Tagnear-death experiences

Sam Harris’ Take Down Of Newsweek’s “Heaven Is Real” Story

Newsweek cover: "Heaven Is Real"

I had mostly written Sam Harris off (different story entirely), but this is important stuff regarding Newsweek‘s baffling cover story of Eben Alexander’s pseudoscientific (at best) claim that heaven is real:

As many of you know, I am interested in “spiritual” experiences of the sort Alexander reports. Unlike many atheists, I don’t doubt the subjective phenomena themselves—that is, I don’t believe that everyone who claims to have seen an angel, or left his body in a trance, or become one with the universe, is lying or mentally ill. Indeed, I have had similar experiences myself in meditation, in lucid dreams (even while meditating in a lucid dream), and through the use of various psychedelics (in times gone by). I know that astonishing changes in the contents of consciousness are possible and can be psychologically transformative.

And, unlike many neuroscientists and philosophers, I remain agnostic on the question of how consciousness is related to the physical world. There are, of course, very good reasons to believe that it is an emergent property of brain activity, just as the rest of the human mind obviously is. But we know nothing about how such a miracle of emergence might occur. And if consciousness were, in fact, irreducible—or even separable from the brain in a way that would give comfort to Saint Augustine—my worldview would not be overturned. I know that we do not understand consciousness, and nothing that I think I know about the cosmos, or about the patent falsity of most religious beliefs, requires that I deny this. So, although I am an atheist who can be expected to be unforgiving of religious dogma, I am not reflexively hostile to claims of the sort Alexander has made. In principle, my mind is open. (It really is.)

From there Harris proceeds to tear Alexander a new one.

Sam Haris: This Must Be Heaven

(via Brainsturbator)

Brain activity spikes at death

dying by alex grey

Possible explanation for near death experiences:

Electrical readings from seven patients who died in hospital suggest that the brain undergoes a surge of activity at the moment of death, according to a study just published in the Journal of Palliative Medicine. […]

This is not the first time these have been noticed, but previous reports were single cases and the electrical surges were explained away as due to electrical interference from other sources. In these new cases, the doctors could be pretty confident that previously suggested sources of interference weren’t present.

Instead, they suggest that the surge was due to ‘anoxic depolarisation’ – a process where the lack of oxygen destabilises the electrical balance of the neurons leading to one last cascade of activity.

Mind Hacks: Spike at the end of the tunnel

The Nature of Time

The Nature of Time, a workshop gathering of over 50 scientists, took place in the Slovak Republic. They discussed abnormal psychology (such as schizophrenics or Memento style memory loss), psychedelic drugs, near death experiences, and meditation in an interdisciplinary study of the way the mind perceives time.

Wired: Anybody Really Know What Time Is?

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