Friday, August 24, 2007

Out of body experiences

They can be induced using some cool gadgets and clever illusions. Do they cease to be spooky now, or have they become spookier?

When people gaze at an illusory image of themselves through the goggles and are prodded in just the right way with the stick, they feel as if they have left their bodies. [...]

[Usually, ... ] sensory streams, which include vision, touch, balance and the sense of where one’s body is positioned in space, work together seamlessly, Prof. Botvinick said. But when the information coming from the sensory sources does not match up, when they are thrown out of synchrony, the sense of being embodied as a whole comes apart.

The brain, which abhors ambiguity, then forces a decision that can, as the new experiments show, involve the sense of being in a different body.

The research provides a physical explanation for phenomena usually ascribed to other-worldly influences, said Peter Brugger, a neurologist at University Hospital in Zurich, Switzerland.


  1. Anonymous said...

    Clearly, they were never spooky in the first place.

    There was another demonstration on Penn & Teller's show on how air pilots who underwent training in a centrifuge at high speeds also experienced out of body experiences.

  2. Wavefunction said...

    I think this is a very important piece of work, because it points towards providing a scientific basis for supernatural-seeming, spiritual, and faith based experiences. This research might finally sound the death knell for religious faith. I am not saying that that means religious faith would suddenly cease to exist, but it would definitely take away the "super" from "supernatural", but in no way would undermine the intensity and awareness of spiritual experiences.