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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