Dr. Lakhmir Chawla Frustrates Near-Death Experience Researchers

Industry: Science

George Washington University Medical Center Professor, Dr. Lakhmir Chawla, answers critics of his near-death experience research.

California (PRUnderground) June 10th, 2011

Join Skeptiko host Alex Tsakiris for an interview with Dr. Lakhmir Chawla. During the interview Dr. Chawla discussed whether his discovery of a surge in the brain’s electrical activity seconds before death might, or might not, be related to near-death experience:

Alex Tsakiris: A moment ago you referenced the discovery of the first black swan as reminder of how science has to be prepared for unexpected discoveries. Part of the frustration I hear from near-death experience researchers is, “hey, we keep finding all these black swans; where are the rest of you?” They keep finding cases where patients report a near-death experience during a time when there’s no brain activity — that’s a black swan. Then they look at your finding, which is interesting and surprising, but is quite speculative as far as being related to near-death experience and they say, “where’s the balance?”

Dr. Lakhmir Chawla: I think that’s a very important point. At the end of the day, if near-death experience is going to enter a very durable research area it has to answer some of these questions. Because right now we know that near-death experiences are very important to patients. So the stakeholders are very interested in it. So it will always have its relevant people who are very interested in it because it’s a big deal and it talks about the aspect of life when life potentially ends. What we’re suggesting in this paper is that we have an interesting finding at the time of death. It may have nothing to do with near-death experience, but the need to understand what this is or isn’t has a lot of value.

Now, I’ll tell you, the other important issue is that we have patients who we allow to pass away and then we take their organs. Currently we use EKG as the metric for when they’re dead. Some people have suggested that you should wait and see if they have this spike because that may, in fact, be the border. And this has real consequences for the quality of the organs that are taken from these patients if they’re allowed to sit for even a minute or two minutes longer. So, the implications are beyond the near-death experience.

The Skeptiko interview with Dr. Lakhmir Chawla (audio and transcript) is available at:

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