Month: November 2010

120. Dr. James Fetzer Separates JFK Assassination Science From Fiction

Scholar and author Dr. James Fetzer discuses how his research into the JFK assassination and 9/11 attacks has allowed him to sort out the real evidence. Join Skeptiko host Alex Tsakiris for an interview with one of the world's leading authorities on the JFK assassination, Jim Fetzer. During the interview Dr. Fetzer explains why it's still hard for many Americans to accept the mountains of research contradicting the official story about the JFK assassination, "we place so much confidence in the government that we want to believe it's there to nurture and protect us from our enemies, that any indication, even if it turns out to the powerful evidence, that this core belief might be false is too threatening to acknowledge. So a lot of Americans find it easier to adopt an ostrich policy and just bury their heads in the sand and ignore discussions and demonstrations such as the books that I publish that prove to the contrary." While the show is a departure from topics usually covered on Skeptiko, according to host Alex Tsakiris it has many similarities, "Skeptiko has focused on the science of human consciousness... Psi, near-death experience, parapsychology. But Dr. Fetzer's work is relevant to Skeptiko because the process he's gone through in terms of sorting through a lot of scientific evidence on very controversial topics is exactly what we've been talking about on the last 100+ episodes of Skeptiko." Dr. Fetzer, who has authored three books and dozens of papers on JFK assassination science, also discusses how his career teaching philosophy of science and critical thinking courses at the University of Minnesota provides him a unique perspective on competing theories regarding the JFK case, "I recognize that in science the convergence of opinion only obtains when you're looking at the same range of hypotheses, using the same body of evidence, and using the same rules of reasoning. I know a great deal about these cases because I've investigated the full range of hypotheses, looked at all of the evidence, as much as is available, and sorted it out in terms of the authentic and the falsified and fabricated. I know the rules of reasoning because that's been my professional obligation as a philosopher of science. So I'm in a position to analyze these things in a way that most others simply are not." Dr. James Fetzer Assassination Science Website Play it: Download MP3 (65:00 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. Well, this show is going to be quite a departure-or at least it's going to seem like quite a departure-from the topics we normally cover on Skeptiko. Today we're going to talk about the JFK assassination. Yeah, we're going to talk about the JFK assassination with one of the leading scholar/researchers on the topic, who also happens to be someone who's taught critical thinking and scientific analysis for 35 years and is a very highly regarded philosopher/scholar on a number of topics.


119. Dr. Pim van Lommel Transformed by Near-Death Experience Research

Cardiologist and NDE Researcher Dr. Pim van Lommel discuses how his research with near-death experiencers has changed his beliefs about life and consciousness. Join Skeptiko host Alex Tsakiris for an interview with cardiologist and author of Consciousness Beyond Life: The Science of the Near-Death Experience, Dr. Pim van Lommel.  During the interview Dr. van Lommel explains how he began his research, and how what he learned from his patients led him to a personal transformation, "I started to ask my patients who survived cardiac arrest if they could remember something of the period of unconsciousness. To my big surprise, out of 50 patients asked, 12 of them told me about their NDEs. This was the start of my scientific curiosity, how could people have an enhanced consciousness when they are unconscious, when the heart doesn't work, and there is no breathing, and their brain has stopped functioning?"  Van Lommel continues, "When you have spoken to patients who have had a near-death experience, their emotions, their reluctance to share their experience with you... it's so honest. You just believe them because they're so honest. You get convinced that there is more than what we can see, what we can measure." Dr. van Lommel also discusses how his controversial findings have been accepted by the medical community, "The gap is not as big as you presume.  It just looks that way because the Skeptics are very active. The Skeptics have their own truth and they don't listen to somebody else who has a different opinion. So there's a gap and there will always be a gap. There is no discussion possible with Skeptics because they have the truth.  But a lot of physicians are a little bit more open, but they won't write articles. They won't write or tell about it in public. I know some physicians who have had a near-death experience. They said to me and wrote to me that, 'what happened to me now I've always said this is impossible, and now it happened to me.'" Play it: Download MP3 (40:00 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. Before we get started with today's interview with Dr. Pim Van Lommel, I want to take a couple of minutes and talk about skepticism and a couple of things that have come up in the Skeptiko forums.


118. Dr. Jeffrey Long Responds to “NDEs are an Illusion”

NDE Researcher Dr. Jeffrey Long responds to recent comments by Dr. Sam Parnia regarding near-death experiences being a "trick of the mind". Join Skeptiko host Alex Tsakiris for an interview with physician and New York Bestselling author, Dr. Jeffrey Long. During the interview Dr. Long is asked to respond to recent comments by fellow NDE researcher Dr. Sam Parnia suggesting that the near-death experience phenomena may be an illusion, Dr. Long said, "... I strongly support any researcher that has a reasonable opinion about near-death experiences. I think the one opinion that I think is not reasonable at this point in time is the absolute blanket statement that NDEs are illusions. There's just too strong evidence forthcoming from my research as well as the research of others. I mean, by the time you have near-death experiencers with crystal-clear consciousness, the out-of-body observation seemed to be overwhelmingly correct in both prospective and retrospective studies, near-death experiences in those totally blind from birth, near atypical near-death experiences even while under general anesthesia, and it goes on and on. I think that's pretty thoroughly refuted... when I read the interview it sounded to me more like Dr. Sam Parnia considered NDEs to be a research question. In other words, that's why he's doing this prospective study. The comment that stuck out more to me is 'I don't know' in terms of what the cause of near-death experiences are." But when asked what evidence would suggest that Dr. Parnia's suspicion is correct, Dr. Long presented a highly unlikely set of circumstances, "for NDEs to be accepted as an illusion then each and every one of all of the following must be true for all NDEs: 1) The predominately crystal-clear consciousness during NDEs would always have to be an illusion. 2) Accurate OOB observations (out-of-body observations) during NDEs must all be false. 3) NDEs reported under general anesthesia, they all must be false.  4) The consistency of NDE reports, both from very young children who are not socialized, and older children, and adults -- the consistency of all those groups must be explainable by some yet unknown means. 5) We also have to explain the consistency of the content from NDEs around the world, including cultures very different from Western cultures. All that must be explainable." In conclusion, Long states, "therefore, the belief that NDEs are only illusions would require both: 1) the lack of acceptance of established and corroborated, extensive NDE evidence and 2) faith that science will someday have explanations for what we've already observed and find unexplainable." Dr. Jeffrrey Long: What Must Be True If NDEs Are an Illusion VIDEO: Stanford Research Institute (SRI)  investigations into ESP and psychic phenomena featuring Uri Geller. Play it: Download MP3 (31:00 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, well, I have a couple of different things I want to try and mish-mash together and create a show for you.