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

For more fascinating articles similar to this one, like The Daily Grail's Facebook page, follow us on Twitter, and/or put us in your Google+ circles.

-----------------

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!

News Briefs 06-10-2014

Why-the-world-stays-screwed-up edition.

Thanks to Kapryan.

Quote of the Day:

NSA plays a lot of word games.

The DIA document shows that for the NSA, 'collection' of your e-mails doesn't mean what you think it means. It means something totally different. They want to be able to say they're not 'collecting' your data, so they claim that even though they copied all your e-mails, put them in a server for five years, and searched them at will, that's not 'collection' because your e-mail didn't go into a report.

The NSA plays the same games with all of the words they use — they say you are not a 'target,' even though they collect, store and search all your data. They say your data is collected only 'incidentally,' even though the NSA intentionally designs its programs to collect everything you do online. They say your data is not collected 'under this program,' which almost certainly means it is collected under some other program. The NSA says things, using some very tortured and legalistic definitions, which are technically true but designed to mislead Americans about how it collects and uses our data. The NSA's collection and use of Americans' data would never stand up to any kind of public scrutiny or judicial review. The only way these programs survive is because they are shielded from review and oversight and challenge in the courts.

John Tye, a former State Department official, in 'New documents show how Reagan-era executive order unbounded NSA'.

Ball Lightning vs UFOs

This article is excerpted from Darklore Volume 8, which is now available for sale from Amazon US and Amazon UK. The Darklore anthology series features the best writing and research on Fortean and hidden history topics, by the most respected names in the field: Robert Schoch, Nick Redfern, Loren Coleman, Robert Bauval and Daniel Pinchbeck, to name just a few. Darklore's aim is to support quality researchers, so it makes sense to support Darklore. For more information on the series (including more free sample articles), visit the Darklore website.

Ball Lightning Spread from Darklore Volume 8

A Social History of Ball Lightning

The chimera that came in from the cold

by Martin Shough

Back in 1967 the astronomer Gerard Kuiper dismissed a 10% residue of unexplained UFO reports with a wave of the hand, thinking it “reasonable to assume” that this testimony must be “so distorted or incomplete as to defy all analysis.” However, he advocated a major Defence Department/FAA programme to research “very rare natural phenomena” such as ball lightning. Why? Because “no adequate data yet exist of ball lightning”, even though its existence had been “known for at least a century”.1

This raises a very interesting question: How was it possible for science to “know” anything with “no adequate data”? The answer is that science did not know. Rather, ball lightning had been kept in the natural philospher’s cabinet of curiosities along with a jumble of Forteana such as sea serpents, will-o’-the-wisps, fabulous mirages and spirits of the dead for a couple of hundred years. Disbelief and credulity swirled around together in a miasma of hopeless speculation until, during the early 20th century, the authoritative consensus settled into scepticism - a position which had only quite recently begun to change at the time Kuiper was writing.

Unpicking some of the reason and unreason behind this curious condition of scientific double-think is instructive. Logically and evidentially speaking, there is precious little difference between a “very rare natural phenomenon” which is unexplained and an unexplained phenomenon characterised as a “UFO”. Even more subtle is the distinction sometimes drawn between “a unique natural phenomenon never before observed” and a UFO. There will always be unique combinations of natural phenomena never before observed (in practice), so how is a distinction to be supported between such effects and UFOs? Is there a real epistemological distinction? Or is it mere semantics?

The difference appears in practice to arise because there are two levels of “explanation” whose meanings are weighted differently in the two cases: There is a level of detailed physical understanding, i.e. a link-by-link chain of observed processes accurately modelled in theory; and there is a level of conceptual classification. When either of these levels is satisfied we experience a sense of accounting, and when both are satisfied there is a closure which we experience as “explanation”.

Neither in the case of “unknown natural phenomenon” nor in the case of “unidentified flying object” is the level of detailed physical understanding satisfied, by definition; the difference enters in the conceptual classification and has to do almost exclusively with the way these ideas are emotionally connoted. Specifically, it is the mechanistic aura of the former and the animistic aura of the latter that sets them apart. The history of science associates mechanistic models with productive explanations, animistic models with backward-looking resistance to explanations. The extraterrestrial hypothesis (ETH) and its analogues are for practical purposes regarded as examples of relict primitive animism.

Ball lightning emerges with some sense of explanation out of the primary category of “rare and unexplained phenomena” to the extent that it replaces (these days) animistic with mechanistic connotations. The collective term is emotionally neutral, the terms “ball lightning” and “UFO” are not individually so, and parity is broken; a coupled particle-pair of overall neutral charge is, so to speak, dissociated into two particles of opposite charge which fly in different directions in the social field potential. The positive “ball lightning” particle is eventually scavenged by surrounding atoms of incomplete theory; the “UFO” particle is left to wander, a free negative ion in a lonely search for an appropriate theory with which to recombine. It is a pragmatic fact, quite separate from the question of evidence, that ... Read More »