Is this the final word on NDEs?

Providing cheating is prevented, will this proposed study be the nail in the coffin, or do you think it might provide evidence of a paranormal nature?

Dude, lekatt exists and is hardly alone in his type of thinking. This coffin will never be nailed shut.

Of course, if somebody proves definitively, objectively, scientifically, and repeatably that NDEs do exist, then that would be the final word. Also, monkeys might fly out of my butt. We’ll just have to wait and see if either event comes to pass, won’t we?

Are you (collective) serious? I mean, I presume (hopoehopehope) they are simply looking into whether looking at the giant freakin’ surgery light is really the “light” you see (as I have always presumed) but the very first line of the article makes me faintly ill:

I’m all about science for the sake of science, but jeez, aren’t there a few diseases, oh, just 1 or 2, that haven’t quite been eradicated yet? Maybe we could figure out what consciousness is first, that’d be a start. Mental health? Got it all solved, have we?

God has been quite thorough in his hiding of any objective evidence for the existence human souls. If he’s out there, he’d be a fool to slip up badly enough to let a simple minded test like the one described let the cat out of the bag.

As a skeptic, I have yet to see any solid evidence of NDEs.
On the other hand, as a skeptic, if any solid evidence for NDEs comes out of this study, I will give it serious consideration.

I can see why so many doctors really do not make good scientists. While a report of having seen a specific picture (provided cheating is successfully ruled out) will indicate an OoB, the lack of such a report does not rule out an OoB.

That thing with putting objects on a shelf that can only be seen from above, I’ve seen a reference to that before.

But I’m kinda thinking it was in a Connie Willis novel.

Or, it might have been on the SDMB. :smiley:

Not that this sounds like a very expensive study to run, but I thought research dollars were hard enough to come by without wasting them on this sort of tripe.

This is a whoosh, right?

You’re not really giving us the “absence of evidence is not evidence of absence” routine here, I hope. Claims of this nature require substantive documentation to be taken seriously, otherwise they’re just highly illogical and unproven allegations by people who’ve generally had a lifetime to vicariously imbibe similar “experiences”.

Foolish though the project is, the “researchers” are at least supposedly making an effort to test claims of the near-dead (or post-dead, whichever one prefers) that they are floating out of body high above the surgical team, so if they can look down and see staff resuscitating their bodies, they can certainly see the pretty pictures too.

The possibility of cheating sounds tough to exclude. It’s likely that many if not most of the people running the study will be either believers in NDEs or highly religious (note that the head of the study, the intensive care doc quoted in the article seems conditioned to believe this stuff - he thinks that at least some instances of a separate consciousness after death exist, even if they’re uncommon, and remarks that the subject hasn’t been studied enough), and it wouldn’t be at all difficult for them to feed the patients enough data to create a “positive” result (much like a bad cop steering a witness to a particular suspect photo or lineup participant). To ensure against this, you’d have to be certain that neither the patient nor anyone involved in the study knows what the pictures are, and that there are exacting criteria for establishing a “positive” result, not just vague similarities between the pictures and something the ND person says they saw…

Of course, even if no one successfully describes in detail one of those pictures, the true believers could still argue that the patients were just undergoing too much spiritual upheaval to notice mere graven images, or some such. If you want to believe badly enough, any “evidence” in your favor will be glommed onto and all the lack of evidence ignored.

I think not.

As a child, when I was very ill with a high fever, I experienced (as well as I can remember; and I do remember the events surprisingly clearly) all five classic reports of an NDE:

bright light
barrier/distance between self and light *
sense that reaching the light was good/of another type of existence at the light
a pull/call to turn from the light
sense of floating above my body. **

I did feel myself go back into my body, but not with a snap or a great sense of heaviness. I just relaxed, let myself fall back, and fell back asleep. ***

As far as I know, I was not near death. I received no extraordinary assistance. I was just a kid with a very high fever, and I slowly recovered. (How odd; I have no idea what was wrong with me.)

So, I experienced an NDE, but over a few days, while I was not dying. I didn’t recognize the similarities between my experience and an NDE for decades, until a heard someone describe NDEs in general terms.

Something happened to me; I am willing to believe it might also happen to people whose hearts stop. But it wasn’t death.

  • My vision was nothing like ‘the light at the end of the tunnel’

** And I definitely remember looking down, at a different angle than I should have.

*** No, it wasn’t a dream; I seldom dream, I never remember banal dreams, and I never remember details of dreams.

All I have noted is that a failure to recognize the images does not prove that OoBs do not exist. Certainly, if they run the test for three years and (assuming 18% of those tested report OoBs which was the level mentioned in an earlier study) not one of the OoB reporters mentions the images above the operating table, that will provide evidence, (to those who are skeptical and those who are open to the possibility but require proof), that OoBs do not actually occur. However, the doctor quoted said that a lack of recognition would be proof that ooBs do not occur and that is simply untrue.

Actually, I see no reason why the study needs to “disprove” OoBs. Since the notion that immaterial spirits can see and hear events in the physical world seems improbable, at best, the burden of evidence falls on the believers. If no evidence is ever presented, one would hope that the believers’ numbers would dwindle as the lack of evidence mounted, but that still falls short of “proving” that OoBs never occur.

Certainly, a person who claimed to have experienced an OoB, but who then described seeing images of a circle, a cross, and a pentacle when the actual images were of a triangle, an octagon, and a line segment would appear to have demonstrated that he or she had not had an OoB. However, a person who reported not seeing the images might have simply been distracted by the events on the operating table or been so narrowly focused on the operation as to ignore anything above head height. He or she might have seen the images and simply ignored them as unimportant compared to the actions of the medical team trying to monitor or revive the body. He or she might have actually seen the images and simply lost the memory of them.
Certainly, a failure to have any patient recognize the pictures will not make claims of OoBs credible, but they do not “prove” that OoBs are not real.

On the other hand, if some pictures were accurately described by patients, that would have to be looked at as possible positive evidence.

Well, you also seldom get so ill with a high fever as to have an NDE-esque experience, so, perhaps in that situation, you do memorably dream…

Sure. Depending on the number and accuracy of the reports, one would need to rule out some percentage of lucky guesses as well as any sort of skulduggery before one could accept accurate reporting as proof. It might provide impetus to attempt to study the phenomenon in more detail, but that would be about it in terms of establishing that OoBs are real.

Well, clearly NDE exists. The argument is over whether a NDE involves consciousness outside the body or is just some kind of brain phenomenon. This study seems to be mostly oriented towards whether OBE during NDE occurs. It’s certainly a good question and the results will be interesting if not definitive. My only question is whether the choice of cardiac arrests creates the additional question besides OBE of whether brain activity is a factor. I’m not sure this will really answer that question since there’s no way to trace whether the NDE happened during the period of no brain activity or immediately after. But as far as OBE is concerned this is a good study. Doing more research with the magnetic neurotheology helmet thingy might be better though (it can induce OBEs and other religious experiences intentionally) or at least a good companion study.

I don’t see how putting some pictures on shelves and compiling the statistics is going to take anyone away from more technical research.

How are they going to keep the study blinded from staff? Suppose the picture represents a dancing aardvark - what’s to stop this becoming common knowledge to medical staff? What’s to stop them jokingly saying “I wonder if he saw the dancing aardvark” in the presence of a successfully-revived flatliner?

That’s pretty much what I thought when I read the article (well, minus the dancing aardvark). The way the study is described, it seems impossible to rigorously control for the intentional or unintentional leaking of information to the revivee.

Could you design a test to lessen(or even eliminate) this possibility?

The gist of the proposed test seems to be to place an object in a place a patient being operated upon could have no possibility of seeing it, and when an operating theatre has someone who flat lines, and is ‘brought back to life’, to then ask them what they experienced at some point, to see if the object is referred to. Would this be a correct assumption?

Instead of physical pictures, use video screens that show randomly selected images from a bank of thousands of pictures, with the images changing every hour or so. I assume it would be possible to keep a record of what images are being shown.