Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Physics of the afterlife, continued

NDERF.org is now offering a free ebook; it's basically a compendium of past NDE accounts submitted to the site over the past decade. I've just started it and I'm already fascinated. As I've argued, there's really no need to worry about whether this or that public / high-profile NDEr is sincere or just trying to sell a booI--simply seek out the free and freely available NDE accounts. Usually, they're better than the published accounts.

Case in point: "Wilfred B.'s" NDE account. Short story: he took a spill on his motorbike, trying to avoid a collision. As he approaches collision, he begins to experience a peculiar dual consciousness as he begins to leave his physical body. He then observes his arm "with texture, yet transparent" (something that I've witnessed personally), and then:

...when realizing that I was higher in the air, these sparks began to form.  Not exactly like a typical spark of electricity, but similar along with a thicker dimension to each spark.  As a type of plasma with just enough of a thickness to notice black on one edge or side and silver on another side. A spark, then three, then they began to "stream" together into a vertical line and travel down, then to my left, then upwards and then back to the right...

I find this particular description--of the non-physical "body" leaving the physical--to be remarkable, because this phenomenon has actually been photographed. I'm not sure how well-known these images are, but they deserve to be. The photographs were given to Echo Bodine by a police officer who was documenting a fatal auto accident in the early 1980s. The resultant photos displayed anomalies that the officer could not explain. The photo that has fascinated me the most is this one. Echo believes that this photo shows "the boy’s spirit body as it leaves the physical body prior to re-coalescing outside of the body."  I think she's right.

If both Wilfred's NDE and the iisis.net photos are what they seem to be--observations of the "spirit" body as it initially separates from the physical--is it possible to determine what, exactly, the "spirit" body is?  Is there a physical or quasi-physical element (or state) that causes matter (or energy, or plasma) to form into lines that can be photographed--but not "seen"?  Because as abundant photographic evidence demonstrates--"spirit" can be easily photographed, but only rarely visually observed.  So we are left with the paradox: what can be photographed, but not "seen"?

Saturday, October 11, 2014

A skeptical NDE-scene article that actually isn't half-bad

I was surprised the other day by an article that popped up on Digg linking "To Heaven And Back!" from the estimable New York Review Of Books (of all places).  Robert Gottlieb tackles the subject of NDE books, and the cottage industry that has sprung up therefrom. I've scanned the article several times, and unfortunately, I can't find anything that I seriously disagree with.

First reviewed was "Heaven Is for Real" by Todd Burpo, which I haven't read--for lots of reasons, but particularly because I think it's exploitative and veers uncomfortably too close to religious stereotypical dogma. (See the negative Amazon.com review of the book by L. D. Richardson for a good summary of problems with the story.)  Gootlieb spends way too much time fretting over whether this story is real or fabricated. I think that Colin Burpo had an NDE, but the book that resulted--it was most likely torn, whole cloth, from his father's religious dogma.  (Note: I said "religious," not "Christian."). That's just my gut reaction.

Gottlieb then segues into a not-bad summation of the touchstones of the NDE experience, referencing Raymond Moody and Elisabeth K├╝bler-Ross.

Next up, the much-maligned Dr. Eben Alexander, whose story is probably true (in my opinion) but who is singled out probably for his over-the-top descriptions of "Heaven" (and, if truth be told, could have dodged most of the flak if he had simply called it "the astral plane").  Gottlieb wastes a lot of time attacking Dr. Alexander, when, if he had spent more studying the rest of NDE literature, he would have been underwhelmed by the account.

Gottlieb reviews several more cogent NDE accounts and ultimately concludes that there is a "there" there, but what it is, is of course, unknown.

If all we had to go on were NDE accounts written by bad doctors and three-year-olds, it would be easy to pretend to believe that it's all nothing more than New Age fluff.  But there's much more--extensive and detailed accounts by experiencers who are not parlaying any five-minute fame into Oprah guest spots or healing cruises to Greece, thank you.  If *one* person can provide a verifiable and credible account of an NDE that suggests that the experience is "real," that would be significant.  How, then, should we confront the NDE accounts of many thousands?