The “Faux.B.E” Experience: Pseudo-OBE studies grab the headlines, again

Readers of this blog may have seen headlines like "Heartbeat used to generate out-of-body experience" in major international media. Once again, closer inspection reveals that this study too is not at all about the out-of-body experience. Some see foul play in this, as an intentional act of misinformation to back up a status quo agenda. We do not have grounds for this type of accusation, but it certainly demonstrates that the researchers and the media that propagate this misleading information clearly do not know what the OBE is about, because of their lack of personal experiences and the resulting lack of interest in reading the rich bibliography on the subject. One of our foundational works,Projectiology by Waldo Vieira, MD, has over 1000 pages and has a bibliography of nearly 2000 works.

Anyone with modest interest (or with personal experience) would realize that the OBE has a rich phenomenological complex and that isolating one or two aspects alone in a laboratory while people are physically awake and even standing, is not the same as having the distinct sensation of exiting the physical body, floating through the ceiling, feeling that one is in a completely different place, seeing in 360-degrees, floating, feeling light, not having to breathe, observing that our "para-arms" are luminous and translucent, and having telepathic exchange with someone else who is projected in the same environment, and later comparing notes with them and realizing that certain unlikely facts can even be corroborated.

Before this study, there was the study with virtual reality, where one saw his or her own body projected a few feet in front of them with virtual reality goggles, and somehow this was hailed as the first time the OBE was produced in a lab and that this implied that the OBE was a figment of our imagination. Firstly, this was not an OBE. Furthermore, the first known laboratorial study on OBE was performed by Dr Charles Tart at the University of California - Davis decades ago. And the fact that it was induced in a laboratory or even via some kind of physical or physiological trigger does not logically render the ensuing experience as illusory. If this is not clear, again, this is a result of epistemological or metaphysical bias, itself a result of a lack of direct, personal muldimensional experiences.

The current study, which combines the previous techniques with a pulsating "aura" or "halo" effect regulated by one's heart beat demonstrated that people identify with this external image stronger when it not only looks like them, moves in a mirrored way, and flashes in accordance to an internal sensation. The New Scientist article that covered the story quotes that the Philosopher Thomas Metzinger of the Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany, who studies the sense of self, is impressed by the experiment because "it tells us that human self-consciousness is anchored in interoception in a much stronger way than people have acknowledged before." While this is a very curious and inventive study and we can learn from it, it is not the creation of the out-of-body experience in a laboratory, else the person would not be standing, moving, awake, and would not require technology to create the illusions.

We have, at least, moved forward from the time the out-of-body experience was stigmatized as a pathological state. Today, it is largely considered a harmless, naturally-occurring altered state that 10 to 20% of the world experiences at least once in their life time. However, more and more people are recognizing the real pathology which underpins the suffering of millions and the ongoing dessimation of our life-sustaining planet: materialism.

The famous Canadian documentary The Corporation diagnoses the typical behavior of this "legal person" as essentially that of a sociopath. This pathology stems from an ill, limited, distorted view of self and of the whole of reality. Where there is life, materialism sees things, resources. Where there is spirit or consciousness, it sees illusion. Where there is meaning, it sees coincidence. Where there is service, it sees power. Where there is wonder, it sees fear. Indeed, multidimensional perception is not illusion, it is not illness: through its paradigm-shifting effects, it is the cure.

Nelson Abreu
Los Angeles
IAC California

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