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Not So Out of Body

Stop press! ‘First Out-of-body Experience Induced In Laboratory Setting‘. Or, even better, ‘Researchers Find an Explanation for Out-of-Body Experiences‘. And so on. For more coverage, visit the always excellent Mind Hacks, which even has a link to video of researcher Olaf Blanke discussing the experiments.

It’s the big news of today, with coverage everywhere from the BBC to New Scientist. But, as is usual, it’s utter hype, and the headlines are completely incorrect. No explanation has been found at all, although the experiments are pretty funky and provide some interesting insights into our sense of self. However, no OBE was ‘induced’ – virtual reality masks and cameras were used to give a different perspective, and the scientists make this point explicitly, that they are not actually creating a true OBE. This is extremely important, as perhaps the most fascinating question of the OBE is whether the separate perspective which occurs during an OBE is a complex reconstruction by the brain, or consciousness actually perceiving from outside the body.

Further to this, there is evidence of the latter, and this research does not explain that aspect in any way. From people not recognising themselves (because they looked different to how they are used to seeing themselves, in a mirror), through to veridical perception, this is at the core of the mystery of OBEs. And to really push the boundaries, we also have to consider ‘reciprocal apparitions’, in which the OBE perceiver is seen by another person actually ‘out of body’.

The encyclopaedic Irreducible Mind goes into some detail on these points, and actually mentions some of the earlier research done by Olaf Blanke and colleagues, with a pertinent comment:

To equate OBEs with pathological “body illusions,” as Blanke et al. do, seems to us to beg the question of the nature of these experiences by ignoring the complexity of their physiological, psychological, and phenomenological aspects. In short, studies such as that of Blanke et al…have not provided anything like a complete and verified neurophysiological account of the OBE, but rather some preliminary findings and hypotheses to be pursued in further work.

Interesting how everyone is in such a rush to claim the OBE is now explained, when it is certainly not the case…it’s worth a study of its own, this pathological need to explain things that don’t fit the materialist paradigm.

  1. It’s a scam
    I’m sure some neuroscientists are now eager to try and explain how the pineal gland releases a hormone that MIMICS the effects of virtual reality goggles when we’re about to die!

    The only thing the study contributed proving is that our sense of perception and “spatial being” can be fooled. Well Duhhhh? Has anyone of this geniuses ever taken a tequila shot?

    It’s not the depth of the rabbit hole that bugs me…
    It’s all the rabbit SH*T you stumble over on your way down!!!

    Red Pill Junkie

    1. Hah!
      [quote=red pill junkie]The only thing the study contributed proving is that our sense of perception and “spatial being” can be fooled. Well Duhhhh? Has anyone of this geniuses ever taken a tequila shot?[/quote]


      Kind regards,
      You monkeys only think you’re running things

    2. blood flow
      Lack of blood flow to the brain can cause OBEs. A significant percentage of pilot who take centrifuge training report OBEs. A lot more report very vivid dreams. It is hard to tell if these dreams (and in these cases I think the OBE is a kind of dream) occurs during the time the brain is starved of oxygen, or when it recovers.

      You can observe a lot, just by watching. (Yogi Berra)

      1. blood flow, sleep apnea
        I can understand that a decreasing in blood flow to the brain can cause some distortion of perception. Thas is one of the explanations for the abduction phenomenon. I have myself experienced such states when you feel you are awake but unable to move, and you try with all your intent to raise your arm and turn on the lamp and it seems to take ages. Other people recall sensing a “presence”.

        All kind of weird sensorial experiences can be triggered by tampering with electromagnetic waves directed at the brain.

        But there are some things unexplained in some OBE cases. How people can recollect things that couldn’t have noticed since they were completely ansthesized or under cardiac arrest, seeing things out of their visual range and all that. OBE deserves to be researched further beyon recollcting the experiences of individuals, because it could increase our understanding of consciuosness several orders of magnitude.

        It’s not the depth of the rabbit hole that bugs me…
        It’s all the rabbit SH*T you stumble over on your way down!!!

        Red Pill Junkie

        1. OBE’s or OME’s
          a shroom trip I went on in the late seventies increased my understanding of conciuoness several orders of magnitude.
          What I experienced is still vivid in my mind to this day.

          “Life can be whatever you want it to be, as long as you do what your told.”

  2. They can stimulate a lot of things.
    Make you remember memories you’d forgotten…
    Make you smell or taste something that isn’t there at the moment.

    Doesn’t mean it didn’t happen in real life at some point.

    I was going to mention something else… but well..

    not quite appropriate here lol

    My sister would have OBE and visit places and people and remember details etc.



    1. just as important
      Just as importantly, people vividly remember things that did not happen. And they are quite convinced that they remember actual events. I’m not talking about remembering dreams, although occasionally people cannot tell dreams and reality apart.

      For example, I have had memories of conversations with some people I knew very well. I knew their points of view, and their normal way of thinking and discussing things.

      The problem is that I had the memory of these conversations in two languages. I could reconstruct what they would have said in either one. And yes, everyone was completely sober at the time.

      Of course that can mean many things. But one thing it definetely means, is that at least one of my memories is fictional.

      Somewhat related, there are witness reports about simple road accidents. What is reported as happening “immediately” usually happened within 2 seconds. That is a human perception problem.

      Other perception problems: most people cannot tell speed differences above about 100 kilometers per hour. Say you are going 200 km/h, and passing a truck going 90 km/h, with some trees and houses along the road. You can’t tell if the truck is moving compared to the houses, or if it is just standing there.

      Another fun one is this common one: when you look up at a large clock, and this involves moving your head (and thus eyes), the second-hand seems to stand still for a while. Then it starts moving.

      Now, did the clock just wait for you looking, and didn’t bother moving before anyone looked? Like Schroedinger’s cat?
      No, what apparently happens is that the brain assumes that the new scene (the clock) has been static since you started moving your eyes. So the first view of the new scene is project back in time. Also, you will normally have no memory between the old scene (whatever you were looking at before the clock), and the new scene. Obviously, there was something your eyes “saw” in between, but your mind did not see it.

      The point here is that the sense of timing we have is not ver accurate. And that “episodic memory” is not very accurate either.

      I think it is important to consider this, when we talk about OBEs.

      You can observe a lot, just by watching. (Yogi Berra)

  3. Mindless Science

    Considering the fact that at the Monroe institute OBE inducing has been going on for decades and meanwhile thousands have learned the technique, i find this story a utterly disgusting piece of fudge from a bunch of whitecoat labslaves to the powers that be…mustnt let the people think there’s an escape. Obviously the people involved in the study must have had knowledge of Monroe, but then thats not what their masters want to hear.
    Installing wrong belief systems in the people is what keeps us down, churches have done so for ages and now ‘science’is taking it’s place with even worse hogwash of the resistance is futile kind.

    A matter of choice;
    Intimidation, corruption and lies, or serenity, sharing and sincerity.

    1. OBEs
      Good morning everyone,
      Rho, I feel your annoyance, but you really must understand, to most scientists, people like us – you know, those ‘idiots’ who think about mysteries – are total non-entities. It doesn’t matter how much research we do, how much data we generate, how many theories we propose. It doesn’t matter because, to them, WE don’t matter.
      Which is sad, because they are increasingly turning more and more people off science, and the point will come when THEY don’t matter.
      Which is when the thing they fear most will return – superstition. Somehow, we’ve got to save science from itself before this happens.

      I’m fanatical about moderation

      Anthony North

  4. Scientifically induced OBE
    One of the posters who posted that they often experienced a paralysed state whereas they were awake but could not move a muscle, not even lift an arm is discribing a natural phenomena. This has nothing to do with an out of body experience, Normally the body enters a mostly paralysed state during deep sleep; otherwise the sleeper would physically act out their dreams. This state can malfunction and in one case you have sleepwalkers and it can go the other way and fail to release the sleeper upon reawakening (usually for a very short time) whereas the sleeper feels the inability to move.

    1. been there
      This has not much to do with out of body experiences. It has more to do with sleep.

      But similar to the experience, where I want to move and I cannot – I was dreaming that I was awake. I wanted to be awake, but I could not do it.

      As Rho says, if we would act out our dreams, we would be kicking and screaming most of the night.

      So there is something on the edge, just between wakeness and sleep. Some reason why you want to wake up, but you can’t.

      You can observe a lot, just by watching. (Yogi Berra)

      1. Nightmares
        Curently my worst nightmares are that I dream that I’m having a nightmare and want to wake up, but when I do I’m STILL dreaming! I wake up in a somewhat distorted version of my home and have almost a conscius level simmilar to when I’m awake.

        So if you read this, at least that proves I’m not dreaming right now.

        Right? RIGHT??!!

        PS: I mentioned sleep paralysis because we were discussing blood flow and sleep apnea is somewhat related to that. But also, because pretty much all the advocants of OBE mantain that before achieving the dettachment of your corporeal self, you have to attain a state of “body asleep/mind fully awake)”. God knows how…

        It’s not the depth of the rabbit hole that bugs me…
        It’s all the rabbit SH*T you stumble over on your way down!!!

        Red Pill Junkie

    1. Nope
      Actually, same researcher (Blanke), and same result – *feelings* of self-body separation, not an actual OBE (ie. viewing body from a separate point).

      Beyond the point of simulating OBEs though, I have no doubt that the brain functions are a part of the OBE. The real question – which is always overlooked by materialist science – is whether the brain creates conscious perception, or mediates it (ie. receiving consciousness ala TV receiving airwaves). Stimulating the brain (with electrical stimulation, drugs etc) suggests that it may be creating the experience, although it by no means proves it (and Transmission theory is certainly not disproved by it). The veridical perception cases provide evidence otherwise, so I think the jury is still out.

      Returning to the main point though, the research of Blanke has been regularly misconstrued as creating an OBE (both the case I mention, and the one you mention). I wonder why both the researchers and media are so eager to gloss over important details?

      Kind regards,
      You monkeys only think you’re running things

      1. Well in that case…
        If what those guys did was something “simmilar” to an OBE, as some media-boys are now claiming, then these experiments have been happening for quite a while now…

        They are called video-games.

        And they have been getting better and better with the new game controls that give vibration “feed-back”. Don’t believe me? Go ask a friend to let you play with his Wii. The experience can get so immersive you can sometimes swear you feel the ball/gun/punch/whatever. Now imagine if instead of seeing a character on a tv or computer screen, you were seeing a replica of you with the help of VR Goggles.

        But as Greg wrote, most of these articles fail to mention the term “consciusness”. They’re just showing the same old picture of the dude with the goggles.

        One thing that was interesting though, was that they reported some of the people that participated in the experiment actually found the experience pleasant and fun, others found it disturbing, and yet others found it irritating… maybe some people are more prepared than others to have OBEs, while others would find it so unsettling even if they had one they would discard it from their own memories. Of course that’s me wild-guessing here.

        It’s not the depth of the rabbit hole that bugs me…
        It’s all the rabbit SH*T you stumble over on your way down!!!

        Red Pill Junkie

      2. Good point there Greg
        It does not prove anything but it does give a platform to examine the phenomena or at least describe it.

        It should also be considered that the experience might not be created but triggered, in which case the possibility of having a window on other aspects of reality, otherwise not measurable by material means, would seem to me as a major scientific breakthrough.

        Unfortunately, and I reiterate this, since we do not think what we want but what we are conditioned to think, the cartesian materialistic majority in the scientific field will not consider what they are not brought to consider by their out of control rationality, which is intrinsically limited by their experience.

        This is furthermore reinforced by the fact that the average scientist is totally conditioned to project reality on experience that he can verify by his trade and that all experience that fail to be verifiable by his trade must then be explained away by absence of evidence answering to the laws of his trade.

        Unfortunately, reality neither answers to the laws of his trade and neither did his trade create reality.

        Cartesian materialistic science has done much good, especially in abolishing the evil of spiritual endoctrination but has fallen the same unfortunate road, simply because both spiritual and materialistic configurations answer to the laws that underlie human consciousness.

        Certainly there are some more enlightened scientifics out there and they are those who will not suffer the immense thrauma that rationale thinking will suffer when confronted with the reality of the invisible and its myriads of intelligences in evolution.

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