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214. Dr. Suzanne Gordon Looks Deeply Into Near Death Experience Cases (Podcast)

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  • 214. Dr. Suzanne Gordon Looks Deeply Into Near Death Experience Cases (Podcast)

    Interview brings ethnographic perspective to discover the meaning of near-death experiences to those who have had them.
    Join Skeptiko host Alex Tsakiris for an interview with Dr. Suzanne Gordon author of, Field Notes From the Light: An Ethnographic [...]

    Click here to read more ...

  • #2
    Alex's question at the end of the podcast

    Alex's question at the end of the podcast:

    What areas of research into NDE phenomena offer the most promise for the future?

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Michael Larkin View Post
      Alex's question at the end of the podcast:

      What areas of research into NDE phenomena offer the most promise for the future?
      Haven't had a chance to listen to the interview yet. but I would have to say AWARE-like studies. Positive hits there would be the best chances of shifting NDE research towards the mainstream (and other parapsychology phenomenon, as a result, eventually)

      Comment


      • #4
        Alex, first of all I've only been registered here for a while but I wanted to take this opportunity to thank you for all the amazing things you put up on here, it really is deeply enriching to get all these interesting perspectives together.

        I fiind the apparent contradiction you touched on in the interview between the "you can do no wrong" and the fact that when people do have NDEs and similar experiences they often find they have a purpose and indeed live a much more purposeful life really fascinating and it might be something about which I start a thread in future.

        One of the really interesting things about the initial backlash on Eben Alexander's book was the amount of fury generated by the "you can do no wrong statement". Commentors were really angry at the idea that people could actually as they saw it get away with the horrible things they do in this life and I suppose a certain extent I can understand that anger but to another extent it surprises me because most of the anger came from materialists and they avowedly do not believe in any kind of continuation beyond death.

        I must say I find the idea of not being able to do anything wrong quite difficult to process myself at times: pondering what Hitler's or Pol Pot's entry to the afterlife must have been like is a confusing experience!

        Comment


        • #5
          I didn't get this interview at all. Dr. Gordon appeared to be trying to find untarnished NDE reports, but all I heard were people whose culture or rearing disposed them to conceal their experiences behind societal norms. This caused cognitive dissonance which in turn lead to psychiatric help. Is a religious fundamentalist or hard-core atheist likely to suffer from fewer problems readjusting their world view in the light of their experience? It sounds like the Doc's first mistake was to assume there's a neutral gear to the human condition into which 'normal' people fit.

          She seemed unimpressed by survival as a cultural game changer, as though it could somehow fit into the prevailing scientific paradigm by tweaking peoples' perceptions. I thought she was saying Zionists before realising she meant Scientists. Did I miss the point of this interview or am I just being grumpy?

          Comment


          • #6
            Hi Alex,

            Great interview!

            I like the fact that she is not obsessed with the NDEr's physiological state, with whether their brain is active or not during the NDE. There is so much more to these experiences than scientific proof and its important to talk about those other things too.

            Dr. Suzanne Gordon: He identified this set of values that we needed to change, from being materialistic to being altruistic. To having a concern for wellness rather than making money. To having a concern for global wellness, the wellness of the planet and social well-being. And all the values he identified there was this direct match between these values and the value shifts that are among the after-effects of near-death experiences. So he admitted it. He saw that these people needed support and an organizational platform to become visible to culture.
            I agree with these sentiments. However the problems are so difficult that most attempts at solutions have unintended consequences and often make things worse instead of better. That is what I tried to point out in this thread: Pathological Altruism

            Also, most people confuse materialism and pollution with economic development. The worst environmental disasters occur in the undeveloped world, whether it is due to overgrazing by poor herdsmen that cause desertification in Africa, or lax environmental regulation causing pollution in developing countries like China. It is the wealthiest countries can best afford to protect the environment and economic development tends to reduce the greatest threat to the environment and the principal cause of habitat destruction: population growth.

            Dr. Suzanne Gordon: That we don’t hear from but I think his case speaks to the need for experiencers to be heard, harking back to your interview with Chris Carter, where he kept talking about the third rail. That we’ve got science on one side and religion on the other? Well, I want the third rail to be the voice of experiencers themselves because I think their interpretations of the meanings of their experiences speak back both to religion and to science. And don’t let us fall into these sort of simplistic either/or versions of what’s real.
            +1


            Dr. Suzanne Gordon: But in many Native American cultures, how sociology and religion would describe it is they would say religion is coexistent with the culture itself.
            The obvious implication here is that people who want to rid the world of religion are racist bigots. Someone might say that those racist bigots are just ignorant of other cultures, but ignorance is not an excuse, ignorance is a cause of bigotry.


            Dr. Suzanne Gordon: But something like 87% of hard scientists have some sort of spiritual belief system. Now, isn’t that interesting?
            I have written that science is perpetrating a scam because it has suppressed the truth about the afterlife, ESP and other phenomena. Someone might doubt that it is an intentional scam and that the scientists are just making an honest mistake. But if 87% of scientists have spiritual beliefs, that would suggest that it is not an honest mistake but a deliberate deception. It seems that many scientists who know the truth are afraid that Science will lose power if the truth of its deceptions and its failure to study and recognize psychic and afterlife phenomena becomes known.

            It would be fascinating for a scientist like Dr. Gordon to apply her ethological talents to studying materialist pseudoskepticism and the science scam.


            Dr. Suzanne Gordon: Yes. That’s exactly right. But she ultimately gets baptized. And she said, “I know that you don’t have to be Catholic to connect with what I connected with through the near-death experience. It’s just comfortable for me, the incense and the candles and the rosary.” She said, “But my beliefs are very different now.”
            Religion has a purpose and use. But it is not comprehensible to an unbalanced logic-obsessed mind. You have to balance your mind to all its modes of understanding in order to appreciate the value of religion.

            Dr. Suzanne Gordon: According to Ken Ring’s work in Heading Toward Omega and Omega Project that from the studies he did, just exposure to near-death experience studies literature lessened people’s fear of death. So yeah, I think that’s a good thing but I agree with you. I think the experience of finding yourself alive while somebody’s just pronounced your body dead, there’s culture shock for you, Alex.
            Learning about the afterlife can eliminate fear of extinction but in some cases that is replaced by fear of the afterlife. People might be afraid of karmic retribution or of the life review, or of lower levels in the afterlife, or reincarnation. An NDE where one actually experiences the afterlife directly eliminates fear of death in all it's forms. That is one reason information about NDEs can be very helpful. Knowing that people who have experienced the afterlife and came back to their earth life are not afraid of it helps to reduce fear of the afterlife.


            Dr. Suzanne Gordon: She changed her whole backyard and made it into like a wildlife preserve, sowing wildflower seeds and no chemicals and all that. And she said, “I realize now I have to take care of nature, even snakes, and I don’t even like snakes.” I thought that was really interesting. So people stayed or went where they felt comfortable.
            I suspect the Creator(s) are nature lovers too, and that explains part of why the earth and life on it were created.


            Dr. Suzanne Gordon: Thank God for quantum mechanics.
            I don't really agree with this sentiment. I have nothing against quantum mechanics, but despite the beliefs of its founders (Max Planck and Erwin Schrödinger) it has not convinced many scientists that consciousness is fundamental. Furthermore, the evidence for the afterlife is so strong it does not require an explanation from theoretical physics.


            Alex Tsakiris: But Buddhists say the same thing. When you do and you’re totally not attached to what you’re doing, then that’s the only true doing. I don’t know. I lose it there.
            This comes up is multiple contexts.

            When practicing mindfulness you should live in the moment, aware of what you are doing while you are doing it. Not thinking about the past or future, not letting thoughts of the future, hopes of success or fear of failure, influence you (distract you, worry you or inhibit you).

            And, also, there is a difference between doing good because you want to earn merit and doing good because because you sincerely think it is the right thing to do. It's a way to measure spiritual development. My opinion is you should not worry about merit or non-merit. Doing something good because you want merit is still better than not doing it.

            Dr. Suzanne Gordon: And it is really true that again and again you hear adult experiencers say that it’s not those big accomplishments that you thought you were supposed to set out to have that matter. It’s what you do every day as you suggested before. The person that you smile at. How you are on a day-to-day basis that really matters.
            +1
            Last edited by anonymous; July 10th, 2013, 03:08 AM.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Coroico View Post
              Alex, first of all I've only been registered here for a while but I wanted to take this opportunity to thank you for all the amazing things you put up on here, it really is deeply enriching to get all these interesting perspectives together.
              you're totally welcome... it's my great pleasure

              I fiind the apparent contradiction you touched on in the interview between the "you can do no wrong" and the fact that when people do have NDEs and similar experiences they often find they have a purpose and indeed live a much more purposeful life really fascinating and it might be something about which I start a thread in future.
              yes, it's really impossible to resolve rationally. the one thing that gets me a little closer is shifting my idea of time. what if the timescale we're talking about is something approaching infinite? what if time is not linear in the way we normally experience it? these are not ideas that I really understand, but just thoughts I play with... they give me some comfort

              One of the really interesting things about the initial backlash on Eben Alexander's book was the amount of fury generated by the "you can do no wrong statement". Commentors were really angry at the idea that people could actually as they saw it get away with the horrible things they do in this life and I suppose a certain extent I can understand that anger but to another extent it surprises me because most of the anger came from materialists and they avowedly do not believe in any kind of continuation beyond death.
              great point... most Atheists are closeted born-again Christians when you get right down to it

              Comment


              • #8
                Alex Tsakiris: Yeah. If they decide not to come back we’re really not going to interview them. The other part that just presents this problem is we hear two completely contradictory things. We hear on one hand that there’s this decision to come back to take care of things in this world. And then we hear equally—at least I have and I’m sure you have since you’ve researched this much more than I have—these accounts of everything here is as it should be. Everything is going to be okay. All those questions you had about human suffering, why bad things happen to good people, are answered for people in this other state of knowing and it all makes sense.

                Which would lead us to there’s really no compelling need to do something, you know? It just all works out and you’re just evolving and co-evolving with the process. Aren’t those ideas really—I don’t want to say they’re in conflict—but they appear to be contradictory.

                Dr. Suzanne Gordon: They do. So why is it that way? Why do people see this other side on some level or from some perspective? It’s all okay? And yet, the way these things change people’s lives—there’s the tendency to have a new or more pronounced sense of life mission, responsibility, accountability to everyone on the planet and to the planet itself, you know? It is interesting, isn’t it?

                It is because if you see some place that seems so wonderful and where everything is clearly okay and even a lot of times beings like with Dannion Brinkley? He’s done all these horrific things in his lifetime and yet here’s the Being of Light with its arm around Danny’s shoulder saying, “It’s okay, it’s okay, it’s all a learning experience.” And yet you come back changed and wanting to do for others and realizing things like we’re here to learn and to serve and to grow.
                There is no contradiction. Life is a learning experience. When you learn something it changes you. That is the point. The NDEr learns from the experience and it changes them. If you are ignorant you behave one way. If you are informed you behave differently. It is natural not forced. There is no "compelling need to do something" because correct action will arise naturally as a result of learning from the experiences of life. A life (or two or three) will make you naturally good, make you naturally want to be good.


                No one knows your charity. That’s the only charity. Well, who can really do that? But Buddhists say the same thing. When you do and you’re totally not attached to what you’re doing, then that’s the only true doing. I don’t know. I lose it there.
                This is really the same thing as the previous point (above).

                Do something because it is naturally, obviously the right thing to and not because you think you should do it because of some idea of personal gain such as merit.

                Unforced charity is the natural consequence of spiritual development.

                Dr. Suzanne Gordon: I want the culture of near-death experiencers to become visible because I can envision just this cold and value-neutral and bias-free worldview emerging out of quantum physics that still allows us to completely trash the planet and each other.
                This is a good point. Quantum mechanics provides evidence against materialism, evidence that consciousness is fundamental. But it lacks a spiritual context.

                People drawn to non-materialistic views of consciousness may have different interests. Some people start with an interest in spirituality and become interested in evidence from different branches of science. Other people are interested in non-spiritual scientific phenomena and recognize that materialist science is deficient. But if you recognize that consciousness does not depend on matter I think you have to eventually come to recognize that the evidence that we are spiritual beings cannot be ignored.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by anonymous View Post

                  I like the fact that she is not obsessed with the NDEr's physiological state, with whether their brain is active or not during the NDE. There is so much more to these experiences than scientific proof and its important to talk about those other things too.
                  I agree... and I like the fact that she's approaching this from another discipline -- cultural anthropology. It speaks to how the scientism crowd has monopolized the conversation.

                  I agree with these sentiments. However the problems are so difficult that most attempts at solutions have unintended consequences and often make things worse instead of better. That is what I tried to point out in this thread: Pathological Altruism
                  agree.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by gabriel View Post
                    I didn't get this interview at all. Dr. Gordon appeared to be trying to find untarnished NDE reports, but all I heard were people whose culture or rearing disposed them to conceal their experiences behind societal norms. This caused cognitive dissonance which in turn lead to psychiatric help. Is a religious fundamentalist or hard-core atheist likely to suffer from fewer problems readjusting their world view in the light of their experience? It sounds like the Doc's first mistake was to assume there's a neutral gear to the human condition into which 'normal' people fit.

                    She seemed unimpressed by survival as a cultural game changer, as though it could somehow fit into the prevailing scientific paradigm by tweaking peoples' perceptions. I thought she was saying Zionists before realising she meant Scientists. Did I miss the point of this interview or am I just being grumpy?
                    maybe I didn't present her fine work properly. see it you like this interview better: Episode 713 – Mysterious Universe from the podcast

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by alextsakiris View Post
                      maybe I didn't present her fine work properly. see it you like this interview better: Episode 713 – Mysterious Universe from the podcast
                      Thanks Alex, I'll check it out. It was late in the UK day when I listened and I may have missed the nuances.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by anonymous View Post
                        Hi Alex,

                        Great interview!

                        I like the fact that she is not obsessed with the NDEr's physiological state, with whether their brain is active or not during the NDE. There is so much more to these experiences than scientific proof and its important to talk about those other things too.
                        I very much agree, and the existence of NDE's is so well established, that I think ongoing research should be centered (at least in part) on issues other than "are they real?".



                        Also, most people confuse materialism and pollution with economic development. The worst environmental disasters occur in the undeveloped world, whether it is due to overgrazing by poor herdsmen that cause desertification in Africa, or lax environmental regulation causing pollution in developing countries like China. It is the wealthiest countries can best afford to protect the environment and economic development tends to reduce the greatest threat to the environment and the principal cause of habitat destruction: population growth.
                        Yes - environmentalists need to learn a very hard lesson. If they listen to scientists too much they can get duped by various special interest groups. Environmentalism can then become part of the problem


                        I have written that science is perpetrating a scam because it has suppressed the truth about the afterlife, ESP and other phenomena. Someone might doubt that it is an intentional scam and that the scientists are just making an honest mistake. But if 87% of scientists have spiritual beliefs, that would suggest that it is not an honest mistake but a deliberate deception.
                        Again this is true. The mere fact of NDE's was largely buried until recent years. Yet it was there in folk lore. I remember being told by my mother that when you drown, your life goes past you as it happens. This sounded like an old wive's tale (I doubt if she believed it herself) but it is obvious where the idea came from.


                        It seems that many scientists who know the truth are afraid that Science will lose power if the truth of its deceptions and its failure to study and recognize psychic and afterlife phenomena becomes known.
                        I'd say it is more about the fact that scientists have become afraid to step out of line in modern culture.


                        It would be fascinating for a scientist like Dr. Gordon to apply her ethological talents to studying materialist pseudoskepticism and the science scam.
                        Don't you think it would be a bit like shooting ducks with a laser cannon? There isn't much interesting is restating the obvious!

                        Religion has a purpose and use. But it is not comprehensible to an unbalanced logic-obsessed mind. You have to balance your mind to all its modes of understanding in order to appreciate the value of religion.
                        You are a Spiritualist (I think), and that may be a lot different from most other religions - clearly you think it is best, otherwise you would be a Catholic, say.

                        Learning about the afterlife can eliminate fear of extinction but in some cases that is replaced by fear of the afterlife. People might be afraid of karmic retribution or of the life review, or of lower levels in the afterlife, or reincarnation. An NDE where one actually experiences the afterlife directly eliminates fear of death in all it's forms. That is one reason information about NDEs can be very helpful. Knowing that people who have experienced the afterlife and came back to their earth life are not afraid of it helps to reduce fear of the afterlife.
                        Agreed - but do remember that it is Christianity that has done most to foster that fear of the afterlife. A full appreciation of NDE's by our culture - and by our religious institutions - would be a great step forward.

                        David

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by alextsakiris View Post
                          maybe I didn't present her fine work properly. see it you like this interview better: Episode 713 – Mysterious Universe from the podcast
                          Alex,

                          There seems to be some problem on that page, neither the download link, nor the treaming audio are working - the previous episode does download, so I don't think it is a not-in-the-US thing!

                          David

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by David Bailey View Post
                            Agreed - but do remember that it is Christianity that has done most to foster that fear of the afterlife.
                            That may be an over-simplified reading of the Christian position on an afterlife. There are certainly apocalyptic sects who see fire and damnation for the many and salvation for the few, and there have been mainstream churches who emphasise such an interpretation historically, usually for reasons of political power.

                            A fairer appraisal is that Christianity is somewhere between hopeful and schizophrenic on these matters. A hymnal of the mid C19th can contain a 'hope of endless joy' and a 'gloomy prison' waiting within a few pages. It's carrot and stick stuff and tells us as much about the social milieu in which the song evolved as any scriptural underpinnings. To allow such interpretations to stand for the entirety of the message is as misplaced as letting a bearded and vengeful depiction on an oil painting be the definitive depiction of God, rather than a down and out in C16th Florence who needed the artist's cash.
                            Last edited by gabriel; July 10th, 2013, 04:56 AM.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by David Bailey View Post
                              Alex,

                              There seems to be some problem on that page, neither the download link, nor the treaming audio are working - the previous episode does download, so I don't think it is a not-in-the-US thing!

                              David
                              They are in season eight now and seven is archived.

                              Comment

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