Wednesday, October 24, 2012


So I was one of maybe a million people who downloaded what one skeptic called the "imaginatively titled" 'Proof Of Heaven' by Dr. Eben Alexander, and as I'm reading it, I'm also perusing the critical reaction to it online--and finding it mostly hostile. Just a sampling... "Heaven Does Exist & Dr. Eben Alexander Has The PROOF! (DETAILS)" in something called ""... "Heaven Help Us: Another 'Harvard brain scientist' finds faith and tells the world" in Slate... I think that the negative response is due to two factors. Predominantly, the NDE genre is followed by a relatively small core of seekers. While cabootles of books are published on the subject, they rarely make it into the mainstream. Dr. Alexander's book did, however, and this is probably most critics' exposure to the subject. Those who read NDE accounts will, like me, find it a fairly run-of-the mill account of an NDE; we aren't surprised with the descriptive hyperbole of fantastic realms, and we aren't bothered when the narrator defaults to using religious imagery. We've heard it all before. Our culture lacks the vocabulary to translate what is, essentially, an untranslatable experience, in any other way except through the rough approximation of religious symbolism. For the normally skeptical critic who reads such an account for the first time, however, the the mishmash of archaic religious imagery grafted onto what reads as a first-experiencer's bad-DMT narrative, will likely generate bemusement.

Second, I believe that there is a blanket skepticism of paranormal accounts by some digerati who conflate genuine accounts of contemporary "edge" experiences with the all-too-common charlatanism that drives much of the paranormal "field." In other words... If most of it is a fraud, then all of it is. Others assume the mantle of "paranormal skeptic" because they see it (not unreasonably) as a badge of intellectual superiority--without bothering to inform themselves not only with what science actually has to say about the subject, but also what the paranormal experiencer has actually said.

Personally, I'm a paranormal skeptic also-with the distinction of having studied the subject extensively enough to know that the phenomenon is both real and objective. But I tread carefully... A lot of paranormal proponents *are* frauds (or, at best, suffering from a delusional psychosis). Still, I'm able to find enough white crows in my search to keep me searching. And at this stage of my search, I have decided that NDE accounts offer the best hope of giving us a glimpse of reality outside the matrix.

So what's Dr. Alexander's account like? Well, I'm a quarter through the book and I am finding it quite run-of-the mill. Normal, actually, well within the norms of such an experience. Which is why I am surprised at the opprobrium heaped on the good doctor. You'd think that he was channelling Ramtha or something. There seems to be some daemon built into our matrix that forcefully slaps down "important" people--pillars of the establishment--when they question the consensus reality. You may be able to go so far as to say that one way of identifying valid paranormal accounts is by taking note of the skeptics--if they are attacking an experiencer a bit too forcefully and irrationally, the experiencer is probably onto something.

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