News Briefs 14-10-2014

Just a little pin-prick...

Quote of the Day:

They said, ‘What’s in the box?’
I said, ‘a large gold medal,’ as one does.
So they opened it up and they said, ‘What’s it made out of?’
I said, ‘gold.’
And they’re like, ‘Uhhhh. Who gave this to you?’
‘The King of Sweden.’
‘Why did he give this to you?’
‘Because I helped discover the expansion rate of the universe was accelerating.’

Astrophysicist Brian Schmidt, describing going through airport security with his Nobel Prize

Some Mexican Dude Talking About UFOs

Many MANY things happened during the 3rd installment of the Paradigm Symposium, which ended a week ago. One of those things is that I gave my very first video interview for UFO Hub, an online platform dedicated to discuss UFOs, paranormal & metaphysical subjects.

The guy who runs the site, Adnan Ademovic, approached me while we were at the event and asked me to talk with me, so he could learn a bit more of where I stand on the subject of UFOs. Since chatting with like-minded people is one of the main reasons why I travel 1800 miles to Minneapolis, I was more than happy to do so.

I guess I did make a good 1st impression, because after I wore his ear off with all my ramblings about anything from UFOs & synchronicities, to the subject of human consciousness, he asked me to do a little video recording for his Youtube channel later that night.

We did everything in one take, as you may easily deduct; and even though I'm upset over the fact that my tongue got twisted a couple of times, in the end I even surprised myself on how I managed to say something intelligible about my favorite Fortean topic. I even decided to add a final thought about my recent position on Consciousness, and how it might just turn out to be the key that will help us unlock all these seemingly unrelated mysteries, which are unfortunately still addressed independently by researchers --with dismayingly little success...

I also realize that what I said isn't really that 'new', since it was proposed by luminaries like Vallee & Keel decades ago. But perhaps the time is now ripe to finally admit that the phenomenon refuses to fit into our neat little pet theories. As a matter of fact, shamelessly challenging our comforting notions of what Reality is, might just be the greatest gift UFOs could dispense to mankind.

On the UFO Hub channel you can also find more interviews of a few of the Paradigm speakers, including Nick Redfern & Chase Kloetzke, 2 people I know consider good friends, thanks to the Paradigm Symposium.

News Briefs 10-10-2014

"Education is our only political safety. Outside of this ark all is deluge."

Quote of the Day:

“If any man seeks for greatness, let him forget greatness and ask for truth, and he will find both.”

H. Mann

Jason Silva on 'Hacking Our Flow State'

What if we could use those peak experiences to make us whole, to render us holy?... and in Houston Smith's immortal words: 'Might we begin then to transform our passing illuminations into abiding light?

More Jason Silva monologues:

News Briefs 09-10-2014

Better late than never!

Quote of the Day:

Everyone has a belief system, B.S., the trick is to learn not to take anyone's B.S. too seriously, especially your own.

Robert Anton Wilson

Is This New Scientific Evidence the 'First Hint' of Life After Death?

The Deceased in the Afterlife Realm

The near-death experience (NDE) has blazed its way back into mainstream media this week, with the long-awaited publication (in the journal Resuscitation) of the results from one of the biggest ever scientific investigations into awareness after cardiac arrest. A number of years ago, Dr. Sam Parnia, an expert in the field of resuscitation, established the AWARE project, which is now a major collaboration between doctors and researchers in the coronary units of medical centers and hospitals across the globe. In the AWARE study, patients who survive a cardiac arrest were asked if they had any memories or experiences while 'dead' - and if they had an out-of-body experience during their brush with death, whether they were able to see certain ‘hidden targets’ placed in hospital rooms that can only be seen from a vantage point near the ceiling.

The headlines have been a little over the top. "First hint of 'life after death' in biggest ever scientific study", the Telegraph announced.

Death is a depressingly inevitable consequence of life, but now scientists believe they may have found some light at the end of the tunnel. The largest ever medical study into near-death and out-of-body experiences has discovered that some awareness may continue even after the brain has shut down completely.

[S]cientists at the University of Southampton have spent four years examining more than 2,000 people who suffered cardiac arrests at 15 hospitals in the UK, US and Austria. And they found that nearly 40 per cent of people who survived described some kind of ‘awareness’ during the time when they were clinically dead before their hearts were restarted.

One man even recalled leaving his body entirely and watching his resuscitation from the corner of the room. Despite being unconscious and ‘dead’ for three minutes, the 57-year-old social worker from Southampton, recounted the actions of the nursing staff in detail and described the sound of the machines.

I'm really glad to see the AWARE study results finally published in a journal, but despite all the news headlines, there is little new information in this paper. As readers of my 2013 book Stop Worrying! There Probably is an Afterlife (available in paperback or as a Kindle ebook) would know, I covered the results of the AWARE study back then. If you haven't read the book, I've posted the relevant excerpt today here on the Grail for those seeking more information about the AWARE study, and a more detailed description of the experience of the patient who left his body.

For those with TLDR syndrome: the paper examines 2060 cardiac arrest events at participating hospitals, of which only 16% of patients survived (330). Of those 330 patients, only 140 proved eligible to be interviewed for the study. 85 out of 140 (61%) reported no perception or memories during their cardiac arrest. However, one of the interesting findings of the study was that 55 patients (39%) responded in the affirmative to the question "Do you remember anything from the time during your unconsciousness?", despite the fact that cardiac arrests are believed to shut down the brain and inhibit any of this sort of consciousness.

However, another interesting finding of the study was that 46 of those 55 "described memories incompatible with a NDE", such as "being dragged through deep water" and "seeing a golden flash of light". So even though their perception during cardiac arrest was 'anomalous', it wasn't an NDE. Only 9 patients had NDE-like perceptions, and of the entire 2060 cardiac arrests just one patient had an out-of-body experience (OBE). And sadly, it wasn't in an area with one of the shelves intended to test the reality of the OBE.

Nevertheless, the OBE patient was able to describe a number of aspects of the hospital room scene accurately - a so-called "veridical NDE". On its own, this doesn't seem much, but as I point out in my book, it adds to an ever-growing list of accounts where people who should not be able to perceive anything due to their physical condition are able to give accurate details about thing happening both in the room they are in and outside of it. Contrary to the Telegraph's "first hint", this new paper just adds to an already long list of hints.

The shorter summary of the AWARE paper?

  • If you have a cardiac arrest, the odds are really not in your favour.
  • That if you survive, there's about a 5-10% chance you might have a near-death experience.
  • That people don't just experience NDE consciousness during cardiac arrest - they also find themselves in other modes of consciousness with totally different perceptions and imagery.
  • That the AWARE study recorded what seems to be another veridical NDE account, to add to the growing number already on record.
  • These veridical NDEs appear to suggest either (a) that some people are hyper-sensitive to their surroundings during a cardiac arrest, using any sensory modes available to reconstruct the scene in their minds, or (b) that the mind is actually able to somehow perceive things from a vantage point outside of the body - in short, that consciousness is not confined to the brain.

So, when looking at all the news stories and blog posts on this topic, be aware (hah!) that (a) a lot of the headlines are hyped up, and (b) plenty of them are looking at this study in isolation, when it is perhaps more interesting when considered with other evidence already collected.

You might also like:

AWAREness Beyond Death?

Near Death Experience

Excerpted from Stop Worrying! There Probably is an Afterlife, available from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk

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A critical care doctor and expert in the field of resuscitation, Sam Parnia has been fascinated with the question of what happens to consciousness at the moment of death since the time he lost a patient as a student doctor at the age of 22. Parnia’s joint fascination with resuscitation and the near-death experience (NDE) led him to establish the AWARE project, which is now a major collaboration between doctors and researchers in the coronary units of medical centers and hospitals across the globe. Dedicated to exploring and advancing our knowledge of these two inter-related areas, it began with an 18 month pilot study restricted to just a few hospitals in the United Kingdom, before the AWARE project proper launched on September 11, 2008 with the investigation extended to more locations, including some in Europe and the United States. To examine the veridical out-of-body experience component of near-death experiences, Parnia and his team installed approximately one thousand shelves high up on walls within rooms in the emergency, coronary and intensive care wards of participating hospitals, though they were unable to cover all beds due to time and financial constraints – with 25 participating hospitals, the total number of shelves they would have needed to install for full coverage would have been closer to 12,500. On these shelves they placed a hidden ‘target’, which they hoped patients who had OBEs might report back on after being successfully resuscitated. By targeting these specific wards they were hoping to cover some 80% of cardiac arrest events with their ‘shelf test’.

In the first four years of the study, AWARE has received a total of more than four thousand cardiac arrest event reports – some three per day. But while four thousand events may seem a good sample size for in-depth research into veridical NDEs, it must be remembered that these are cardiac arrests – not ‘heart attacks’, with which many people confuse the term, but cases in which the heart has completely stopped beating. As such, in only a third of those cases were medical staff able to resuscitate the patient – and then, only half of those critically-ill survivors remained alive to a point where they could be interviewed by the AWARE team. Further, those medical staff doing interviews on behalf of the AWARE study had to do so around their normal daily duties, and so not all patients were able to be interviewed post-resuscitation (especially so if they came in on the weekend). And, unfortunately, the team’s coverage of cardiac arrest events via shelf positioning was lower than hoped – only 50% occurred in a location with a shelf, rather than the hoped-for 80%.

Now, given that near-death experiences were only reported by 5% of survivors in the AWARE study, and that the out-of-body experience only occurs in a low percentage of NDEs, you might begin to see the problem. Out of some 4000 cardiac arrest events, the AWARE team was left with little more than a hundred cases in which a patient with a shelf in their room reported back after their resuscitation, and then only 5 to 10 of those actually had an NDE. In all, after four years, and four thousand recorded cardiac arrest events, the AWARE study has

News Briefs 07-10-2014

Do students of Zen sing "If you're happy and you know it clap your hand"?

Quote of the Day:

Through the darkness of future's past, the magician longs to see. One chants out between two worlds... "Fire... walk with me."

Twin Peaks

That TV Show You Liked Is Coming Back Into Style: A New Series of David Lynch's Twin Peaks Announced!

Twin Peaks Red Room

If, like me, the above image brings back memories of both confusion and wonderment, I'm guessing this piece of news will excite you. Twenty-five years ago, in the finale of the great David Lynch TV series Twin Peaks, Laura Palmer sat in the 'Red Room' and told Agent Cooper (in typical reverse speech) "I'll see you again in 25 years". Turns out the wrapped in plastic girl was telling the truth, because show creators David Lynch and Mark Frost have just announced that a third series of Twin Peaks will air on Showtime in 2016:

The groundbreaking television phenomenon, Golden Globe and Peabody Award-winner Twin Peaks will return as a new limited series on Showtime in 2016. Series creators and executive producers David Lynch and Mark Frost will write and produce all nine episodes of the limited series, and Lynch will direct every episode. Set in the present day, Twin Peaks will continue the lore of the original series, providing long-awaited answers and a satisfying conclusion for the series' passionate fan base.

I'm not sure the phrases "David Lynch" and "long awaited answers and satisfying conclusions" have been used together in too many sentences before, but who cares? Twin Peaks is coming back, and it looks like at least some of the old gang are returning as well. Damn good show!