Why I Have Added a Donation Button to My Website

 

Pursuing a career as researcher in this subject area is not quite as difficult as trying to be a rock star or a Hollywood actor, but it's close. A lot of people find this surprising, but it's not uncommon for a scholar to study for many years, earn degrees and undertake postdoctoral research at prestigious universities, and publish articles in scholarly journals and books with high-profile publishers....only to wind up unemployable!

Some of us write and research out of passion, and because we have original ideas we want to pursue in depth then share our results with the world.  But if those passions conflict with what is currently fashionable at universities and with their funding priorities, things become very difficult very quickly.  

And if those passions happen to be considered "fringe" subjects - such as near-death experiences and the cross-cultural comparison of afterlife beliefs - well, let's just say it's best to start looking for income outside the university system!  Hence the Donation button above, linking to my new Patreon page and to a PayPal portal.

People outside the academic world are also surprised to discover that scholars are paid nothing for the articles we write.  We are lucky if we receive a copy of the book or journal it appears in.  We're almost never paid for lectures and interviews, either, not to mention the endless "extra" work we are expected to take on - such as book reviews and editorial tasks.  Some academic publishers do pay royalties for books, but even when they do it will likely add up to a couple of months of grocery money.  

Not that I'm complaining.  I love my work and am dedicated to continuing my research and producing original, innovative publications that are not constricted by the trends of academia.  Academics usually identify more as teachers or as researchers, and I am definitely in the latter camp.  My silver lining is that my time goes almost entirely to my research, and not to teaching and all the classroom time and paper grading time it entails. Teaching is not where my strengths lie, and I know that my writing is my best contribution to the world.  So as the song goes, "je ne regrette rien."

 

So if you'd like to support my continuing research and future projects - or just say "thank you" for my work and the free downloads provided on this website - just click the Donate button above. You can set up a monthly pledge, or just a one-off donation, in any amount.

 

 

 

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  • Gregory Shushan

"Dr. Gregory Shushan’s research into near-death experience across cultures

rankles skeptics and believers."

 

This is how Alex Tsakiris of Skeptiko website headlined my recent interview. I like this description because it shows that I've been successful in treating this subject with as much objectivity as possible. If it were uncontroversial, there would have been little point in doing the research in the first place!

The interview touches on a wide range of subjects surrounding near-death experiences across cultures, from problems with interpreting historical accounts to the kinds of objections I've encountered in my work.

 

Hardline skeptics refuse to accept even that there is such a thing as a "near-death experience" that transcends cultures. They believe (and I use that word deliberately) that all experience is not just culturally influenced, but culturally constructed. This means that pre-existing beliefs about an afterlife "create" accounts of NDEs, rather than vice versa. The idea that extraordinary experiences such as NDEs can generate new beliefs across cultures is viewed as nonsensical. Along with the work of scholars such as David Hufford, James McClenon, Allan Kellehear and others, my research disproves this "hard constructivist" stance once and for all.

 

On the other hand, those who believe that NDEs are evidence of an afterlife are often unhappy to learn that NDEs can differ widely across cultures. They want to know that their own idea of the afterlife is the correct one: that they will enter a tunnel, meet a particular being of light, have a life review, and so on. They don't want to hear about the fact that in many NDEs in different cultures there is no tunnel per se (though there is darkness and light), that the identity of the "being of light" differs by individual (and is not universal anyway), and that life reviews are rare.

 

Both camps must go through various mental gymnastics to preserve their beliefs - and usually that involves refusing to see similarities as similarities, or refusing to acknowledge difference. Because if there is such a thing as NDEs across cultures, house of cards #1 falls. And if NDEs vary between cultures, house of cards #2 falls. This means that both stances require denying evidence. In my recent book I present such evidence - including dozens of historical examples of people in indigenous societies stating that they based their afterlife beliefs on NDEs. I also summarize over a hundred examples of indigenous NDE accounts, and explore how they were integrated into the ritual and belief systems of many societies. I also explore the reasons why NDEs were seen in negative terms in other societies, or were even unknown.

 

And these issues are apart from the use of similarities between NDEs to support theories that NDEs are "all in the brain" - as well as theories that they're actually evidence of an afterlife!

The implications of both the similarities and differences between NDEs across cultures are explored in this interview - and, of course, in my books and articles.

 

When you've finished the interview, you can head over to Skeptiko's forum and join in the discussion about it. I'll pop in on occasion to answer questions.

 

 

 

 

 

Interview: https://skeptiko.com/gregory-shushan-cross-cultural-nde-422/

 

Discussion: http://www.skeptiko-forum.com/threads/dr-gregory-shushan-making-the-case-for-cross-cultural-ndes-422.4394/

I'm happy to be invited for my second interview on the Skeptiko website. Unlike my earlier audio-only interview, this one will be on video and I'll be sharing some rare, historical NDE-related images.

 

On the forum section of the site, readers have been invited to submit their own questions. So if there's anything you've been wanting to know about NDEs and the afterlife across cultures and throughout history - or anything else about my research - just click the image below, sign up to the forum, and submit your questions!