Saturday, February 13, 2010

Out of body experiences... interesting, but not mystical

The weekly TV science program on our national broadcaster, called Catalyst, started its 2010 season on Thursday, and had an item on the various things that combine to produce out of body experiences (I don't know if that video works outside Australia, but the transcript is there too).

The text there is only a fraction of the item on out of body experiences, they talked about what produces the feeling of floating up out of your body (showing how you can induce sensations of rotation and floating), and how you can identify your body as being somewhere other than it is, before talking about trying to actually produce an out of body experience.

[As usual I didn't watch the whole thing live (early evening is a hectic time in our house, so we record anything we actually don't want to miss). I'll give it a more careful look when I get to it, but what I saw of it was fascinating.]

So anyway, the point was that out of body experiences are simple consequences of the way our body and brain work, and that it's not hard to reproduce many aspects of them. Nothing particularly mystical, and certainly not evidence for a soul.

2 comments:

Amber said...

Nothing supernatural at all. A complex mix of potent chemicals in our brains. Which is why so many of these experiences are so very similar to each other. We, as humans, all possess the same chemicals in our brains, although varying in different degrees. Add to that the mixture of meds given to patients in the OR, post trauma, or on their death bed and you have what seems like something supernatural. Most medical experts would call them hallucinations.

Anonymous said...

Here are a couple of articles from New Scientist which discuss some neuroscience findings on 'out of body experiences'.
http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20427291.100-out-of-your-head-leaving-the-body-behind.html?full=true

http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn12531-outofbody-experiences-are-all-in-the-mind.html

Brian