As promised in our last post, we will now address the three kinds of scientific evidence which determine verifiable near death experiences:

  1. Veridical reported data (all major longitudinal studies)
  2. Visual perception of blind (primarily Ring and van Lommel)
  3. Personal information about deceased individuals (primarily Greyson 2010, van Lommel 2010, Moody 1993, Cook et al 1998, and Kelly et al 2000)

As will be seen, each of these kinds of scientific evidence can be verified by independent researchers after the fact, and all of them are exceedingly difficult (if not impossible) to explain by merely physical or physiological theories (such as hallucinations, anoxia, narcotics, etc. — see below section IV).

We will examine each kind of scientific evidence, and then assess the combined data.

near death experiences scientific evidence

1. Reported Veridical Data

Frequently during near death experiences, the transphysical component leaves the body, but does not go immediately to an other-worldly domain. Instead, it remains in the resuscitation room or in close or remote proximity to the body.

As noted above, this transphysical component is self-conscious, and can see, hear, and remember. Its memories can be recalled after patients return to their bodies.

Some of these reports have highly unusual or unique characteristics which are not part of ordinary resuscitation or hospital procedures. Many of these reports can be verified by independent researchers after patients return to their bodies.

When all of these conditions have been met, and the unusual accounts have been verified to be 100% accurate, they are termed “veridical.” Virtually every peer-reviewed study reports multiple instances of such veridical data.

The following cases typify a much larger array of reports, many of which have been assessed by Dr. Janice Holden (see above Section II.E).

In the Pim van Lommel study cited above (Section II.B), one man who had been in a deep coma, later told a nurse that he recognized her and saw where she had placed his dentures during resuscitation efforts, and even described the cart into which she placed them.  They were there, precisely as he described it.

Melvin Morse and Kim Clark report that a woman had knowledge of a shoe on a window ledge outside the hospital (not near the room where the patient was resuscitated, but next to a third-floor office where she was being interviewed).

The psychologist who did the interview (Kim Clark) had to crawl along the ledge outside her window to verify the claim. The shoe was indeed there precisely as the patient had described it.  Though the shoe could have been seen from a window, the detail with which the NDE patient described it could not have been detected from that window (a worn little toe, a shoelace beneath the heel, etc.).

Clark concluded that:

The only way she [the patient] could have had such a perspective was if she had been floating right outside and at very close range to the tennis shoe. I retrieved the shoe and brought it back to Maria; it was very concrete evidence for me.

Raymond Moody also reports similar veridical near death experiences,  the most frequent of which are people who leave the operating room (after seeing the resuscitation efforts going on) and visit their relatives and friends in hospital waiting rooms (literally moving through walls).

One patient reported seeing her young daughter wearing mismatched plaids (which was highly unusual and only knowable if she had actually been in the waiting room). Another woman overheard her brother-in-law talking to a business associate in the hospital waiting room in a very derogatory manner, and was able to report this back to him later.

Dr. Bruce Greyson (Department of Psychiatric Medicine at the University of Virginia) also reported several instances of accurate veridical data reported by patients after clinical death.

He notes:

[veridical reports concern] only descriptions of extremely low antecedent probability that have been cited, such as one woman’s accurate description of the plaid shoelaces on a nurse participating in her resuscitation (Ring and Lawrence, 1993), or one man’s accurate description of his cardiac surgeon during his open-heart surgery ‘‘flapping his arms as if trying to fly’’ (Cook, Greyson, and Stevenson, 1998, p. 399), hardly the type of behavior typically shown in media portrayals of open-heart surgery.

Both of these examples, incidentally, were corroborated by independent interviews with the doctors and nurses involved. In a specific test of ability of patients to imagine accurate resuscitation scenarios, Michael Sabom (1981, 1982) found NDErs’ descriptions of their resuscitations to be highly accurate with specific veridical details, whereas those of resuscitated patients who did not report NDEs but were asked to imagine what their resuscitations must have looked like were vague and contained erroneous specifics.

These are but a few examples of veridical data reported by patients in virtually every major study of near death experiences. They corroborate the validity of patients’ claims to have been in an out-of-body state (with sensorial capabilities).

The accuracy of veridical data from multiple studies was correlated by Dr. Janice Holden (see Section II.E above) using the strictest criteria. As noted above, she determined that the vast majority of veridical data were reported perfectly accurately – with only 8% having some inaccuracy.

These findings lend considerable probative force to the survival of human consciousness after bodily death, because they cannot be explained by physical causation.

They apparently require a capacity to see and hear independently of the physical body, which cannot be explained by a physical model alone (such as hallucination arising out of narcotics, oxygen deprivation, revival of brain cells and neural functions).

Dr. Mario Beauregard, Dr. Pim van Lommel, and Dr. Bruce Greyson have shown the vast differences between near death experiences and proposed physical explanations – like hallucinations (see below Section IV). Such hallucinatory activity is qualitatively different from NDEs. Moreover, unlike NDEs, hallucinations are random, sporadic, and highly inaccurate (which will be discussed in Part IV).

Our next post will be on the Visual Perception of the Blind during Clinical Death, and the impact that data makes on the hypotheses that there is a transcendent reality.

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