- IONS Film Project
"Near Death Experience" with Bruce Greyson
Visionary: Bruce Greyson, MD
Bruce Greyson discusses how cumulative research into Near Death Experiences challenges both a classical physical view of reality, and an exclusively neuroscience-based view of consciousness. Classical physics offers accurate descriptions of everyday mechanics, but it is not able to describe physical effects in more exotic realms, such as extremely high speeds, extreme cold, or atomic-sized objects. Post-classical physics, including special and general relativity and quantum mechanics, were developed to expand our understanding of physical reality to those realms. Among the unexpected outcomes of these theories was a radical revision of our previous assumptions about the absolute nature of space and time (from relativity), and the even more radical possibility that consciousness may be an important ingredient in the description of physical reality (from quantum theory).
This latter possibility remains highly controversial because the modern neurosciences, which are based on classical physical assumptions, can adequately describe many aspects of brain function and their observed correlations with conscious and unconscious experience. But there are growing doubts that the observed correlations are causative, that is that the brain literally causes conscious experience.
“Near-death experiences” are one type of phenomenon that strongly challenges the prevailing assumptions in the neurosciences. Lucid consciousness, cognition, perception, and memory under extreme conditions such as cardiac arrest, presumably cannot be associated with normal brain function, prompting a reconsideration of the nature of consciousness and its potential physical properties.
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