NDE— Scientific American Tried (In Vain) To Explain It Away

I didn't see this article when it first came out but my recent re-visiting of the NDE experience coincided with finding it online.  Entitled PEACE OF MIND: NEAR-DEATH EXPERIENCES NOW FOUND TO HAVE SCIENTIFIC EXPLANATION comes from Scientific American by Charles Q. Choi http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=peace-of-mind-near-death&print=true  

It is a rather pathetic rehash of other skeptical attempts to de-legitimize the experience as being nothing more than the result of lack of oxygen to the brain or the accumulation of toxins. This approach seems to profoundly threaten the scientific/materialistic metaphysical view of reality.

Even the suspicion that the NDE might reveal something of a paranormal / spiritual experience is so threatening to this community that they defy rational thinking in their desperate attempts to demean it.

The article (as so many others like it) attempts to simulate the NDE by stimulating different areas of the brain, particularly the right temporoparietal junction.  It also offers the locus coeruleus of the midbrain as another brain source of the experience.  Once again it offers lack of oxygen to the brain as producing the tunnel of light phenomenon. It also explains how certain drugs including the anesthetic ketamine can simulate an out-of body experience

The problem with all these explanations is simply this–they do not account for the powerfully salient features of the NDE.  They create a weak and inaccurate version of the NDE and then attempt to debunk it. 

There have been many fine, detailed investigations of the NDE which have effectively countered each attempt to offer scientific explanations for what truly happens.  The best analysis and summary I have read comes from cardiologists Pim van Lommel, M.D. in his book Consciousness Beyond Life: The Science of the Near-Death Experience.  Lommel systematically brings a reasoned and detail analysis of the NDE and explains rather convincingly why it is NOT the product of lack of oxygen, a particular area of the brain or some drug reaction. 

In fact as I have discussed in earlier postings, the features of the NDE which are most compelling cannot be explained away.  Individuals who are essentially "brain dead" with profound lack of oxygen to their brain describe vivid, coherent experiences in which they not only encounter deceased loved-ones who they did not know in life but later recognize in pictures, but can visualize real life events that take place when they are unconscious and comatose.  These can be confirmed by other observers.  They are so profoundly affected by these experiences that they are often life-changing. There is a nearly universal loss of the fear of death.  

Such a profound, life-altering transformation of basic values with an emphasis on spirituality over materialism cannot possibly be the result of a delusion or hallucination.  In fact when asked to compare this experience with a dream, hallucination or even waking consciousness, they will uniformly state that the NDE was "more real" than any of these.  The common features of the NDE across countries, times and cultures unequivocally point to a deeply powerful, real and enlightening encounter with a deeper reality. 

It is unfortunate that such a well-respected magazine such as Scientific American did not truly explore the essence of the NDE.  It reflects the general bias of the scientific community to be closed-minded about experiences that challenge their "faith-based" belief that nothing can exist without a scientificc explantion.  And, therefore, closes itself off to the real investigation of the NDE. That attitude only inhibits the full exloration of new frontiers in human consciousness studies.

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