DOI: 10.14704/nq.2010.8.2.280

Near Death Experiences: A New Algorithmic Approach to Verifying Consciousness Outside the Brain

Valerie Laws, Elaine Perry


Quantum mechanics arose to explain 'wobbles' in predicted effects of Newtonian physics, such as the stability of electron orbitals. Similarly, scientifically verified phenomena in the field of neuroscience which contradict known theories of brain function, could give weight and credibility to neuroquantology, stimulating new research and discovery. The existence of consciousness outside the physical brain, often recounted anecdotally in various forms, if verified, could be such a phenomenon. Accounts of ‘Out of Body Experiences’ (OBEs), often incorporating ‘Near Death Experiences’ (NDEs) have accumulated over many years, with believers in the empirical actuality of the OBE/NDE, and sceptics entrenched. After an overview of explanations and theories on both sides, with counter-arguments, we make the case for a new approach, for identifying verifiable cases, if any. This would allow critical appraisal of evidence, according to scientific methodology, though with certain inescapable limitations. Using a specific, much-cited case, we show how distorted accounts of NDEs may be used to support supposedly ‘scientific’ arguments. We propose an algorithm, to discount unsuitable cases, identify verifiable features, and allow further reputable scientific study, and an online cache, of suitable cases. Verifying out-of-brain consciousness would stimulate new technology, for medical science, and even communication between brains – and new science to explain it, conceivably using quantum models, as it’s impossible according to current neuroscience. It would advance arguments about defining death, even survival after death. However slim the chance of verifying OBEs, the potential benefits and advances in scientific and biomedical knowledge make the attempt worthwhile.


near death experience, consciousness, OBE, out of body experience

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