Tag Archives | Death

Death Should be Optional

Max von Sydow and Bengt Ekerot in “The Seventh Seal”

Max von Sydow and Bengt Ekerot in “The Seventh Seal”

via H+ Magazine:

Now more than ever, the topic of death is marked by no shortage of diverging opinions.

On the one hand, there are serious thinkers — Ray Kurzweil, Hans Moravec, Michio Kaku, Marshall Brain, Aubrey de Grey and others — who foresee that technology may enable humans to defeat death. There are also dissenters who argue that this is exceedingly unlikely. And there are those like Bill Joy who think that such technologies are technologically feasible but morally reprehensible.

As a non-scientist I am not qualified to evaluate scientific claims about what science can and cannot do. What I can say is that plausible scenarios for overcoming death have now appeared. This leads to the following questions: If individuals could choose immortality, should they? Should societies fund and promote research to defeat death?

The question regarding individuals has a straightforward answer: We should respect the right of autonomous individuals to choose for themselves.

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The Transhumanist Wager: Can We and Should We Defeat Death?

"Pascal’s Wager advances a pragmatic argument for the existence of the Christian God."

“Pascal’s Wager advances a pragmatic argument for the existence of the Christian God.”

via h+ Magazine:

The Transhumanist Wager, brainchild of noted transhumanist Zoltan Istvan, can be understood as follows. If one loves and values their life, then they will want (the option) to live as long as possible. How do they achieve this?

Alternative #1 – do nothing and hope there is an afterlife. But since you don’t know there is an afterlife, doing nothing doesn’t help your odds.

Alternative #2 – use science and technology to gain immortality. By doing something you are increasing your odds of being immortal.

The choice is between bettering your odds or not, and good gamblers say the former is the better choice. At least that’s what the arguments supporters say.

There are two basic obstacles that prevent individuals from taking the wager seriously. First, most people don’t think immortality is technologically possible or, if they do, believe such technologies won’t be around for centuries or millenia.

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Halloween’s Origin Story

Halloween

For this latest spooky October post, I wanted to cut to the chase. I’ve grown a little bit impatient with the month. So, here’s a nice little primer on the Celtic roots of the Halloween holiday and its evolution through the ages to the seemingly silly, scary celebration we know today.

Do the souls of the dead roam free during this time of the year? Are the ghosts friendly? What should I do as someone who lives on a former plantation just off the Trail of Tears in the South?

This video illuminates the evolution of the Roman Catholic Church in its relationship to the frustrating tradition of Samhain in the weird, old magickal world.

The story ultimately comes home to America where our current holiday finds youngsters and adults embracing both the macabre and the sexy. This piece even gets into the arson-crazed Detroit “Devil’s Night” bombings that I grew up with in the Motor City.… Read the rest

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First hint of ‘life after death’ in biggest ever scientific study

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By fady habib via Flickr. (CC by 2.0)

via The Telegraph:

Death is a depressingly inevitable consequence of life, but now scientists believe they may have found some light at the end of the tunnel.

The largest ever medical study into near-death and out-of-body experiences has discovered that some awareness may continue even after the brain has shut down completely.

It is a controversial subject which has, until recently, been treated with widespread scepticism.

But scientists at the University of Southampton have spent four years examining more than 2,000 people who suffered cardiac arrests at 15 hospitals in the UK, US and Austria.

And they found that nearly 40 per cent of people who survived described some kind of ‘awareness’ during the time when they were clinically dead before their hearts were restarted.

One man even recalled leaving his body entirely and watching his resuscitation from the corner of the room.

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Punching Stagnant Ideology In The Face With Daniele Bolelli

I’m happy to announce the Gabriel D. Roberts podcast’s second edition features Daniele Bolelli!  We cover an awful lot of ground in this fantastic and thoughtful conversation.  You can download or stream this baddy, so do it!

 

Also check out my book, The Quest For Gnosis, where I speak with Daniele and 19 other luminaries about Gnosis in the modern context.  You’ll love it.

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How To Bring the Dead Back to Life

US Navy 061201-N-4133B-115 Cmdr. George Linville and hospital corpsman Kevin Wothrich perform a procedure in the operating room aboard USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76)Can it really be this easy? BBC Future explores a new way to bring back dead – or at least almost dead – humans to life:

A radical procedure that involves replacing a patient’s blood with cold salt water could retrieve people from the brink of death, says David Robson.

“When you are at 10C, with no brain activity, no heartbeat, no blood – everyone would agree that you’re dead,” says Peter Rhee at the University of Arizona, Tucson. “But we can still bring you back.”

Rhee isn’t exaggerating. With Samuel Tisherman, at the University of Maryland, College Park, he has shown that it’s possible to keep bodies in ‘suspended animation’ for hours at a time. The procedure, so far tested on animals, is about as radical as any medical procedure comes: it involves draining the body of its blood and cooling it more than 20C below normal body temperature.

Once the injury is fixed, blood is pumped once again through the veins, and the body is slowly warmed back up.

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Awake Between Midnight and 4 AM? You Might Be At Risk For Suicide

Pic: The Hour of the Wolf (C) Still shot for illustrative purposes only.

Pic: The Hour of the Wolf (C) Still shot for illustrative purposes only.

According to a new study, more suicides occur between midnight and four AM than any other time, and suicidal behavior during this period peaks between two AM and three AM. It seems like folklore is ahead of science on this one: The wee hours of the night have been called by many things in European culture, not any of them good: The Witching Hour, and even more relevant: The Hour of the Wolf: A time in which it is believed most births and deaths occur.

I first ran across the latter when I watched Ingmar Bergman’s psychological horror film of the same name. I can’t recommend it enough if you haven’t seen it.

Anyway, get some sleep, disinfonauts.

DARIEN, IL – A new study provides novel evidence suggesting that suicides are far more likely to occur between midnight and 4 a.m.

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Alexander Shulgin, “Godfather of Ecstasy,” Dead at 88

PIC: JonRhanna (CC)

PIC: JonRhanna (CC)

RIP Alexander Shulgin – dead at 88.

He spent three decades synthesizing new psychedelic drugs in his California backyard lab, and he was credited with creating more than 100 previously unknown psychoactive compounds, but he was best known for a drug he didn’t invent:

Ecstasy.

Alexander “Sasha” Shulgin, who in the 1970s rescued the circa-1912 pharmaceutical from obscurity by suggesting it would be viable for mental therapy, died yesterday at the age of 88, the organization Erowid announced:

The former Dow Chemical Co. research chemist synthesized drugs with the approval of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, which gave him a license to analyze narcotics so that he could be an expert witness.

He said he invented more than 150 drugs while he also worked a day job as a scientific consultant after leaving Dow.

via Sasha Shulgin, “Godfather of Ecstasy,” Dead at 88 | The Informer | Los Angeles | Los Angeles News and Events | LA Weekly.… Read the rest

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British Teen Dies During Colombian Ayahuasca Ceremony

PIC: Terpsichore (CC)

PIC: Terpsichore (CC)

They’re thinking that he might have had an allergic reaction to the potent psychedelic brew, but who knows? The fact that they just dumped the kid’s body on the side of the road doesn’t exactly suggest that he was dealing with a reputable group of people.

Via Raw Story:

The body of a British teenager has been found by the road in a Colombian forest, after he took part in a “shaman experience” advertised for tourists.

His family have said that Henry Miller, 19, from Kingsdown in Bristol, took part in a local tribal ritual, drinking a herbal concoction known as yagé and apparently suffering a fatal reaction to the hallucinogenic infusion.

Reports suggest that Miller was with a group of foreign tourists – all of whom had paid $50 (£36) for the experience and who drank the brew together – but who were ushered back to their lodgings when Miller took ill with the assurance that the tribespeople were looking after him.

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The Mortsafe: How To Protect Yourself From Bodysnatchers

mortsafeVia Kuriositas, this was a must-have for personal security during the height of the Victorian corpse-snatching era:

Medical students in the United Kingdom of the nineteenth century faced a quandary. They had been accustomed to using the corpses of executed criminals to study anatomy. However, the annual demand for bodies to dissect by the growing medical profession surpassed ten times that number. A thriving and historically infamous bodysnatching trade arose. However, those mourning the loss of a loved one soon developed a weapon against this: the mortsafe.

First made around 1816, the mortsafe was ingenious: a complex of iron rods and plates descending in to the ground and rising above it.

If this seems like a great length to go to, there was good reason. Grave robbers were crafty and would go to even greater lengths to retrieve a corpse from its coffin. It wasn’t, as you might imagine, a straightforward case of sneaking in to the graveyard and digging the deceased up at the dead of night.

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