Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Chris French bites his tongue

Chris French
It's not the first time that Professor Chris French has appeared on Beyond BeliefErnie Rae's religious discussion programme on BBC Radio 4. I remember the Prof's contribution to a previous Beyond Belief discussion about guardian angels, and I remember my amazement that he made said contribution in a calm, level tone, eschewing the mockery such a subject clearly deserved.

This time the subject was near-death experiences, and though I consider it deserving of equal mockery, many of a religious bent (and even some who are not so cognitively misshapen) give the idea that NDEs are evidence of an afterlife disproportionate credence. To me, however, the issue couldn't be more clear-cut: near-death experiences are evidence of being near death, nothing more. Anything that you perceive when you are near death — when your brain is shutting down (aka dying) — cannot be relied upon as accurate representations of reality. Why isn't this obvious?

Listen to Prof. French's voice of reason amongst the pseudo-respectable woo here:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b039pdtj/Beyond_Belief_NearDeath_Experiences/

Or download the podcast version here:

http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/radio4/belief/belief_20130909-1700a.mp3

The blurb from the iPlayer:
Beyond Belief debates the place of religion and faith in today's complex world. Ernie Rea is joined by a panel to discuss how religious beliefs and traditions affect our values and perspectives. Near-Death Experiences often seem to include bright lights, the presence of benevolent spirits and a sense of peace - in other words a very positive experience. However, more unusually, there are others whose experience is very different, some cite overwhelming fear and visions of being chased by demons. Do these have a rational scientific explanation or are they indications of a life beyond this one? Joining Ernie Rea to discuss the nature of Near-Death Experiences are Dr Penny Sartori of the University of Swansea, whose book 'The Wisdom of Near-Death Experiences' is due to be published in 2014; the Very Reverend Professor Gordon McPhate, the Dean of Chester Cathedral who is also a trained Pathologist and a member of the Royal College of Physicians and Chris French, Professor of Psychology at Goldsmiths College, the University of London.

Producer: Liz Leonard.
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