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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 35
    More: Followup, Nobel Prize in Physics, cerebral cortex, imaging science, modern physics, Heisenberg, proof, bacterial meningitis, physical environment  
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2617 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 08:43:17 AM
4 votes:
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 10:32:52 AM
3 votes:
The proper conclusion.
People with limited brain activity believe there is a heaven.
2012-11-25 08:06:58 AM
3 votes:

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 10:04:46 AM
2 votes:

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).
2012-11-25 08:50:27 AM
2 votes:
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 01:05:37 AM
2 votes:
That bowtie, although not proof, is compelling evidence that this guy is a douche.

And a charlatan.
2012-11-25 12:48:55 AM
2 votes:
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 12:32:38 AM
2 votes:
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.
2012-11-26 02:29:24 AM
1 votes:
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.
2012-11-25 12:35:04 PM
1 votes:

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)
2012-11-25 11:41:11 AM
1 votes:

HindiDiscoMonster: Oh I never meant to say that all inspiration was good... only that hypothesis in science start with an idea/inspiration.


But these inspirations are not accepted as evidence of anything. They are merely jumping off points to start scientific investigation.

If the guy in this story took this experience and used it to generate some evidence then there would be something to look at. Right now there is absolutely zero reason to listen to him.

/I suspect he will be too busy rolling in his piles of book profit to do any actual research.
2012-11-25 11:34:24 AM
1 votes:
FTA: "Initially, I'd planned on writing my experience up in a scientific paper. But as I struggled to place it within the context of everything I'd learned about the brain and consciousness up to that point, I realized that I needed to reach out beyond my fellow scientists. Specifically, I wanted to reach the public who listen most deeply and attentively to what scientists tell them. And I needed to reach those millions because for a long time now many scientists have been telling the public a story that is not quite true."

This is where he lost me (well, honestly, he lost me with his entire premise, but I was attempting to be open-minded, given his credentials). So, what you you are saying, doc, is that instead of publishing your findings and subjecting them to peer review and learned scrutiny, you wanted to make a buck by pandering to the science-illiterate masses desperate for some "proof" that their lives aren't meaningless.

Well, great job, I guess. I'm sure you'll make a mint on your little book. Congratulations, I suppose. Oh...and EABOD.
2012-11-25 11:33:10 AM
1 votes:

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


www.popularmechanics.com 
Are you sure about that?
2012-11-25 11:19:10 AM
1 votes:

HindiDiscoMonster: Now that is a more reasonable conclusion. I never said I supported his hypothesis, or rejected it now did I? I said i simply find it interesting that Athiests use the same arguments believers use, and Athiests shiat all over believers for it... then you wigged out and went on some sailor's shopping spree of curse words to inform me how wrong I was about the afterlife. See how not comprehending what you are reading can get you into a mess?


Of course you'll find most self-identified atheists in the thread also shiatting all over this, too, so blanket statements are neither appreciated nor accurate. (Of course when are they ever?)

HindiDiscoMonster: I think there is someone who may respectfully disagree with the bolded statement above:


I don't think anyone disputes that flashes of insight are useful fuel for the engine of ever-increasing-knowledge, but they don't come out of nowhere, and the accuracy and value of them is confirmed the way you implied... through evidence. Einstein also had incorrect insights and "just-so" conclusions, but we don't include them in the tally or give them credence, or think about them much. Confirmation bias is a pretty powerful one, but we should never confuse that with "because insight, therefore..." Thousands of people have many more thousands of insights, but the way they get incorporated into the human knowledge set works exactly the same way.

AdrienVeidt: You're awfully certain that pleasant NDEs have no evolutionary benefit. It's easy to imagine that quiet and calm deaths are beneficial to the surviving members of a monkey troop as it wouldn't cause predators to notice there's easy pickings in that cave over there. Have some of the monkeys survive the NDE, and BAM: evolutionary benefit.


I suppose a way to test that hypothesis would be to look at species with complex-enough brains, but are not communal and would usually die alone. (Better if an earliest common ancestor with a social primate species was itself non-social.)
2012-11-25 11:10:39 AM
1 votes:
We have dreams and we have false memories. Everyone accepts that those aren't "real" - that they were just created by the brain. I fail to see how this is different. Even if he had no brain activity, the "memories" of what he experienced could have been created post hoc.
2012-11-25 11:05:48 AM
1 votes:

t3knomanser: 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.


You're awfully certain that pleasant NDEs have no evolutionary benefit. It's easy to imagine that quiet and calm deaths are beneficial to the surviving members of a monkey troop as it wouldn't cause predators to notice there's easy pickings in that cave over there. Have some of the monkeys survive the NDE, and BAM: evolutionary benefit.
2012-11-25 10:51:18 AM
1 votes:

HindiDiscoMonster: i think you are failing to see the point still... i will spell it out: science is ever changing. new discoveries are made daily. things that should not be and we have no way (currently) to understand why they work that way just do (ie; quantum {insert discipline here})... don't you think it's just a little hypocritical to look at someone else conclusions (that hold a phd btw) and completely discard it because it does not fit your narrative?


You are the one missing the point.

Science advances and new discoveries will be made ... using good evidence. This example is discarded because it uses bad evidence. Not because of any preexisting narrative.

The fact that this guy is going to profit off of his story makes the evidence even more suspect.

An example:
A noted physicist does some research and presents a paper supported by documented research which others can replicate - this is something that is worth exploring.

This same noted physicist takes some peyote and tells us about the new grand unified theory he just dreamed about - this is something to be laughed off until he can produce some real evidence to support it.

Like the fictional figure in my example, this neuroscientist can be ignored because his brain was in an altered state (rendering its perceptions and conclusions suspect) and he produces no real evidence to support his conclusions.

You are the one falling to the logical fallacy of confirmation bias ... you want this to be real even though there is no real evidence to support it.
2012-11-25 10:36:18 AM
1 votes:
What is the evolutionary advantage to believing/experiencing an afterlife/god??
2012-11-25 10:15:47 AM
1 votes:
I stopped at ninjas.
2012-11-25 10:05:18 AM
1 votes:

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


Been there. done that, still an atheist. Just because I smoked some drugs and saw some REALLY crazy shiat doesn't mean that a deity exists. A DMT addled mind isn't exactly clear on the concepts of rational thought and "reality".
2012-11-25 09:52:39 AM
1 votes:
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 09:42:31 AM
1 votes:

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 09:39:07 AM
1 votes:
He had a DMT experience. DMT flooded his pineal gland resulting in his NDE. I've experienced something extremely similar.
2012-11-25 09:27:26 AM
1 votes:
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 09:14:39 AM
1 votes:
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 09:10:42 AM
1 votes:
3 pages of pitching a book? Fark your and your jesus shiat.
2012-11-25 09:10:20 AM
1 votes:

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 08:57:47 AM
1 votes:

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 08:53:28 AM
1 votes:
Least reliable mental state, period, subby. The mental state during death is *extremely* reliable.
2012-11-25 08:00:06 AM
1 votes:

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 05:40:09 AM
1 votes:

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 02:03:07 AM
1 votes:
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 01:04:26 AM
1 votes:
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 12:57:06 AM
1 votes:

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 12:51:11 AM
1 votes:
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.
 
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