Under the auspices of the Human Consciousness Project, Sam Parnia not only unveiled the in a presentation to the United Nations, but also (52m:45s into the ) alluded to the forthcoming launch of a third study in the cardiothoracic unit of the University of Montreal designed to find out whether NDEs ever occur deep hypothermia (rather than before or after it), . Like AWARE, this third study will presumably also involve , as veridical perceptions (or bodily sensations) during NDEs provide the only means by which researchers could correlate the timing of an NDE to a specific period of time during general anesthesia. Survivalists undoubtedly hope to correlate veridical paranormal perceptions during NDEs to a period of complete brain inactivity accompanying deep hypothermia.
But is there actually strong evidence of veridical paranormal perception in Ring and Cooper's sample of blind NDErs? One reason Fox questions the significance of this study is that those known to acquire sight for the first time, or reacquire it after a very long time, have difficulty making sense of their visual sensations. He notes the case of a 52-year-man who, after receiving corneal grafts, could not visually identify a lathe that he was otherwise well-acquainted with—by touch—unless he was given the opportunity to touch it. Continually frustrated at his inability to interpret his visual sensations, he eventually took his own life a full two years after the operation (Fox 225-226). By contrast, Ring and Cooper's blind NDErs are said to have "virtually immediately [gained] the ability to perceive accurately just such things as hospitals and streetlights with virtually no difficulty whatsoever" (226). While Ring and Cooper interpret this as evidence of a previously unknown sort of synesthetic perception 'transcending' normal human vision (224), Fox points out that more mundane sources—such as learning from mass media or NDE researchers that OBEs, tunnels, and lights are to be expected during near-death crises—might more satisfactorily explain the blind NDErs' testimonies (239). Irwin notes similar possibilities:
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A second intriguing theory has been developed by Blackmore: Under stress or when sense input is disrupted, one's normal model of reality is replaced by one based on memory and imagination. OBEs, perceptual distortions, lucid dreams, and other ASCs are all different models of reality (Alvarado 202). Several confirmed predictions support this theory. First, OBErs should have better imagery skills than non-OBErs, particularly those involving manipulating one's spatial perspective (202). And as already noted, OBErs are indeed better at identifying the viewpoints of placed objects and imagining changes in perspective. Second, those who induce OBEs at will should have better visual-spatial skills than those who have OBEs spontaneously; and again Blackmore found this to be the case for dream control (202). Third, bird's-eye-view dreamers should be more likely to have OBEs than those who dream from other perspectives—as both Irwin and Blackmore have found (202-203). Finally, OBErs should have more hallucinations and ASCs than non-OBErs; and four separate studies have confirmed this to be the case (203).
Locke, John | Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
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