Month: January 2011

125. Atheist Debates Existence of Soul with Near Death Experience Believer

Skeptiko host Alex Tsakiris and atheist blogger Greta Christina square-off for a debate on near Death Experience (NDE) science. Join Skeptiko host Alex Tsakiris for an interview discussing the existence of the soul and the science of Near Death Experience. During the interview Tsakiris points out the lack of research among NDE skeptics, "And really, if we're going to play the kind of credential game, you really wouldn't want to stack Dr. Bruce Greyson, Dr. Jeff Long, Dr. Pim Van Lommel, one of the most highly regarded cardiologists in the world who's been studying near-death experience for 30 years-you wouldn't want to stack them against Keith Augustine, who really doesn't have any kind of medical credentials. So I'm talking to you about published research in these cases." Ms. Christina responds, "There is what seems to me to be extremely shaky research and there's no consensus about it in any sense-in fact, the overwhelming consensus among neurologists is that no, these people are, I'm not going to say crackpots, that's too strong a word. But these people are mistaken. They're being led down the garden path by their wishful thinking. And again, when you look at the history of thousands and thousands and thousands of years of human knowledge, where supernatural explanations consistently get replaced with natural ones and it's ultimately when the research has been really done and it's been really examined, it's never been the case that it's happened the other way around." Near the end of the debate, Ms. Christina sums up her argument "...even if I conceded everything that you've said in this whole conversation, all that it proves is that consciousness is weird and that we don't understand it. That's all that it proves. It doesn't prove anything about there being an immaterial soul that animates consciousness. It doesn't prove anything about immaterial soul surviving death." Tsakiris responds, "I don't mind hearing your opinion, but you've got to back it up. You're saying that every time somebody gives you research you go and look at it and it's debunked. Well, tell me. Tell me what's been debunked. You haven't cited any real NDE research. You cited Keith Augustine and then you want to say Skeptical Inquirer and Skeptical Magazine?" Greata's Blog Post: Why Near Death Experiences Are a Terrible Argument for the Soul Play it: Download MP3 (43:00 min.) Read it: Welcome to Skeptiko, where we explore controversial science with leading researchers, thinkers, and their critics. I'm your host, Alex Tsakiris. For a while on this show I've maintained that there really isn't a good, solid, scientific argument against near-death experience science. If you've followed this show  and you've listened to the guests that we've had on, people like Dr. Jeffrey Long, Dr. Pim Van Lommel, Dr. Peter Fenwick, Dr. Bruce Greyson (who we haven't actually interviewed but who has contributed by email), if you stack them up against the skeptics we've talked to, Dr. G. M. Woerlee, Dr. Kevin Nelson, Dr. Susan Blackmore, Dr. Steven Novella, or even Dr. Sam Parnia (who's kind of in the middle of this issue but we really have to put on the side of the skeptic) if you stack up the two arguments there's really no comparison.


124. Near Death Experience Science in Bereavement Rescue

Father Rod Walton author of, Bereavement Rescue with Near Death Experience, discusses the evidence for and uses of NDE science. Join Skeptiko host Alex Tsakiris for an interview discussing the use of near death experience science in dealing with the loss of a loved one. During the interview Father Rod Walton explains why science is important to his work, "I think people really want evidence. Most people, once you give them evidence, it changes them. I often use Ken Ring's book, Mindsight, about people who have been born blind.  They don't even see in there dreams... they only can smell, taste and touch... but when these people have a near death experience they do see for the first time.  When the bereaved realize that this doesn't add up, it affects them. It makes them willing to listen. They're getting hope based on facts rather than just perhaps and ifs and pie in the sky." Father Walton also discusses the Christian churches unwillingness to accept this new science, "Many Christian communities have great tunnel vision. They're only looking in a straight line. They don't look left; they don't look right. I don't think they're searching. I don't think they're seeking. I think they're just following tradition and dogma." Father Rod Walton's Bereavement Rescue Play it: Download MP3 (18:00 min.) Read it: Welcome to Skeptiko, where we explore controversial science with leading researchers, thinkers, and their critics. I'm your host, Alex Tsakiris. This show, Skeptiko, has always been about following the data. That's kind of been our tagline. Just follow the data and you'll find your way through these controversial, unsettling, breakthroughs in science and you'll come to a new understanding about who you really are. That's the theme of this show, if you will. But today's interview with Rod Walton got me thinking about what it really means to follow the data. In particular, the data behind near-death experience science, a topic we've covered a lot on this show. As you know, we've spoken with some of the world's leading researchers and we've spoken with some of the leading critics, as well.