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20 of 25 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Relies on Uninformed Readers, April 9, 2010
This review is from: Mortal Minds: The Biology Of Near Death Experiences (Hardcover)
The amount of hand waving in this text is amazing. Statements and positions that contradict the data.

As for his position on NDEs,

IN SCIENCE and inductive and deductive logic, when speculating on the cause of a phenomena you MUST use a Bayesian Inference and deduce what is most likely given prior observations - that is, that NDEs are a cause by the brain. This is the application of Ockham's Razor. However, THIS IS ONLY SUITABLE until new data comes along that debunks this initial position, in which case you have to move to an alternate theory that better suits this data. Woerlee has fulfilled the former position perfectly, yet ignored the latter requirement of adjusting a position based on new facts. His conclusion is subsequently illogical.

What Woerlee has done is argued the original position whilst debasing all data that suggests that this position is incorrect. He is correct in saying that given a specific phenomenon when viewed in isolation can be caused by the brain and thus we should expect this to be the case. Yet, in doing so he has ignored all veridical cases - that is, verified by independant observers (in the OBE segment of NDEs). Thus, his position is incorrect - this is an ineffible epistemic fact - his position no longer applies when there are a sufficient number of veridical cases from trustworthy sources.

Consider for instance Dr. Sartori's case wherein the patient measured a 3 on the Glasgow Coma Scale - the worst possible score - indicating either coma or clinical death, except this same person could recite a blonde head nurse peering nervously from behind curtains, a pink swab being placed in his mouth, could identify which doctor shined a torch into his eyes, and could accurately recite the resuscitation procedure contrasted to the inability of non-NDErs to do so. The patient recited all these perceptions the moment he was revived to a room full of physicians including Dr. Sartori. (Sartori's book, and personal communications). Of course, Dr. Sartori could be lying, or perhaps the patient won the hallucination-lottery and heard the nurse peering through the curtains and guessed she was blonde, felt the swab despite being a 3 on the Glasgow Scale and guessing it was pink, and guessing all the characteristics of the doctor he identified. All this while the patient was unresponsive to "deep pain stimuli".

Or consider Moody's case where an elderly woman claimed to observe a nurse unsafely open a glass vial in a separate room (normal protocal required her to open it in a specific way, except she did not do so and in doing so posed a significant risk of self-harm in order to get the medicine to the patient swiftly.). This, of course, could be a hallucination on her part after-the-fact (where she heard doctors talking of the incident then she created a false memory). Or, all parties or a required number of parties could be lying.

Consider the report by Morris (2003) in the IJNDS, she claims a nurse located a hidden coin on top of an unobservable shelf after being alerted by an NDE OBEr. Of course, the nurse in question could've been lying.

Consider the nurses' claim in a large Dutch study (in IJNDS) where the patient claimed to observe the doctor removing the dentures, placing it in a drawer on a cart with lots of ampules before being put on a machine to revive him. The patient articulately described the Thumper machine he was placed on. The patient was unresponsive (Although, the Thumper has been known to rouse patients into semi-consciousness then back to unconsciousness). (The only 'inaccuracy' was the "drawer" was a shelf). Of course, they could be lying, or we could be receiving a distortion of the facts, or perhaps the victim felt the dentures removed and heard the cart with the ampules then constructed an elaborate fantasy that he later testified to it being more real than real life itself.

Consider the case reported by Dr. Greyson where a patient was under anasthaesia yet reported the surgeon holding his hands by his chest and his elbows sticking out. Of course, he could've opened his eyes and perceived the doctor doing this and had no memory of doing so mid-operation, or this patient could've heard the doctors talking about it then formed false memories after the fact, or both the surgeon and the patient could be lying to Dr. Greyson.

Consider Pam Reynold's case in which she claimed to observe everything with ridiculous accuracy. Of course, she could've heard the bone-drill during anasthesian awareness then contsructed it in her hallucinations(which were co-incidentally "more vivid" and lucid than real life), she could've hallucinated the attachments kit that the bone-drill came with because of visits to the dentist that had a similar apparatus, she could've lied about seeing her head being half-shaven instead of full shaven or could've incorporated that into false memories after-the-fact.

Consider Maria's Shoe case, where a patient claimed to see a show on a ledge on a window on the 3rd story that matched her stated observations - worn out, hole in toe, lace tucked under. This detail could've only been garnered by nearby inspection of the shoe. Of course, she could've heard a doctor talking about it and constructed a false memory after the fact, or the nurse and patient reporting the case could be lying, or a mixture of both.

Consider the 5-year UK pilot study, where, out of 42 patients, those who clinically died and were resuscitated yet did not have an NDE could nowhere near describe their resuscitation procedures(Paraphrasing, Sartori). Those that clinically died and were resuscitated yet did also have an NDE OBE could describe the procedure with near 100% accuracy. (Sartori, year unknown, IJNDS).

There are over 30 more similar cases I haven't outlined that exist in the literature, it would be too laborious to do so, and it's probable there's much more that haven't been reported to 'official sources'.

Consider all the cases of where a person died, saw a relative, yet they did not know that person was dead at the time of the NDE. (Barrett, 1926, pp. 10-26; Callanan & Kelley, 1992, pp. 86-87, 93-94; Crookall, 1960/1966, pp. 21-22; Gurney &
Myers, 1889, pp. 459-460; Hyslop, 1908, pp. 88-89; Myers, 1903, ii, pp. 339-
342; Osis & Haraldsson, 1977/1986, p. 166; Ring, 1980, p. 208; Sidgwick,
1885, pp. 92-93).

The amount of handwaving is amazing. Woerlee states that there exists scant evidence for paranormal phenomena. This is, as informed readers of parapsychology journals will know, a blatant lie. Woerlee is actually lying to his readers. Consider the Ganzfeld experiments. You have increasing Effect Size (ES) post-jointcommunique, and neutral ES post 1974 (the first ganzfeld experiment till the most recent) - this is POSITIVELY correlated with increasing methodological rigour. You have a significant Stouffer Z of 3.50 post-jointcommunique, with a p-value approximately equal to 1*10^-5 for MiltonWiseman and Bem databases combined (1985-2000). Obviously, Woerlee totally ignores this epistemic fact because it invalidates his argument. Consider RNG experiments, you have inclining ES since 1975 (Bierman 2001) and a Rosenthal file drawer requirement of N = 1500 where each N has a data size over double that of the mode and median in the entire data set (2006 meta-analysis by non-parapsychologists). Consider the remote staring experiments, you have extreme significance and a neutral ES regression over its whole life. I'll stop talking now because it should be obvious that this author has blatantly lied to his readers, this is very concerning. Woerlee has literally debased the data, and for this he is an intellectual criminal.

So, do you now see why Woerlee's application of Ockham's razor is delinquent. This book deserves 5 stars for intellectual rigorousity, yet deserves 1 star for accurately represeting the DATA on NDEs and paranormal phenomena. That is, his position is correct if veridicality and overwhelmingly supportive data wasn't there, but it is, and thus his position is incorrect. When confronted with data that doesn't support the dying brain hypothesis, you must again use a Bayesian inference and come to a new hypothesis, which isn't what Woerlee did.

Thus, his conclusion is the inverse of what is most likely true given the data. There is no arguing against this.
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Tracked by 3 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 10 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Dec 2, 2011 10:00:08 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 2, 2011 10:38:09 AM PST
Tim says:
I agree with you, Helen. Woerlee (lies) twists the evidence because he simply doesn't like the implication of NDE's (survival).

Posted on Apr 9, 2012 8:34:04 PM PDT
Oktober says:
You realize that this is the exact same comment (practically word for word) that you gave Susan J. Blackmore's "Dying to Live: Near-Death Experiences" book as well, right? Do you think that every book written on near-death experiences from a skeptical point of view is wrong based on the same reasons, or did you not have anything new to say in the 1 day between when you posted your comments on her book (April 8th & April 9th, 2010 respectively)?

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 1, 2012 1:28:46 PM PDT
Because they both have the same over all flaws in them Farmer. I have been studying NDEs for over a decade now and their is nothing I disagree with what Helen said. She simply stated the flaws with the hallucination explanation for NDEs and no materialist has answered these criticism in a convincing manner.

Posted on Sep 11, 2012 1:55:18 PM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Aug 20, 2014 1:30:01 PM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 11, 2012 6:16:09 PM PDT
Flow can I ask real quick if you have read a single book, or article on NDEs before? Because I always try to be nice at first when dealing with the silly hallucination model or it's proponents. Now if you are sincerely curious about this I can simple recommend a few studies for you to read. Needless to say vertical cases have been confirmed and are not at all dubious. For example you have the Pam Reynold's case and the Al Sullivan where all the relevant doctors agree that these cases produced vertical evidence.

You may see me beat the author of this silly little book like a red headed step child here-http://www.amazon.com/review/R2PDWUDNGPXJT3/ref=cm_cr_pr_cmt?ie=UTF8&ASIN=0061777250&linkCode=&nodeID=&tag=#wasThisHelpful

I think that is enough reading to get you started.

Also here is a list of questions I often ask of proponents of the hallucination model. Do consider them

1. Why do you maintain the consciousness is poorly understood but then argue the hallucination model is more reasonable then the survival model even if the survival model is strongly suggested by the accounts?
2. Does the hallucination model lend itself to any predictions? Can it be falsified?
3. Why is it mainstream NDE researchers reject the hallucination argument?
4. What is the evolutionary advantage to NDEs?
5. Hallucination according to the Mirriam Webster is defined the following way. : perception of objects with no reality usually arising from disorder of the nervous system or in response to drugs (as LSD)
NDE accounts often start in the environment where the experiencer is, for example a hospital room. If they report seeing the environment they are in correctly why you maintain this is a hallucination?
NDEr's have demonstrated the ability to accurately describe surgeries being done on them ( Sabom and Sartori studies). Why is accurately describing the actions being done to you now considered a hallucination
NDEr's have correctly identified conversations and visual aspects of their environment, why is this considered now a hallucination.

How can you maintain this is a hallucination when it clear that they are in reality
6. While hallucinations might be considered to be real at the moment the person hallucinating later realizes the experience was a hallucination. Yet the overwhelming amount of NDErs ( over 99%) maintain this experience was not a hallucination. If NDEs are hallucination why this radical departure from the normal model of hallucinations.
7. Hallucinations among those born blind or those who became blind at a young age lack visual components, however the Ring Study demonstrated that NDErs who were born blind or became blind at a young age had visual components. Why this radical departure from the normal model of hallucinations?
8. If NDEs are fantasies why do some people have hellish NDEs?
9. If NDEs are fantasies why do many people report religious tension between the experience and their prior religious views?
10. If NDEs are fantasies why do people report a life judgment stage where they experience the suffering they caused others. Also what evolutionary advantage would this provide?
11. Hallucinations caused by a lack of oxygen start of complex but degrade to simplicity, while NDEs start off simple and become more complex. Please explain this if you wish to use the lack of oxygen. Explain the cases where patients had the normal amount of oxygen
12. Hallucinations caused by an excess of Co2 caused people to see geometric shapes , music notes and numbers, yet these features are absent from NDEs, please explain. Please explain the cases where the patient had an NDE and they had a normal amount of C02
13. Why do NDErs uniformly report seeing their deceased loved ones in the prime of their lives, not as they remembered them before they died
14. Why do NDErs universally report communication via telepathy during the experience?
15. If these are fantasy experiences where are the accounts with dead pets. Many people do form profound attachments with animals so if they were hallucinating departed loved ones why not these?
16. If you feel the tunnel experience can be explained through physiology please explain why it rarely happens outside Western NDEs
17. Please explain NDEs in patients under going Cardiac arrest as this instantly removes consciousness.
18. If you feel NDEs are caused by Anesthesia Awareness please explain why the frequency of NDEs is far greater than the frequency of Anesthesia Awareness and why they describe the experience as pleasurable and not horrific.
19. If you feel NDEs are caused by endorphins please explain how NDEs both start and stop suddenly, while Endorphins start off slow and end slow.
20. Please explain cases such as the Al Sullivan case and the Pam Reynold's case that had the patient making accurate observations when the overall conditions of the surgery would have made it impossible.

All of this can easily be explained if NDEs are NOT hallucinations
These questions are tricky indeed for the hallucination model.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 12, 2012 11:57:25 AM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Aug 20, 2014 1:30:19 PM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 12, 2012 12:41:46 PM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Aug 20, 2014 1:30:33 PM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 13, 2012 3:59:26 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 13, 2012 3:59:45 AM PDT
Instead of me posting my entire refute of this clueless kid here I will simply provide a link to it. I will admit I used a sledge hammer to swat a fly

http://tinyurl.com/97zg4w3

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 1, 2012 8:50:03 AM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Nov 1, 2012 8:50:53 AM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 12, 2014 3:17:17 PM PDT
What a great post. I see you're well versed on the subject
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