The neurosurgeon who saw heaven


Is it me, or does it cost $1.99 to read the article from the link?

Not just you. It gives you a few paragraphs, then asks for $1.99 to read the actual article.

Yes, this PPV is a first for me and one which I will emphatically decline. Not sure if BB was aware it was leading its readers to such a short walk to a toll road but if so, they should make note of it in their post. There is a lot of this testing of the waters out there right now, probing to see how much the traffic will bare. Everywhere you go and everything you read now requires you to register and subscribe. Monetizing information.

Sorry about that, guys. I was able to read the whole thing without a paywall. I’m not sure why it didn’t throw that up for me, so I didn’t realize it was there.

Using an Instapaper ‘Read Later’ bookmarklet will get around the paywall and drop the whole article into Instapaper for you.

You can also use firebug (or similar) and just delete the DOM element, then change the opacity of the tp-overlay class to 0.

I’ll spare you the details: man has fever dream that stirs up his innermost insecurities about the unknowns in life, then thinks he found a way out of his financial boggle by selling admission to his dream. That was a lot less painful than reading it. How does he expect anyone to believe that something “beyond time and space” can enter into his “definitely material” brain as a memory, if it really is so mystical. Doesn’t that, by definition, invalidate his claim.


the problem is that those who want to believe it will. those who are skeptical (myself included) will not. I don’t really know what he could possibly tell me that would make me not be skeptical. The fact that he is (was?) a neurosurgeon really means nothing in terms of convincing me…

Here’s a good critique by Sam Harris of the 2012 Newsweek article by Alexander:


The article I posted isn’t meant to convince you that the dude actually saw heaven. It’s a critical piece. It’s meant to be a look inside the mind and life of a guy who is pretty clearly scamming a lot of people. I think it’s a fascinating read because of that.

You can also use the Clearly(by Evernote) app in your browser to get around that annoyance.

just FYI… this note is on the page that pops up…

This is the first time we’ve asked online readers to pay for a story, but for good reason: Because stories like Dittrich’s matter and they don’t come along often. Because great journalism—and the months that go into creating it—isn’t free. So, besides providing the story to readers of our print and digital-tablet versions of the August issue, we are offering it to online readers as a stand-alone purchase. Thank you. —DG


Firebug doesn’t exist in chrome, but adblock is able to remove the opacity, if not the paywall element.

Correction: whacking it with adblock a second time cleared it, so long as I didn’t accept or cancel the change adblock was trying to make. Adblock deserves my money more than Esquire. :slight_smile:

$1.99 seems a bit stiff for an article which may turn out to be a bore. The paywallers would be smarter to start at a lower level. This brings up the problem of micropayments, which still seems to be mysteriously unsolved.

I dunno about all that paywall stuff. It was hard to see the article, so I viewed page source, saved it, and read the local html file.

As for the article itself, it certainly brings the guy’s veracity into question. That business with the editing of the surgery report after he realized his bone identification error, was over the top.

The paywall is an interstitial loaded after the real article, so “View Source” seems to work, too.

The guy’s whole shtick reminds me of the “get us some profits” pun in Dogma.

Maggie, the fact that he was a neurosurgeon should be enough to convince you that he’s right, because everyone knows that neurosurgeons are second only to rocket scientists in their smarts, and he states that he wanted to be a rocket scientist.

Sarcasm aside, this article is a great read about his penchant for telling stories his own way. Unfortunately, it’s too long to get into the hands of the folks who need to read it.

This particular debunk hits close to home. My mom is heavily into The Woo, including Eben Alexander. The thing is: my dad just died. And this guy’s book, and her belief in it (in good part because “he’s a science guy”), is a huge, huge comfort to her.

So yes, she bought his book and he made some money off of it. And if he’s a fabulist, intentional or subconscious, then that can be called a “scam.” But she wakes up at 2am, alone in a bed she shared for 49 years, and this book helps keep her out of the whistling existential void.

People don’t believe this stuff because they’re stupid, or because they’re sheep. They believe it because it helps them make sense - artificial or not - of what can be a terrifying, sad world. Isn’t that, in a way, a service worth paying for?


Another way 'round the paywall: do a Google news search for “the prophet”, choose the cached version of the page, then (quickly) click the “text only” link at the top right of the page.

As an added bonus, this method gives you nice, dense, black-on-white text to read instead of the fluffy pdf-looking layout of the original page.

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Sorry, I avoid paywalls as a matter of principle.

I was going to post Sam Harris’ (non-pw) referenced dissection/demolition of Alexander’s disingenuity, but I see it’s already posted.

I quite like Harris despite some shortcomings, and the rebuttal linked is one of the most thorough refutations of woo I’ve ever seen. The good thing is that Harris is in favor of “spiritual” pursuits, is pro-meditation, etc, whilst also being anti-woo. He’s as good a neuroscientist/philosopher to tackle Alexander as any, I’d say.

Note that (as Harris points out) Alexander specializes in cutting into brains, not sussing out their function. Alexander repeatedly contradicts basic science with such blatancy that his claims seem no better than those of a homeopath.