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<   No. 960   2005-09-12   >

Comic #960

1 {scene: the Mythbusters workshop}
1 Jamie: Adam! You're alive!
1 Adam: {sitting up on the floor} Jamie! What happened?
2 Jamie: You nearly died after choking on that giant frog. You were out for minutes. I was so worried...
3 Adam: For my wellbeing? That's surprisingly touching.
4 Jamie: No, that we'd wasted the opportunity to test another myth. Did you see a white light?

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I was going to write something about near-death experiences, but then I realised I didn't really have anything to say.

2014-11-22 Rerun commentary: I have no doubt that being close to death can have strange effects on one's sensory perception and state of mind, as the body struggles to deal with whatever is causing the trauma. It's perfectly plausible that the surge of unusual hormones and chemicals and stimuli at such a time can produce highly unusual effects on consciousness and perception, which could easily have common features with the experiences of others in similar situations.

It's the interpretation of such experiences which can lead to dubious claims of supernatural phenomena for which there is no other evidence. It's certainly comforting to think that when we die our consciousness will carry on in some harmonious and pleasant spiritual afterworld containing loved ones. That thinking can easily lead people to interpret neurophysiological phenomena as being something else. But just because it's comforting doesn't mean it's true.

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