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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beyond Excellent, March 8, 2004
This review is from: Beyond the Body: An Investigation of Out-of-the-Body Experiences (Paperback)
Out-of-the-body-experiences (OBEs) are among the most remarkable of psychological phenomena, challenging as they do our fundamental assumptions about reality and consciousness. Following a series of such experiences many years ago, I sought an explanation for them. I found references to them in texts from Plato to Aleister Crowley, but nowhere was there anything approaching a coherent, rational theory. There were - and to a regrettable extent still are - two opposing viewpoints: on the one hand you have the supernaturalists, with talk of "astral projection" and are full of advice on how to deal with the demons you will encounter on the various "astral plains", and on the other, the orthodox scientific community, who find the whole subject rather embarrassing and would prefer not to be associated with it. I could find no author who understood the importance of OBEs and who approached them in a scientific manner. Until I discovered Blackmore's book. It is without question the definitive work on the subject. It is a model of scientific rigor, and the thoroughness of her research - in psychology, folklore, occult philosophy and more - is astounding.

The supreme philosophical and psychological quest of our time is for an explanation of consciousness. That will not be achieved without taking account of the anomalous ways in which consciousness can sometimes manifest itself, of which OBEs are the most striking examples. If you are lucky enough to have experienced them and seek an explanation, or if you are just wondering what all the fuss is about, read this book.
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Showing 1-7 of 7 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Oct 5, 2009 8:06:54 PM PDT
rain cloud says:
Oh, come on. I've seen this woman on tv. She had a lucid dream she thought was an oobe so, of course, ALL oobe's are lucid dreams. I'm not impressed with her reductionist theory or your over-the-top gee-whiz review. What about people who have oobe's from having a car accident and report verifiable details later confirmed. I don't find this woman's mind any more open than say, the Pope's. Have a nice day.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 6, 2009 2:25:54 AM PDT
Peter Reeve says:
I had a nice day, thank you.

'She had a lucid dream she thought was an oobe so, of course, ALL oobe's are lucid dreams.'

Wrong. She clearly distinguishes between the two.

'What about people who have oobe's from having a car accident and report verifiable details later confirmed.'

What about them? List the 'verifiable details'.

Here's the news: Cartesian dualism is dead. (Read Ryle, 1949). There is no soul, separable from the body. Deal with it.

OBEs are real. I continue to have them, and continue to rank them among the most remarkable of experiences. Blackmore's is, so far as I know, still the best work on the subject.

My mind is open (whether more than the Pope's, I cannot say, but I suspect it is). It is open to logic and evidence. Should you be able to provide either, I look forward to hearing more fom you.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 21, 2011 5:50:14 AM PDT
Thank you, Peter Reeve - you saved me some time.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 10, 2014 11:17:24 PM PDT
F. Webster says:
Verifiable details observed during an out-of-body experience (OBE)? I refer you to "Recollections of Death" by Dr. Michael Sabom, MD, a cardiologist and dyed-in-the-wool believer in science to give us answers. ("unscientific -- that I will never be.") He and social worker Sarah Kreutziger (sp?) interviewed a series of patients who stated that they had had a near-death experience (NDE -- an out-of-body experience while either clinically dead or near death). These patients could recall, accurately, many details of how doctors and nurses worked to bring them back to life, even though they could not possibly have actually seen or heard what was happening. They observed medical equipment that was out of sight from where they were lying. They observed medical procedures from points near the ceiling of the emergency room. No soul separable from the body? I refer you to the works of the late Dr. Ian Stevenson, MD, who spent four decades investigating and documenting accounts of reincarnation in several countries (including Britain and the U.S.) His work -- approximately 2,500 proven cases of reincarnation -- has withstood the efforts of debunkers, as has Dr. Sabom's.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 20, 2015 2:14:26 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 16, 2015 8:32:40 AM PDT
Peter Reeve says:
People who believe such things make the mistake of underestimating the following three factors:

1. The creativity of the brain. We construct elaborate worldviews based on surprisingly little sensory input. We have plenty of false memories of our actual lives, let alone of our imagined previous lives.
2. Gullibility. A belief in immortality - whether an afterlife or reincarnation - can be very attractive. If you want to believe, you will convince yourself very easily.
3. Fraud. There is a lot of money to be made from books that record visits to Heaven, and a lot of fun to be had from hoaxing researchers.

You say Stevenson' s work has withstood the efforts of debunkers. Really? What about the case of Edward Ryall? That's just one example. Go to India - or any other society where reincarnation is widely believed - and ask some children about their past lives, then ask their parents to confirm some of the details (oh, and slip them a few Dollars for their trouble) then publish all the accounts where the details seemed to match and ignore the others. Maybe then, like Stevenson, you'll have a best seller.

All of the so called "proof" is tainted by confirmation bias. Where are all of the reports of the thousands of cases that have not borne scrutiny? The inaccurate details of the operating theater? The anachronisms in remembered past lives? They are conveniently omitted when the research is reported, and when the publisher wants to sell copies of the book.

Never mind referring me to anecdotal accounts - instead, conduct just one repeatable experiment. It should be very simple. Have someone capable of self-inducing an OBE (like me) and have them examine a playing card of other object in an adjoining room without ever physically seeing it (which I have done) and have them report what they saw, upon awakening. I have never managed to score above chance. If you or anyone else can do better, demonstrate it. Prepare a sound experimental protocol, record the experiment and keep extensive notes. Report the results and submit them for peer review. If such a demonstration were possible, it would have been performed many times by now.

Posted on Sep 16, 2015 5:50:16 AM PDT
Did you ever read the Robert Monroe trilogy, or Michael Talbot's 'The Holographic Universe'? So many people have had out-of-body experiences, while science still can't reductively explain consciousness. So maybe, just maybe..there is some sort of spriritual reality..

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 16, 2015 10:12:22 AM PDT
Peter Reeve says:
I have read - and greatly enjoyed - Monroe's work (which Blackmore mentions in her book). Talbot's book I will skip, having heard him explain his ideas. It sounds like an attempt to mingle some poorly-digested physics with some New Age yearnings.

It is true that many people have had out-of-body experiences. The author and I are among them. It is true also that science has not explained consciousness. It may even be that, as consciousness is essentially subjective, and science is concerned with objective reality (including objective descriptions of subjective experience) science alone will never produce a satisfactory explanation. How that leads you to believe that "maybe, just maybe...there is some sort of spiritual reality..." you will have to explain, beginning with exactly what you mean by spiritual reality.

No one need doubt that OBEs exist. The question is, what precisely is their ontological status - what kind of thing are they? Blackmore's book is the best attempt that I know of at an answer to that.
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