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Extraordinary Look at Non-Ordinary Topic

September 30, 1990

When I picked up the View section on Sept. 18 and glanced at your cover story, "A Step Toward the Light," I thought I was in for another cynical portrayal of the paranormal by a jaded reporter. I was mistaken. Beth Ann Krier's look at pediatrician Melvin Morse's studies of children's near-death experiences was an objective piece. Krier's article presented the non-ordinary in a manner that was neither critical nor trivial.

If only the medical community could be as nonjudgmental as Krier. What I found so acutely ironic was Morse's admission that although 23 out of 25 of the children he studied who had had near-death experiences reported to have encountered a "presence of light," Morse knew that his scientifically conducted study would be rejected for publication in a professional journal, should he include this significant finding. Morse had used the scientific model to conduct his studies, he had made a statistically significant finding using that model, and yet he knew that the scientific paradigm would not accept such a finding.

What was equally ironic was Morse's concluding remark that, "As doctors, we don't know what to do with this kind of information . . . I'll include myself in this. Even now, people say to me, 'Well, doesn't this make you believe in life after death?' I guess it just goes against my training so much that I have to say, 'Well, I really don't know.' We're not comfortable with death."

Here is a man who has the weight of his own empirical data on his side, yet feels compelled to reject the conclusions that data strongly suggest because the edifice of a purely material world devoid of anything outside the scientific purview would crumble should he make such an admission. As many philosophers of science have predicted, the scientific paradigm will itself fall under its own rigidity.

HEIDI ZIOLKOWSKI

Long Beach

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