• Blue Lux
    DMT is a psychedelic substance, but it is in your brain and functions as a neurotransmitter. You can vaporize it or combine it with an maoi and consume it orally. It is arguably the most powerful psychedelic substance on Earth, and there is research about it in terms of REM sleep.
    I have done it. I vaporized it.
    When you do enough, you contact aliens. Literally. There are thousands upon thousands of accounts of witnessing other beings that try and communicate with you. Time slows down dramatically and you can feel like you are blasted out of your body into a hyperspace.
    It functions as a pseudoneurotransmitter in the brain, and there is research about endogenous hallucinogens in the brain that mediate what experience is or consists of.

    In the Amazon rainforest, native tribes have been drinking dmt in a brew called Ayahuasca, and they say they contact their ancestors and the spiritual world. People go there today to engage in ceremonies and the Ayahuasca experience has been shown to be able to alleviate the fear of death for cancer patients, as has LSD, and also people with severe depression, childhood trauma, PTSD, etc have all had extraordinarily positive benefits from Ayahuasca, as well as help with drug dependence...
    The psychedelic known as ibogaine can completely take someone off of heroin.

    I do not label psychedelic substances in relation to other drugs like opioids, benzos, barbituates, alcohol, cocaine, amphetamines, etc... They are simply too different. Psychedelic drugs affect the 5ht2a serotonin receptor, and that is very different than cocaine or amphetamines.

    Anyway, MDMA or ecstasy was originally used for couples therapy or help with ptsd. It is termed as an empathogen because it literally causes empathy.
  • Michael Ossipoff
    Sometimes I like to number some statements or topics.
    1. NDEs are valid. NDEs are unusual instances of return from an early stage of death. Dogmatic Materialists like to cite biological explanations. No sh*t :D All human and other animal consciousness is biological. What else is new..

    Some people think that saying that consciousness is biological contradicts Idealism or the primacy and metaphysical priority of Consciousness. It doesn't.

    Physical sciences explain things in the physical world in terms of other physical things. In and with respect to the physical world, events must make sense physically, and happen in compliance with physical laws. Physical law isn't contravened in the physical world.

    (Likewise, by the way, more generally, in the describable realm, things must make logical sense, and logic isn't contravened. There's no need for brute-facts in physics or metaphysics, especially since there's a metaphysics that doesn't need a brute fact. In other words, kiss off Materialism and its brute-fact.)

    So the biological nature of consciousness doesn't isn't an argument against the validity of NDEs.

    2. According to an earlier poster to this thread, one or more careful scientific studies didn't find statistically-significant evidence that NDEs give a person information about events or objects around hir (him/her) that s/he hasn't seen. That isn't surprising, because, as i said, in the physical world, one wouldn't expect physical law to be contravened.

    That in no way reduces the validity, relevance or importance of NDEs.


    3. .

  • Blue Lux

    No one knows jack sh*t about the nature of consciousness or being. This is my position.
  • JupiterJess
    Sam, what are your thoughts on the meme argument for the corroborating evidence?
    The meme argument would say the "after life/ OBE experience" is within the public psyche and so the brain deprived of sensory input attempts to predict where it is now and uses cultural attributions to fill in the gap (similar to filling in phenomena except at a higher abstract level). I'm not sure where you stand on naive realism, but I don't think the Sam Parnia experiment worked out too well.
  • Michael Ossipoff
    Sam, what are your thoughts on the meme argument for the corroborating evidence?
    The meme argument would say the "after life/ OBE experience" is within the public psyche and so the brain deprived of sensory input attempts to predict where it is now and uses cultural attributions to fill in the gap.

    The ideology explanation doesn't hold up, because people of vastly, entirely, different ideologies, religions, and philosophies have reported basically the same NDEs.

    Michael Ossipoff
  • JupiterJess
    The ideology explanation doesn't hold up, because people of vastly, entirely, different ideologies, religions, and philosophies have reported basically the same NDEs.Michael Ossipoff

    It wasn't really about ideology which is a complete structure but more meme based (as in an experience built out of tiny ideas which can some from anywhere). For example someone reads about the tunnel idea and then the brain constructs it because it seems to be a reasonable possibility. I also think the "ghost floating above a fallen body" is fairly universal in all cultures. There are ghost stories in every culture. Also there could be a biological/evolutionary counterpart, for example Dehaene claims his lab is able to trigger them by activating certain parts of the brain. Before I do something I always imagine myself in third-person vision doing it so perhaps it is an involuntary version of that mental process.
    It would be interesting if the "silver cord" stuff has been reported by people unfamiliar with all the mythos behind AP/OBEs. I did reach the "vibration" stage long before I read any AP literature or knew anything about it.
  • Michael Ossipoff
    What does "AP" stand for?

    Michael Ossipoff
  • JupiterJess
    What does "AP" stand for?Michael Ossipoff

    Astral projection http://uk.iacworld.org/what-are-the-sensations-of-astral-projection/

    As said before, I did experience some of this before I knew the term (electrical sensory vibrations and sirens). I googled because I thought it could be a type of illness and was surprised to find these symptoms had been pushed to the top of google. If you look into the communities they go further describing silver cords, otherwordly beings ect. These parts are what I think are probably memes that the brain then fills in. I think sensory deprivation is an unacceptable state for the mind so it uses underlying evolutionary fill-ins as a grounding then moves on to common ideas and then the higher level cultural ones are at the far end of the process.
    It might be possible that the soul does leave the body for other dimensions but the more pedestrian explanations should be explored first.
  • Vince

    This description of the sensations looks a lot like the ones I feel when I'm having a WILD(Wake Induced Lucid Dream). I'm sure most of you know what a lucid dream is, otherwise look it up. A WILD means that you're staying conscious and aware all the way to the dreaming state.

    A few times a year, as I fall asleep, I start feeling/hearing a vibration in my head and ears. It comes in waves and gets more intense every time until it is almost unbearable and rather scary. I used to open my eyes to stop it because of the fear, but one time I decided to ride the vibration all the way through. Once I reached the highest intensity, all of a sudden my body felt like it was doing back flips in zero gravity, faster and faster and there I was, in a dream and lucid about it, where everything looked as real as when I was awake. On a side note, even though it looks real, I'm unable to focus on small details, they get blurry and things change.

    My point here, is that I don't think I'm astrally projecting, even though I can fly and even go to outer space, things aren't as real as they look, they don't resist scrutiny.
    I believe the sensation/noise/vibration is nothing more than your sensory perception shutting down from your brain.
    I've never seen a tunnel, but I've seen angels which were nothing more than the product of my imagination I believe.
  • Michael Ossipoff

    NDEs weren't in the popular culture or the popular mind before the publication of Raymond Moody's Life after Life. So NDE in popular culture doesn't explain the many NDEs described by Moody.

    You speak of all sorts of cultural elements, but NDEs' resemblance to those is rather rough, and a bit of a reach. ...in stark contrast to the uniformity of NDE reports.

    Michael Ossipoff
  • Michael Ossipoff

    As for biological explanations, maybe I should repeat what I recently said about that:

    Dogmatic Materialists like to cite biological explanations. No sh*t :D All human and other animal consciousness is biological. What else is new..

    Some people think that saying that consciousness is biological contradicts Idealism or the primacy and metaphysical priority of Consciousness. It doesn't.
    Michael Ossipoff

    Michael Ossipoff
  • JupiterJess
    Once I reached the highest intensity, all of a sudden my body felt like it was doing back flips in zero gravity, faster and faster and there I was, in a dream and lucid about it,Vince

    Interesting, the way it is described is that you become lucid within the dream first and then move on to vibrations. I have plenty of lucid dreams and they are similar to how you describe, my phone is blurry, so are clocks ect and things often shift. I think this is what a lot of people are describing.
    However there is a second (or third if you count normal dreaming as different from lucid) stage where if you then attempt to vibrate and leave your body within that lucid dream you move on elsewhere where things feel "more real than reality". It is a very stark difference in phenomenology between that and the lucid-dream.
    Please note when I say second-stage or third I am meaning in reportable epistemic terms. I'm not committing to an ontological second-stage that is separated from normal sleep.
  • JupiterJess
    As for biological explanations, maybe I should repeat what I recently said about that:
    All human and other animal consciousness is biological. What else is new..
    Michael Ossipoff

    But I'm not making a statement of identity (like type-physicalism as it is currently called).
    I am discerning between evolutionary and sociological explanations. One of these is psychologically innate whereas the other is not. So what I'm saying there is possibility for this to occur even within raised on a desert island scenarios. What I am saying with that is that we often think of ourselves having a first person verdical perception of the world in front of us, but also we can see ourselves in third person terms and there is a really obvious evolutionary advantage for being able to do that. Like imagining what could be at the top of a hill before you get there.
    Though I disagree specific things like "silver cords and stronger OBE mythology" can exist in desert island scenarios.

    NDEs weren't in the popular culture or the popular mind before the publication of Raymond Moody's Life after Life. So NDE in popular culture doesn't explain the many NDEs described by Moody.Michael Ossipoff

    I honestly think ghosts floating above bodies has always been part of culture. Here's a really obvious one from Tom and Jerry: https://youtu.be/ofUzHtlil60?t=1m51s
    You only have to also look at various mythology to see similar instances.
  • Michael Ossipoff
    I honestly think ghosts floating above bodies has always been part of culture. Here's a really obvious one from Tom and Jerry: https://youtu.be/ofUzHtlil60?t=1m51s
    You only have to also look at various mythology to see similar instances.

    That's why I just finished saying this:

    You speak of all sorts of cultural elements, but NDEs' resemblance to those is rather rough, and a bit of a reach. ...in stark contrast to the uniformity of NDE reports.Michael Ossipoff

    Michael Ossipoff
  • Sam26
    I think the experiences of NDEs goes beyond consciousness filling in the gaps based on cultural experiences. There are just to many NDEs that demonstrate that people are having real experiences, and these are corroborated by objective testimonial evidence. In fact, what's seems weird is that while the brain is shutting down, instead of the experiences being less real, which is what you would expect of a brain that's not at full capacity, what you find instead is that the experiences are more real. What I mean by more real is that the experiences are hyper-real, NDEers experience more awareness, more knowledge, larger visual field, etc. In fact, this reality seems dreamlike by comparison.
  • Pattern-chaser
    Have you have heard of Karl Popper? This is the scientific method derived from his epistemology and in any form of dialectic this should be the primary method in order to not get biased towards a certain assumed conclusion.Christoffer

    Ooo! :worry: That's a statement of The One and Only Truth, if I ever saw one. :meh:
  • Sam26
    These are videos about one person's DMT experiences. I'm posting them here because there are similarities between these and NDEs. Here are a series of four videos.




  • Pilgrim
    This whole thread seems somewhat squiffy TBH.

    My simple take on the OP:

    - A testimony can never serve as proof of a thing

    - Millions of consistent testimonies can never serve as proof of a thing

    What we CAN surmise however is that millions of consistent testimonies provide a significant basis on which to devote effort towards searching for actual evidence of something. But again, the search in itself is not proof of the existence of the thing.

    In superficial terms:

    If 1 million people believe unicorns exist and give testimony to have see one, this DOES NOT equate to any level of proof of the existence of unicorns. It might however be significant enough for someone to do more research to see if any real evidence can be ascertained.

    There are 1000s, possibly millions of people who believe the Flat Earth model. They have no real evidence but they have a lot of theories and testimonies. Does this give credence to the FE model?
    Nope, but it perhaps has enough of a following and enough worked out theories to explain just about everything to warrant some serious investigation, at least in some people's minds.

    Evidential enquiry is a vital element in seeking out truth and fact. Testimony can help steer us towards the right search pattern, help us focus and zoom in on something, but testimony can never replace evidential enquiry.

    If we are going to focus on your NDE's then we can accept that there are lots of consistent testimonies which would lead us to exert some kind of effort towards looking into them. We would never take testimonies as proof of anything, we would take them merely as a lead to focus the research. You can determine for yourself whether NDEs are real or not quite easily. You may remember the film from 1990 called Flatliners which was remade last year. A group of medically qualified people essentially kill one of themselves by stopping their heart and after a few minutes the others revive them with defibrillators and the rest. Sure it's risky and you'll only be kind of "dead" for a short period but it may be enough to taste any "beyond" or to stand on the threshold between worlds.

    I guess at this point we reach the real nub of your opening gambit.

    If YOU are actually interested in NDEs and whether there is anything beyond, anything after death, and if YOU specifically believe the many testimonies out there and view them as consistent, then are YOU going to have a go at killing yourself and having someone revive you??

    If not, then it would appear that in truth, all those testimonies aren't really holding that much weight after all. There's clearly not enough of them to warrant real research and/or you're not that personally interested in finding out the truth.

    In which case, what value really are the testimonies?
  • Sam26
    A testimony can never serve as proof of a thingPilgrim

    I agree, testimonial evidence is not a proof, but where did I say it was? On the other hand, it depends on how you're using the term proof, i.e., if you mean proof as in a deductive argument, again I agree, but if you're using the term loosely, as in strong evidence, then I disagree. That said, it's not difficult to construct a proof, which I will do at the end of these posts.
    Proofs have limits, which I will discuss later.

    Millions of consistent testimonies can never serve as proof of a thingPilgrim

    Again, I agree, but let me re-emphasize something, one doesn't need a proof to make the claim that one has knowledge of their conclusion. In other words, all we need to know is that the conclusion follows with a high degree of probability. We do it all the time. I'm not sure why so many amateur philosophers are under the false impression that we should only make knowledge claims if our conclusion follows with absolute necessity. If this was true, then I couldn't make the claim that I know algebra based on my grade of 95%, since there would be a 5% chance I could be wrong. I couldn't tell you that I know my brand new car will start, since there is a slight chance I could be wrong. Most of our knowledge claims follow with a high degree of certainty, rarely, do we use proofs in our everyday lives in terms of our knowledge claims. Moreover, one forgets that a proof is only one way of having knowledge.

    I'm not going to address the rest of your post, I'm just going to give my argument again. The arguments in the following posts will be both inductive and deductive.

    My claim is that there is sufficient testimonial evidence to reasonably conclude that consciousness survives the death of the body. In other words, I'm making the claim that I know the conclusion is true. And although I believe that I could make other claims based on the evidence, i.e., claims of knowledge, I'm limiting the scope of the conclusion. By limited, I mean I'm not trying to give evidence of a god, heaven, that we are eternal beings, or any other spiritual or religious idea; nor am I trying to give evidence of many of the other things claims people are making while having such an experience. Although I do believe there is strong evidence to support other conclusions, and these conclusions have varying degrees of certainty, just as many of our everyday rational conclusions have varying degrees of certainty.

    The first question is, what makes a strong inductive argument? As many of you know, the criteria for a good inductive argument is much different from the criteria for a good deductive argument. The criteria of a good inductive argument are as follows:

    (1) number
    (2) variety
    (3) scope of the conclusion
    (4) truth of the premises
    (5) cogency

    First, number. It seems rather obvious that if you have a greater number of testimonials that say X happened, then the stronger the argument. This does not mean that the conclusion relies solely on numbers, because numbers in themselves are not sufficient.

    Second, variety. The greater the variety of cases cited the stronger the conclusion. Remembering that when examining the conclusion of an inductive argument, the conclusion is either strong or weak, which is much different from a good deductive argument, where the conclusion follows with absolute necessity. The difference being what is probably or likely the case (inductive arguments), verses what necessarily follows (deductive arguments).

    Third, scope of the conclusion. This has already been covered briefly in the opening paragraph. It means that the less the conclusion claims the stronger the argument. In other words, conclusions that are broad in scope are much are harder to defend. A conclusion that is limited in scope is easier to defend.

    Fourth, truth of the premises. Clearly this means that the premises must be true, which by the way, is the same criteria that makes a good deductive argument, i.e., a good deductive argument must be sound (soundness has to do with whether the deductive argument is valid, plus the premises must be true).

    (a) Also, since we are dealing with testimonial evidence, in order to know if the testimonial evidence is true we need corroboration, i.e., we need an objective way to verify some of the testimonial evidence. This helps to establish the truth of the testimonial evidence, and since the evidence is testimonial evidence, it helps to establish the fourth criteria of a good inductive argument, viz., the truth of the premises.

    (b) Another important factor in determining the truth of testimonial evidence is firsthand testimony, as opposed to hearsay or secondhand testimony. Firsthand testimony is stronger than hearsay or second-hand testimony, all things being equal.

    (c) Consistency of the reports is another important criterion in terms of getting to the truth. However, testimonial evidence does not have to be perfectly consistent to be credible. When dealing with a large number of reports you will inevitably find some inconsistency. So, inconsistency itself is not enough to rule out the reports unless the inconsistency is widespread, and of such a number, that it affects the quality and number of consistent reports. So although consistency is important, it must be looked at in terms of the overall picture.

    Fifth is cogency. You rarely here this criteria, but it's very important in terms of effectiveness. There is a sense where any argument's (deductive or inductive) effectiveness is going to be based on whether the person to whom the argument is given, knows the premises are true. For example, if I give the following argument:

    The base of a souffle is a roux.
    This salmon dish is a souffle.
    Hence, the base of this salmon dish is a roux.

    If you do not know what a souffle or a roux is, then you do not know if the premises are true, so how would you know if the conclusion is true. You may know that the argument is valid based on its form, but you would not know if the premises are true. Thus, you would not know if it is sound. For any argument to be effective, you have to know if the premises are true; and since knowledge varies from person to person, an arguments effectiveness is going to vary from person to person.

    I will give the actual argument in my next post based on these criteria.
  • Sam26
    The Inductive Argument:

    The following argument is based on the testimonial evidence of those who have experienced an NDE, and the conclusion follows with a high degree of probability. As such, one can claim to know the conclusion is true. This argument makes such a claim.

    Each of the aforementioned criteria serve to strengthen the testimonial evidence. All of the criteria in the previous paragraphs work hand-in-hand to strengthen the conclusion, and these criteria serve to strengthen any claim to knowledge. If we have a large enough pool of evidence based on these five criteria, we can say with confidence that we know that consciousness survives the death of the body. In other words, we can say what is probably the case, but not what is necessarily the case.

    Again, if there is a high degree of probability that these testimonials reflect an objective reality, then we can also say with confidence, that we know consciousness survives the death of the body. Thus, our knowledge is based on objective criteria, not on purely subjective claims.

    We will now look at the testimonial evidence in terms of the five stated criteria, and how these testimonials support the conclusion.

    First, what is the number of people who claim to have had an NDE? According to a 1992 Gallop poll about 5% of the population has experienced an NDE; and even if this poll is off by a little we are still talking about millions of people. Thus, the number of accounts of NDEs is very high, much higher than what we would normally need to decide the veracity or accuracy of the testimonials, and much higher that what is normally needed to draw a proper conclusion.

    Also, as was mentioned in the previous post, numbers in themselves are not enough, which is why the other criteria must be coupled with numbers.

    The second criteria of good testimonial evidence is variety, i.e., do we have evidence from a variety of sources? The answer to this question is in the affirmative. NDEs have been reported in every culture from around the world, which by definition means that we are getting reports from different religious views, and different world views. NDEs also span every age group, from young children, to the middle-aged, and finally to the aged. The testimonial reports come from doctors, nurses, scientists, atheists, agnostics, literally from every imaginable educational level and background. NDEs occur in a variety of settings, including drowning, electrocution, while awake, while on the operating table, after a heart attack, etc. People have also reported having shared an NDE with someone else, although rarely. They have happened when there is no heartbeat, with the blood drained from the brain, and with no measurable brain activity. They have been reported to happen with a minimal amount of stress, i.e., without being near death. Finally, there have been many thousands more reporting these and similar events happening to those who have taken DMT (N,N-Dimethyltryptamine), which is an illegal schedule 1 drug. These DMT reports are also reports that are happening without being near death.

    The third criteria is scope of the conclusion, and the scope of this conclusion is limited to consciousness surviving the body. The conclusion claims that we can know that consciousness survives bodily death.

    The fourth criteria is truth of the premises. To know if the premises are true we need corroboration of the testimonial evidence, a high degree of consistency, and firsthand testimony. In all or most of these cases, it seems clear that we have all three. We have millions of accounts that can be corroborated by family members, friends, doctors, nurses, and hospice workers. Corroboration is important in establishing some objectivity to what is a very subjective experience. It lends credence to the accounts. One example of corroboration is given in Pam's NDE out of Atlanta, GA, which can be seen on Youtube.

    Consistency is also important to the establishment of the truth of the premises. We have a high degree of consistency across a wide variety of reports. What are these consistent reports?

    1) Seeing one's body from a third person perspective, i.e., from outside one's body, and hearing and seeing what's happening around their bodies.
    2) Having intense feelings of being loved, and also intense feeling of peace.
    3) Seeing a light or tunnel in the distance and feeling that one is being drawn to the light, or moving through the tunnel towards the light.
    4) Seeing deceased loved ones.
    5) Seeing beings of light that one may interpret as Jesus, Mary, Muhammad, an angel, or just a loving being that one may feel connected to.
    6) Heightened sensory experiences, viz., feeling that one is having an ultra real experience, as opposed to a dream or a hallucination.
    7) Communication that happens mind-to-mind, not verbally.
    8) Seeing beautiful landscapes.
    9) Seeing people who are getting ready or waiting to be born.
    10) Having a life-review by a loving being who is not judgmental in any way, but simply showing you how important it is to love, and the importance of your actions on those you come in contact with.
    11) Feeling as though one has returned home. This is also confirmed by people who were told they chose to come to Earth.
    12) A feeling of oneness with everything, as though consciousness is at the bottom of everything.
    13) Memories of who they really are return, as though they temporarily forgot who they were, and where they came from.
    14) There are also reports of knowledge returning, and many questions being answered.
    15) Understanding that ultimately we cannot be harmed.
    16) That we are eternal beings simply entering into one of many realities.

    These are just some of the reports from those who experienced an NDE, and some of these reports are confirmed by those who have taken DMT.

    Another aid in establishing the truth of the testimonial evidence are firsthand accounts, as opposed to hearsay. There are literally thousands of firsthand accounts being reported by the International Association of Near Death Studies. And according to polling, there are millions of firsthand accounts of NDEs.

    The fifth criteria is cogency of the premises. Whether the argument is cogent for you depends on many factors, but many people have heard of near death experiences, so the concept is not an unfamiliar one. It is not going to be cogent for everyone, but with a little study and reading it can be cogent. It is not difficult to understand the concept. Although it is probably going to be difficult to understand how it is metaphysically possible. This argument is claiming that it is highly probable that consciousness survives the death of the body, and that the conclusion is very strong based on what makes for strong inductive arguments.

    The further claim of this argument is that I know that I know the conclusion is true. Is it possible the conclusion is wrong? Of course it is possible, but we do not want to base a belief on what is possible, but on what is likely the case. All kinds of things are possible, but that does not mean we should believe them.

    A Proof...

    So how would I construct a proof? It is very simple. The following is a deductive argument based on the evidence of the inductive argument.

    Modus Ponens:

    (1) If it is true that NDE reports are accurate, just as any veridical experience is, then consciousness survives the death of the body.
    (2) It is true that NDE reports are accurate, just as any veridical experience is.

    Conclusion: Consciousness survives the death of the body.

    Of course as with any deductive argument all you have to do is dispute any premise, i.e., show that any premise is not true.

    I believe the inductive argument is more apt to be believed.
  • Sam26
    I recently was listening to Neil deGrasse Tyson’s answer to a question related to near death experiences, and while I respect his knowledge on the subject of astrophysics, I do not think his answer to a question about NDEs was adequate. I agree that testimonial evidence is one of the weakest ways of gathering evidence, but what he failed to mention is that some testimonial evidence can be quite strong, and the reasons for this were stated above.

    It must also be pointed out that much of what we learn comes from the testimony of others, specifically from people in a position to know. There is a large amount of data that come from many fields of study that is passed down to us via testimony, and much of it cannot be doubted. Why? Because the vehicle for understanding our world and ourselves, including our language (concepts and words) is learned from others; and if we doubted or questioned most of it, we would be lost and reduced to silence. Our culture and our lives only succeed if most of what is conveyed to us is truthful. This is not to say that we should believe everything people say, only that we should keep in mind that there are criteria for ascertaining the reliability of testimony. For example, is the person in a position to know, that is, were they there? Were they firsthand observers? Did they study the correct materials? Second, is the person skilled in the appropriate subject matter? Third, is the person trustworthy or credible? Fourth, does the testimony harmonize with other established truths?

    Based on what Dr. Tyson said, it seems as though he is not an expert on testimonial evidence, and does not seem to understand what makes reliable testimonial evidence. He made a comment about how our courts rely on this kind of testimony, and how it did not make him confident in our justice system. He may have said this tongue and cheek, nevertheless it does seem to make his point about how unreliable testimony is. He also said that if someone came to him and said that you should believe something based on what they saw, that is, it is true because they saw it, you should be highly suspect (paraphrasing). He is putting the worst possible face that you can put on testimonial evidence. So yes, in many instances what he is saying is quite true. Again, though he leaves out how it is that we discern good testimonial evidence from bad testimonial evidence.

    He also made a comment that seems quite silly on its face, namely, that “…your senses are some of the worst data taking devices that exist.” This seems silly based on two things: First, our sense are generally reliable, if that was not so, then you would not be able to conduct science, period. Second, how do we observe experiments if not through our senses. I look through the microscope, I read the instruments, I smell the oder given off by a particular experiment, so, one’s senses are the very means that allow us to conduct the experiment/s. To be fair, it is not purely a sensory experience, it is sensory experiences coupled with other objective measuring devices. But our senses are extremely important in gathering the information, hopefully objective evidence, and not purely subjective observations.
    There are many problems with some of Dr. Tyson’s comments about testimonial evidence and about sensory experiences, these are just some.

    The following is a link to Dr. Tyson’s comments on Youtube.

    This goes to show you that just because someone is knowledgeable in one field of study, that does not mean they are knowledgeable in other areas. Hence, the fallacy of appeal to authority.
  • Sam26
    One of the most common criticisms aimed at near death experiences, is that they are hallucinations. Michael Shermer in a 2013 article in the Scientific American postulates that these experiences can be attributed to hallucinations. The question is then, is this likely the case, not is it possible, but is it likely that these cases are hallucinations? Since we cannot get a definitive answer, that is, an answer in absolute terms, our conclusion should give us an answer as to the likelihood of one conclusion over another. So, the question boils down to whether a hallucination is as good or a better explanation of what is happening, than the explanation that these are veridical perceptions. Moreover, the question is not, “Are these real experiences?” Why? Because any experience is real, even a hallucination, but we want to ask if the experience is as real or more real than our everyday experiences, which is why we want to know if the experience is veridical.

    The question we should ask first, is, what is a hallucination? Hallucinations are sensory perceptions that a person experiences without external stimulus. In other words, the experience is purely subjective and only exists in their mind, as opposed to objectively verified experiences. Hallucinations can occur in any sensory modality (hearing, seeing, taste, tactile, or smell). Hallucinations are not veridical, which is why they are called hallucinations. They are distortions of reality, and they are usually associated with illnesses like schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.

    What distinguishes veridical experiences from hallucinations? A veridical experience has an objective component that is shared with others, that is, we generally see (feel, taste, hear, and smell) the same things, we have shared external stimuli, which is what makes a normal sensory experience.

    If NDEs are hallucinations, then why are so many people seeing the same things, at least generally? Moreover, if these experiences are not veridical, then why do so many doctors, nurses, family members, and friends verify the accuracy of the experience. In other words, those who are not having the experience corroborate the testimonial accuracy of the one’s having the NDE. This is not the case with hallucinations, that is, others, who are at the scene of the hallucination do not report that the hallucination is an account of objective reality. Hallucinations are not corroborated.

    Many people who have an NDE describe their experience as hyper-real, that is, more real than real. When they compare their normal every day experiences to their NDE, their normal reality seems dreamlike by comparison. They describe their sensory experiences as expanded. For example, the ability to see what is happening in a more expanded field of vision, or seeing colors that they have never seen before. These are not the kind of reports that are associated with hallucinations, nor are they the reports of those whose brains are shutting down, or that lack oxygen, or that are the result of medication.

    Why do so many people say that NDEs are hallucinations? There are many reasons. First, they are just giving their opinion. Second, these experiences (NDEs) do not fit their world view. Third, most or many people who have beliefs that are strictly materialistic are biased, and this is true no matter their education. Fourth, they have not studied NDEs, so they are just not sufficiently knowledgeable on the subject, again just giving their opinion based on what they think they know.

    So, the objection that NDEs are hallucinations is just not a viable argument. Neither is it a viable argument that NDEs are random firings of a brain that is shutting down. Other criticisms of NDEs are equally lacking in evidence, such as, a lack of oxygen to the brain, delusions, dreams, or some other brain malfunction.

    The most likely conclusion based on the evidence, is that these cases are not hallucinations, and that it is more likely than not, that they are veridical experiences.
  • Wayfarer
    Sam, it could be said straight out that the reason Tyson, Shermer, and others of that ilk can't accept that near-death experiences really amount to anything meaningful, is because if they did, then their world-view crumbles.

    There are publishing houses (Prometheus Press) and pop organisations (of which Shermer is a prominent member) whose whole raison d'etre is debunking anything remotely suggestive of psychic phenomena, including NDE's (and much more besides). Doesn't matter what you say, they will have to find a counter-argument, because it's an 'all or nothing' proposition. Either physicalism is completely true, or it fails entirely.

    There's a classic statement of this point of view in Richard Lewontin's 1997 review of Carl Sagan's materialist polemic, The Demon-Haunted World:

    Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to an understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural. We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door. The eminent Kant scholar Lewis Beck used to say that anyone who could believe in God could believe in anything. To appeal to an omnipotent deity is to allow that at any moment the regularities of nature may be ruptured, that miracles may happen.

    In other words, from this perspective, science is the only possible valid form of knowledge, and unless you can force whatever you're studying into the procrustean bed required by scientific observation, then it either doesn't exist, or must be an hallucination.

    The Jealous God dies hard, eh?

    A testimony can never serve as proof of a thingPilgrim

    In that case the justice system really is in trouble, ain't it.
  • TWI
    'The greatest show on earth' don't spoil it by moving the scenery or looking backstage otherwise it will involve a reboot.
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