Near Death, and Out Of Body Experiences…

 
RedJamaX
 
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RedJamaX
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02 July 2019 22:50
 

(warning… this is a very long post)
I considered putting this in the “philosophy” sub-forum, but most of the reference I make in my post is in regard to actual science.  So I felt like this was more appropriate….

Sooo….  I was engaged in conversation in another group and this topic came up.  What follows is the longest single dissection of the topic I have personally attempted.  I am curious to get your opinions on the topic in general, as well as any criticism for the potential explanation that I offer below.  Are there any areas where I am just dead wrong?  (references would be helpful)  Please note, I do not claim to be an expert for ANY of the subject matter, only that the material I have been exposed to appears to point to my conclusion, and I have presented it as best I could from direct memory, without cross checking every piece of data for accuracy and a direct link to source material.  Although, at the very least, I will offer up my personal reading list for the books that I feel contribute some significant amount of data to my conclusion.
OK… First, let me clarify my position on NDEs and OBEs.
I believe that these are genuine “experiences” that people can have, and it is a fascinating topic to explore.

I have just read this, which was directly referenced in the previous discussion which acted as the catalyst for this.  Spoiler, there are only two cases cited match the claim of the title to the page on the link, and no significant details are offered on either of those cases.
——https://www.near-death.com/science/evidence/people-born-blind-can-see-during-nde.html?fbclid=IwAR01L6Wt8nzbk2g0L-pW2DRLUPlaShFR6WRcgVDXcqSXfpAv45c75L72V5Y
And listened to this:
——https://youtu.be/o7UAwi8med4

I am still not convinced that this is anything outside of a physical manifestation of a brain state that we still don’t understand.
Here is a short list of things I have read about, or my problems with the claims made by the research studies…
- It’s not objective information…
I don’t see anything being claimed by the interviewees that is truly “objective” and not subject to their own interpretation. All of the studies I have read about do not contain anything that cannot be explained by some phenomena of the brain that we have already documented in other studies that are not related to NDEs or OBEs. A few examples…

- Clinically Dead…
Clinically dead means that your heart stops… it does not mean that the cells in your brain have deteriorated. In fact, people have been successfully resuscitated from 10 minutes to 2 hours after their “clinical death”, with minimal or no brain damage. Which means that the function of the neurons remained in tact. During the ER procedure of CPR, it’s quite possible that the forced oxygen and blood-flow are enough to generate “function” which “could” allow for some form of sensory data to be recorded as a memory. (such as hearing, or touch) People who come out a comas report this phenomena regularly. (I will cover the analysis of overlapping symptoms in a point below)

- No Brain Activity
This is measured by synaptic response tests such as natural reflexes and pupil dilation. They do not stop to hook these people up to an fMRI machine during the process of trying to save their life. Which means that unless we deliberately start killing people who volunteer for this sort of experiment, we probably wont have any significant amount of data in that respect until fMRI tech becomes so cheap that it can be a simple implementation in an ER.

- Not controlled experiments… but instead, narratives of a past experience.

- Woman who said she identified her self by the distinctive ring during her OBE… How?? The “sight” of the ring is entirely subjective to how she envisioned it in the first place. Secondly, the most common feature of an OBE is the identification of one’s self as you are “outside” of your body. Most of us have a visual map for our memories to produce such images… This woman had “tall”, “skinny”, and her “ring”... which she would have pictured in the manner that she always has. That does not mean that it would map onto an objective description that anybody else could corroborate.

- “I clearly saw the numbers on the machine over my head”
Even if she can “confirm”, said numbers… unless it was the “serial number” or some other obscure detail outside of ANY stat that could be called out during her procedure… then those numbers are entirely subject to the possibility of what I mentioned above, where somebody might recollect the numbers being audibly spoken.

- “But… these people claim to have “Seen” the numbers… they didn’t remember “Hearing” the numbers.” ....
Sure… but we are talking about a completely different cognitive experience. There are some studies I have read about in which different senses present differently in controlled experiments of people in altered brain states. Such as particular audible tones triggering the sight of a particular color. I am aware that’s not the “same thing”... but you should also be honest enough to recognize that we are not talking about brain states which can be safely replicated… being that of an individual who is near death. The point I am getting at here is that sensory input might be interpreted very differently during an NDE, and “hearing” numbers might generate a visual representation for that individual.

- Specifics of description…
This kind of goes back to the subjective interpretation. Just as the example above mentions how she “saw” the numbers… That doesn’t mean she saw the number “2” for the very first time and thought, “Oh, that’s what a ‘2’ looks like”... No, she saw the number two as her brain has always perceived it to appear. She saw her face, and her ring, just her her mind has always perceived it to appear.

- Limited research scope.
While there are plenty of “claims” and people offering narratives of their subjective experiences… there are a limited number of cases in which third party verification of any of those claims can be verified. And even then, the scope of details that can be verified are very narrow. Here again, I would offer the possibility of some sort of neural response being possible in some manner that is “imprinted” on the individuals memory.. such as a set of numbers, or feeling the sensation of laying on a cold metal table. And again, without an fMRI to measure “active” neural activity during the event, then we cannot be certain.

- Overlap of symptoms between different reports of cognitive experiences.
For all of the recorded NDE and OBE experiences, there is No Single correlating element. There are many which are commonly cited… BUT, even that list ranges across all documented experiences at rates that range from 10% to 90%. 90% being extremely rare, AND that is related to what the persons are describing as their emotional states, and how they recall “feeling” during the experience. The most common “feeling” being being generally described as being “at peace”, or “tranquil”. The majority of overlapping elements, such as visual, tactile, or audible elements… occur with a frequency of 60% or less. Such as tunnel vision… bright lights… or recollections of things that may have happened during the time frame. (recollections being that of a similar nature that I describe above with the “numbers on the machine”). I believe that one of the other most common elements is the presence of somebody else being present with them… Though, once you begin to get details of “who” that somebody is, the rate of correlation drops significantly.

- Hallucinations ....
This is often discounted… though, I have never heard it discounted by anybody who admits to having experiences of hallucinations themselves. For everybody I recall that discounts a factor of hallucination, and is subsequently pressed to answer about their own experiences, they have never taken any hallucinatory drugs themselves. For the record, I have. Many people think that a “hallucination” only manifests in the form of something that is outside the realm of possibility… Like, thinking that your car turned into a tree, or that you see yourself as a glass of orange juice. This is a terrible misunderstanding of what accounts for a “hallucination”. While those would be examples, they are at the extreme ends of hallucination which are usually only manifest during brain state events such as seizures and extreme cases of delusion onset by dementia or schizophrenia. The average “hallucination” is very much within the scope of reality… which is why they are so impactful to the individuals who experience them. Such as “seeing another person enter the room and speak to you”, which NEVER HAPPENED… (raising my hand).

- To be clear on this point, I am not suggesting that these experiences are entirely “hallucinations”.. only that this phenomena might play a role as a part of the overall experience.

- We simply don’t understand the “experience” of these altered brain states… and therefore, we cannot definitively say how much influence any one of these elements has on the overall experience…
Let me offer an analogy.
We can throw a rock into a Still Pond, and we can see reactions of the water.. the ripple in the waves. We can throw multiple rocks simultaneously, or in succession, and we can repeat that process a few times and we will record very similar results, with overlapping elements among the similar patterns in which we throw the rocks, and in relation to the size and shape of the rocks. This is the representation of the brain activity in the individual who presents the narrative of their experience. Even if my suggestion is remotely close to correct, clearly, the brain is not fully functioning… as evidenced by the lack of response and being deemed “clinically dead”.
Now… for any individual with a fully functioning brain… for the controlled experiments that we CAN perform with a certain amount of safety, that involved triggering a single element and monitoring the response among a plethora of other active brain functions. This would be similar to comparing the results of a single rock thrown into a Still Pond.. against the results of throwing that same rock into the ocean during a rising tide. We can probably isolate the splash or ripple pattern that is caused by the rock for a moment, but the observed results would never map onto those recorded at the still pond.

- Timeline of the narrative for the experience…
“But the people are citing elements of what happened while they were clinically dead”
Are they citing the entire experienced time-line, with at the very least a narrative that carries from moment to moment and can be mapped on to a similar timeline that matches the amount of time they were “clinically dead”??? No. If you look into research done with the drug DMT, you will see that the average length of that experience for any individual is approximately 15 minutes. We know this because people deliberately take the drug under supervision. But the narrative experiences typically range from Hours, to Days… and some have reported feeling as though they were “gone” for years. The point here is the interpretation of time can vary greatly for different people while in different cognitive brain states… even those being induced by the same relative dose of the same substance. It is quite possible that the entire narrative of “what happened” is presented as some combination of a memory, dream, and hallucination, and that narrative is “available” soon after normal brain function returns. The experience could be the result of the random imprint of the sensory information recorded by any neural activity being “kick started” by the resuscitation process. Again, no fMRI to confirm the complete absence of neural activity in these cases.

(wow… I need to continue this on a reply)

 
RedJamaX
 
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RedJamaX
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03 July 2019 07:18
 

Continued ...

- Our recollections are “narratives”, which except for a small number of select details… are typically VERY WRONG as compared to the actual events we are citing.
This is where the split brain study comes into play. Not to mention all of the research we have in regard to “memory” in general. We know that our memories and recollections of events are filled with incorrect data that is filled in by our brains. It’s been suggested that the “filler” information is a collective of information pieced together from other similar experiences, i.e. memories. It’s also been suggested that this plays a role in our experience of Deja Vu… which, when combined with the instant impression of an incorrect timeline, it is easy to see how we might instantly identify an immediate experience as being “exactly” like a past one…. a past one that “only happened once”, and that one time was the moment we just witnessed. Sorry, but I’m getting tired and I do not have the energy to break down those three things any further than that.

- Finally… The experience of you, and everything that happens to you… is entirely in your brain…
We know that “feelings” are in our minds. Even if there are correlating physiological effects, such as a sinking feeling when you are anxious, or a lightheaded feeling when you are happy… we know that those are “emotions” that are manifest by the “experience” of what is happening in our brain. Most people know enough to accept that.

But…. when you feel “warm” or “cold”... or if you burn you finger, somebody bumps into you… or your feet get sore from walking around all day…. Do you think that the “nerves” in your body are “experiencing” those sensations? They aren’t. They are simply relaying signals at varied intensity to represent some particular sensation as we have evolved to identify elements of pain and pleasure for the basic needs of survival. Every bit of each of those experiences is the narrative of those signals being interpreted “in your brain”. It’s literally the reason why local anesthetic works, you are basically “turning off the nerve signals” in a specific physical area.

When you “hear” something… that is almost as basic as the mechanics of a speaker diaphragm, a record player, or a microphone. Your ear drum is a thin piece of skin with lots of nerves that, when sound hit it, it vibrates. Those nerves send the correlating signals to your brain where it is interpreted and presented to your conscious mind as “sound”. The “hearing” doesn’t actually happen “in your ear”.

When you see something… that doesn’t happen “in your eye”... the light signals being received by the collection of individual cones and rods are being sent to your brain where the signals are interpreted into an “image”.

How many deaf or blind musicians do we need to know that our brains don’t necessarily “need” those senses to interpret the environment in some correlating fashion. In other words, the interpretation of a blind person feeling as though they are having an OBE is, in itself, not extraordinary. Their cognitive interpretation of that “experience” would be one of limited sensory input as interpreted by the narrative generated by their brain with what ever random puzzle pieces it has to work with.
While we may not have a full map of our brain activity as it relates to every input/output signal… and we don’t have a full map of what our consciousness looks like or why it emerges in the manner that it does… but I think there is more than enough information about our brain functions to suggest that OBEs and NDEs are physical in nature.

Relevant reading material:
“You Are Not So Smart” - David McRaney
“The Believing Brain” - Michael Shermer
“Your Deceptive Mind” - Steven Novella
“Brain Myths Exploded” - Indre Viskontas
“Behave” - Robert M. Sapolsky
“The Blank Slate” - Steven Pinker
“Free Will” - Sam Harris
“Waking Up” - Sam Harris
“Skeptic” - Michael Shermer
“The Moral Landscape” - Sam Harris
“The Moral Arc” - Michael Shermer
Other non-direct pieces of information that correlate the data presented by books in this list can be found in books on evolution and religion, even books on best practice for life-management, or sexual desire and differences.

Another article specifically regarding NDE research:
https://sciencebasedlife.wordpress.com/…/near-death-exper…/…

I have read several articles, and listened to several interviews and debates on the topic of NDEs, but I apologize, I do not have a full list of the material I have researched. I have not read any full books on the topic because none of the proponents, or data sets presented in the other materials offered anything compelling enough to suggest that there might more anything more than “inference” contained in those books. Perhaps I am wrong, and maybe somebody has a suggestion for some reading that presents cases of recorded “evidence”, and not just anecdotal accounts of the perceived “experience”.

 
EN
 
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EN
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03 July 2019 07:49
 

In my view, as you indicate, everything we experience goes through the brain.  If we “experience” something, it means our brain is still alive, in some manner. If the brain is not dead, we are not dead.  Brain death is death, but if the brain is truly dead (key “ding, dong, the witch is dead” here), we won’t see or remember anything. That being said, it is still possible that what we do experience in NDEs is something real that we could not experience when healthy, but there is no way of proving that.  The individual experiencing the NDE may get a profound sense of meaning from it and it may change his/her perspective and beliefs entirely - they can be dramatic.  But those experiences are not scientific proof of the existence or non-existence of anything.

 
icehorse
 
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icehorse
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04 July 2019 09:21
 

I’m reading Douglas Hofstadter’s: “I am a Strange Loop”.

He makes some very interesting arguments that challenge the idea that there is a one to one correspondence between the “I” and one’s brain.

 
 
nonverbal
 
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04 July 2019 11:01
 
icehorse - 04 July 2019 09:21 AM

I’m reading Douglas Hofstadter’s: “I am a Strange Loop”.

He makes some very interesting arguments that challenge the idea that there is a one to one correspondence between the “I” and one’s brain.

Do any of them actually make sense? What does your interior cognitive-scientist tell you?

 
 
icehorse
 
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04 July 2019 11:59
 
nonverbal - 04 July 2019 11:01 AM
icehorse - 04 July 2019 09:21 AM

I’m reading Douglas Hofstadter’s: “I am a Strange Loop”.

He makes some very interesting arguments that challenge the idea that there is a one to one correspondence between the “I” and one’s brain.

Do any of them actually make sense? What does your interior cognitive-scientist tell you?

His ideas make a lot of sense to me, but I’m not finished yet and I’m sure I haven’t connected all the dots yet.

I want to try to explain one of his ideas. I’m sure I won’t do it justice, but perhaps I can get close enough to be useful. The other caveat is that I’m not sure I can explain why I think this idea might be applicable to this thread - I just have a hunch it might be.

With all of that said, my interpretation one of Hofstadter’s ideas is:

1 - It is the case that computer software is a demonstration that incredibly complex systems can be represented by a single, incredibly huge integer. For example we could say that my Mac’s OS can be copied onto a disk of some sort, and that the entire OS is then represented as one long binary (integer) number. So perhaps it’s not such a leap to imagine that DNA (which can also be viewed as a single integer (in base 4, not base 2)), can be the blueprint for a complex system like a human being.

2 - Next, if we think about a mature person’s sense of “I”, we should be able to agree that the “I-ness” is represented as patterns and these patterns are stored in the brain’s cells - somehow. So the brain is a flexible machine, capable of storing a lifetime of experiences. We all have brains with the same basic machinery-design, and each instance of brain performs this similar task of encoding a lifetime of experience into patterns of some sort.

3 - Next, to some degree we share weak, incomplete copies of each other’s brain patterns. We can empathize with each other, and predict each other’s actions, and to some degree see the world through each other’s eyes. To some degree.

4 - To some degree, when a well known and/or well loved person dies, they don’t die entirely. The people that knew them have these weak, incomplete copies of the patterns that were in the recently deceased person’s brain. One extrapolation here is that from this perspective we can say that Bach and Shakespeare and the like are much closer to being immortal than most of us will end up being.

==

All of the above seems very plausible to me. And again, my gut says that it somehow ties into the OP, but I can’t (yet), make that intuition explainable.

 
 
Nhoj Morley
 
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05 July 2019 06:54
 

I think casting these experiences as ‘out of body’ is misleading. Obviously, these astral voyagers are taking selected body parts along for the ride. They must pack THEIR EYEBALLS if any photons are to be collected. A big sack of memory neurons will be handy if the trip is to be recalled later.

If we are astralating and see a rock, are we seeing the rock or seeing its out-of-rock experience? Is it possible that there is some kind of immaterial membrane that can serve as a transducer or voice coil and pick up a form of radiation that we have overlooked? Even if there was, what could it possibly have to do with us? What would tether it to our brains in order for us to consume the experience for later recall?

Once immaterial and presumably weightless, why isn’t the out-of-body-whatever instantly left behind in earth’s orbit?

What if an astral traveler returns to their body to find that another traveler has taken refuge in it? One could have a summer-long out-of-body experience by arranging for a body-sitter. Just because you can remember your life, how do you know you were in-your-body yesterday? What would you have done differently if you were?

Whatever we are, we can get along fine without us. I reject these half-astral explanations. The party is in our minds.

 
 
EN
 
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05 July 2019 11:53
 

I’ve discussed the following idea with burt.  He (and I agree) come from the perspective that consciousness (not self-consciousness) is a an integral part of the universe, just like space-time.  Our physical existence in the universe makes an impact on space-time through light.  The recording of our movements in light allows someone 500 light years away to see an image of us 500 years after our departure.  We have, in a sense, changed light, as now our image is recorded in it.  In the same way, our individual experience of self-consciousness may alter or affect the fundamental property of consciousness found in the universe.  If so, it is conceivable that a “recording” of our subjective experiences is contained in the fabric of the universe, just as a “recording” of our objective experiences is contained in light.  And just as a telescope trained on a particular sector of space may “replay” certain events that happened hundreds, thousands, or even billions of years ago, so it may be possible that with the right sort of instrument our subjective experiences might be replayed many years later.  Think of a vinyl record with its grooves replaying a song faithfully years after it was recorded, if there is a proper phonograph record player available.  This could  afford the basis for a “replaying” of our subjective experiences (and thus a sort of immortality for the “I”) after our physical deaths.  Just a thought.

 
LadyJane
 
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06 July 2019 08:07
 

If human consciousness is transmitted through light it would have to be in the non-visible spectrum.  Like, what can only be described as, an aura.  An aura that can be picked up 500 light years from here awash in roughly 7 billion other auras.  Not including all the auras of the plants and animals, and the radiation (and its aura) emitting from our own star.

If we think our existence is etched into light like a phonograph, and that recording is emanating from Earth at the speed of light, the only way to replay that (once experienced) would be to defy the laws of nature by exceeding the speed of light to get ahead of it in order to replay it.  You only see a supernova once.