Eyeless Vision: Near-Death
Experiences in the Blind
Perhaps the most stringent test of the hypothesis that persons are actually seeing what they purport during these OBEs would come, paradoxically enough, from a study of NDEs in the blind. After all, as you will recall, we have already learned that those persons who are very poorly sighted can sometimes describe with uncanny precision the visual features in the environment surrounding their physical body when there was apparently no natural means by which they could have obtained this information. If these reports are truly valid, then what is to stop us from taking the next logical step? And that is, of course, to wonder whether blind persons close to death can see too.
Preposterous though this may sound on the face of it, rumors of NDE‐ based perception in the blind have been circulating for years. Unfortunately, when investigators have tried to track these rumors to their sources, they do not seem to hold up. 1 And in at least one instance, we even know, thanks to the after-the-fact candor of one writer, that such stories have been entirely made up for heuristic purposes, precisely because these rumors have been so persistent! 2
Still, I have been intrigued by such possibilities, and since they would provide a kind of ultimate test for the validity of veridical perceptions during NDEs—as well as a keen challenge for skeptics—I recently decided to undertake a search for such cases. Together with my coresearcher,