clump together.

But of course that makes less sense than heaven to some people ....



you still are not dealing with the question. Where does it all come from? Why should there be anything at all?

I'm not trying to make a case for Heaven.. I'm just saying we don't know enough to rule anything out.
 
2012-11-26 12:36:48 PM  

threeoclockrock: dready zim: Son of Byrne: threeoclockrock: let me help you atheist blowhards out.

thought requires relationships between neurons built on Biochemical activity.

Biochemical activity is built from particle physics. Particles have to have a relationship with one another in order to interact.

Where do particles come from? And why should they have relationships with one another?

Our best guess is from another dimension... String theory -or the multiverse via the other side of a singularity... but they are unscientific, but creative guesses built from mathematical models without a known way to measure them.

For all we know, the source of particles is Heaven.

Ok, but aren't you just telling us what we don't know? To state it differently, "For all we know, the source of particles is Hell."

Neither statement accomplishes anything.

For all we know, the source of particles is a huge amount of time, quantum randomness, and a local peculiarity where anti particles repel normal matter when they clump together.

But of course that makes less sense than heaven to some people ....



you still are not dealing with the question. Where does it all come from? Why should there be anything at all?

I'm not trying to make a case for Heaven.. I'm just saying we don't know enough to rule anything out.


Not ruling things out is all fine and dandy. The problem arises when "not ruling it out" becomes "my religion is the only correct one and we need to base public policy one it; therefore, no gays, no abortions, no women's health care, religious wars need to be started, we need to mandate prayer in public schools, evolution can't be taught and creationism must be taught in high school, global warming isn't real, and we need to back Israel no matter what."

/I may have forgotten some.
//For select brands of religion only.
 
2012-11-26 12:44:30 PM  

deanayer: To say he is writing the book for money makes little sense when you consider he most likely earns a fortune as a brain surgeon.


Then why sell it?

To understand this followup article and the original excerpt in Newsweek, you must understand that they are basically advertisements. Publisher gets free space and Newsweek gets filler it does not have to pay for that seems timely as they are promoting the book all over the place. The followup is his "defense" of his experience and everybody saying that this is not proof of anything like "heaven."

He will need the money as he may have sold out his credibility as a specialist.
 
2012-11-27 11:50:31 AM  
Maybe it's merely the product of a electrochemical reaction, or maybe he in fact did "remain fully conscious but journeyed to a stunning world of beauty and peace and unconditional love".

You can't rule anything out unless you know. And you can never know until you pass from the world of the living to either something, or nothing. You can argue, fight and kill each other over it, but that fact remains a constant. The only way you'll ever really know is to die, and that's assuming there's an afterlife. And if there is no afterlife, you won't know, 'cuz you'll be dead.

So really, it's pointless to argue. It is what it is. (or isn't, as the case may be.)
 
2012-11-27 01:23:15 PM  

GibbyTheMole: Maybe it's merely the product of a electrochemical reaction, or maybe he in fact did "remain fully conscious but journeyed to a stunning world of beauty and peace and unconditional love".

You can't rule anything out unless you know. And you can never know until you pass from the world of the living to either something, or nothing. You can argue, fight and kill each other over it, but that fact remains a constant. The only way you'll ever really know is to die, and that's assuming there's an afterlife. And if there is no afterlife, you won't know, 'cuz you'll be dead.

So really, it's pointless to argue. It is what it is. (or isn't, as the case may be.)

"There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that "my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge."

― Isaac Asimov

"you don't get to put your unreason on the same shelf as my reason"
― Bill Maher

Not trying to go all Bevets here with the quotes (at least these are as the authors intended them) but they both are reaching for the same point. Just because we cannot say our current knowledge is 100% for sure ... this does not mean that your can throw in completely unsupported theories into the hat and say "these are just as good as yours".

So ... can we know for sure? No. Can we look at all the evidence and see what is likely and what is not likely? Yes. Most definitely. And what is not likely is the idea that his brain was is reliable source of evidence for the period when it was 'dead'.
 
2012-11-27 06:24:23 PM  
Farking Canuck

"So ... can we know for sure? No. Can we look at all the evidence and see what is likely and what is not likely? Yes. Most definitely. And what is not likely is the idea that his brain was is reliable source of evidence for the period when it was 'dead'."

You & I pretty much agree. I'm just more neutral about it. As an agnostic, I shrug my shoulders & say "eh". And I don't worry about it. I'm not a fan of organized religion, though.
 
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