Month: June 2012

174. Dr. Raymond Moody On Understanding Near-Death Experiences as Nonsense

Interview with psychologist and renown near-death experience researcher discusses how our language and system of logic limits our understanding of near-death experience accounts. Join Skeptiko host Alex Tsakiris for an interview with renown near-death experience research and author of, Paranormal: My Life in Pursuit of the Afterlife. During the interview Moody discusses the role of logic and nonsense in studying the near-death experience: Alex Tsakiris: Is it rigor and the logic that we’re missing or is there something fundamental to our experience in this body, in this world, that prevents us from understanding things differently? For example, we get these stories from near-death experience researchers where people come back and say, “I had a knowing that I’m unable to really bring back and internalize.” Are we limited by a system of logic or are we fundamentally unable to know certain things in this existence that we’re in? Dr. Raymond Moody: What a wonderful distinction.  As to the second part of your question whether there is some kind of unknowability in the world that we are just constitutionally unable to comprehend certain things, obviously I don’t know. By definition you wouldn’t be able to know that. But, I think that the first part of your question, is our logic limiting us in some fundamental way, I think it is, Alex, and I think just from our two conversations together I think I can prove it to you. What I can show is that these misconceptions about what we call “nonsense” create a kind of collective cognitive deficit in people that is hidden because everybody has it, right? If everybody has it there’s no way that people have of detecting it. The way that this manifests itself is that when people hear a sentence like, “There is life after death,” and unthinkingly they treat that just like a literal meaning, true or false proposition, right? So they try to process it by the rules of Aristotelian logic. Their minds go berserk, as you and I have seen many times probably and know people whose minds have gone berserk over this topic. Dr. Raymond Moody's Website Play It: Download MP3 (50 min.) Read It: Alex Tsakiris: Today we welcome Dr. Raymond Moody to Skeptiko. In 1975, psychiatrist and Professor of Philosophy, Dr. Raymond Moody published Life After Life and coined the term, “near-death experience.” I guess it’s fair to say the world changed a little bit. I don’t think that’s an exaggeration. It’s hard to measure the full impact of Dr. Moody’s work on medicine, on science, religion, and our culture as a whole but it’s certainly clear that this ground-breaking research has continued to challenge our understanding of the deepest questions that we all have, that keep us up at 2 o’clock in the morning. Dr. Moody, it’s a great pleasure to have you on Skeptiko. Thanks so much for joining me. Dr. Raymond Moody: Well, I’m just so happy to be with you today, Alex. I can already tell this is going to be fun. Thank you.