NDERF Web-Based Experience Submission Research Project Overview

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Letter of Appreciation to our Contributors

Dear NDERF (Near Death Experience Research Foundation) Contributor,

        We greatly appreciate your willingness to share your experience!  We have now developed the expertise to process your web form contribution and output it into an easily readable format.  As a courtesy, we would be happy to e-mail you back  a text file (.txt) the experience you contribute, if you wish.  The text file format was chosen as it is the most easily translated among different word processor programs.  This file will include the questions asked and your response.  You may be assured we have and will continue to keep all experience contributions confidential to the extent you desire.

Your contribution will help us understand NDE and related experiences, and will touch the lives of many!

        Our organization (NDERF, Near Death Experience Research Foundation) has a collaborative research project with IANDS (International Association for Near-Death Studies).  Dr. Jeff of NDERF currently serves on the Board of Directors of IANDS and is involved with the IANDS Research Committee.  The collaborative research project involves obtaining web based experience accounts, and sharing with NDERF and IANDS approved researchers. 

      As always, sharing any submitted experience is subject to the advance approval of the experience contributor.

Thanks again for your willingness to share!


NDERF Web-Based Experience Submission Research Project Overview

Below you will find information about:

Background, Methodology, Goals, and Limitations

Research Background:

We acknowledge and express our appreciation to the many NDE experiencers who have shared their experiences over the years. The willingness of these special individuals to share is the foundation of our awareness and understanding of NDE.

We further acknowledge and express our appreciation to the many NDE investigators and writers. Their contribution to understanding NDE has been enormous.

Research Methodology:

The Near Death Experience Research Foundation (NDERF) will use the following methodology for this investigation:

1. Develop a web site to serve as the focal point for requesting NDE experiences and publishing results as they become available. We are always interested in any comments and suggestions regarding our web site.

2. Increase awareness of the NDERF project and web site. This site has been submitted to over 400 search engines. Hopefully our colleagues maintaining other web sites regarding NDE will be kind enough to include a link to our web site. We will strive to maintain links from our sites to other major NDE web sites.

3. Accept communications regarding NDE experiences in a variety of formats (see web section titled "NDE Questionnaire), recognizing that the final output of the account is a joint effort between the contributor and NDERF to get the maximum amount of information about NDEs.

4. NDE submissions will be studied by NDERF.   Results will be periodically published to our web site and the experience placed in the NDERF archives.  NDE submissions may be read by students or researchers who have been approved by NDERF for use of the archives.  The NDE submissions may be excerpted or used in full, or data may be drawn from it in conjunction with an NDERF approved study or project, including but not limited to lectures or educational programs relating to Near-Death Experience, or part of a published article, or in a book.  NDERF will maintain strict confidentiality unless the NDE contributor gives express permission to use their name and/or e-mail address.

Research Goals:

It is our hope that this research and the sharing of results will contribute to our collective understanding of NDE, as well as enhance public awareness and acceptance of NDE.  

Research Limitations:

We acknowledge our efforts to research NDE have some significant limitations. In expressing our awareness of these limitations, we will strive, whenever possible, to minimize their impact on the validity of this research and its results.

A significant limitation is the definition of NDE.  The definition we have selected is:  "A lucid experience associated with perceived consciousness apart from the body occurring at the time of actual or threatened imminent death".  "Lucid" means the experience occurred in association with unimpaired awareness, and that the event was clear to the understanding.  This specifically excludes dream-like states and experiences impaired by associated substance use.  "Perceived consciousness apart from the body" is often referred to as an out of body experience (OBE).  "Actual or threatened... death" may be physical or psychological.  The individual undergoing the experience determines if death was "threatened".  "Imminent" means the possible death is ready to take place in the near future, to the point it is threatening. This definition is good, but not perfect.  We consider it a necessity to define NDE for the purpose of this study.  We recognize this definition will be considered too broad by some and too limiting by others.  There are a variety of paranormal experiences this definition excludes.  As we learn about NDE, this definition may be modified if necessary.

Studying NDE is difficult. Information regarding the NDE experience is only available, directly or indirectly, from the experiencer. There is generally no associated physical evidence to corroborate the experiencer's account.

In our experience, NDE experiencers generally strive to truthfully and accurately convey their experience. In spite of this, the NDE by definition is associated with a life threatening event which may affect their recall of the experience. Their experience is perceived and conveyed through the filter of their unique belief system. NDE experiences usually occurred many months or years prior to the time it is conveyed, and this may result in parts of the experience being forgotten or distorted. We will rely on the honesty and integrity of the experiencer in sharing their experience. There is no procedure to evaluate the honesty of the experiencer. We may receive experiences that are confabulations. We can only hope it will be rare that we encounter such meaningless deceit.

Our research methodology has limitations. We will receive a disproportionate number of responses from English speaking adults with access to a computer and the Internet. Respondents are further characterized by their ability to find this web site and their will to communicate their experience. These respondents contacting us are not representative of the population of all NDE experiencers worldwide. We intend to compare and contrast NDE's among different cultural groups to help clarify the significance of this limitation.

As NDE investigators, we have our own personal limitations. We freely admit our bias that the NDE experience is real and associated with a higher power. Our understanding of other's NDE experiences will be filtered through our own belief system, which may introduce some distortion. We will strive to be conscious of this, and diligent in minimizing such distortion. A firm commitment to seeking the truth will be vital for all of us in this endeavor.

As we collectively seek to understand NDE, it is important to be aware that understanding NDE will be affected by differing individual's belief systems. NDE experiencers usually immediately accept the reality and significance of their experience. This acceptance is based on personal experience, which the great majority of us lack. NDE experiences cure NDE disbelief. Certain things in life require their being experienced to understand. I cannot adequately convey the experience of riding a roller coaster to one who has never ridden. You must ride a roller coaster to understand the roller coaster experience. Similarly, you must experience a NDE to fully understand NDE.

In understanding NDE, patience will be necessary for both the experiencer conveying the experience, and those seeking to understand NDE. Those of us without a personal NDE experience may not fully understand as the NDE experiencer does, but we hope to understand to the greatest extent possible. This is what NDERF is all about.

Sharing a NDE experience that may be very difficult to describe will require patience. By definition, the NDE was associated with a life threatening event. Sharing the NDE experience associated with this traumatic event will require courage. But most of all, sharing the NDE experience is an act of love. It comes from the experiencer's hope that the others lives may be enhanced by their understanding of NDE. We are deeply grateful to the many NDE experiencers who have shared.

There are two groups of people who are skeptical of NDE. There are the "closed minded" skeptics and "open minded" skeptics. Skeptics may have belief systems with both closed and open minded elements.

Closed minded skeptics are characterized by a belief system of unwillingness to seriously consider the possibility that NDE might be real and significant. The NDE experience is so different from their personal life experience that their belief system will not allow them to seriously consider the possible reality and significance of NDE. There are many closed minded skeptics. Sharing a NDE experience with a closed minded skeptic (a significant act of courage) is likely to be unrewarding and stressful. Closed minded skeptics are among the greatest barriers to advancing understanding of NDE. We hope we can all be patient in dealing with closed minded skeptics, and in doing so be reminded of the importance of dealing with issues of close mindedness in our own life.

Open minded skeptics are characterized by a belief system of willingness, at some level, to consider the reality and significance of the NDE experience. Their conclusion following such consideration is to remain skeptical. To the extent open minded skeptics are rigorous in their search for truth, their input is beneficial in understanding NDE. Several issues raised by open minded skeptics merit discussion.

Some skeptics have pointed out that an anesthetic drug, ketamine, reproduces many of the aspects of the NDE experience. Ketamine is usually given intravenously, and in low doses may produce an intense experience lasting approximately one hour. This experience may include a perception of consciousness apart from the body, seeing a light, feelings of love, etc. There is controversy regarding the degree of similarity of these experiences with NDE experiences. This issue might be clarified by comparing ketamine induced experiences with NDE experiences using the questions and methodology we describe. We emphasize ketamine is illegal as a recreational drug and potentially quite dangerous.

Skeptics suggest chemical activity in the brain (perhaps endorphins) might provide a physiological explanation of NDE. They correctly point out the NDE experiencer's recovery from the life threatening event proves there was no irreversible death of any vital organ. Skeptics question why only a minority of patients (approximately 30%) involved in life threatening events have an NDE.

As public awareness of NDE grows, skeptics are concerned about the temptation some may experience to confabulate a NDE (especially a "dramatic" NDE) for monetary or other gain. Unfortunately this is a reasonable concern. Human nature being what it is, we would be surprised if there were no confabulated NDE experiences among the many published books describing "dramatic" NDE experiences. We believe the overwhelming majority of NDE experiences are conveyed honestly.

In response to the open minded skeptics, open minded NDE believers stress the consistencies of the NDE experience among diverse cultures and age groups. This suggests the experience is not mediated by unique past life experiences or belief systems. The NDE experience is frequently followed by a significant change in attitude, which is generally described as life enhancing by the NDE experiencer and people around them. This lasting life enhancing aspect of the NDE experience is generally not associated with experiences induced by chemicals (drugs or activities associated with elevated endorphin levels in the brain) or hallucinations.

The strongest evidence for the validity of the NDE experience comes from the large number of NDE experiencers who hear conversations or see events while in their out of body state and clinically unconscious. They accurately convey these events later, leaving people they heard and saw while "unconscious" astonished and mystified. These events may be geographically close or far from their unconscious body. Skeptics have no alternative explanation for these extensively documented NDE experiences.      

Copyright1999 by Dr. Jeff and Jody Long

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