Billionaire Offers $1 Million for Proof of Afterlife
This past January, wealthy entrepreneur Robert Bigelow announced a contest: provide the best evidence of “[T]he survival of consciousness after permanent bodily death” for almost $1 million in prize money. Over 1,000 entrants entered the contest, seeking to prove life after physical death.
Dr. Jeffrey Long has studied near-death experience (NDE) for 20 years and was a runner-up in the contest. In his essay, Dr. Long broke down 12 lines of evidence for life after physical death common among near-death experiencers around the world. Of the three most important, the first is cardiac arrest and brain death.
“Immediately, when your heart stops beating, of course, blood instantly stops flowing to the brain,” Dr. Long said, “10-15 seconds after blood stops flowing to the brain, maybe up to 20 seconds, the electroencephalogram (EEG), which is a measure of brain electrical activity goes absolutely flat — there’s no measurable electrical activity going on in the brain — it should be, in those circumstances, impossible to have any kind of a lucid memory at that time. Yet, by the hundreds, we have people reporting NDEs exactly at that time, highly lucid and organized experiences consistent with NDEs occurring at all other times, and that should be medically, absolutely impossible.”
Next, comes the sensation of floating above the body.
“The initial event is what we call an out-of-body experience. Consciousness rises above the physical body and from that vantage point they can see ongoing earthly events, or hear them, and they are often visualizing people frantically trying to bring them back to life. What they see in that out-of-body experience is overwhelmingly accurate, down to the finest details. Even if their consciousness leaves the area of their body and goes someplace far from their physical body, far from any possible physical sensory awareness, what they can see and hear is almost invariably — and I’m talking about my study, I’m talking about 98 percent — accurate down to the finest details.”
His third line of evidence is NDEs in the blind.
“I’ve studied and interviewed an individual who was born totally blind. When she had her NDE it was stunningly visual. I have a series now of people who are severely visually impaired or legally blind, and in all of those cases in my series, their vision during an NDE is either normal or even supernormal awareness; dramatic, supernormal vision, supernormal sensory awareness that we see over and over again in NDEs that would be absolutely beyond what anybody could normally imagine. All lines of evidence and others that I have all converge on that conclusion that NDEs are, in a word, real.”
What can we learn from the phenomena of shared NDEs?
“We now have a series of about 16 NDEs where two or more people had a simultaneous life-threatening event — they had NDEs and remarkably they were aware of each other, during the time that their consciousness was apart from their bodies, able to communicate with each other typically and able to talk, aware that their physical bodies were down there. In general, in this series of shared NDEs, one person dies irreversibly, they’re not resuscitated, the other person comes back to life and is able to share a remarkable shared NDE. Now, that’s important because that’s some of the strongest evidence we have so far, from any source, that what’s described in an NDE may well be that initial step toward permanent irreversible death for all of us.”
The biggest unanswered question: why do some people have an out-of-body experience while others do not?
“There was a NDE that was like the Rosetta Stone of understanding why some do and don’t, but this very dramatic NDE was in an unearthly, heavenly realm, and they were communicating with what they very firmly believed to be God. They asked God directly — it was an overwhelmingly blissful, peaceful, loving experience, with emotions beyond anything they could have experienced beyond Earth, which is very common in NDEs — and because this was such a positive experience, she asked God directly ‘Why me? Why was I so special that this should happen to me?’ And God answered to her in the NDE ‘Love falls on everyone equally, this is what you needed to live your Earthly life,’ so that’s a possible reason why some have NDEs and some don’t.”
Dr. Long hopes the field of NDEs will move from reactive study to proactive study; being able to speak to people after being resuscitated about anything they may have seen or felt, while technically dead, as standard operating procedure. Perhaps then, humans can definitively prove there is an afterlife.
Can This Brainwave Study Explain What Happens to Consciousness When We Die?
A new study records the brain waves of a dying person in detail for the very first time. Could the findings explain what happens in our transition into death?
While there is plenty of anecdotal evidence from people who have had Near-death Experiences or NDEs, there is little to no hard scientific data on what happens in the brain as people are dying.
Now, researchers who recorded 15 minutes of brain wave activity in a dying man, are speculating that the findings may explain the phenomenon of life recall or review that many near-death experiencers report.
Dr. Eben Alexander is a neurosurgeon who, in 2008, experienced an NDE as he lay in a coma caused by a serious case of viral meningitis. After a miraculous recovery, he went on to write about the experience in several best-selling books.
“There’s a tremendous amount of evidence that, at the end of life, our consciousness does not just disappear as one might assume if the brain created consciousness,” Alexander said. “But in fact, our consciousness seems to expand in dramatic ways, and I think this is where a deeper understanding of NDEs is crucial for us to understand the mind-brain relationship and the nature of consciousness itself.”
To Alexander, while the study is a step in the right direction towards understanding what happens when we die, it is fraught with some misunderstandings.
“Now, there are many problems with this study and the main thing I’ll point out here is, first of all, do not confuse correlation with causality,” Alexander said.
“This is a common mistake in neuroscience and it results from the unproven assumption, and in fact, I would say a disproven assumption, that the brain is creating consciousness, and therefore, to find any change in phenomenal consciousness we must look for a neural correlate; some physiologic change in the brain. And modern studies just show that that reasoning is false, there’s more to it than just what’s going on in the brain.”