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Author Topic: how can out of body experiences be explained by science?  (Read 7098 times)

Offline annie123

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While discussing possibilities of an after life the question came up of how to explain people's reporting of out of body experiences while under treatment at in surgery etc. and reports of experiments being done showing the person could report views of things that were placed in the room out of normal sight. How can someone 'see' things without physical apparatus? I am reluctant to allow explanations via supernatural/religious models but find them difficult to challenge without evidence to contradict them.


 

Offline Omaughuntinaser

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Re: how can out of body experiences be explained by science?
« Reply #1 on: 02/04/2014 08:48:51 »
While discussing possibilities of an after life the question came up of how to explain people's reporting of out of body experiences while under treatment at in surgery etc. and reports of experiments being done showing the person could report views of things that were placed in the room out of normal sight. How can someone 'see' things without physical apparatus? I am reluctant to allow explanations via supernatural/religious models but find them difficult to challenge without evidence to contradict them.

I think it is very simple,.we don´t  look with our eyes, but with our consciousness.
that is key.
when we die, consciousness, leaves the body, because consciousness can´t die.


 

Offline David Cooper

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Re: how can out of body experiences be explained by science?
« Reply #2 on: 02/04/2014 19:30:17 »
A sort of dream while at the same time awake. I once had an out of body experience where I was still seeing out ahead through my eyes, but felt much more strongly as if I was looking in at myself from the side instead. This is perhaps an experiment that could be recreated, though I don't recommend it as it involves destroying a child. Take a nine-year-old boy who's never done anything bad in his life and spank him in public on the bare bottom. Then sit back and watch as he goes into a state of shock in which he shakes violently for an hour. During that time, there's just a chance that he will suddenly detatch and find himself looking in from the side, not feeling the upset at all for ten seconds or so, but instead feel completely calm while he watches the animal that he normally resides in continue to shake violently. Then he gets flung back in again and immediately feels the full upset of it again.
 

Offline Omaughuntinaser

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Re: how can out of body experiences be explained by science?
« Reply #3 on: 02/04/2014 19:54:34 »
A sort of dream while at the same time awake. I once had an out of body experience where I was still seeing out ahead through my eyes, but felt much more strongly as if I was looking in at myself from the side instead. This is perhaps an experiment that could be recreated, though I don't recommend it as it involves destroying a child. Take a nine-year-old boy who's never done anything bad in his life and spank him in public on the bare bottom. Then sit back and watch as he goes into a state of shock in which he shakes violently for an hour. During that time, there's just a chance that he will suddenly detatch and find himself looking in from the side, not feeling the upset at all for ten seconds or so, but instead feel completely calm while he watches the animal that he normally resides in continue to shake violently. Then he gets flung back in again and immediately feels the full upset of it again.

is it just me, or...?

 

Offline David Cooper

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Re: how can out of body experiences be explained by science?
« Reply #4 on: 02/04/2014 20:47:11 »

is it just me, or...?

I did say I don't recommend it. I only mentioned it because the experiment has been done and it resulted in an out of body experience. I think that is sufficiently scientifically interesting to be worth mentioning. Unfortunately it makes no sense to try to explain it if the context is left out. You'll probably find that rape victims have experienced this too, but they'll be even less keen to make such data available.

I wasn't looking for sympathy, but I don't expect to be made fun of by someone who thinks a victim of an assault who eventually gets up the courage to speak out about it must be a weirdo.
« Last Edit: 02/04/2014 21:13:56 by David Cooper »
 

Offline Omaughuntinaser

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Re: how can out of body experiences be explained by science?
« Reply #5 on: 03/04/2014 06:36:05 »

is it just me, or...?

I did say I don't recommend it. I only mentioned it because the experiment has been done and it resulted in an out of body experience. I think that is sufficiently scientifically interesting to be worth mentioning. Unfortunately it makes no sense to try to explain it if the context is left out. You'll probably find that rape victims have experienced this too, but they'll be even less keen to make such data available.

I wasn't looking for sympathy, but I don't expect to be made fun of by someone who thinks a victim of an assault who eventually gets up the courage to speak out about it must be a weirdo.

sorry, my intention was not to make fun of you. sorry if you thought that.

 

Offline cheryl j

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Re: how can out of body experiences be explained by science?
« Reply #6 on: 03/04/2014 15:23:46 »
There are some physiological explanations for out of body experiences. It is sometimes connected to extreme fear and trauma. One theory is that is that in those circumstances, an alternative reaction to fight or flight is a possum-like freeze reaction that cuts one off from sensation and movement to the point of feeling "not really there, inside my body" and watching as if an outside observer.

There are also drugs (ketamine?) that can induce the experience, and test pilots sometimes report them during or shortly after heavy G forces. You can even induce those experiences with cameras linked to virtual reality simulations.

If you're interested in the neurology of it, VS Ramachandran has some interesting experiments that induce out of body or altered body sensation (things being a different size or in a different place) in normal people. Much of this research extends from work helping amputees deal with phantom limb pain, and has to do with how the body is mapped to the brain. If you alter that map, it can seem to the conscious individual as if they are located outside the body.

ps I don't know whether the theory that a person was "really" outside their body has ever been scientifically supported. I have heard stories of surgeons placing weird objects or messages on the tops of high objects in the operating room, but to my knowledge it never resulted in conclusive data showing that people are actually floating around the room during near death experiences.
« Last Edit: 05/04/2014 13:15:50 by cheryl j »
 

Offline Omaughuntinaser

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Re: how can out of body experiences be explained by science?
« Reply #7 on: 03/04/2014 15:46:07 »
There are some physiological explanations for out of body experiences. It is sometimes connected to extreme fear and trauma. One theory is that is that in those circumstances, an alternative reaction to fight or flight is a possum-like freeze reaction that cuts one off from sensation and movement to the point of feeling "not really there, inside my body" and watching as if an outside observer.

ps I don't know whether the theory a person was re that really outside their body have been scientifically supported. I have heard stories of surgeons placing weird objects or messages on the tops of high objects in the operating room, but to my knowledge it never resulted in data showing that people are actually floating around the room during near death experiences.

There are also drugs (ketamine?) that can induce the experience, and test pilots sometimes report them during or shortly after heavy G forces. You can even induce those experiences with cameras linked to virtual reality simulations.

If you're interested in the neurology of it, VS Ramachandran has some interesting experiments that induce out of body or altered body sensation (things being a different size or in a different place) in normal people. Much of this research extends from work helping amputees deal with phantom limb pain, and has to do with how the body is mapped to the brain. If you alter that map, it can seem to the conscious individual as if they are located outside the body.


well, in reality you don't have to have trauma or whatever, anybody can have 'out of body experiences".
 

Offline annie123

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Re: how can out of body experiences be explained by science?
« Reply #8 on: 03/04/2014 22:12:41 »
While discussing possibilities of an after life the question came up of how to explain people's reporting of out of body experiences while under treatment at in surgery etc. and reports of experiments being done showing the person could report views of things that were placed in the room out of normal sight. How can someone 'see' things without physical apparatus? I am reluctant to allow explanations via supernatural/religious models but find them difficult to challenge without evidence to contradict them.

I think it is very simple,.we don´t  look with our eyes, but with our consciousness.
that is key.
when we die, consciousness, leaves the body, because consciousness can´t die.





yes, I have heard people say this but since we don't know what consciousness is and attempts to pin it down scientifically are inconclusive, this reply doesn't help much. How can it be measured? Verified? When we lose it as in sleep, or under anesthetic, or in dementia, where does it go? And what is the 'subconscious' as opposed to the conscious? Unless these questions can be answered then it doesn't seem valid to say it is independent of our physical bodies.  no one seems to have been able, nevertheless, to analyse how the people who see things in operating rooms where objects have been placed out of sight, as I originally asked about, can be 'seen'. I know we don't 'see' with our eyes, but with our brains, but that doesn't help explain the latter phenomenon.
 

Offline cheryl j

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Re: how can out of body experiences be explained by science?
« Reply #9 on: 04/04/2014 02:13:46 »
  no one seems to have been able, nevertheless, to analyse how the people who see things in operating rooms where objects have been placed out of sight, as I originally asked about, can be 'seen'.

Have there been any actual controlled studies of this or is it mainly anecdotal? I'm not calling O.R. nurses liars, but for every out of body experience where the patient sees or hears something that happened, how many patients had out of body experiences that were inconsistent with real events?
« Last Edit: 05/04/2014 13:13:49 by cheryl j »
 

Offline Omaughuntinaser

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Re: how can out of body experiences be explained by science?
« Reply #10 on: 04/04/2014 06:47:53 »

yes, I have heard people say this but since we don't know what consciousness is and attempts to pin it down scientifically are inconclusive, this reply doesn't help much. How can it be measured? Verified? When we lose it as in sleep, or under anesthetic, or in dementia, where does it go? And what is the 'subconscious' as opposed to the conscious? Unless these questions can be answered then it doesn't seem valid to say it is independent of our physical bodies.  no one seems to have been able, nevertheless, to analyse how the people who see things in operating rooms where objects have been placed out of sight, as I originally asked about, can be 'seen'. I know we don't 'see' with our eyes, but with our brains, but that doesn't help explain the latter phenomenon.


you know, science is very handicapped when it comes to 'consciousness'
but that science can't measure it, does not mean it isn't there, offcourse.
science is designed to put us in a material box , and keep us away from consciousness.
And I didn't wrote "we don't look with our eyes, but with our brains." I didn't wrote that at all! please re read.
If you restrict yourself only to 'science' when it comes to consciousness, you are lost.(scientism), You see, consciousness is non-physical.

first science has to change dramatically!

as Tesla said:


Quote
“The day science begins to study non-physical phenomena, it will make more progress in one decade than in all the previous centuries of its existence.

"science" is now a big joke wit lots of bollocks and bullshit and it doesn't work at all.




 

Offline RD

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Re: how can out of body experiences be explained by science?
« Reply #11 on: 04/04/2014 07:17:22 »
as Tesla said:

 Tesla also said about his death-ray, (which he worked on for 25 years) ...

Quote from:  Nikola Tesla
    The nozzle would send concentrated beams of particles through the free air, of such tremendous energy that they will bring down a fleet of 10,000 enemy airplanes at a distance of 200 miles from a defending nation's border and will cause armies to drop dead in their tracks.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teleforce

Difficult to tell if that was madness* or a scam to obtain funds, but either way Nikola was making incorrect statements.

[ * Geniuses can also be insane ]

"science" is now a big joke wit lots of bollocks and bullshit and it doesn't work at all.

He communicated via the internet : a medium only made possible by multiple branches of science.
« Last Edit: 04/04/2014 10:19:10 by RD »
 

Offline Omaughuntinaser

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Re: how can out of body experiences be explained by science?
« Reply #12 on: 04/04/2014 09:52:05 »

Difficult to tell if that was madness* or a scam to obtain funds, but either way it Nikola was making incorrect statements.

Well, I don't think so, but if you have a belief system to defend....

anyway, then please say what and why he made "incorrect statements"

I think he was light years ahead of his (and our ) time




He communicated via the internet :

WHO communiated via the 'internet'?


Quote
a medium only made possible by multiple branches of science.

Nope, totally untrue. And by that I mean by 'modern science', 'modern science' really has nothing to do with it all!



 

Offline RD

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Re: how can out of body experiences be explained by science?
« Reply #13 on: 04/04/2014 10:41:45 »
 

Offline Omaughuntinaser

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Re: how can out of body experiences be explained by science?
« Reply #14 on: 04/04/2014 11:00:14 »


Strange logic indeed.

I know of more then enough people who invented things and died poor, So, that doesn't say a thing! If you want to know more about this you have to find out about J.P.Morgan.

Oh and no, I didn't intend humour (in this case ;) ) because the way you wrote it, it seemed you ment Tesla. so I was a bit confused, hence the question.

Well, yes, I use the internet, so what does that mean according to you?

 

Offline cheryl j

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Re: how can out of body experiences be explained by science?
« Reply #15 on: 04/04/2014 13:57:26 »

as Tesla said:


“The day science begins to study non-physical phenomena, it will make more progress in one decade than in all the previous centuries of its existence."

PSI stuff has a dismal track record. 200 years or more of investigation of has failed to turn up any verifiable, reproducible results regarding ESP, telekinesis, remote-viewing, ghosts, etc.
 

Offline annie123

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Re: how can out of body experiences be explained by science?
« Reply #16 on: 04/04/2014 21:53:11 »
Some of these replies seem to be going off my topic, so could those people start their own thread? Without a lot of emotive exchange? As for consciousness being non material, what does that really mean? how do you know? perhaps it is something at least dependent on the physical but until it is more clearly pinned down it is hardly OK to say that out of body experiences are to do with consciousness and therefore not open to investigation. Is a force of any kind non physical? if  this line of rejection were followed then probably someone would have said that the forces which operate in the universe are not open to investigation.
 

Offline cheryl j

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Re: how can out of body experiences be explained by science?
« Reply #17 on: 05/04/2014 00:32:28 »
There are physiological explanations for out of body experiences, but that does not necessarily disprove the existence of a "soul." Both possibilities could be true. But if someone wants to propose existence of a non-material, non-physical soul, based on some as yet undiscovered, undetectable force, then I think the onus is on them to explain how it works, how one could test their theory, or provide evidence from those who have. I'm not searching the internet for it.
 

Offline dlorde

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Re: how can out of body experiences be explained by science?
« Reply #18 on: 05/04/2014 20:13:37 »
... we don't know what consciousness is and attempts to pin it down scientifically are inconclusive, this reply doesn't help much.
There's a lot of evidence that strongly suggests it is a computational brain process involving synchronised activity between sites widely distributed across the brain. Specific sites in the brain have been identified as being associated with specific aspects of consciousness.

Quote
How can it be measured? Verified?
Depends exactly what you mean. The level of consciousness (as in the gradient between full alertness and dozing) is related to the amount of synchronised activity across wide areas of the brain.

Quote
When we lose it as in sleep, or under anesthetic, or in dementia, where does it go?
It doesn't really 'go' anywhere, it just stops; when we sleep, many of the brain processes involved in normal consciousness continue, but without the same level of communication and synchronisation. Under deep anaesthetic, many of these processes cease or show minimal activity, and there is no cross-brain communication or synchronisation.

Quote
what is the 'subconscious' as opposed to the conscious?
It rather depends on the definitions one uses, but in general, the subconscious is those brain processes we are not consciously aware of - basically the vast majority of brain activity.

Quote
... it doesn't seem valid to say it is independent of our physical bodies.
Correct. There is no plausible evidence for this, and no possible mechanism for it if what we know of the basic rules of our world are reasonable approximation. Quantum field theory is the best set of rules we have, and judging by comparison with experiment, it's a good deal better than a reasonable approximation. Sean Carroll made a video explaining (amongst other things) how it eliminates the possibility of paranormal or supernatural phenomena due to unknown forces, fields, or particles; see From Particles to People.

Quote
... no one seems to have been able, nevertheless, to analyse how the people who see things in operating rooms where objects have been placed out of sight, as I originally asked about, can be 'seen'. I know we don't 'see' with our eyes, but with our brains, but that doesn't help explain the latter phenomenon.
There have been plenty of anecdotes of this kind of thing, but no convincing verifiable evidence that anything was seen or heard that could not have been seen or heard without such 'remote viewing'. As with many reports of unusual phenomena, it is usually very difficult to establish exactly what happened, and eyewitness testimony is notoriously unreliable. To try and put this particular claimed phenomenon to a scientific evaluation, a study was set up some years ago in the cardiac emergency rooms of 25 major medical centers throughout Europe, Canada, and the United States. The 'Aware Study' placed items out of normal sight (e.g. on high shelves, on top of cupboards, etc.) and asked people who had out of body experiences during cardiac arrest what they observed, to see if they would report seeing these items they couldn't otherwise know about. They originally planned to report in late 2011 or early 2012, but so far, there has been no official word, and the study has been made ongoing indefinitely (although some results are said to be in peer review at present), which suggests no convincing evidence yet. One of the lead study doctors (Dr. Parnia) has made some media comment and written a couple of books about the afterlife, but given the current lack of published experimental evidence from the study he's involved with, one has to wonder why he didn't wait for the study results...
 

Offline annie123

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Re: how can out of body experiences be explained by science?
« Reply #19 on: 06/04/2014 02:17:35 »
Also. another puzzling thing re those who say consciousness is independent is that consciousness is not there before we become physical beings - and even, some say, in the first few months of life, so how can it leave the body away from the brain processes that create it? perhaps out of body experiences are illusions, just as seeing things 'out there' is an illusion projected out from the brain.



« Last Edit: 06/04/2014 02:20:05 by annie123 »
 

Offline dlorde

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Re: how can out of body experiences be explained by science?
« Reply #20 on: 06/04/2014 09:10:34 »
Also. another puzzling thing re those who say consciousness is independent is that consciousness is not there before we become physical beings - and even, some say, in the first few months of life, so how can it leave the body away from the brain processes that create it?
It can't - it is those brain processes; it only exists while they are active.

Quote
... perhaps out of body experiences are illusions, just as seeing things 'out there' is an illusion projected out from the brain.
The apparent location, focus, and extent of consciousness (e.g. typically behind the eyes), and the location and sense of ownership of body parts isn't something that just happens as a 'default', it is explicitly constructed from sensory information (touch, proprioception, balance, and predominately vision) in specific areas of the brain. This is known as Mulitsensory Integration. By faking sensory input, it is possible to fool the brain into, for example, thinking an empty rubber glove is one of its hands (the Rubber Hand illusion), or more disturbingly, the location of consciousness is in another body entirely (the Body Transfer illusion).

Disturbances in those areas of the brain, due to drugs, or epileptic seizure, extreme stress, or oxygen deprivation, can lead to spontaneous out of body experiences, or loss of the boundaries of self - a feeling of merging with the universe, and so-on.
« Last Edit: 06/04/2014 09:14:03 by dlorde »
 

Offline cheryl j

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Re: how can out of body experiences be explained by science?
« Reply #21 on: 06/04/2014 18:38:16 »
An interesting debate I stumbled on was between a neurologist and a neuroscientist, the first one who said he had experienced an out of body experience when he was critically ill (Eben Alexander) and came to see it as evidence of the after life, and the second (Sam Harris) who was skeptical that his experience in any way supported the idea that consciousness can exist separate from the neural mechanisms of the brain.

Alexander says: "Isolated preservation of cortical regions might have explained some elements of my experience, but certainly not the overall odyssey of rich experiential tapestry. The severity of my meningitis and its refractoriness to therapy for a week should have eliminated all but the most rudimentary of conscious experiences: peripheral white blood cell [WBC] count over 27,000 per mm3, 31 percent bands with toxic granulations, CSF WBC count over 4,300 per mm3, CSF glucose down to 1.0 mg/dl (normally 60-80, may drop down to ~ 20 in severe meningitis), CSF protein 1,340 mg/dl, diffuse meningeal involvement and widespread blurring of the gray-white junction, diffuse edema, with associated brain abnormalities revealed on my enhanced CT scan, and neurological exams showing severe alterations in cortical function (from posturing to no response to noxious stimuli, florid papilledema, and dysfunction of extraocular motility [no doll's eyes, pupils fixed], indicative of brainstem damage).  Going from symptom onset to coma within 3 hours is a very dire prognostic sign, conferring 90% mortality at the very beginning, which only worsened over the week. No physician who knows anything about meningitis will just “blow off” the fact that I was deathly ill in every sense of the word, and that my neocortex was absolutely hammered. Anyone who simply concludes that “since I did so well I could not have been that sick” is begging the question, and knows nothing whatsoever about severe bacterial meningitis."

Harris responds: "[Alexander] doesn’t understand what would constitute compelling evidence of cortical inactivity. The proof he offers is either fallacious (CT scans do not detect brain activity) or irrelevant (it does not matter, even slightly, that his form of meningitis was “astronomically rare”)—and no combination of fallacy and irrelevancy adds up to sound science. The impediment to taking Alexander’s claims seriously can be simply stated: There is absolutely no reason to believe that his cerebral cortex was inactive at the time he had his experience of the afterlife. The fact that Alexander thinks he has demonstrated otherwise—by continually emphasizing how sick he was, the infrequency of E. coli meningitis, and the ugliness of his initial CT scan—suggests a deliberate disregard of the most plausible interpretation of his experience. It is far more likely that some of his cortex was functioning, despite the profundity of his illness...."

I would tend to agree with Harris over all, but the fact that some patients can have rather complex experiences or memories (hallucinatory or not) when large areas of the brain would seem to be suppressed by anesthetic, deprived of glucose, or severely compromised in other ways, does raise interesting questions about how consciousness is distributed across the brain or emerges.
« Last Edit: 06/04/2014 18:40:45 by cheryl j »
 

Offline dlorde

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Re: how can out of body experiences be explained by science?
« Reply #22 on: 06/04/2014 20:38:58 »
I would tend to agree with Harris over all, but the fact that some patients can have rather complex experiences or memories (hallucinatory or not) when large areas of the brain would seem to be suppressed by anesthetic, deprived of glucose, or severely compromised in other ways, does raise interesting questions about how consciousness is distributed across the brain or emerges.
Yes, I've read Alexander's account, and it does seem to make rather a lot of unsupported assumptions about the circumstances of his reported experiences - and an uncritical acceptance of the accuracy of his memories of them. I wondered why he assumed these experiences and the memories of them occurred when his brain was at its most minimally functional, and not during his extended recovery. For example, without being seriously ill, I've personally had dreams that probably lasted less than an hour, but which on recall, seemed to encompass days of complex narrative. Dream experience seems to occur in sequences and snapshots, cut together in memory like a film and eliding the time between them. Episodic memory is known to be reconstructive, and confabulatory detail is commonplace.

It struck me that perhaps the emotional impact of Alexander's experience had overridden his capacity to think critically about it.
 

Offline cheryl j

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Re: how can out of body experiences be explained by science?
« Reply #23 on: 06/04/2014 21:58:34 »

Yes, I've read Alexander's account, and it does seem to make rather a lot of unsupported assumptions about the circumstances of his reported experiences - and an uncritical acceptance of the accuracy of his memories of them. I wondered why he assumed these experiences and the memories of them occurred when his brain was at its most minimally functional, and not during his extended recovery. For example, without being seriously ill, I've personally had dreams that probably lasted less than an hour, but which on recall, seemed to encompass days of complex narrative. Dream experience seems to occur in sequences and snapshots, cut together in memory like a film and eliding the time between them. Episodic memory is known to be reconstructive, and confabulatory detail is commonplace.


Yes I wondered about the time frame as well, whether his experiences and memories occurred late in recovery or were reconstructed very shortly after. Often in dreams, an outside noise or a phone ringing, will fit into the dream narrative perfectly, in a way that makes me wonder if my brain didn't quickly revise the story, and my memory of it, to explain it.   There are also experiments with normal people where the brain reorders or back dates events in time, such as observing that a blue light flashed before a red one, when it in fact came after.
Quote
It struck me that perhaps the emotional impact of Alexander's experience had overridden his capacity to think critically about it.



That was kind of the impression that I got as well.
[/quote]
 

Offline buawangji

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Re: how can out of body experiences be explained by science?
« Reply #24 on: 08/04/2014 09:34:07 »
for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle.
 

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Re: how can out of body experiences be explained by science?
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