I’m just over a week late catching up on this intriguing review of a book that it looks as though I may consider buying. How can I miss out on any book taking a hard look at the evidence for near death experiences? Well, I suppose the one thing that might give me pause is that it seems not to be such a hard look after all, relying as it seems to do on people’s stories and containing virtually no independent confirmation of the brain state or situation of those who experienced the NDEs, if the review at this link is to be believed. That reviewer writes:
If there are stories where it’s been verified that the NDEr’s saw things they could have only seen by floating around as some sort of disembodied consciousness, then these would definitely be considered evidence, and should be submitted to respected scientific journals. As it is, there was only one [such] story [in this book] (about the false teeth) that was published in the Lancet in 2001. Is there more evidence of this nature?
I think there is, but it may not be in this book. Purchase decision delayed till further notice! Below is a short extract of Sharon Rawlette’s review: for the full post see link.
First-person accounts of near-death experiences have been all over the bestseller lists in recent years. Think of Eben Alexander’s Proof of Heaven, Anita Moorjani’s Dying to Be Me, and Todd Burpo’s Heaven Is for Real. It’s hard to read these narratives without having one’s perspective on death–whatever it is–profoundly challenged. And yet individual stories of near-death experiences leave something out: they don’t give us a sense of just how pervasive and consistent this phenomenon is.
As far back as 1982, a Gallup poll concluded that 5% of the U.S. population had had a near-death experience. That was 11.6 million people in 1982. (Today, 5% puts us at 16.2 million.) That is an astounding number of Americans to have experienced a “life beyond death,” but my own experience is consistent with those numbers. If anything, it suggests that they are on the conservative side. Among my own family members, I can count two people who’ve had near-death experiences–and my family numbers substantially less than 40.
But it’s not just the numbers that are astounding. In his 2010 book Evidence of the Afterlife, Dr. Jeffrey Long presents the results of his 12-year study of more than 1,300 near-death experiences collected from around the world, by his website nderf.org. Surprise! It’s not just Americans who have near-death experiences. And it’s not just folks from Judeo-Christian countries. It’s not just cardiac arrest patients, either. Or whatever subset of the population you think might be prone to having end-of-life “hallucinations.”
Dr. Long clearly lays out the evidence that very similar types of near-death experiences happen to people in very differentcultures and very different states of bodily dysfunction. For instance, you might think that near-death experiences can be explained as hallucinations created by an oxygen-deprived brain (a state known as hypoxia). Set aside the fact that near-death experiences are extremely lucid, a far cry from the confusion known to be induced by hypoxia. How do you explain the fact that the very same types of near-death experiences happen to people who are under general anesthesia, when they’re not supposed to be capable of any conscious experience whatsoever?