Anesthesiologist and sceptic Gerald Woerlee has had a go at Chris Carter's book on near-death experiences at Subversive Thinking, and Carter has made an extensive reply. It makes interesting reading.
Woerlee stoops from a great height to put poor Carter in his place. 'Imprecise and sloppy' statements; 'same tired old and discredited arguments'; 'disturbing points ... totally destroy the pretence of any scientific credibility'. Carter's discussion of quantum mechanics provokes in him a 'weary sigh'. Other knowledgeable physicists struggle to suppress 'impolite hysterical laughter' at such ideas. Etcetera and so on.
Why do sceptics talk like this? What makes them so superior?
On QM, Carter responds:
In my chapter I discuss the famous interpretation of quantum mechanics developed by mathematician John von Neumann and physicist Eugene Wigner. Von Neumann was one of the most important intellectual figures of the twentieth century, and his friend Eugene Wigner was awarded the Nobel prize for his work in physics. In my book I argue that this theory is by far the most rigorous and logical interpretation of the quantum facts. The von Neumann/Wigner interpretation makes quantum mechanics an inherently dualistic theory - that is, it requires the existence and action of a non-physical mind - and the several respected academic physicists that I quote in support of this interpretation do not seem to be "suppressing hysterical laughter."
Returning to the Pam Reynolds case, which he has persistently tried to debunk, Woerlee continues to insist that a patient showing no responses to 100 decibel clicks in her ears could nevertheless hear sufficiently in order to fabricate the content of a suppose out-of-body experience. Carter is surely right to call this 'desperate'. Woerlee's next observation is quite remarkable:
...the report of Pam Reynolds clearly tells us she could hear. She awoke to the sound of a "natural D". Pam was a musician, and many such persons have natural pitch. So by saying it was a "natural D", she meant a sound with a frequency of 293.6, or 587.3 Hertz. This fact together with the stimulus parameters reveals how she could hear the sounds of speech etc (I will write an article on this for the JNDS if they are interested).
If I understand this correctly - and someone please tell me he's not being this obtuse - Woerlee is using a paranormal element of Pam's paranormal out-of-body experience - a paranormal sensibility, in other words - to support his contention that no paranormal event occurred.
Another remark caught my eye:
Chris Carter ends the description of another seemingly remarkable case study with the words: "The skeptic must say that the dying person telepathically or clairvoyantly gains true information about a recently deceased friend or relative, ..." I find this a remarkable statement. A skeptic with even a basic knowledge of body structure and function also rejects belief in telepathy and clairvoyance. These are paranormal sensory abilities which the experiences of the blind, the deaf, and gambling casinos teach us simply do not exist.
I'll let Carter do the honours on that one. In my view his response is an excellent job.