Dualist NDEs Get The Chop. Dr Jason Braithwaite has wielded ‘Occam’s Chainsaw’ against dualist interpretations of Near-Death Experiences. His article, in the latest Skeptic magazine, discusses four arguments made by ‘paranormalists’ in support of such interpretations. At the same time, Braithwaite warns against over-interpreting recent studies (Chawla et al., 2009; Borjigin et al., 2013) showing a surge of neurophysiological activity and EEG coherence just before death. It has not yet been established whether such activity supports NDE-like hallucinations in humans. Braithwaite is senior lecturer in cognitive psychology and neuroscience at the University of Birmingham. You can read the full article in the Skeptic, or online here. Also, Braithwaite has studied ghostly experiences, particularly at Muncaster Castle. An interview about this work (via @SPR1882) is here.
Call for Papers. The 58th International Parapsychological Association Convention call for papers has been released. The conference will take place at the University of Greenwich, London, July 16th – 19th. The program chair is Dr Renaud Evrard. The deadline for submissions is April 1st. Student PA members can apply for financial assistance to attend, from the Robert L Morris Student Travel Grant. For further details, click here.
Dreaming of the Dead. On 12th February, there will be a lecture at the Society for Psychical Research, in London, entitled: Dreaming of the Dead: Evidence of Survival? The speakers are Cal Cooper and David Saunders. For more info, click here.
‘Surrogate Science’. The worshipping of ‘monolithic’ statistical techniques, from p-values to Bayesian approaches, is criticised in a forthcoming article from Gerd Gigerenzer. He argues that no single approach is perfect and scientific practice would be improved if researchers better understood when best to apply the different methods. This is not just a philosophical point, but has important practical implications for replication issues both in psychology and parapsychology. For the full paper, click here. (via @kengilhooly)
The Hard Problem. Tom Stoppard has a new play The Hard Problem running at the National Theatre, which will be broadcast nationally on 13th April. It’s reviewed by Vaughan Bell here.
And while we’re on the subject of consciousness: how do our brains create a sense of self? This TED talk from neuroscientist Antonio Damasio explains.
And finally… UFO or rare cloud formation? OK, tenuous link to parapsychology, I confess. But this ‘fallstreak hole’ image is awesome. Also known as ‘holepunch clouds’, the phenomenon occurs when part of the cloud freezes and drops. Find out more at The Cloud Appreciation Society.