Monday, January 25, 2010

Dear NDE Skeptics,

This post is for those who doubt the possibility of our consciousness being able to leave our body. (Check the previous post about Near-Death Experience)  It's also for those who do believe it since more convincing reasons won't hurt.

Skeptics' Case 1:  Flat EEG Doesn't Mean Zero Brain Activity
Even when EEG instruments (tools used to detect electrical activity within the brain) showed a flat EEG reading during NDEs reported by patients,  NDE doubters suggest that activity deep inside the brain, beyond the reach of EEG instruments, must be responsible for the surreal experiences reported in NDE cases.

Well, nice try.  However, University of Toledo Neuroscience researcher, and EEG expert, Dr. John Greenfield, is here to explain why this claim doesn't hold up.

It’s very unlikely that a hypoperfused brain [someone with no blood flow to the brain], with no evidence of electrical activity could generate NDEs. Human studies as well as animal studies have typically shown very little brain perfusion [blood flow] or glucose utilization when the EEG is flat. There are deep brain areas involved in generating memories that might still operate at some very reduced level during cardiac arrest, but of course any subcortically generated activity can't be brought to consciousness without at least one functioning cerebral hemisphere. So even if there were some way that NDEs were generated during the hypoxic state [while the brain is shut off from oxygen], you would not experience them until reperfusion [blood flow] allowed you to dream them or wake up and talk about them.

I already know how some doubters will respond, they will say that "very unlikely" is not impossible and that the notion of consciousness leaving the body is even more unlikely.  Of course they won't be able to explain why since their only reason would be that 'it's common sense to believe consciousness dies as the brain shuts down'.  Even-though their reason (and their commonsense) is BS, I'll give this one to them and see what happens.  Let's assume that activity deep within the brain beyond the reach of EEG instruments is responsible for NDE's; but then how do you explain the fact that patients who experienced NDE's being able to recall events accurately during the time they were supposed to be unconscious?  They could recall events that couldn't be perceived without vision, let alone being unconscious.  And their response is their case#2:

Skeptics' Case 2: Accurate Accounts may not be Exclusive to NDE Patients.
Skeptics claim that patients who didn't experience NDE's may also be able to describe events taken place during the time they were unconscious simply by guessing.  A patient who experienced NDE described accurately how the surgical saw looked like; skeptics argue that anyone could have guessed how the surgical saw looked like.

Here is Dr. Penny Sartori explaining how this claim falls apart when it's put side by side with facts.

I worked in the intensive care unit and because of the nature of my job, of course, I’d come across a lot of death. And of course makes you wonder what happens when we die. For five years I gathered data, where I spoke to patients in the intensive care unit and particularly patients who’d had a cardiac arrest. When these patients revived, as soon as they were medically fit, I approached them and asked the simple question, ‘Did you have any memory of the time that you were unconscious?'
For the people who had a near-death experience and out of body experience [their recollection of resuscitation] was really quite accurate and I decided then to ask the control group, the people who’d had a cardiac arrest but had no recollection of anything at all. I asked them if they would reenact their resuscitation scenario and tell me what they thought that we had done to resuscitate them. And what I found is that many of the patients couldn’t even guess as to what we’d done. They had no idea at all. And then some of them did make guesses, but these were based on TV hospital dramas that they’d seen. I found that what they reported was widely inaccurate. So there was a stark contrast really in the very accurate out of body experiences reported and then the guesses that the control group had made,

So there it is; the two biggest claims skeptics use to deny NDE cases being smashed into pieces.

Related Links:
Complete Interview of Dr. John Greenfield and Dr. Penny Sartor

1 comment:

  1. So if the brain now has blood, because they didn't die from their heart attack, its simply a remote possibility that the information was transfered?

    It's certainly no less remote than if one were to insert electrodes in a NDE's head while he was dying, the output would show nothing...yet when they wake up they can tell you about what happened during the surgery. OF course, to really map out the entire brain and know exactly whats going on everwhere memory is relevant to generating experience...that could be awhile.