Month: September 2010

114. Near-Death Experience Skeptic Dr. Susan Blackmore Responds to Critics

Interview with author and consciousness expert Dr. Susan Blackmore explains why Skeptics and atheists cling to her opinions on NDE science. Join Skeptiko host Alex Tsakiris for and interview with oft quoted near-death experience skeptic, Dr. Susan Blackmore. During the interview Dr. Blackmore acknowledges that dispute her reputation among near-death experience doubters, she has not remained current in the field, "It's absolutely true; I haven't written about this subject for a long time and I haven't kept up with all the literature, either." Blackmore continues, "... I gave up all of this stuff so many years ago...if you are a researcher in the field it behooves you to read as much as you can of the best work because otherwise you can't be a researcher in the field. I'm not a researcher in the field. I have not been for a long time." Dr. Blackmore also responds to criticisms of her interpretation of Buddhist teachings. In her book, Dying to Live, Blackmore stated, "... in Buddhism these experiences are not meant to be taken literally". This statement has been criticized by Buddhists scholars. During the Skeptiko interview Blackmore responds to those criticism, "Well, I'm not a Buddhist scholar. I don't read Sanskrit or original language. I'm not a scholar of Buddhism in that sense. But I have been training in Zen for 30 years now. I've also trained to some extent, much and much less in Tibetan practices. Most of what I wrote there is based on that long practice." Check out Dr. Susan Blackmore's Website A Critique of Susan Blackmore's Dying Brain Hypothesis by Greg Stone Play it: Download MP3 (53:00 min.) Read it: Alex Tsakiris: Today we welcome back Dr. Susan Blackmore. She's a writer, lecturer; in fact, you may have seen her excellent presentation at the TED conference a couple years ago, which is quite an honor itself. She's also a visiting professor in psychology at the University of Plymouth. Dr. Blackmore, welcome back to Skeptiko. Dr. Susan Blackmore: Thank you very much.


113. Atheist Ophelia Benson Admires the Pre-Deathbed Denouncement of Christopher Hitchens

Interview with author Ophelia Benson explores how a scientific understanding of life after death might impact an atheistic worldview. Join Skeptiko host Alex Tsakiris for and interview with the author of, "Does God Hate Woman?", and "Why Truth Matters", Ophelia Benson.  During the interview Ms. Benson expresses  her admiration for being an atheist to the very end, "...Christopher Hitchens, as we all know, is admirably insisting that he's not going to change his opinions about the nature of the world and about whether or not there's a God just because he's mortally ill. And if there are any rumors that he's done a deathbed conversion, he wants it to be on the record right now that that's not what he considers the real Christopher Hitchens." When pressed as to whether one could decide to not have a deathbed conversation prior to having such a conversion Ms Benson replied, "I know, it's sort of tricky in a way, but on the other hand, I kind of think we all do have a right to do that. If you've been a lifelong atheist and are continuing to be an atheist, I think you have a right to say, 'Well, okay, if at the last minute I mumble something, I want to go on the record right now saying I repudiate that in advance.' It's ours, so I think we get to do that." Ms. Benson also discusses how advances in near death experience science and other research that suggesting a continuation of consciousness might impact the "new atheist" worldview. Check out Ophelia Benson's Website: Butterflies and Wheels Play it: Download MP3 (30:00 min.) Read it: Alex Tsakiris: Welcome to Skeptiko, where we explore controversial science with leading researchers, thinkers, and their critics. I'm your host, Alex Tsakiris, and on this episode of Skeptiko I have an interview with Ophelia Benson, author, Atheist, and editor of the very popular and very well done Butterflies and Wheels website. Now, this interview didn't really go the way that I planned, but when I was editing it I realized that maybe it really made the point I was trying to make after all, and that's just to demonstrate how this new science of consciousness that we've been exploring so much on this show in terms of near-death experience, medium communication, and psi phenomena, how that new science is making its way into the marketplace of ideas. So how a public intellectual like Ophelia Benson is processing this. And in that respect I think the interview is quite revealing. So listen in to my interview with Ophelia Benson: