Tag: near-death experience

237. Dr. Patricia Churchland Sandbagged by Near-Death Experience Questions

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Interview with neurophilosophy expert Dr. Patricia Churchland reveals a lack of understanding of near-death experience science.

Join Skeptiko host Alex Tsakiris for an interview with University of California, San Diego philosophy professor Dr. Patricia Churchland.  During the interview Dr. Churchland seems flustered over questions about near-death experience science:

Alex Tsakiris:  Yeah, but I think we also have problems with the idea that consciousness is an emergent property of the brain thing? I interviewed Christof Koch from Cal Tech last year and he’s the guy who I sent people down this direction that we can no longer claim that consciousness is a product of the brain and we have to move towards this middle position where as he says, consciousness is ontologically distinct, but never really defining how consciousness begins, how consciousness ends, or exactly what the relationship is with the brain.

I think a lot of people are more comfortable with Daniel Dennett and Richard Dawkins’ okay, consciousness is an illusion than they are with this middle ground. I don’t really know how that answers the big questions of what the nature of consciousness is other than just to repeat that consciousness is something that the brain does. That doesn’t tell us much. How does it begin? When does it end? What’s necessary and sufficient to cause consciousness? These are all questions that are unanswered by what you’re saying.

Dr. Patricia Churchland:   Well, neuroscience hasn’t got all the answers yet.

Alex Tsakiris:  But that’s just passing the buck. We don’t have the answers. Those are fundamental questions. If we don’t have the answers then we don’t have a theory of what consciousness is, right?

Dr. Patricia Churchland:   That’s what your view seems to be, all right.

Alex Tsakiris:  I’m just saying these are basic. When does consciousness begin? When does it end? What is necessary and sufficient to create consciousness? If we can’t answer those then what do we really have? What can we really say about consciousness?

Dr. Patricia Churchland:   Well, I guess we can’t say anything.

Alex Tsakiris:  Okay. I think we can say some things. Let me ask you this—I didn’t mean to throw you completely off. Do you want to get back to talking about your book?

Dr. Patricia Churchland:   No, not really.

Alex Tsakiris:  Okay. What do you think about near-death experience? You write quite a bit about that in your book and what is your general take on near-death experience?

Dr. Patricia Churchland:   Well, I’m not sure that it really matters, does it? What does it matter for?

Alex Tsakiris:  I think a lot of folks look at near-death experience as highly suggestive of consciousness somehow, in some way we don’t understand, surviving biological death, which would certainly falsify that other idea that it’s so tied to the brain and that consciousness ends at death. I mean, that would falsify that, right?

Dr. Patricia Churchland:   Oh, I’m sorry. My dog just came in. No, no, don’t do that. No, no, no, no. Forgive me, I’m sorry. Okay. So yeah, okay, I guess I’ve never have actually had a near-death experience. Have you?

Alex Tsakiris:  No.

Dr. Patricia Churchland:   Oh, okay.

Alex Tsakiris:  But you write quite a bit about it in your book.

Dr. Patricia Churchland:   So why do you want me to talk about it?

Alex Tsakiris:  Well, I guess one of the things I did want to ask you is in your book you ask the question, “Is there a neurobiological explanation for near-death experience?” Then you cite NDE researcher and a former guest on this show as answering that question with yes. You say that Dr. Pim Van Lommel believes the answer is yes. Is that your understanding of his research?

Dr. Patricia Churchland:   Well, I think there’s certainly quite a bit of evidence that at least some near-death experiences have a neurobiological basis. Of course, we can’t be sure about all of them. Maybe you had one that doesn’t have a neurobiological basis. I wouldn’t really know, would I?

Alex Tsakiris:  Well specifically, Dr. Churchland, you cite in your book that Dr. Pim Van Lommel holds that opinion. That’s clearly not the case. I mean, he’s written…

Dr. Patricia Churchland:   Has he? Uh-huh (Yes).

Alex Tsakiris:  Right. Do you want me to read to you what he’s written? He’s written that “The study of patients with near-death experience (and this is from The Lancet paper that you’re citing) clearly shows us that…”

Patricia Churchland's Website
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Welcome to Skeptiko, where we explore controversial science with leading researchers, thinkers, and their critics. I’m your host, Alex Tsakiris, and for this episode of Skeptiko I almost feel like I need to issue one of those warnings that they put on the front of shows that have content that might be inappropriate for some viewers. You know, I’m always surprised when people are squeamish over confrontation, conflict, or debate of any sort. I get that on one level. We don’t want to see people squirm and we want everyone to be nice to each other and all that. I get that.

But on another level, I want you to consider that in this interview with Dr. Patricia Churchland, who I’ve really been trying to contact for years. I have emails going back several years in which I tried to contact this woman. She is a well-respected academic, Oxford educated, also UCSD which is a prestigious university out here in California, highly regarded at conferences, gives speeches, and has blabbed about these ridiculous ideas about consciousness that she has.

225. Kevin Williams, Creator of Near-Death.com

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Interview with Kevin Williams creator of one of the leading website portals on Near-Death Experience science.

Today we welcome Kevin Williams to Skeptiko. Kevin is the creator of www.near-death.com,  the #1 website on near-death experiences, both in terms of visitor traffic and in terms of the comprehensive amount of information about near-death experiences, near-death research, and all topics related to this amazing phenomena. Kevin is also the author of Nothing Better Than Death:  Insights from 62 Profound Near-Death Experiences.

Kevin, welcome to Skeptiko. Thanks so much for joining me.

Kevin Williams:  Thank you, Alex. It’s my pleasure.

Alex Tsakiris:   So as I just mentioned, near-death.com is amazingly comprehensive. It pops up on virtually hundreds if not thousands of different search terms. Even if they’re not familiar with the website, people have probably encountered it. Start us off from the beginning. Tell us how you started it, why you started it, and the driving force behind it.

Kevin Williams:  First of all, I’m a big believer in synchronicity and it seems like most of my life I’ve had that. When I was a kid, my dad had a small CRT screen and for some reason I knew that I could build it so that people could ask questions to it and get answers back. I just had that in my mind for a long time. I don’t know why. Then when I went to college and got into computer science, I graduated just about the time when the Internet was taking off.

Before that time I read Raymond Moody’s book, Life After Life. That was the late ‘70s. Since then I couldn’t get enough books to read on the subject. It was kind of a synchronistic time that I just happened to learn how to build websites at a time when I was fully knowledgeable about near-death experiences and a time when I was able to build a website.

I started really early. Part of the reason why I get a lot of hits on different keywords is because I designed my website as a portal, which means that there are usually only two or three levels deep in my website. I built it that way specifically so that it would do that. It has the ability to access a lot of information right upfront and also it would be a lot easier to navigate.

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Alex Tsakiris:   So you did not have a near-death experience prior to starting this, is that right?

Kevin Williams:  Yes, that’s true. I’ve never had a near-death experience. But once you read enough of them you almost feel like this is information that you’ve known before. In fact, a lot of near-death experiencers, during their experience they’ll receive knowledge like that, forgotten knowledge. The more I read about it, the more I realized that this was true for me and that everybody has actually experienced death many times through reincarnation. So that was part of it right there.

223. Dumbest Explanation Yet For Near Death Experience

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Examination of recent research from the University of Michigan linking surge in brain activity of dying rats to near-death experience science.

Join Skeptiko host Alex Tsakiris for a look at two interviews that shed light on recent reports suggesting a scientific explanation for near-death experiences has been discovered in the work of Dr. Jimo Borjigin, at the University of Michigan.  The study found a surge in electrical activity in the brains of dying rats.  Researcher and science writers offered this as a possible expatiation for human near-death experiences.  As we’ve seen in the past, research supporting a convention explanation for near-death experience receives considerable attention form the mainstream science media.  This study was no exception with stories popping up on the BBC, ABC, CBS, FOX, National Geographic and many other media outlets.  (continued below)

NPR's report on the research

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Many Skeptiko listeners sent me this links to the various reports on this research, and I kept pointing them to a past interview I had done a couple of years ago relating to this topic, but since I never mentioned it on the show I thought I do so now.

In June of 2011 I interviewed George Washington University Medical Center Professor, Dr. Lakhmir Chawla, who discovered a surge in the brain’s electrical activity seconds before death might in humans.  Here’s a clip from Skeptiko episode 140:


Alex Tsakiris: So, Dr. Chawla, in 2009 you published a paper with the surprising discovery that some of your patients who were very close to death experienced a final surge in brain activity and the paper has gained quite a bit of traction, media attention, mainly because of this quote of yours:

“We think that near-death experiences could be caused by a surge of electrical energy as the brain runs out of oxygen.”

It‘s been a while since that paper was published.  So first I want to ask you, do you still think that what you saw has anything to do with near-death experience?

Dr. Lakhmir Chawla: Obviously all of the patients in our study passed away so there’s really no way for us to truly know if what these people were experiencing is, in fact had they survived, being the signature of a near-death experience. What we did notice which was very striking is that in all these patients--and in this study we reported on seven patients on which we had very good documentation. We’ve seen these electrical surges, EEG activity, at the end of life in over 100 patients and what we basically have, I hypothesize that when people pass away something occurs in their neural structure.

We have a hypothesis for why this may be happening, that causes this large intensity of electrical energy. What we basically hypothesize further and speculate is that if somebody within the field, someone who’s having a heart attack, for example, and their heart stops and the oxygen to their brain went down and they have this sort of terminal surge of energy and then they were resuscitated and brought back, it’s very likely that they would recall that electrical surge.

If they did recall that electrical surge, we hypothesize and speculate that that could be what people describe in their near-death experiences. The one thing that we’ve seen rather consistently when you read the literature of near-death experiences is that not everyone has the same imagery. Not everyone has the same experience.

But the one thing that they all have in common is that the experience is very intense and very vivid. People can usually recall many, many years later on with great detail what they experienced. So it would take something that would be a very durable electrical event of energy for someone to have that. So we put those notions together and arrived at that speculation.

Alex Tsakiris: Okay. I just wanted to confirm that and it’s interesting that you reference the near-death experience literature. I’ve had a chance to interview some of the world’s leading near-death experience researchers and gosh, I even went back and talked to some of them about this. I couldn’t find any of them that would even seriously entertain that kind of speculation.

As a matter of fact, privately one of them told me, and this is pretty harsh, but he said, “It’s one of the dumbest explanations for near-death experience yet published.” So I guess I was really wondering exactly where you’re coming from, exactly what near-death experience research you’ve dug into that makes you feel like the speculation that you’re talking about would fit the broader research that’s been done into near-death experience.

Dr. Lakhmir Chawla: No, I mean I’m not a researcher in near-death experience. That’s not my primary scientific interest. We are basically at the bedside taking care of very sick patients in the intense care unit. I don’t pretend to have any incredible insight into what these are or are not. All we are saying from our group’s scientific standpoint is that we see a very consistent signature for patients when they’re passing away. We are not the only investigators to report this; it’s now been investigated and reported by multiple investigators.

222. Jean-Charles Chabot Explores Spiritual Hypnosis

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Interview with hypnotherapist Jean-Charles Chabot examines the use of hypnotic regression for spiritual growth.

Join Skeptiko host Alex Tsakiris for an interview with Montreal-based hypnotherapist Jean-Charles Chabot.  During the interview Chabot talks about the use of regression therapy in overcoming phobias:

Alex Tsakiris:   Can you give us a quick example of a case where there was a memory from early in life, and they forgot about it, and then once they remembered it resolved some phobia for them.

Jean-Charles Chabot:   I’ll give you a couple of examples, one with regression in this life, and one in a past life.  For example, a person had a fear of spiders. She said, “I don’t remember anything about what could explain this fear of spiders.” She couldn’t get close to a spider. So I brought her into an altered state of consciousness and I asked the unconscious mind to go back.

So the first event the person went to was when she was young, lying beside a pool. She’d just gotten out of the water and there were drops of water dripping down her body. At some point there was some itching and there was a spider there. She just freaked at that point.

Then what we usually do is we can ask the person a question, and say, “I don’t want you to think. I want you to feel. Does this emotion feel new like oh my god, what is this? Or does it feel familiar, like oh, not again?”

It was familiar to her so I said, “Okay, now we’re going all the way back to the source.” What was very interesting was that she was about two years old and she was playing with a spider that was on her. When you’re one or two years old it doesn’t matter, right? It’s just a spider; there’s nothing wrong. She takes the spider and she puts it in her mouth. For a kid, no problem. But the problem was when the mother saw this and said, “No!” And then, boom, association of spider and dangerous, spider bad, mommy doesn’t like it so I shouldn’t like it. That’s where it all started.

It’s very interesting when you have things like that that you understand where it comes from and you can do some techniques. One technique among others is the “informed child,” where you instruct the child what he would have needed to know to be conditioned by this and then we eradiate this knowledge. There are many things you can do.

Alex Tsakiris:   Were you able to help her over her phobia, then?

Jean-Charles Chabot:   Oh, yeah. It was really interesting because afterwards for me, I like to test my work. Afterwards we went into the basement looking for spiders. We found some little spiders and she could have them on her finger and she was like, “Oh my god, I never did that before.” It was really amazing.

I said, “Okay, let’s take it a step higher. Let’s go to the pet shop. I had in mind like these tarantulas, those big spiders. I didn’t know they were really dangerous, so I just went to the counter and asked if it was possible to look at the tarantulas, to clear it with them. The people at the counter were like, “I’m not touching those. They can sting.  They can really hurt. They won’t kill you but they can really, really hurt.” Then the owner came and said, “Oh, they’re really nice. As long as you don’t do anything that irritates them, like blowing on them or sudden moves or stuff, it’s all fine.” So he took a spider and told her to put her hand like a bridge. The spider came and she just had this amazing feeling of oh my god, this is amazing. She could do it without any problem.

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Welcome to Skeptiko, where we explore controversial science with leading researchers, thinkers, and their critics. Today, hypnosis. In fact, a very controversial area of hypnosis—past life and between life regression, where people purport to recall and recover memories of living in a previous life, or the time they spent between lives. Quite out there, if you will, so before I start with this interview I thought I’d share a little bit about the path that I’ve taken in trying to get my arms around this topic.

Let’s start with reincarnation. Obviously, billions of people believe reincarnation is true. Moreover, thousands of people have reported personal experiences or memories suggesting that it’s true. Is there any scientific evidence for this? Now since I know the Skeptiko audience, I know that a lot of you know that there’s actually quite a bit of very good evidence.

Esquire Magazine caught lying. Dr. Eben Alexander’s NDE account prevails |220|

 Interview with Robert Mays reveals a disturbing pattern of misrepresentation and distortion in Luke Dittrich's Proof of Heaven expose published in Esquire Magazine.

photo by Derek K. Miller

Join Skeptiko host Alex Tsakiris for an interview with Robert Mays about his recently published article,  Esquire article on Eben Alexander distorts the facts.  During the interview Mays talks about  what his investigation discovered:

Alex Tsakiris:   The Dittrich article in Esquire, it's extremely well-crafted. Let's give them that. And he builds this case with the facts that he has, but he really builds this whole thing around -- this guy's a liar.  He approaches it from a number of different angles, some of which are really substantive to the story like the coma thing, and these other things that he picks at, but they do kind of stick in your mind as you're reading the article.  Like the rainbow thing. Tell us what the rainbow thing is all about and then tell us what you found out.

Robert Mays:   In the book, on Sunday morning according to the story that Dr. Alexander wrote, his sister, Phyllis, and his mother, Betty, were coming into the hospital and saw a perfect rainbow. They felt this was a sign. Dittrich took this as saying Heaven itself was heralding Eben Alexander's return. Dittrich then asked the meteorologist whether there could have been a rainbow then and the meteorologist said, “Well, the day was clear so there couldn't have been.”

I said, “Well, wait a minute. Two people said they saw it.” So I called Phyllis Alexander and she said, “Definitely we saw a rainbow. Betty remarked that it was a perfect rainbow.” They talked about it. Then they went immediately up to Eben's room and there Eben was, sitting up. So that was the time that he had recovered.

Alex Tsakiris:   And just to add a little tidbit that you talk about in your article that I thought was great and is the real kind of journalism that we would have liked to have gotten from Esquire is that you not only talked to these eyewitnesses, which he did not--he just went on some meteorological report--but they also had evidence. It was such a spectacular event that they had written an email.

Robert Mays:   Right. That day Phyllis said she had written to friends in Boston who were praying for Eben. She said, “Eben has recovered and I saw a beautiful rainbow as I was coming into the hospital.” So there's that documentation, as well. So Luke Dittrich's argument there is empty.

Alex Tsakiris:   It's shoddy journalism. If you're trying to debunk something, which I've run across so many times, that's one thing. You're a debunker. You're just out there throwing whatever you can against the wall and seeing what sticks. But if you're Esquire, who still has some kind of legitimacy as a journalistic enterprise, you have to do more than this. You have to talk to witnesses. You have to get their side of it. I think this lays a pattern for what else we're about to talk about.


Alex Tsakiris:   Here's what you get from Luke Dittrich's story in Esquire -- Dr. Laura Potter discredits Dr. Eben Alexander's story.  It couldn't have happened the way he described.  He wasn't really in a coma. He was delirious.

So why don't you pick up from there, Robert? You've said you put a couple calls in to Dr. Potter at this point in the story. You haven't heard back. What happens next?

Robert Mays:   I received, from members of the family copies of emails that they had been sending back and forth.  In that was a statement that Dr. Potter had made. Later I learned it was a statement that she had issued to a news organization. Apparently that news organization did not use it. In any case, that statement was that she was misquoted and taken out of context. So I said, “Whoa. This is really quite strange.”

Alex Tsakiris:   In fact, she stated that her account was misrepresented, and that she felt like the questions weren't fair.  And this is backed up by what you heard from the family, right? Because the family talks to Dr. Potter and she's apologizing, saying “Gosh, I don't know how this happened.” That's what I took away from your article. Is that what you got from talking to the family?

Robert Mays:   Right. And basically Dr. Potter expressed to the family that she had been misrepresented and that her words were taken out of context by Luke Dittrich and that he had led her to say certain things.

The question that Luke Dittrich says he posed to her I don't think is a question he actually posed to her when she said, “Yes, conscious but delirious.” It would be very interesting to see what exactly happened in that interview and just understand what she was responding to.

Alex Tsakiris:   I think it would be more than interesting. I think it's absolutely his responsibility, given the damage that this article has done and sought to do from the beginning. There's an added level of journalistic responsibility to get your facts right. These things being called into question this way demands that he really back up his claims.

(interview transcript continued below)

Robert and Suzanne Mays Website

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Commentary: Esquire article on Eben Alexander distorts the facts

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Today we welcome Robert Mays to Skeptiko. Robert, along with his wife, Suzanne, have been longtime researchers in the field of near-death experience and consciousness studies. They've published quite a few papers and have done presentations for both, the International Association of Near-Death Studies Conference, and the well-known Science of Consciousness Conference in Tucson, Arizona. So, anyone who's familiar with this field very well might have bumped into the work of these two very interesting and excellent near-death experience researchers.

Robert is here today to talk about a new article they just published titled, “Esquire Article on Eben Alexander Distorts the Facts,” in which they tell about their investigation into the near-death experience account of Harvard neurosurgeon Eben Alexander, who last year published a blockbuster best-seller book titled, Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon's Near-Death Experience and Journey Into the Afterlife. So with that I'd like to introduce you to Robert Mays.

Robert, thanks so much for joining me today on Skeptiko.

Robert Mays:  Thank you. I'm glad to be here.

Alex Tsakiris:   Before we dive into this article that you've published on Dr. Eben Alexander's case and then the book and the controversy that's stirred up around that, I thought you could tell us a little bit about the research that you and Suzanne have done. In checking out your website there's a lot of stuff that you guys have published in this field. Tell us a little bit about that.

214. Dr. Suzanne Gordon Looks Deeply Into Near Death Experience Cases

Interview brings ethnographic perspective to discover the meaning of near-death experiences to those who have had them.

Join Skeptiko host Alex Tsakiris for an interview with Dr. Suzanne Gordon author of, Field Notes From the Light: An Ethnographic Study of the Meaning and Significance of Near-Death Experiences.  During the interview Gordon talks about bringing Ethnography to near-death experience research:

Dr. Suzanne Gordon:   The interesting thing about ethnography is that it’s very time intensive. I spent a decade on the dissertation but there were two two-year periods of full-time field work.  I was spending more time with people who had had near-death experiences than I was with my own family.

Alex Tsakiris:   Give us a sense for some of these cases. They’re just amazing. Maybe start with the Atheist. I love that one.

Dr. Suzanne Gordon:   Let’s start with Eric. I had everybody choose their own pseudonyms because that’s very informative. This guy chose Eric because he was a guitar player and he really liked Eric Clapton. The interesting thing to me about his account was I think it points to why it’s important for experiencers to become visible.

Alex Tsakiris:   Tell us about his case.

Dr. Suzanne Gordon:   Well, he was on the sailboat of a friend of his who was a cardiologist, conveniently enough. There was some accident and he ended up falling overboard.  It was a cold day. He was burdened by clothing. He died. Then, left his body and watched the resuscitation efforts on the boat below him as he was floating away.

He didn’t see God. He said, “I was very happy wherever I was going. I’m not sure where I was going but I was floating away and I was very happy to do that. I wasn’t struggling to live. I was very happy to keep going and see what happened.”

They kept working on him and they’d give up periodically and then they’d work on him some more. Finally they did bring him back.

He didn’t become a religious guy or anything.  The only reason he even knew it was a near-death experience is because his wife had read Ray Moody’s book and pointed it out to him. He kept apologizing throughout the process. “I’m sorry. I’m just really not very interested.” I’d keep reassuring him, “I don’t care, it’s fine.”

Alex Tsakiris:   That’s fascinating. On the other hand, there’s a  different way to read that account --  it’s the ultimate attachment to a worldview. So I’m an Atheist, I have this transformative experience, and now I know that life goes on, right? Because he does say that at the end. He goes, “Okay, I know that…”

Dr. Suzanne Gordon:   We go on and I didn’t know that before.

Alex Tsakiris:   …and I didn’t know that before, right? So that really blows apart your worldview. But I see somebody who’s not willing to go very far with that. I mean, he’s the ultimate Agnostic like I encounter so often. It’s like, well, can’t know for sure. Don’t really know. We’re kind of in the middle, versus if you look at how our culture defines life. This experience should have completely…

Dr. Suzanne Gordon:   Blown his mind.

Alex Tsakiris:   …blown his mind, and it didn’t. I wonder what thoughts you have on that in general and on this topic of personal transformation and how that’s different for different people depending on where they’re coming from.

Dr. Suzanne Gordon: I think your previous experiences in life and your cultural beliefs and values are really important. I did talk about this in my dissertation but Eric had a really awful, awful childhood. Had a lot of issues. I think there are probably many, many, many more people like Eric out there that are not going to turn up to near-death studies.

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Link to the 2013 ACISTE conference

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Today we welcome Dr. Suzanne Gordon to Skeptiko. Dr. Gordon is on the faculty at the University of Maryland and is here to talk about, among other things, her rather amazing dissertation titled, Field Notes From the Light: An Ethnographic Study of the Meaning and Significance of Near-Death Experiences.

Dr. Gordon, it’s a great pleasure to welcome you to Skeptiko. Thanks so much for joining me.

Dr. Suzanne Gordon:   Well, I’m glad to be here, Alex. Thanks for inviting me.

203. Out of Body Experience Expert Robert Bruce on Our Demon Haunted World

Interview with out of body (OBE) expert and author Robert Bruce explores extended consciousness as an open-minded skeptic.

Join Skeptiko host Alex Tsakiris for an interview with Robert Bruce author of, Astral Dynamics: The Complete Book of Out-of-Body.  During the interview Bruce discusses why out of body experience finding don’t generate scientific attention:

Alex Tsakiris:   Recently journalist, Matt Baglio, published a book called, The Rite: The Making of a Modern Exorcist. What he was go to Rome and went to the school where the Vatican instructs priests in how to perform exorcisms. He sat in on dozens and dozens of exorcisms and what he found was that, despite the modern perception, they weren’t just bringing people in to convert them to Christianity or convert them to Catholicism. They have licensed therapists there. They say 95% of these people are not demon possessed.  But, surprisingly, they claim 5% of them are. And, they have very specific criteria that they use in determining that; and they have unbelievable stories that this journalist has gathered and that these exorcists can attest to.

So it seems that this is a phenomenon that is much more prevalent than I think most of us are willing to acknowledge or even look into. I think most people just won’t even examine the evidence for it.

Robert Bruce:   You hit the nail on the head there. People don’t want it to be true. They don’t want to know. They avoid the information. Now, to be a true scientist you need to be an open-minded skeptic. I mean, open-minded skepticism is pure science. You’re open-minded and you’re skeptical.  You look at the evidence and you examine the phenomena, or whatever it is, until you start to understand it. Now, I have that same approach and I approach this not just with my own experiences which made it real to me.

Anybody who doubts this, and they should doubt it until they see it for themselves or experience it for themselves -- Heaven forbid. If you confront one demon or an evil spirit—even a poltergeist, a real one— you become a believer.

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Interview with Andrew Paquette and Graham Nicholls explores experiences working with extended consciousness.

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Today we welcome world-renowned out-of-body experience expert, Robert Bruce, to Skeptiko. Robert is the author of several best-selling books including the one he’s probably best-known for, Astral Dynamics, which is also the domain name where you’ll find his excellent website, www.astraldynamics.com. He holds seminars around the world on out-of-body experience travel and spirituality and other related topics.

It’s a pleasure to have you on, Robert. Thanks for joining me on Skeptiko.

Robert Bruce:   Good day, Alex. It’s nice to be here at last.

Alex Tsakiris:   Yes. Robert, you’re known as an expert on primarily out-of-body experience, what some people call astral projection. You also have quite a bit to say about spirituality in general. I read your first book, Astral Dynamics. I didn’t quite make it all the way through. It’s a pretty big, fat book. But I was very impressed. It’s very practical. A lot of step-by-step kinds of instructions. Down to earth but meaty, not like it’s light or anything like that. Packed with a lot of information.

202. Scientific Evidence of Afterlife Overwhelming Says Chris Carter

Interview with author Chris Carter explores the scientific evidence for the survival of consciousness.

Join Skeptiko host Alex Tsakiris for an interview with Chris Carter author of, Science and the Afterlife Experience: Evidence for the Immortality of Consciousness.  During the interview Carter discusses the consequences of accepting scientific proof of an afterlife:

Alex Tsakiris:   Are there unintended consequences for overthrowing materialism? Maybe the game is going to wind up being played one way or another. We’re going to wind up with scientific materialism or Church rule. Someone has made the decision that at the end of the day I choose the phony scientific materialism over the thin, phony Church state.

Chris Carter:   I think that’s a false dichotomy. I don’t think that’s the choice. One of the major themes of my book is that there’s a third alternative, one that does not require a leap of faith and one that does not require embracing the pseudo-scientific ideology of materialism. There’s a third alternative and it is to examine the evidence without prejudice, without materialistic prejudice or religious prejudice, and see what the evidence says.

I believe that the conclusions that the evidence implies are not dogmatic. They do not ask people to go out and burn those who disagree with us at the stake or to wage war against those who disagree with us.

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Today we welcome Chris Carter back to Skeptiko. Many of you know Chris for his withering attacks on skeptical nonsense and his books, Science and the Near-Death Experience, Science and Psychic Phenomena, and his latest, Science and the Afterlife Experience. Chris holds undergraduate and Master’s degrees in philosophy from Oxford. He’s a very fine writer, and it’s a pleasure to welcome him back to Skeptiko. Chris, welcome back. Thanks for joining me.

Chris Carter:   Thanks, Alex. How are you doing?

Alex Tsakiris:   Great. Everything’s good. This latest book is really fascinating. It’s obviously a topic that we love to talk about here. You really dig into so much. I’m hoping we can talk about the book but also talk about a lot of other things surrounding the book. I’m anxious to have you back on.