We see dead people. In our news at least. NDEs, hauntings and people crossing over...this is the section.

Dancing Past the Dark: eBook on Distressing NDEs

The near-death experience gets a lot of coverage for its apparent depiction of a wonderful afterlife of grassy meadows, loving relatives and a forgiving deity. However, there is sometimes another side to the experience that is less discussed - the smaller percentage of NDEs that are distressing to the experiencer, with visions of torment and hellish realms.

For those interested in learning more about this aspect of the NDE, you might like to check out a new ebook by near-death experience researcher Nancy Evans Bush titled Dancing Past the Dark: Distressing Near Death Experiences:

The tinge of centuries colors the way we hear today’s near-death experiences and what we make of them. Why should some individuals tell of blissful heights of spiritual experience Dancing Past the Dark Book Coverwhile others believe themselves at the depths, lost in the stars or consigned to hell?

Dancing Past the Dark: Distressing Near-Death Experiences, the first comprehensive exploration of disturbing NDEs and how people interpret them, is packed with solid information and first-person narratives that, although marked by dismaying and even terrifying features, turn out to have something vital to say about life itself. Sweeping from research findings to a review of the cultural evolution of hell through a thoughtful analysis of how individuals interpret and ascribe meaning to their near-death experiences, the author, a longtime researcher of these NDEs, brings study data and years of personal insights to the questions that swirl around the topic, providing a wealth of viewpoints and ways of thinking about the subject that will be new to many readers.

You can find out more about the book, its topics, and the author, at the Dancing Past the Dark blog.

Is There An Afterlife?

Once again, I wanted to point out that my crowd-funding campaign for the book I'm currently working on, Stop Worrying…There Probably Is An Afterlife. Check it out! There's everything from great eBook deals (get 10 DRM-free ebooks for just $20) through to collector's edition hardcovers.

Here's the promo trailer I created to give the vibe of the book:

We're currently running 'behind' schedule on the funding, so we could use your input - even if it's just a $5 eBook! I'm sure you'll enjoy the book thoroughly - I've been hard at work on it and am digging up all sorts of interesting things. Appreciate your assistance in bringing this book into being!

Link: IndieGoGo campaign for Stop Worrying…There Probably Is An Afterlife

Heavenly Hitchins on the Afterlife

As mentioned a couple of weeks back, I'm currently writing a book exploring the evidence for an afterlife - which you can help me out with, by pre-ordering eBooks, or signed paperbacks/limited edition hardcovers. One of the reasons for this project is to correct some of the misinformation that is spread by scientism-ists and the mainstream media, and I haven't seen much more of a better (worse?) example than this article in Washington Monthly, in which Art Levine 'channels' the spirit of Christopher Hitchins to debunk any idea of an afterlife. In doing so, he seems to take particular aim at the near-death experience (NDE):

What was clear enough before my death was that visions of an afterlife were no more verifiable than any other bedtime tales designed to offer false hope to toddlers frightened of the dark. They are the ultimate embodiment of the solipsism at the heart of all religions. This infantilizing fiction comes in various guises, from orthodox religions with their fabricated consolations of fairytale heavens — whether it is the Islamic fanatic’s seventy-two celestial virgins or the Christian fantasia of winged angels — Bosch NDE - Ascent into the Empyreanto the modern pseudoscientific “research” into so-called near-death experiences (known with ridiculous technicality as NDEs). These hallucinatory claims, originally popularized by a Dr. Raymond Moody for Me Generation readers of the 1970s, rest on numerous banal and repetitive testimonials about floating above one’s body, hurtling through a tunnel toward a bright light, vividly reviewing episodes from one’s past as if watching a holiday slide show, and encountering various beings lit up with an unearthly glow. These latter apparitions can range from one’s surprisingly youthful-looking relatives to an omniscient spiritual guide, including the ubiquitous Jesus if you’re a Christian, not-so-coincidentally matching your own faith or lack thereof.

There’s nothing in these visionary tall tales that can’t be either simply explained through an understanding of basic science or discounted as the unprovable “revelations” of individuals with no legitimate claim on our belief. That was my position before I experienced my own peculiar hallucinations after death, and I have seen no evidence since then requiring me to recant my position. Was I wrong on the afterlife, as so many among the bien-pensant brayed for me to admit that I was wrong on Iraq? Plainly, no.

As the psychologist Susan Blackmore has persuasively shown, the near-death experience is a product of the dying brain and shaped by the individual’s cultural expectations. The temporal lobe is especially prone to inducing hallucinations, memory flashbacks, and other visions after death when undergoing anoxia, or oxygen deprivation. In concordance with this understanding, virtually every one of the phenomena I experienced after my own death has a clear-cut neurological or biological cause or an obvious cultural antecedent. As Blackmore wrote recently in the Guardian, “If human consciousness can really leave the body and operate without a brain, then everything we know in neuroscience has to be questioned.”

I really don't know where to start with the sheer number rebuttals this thing demands, and the book is definitely where you'll see me detail all of that. From the anoxia explanation, to claiming that Susan Blackmore has "persuasively shown" the near-death experience is a product of the dying brain, Levine gets everything wrong apart from the final statement in the blockquote above.

I should remark though that the book will *not* be a simple propaganda job for the afterlife conclusion. The goal will not be to assert that any particular conclusion is "true" - just that, on the current evidence, any rational person could certainly 'believe' that there is some sort of existence beyond death, and so perhaps we should all be discussing this possibility.

Support my book project (seriously, don't let apathy rule - I need your help!) at IndieGoGo.

The Enfield Poltergeist

Here's an interesting documentary on 'The Enfield Poltergeist', featuring commentary from the researchers involved and critics of the case, including Guy Lyon Playfair and Ciaran O'Keefe:

eBook on the Afterlife

In case you missed it last week: I'm writing a book about 'the afterlife' (/echoeffect)! Help me out, and pre-order the book. I recommend the $20 eBook gift pack - you get the book yourself, plus you get to give it to 10 other people, absolutely free! Not a bad deal, surely?

Plus, supporting this project also supports The Daily Grail in a big way. From a quick $5 contribution which gets you a complete book, through to a special sponsor pack with plenty of benefits, EVERYTHING helps. Please do take a look, and join with me in exploring this mystery.

Link: Stop Worrying…There Probably Is An Afterlife

Stop Worrying...There Probably Is An Afterlife

Okay Grailers, I need your help and I'm hoping you can come through for me! Today I'm launching a crowd-funding campaign at IndieGoGo for the book I'm currently working on, which has the working title Stop Worrying…There Probably Is An Afterlife. Check it out!

I've got a bit of a description of the project over at IndieGoGo, but here's the TLDR version: I'm tired of religious leaders and outspoken atheists dominating the discussion of one of the biggest questions facing humans...what - if anything - happens at the point of death. Rather, I want to put the focus on those who say they have seen 'the other side', and those who say they can communicate with the departed, and explore the latest scientific research into these phenomena, with an additional focus on the mystery of consciousness. I've got some fascinating material to share, and look forward to exploring these topics with you all.

Here's a quick promo trailer I created, mostly in an attempt to give the vibe of the book (it borrows from a few of my favourite artists in doing so):

So, check out the page for Stop Worrying…There Probably Is An Afterlife - there's a bunch of good value deals on eBook versions if you have a Kindle, iPad or some other reader (I recommend the $20 gift pack...10 books to give away to friends!). Also have some high end signed, limited edition hardcover packages as well, for the book connoisseurs/collectors among you.

This is a project I've been wanting to get to for a number of years now, and I'm very excited to be on the road to finally creating it! Really appreciate any help you can offer - I'm sure you'll get value for money, no matter what you contribute! And please share with your friends and family, as this crowd-funding campaign absolutely relies on word-of-mouth.

Link: IndieGoGo campaign for Stop Worrying…There Probably Is An Afterlife

The Tibetan Oracles

Fascinating documentary looking at the use of mediums/oracles in Tibetan Buddhism:

Cloaked in secrecy for over 400 years, the State Oracle of Tibet has been a strange and mystical aspect of the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. This ancient spirit, which has inhabited a succession of thirteen human mediums, advises the Dalai Lama on matters of public and religious policy. To witness the eerie spectacle of a medium entering a trance state and being possessed by the Oracle is to confront profound questions about the very nature of human consciousness.

With permission from the Dalai Lama that had never been granted before, The Oracle explores the ancient practice of consulting spirits.

The last 10 minutes of the film features what must be fairly exclusive footage of the Dalai Lama himself consulting with the religion's three main oracles, and then discussing how he uses their 'talent'.

This is Ben's Story

I'm currently writing a book on belief in the afterlife, and came across this wonderful video of a young man recounting his recent near-death experience (of a type) - caused by a heart condition suffered throughout his life - via index cards, accompanied by Gary Jules' lovely rendition of "Mad World". Take a look before reading on:

Such an intriguing story: direct personal experience of something that has led him to an extraordinary belief, which appears to have helped conquer his earlier fears and led him to be sure of a better place beyond death. I immediately resolved to track down the maker of the video, one Ben Breedlove, to talk further with him about his experience and what it meant to him.

But I can't. Because Ben Breedlove died just one week after posting the video on YouTube, on Christmas Day, aged 18. I have to say, this cut me to the bone emotionally. I never knew Ben Breedlove in any sense prior to viewing this video, but his friendly smile, and honesty and willingness to share his strange experience (not an easy thing to do in this cynical world) just made me like him immediately. To just be there, talking about his fear of death and how his recent experience had liberated him, and then almost immediately gone, seemed like a message meant for us all to contemplate. I am so very glad that this experience - no matter what you think of it, reality or hallucination - gave him a personal feeling of peace, and pride in how he had lived his life, before his final encounter with death.

And so beyond that immediate, gut-wrenching moment, what this terrible news brought into sharp relief for me was the simple fact that we are all gifted with something precious: life. Whether you're religious, an atheist, or just of a general spiritual bent, there is far too much to do in our time on this Earth to waste time being negative. Chase your dreams, while appreciating everything you have been given, love and be loved, and perhaps most importantly of all, do good.

Godspeed Ben Breedlove. Thanks for sharing your story.

Documentary on the Scole Experiment

Kamarling notes on his blog that YouTube now has a 90 minute documentary on the Scole Experiment available for viewing, courtesy of UFOTV. During the 1990s a group of mediums and scientists - including Rupert Sheldrake, David Fontana and Montague Keen (who died during filming) - conducted a series of seances in an attempt to document evidence for paranormal events and even, perhaps, the afterlife.

The film is narrated by a well known (at least in the UK) investigative journalist called Donal MacIntyre and contains actual footage plus interviews with participants and investigators. The sceptics are represented (briefly, it has to be said) by Chris French: the British media's go-to guy for scepticism. He doesn't actually address any of the (alleged) paranormal events depicted in the film but he does reassure those who might be tempted to believe that, according to science, none of it is possible (of course).

Ghost in the (Magnetic) Machine

Are ghost sightings actually hallucinations caused by magnetic fields? Over recent years, a number of researchers have put forward this explanation for hauntings, perhaps most prominently Dr Michael Persinger (he of the 'God helmet'). A new paper by skeptic Jason Braithwaite casts a critical eye over some of these claims:

The implication from these studies is that some spontaneous haunt-reports may be explained, at least in part, as magnetically induced hallucinations. Egon Spengler with his PKE MeterHowever, although this view is very popular, it is often misunderstood by scientists, sceptics, paranormalists and the general public. Quite often in the popular literature and on the unregulated non-peer-reviewed internet this 'neuromagnetic' account is cast as one claiming that strong magnetic fields may exist in reputedly haunted locations as metaphorical 'hot-spots' and as such may be responsible for some anomalous perceptions, that any 'blip' on an EMF meter is meaningful, or worse still, that such fields may well be some physical correlate of the paranormality of a haunting. In addition, it appears to be the case that the idea is being accepted somewhat uncritically by some researchers as its apparent basis in physics and biophysics can be quite seductive at first glance. As a consequence of these observations, it appears to be a good time to take a closer and more evidence-based look at an argument that while tantalising, may well be, at the very least, insufficient as it currently stands. The present paper provides a comprehensive examination of the evidence for an against the neuromagnetic account.

Read the entire paper: Magnetic Fields, Anomalous Experiences: A Sceptical Critique".

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