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View Diary: Bill Maher rips into the GOP's anti-intellectuals with advanced degrees (116 comments)

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  •  No, Alexander did way more. And has been debunked. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JohnnySacks, JosephK74

    Anyone who is taking Alexander at face value needs to start by reading this:

    Last October, I took Newsweek to task for its cover story "Heaven is Real," which purported to be a work of journalism. This was an excerpt from a book called Proof of Heaven, which, I predicted, would sell an enormous number of copies and make a lot of money for its author, a neurosurgeon named Eben Alexander, and for Simon & Schuster, which shamelessly bought and promoted the thing. Less than a year after its publication, it has sold nearly two million copies.

    I gathered that fact from a fascinating story in the August Esquire by Luke Dittrich, in which Dittrich comes as close as one could, without access to Alexander's private thoughts, to showing that the book was a cynical effort to provide a new career--as a prophet!--for a neurosurgeon whose career was being consumed by malpractice suits. He was, Esquire's editors write in the deck, "a neurosurgeon with a troubled history and a man in need of reinvention."

    Dittrich begins with an appearance by Alexander on a Fox & Friends in which he is asked about the fate of the children killed in Newtown, Connecticut. A host asks him, with lip trembling, whether the children will forget what happened to them when they are in heaven. This is an appeal to Alexander's expertise because, of course, he's been there. His response, as Dittrich records it: "Well, they will know what happened. But they will not feel the pain." And what about the shooter, Fox and Friends asked him.  "The shooter is in a place of reviewing his own life. It's a very real phenomenon, of reliving all of the events of one's life and reliving the pain and suffering that we've handed out to others. But from their point of view."

    The matter-of-fact nature of this exchange, with adults treating him as an expert on heaven the same way they would treat a lawyer as an expert on evidence, is even more breathtaking than what Alexander wrote. He no longer must claim that he's been to heaven; Fox & Friends takes that for granted and moves on to mining his expertise. When, one wonders, will Alexander respond to a question like this by saying that he doesn't know the answer? Does he really know everything about heaven and its people on the basis of one brief visit? And while in a coma, to boot?

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    by MJB on Sat Jul 20, 2013 at 04:13:02 PM PDT

    [ Parent ]

    •  Good muckraking (0+ / 0-)

      In the worst sense of the word.

      Of course that's what we all do when we have trouble with our careers. We contract a nearly fatal illness then predictably spin it into a best-seller because we know from the outset that it will make us into a prophet. Cum hoc ergo proctor hoc.

      What Esquire did, which, as far as I can tell from all the different excerpts and treatments I've read, since i wasnt willing to be part of their capitalist experiment to see if they could monetize their new paywall, was to smear his character with suspicion and create a "he said, she said" story between him and one of his doctors.

      Here's something. Why don't we just forget about Alexander. He should be able to defend himself. If not then he should be discredited. But frankly, his testimony isn't all that necessary. As science gets better and better at extending the frontier beyond which someone can be resuscitated, the number of these events grow and have impressive, although not universal, similarities.

      The only thing debunkers need to come up with is an explanation for how the brain can have a hyper real organized experience when in fact, it should have nothing of the sort. That assumes you toss aside the canard of the hypoxic brain. Then you would be engaged in something much more valuable than garden variety debunking which is easy to do if you simply choose as a matter of ideology to cast aspersions on all claims and raise the bar increasingly higher to exclude any evidence whatsoever.

      •  Your premise is flawed (0+ / 0-)

        "It should have nothing of the sort"?

        Why?  Why should it not?  You are assuming that which you are trying to prove.

        We know the brain is very good at creating "sense" out of nonsense.  The burden of proof is on those who claim there is something "more" going on than what we already know is the very defining characteristic of the brain.

        Thank you for your submission to Science. Your paper was reviewed by seventh graders for balance. They found your paper "bogus," describing the lab work as "boring." We will be unable to publish your work at this time.

        by Rrhain on Tue Jul 23, 2013 at 11:15:11 PM PDT

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