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Has Science debunked the idea of a soul?

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I am quite upset. I had hoped that Near Death Experiences (where patients in hospitals have been resuscitated following cardiac arrest) would provide enough evidence to show that there is an ego/soul/self that leaves the body after heart stoppage and then returns during resuscitation. Unfortunately, there is a very small number of anecdotal accounts and the evidence is that these experiences occur in the brain.

 

First the anecdotal evidence:

 

Of the 2,060 patients in the study, only 140 survived and were well enough to have a Stage 1 interview. Of these 140, 39 were not able to complete the Stage 2 interview, mostly due to fatigue. Of the remaining 101 patients interviewed in Stage 2, only 9 were deemed to have had an NDE (9%) and of these 9 NDErs, only two reported memories of auditory/visual awareness of the physical environment. Of these two, one was not able to follow up with an in-depth Stage 3 interview due to ill health. The other patient had verified perceptions of CA events:

  • During the NDE, the patient felt quite euphoric.
  • The patient heard an automated voice saying "Shock the patient, shock the patient."
  • The patient rose near the ceiling and looked down on his physical body, the nurse and another man, bald and "quite a chunky fella", who wore blue scrubs and a blue hat. The patient could tell the man was bald because of where the hat was.
  • The next day, the patient recognized the bald man who attended him during the resuscitation.
  • The medical record confirmed the use of an AED (Automated External Defibrillator) that would give the automated instructions the patient heard and the role that the identified man played during the resuscitation.

 

http://iands.org/resources/media-resources/front-page-news/1060-aware-study-initial-results-are-published.html

The sample number is one, and the evidence is not strong, but, if these findings are replicated across the world, then it seems to indicate a "self" with some sensory capacity leaving the body.

However, Science says:

For a quicker, less powerful jaunt outside your bodily confines, try thedouble-mirror trick: Position two mirrors facing each other and then lean toward one so that two thirds of your face is reflected in it. Scratch your cheek and stare deep into the hall of mirrors you have created, past your original reflection, past the image of your back, and settle on the third reflection—your own face but slightly obscured. Within seconds, you won't recognize that reflection as you, says neuroscientist Eric Altschuler of the University of Medicine & Dentistry of New Jersey in Newark, who reported the phenomenon in the April issue of Perception.

Admittedly, neither of these illusions precisely match the classic example of the out-of-body experiences reported by patients near death who say they floated out of their bodies but were able to continue observing scenes from above or elsewhere in the room. But two studies published this week in Science show how the self and body can be disconnected, using video cameras.

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/real-outof-body-experiences/#

 

and:

Some people claim that they have experienced out-of-body experiences—aka "astral trips"—floating outside of their bodies and watching themselves from the outside. A team of scientists found someone who says she can do this at will and put her into a brain scanner. What they discovered was surprisingly strange.

Andra M. Smith and Claude Messierwere from the University of Ottawa described this subject's ability in their paper, published in Frontiers of Human Neuroscience:

How the hell is this possible? Can it be real? The researchers found that something dramatic, and consistent with her account, was happening in her brain: The fMRI showed a "strong deactivation of the visual cortex" while "activating the left side of several areas associated with kinesthetic imagery," which includes mental imagery of bodily movement. This is the part of the brain that makes it possible for us to interact with the world. It's what makes you feel where your body is in relation to the world.

She was able to see herself rotating in the air above her body, lying flat, and rolling along with the horizontal plane. She reported sometimes watching herself move from above but remained aware of her unmoving "real" body. The participant reported no particular emotions linked to the experience.

This is the very first time that this type of experience has been analyzed and documented scientifically. Researchers know that out-of-body experiences can be induced "by brain traumas, sensory deprivation, near-death experiences, dissociative and psychedelic drugs, dehydration, sleep, and electrical stimulation of the brain, among others. It can also be deliberately induced by some." But this may be the first documented case of someone who can get into this state at will.

 

 

This particular "evidence" comes from a website calling itself the scientifically elegant "sploid gizmo" so I don't account for its veracity.

http://sploid.gizmodo.com/scientists-unlock-mystery-of-woman-who-sees-herself-out-1538196076

 

 

I hope that others who believe in a spirit or soul can add to this particular study and that the Science can be critically evaluated.

 

I am deliberately posting in Speculations due to the nature of the material.

 

 

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Some interesting stuff there. I'm trying to get hold of the full article of the first study: it's behind a paywall but i should be able to get access when next i'm at uni.

 

But before that i'd just like to point something out: cessation of cardiac activity doesn't necassarly mean cessation of brain activity. If the medical team are doing CPR well, the brain will be perfused to some extent (sometimes we could get sats readings of 100% on a patient during CPR). That a few people can still hear and be vaguely aware of their surroundings shouldn't be surprising.

 

I would therefore call that these particular aspects are not used as evidence of a soul surviving the body: it could just as easily be taken to be evidence that the brain can still function to some degree during a cardiac arrest.

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Some interesting stuff there. I'm trying to get hold of the full article of the first study: it's behind a paywall but i should be able to get access when next i'm at uni.

 

But before that i'd just like to point something out: cessation of cardiac activity doesn't necassarly mean cessation of brain activity. If the medical team are doing CPR well, the brain will be perfused to some extent (sometimes we could get sats readings of 100% on a patient during CPR). That a few people can still hear and be vaguely aware of their surroundings shouldn't be surprising.

 

I would therefore call that these particular aspects are not used as evidence of a soul surviving the body: it could just as easily be taken to be evidence that the brain can still function to some degree during a cardiac arrest.

Exactly so. I deliberately referred to cardiac arrest because I don't think anyone in the whole of humanity has returned to life after brain functions have collapsed.

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I doubt there is a soul. We tend to look at the world from the inside looking out. When in reality seems to work from the outside looking at us.

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I am quite upset. I had hoped that Near Death Experiences (where patients in hospitals have been resuscitated following cardiac arrest) would provide enough evidence to show that there is an ego/soul/self that leaves the body after heart stoppage and then returns during resuscitation. Unfortunately, there is a very small number of anecdotal accounts and the evidence is that these experiences occur in the brain.

 

First the anecdotal evidence:

 

 

 

http://iands.org/resources/media-resources/front-page-news/1060-aware-study-initial-results-are-published.html

 

The sample number is one, and the evidence is not strong, but, if these findings are replicated across the world, then it seems to indicate a "self" with some sensory capacity leaving the body.

 

However, Science says:

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/real-outof-body-experiences/#

 

and:

This particular "evidence" comes from a website calling itself the scientifically elegant "sploid gizmo" so I don't account for its veracity.

http://sploid.gizmodo.com/scientists-unlock-mystery-of-woman-who-sees-herself-out-1538196076

 

 

I hope that others who believe in a spirit or soul can add to this particular study and that the Science can be critically evaluated.

 

I am deliberately posting in Speculations due to the nature of the material.

 

 

If you studied physics a bit you would see that there is no mechanism that could plausibly account for it. Even in biology, as I'm sure you know, all psychological/physiological phenomena are emergent processes. What you are asking for is an extant non-physical phenomenon that co-exists in parallel but autonomously to the physical processes.

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If you studied physics a bit you would see that there is no mechanism that could plausibly account for it. Even in biology, as I'm sure you know, all psychological/physiological phenomena are emergent processes. What you are asking for is an extant non-physical phenomenon that co-exists in parallel but autonomously to the physical processes.

Relative to physics, playing Devil's advocate for the moment, isn't the soul a bit like dark matter and dark energy? We do not know their precise properties but we do know of their existence not be any direct material attribute other than their apparent affect on matter and the universe. Some could convincingly argue that the same is true for the soul. Some, not particularly I, could argue that we may not know what the soul is but we do know that we are moved by it, gravitate to others because of it, and are boundlessly enlivened by its energy. Could the ​soul ​merely be the subtly sensed force of dark matter or energy?​

Edited by DrmDoc

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Relative to physics, playing Devil's advocate for the moment, isn't the soul a bit like dark matter and dark energy? We do not know their precise properties but we do know of their existence not be any direct material attribute other than their apparent affect on matter and the universe. Some could convincing argue that the same is true for the soul. Some, not particularly I, could argue that we may not know what the soul is but we do know that we are moved by it, gravitate to others because of it, and are boundlessly enlivened by its energy.

But it's not measurable and not needed, like DM and DE are, to complete the picture.From a purely empirical point of view, it is just wishful thinking that was originally inspired, and still maintained by many, due to the fear of dying and it's permanence. It's a mental comfort with no basis in science.

Edited by StringJunky

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But it's not measurable and not needed, like DM and DE are, to complete the picture.From a purely empirical point of view, it is just wishful thinking that was originally inspired, and still maintained by many, due to the fear of dying and it's permanence. It's a mental comfort with no basis in science.

 

True; DM and DE provides an eloquent explanation for the forces underpinning the cohesion and expanse of our universe. However, belief in a soul, for some, may also have its eloquence in explaining phenomena reported as reincarnation, out-of-body and near-death experiences.

Edited by DrmDoc

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True; DM and DE provides an eloquent explanation for the forces underpinning the cohesion and expanse of our universe. However, belief in a soul, for some, may also have its eloquence in explaining phenomena reported as reincarnation, out-of-body, and near-death experiences.

I say this only partly humorously. They need to do a wide variety of mind-bending drugs to experience what the brain is capable of; there is no part of you that can't be manipulated to simulate these things. Those experiences are, most likely, manifestations of physiological stress; oxygen depletion, for one, can give you 'floaty' out of the body experiences. If you think about the process of gradual oxygen depletion to the body, the brain gets highest priority and, as a result, imagine what it would be like to be awake but lose all your tactile body senses first. You will feel like you are floating because your brain no longer receives the information from those parts because any oxygen left is increasingly prioritised for the brain.

 

The next step in the process will be diminishing vision, which becomes tunnel-like as you lose peripheral vision first. This is the 'light at the end of the tunnel' effect many people apparently have who said they had a near death experience. I read a step-by-step analysis many years of the process of dying and the gradual termination of physiological processes which adequately explains these apparently paranormal experiences

Edited by StringJunky

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I say this only partly humorously. They need to do a wide variety of mind-bending drugs to experience what the brain is capable of; there is no part of you that can't be manipulated to simulate these things. Those experiences are, most likely, manifestations of stress; oxygen depletion, for one, can give you 'floaty' out of the body experiences.

 

I agree; there's just too many explanations in brain function to convincingly argue otherwise. Still, I wonder, is it likely that we are unconsciously able to detect or sense a force of nature within or upon ourselves that is as immaterial as DM and energetic without a define source like DE? We are routinely influenced subconsciously by forces that go undetected or unnoticed consciously. Even now as I type, I've only just become aware of the sounds beyond my office and who is approaching. Our ability to unconsciously detect subconscious influences provides convincing support for extraordinary sensory phenomena such as precognition. Perhaps belief in a soul, for some, is also a product of some unconscious extrasensory perception of an otherwise undetectable influence.

Edited by DrmDoc

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I agree; there's just too many explanations in brain function to convincingly argue otherwise. Still, I wonder, is it likely that we are unconsciously able to detect or sense a force of nature within or upon ourselves that is as immaterial as DM and energetic without a define source like DE? We are routinely influenced subconsciously by forces that go undetected or unnoticed consciously. Even now as I type, I've only just become aware of the sounds beyond my office and who is approaching. Our ability to unconsciously detect subconscious influences provides convincing support for extraordinary sensory phenomena such as precognition.

No, it's just data from your subconscious observation processes coming to the fore of your conscious awareness.

Edited by StringJunky

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No, it's just data from your subconscious observation processes coming to the fore of your conscious awareness.

 

Data from subconscious observations of what exactly? If some of our perceptions of paranormal or extraordinary phenomena is subconscious data coming fore to conscious awareness, how is that data derived? We know that our conscious perceptions are products of sensory stimuli that influence brain function and mentation. Sensory stimuli suggests an influence external to brain function. Therefore, what we believe is likely a product of something we've experienced within our environment. That experience could involve the fantasies passed down to us from less enlightened ancestors or involve perceptions as nebulous or as real as DM or DE.

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Data from subconscious observations of what exactly? If some of our perceptions of paranormal or extraordinary phenomena is subconscious data coming fore to conscious awareness, how is that data derived? We know that our conscious perceptions are products of sensory stimuli that influence brain function and mentation. Sensory stimuli suggests an influence external to brain function. Therefore, what we believe is likely a product of something we've experienced within our environment. That experience could involve the fantasies passed down to us from less enlightened ancestors or involve perceptions as nebulous or as real as DM or DE.

Like the bike riding example I used in another thread; you don't think about it until it's necessary for you to do so but it's there.

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Trying to scientifically debunk the idea of a soul is like trying to arm-wrestle a cloud.

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Trying to scientifically debunk the idea of a soul is like trying to arm-wrestle a cloud.

That's about the long and the short of it.

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Like the bike riding example I used in another thread; you don't think about it until it's necessary for you to do so but it's there.

 

Even in riding a bike, not to beleaguer the point, nothing is just there, it has to be learned or acquired in someway through some source. This is not an argument for the existence of a soul but more of an acknowledgement that there could indeed be "more things to heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy"--Shakespeare.

Edited by DrmDoc

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The brain is a machine, and purported "out of body experiences" can be explained as manifestations of alterations or disruptions of its neural activity.

Here is one such example:

Recreational Drug Creates Out-of-Body Illusions

Recreational users of a substance called ketamine often report having felt like they left their bodies or underwent other bizarre physical transformations, according to an online survey conducted by psychologist Todd Girard of Ryerson University in Toronto and his colleagues.

 

Ketamine, an anesthetic known to interfere with memory and cause feelings of detachment from ones self or body, reduces transmission of the brain chemical glutamate through a particular class of molecular gateways. Glutamate generally jacks up brain activity. Ketamine stimulates sensations of illusory movement or leaving ones body by cutting glutamates ability to energize certain brain areas, the researchers propose in a paper published online Feb. 15 inConsciousness and Cognition.

 

Ketamine may disrupt patterns of brain activation that coalesce to represent an integrated body and self, leading to out-of-body experiences, Girard says.

See http://www.wired.com/2011/02/ketamine-drug-hallucinations/

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Even in riding a bike, not to beleaguer the point, but nothing is just there, it has to be learned or acquired in someway through some source. This is not an argument for the existence of a soul but more of an acknowledgement that there "could be more to heaven and earth than dreamed of...".

 

 

Trying to scientifically debunk the idea of a soul is like trying to arm-wrestle a cloud.

:}

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:}

Yes...I know...but I see both sides of the argument. There is a very clever animation (Rick and Morty) done on a dilemma where the scientist, Rick, had a limited time to repair a device to keep from dying. Rick prayed profusely as the seconds ticked away and at the last second, as expected, he completed his repairs and survived--and then Rick immediately begin to curse and deny the existence of God and self-congratulate his singular ingenuity. It was hilarious. Yes, unquestionably, John is right; however, there are no atheist in foxholes. :)

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Well, you seem to be half right.

I am right, and there are atheists in foxholes.

https://ffrf.org/outreach/atheists-in-foxholes

 

Come on John...that's just a monument...where are the testimonials with bombs failing all around, bullets flying overhead, and their steadfastness against imminent death. Sure, they're atheists now but what were they then? And then again, perhaps their war predicaments were more of a reason to not believe in some supernatural being; if they did believe, they would likely have been cursing him/her/it from hell to heaven for the scourge of war.

Edited by DrmDoc

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Come on John...that's just a monument...where are the testimonials with bombs failing all around, bullets flying overhead, ...

Was that meant to be a serious question?

It's got nothing much to do with the topic but...

Edited by John Cuthber

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Was that meant to be a serious question?

It's got nothing much to do with the topic but...

 

No, but thanks for the post, it was illuminating. Hmm...It seems there are atheists in foxholes! I stand corrected. This must be a sad moment for some believers; but then, their faith never relied on the beliefs of atheists.

Edited by DrmDoc

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DrmDoc, if we were to have a soul, does that mean animals have a soul as well? If not, why not? What keeps the soul attached to a person's body? Could a soul move from one person to another person, or to an animal? Could two souls occupy the same body?

Edited by robinpike

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DrmDoc, if we were to have a soul, does that mean animals have a soul as well? If not, why not? What keeps the soul attached to a person's body? Could a soul move from one person to another person, or to an animal? Could two souls occupy the same body?

why speculate on top of a speculation that's not even got one shred of evidence in the first place?

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