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View Full Version : On Death and Dying, is there a "Rally" before Death?


skepticdoc
21st April 2007, 07:37 AM
It is a common belief/perception among Physicians and Nurses that in many terminally ill patients, there is a brief period of clinical, well being improvement shortly before death.

I just had an octogenarian with multiple problems (COPD, Cardiomyopathy, ESRD, PVD) that refused mechanical ventilation, hemodialysis and tube feedings. As expected, he continued to deteriorate, hung around until his only available relative came from a neighboring state. The day before expiring, he "perked up" slightly (smiled briefly, gestured he was not in pain).

I had started a thread in the Skepticalcommunity.com : http://skepticalcommunity.com/phpbb2/viewtopic.php?p=242655&highlight=#242655 that has some bearing on this topic.

My question is: if Consciousness is just the product of neurons interacting, why would there be any improvement in consciousness as the body continues to deteriorate? My mechanistic interpretation would be that all bodily functions are directly related to the cellular milieu, as the machine slows down, everything should slow down.

Please post or PM any responses, opinions. I will post this in other forums to get opinions from other skeptics and also believers.

athon
21st April 2007, 08:43 AM
Huh?

Ok, first, there needs to be some demonstration that there really is a common phenomena of an 'improvement before death' in contrast to preceding state of mind. Selective hear-say is kind of useless.

Secondly, even if it is demonstrated that an improvement in the state of mind occurs in a statistically significant number of patients in the 24 hours proceding death, why immediately think this would indicate some non-materialistic source of consciousness? Why wouldn't the body respond to some form of senescence with a change in neurochemistry?

I've got no answers here, but before you leap ahead in speculation, it pays to have some facts to work with first.

Athon

Lisa Simpson
21st April 2007, 08:50 AM
In addition to Athon's comment - what counts as "rallying"? How much improvement? My friend that died last October, she slipped in unconsciousness late on a Monday night, then regained consciousness long enough on Tuesday to say "I don't want to die." Then she went under again and died a couple hours later. Does that count?

skepticdoc
21st April 2007, 08:56 AM
In addition to Athon's comment - what counts as "rallying"? How much improvement? My friend that died last October, she slipped in unconsciousness late on a Monday night, then regained consciousness long enough on Tuesday to say "I don't want to die." Then she went under again and died a couple hours later. Does that count?

What is your opinion? Does it count?

How do you explain your friend's course?

athon
21st April 2007, 09:05 AM
No offence, doc, but do you have something to say on the matter? Excuse me for being somewhat cynical, but we get a fair share of people who express things that are 'interesting', stopping short of making a claim about something, yet doing their best to argue it nonetheless.

It's frustrating having a non-topic. Personally, I don't think there's anything to discuss here; you think that some people appear to be a little perkier in the hours leading up to their death. Without anything substantiating the apparent observation, it is meaningless speculation.

So, more importantly, what is your view?

Athon

Lisa Simpson
21st April 2007, 09:41 AM
What is your opinion? Does it count?

How do you explain your friend's course?

You are the one who brought up the topic, not me. I think it is you who should be answering.

Jimbo07
21st April 2007, 11:02 AM
It is a common belief/perception among Physicians and Nurses that in many terminally ill patients, there is a brief period of clinical, well being improvement shortly before death.


In addition to Athon's comment - what counts as "rallying"? How much improvement? My friend that died last October, she slipped in unconsciousness late on a Monday night, then regained consciousness long enough on Tuesday to say "I don't want to die." Then she went under again and died a couple hours later. Does that count?

Okay.

I feel sorry for your loss. My grandfather died this January. In his case, he bounced up and down for a long time. My question to skepticdoc...

Do you really expect them to rally after they die? If you honestly don't, then you are possibly guilty of 'selective reporting.' Before getting numbers and checking the facts (that is, the observations for the experiment), my conjecture is that there would be 'rallies' before death, possibly as part of a longer rally-degradation cycle. Even when the timing is short, I could conceive a one-off that uses the last strength a person has. (Of course, then we would have to discuss what, technically, I mean by 'having strength')

skepticdoc
21st April 2007, 11:42 AM
How many of the respondents read the posts in the Skepticalcommunity thread?

The actual word "Rally" was used by the Social Worker and the Hospice Nurse that took care of my patient.

I am agnostic in every sense, like Darwin (according to Prof. Dawkins).

I am trying hard not to bring any bias, I am asking for comments, opinions.

I really don't know what is the correct scientific assessment, social issues, let alone spiritual concerns, are perhaps too complicated to analyze scientifically. I have read Shermer's trilogy, at the end it is only opinions, you pick and choose what you want to believe or not.

The issue in this segment of the Forum is medical-scientific, do some people really delay dying until some relevant family or social event is concluded? What would be the physico-chemical explanation?

The other parallel issues belong in the Religion section, one of our friendly moderators could copy the thread to that section and then let that discussion develop. In this section I am looking for facts, if any exist.

kerikiwi
21st April 2007, 02:08 PM
Without any reliably gathered statistics to suggest otherwise, I am confident in answering this question
" do some people really delay dying until some relevant family or social event is concluded?"
with an emphatic NO. No need for a physico-chemical explanation.
What does happen is that sometimes people die after a relevant family or social event is concluded, some die before it starts and some die in the middle of it. Some don't die at all, before, during or after the social event.
Similarly when people survive some severe illness or trauma, credit is sometimes given to their being 'strong' or 'fighters'. It's a tautology: being a battler prevents death, failing to die means you are a battler.

l0rca
21st April 2007, 02:10 PM
Everyone who has responded in this thread so far has asked you to give your opinion in the matter. Perhaps you have some sort of censorship on your web browser, and didn't notice that, or maybe you're not reading. We're not really interested in gathering the facts for you. My own opinion is that this idea of "rallying" in the sense of "consciousness in-itself trying to save the brain" is silly. I think the only observes "rallies" will be almost entirely because of physiological effects, which can probably be found to strongly correlate to the form of death involved.

Do you have any opinion at all? Or at least, where do you stand at the moment?

Soapy Sam
21st April 2007, 02:19 PM
It's widely believed that most serious skiing accidents occur on the last run of the day...

Why is something missing always in the last place you look?

Why do people rally just before they die?

Do these questions have something in common? I don't know if they do or not. The answer to the OP may be a simple misperception. It may be an urban myth.
If there truly is an effect, I suspect the answer is simply willpower- given a narrowing of horizons and an appreciation of imminent death, the sufferer concentrates all remaining resources on one task.
I suspect there are also genuine shutdown mechanisms in a failing body- similar to the chill reflex that shuts down peripheral circulation in a freezing person, shunting heat and oxygen to internal organs. It seems feasible some similar process might desensitise a dying person to organic pain, and such brief respite may allow an apparent last rally. Pure speculation without medical data.

ETA- I'm often perplexed by how calm an animal may appear while being literally torn apart by predators. I have seen a zebra with two lionesses hanging from haunch and throat , simply stand there, apparently calmly, without struggle or call, till it bled to death. Is this a similar effect? Is it perhaps a mechanism related to shock?

SimonD
21st April 2007, 02:50 PM
In addition to Athon's comment - what counts as "rallying"? How much improvement? My friend that died last October, she slipped in unconsciousness late on a Monday night, then regained consciousness long enough on Tuesday to say "I don't want to die." Then she went under again and died a couple hours later. Does that count?

My mum died of cancer. She had been in coma for a few days, she 'woke up' smiled to everyone in the room, said good-bye and then died.

Don't know if this counts as 'rallying'. At the time I saw it as a miracle, but I'm sure that there is a rational explanation. Hope you find it.

Skeptic Ginger
21st April 2007, 03:06 PM
Well hi Skepticdoc. Long time no silly unsupported claims to address.

I've never heard of this supposed "common belief/perception" and I spent more than a few years as an ICU nurse. My experience was just the opposite. Either people deteriorated until they were comatose for days to weeks before dying, or they never seemed to recover and remained depressed until dying. Seems those folks who just continued to feel as if something was wrong were the ones who soon died.

I believe there is some evidence people die more often just after a birthday or holiday which some have suggested is possibly due to 'hanging on' until a goal of some kind then giving up. But I'd have to check if the studies I read on this in the past have been confirmed or refuted. See below, further evidence refutes earlier results.

Either way, as usual, you make some claim with no evidence whatsoever to back up if your underlying premise is even true, let alone any reason the suggested mechanism is correct. You need to start there, not pondering the reasons when you haven't even established the phenomena or mechanisms exist.

Skeptic Ginger
21st April 2007, 03:08 PM
My mum died of cancer. She had been in coma for a few days, she 'woke up' smiled to everyone in the room, said good-bye and then died.

Don't know if this counts as 'rallying'. At the time I saw it as a miracle, but I'm sure that there is a rational explanation. Hope you find it.That's a fascinating story. Have you ever looked into how common such events are?

Skeptic Ginger
21st April 2007, 03:12 PM
...
ETA- I'm often perplexed by how calm an animal may appear while being literally torn apart by predators. I have seen a zebra with two lionesses hanging from haunch and throat , simply stand there, apparently calmly, without struggle or call, till it bled to death. Is this a similar effect? Is it perhaps a mechanism related to shock?I believe there are two possible things here. One is the animal may be in shock. And the other is what you perceive as calm may be some kind of feigned death as a mechanism of escape. Stopping struggling would seem like a logical thing to do if struggling isn't likely to be successful. Perhaps predators sometimes let go a second or two too early when an animal quits struggling.

Skeptic Ginger
21st April 2007, 03:16 PM
Without any reliably gathered statistics to suggest otherwise, I am confident in answering this question
" do some people really delay dying until some relevant family or social event is concluded?"
with an emphatic NO. No need for a physico-chemical explanation.
What does happen is that sometimes people die after a relevant family or social event is concluded, some die before it starts and some die in the middle of it. Some don't die at all, before, during or after the social event.
....Now I'm curious to see because I do know this concept was supported by statistics in at least one study.

Similarly when people survive some severe illness or trauma, credit is sometimes given to their being 'strong' or 'fighters'. It's a tautology: being a battler prevents death, failing to die means you are a battler.As contrary as this may seem, I think you dismiss it too readily. But I'll go with what ever the evidence supports.

Follow up:

And the evidence has it:

Holidays, special events have no proven effect on the timing of death (http://www.psychosomaticmedicine.org/cgi/content/full/66/3/382)RESULTS: Since the early 1970s, at least 18 studies have investigated whether death rates increase or decrease before, during, or after symbolically important occasions such as holidays and birthdays. Some studies but not others have found modest evidence of temporal effects. Methodological issues have raised questions about most of the positive findings. None of the studies provides any direct evidence that a psychophysiological mechanism enables people to postpone or hasten their own death.

CONCLUSION: Research over the past 3 decades has failed to provide convincing evidence that psychological phenomena such as "giving up" or "holding on" can influence the timing of death.



Willpower and survival is harder to study, that evidence will take more time to find/not find. But I suppose, on further pondering, those who had a will to live and died would go uncounted while those reporting the will to live who live would be one of those self selecting samples that skews the results. And prior to death, depressed affect probably does accompany heart failure. That could appear as giving up when it really was the result of deterioration.

I reverse my positions until some contradictory evidence surfaces.

blutoski
21st April 2007, 03:21 PM
My question is: if Consciousness is just the product of neurons interacting, why would there be any improvement in consciousness as the body continues to deteriorate? My mechanistic interpretation would be that all bodily functions are directly related to the cellular milieu, as the machine slows down, everything should slow down.

On average, we deteriorate. On a minute-to-minute basis, it's probably stochastic. Up and down.

There may be the occasional situation where the temporary upswing in neural consciouslness ironically leads to death by overexertion.

An example is my grandmother who had several strokes over many years, and therefore limited cognition. One day, she pulled it together enough to go for a long walk through her hospice, made several phone calls and I went to visit her. She died a few minutes after my visit, of a heart attack. She simpy overdid it that day. But she wouldn't have overdone it if she was still in that mental fog.

There are parallels in other fields of medicine: my wife is a psychiatrist, and one of the signs that a patient is planning a genuine suicide is that their attitude improves dramatically. This is not a paradox - they are 'happier' once they realize they see closure to their 'problems'.

Soapy Sam
21st April 2007, 03:39 PM
I believe there are two possible things here. One is the animal may be in shock. And the other is what you perceive as calm may be some kind of feigned death as a mechanism of escape. Stopping struggling would seem like a logical thing to do if struggling isn't likely to be successful. Perhaps predators sometimes let go a second or two too early when an animal quits struggling.

To get a better grip you mean? Could be. As a defensive strategy though, just standing there while a pair of three hundred pound cats suffocate you seems to lack something to me. I'd be gouging their eyes out if that was the best I could do. Maybe it's a herbivore/ carnivore thing.
:confused:

SimonD
21st April 2007, 03:48 PM
That's a fascinating story. Have you ever looked into how common such events are?

No I haven't, but I think skepticdoc is trying to find one;)

I have no experience in the medical field so I can't offer any opinions as to why it happened. I can just tell you what I saw.

I have a friend who is a nurse. I asked him about it once. He shrugged and said 'Happens sometimes. We don't enough about comas to be able to predict what is going to happen with a person when they are in one'

Ichneumonwasp
21st April 2007, 03:54 PM
ETA- I'm often perplexed by how calm an animal may appear while being literally torn apart by predators. I have seen a zebra with two lionesses hanging from haunch and throat , simply stand there, apparently calmly, without struggle or call, till it bled to death. Is this a similar effect? Is it perhaps a mechanism related to shock?
I believe there are two possible things here. One is the animal may be in shock. And the other is what you perceive as calm may be some kind of feigned death as a mechanism of escape. Stopping struggling would seem like a logical thing to do if struggling isn't likely to be successful. Perhaps predators sometimes let go a second or two too early when an animal quits struggling.

The calm of an animal being torn apart by predators arises from a different mechanism most likely -- though shock will definitely set in at some point. In the initial stages it is probably due to a huge endorphin surge.

I don't think many predators let go too early. Seems like they would learn not to almost immediately so that shouldn't serve as much of an advantage. When you're hungry, you're hungry and nothing says lovin' like an antelope in the ..............well, you know.


As to the original post we must be careful. It is far too easy to fall prey to biases (remembering the hits and not the misses, so to speak). I can recall some patients who rallied for a short period before death. Most never regained consciousness once the coma began. It could be ascertainment bias on my part as well, though.

As to the mechanism, who knows? My guess would be that in the act of dying there may well be a surge of hormone release -- particularly norepinephrine, dopamine, and epinephrine in the body as a whole and probably everything in the brain. For someone in a light coma or state of minimal consciousness this would probably "wake" them for a brief period. Especially if the process were slow, and the forebrain not too badly injured, this would seem to be a normal state if everything were shutting down. One of the proposed mechanisms for neuronal death in many conditions is glutamate induced cytotoxicity (neurons die, release their neurotransmitters as they die and the cell swells and bursts, glutamate opens NMDA channels, calcium rushes in and kills the cell), but if the glutamate release is short of allowing too much calcium into the cells it would probably "awaken" people briefly. This would be especially common in folks with enough of an electrolyte disturbance to partially depolarize their neurons. But, and this is a big but (not Jennifer Lopez, get your minds out of the gutter), this is all speculation. It makes some sense, but beware explanations that make some sense. The devil is often in the details.

SimonD
21st April 2007, 03:55 PM
There are parallels in other fields of medicine: my wife is a psychiatrist, and one of the signs that a patient is planning a genuine suicide is that their attitude improves dramatically. This is not a paradox - they are 'happier' once they realize they see closure to their 'problems'.

Yes - I have experienced this one. I wish I knew what it was before-hand :(

To get a better grip you mean? Could be. As a defensive strategy though, just standing there while a pair of three hundred pound cats suffocate you seems to lack something to me. I'd be gouging their eyes out if that was the best I could do. Maybe it's a herbivore/ carnivore thing.
:confused:

Perhaps it knew it was going to die(?) Struggling may have caused it more pain(?) Perhaps I'm placing human values on an animal.

fishbob
21st April 2007, 03:59 PM
I really don't know what is the correct scientific assessment, social issues, let alone spiritual concerns, are perhaps too complicated to analyze scientifically. I have read Shermer's trilogy, at the end it is only opinions, you pick and choose what you want to believe or not.


The phrase in bold makes no sense to me. Do some people have some sort of mental denial mechanism (MDM - new acronym alert)?
I don't think I have one of those, and I suspect that for people that do have those, evidence and reality are never going to count for much.

skepticdoc
21st April 2007, 04:01 PM
Well hi Skepticdoc. Long time no silly unsupported claims to address.

I've never heard of this supposed "common belief/perception" and I spent more than a few years as an ICU nurse. My experience was just the opposite. Either people deteriorated until they were comatose for days to weeks before dying, or they never seemed to recover and remained depressed until dying. Seems those folks who just continued to feel as if something was wrong were the ones who soon died.

I believe there is some evidence people die more often just after a birthday or holiday which some have suggested is possibly due to 'hanging on' until a goal of some kind then giving up. But I'd have to check if the studies I read on this in the past have been confirmed or refuted. See below, further evidence refutes earlier results.

Either way, as usual, you make some claim with no evidence whatsoever to back up if your underlying premise is even true, let alone any reason the suggested mechanism is correct. You need to start there, not pondering the reasons when you haven't even established the phenomena or mechanisms exist.

It is a common belief/perception among Physicians and Nurses that in many terminally ill patients, there is a brief period of clinical, well being improvement shortly before death.
I could have stated that in my community, among the nurses in the Oncology/Hospice ward, this is a common belief. If you handle the Last Step by considering it "silly", I will regard that as your coping strategy, it is your prerogative, you are entitled to your opinion.

Blutoski posted an insightful comment, why would acceptance of the inevitable bring together the last remaining resources of consciousness in the terminally ill? The suicidal individual is not a good model because even if the person has a medical illness, they have to be strong enough to directly take their own life. My question refers to the terminally ill person that was very weak to even speak for several days, then subjectively perks up briefly before dying.

JoeTheJuggler
21st April 2007, 04:02 PM
I suspect there's also confirmation bias at work. All the times the course is a general deterioration up to death are unremarkable. When, once in a great while, you have a "rally", you tell everyone about it.

(Also, as mentioned, if "rally" isn't properly defined, nearly anything can count. A couple of seconds of consciousness? Sounds like a pretty broad net.)

Skeptic Ginger
21st April 2007, 04:27 PM
It is a common belief/perception among Physicians and Nurses that in many terminally ill patients, there is a brief period of clinical, well being improvement shortly before death.
I could have stated that in my community, among the nurses in the Oncology/Hospice ward, this is a common belief. If you handle the Last Step by considering it "silly", I will regard that as your coping strategy, it is your prerogative, you are entitled to your opinion.

...My coping strategy?

Skepticdoc, suffice it to say, I don't yet have reason to believe anything you say. As disgusting as your condescending attitude toward nurses is and as poor as you've demonstrated your capacity to understand evidence based medicine to be, I'm still not convinced you are a doctor.

Provide some evidence this 'rally' before death even occurs. I suspect that regardless of who or what some health care providers believe, it's based on anecdotal evidence which typically in cases like these, the evidence doesn't support the belief.

BTW, for anyone wondering why I make such comments about this guy, he believes nurses are only capable of following medical orders and incapable of any independent decision making and SD believes nurse practitioners should not be allowed to practice at all, because they are incompetent. SD has no clue that, despite the fact one can get a doctorate degree in nursing, there actually is such a profession. To him, everything nurses do is merely carrying out doctors' orders. His attitude was so backward, several of us could not tell if he was a troll. I'm still not sure he isn't one. At a minimum if he isn't a fake doctor, he's a least a poor one.

Ichneumonwasp
21st April 2007, 04:33 PM
Provide some evidence this 'rally' before death even occurs. I suspect that regardless of who or what some health care providers believe, it's based on anecdotal evidence which typically in cases like these, the evidence doesn't support the belief.

While I can agree with much of the rest of your post, I can vouch for the reality of the phenomenon. It isn't very common, but it occurs.

skepticdoc
21st April 2007, 04:34 PM
S'girl, count to ten, take a deep breath, relax.....

Skeptic Ginger
21st April 2007, 04:41 PM
Grow up, SD, I'm just letting people know what you have posted before. You could be a troll, maybe they'd like to know before wasting time in this thread. I'm not the least bit upset. You lost the respect of everyone reading the other thread, I didn't. Remember?

Medical and Healthcare phishing (http://forums.randi.org/showthread.php?t=55112)

skepticdoc
21st April 2007, 04:43 PM
Sorry I hit your button

skepticdoc
21st April 2007, 04:55 PM
As to what I believe, it is not very important.

I am getting acquainted with the work of Joseph Campbell, so far I agree with everything he had published.

I also agree with the Dawkins/Adams "puddle of water" analogy.

blutoski
21st April 2007, 04:55 PM
Yes - I have experienced this one. I wish I knew what it was before-hand

I'm sorry to hear that.

I have another anecdote about this. When my wife and I were first dating, she was still an undergrad but already knew she wanted to go into psychiatry and had a good grasp of mood disorder indicators. One of the other signs of genuine suicidal intentions (as opposed to what are called 'gestures') is that the patient starts to give away his possessions, particularly sentimental ones.

Now, we didn't know each other very well at the time, so she didn't know about my strange personality trait: I hate clutter. I mean: I'm the opposite of a packrat. I used to move often, and made regular 'purges' of my stuff with an eye to having everything fit in one car trip.

This was the mid-90s and I started copying my LPs, tapes, and CDs to .aiff and .mp3 format and storing them on hard-drives. I started giving away all my plastic copies, because there is pretty much no real aftermarket. I had also just bought a new apartment and was planning a move, so I recruited her to help me schlep all of my 'student' furniture to the Salvation Army depot. My aparment was pretty empty within a few days.

I had three camera bodies at the time - two Pentax and one Olympus that my dad gave me when he lost interest in photography. I never knew what to do with the Olympus, because it didn't take the m55 or bayonet lenses I had invested in for my Pentaxes. When I learned she had just lost her own Olympus, I handed it to her as a keeper. "Here: my dad gave me this. I want you to have it." Bad wording on my part.

She burst into tears. We had a long talk. There was a happy ending.



So: the lesson is that usually there's a perfectly normal explanation for these 'signs'. Don't kick yourself for not recognizing or acting on them.

athon
21st April 2007, 05:29 PM
Follow up:

And the evidence has it:

Holidays, special events have no proven effect on the timing of death (http://www.psychosomaticmedicine.org/cgi/content/full/66/3/382)



Willpower and survival is harder to study, that evidence will take more time to find/not find. But I suppose, on further pondering, those who had a will to live and died would go uncounted while those reporting the will to live who live would be one of those self selecting samples that skews the results. And prior to death, depressed affect probably does accompany heart failure. That could appear as giving up when it really was the result of deterioration.

I reverse my positions until some contradictory evidence surfaces.

Wow, thanks for this, skeptigirl. I'd wondered before if there had ever been a study in this field.

It really does strike me as sad that a person can be medically trained, as skepticdoc claims, and yet completely lack any science skills such as basic research and opinion support.

Athon

athon
21st April 2007, 05:33 PM
It is a common belief/perception among Physicians and Nurses that in many terminally ill patients, there is a brief period of clinical, well being improvement shortly before death.

How common? Again, are you referring to your personal experience, or has somebody surveyed this? I must admit, I'm with skeptigirl; in my ICU experience most nurses and clinical staff tended to see patients decline until they just died.

You're not getting the fact that personal experience is a narrow window which doesn't show much. I'm happy to say my experience was a rather narrow view; that's why I'd need to see some survey on the claim before I have a valid opinion.

I could have stated that in my community, among the nurses in the Oncology/Hospice ward, this is a common belief. If you handle the Last Step by considering it "silly", I will regard that as your coping strategy, it is your prerogative, you are entitled to your opinion.

You're not getting how this works.

Blutoski posted an insightful comment, why would acceptance of the inevitable bring together the last remaining resources of consciousness in the terminally ill? The suicidal individual is not a good model because even if the person has a medical illness, they have to be strong enough to directly take their own life. My question refers to the terminally ill person that was very weak to even speak for several days, then subjectively perks up briefly before dying.

You need facts before you can speculate upon any form of mechanism!!! How is that so hard to fathom?

ETA:

As to what I believe, it is not very important.


Then what is it you're trying to say? You come in with a narrow perception you personally have made from your own situation and ask us to form an opinion? You've given nothing for anybody to form an opinion on. Sure, you can inspire some anecdotes, which are always touching to read, but there's no discussion as such.

Athon

Jimbo07
21st April 2007, 05:42 PM
It really does strike me as sad that a person can be medically trained... yet completely lack any science skills such as basic research and opinion support.

Athon

I'd like to note that doctors, like engineers, while relying on science, are not necessarily scientists themselves.

blutoski
21st April 2007, 05:48 PM
I'd like to note that doctors, like engineers, while relying on science, are not necessarily scientists themselves.

As far as I know, medicine is classified as a technology profession, rather than a scientific profession.

However, there is a difference - many MDs are conducting scientific research, whereas that's rare with PEngs. So yes, "not necesarily scientists" is accurate. But many are.

athon
21st April 2007, 05:49 PM
I'd like to note that doctors, like engineers, while relying on science, are not necessarily scientists themselves.

You know, I'd love to agree, however I can only take it one step further and say in my experience there are a lot of scientists who don't quite grasp science philosophy either. They 'know' a lot, but don't understand how the scientific process works. The scary thing is a lot of science teachers are in that boat.

Science illiteracy has a wide demographic spread, unfortunately.

Athon

SimonD
21st April 2007, 06:03 PM
BTW, for anyone wondering why I make such comments about this guy, he believes nurses are only capable of following medical orders and incapable of any independent decision making and SD believes nurse practitioners should not be allowed to practice at all, because they are incompetent. SD has no clue that, despite the fact one can get a doctorate degree in nursing, there actually is such a profession. To him, everything nurses do is merely carrying out doctors' orders. His attitude was so backward, several of us could not tell if he was a troll. I'm still not sure he isn't one. At a minimum if he isn't a fake doctor, he's a least a poor one.

Skepticdoc - I really hope this is not true.

As I said above my friend is a nurse and some of stories he has told me about doctors are quite scarry. He has saved more then one life from a doctors mistake. If he had done what the doctor had told him to do they would be dead.

It's been my experience that nurses are over worked and under paid. You would fail in your duty of care if it was not for the nursing staff.

It is very important what you think. Your a doctor and your thinking may effect the outcome of someone's life.

This is probably for another thread though. :boxedin:

ETA - Big fan of Joseph Campbell myself

DanishDynamite
21st April 2007, 06:09 PM
It is a common belief/perception among Physicians and Nurses that in many terminally ill patients, there is a brief period of clinical, well being improvement shortly before death.

I just had an octogenarian with multiple problems (COPD, Cardiomyopathy, ESRD, PVD) that refused mechanical ventilation, hemodialysis and tube feedings. As expected, he continued to deteriorate, hung around until his only available relative came from a neighboring state. The day before expiring, he "perked up" slightly (smiled briefly, gestured he was not in pain).

I had started a thread in the Skepticalcommunity.com : http://skepticalcommunity.com/phpbb2/viewtopic.php?p=242655&highlight=#242655 that has some bearing on this topic.

My question is: if Consciousness is just the product of neurons interacting, why would there be any improvement in consciousness as the body continues to deteriorate? My mechanistic interpretation would be that all bodily functions are directly related to the cellular milieu, as the machine slows down, everything should slow down.

Please post or PM any responses, opinions. I will post this in other forums to get opinions from other skeptics and also believers.
Much of the human system is controlled by the brain. QED.

Nothing odd here, in my opinion.

Jimbo07
21st April 2007, 06:30 PM
However, there is a difference - many MDs are conducting scientific research, whereas that's rare with PEngs. So yes, "not necesarily scientists" is accurate. But many are.

Heh... can you imagine the hue and cry if you dared to suggest that some of them aren't even practicing engineering? :D

There are MDs who do not conduct scientific research. I don't know what the entry requirements are in the U.S. but here, people who get accepted into Med School often have degrees already. It wouldn't surprise me if some doctors had more education than 'just' their medical degree. In fact, I know guys from my department who have gone into Med School. It may be that they want to do research in radiation therapy. :cool:

You know, I'd love to agree, however I can only take it one step further and say in my experience there are a lot of scientists who don't quite grasp science philosophy either. They 'know' a lot, but don't understand how the scientific process works.

I've heard this.


The scary thing is a lot of science teachers are in that boat.

In our department (physics), education students need only study up to mostly 2nd year classes with a small smattering of 3rd year classes.


Science illiteracy has a wide demographic spread, unfortunately.

Athon

Agreed.

Soapy Sam
21st April 2007, 08:11 PM
My coping strategy?

Skepticdoc, suffice it to say, I don't yet have reason to believe anything you say. As disgusting as your condescending attitude toward nurses is and as poor as you've demonstrated your capacity to understand evidence based medicine to be, I'm still not convinced you are a doctor.


Nominated.

I have nothing personal against skeptidoc and don't know the history behind this, but I know several nurses , physios and radiographers and I know they're going to love this quote. I laughed aloud as I read it.

That "still not convinced" cuts like a teflon coated scalpel. :D

skepticdoc
21st April 2007, 08:35 PM
The reality is that we all will die.

What happens to consciousness after death, if anything, nobody knows for sure.

I don't know why many times patients die when everybody is doing everything that technology has available.

Buddhists cultivate the concepts of "Mind", volitional formation among other ideas. As far as I know, reincarnation has never been proven.

My perception of Secular Humanists is that they believe there is nothing besides matter and its interactions, that consciousness is just the product of neuronal activity.

Maybe Life itself is the ultimate mystery that Humans will never be able to understand completely. Physical scientists and Academic biologists do not have to deal with People as subjects, Healthcare Professionals do.

athon
21st April 2007, 08:51 PM
The reality is that we all will die.

What happens to consciousness after death, if anything, nobody knows for sure.

I don't know why many times patients die when everybody is doing everything that technology has available.

Buddhists cultivate the concepts of "Mind", volitional formation among other ideas. As far as I know, reincarnation has never been proven.

My perception of Secular Humanists is that they believe there is nothing besides matter and its interactions, that consciousness is just the product of neuronal activity.

Maybe Life itself is the ultimate mystery that Humans will never be able to understand completely. Physical scientists and Academic biologists do not have to deal with People as subjects, Healthcare Professionals do.

You've been asked for something more solid than mere speculation so far in this thread, and this is your response?

There is no real mystery concerning dualism. Sure, the workings of the brain and the illusion of the sense of self is amazing, and isn't understood intrinsically, but there is nothing to indicate that we need a dualistic model of the universe to explain it.

Until we have something that indicates we need a dualist model, why complicate it with baseless speculation?

Science doesn't work the way you're indicating.

Athon

Skeptic Ginger
22nd April 2007, 12:30 AM
I'd like to note that doctors, like engineers, while relying on science, are not necessarily scientists themselves.That's a narrow definition of science. I take it you are claiming if one isn't involved in research one isn't a scientist. But what does that imply about a doctor relying on anecdotes instead of evidence based medicine?

IE, so what not all doctors are scientists involved in active research. Don't you want your doctor to practice evidence based medicine? And if your doctor didn't really understand evidence based medicine concepts, wouldn't that concern you?

BillyJoe
22nd April 2007, 04:07 AM
><)))>...><));>....><):;>....><;:;>

:)

Ivor the Engineer
22nd April 2007, 04:40 AM
><)))>...><));>....><):;>....><;:;>

:)

:confused:

BillyJoe
22nd April 2007, 05:23 AM
skeptigirl will understand.

We had some fun on another thread where a particular poster signed off with a Christian fish: <(((><

The above shows the evolution of Darwins's fish in skeptigirl's signature from the Christian fish of that poster.

There were lots of pictures of cute kittens as well. :)

Maybe we could post some here while we wait for a response worth responding to.

BillyJoe
22nd April 2007, 05:26 AM
This is not a cute cat, but he resembles this thread in a number of different ways.
Maybe he will wake up just before he dies and give a nice cute cat smile.

http://albinjohnson.com/deadcat.jpg

Sorry about the text - haven't got time to edit it out.

Ichneumonwasp
22nd April 2007, 06:19 AM
The reality is that we all will die.

Yeah.

What happens to consciousness after death, if anything, nobody knows for sure.

We know virtuatlly nothing for sure. We have a pretty good idea that death is it.

I don't know why many times patients die when everybody is doing everything that technology has available.

You're joking, right? You've already stated in your first line of this post that we are all mortal. Do you somehow suppose that modern medicine is somehow magical? Our technology is fairly limited. The general cause of death in ICU situations is multi-organ system failure.

Buddhists cultivate the concepts of "Mind", volitional formation among other ideas. As far as I know, reincarnation has never been proven.

Nope. And the idea is silly anyway. If you have no memory of previous lives then you are no longer you. So what's the point? Whether or not it occurs doesn't particularly matter as far as the self is concerned. As far as improvement of the "soul", sure, we should all engage in it, reincarnation or no.

My perception of Secular Humanists is that they believe there is nothing besides matter and its interactions, that consciousness is just the product of neuronal activity.

I'd say it depends on the secular humanist. That describes a material monist. But one can trust thta consciousness is just the product of neuronal activity and not fully suscribe to material monism too.

Maybe Life itself is the ultimate mystery that Humans will never be able to understand completely. Physical scientists and Academic biologists do not have to deal with People as subjects, Healthcare Professionals do.

And maybe life is just a very complex biochemical process. First you must define what life is before you can discuss it in detail. Otherwise, this is all bare conjecture, which might be your point anyway. Everyone deals with people as subjects.

skepticdoc
22nd April 2007, 07:34 AM
From Wiktionary:

freak (plural freaks (http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/freaks))

A sudden (http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/sudden) causeless change (http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/change) or turn of the mind (http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/mind); a whim of fancy; a capricious prank; a vagary (http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/vagary) or caprice (http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/caprice).
(of a person) An oddball, especially in physiology; unique in a displeasing way.
(bodybuilding) A person whose physique (http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/physique) has grown far beyond the normal limits of muscular (http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/muscular) development; often a bodybuilder (http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/bodybuilder) weighing more than 120 kilos (260 pounds).
A person who has an obsession or extreme knowledge of a something.
A very sexually perverse individual, usually used affectionately or in another good willed context.This Forum is like mining, you have to sift through a lot of nonsense and intellectual excrement to find something something useful.

kellyb
22nd April 2007, 08:56 AM
From Wiktionary:

freak (plural freaks (http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/freaks))

A sudden (http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/sudden) causeless change (http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/change) or turn of the mind (http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/mind); a whim of fancy; a capricious prank; a vagary (http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/vagary) or caprice (http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/caprice).
(of a person) An oddball, especially in physiology; unique in a displeasing way.
(bodybuilding) A person whose physique (http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/physique) has grown far beyond the normal limits of muscular (http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/muscular) development; often a bodybuilder (http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/bodybuilder) weighing more than 120 kilos (260 pounds).
A person who has an obsession or extreme knowledge of a something.
A very sexually perverse individual, usually used affectionately or in another good willed context.This Forum is like mining, you have to sift through a lot of nonsense and intellectual excrement to find something something useful.

In the land of the Blue, everyone eats spaghetti and smiles.

Jimbo07
22nd April 2007, 10:37 AM
That's a narrow definition of science. I take it you are claiming if one isn't involved in research one isn't a scientist. But what does that imply about a doctor relying on anecdotes instead of evidence based medicine?

Actually, beyond scientists earning a living by doing research, I'm quite a fan of a very general definition of science. I think it would do us all very well to get the word out to people that science is about learning, and asking honest questions, and following the evidence. One can approach any task in this manner. Someone once suggested that a chef could 'practice science.' It's all about the evidence in the physical world.


IE, so what not all doctors are scientists involved in active research. Don't you want your doctor to practice evidence based medicine? And if your doctor didn't really understand evidence based medicine concepts, wouldn't that concern you?

Actually, very much. That's why it concerns me that some doctors don't approach their practice in an evidence-based manner. A friend of mine taught med students. They don't learn science so much as 'biology facts.' Some students are reached, while others walk away saying, "I was taught it, it must be so." Similarly, it also concerns me every time a story turns up about dowsing around civil engineering projects...

skepticdoc
22nd April 2007, 12:12 PM
Jimbo has brought to light some important issues.

Pure Science does not have to deal with Human morals and ethics, just what is true. Even Vets have restraints when dealing with Primates.

Humans developed societal groups and mythology to maintain cohesion, hunters and gatherers have no Scientists. Once farmers where established and the few were able to feed the majority, the intellectual questions could be studied. Even the primitive groups had "healers", as the groups decided to take care of the sick and infirm, Medicine developed. Much later the Scientific Method was applied to Health Care, "Scientific" disciplines were built on logical foundations that were questioned and refined, even then, nonsense developed (Ether for example).

Even the hunter/gatherers had to deal with awareness of self, death; hence the Myths developed.

A Physicist can smash and destroy an atom to figure out the nature of matter, we cannot do that in good conscience with people (you would have first to dehumanize your subjects like Imperial Japanese and the Nazis did for their Homo sapiens experiments).

Seems that most respondents have their own anecdotes of the "Rally", but the subject of Death is unpleasant and it is easier to kill the messenger who delivers bad news or concepts that we do not agree with.

Jimbo07
22nd April 2007, 12:27 PM
Jimbo has brought to light some important issues.

Pure Science does not have to deal with Human morals and ethics, just what is true. Even Vets have restraints when dealing with Primates.

Um... I don't think I brought this up. In fact, you brought it up first. You're right that it's interesting that we've developed codes of ethics around experimentation on humans, but it doesn't get us any closer to facts about the question at hand, which is:

Is there some kind of statistcally significant rally before death?


Humans developed societal groups and mythology to maintain cohesion, hunters and gatherers have no Scientists. Once farmers where established and the few were able to feed the majority, the intellectual questions could be studied.

Going back to my generous definition of science, some hunters/farmers would have had to be scientists after a fashion. Some techniques would work, and some would not. Science, like culture and life forms has evolved.


Even the primitive groups had "healers", as the groups decided to take care of the sick and infirm, Medicine developed. Much later the Scientific Method was applied to Health Care, "Scientific" disciplines were built on logical foundations that were questioned and refined, even then, nonsense developed (Ether for example).

It's important to understand that Ether was not some nonsense that developed. It was a legitimate hypothesis. Sadly for that particular hypothesis, but luckily for us and experiment-based science, Michelson-Morely did that in.


Seems that most respondents have their own anecdotes of the "Rally", but the subject of Death is unpleasant and it is easier to kill the messenger who delivers bad news or concepts that we do not agree with.

And finally... I don't understand this last bit. Which messenger has been killed, and where's the bad news? Like you, I think some of us are waiting for more 'facts' about this rally.

skepticdoc
22nd April 2007, 12:40 PM
I said many, could have said some. Even if it happens in 1% or less of the cases, what is the explanation for the few cases?

Few people understand Quantum Mechanics but it remains the best explanation for some elementary particle physics.

I don't know why there is Life on Earth, I am asking questions. Some cannot say "I don't know", I have long accepted that I know very little.

Skeptic Ginger
22nd April 2007, 02:17 PM
.....This Forum is like mining, you have to sift through a lot of nonsense and intellectual excrement to find something something useful.
:id::id::id::id::id::id::id:

Skeptic Ginger
22nd April 2007, 02:22 PM
...

Seems that most respondents have their own anecdotes of the "Rally", but the subject of Death is unpleasant and it is easier to kill the messenger who delivers bad news or concepts that we do not agree with.More tripe with out evidence.

"Most respondents have their own anecdotes" -> care to give numbers to back that up? My count is somewhat low. Not that it matters.

Subject of death is unpleasant so we're killing the messenger? Are you in LaLa land here?

Ichneumonwasp
22nd April 2007, 03:10 PM
Skeptigirl, you were right in your initial assessment. May I suggest a cool one at the bar? There is no sense in continuing this thread, short of troll nutrition.

Skeptic Ginger
22nd April 2007, 03:17 PM
:Banane35:

But you have to admit it's entertaining. :)

strathmeyer
22nd April 2007, 03:19 PM
I said many, could have said some. Even if it happens in 1% or less of the cases, what is the explanation for the few cases?
Which few cases?

Ichneumonwasp
22nd April 2007, 03:21 PM
:Banane35:

But you have to admit it's entertaining. :)


Yeah, I suppose so. In a "Look at what that truck did to the little Toyota by the side of the road" sort of a way.

athon
22nd April 2007, 04:05 PM
I said many, could have said some. Even if it happens in 1% or less of the cases, what is the explanation for the few cases?

You have wish to really understand this at all, do you? Seriously, this is troll-behaviour; come in with a comment, stir the nest, refuse to address the points with real discussion, and claim that all skeptics are close minded etc.

If I grasp you correctly, you're asking why would any invidividual would ever appear to be feeling better immediately prior to their death. Fine, ignoring the fact that to seriously answer this, you would need to demonstrate the conditions this might occur in with real evidence, and not 'in my experience'. But since you refuse to see why this is necessary, we'll continue.

I can't see why this would be a mystery at all. I'd assume that through the progress of a disease in many cases there'd be some form of fluctuation of emotions andf mental states, even if it was a subtle one. Given a large enough number of cases, there would be those which would appear to have something of an improvement in the mind-state in an apparently close time to one's death.

What needs to be demonstrated is that this occurs with any statistical frequency for the observations (state of mind and imminent death) to be related. You also need to demonstrate that the body typically responds to a deteriating state of health by reducing relevant neural functions.

Few people understand Quantum Mechanics but it remains the best explanation for some elementary particle physics.

I don't know why there is Life on Earth, I am asking questions. Some cannot say "I don't know", I have long accepted that I know very little.

There's no problem with asking questions. It is the fact you have no desire to truly know the answer that is concerning.

Athon

Dogdoctor
22nd April 2007, 04:12 PM
I have noticed that some cats will start purring right before they die. My guess is it was some kind of endorphin release or some similar thing. It hasn't been studied in veterinary medicine as far as I know.

BillyJoe
23rd April 2007, 05:31 AM
This Forum is like mining, you have to sift through a lot of nonsense and intellectual excrement to find something something useful.

I resemble that remark. :D

But seriously, sometimes BU||$#!+ must be repaid in kind.

BillyJoe
23rd April 2007, 05:39 AM
Someone once suggested that a chef could 'practice science.'

Actually, my father was a chef (amongst other things) but what he did was pure art. He worked without recipes, measures or scales. A pinch of this and a handful of that. A dribble of this and a splash of that. It was truly amazing. And a perfect result every time.

Actually, very much. That's why it concerns me that some doctors don't approach their practice in an evidence-based manner.

Maybe that explains why so many go in for herbs and homoeopathic remedies. :(

BillyJoe
23rd April 2007, 06:01 AM
I said many, could have said some. Even if it happens in 1% or less of the cases, what is the explanation for the few cases?

COULD IT BE THAT CONSCIOUSNESS DOES SURVIVE DEATH!!!

:rolleyes:

Few people understand Quantum Mechanics but it remains the best explanation for some elementary particle physics.

freak (plural freaks (http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/freaks))

A sudden (http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/sudden) causeless change (http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/change) or turn of the mind (http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/mind); a whim of fancy; a capricious prank; a vagary (http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/vagary) or caprice (http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/caprice)I don't know why there is Life on Earth, I am asking questions.

freak (plural freaks (http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/freaks))

A sudden (http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/sudden) causeless change (http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/change) or turn of the mind (http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/mind); a whim of fancy; a capricious prank; a vagary (http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/vagary) or caprice (http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/caprice)Some cannot say "I don't know", I have long accepted that I know very little.

Well, that's the cutest thing I've heard in along time. :D

http://barracks.4t.com/Schultz.jpg

Cuddles
23rd April 2007, 07:57 AM
While I can agree with much of the rest of your post, I can vouch for the reality of the phenomenon. It isn't very common, but it occurs.

I said many, could have said some. Even if it happens in 1% or less of the cases, what is the explanation for the few cases?

For both of you, you do realise that virtually all illness has phases where it is better or worse. To say that it happens "sometimes" is essentially the same as saying nothing is happening at all. Some people get worse and then die. Some people get better and then die. Some people stay the same and then die. Unless you can provide evidence that a statistically significant number of people get better before dying then there is simply nothing to discuss. This sort of thing is just about the best possible area for selection bias and cherry picking. Please provide something other than unfounded speculation.

Few people understand Quantum Mechanics but it remains the best explanation for some elementary particle physics.

Is there a Godwin equivalent for quantum mechanics? I think I'll invoke Cuddles' law : "When someone compares the lack of explanation for their pet theory with the lack of understanding of quantum mechanics, it is a sure sign that they have run out of arguments, and probably had no clue what they were talking about to start with."

I don't know why there is Life on Earth, I am asking questions. Some cannot say "I don't know", I have long accepted that I know very little.

No-one here has a problem saying "I don't know", we just a problem with people who don't say anything at all, but for some strange reason think they have. There is no point asking for an explanation for a phenomenon before you have demonstrated that there is a phenomenon to explain. The only reason anyone has attacked the messenger is because he has failed to bring a message. You can whine all you like about closed-minded skeptics, but the fact is that you presented some unsupported opinion and have done nothing but complain when we asked for evidence. I think we can all accept that you know very little.

Edit : I see he has already Godwined it as well.the Nazis did for their Homo sapiens experiments Godwined and Cuddled within two pages, not bad going.

scotth
23rd April 2007, 07:58 AM
Not reading the rest of the answers to the OP, but......

I have 2 rather recent personal experiences with cancer deaths. My mom passed 2 years (a couple weeks) ago, and Susan's mom died 1 year ago yesterday.

I was right there for both.

There was no rally in either case.

There, 2 anecdotal data points to ponder.

Cuddles
23rd April 2007, 08:10 AM
Incidentally, my reply to the OP, before I got distracted, was that it also depends very much on what you mean by "rallying". Do you mean someone in a coma wakes up, someone with no legs gets up and walks, or just someone with a bad heart is a little more active? And rally from whose point of view, the patient or the observer?

For example, it is fairly well established that people with dementia are much happier and more relaxed in the later stages than the early ones. This is because in the initial stages the patients know what is happening to them, they know that they forget things, they know that they hallucinate and it scares them. Once in the later stages they often become completely oblivious to their surroundings. They have nice, friendly people who feed and wash them, and what more could someone want? They are much less agitated and often very happy, even though they have absolutely no clue who their wife of 50 years is. Does this mean they have "rallied"? They are far happier than before and far easier to look after, but you would be hard pressed to argue that the disease is anything other than much worse. (For the obligatory anecdote, this is exactly what has happened with my grandfather.)

The point is, one persons "rallying" is anothers "getting much worse". Unless you give us a scientific definition of what you actually mean it is impossible to answer your question. And of course, once you do define what you mean you need to provide us with some evidence that it actually happens.

Ichneumonwasp
23rd April 2007, 08:39 AM
For both of you, you do realise that virtually all illness has phases where it is better or worse. To say that it happens "sometimes" is essentially the same as saying nothing is happening at all. Some people get worse and then die. Some people get better and then die. Some people stay the same and then die. Unless you can provide evidence that a statistically significant number of people get better before dying then there is simply nothing to discuss. This sort of thing is just about the best possible area for selection bias and cherry picking. Please provide something other than unfounded speculation.


I'm not claiming anything special about it, nor am I claiming a statistically significant percentage of the dying experience such a phenomenon (I don't think they do, it is a fairly rare thing). Skeptigirl asked for evidence that rallying occurs. I've seen it. I have no idea how much depends on natural variation in delirium or disease state. The simple fact is that it does occur. What the explanation of its occurrence is is an entirely different matter. I suspect that like many "disorders", there many roads to Rome. Earlier I offered one such possibility having to do with depolarization of neurons in the face of multi-organ system failure which results in significant electrolyte imbalances and incresed neurotransmitter release as some neurons die. This would be more likely in cases in which there is some degree of rostral brainstem suppression and an absence of significant forebrain suppression.

It may have a biological explanation; it may be a pseudophenomenon; but it does occur.

Cuddles
23rd April 2007, 09:45 AM
It may have a biological explanation; it may be a pseudophenomenon; but it does occur.

No, you did not provide evidence. You provided an anecdote that you think it happens. I'll say it again, selection bias and confirmation bias. Unless you can provide evidence that you are immune to these then your anecdote is meaningless.

Ivor the Engineer
23rd April 2007, 09:54 AM
I would find it more amazing if a system as complicated as the human brain/body declined in a monotonic fashion until death.

Jimbo07
23rd April 2007, 10:03 AM
I would find it more amazing if a system as complicated as the human brain/body declined in a monotonic fashion until death.

Thank you for phrasing the essence of my argument in a much more succinct and eloquent fashion.

:cool:

Ichneumonwasp
23rd April 2007, 10:11 AM
No, you did not provide evidence. You provided an anecdote that you think it happens. I'll say it again, selection bias and confirmation bias. Unless you can provide evidence that you are immune to these then your anecdote is meaningless.

I think you are missing the distinction. I am not claiming a mechanism. I am stating, point blank, that sometimes people rally before death. Whether or not this occurs as a result of confirmation bias is beside the point as to whether or not people occasionally rally before death. I have seen it with my own eyes. Most other medical personnel have seen it with their own eyes. People occaionally rally before death. Period.

Now, it may occur as a result of confirmation bias, as a result of neurotransmitter release, etc. That is a different issue. The issue I addressed is that we see that phenomenon. ScepticDoc is not making it all up in other words. He may very well be misinterpreting it, and he very clearly is misrepresenting the frequency of its occurrence, but he is not making it all up.

ETA

Or, if it will help, abandon the world "rally" with its connotations of intention. Let us use the word "improve". Some patients improve their mental state soon before dying. There are many potential interpretations of this phenomenon -- confirmation bias being a leading contender. The improvement was what I was confirming as a phenomenon, albeit rare.

Skeptic Guy
23rd April 2007, 10:39 AM
Well, I was going to jump in here until Skeptidoc brought up "quantum mechanics". It only took a page and a half. That ended my interest right there.

Now if if can just quiet my BS detector.

BillyJoe
23rd April 2007, 02:38 PM
I would find it more amazing if a system as complicated as the human brain/body declined in a monotonic fashion until death.

I second Jimbo. :)

An example of a related phenomenon would be the rare cases of improvement after a stroke. There is the case of a carpenter who lost his left cerebellum and subsequently became an eidetic artist, without previously having shown any interest in art at all. There is another who lost the frontal lobe to a stroke and became an abstract artist. Both could be said to have "rallied" despite having less of their brain function intact.

BillyJoe
23rd April 2007, 02:43 PM
Well, I was going to jump in here until Skeptidoc brought up "quantum mechanics". It only took a page and a half. That ended my interest right there.

To be fair, he wasn't invoking it, but using it as an analogy.
Not that the analogy worked.

skepticdoc
23rd April 2007, 02:47 PM
COULD IT BE THAT CONSCIOUSNESS DOES SURVIVE DEATH!!!

Can you expand on that statement?

What evidence do you have?

JoeTheJuggler
23rd April 2007, 02:52 PM
My perception of Secular Humanists is that they believe there is nothing besides matter and its interactions, that consciousness is just the product of neuronal activity.


If emergent properties (from the various levels of organization) is included under "just the product of neuronal activity", then yes.

I defy you to find one example of "mind" or "consciousness" that is independent of a functioning brain.

In fact, the correlation between manifestations of mind and the state of the physical matter is very very high indeed. The fact that the brain is very complex and does plenty of things that we don't understand yet can't prove anything.

No ghost in the machine--and no need for one either.

athon
23rd April 2007, 03:49 PM
Can you expand on that statement?

What evidence do you have?

A dozen or so other responses asking for evidence and a more serious response from you...and you respond to BIlly Joe's sarcasm?

If ever there was evidence that you're a troll, here it is.

Nothing to see here folks.

Athon

tracer
23rd April 2007, 04:31 PM
The day before expiring, he "perked up" slightly (smiled briefly, gestured he was not in pain).

Note that this was an improvement of his subjective experience of his symptoms, not of the symptoms themselves. Maybe as his body was deteriorating, his brain started pumping out more endorphins.

BillyJoe
23rd April 2007, 09:24 PM
A dozen or so other responses asking for evidence and a more serious response from you...and you respond to BIlly Joe's sarcasm?


Well, I think it's a case of....

http://barracks.4t.com/Schultz.jpg

Skeptic Ginger
24th April 2007, 01:59 AM
Skepticdoc has a habit of ignoring questions and challenges.

skepticdoc
24th April 2007, 04:13 AM
Well, I think it's a case of....

BillyJoe, I found your portrait:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Thomas_Gainsborough_008.jpg

Would a picture of a Drag Queen be more accurate?
You could share some of your portraits.

Now for you "evolutionists": Why are the bees disappearing? Why you could predict this?

To get back on track, if you don't have any contribution to the OP, maybe you can direct your energy elsewhere.

athon
24th April 2007, 04:23 AM
Now for you "evolutionists": Why are the bees disappearing? Why you could predict this?

:confused: Huh? Ok doc, put the pethidine back into the cabinet. Nice and easy now.

To get back on track, if you don't have any contribution to the OP, maybe you can direct your energy elsewhere.

Maybe if you gave us something to discuss, we'd discuss it. Now, do you have anything interesting to say or are you just going to keep trolling for bites?

Athon

Cuddles
24th April 2007, 04:29 AM
To get back on track, if you don't have any contribution to the OP, maybe you can direct your energy elsewhere.

I suggest you follow your own advice.

I think you are missing the distinction. I am not claiming a mechanism. I am stating, point blank, that sometimes people rally before death. Whether or not this occurs as a result of confirmation bias is beside the point as to whether or not people occasionally rally before death. I have seen it with my own eyes. Most other medical personnel have seen it with their own eyes. People occaionally rally before death. Period.

Now, it may occur as a result of confirmation bias, as a result of neurotransmitter release, etc. That is a different issue. The issue I addressed is that we see that phenomenon. ScepticDoc is not making it all up in other words. He may very well be misinterpreting it, and he very clearly is misrepresenting the frequency of its occurrence, but he is not making it all up.

That's my whole point. The frequency is all important. As most of us have said, we have no doubt that some people get slightly better, or just appear better, before they die. That is not his claim. His claim is that there is something that needs to be explained. His claim is that a statisically significant amount of people somehow force themselves to get better before dying. You may not be claiming a mechanism, but you are saying that there is something that requires a mechanism. Confirmation bias is not a mechanism, it is something that can give the illusion that something requires an explanation when it does not. What most of us are arguing is that human illness, deterioration and recovery are stochastic processes. There is not simply a steady decline and therefore some people will appear to get better before they die while others will not. This, combined with confirmation bias, can give the illusion that something is happening that requires an explanation, but I do not believe that is the case. I am not missing the distiction, I just do not think you are actually arguing for the same thing the doc is and so your anecdotes are irrelevant to the argument.

You also have not clarified what you mean by "rally". Do mean they appear better, or do you mean their illness has actually got better? It is a very important distinction. I believe skeptidoc is claiming the latter, although his refusal to answer any questions means I cannot be sure, but it seems far more likely that your claim that people rally is based on merely acting better while their illness is still getting worse.

Ichneumonwasp
24th April 2007, 05:12 AM
Cuddles, read this first and you can ignore the rest unless you want to read it; perhaps this will clear the air. This is what happened -- Skeptigirl seemed to doubt that improvement occurs in patients. She said to Skepticdoc that he hadn't proved that this "rally" even occurs. I vouched for the phenomenon of the rally -- not the mechanism behind, not the reason behind it, but that some patients do improve soon before dying. That's it. That is the only thing I have ever, to my knowledge, agreed with skepticdoc on in my life. That you seem to agree that some patients do improve is why I am flabbergasted at your continued posts against my "position". Again, all I did was confirm for Skeptigirl that this thing happens. We see it. We see some people improve briefly before dying. It doesn't happen often, but it does happen.





That's my whole point. The frequency is all important. As most of us have said, we have no doubt that some people get slightly better, or just appear better, before they die.

OK, then why are you jumping down my throat? My post was directed to Skeptigirl when she asked for evidence that people do improve. People do improve briefly sometimes.

im is that there is something that needs to be explained.

I know that. In fact I was the first, I think, to invoke the idea of confirmation bias in this thread (there may have been someone else before me, though). I have opposed virtually everything that Skeptidoc has either said or implied in this thread, but I cannot oppose the idea that some people briefly improve. As to what the improvement consists in -- gererally it is a brief return to consciousness so that they can speak for a little while. We sometimes see the same thing in folks who are in prolonged minimally conscious states where they will "awaken" from the minimally conscious state for a few days or a week and then slip back into the minimally conscious state again. No one knows why it happens. Sometimes the improvement is precipitated by administration of dopamine agonists, like bromocriptine, but other times they seem to occur spontaneously.

that a statisically significant amount of people somehow force themselves to get better before dying. You may not be claiming a mechanism, but you are saying that there is something that requires a mechanism.

No, I'm not. I'm sayign that some people briefly improve, as in answering Skeptigirl's query. I specifically stated that I was not implying that a significant number of people somehow force themselves to improve. I do not know why this occurs for sure. I suspect, as I have stated that there are several mechanisms at play for improvement, with confirmation bias being one of them in folks who are simply in a profoundly deep delirium. For those in deeper comas -- most of whom never regain any semblance of consciousness, but some do -- I suspect that something neuronal occurs, some upswing in particular transmitters.

Confirmation bias is not a mechanism, it is something that can give the illusion that something requires an explanation when it does not. What most of us are arguing is that human illness, deterioration and recovery are stochastic processes.

And, for some odd reason that I cannot fathom you do not seem to understand that I have argued something almost identical. It simply isn't true that human illness, deterioration, and recovery (without qualification) are stochastic processes. There are huge ranges of response to disease. Some go quickly, some slide down slowly without any recovery, some improve, some recovery completely without relapses -- it all depends on what example you want to use.

Please, take a step back and look at what I have said. I don't know where you got the idea that I am on Skeptidoc's side because I'm not. It is true, however, that some people improve. That is all that I was trying to tell Skeptigirl before you started on this unecessary series of posts.

There is not simply a steady decline and therefore some people will appear to get better before they die while others will not.

There is sometimes. Look, I do this for a living. I watch it all the time. I have seen probably every pattern from here till Tuesday. Some people steadily decline, some people relapse, some people improve dramatically quickly. There is not one pattern.

This, combined with confirmation bias, can give the illusion that something is happening that requires an explanation, but I do not believe that is the case. I am not missing the distiction, I just do not think you are actually arguing for the same thing the doc is and so your anecdotes are irrelevant to the argument.

Oh, you finally got that did you? My anecdotes were in answer to one simple bit of data that Skeptigirl asked for. I vouched for the fact that this process happens, some people improve briefly -- it is real. We see it. That is all that I did. So, if you now see that I have expressly opposed Skepticdoc, why did we need to carry this to this point?

You also have not clarified what you mean by "rally". Do mean they appear better, or do you mean their illness has actually got better? It is a very important distinction. I believe skeptidoc is claiming the latter, although his refusal to answer any questions means I cannot be sure, but it seems far more likely that your claim that people rally is based on merely acting better while their illness is still getting worse.

Yes, I suggest that you read what I actually wrote rather than what you think I wrote.

BillyJoe
24th April 2007, 06:16 AM
BillyJoe, I found your portrait:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Thomas_Gainsborough_008.jpg
Would a picture of a Drag Queen be more accurate?

What ever turns you on, SD. :D

You could share some of your portraits.

Yeah well, I don't mind you gettin' off, but over me thank you very much. :duck:

Now for you "evolutionists": Why are the bees disappearing? Why you could predict this?

:confused:

To get back on track, if you don't have any contribution to the OP, maybe you can direct your energy elsewhere.

And maybe you could listen to your own advice. ;)

Ysidro
24th April 2007, 03:03 PM
BillyJoe, I found your portrait:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Thomas_Gainsborough_008.jpg

Would a picture of a Drag Queen be more accurate?
You could share some of your portraits.

Now for you "evolutionists": Why are the bees disappearing? Why you could predict this?

To get back on track, if you don't have any contribution to the OP, maybe you can direct your energy elsewhere.

What do Thomas Gainsborough or disappearing bees have to do with a "rally before death?"

I think I know, but it would be rude for my first post in the thread to have me yelling "troll."

How much you want to bet he responds to this (to keep the pot stirred) but not any of the interesting posts that actually comment on the OP.

skepticdoc
24th April 2007, 03:55 PM
When I was a resident physician, a prominent general surgeon in the community developed prostate cancer, the Urologist that took care of him felt he only lasted 6 months because he gave up.

Depressed cancer patients have lower life expectancies than non-depressed counterparts:

http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/467015

Depression is associated with impaired recovery from a number of medical illnesses, such as stroke, hip fracture, and myocardial infarction.[1-7] The exact mechanisms whereby depression influences recovery from illness have not been delineated but presumably involve multiple pathways.....
.....
Third, although comorbidity was controlled for in the analyses, depression may still be a marker for other unmeasured health indicators, such as poor functional status, that may be mediating the observed effect of depression on treatment and survival. Recently, a group of researchers[32] postulated double feedback loops whereby depression promotes poor function and poor function in turn promotes depression, which makes models delineating the exact mechanism of how depression influences diagnosis and treatment problematic.
In summary, depression would appear to be a risk factor for decreased survival after a diagnosis of breast cancer. This is consistent with studies of depression and other acute illnesses such as hip fracture and myocardial infarction.[1-8]
Many posts have dismissed many anecdotal reports to "release of endorphins" without having a precise knowledge of neurotransmitters and receptors.

Many medical discoveries have been made by analyzing the exceptions- HIV infected patients that do not develop AIDS, possible link to Plague survival in Europeans, the milkmaid that did not develop smallpox, etc....

I consider the posts containing fish emoticons, cat and actor photographs as more representative of trolling, than any of my posts IMHO.

Ichneumonwasp
24th April 2007, 04:03 PM
Many posts have dismissed many anecdotal reports to "release of endorphins" without having a precise knowledge of neurotransmitters and receptors.


I have not used the word endorphins in this regard, but I have most certainly discussed the release of neurotransmitters as a potential cause.

I hope you are not directing that toward me. I'm ready to take you on right now, bud. Fire your first shot.

skepticdoc
24th April 2007, 04:16 PM
I have not used the word endorphins in this regard, but I have most certainly discussed the release of neurotransmitters as a potential cause.

I hope you are not directing that toward me. I'm ready to take you on right now, bud. Fire your first shot.

Chill out, life is short enough. Even if the "Mind" is just the product of neuronal interactions, I would like to know which are the specific pathways that may allow a dying person to gather enough strength to utter some coherent thoughts before their last breath.

athon
24th April 2007, 04:38 PM
When I was a resident physician, a prominent general surgeon in the community developed prostate cancer, the Urologist that took care of him felt he only lasted 6 months because he gave up.

Depressed cancer patients have lower life expectancies than non-depressed counterparts:

http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/467015

What has that to do with the topic? I'm hardly surprised that depressed patients fair worse; it hasn't anything to do with endorphins, but rather the state of stress the body is in, which reduces the efficiency of the body to be able to heal or cope with ill health.

Many posts have dismissed many anecdotal reports to "release of endorphins" without having a precise knowledge of neurotransmitters and receptors.

Some posts have postulated it as a possibility. Most responses have called for some form of solid evidence to discuss in light of your 'claim' (which I do you a favour by calling as such). Which you ignore.

Many medical discoveries have been made by analyzing the exceptions- HIV infected patients that do not develop AIDS, possible link to Plague survival in Europeans, the milkmaid that did not develop smallpox, etc....

Huh? Are you drunk?

Seriously, here's the deal. You just aren't making sense, or even proposing something worthy of discussion. Then when asked for clarification, you ramble something irrelevant and ignore the questions asked.

I suspect you're not really a doctor, to be honest. If that's true, then you've done a poor job of pretending to be one. If it's false, then worse still, it's kind of sad that your communication skills let you down so much that a number of people think you just don't seem to have the thinking skills or rationality to be a physician of any sort.

I consider the posts containing fish emoticons, cat and actor photographs as more representative of trolling, than any of my posts IMHO.

They might not make for polite responses, but considering there's nothing to discuss really, I see no problem with them. They are not 'trolling', as trolling is a behaviour exhibited with the intention of ruffling a few feathers without the intention of engaging in any real discussion.

Athon

Ichneumonwasp
24th April 2007, 04:42 PM
Chill out, life is short enough. Even if the "Mind" is just the product of neuronal interactions, I would like to know which are the specific pathways that may allow a dying person to gather enough strength to utter some coherent thoughts before their last breath.

There are probably several, depending on the particular clinical situation. I have seen folks who were completely non-functional (but not actively dying) perk up with central acetylcholinesterase inhibitors, others in minimally conscious states "awaken" with dopamine releasers or agonists. Both acetylcholine and dopamine are intimately tied to the fluctuations of delirium, so I suspect that either or both underly many of the "rallies". I also suspect that some degree of glutamate release is responsible for some situations -- this happens naturally as brains die. The acetylcholine and dopamine stories make more sense, though, because they are modulatory neurotransmitter systems with widespread influences throughout the cortex and especially the forebrain region.

BillyJoe
24th April 2007, 04:49 PM
When I was a resident physician, a prominent general surgeon in the community developed prostate cancer, the Urologist that took care of him felt he only lasted 6 months because he gave up.

Why am I not impressed by this little story.
Maybe because I do not know you, I do not know the surgeon, I do not know the urologist and I do not know the clinical details.
Maybe because it is just an anecdote.

Depressed cancer patients have lower life expectancies than non-depressed counterparts:

Wow! I wonder why that might be.
Hint: Depressed patients in general have a lower life expectancy than non-depressed people, so why should it be any different for depressed cancer patients. Most depressed patients don't eat properly and don't exercise because they feel...um...depressed.


http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/467015 (http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/467015).

On the other hand there are studies that show that patients with terminal cancer who refuse to believe that their illness is terminal and believe they will overcome their cancer, do not do any better than those who accept they have a terminal illness.

Many medical discoveries have been made by analyzing the exceptions- HIV infected patients that do not develop AIDS, possible link to Plague survival in Europeans, the milkmaid that did not develop smallpox, etc.....

And I suppose you see no difference between these situations and the one you are proposing...um....which is what exactly?...we're still waiting to hear about that one. (Maybe I'll some cute kitten photos in the mean time. ;))

I consider the posts containing fish emoticons, cat and actor photographs as more representative of trolling, than any of my posts IMHO.

Then you have failed to understand our purpose.
There is method in our madness.

regards,
BillyJoe

athon
24th April 2007, 04:49 PM
Even if the "Mind" is just the product of neuronal interactions, I would like to know which are the specific pathways that may allow a dying person to gather enough strength to utter some coherent thoughts before their last breath.

This makes no sense. What do you mean by 'which pathways enable...'? You're talking as if people die when their batteries drain, and in knowing that they're about to lose the last bit of electricty, they don't want to waste it on a momentary recovery.

Illness and death doesn't work that way. Human physiology is complicated, and the progress of an illness depends (funnily enough) on the nature of the illness. A particular cancer might be creating problems with one organ, yet a person's health with fluctuate up and down somewhat depending on other factors. A person could be doing ok and then die of a blood clot, when only hours before they seemed a little more cheerful. A person's heart could suddenly give out while other organs are recovering nicely, meaning only minutes before they seemed awake and aware.

The thing is, we can speculate until the cows come home. It's useless when we have nothing solid to speculate on.

Now, again, did you have something worthwhile to discuss?

Athon

BillyJoe
24th April 2007, 08:34 PM
SD,

Unless and until we know exactly how the brain works, we will continue to see things that have no apparent natural explanation. This is no reason to propose a supernatural explanation. In the context of us not having complete knowledge of how the brain works, proposing a supernatural explanation is, at the very least, premature. A "God of the gaps" sort of thing. It means you have given up looking for a natural explanation even before all the facts about the brain have been elucidated.

Also, it is well known that, when parts of the brain that are responsible for certain functions are lost through injury, infection, or stroke, other parts of the brain are sometimes able to take over that function. It is also well known that sometimes loss of function of one part of the brain is followed by improved function in other parts of the brain (eg savantism, autism, and the rare person who develops recognised artistic talent following stroke).

In the light of the above, the "rallying" you describe that sometimes occurs before death looks a little less remarkable don't you think?
And a little less in need of a supernatural explanation.

BJ

Ichneumonwasp
25th April 2007, 04:31 AM
Also, it is well known that, when parts of the brain that are responsible for certain functions are lost through injury, infection, or stroke, other parts of the brain are sometimes able to take over that function. It is also well known that sometimes loss of function of one part of the brain is followed by improved function in other parts of the brain (eg savantism, autism, and the rare person who develops recognised artistic talent following stroke).

BJ

I'm afraid tht I'm going to have to object to the above in this context. Reorganization of brain function is a long-term process that involves the formation of many new synapses and the relative strengthening of those synapses to "replace" the functions lost. Savantism probably results from single-minded attention to single tasks because the social sphere is denied the autistic. Those situations are not even analogous to what occurs as folks die. Those are long-term neuronal changes, not the short-term changes that Skepticdoc is discussing.

I also object a bit to the whole approach here. He isn't asking about the distal causes of the "rally" -- stochasitc changes, delirium with its ups and downs, improvement and then sudden death from a pulmonary embolism. His question concerns the pathways that might be responsible proximally for what we see. While I agree, BillyJoe, with the basic message of your above post -- there is so much that we do not know about the brain that we cannot give a detailed answer -- we can give a fairly direct answer to this question. While the proximal mechanisms (even in stochastic processes there will be a proximal material explanation involving either certain pathways or a general depolarization phenomenon) may vary from case to case depending on the disease process being discussed, we can offer some preliminary explanations that fit perfectly within a material worldview. It isn't as though we have no idea what is going on here.

Beth
25th April 2007, 05:15 AM
My question is: if Consciousness is just the product of neurons interacting, why would there be any improvement in consciousness as the body continues to deteriorate? My mechanistic interpretation would be that all bodily functions are directly related to the cellular milieu, as the machine slows down, everything should slow down.


I haven't read the thread through, so my apologies if I'm repeating someone else's answer.

I'm not a materialist, but I don't think you need a non-materialist explanation for this. I've always assumed it was the body (brain? subconscious?) recognizing that it had very little time left and attempting to make conscious use of the remaining energy/time available by spending it on a few last 'good' moments before dying.

BillyJoe
25th April 2007, 06:07 AM
I'm afraid tht I'm going to have to object to the above in this context. Reorganization of brain function is a long-term process that involves the formation of many new synapses and the relative strengthening of those synapses to "replace" the functions lost. Savantism probably results from single-minded attention to single tasks because the social sphere is denied the autistic. Those situations are not even analogous to what occurs as folks die. Those are long-term neuronal changes, not the short-term changes that Skepticdoc is discussing.

Well look, I'm just trying to get a reasonable response, any response, from SD, but it looks like it's just not going to happen.

I have no details about people who have these so-called "rallies" before death. Does it occur only in people who die after a long illnesses? I don't know. I don't know if these "rallies" even occur, although you say you have observed it happening.

The man referred to above was a builder who had previously shown no interest in creative art. He suffered a subarachnoid haemorrhage and early signs of his emerging artistic ability commenced about two weeks after his stroke. It took about three years before he was able to produce works of sufficient quality for an exhibition. The works were judged on their merits not just because he was a stroke victim.

On the other hand, in the case of the "rallying" patient, we are not talking about a terminally ill, near comatose patient suddenly getting up and going out for a walk in the hills. We're talking about a brief improvement in his level of consciousness perhaps to deliver a final message or some such thing.

Also I wasn't intending to imply the process was similar. I was merely intending to say that the brain, damaged or undamaged, is occasionally capable of some amazing things. In the case of the stroke patient, I think you are correct that the improvement is due to establishing new connections. Whether this is also a possible mechanism in the brain of a terminally ill patient I don't know. I imagine parts of the brain could possibly been damaged by a lack of oxygen whilst sparing other parts. It could possibly be new connections in these spared parts, or perhaps just increased activity. Has it even been studied sufficiently to know for sure?

In any case it's a bit of a leap from "rallying" before death to evidence for a supernatural soul. This is all I was intending to say.

I also object a bit to the whole approach here. He isn't asking about the distal causes of the "rally" -- stochasitc changes, delirium with its ups and downs, improvement and then sudden death from a pulmonary embolism. His question concerns the pathways that might be responsible proximally for what we see.

I'm not sure I understand what you mean by distal and proximal causes.

While I agree, BillyJoe, with the basic message of your above post -- there is so much that we do not know about the brain that we cannot give a detailed answer -- we can give a fairly direct answer to this question. While the proximal mechanisms...may vary from case to case depending on the disease process being discussed, we can offer some preliminary explanations that fit perfectly within a material worldview. It isn't as though we have no idea what is going on here.

Okay, well that supports what the rest of us are saying here about a supernatural explanation (not expressly stated, but only hinted at, by our very shy SD) being an unnecessary leap. You are saying that there are actually some initial material explanations for the phenomenon.

Ichneumonwasp
25th April 2007, 06:38 AM
Well look, I'm just trying to get a reasonable response, any response, from SD, but it looks like it's just not going to happen.

That's fine. I don't think much is going to be forthcoming, though. I applaud your attempts. I just think it is wise that we all be fairly precise so that no one can get a leg into the door and claim a ghost in the machine.

I have no details about people who have these so-called "rallies" before death. Does it occur only in people who die after a long illnesses? I don't know. I don't know if these "rallies" even occur, although you say you have observed it happening.

The man referred to above was a builder who had previously shown no interest in creative art. He suffered a subarachnoid haemorrhage and early signs of his emerging artistic ability commenced about two weeks after his stroke. It took about three years before he was able to produce works of sufficient quality for an exhibition. The works were judged on their merits not just because he was a stroke victim.

On the other hand, in the case of the "rallying" patient, we are not talking about a terminally ill, near comatose patient suddenly getting up and going out for a walk in the hills. We're talking about a brief improvement in his level of consciousness perhaps to deliver a final message or some such thing.

Well, if we are speaking of the same phenomenon, which isn't clear because Skepticdoc hasn't really said, this "rally" is a very brief improvement in consciouness before death in some people (and that's it). It is rare, and much of it probably does occur because the people in question are suffereing from metabolic disturbances with various degrees of delirium. Delirium is defined as a multiphasic state with variations in levels of consciousness, so if someone improves and then dies it would appear as a rally. Much like we always find our watches in the last damn place we look.

Also I wasn't intending to imply the process was similar. I was merely intending to say that the brain, damaged or undamaged, is occasionally capable of some amazing things. In the case of the stroke patient, I think you are correct that the improvement is due to establishing new connections. Whether this is also a possible mechanism in the brain of a terminally ill patient I don't know. I imagine parts of the brain could possibly been damaged by a lack of oxygen whilst sparing other parts. It could possibly be new connections in these spared parts, or perhaps just increased activity. Has it even been studied sufficiently to know for sure?

OK, that's fine. I just didn't want anyone else wandering by to be confused by the differences in the processes involved. Studied sufficiently? Delirium has been, but the "rally" -- no, there simply isn't any way to do it. You never know if it is a rally right before death or part of delirium until they die and then it's too late. So it isn't even a scientific question. There isn't any way to study it.

In any case it's a bit of a leap from "rallying" before death to evidence for a supernatural soul. This is all I was intending to say.

I fully and completely agree.

I'm not sure I understand what you mean by distal and proximal causes.

I was just trying to get at the issue of delirium as a distal type cause -- delirium is a garbage-bag term that refers to many processes with a similar clinical presentation, and what must occur proximally in the neurons responsible for the improvements in consciousness. I think Skepticdoc wants to pretend that we don't know much about what happens in such situations, but we do have good inklings of it. Is that clearer? I'm not sure that I'm quite getting the point across. He seemed to want to know the neural pathways involved, which I am calling a proximal issue rather than the distal global issue of the illness causing the delirium or coma.

Okay, well that supports what the rest of us are saying here about a supernatural explanation (not expressly stated, but only hinted at, by our very shy SD) being an unnecessary leap. You are saying that there are actually some initial material explanations for the phenomenon.

Oh, of course. As I tried to explain to Cuddles I am not on Skepticdoc's side. We already know many of the details of the material explanation for this phenomenon, but we don't know them all. I may be getting overly pedantic on this, but I deal with the more detailed issues involved on a daily basis.

skepticdoc
25th April 2007, 06:42 AM
What do you perceive is my "side"?

skepticdoc
25th April 2007, 06:44 AM
FYI , and irritation/enjoyment!

http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/view/id/113

"I don't know"

http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/view/id/112

http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/view/id/102

Ichneumonwasp
25th April 2007, 06:51 AM
What do you perceive is my "side"?

What I have already said -- that we don't know much about it and that it is somehow a mysterious phenomenon. I don't find it all that mysterious.

Myriad
25th April 2007, 07:26 AM
My anecdotal evidence consists of the three occasions in my life when a person died whose bedside I had personally attended frequently in the preceding days and weeks. Two cases were my own relatives; the third was the mother of a close friend.

Notable improvement in lucidity in comparison to the preceding 5 or 6 days during which uniform decline occurred, the "rally" lasting about two hours during the approximately 12-hour period prior to death, occurred in all three cases. By "notable" I mean that it was commented on by those in attendance, observations like "She was so alert today," "She talked to us for the first time in weeks," after the final visit and before receiving news of the death.

All three cases had other common features, in particularly, the cause of death being progressive organ failure in a bedridden person in very advanced age. These were not cases involving, for instance, trauma, heart attack, coma, or infectious disease. Also, in all three cases there were loved ones (or at least, visitors with strong emotional connections; I suppose I can't prove anyone loved anybody else) present for the dying person to interact with. In all three cases the final "rally" visit ended with the patient stating she was too tired to continue talking and needed to rest.

I don't believe that the reality of this phenomenon per se is an extraordinary claim. Causes that I've speculated on include circulatory changes (organs reaching a certain critical failure stage at which they're no longer consuming much O2 or glucose and/or no longer receiving much blood flow at all, leaving more for the brain) and side effects of renal failure (such as accumulating toxins having, at first, a stimulant effect). I can also see the bedside presence of loved ones having an amplifying effect on what might begin as a minor random fluctuation of lucidity initially caused by such physiological factors. Sufficient lucidity to become aware, perhaps for the first time in days, of one's children at bedside could encourage the patient to make an effort to stay awake and alert for a while. However, I don't think this scenario alone: random more lucid moment -> interaction with visitors -> exhaustion -> death a few hours later -- is sufficient explanation, given the more general pattern of decline (with notable lack of such more-lucid moments) during the preceding week.

Respectfully,
Myriad

athon
25th April 2007, 08:12 AM
What do you perceive is my "side"?

The underside...of a bridge.

Look, people have put some effort into asking you to clarify your position, and you respond with a few evasive words. Playing stupid games like this is what has earned you the complete lack of respect and contempt from posters here such as myself.

Now, either say something or move on to somewhere that your drivel is appreciated.

Athon

skepticdoc
25th April 2007, 08:26 AM
Anybody that does not agree with me or dislikes me can use the "Ignore" feature. Unless they enjoy the "irritation", to each their own!

dlorde
25th April 2007, 09:03 AM
Fed up with lurking... feel like stirring the pot...

This thread reminded me - I've noticed that I feel particularly perky the day before I get my first cold/flu symptoms - I sometimes wonder vaguely whether there is a causal correlation there and whether it might be due to the mobilisation of the immune system, etc. OK, not quite the same as dying, obviously :rolleyes:

Oh, and I've been waiting for mention of that other popular dying myth - the dying person 'hangs on' until <important event of your choice> occurs (e.g. visit from loved one, signing of will, United win cup, etc). Although, I can see with this one that it's equally possible to say the important event was too much for the deceased...

BTW If I were a betting man, I'd bet on ScepticDoc being a troll, even from the limited evidence of this thread.

Ivor the Engineer
25th April 2007, 10:51 AM
Perhaps this (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_erection) is what SD is talking about...

BillyJoe
25th April 2007, 01:42 PM
What do you perceive is my "side"?

http://www.frozenreality.co.uk/comic/bunny/strips/050904.gif

BillyJoe
25th April 2007, 01:47 PM
At least I'll know what to expect the next time I meet this bunny.
Maybe I'll chase him around a bit and post some warning signs for others.
Hound him out of the place as it were.

http://www.mburkeop.com/images/11%20-%20Dog%20Chasing%20Rabbit%20In%20Snow.jpg

Cuddles
26th April 2007, 06:29 AM
At least I'll know what to expect the next time I meet this bunny.
Maybe I'll chase him around a bit and post some warning signs for others.
Hound him out of the place as it were.

http://www.mburkeop.com/images/11%20-%20Dog%20Chasing%20Rabbit%20In%20Snow.jpg

Bigger!!!:eek:

BillyJoe
26th April 2007, 02:42 PM
Did you notice the head of a pig on the rabbit's rear end :D

skepticdoc
26th April 2007, 03:22 PM
I like this bunny:

http://www.veiled-chameleon.com/weblog/httpdocs/images/blogcontent/playfulbunny.jpg

skepticdoc
26th April 2007, 03:24 PM
Watch out for this one:

http://www.maddmothermoose.com/EAsterEvilBunny.jpg

skepticdoc
26th April 2007, 03:27 PM
The dog may not chase this one:

http://www.gagneint.com/Final%20site/misc/fan%20art/Nikki/evil%20bunny.jpg

BillyJoe
26th April 2007, 09:18 PM
Random thought generator.

http://www.philosophistry.com/scans/2004/05/noise_generator.jpg

skepticdoc
27th April 2007, 03:46 AM
Antipsychotics may help that condition

BillyJoe
27th April 2007, 04:19 AM
http://tbn0.google.com/images?q=tbn:hwjGcLb_VUOhxM:http://nutria.msn.no/gallery/emoticons/wink-.jpg

skepticdoc
27th April 2007, 01:41 PM
I found a Physician with a more comprehensive answer than any of the "contributions" in the thread:

Dr. Johnathan Miller on the BBC's "Brief History of Disbelief" , some in the UK saw it on TV in 2004, I just watched it on VEOH.

I feel some vindication that a Physician has provided a more cogent explanation (I just became aware of the documentary through a Center for Inquiry e-mail).

BillyJoe
27th April 2007, 02:48 PM
SD,

Would you kind enough to provide a summary of Dr. Jonathan Miller's view? Or, better still, a link.

BJ

skepticdoc
27th April 2007, 04:03 PM
http://www.veoh.com/videos/v290167nBNFCMmq?searchId=250637378868435742&rank=1

Skeptic Ginger
27th April 2007, 06:54 PM
Perhaps this (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_erection) is what SD is talking about...You really have to wonder how there is always someone willing to post anything and everything in a Wiki entry.

:teacher:

athon
27th April 2007, 10:10 PM
Doc, you would have to be amongst the laziest posters here. You can't articulate your own position, offer no evidence of any real research on whatever it is you're trying to say, and then you post a link for an hour long show which you don't even try to summarise for some form of brevity.

Bring back the bunny pictures I say. At least then I knew what this topic was really about.

Athon

BillyJoe
27th April 2007, 10:22 PM
Doc....


EVIDENCE!!! :D

athon
27th April 2007, 10:33 PM
EVIDENCE!!! :D

I should put a disclaimer in following the term. 'Doc'*

*this abbreviation does not necessarily demonstrate a belief by the author that the nominee is actually a practicing medical practitioner of any sort.

Athon

Aepervius
28th April 2007, 12:36 AM
The best contribution of Skepticdoc was indeed the bunny girl. To add to the thread, may I ask if somebody has a picture of similarly costumed kitten-girl ?

Nevermind.

skepticdoc
28th April 2007, 03:16 AM
Dr. Miller's documentary is 3 hours long, divided in 3 parts. The title describes it perfectly. If anybody desires more detail on disbelief, "Doubt" by Jennifer Michael Hecht is more comprehensive, but does not have any insight on Death.

Some annoying posters are asking for a summary, sigh, it would be like asking for a "Cliff Notes" of another "Cliff Notes"!

BillyJoe
28th April 2007, 03:57 AM
We are not asking for a summary of the whole 3 hours.
Just the bit to do with "rallying" before dying would be fine.

I was actually interested in watching the video in any case, but the download speeds here won't allow it. :(

kellyb
28th April 2007, 06:54 AM
I watched part one and two, because it really is very interesting.
Nothing about any rallies before death, though. It's just the history of atheism.

Myriad
28th April 2007, 07:03 AM
Doc, I'd like to hear your expert medical opinion on the observations I reported, and the explanations for them that I hypothesized, in post 104. Or, if that post is somehow not relevent to the OP topic, could you please explain why not?

Thanks.

Respectfully,
Myriad

skepticdoc
28th April 2007, 09:31 AM
Dear Myriad, I don't believe there can be an "expert" opinion on this matter.

Hospice nurses have the most experience, as I posted in the original post, the Cancer Center at OSU published there was no statistically proven difference.

I think your post is among the honest few.

My personal belief is that it happens, but I have no concrete explanation for the mechanism. It could be an instance of the "Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy", wishful thinking, or as pointed out by magicians, one just chooses to be "charmed by the magic" and the mechanics of the trick are just vulgar.

I contacted a nationally recognized author on Medical/Religious issues that just just replied, "I'm afraid I can't help with this one."

I had only 2 responses to a post on a Physician List-serve, I am afraid that among my fellow Physicians I am just considered a "radioactive" heathen troll!

I watched Dr. Miller's documentary after receiving an e-mail from the "Center for Inquiry", they funded airing the series on PBS in the US in May. In my area the PBS station will not air the documentary and I had to watch it on the Web. His views on the topic of "death and dying" are a very small fraction of the documentary, his main subject is disbelief, not death.

articulett
28th April 2007, 10:01 AM
Well hi Skepticdoc. Long time no silly unsupported claims to address.

I've never heard of this supposed "common belief/perception" and I spent more than a few years as an ICU nurse. My experience was just the opposite. Either people deteriorated until they were comatose for days to weeks before dying, or they never seemed to recover and remained depressed until dying. Seems those folks who just continued to feel as if something was wrong were the ones who soon died.

I believe there is some evidence people die more often just after a birthday or holiday which some have suggested is possibly due to 'hanging on' until a goal of some kind then giving up. But I'd have to check if the studies I read on this in the past have been confirmed or refuted. See below, further evidence refutes earlier results.

Either way, as usual, you make some claim with no evidence whatsoever to back up if your underlying premise is even true, let alone any reason the suggested mechanism is correct. You need to start there, not pondering the reasons when you haven't even established the phenomena or mechanisms exist.

I'm with you. Even the first sentence.

My husband died of cancer; he was 28... he tried to die a week before his death by letting go or visualizing or doing whatever spiritual thing would release him from a life that had become too burdensome. He even asked permission from me and his family members, "Is it okay if I die now?"--but he struggled through another week with various family members and doctors discussing how much of which drugs it was okay to give him so that we didn't inadvertently end his life before he could die "naturally"-- He moaned eerily in the hours before death...and he seemed to be saying "this is it" in the minutes before he died. But I would hardly describe it as a rally. And his last moment looked like he went to take a breath and was confused because there was no breath there and then he relaxed...his pulse was gone immediately. His final days were spent pretty drugged up to keep him out of pain and calm--he was angry that he could not die at will. He kept saying (upon waking up yet again, "Where's the big wowee??!". He believed or at least wanted to believe that there was life after death. But in the end it didn't matter; he just didn't want life. He wanted life to end. He preferred to be unconscious even if for an eternity.

I teach kids...and I often wonder how it will effect them when they find out that science is showing more and more that there really is no such thing as a soul. Will they feel betrayed. I try to bring in articles about the effects of various kinds of brain damage--like the newest study on the brain and morality and how damage to a certain portion negates an emotional reaction we have to doing something abhorrent. And information about common ancestry too. And why consciousness evolves and how other animals cooperate and fight...how chimps have culture; how other animals do selfless things.

They are living in a time when we can know so much, but they are being indoctrinated with made up stories that humans invented to answer questions that demanded answers-- I often think about the next few years, as people get on the same page as science with evolution and neurology--and the upheaval and resistance and clinging to old paradigms it will cause. I want no part of the delusion--I don't want to prop up false beliefs that I found useless, manipulative, and in many cases, harmful. There is no soul. Giving credence to this idea--this immeasurable invisible eternal something or other--is dishonest. I'm not advocating shouting "there is no soul" in churches or to dying people or family members--but those of us who understand the facts must help build a world where others can understand them to. I'm not sure delusions are good for much except comfort. And I don't want that kind of comfort for myself. I'd rather say I don't know something than to promote a lie.

skepticdoc
28th April 2007, 10:18 AM
We all could die at will, the US society and the laws prevent the individuals and the Physicians/Nurses from assisting suicide.

BillyJoe
28th April 2007, 08:33 PM
Dear Myriad, I don't believe there can be an "expert" opinion on this matter.


I believe you are wrong. There may not be an expert opinion now, but there can be. If the subject "rally before death" is studied seriously, much can be learned. Even the continuing study of the brain, may provide insights into this question.

Hospice nurses have the most experience, as I posted in the original post...


So why not ask for volunteers amongst them to collate their observations in real time and have an experienced interviewer ask pertinent questions to bring out the facts of the observations. That would be a good starting point.


...the Cancer Center at OSU published there was no statistically proven difference.


Between what and what?

I think your post is among the honest few.


Our seeming dishonesty is all in your mind, and it's the result of your own dishonest (or, if we allow a more generously interpretation, timid) posting.


My personal belief is that it happens, but I have no concrete explanation for the mechanism. It could be an instance of the "Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy", wishful thinking, or as pointed out by magicians, one just chooses to be "charmed by the magic" and the mechanics of the trick are just vulgar.



Finally an honest answer.
But why all the irrelevant side-tracks.
Even your excellent reference to the Jonathan Miller series, seems to be irrelevant.
What is you purpose with these digressions if you do not intend commenting on them?


I contacted a nationally recognized author on Medical/Religious issues that just just replied, "I'm afraid I can't help with this one."



So?


I had only 2 responses to a post on a Physician List-serve, I am afraid that among my fellow Physicians I am just considered a "radioactive" heathen troll!



Doesn't this tell you something, that you have had two similar responses to your postings on two different forums. I have not yet called you a troll, but your failure to stay on topic and your irrelevant responses to various posters who have tried to deal with this subject seriously, has me puzzled. Most of you post are so incoherent that it is not surprising that some (and I include myself here) doubt that you are, in fact, a medical practitioner. At least we hope our own medical attendants are more capable than you have shown yourself to be.

I watched Dr. Miller's documentary after receiving an e-mail from the "Center for Inquiry", they funded airing the series on PBS in the US in May. In my area the PBS station will not air the documentary and I had to watch it on the Web. His views on the topic of "death and dying" are a very small fraction of the documentary, his main subject is disbelief, not death.


I managed to download part 1 in the early hours of sunday morning before the heavy traffic arrived, and found it extremely interesting but totally irrelevant to the topic at hand. Part 2 downloaded about 15 minutes before the rest of the population got out of bed and on line :(
Does he, in fact, discus the topic or does he not?
But thanks for the link anyway, I spent a very interesting and educational hour watching it.
So something good has come out of my continuing in this thread.:)
Thanls for that, at least.

regards,
BillyJoe

BillyJoe
28th April 2007, 08:35 PM
We all could die at will, the US society and the laws prevent the individuals and the Physicians/Nurses from assisting suicide.


Is the topic now euthanasia?

athon
28th April 2007, 10:48 PM
Some annoying posters are asking for a summary, sigh, it would be like asking for a "Cliff Notes" of another "Cliff Notes"!

No. It's like asking you for your position and some sort of direction to go on. Something, by your evasion, you are incapable of doing.

My personal belief is that it happens, but I have no concrete explanation for the mechanism. It could be an instance of the "Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy", wishful thinking, or as pointed out by magicians, one just chooses to be "charmed by the magic" and the mechanics of the trick are just vulgar.

You're not paying attention at all, and the very fact you avoid responding directly to posts only serves to illustrate that you're intentionally avoiding the issue. And you have the gall to speak of honesty? Haha.

Before mechanisms can be even speculated, there needs to be something to suggest there is something to speculate. Most people here have said as much.

We all could die at will, the US society and the laws prevent the individuals and the Physicians/Nurses from assisting suicide.

Where did this come from? Do you even know what topic you're discussing? Four pages and still there's no topic.

Well, I did get some nice pictures out of it, I guess.

Athon

Skeptic Ginger
28th April 2007, 11:28 PM
I reviewed a few more of those studies about postponing death. Sorry, I was up to something else and didn't copy the links but the studies are easy to search for because they are fairly large.

Anyway, there actually was mixed results. In one study women died more often just after a birthday and men more often before one. The author speculated a reason I won't bother repeating since it was just speculation. In another study the number 4 was lucky in one culture and there were significantly fewer deaths on the 4th of every month. These both had very large sample sizes but I didn't look at the analysis of the numbers.

And some other studies found no effect. So I guess I go back to "there may be some evidence" on postponing death.

BillyJoe
29th April 2007, 02:12 AM
In one study women died more often just after a birthday and men more often before one. The author speculated a reason I won't bother repeating since it was just speculation.


Was it a statistically significant difference?
Did it say how many wanted to make it to their birthday?
Did they note the times of death? A few minutes after midnight could easily be smudged if you get my meaning.

In another study the number 4 was lucky in one culture and there were significantly fewer deaths on the 4th of every month.


Again how many just before midnight on the 3rd of the month and just after midnight on the 5th of the month. Again, it would be easy to smudge especially if everyone sees the 4th as being lucky.


And some other studies found no effect. So I guess I go back to "there may be some evidence" on postponing death



With no mechanism and the very real possibility of methodological flaws, perhaps the studies that showed no effect accounted for more variables than the other studies that showed "an effect". My default would be "no effect" unless there study was a large totally convincing study that showed otherwise.

skepticdoc
4th May 2007, 10:28 AM
Thanks for the posts, it is all probably anecdotal.

I may send some polling questions to the Hospice organizations in my community and take it from there.

Skeptic Ginger
4th May 2007, 11:44 PM
I'm with you. Even the first sentence.

My husband died of cancer; he was 28... he tried to die a week before his death by letting go or visualizing or doing whatever spiritual thing would release him from a life that had become too burdensome. He even asked permission from me and his family members, "Is it okay if I die now?"--but he struggled through another week with various family members and doctors discussing how much of which drugs it was okay to give him so that we didn't inadvertently end his life before he could die "naturally"-- He moaned eerily in the hours before death...and he seemed to be saying "this is it" in the minutes before he died. But I would hardly describe it as a rally. And his last moment looked like he went to take a breath and was confused because there was no breath there and then he relaxed...his pulse was gone immediately. His final days were spent pretty drugged up to keep him out of pain and calm--he was angry that he could not die at will. He kept saying (upon waking up yet again, "Where's the big wowee??!". He believed or at least wanted to believe that there was life after death. But in the end it didn't matter; he just didn't want life. He wanted life to end. He preferred to be unconscious even if for an eternity.

I teach kids...and I often wonder how it will effect them when they find out that science is showing more and more that there really is no such thing as a soul. Will they feel betrayed. I try to bring in articles about the effects of various kinds of brain damage--like the newest study on the brain and morality and how damage to a certain portion negates an emotional reaction we have to doing something abhorrent. And information about common ancestry too. And why consciousness evolves and how other animals cooperate and fight...how chimps have culture; how other animals do selfless things.

They are living in a time when we can know so much, but they are being indoctrinated with made up stories that humans invented to answer questions that demanded answers-- I often think about the next few years, as people get on the same page as science with evolution and neurology--and the upheaval and resistance and clinging to old paradigms it will cause. I want no part of the delusion--I don't want to prop up false beliefs that I found useless, manipulative, and in many cases, harmful. There is no soul. Giving credence to this idea--this immeasurable invisible eternal something or other--is dishonest. I'm not advocating shouting "there is no soul" in churches or to dying people or family members--but those of us who understand the facts must help build a world where others can understand them to. I'm not sure delusions are good for much except comfort. And I don't want that kind of comfort for myself. I'd rather say I don't know something than to promote a lie.
That's very sad, articulett. That must have been very hard to watch someone you love die like that.

I think my Dad took a bottle of pain pills at the end when he died. He was really sick and in pain and not comfortable because he was so ill. About a week before he died, he asked me, "Is this what it's like?" And when I said something about not thinking he was that close, he sighed in the most disappointed way. I really hadn't realized just what he had been asking until that sigh. Then I realized he wanted it to be over, he had had enough. I don't know if he took the pills or not and I'm sure he didn't tell my Mom if he had.

My Dad lived long enough to see my son. He is the only grandchild and my two brothers will never have kids. That's how I look at living on. And it doesn't even have to be your own children. I think of the cells in your body dying but the body lives on. I'm contributing to the collective brain, trying to bring it into the modern world (there are still too many cells lagging behind :) ).

The time you have is what you have. I'd rather enjoy it as it is than waste time on rituals believing those rituals were going to result in eternal life. Look at what a waste some people make of their lives believing there's another one to come. All back through time you find these elaborate rituals around preparing for the next life. How much time did the pharaohs spend preparing for the next life? How many minutes are wasted reading Bibles and praying? All so you can have the comfort of a myth?

Makes no sense to me.

BillyJoe
5th May 2007, 12:07 AM
Thanks for the posts, it is all probably anecdotal.

I may send some polling questions to the Hospice organizations in my community and take it from there.


You're a strange one, SD.
You seem genuine but you hardly bother to get involved. :(
Maybe next time.

Skeptic Ginger
5th May 2007, 12:15 AM
Was it a statistically significant difference?
Did it say how many wanted to make it to their birthday?
Did they note the times of death? A few minutes after midnight could easily be smudged if you get my meaning.

Again how many just before midnight on the 3rd of the month and just after midnight on the 5th of the month. Again, it would be easy to smudge especially if everyone sees the 4th as being lucky.

With no mechanism and the very real possibility of methodological flaws, perhaps the studies that showed no effect accounted for more variables than the other studies that showed "an effect". My default would be "no effect" unless there study was a large totally convincing study that showed otherwise.The studies were mixed so no conclusions can be drawn without looking at them more closely to determine what's going on.

CONCLUSION: We found no evidence, in contrast to previous studies, that cancer patients are able to postpone their deaths to survive significant religious, social, or personal events. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?CMD=search&DB=pubmed)

In the total Jewish sample (n = 1919), the number of deaths was lower than expected in the week before Passover and higher than expected in the week after (p = 0.045). This dip-peak pattern of mortality was concentrated among people with unambiguously Jewish surnames (p = 0.003) and did not appear in various control groups, including Blacks, Orientals, and Jewish infants. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?db=pubmed&cmd=Retrieve&dopt=AbstractPlus&list_uids=2901577&query_hl=12&itool=pubmed_docsum)

This study shows that mortality dips before a symbolically meaningful occasion and peaks just afterward. Mortality among Chinese (n = 1288) dips by 35.1% in the week before the Harvest Moon Festival and peaks by the same amount (34.6%) in the week after....we concluded that the dip/peak pattern occurs because death can be briefly postponed until after the occurrence of a significant occasion. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?db=pubmed&cmd=Retrieve&dopt=AbstractPlus&list_uids=2313872&query_hl=12&itool=pubmed_DocSum)

For all men, and for younger women (ages 35-74) there was a clear and significant dip-peak pattern in the number of deaths around the Sabbath (Saturday), but no consistent dip-peak pattern around other holy days. This pattern was found for all causes of death (particularly cerebro-vascular causes), was stronger for men than for women, and was not found among young Jewish children, or among the non-Jewish population. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?itool=abstractplus&db=pubmed&cmd=Retrieve&dopt=abstractplus&list_uids=11144919)

CONCLUSIONS: These data do not support the hypothesis that elderly Chinese-, Korean-, or Vietnamese-American women are able to prolong their lives until after the celebration of the Harvest Moon Festival. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?itool=abstractplus&db=pubmed&cmd=Retrieve&dopt=abstractplus&list_uids=15184700)

Only a few deathday-birthday connections were evident. However, these connections were not replicated across states and years. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?db=pubmed&cmd=Retrieve&dopt=AbstractPlus&list_uids=15859165&query_hl=12&itool=pubmed_docsum)

We do find an increase in deaths in the weeks shortly before and after birthdays. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?db=pubmed&cmd=Retrieve&dopt=AbstractPlus&list_uids=11521452&query_hl=12&itool=pubmed_docsum)

CONCLUSION: Research over the past 3 decades has failed to provide convincing evidence that psychological phenomena such as "giving up" or "holding on" can influence the timing of death. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?db=pubmed&cmd=Retrieve&dopt=AbstractPlus&list_uids=15184701&query_hl=12&itool=pubmed_docsum)

This study of deaths from natural causes examined adult mortality around the birthday for two samples, totalling 2,745,149 people. Women are more likely to die in the week following their birthdays than in any other week of the year. In addition, the frequency of female deaths dips below normal just before the birthday. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?itool=abstractplus&db=pubmed&cmd=Retrieve&dopt=abstractplus&list_uids=1438656)

I'll have to find the 4th of the month study, I don't know where I saw it.

BillyJoe
5th May 2007, 02:47 AM
In nearly every case there is an effect, but the conclusion is that there is no effect. Probably there is no significant effect. However the 35% dip-rise for the Harvest Moon festival for chinese (n=1288) sounds significant to me (I'm assuming that n=1288 for each week).
I'd still be interested to see a day by day analysis. If the entire rise is on the "next day", this could be accounted for by bumping the deaths past midnight.

BillyJoe
5th May 2007, 03:39 AM
Let's look at just the Chinese Harvest Moon case:

The following is a summary of a study reported on 11 Apr 1990


This study shows that mortality dips before a symbolically meaningful occasion and peaks just afterward. Mortality among Chinese (n = 1288) dips by 35.1% in the week before the Harvest Moon Festival and peaks by the same amount (34.6%) in the week after. We chose to study mortality among Chinese and a Chinese holiday for two reasons. First, the holiday moves around the calendar, thus allowing separation of the effects of the holiday from fixed, monthly mortality effects. Second, the holiday appeals strongly to one (experimental) group and not to others (which can be used as control groups). In terms of percentage, cerebrovascular diseases displayed the largest dip/peak pattern, followed by diseases of the heart, and then malignant neoplasms. The dip/peak mortality pattern does not appear in various non-Chinese control groups. The statistical significance of the findings was demonstrated with linear and curvilinear regression analysis and with two nonparametric tests. After testing alternative explanations for the findings, we concluded that the dip/peak pattern occurs because death can be briefly postponed until after the occurrence of a significant occasion.



The following is a re-examination and re-evaluation of the above claim reported in May 2004.


OBJECTIVE: Reexamine the claim that elderly Chinese-American women are able to prolong their lives until after the celebration of the Harvest Moon Festival. METHODS: See if independent 1985 to 2000 data for Chinese-, Korean-, and Vietnamese-Americans replicate results that were reported using 1960 to 1984 data for Chinese-Americans. RESULTS: The original 1960 to 1984 data do not support the death-postponement theory unless deaths that occur on the festival day are classified as having occurred after the festival. The new data do not support the theory, no matter how deaths on the festival day are classified. CONCLUSIONS: These data do not support the hypothesis that elderly Chinese-, Korean-, or Vietnamese-American women are able to prolong their lives until after the celebration of the Harvest Moon Festival.



So this is worse than I thought.
It was not the recording of the deaths being pushed past midnight by kind carers, but the investigators grabbing a whole day's deaths and throwing them holus bolus past midnight!
Unbelievable!
It was, at best, carelessness and, at worst, fraud.


In any case...

BUSTED!

skepticdoc
5th May 2007, 06:51 AM
You're a strange one, SD.
You seem genuine but you hardly bother to get involved. :(
Maybe next time.

I felt my original post was one step in getting involved.

What do you suggest I could do different?

BillyJoe
5th May 2007, 02:08 PM
I guess it was, but not much happened after that.

It might help if you respond to posters in your thread instead of either ignoring them or posting some inappropriate comment or irrelevant link.
Engagement in other words.
(If you're really asking that is)


regards,
BillyJoe

skepticdoc
5th May 2007, 02:53 PM
Do you consider kitten photos, bunny comic strips relevant to the posts?

I honestly do not believe I have ignored any honest questions, if anyone disagrees send me a PM or re-post the question (even just list the #!).

BillyJoe
5th May 2007, 03:20 PM
Well, it seems you were'nt really asking as I suspected.
Just read the thread again and you will find answers to your abvoe questions.

The kittens and comics were in reaction to your failure to engage us in any meaningful conversation with other posters. Instead, as I said above, you either ignored what was said or posted nonsensical comment or irrelevant links.

I'm not sure that, after four pages of trying, that it's worthwhile to rehash it all over yet again.

skepticdoc
5th May 2007, 03:44 PM
See post#139, thanks again!