Near Death or Not Quite Alive?

G. M. Woerlee. Mortal Minds. Prometheus Books, 2005.

This is a sceptical look at Near Death Experiences and similar experiences by a clinical anesthesiologist, which examines the causes and symptoms of dying.

Woerlee concludes that much of the symptomology of the NDE is caused by oxygen starvation and concl udes that when you're dead, you're dead. I am not sure that this book adds much that Susan Blackmore has not already covered, and it gets rather repetitious at times, as though the author were giving a lecture to not very bright medical students.

As with many self consciously sceptical books, the grasp on the literature is perhaps not as tight as it should be, and I rather feel that the psychosocial and cultural aspects of NDEs are overlooked. The generally sceptical tone softens, as seems to often the case, when dealing with Michael Persinger, a classic example of how people's critical faculties can falter when being told something they want to hear. At the end of the day however Woerlee makes some cogent points against any notion of a separable soul and real time survival. -- Peter Rogerson, from Magonia 89, August 2015

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