The Warfare Is Mental: Consciousness Primer

I’d like to thank all the new readers who’ve found their way over here in the past few days, especially dguller, whose persistent questioning has caused me to realize that my blog is nowhere near as organized as it was before importing to WordPress. Certain questions indicate that new readers might be unfamiliar with what I’ve written on the subject of consciousness. This is my fault, because as I said, the blog suffered some pretty heavy disorganization in the import process, and the majority of my consciousness posts weren’t previously accessible via the consciousness category, which only contained about a half-dozen entries as of yesterday.

I’ve been doing some housekeeping to make previous writings on consciousness more accessible to new readers. I spent a few hours locating the foundational posts, and made sure they are filed under the consciousness category, which now has about twenty entries. I also added a link to my series of rebuttals to Ebonmuse’s essay, A Ghost In The Machine, in the Series homepage, accessible from the green tabs above the TWIM header. Lastly, I doctored up a few posts for formatting issues, as the XML import didn’t go so smooth. If you notice any posts with particularly atrocious formatting issues, by all means, please let me know.

With all that said, I offer the following questions as a starting point for anyone interested in dialog about consciousness:

1) Have you familiarized yourself with my definitions of consciousness as explored here, here, here, here, and here?

2) Have you taken a look at this Phenomena / Consciousness Chart?

3) Have you answered or at least contemplated answers to these questions?

4) To those who would demand persuasive evidence of consciousness existing apart from a human body, have you answered the questions at the end of this post?

5) Are you prepared to give at least cursory responses to The Video Game Incident, The Strange Case of Ingo Swann, Simultaneous Dreaming, and Veridical Dreaming?

6) Have you familiarized yourself with my series of rebuttals to Ebonmuse’s essay, A Ghost In The Machine?

7) Have you read A.J. Ayer’s account of his own NDE [PDF, 64KB]?

19 Comments

  1. woodchuck64 says:

    From the Ayer article:

    I was vaguely aware that the ministers who had been given charge of time were in my neighborhood and I proceeded to hail them. I was again frustrated. Either they did not hear me, or they chose to ignore me, or they did not understand me. I then hit upon the expedient of walking up and down, waving my watch, in the hope of drawing their attention not to my watch itself but to the time which it measured. This elicited no response. I became more and more desperate, until the experience suddenly came to an end.

    His experience could well have been delusive. This slight indication that it might have been veridical has been supplied by my French friend, or rather by her mother, who also underwent a heart arrest many years ago. When her daughter asked her what it had been like, she replied that all that she remembered was that she must stay close to the red light.

    On the face of it, these experiences, on the assumption that the last one was veridical, are rather strong evidence that death does not put an end to consciousness.

    I remain somewhat confused over this passage. “His experience could well have been delusive”. Is Ayer referring to himself in third person?

    Note that the assumption of veridicality is only “slight[ly] indicated” according to Ayer, being based on a single anecdote of “red light”. I think Ayer’s view is better expressed by the last paragraph:

    So there it is. My recent experiences have slightly weakened my conviction that my genuine death, which is due fairly soon, will be the end of me, though I continue to hope that it will be. They have not weakened my conviction that there is no god. I trust that my remaining an atheist will allay the anxieties of my fellow supporters of the Humanist Association, the Rationalist Press, and the South Place Ethical Society.

  2. cl says:

    I’ll take what I can get with any obdurate skeptic :)

    Is Ayer referring to himself in third person?

    That’s a bit unclear to me, too.

    Note that the assumption of veridicality is only “slight[ly] indicated” according to Ayer,

    Stay tuned. I’ve got a post coming up, the details of which I believe preclude skeptics from such responses.

    That said, glad to “see” you around these parts again…

  3. dguller says:

    Ayer also wrote:

    “In this instance, I am given to understand that the arrest of the heart does not entail, either logically or causally, the arrest of the brain. In view of the very strong evidence in favor of the dependence of thoughts upon the brain, the most probable hypothesis is that my brain continued to function although my heart had stopped.”

    It appears that he feels that the “most probable hypothesis” is that his brain was producing the NDE even though his heart had stopped.

  4. dguller says:

    Another important aspect of consciousness is just how rooted it is in the body. If our conscious awareness inherently contains information from our bodies as processed by our brains, then a disembodied consciousness is just incoherent. It is a fact that our conscious awareness is permeated by our vision, touch, sound, taste, smell, proprioception and interoception, and all of these senses are mediated by distinct brain regions.

    The unified conscious experience is actually generated by integrating a diverse series of sensory inputs in a coordinated symphony of brain processing. It is when this smooth functionality is disrupted by trauma, infection, stroke or drugs that things come apart. Once that happens, then you have bizarre conscious experiences, such as extra arms, phantom limbs, autotopagnosia, hemineglect, alien hand syndrome, and so on. All of these phenomena can be understand as brain dysfunction, and none of them require paranormal entities to explain them.

    Even an ODE can be understood as a disruption in the brain pathways that unify our felt position in space and our visual perception, possibly via the angular gyrus and right temporo-parietal junction. When there is a conflict between the expected unity between our felt positional sense and our visual perception, then our brain fills in the missing details by generating an experience where we are floating above our bodies.

  5. cl says:

    For anybody still interested in this, I recommend the following link. Ayer allegedly told his physician, “I saw a Divine Being. I’m afraid I’m going to have to revise all my various books and opinions.” Ayer’s fourth wife, Dee Wells, noted that Ayer was deeply changed after this experience, as reported by the majority of those who experience NDE’s. Ayer also began to spend much time with Frederick Copleston, a Jesuit priest and philosopher whom he had debated. Wells noted: “As he got older, [Ayer] realized more and more that philosophy was just chasing its own tail.”

    dguller,

    No offense, but I think you need to look into NDE and OBE more carefully. I’ve noticed several “stock responses” that seem to be invoked to rebut NDE / OBE categorically. Personally, I think your explanations would come across as at least better informed and possibly more persuasive were they to focus on actual cases. Veridical accounts directly challenge these stock responses, as does the fact that NDE experiences are often described as more lucid than regular consciousness, not fragmented or bizarre as you imply.

    I’m sure we’ll discuss this further when I drop my NDE post, hopefully later this week or early next week.

  6. dguller says:

    cl:

    Veridical OBE’s and NDE’s must be shown to be accurate over and above random chance to be given any credibility. That means that one must compile a number of OBE’s and NDE’s, ideally under controlled conditions, and statistically analyze the correct and incorrect descriptions to see if the correct descriptions are accurate more than chance. Until that is done, these are interesting anecdotes that may be true, but for now, we just do not know, and to build a metaphysical system out of them is akin to building a castle in sand.

    Note that I am not saying that veridical OBE’s and NDE’s are actually false. I am saying that there is currently insufficient evidence above anecdotes to justify my belief in them. Anecdotes are a start of scientific inquiry. They are never the end result, especially when controlled studies are possible, and in this case, they are certainly possible, and it is telling that they have never been performed.

    Regardless, I’ll reserve further comments until your completed post.

  7. dguller says:

    cl:

    Also, the “bizarre” experiences that I cited are perfectly lucid experiences. When I said “bizarre”, I just meant “out of the ordinary”, which I would categorize OBE’s and NDE’s, as well.

  8. cl says:

    dguller,

    …to build a metaphysical system out of them is akin to building a castle in sand.

    Note that neither myself nor anyone I’m aware of is “building a metaphysical system” from them. Rather, quite the contrary: researchers are comparing these events to known metaphysical systems, and finding that the evidence is stacking up against naturalist / atheist / reductionist theories of consciousness.

    I am saying that there is currently insufficient evidence above anecdotes to justify my belief in them.

    I appreciate your candor, and would note that several qualified scientists who have spent serious time in research find NDE studies compelling [cf. Sabom, Parnia, van Lommel]. In many cases, these scientists began as skeptics. Of course, you can find scientists who use more or less the same lines of objection you proffer [cf. Blackmore, Persinger] Still, I find your above statement more refreshing than your previous line of objections, which, quite honestly, struck me as mere denialism sans an impartial evaluation of the evidence.

    BTW, on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being “cursory investigation [i.e. less than 5 hours of legitimate study]” and 10 being “substantial investigation [i.e. 50 hours or more of legitimate study],” how would you rate your own exposure to the evidence?

    …and it is telling that [controlled studies] have never been performed.

    Well, perhaps I have my answer to the above question! This is false. Do you have your own definition of “controlled study” that I should be aware of?

    Also, the “bizarre” experiences that I cited are perfectly lucid experiences.

    You wrote:

    It is when this smooth functionality is disrupted by trauma, infection, stroke or drugs that things come apart.

    To me, this implied the argument that all such experiences can be attributed to sub-optimal brain function. Is that not what you meant?

  9. dguller says:

    cl:

    >> Ayer’s fourth wife, Dee Wells, noted that Ayer was deeply changed after this experience, as reported by the majority of those who experience NDE’s. Ayer also began to spend much time with Frederick Copleston, a Jesuit priest and philosopher whom he had debated. Wells noted: “As he got older, [Ayer] realized more and more that philosophy was just chasing its own tail.”

    And this implies what? That NDE’s are veridical experiences? That realizing one’s mortality can transform an individual dramatically? That there are certain brain states that can have powerful influences upon the rest of one’s personality?

    And it doesn’t take an NDE to realize that philosophy is often “chasing its own tail”. ;)

  10. dguller says:

    cl:

    >> Note that neither myself nor anyone I’m aware of is “building a metaphysical system” from them. Rather, quite the contrary: researchers are comparing these events to known metaphysical systems, and finding that the evidence is stacking up against naturalist / atheist / reductionist theories of consciousness.

    There you go again. There are a huge number of controlled studies that demonstrate that the mind is generated by the brain-body-environment interaction, and is capable of feeding back into the body-environment via the brain. I will even grant you that there are a number of anecdotal studies that seem to support immaterial consciousness, but you cannot privilege anecdotal studies when there are higher quality studies available. You must look at the TOTALITY of evidence, especially high quality evidence, and then see where the genuine effect likely lies.

    I mean, just because there are some people who swear by homeopathic remedies as effective, the fact remains that not only do these remedies violate all of physics, chemistry and biology, but they also do not work, according rigorous studies and meta-analyses.

    >> I appreciate your candor, and would note that several qualified scientists who have spent serious time in research find NDE studies compelling [cf. Sabom, Parnia, van Lommel]. In many cases, these scientists began as skeptics. Of course, you can find scientists who use more or less the same lines of objection you proffer [cf. Blackmore, Persinger] Still, I find your above statement more refreshing than your previous line of objections, which, quite honestly, struck me as mere denialism sans an impartial evaluation of the evidence.

    It is not just a matter of how many scientists support or oppose this matter, but the quality of the evidence. There is a hierarchy of evidence in science where well controlled studies will trump uncontrolled studies, which will trump anecdotes, because the lower in the hierarchy you go, the more likely it is that bias, confounding and chance will distort the evidence in an erroneous direction. So, if there are controlled studies available, then cite them.

    >> BTW, on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being “cursory investigation [i.e. less than 5 hours of legitimate study]” and 10 being “substantial investigation [i.e. 50 hours or more of legitimate study],” how would you rate your own exposure to the evidence?

    1 or 2, probably.

    >> Well, perhaps I have my answer to the above question! This is false. Do you have your own definition of “controlled study” that I should be aware of?

    A controlled study is one in which confounding factors are addressed and manipulated either experimentally or statistically to isolate the causal variable in question to determine its influence upon some outcome variable. This can be done by randomizing subjects, by blinding investigators and subjects, by using standardized measurements, by determining a variety of possibly confounding factors in addition to the variable of interest, and so on. The point is to recognize that there are many possible causal explanations of some observed phenomenon, and if you want to know if one, in particular, is mostly responsible, then you have to rule out the others as contributory.

    >> To me, this implied the argument that all such experiences can be attributed to sub-optimal brain function. Is that not what you meant?

    Yes, I did imply that it can be attributed to underlying neurobiological pathways. I mean, when someone loses a limb, and still experiences a phantom limb, do you infer that there is an immaterial limb that they are contacting in another realm? And when someone is hallucinating something that no-one else can see, then they are contacting a spiritual realm and should be taken seriously? And when someone experiences a third limb, then they really do have another limb somewhere? I mean, come on. In all these cases, you would not say that, I hope. You would recognize that their brains have become dysfunctional, and are generating experiences that are non-veridical, but subjectively real.

  11. cl says:

    dguller,

    And this implies what?

    Nothing beyond what was said.

    You must look at the TOTALITY of evidence, especially high quality evidence, and then see where the genuine effect likely lies.

    Yes, I agree. That’s why I think you need to expand your parameters a bit here. After all, you admitted that you were “fairly new” to these types of things, and you make comment after comment that seems to confirm this, e.g., that there are no controlled studies on the topic.

    So, if there are controlled studies available, then cite them.

    No offense, but for Pete’s sake Google around a little bit! I’m taking the time to work up an entire post basically for you. For you to keep making demands like this is really counterproductive and suggests that you aren’t very willing to do your own research. Again, no offense, but it’s not my responsibility to get you up to speed on the available literature. Personally, I’d say you should be familiarizing yourself with the available literature so you’ll be better equipped to respond to my post. I’ve tossed you bone after bone here, at some point you’re going to have to roll up your sleeves and get dirty. There are existing studies that employ the principles of “control” you cite. Seek, and ye shall find. If not, trust me, I’ll have citations in my post.

    And when someone is hallucinating something that no-one else can see, then they are contacting a spiritual realm and should be taken seriously?

    Though I believe you mean well, every time you ask such questions I can’t help but chuckle. The hallmark identifying feature of hallucination is an internal event with no correspondence to external reality. If you wish to imply this can account for NDE categorically, like I said, you need to do your homework. This is simply false.

    Please don’t take any of this the wrong way, either. If I come across as harsh, it’s because I feel the need to reiterate certain points that I think you’re neglecting, not because I’ve got anything personal against you. Like I said before, I enjoy the banter, and you’ve encouraged me to do better. I hope you can say the same. :)

  12. dguller says:

    cl:

    >> There are existing studies that employ the principles of “control” you cite. Seek, and ye shall find. If not, trust me, I’ll have citations in my post.

    I tried to find some by googling “controlled study” and “out of body experience” or “near death experience”, and nothing useful came up. I also tried to look in PubMed, and came up empty. I guess I’ll wait for your post, but remember anecdotal studies and case reports are not what I am looking for. If that is all you have, then I’m afraid that it is entirely inconclusive.

    >> Though I believe you mean well, every time you ask such questions I can’t help but chuckle. The hallmark identifying feature of hallucination is an internal event with no correspondence to external reality. If you wish to imply this can account for NDE categorically, like I said, you need to do your homework. This is simply false.

    I note that you ignored my comments about phantom limbs. I mentioned this phenomenon, because you are assuming that if someone has a conscious experience of X that seems veridical, then it must be because X exists. My example of a phantom limb, and even the blind spot in our vision, refutes this principle, because one can have vivid subjective experiences of something that does not exist in reality, but is generated exclusively by the brain.

    Applying this to OBE’s, for example, one has the conscious experience of floating outside of one’s body, and therefore, one must be out of one’s body. The experience itself does not justify this inference, because it would rely upon the debunking major premise above. The only way for this to be valid is for evidence other than the mere subjective experience of disembodiment to be provided.

    I suppose we’ll see what you have in your upcoming post.

    And don’t worry. I don’t take offence easily, and am enjoying our discussion very much.

  13. cl says:

    dguller,

    I note that you ignored my comments about phantom limbs.

    I didn’t ignore them. I simply didn’t feel they merited a response. You wrote:

    I mentioned this phenomenon, because you are assuming that if someone has a conscious experience of X that seems veridical, then it must be because X exists.

    That is not what I’m assuming. I am reasoning that–if everything the reductionist school teaches is true–clinically dead individuals with flat EEG should not have vivid, third-person recollection of events, much less ones corroborated by others present. The person with phantom limb syndrome experiences something that others cannot corroborate, i.e., something non-veridical. The people I allude to have veridical experiences confirmed by others. The two situations are not categorically equivalent.

    …one can have vivid subjective experiences of something that does not exist in reality, but is generated exclusively by the brain.

    I agree. The problem is, those I allude to had experiences that did exist in reality, as confirmed by others present. Worlds apart.

    The only way for this to be valid is for evidence other than the mere subjective experience of disembodiment to be provided.

    Correct, and, such evidence exists in the literature. Have you looked at the Lancet study yet? I link to it here. Of course, it’s but one in an arsenal of several.

    …don’t worry. I don’t take offence easily, and am enjoying our discussion very much.

    Cool, same here. Just treading softly. :)

  14. dguller says:

    cl:

    >> That is not what I’m assuming. I am reasoning that–if everything the reductionist school teaches is true–clinically dead individuals with flat EEG should not have vivid, third-person recollection of events, much less ones corroborated by others present.

    Why not?

    First, a flat EEG only refers to the superficial layer of the cortex, and not to the deeper cortex or subcortical structures, which may be active during that time.

    Second, those people are asked retrospectively to reconstruct their experience, and thus are prone to all the vagaries of memory modification. This includes the possibility that they unconsciously heard remarks by those around them while they were unconscious, or even heard remarks by those around them after they awoke, but forgot that they heard them, and subsequently integrated that information into their memories of the events in question.

    >> The person with phantom limb syndrome experiences something that others cannot corroborate, i.e., something non-veridical. The people I allude to have veridical experiences confirmed by others. The two situations are not categorically equivalent.

    You are assuming that the only way someone can incorporate new information is if one is conscious during the time of information input. This is not necessarily true. Certainly, our brains continue to scan the environment while we are unconscious, which is why we awake when startled by a noise.

    >> Correct, and, such evidence exists in the literature. Have you looked at the Lancet study yet? I link to it here. Of course, it’s but one in an arsenal of several.

    The van Lommel study is certainly interesting, and is far better than the anecdotal case studies that you have cited on previous posts. However, it should also be taken with a grain of salt.

    First, the patients were declared clinically dead on the basis of ECG results. There were no EEG or other brain imaging results included. Therefore, it is hard to conclude the status of the patients’ brains at the time of the NDE’s.

    Second, as I mentioned above, EEG typically can detect electrical activity in the outer 50% of the cortex, and is poorly able to detect electrical activity in the inner 50% of the cortex and the subcortical structures. So, even if an EEG was negative, then it would be useless in determining whether any subcortical activity was occurring, for example. Functional imaging would be far more useful to determine whether the brain has ceased to function altogether.

    Third, as French points out in his commentary on the study in Lancet 2001(358):2010, the study does not attempt to rule out some important causal factors regarding “why people may sometimes seem to accurately describe events occurring during their NDEs. These include ‘information available at the time, prior knowledge, fantasy or dreams, lucky guesses, and information from the remaining senses. Then there is selective memory for correct details, incorporation of details learned between the NDE and giving an account of it, and the tendency to tell a good story’.” None of these were controlled for in the study, thus diluting its conclusions.

    Hopefully, other studies were designed to control for these factors. If not, then the same criticisms will apply.

  15. dguller says:

    cl:

    And remember, the studies that you cite have to show that individuals with NDE and OBE have acquired information during a time of brain death that they could not have possibly acquired while their brains were still active, either before their brains ceased to function or after they returned to functionality.

    That is what would be necessary to provide compelling evidence of immaterial consciousness.

  16. cl says:

    dguller,

    When there is a conflict between the expected unity between our felt positional sense and our visual perception, then our brain fills in the missing details by generating an experience where we are floating above our bodies.

    …and down the halls, and to other countries, and to Jupiter, too? Where’s the evidence for this claim? Was this evidence controlled for confounders and bias? Was it replicated? If so, will you cite it? If not, will you relent of such assertion?

    Note that I am not saying that veridical OBE’s and NDE’s are actually false. I am saying that there is currently insufficient evidence above anecdotes to justify my belief in them.

    Elsewhere, you said the Lancet was “well above” anecdote. It would seem to me that this is a different position than you held when we began, albeit only a minor step in my direction.

    You are assuming that the only way someone can incorporate new information is if one is conscious during the time of information input.

    No, I’m not. I’m assuming the only way someone can incorporate new information is with a brain that is not clinically dead. I’m following the rules the reductionist / materialist / eliminativist have established.

    …as French points out in his commentary on the study in Lancet 2001(358):2010, the study does not attempt to rule out some important causal factors regarding “why people may sometimes seem to accurately describe events occurring during their NDEs. These include ‘information available at the time, prior knowledge, fantasy or dreams, lucky guesses, and information from the remaining senses.

    Of course, this doesn’t apply across-the-board, which is why I object to you using it as an across-the-board response. What about the cases where this doesn’t apply? What about the missing dentures?

    …the studies that you cite have to show that individuals with NDE and OBE have acquired information during a time of brain death that they could not have possibly acquired while their brains were still active, either before their brains ceased to function or after they returned to functionality.

    Give me your physiological definition of a dead brain, and I will find you cases that conform. Please be specific so we have a firmly cemented goalpost.

  17. dguller says:

    cl:

    >> …and down the halls, and to other countries, and to Jupiter, too? Where’s the evidence for this claim? Was this evidence controlled for confounders and bias? Was it replicated? If so, will you cite it? If not, will you relent of such assertion?

    Read the work of Olaf Blanke, for example. He has found that by stimulating the right temporo-parietal junction (TPJ) that one can induce OBE-like experiences. This was found by studying epileptic patients with foci in the TPJ, lesions in the TPJ, and direct stimulation. As a control, they would stimulate other areas of the brain, and could not induce the OBE-like experience. This all makes sense, because the TPJ is a multi-sensory integration area of the brain. They were also able to generate OBE’s using virtual reality to confuse the brain’s processing of information by providing visual information that conflicted with their felt sense of bodily location.

    >> No, I’m not. I’m assuming the only way someone can incorporate new information is with a brain that is not clinically dead. I’m following the rules the reductionist / materialist / eliminativist have established.

    In none of the evidence that you cited was the person dead. It just isn’t enough to have someone with a flat ECG, because the brain is still active afterwards for some time. The best evidence would include EEG readings, at least, even though these are also insufficient as I pointed out earlier, and ideally functional neuroimaging to demonstrate the lack of brain activity, even in the deeper regions of the brain.

    >> Of course, this doesn’t apply across-the-board, which is why I object to you using it as an across-the-board response. What about the cases where this doesn’t apply? What about the missing dentures?

    With regards to the dentures, all that happened was that the man seemed to know where his dentures were a week after being resuscitated. The article did not state that no-one had spoken about the dentures or where they were. Perhaps the doctor described what he was doing with the dentures during the procedure. Again, just because the patient was unconscious does not mean that no sensory information was coming into his brain. Furthermore, the patient informed the doctor about where his dentures were a week after being resuscitated. Is it impossible that during the whole week, the patient never overheard any information about her dentures, or maybe overheard what happened to the dentures of other patients, and then inferred where his were? All of this is suggestive, but not compelling, especially given what we know about the malleability of our memories and their liability to be unconsciously influenced by other factors.

    >> Give me your physiological definition of a dead brain, and I will find you cases that conform. Please be specific so we have a firmly cemented goalpost.

    At the very least, flat EEG, and ideally, functional imaging that showed no brain activity.

  18. cl says:

    dguller,

    Read the work of Olaf Blanke, for example. He has found that by stimulating the right temporo-parietal junction (TPJ) … blah blah blah … They were also able to generate OBE’s using virtual reality … blah blah blah

    Been there, done that. You’re apparently ignoring what I’ve given you again, and, for the reasons stated here, I’m taking a break. Although, one thing:

    At the very least, flat EEG, and ideally, functional imaging that showed no brain activity.

    A good start, but that’s not specific enough for me. If you would care to elaborate, I’m glad to oblige.

  19. dguller says:

    cl:

    >> Been there, done that. You’re apparently ignoring what I’ve given you again, and, for the reasons stated here, I’m taking a break.

    You asked for empirical studies that show that NDE’s are secondary to brain changes, which means that they are not evidence of consciousness independent of the brain. I cited the work of Blanke, which actually manipulates the TPJ and generates NDE-like experiences in his subjects. Furthermore, by manipulating and confusing the senses, he generates NDE-like experiences, as well, which indicates that disrupting the multi-sensory integration in the TPJ can result in NDE’s.

    And your comment that you linked to does not address these points at all, except to say that you agree that changing the brain can change conscious states. And that is fine, except that I am proposing that NDE’s are secondary to changes in the brain that likely occur near death, and have provided empirical evidence of this.

    You have replied that NDE’s are NOT generated by the brain at all. Instead, they are real evidence that consciousness leaves the brain and can still perceive the world without using any of the bodily senses. I find this perplexing, because I cannot understand how consciousness can see anything without any eyes, or hear anything without any ears? Furthermore, what you have cited are possibly affected by multiple confounds that were not controlled for, and thus cannot be treated as definitive, at least if we are using well-accepted scientific epistemic standards.

    So, we have “been there” and “done that”, but I don’t think the “there” and “that” are what you think.

    >> A good start, but that’s not specific enough for me. If you would care to elaborate, I’m glad to oblige.

    Sure. I would like to see a flat EEG and a functional MRI that demonstrates no cerebral blood flow anywhere in the brain. That would be a rigorous demonstration of brain death, I think.

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