Recently, Britton and Bootzin carried out a more systematic investigation of the relationship between NDEs and the temporal lobe, comparing their NDE group to a control group. Their NDE group included subjects who had experienced "life-threatening physical distress as the result of an accident or other injury and [received] a minimum score of 7 on the [Greyson] Near-Death Experience Scale" (Britton and Bootzin 254). Their non-NDE control group consisted of age- and gender-matched individuals who had come close to death and who had scored below 7 on the . Despite having used a less-than-ideal control group, the authors provide convincing evidence that their findings confirm a role for the temporal lobe in the production of NDEs. These findings include:
Bonenfant, Richard J. "A Comparative Study of Near-Death Experience and Non-Near-Death Experience Outcomes in 56 Survivors of Clinical Death." . Vol. 22, No. 3 (Spring 2004): 155-178.
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But is this last claim really true? Since Sabom merely asserts this (and has an obvious stake in it being true), we have little reason to take him at his word—especially on such a crucial point. What is the basis for his assertion? Does he have any objective evidence that the earphones used to measure AEPs completely cut off sounds from the external environment?
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But despite repeated assertions of widespread and even quite frequent paranormal abilities manifesting after NDEs (reported by NDErs themselves and endorsed by many near-death researchers), not a single experiencer, so far as I am aware, has ever volunteered for a controlled experiment to test their alleged psychic powers. Given that such a demonstration would easily validate their claims, one simple question begs for an answer: Why not?
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In , for instance, Ring claimed that many of his NDErs had 'prophetic visions' of the future of humanity, including earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, marked climate change, economic collapse, and humanity on the verge of nuclear annihilation. 'Massive upheavals' were to start in the 1980s and end with world peace just after the dawn of the new millennium (Fox 40-41).
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Sadly, the most prominent representatives of the field—Raymond Moody, Kenneth Ring, Melvin Morse, Phyllis Atwater, and Margot Grey—have made all sorts of unsubstantiated and fanciful claims about NDErs' paranormal abilities. While this alone seriously damages the credibility of their own work and mars near-death studies as a whole, the damage is exacerbated by wild New Age speculations on the meaning of the NDE from the very same researchers. Given such fringe claims, it should be no surprise that the mainstream medical community has viewed research into the near-death experience with suspicion.
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Despite the contributions of serious neuroscientists, psychologists, sociologists, and anthropologists to the field, 'near-death studies' is rife with wildly irresponsible claims about NDErs gaining psychic abilities, healing powers, and accurate prophetic visions of the future after their NDEs. These unsubstantiated assertions recall those of crop circle researchers who have 'discovered' that the wheat found in crop circles has been genetically altered. Phyllis Atwater, for example, claims that NDErs look younger after NDEs when before and after pictures are compared and claims that NDErs' 'energy fields' interfere with electronic devices like watches and microphones (though apparently not with the much more sensitive computers NDErs use).