While listening to an Art Bell "Somewhere In Time" interview with Dannion Brinkley from '96, I decided that this was a good time to do some more digging into the controversy of Brinkley's story. Currently I am doing my usual immersive reading involving NDEs, and since Brinkley has become the visible example of this phenomenon, he might serve as a litmus test of the perils of this research.
As a whole, I have noticed one aspect of the near-death experience that has been overlooked by researchers: the process and experience described in the "typical" NDE is generally inconsistent with "death" accounts found in a wide range of "channeled" or otherwise unofficially obtained accounts of the "death" experience. Specifically, in "death" experiences, there is no mention of a life review at the initial out-of-body stage; there are no references to transcendental spiritual awakenings at the moment of death; there are almost no encounters with religious beings; and reports of "tunnels" are de-emphasized. To me, this suggests two possibilities: First, the "experiencer" of the NDE, the personality that returns to "life," is not the primary survival personality or consciousness that becomes dominant in the death state. Second, and most likely, stereotypical NDEs are not really near-death experiences at all, but are rather transcendent spiritual experiences that are carefully orchestrated for personalities who are not meant to die (i.e., it is not their "time"). Either way, the NDE is a genuine phenomenon that can't be casually dismissed.
Researchers have found two areas of concern with Brinkley's story. The most vocal and circulated criticism concerns minor inconsistencies about Brinkley's initial NDE account... whether he actually "died" when struck by lightning, how long he lost consciousness, whether he woke up in the morge, etc. Brinkley himself has answered these criticisms, and I really don't see any merit in them.
The second, but more serious criticism (in my opinion), concerns Brinkley's account of his military service--a criticism that he has not answered, and apparently will not answer. He claims that he was a Marine Corp sniper in Vietnam and who also did freelance work for the CIA while back in the States. His military records, as cited in the book "Stolen Valor," contradict this; they indicate that he was a truck driver who never left the country. I did notice that in his "Somewhere In Time" '96 interview, Art Bell asked Brinkley point-blank whether he was an assassin for the CIA; Brinkley paused, then went on to describe his activities while pointedly refusing to acknowledge his affiliation with the CIA. This suggests that either Brinkley knew that he wasn't telling the truth, or, as he contends, that his activities in the military were covert and secret and should remain so.
This of course brings to mind the whole Phil Imbrogno controversy. While not exactly apples-to-apples--Brinkley has a bit more gravitas than Imbrogno--it is an unresolved issue of credibility. Had the Imbrogno controversy not happened, I might be inclined to give Brinkley the benefit of a doubt. However, as it stands now, this is the core, unresolved question about Dannion Brinkley's work, and until it's resolved, I have to suspend judgement on everything he's said and written--despite his association with high-profile researchers like Dr. Raymond Moody. I would invite interested supporters of Dannion Brinkley and his work to clarify this question, for the general benefit of NDE research.