Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Virtues and Near Death Experiences

Compassion, Serenity and a sense of Peace

I was reading some article that mentioned Near Death Experiences or N.D.E. It indicated that many people who experienced a near death event were profoundly changed by it. Many of the changes reported were the same things I was learning from Warriorschool and Jeff Prather. I got that sense, that the WS'ers had that compassion, serenity and peace that only a select few in history were aware of or even dreamed to achieve. That is what attracted me to them and held me there. Who would have thought, that these feelings and conditions can be replicated in a lab and do not require any sort of spiritual beliefs. Anyway, I still feel that these sort of virtues are some of the most valuable things people can obtain and I wish everyone could become aware of them and acquire them, but that is probably not possible. For now, just be aware that these experiences are merely brain processes, kicked in by extreme stress or by brain problems. Don't surrender your free will over to WS or Jeff Prather, just because they talk about awesome things and help you experience awesome things. They have no 'spiritual power' they are merely facilitating absolutely primal experiences. They do not have access to a deeper or higher reality. Read up, educate yourself. Free yourself from exploitation.

Here are some excerpts

A near-death experience (NDE) refers to a broad range of personal experiences associated with impending death, encompassing multiple possible sensations ranging from detachment from the body, feelings of levitation, extreme fear, total serenity, security, or warmth, the experience of absolute dissolution, and the presence of a light, which some people interpret as a deity[1] Some see NDEs as a paranormal and spiritual glimpse into the afterlife.

Such cases are usually reported after an individual has been pronounced clinically dead, or otherwise very close to death, hence the entitlement near-death experience. Many NDE reports, however, originate from events that are not life threatening. With recent developments in cardiac resuscitation techniques, the number of NDEs reported has increased. Most of the scientific community regards such experiences as hallucinatory,[2][3][4] while paranormal specialists and some mainstream scientists claim them to be evidence of an afterlife.[5][6][7]


In some cases, a NDE any particular person experiences varies depending on the beliefs that the person held[citation needed]. Children, who typically do not have enough time to develop strongly towards one faith, had very limited NDEs. Examples of this include a boy simply having talked to his brother in his NDE and a daughter having a conversation with her mother.[12][13] The phenomenology of an NDE usually includes physiological, psychological and alleged transcendental aspects.[14] Typically, the experience follows a distinct progression:[15][16][17]

1. A very unpleasant sound/noise is the first sensory impression to be noticed (R. Moody: Life after Life);
2. A sense of being dead;
3. Pleasant emotions; calmness and serenity;
4. An out-of-body experience; a sensation of floating above one's own body and seeing the surrounding area;
5. Floating up a blue tunnel with a strong, bright light or garden at the end;
6. Meeting deceased relatives or spiritual figures;
7. Encountering a being of light, or a light (often interpreted as being the deity or deities they personally believe in);
8. Being given a life review (the "life-flashing-before-your-eyes" phenomenon);
9. Reaching a border or boundary;
10. A feeling of being returned to the body, often accompanied by a reluctance.
11. Feeling of warmth even though naked.

Some people have also experienced extremely distressing NDEs, which can manifest in forewarning of emptiness or a sense of dread towards the cessation of their life.

According to the Rasch model-validated NDE scale, a "core" near-death experience encompasses peace, joy, and harmony, followed by insight and mystical or religious experiences.[18] The most intense NDEs are reported to have an awareness of things occurring in a different place or time, and some of these observations are said to have been evidential.

Clinical circumstances that are thought to lead to an NDE include conditions such as: cardiac arrest, shock in postpartum loss of blood or in perioperative complications, septic or anaphylactic shock, electrocution, coma, intracerebral haemorrhage or cerebral infarction, attempted suicide, near-drowning or asphyxia, apnoea, and serious depression.[17] Many NDEs occur after a crucial experience (e.g. when a patient can hear that he or she is declared to be dead by a doctor or nurse), or when a person has the subjective impression to be in a fatal situation (e.g. during a close call automobile accident). In contrast to common belief, attempted suicides do not lead more often to unpleasant NDEs than unintended near-death situations.[19]


Near-death experiences can have tremendous effects on the people who have them, their families, and medical workers. Changes in values and beliefs often occur in the experiencer after a near-death experience, including changes in personality and outlook on life, such as a greater appreciation for life, higher self-esteem, greater compassion for others, a heightened sense of purpose and self-understanding, and a desire to learn. The changes may also include an increased physical sensitivity to and diminished tolerance of light, alcohol and drugs.

Matthew Dovel, author of "My Last Breath", having had two near-death experiences, discusses the side effects associated with having had a NDE (Empathic, telepathy, clairaudience, clairvoyance, precognition, remote viewing, animals, children, and timepieces). [33]

Steven Pinker on Science vs Folk Wisdom

I thought I had posted this other mp3 that I found a long time ago, but I could not find it on the blog.

A world renowned Linguist is being interviewed about his thoughts on science. I remember him talking about the purpose of University and peoples natural tendencies to believe inaccurate information. The entire show is fascinating to listen to.

If I remember correctly he says something along the lines of:

"The purpose of the first few years of University is to un-teach students all the things they think they know, which are based often on faulty folk wisdom".

I am sure he had some other great nuggets in there, but I still need to look for my notes. It was a fascinating interview, because he explained so clearly, how easily we deceive ourselves. We need science and data to give us an accurate view of the world. He is a convincing speaker. Check it out.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Astrology Skeptics and View of Exploitation

Watch how Michael Shermer, the skeptic tries to debunk astrology. Ex-astrologers admit that they were merely practicing psychology without a license.

1 minute into it, you will see how a man reads for a business woman. He brings up things like "plucking your eyebrows, or else they become bushy" in order to make the woman feel self conscious and embarrassed. It obviously worked, because you can totally see her reaction. Once the astrologer placed himself into an authority position and realized he was making a connection he kept pressing in. It's amazing to see how easy it is to throw out things, make contact, give the impression of a mystical sort of skill, watch the reaction and then capitalize on it. For most of us cult victims this is an amazing thing to watch. We were always on the receiving end. Now you can see it from the eyes of the cult masters and the predators. It is creepy.

The sad thing with this video, is that Michael Shermer actually fails to debunk the astrologer. He had a compelling victory in what seemed to be a well crafted scientifically designed test. Make of it what you want. Watch it and learn from it. I found the video very compelling.

Why do we see faces in things like clouds on 9/11?

Do you remember how the bracelet showed the face of satan in the 9/11 WTC smoke clouds? Do you remember how you were supposed to see faces in the rocks and in other places? Well there is a scientifically based explanation for that. Don't let your basic human nature fool you. Find out what science and scientists have to say about this phenomenon.

November, 2008 in Mind & Brain
Patternicity: Finding Meaningful Patterns in Meaningless Noise
Why the brain believes something is real when it is not

By Michael Shermer

Why do people see faces in nature, interpret window stains as human figures, hear voices in random sounds generated by electronic devices or find conspiracies in the daily news? A proximate cause is the priming effect, in which our brain and senses are prepared to interpret stimuli according to an expected model. UFOlogists see a face on Mars. Religionists see the Virgin Mary on the side of a building. Paranormalists hear dead people speaking to them through a radio receiver. Conspiracy theorists think 9/11 was an inside job by the Bush administration. Is there a deeper ultimate cause for why people believe such weird things? There is. I call it “patternicity,” or the tendency to find meaningful patterns in meaningless noise.

Traditionally, scientists have treated patternicity as an error in cognition. A type I error, or a false positive, is believing something is real when it is not (finding a nonexistent pattern). A type II error, or a false negative, is not believing something is real when it is (not recognizing a real pattern—call it “apat­ternicity”). In my 2000 book How We Believe (Times Books), I argue that our brains are belief engines: evolved pattern-recognition machines that connect the dots and create meaning out of the patterns that we think we see in nature. Sometimes A really is connected to B; sometimes it is not. When it is, we have learned something valuable about the environment from which we can make predictions that aid in survival and reproduction. We are the ancestors of those most successful at finding patterns. This process is called association learning, and it is fundamental to all animal behavior, from the humble worm C. elegans to H. sapiens.

Unfortunately, we did not evolve a Baloney Detection Network in the brain to distinguish between true and false patterns. We have no error-detection governor to modulate the pattern-recognition engine. (Thus the need for science with its self-correcting mechanisms of replication and peer review.) But such erroneous cognition is not likely to remove us from the gene pool and would therefore not have been selected against by evolution.
Also in this issue of Scientific American

* Letters to the Editors Readers Respond on "Facing the Freshwater Crisis"
* News Scan Digging Ancient Iraq: How Mesopotamia Has Weathered the War
* News Scan The Science of Finding a Face in the Crowd

In a September paper in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, “The Evolution of Superstitious and Superstition-like Behaviour,” Harvard University biologist Kevin R. Foster and University of Helsinki biologist Hanna Kokko test my theory through evolutionary modeling and demonstrate that whenever the cost of believing a false pattern is real is less than the cost of not believing a real pattern, natural selection will favor patternicity. They begin with the formula pb > c, where a belief may be held when the cost (c) of doing so is less than the probability (p) of the benefit (b). For example, believing that the rustle in the grass is a dangerous predator when it is only the wind does not cost much, but believing that a dangerous predator is the wind may cost an animal its life.

The problem is that we are very poor at estimating such probabilities, so the cost of believing that the rustle in the grass is a dangerous predator when it is just the wind is relatively low compared with the opposite. Thus, there would have been a beneficial selection for believing that most patterns are real.

Through a series of complex formulas that include additional stimuli (wind in the trees) and prior events (past experience with predators and wind), the authors conclude that “the inability of individuals—human or otherwise—to assign causal probabilities to all sets of events that occur around them will often force them to lump causal associations with non-causal ones. From here, the evolutionary rationale for superstition is clear: natural selection will favour strategies that make many incorrect causal associations in order to establish those that are essential for survival and reproduction.”

In support of a genetic selection model, Foster and Kokko note that “predators only avoid nonpoisonous snakes that mimic a poisonous species in areas where the poisonous species is common” and that even such simple organisms as “Escherichia coli cells will swim towards physiologically inert methylated aspartate presumably owing to an adaptation to favour true aspartate.”

Such patternicities, then, mean that people believe weird things because of our evolved need to believe nonweird things.

Note: This article was originally published with the title, "Patternicity".

Temporal Lobe Seizures linked to Religious Experiences

Wow, I found a great video tonight. Watch how a brain scientist Ramachandran displays how Temporal Lobe Seizures can lead to the most profound Religious Experiences. This should make you question any major spiritual experiences you may have had in Warriorschool. It is both an insightful, courageous and hilarious story.