Friday, May 21, 2010

A blog post on The Irreducible Mind on NDEs


Anonymous said...

Bob Prokop writing:

I have near-zero interest in NDEs. I strongly suspect they can be explained by brain functions in a body near to failure. But I have no doubt, personally, that we survive our bodies' deaths as individuals. I have five "proofs" that work for me. I care not whether they work for others. I myself am convinced. Here they are:

1. The overwhelming testimony of Humanity since prehistoric times. The vast preponderance of human beings have believed in "life after death", and I am loathe to go against this consensus without damn good reason.

2. The Resurrection of Jesus Christ, which I regard as a convincingly prooved historical fact.

3. The fact that, atom for atom, we are not the same physical constructs that walked around with our names 10 to 12 years ago, and yet our consciousness is the same; prooving to me at least that our personal identities are not tied to physical matter (or I would not be the same person as the "Bob Prokop" of, say, the 1980s).

4. My experience of my wife's death from a distance of about two inches away. You will never, ever convince me that her existence ended with the failure of her body. I know otherwise - I was there.

5. Symphony Number 10 by Gustav Mahler. There is no way this could possibly exist without the active participation of the composer. Yet he was dead decades before its completion.

Blue Devil Knight said...

One nice thing about NDEs you can study them scientifically, at least if people really think folks are seeing stuff going on, this can be studied (unfortunately when it is done with proper controls, it ends up like other paranormal research). The Pam Reynolds case is so shrouded in questionable details that it is hard to use it to make a real case.

Also, it looks like that stuff was published before the recent research in which psychologists' induce "out of body" experiences in normal subjects using prosthetic bodies.

Some of the most interesting work, from my perspective, is the view that anencephalics can be conscious (this is very controversial).

All this, coupled with the fact that a small but nonnegligible people under general anesthesia are unfortunately only paralyzed but not unconscious (awful, can you imagine!), points to the need to understand consciousness at a neurophysiological level for clinical benefits. This is true even if the brain is just the "receiver" for the mind. If the receiver ain't shut down properly, the patient is screwed.

Blue Devil Knight said...

I don't think plants live on after death, and unfortunatley I don't think I will either. I sure wish my deceased loved ones were still around though. Death is the toughest fact to deal with, psychologically speaking, as an atheist. By far. There is a finality to the loss of loved ones that is simply agonizing. I wish Bob's reasons convinced me as well. :)

Number three is very interesting, though I doubt you are really the same person you were 20 years ago Bob. Very similar, yes, but identical? No new memories or anything?

At any rate, I don't mean to respond in a quippy manner Bob I know you weren't making a philosophical argument, just shooting the ball around.

Blue Devil Knight said...

ONe thing that bugged me was they act as if flat EEG is "brain death", which is really not true. THe brain stem is a deep structure the surface EEG electrodes don't measure very well. EEG is a measure of synchronous cortical activity. If it is flat, that is not evidence that every brain cell is inactive! (I mentioned the anencephalics partly for similar reasons, but I thought I should spell out this common misunderstanidng, people like to say 'flat eeg with consciousness woudl falsify neuro-naturalism' or whatever.

Even if we were to grant the (controversial) claims about anencephalics and flat eeg folks having consciousness, this wouldn't imply that we have cases of consciousness without brain activity!

Edward T. Babinski said...

THE SAME AUTHOR who reviewed The Irreducible Mind on NDE's in 2007 also wrote this in 2009:

"A lot of my blog posts concern the topic of life after death. But lately I've started to wonder whether the postmortem survival of the personality is actually that important.

"This may seem like a strange thing to say. After all, what could be more important to us on a personal level than our own survival? And yet, I've begun to feel that the personality itself is not so important; and if the personality doesn't matter too much, then the survival of the personality after death doesn't matter much, either. . .

"From a purely personal standpoint, it seems to me, at least at certain moments, that the personality itself -- or the ego, or the self -- is a somewhat artificial and trivial construct, a collection of repetitive behaviors and engrained attitudes. And if this is all the personality is, then the survival of the personality -- the survival of this assemblage of quirks and tics -- seems considerably less urgent. In fact, there are some occasions when the idea of my personality, my constricted little realm of self-centered thoughts, persisting eternally is rather depressing to me."

Edward T. Babinski said...

Here's the link. He's still a strong believer in life after death, but he wonders about some of the same questions I do:

Edward T. Babinski said...

THE AUTHOR also stated in 2010:

"Any sort of belief in a spirit world -- is a belief system and cannot be otherwise. It's not the kind of thing that can be definitively proven, in the same way that we might prove that water boils at 100°C at sea level or that smoking increases the risk of certain cancers. I would say that a belief in life after death is justifiable but not provable. Justifiable, because there is evidence to support it and there is a larger, reasonably coherent worldview in which an afterlife would make sense. But not provable, because an afterlife lies beyond our present range of experience."

Anonymous said...

Bob Prokop to Blue Devil Knight:

You're right. I was just shooting the ball around, and thanks for noticing. I tried to say "for myself" or "I regard", etc., often enough to show I wasn't trying to convince anyone - just showing where I come from.

By the way, Walt Whitman believed in "life after death" for plants. So don't be so quick to dismiss the idea. I have the odd day myself, where I suspect that every living thing (right down to the least microbe) is immortal.

Shackleman said...

I have the odd day where I think matter doesn't exist and there is only the soul or mind. Completely creeps me out, to be honest. I never feel more alone and vulnerable as I do when I think *everything* around me, all that I thought I knew was "out there" is illusory.