16 comments on “Near Death Experiences.

  1. Morbidly hilarious post, Gary. And i suppose you wouldn’t mind being blogrolled, would you?

    NDE’s, as far as academically postulated, are always nothing but petty anecdotes.

  2. ‘Would you mind being blogrolled’, sounds so naughty. Good post Gary. I don’t think I’ll be running out to get the book either. Sufficient proof is not a relative told someone a secret – that sounds more like a funny medium spoof.

  3. ‘Would you mind being blogrolled’, sounds so naughty.

    Only if you have a very twisted mind. It does, doesn’t it? 😉

    Sufficient proof is not a relative told someone a secret – that sounds more like a funny medium spoof.

    “I have a secret beginning with K. Does anyone have a secret beginning with K? — You madam — do you have a secret beginning with K.?”

  4. If you have never had an NDE or spoken to someone who has, then it is easy to just glibly dismiss them. Probe a little deeper and you find that they can’t be so easily explained. What they are for anyone with common sense( ie not teenage internet atheists or close minded skeptics) is a glimpse of another world. Eventually,this will be shown to be the case but until then keep on sneering… but after studying the experience for twenty five years I KNOW that science has got it wrong, but of course I cant prove it.

  5. Before you comment next time, Steve, might I suggest that you read the article a little more thoroughly. If you had done this, you may have realised that I was not dismissing near death experiences glibly — far from it, I was actually discussing whether this book qualifies as an academic study. In fact, I even state at one point “With regard the often used explanations for near death experiences of endorphins, abnormal blood gases or low oxygen levels, there appears to be nothing in her findings to support this. A genuinely important piece of information.” And I still feel that way. Whilst her follow-up comments suggested bias, I still consider it to be an important step towards understanding this phenomenon.

    For someone unable or unwilling to read an article properly, you really are quite offensive, aren’t you? Quite uncalled for. I’m merely questioning the validity of the author’s claims that this should be considered an academic work. Yes, I’m sceptical about the “other world” explanations for near death experiences — but this does not mean that I am hostile to other theories, if they can be supported, and I certainly don’t sneer at them. What I do sneer at is bad science that claims to be good science. That’s all.

    People can make all the claims that they like and I will listen to them all, happily. But if the methodology isn’t rigorous enough, I’ll say so. In short, I really don’t have any argument with your position. That wasn’t what this piece was about. As you state, they can’t be so easily explained. However, that shouldn’t stop us trying — in the most methodical, rational way possible.

  6. Gary, kindly do not accuse me of being offensive and then demand an affirmative! You said that I didn’t read your article(WRONG) however you admitted that you hadn’t read Penny Sartori’s book so how can you possibly make statements like that. Spooky, New-Age nonsense,you say, well if that is not sneering I dont know what is. If you want academic articles on the NDE, read Van Lommell 2001(THE LANCET).I’m not quite sure who Gary William MURNING is but I do hope you don’t have an inflated opinion of yourself,or your…importance….I only chanced upon your site when I dropped a jam butty on the key board.

  7. Steve — if I consider you to have been offensive on my blog, I will certainly accuse you of it. In extreme cases, I won’t allow a comment on. Also, there was no demand of an affirmative; the question was rhetorical. I wasn’t asking for your agreement, I was telling you.

    Yet again you’ve proved your inability to read my article thoroughly (and, for the record, I didn’t say that you hadn’t read my article; I said that you were unable or unwilling to read it properly… it seems you are now having the same problem with my replies to your comments — so be forewarned, unless I see an improvement, further comments will not be authorised.) Four paragraphs in I state:

    “Now I think it’s important to state at this stage that my comments cannot be considered an assessment of the book because, of course, I haven’t actually read it. This is more about the way the book is presented — which possibly grossly misrepresents it (though if it does, Penny Sartori, the author, is certainly complicit in this.)”

    This piece was not a review of the book, as I’ve already told you, and as the article makes very clear, it was an assessment of how it had been presented (primarily in the BBC article that was linked to in my article) and whether that supports the claims that it was an academic work.

    As to the sneering, yet again it must be emphasised that Penny Sartori made these comments in relation to a book that is intended to be the result of an academic study. If she wants her work to be taken seriously her comment that —

    “Current science says it is a by-product of the brain. But it may be that consciousness is around us and the brain might be a mediator, an antenna, instead of controlling consciousness.”

    — was wholly inappropriate. Yes, my approach was satirical. I’m a writer, that’s what I do — in this context, at least. You don’t have to like it, you don’t have to agree. But that won’t stop me doing it where I feel it’s justified.

    “I’m not quite sure who Gary William MURNING is but I do hope you don’t have an inflated opinion of yourself,or your…importance….I only chanced upon your site when I dropped a jam butty on the key board.”

    Yet again, you resort to personal insults. Maybe that’s because your argument sucks? I know my worth, my friend. I value the opinions of other people — intelligent, rational people who have the ability to read (properly) and understand the point I make, even if they don’t agree with it. But I have opinions and thoughts of my own, and I certainly won’t allow myself to be censored or dictated to by someone of your woefully inadequate literacy skills.

    “If you want academic articles on the NDE, read Van Lommell 2001(THE LANCET).”

    Why couldn’t you have just said that in your first comment? Said something like, “I don’t agree with your points but if you want academic articles on the NDE, read Van Lommell 2001(THE LANCET).”? That way we might at least have stood a chance of having a reasonable dialogue. A missed opportunity, perhaps.

  8. How can you say that the book was possibly grossly misrepresented. What on earth were you expecting to hear about other than tunnels, lights and dead relatives? These are some of the constituents of the near death experience…the experiences she was studying and which were relayed to Dr Sartori from patients who had been clinically dead and revived within the study period. Anecdotal evidence, Gary? If within the study a patient tells the doctor exactly what he was doing in the room when that patient was clinically dead, that is not anecdotal. It was a prospective, properly organized and controlled study, overseen by Doctor Peter Fenwick and Professor Paul Badham and therefore perfectly acceptable to academia although generally not welcome, of course, because of her conclusions. You ‘value the opinions of intelligent,rational people’…really.. the kind of who refuse to accept any conclusion that isn’t reductionist. Anyway , dont forewarn me, Gary, I don’t care whether your website posts this communication to you or not and as for my literacy skills being woefully inadequate….please refrain from silly comments like that if you ever want to be taken seriously. I could pull your website to pieces if I had the inclination to do so but the world needs jumped up cyber-nerds like you. Maybe you’ll evolve.. fuse into your computer tower and become like a cyberspace Dalek, controlling the world with your fab opinions…..well.. maybe not.

  9. “How can you say that the book was possibly grossly misrepresented. What on earth were you expecting to hear about other than tunnels, lights and dead relatives?”

    I never actually made the point that tunnels, lights etc possibly grossly misrepresents the book. I said in the previous paragraph that I was only talking about the way the book was presented — which possibly grossly misrepresents it. I then went on to say, in the following paragraph:

    “The first thing that struck me was that we are immediately presented with the usual anecdotal “evidence”, the kind of thing we hear quite often when this subject arises. Bright lights, dead loved ones, floating above the room, lives flashing before them in an instant — nothing all that new or spectacular, as one might expect. Fine, anecdotal evidence is pretty much all we have got, but in an academic study I would hope that it’s used appropriately.”

    As I would hope you’ll note, I say, “nothing all that new or spectacular, as one might expect.” This is what I was expecting. It’s inevitable that such things will be mentioned, and quite right that they should be. I think I make that very clear. Your question is redundant.

    “Anecdotal evidence, Gary? If within the study a patient tells the doctor exactly what he was doing in the room when that patient was clinically dead, that is not anecdotal.”

    Then we clearly don’t use the same dictionary. In a systematic scientific evaluation, anything based on personal observation, case study reports or random investigations is defined as “anecdotal evidence”. Until all other possible explanations are ruled out — for example, good guesses, cultural influences (we’ve all watched Casualty and have a fair idea what the doctor does when someone is flatlining), etc — solid conclusions cannot be drawn from it. But let’s not push this point too far. I’m not denying the phenomenon, nor am I dismissing those who have experienced it. I merely want any academic study that I read to ensure that the explanations that I’ve mentioned are ruled out.

    “It was a prospective, properly organized and controlled study, overseen by Doctor Peter Fenwick and Professor Paul Badham and therefore perfectly acceptable to academia although generally not welcome, of course, because of her conclusions.”

    Two points, here. I am well aware of the status of the study. For the sake of fairness, I even added an edit to the article the following day which included a link that I believed provided a better insight into Ms Sartori and her work. The second point is that I am not necessarily opposed to her conclusions. I’m not fully aware of what they are but, as I’ve already said, I find the fact that she has gone some way towards ruling out the traditional medical explanations for this phenomenon very important. Good science is self-correcting. If the book has more of the same, even if it challenges my thoughts on the subject, I will happily applaud it.

    “You ‘value the opinions of intelligent,rational people’…really.. the kind of who refuse to accept any conclusion that isn’t reductionist.”

    No. The kind who present their arguments without implying I lack common sense because I (possibly) don’t adhere to their “other world” explanations, without implying that I’m a teenage Internet atheist, and without suggesting I have an inflated opinion of myself and my importance.

    ” […] please refrain from silly comments like that if you ever want to be taken seriously. I could pull your website to pieces if I had the inclination to do so but the world needs jumped up cyber-nerds like you. Maybe you’ll evolve.. fuse into your computer tower and become like a cyberspace Dalek, controlling the world with your fab opinions…..well.. maybe not.”

    You have a monopoly on posting silly comments on my blog? Firstly, given that you were continually misreading the piece I wrote (and have continued to do so), it wasn’t all that silly. Secondly, I’m already taken seriously — by the people I care to be taken seriously by. Thirdly, you could certainly try to pull my website to pieces. Based on the evidence, however, I have a sneaking suspicion that you’d once again end up with egg on your face. Fourth point: I’m a writer who can use a computer and who is interested in, amongst many, many other things, futurism. It doesn’t quite make me a cyber-nerd. But if that’s what you want to call me, it’s fine by me. I don’t consider it the insult it is clearly meant to be.

  10. Steve, I must just point out that in your first post on this thread you contradict yourself.

    A close minded sceptic does not exist.
    Somebody who is completely close minded to something is called a cynic.

    A sceptic is a person who remains open minded to all possibilities but demands proof.
    Is that really such a bad thing?

    In my few years as a paranormal researcher I have never seen anything but Ancedotal evidence to support the theory of NDE’s.
    Sure, some of the stuff put forward as evidence is interesting – but not enough to prove that these NDE’s are actually happening.

    When claims are made, the person making that claim has the burden of proof laying upon their back and until they can provde the proof people are not going to blindly just accept things as true (and quite rightly so!)

    For you to get so personal in the comments to Gary’s blog suggests to me that you have no further proof or facts to back up your opinion.

    Oh, and by the way – personal testimonies of patients who claim to have had NDEs do not stand as proof!

  11. G’day, mate!

    Juz want to blurb a bit ’bout this NDE thingy, may I?

    Steve: I’m not gonna go into this much. Say, as someone who’d been medically dead couples of time (and live again of course; I’m replying the article, aren’t I?), not a single chance in the world I would ask someone else to believe what I experienced by publishing any postulate or scientific book. Why? Doesn’t anyone want to get rich? Well, I do want to be rich but NOT that way because I’d acknowledge myself to the world as a bloody idiot! NDE and all those things belong to the subjective consciousness instead of objective one [read: object of science]. Therefore, as I previously said, it always be morbidly anecdotal to have NDE scientifically postulated.

    Btw, Steve, what is more sinful than the absence of faith? It’s, absolutely, the absence of intelligence! –may I mind you.

  12. Hi Gary, this is a very late comment on your post, but I was following some links related to the BBC item you responded to.

    I can’t help but feel you only read what you wanted to in the BBC item and ignored that which bumped into your prejudices:
    1) You imply the author should have been more objective. Penny Sartori approached this as a sceptic – My scientific training as a nurse told me that these experiences couldn’t possibly be more than an overactive imagination or some kind of wishful thinking or hallucination as the brain was shutting down as death approached.
    I suggest that she started on this with the same views you hold.

    2) You imply the author was guidable The second point that really hit home, however, was the blithe acceptance by the author of what she was told by patients
    On the contrary she set about objectively testing what she was told by placing objects out of sight from the patient. The patients reported seeing things that they could not have seen from where they were – aside from the fact that their eyes were closed.

    3) You bemoan the rigour Fine, anecdotal evidence is pretty much all we have got, but in an academic study I would hope that it’s used appropriately. The book is based on the accepted by University of Wales, Lampete for Sartori’s Phd. As such it was subject to review and assessment. I am guessing, but someone would have asked what you have …

    It looks to me as if she did a solid bit of research over five years. Yet clearly there are answered questions – hence the new bigger project which will certainly have tighter controls. I await the results with an open mind – do you?

    Sala kahle – peace

  13. Hi — and thank you for the comments. They are always welcome, late or not.

    In response to your observation that I read only what I wanted to in the BBC item, I’m afraid I can’t agree at all. I supplied a link to the article in question so that my readers would have full access to all the information and also included an edit providing what I believe to be a fairer representation of Penny’s work. I am by nature sceptical, but this does not mean that I am closed to the possibilities. And I’m certainly not prejudiced when it comes to this point.

    1) I agree that she probably did start this with the same views that I hold. That wasn’t the point that I was making. As I stated in the original peace and in following comments, my concern was with the way in which she publicised the book in the article. I do not imply that the author should have been more objective; I question whether the suggested lack of objectivity at times reflected in the interview was advisable given that she was promoting an academic piece of work.

    2) Yet again, you are missing my point. The clear validity of the work she is doing was, I felt (and others have agreed), seriously undermined by some of the more fanciful comments she made.

    3) I agree — her work did follow strict criteria. However, at the risk of labouring the point, I didn’t feel that this was reflected in the article. Again, I provided an edit at the end of my piece to give access to what I believed was more accurate information on her and her work.

    I would agree 100% with you on your final point. I have no doubt after reading more on this subject that she did indeed do some very solid research and provided valuable information. With regard the often used explanations for near death experiences of endorphins, abnormal blood gases or low oxygen levels, there appears to be nothing in her findings to support this. A genuinely important piece of information.

    With regard my attitude to the results; yes, I do await them with an open mind.

    Thanks again for your comment. Take care.

  14. To Haley: You said

    “Sure, some of the stuff put forward as evidence is interesting – but not enough to prove that these NDE’s are actually happening.”

    I would like to correct this by saying – no skeptic denies that NDE’s are actually happening, we deny only the implications implied by the survival hypothesis that use NDE’s to support this reasoning.

    To Steve:

    I think Gary has a solid point by saying his expectations were not met by the way it was presented. Gary was expecting something academic, usually this is typically something well researched that is either peer reviewed or takes on all angles of the situation and then concludes with the best explanation for the event. The presentation, not the book itself, does lend credibility to Gary’s view.

    To Gary: I recommend reading Woerlee’s study that essentially is a rebuttal of Limmel’s conclusions.

    Personally I remain unconvinced from both positions. My left brain tells me the skeptics are right, my right brain wants the Nde supporters to be right. Either way I do not think the evidence is conclusive. Dr. Sam Parnia is currently conducting a 3 study that started this year to confirm on whether it is all in the mind or something more. The key is how death is defined and whether it is a process or if there is a definitive point that one can be considered dead while everything is still shutting down.

  15. Brandon — thank you for your support and input. I really appreciate it.

    Regarding the point you make to Hayley, I think she would definitely agree with your comment.

    I’ll certainly be checking out your recommendations. Thanks again.

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