$5 Million Grant Awarded by Private Foundation to Study Immortality

31 Jul

Thank you to Stuart for alerting me to this news report on the internet today.

 I am really excited to hear that The John Templeton Foundation has given a grant to philosopher John Fischer of UC Riverside, California. The research is intended to explore aspects of immortality along with near-death experiences and the impact of belief in an afterlife on human behaviour. 

 For the full news report click on the link below:


116 Responses to “$5 Million Grant Awarded by Private Foundation to Study Immortality”

  1. Michael Duggan July 31, 2012 at 9:04 pm #

    I wish parapsychology in general could receive that kind of support. The field is so embarrassingly impoverished it’s a wonder that anything has been learned at all.

    • Dr Penny Sartori August 1, 2012 at 9:23 am #

      Hi Michael, I think this is a significant amount of funding for this kind of work – the biggest amount of its kind as far as I’m aware. There has been virtually no funding in this area of research to this point so let’s hope its the beginning of more funding in all areas like this.

  2. John Schofield August 1, 2012 at 7:58 am #

    Well, things are looking up, except that non-locality rules,O.K. ? As someone in medieval times said (loosely quoted from memory):
    ‘Heaven ghostlie is neither up nor down, neither left nor right’.
    So good to hear about this Templeton Award: and I’m quite sure that all your colleagues, friends and followers want to see you getting a piece of the action, Dr. Sartori !
    Sincere good wishes…

    • Dr Penny Sartori August 1, 2012 at 9:19 am #

      Hi John, yes its very encouraging that such a big research grant has been given to this kind of research. I think it is a sign that things are changing and more people are recognising the importance of this kind of research. I’d love to be involved in this project.

  3. Robert August 1, 2012 at 8:01 am #

    Do you know about Fischer? Has he done any research or published work in near-death studies?

    • Dr Penny Sartori August 1, 2012 at 9:17 am #

      Hi Robert, no to be honest I’ve never heard of Fischer. I’ll be looking him up later. I don’t think he’s published any work in near-death studies, I’ll see what I can find out later today.

  4. tim August 1, 2012 at 1:24 pm #

    He doesn’t seem very well informed about NDE’s to say the least. What does he think all the other researchers have been doing for the past thirty years, including yourself, Penny.
    He wants to find out if it’s all nonsense etc …I think we’ve cleared that hurdle a long time ago. This is what the problem is with the subject of NDE’s, a great many intellectuals blithely assume that they have been accounted for, and they simply haven’t.

    • Dr Penny Sartori August 8, 2012 at 9:51 am #

      Hi Tim, yes it is unusual that such a big grant has been given to someone who hasn’t been prominent in the field of near-death research. I hope it is researched with an open mind and that consideration is given to the hard work that has already been done in this area.

      To disregard the work that has already been done would be a great concern.

  5. Keith August 1, 2012 at 4:12 pm #

    John Fischer is a humanist philosopher who has published several books and many papers mainly about free will and determinism, he claims to have no religious viewpoint, he is in his words “not inclined toward religious belief,I don’t know if I believe in an afterlife. But it’s fascinating to think about whether it could be desireable or choice-worthy,”
    Hopefully he will take on board the substantial research data already done on NDE,s including yours Penny!

    • Dr Penny Sartori August 8, 2012 at 10:01 am #

      Hi Keith, thank you for this information. Yes, I hope he takes into consideration all of the work int his area already. I’m sure there will be many interesting debates about the outcome of his work.

  6. Stuart August 3, 2012 at 1:00 pm #

    I found this article in relation to the above. I never heard of Japanese NDER’s seeing gardens and the like as opposed to tunnels and lights. Is this widely reported?


    • Dr Penny Sartori August 8, 2012 at 11:02 am #

      HI Stuart, thanks for the link I’ll check it out. Yes, it is common for Japanese NDErs to report gardens. There are not a great deal of Japanese cases in the literature as compared to Western NDEs but Dr Ornella Corrazza has examples of a few in her book. There are also some Japanese news articles with reports of NDEs.

  7. anneke August 4, 2012 at 2:33 pm #

    a critical note….

    Is $5-Million for Life After Death Research a Waste?

    Posted on 04 August 2012, 9:28

    If you missed it in the news last week, The John Templeton Foundation, a philanthropic organization, awarded a three-year, $5-million grant to John M. Fischer, a humanities professor at the University of California, Riverside, to explore a wide range of issues related to “immortality.” Fischer is quoted: “People have been thinking about immortality throughout history. We have a deep human need to figure out what happens to us after death. Much of the discussion has been in literature, especially in fantasy and science fiction, and in theology in the context of an afterlife, heaven, hell, purgatory and karma. No one has taken a comprehensive and sustained look at immortality that brings together the science, theology, and philosophy.”

    The initial release states that all recent research in the near-death experience and “other experiences” is anecdotal. Fischer is quoted in a Los Angeles Times article as saying that the project is not aimed at proving anything. He described himself as skeptical about an afterlife, but believes it could be a good thing.

    As I have great respect for the John Templeton Foundation, I hate to be negative, but I was sickened when I read the release, especially Fischer’s words. If he is unaware of all the comprehensive and sustained research carried out over the past 160 years – research in mediumship, reincarnation, near-death experiences, and out-of-body experiences – how can he possibly have the expertise to head up such a research project? What is he going to be able to come up with in three years that others haven’t already discovered, especially if he is starting from scratch, as he must be if he doesn’t believe there has been anything of value produced to date?

    I can summarize what Fischer will say in three years right now. Since the Templeton Foundation seems to be pro spirituality, he will not totally dismiss survival, but will say it remains a mystery which science will hopefully solve in the future. He will confirm that certain phenomena, such as the near-death experience, suggest something more than a physical body, but will add that much more research is necessary. In the mean time, we should all live in the moment, love our neighbors, and not concern ourselves with what comes after death. That will be the sage advice coming from a $5-million study.

    One might infer from Fischer’s statement that he has never heard of men like Crookes, Barrett, Myers, Hodgson, Lodge, Richet, Hyslop, Crawford, Geley, Stevenson, and all the distinguished NDE researchers from the past 35 years – men and women who dedicated themselves to such research in spite of criticism from their scientific peers. Hodgson spent the better part of 18 years studying one woman, Leonora Piper, while Hyslop devoted the last two decades of his life to full-time psychical researcher. How anyone who has studied their detailed research reports can say that their research was not comprehensive and sustained, or just anecdotal, is beyond me.

    Of course, many scientists, who haven’t really studied it, find it easier to dismiss it as outdated. Many assume that those distinguished researchers of yesteryear were simply duped by a bunch of charlatans. If I were a non-believer, I would say that all those distinguished men are rolling over in their graves, but since I am a believer I suspect that they are shaking their heads in disgust from some lofty perch, assuming that they are still within vibrational range of us to care enough.

    The fact is that those researchers of yesteryear offered evidence that is likely as good as we will ever get. Studies in the NDE, OBE, and past-lives have added to their research, but their work formed a strong nucleus around which other research could add and confirm. Let me quote a few of those pioneers of psychical research:

    Richard Hodgson: “I had but one object, to discover fraud and trickery…of unmasking [Mrs. Piper]. Today, I am prepared to say that I believe in the possibility of receiving messages from what is called the world of spirits. I entered the house profoundly materialistic, not believing in the continuance of life after death; today I say I believe. The truth has been given to me in such a way as to remove from me the possibility of a doubt.” (Dr. Hodgson taught philosophy at Cambridge before taking over the American branch of the Society for Psychical Research.)

    James H. Hyslop: “Personally I regard the fact of survival after death as scientifically proved. I agree that this opinion is not upheld in scientific quarters. But this is neither our fault nor the fault of the facts. Evolution was not believed until long after it was proved. The fault lay with those who were too ignorant or too stubborn to accept the facts. History shows that every intelligent man who has gone into this investigation, if he gave it adequate examination at all, has come out believing in spirits; this circumstance places the burden or proof on the shoulders of the skeptic.” (Dr. Hyslop was professor of logic and ethics at Columbia University before becoming a full-time psychical researcher.)

    William James: “I am able, while still holding to all the lower principles of interpretation, to imagine the process as more complex, and to share the feelings with which Hodgson came at last to regard it after his many years of familiarity, the feeling which Professor Hyslop shares, and which most of those who have good sittings are promptly inspired with.” (Dr. James was professor of anatomy and philosophy at Harvard and a pioneer in psychology.)

    Alfred Russel Wallace: “My position is that the phenomena of Spiritualism in their entirety do not require further confirmation. They are proved quite as well as facts are proved in other sciences.” (Wallace was co-originator with Charles Darwin of the natural selection theory of evolution.)

    Sir Oliver Lodge: (below) “I tell you with all my strength of the conviction which I can muster that we do persist…I say it on distinct scientific grounds. I say it because I know that certain friends of mine still exist, because I have talked with them…The dead are not dead, but alive.” (Dr. Lodge was a professor of physics and pioneer in electricity and radio.)

    Sir William Barrett: “I am personally convinced that the evidence we have published decidedly demonstrates (1) the existence of a spiritual world, (2) survival after death, and (3) of occasional communication from those who have passed over… It is however hardly possible to convey to others who have not had a similar experience an adequate idea of the strength and cumulative force of the evidence that has compelled [my] belief.” (Sir William was a professor of physics at the Royal College in Dublin.)

    Sir William Crookes: “[The phenomena] point to the existence of another order of human life continuous with this, and demonstrate the possibility in certain circumstances of communication between this world and the next.” (Crookes was a world-renowned chemist and a pioneer in radiology.)

    Cesare Lombroso: “I am ashamed and grieved at having opposed with so much tenacity the possibility of psychic facts – the facts exist and I boast of being a slave to facts. There can be no doubt that genuine psychical phenomena are produced by intelligences totally independent of the psychic and the parties present at the sittings.” (Dr. Lombroso was a psychiatrist and founder of the science of criminology.)

    Charles Richet: “It seems to me the facts are undeniable. I am convinced that I have been present at realities. Certainly I cannot say in what materialization consists. I am ready to maintain that there is something profoundly mysterious in it which will change from top to bottom our ideas on nature and on life.” (Dr. Richet was a professor of physiology and the 1913 Nobel Prize winner in medicine)

    Camille Flammarion: “I do not hesitate to affirm my conviction, based on personal examination of the subject, that any man who declares the phenomena to be impossible is one who speaks without knowing what he is talking about; and, also that any man accustomed to scientific observation – provided that his mind is not biased by preconceived opinions – may acquire a radical and absolute certainty of the reality of the facts alluded to.” (Flammarion was a pioneer astronomer.)

    Robert Crookall: “The whole of the available evidence is explicable on the hypothesis of the survival of the human soul in a Soul Body. There is no longer a ‘deadlock’ or ‘stalemate’ on the question of survival. On the contrary, survival is as well established as the theory of evolution.” (Dr. Crookall was a respected British botanist and geologist.)

    Enrico Morselli: “If for many years academic science has depreciated the whole category of facts…so much the worse for science. And worse still for the scientists who have remained deaf and blind before affirmations, not of credulous sectarians, but of serious and worthy observers, such as Crookes, Lodge, and Richet. I, myself, as far as my modest power went, contributed to this obstinate skepticism until the day when I was enabled to break the chains in which my absolutist preconceptions had bound my judgment. I was a bitter skeptic with regard to the objective reality of the phenomena. Today, furnished with an experience, after long and mature reflections on what I have seen and touched with my hand, I have changed my belief.” (Dr. Morselli was Director of the Clinic of Nervous and Mental Disease at the University of Genoa.)

    All of the above-quoted researchers were fully aware of the alternative explanations to what they observed – fraud, telepathy, and what later came to be called superpsi. Though not subject to easy qualitative and quantitative analyses, the evidence is empirical and as solid today as it was in their day. But mainstream science resisted and ignored it. “The aim of science has been for the most part a study of mechanism, the mechanism whereby results are achieved, an investigation into the physical processes which go on, and which appear to be coextensive with nature,” Lodge explained the ignorance. “Any theory which seems to involve the action of Higher Beings, or of any unknown entity controlling and working the mechanism, is apt to be extruded or discountenanced as a relic of primitive superstition, coming down from times when such infantile explanations were prevalent.”

    Instead of attempting to reinvent the wheel, the Templeton Foundation should get someone for a fraction of that $5-million to collect and collate all the research that has already been done on the subject of immortality and then explain it to the public in a manner that is understandable to the average person. At the same time, science needs to consider the possibility that uncertainty might very well be a good thing. Nothing addresses that better than a message given to Victor Hugo by a spirit when the great author asked why God does not better reveal himself. “Because doubt is the instrument which forges the human spirit,” the communicating entity told him. “If the day were to come when the human spirit no longer doubted, the human soul would fly off and leave the plough behind, for it would have acquired wings. The earth would lie fallow. Now, God is the sower and man the harvester. The celestial seed demands that the human ploughshare remain in the furrow of life.”

    Michael Tymn is the author of The Afterlife Revealed: What Happens After we Die, Transcending the Titanic, and The Afterlife Explorers Volume 1., published by White Crow Books and available from Amazon and all good online bookstores.

    • Dr Penny Sartori August 8, 2012 at 10:09 am #

      Hi Anneke, thank you for taking the time to post such an informative and lengthy comment. Yes, it is interesting the The Templeton Foundation have funded this project. I think the findings will spark many great debates.

      However, at the end of the day the groundwork that has been done in this area (that you have mentioned above) and the recent prospective studies of NDEs show that it would be total ignorance to dismiss these kinds of experiences. Clearly there is so much more to consciousness than we currently understand so maybe a philosophical investigation may end up being supportive of the work that has been undertaken in this field so far. It may even come up with a new philosophical explanation for non-local consciousness – now that would be really intersting.

  8. Jake August 5, 2012 at 9:21 pm #

    This is fantastic news. There really needs to be more research on this. It is the most important topic in history.

    I have a question for Penny or anyone else who wants to comment. I recently had a OOBE experience in a state right before going to sleep. I was able to observe the room and it felt extremely realistic. Definitely different from dreaming.

    Here’s the thing, though. I have night vision deficiency (can’t see anything if there aren’t any lights on), and all the lights were out in my room. At the beginning of this experience, I was in my room and it was pitch black (similar to how it looks with my night vision deficiency). If I was truly out of my body, why was my vision the exact same with the same problem? Shouldn’t I have been able to see things in my room that I normally couldn’t with my everyday vision problem?

    Furthermore, I went out into the hallway before being zapped back into my body (where the light was still on and I could see), and there were some differences when I checked the next day. The pictures on the walls were in different places. Therefore, the logical answer is I really wasn’t in my hallway. My answer is everything was created by my brain.

    This has led me to believe that, although it felt real, it wasn’t. I know Penny’s work goes against this (though, it is still far from 100% concrete evidence). Does this mean that some OOBE can be real and others aren’t? How exactly can this be explained, especially when they all feel real?

    • Dr Penny Sartori August 8, 2012 at 10:59 am #

      Hi Jake, thank you for posting this about your OBE. This is very interesting to me as I’ve never spoken to someone who has had an OBE and also has night vision deficiency. Was the OBE spontaneous or did you try to evoke it in some way, maybe through a meditation/ astral travel technique?

      With other cases of OBEs that I am familiar with and with OBEs of blind people I would have thought that your vision while out of your body would have been without night vision deficiency and that you would have been able to see things. It is very interesting that you could not see anything in your room where the lights were off but you could see things in the hallway where the lights were on.

      Even more interesting to me is that you saw that the pictures on the wall were in a different place and were able to check the locations of the pictures the next day. This certainly would seem as if it was a creation of your brain so this is a very important case to take into account.

      However, I must also point out that it sounds as if it occurred in a different context to those reported during cardiac arrest or an emergency medical situation (I am assuming that you were probably going to sleep at the time and not undergoing a medical emergency at the time – please correct me if I am wrong). If I am correct then maybe there is a difference between spontaneous OBEs and those reported during medical emergency.

      Can you let me know the circumstances of your OBE i.e. were you about to go to sleep or did you do anything to try to induce an OBE?

      • Lee August 8, 2012 at 1:00 pm #

        Not related to the posts, but of interest:

      • Dr Penny Sartori August 10, 2012 at 11:55 am #

        Hi Lee, thanks for posting the link to this article. A very good response and an article that follwers of the blog will be interested in.

      • Robert August 10, 2012 at 3:23 pm #

        Many thanks to Lee for the link to the Greyson, Holden, van Lommel resonse to Mobb and Watt. I found Mobb’s response interesting, both because he didn’t give an inch, and because Watt (who did give an inch or two on an interview on skeptiko.com) declined to join in the response.

      • Jake August 9, 2012 at 5:37 am #

        Yes, I induced it on my own through meditation. I was trying to get an OBE because I wanted to find out if it was real. I did it for weeks prior with no success right before going to sleep each time. It was in a state between being asleep and conscious. I don’t believe I was asleep, though extremely close, and the experience only lasted a few seconds. It is possible it could have been just a very very lucid dream (even though it didn’t feel like a dream) of what I wanted to see.

        It all happened very quickly. It is possible it only felt real because of the circumstance of seemingly being out of my body. Let’s assume, for a second, it was a dream. If this dream was instead of me being on a beach (rather than in my room), I probably would have brushed it off even if it felt a lot more lucid than a regular dream. Not sure if that makes sense or not. Feel free to ask any more questions, and thanks for the response. Very interesting blog.

      • Dr Penny Sartori August 10, 2012 at 12:00 pm #

        Thanks Jake, it is interesting that you had induced this experience through meditation. It seems that there are differences between induced OBEs and those that occur during emergency situations. It is possible that it was a lucid dream because you were also falling asleep as you consciously induced this experience. It is still a very interesting case to me and I will keep this in mind. I’m sure I’ll have many more questions for you.

        Max has also replied and asked some very good questions too.

    • Max_B August 8, 2012 at 1:34 pm #

      As you point out, the different arrangement of pictures on the walls indicates that you had created the content of your OBE yourself. So I think your conclusions are right.

      The OBE’s that are important to me, are those rare ones that can be verified. In particular those that can be verified as having taken place when the observer was monitored as unconcious, most particularly when they were also classed as clinically dead.

      I would be more interested in the feelings and thoughts you had – if any – during your experience. What were your thoughts/feelings whilst you were in the dark? how did you move into the lighted hallway?, why did you move out of the darkened room? where were you heading? what was your motivation? what were you feel when you entered the lighted hall? Did you have any feeling that the pictures were misarranged at the time of the experience etc? etc…

      • Jake August 12, 2012 at 7:48 am #

        hey max-

        What were your thoughts/feelings whilst you were in the dark?
        not liking not being able to see anything, so i wanted to move to the hallway (I could see the light coming from the hallway underneath the door- one of the few things I could see in my room aside from a digital clock (uses lights to display the numbers so I can obviously see it at night)
        how did you move into the lighted hallway?
        moved over to the door and suddenly I was on the other side. this transition was extremely quick
        why did you move out of the darkened room?
        answered above
        where were you heading?
        to the hallway because the room was pitch black- i wanted to try observing something
        what was your motivation?
        to try and find out if the experience was real (I didn’t think about my night vision problem still being persistent in the OBE until I woke up- at that point I started questioning the experience)
        what were you feel when you entered the lighted hall?
        mostly a sense of interest and curiosity
        Did you have any feeling that the pictures were misarranged at the time of the experience ?
        nope. i woke up fully believing it was a real experience. then i checked the pictures

        here’s something interesting too… last night I was having nightmares the whole night for some reason (usually I sleep pretty peacefully). I kept waking up and going back to sleep and after a time I didn’t even know what was real and when I was sleeping. I had a nightmare that I was sleeping in my bed and looked down at my chest and it was bleeding (yeah very odd dream) and then i went back to sleep. at the time, however, i thought it was real. when i finally woke up several hours later, the first thing I did was check my chest to see if it was bleeding. it wasn’t, thankfully.

        this has got me thinking…. are ANY self induced obe real? if they could be done, wouldn’t someone have proven it by now? should be pretty easy to do. I heard of the miss z case, but that was fifty years ago without a single test proven since then.

        surely, if induced OBE were real, they would be pretty easy to prove compared to the work penny does involving near death situations

      • Dr Penny Sartori August 12, 2012 at 12:47 pm #

        Thanks for your answers Jake. This is really intersting to me. It does appear that induced OBEs are quite different from those in the near-death state.

      • Jake August 12, 2012 at 7:52 am #

        i should note, in my last comment when i talked about looking down at my chest, it was already morning so sunlight was coming through the windows. the experience was still clearly a dream, however.

      • Max_B August 12, 2012 at 5:43 pm #

        Thanks Jake… the only feeling you’ve mentioned appears to be a degree of anxiety centered around the time when you were unable to see anything in the dark, the ‘bleeding chest’ sounds like it might have similar feelings.

  9. Robert August 10, 2012 at 3:28 pm #

    A big puzzle, I think, is why perceptions in the out-of-body state during NDEs tend to check out remarkably well, while perceptions in “normal” OBEs often don’t. The results of experiments on veridical perception in the OBE state, from what I know, are mostly unimpressive. I’m wondering if the separation from the body is more complete in NDEs. Perhaps in other OBEs, only part of the mind separates and the resulting experience is a fusion of objective and subjective elements. Just a thought. I’ve just finsihed an excellent book called Dreamer by Andy Paquette, where he has OBEs during dreams, and his perceptions, though often quite veridical, seem at times like just such a fusion.

    • Dr Penny Sartori August 12, 2012 at 11:54 am #

      Hi Robert, thanks for your comment. Yes, I tend to agree with your point I think that the separation of consciousness could be more complete in the OBE associated with NDEs. In the NDE state the body is severely compromised whereas it is not in the induced types of OBE. Your suggestion that the resulting experience in an induced OBE is a fusion of objective and subjective elements is very plausible.

      Thanks for mentioning the book you’ve been reading, I’ll check it out.

  10. chelsea8585 August 11, 2012 at 8:21 am #

    Hi Penny, This is completely off topic, but I was wondering about your thoughts on the recent arrest of Dr Melvin Morse. His story has made headlines here in Australia, and knowing that I have an interest in NDE’s my skeptic friends have been quick to point out Dr Morse’s link with NDE’s as being positive proof of “these people being wackos.” Obviously I completely disagree, but I was wondering if you think this unfortunate happening will hinder future NDE research as being taken seriously?

    • Dr Penny Sartori August 12, 2012 at 12:52 pm #

      Hi, thanks for your question. I wasn’t aware that Dr Morse had been arrested but I just looked it up. It is unfortunate that this has occurred but Dr Morse has done some very important research in the field of near-death studies. It would be a shame if his great contribution to this field was overlooked or in some way discredited by these events that have occurred many years after his research was conducted.

  11. Jake August 17, 2012 at 2:13 am #

    AWARE study update-

    Parnia has a book coming February 2013. http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Lazarus-Effect-Rewriting-Boundaries/dp/1846043077

    “Drawing upon ground-breaking research, Dr Sam Parnia explains what happens to the brain and consciousness during cardiac arrest. In The Lazarus Effect, he shares the amazing stories of patients who have survived cardiac arrest, and explains how this points to a new understanding of death. Medical science has made huge advances in recent years and it’s now clear that:

    ·If a patient hasn’t taken a breath for 10 minutes, they are not necessarily dead. In fact, death is not a moment in time but a process – today you could still be resuscitated after 40 minutes.

    ·In 10 years’ time, we may recover loved ones hours, or even days, after their last breath.

    ·If the body suffers a serious trauma, the heart and brain cells go into a sort of hibernation from which they can recover.

    ·Recovery is much more likely if the body is artificially cooled – but only 50% of hospitals do this.

    ·Only 1.8% of resuscitations are currently successful (unlike how it seems on TV hospital dramas).

    ·The ‘dead’ can remember things, and do have some awareness while they’re ‘out of action’.

    We need to reassess such questions as When is the brain actually dead?…When should organ donation begin?…What does all this mean about the nature of our minds and our bodies? Using the very latest science, The Lazarus Effect has profound implications for the ways in which we view death – and life…and will hopefully change the way medics treat us should we ever find ourselves in Accident and Emergency.”

    The summary doesn’t specifically mention awareness out of the body or seeing the symbols, so to me it sounds like it wasn’t a success in that regard. We’ll see what happens.

    • Dr Penny Sartori August 20, 2012 at 9:31 am #

      Hi Jake, thanks for this. I’m not sure that the book will have the results of the AWARE study. It will be interesting to see what Dr Parnia has written, I’m looking forward to reading it, it sounds very interesting.

      • Max_B August 20, 2012 at 6:36 pm #

        When do you think your own book will be published Penny?

      • Dr Penny Sartori August 24, 2012 at 11:02 am #

        I’m hoping it will be soon. I’ve approached a few publishers myself but have decided to get an agent as most publishers haven’t even acknowledged receipt of my proposal. Apparently there are big changes going on in the publishing industry. As soon as I get any news, I will post a comment on the blog.

      • Jake August 20, 2012 at 11:08 pm #

        Thanks Penny. I’m just assuming it is because I know the AWARE results are due out soon and this book focuses on new research. I can’t say for certain, but to me it definitely feels this will be focusing on AWARE. Maybe not the final results, though.

        here is another one-

        Click to access Winter2013-Trade.pdf

        “Dr. Sam Parnia is one of the world’s leading experts on the scientific study of death, the human mind-brain relationship, and near-death experiences. His specialty in resuscitation medicine and the innovative scientific study he leads, AWARE (Awareness during Resuscitation) challenges our understanding of life, death, and consciousness. Parnia studies the brain and consciousness during cardiac arrest to discover what happens when we die as well as to improve the medical care of cardiac arrest patients. As a result, he answers some of medical science’s most pressing questions.
        In Erasing Death: The Science That Is Erasing the Boundaries Between Life and Death, Parnia presents cutting edge death research. Erasing Death sheds light on the ultimate mystery – what happens to human consciousness during and after death. Parnia’s research shows that death is, in almost all cases, reversible and that some afterlife is uniquely ours, as evidenced, among other things, by the ability of the “dead” to formulate memories and maintain some awareness. This book is evidence that we are making previously unthinkable technological progress in our battle against death, and still more radical victories await us. With Parnia at the forefront, we may be on the…”

        It says “afterlife” but also “uniquely ours”. Not sure what to make of that, but to me uniquely ours implies it is subjective to our own minds. I know Parnia in the past has said if there are no direct hits he would say NDE are an illusion, but you have pointed out the difficulties of getting direct hits. I wonder if he is testing for OBE verification in other regards aside from just the targets. If he is ONLY testing for the targets and nobody sees them and he comes to the conclusion that NDE aren’t real, that would be misguided. I don’t know the specifics of the study though.

      • Dr Penny Sartori August 24, 2012 at 11:10 am #

        Thanks for the comment Jake. I’m looking forward to reading this book when it is published. I’ll have more of an idea about what Dr Parnia means when I’ve read the book. From what I understand (certainly when I was involved in setting up the AWARE study at the hospital where I worked) the only way that OBEs are being tested for verification is through the use of hidden targets. You have a very valid point – it may be misguided to dismiss the NDE as an illusion on the basis of targets not being seen. I have pointed out the complexities and difficulties of veridical perception in previous posts on the blog – I would hope this would be taken into account before any conclusions are drawn.

  12. Gary August 17, 2012 at 7:23 pm #


    I have composed this quickly and apologise if it sounds alarmist.

    Jake needs to be warned that trying to induce an OBE is a serious mistake.
    I have had many of them over the years and put there authenticity to the test.
    Piecing together (to my own satisfaction) there origin and cause.

    OBE/NDE – makes no difference consciousness does not leave the body.
    All these experiences are constructed by the underestimated power of our own subconscious minds.

    The blood Jake saw on his chest is an ominous warning sign.
    Study the photographs in this wiki entry:

    I accept Jake is not reporting sleep paralysis, but that may change in the future
    now that he is trying to condition his body to experience an OBE.

    He had his experience during daylight so the creature had gone – next time it happens
    it may be dark and still be there – he will then have to live through the experience of those wounds being inflicted (this may then happen on a regular basis for the rest of his life.)
    That’s why they are called ‘night terrors.’

    They happen for reasons the subconscious would rather forget. He has already commented on how real OBEs feel:

    This is a YouTube ref to night terror caught on video:
    (copy & paste needed, I did not want to link directly)


    This is what he is risking and his night vision problems will only compound the horror.

    If things turn serious for him he will look to you for answers and you will not have them.
    The only advice is for him to remember: it’s all from his own subconscious.

    I am sorry that I cannot be more specific.

    [I will understand if you choose not to post this reply]

    • Jake August 20, 2012 at 11:00 pm #

      Thanks for the reply and your concern. I don’t have night terrors or sleep paralysis, but I never thought of inducing an OBE on my own as being a bad thing. Regardless of whether I had one and if it was real or just a dream, I have no intention of trying it again. Not because it scared me, but because I was able to verify for myself it was not real. I have no need to return to that state again. I wasn’t scared during the experience, but I was afterwards while I was sleeping. There has been a ton on my mind recently, I am getting ready to move to NYC and have a lot of anxiety about it since it will be a huge change in lifestyle. I think that is why I had the nightmare. Haven’t had too many since, mostly just unusual dreams.

      I still have an interest in NDE, but obviously there would be no way for me to test it out on my own so I’ll have to count on Parnia, Penny, and everyone else in the field to share their results.

      Once again though, thanks for the reply I appreciate it.

      • Max_B August 24, 2012 at 7:41 pm #

        Jake, I love it… that fits your OBE type dream experience so well.

        Moving from a place of darkness (uncertainty/the-unknown), to the lighted hallway (a place of certainty). Accompanied with anxiety/stress from just wanting to get your ‘move’ over with by getting out of the dark. There’s a possible time issue with the clock, and the rearranged pictures on the hallway walls seem somehow prophetic of change. I even love the use of hallway (appropriate for both leaving and entering), and leaving the bedroom, a room that might normally imply rest, comfort and familiarity (current location).

        You have just got to love the brain 🙂

      • Gary September 1, 2012 at 3:32 am #

        I am glad to hear that everything is okay with Jake.

        I feel I owe you an apology Penny as I did not think that you would publish my post as my assertion, “consciousness does not leave the body…” possibly contradicts much of the research efforts.

        What is interesting about Jake’s reply is that he has supplied more information showing that he was more in control of the situation then I had thought.

        I feel that if more information could be obtained about a person’s OBE\NDE then much of the mystery about them would evaporate (especially the ‘unexplainable’ ones.)

        I have only had my interest in OBE’s rekindled recently and am amazed at the amount of interest there seems to be about the subject on the Internet.

        I found on YouTube: “Al Sullivan – Near death out of body experience” and was surprised to see two presumably eminent persons staking their professional reputations on the authenticity of this video (I believe that it has also received a seal of approval from Dr. Bruce Greyson?)

        I feel this video is badly flawed and plan to set up my own blog/web page pointing out some of the issues with it that these professional people really should spot for themselves.

        If Al Sullivan is the ‘gold standard’ of OBE\NDE then it doesn’t say much for all those below it.

        Why do people take what they see, hear or read on such superficial face value?

        I will send you details when up and running. I think you will find it a very interesting read.

  13. Kinseher Richard August 23, 2012 at 5:47 am #

    With Google [“Immortality Project” Pfeiffer] you can find my comments on Pfeiffers blog with a complete explanation of NDEs.
    It is embarrassing when a $5M grant is given for reseach on a topic, which is already explained.

    • Dr Penny Sartori August 24, 2012 at 11:12 am #

      Thanks for your comment. I’m not sure that this topic is already explained and The Templeton Foundation would not make such a huge grant if this were the case. There is still a great deal that we need to learn and explore.

    • Jake August 25, 2012 at 9:44 am #

      Just someone trying to sell you his book. They haven’t been explained.

      • Lewis August 30, 2012 at 12:03 pm #

        I did carry out the Google search he suggested and have to say that his suggestion for the feeling of love having a link to being cared for as a baby was interesting. If it’s at all accurate then it would suggest that negative NDE’s are linked to traumatic experiences suffered as babies. In all honesty I’d like to see some research done on that end.

      • Dr Penny Sartori September 3, 2012 at 4:08 pm #

        Yes, this is a very interesting area to explore. I’m fascinated by how much the experience of being in the womb and the actual birth experience itself can influence how each individual develops. There is lots of really fascinating work on this and it is an area I got side tracked with while doing my PhD. It still fascinates me now so I’m hoping to explore this aspect further with some future research.

      • Kinseher Richard August 31, 2012 at 9:51 am #

        Dear Jake

        I have published my explanation model for free – therefore it is not(!) necessary to buy my book. Additional I have sent a free(!) copy to several NDE-researchers; Dr. Sartori received her copy in march 2012.

        Scientists/Researchers have to analyse all(!) possibilities to explain a phenomenon – to confirm an idea or to disprove a theory. To ignore an explanation model is not scientific, this is bungle.

        Theology always said, that death is not reversible for us humans – therefore a person who is able to report NDEs was never dead nor in a next world (Prof. Dr. Hans Küng).
        Already 1975 Dr. Moody wrote in his book ´Life after Life´(e.g. chapter ´Hearing the news´) that NDEs usually will start when a person hear to be declared as dead, or when a person itself is thinking to die: A person who can hear/think is in a state of conscious awareness: is alive.
        In his book you can find some reports of NDEs where it was possible parallel to the NDE to observe the surrounding area: a person who can watch the environment and store this experience in the memory is alive.

      • Max_B September 3, 2012 at 6:43 pm #

        Lewis, it’s an obvious conclusion to jump to, but when you play around with NDE’s on a global scale, it often doesn’t really fit. The few Eastern culture NDE’s I’ve read with their classic cultural imagery, often contain little in the way of love/unconditional love etc. as I can understand it as someone raised in the west.

        It’s only when you start adding/subtracting differences of personal experience/belief patterns etc., from cultural group experience/belief patterns etc. that you get hint’s of a better fit, but it’s still ‘way’ off.

  14. jake September 4, 2012 at 11:17 pm #

    Something I’d like to see penny blog on that isn’t getting nearly enough attention is the after effects of many nders when they deal with electronic devil

    • jake September 4, 2012 at 11:20 pm #

      Sorry this got cut off. Electronics that tend to short circuit and stop working after use such as cars batteries and watches. Can this be explained scientifically?

      • Dr Penny Sartori September 7, 2012 at 11:11 am #

        This is a particular interest of mine. I’ve written about it in my forthcoming book. As yet, there has been little written about it in comparison to other after effets. It is something that I would like to explore further and I’m currently exploring ideas of how I can research this further. I have some ideas so I’ll keep you posted with any progress.

  15. Stuart September 7, 2012 at 12:40 pm #

    what’s this regarding electronics? is there any links or could someone explain it as i have never heard of it. thanks.

    • Dr Penny Sartori September 10, 2012 at 3:39 pm #

      Hi Stuart, I first read about this aspect many years ago in Dr Melvin Morse’s book Transformed by the Light. Following a NDE some people find that they can no longer wear a writst watch and that some electrical items malfunction in their presence. I have found that NDErs don’t usually associate it with their NDE until they reflect on it and realise these electrical malfunctions started after their NDE.

      For example, when I worked as a nurse a colleague of mine told me about her NDE that occurred when she was a teenager. It was only when I was explaining about NDEs to my other colleagues about the after effects that my colleague then said that she too had not been able to wear a watch since her NDE. Whenever she put a watch on her wrist it would stop working, she even took a few to be repaired but they could never find anything wrong with the watches and they worked when other people wore them.

      A few people I have spoken to have also reported that electrical items such as kettles, toasters or computers also malfunction in their presence. One lady worked in a high tech hospital environment and the brand new equipment failed several times and engineers had to be called in. They could find nothing wrong then after some weeks they realised it only malfunctioned in her presence. Since then she has to leave the room when certain procedures are carried out to ensure she doesn’t cause a technical hitch.

      There is also a well-known researcher (I will not name him here as this came up in one of our conversations) who had a NDE when he was a teenager. He gets trouble with electrical items especially computers. He has to have a new computer every six months or so, which he is finding very costly!

      I’ve written more on this in my fortcoming book and I’ve got quite a few examples of NDErs who report this aspect.
      There was a very interesting article in The Journal of Near-Death Studies Winter 2008, Vol, 27, No. 2 by Farnoosh Nouri and Janice Holden called Electromagnetic Aftereffects of Near-Death Experiences

      • Stuart September 10, 2012 at 4:44 pm #

        thanks for the information

  16. Kinseher Richard September 9, 2012 at 8:35 am #

    Dear Max_B
    My explanation model ist based on Dr. Moody´s ´Life after Life´ to demonstrate that it would have been possible to explain NDEs already 1975 – you should read his book too!
    When he introduced the key-elements he wrote already 1975, that some persons might experience all key-elements – and some persons only a part of it. So – missing the light/love experience will fit very good to Moody´s own observations! (you find this also in european/US-NDEs)
    On the Immortality project homepage > PRESS you can read about japanese NDEs where it is often reported about tending the garden -these daily life experiences fit also very good to the idea that NDEs come from the memory-

    But – it is not possible to explain fairy tales:
    e.g. the story ´Maria´s shoe´ was told for many years as an mystery and evidence for a soul which left the body – until the situation was examined and it was found, that this was an urban legend.

    • Dr Penny Sartori September 10, 2012 at 3:51 pm #

      Actually Maria’s shoe is not urban legend. There was a series of articles on ‘paranormal perception’ during NDEs in the Journal of Near-Death Studies commencing in Summer 2007.

      Kimberly Clark Sharp is the social worker who reported the case of Maria and the tennis shoe. In Vol 25, No. 4, 2007 she responds to the suggestion that the case was an urban legend. I would urge you to read it.

      • Kinseher Richard September 10, 2012 at 6:23 pm #

        Dear Penny
        The article “halllucinatory near death experiences ” by Keith Augustine can be found with Google: There you can find the chapter ´Maria´s Shoe´ and how the situation was examined.and found to be an urban legend

        For me it was always a mystery why a stinking shoe should be so attractive for a soul. I am egoistic: when I am in a dangerous situation, I would expect of a soul to stay with me and not to prefer the company a smelling shoe

        I have no access to the Journal of NDE-Studies, therefore it is not possible to me to give a comment to this article

      • Dr Penny Sartori September 11, 2012 at 12:35 pm #

        The article by Kimberly Clark Sharp is a response to Keith Augustine’s paper ‘Does Paranormal Perception Occur in Near-Death Expereinces?’. Both articles can be found in The Journal of Near-Death Studies, Vol 25, No. 4 2007. Both articles are very interesting and make very good points and it is always important to maintain a balanced view when investigating this as yet unexplained phenomenon.

        The articles can be sourced from a library or you could subscribe to the journal through the website of the International Association of Near-Death Studies (IANDS).

    • MitiL October 12, 2012 at 12:16 am #

      Sorry Kinseher Richard, but you should study much more about NDEs and OBEs before constructing your own explanation model. What you say about Maria’s shoe case (and whom you refer to) shows enough of your ignorance on this field.

      P.S. Sorry Penny, too!

  17. Kinseher Richard September 11, 2012 at 2:48 pm #

    Dear Penny
    Detailed instructions how to create ´out of body experiences´ can be found in the literature to the topic ´lucid dreaming´. In the state of lucid dreaming it is possible to leave the own body and to make ´flights´ over landscapes, to distant places and even through walls and closed doors/windows.
    Additional, experiments to the topic ´body swap illusion´ and ´rubber hand illusion´ show, how easy it is to ´leave´ the body. Such experiments are made in several universities to study how the brain create the ´self´ or/and an imagination of the own body

    Therefore the idea or illusion to have left the own body is since years no exceptional experience and no unexplained phenomenon – good NDE-research should consider these possibility to explain OBEs.

    • Dr Penny Sartori September 12, 2012 at 4:14 pm #

      Yes, I am aware of these instructions to induce out of body experiences. My research has shown that there are varying qualities of OBEs. The focus of my research was NDEs and OBEs in a prospective hospital study (not intentionally induced OBEs). By studying them in this environment I was able to check the testimonies of the patients with their medical notes and also interview the staff who were present while their OBE was occurring to verify if their reports were accurate. I have posted a previous comment on this earlier in the blog.

      I am currently writing a paper for publication which addresses the varying quality of OBEs that I found when undertaking my prospective hospital study. There are simply not enough good quality OBEs documented from such studies (and indeed not enough prospective hospital studies) to draw any firm conclusions. I would estimate that further prospective hospital research would need to run for at least 10 to 20 years in order to accumulate a large enough data base of good quality OBEs. At the end of those 10 to 20 years then if hundreds of patients claimed to have left their body but reported inaccuracies in their perceptions while out of their body then it would indeed be reasonable to suggest that these are just mind models. However, if just one patient accurately identifies the hidden target then this would have huge implications for our current understanding of consciousness. Only further research and time will tell.

    • Max_B September 12, 2012 at 4:48 pm #

      I would be as skeptical as you are about OBE’s Richard, however having had a rather unusual OBE myself ( https://drpennysartori.wordpress.com/2011/08/13/obe-veridicality-research/#comment-79 ), which was verified to be accurate, and also witnessed. I’m forced to accept that it is entirely possible to come into posession of information in a way that is outside of our current scientific understanding.

      I have great difficulty with the idea of disembodied eye’s, therfore I don’t think researchers will ever get a ‘hit’ during one of these hidden target studies.

      • Dr Penny Sartori September 13, 2012 at 3:45 pm #

        Yes, I agree Max, the disembodied eyes bit is hard for me to get my head around too.

        When Patient 10 in my study had the OBE while I was present and looking after him it really did make me realise that something that we don’t understand yet is going on. He was deeply unconscious yet when he regained consciousness a few hours later he very clearly and accurately reported everything that occurred during that period of unconsciousness. Because I was actually witness to it and didn’t just read about it, it really did make me take notice of this experience. Most patients are quite disorientated or confused when they regain consciousness but Patient 10 was very clear and very specific about what he reported. It was such a unique opportunity for me to be a part of.

  18. Kinseher Richard September 13, 2012 at 5:26 pm #

    Dear Penny

    Please search with Google for the article about Prof. Michael Wang ´Awareness under anaesthesia´. Here you can see that, despite an anaesthesia, full awareness is possible.
    Anaesthesia is made with drugs who relax muscles, take pain and/or take consciousness – but the influences on every person can be different dependent on individual metabolism. It is said that 1 of 400 to 1 of 1000 patients are at full awareness completlely of for a limited period depite of an anaesthesia .

    This might explain why your patient 10 was very clear

    • Dr Penny Sartori September 17, 2012 at 10:33 am #

      Thank you for the article reference, I will look it up.

      Patient 10 was not under anaesthesia and was not on any drugs at the time of his experience. His Glasgow Coma Score was 3/15 – the lowest score on the scale used to measure unconsciousness.

    • tim September 18, 2012 at 4:42 pm #

      Actually those figures are not correct. About one in a thousand is more accurate and the experience is very largely unpleasant, nothing at all like an NDE.


      • Dr Penny Sartori September 19, 2012 at 10:04 am #

        Thanks for this information Tim, I’ll check it out.

  19. Robert September 19, 2012 at 10:29 am #

    Here’s an idea for testing if awareness under anaesthesia can explain NDEs. We get 20 patients to have surgery without anaesthesia and then see if their experiences match the known characteristics of NDEs. Of course, first we have to find those 20 patients.

    • Dr Penny Sartori September 20, 2012 at 11:04 am #

      Ha, in theory but I doubt we’d ever find any patients who would agree to surgery without anaesthesia.

  20. tim September 19, 2012 at 7:20 pm #

    Thanks, Penny.
    The woman was desperate to ‘get off that table’ and couldn’t. This shows that one cannot wishfully create NDE as the ‘sceptics’ would have us believe. One is either really off the table and out of pain, or not.

    • Dr Penny Sartori September 20, 2012 at 11:06 am #

      Yes, I’ve read similar accounts of patients who had some awareness during surgery and they described it as a terrifying experience. Very different to the accounts of NDEs.

  21. Tony October 22, 2012 at 12:32 am #

    It’s interesting, in both dr. Alexander’s case as well as Anita moorjani’s nde they were both told they that they would return. It’s a common element in ndes that I find so interesting because its quite difficult to explain away from a skeptics viewpoint. In your study did you come across nders that experienced this?

    • Dr Penny Sartori October 22, 2012 at 4:23 pm #

      Hi Tony, yes it is interesting that they were both told that they would return. Yes, I found this with patients in my study too. The patients who met their dead relatives / friends and one who saw a Jesus type figure were all sent back to life. Interestingly, some of the dead relatives / friends shouted at the person as if they were angry that they were there. They were trying to send them back to life as soon as possible and they appeared to be conveying to the the patient that they should not be dead yet.

  22. Mike November 23, 2012 at 5:31 pm #

    Does anyone know if there’s anything new on the aware study results yet–I mean it’s almost 2013 already, and the results were suppose to be released in 2011 or 2012.
    Has anyone reported seeing any of those targets?

    • Dr Penny Sartori November 24, 2012 at 11:08 am #

      Hi Mike, I don’t know any more about the AWARE project – I haven’t been involved with it for some time. It would be best to contact Dr Parnia through the Horzion Research website.

      • Tony November 25, 2012 at 7:01 pm #

        There’s tremendous interest in this study as we can see. Curious Penny if you are aware of the approach used in aware in collecting accounts? The site is generally not very helpful in disseminating information? Would you know if collection of these accounts occur long after cardiac arrest or are they collected while the patients are still in hospital? Would you know this?

      • Dr Penny Sartori November 28, 2012 at 8:11 pm #

        Hi Tony, you ask a good question. I’ve just replied to Max (comment below) and mentioned how I did my research. I can only answer as to how the data was being collected when I had some involvement at the beginning of the AWARE study. At my hospital it was up to me to follow-up patients for the AWARE study in my own time which was virtually impossible as my nursing workload had increased and I was often getting off work late and was too exhausted to follow-up patients for the AWARE study hence I was unable to contribute much to the study. It was very difficult to follow-up patients who were in the ITU (where I was working) but for those who had been discharged to other parts of the hospital it was virtually impossible as I simply didn’t have the time to follow them up.

        However, a research nurse has since been employed. I’m not sure how soon after cardiac arrest the patients are being interviewed. It all depends on who is collecting the data at each site. Where patients have been discharged from hospital then it is possible that they will be retrospectively interviewed. I’m not sure on all of this so I would check with Dr Parnia.

    • Max_B November 24, 2012 at 7:33 pm #

      In my opinion AWARE (or any other hidden target study) is certain to return zero hits on the hidden target – simply because the target is hidden. Thus these studies will have little to say about the occasional veridical OBE component of the NDE. Never-the-less AWARE’s results are certain to be used to undermine funding for further research into this phenomena.

      I had an email just this morning from a prominent researcher in the field of consciousness, who pretty much equated the delays with AWARE, as a failure to see any hidden targets, and therefore justification to question whether there was really any such as thing as a veridical OBE.

      • Dr Penny Sartori November 28, 2012 at 8:00 pm #

        Hi Max, although the targets are hidden they are visible from above i.e. from an out of body perspective. As I’ve said in a previous post I think there are many criteria that are required for these targets to be viewed such as the quality of the OBE, or indeed if the patient was even looking around the area where the targets were.

        I think the delays are due to a few factors the biggest factor being lack of people to collect the data. When I set up the AWARE study in the hospital where I worked it was then up to me to collect the data. Unfortunately, my nursing workload had increased markedly from when I had conducted my own research 10 years previously and I was unable to follow-up patients. Any data collection had to be undertaken in my own time and I was simply too busy to follow-up patients on the wards. The NHS is very busy and I think in the beginning many of the sites involved in the AWARE project were also relying on the good will of staff members to follow-up patients in their own time (it may have changed now).

        From my experience of conducting my own research I was extremely motivated and driven to find out more about NDEs but it was also totally exhausting. In order to keep a track of the patients I had to go in a few hours earlier than when my shift started and often left work a few hours after my shift had ended. I also went in to work to interview patients on many of my days off. I was basically in work more than I was at home for the first year of data collection! If I hadn’t been able to keep on top of it in the way that I did then I would have missed many patients as I was not funded for the research so couldn’t pay anyone to help me collect the data. Also another important factor was being able to interview the patients as soon as possible after a near-death event to reduce the risk of memory contamination. The fact that I was a nurse working in the place where the NDEs were occurring was a huge advantage.

        There was very limited funding at the beginning of the AWARE study to pay people to collect the data. To my knowledge there is now a research nurse role where a nurse is paid to collate the data collected. However, I am not sure how much data has been collected at each site or how many patients have been interviewed in total.

        Without enough patients being interviewed then there is minimal chance of finding any patients who have viewed the targets so I think it is important to wait and see how many patients have been interviewed, how many of them had veridical quality OBEs and how soon after the event were they interviewed. We’ll have to wait for some results to be published.

      • Max_B November 28, 2012 at 9:17 pm #

        I absolutely understand what you are saying Penny, but as you know, I have great difficulty with the idea that the patient’s consciousness has left their body, and is floating somewhere above them, and thus able to look down on the hidden target.

        It’s far more reasonable to me, to reverse this, and consider that a third person/s visual ‘field’ is temporarily interacting with the patients brain under certain conditions. Thus I’m saying that if the third person/s present during the veridical OBE can’t see the hidden target, then neither will the patient.

        This is clumsy and incorrect but roughly speaking instead of this…

        Patients body —–> Patients consciousness

        I think it’s far more likely to be this…

        Nurses consciousness —–> Patients body

        AWARE’s lack of hit’s on hidden targets (as I expect) shouldn’t be used to undermine the veridical nature of some of these OBE’s.

        In my view, the veridical OBE component of the NDE of these hospitalised cardiac arrest patients, is a stunning bit of evidence that indicates the human brain is almost certainly using ‘fields’ to process visual information.

      • Dr Penny Sartori December 2, 2012 at 4:24 pm #

        Hi Max, yes I like your idea and it is certainly worth pursuing with further research. If there are enough cases of veridical OBEs then maybe there would be some way of investigating this point by interviewing the other people present. I agree that the AWARE study should not be used to undermine the veridical OBEs.

        I also think that there is a great possibility that the human brain uses fields when processing information.

      • Max_B December 3, 2012 at 2:07 am #

        Thanks Penny. I have toyed with ideas around random very slowly evolving coloured vector shapes (which must be next to impossible to describe verbally) located near to, but just above patient head height, and visible to staff, and another just higher than staff. The vector shape and colours are stored and time stamped, say every minute.

        The time/date of the patient’s cardiac arrest is entered into the PC’s, and a lineup of of random stored vector images is presented, mixed up with the stored higher/lower image from the entered time/date.

        In isolation, the patient selects from the line up, a maximum of two images that they believe they saw during their OBE, the computer records these guesses. Over time the significance of hits is calculated.

        I’m also fascinated as to why OBE’s/NDE rates are often so wildly different between hospitals in studies, is it differences in resuscitation procedures, or perhaps it’s the staff? Seems really interesting to me that there should be such differences… and sort of screams at me that this is significant, and what might be the correlation?

      • Dr Penny Sartori December 3, 2012 at 9:30 pm #

        Yes thats a really good idea. I know Janice Holden and Bruce Greyson have looked into doing something like this and it was also discussed when setting up the AWARE but it was too costly at the time from what I remember.

        Yes there is a bit of difference in OBE / NDE rates between studies 11 – 20% roughly. I think this is probably due to types of patients and treatment following cardiac arrest. Some patients (particularly those in coronary care) are usually resuscitated and recover very quickly whereas some patients may already have multiple problems and may require intubation and ventilation and are often sedated after their resuscitation and are transferred to the ICU. There are other variables to look at such as how prolonged was the cardiac arrest, soon after the resuscitation was the patient interviewed etc. So it may be methodological variations or simply due to throughput of patients at the time the study was conducted.

  23. Jim November 26, 2012 at 1:46 pm #

    We all know anesthetic take’s away consciousness. Not sure how it work’s on the brain.? So dose consciousnees come from the brain after all.? About NDE I believe people have them but are they real.? Or a false memory. I think science can answer this question.

    I think Dr sam parnia objective & made the study bulletproof. Over the last 3 year’s there looked at 2500.heart attack cardiac arrest. Only 20% will say they had a NDE. The 500 who had a NED beetween 80 & 142. will say they remember being above there body’s And looking down The images. Pictures have been set up for that.? And when interviewed will be asked what they remember. That’s all it is. If it’s not a false memory. If a NED is a real memory then the picture’s should of be seen.

    • Dr Penny Sartori November 28, 2012 at 8:19 pm #

      Hi Jim,

      Both Dr Parnia and myself have undertaken similar (independent) previous research which commenced in 1997 which was a pre-cursor to the AWARE study. We both had hidden targets in our research – I’ve written a comment previously on the blog about the problems associated with viewing these hidden targets. In previous prospective hospital research 10 – 20% of patients, who were resuscitated from cardiac arrest, reported a NDE.

      I wouldn’t say that the AWARE study is bulletproof but it will be very interesting to see the results which we all eagerly await.

      • Dr Penny Sartori December 2, 2012 at 3:54 pm #

        Thanks for this Stuart

      • Tony November 29, 2012 at 1:12 am #

        I guess what I would find interesting is veridical obes of the deaf. It sounds to me that if a mind model was involved it would be via listening and forming memories during cardiac arrest or even anesthesia awareness. Ken Rings study of the blind was extremely interesting, have you heard of obes of the deaf?

      • Dr Penny Sartori December 2, 2012 at 4:34 pm #

        Hi Tony, yes I have a few cases of NDEs of deaf people (from people who have emailed me and written to me) and I’m sure one of them involved an OBE component. I’ll have to go back to my files and find it though as I can’t recall the details off hand. Yes a mind model would involve all of the senses so to not hear anything during a NDE may also have some influence. I’ll go back to my files and check to see if there was anything particularly different.

      • Max_B December 3, 2012 at 12:53 am #

        That’s a interesting suggestion Tony.

        I too like Ring’s study, problem I have with it is Ring has only quoted bit’s and pieces of the interviews that he considered important, which may have missed important facts that he considered irrelevant at the time.

        The bits of Penny’s big study that I have read, seemed to record the interviews in a more verbatim style, which I find is a big help.

        However, one of the quotes which I’ve always found really interesting in Rings study concerned perhaps his best subject Vicki, who said she was never able to discriminate colours, but only “…different shades of brightness…”.

        If you know anything about Edwin Land’s work on human colour perception, he showed that this is exactly how the retina sees – in different shades of brightness – and that secondary processing must be taking place in the cortex to create our perception of colour.

        This is another clue why I think it’s external fields which are interacting with the patients brain during the veridical OBE component of the NDE.

      • Dr Penny Sartori December 3, 2012 at 9:18 pm #

        Very interesting, I’ll have to look up Edwin Land’s work too. I think I’m going to be busy over the next few weeks!

    • Max_B November 28, 2012 at 9:38 pm #

      “If it’s not a false memory. If a NED is a real memory then the picture’s should of be seen.”

      That’s the very statement I don’t agree with, but it is pretty much what I’ve heard from Parnia’s own lips…

      There’s the “it’s all electro/chemical” brigade, or the other side “It’s true mind / brain separation”. Neither of these extreme positions is correct in my view, there is a middle option which allows that the brain is required for consciousness, but that consciousness is dependent on ‘fields’, and such ‘fields’ extend beyond our skull.

      • Dr Penny Sartori December 2, 2012 at 4:29 pm #

        Yes, good point both are extreme positions and I think we are learning more about consciousness all the time and this is showing that the brain and consciousness are linked but I don’t think the view that the brain creates consciousness is correct. The possibility of the brain interacting with fields that are ‘beyond the skull’ is a very interesting avenue to explore further.

      • Max_B December 3, 2012 at 12:18 am #

        I’m now more of the opinion that it probably is the brain with creates our ‘individual’ consciousness, that this consciousness is ‘field’ based, but is little more than a tiny dribble of individual awareness which unfortunately blocks, obscures or distracts our awareness of information available from other internal and external fields. This would effectively be the filtering action you have spoken about before Penny?

        Totally speculatively, I’ve considered whether massively increased brain size, and structured mammalian cortex, with a very large visual processing volume ratio to overall brain volume in humans, required much larger and thus stronger visual binding fields to integrate the widely separated areas of the brain. These larger and stronger binding fields did two things, they tended to isolate us from external fields, and by doing so, created the conditions to produce our own individual field of consciousness, a greatly impoverished field, a mere dribble of awareness, but never-the-less an ‘individual’ consciousness, due to greater isolation from external fields.

        When the brain becomes dysfunctional, and/or fields become weakened or internally poorly synchronised, perhaps we become more aware of external synchronised fields? Anyway, it’s the latest evolution of my personal idea’s so far, and it seems to have a bit of potential.

      • Dr Penny Sartori December 3, 2012 at 9:16 pm #

        Ooh thats a good way of looking at it. I’ll have to think about this more deeply. Yes, the individual consciousness obscuring information from other available fields would fit in nicely with the filtering action I’m on about. Other fields would include archetypes and the collective unconscious as described by Jung.

        Your other comments are interesting too. I’m going to have to go away and think about this for a few days.

      • Max_B January 28, 2013 at 1:44 am #

        I recently stumbled across a short excerpt of a presentation by Rupert Sheldrake given in the USA, that includes actual video footage of his experiment with N’kisi the parrot… I didn’t know whether or not you had seen it… it is rather worthwhile watching if not…

        I realise that the particular video tests Sheldrake selected for replay during the talk were cherry picked, showing the experiment in a rather positive light, that was not ‘quite’ as black and white as the video implies. Never the less, it makes for very powerful viewing!

        It’s a difficult experiment to judge, I don’t think anybody has tried to do anything like this before, and I’m no statistician, so can’t really challenge the papers conclusion either. However, having read the paper some time ago, the full results indicated to me, that something beyond mere chance ‘did’ appear to be occurring.

        If you take it a face value, it seems – at least to me – that it might very well provide a glimpse of a similar process, to that which I suspect is occurring during the OBE portion of a verifiable NDE?

      • Dr Penny Sartori January 28, 2013 at 12:35 pm #

        Hi Max, thanks for the clip. I found it really fascinating. I’ve seen some brief clips of N’kisi before and heard Rupert Sheldrake talk about the experiments but thats the first time I’ve seen that clip.

        I see what you mean about it providing a glimpse of a similar process that may occur during the OBE part of the NDE. This is certainly worth bearing in mind for future OBE research.

  24. Stuart November 30, 2012 at 11:34 pm #

    Hi Penny,

    Just wondering from your research or indeed any research is there much
    evidence regarding hidden targets or indeed much evidence from other
    veridical objects/activities in NDE/OBE research? Just thought of that
    as I seen the poster on the blog mention something about a case where
    a patient saw a switched off LED Light System.



    • Dr Penny Sartori December 2, 2012 at 4:51 pm #

      HI Stuart, in the prospective studies that have used hidden targets so far none of the patients have reported viewing the targets. I have written a previous post on the blog about this called ‘Veridical Perception During OBEs’. I am also writing a paper for publication as this seems to be of interest to a lot of people. There are many points and variables to be considered as to why the targets haven’t been viewed, and Max has also made some interesting comments regarding this point too.

      However, there is the case of Patient 10 in my study where the patients correctly described events that occurred when he was deeply unconscious (I was actually there at the time they occurred so know he was accurately reporting the events) and there are the cases reported by Dr Pim Van Lommel of the patients dentures that were removed when he was resuscitated – these are from prospective studies. There are also previously described OBEs such as Al Sullivan who reported seeing his surgeon flapping his arms, and also the patients who described seeing the plaid shoe laces of the nurse who was looking after him.

      • Stuart December 2, 2012 at 8:04 pm #

        Hi Penny,

        Is this the Veridical Perception During OBEs post you were on about?


        Here is the LED one I had seen previously posted (may have been Robert who initially posted it:


        Some OBE from MARIO BEAUREGARD


        Also was there much Veridical Perception in the blind from Jeffrey Long?

        On a side note my dad was recently in hospital and was talking to a man in the hospital who had a NDE earlier this year. He did not give much details to my dad but said he was in pain in the ambulance but all of a sudden said he felt great peace and did not wish to leave this place of peace. Meanwhile he overheard the paramedics saying that they have lost him. My dad only told me this yesterday and we have never discussed NDEs really before. This story really hit home with me as my knowledge of NDEs is from books I have read and internet articles I have read over the last 12 years or so. It made these all the realer for me as it is the first time I had some knowledge of an actual person who had a NDE, albeit through my dad.

      • Dr Penny Sartori December 3, 2012 at 8:59 pm #

        Hi Stuart, yes that is the post I was on about. I’m also writing a paper on this as it has been of great interest.

        Thanks for the links, yes apparently the LED case is being investigated further by Dr Jeffrey Long so it will be intersting to find out more. Also an interesting article by Dr Beauregard. I’m not sure if there is much veridical perception from Jeffrey Long.

        Thats really interesting what you mentioned about the man your dad was talking to in hospital. I found that once I started talking to people about their NDEs, and especially when I interviewed the patients in my study, it made these experiences much harder to dismiss or explain away. Also when I was present during Patient 10’s NDE it really was mind blowing because he described everything with accuracy which I was able to verify because I was there at the time his NDE was occurring.

  25. Paul Cockerill December 1, 2012 at 1:02 am #

    Did anyone see your signs Penny in your study.

    • Dr Penny Sartori December 2, 2012 at 4:52 pm #

      HI Paul, no – none of the patients in my study saw any of the signs but there were only 2 patients who had an OBE of the quality where the target could be viewed. These 2 patients were too interested in looking at their body and what was going on immediately around it so weren’t looking on top of the monitor.

  26. Jim December 3, 2012 at 1:26 am #

    If we want to look at consciousness And what cause is it. Maybe some one should look at how general anaesthetic work’s on the brain. Because we all know anaesthetic take’s away consciouness. I google it. But no one really know’s. A anesthetic for children called Ketamine. Ketamine produces an altered state of consciousness that is very different from that of the “psychedelic” drugs such as LSD. It can produce all the features of the near-death experience, including travel through a dark tunnel into light, the conviction that one is dead, telepathic communion with God, visions, out-of-body experiences and mystical states. If given intravenously, it has a short action with an abrupt end. One ketamine user talked of “becoming a disembodied mind or soul, dying and going to another world.” Childhood events may also be re-lived. The loss of contact with ordinary reality and the sense of participation in another reality are more pronounced and less easily resisted than is usually the case with LSD. The dissociative experiences often seem so genuine that users are not sure that they have not actually left their bodies.

    • Dr Penny Sartori December 3, 2012 at 9:11 pm #

      Hi Jim, yes there are many similarities between NDEs and drugs such as LSD and ketamine. However, both types of experiences occur in different context, set and settings. In all of these cases an altered state of consciousness is accessed. The current belief that the brain creates consciousness appears to be incorrect. It seems far more plausible that consciousness is primary and that the brain merely mediates consciousness rather than produces it.

  27. Jim December 3, 2012 at 2:30 am #

    Dr penny & max_b I still think Dr parnia’s study is a good one. I read about pam reynolds NDE. If there was a picture or image she would of saw it. If it was a real memory. I try to be open minded about NDE & find them interesting. But unless we find real proof then they just story’s. And people believe & love a good story. If you google pam reynolds debunked then to. hallucinatory NDE. You see what i’m getting ate. All way’s look at all the info from all side’s I hope we all have a after life but it could be just a faily tale

    • Dr Penny Sartori December 3, 2012 at 9:08 pm #

      Hi Jim, yes I think Dr Parnia’s study is a good one too. In my study I also studied cases of hallucinations and they were very different from NDEs. For me, these studies are not about an after life but more about our understanding of consciousness.

    • Max_B December 5, 2012 at 6:16 pm #

      It’s just the hidden target part of the AWARE study that I feel is rather a waste of time. The rest of the AWARE study is fine.

      • Dr Penny Sartori December 7, 2012 at 12:06 pm #

        It is a lot of hard work to maintain the targets as they have to be regularly damp dusted to prevent dust covering them etc but I think it is worth pursuing because there is still the possibility that they may be viewed but also if hundreds of people report veridical OBEs but don’t see the target then that is also important information.

  28. Tony December 3, 2012 at 4:31 am #

    I noticed that the 2011 fall issue of the Journal of Near-Death studies includes Dr. Woerlee’s estimation of how Pam Reynolds may have been able to hear during the stand still surgery. I personally don’t find it convincing. But I think the question about whether hearing could be involved in developing a mind model is a good place to focus.

    • Dr Penny Sartori December 3, 2012 at 9:05 pm #

      Yes, absolutely – I think hearing does play a part in constructing a mind model. The thing about Pam Reynolds is that she had ear plugs insitu which were designed with the purpose of eliminating all noise.

      However, one point is that in the case of Patient 10 he described hearing the doctor say (from memory and not my notes) ‘Is there life in the eye?’ In fact the doctor did not actually use those words but it indicated a good comprehension of what the doctor had said. If NDEs are only from mind models then I would have expected him to have correctly reported what the doctor had said. Despite him incorrectly reporting the words used he did acurately describe the doctor’s actions associated with that comment.

  29. Paul Cockerill December 4, 2012 at 10:57 pm #

    Reading Jims post above, is it true Ketamine is used as an anasthetic for children. If so, as its been shown to produce nde like experiences, has any research been done on the kids who have recieved this anasthetic. Questioning them and so on.

    • Dr Penny Sartori December 7, 2012 at 12:16 pm #

      Hi Paul, to be honest I’m not sure if ketamine is used with children. It is generally used in small doses in elderly people who require anaesthesia. It wasn’t used a great deal in intensive care when I first started working there but over the past five years or so its usage increased and it did get used but not as frequently as other types of drugs. I’m not aware of any research with children and ketamine.

      Dr Ornella Corazza has written an very interesting book about NDEs and has done some work with ketamine its called Near-Death Experiences: Exploring the Mind Body Connection

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