Immortality Project

By now I hope you’ve heard about the upcoming Immortality Project. It’s not a movie with a catchy name, but it’s the new project the University of California, Riverside will take on studying topics of the afterlife thanks to a five million dollar grant. If you haven’t read about it, there’s a solid article from Huffington Post LA, here.

The money will fund research into heaven, hell, purgatory, karma, and other topics, according to the university’s web site.

Which is brilliant. If you’re going to do a study of the afterlife, absolutely do it academically. We in the ghost-hunting field have been pushing for “scientific” documentation of these experiences of the supernatural, which is still needed. But taking an approach to the afterlife in general on a level of theology, culture, philosophy, and biology is a solid approach. If you’re going to explore the afterlife, regardless of conclusion, there are questions that need exploring along the way. “Are we immortal beings? Would we even want to be immortal? What would immortality even look like?” An approach that considers both the fact of the issue and the philosophy is absolutely the right thinking.

“We will be very careful in documenting near-death experiences and other phenomena, trying to figure out if these offer plausible glimpses of an afterlife or are biologically induced illusions,” Fischer said in a statement. “Our approach will be uncompromisingly scientifically rigorous. We’re not going to spend money to study alien-abduction reports.”

So not all the bias toward the supernatural has been thrown out with this step forward. All in due time I suppose. Alien abductions might not be trendy like ghosts or the more PC, less-restrictive term, “the afterlife,” and their supporters still seem crazy (really, the same as ghosts fifteen years ago). But the deeper you look into alien abduction reports, the more similarities you find between them and “Old Hag Syndrome,” or sleep paralysis, or classical mythology and religions. Indeed, alien reports carry remarkable tie-ins with much of religious mythology and lore. John Keel’s Our Haunted Planet is a fine resource for these connections and, according to him, inconsistencies.

Though not so much correlative to the near-death experience, close encounters of the fourth kind do resemble religious or mystical experiences. Though this study is focusing, at least for the moment, on experiences occurring around the time of death, it’s not a far stone’s throw to the mystical experiences of higher (or different) consciousness. See (bright lights appearing in the sky, terrifying beings who appear on earth and supply prophesies, strange chariots appearing in the air).

The question then: is this exactly what we need right now? Not just the “we” who are paranormally inclined. But the “we” of the human race, in a science-worshipping world tearing itself apart over religion and ideology.

Or will this divide us further? If we find indication that there may be something after, something further, will this only increase the hostilities between two parties to be more “right” than the other? If you suggest that the soul does exist, what does that say of God? If God exists, what does that say of these fighting religions? If we live on after we die, what does that say toward the morality of homicide?

Either way, it’s a fascinating project, and I’ll be first in line for the book in five years.



3 thoughts on “Immortality Project

  1. Anonymous says:

    Near-Death Experiences are already completely explained. Templeton Foundation should have known that before the spent the grant of 5 000 000 $.
    The complete explanation of all NDE-phenomenon can be found in my book
    Kinseher Richard, Near-Death Experiences completely explained, e-book ISBN: 978 3 8448 4806 9, 5,49 €

    It is irresponsible to spent 5 000 000 $, when the answer is alredy available for 5,49€

  2. Anonymous says:

    I (Kinseher) will set up here a challenge to UCR-Researcher Prof. Fischer and expain Near-Death Experiences (NDEs) here for free; (based on Dr. Moody´s book ´Life after Life´):
    0 Cent against a budget of $5M – is the challenge (If 5,49€ is too expensive for him)

    1) From all those persons who suffered clinical death, only a tiny group experienced a NDE, so it is not(!) the dangerous situation which is responsible to start a NDE
    2) According to Moody, the start of a NDE is when a person hear to be decleared as dead or when a person think by itself that he/she will die (book-chapter: Hearing the News). Additional it is sometimes reported that it is possible to observe the surrounding paralell to the NDE. This means, a person who can hear, think, observe is alive(!).
    To hear/think (I am dead/I will die) is a trigger-stimulus(!), a wrong(!) experience for a person/mind which is alive
    3) After the parodox experience (trigger-stimulus), the brain will focus its attention on the job, to solve this strange problem (To focus the attention on a certain job is known as ´inattentional blindness´. The perception of other experiences might be suppressed).
    Here with the NDE, the level of awareness will be changed. Thus it is possible to perceive brain activities, which usually are performed subconscious:
    A) a scan of the episodic memory in hierarchical (temporal) order. Recalled experiences will be evaluated (state dependent retrieval (SDR)). SDR means: what we remember is dependent of two states: a) from our emotional, physical, intellectual abilities when we make an experiences and store it into the memory – and b) from our emotional, physical, intellectual abilities, when we recall an experience out of the memory. This means, when we recall an experience it will be changed (false memory).
    By order and content of recalled experiences we can recognize, that exxperiences since the 5th month of fetal age are remembered, in the same order as the senses develop: feel/touch > acoustic sense > optical sense. (Moodys chapter: Feelings of Peace and Quiet > The Noise > The Dark Tunnel).
    B) sometimes the brain creates a virtual simulation of the actual situation (= Out of Body Experience (OBE)). OBEs need no further discussion, they are produced in experiences very often; see: body swap illusion, rubber hand illusion

    The end of NDEs is a trigger-stimulus (e.g. when a person think ´I don´t want to die, my familie need me) or when the attention move to another thought
    Dying experience: I person who had a dying experience is then a corpse – if not, then there was no dying experience, in the sense of the word.
    Clinical death(CD): CD mean, that a person is still alive, but would die without resuscitation.

    Encounter of deceased persons like real: our experiences are made, stored and recalled in present-tense(!). Therefore when recall such experiences, the person is felt as if he/she is alive.
    Tunnel experience: Imagine the development of the optical sense like in experiences like the single frames of a film. First foto = dark, then when a optical cell of the eye is working, a small light can be seen. The more optical cells are working, the more light can be seen. > When these experiences are recalled in quick order, then the optical illusion is produced – to move through a dark tunnel towards a light of increasing size.
    Being of Light: When a baby is born it has no knowledge to separate phenomenons like light, mother, father, language, … and it is almost blind. It will store experiences from different sources as a single combined experience: so the mother who takes care for the baby will be experienced and stored in the memory as a combination of pleasant feelings, of light, of sound(language), of tenderness, of love. When this experience is recalled, then it is evaluated by the knowledge of an adult person (state dependent retrieval) – and felt as ´being of light´ the source of unlimited love.

    I will stop now with my explanation. You understand, that NDEs can be explained completley.
    NDEs will give only information how of brain activities occur – nothing else.
    The question about the possiblity of an afterlife can not be answered with NDEs – it is still open.

  3. […] posted my thoughts on the $5 million grant for Near Death Experiences called the Immortality Project a couple weeks […]

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