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NDEs who do you trust? [article]

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posted on May, 24 2009 @ 12:15 AM
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So, who do you trust more? An cardiologist and a neurologist? Or an anesthesiologist? I think the first two vastly are more qualified. Or do you commonly seek engineering advice from dentists?

Decoding The Mystery Of Near-Death Experiences



We've all heard the stories about near-death experiences: the tunnel, the white light, the encounter with long-dead relatives now looking very much alive.

Scientists have cast a skeptical eye on these accounts. They say that these feelings and visions are simply the result of a brain shutting down.

But now some researchers are giving a closer neurological look at near-death experiences and asking: Can your mind operate when your brain has stopped?

'I Popped Up Out The Top Of My Head'

I met Pam Reynolds in her tour bus. She's a big deal in the music world — her company, Southern Tracks, has recorded music by everyone from Bruce Springsteen to Pearl Jam to REM. But you've probably never heard her favorite song. It's the one Reynolds wrote about the time she traveled to death's door and back. The experience has made her something of a rock star in the near-death world. Believers say she is proof positive that the mind can operate when the brain is stilled. Nonbelievers say she's nothing of the sort.

Reynolds' journey began one hot August day in 1991.

"I was in Virginia Beach, Va., with my husband," she recalls. "We were promoting a new record. And I inexplicably forgot how to talk. I've got a big mouth. I never forget how to talk."

An MRI revealed an aneurysm on her brain stem. It was already leaking, a ticking time bomb. Her doctor in Atlanta said her best hope was a young brain surgeon at the Barrow Neurological Institute in Arizona named Robert Spetzler.

"The aneurysm was very large, which meant the risk of rupture was also very large," Spetzler says. "And it was in a location where the only way to really give her the very best odds of fixing it required what we call 'cardiac standstill.' "

It was a daring operation: Chilling her body, draining the blood out of her head like oil from a car engine, snipping the aneurysm and then bringing her back from the edge of death.

"She is as deeply comatose as you can be and still be alive," Spetzler observes.

When the operation began, the surgeons taped shut Reynolds' eyes and put molded speakers in her ears. The ear speakers, which made clicking sounds as loud as a jet plane taking off, allowed the surgeons to measure her brain stem activity and let them know when they could drain her blood.

"I was lying there on the gurney minding my own business, seriously unconscious, when I started to hear a noise," Reynolds recalls. "It was a natural D, and as the sound continued — I don't know how to explain this, other than to go ahead and say it — I popped up out the top of my head."

A Tunnel And Bright Light

She says she found herself looking down at the operating table. She says she could see 20 people around the table and hear what sounded like a dentist's drill. She looked at the instrument in the surgeon's hand.

"It was an odd-looking thing," she says. "It looked like the handle on my electric toothbrush."

Reynolds observed the Midas Rex bone saw the surgeons used to cut open her head, the drill bits, and the case, which looked like the one where her father kept his socket wrenches. Then she noticed a surgeon at her left groin.

"I heard a female voice say, 'Her arteries are too small.' And Dr. Spetzler — I think it was him — said, 'Use the other side,' " Reynolds says.

Soon after, the surgeons began to lower her body temperature to 60 degrees. It was about that time that Reynolds believes she noticed a tunnel and bright light. She eventually flat-lined completely, and the surgeons drained the blood out of her head.

During her near-death experience, she says she chatted with her dead grandmother and uncle, who escorted her back to the operating room. She says as they looked down on her body, she could hear the Eagles' song "Hotel California" playing in the operating room as the doctors restarted her heart. She says her body looked like a train wreck, and she said she didn't want to return.

"My uncle pushed me," she says, laughing. "And when I hit the body, the line in the song was, 'You can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave.' And I opened my eyes and I said, 'You know, that is really insensitive!' "

A Vision That Matches The Record

Afterwards, Reynolds assumed she had been hallucinating. But a year later, she mentioned the details to her neurosurgeon. Spetzler says her account matched his memory.

"From a scientific perspective," he says, "I have absolutely no explanation about how it could have happened."

Spetzler did not check out all the details, but Michael Sabom did. Sabom is a cardiologist in Atlanta who was researching near-death experiences.

"With Pam's permission, they sent me her records from the surgery," he says. "And long story short, what she said happened to her is actually what Spetzler did with her out in Arizona."

According to the records, there were 20 doctors in the room. There was a conversation about the veins in her left leg. She was defibrillated. They were playing "Hotel California." How about that bone saw? Sabom got a photo from the manufacturer — and it does look like an electric toothbrush.

How, Sabom wonders, could she know these things?

"She could not have heard [it], because of what they did to her ears," he says. "In addition, both of her eyes were taped shut, so she couldn't open her eyes and see what was going on. So her physical sensory perception was off the table."

An Alternative Explanation?

That's preposterous, says anesthesiologist Gerald Woerlee.

"This report provides absolutely no evidence for survival of any sort of consciousness outside the body during near-death experiences or any other such experiences," he says.

Woerlee, an Australian researcher and near-death experience debunker who has investigated Reynolds' case, says what happened to her is easy to explain. He says when they cut into her head, she was jolted into consciousness. At that point, they had not yet drained blood from her brain. He believes she could hear — despite the clicking earplugs.

"There are various explanations," Woerlee says. "One: that the earphones or plugs were not that tightly fitting. Two: It could have been that it was due to sound transmission through the operating table itself."

So Reynolds could have heard conversations. As for seeing the Midas Rex bone saw, he says, she recognized a sound from her childhood.

"She made a picture in her mind of a machine or a device which was very similar to what she was familiar with — a dental drill," Woerlee says.

Woerlee says Reynolds experienced anesthesia awareness, in which a person is conscious but can't move. He figures back in 1991, that happened in 1 out of every 2,000 operations.

That doesn't convince cardiologist Sabom or neurosurgeon Spetzler. They believe the combination of anesthesia and the sluggish brain activity caused by hypothermia meant that Reynolds could not form or retain memories for a significant part of the operation. At the very least, Sabom says, Reynolds' story raises the possibility that consciousness can function even when the brain is offline.

"Is there some type of awareness that occurs from a nonfunctional, physical brain?" Sabom asks. "And if there is, does that mean that there's a soul or spirit?"

Re-Creating Near-Death Experiences

In the end, Reynolds' story is just an anecdote. And in fact, that's the problem with all the studies of near-death experiences. After all, you can't do clinical trials where you kill Mrs. Smith and tag along as she passes through the tunnel to the light, just to verify her story.




posted on May, 24 2009 @ 12:17 AM
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Except in Hollywood, of course. In the 1990 movie Flatliners (starring Julia Roberts and Kiefer Sutherland), five medical students try to peer into the next world by stopping their hearts and returning to tell the tale.

The movie inspired Mario Beauregard, a neuroscientist at the University of Montreal. What if he could do the next best thing? Since stopping people's hearts is a research no-no, he is asking people who have had near-death experiences to relive them while he looks to see what's happening in their head.

"And it seems that these people have a different sort of brain," Beauregard says in his soft French accent. "It's like there's a shift in their brain, and this shift will allow these people to stay in touch with the spiritual world more easily, on a daily basis."

Beauregard recruited 15 people who had a near-death experience. One of those was Gilles Bedard. In 1973, Bedard's heart stopped, and in the moments before he was resuscitated, he was greeted by what he describes as 12 beings of light.

"And I felt it was like the breath of the universe. Because it was like …" he says as he blows out his breath, slowly, like a low wind, "very, very peaceful."

Since then, Bedard has meditated every day, and he says he often reconnects with the light. The research question is, how will his brain respond when he does?

A Permanent Change In Brain Activity?

For the experiment, Bedard is shut into an isolation chamber at Beauregard's Montreal lab. Bedard's head sprouts 32 electrodes, which will record his brain wave activity. He's told to relax for a few moments. Then he'll be instructed to imagine his near-death experience.

A few minutes later, Beauregard and his research assistant are peering at a computer screen recording Bedard's brain waves. They cluck happily at the slow, large-amplitude Delta waves undulating across the screen — typical of a person in deep meditation or deep sleep.

Afterward, the researcher asks Bedard if he was able to connect with the light.

"Yeah, it was coming from within," he says. "It was loving, intelligent … very powerful."

It would take Beauregard a year to complete his research on near-death experiences. A few weeks ago, I called to ask him what he had found.

"It's like the near-death experience triggered something at a neural level in the brain," he said. "And perhaps this change, in terms of brain activity, is sort of permanent."

Beauregard says it's as if touching death jump-started the spiritual lives of these people. Their brains in the spiritual state look a lot like those of Catholic nuns and Buddhist monks who have spent tens of thousands of hours in prayer and meditation. Both groups showed extremely slow brain wave activity.

The researchers also saw significant changes in brain regions associated with positive emotions, attention and personal boundaries, as subjects who had had near-death experiences lost their sense of their physical bodies and merged with God or the "light."

Brain Chemistry Or A Trip To Heaven?

Skeptic Woerlee says there's nothing remarkable — and certainly nothing spiritual — about these findings.

"The brain function of many of these people who have undergone a near-death experience is altered," Woerlee says. "That's correct. It is altered. Extreme oxygen starvation does change brain function — because it causes brain damage to the larger cells in the brain."

It's brain chemistry, he says, not a trip to heaven.

In other words, Woerlee and Beauregard looked at the same images and came to opposite conclusions.

I found that dichotomy everywhere as I interviewed experts about the emerging science of spirituality. It's kind of like a Rorschach test: Some researchers look at the data and say spiritual experience is only an electrical storm in the temporal lobe, or a brain gasping for oxygen — all fully explainable by science. Others say our brains are reflecting an encounter with the divine.

And almost invariably, where a scientist stands on that issue has little to do with the clinical findings of any study. It has almost everything to do with the scientist's personal beliefs.

SOURCE:www.npr.org...

Also, it's funny how visibly the anesthesiologist is grasping for mundane answers.



posted on May, 24 2009 @ 12:30 PM
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What a good thread! S&F!

I know that tests have been done with individuals in a high jet acceleration room (what do you call it?) where scientists have tried to prove that NDR's come about as a result of less oxygen and blood to the head by creating G-Force speed in which knocks out the person in the booth or cockpit.

Science with its skeptics will go to any length to disprove life beyond our silly world and existence.

Which really bugs me! We know so little about our universe that is visible, no less the HUGE part that is invisible, no less other universe's. But we are so sure of our measly 70 years on this planet (if we are lucky), yet, there is evidence of possible supernatural help with some of the pyramids!

There is just so much story behind our story!




posted on May, 24 2009 @ 06:42 PM
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reply to post by MatrixProphet
 

[sarcasm]
Of course! Cause that is religion! Anything that aint science is religion and it leads to people killing each other. Only by blindly trusting peer review and sticking to what people with PhDs tell you can you be saved from being a slave to the superevil religion!
[/sarcasm]



posted on May, 24 2009 @ 06:43 PM
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reply to post by MatrixProphet
 


In all honesty I think it ties to human fear of the unknown and how hard he strikes back against feeling powerless.



posted on May, 24 2009 @ 07:01 PM
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I don't truly know. I used to be an absolute believer in an after life (not really religious). However, now I'm not sure. It's not that I doubt that it is possible, or it's logic.. I just can't claim to know something exists when I can't see or touch it.

I do believe there is something to them though, more than we can understand as humans.



posted on May, 24 2009 @ 07:06 PM
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reply to post by Miraj
 


I can agree with that view. What is more, I don't think we are meant to know. I think the nature of reality is something not like an classroom and you don't truly learn anything if you cheat on the test by answers provided by the teacher. So to speak.



posted on May, 24 2009 @ 07:19 PM
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To know something for sure, you cannot believe, you have to experience it on your own. I've had out of body experience, while fully awake, so i know i'm multidimensional. But you can't believe it if you don't experience it. I've had quite a few occult experiments in my life, and i've come to a better understanding of how everything works in terms of my own evolution as a human.
To fully understand the astral plane (land of the dead), you need to be outside of the physical realm, because we are blocked by our physical senses. Mysteries are better explained and understood that way.



posted on May, 24 2009 @ 07:28 PM
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reply to post by lagenese
 


But even then there is a possible argument for hallucination. I don't personally believe that but it is a valid argument none the less.



posted on May, 24 2009 @ 07:30 PM
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reply to post by Watcher-In-The-Shadows
 


I don't think we are meant to either..

I once had a theory; Inspired in part by Pam Reynolds that a current civilization must come to an end when it proves that the concious-ness of a sentient being will survive death. The rationalization is that material reality becomes un-important, when it infact is.


What she said that spawned this theory was that she believed there would be a breakthrough in Quantam Physics (she didn't actually specify, just said a scientific breakthrough) that would prove that there is an after life. She said this in 1998 I believe. At that point, I believed the 2012 date as fact. (I don't exactly now)



posted on May, 24 2009 @ 07:31 PM
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reply to post by Watcher-In-The-Shadows
 


Maybe for some, but not for me, because i know (been there). So, as i said, you cannot believe, you have to know, and for this, you need to experience. You cannot transpose your experience onto others, because it a form of domination from one mind to another.



posted on May, 24 2009 @ 07:38 PM
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reply to post by lagenese
 


Hey, basically like you said, all that really matters is that you believe. I was merely saying.

[edit on 24-5-2009 by Watcher-In-The-Shadows]



posted on May, 24 2009 @ 07:46 PM
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reply to post by Watcher-In-The-Shadows
 




But even then there is a possible argument for hallucination.


Hallucinations that are accurate? I don't think so.

NDE is something that I strongly believe. I haven't had a NDE myself but I have had several OOBE. I know it's real.

Here's a website I visit often: near-death.com...

Good stories and evidence in there.



posted on May, 24 2009 @ 07:48 PM
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reply to post by lagenese
 



Maybe for some, but not for me, because i know (been there). So, as i said, you cannot believe, you have to know, and for this, you need to experience. You cannot transpose your experience onto others, because it a form of domination from one mind to another.


Yes, experience is something that one cannot easily explain yet, we know exists.

I have had tremendous life experience. You don't know that about me and for all we know I don't even exist. So the point being; there are countless things that don't fall into left brained logic category.

Eventually, (if God doesn't make his presence known sooner) science will be able to measure consciousness (as some are doing now) that will make it known beyond a shadow of a doubt that God, and an afterlife, or spiritual consciousness, exist beyond us, and is a reality.



posted on May, 24 2009 @ 07:50 PM
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reply to post by Deaf Alien
 


You missed this part:

I don't personally believe that

but it is a valid argument none the less.


[edit on 24-5-2009 by Watcher-In-The-Shadows]



posted on May, 24 2009 @ 07:51 PM
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reply to post by Watcher-In-The-Shadows
 



In all honesty I think it ties to human fear of the unknown and how hard he strikes back against feeling powerless.


Yes, so if we leave everything black and white, left brain logic, then we can stay in our comfort zone. Go into the spiritual unknown - we leave it.



posted on May, 24 2009 @ 07:52 PM
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reply to post by MatrixProphet
 


Exactly, and what's worse. It's admission that there are sentient things that are vastly more powerful than us. Much like mankind's mental block against the possibility of the existance of extra-terrestrials.



posted on May, 24 2009 @ 07:58 PM
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Originally posted by MatrixProphet
Eventually, (if God doesn't make his presence known sooner) science will be able to measure consciousness (as some are doing now) that will make it known beyond a shadow of a doubt that God, and an afterlife, or spiritual consciousness, exist beyond us, and is a reality.


I respect you view on the subject.

To my point of view, God is the universal energy for creation. The afterlife is part of the domination of mankind and spiritual consciousness is part of the plan to keep mankind under the domination of the high spheres of the astral world. True consciousness is freedom from all manipulation that we are subjected to (including death). Once we are truly free from manipulation, we can move on to higher levels of evolution.



posted on May, 24 2009 @ 07:59 PM
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Originally posted by Watcher-In-The-Shadows
reply to post by Deaf Alien
 


You missed this part:

I don't personally believe that

but it is a valid argument none the less.


[edit on 24-5-2009 by Watcher-In-The-Shadows]


Right. It's a strong evidence none the less. I think I went at it the wrong way. I apologize.

BTW, S&F for you.



posted on May, 24 2009 @ 08:04 PM
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reply to post by Deaf Alien
 


Not a problem, misunderstanding is hardly a horrendous crime. It can be argued to become so when people cling to the misunderstanding, which you did not and I applaud you for it.
And thank you for the star and flag. One aims to please.




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