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On the other hand, what of the alternative explanation? If NDEs were really glimpses of an afterlife, why is it that only a fraction of those who come close to death (about 10-20% per van Lommel et al.) report them? Physiology provides a ready answer: Woerlee has calculated that around 20-24% of those undergoing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) have some degree of consciousness restored CPR, a fraction of whom could be having NDEs precisely because the conditions are ripe for an altered state of consciousness (Woerlee, "Cardiac" 233, 244). And why aren't NDEs consistently reported (nearly 100% of the time) after the controlled induction of hypothermic cardiac arrest or "," where patients are clinically dead for up to an hour? The vast majority of those who come as close to death as possible without actually dying experience (van Lommel et al. 2041). If NDEs are to be understood as glimpses of an afterlife, are we to conclude that 80% of individuals cease to exist when they die, while the remaining 20% survive bodily death?

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The Fenwicks concede that in this case it is "quite clear" that this NDEr was not actually observing the physical world when he saw his body from above. Obviously this NDE must have been a brain-generated hallucination. Despite their sympathy for the survival hypothesis, the Fenwicks are explicit about the hallucinatory nature of this NDE: "He was unaware of the cook, who had been lying beside him—and was now not simply lying beside him but spread all over his back, where he could hardly have failed to be seen" (Fenwick and Fenwick 44).

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As already noted, though, one can believe that NDEs are not good evidence for survival or even that survival after death never happens without believing that "everything can be explained in purely material terms." David Chalmers, for instance, has recently defended a version of property dualism (in ) that denies that the mind can be explained in purely physical terms while also denying that the mind can exist independently of the brain (or some physical substrate); but the latter is a prerequisite for the sort of life after death Tart envisions.


Many near-death researchers clearly interpret NDEs as evidence for survival of bodily death. Because many people would like to that there is an afterlife rather than simply take the notion on faith, it not surprising that the study of NDEs tends to attract researchers who already believe that NDEs provide evidence for survival. NDEs seem to be a natural lure to survivalists, since they offer the prospect, at least, of bolstering such researchers' belief in survival after death and of offering them hints about what exactly is going to happen to them when die. Thus it is hardly a revelation that many of the researchers investigating the phenomenon are confident that NDEs point toward the reality of survival of bodily death.