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Eben Alexander is a neurosurgeon who taught and practiced at several prestigious hospitals and medical schools, including Brigham and Women’s and Harvard.It was Alexander who really upped the scientific stakes.And it makes them a lens through which to peer at the workings of consciousness—one of the great mysteries of human existence, even for the most resolute materialist.Which is how I found myself last summer in Newport Beach, California, at the annual conference of the International Association for Near-Death Studies (, which has been a formal organization since 1981.
Mary Neal was, a few years before her NDE, the director of spinal surgery at the University of Southern California (she is now in private practice).
I wanted to know: What makes a person start believing that he has truly seen the other side?
Why does one person’s other side look so similar to so many other people’s?
All of this makes NDEs perhaps the only spiritual experience that we have a chance of investigating in a truly thorough, scientific way.
It makes them a vehicle for exploring the ancient human belief that we are more than meat.