Eben Alexander (author)
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|Eben Alexander III|
December 11, 1953 |
Charlotte, North Carolina, U.S.
Eben Alexander III (born December 11, 1953) is an American neurosurgeon and the author of the book Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon's Journey into the Afterlife (2012), in which he describes his 2008 near-death experience and asserts that science can and will determine that the brain does not create consciousness and that consciousness survives bodily death.
Early life and education
Alexander is an adopted descendant in the lineage of Eben Alexander (educator). He attended Phillips Exeter Academy (class of 1972), University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (A.B., 1975), and the Duke University School of Medicine (M.D., 1980).
Academic and clinical appointments
Alexander has taught and had appointments at Duke University Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, University of Massachusetts Medical School, and the University of Virginia Medical School, Boston Children's Hospital, Dana–Farber Cancer Institute et al.
Proof of Heaven
In 2012, Alexander authored a semi-autobiographical book Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife, in which he asserted that his self-experience of out of body and near-death experience (NDE), while in a meningitis-induced coma in 2008, proved that consciousness is independent of the brain and that death is a transition phase into another realm of perfect splendor.
He further asserted that
"the current understanding of the mind now lies broken at our feet "— for "What happened to me destroyed it, and I intend to spend the rest of my life investigating the true nature of consciousness and making the fact that we are more, much more, than our physical brains as clear as I can, both to my fellow scientists and to people at large."
Alexander's book was excerpted in a Newsweek magazine cover story in October 2012. (In May 2012, Alexander had provided a slightly more technical account of the events described in his book in an article, "My Experience in Coma", in AANS Neurosurgeon, the trade publication of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons.)
Since the release of the book, he has presented hundreds of lectures around the world in churches, hospitals, medical schools, and academic symposia, besides appearing on TV shows including Super Soul Sunday with Oprah Winfrey.
Criticism and reaction
In a 2013 investigation of Alexander's story and medical background, Esquire magazine reported that before the publication of Proof of Heaven, Alexander had been terminated or suspended from multiple hospital positions, and had been the subject of several malpractice lawsuits, including at least two involving the alteration of medical records to cover up a medical error. He settled five malpractice suits in Virginia within a period of ten years. The magazine also found what it claimed were discrepancies with regard to Alexander's version of events in the book. Among the discrepancies, according to an account of the Esquire article in Forbes, was that "Alexander writes that he slipped into the coma as a result of severe bacterial meningitis and had no higher brain activity, while a doctor who cared for him says the coma was medically induced and the patient was conscious, though hallucinating".
I wrote a truthful account of my experiences in Proof of Heaven and have acknowledged in the book both my professional and personal accomplishments and my setbacks. I stand by every word in this book and have made its message the purpose of my life. Esquire's cynical article distorts the facts of my 25-year career as a neurosurgeon and is a textbook example of how unsupported assertions and cherry-picked information can be assembled at the expense of the truth.
Alexander's book has been criticized by scientists, including Sam Harris who described Alexander's NDE account as "alarmingly unscientific," and that "everything – absolutely everything – in Alexander's account rests on repeated assertions that his visions of heaven occurred while his cerebral cortex was 'shut down', 'inactivated', 'completely shut down', 'totally offline', and 'stunned to complete inactivity'. The evidence he provides for this claim is not only inadequate – it suggests that he doesn't know anything about the relevant brain science." Neurologist and writer Oliver Sacks agreed with Harris, saying that "to deny the possibility of any natural explanation for an NDE, as Dr. Alexander does, is more than unscientific – it is antiscientific."..."The one most plausible hypothesis in Dr. Alexander's case...is that his NDE occurred not during his coma, but as he was surfacing from the coma and his cortex was returning to full function. It is curious that he does not allow this obvious and natural explanation, but instead insists on a supernatural one." In 2012 Alexander responded to critics in a second Newsweek article.
Alexander said in a New York Times interview that he had preferred a title of "An N of One" (a medical trial size of one patient) instead of "Proof of Heaven". He said, believers in heaven were not happy with the title because, "This is not scientific proof."
The Map of Heaven
Alexander's second book, The Map of Heaven: How Science, Religion, and Ordinary People Are Proving the Afterlife, was published in October 2014, where he again asserted the existence of an afterlife and that consciousness is independent of the brain. The Map of Heaven became a New York Times bestseller the week ending October 18, 2014.
- "Class Notes" (PDF). DukeMed Alumni News. 2005. Retrieved 6/11/2017. Check date values in:
- Dittrich Aug 2013.
- Alexander, Eben (2012), Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon's Journey into the Afterlife, Simon & Schuster, pg 169.
- Alexander, Eben (2012), Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon's Journey into the Afterlife, Simon & Schuster, pg 40.
- Alexander, Eben (October 8, 2012), "Heaven Is Real: A Doctor’s Experience With the Afterlife", Newsweek.
- Eben Alexander III (2012). "My Experience in Coma". AANS Neurosurgeon. 21 (2). Archived from the original on May 27, 2012. Retrieved November 23, 2012.
- Ingrid Peschke (2013-10-24). "Dr. Eben Alexander Says It's Time for Brain Science to Graduate From Kindergarten". Huffington Post. Retrieved 2014-06-14.
- "Dr. Eben Alexander Shares What God Looks Like". OWN TV. Retrieved 2014-06-14.
- "Best Sellers". Paperback Nonfiction. The New York Times. September 21, 2014. Archived from the original on October 1, 2014. Retrieved October 1, 2014.
- Dittrich, Luke (August 2013). "The Prophet: An Investigation of Eben ALexander, Author of the Blockbuster "Proof of Heaven"". Esquire. New York City: Hearst Communications, Inc. pp. 88–95, 125–126, 128. Page 95: "On August 6, 2008, the patient filed a $3 million lawsuit against Alexander, accusing him of negligence, battery, spoliation, and fraud. The purported cover-up, the changes Alexander had made to the surgical report, was a major aspect of the suit. Once again, a lawyer was accusing Alexander of altering the historical record when the historical record didn't fit the story he wanted to tell."
- Jeff Bercovici. "Esquire Unearths 'Proof of Heaven' Author's Credibility Problems". Forbes. Retrieved July 13, 2013.
- Alexander, Eben. "Becoming Conscious: A Neurosurgeon Discusses his Transformational Experience". Congress of Neurological Surgeons (Spring 2016).
- Alexander, Eben. "Near Death Experiences, the Mind-Body Debate & the Nature of Reality". The Journal of the Missouri State Medical Association (January/February 2015): 17–21.
- Alexander, Eben. "Near Death Experiences: The Last Word". The Journal of the Missouri State Medical Association (July/August 2015): 275–282.
- Harris, Sam (October 12, 2012). "This Must Be Heaven". Retrieved May 26, 2018.
- Sacks, Oliver, "Seeing God in the Third Millennium", The Atlantic Monthly (December 12, 2012).
- Eben Alexander (November 18, 2012). "The Science of Heaven". Newsweek. Retrieved August 31, 2015.
- Kaufman, Leslie (2012-11-25). "Dr. Eben Alexander's Tells of Near Death in 'Proof of Heaven'". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-11-06.
- "New York Times". New York Times. 2 Nov 2014. Archived from the original on October 28, 2014. Retrieved 28 Oct 2014.