What do the Skeptics on the otherhand have to say about NDEs? Let's be fair now.
Skeptic Argument # 1: Dying Brain Theory
The Dying Brain Theory states that upon clinical death the brain is slowly starved of oxygen and creates a vivid hallucination that is later
remembered as an NDE.
This theory in truth falls very short of the cold hard medical facts of what happens to the brain after cardiac arrest occurs and when clinical
death sets in, and is likewise destroyed by the well documented Veridical Aspects of the NDE Phenomenon itself that are never adequately dealt with as
In total refutation of the "Dying Brain Theory" the cold hard medical facts are that when a person's heart stops they lose total consciousness
within seconds. The loss of consciousness is complete and there are no memories of the event. EEG and brain stem monitors show no brain activity while
in this state. There is no gag reflex, no pupil response, no brain activity whatsoever. They are dead. The brain cannot produce images in this state,
and even if it could, you wouldn't remember them.
Multiple medical doctors including Peter Fenwick a respected neuropsychiatrist, Pim Van Lommel a cardiologist, Sam Parnia, Bruce Greyson, Ian
Stevenson, Melvin Morse, Michael Sabom, and numerous others, will tell you the same thing.
"Simultaneous recording of heart rate and brain output show that within 11 seconds of the heart stopping, the brainwaves go flat. Now, if you read
the literature on this, some skeptical people claim that in this state there is still brain activity, but, in fact, the data are against this in both
animals and humans. The brain is not functioning, and you are not going to get your electrical activity back again until the heart restarts." (Dr.
Dr. Sam Parnia: "During cardiac arrest brainstem activity is rapidly lost. It should not be able to sustain such lucid processes or allow the
formation of lasting memories."
Pim Van Lommel's well-known research study published in The Lancet, a leading medical journal, also notes that cerebral activity flatlines within
4 to 20 seconds of cardiac arrest.
"How could a clear consciousness outside one's body be experienced at the moment that the brain no longer functions during a period of clinical
death with flat EEG? . . . Furthermore, blind people have described veridical perception during out-of-body experiences at the time of this
experience. NDE pushes at the limits of medical ideas about the range of human consciousness and the mind-brain relation. In our prospective study of
patients that were clinically dead (flat EEG, showing no electrical activity in the cortex and loss of brain stem function evidenced by fixed dilated
pupils and absence of the gag reflex) the patients report a clear consciousness, in which cognitive functioning, emotion, sense of identity, or memory
from early childhood occurred, as well as perceptions from a position out and above their 'dead' body." (Van Lommel, Van Wees, Meyers, Elfferich
(2001). Near-Death Experience in Survivors of Cardiac Arrest: A Prospective Study in the Netherlands. Lancet.)
The Dying Brain Theory also doesn't explain why only 18% of those who are brought back from clinical death experience an NDE, while the remaining
82% do not. Even under the exact same conditions.
"Our most striking finding was that Near-Death Experiences do not have a physical or medical root. After all, 100 per cent of the patients
suffered a shortage of oxygen, 100 per cent were given morphine-like medications, 100 per cent were victims of severe stress, so those are plainly not
the reasons why 18 per cent had Near-Death Experiences and 82 percent didn't. If they had been triggered by any one of those things, everyone would
have had Near-Death Experiences." (Van Lommel 1995)
I'd like to clarify that even though only 18% of those who are brought back from clinical death experience an NDE (all under the same medical
conditions), the LONGER one is clinically dead, the higher the chance of being brought back with an NDE. Those who were clinically dead longer than
several minutes have a far higher chance of coming back with an NDE than those who were clinically dead for only a minute or two.
Skeptic Argument # 2: '___' Chemicals Causing NDEs
'___' does not account for the Veridical Elements of the NDE, nor the amazing structure of many NDEs, according to the book "'___': The Spiritual
Molecule," it may act as an initial NDE trigger, but cannot make up for the entire experience, Veridical Elements and all, in addition to the pesky
little fact that within 4 to 20 seconds of cardiac arrest, the brain waves go flat, and even if they were sufficient (which they are not), the brain
cannot produce images in this state, and even if it could, you wouldn't remember them.
Skeptic Argument # 3: Ketamine
The Skeptic Sources refering to the Drug Ketamine causing NDEs are referencing an old paper by Ketamine Researcher Dr. Karl Jansen, who has since
totally changed his stance on Ketamine actually causing the experiences, and is now far more open to the metaphysical component of NDEs. His current
hypothesis is that Ketamine and other triggers of NDEs/OBEs simply act as a "door to a space" rather than actually producing that space. He states
that his findings now are more in line with other researchers in his field such as John Lilly and Stanislav Grof.
"I am no longer as opposed to spiritual explanations of these phenomena as this article would appear to suggest. Over the past two years (it is
quite some time since I wrote it) I have moved more towards the views put forward by John Lilly and Stan Grof. Namely, that drugs and psychological
disciplines such as meditation and yoga may render certain 'states' more accessible. The complication then becomes in defining just what we mean by
'states' and where they are located, if indeed location is an appropriate term at all. But the apparent emphasis on matter over mind contained within
this particular article no longer accurately represents my attitudes. My forthcoming book 'Ketamine' will consider mystical issues from quite a
different perspective, and will give a much stronger voice to those who see drugs as just another door to a space, and not as actually producing that
space'." (Dr. Karl Jansen)
Melvin Morse M.D. wrote an insightful article titled "The Right Temporal Lobe And Associated Limbic Lobe Structures As The Biological Interface
With An Interconnected Universe" that is along these lines of thought.
Skeptic Argument # 4: The Navy Airmen Stress Tests
These are studies where they used Navy Airmen in G-Force stress tests that caused the blood in the heads of the individuals to drain, inducing a
state of simulated clinical death, in which NDEs were reported. These do not conflict with the NDE Phenomenon, as the persons were essentially put
into a state of simulated clinical death when the blood drained from their heads, and they had an NDE.
Again, like Pim Van Lommel's findings, it only occured in 18% of individuals who underwent and came back from this state of simulated clinical
Skeptic Argument # 5: Susan Blackmore's Critique Of "The Tunnel"
Regarding the Tunnel that people see during their NDEs, Susan Blackmore has theorized that the optic nerve causes a "Tunnel Effect" due to random
neuron firings in the back of the eye to explain away the "Tunnel" that people see.
But a woman named Vicki who was born blind had her optic nerve severed in her incubator at birth, and she still visually saw a Tunnel during her
NDE and OBE. And it happened awhile into the actual experience.
The fact is, The Tunnel can appear in front of them, to the side of them, up above them, even through a wall, soon after or long after their
clinical death set in. And sometimes even not at all.
The Tunnel is truely a moot point concerning the overall NDE experience.
Skeptic Argument # 6: The Assertion That People Only See And Experience What They Already Believed
This is completely untrue. Atheists and Agnostics come back believing in a God. Many Christians come back believing in Reincarnation, that Other
Religions are Valid Spiritual Paths, and other Unorthodox Hetrodox ideas. There are a number of cases of Hindus meeting Muhammed, Muslims meeting
Buddha, Christians meeting a Figure of God other than Mainstream Christianity. (I know one Southern Baptist Christian who saw Shamanic Imagery in his
NDE, and became a Shaman. I met another one who met a Demiurge Figure in Addition to a God Figure, which reflects Gnosticism.) A seven year old girl
who was raised Christian saw deceased spirits of people waiting to be reborn (reincarnation) that goes against her belief system, etc.
I know an Atheist who had a very profound NDE when she was a child, and she had been raised non-religious, and she had experienced God in a
Panentheistic Context, that she was informed "All is One", and she said that she became and identified and connected with everything during her NDE.
Very much in line with Eastern Spiritual Thought.
Skeptic Argument # 7: Keith Augustine's Anti-NDE Article (The Skeptic's Trump Card)
Sources such as Keith Augustine's article will prey upon the perceived weakness of certain NDEs, out of their full context, while ignoring
alternative explainations and far better and far stronger NDE examples, in an attempt to bring all NDEs down. The "weird" NDEs he presents are without
context, and his sources are usually Christian Fundamentalist Anti-NDE Books (Not Kidding), and short excerpts from Books of NDE Researchers, taken
out of their full context and presented without the full explanation of the NDE Researchers who are presenting them. His alternative explanations of
Veridical NDEs ignore pesky facts and additional and alternative information that he conveniently ignored to come to his conclusions.
The bulk of his arguments against specific veridical cases, revolve largely around presenting totally unprovable unverifiable highly speculative
"coulda-woulda-shouldas" regarding how they "could have seen/heard those things naturally" while ignoring well presented alternative explanations, the
full context of the specific cases, and ignoring all of the known facts and circumstances surrounding the matter at hand that conflict with his hasty
conclusions. His arguments often revolve around presenting a totally one-sided view of things, ignoring what the other side has to fully say regarding
it, and comes up with his own conclusion without the full data being presented there. There are times where he partially or very briefly and shortly
presents what the other side has to say, but certainly not all of it, as much of what he does not present is very damning to his side of the
edit on 8-10-2012 by ker2010 because: (no reason given)