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Watching Death

The British Psychological Society’s (BPS) Research Digest blog currently has a feature which asks the question “What’s the most important psychology experiment that’s Never been done…?” Coming in at #1 is Susan Blackmore’s suggestion of “Watching Death“:

We know that roughly ten per cent of people who come close to death have “near-death experiences” (NDEs) in which they seem to travel down a dark tunnel towards a bright, warm light; see their body from above; experience vivid memories; and even enter another world or meet gods, angels or spirits. A few have mystical experiences of oneness with the universe, or experience the dissolution of the illusory self.

All these experiences can be accounted for, in principle, by disorganised activity in the dying brain. Yet this argument does not convince believers who argue that after all the brain activity stops, the soul or spirit still carries on…

…The most important experiment that’s never been done is to take fMRI or PET scans of people as they die

If you take the time to read the entire article, I think it’s worth pointing out the loaded language used throughout. Firstly, it seems that if you are not convinced by Blackmore’s (flawed) “disorganised activity” theory, you must be a “believer”. Conversely, anyone who is a proponent of materialist explanations for the NDE is given the title of “skeptic” (entirely not the same thing). Lastly, Blackmore tells us that MRI scans would allow for testing of “theories about how NDEs and mystical experiences are generated in the dying brain,” when the core question being debated here is whether they are actually being “generated” by the brain.

Good to see scientific research into the near-death experience getting some high-profile coverage anyhow.

  1. Near-death experiences (NDEs)
    Susan Blackmore is presenting only one perspective on the research into NDEs. Most of the major medical researchers who specialize in this field strongly disagree with her. The most credible source for near-death experiences is the website of the International Association for Near-Death Studies at In particular, you might want to check under the Research tab for published papers outlining new findings from the most current research, particularly the two written by Dr. Peter Fenwick and Dr. Pim Van Lommel.

    During the past 30 years, near-death experiences have been the focus of many scientific studies at universities and medical centers around the world. Many medical professionals who have seriously studied the research – and it is extensive – no longer dismiss this phenomenon as hallucinations, intense dreams, or caused by physiological or pharmacological factors. The best analysis of the many physiological theories regarding NDEs is on a DVD that has a presentation by Dr. Bruce Greyson (from the University of Virginia Medical School) titled “T3-Explanatory Models of NDEs.” It can be obtained from the website above at
    This presentation was from an international conference in 2006 at the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center.

    I am a member of the association. To join is very inexpensive, and they keep you up-to-date with the latest NDE research along with e-mails of experiencer accounts every month.

    1. Are you a medical doctor Allen?
      Have you had any direct contact with NDEs?

      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. Silly Susan

    Yet another case of what’s in a name Black-more, people like her aren’t interested to prove anything, just mouth about it, in her case the atheist dogma set up by reductionalist science that can’t find that which isn’t material. Who needs enemies with friends like that, she refuses to accept OOB’s saying she had one but i guess not but he who can prove that, no a typical powers that be starlet, making somenice money to publish the right words.

    Testing dying people will resolve nothing its on par with current neurological testing of brain reactions, basicly a silly proposal.

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

  3. What Can You Find in Your Subconscious Mind?
    Why bother with near death experiences when genuine death experiences are only a trance away?

    This is true whether you are an atheist, a scientist, or the reincarnation of either Charles Darwin or Pope Leo X.

    Of course proving this to anyone else’s satisfaction is the rub.

    Sooner or later, though, more shall perfect those arcane techniques that enable beings no longer physically embodied (or those who never chose to experience the pleasures of earth) to appear as fairly solid beings of light, although this might take another half millennium or so — I understand these techniques require lots of practice. They involve a conscious and temporary adjustment of what could be called “frequency,” (or perhaps wavelength, a la Prince de Broglie).


    Bill I.

  4. Mri’s have not been done!?
    If I knew I was dieing. I would volunteer! Why hasn’t it been done? What a huge opportunity has been overlook. It would answer is many questions.

    1. Timothy Leary
      Didn’t Timothy Leary record his own death? I’m sure I read something like that somewhere. Possibly in “Sub Rosa”. According to his son, his very last word was “Beautiful!”…

      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

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