Month: May 2012

171. Anthony Peake on Near-Death Experiences Versus Actual Death Experiences

Interview with author Anthony Peake examines how our understanding of time may effect our understanding of the near-death experience. Join Skeptiko host Alex Tsakiris for an interview with Anthony Peake author of, The Labyrinth of Time. During the interview Peake discusses his understanding of the near-death experience: Alex Tsakiris: I’m totally with you that materialism just falls apart as soon as we start incorporating any of the most recent interesting work on consciousness. Materialism just doesn’t hold up. But your interpretation of the near-death experience is centered around this idea that we are then reliving our life in a real-death experience. I just want to tie that to a couple of observations I’ve made from some of the other guests I’ve had on, particularly Dr. Jeff Long and Dr. Pim van Lommel. What I couldn’t square with your explanation is the continuity of experience of the near-death experiencers, right? What these folks say over and over again is, “Hey, I remember I was in the helicopter being air-lifted out, and I was bleeding really bad and then boom! I was outside of the helicopter and I saw my body and I saw it land. Then I was in Heaven.  And then I was back.”  There is this continuity of experiences that seem very “this worldly.” Anthony Peake: I still argue that these people when they have near-death experiences, are having “near” death experiences, not actual death experiences in that they do come back. They do come back to this place and they do come back and exist in this place and survive in this place. They come back to be able to tell us of the experience that they had. Whereas I would argue in a real-death experience, when they don’t come back. And that’s the problem with my overall hypothesis because in order for it to happen, they don’t come back, in which case I could never ever prove it, I suppose. But when we ascribe the near-death experiences that are recorded within the annals of various books on near-death experience, there are individuals that come back. They have incredible experiences; they have obviously clearly no ethic experiences and experiences in many ways to me that parallels many of the experiences that people when they have dimethyltryptamine (DMT) and various other substances. So clearly it is sort of brain generated but not and that’s the danger of the trap we’re falling into of assuming that because these things are caused by brain chemicals therefore it is proof that it is just an epiphenomenon of the brain. I’d argue that the brain chemicals facilitate a wider experience of reality than you would get if you were embodied, as it were. Anthony Peake's Website Anthony's Cheating The Ferryman Blog/Forum Play It: Download MP3 (60 min.) Read It: Alex Tsakiris: Today we welcome Anthony Peake to Skeptiko. He’s the author of several compelling books including, Is There Life After Death? and The Daemon. He’s here to talk about his latest book, The Labyrinth of Time: The Illusion of Past, Present, and Future. Welcome, Tony. Thanks for joining me today on Skeptiko. Anthony Peake: Great to be here, Alex. Really, really great.


170. Dr. Daryl Bem Responds to Parapsychology Debunkers

Interview with Cornell University Professor Emeritus Dr. Daryl Bem looks at the reaction to his groundbreaking parapsychology experiments. Join Skeptiko host Alex Tsakiris for an interview with noted psychology professor Dr. Daryl Bem. During the interview Bem discusses the reaction to his research among parapsychology opponents: Alex Tsakiris: What do you think is going to happen with this latest round of debunking? The skeptics have risen up and it seems like a very well-organized, concerted effort to knock down your research. What do you think their game plan is? What do you think is going to happen? Dr. Daryl Bem: Well, I think the flurry of activity in the popular media will just sort of die down. When I look at Google News on it there are still four or five articles that pop up in which it just shows how successful Wiseman is at getting his point of view out. I have been replying to people who’ve asked me to reply to blogs and things of that sort. Without accusing him of actually being dishonest, he has now published the three studies that he and French and Ritchie tried to get published in several journals that rejected it. I replied with a comment on that. If there’s anything dishonest there, it’s when you publish an article, even if it’s of your own three experiments—they did three experiments that failed trying to replicate one of my experiments—you always have a literature review section where you talk about all the previous research and known research on the topic before you present your own data. What Wiseman never tells people is in Ritchie, Wiseman and French is that his online registry where he asked everyone to register, first of all he provided a deadline date. I don’t know of any serious researcher working on their own stuff who is going to drop everything and immediately do a replication... anyway, he and Ritchie and French published these three studies. Well, they knew that there were three other studies that had been submitted and completed and two of the three showed statistically significant results replicating my results. But you don’t know that from reading his article. That borders on dishonesty. Dr. Daryl Bem's Website Play It: Download MP3 (45 min.) Read It: Today we welcome Dr. Daryl Bem to Skeptiko. Dr. Bem is a very highly regarded social psychologist and Professor Emeritus from Cornell who created quite a stir last year with his paper, “Feeling the Future: Experimental Evidence for Anomalous Retroactive Influences on Cognition and Affect.” Alex Tsakiris: Dr. Bem, it’s a great pleasure to have you on Skeptiko. Thanks for joining me. Dr. Daryl Bem: Good to be here.


169. Dr. Michael Heiser On Why Christians Are Skeptical of the Supernatural

Interview with biblical scholar Dr. Mike Heiser examines how many Christians approach paranormal claims from curiously skeptical perspective. Join Skeptiko host Alex Tsakiris for an interview with biblical scholar and author Dr. Michael Heiser. During the interview Heiser discusses his understanding of ghosts from a Christian perspective: Alex Tsakiris: What did you mean when you said, “Christians aren’t as open to the supernatural as they think they”, and that they, “think like skeptics.” What did you mean? Dr. Mike Heiser: …there are a lot of people who basically go through life thinking that unless their pastor or priest brought it up it’s either not true or it can’t be reported. I’ve had preachers and pastors tell me about doing a funeral service where they or somebody they known and trust saw the deceased person just sort of standing there for a moment.  Well, you start saying things like that and right away our reaction is , “well, maybe you were overcome by grief… maybe you need a physical… maybe you didn’t take your meds that day.” We tend to think like moderns in that we are very hesitant to accept anything that’s outside the material reality. Alex Tsakiris: Okay, I’m right there with you, Mike.  But what do we do with those encounters? What do we do with the deathbed visions, the near-death experiences, the ghostly encounters? How do we approach them? Dr. Mike Heiser: Well, I tend to think that these sorts of things are not either/or sorts of categories. I think there are a number of things that ought to be given equal weight. I believe in the supernatural. I don’t really like that term, but basically I believe in a non-human world. Since I do believe in that I’m not a philosophical Materialist. I’m willing to consider the possibility that the experience at a funeral was real. I’m willing to consider that this was really a point of intersection between our world and that other reality plane. Dr. Mike Heiser's Website Play It: Download MP3 (47 min.) Read It: Today we welcome Biblical scholar and author, Dr. Michael Heiser, to Skeptiko. Mike has a Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin in Biblical languages and a master’s in ancient history from Penn. He’s a frequent guest on a number of radio programs such as Coast to Coast AM. He’s also the author of a paranormal thriller, The Façade. Mike, thanks so much for joining me today on Skeptiko. Dr. Mike Heiser: Thank you very much for inviting me.