Category Archives: NDE

Natalie Sudman’s “Application of Impossible Things” is a different kind of near death experience book

Review by KEN KORCZAK

After getting blown up by a roadside bomb in Iraq, civilian contract worker NATALIE SUDMAN “blinked” and found herself in another reality. It was a strange place indeed. Sudman discovered herself standing center stage in what she struggles to describe as perhaps a vast stadium filled with thousands of beings — but who or what kind of beings?

Souls? Personalities? Entities? Spirits? People?

None of the terms seemed quite adequate or accurate. Sudman realized that she was having a near death experience (NDE) after suffering severe trauma to her body. But this event didn’t have any of the classic attributes popularly associated with the NDE.

There was no tunnel of light, no greeting on “the other side” by dead relatives, no experience of a spirit detaching and flying away from her physical body. She just “blinked” and she was there. Once arrived, she felt instantly at home and did not want to go back.

She also became immediately aware of her first function in the afterlife: She acted as a kind of cosmic computer cache with the purpose of “downloading” all of her “stored” information to the waiting gathering of souls — who absorbed the information “with gratitude.”

NATALIE SUDMAN

By now you may be getting the idea that APPLICATION OF IMPOSSIBLE THINGS is yet another near death experience book, but one that makes a significant departure from what have become the conventions of the genre.

This is not airy fairy New Agey fare but more of a thinking man’s (in this case, a thinking woman’s) report on the afterlife. Sudman is at once a serious, sober observer of the extraordinary situation she encountered, but also an often funny and charming writer with something entirely different to say.

This is a book about the ultimate issues of all reality — What is life? Who are we? What are we? What is the meaning of life? What does it mean to be a conscious human being? Why are we here? — and Sudman has a truly remarkable ability to delve into these weighty questions while never talking down to us, and at the same time, challenging us to expand our way of thinking.

This is a slim volume at just over 100 pages, but it has the effect of reading a book of 200 or 300 pages. Each paragraph seems impregnated with richer meaning, as if there is information coming at you from the spaces in between the words and sentences. If you read it twice, don’t be surprised is if you get as much more even more out of it the second time around.

It’s perhaps important to note that Sudman was not a New Age type or any sort of formal spiritual seeker before she was encountered a roadside bomb on Nov. 24, 2007. She was an archaeologist by profession, and then had transitioned to working as a project engineer for a civilian contractor in the Basrah South Region Office in Iraq. She was managing the building of a health care center at Khor Az Aubair at the time of the incident that transformed her life.

She comes to the NDE subject as an outsider with a fresh perspective, and so perhaps without the baggage of those who spend their lives immersed in mystical esoterica — and yet, many can expect to have their old and calcified belief systems rattled by what Sudman suggests here.

Open-minded skeptics only need apply.

Ken Korczak is a former newspaper reporter, government information officer, served as an advocate for homeless people as a VISTA Volunteer, and taught journalism at the University of North Dakota for five years. He is the author of: MINNESOTA PARANORMALA

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Exploration of the NDE by a maverick researcher: PMH Atwater’s “Near Death Experiences” provides insights that others have missed

Review by: KEN KORCZAK

Think about this; The majority of top books about near death experiences are not written by fringy New Agers, but rather accomplished medical doctors or highly respected mainstream academicians.

Take that, skeptics!

Raymond Moody M.D. blew the doors open on the NDE issue with his monumental book Life After Life which came out in 1975. Professor and psychologist Kenneth Ring scored in 1980 with Life at Death. Of course, Elisabeth Kübler-Ross M.D. became practically the patron saint of the NDE movement, even though her ground-breaking 1969 book On Death and Dying never dealt with NDEs, per se. In fact, Kübler-Ross wanted to include this kind of information in her book, but her peers urged her not to, saying it would destroy the credibility of her book.

And they keep coming – the latest mega-best-selling NDE book is by Dr. Eben Alexander, a neurosurgeon of fine reputation, credentials and pedigree. His book PROOF OF HEAVEN published in 2012 was on the New York Times best seller list for four weeks.

But now enter PMH ATWATER: She is an Idaho woman who began her career as a housewife, secretary and prize-winning county fair cook. But early on she began writing copy for the Idaho Department of Commerce and Development and then started contributing to a regional publication, Sunset magazine. In 1976 at age 39 she found herself suddenly a divorced mother of three – but the next year is when her life was shattered and changed forever.

In 1977 Atwater suffered a miscarriage which resulted in massive internal hemorrhaging. She experienced clinical death and a brief NDE. Two days later a blood clot brought her to the brink of death again, and another much more involved NDE ensued. Then about three months later a possible heart attack or stroke sent her beyond the veil one more time.This time she experienced an NDE of epic proportions.

As Atwater likes to say: “I died three times in 1977.

She reports many of the standard features of the NDE – a journey to a heavenly realm, meeting deceased relatives, even a conversation with none other than Jesus. (Although this is not a Christian-oriented book). She also experienced the overwhelming cosmic and universal love that composes the very fabric of all reality.

These experiences were so profound it launched her on a lifetime investigation of the NDE. Even though Raymond Moody’s book had been on the shelves for a couple of years by that time, Atwater claims to have known nothing about Moody’s work or any other NDE work that had been going on at the time.

PMH Atwater

She embarked on her own research largely uninfluenced by others. Her methods were not scientific. Rather, she employed what she called “police investigation techniques.” Her father, a professional police officer, thoroughly schooled her in the investigative methodology of cops as she was growing up and frequently hanging around the police station.

To this end, Atwater interviewed (interrogated?) more than 3,000 people who claimed to have experienced their own NDEs, and so this book, her 10th on the subject, describes her theories and conclusions about NDEs.

I have taken some pains to point out that Atwater is different from others in NDE research because it suggests her work offers a fresh look at NDEs. We might consider Atwater something of a maverick within the field. This is interesting for two reasons:

1. Unlike most others in the NDE field, she is an “experiencer” herself, and thus is coming at the subject from the inside, so to speak, rather than as an outside objective observer.

2. She is not shackled by the “group think” or materialistic bias I think we can fairly attribute to the scientific community.

Of course, not being bothered by the scientific method is both a benefit and a drawback. Science has been successful because the scientific method works and brings results. (What would you rather have when the chips are really down; hands-on faith healing or a shot of penicillin?)

On the other hand, the exploration of the NDE might be one of those areas that simply isn’t accessible to the scientific method; at the very least, applying a rational-materialistic overlay to the NDE may be akin to fixing your car’s transmission with a roll of duct tape.

To this end, Atwater scores a couple of major body blows against scientific skeptics of the NDE, including:

• The universal acceptance of the “tunnel phenomenon.” Atwater points out that perhaps less than 10% of all NDErs report traveling through a tunnel on their way to the “other side.” Yet, the skeptics apply this tunnel experience universally to the NDE phenomenon. They say the “tunnel” can be explained by the way brain cells shut down as their oxygen supply is depleted. But as Atwater found, most people don’t experience the tunnel – how then are they still experiencing full-blown NDEs?

• The skeptic’s explanation for NDE relies heavily on the idea that an NDE is extremely brief, and that people don’t truly die during their experience, but rather, are thrust into a deep state of unconsciousness with loss of brain function. However, Atwater points out that some people who “return from the dead” do so not after a minute or two – but sometimes after several days. There are cases of people waking up on slabs while in a morgue cooler. They displayed no vital signs or brain activity for days at a time, yet they return to normal functioning.

• Severe oxygen deprivation does not always result in brain damage. Many people have been resuscitated well beyond the point where damage to the brain can be expected – yet they return without a hint of brain damage. Atwater contents the brain-oxygen connection is not well understood and is often misinterpreted by medical science.

• Scientists are coming at the issue with the assumption that all knowledge and experience is generated from within the brain – while there is good evidence from a variety of fields to suggest that knowledge and information may originate outside the brain, and the brain rather works like a radio receiver and organizer of knowledge that is “out there.”

And there’s more – including Atwater’s extremely excellent point that skeptics are failing to consider all the evidence – especially in documenting the long-term after effects of the NDE. That includes the deep personality changes that are displayed over a lifetime. Typical of science, it tends to focus in on and look too narrowly at certain factors, points of data and observed phenomenon. The method is radically reductionist– and this causes skeptics to simply disregard vast sums of data that are relevant to the overall phenomenon.

Unfortunately, Atwater in the later chapters veers off wildly into Fruitloop-O-Topia, making larger observations that, from my point of view, border on the bizarre.

For example, Atwater contends that millions of people experiencing NDEs is actually a form of consciousness evolution and is responsible for a new breed of advanced, highly intelligent children (born since 1982) emerging into our society with superior abilities. That’s complete and unsupportable nonsense.

But she makes other bizarre claims as well – such as suggesting that the downfall of Maoist China was triggered by Tangshan earthquake in 1976 which killed more than 242,000 people. Atwater contends that potentially thousands of people who survived the quake experienced NDEs and thus fueled with their expanded consciousness the transformation of China. Well, if that’s true, then Atwater must also explain why China today is veering toward large-scale environmental collapse as it pursues an aggressive, militaristic, paranoid and virulent form of hyper-capitalism that is rapidly polluting our beautiful green earth — and on such a massive scale that it may push the entire planet to the brink of a black, gritty, dystopia.

There are other 100% inane observations as well –such as saying that Pluto has suddenly changed its color and that the other planets are also brightening – say what? – and even if this is true, how is this relevant to the NDE?

It’s not. It’s just nutty.

The good and the fascinating of NEAR DEATH EXPERIENCE: THE REST OF THE STORY far outweigh the flights of fancy and the David Wilcock-like lunacy that comes forth in the final chapters.

Even so, I say you buy it and read it. It’s a significant and worthy contribution to the NDE field of literature.

Ken Korczak is the author of: MINNESOTA PARANORMALA

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“The Last Frontier” by Julia Assante is a book much needed today because our society is obsessed with death in a negative, macabre and destructive way

Review by KEN KORCZAK

This book recommends that everyone speak to the dead, and I agree. I’ll be blunt: I’ve tried speaking to the dead, and I’m happy to report that it works. And, yes they talk back. If a cynical, hard-headed skeptic like me who loves empirical science and rational thought can speak to the dead and gain value from it, then anyone can.

Not only is it possible to speak to the dead, but it will make you feel absolutely on top of the world. I’m not kidding. Having a conversation with a dead loved one – or any deceased person – is like undergoing a terrific psychological cleansing. It’s amazingly uplifting.

Even if you absolutely cannot believe that the dead live on somehow — on another plane or in some kind of afterlife — and even if you are the ultimate rational atheist, you can still benefit greatly from speaking to the dead. If you don’t believe me, try it. Maybe you are a super rational, empirical materialist — I still dare you – I double dog dare you – to use some of the methods this author, JULIA ASSANTE suggests for contacting the dead.

So this is a pretty terrific book. What I like about it most is the author’s dogged insistence that the issue of death should be a positive and uplifting subject in our society. Death, dying and being dead is something which should be stripped of the fear and sense of the macabre our mainstream culture has overlaid it with. As the author says, our two greatest achievements in life are probably being born and dying – and death is definitely not the end.

Julia Assante, Ph.D.

Here, now, I will air some quibbles I have with this book:

First, the author gives a vigorous and breathless endorsement of the Spiricom device – an electronic contraption which supposedly enabled a man by the name of William O’Neil to contact the deceased American physicist, Dr. George Mueller.

O’Neil recorded an amazing 20 hours of two-way conversation with the deceased Dr. Mueller. The Spiricom was bankrolled by a wealthy inventor and industrialist, George Meek, who was said to have revolutionized the air-conditioning industry, and got rich on his numerous patents.

To make a long story short, the Spiricom experiment has been all-but proven to be a hoax – and it was probably a hoax perpetrated by William O’Neil. Even George Meek was hoodwinked. The Spiricom device worked only once – and only for Mr. O’Neil. After that, the contrivance was passed from hand to hand, and owner to owner, and not a single other person was able to make the heap work, much less contact a famous dead scientist.

William O’Neil was known to have been diagnosed as suffering from schizophrenia – it’s listed on his death certificate. Remember, the Spiricom worked for O’Neil and O’Neil only.

It was also the case that O’Neil had some financial interest in making the Spiricom work. He was being bankrolled by the wealthy George Meek. Success with the Spiricom meant that the gravy train could keep rolling for O’Neil – and O’Neil needed the money. He was living in a burned out shell of a decrepit old house at the time.

Now get this: O’Neil was a self-proclaimed psychic and medium, but he also was well known to be a performing ventriloquist. That’s right! And not only was William O’Neil a schizophrenic ventriloquist, it was also known that he owned what is called an “electronic-larynx” device – this was a small microphone worn at the throat that could help a ventriloquist “throw” his voice –and also make his voice sound totally different. It gives the voice a kind of electrical-robotic sound – as was the quality of the voice of the supposedly eager to communicate and dead Dr. George Mueller.

Interestingly, O’Neil never allowed himself to be photographed from the front while using the Spiricom – was it so that he could hide the fact he was wearing and electronic larynx? I ask readers to add up all the evidence and and draw their own conclusion.

I bring this up because the author should have known better than to endorse the legacy of the Spiricom. She holds a Ph.D and thus must be well familiar with not only citing sources, but vetting those sources for accuracy. She stumbles here in the case of the Spriricom. This is unfortunate because her overall thesis is one that is highly controversial – and this means that every bit of information offered is critical to sustain overall credibility. All it takes is one glaring error for skeptics and debunkers to pounce.

Another minor quibble is that the book is overwritten, wordy and seems repetitive and padded at times –but others might disagree.

Overall, I absolutely recommend this book. I also liked the author’s skillful overview of how beliefs about death and the afterlife shifted and evolved from ancient times, through a series of dominating structures which hold sway over society for a few centuries, only to change.

Ken Korczak is the author of: MINNESOTA PARANORMALA

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A Scientific Yet Sensitive Examination of the Near Death Experience By A Seasoned Journalist With A Lucid Writing Style

Review by KEN KORCZAK

I’ve long been interested in the NDE or Near Death Experience since I experienced one myself when I was nine years old. After being shot through the stomach in a hunting accident and nearly bleeding to death on a northern Minnesota farm site on 15-below-zero day, I experienced some of the standard NDE events reported by others – such as being sucked through a tunnel, meeting strange beings – although my experience involved many bizarre events I have never heard in other reports.

Over the years I have read voluminously on the subject, and so I wasn’t exactly expecting to learn something startling new in a Kindle short document of just 41 pages – which I didn’t.

However, I give DEAD OR ALIVE high marks, mostly because of the extraordinarily sensitive portrayal of the author’s uncle, and the penetrating way she handles the details of his death.

Hayasaki uses her sharp journalist’s eye and well-honed writing skill to show death as a strange mixture of lost personal dignity accompanied by a sacred aura of mystery. She makes us look directly into the face of death with the vivid portrait she paints of her uncle — both as a robust young man, and then as a withered cancer-ridden shadow of his former self.

Her uncle’s example, and the NDE he reported 20 years ago after a heart attack, serves as a launching point to survey the latest research on the NDE. Interest in the NDE seems to be catching on among mainstream science, according to Hayasaki.

Like the author, I am a journalist by trade, so I will say only very gently that I think Dead or Alive is just a tad less than objective than maybe the more skeptical-minded might demand – she seems eager to believe in a more spiritual explanation for the NDE, and so seems to tilt slightly away from the accepted rational, empirical and scientific point of view that “all of this can be explained away by science.” On the other hand, I could just as easily accuse the latter crowd of harboring their own biases, and perhaps in an even a more “unscientific” way than the author.

In the end, however, readers may learn something they didn’t know about the latest NDE research. Even better, anyone with a warm body and a beating heart should be moved by story of the author’s lawyer-turned-free-spirit uncle who comes alive in these pages through the story of his death.

Ken Korczak is the author of: MINNESOTA PARANORMALA