Scientists to prove “out of body” experiences – with postcards

By Mark O’Neill
Contributing Writer, [GAS]

Scientists at the University of Southampton in England have come up with a really genius way of proving once and for all whether “out of body” near death experiences actually occur or not.    Is that REALLY a light at the end of a tunnel?   Is that REALLY Nicolas Cage standing there waiting to take me to heaven?

The really foolproof plan involves building really high shelves above the patient’s bed (IKEA will be happy) and then putting postcards and pictures on those shelves.    These pictures can’t be seen from the ground so the only way to see them (yep, you guessed it!) would be if they were having their “out of body” experience!

The theory is that the patient, while dying, would leave their body, lift up into the air, see the pictures, think “oooh!  nice snaps!”, memorize everything, drift back down, re-enter their body, wake up and then tell the doctors all about each picture.    Hey presto!   “Out of body” experiences hereby proven!   Can’t describe the photos?   Then the whole “out of body” thing has been proven not to exist.   End of story.

But is it really that simple?   As the Guardian news blog says, what if you didn’t notice the pictures while you were having your out of body experience?   What if you were more focused on looking down at your dying body and what was going on below you?

Plus the Guardian makes a very good point – should the hospitals be even investigating this in the first place?  Shouldn’t they be spending money and focusing their energies on saving lives instead of researching what happens after those lives are over?

I can’t believe medical professionals are trying to dismiss something as complex as near death experiences by using postcards and high shelves!    Some things in life are just not meant to be proven or known for sure.   What happens after death is one of them.    What do you think?

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24 Responses to Scientists to prove “out of body” experiences – with postcards

  1. Death is the ultimate mystery and the more we struggle to define it or break it down into tangible terms, the more elusive it'll be. I believe that people are only ready to grasp what happens next once they get past this life.

    Consider that, if there is something to "see" after death, you won't be looking at it with physical eyes anyway. So, it seems more likely that the "light at the end of the tunnel" phenomena that near-death survivors describe is really more of a sensation or experience than something to be (literally) viewed. So I'll admit to being curious, but this whole postcard approach of these folks seems pretty flaky.

  2. Death is the ultimate mystery and the more we struggle to define it or break it down into tangible terms, the more elusive it’ll be. I believe that people are only ready to grasp what happens next once they get past this life.

    Consider that, if there is something to “see” after death, you won’t be looking at it with physical eyes anyway. So, it seems more likely that the “light at the end of the tunnel” phenomena that near-death survivors describe is really more of a sensation or experience than something to be (literally) viewed. So I’ll admit to being curious, but this whole postcard approach of these folks seems pretty flaky.

  3. Obviously this isn't going to disprove the existence of out-of-body experiences. It is impossible to prove a negative. All this will do, if the patients don't see the postcards, is show that in these instances, under these circumstances, people claiming to have out-of-body experiences didn't see some postcards. At that point, further experimentation will be required.

    However, since this approach seems like it will cost very little but have potentially huge ramifications if the patients do see the postcards, I think it's worth it. If it does work, further research will again be required.

    I disagree that some things in life are not meant to be known for sure. The search for knowledge should always go forwards, and like Rob O says, death is still a mystery. Unless it isn't, and life is just the sum of the biological processes in your body, and stops when those processes stop. But I think knowing if that is the case is worthwhile anyway.

  4. Obviously this isn’t going to disprove the existence of out-of-body experiences. It is impossible to prove a negative. All this will do, if the patients don’t see the postcards, is show that in these instances, under these circumstances, people claiming to have out-of-body experiences didn’t see some postcards. At that point, further experimentation will be required.

    However, since this approach seems like it will cost very little but have potentially huge ramifications if the patients do see the postcards, I think it’s worth it. If it does work, further research will again be required.

    I disagree that some things in life are not meant to be known for sure. The search for knowledge should always go forwards, and like Rob O says, death is still a mystery. Unless it isn’t, and life is just the sum of the biological processes in your body, and stops when those processes stop. But I think knowing if that is the case is worthwhile anyway.

  5. What I find interesting is that there are a large enough group of doctors who actually believe this is a real phenomenon and that those who do agree on what it is enough to make an experiment of it. This feels like some kind of attempt to disprove something that is generally believed by many lay people, but not by scientists.

    I and many other people believe that the "light at the end of the tunnel" or some other experience is a coping mechanism of the brain. The mind hates discontinuity. When we lose consciousness and then get it back, the brain needs to put something into our memories to balance out the missing time. This might also be linked to why we dream (though there are tangible benefits from dreaming other than continuity).

    In the end, the thing that they are testing in this experiment isn't "testable" because it requires a belief in something that is also untestable, the afterlife. I'm not saying there is not afterlife, but science can't really touch it, no matter how many episodes of Ghost Hunters we watch.

  6. What I find interesting is that there are a large enough group of doctors who actually believe this is a real phenomenon and that those who do agree on what it is enough to make an experiment of it. This feels like some kind of attempt to disprove something that is generally believed by many lay people, but not by scientists.

    I and many other people believe that the “light at the end of the tunnel” or some other experience is a coping mechanism of the brain. The mind hates discontinuity. When we lose consciousness and then get it back, the brain needs to put something into our memories to balance out the missing time. This might also be linked to why we dream (though there are tangible benefits from dreaming other than continuity).

    In the end, the thing that they are testing in this experiment isn’t “testable” because it requires a belief in something that is also untestable, the afterlife. I’m not saying there is not afterlife, but science can’t really touch it, no matter how many episodes of Ghost Hunters we watch.

  7. This experiment might prove out of body experiences, but it will not be able to disprove it. A person might not see the cards, might not be able to remember them, etc. So it will take many trials, but I believe in the scientific method – it got us to the moon for God's sake.

    Some of the best experiments in the history of science have been elegantly simple (ie Pasteur's experiment – disproving spontaneous generation of microbes). This experiment sounds like it might work if executed properly. Obviously the people placing the cards should not know the content of the cards so that they may not influence the experiment. Just because it is simple does not mean it won't teach us something very important.

    Also I think this is an appropriate experiment to run in a hospital since where else do you find a sizable group of individuals who are near death and are brought back? (and also because it is not very invasive).

    What I disagree with you the most and very strongly is the idea that some things should be off-limits to our attempts to understand. We should learn as much about this universe as we possibly can, or are there people out there who believe we should have seriously stopped while we were ahead – right after discovering fire?

  8. This experiment might prove out of body experiences, but it will not be able to disprove it. A person might not see the cards, might not be able to remember them, etc. So it will take many trials, but I believe in the scientific method – it got us to the moon for God’s sake.

    Some of the best experiments in the history of science have been elegantly simple (ie Pasteur’s experiment – disproving spontaneous generation of microbes). This experiment sounds like it might work if executed properly. Obviously the people placing the cards should not know the content of the cards so that they may not influence the experiment. Just because it is simple does not mean it won’t teach us something very important.

    Also I think this is an appropriate experiment to run in a hospital since where else do you find a sizable group of individuals who are near death and are brought back? (and also because it is not very invasive).

    What I disagree with you the most and very strongly is the idea that some things should be off-limits to our attempts to understand. We should learn as much about this universe as we possibly can, or are there people out there who believe we should have seriously stopped while we were ahead – right after discovering fire?

  9. Actually, David, I agree with you. I truly don't think we'll ever come close to unlocking the mysteries surrounding death and what happens next but I don't think that should deter us from continuing to push the boundaries and attempting to learn as much about this universe as we possibly can. That's what being human is all about.

  10. Actually, David, I agree with you. I truly don’t think we’ll ever come close to unlocking the mysteries surrounding death and what happens next but I don’t think that should deter us from continuing to push the boundaries and attempting to learn as much about this universe as we possibly can. That’s what being human is all about.

  11. I didn't say things were "off-limits". What I meant was that some things in life are so complex / difficult to understand and / or difficult to investigate that perhaps we're not meant to know anything about it. That we are not destined to have any knowledge about it while we are alive.

    I am not a religious person at all but perhaps we are destined to have life and death kept well separated and we are not supposed to know anything about death until it happens?

  12. I didn’t say things were “off-limits”. What I meant was that some things in life are so complex / difficult to understand and / or difficult to investigate that perhaps we’re not meant to know anything about it. That we are not destined to have any knowledge about it while we are alive.

    I am not a religious person at all but perhaps we are destined to have life and death kept well separated and we are not supposed to know anything about death until it happens?

  13. Near-dear = chemically induced dream.

    I've been dead (although very briefly) and trust me it was definitely a dream. Because I remember hardly anything except… boobs… yep I said it, boobs. I had the vague impression that I had dreamed about fondling breasts. Go ahead, laugh.

  14. Near-dear = chemically induced dream.

    I’ve been dead (although very briefly) and trust me it was definitely a dream. Because I remember hardly anything except… boobs… yep I said it, boobs. I had the vague impression that I had dreamed about fondling breasts. Go ahead, laugh.

  15. Out of body experiences are real but they do not happen like the article states. It comes from DMT and your pineal (sp) gland. DMT is what makes you dream. However when your born and just before you die your body pumps out tons of of it and you basically have psychedelic trip. This is where people get confused and think they are out of their bodies. You might see a bright light, and beautiful formations and patterns and you enter a highly euphoric state. This is why you say that you see a bright light or GOD or heaven or whatever your "trip" is like. If you want a near death experience go to a country where it is legal (not the US)and take DMT or even for a milder experience find some magic mushrooms. Although both very very illegal in many countries.

  16. Out of body experiences are real but they do not happen like the article states. It comes from DMT and your pineal (sp) gland. DMT is what makes you dream. However when your born and just before you die your body pumps out tons of of it and you basically have psychedelic trip. This is where people get confused and think they are out of their bodies. You might see a bright light, and beautiful formations and patterns and you enter a highly euphoric state. This is why you say that you see a bright light or GOD or heaven or whatever your “trip” is like. If you want a near death experience go to a country where it is legal (not the US)and take DMT or even for a milder experience find some magic mushrooms. Although both very very illegal in many countries.

  17. I've had an out-of-body experience, and even immediately afterwards I was struck by the possibility that the entire experience was a composition of my own memory.

    On the other hand, even if it is a process in the brain, perhaps that is just part of a larger process that involves the "soul" (if one believes in that). If there is such a thing as an afterlife, then the mechanisms by which that interfaces to this life are completely undefined.

    Personally, I'm agnostic. I don't believe, but I'm not arrogant enough to say that I know it's false.

  18. I’ve had an out-of-body experience, and even immediately afterwards I was struck by the possibility that the entire experience was a composition of my own memory.

    On the other hand, even if it is a process in the brain, perhaps that is just part of a larger process that involves the “soul” (if one believes in that). If there is such a thing as an afterlife, then the mechanisms by which that interfaces to this life are completely undefined.

    Personally, I’m agnostic. I don’t believe, but I’m not arrogant enough to say that I know it’s false.

  19. "What if you were more focused on looking down at your dying body and what was going on below you?"

    Write a code word on the dying dude's forehead. If they wake up saying "HEY! Who wrote 'DORK' on my head?!" you've proved the OOBE (out of body experience).

  20. “What if you were more focused on looking down at your dying body and what was going on below you?”

    Write a code word on the dying dude’s forehead. If they wake up saying “HEY! Who wrote ‘DORK’ on my head?!” you’ve proved the OOBE (out of body experience).

  21. Robert Bruce did this very same experiment in one of his books on astral projections but instead of using postcards he used playing cards. Apparently the experiment was a success.

  22. Robert Bruce did this very same experiment in one of his books on astral projections but instead of using postcards he used playing cards. Apparently the experiment was a success.

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