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No. 95: Sep-Oct 1994

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A SKEPTIC'S NDE -- NOT SO MYSTICAL

NDEs (Near-Death Experiences) profoundly affect those who recover to describe them. Prominent in most NDEs is the perception of traveling down a long tunnel. Those with a religion or mystical turn believe that this tunnel opens up into an afterlife or perhaps a continued existence on some other "plane."

In a recent Skeptical Inquirer, L.D. Lansberry wrote of her personal NDE. It happened during angioplasty, when her heart stopped temporarily. Lansberry, a confirmed skeptic in such matters, has always maintained that the customary interpretations of NDEs are so much "tomfoolery." When she entered that famous NDE tunnel herself, she saw it close down around her as her heart stopped. Then, as the doctor brought her back, the tunnel opened up again and she saw a light at the tunnel's end, but it turned out to be only the light of the operating room.

Lansberry asserts that there is nothing transcendental about the tunnel effect. She attributes the experience to the failure of neurotransmitters in the outer portion of her brain failing to fire, in effect creating a collapsing tunnel in her mind. Fortunately, her doctor reversed the effect. "When the tunnel closes," she wrote, we are dead."

(Lansberry, Laura Darlene; "First-Person Report: A Skeptic's Near-Death Experience," Skeptical Inquirer, 18:431, 1994.)

Comment. Perhaps Lansberry saw only what she wanted to see. That was enough of heaven for her!

From Science Frontiers #95, SEP-OCT 1994. 1994-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:

Quotes

  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987