Lisa Smartt examines what our final words tell us about consciousness and the afterlife.
photo by: Skeptiko
On this episode of Skeptiko…
Alex Tsakiris: One of the things that surprised me is the playfulness of [these final words]… “Hey, I’m going to Las Vegas. Hey, we need a fourth for the golf tournament.” What the heck is going on there, what does that say about this other realm [after death] and how we ought to feel about it?
Lisa Smartt: Um, it’s so true. One of the stories I loved was from Carol and it was the account of her last words of her father, who was a roofing contractor, and she said, “He would awaken and look at over at me and smile so big and he told me, ‘They have all these kitchenettes over there, there were miles and miles of them,’ and he would be helping build them all.” So there is a sense of almost joy and wonder and awe and not always, I mean I don’t want to sugar coat the experience of dying, because there are people who also… you know, their last words are, “Help me, help me,” and that’s real too.
Stay with us for Skeptiko…
Welcome to Skeptiko, where we explore controversial science and spirituality with leading researchers, thinkers and their critics. I’m your host Alex Tsakiris and today we have an interesting interview with Lisa Smartt, who is a linguist, has a Master’s Degree from Berkeley, has written this book, Words at the Threshold: What We Say as We’re Nearing Death
. And for this book she collaborated with Raymond Moody
, the famous Raymond Moody who started the whole near-death experience thing way back. And what they looked at were the words that people say when they’re about to die, in and around the time that they’re dying. So you might have heard of terminal lucidity, and maybe you’ve heard of stories of the profound things people say before they die, there are ton of these accounts, almost all of us have family stories of this kind.
So, she’s taken a disciplined, methodical look at what’s being said, and it’s just fascinating. It has huge implications for near-death experience, but also obviously for science and this question of the afterlife and consciousness and particularly, what I’m interested in, you know, what is the nature of these extended consciousness realms? I think she raises some questions about that as well.
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Today we welcome Lisa Smartt to Skeptiko. Lisa’s a linguist whose experiences with her dying father led her to this fascinating investigation into the unique communication that often happens when people are near-death. She’s just written a new book about this titled, Words at the Threshold: What We Say as We’re Nearing Death. Lisa, welcome to Skeptiko and thanks so much for joining me.
Lisa Smartt: Oh, thanks for having me; it’s great to be here.
Alex Tsakiris: Well this is exciting, it’s kind of new stuff, it’s going to be very much in the vein of other stuff we’ve talked ab...