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Critically Speaking

Jul 15, 2020

In this episode, Therese Markow and Dr. James Alcock discuss what near death experiences are and the increase of them in recent years due to improvements in medical technology. While near death experiences (NDEs) have been known about for a long time, we, as a scientific community, are starting to understand more about what they mean for neurological processes. However, despite knowing the science of what is happening, NDEs and how they are experienced are subject to one’s own beliefs, context, and even religious framework. Dr. Alcock and Therese also discuss the the relationship between near death experiences, hallucinations, and even reactions to various drugs and how they create powerful subjective experiences. 



 Key Takeaways:

  • In surveys taken in the United States, about 3% of people have reported having near death experiences. This number can be difficult to assess as they are based on memory and the surveys are taken, sometimes, years after the incident in question.
  • It is difficult to prove the near death experiences in research studies due to the subjectiveness of what is being perceived. 
  • Even with the science that we do know, those who have near death experiences (including neurologists who have studied the brain) report the reality of the feelings and perceptions that are felt in these experiences. 


"Context is important. Our interpretation is important. And it's very difficult, if not impossible, for any individual to distinguish between reality and subjective fantasies in those situations." —  Dr. James Alcock


Connect with Dr. James Alcock:

Wikipedia Page: James Alcock  

Book: Belief: What it Means to Believe and Why Our Convictions are so Compelling 

Magazine: Skeptical Inquirer



Connect with Therese:


Twitter: @CritiSpeak




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