Researchers from the University of Southampton say they have evidence that there might be life after death. Per the article:

The largest ever medical study into near-death and out-of-body experiences has discovered that some awareness may continue even after the brain has shut down completely. It is a controversial subject which has, until recently, been treated with widespread scepticism. But scientists at the University of Southampton have spent four years examining more than 2,000 people who suffered cardiac arrests at 15 hospitals in the UK, US and Austria. And they found that nearly 40 per cent of people who survived described some kind of ‘awareness’ during the time when they were clinically dead before their hearts were restarted. One man even recalled leaving his body entirely and watching his resuscitation from the corner of the room. Despite being unconscious and ‘dead’ for three minutes, the 57-year-old social worker from Southampton, recounted the actions of the nursing staff in detail and described the sound of the machines. “We know the brain can’t function when the heart has stopped beating,” said Dr Sam Parnia, a former research fellow at Southampton University, now at the State University of New York, who led the study. “But in this case, conscious awareness appears to have continued for up to three minutes into the period when the heart wasn’t beating, even though the brain typically shuts down within 20-30 seconds after the heart has stopped. “The man described everything that had happened in the room, but importantly, he heard two bleeps from a machine that makes a noise at three minute intervals. So we could time how long the experienced lasted for….13 per cent said they had felt separated from their bodies and the same number said their sensed [senses] had been heightened….Most studies look retrospectively, 10 or 20 years ago, but the researchers went out looking for examples and used a really large sample size, so this gives the work a lot of validity….We just don’t know what is going on. We are still very much in the dark about what happens when you die and hopefully this study will help shine a scientific lens onto that.” The study was published in the journal Resuscitation. Dr Jerry Nolan, Editor-in-Chief at Resuscitation said: “Dr Parnia and his colleagues are to be congratulated on the completion of a fascinating study that will open the door to more extensive research into what happens when we die.”

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/science/science-news/11144442/First...

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Replies to This Discussion

Anyway, the objective scientific studies might establish that there is no evidence that the mind can exist independently from the brain.

There already isn't any evidence that the mind can exist independently from the brain.  They're trying to find evidence to support mind-body dualism, and I'm expecting a profound amount of confirmation bias and absolutely no attempts to falsify the proposition.

I still want to know how you propose to falsify mind-body dualism.  I haven't heard a coherent answer.  Monism is falsifiable; dualism doesn't seem to be.

Anyway, the sentence of yours that I quoted doesn't even make any sense.  How would a study demonstrate that there is no evidence that the mind can exist independently from the brain?  The most we could ever say is that we don't have any evidence at the moment.  Meanwhile, we have a lot of evidence for monism, in the form of brain-damage patients.  When a brain is damaged, the associated mind is damaged, usually in predictable ways, when we know enough about the function of the damaged part of the brain.

How do you expect to get anything from the studies you're proposing, other than extreme confirmation bias?

I think what John is trying to hypothesize is some sort of electro- chemical energy, without the biological component, having the potential for intelligence. It may be anthropocentric vanity for us to deny the possibility, in fact there's every reason to believe it possible, but that only serves to confirm that our consciousness requires the biological to function. John's model, set in the context of biological death, would need a teleological mechanism and hence could only be described as supernatural.

I've said elsewhere that I could imagine consciousness developing in other media, besides organic brains.  This doesn't really get us anywhere, though, since even a demonstration of something of the sort wouldn't give us any reason to think that our consciousnesses currently do anything similar.

It's an interesting study, but "near death" experiences are just that. A study in "death" experiences would hold more water. The brain might still be functioning on some level upon clinical death and the subject has some recall when regaining consciousness. Who knows?

A study in "death" experiences would hold more water.

Yeah, but setting up the experiments is a bugger.  This sort of thing is why the entire endeavor is so fundamentally flawed.

That's right. As such, if an objective study were to be conducted on the subject it would have to guarantee that the patient experienced awareness when he or she had no brain activity. This would complicate any objective experiment on the subject but I don't believe it would rule out objective experiments on it. Below is a post that I have made several times in this discussion describing what I believe would constitute a valid experiment on the subject. However, I don't see where scientists are ready to conduct such an experiment at this point in time:

Objective scientific studies on this matter would involve determining that subjects whose hearts had stopped for minutes actually knew what was going on when they had no brain activity. This would be strong evidence that their minds had existed independently from their brains.

For legal reasons the subjects would have to have agreed in advance to allow brain monitoring of them when they were in dying situations.

In dying situations predetermined out of the ordinary events could be orchestrated around the subjects that they would not be likely to guess had happened based on reason. If on repeated occasions it was determined that subjects whose heart had stopped for minutes knew what was going on around them (especially from an out of body perspective such that they knew of things that they would not have been able to see from where their bodies were) when they had no brain activity then the objective conclusion could be made that there was strong evidence that the mind had existed independently from the brain.

Atheists, unlike theists. are not threatened by truly objective scientific studies. If such studies indicate to a high probability that the mind can exist independently from the brain they will still not point to the existence of a god. They will only mean that the mind may be sustainable from forces and particles in the physical universe that are external to animal bodies. There would be nothing supernatural about this.

As such, Atheists should easily be able to entertain objective scientific studies even if they indicate to a high probability that the mind can exist independently from the brain. Atheists certainly should not under any circumstances fly in the face of objective scientific studies as theists do.

Anyway, the objective scientific studies might establish that there is no evidence that the mind can exist independently from the brain.

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