Neurosurgeon Eben Alexander wrote an account of his near-death experience that pissed off a lot of skeptics. It sort of annoyed me too, but not as much as the skeptical annoyance annoyed me. The conflict between NDE believers and skeptics points to bigger problems in science and culture.
“In the materialistic demand to somehow untangle ourselves from the world completely in order to understand it, we’re asked to borrow a popular theological narrative. First, researchers are meant to believe there’s a way to create an experiment and not intervene or interact with it, and that they’re meant to do everything they can to preserve this principle. Then, they should believe that thoughts, feelings, and impressions have nothing to do with the reality they’ve set up inside the experiment and that there are laws (controls, etc.) that they’ve also created that actually prohibit them from interfering with whatever takes place inside the experiment world. This is remarkably similar to the deist or TV-addicted version of God — an old man on a distant cloud with a billion billion TVs. He set the show in motion so he could watch, pretending things happen independent of him.… Read the rest