Critical questions: Other naturalistic proposals

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Some have suggested a more naturalistic method that tries to account for the objective elements. Could the NDEers have collected the data they reported in more normal ways? Or could they have fabricated the data, consciously or unconsciously? Or are the researchers at fault? Perhaps their biases have influenced their studies. 

Firstly, could the patient have gathered the data normally? Through overhearing etc. In spite of the chaos with the individuals senses? Well firstly, data that heads large quantities of corroboration while close to death, especially in the lists of evidences I have provided. Many of the described incidents cover large distances, which could not have been physically observed. 

  • With the case of Katie, she watched and reported minute particulars about what her family members were doing at home while she was in a coma in hospital. 
  • Rick viewed his family members at home and details the hospital while his body was elsewhere in an ambulance. More than one person looking in on loved ones in another part of the hospital and accurately described their positions and language. 
  • Blind individuals reported many accurate particulars about people and events around them including specific designs and colours (to their best estimate) of jewelry and clothes.

What about those who correctly reported seeing other loved ones of whose death they had no knowledge? These examples and more provide huge difficulties for people to pick up under their ‘senses’, these are insuperable difficulties. 

How about bias of the researcher? Or patients accounting of the data? Researcher Anderson raises these issues because we are having to rely on memory. [1] We acknowledge that NDE are often kept private, they usually cannot be predicted ahead of time, and researchers must generally rely on interviews and patients’ memories, however if does not follow that these conditions must always apply. Or that, as a result, the researcher is trained. 

One way to get around these privacy reports of the publishers is to go speak to the individuals yourselves. Gary Habermas, Christian philosopher, has personally interviewed several individuals of whom he has used their NDE testimonies over a 15 year period, some of these provided corroborative testimony, which he was able to personally check and affirm. Evidential cases will often turn up in these types of investigations when you want to externally verify the facts. 

The second way of keeping the facts is interviewing the individual as soon as possible post-NDE, this helps keep any embellishment to a minimum. To note, some of the testimonial evidences provided previously are cases with immediate interview and questioning. [2] In Michael Sabom research, 30 of 116 cases (26%) were investigated within one month (or less) of the crisis, 6 of these on the first day. [3] What adds to the strength of the testimony is studies from Sabom, Osis and Haraldsson revealed no statistical significant difference in content between reports of those patients who were interviewed quickly after the NDE and those who were interviewed much later, [4] they even checked for hidden biases in their own research data, in method checking and possible bias in respondents and they found no significant bias that could of distorted the actual phenomena itself. [5] So we can safely conclude that no major finding in NDE studies has been affected by bias, embellishment or research methods.  

It is worth pointing out that it is not only NDE researchers who have to rely on memories, interviews and so on to gather information. Historians also rely on the same kind of interviews, research amid dependence on memories. Strict scientific testing is not an option for either NDE researchers or historians, but that does not mean their findings are untainted.  

Fabrication, either intended or unintended is a critical theory, as a plausible explanation for NDE. This is one of the weaker natural options Michael Sabom looks it this accusation seriously and enumerates several problems with it. [6] To start with, NDE often have nothing to gain by answering the questions of the researcher and frequently does not know the researcher is interested in their experience, they think the enquiry is all part of the medical process. 

Before the data was popularised, it would be very difficult to explain the fabrication hypothesis as there was no gain there and people were just sharing their experience, totally unexpected with no prior knowledge form anywhere. 

As well as this, several researchers have pointed out the radical life changes that have come as a result of radical changes due to the NDE and in the researchers themselves. [7] The Fabrication theory does not adequately account for this theory also.

And another problem comes with patients who have had multiple encounters with near-death without recalling any NDE’s. [8] Why would they not fabricate more examples? Or why were so many of the experiences so plain in the first place? We might expect more elaboration in fictitious accounts, but such is rarely present. Also it cannot account for all NDE’s with corroboration with the thousands of people involved being in certain situations that you couldn’t fabricate (e.g. the fiery car incident case amongst others). 

Last and not least we can carry out some research personally. This way, the process of verification can be tested firsthand and privately.


  1. Anderson, Life, Death and Beyond, p70-72
  2. Morse was the doctor who resuscitated KAtie and interviewed her very soon after her recovery. The cases produced by Schoonmaker were also largely his own patients, so much of the interviewing occurred soon after the NDEs. Rawlings personally resuscitated two of the three patients whose hearts stopped and interviewed the first one just two sets after she recovered from her coma. Natalie Kalmus was present at the death of her sister and heard her testimony as it was given. Kubler-Ross was also present with the little boy as he came out of the coma and announced that he was going with his mother and Peter, his brother, presumably to heaven.
  3. Sabom, Recollections of Death, Table IV, p196-200
  4. Sabom, Recollections of Death, Table XI, p208; Osis and Haraldsson, At the Hours of Death, p193
  5. Osis and Haraldsson, At the Hours of Death, p140-145, 192-194
  6. Sabom, Recollections of Death, p156-160
  7. Moody, Reflections of Life After Life, p111-112; Ring, Life at Death, chapter 8 and 9; Sabom, Recollections of Death, p186; Morse, Close to the Light, Chapter 7.
  8. Sabom, Recollections of Death, p56-57, Table VII, p203
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