April 07, 2010
Carbon Dioxide Causes Near Death Experiences?

If CO2 opens the gates to the afterlife then will rising atmospheric CO2 cause some people pass over to the other side? I'm just asking.

Near death experiences (NDEs), reported to include sensations such as life flashing before the eyes, feelings of peace and joy, and apparent encounters with mystical entities, may be caused by raised levels of carbon dioxide in the blood. Researchers writing in BioMed Central's open access journal Critical Care investigated the unexplained events in 52 cardiac arrest patients.

Zalika Klemenc-Ketis worked with a team of researchers from the University of Maribor, Slovenia, to examine patients who reported NDEs. She said, "Several theories explaining the mechanisms of NDEs exist. We found that in those patients who experienced the phenomenon, blood carbon dioxide levels were significantly higher than in those who did not".

Of the 52 patients, 11 reported NDEs. Their occurrence did not correlate with patients' sex, age, level of education, religious belief, fear of death, time to recovery or drugs given during resuscitation. They were more common in people who had previously experienced NDEs. According to Klemenc-Ketis, "Our study adds new and important information to the field of NDE phenomena. The association with carbon dioxide has never been reported before, and deserves further study".

Now, I just know some of you reductionist scientific rationalists are going to say that CO2 causes hallucinations. But what's the fun in that? If CO2 causes the mind to merge with the spirit realm then burning coal could be the path to spiritual enlightenment. Think about it.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2010 April 07 11:07 PM  Brain Spirituality

Cartesian said at April 8, 2010 2:34 AM:

Burning coal is may be not so much a problem, but for spiritual enlightment, I Prefer the “Theologico-Political Treatise” by Spinoza :) . Because metaphors are better than hallucinations.

auntulna said at April 8, 2010 6:40 AM:

I think group sessions of breathing into a paper bag would be a cheap way to "go there", and be back for supper.

Martin said at April 8, 2010 6:52 AM:

LSD also causes hallucinations and may lead to spiritual enlightenment, but that doesn't mean we should pump tons of it into the atmosphere. There's a place for everything. Luckily, the US military's attempts to aerosolize LSD in the 1950s were unsuccessful.

kurt9 said at April 8, 2010 8:53 AM:

Psilocybin is supposed to be better than LSD for spiritual enlightenment.

PacRim Jim said at April 8, 2010 9:27 AM:

Whence this silly notion that the Earth should be "frozen" as is? To deny change is to deny evolution. I say, change away and I'll try to adapt.

LarryD said at April 8, 2010 9:50 AM:

Human tolerance for CO2:

at 1% (10,000 ppm) some people will feel drowsy. This is 25 times the current atmospheric level. During the last 200 million years, CO2 levels in the atmosphere have usually been above this. (GEOCARB III)

Actually toxicity starts at 5%.

Bob453 said at April 9, 2010 11:27 AM:

Like most "news" of this sort, it confuses correlation with causality.

Charlie said at April 9, 2010 12:14 PM:

We actually do need more CO2 in the atmosphere, a bunch more of it. It is, after all, food for plants. They take the carbon to grow with and give us back the oxygen.

Experimental greenhouses indicate that carbon-dioxide concentrations of 5,000 to 15,000 ppm are optimum for lush plant growth. At 5K ppm, we begin to detect the presence of CO2 as stale air. The first health impacts are felt at around 10K ppm, as Larry D mentioned, with irreversible damage possibly occurring with long-term exposure at 15K and above.

Far from causing heat, previous epochs with high carbon dioxide (say, about triple today's concentration) had temperatures described as balmy, lacking tropical heat. Imagine San Diego weather and flora stretching from the equator to not all that far from the arctic circle.

So, yeah, carbon! Good for our green friends, good for the climate, good for the soul. Drill, baby, drill. Burn, baby, burn.

Randall Parker said at April 9, 2010 8:11 PM:


Regarding causation and correlation: Exactly right.

A more likely interpretation is that someone's soul departs their body for the spirit realm and therefore the soul isn't there to tell the body to breathe. Then CO2 accumulates. Eventually the body sends a signal to the soul to come back and get that CO2 down.


Got any links for how 15,000 ppm CO2 boosts plant growth? My expectation is that some other factor will become the Liebig Minimum long before that.

My (admittedly limited) understanding of the Permian Extinction 250 million years ago suggests that very high CO2 is going to cut down on the total amount of life on the Earth. The acidification of the oceans will cause massive die-offs.

Joe K. said at April 11, 2010 12:41 AM:

Great post Randall - LOL and forwarded the link to a few friends.

I imagine that if humans push the CO2 in the atmosphere high enough most of humanity's souls will be departing their bodies prematurely with no return ticket.

Randall Parker said at April 11, 2010 11:54 AM:

Joe K.,

Maybe everyone burns fossil fuels as a sort of unstated death wish. That would explain why people drive sports cars at high speed too. They are trying to give their souls some momentum to fling out into the spiritual world.

Anonymous said at April 12, 2010 9:50 PM:

have the scientists thought about relating the fact that CO2 will build up when you are DEAD!!! if you stop breathing oxygen guess what builds up? that's right, CO2- to me, their study confirmed proof of NDE. They count on people being stupid.

Henry said at January 23, 2012 1:04 PM:

Burning coal is may be not so much a problem, but for spiritual enlightment, I Prefer the “Theologico-Political Treatise” by Spinoza :) . Because metaphors are better than hallucinations.

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