About MD Long’s book: Evidence of the Afterlife and why I almost certainly won’t buy it …
MD Jeffrey Long (Medicinæ doctor) is a chubby kind-of-friendly next-door-nice-neighbor like doctor. His wife’s name is Jody Long. He’s a Physician in the medical sense of the term and she’s an assistant attorney in New Mexico. Jeffrey practices radiation oncology in Houma, Louisiana. They have a very popular website called Near Death Experiences (NDE). This explains why the sub-title of Long’s recent book (Evidence of the Afterlife) is: The science of Near Death Experiences. Jody helped Jeffrey in writing the book. Jody also creates jewelry she dubs “spiritual necklaces” and advertises it on the website. They both head the Near Death Experience Research Foundation (NDERF). They have a dog practically the size of Jody. Recently, Jeffrey gave an interview to the Times magazine. Its title was the question our species has been asking itself since forever: Is there life after death? Jeffrey knows the answer.
I’m going to be honest – I owe this to the man, he seems honest too: Reading the article, I was skeptical to say the least. That is because I doubted that our man Jeffrey could pull it off. He did however: He sounded smart, coherent and even convinced me of visiting his website and reading one of the NDE testimonies: Louise, a nurse who had problems after a miscarriage and had to go to the hospital. She says she left her body for a moment and saw everything from outside only to come back in when she heard the nurse asking her what were the names of her two daughters.
I believe Louise: Considering the possibilities stands for more than the unwillingness to believe. That last sentence is actually mine. Several inquiries into the nature of metaphysics led me to it. Condemning possibilities limits our comprehension of life because life is a mesh of possibilities. That is why I kept reading Jeffrey’s interview. And though doubts remain, it is the questions they spur that make it worth the hustle.
Of course, Jeffrey tries to infuse credibility into NDEs for if they weren’t credible, his book would be good for fire wood. According to him, the fact that 20 skeptical theories try to frame that event makes it inexplicable scientifically. If it was, there would be one left. Unfortunately for Jeffrey, that logic is the weak link of the scientific reasoning: Thousands of theories tried to explain matter and atoms before the Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) was invented. Today one is left. Hard to explain or to comprehend does not mean inexplicable. But although that puts a dent in his logic, it doesn’t break the whole edifice. Something else does.
When asked whether comparing what happens during near-death experiences to what would happen in life after death was like comparing apples to oranges, Jeffrey says … no. The next best thing to interviewing a dead person according to him is a person that went through the same conditions (cardiac arrest, absence of brain function …) and then came back to life. So Jeffrey first says NDEs are inexplicable then argues we can use them to better understand death. As if the two were comparable because they are inexplicable. That is the point where I need to disagree not only with that confirmation fallacy the man seems to suffer from, when it comes to his research, but mainly with the insult that is made to life.
What on earth gives Mister Long the necessary wisdom to say that Near Death tells us a lot about death? What if Louise’s veridical yet short-lived trip out of her body was an event only the living can experience? Can you guaranty that the day I die, I will float at seven feet from my body, look at it one last time, and head to God knows where? What if Louise’s detached consciousness disappeared if she had been really dead? What if Final Death has different rules than from Near Death?
The essence of what I consider Life to be is mystery: Too complex to understand, too big to embrace, too subtle to apprehend. So when a doctor tells me that the best way to see what a dead person would feel like is to talk to a temporarily dead person, I can’t help thinking about a mechanic that would patch up my busted car then ask me to come back in a week so he better understands why it went bust in the first place. But mechanics don’t do that. It’s absurd. When a car goes bust for good, it just is. You don’t give it a fix and see what led to its jam in the first place.
You can’t experiment with death. There is no simulation, no in-vitro approach. Death is final. Near death isn’t Death. Most probably, it’s nothing like Death. Death is at the antipodes of Life. It is an epiphenomenon with the same weight in the balance (or constant imbalance) that makes up the world. So it is just as heavy a notion as Life is. Just as incomprehensible, in-dissectible. It’s a take it or leave it fact. You can’t cut it up into pieces and study it as if you were studying the stages of the reaction of bananas and sulfuric acid.
Death is the most certain thing we have. It is our most profound conviction, our darkest asset as human beings. Yet we are completely uncertain as to when death occurs. Stating that the greatest paradox of a human’s existence, his certain uncertainty, lies in a nearly comparable event he might experience during his lifetime is scornful to every matrix, every grain of dust, every gene, every cell, every atom, every sub-particle … every unknown, unknowable detail which intricacy make up the cruel and beautiful body of the tambourine of existence whose eternal sound keeps us worried and alive.