You get used to unpleasant sensations over repeated experiences. The first hair you pluck out is far more intense than the 99th. With that in mind, can someone acclimate themselves to waterboarding? First, use a neti pot to get used to the sensation of water in the sinuses. Then, repeated waterboardings in a safe environment. Could someone get so comfortable with waterboarding, they don’t fear it since they would view it as merely using the sinuses like a bong?
For the definitive source: I waterboard!
(In summary, guy who can pass out by holding his own breath and wouldn’t mind sawing off a leg went through several forms of waterboarding. The first few kinds he managed just fine with water in his nose and mouth by doing what you suggest, but the final “ultimate” technique hit an instinctual nerve that all his Ramboness couldn’t overcome.)
I’ve read the entire linked thread. When people who cannot swim are thrown into a pool, they often panic. Yet it is still possible to overcome this with time and practice so the same person who was in utter panic is now in utmost calm.
If I know an electric shock is completely safe, although unpleasant, I might be able to learn to ignore the pain. If I am certain a waterboard session, although unpleasant, will not kill me, can I overcome my panic?
From Scylla’s brilliant thread, my understanding was that your logical brain had no say in the matter. The response was instinctive.
I made a joke about this in a thread about the neti pot: http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?p=10674314#post10674314
but nobody seemed to get the joke.
Is the scary part of waterboarding water in the nose, or water that ends up down the throat and into the lungs? Or does no water enter the body and it’s just a combination of being upside down, water on the face, and not letting air in?
Once again, from the Scylla thread, it seems like the problem comes when the water gets past the nose. It seemed like Scylla couldn’t take it once he started drawing water into his respiratory tract.