Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Be reasonable about near-death experiences

When I heard that the latest episode of Michael Marshall's podcast Be Reasonable would feature Eben Alexander I wasn't sure I actually wanted to listen to it. But it came up on my iPod while I was cooking dinner this evening, so out of simple inertia I listened. And it confirmed my previous opinion of the neurosurgeon who claims to have been taken on a tour of Heaven while in a coma:
  1. Neurosurgery is to neuroscience as gardening is to botany, or as plumbing is to fluid dynamics.
  2. Despite being a neurosurgeon Eben Alexander doesn't understand the scientific method.
  3. Near-death experiences (NDEs) are evidence of being near death, but not much else.
  4. Presumably writing books that pander to spiritual yearnings is more profitable than neurosurgery.
Alexander's claim that consciousness is independent of the brain is an idea also propounded by Rupert Sheldrake, with a similar lack of actual evidence for it (and a whole lot of evidence to suggest the opposite).

I've blogged about NDEs, and Eben Alexander, and Rupert Sheldrake before:

http://www.evilburnee.co.uk/2011/02/near-death-experiences-are-evidence-of.html
http://www.evilburnee.co.uk/2013/09/chris-french-bites-his-tongue.html
http://www.evilburnee.co.uk/2014/06/heavenly-confirmation-bias.html
http://www.evilburnee.co.uk/2012/01/woo-or-no-rupert-sheldrake-on-bbc-radio.html

Incidentally NDEs featured on this morning's Thought for the Day on BBC Radio 4, unsurprisingly as if they are good evidence of an afterlife.

Friday, 6 April 2018

Whither the atheist movement?

James Croft on atheism and the alt-right:
Since my earliest involvement in the movement, it has been clear that movement atheism is concerned more with offering a response to religion as it is with crafting a positive atheist identity. It is, in large part, an oppositional movement concerned with the limitations and predations of religion, drawing its energy from the many outrages perpetrated by religious organizations and individuals.
Continue reading at James's Patheos blog, Temple of the Future:
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/templeofthefuture/2018/04/the-atheist-alt-right-connection/

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

A list to keep by your front door

Aaaand... I'm back! (For how long, who knows?)


Anyway, I give you this list, courtesy of Godless Mom, aka Courtney Heard over at Patheos Blogs, of eight times the predictions of the Jehovah's Witnesses have turned out to be less than entirely accurate — for example:
The Watch Tower Society believed that Jesus had been amongst us since 1874 working towards his kingdom on earth. The Watch Tower Society predicted that Christ’s kingdom on Earth would be complete in 1914, and the saints would be carried to Heaven. Essentially, the end of the world as we know it. Of course, 1914 rolled around and the closest we got to the end of the world was a world war. Perhaps the Society meant to say that the world would end for 18 million, but for the rest of us, it would be business as usual. We’d all go on living, man would keep ruling and Jesus would keep up his epic game of hide and seek.
Go to Godless Mom's blog to read the rest, and maybe print them out, because you never know when you'll hear that knock on the door.
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