Tuesday, September 1, 2015

My Skeptical Inquirer article, "Covert Cognition: My So-Called Near Death Experience"

We interrupt this two-part blog about my VICE Post Mortem column interview to present a link to my Skeptical Inquirer article "Covert Cognition: My So-Called Near-Death Experience," which is now up.


  1. I tried to find your full account of your coma-dream (hallucinations) on your blog and Skeptic article but couldn't find it anywhere. From what little description you provide, I am certain you didn't have an actual out-of-body near-death experience. Real NDEs are not hallucinations with bizarre features like yours nor are they like lucid dreams. You briefly mention OBEs but you don't actually describe having one. You brush OBEs off by stating how they can be induced with electrical stimulation of the brain, which is partially true, however such induced OBEs are more like visual hallucinations that full autoscopic NDE-induced OBEs. Citing James Randi as one of your sources in this matter is also troubling considering his limited expertise in such matters. For a better understanding why NDEs are not hallucinations see this: http://www.near-death.com/science/hallucinations/why-ndes-are-not-hallucinations.html

    Your article is more of a statement about your atheism and skepticism, which is fine; belief in God is not a requirement for having a belief in an afterlife. See this website: http://www.cfpf.org.uk/ However, you use your atheistic beliefs to dismiss people who have actually had real, transcendental out-of-body NDEs. There are many famous atheists who have had a real NDE and have acknowledged them as afterlife experiences. I am thinking of such famous atheists as A.J. Ayers and Anthony Flew - See http://www.near-death.com/religion/atheism/an-analysis-of-the-ndes-of-atheists.html

    You mention Kevin Nelson's REM Sleep Study which has falsified in the Journal of Near-Death Studies by NDE experts. See http://www.nderf.org/NDERF/Research/longholdenremintrusion.pdf

    You also claim that NDEs do not involve brain death which is incorrect. The Pam Reynolds case is the best example of an NDE occurring while meeting all the standards of brain death. See http://www.near-death.com/science/evidence/people-have-ndes-while-brain-dead.html

    For these reasons and others, I was disappointed in your articles because you are obviously very intelligent and underwent a terrible ordeal; but it appears that the professional media skeptics have made you their "darling" NDE skeptic for all the wrong reasons. Such skeptics have not read up on the medical literature and are merely promoting their own beliefs and assumptions. I hope you will accept this constructive criticism and not delete my comment. A healthy dose of skepticism concerning NDE skepticism makes your articles fair and balanced.

    Thank you very much.

    Kevin Williams, B.Sc.

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Coma Girl

Coma Girl

Not a miracle recovery, but a miracle of modern medicine

In 2013 I fell into a six-week coma and nearly died after I contracted legionella. The Legionnaire's disease was in turn triggered by immunosuppression caused by the prednisone I was taking for my rare autoimmune disease, dermatomyositis.

I suffered a series of strokes on both sides of my brain when the sepsis caused my blood pressure to plummet. I fell into a deep coma. My kidneys and lungs began to fail, as my body was began dying one organ at a time. My doctors told my loved ones to give up hope for my full recovery. They expected me to die, and even if I somehow lived, I would remain a vegetable or at best left so hopelessly brain-damaged that I would never be same. But unbeknownst to them, while they were shining lights in my eyes and shaking their heads, I was telling them in my coma-dream--my secular version of a near-death experience--to leave me alone because I was trying to get back to sleep. I was experiencing what is known as covert cognition, the subject of my Skeptical Inquirer article "Covert Cognition: My So-Called Near-Death Experience," which appeared in their July/August issue.

But it wasn't a miracle--despite what so many continue to believe--that I recovered so fully. I owe my life not to God, but the miracles of modern medicine, as well as the nature of the watershed-area brain damage I suffered, as I detailed in my article and in this blog.