[extropy-chat] Angel Snot was Near Death Experiences: a scientific approach

The Avantguardian avantguardian2020 at yahoo.com
Wed Feb 25 09:49:45 UTC 2004

Tom's name Here <the_spoon_maker at hotmail.com> wrote:

Do you mean cessation of electrical activity in
>the brain?

* Yes, I would define death as brain-death the loss of electrical activity in the brain - when the electroencephalogram or EEG (not the EKG) flatlines. Cells may live on but consciousness has left the body. Sleep and coma arguments are irrelevant here, because there is plenty of brainwave activity in both of these cases.

Also, there is some mechanism that prevents muscular movement commands from 
leaving the brain, thus preventing us from acting out our dreams. 
(Sleepwalking results from its malfunction) One could argue that when this 
mechanism is engaged, the person is asleep. However, it may only be engaged when a person dreams. If that is the case, forget I mentioned it.

*Actually you are right, it normally operates when a person is asleep both in REM and deep sleep. Another malfunction of this mechanism results in sleep paralysis where people wake up and can sense their surroundings, even open their eyes and see but cannot move. It is often accompanied by a panic attack since such a state leaves one cognizant of one's vulnerablility.

So there is a difference between asleep and awake. Waking and falling asleep 
are both processes (the former being a very quick one). I erred in saying 
the line between awake and asleep is clear

*Actually you were right the first time. Wakefulness and the different stages of sleep are characterized by discreet and unmistakable brainwave patterns on an EEG.

That would mean that 
people that have started to die have part of their soul in the spirit world 
(or whatever afterlife we're talking about) while they’re still alive.

*Actually, I think it would useful to confine our analysis to the possible existense of a soul and not to some "after-life" or "spirit world" as even if MacDougal were spot on, his experiment does not address either of these things. There is no reason to assume that the soul (if it exists at all) does not roam the very same universe we do when alive. 

*Actually MacDougal weighed them on a beam balance which has counterweights and not some spring loaded scale. Thus he was measuring actual mass and not weight which would have differed in different gravitational fields. Also if you doubt his impartiality in this regards you would also have to doubt the other scientists/physicians that peer reviewed his manuscript as such peer review is required for acceptance of an article in any medical journal I have ever heard of. Three different anonymous peers is the norm.

I highly doubt different moralities and ethics produce different weights.
* Actually I do too. I think it would be more likely that the amount of life experience would have more to do with it- more memories = more soul. 

>One could also test this by sealing a dying person in a chamber <…> the 
>soul needs to escape too, but we could just take an inventory of all the 
>matter in the chamber before and after death, and after opening it, when, 
>presumably, the soul would escape.

*Unless the soul were composed of darkmatter, neutrinos, WIMPs, gamma rays or other exotic forms of matter/energy. Then it would be able to get through the chamber. Of course this is not a criticism of the experiment itself, just the assumption of having to open the chamber to measure the mass loss.  

>My bet is MacDougall would be proven wrong, but that's only a guess.

*I would bet against it too but I think the experiment should be done anyways. Reproducibility of experiments and not belief is the hallmark of scientific progress or at least it ought to be. Besides, it doesn't seem like it would be terribly expensive. It could be done in some state with a lethal injection or gas chamber death penalty for example. I would not go with states that used "old sparky" as all the heat is bound to vaporize too much matter although in a sealed chamber such a thing might be so important. Maybe someone could get a grant from a Christian university or even a church to perform the experiment. Maybe in Texas since they have a lot of Christians AND executions.  Natasha? Max? *eg*


The Avantguardian 

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