Gerald Woerlee and Susan Blackmore – Near-Death Experiences and Consciousness

February 27, 2012

One of the costs of being conscious is that, once in a while, we are forced to contemplate the fact that we are mortal. Ironically, a close brush with the grim reaper leaves many people more convinced than ever that our minds are not tethered to our bodies, and therefore can survive physical death. What can these near-death experiences tell us about how well we understand our own consciousness?

To explore this topic, we first talked to anesthesiologist Gerald Woerlee, author of Mortal Minds: The Biology of NDEs to get a sense of what makes NDEs so compelling to people looking for evidence of an afterlife. Then, we sought the expertise of Susan Blackmore, psychologist and author, whose book Consciousness: An Introduction breaks down the complex theories of consciousness into digestible chunks. Dodging the sandtraps of dualism along the way, we speculate on implications of NDEs for meta-consciousness while keeping the mind strictly within the confines of the body.

Links Mentioned in this Episode

This is point of inquiry from Monday, February 27, 2012. 

Welcome to Point of inquiry. I’m Indre Viskontas point of inquiry is the radio show and podcast of the Center for Inquiry, a think tank advancing reasons, science and secular values in public affairs and at the grassroots. One of the costs of being conscious is that inevitably we have to consider our own mortality, which can be very frightening. Many people find solace in stories from individuals who have had near-death experiences, in part because these experiences share many characteristics, a sense of peace and well-being. Sometimes an out of body experience, a tunnel experience, or the feeling that they are moving towards a bright light and eventually communication with that light. In fact, these experiences are often cited as evidence for the existence of consciousness or a soul outside the trappings of the material body. But what I find most fascinating about these experiences is not that particular interpretation, but rather what implications they have for how we understand our own consciousness and how we can remember whether or not we were conscious at any given moment in time order to explore this topic. I first wanted to talk to someone from the medical profession because many of the studies of near-death experiences are run by medical professionals rather than pure research scientists. I spoke to Gerald Worli, an anesthesiologist in the Netherlands who has written a book called Mortal Minds The Biology of Near-death Experiences. Welcome to Point of Inquiry. Gerald Worli, thank you very much. 

It’s very nice to have you on the show. And I first want to start this conversation about near-death experiences with a question that’s not directly related, but is gonna be very important later on in our conversation. As an anesthesiologist, you make a living out of manipulating levels of consciousness in your patients. So how do you go about classifying these levels of consciousness or how can you tell how conscious a person is? 

Well, actually, it’s a mostly fairly simple. You can use things like the Ramsey score or EMV score, but actually most of us, we simply use loss of an eyelid reflex loss of any other reflexes and absence of reaction to pain by movement or changes in blood pressure levels, both levels, pupils widening, sweating and things like that. 

Mm hmm. And so you’ve written a lot about near-death experiences and these out of body experiences. And as you know, a lot of people take these experiences as evidence that the body and the mind can be separable and that the mind can exist outside of the physical limitations of the body. So a lot of times these patients who have these experiences point to similarities between different people’s experiences as evidence. And, of course, for those of us who are more skeptical on nature or think more critically, the veracity of those experiences and the fact that they’re similar is not very compelling. But the idea that sometimes these patients remember things about the room or the surgeon or, you know, other aspects of their surgery to which it seems unlikely that they would have been exposed had they not had not actually left their body. That that seems to be for a lot of people, the bit of evidence that is harder to set aside. Jim Underdown. Can you talk a little bit about the veracity of that evidence, whether there really is has anyone really convinced you that sometimes these patients do actually experience aspects of the room that they presumably shouldn’t have? 

Until now, no one has actually managed to convince me of this, because when you examine each of these individual cases, you find that the popular belief based upon these cases is actually based upon very sure the evidence. For instance, the classic is a case of a woman called Pam Reynolds. 

Reynolds was a, I believe, 35 during 1991 when she underwent a pretty severe or large major brain operation in Phenix, Arizona, to remove a large aneurysm from her basilar artery. Now, basilar artery is just on top of your brainstem. The part of the brain where you actually generate consciousness or is actually needed for consciousness or according to believe is, you know, separable, immaterial mind the conduit for consciousness. So she underwent this operation with, believe it or Spetzler in Arizona. And she went to this particular surgery surgeon because he had published several cases of just this type of operation. And he was actually, at the time, one of the world experts in managing this type of aneurysm. She went there. She was operated a bomb. And during the operation, she had four moments when she actually heard very additional or verifiable sounds. One, the sound of the drill, drilling a hole initially in her head to the sound of the saw cutting the bone flap away from her skull. Three, The sound of a cardiac surgeon telling the neurosurgeon that the arteries on one side of her grow on in the groin on one side of her body were too small for the cardiac bypass tubing that was needed for part of the operation. And the last thing she was she reported hearing that was verifiable was when they were closing their wounds. Was the sounds of the music Hotel California being played sound superficially very impressive at the same time. She also had an out of body experience of the generation of that is not very difficult to explain. But these were before verifiable things, her perceptions. She actually reported she otherwise had a fairly standard American near-death experience at the time where she met her mother of grandparents and other family members in some sort of transcendental afterworld. But that’s not verifiable. But the four sounds she reported are verifiable. 

So it’s your position that she would have heard these sounds because presumably she was not quite as unconscious as she as one presumes she was. 

Exactly. Because basically, when you look at to analyze what actually was done, the best report was done on this. And even that was somewhat substandard. Was that by the person who actually made it public? This particular case and there was by the Georgian cardiologist, Michael saw Bomb in a book called Death and Light on Their Life and Death. And published in 1996. 

Since that time, most two near-death associations, etc, have been using this case as a gold standard. When you analyze this particular case report and also the publications of the Barrow Neurological Institute, you find that there is every reason to believe this woman was just awake and could hear these things normally to begin with the sound of a drill in her skull and the sounds of a bone saw. Now, even if your ears are plugged and covered with mounds of concrete, you will hear it because this is basically bone conduction. The second they actually also at the same time as during and during the surgery, they also monitored her level of consciousness, as well as the impact, the integrity of various cranial nerves, in particular the eighth cranial on there. Therefore, the hearing from the years, because it goes to the brain stem, predict just that the place where this aneurysm was. And one way of measuring, detecting whether this is damaged during the operation is by means of brain stem, of potentials. They are usually of votes, by means of clicking. Sounds fade into the years with small speakers, either earplugs and in her particular case, they were ear plugs. On one side, you have 90 decibel clicking sounds. And on the other side, just white noise to 40 decibels prevent crossover of sound. Now, when you read how it was all set up and tested out for yourself, you realize she could have heard people speaking and she could have also heard the sound of the music. 

Mm hmm. So I guess one of the things that makes me wonder is hearing I understand it’s hard to gauge whether a person is hearing something just by looking at them or, you know, even in this case, looking at the different monitors that you have attached to the body. But if the person’s eyes are closed, then presumably they cannot see what is in the room. So if the person could report things that were in the room from a visual, from the visual domain, that’s to me, it seems that it would it would it would be more interesting evidence. Are there any cases in which people report seeing things that seem impossible? 

Yes. The patient who I mentioned with her out of body experience about that is easily explained by the fact that she was awake when brought into the operating theater and induced the anesthesia was induced on the operating table. In this case of this Renault’s, she was brought him to the operating hirshey. There were a number of she also had an out of body experience in which she saw the operating theater and viewed her body as if the physician looking over the neurosurgeons shoulder, she saw all sorts of instruments and reported seeing the bone saw which people had said she could not have seen at the time. But a lot of people forget that before an operation. Certainly a very major operation. A surgeon always informs the patient what he is going to do or she and in this particular case, this BAMN, Reynolds would have actually been informed and quite extensively informed as to the nature of this surgery. She was also a week when brought into the operating theater so she would have seen the layout of the operating theater. And so basically many of these things would have been known beforehand. A person who is awake, they hear things. You can actually build a reasonably good picture of your surroundings from what you hear, from what you feel. Second, many of these cases afterwards, as is the case of this Pam Reynolds report. They only reported several years after the event. Many of these experiences are very powerful and make a deep impression on these people. And so many of them will, of course, look around to find out what they can learn about the situation in which they were. So we have never been informed on this matter about this, Pam Reynolds. So I do believe many of these cases come from that type of observation. Prospective and retrospective. 

It seems amazing to me that even because there are so many studies now that come out are coming out of so many A.S.A., because it seems remarkable to me that a lot of these studies have so many different cases that they report. Some, you know, in in close to a thousand are just over a thousand. And yet no one has done the very simple. What I would think would be more definitive study that I know of. Please correct me if I’m wrong. I’m actually putting things in the room after the president is asleep and then querying whether or not that patient, even through a forced choice experiment, I can remember seeing any of those things. So, for example, taking a chapter from the Morris Water Maze, which which is used to test memory in rats, you know, you put things you put different cues in the room, say posters on the walls of the operating room, which you then switch during the operation and see. And then you query the patient, give them a series of posters to choose from and ask them which of these posters were the ones that they might have seen. And you can even do this kind of a study with people who don’t report having an out of body experience to see why there is there is a great ation of, you know, people being able to observe these things. It seems to me that the answer or that the study would find horrible results. But yet the study would certainly if if there is an effect there, it should detect it. Has anyone have you heard of any kind of sort of more controlled prospective study like this? 

There are. And in fact, there’s one in progress at the moment from a cardiologist called SERM Beaumier. He did a study in Southhampton with resuscitation of 63 patients, whereby he on shelves above the high in a resource situation room on the emergency department. He placed various images. Unfortunately, this type of thing, everyone knew which images were there because basically you you have information contamination. But he had four patients who actually were awake during that time during the resuscitation for cardiac arrest that none of them reported seeing the images. So the new study, which is now a being performed at the moment, multiple hospitals throughout the world is being done and in many places with random images, the most ideal would have been to use computer generated images on a screen which were randomly generated and then question people afterwards if they survived the resuscitation and also have an out of body experience, whether they saw these images and what they saw. 

This is now in progress. Until now, nothing has actually been confirmed, as far as I know. But this is the only serious study in which this has actually been tried. And Charles tried that as well with one particular person who said they were able to induce out of body experiences at will. But again, nothing confirmed. 

Well, that’s very exciting to hear. I’ll definitely look forward to reading the results of those studies. What if for you personally, what do you find to be the most extraordinary thing about these near-death experiences that you’ve read about? 

Oh, the most extraordinary is the fact that I look at it perhaps a little bit differently and a bit critically is the fact that many people are willing to accept them at face value without critically examining the evidence. But that’s particular from my point of view. But from a person’s point of view themselves, these are compelling, convincing, profound experiences. Usually at a time when they felt themselves to be near death or actually near to death or actually did so, in fact, there are two aspects to this. But then you have also a group of people who have not undergone these experiences, but accept the explanations and these reports at face value. I find that amazing about. Okay. There’s several things over. The last thing that interests me about these things is that they give actually an extra window in the functioning of the human mind. Oh, psychology. 

Precisely. And that’s what fascinates me about these experiences. What can we learn about our own consciousness on the basis of what people have reported? We all consider ourselves experts in consciousness because we presumably have been conscious for the vast majority of our lives. And I think that this is you know, these experiences are things that can tell us about how we experience our own consciousness and more importantly, how we remember our own consciousness. So on that note, unless there’s anything else you want to add, I want to thank you very much for being on point of inquiry. Gerald. 

Okay. Thank you very much. Jim Underdown. 

Following my conversation with Dr. Worli, I wanted to delve more deeply into the implications of near-death experiences for current theories of consciousness. 

To that end, I contacted Susan Blackmore, a well-known psychologist and the author of The Excellent Primmer Consciousness An Introduction. Welcome to Point of inquiry, Susan Blackmore. 

Thank you. It’s a pleasure. 

Susan, one of the things I’m really dying to ask you is what do you find to be the most compelling current theory of consciousness? 

I don’t I don’t think any of them is compelling at all. 

I do not see them as very interesting. But when you say, say, a theory of consciousness, are there really any fully blind to the. There’s global books theory. And I think that is fundamentally wrong. I think that although Dunbar’s absolutely denies it, it denies that it’s copied in materialist theory again and again. When I read it, when I talked to him, when I’ve interviewed him directly. I think he’s falling into what dun dun it would call a Cartesian data. A lot of its most popular theories are one way or another level. What a series. 

And what really bothers me about those is that they they assume that things are unconsciously processed somewhere or another on the brain. And then they come into the global space, some kind of process or old place or whatever in the brain will need processing and then they become conscious. Well, that becoming conscious is a kind of magic, that those thought that there is no way around. If you take Dennett view on them, then they’re becoming conscious. There’s nothing other than becoming globally available. And if you take them in that light, then fine. And I think they’re quite interesting and uncomfortable and they get that. I get to the magic. But it also gets rid of the fundamental idea of anything in and out of consciousness. And it’s that idea that leads to the whole search for the neocortex of consciousness. And in my opinion, that whole search is also based on the wrong idea. 

So, no, I’m not compelled by an essay. 

Well, one of my favorite analogies that you provided in your book, Introduction to Consciousness, is that of the refrigerator light, which we assume is always on. Because every time we experience it is on. Every time we open the refrigerator door, the light is on. But that doesn’t mean that it’s on when the refrigerator door is closed. 

Right. What I mean by that is when you are not, you know, all you conscious now? 

I think you’re right. 

I think I mean, I have hundreds, possibly thousands of people. And they say yes or I think so or oh, I hear that. Or people answer straightaway, which is very interesting because, you know, that show people that does very, very few people that well, it depends what you mean by consciousness. It’s a normal weight loss. But what very often happens when you ask people that question is they have this sort of double-take and think, well, hang on a minute, something funny happens when you asked me that question and pinning it down and watching it happen a lot, both in myself and others. I think what’s happening is they realize that when you ask yourself. Am I conscious now? Something changes. And a moment that saw it was different. Now, that’s what I’m talking about long before the surge was shot. What would it like to feel lost? Because you can’t find out by asking what you can do. It kind of look back into your memory. And I said, if you do that, you will find a whole lot of things going on and even you cannot say what you are conscious of. And then you come back to so nobody else can. So before I asked you that question, you were talking to me and listening with you, you know, doing things that you will probably find other parts of your brain that’s probably dealing with a fairly a bomb on the chair. And another bit of listening to something down the corridor and all these things are going on, which were you comfortable that that’s the way in which I used that such analogy. 

And so that brings me to my next question, which is how good at are we at remembering how conscious we were at any given moment? 

Well, it’s a very good question, in a way. 

And in another way, it really isn’t, because from my perspective, because you’re again implying and this is so natural for us to think this way, you’re implying that there is an answer to that question that that at any given time know you know, as we go along from the morning, let me get up to let me go to bed at night that we are that there is enough. Let me make it conscious of this. I’m not conscious of that because I submit I’m maybe wrong again. But I submit that because every time we ask God, my conscience of we got uncomfortable most of the time. Another asking and I say there was no answer to the question. So let’s just take the moment before the phone rang. I was standing by the sink. I got the kettle on. I got the teapot out. I was looking in the 10 to that for the change to touch the pot. Now, what was I conscious of then? The natural thing is to think, well, I must be conscious of something. And probably I was conscious of achieving which sort of tea to have. But, you know, that’s just assuming after the fact. I suspect that the truth is that lots of different parallel processes are going on in that brain. And because none of them was saying, who am I? What am I doing? What am I conscious of? 

There is no answer to that question. 

And only when the phone rang and I thought, oh, that was all about consciousness, I said, oh, what do I know now? And the whole thing, the idea, the fridge items that I’ve got. 

Oh, there it is. I know what consciousness is. It’s like that. It’s about thing, a model of self. It’s having a conscious experience. 

And most importantly, not being one of the one of my favorite moments when I was in graduate school was when I was listening to Michael Gazzaniga talk about this idea of the interpreter in our brain. So although it hearkens back a little bit to the homunculus or the Cartesian theater, I was really compelled by this. The you know, the evidence that we often trick our own minds into fit, you know, into sort of explaining what’s happening in our brains. So, for example, you know, he studied patients who were split brained, whose two left, left and right hemispheres were not communicating with each other. And so, you know, they would they would almost act as individual personalities. And one part of the brain would explain what the other part of the brain was doing in a completely false way. And so it made me wonder to what extent the interpreter is a big player in our consciousness. 

Oh, I would say it’s a huge player in our in our illusion of consciousness, in what causes the problems. What do I mean by an illusion of consciousness that we systematically mistake? What consciousness is it about? You know, we think of it by illusion. I mean, something is not what it appeared to be. An unsightly way we think about consciousness is all wrong. Now, Gazzaniga had some wonderful insight into the nature of what he called the interpreter. I don’t follow absolutely closely his way of thinking about the interruption, but the basic idea of the way there is a system in the predominant in one hemisphere that is partly a model of self interprets other things in terms of self action. Self itself is agent self experience and so on. But where I really differ from him is that he located in one hemisphere and said that that premise is conscious and the other one isn’t. And I think it’s much too early to say that the question of what which processes are conscious and so on, it only arises when some some process arises that includes an interpreter interpreting itself as being conscious and the rest of the time it’s inapplicable. So like Dan Dennett, I would say the idea of this sort of conscious thing inside the brain that’s conscious on one side and the other half is just an automaton. It’s false. You know, little little multiple automata, really. 

And then on top of that, sometimes there’s a process that says, well, I am unconscious. And it’s all, to my mind, all post hoc rationalization. 

And I think it’s gonna go on like this idea in the sense that he’s so good on thinking about postal contributions. You know how. Also, the fact that he claimed to have caught something no claim to took of of done something or decided something or experienced something, but it entered my mind. He just doesn’t go far enough. 

I was going to take the next step, if that is how you see dreams as well. When we remember dreams, are we primarily reconstructing a narrative from just sort of random set of images that that fired off in our brains? 

Yes and no. They’re not random. 

Well, I think it’s happening. And I put this forward in this in a small way, in a pie. The long and one of the two is on composite. And my own failure in doing such with it is something like this that I called it back with reason, theory, dreams or something like that. There are lots of different stories going on in the brain when you’re in REM sleep, when you are dreaming in waking life. Mostly, there’s kind of one one big thing. Another thing at the press, attention is more focused, more directed in training. Attention is not the result of that. So there are more lots of different things going on. They’re not random in the sense that they’re that they take Polglase according to the brain they’re in. They’re using residues of what happened that day. There’s expectation in things that one mind anyway, but not on. It’s a lot of them are going on in parallel. When we wake up, we then remember backwards and selectively put together bits and pieces of these various different stories. And why I came to this, rather, you might say, odd view, because it would take on a composite to think we need to reconcile about evidence on dreaming one one. Is that going to happen in real time? We know that from basically studies and from other methods of measuring timing. So they’re going on in real time. Secondly, if you play a noise or water on somebody or do something to them when they’re asleep and you just get the level right. So you wake up and that will have been incorporated into that dream. And it would seem to make sense. Like the famous Maue in 19th century Frenchman who said that he had a long, complicated dream that led up to him being executed with a guillotine in the French Revolution. And when he woke, it said that dancing had fallen on his neck. 

And that’s that’s a dramatic one. 

But, you know, we probably all had those things to reconcile those two kinds of evidence. You know, something very odd going on here. And what I think is going on is just a more disorganized ration of what goes on in it all the time, which is a lot of multiple parallel things going on. And it’s only after the fact that we look back and say, ah, I was conflicted. 

This one and this one and this woman, this one’s a coherence story. And we think and then forget the rest and treat them like. 

I actually see the role of the interpreter as going on or as sort of a filling in of the gaps in multiple different parts of our brain and at multiple different levels. So, for example, we know that we have a blind spot in our visual field where the nerves sort of block out. There are no receptors on that part of the retina. And yet we don’t experience the world that way. Our visual cortex fills in that gap. And so it makes sense to be that the same thing would happen at a different level in terms of consciousness, that if we have a we’re not always going to be conscious, meta conscious at every moment of our own consciousness. And so when but yet when we look back on our lives, we think of ourselves as having always been meta conscious. Is that sort of a filling in the gap idea? Perhaps a similar process? 

Yes, I think it I think it is. I think you’re absolutely right that we can do that. Don’t we look back and fill in the gaps and assume that this so-called consciousness that we kind of silly then was continuous and it was mine that I would say me, even though I change. I want to thank me. And I was continuously conscious of something a lot of my stream of consciousness. It’s really. 

Not a I would say that the self that we think was having expensive and different cells popping up all the time, disappearing again. 

Mm hmm. So what do you think of Daniel Kahneman, the idea that there are two sort of remembering and experiencing selves? There’s the remembering self that sort of reinterprets the experience and then there’s the actual subjective experience in the moment. So he gives the example of people who go to a classical music concert and it’s a wonderful concert. At the very end, somebody coughs during a big climax and he notes the person turns their friend and says, well, that just ruined the whole experience for me. Which, in fact, it didn’t up until then. Experience was was pleasant and pleasurable. And so he sort of distinguishes between the the remembering self and the experiencing self and how people behave on the basis of their remembering self. Whereas we really should be more in tune with our experiencing self. 

Oh, that’s a very complicated one. I mean, I, I, I agree with a lot of that. But I think there are lots and lots of others, so. 

But the really tricky thing comes when you talk about some experiencing self. Because this implies something experiencing something else. And this is the heart of the problem of consciousness. What does it mean for somebody to experience something in this case? The real problem is, you know, lurking there all the time, whether it’s called the mind body problem or the heart problem or whatever. I happen to be sitting in my kitchen at the moment and there’s a very kind of garish, pale green washing up cloth on the side of the sink. It’s a really very intense sort of line, ICARDA. You know, who, who or what is experiencing what you know, we can look in the brain and we can find if you had me an amazing scanner, you would see, you know, information pouring through. Going up to the LGM and going into the one and up through the visual cortex and particularly being processed in deformity, which neurons were contributing to that color and so on and so on. And then what? 

You know, the endless temptation to think. And then it comes into contact. Then it comes before my inner eye. You know, of course it doesn’t. 

That would be the false homunculus, which, as you pointed out, began to go. It’s not that kind of financial life at all. So that’s why I don’t think any of this area, they have a compelling to me because they say they go in different directions and they have this problem in different places. And that mystery is kind of hanging that all the time. 

It’s really difficult. And I think it’s more difficult than a lot of people think to come up with. A must have kind of depressed. 

I get lots and lots of people who solve the problem, you know. 

But it’s also so talking about the duality problem. How do you think this relates to near-death experiences? Are there two different selves? Is it really the remembering self that is describing the experience or how how do these two things reconcile? 

It’s very interesting because I think the majority of near-death experiences which don’t go very deep, maintain this kind of illusion that they’ve made and that my experiences and because that the normal way of processing information that they can down, you’ve got hyperactivity in visual cortex. They got tunnel and bright lights and so on. And in temporal lobes, you’ve got all remembered experiences and wonderful emotions within those and only things are happening. But one can to a certain point, maintain the sense that I am having these expensive and I still exist. But interestingly, in the very deepest experiences, I think many people go much further. I mean, the classic example that the thought that really made me think hard was John Lewis, who had such a thing, that expense, and came out of it feeling that he was the dazzling darkness and simply didn’t have a those and more. But you can see hints of this in other near-death experiences. And I think what happens is as things are breaking down the normal way as well. But then ultimately, whatever it is, whether you call it the interpreter or the self mechanism or whatever, whatever you like, the phenomenal self model, whatever you like to call it. It in the end breaks down. And then there is just experience is happening with no one having them. And I think that this is the most profoundly that’s expensive why people are so deeply changed by them, because just as you may have in spontaneous mystical experience or in some deep, expensive meditation, just a glimpse of how it is that the self is an illusion, that all those things that I worried about are not things are important to me. Actually, I’m not under the path of the infinitely connected universe. When you get that law changed and I think that’s really the positive difference. 

It’s the opposite. So many people think marriage is another man’s going to survive and it’s going to go to heaven. No, no, no. I just go a bit further and you’ll see that that self, too, can dissolve. 

And then, you know, I was never a that that method in the sense that you believe anymore and then life actually is easier. And that’s why people offer of both kinds of more expensive suicide than they are concerned about material things and more and more concerned about other people in their relationships and so on. Sadly, that often leads them right back into the general religion that came out and all the problems. But it can be a tricky experience in modern. 

It’s interesting when you put it that way, it almost seems like it should be very depressing to find. Doubt that yourself doesn’t exist, and yet often people become very hopeful because they see it as evidence that their lives were or some part of them will exist even when their body no longer does. 

I know. I know that. And that’s the natural way that cells operate. It’s always the clinging to this unimportant I matter. 

And that’s, you know, that’s how religions manage to thrive. That’s how Christianity and Islam survive so well in the world. Because they can to what what people want. They want to be a self that matters. And it’s terrifying that the loss of self disintegration of self is terrifying. Whether you you know, you take a an extreme drug like LSD, the classic one, or whether you practice a lot of mindfulness or meditation and you find yourself kind of on the brink of realizing and you have to let go. 

It’s terrifying. But once you let go. Yeah, any good mystics have said on many traditions, meditation and contemplative traditions will say, you know, it’s the most joyful thing once you’ve got over the terror of it. And that’s what I would say some near-death experiences do and some do it. And then they can’t kind of can’t. 

It goes away because the world come back and hits them and they lose that and then they go back into Kamu onto itself to continue in life after death. And, you know, in my opinion and I looked really, really hard in all my years of researching the deficiencies, in my opinion, that is no really convincing evidence of life after death, but certainly isn’t evidence in off of the body instances of people saying things at a distance and all that. And I actually I promised myself I wouldn’t get into that because of the year and years ago and research on that. What I found was no, no convincing evidence. And yet again and again, people only want it to be true that. 

No, I mean, this is a bit of evidence and blow it up out of proportion. And in the end, I just decided it and I thought, fine, actually, if that’s what people would like to believe. I I looked into it. 

I think and they could prove me wrong. 

So let us needed to you like to carry on struggling with the doldrums of existence and the reality and the meaning of life in other big cities say, you know, we can do that. 

Yes. I think these are very existential questions. And so might my brain is hurting a little bit. 

So I only I only think that I’ve done my job well. It’s great that they can beat us. Difficult questions. But, hey, that’s what makes them worthwhile. 

Endlessly fascinating. Thank you so much for being on point of inquiry. Susan Blackmore, another thought. 

It is a pleasure. 

Thank you for listening to this episode of Point of Inquiry to join the discussion about today’s show on near-death experiences, visit point of inquiry dot org. You can also send questions and comments to feedback at point of inquiry, dot org on Twitter, at point of inquiry and on Facebook at slash point of inquiry. Views express on point of inquiry aren’t necessarily the views of the Center for Inquiry, nor its affiliated organizations. 

Point of inquiry is produced by Adam Isaac in Amherst, New York. And our music is composed for us by Emmy Award winning Michael Waylan. I’m your host, Indre Viskontas. 

Indre Viskontas