Who are these NDE researchers? Fringe types? New Age gurus?

Far from it. Apart from Long the radiation oncologist, Dr. Pim van Lommel is a world-renowned Dutch cardiologist. Dr. Bruce Greyson is professor of psychiatry and neurobehavioral sciences at the University of Virginia. Dr. Michael Sabom is a cardiologist in private practice and on staff at two hospitals in Atlanta. Dr. Raymond Moody, sort of the patriarch of the field who first published the groundbreaking Life After Life in 1975, is a psychologist and medical doctor with PhDs in philosophy and psychiatry.

Where do they publish their studies of NDEs? Apart from widely read, sometimes bestselling books put out by major houses, Miller notes that by 2005 over 900 articles on NDEs had been published in peer-reviewed scholarly journals like Psychiatry, The Lancet, Critical Care Quarterly, Journal of Near-Death Studies, American Journal of Psychiatry, and British Journal of Psychology, Resuscitation and Neurology. Not bad. Even a nonscientific type like me knows that such journals are very rigorous about what they publish.

But most interestingly of all, far from having started out with a religious or spiritual agenda, most of the major NDE researchers affirm that they were skeptics before they started inquiring scientifically into NDEs. Van Lommel wrote:

I grew up in an academic environment where I was taught that there is a reductionist and materialist explanation for everything…. I had always accepted this as indisputably true…. That death is the end used to be my own belief.

Sabom’s aim in studying NDEs was to “refute them, to prove that they could be explained naturalistically” (my emphasis). But he ended up writing: “I have searched for such an explanation over the past five years and have not found one that is adequate.”

Another researcher, Dr. Melvin Morse, wrote after a three-year study of NDEs:

After looking at all the other explanations for near-death experiences, I think the simplest explanation is that NDEs are actually glimpses into the world beyond. Why not? I’ve read all the convoluted psychological and physiological explanations for NDEs, and none of them seem very satisfying.