As the Fenwicks point out, if OBEs and NDEs are hallucinations,

Kellehear points out that about 66% of widows and 75% of parents who lose children experience bereavement hallucinations where their lost loved ones are briefly seen or heard. By contrast, in a recent prospective study where NDErs were interviewed within a week of their experiences, only about one-third (32%) of those who had NDEs reported meeting deceased persons. Even fewer—about a quarter (24%)—reported OBEs. In fact, only two of the ten tabulated elements were found in half or more of the NDErs: positive emotions (56%) and an awareness of being dead (50%) (van Lommel et al. 2041). Thus in hallucinations near death is not nearly as common as our image of the prototypical Western NDE suggests.

Veridical Paranormal Perception During OBEs?

[] In his commentary Charles Tart correctly noted that the nearly 100-decibel level of the clicks in Pam's ears, which were equivalent to "the level of sound of a full symphony orchestra playing really loud," would have drown out any intraoperative conversations that Pam might otherwise have overheard through normal hearing (Tart, "Commentary" 253). However, as I noted in my reply to Tart's commentary, the answers to two further questions are crucial for ruling out normal hearing as the source of Pam's auditory recollections.


Greyson offers a related argument:

Rodabough explains how unintentional interviewer feedback can contaminate NDE reports:

Tachibana had noted that, unlike Western NDEs, the "light is not a personal (or personified) existence.... [It] is an indescribably beautiful and natural light, yet is just light" (Tachibana vol. 2 81, trans. O. Carter), and that there was not a single instance of a Japanese NDEr having any sort of communication with the light. Nevertheless, occasional similarities between these Japanese NDEs and typical Western cases are fascinating exceptions to the general rule of cultural diversity. By the time of their collection in the 1990s, it is hard to say whether the popularization of common Western NDE features had influenced Japanese reports in this 'East meets West' society. It is nevertheless notable that one Japanese NDEr recounted an experience dating back to World War II in which he began reviewing his childhood memories before he lost consciousness and had an NDE (Tachibana vol. 1 452-453).


Abanes, Richard. . Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1996.

Specific NDE motifs certainly absent from the standard depictions of the afterlife provided by Western religious traditions. But Irwin carried out a systematic survey of Western stereotypes of the afterlife to test the hypothesis that NDE motifs derive from social conditioning (Irwin, "Images" 2). Irwin puts that hypothesis as follows: "[I]n a situation of sudden confrontation with death people might draw upon their common cultural heritage to generate comparatively uniform hallucinatory images about a state of existence that is independent of the physical body" (1). Irwin first considers the biblical depiction of Heaven offered in , but quickly notes that biblical sources not only fail to account for the uniformity of Western NDE motifs, but are actually with such motifs:

Abramovitch, Henry. "." . Vol. 6, No. 3 (Spring 1988): 175-184.

Consequently, Irwin set out to determine the most common Western visions of the afterlife by administering a questionnaire survey to 96 introductory psychology students at the rural University of New England in Australia. The survey concerned such variables as the appearance, inhabitants, and means of travel of the afterlife, as well as its auditory features (2). He found that (of each questionnaire item) the most common Western images of the afterlife included a cosmic existence simultaneously everywhere and nowhere in the universe (40%), a pastoral scene of "lush green hills, trees, flowers and streams" (30%), and a formless void of pure being (29%) (2, 3). A mere 7% of respondents selected the biblical image, and 9% expected large gardens to figure prominently in the afterlife (3).

Atwater, Phyllis M. H. "." . Vol. 19, No. 2 (2000): 12-13.

[I]n the cases where NDEs with classic features such as tunnels and lights are reported, we might wish to question where NDErs actually derive their cultural-linguistic NDE pattern from.... For it is clear that such experiences, complete with recurring motifs such as traversing a period of darkness towards a light, do not represent part of any of the religious traditions of the West (Fox 117).