Looking at the evidence for survival of human consciousness after death.

Looking at the evidence for survival of human consciousness after death.

Robert Bigelow is an aerospace entrepreneur from the US. His research organisation the Bigelow Institute for Consciousness Studies (BICS) recently sponsored an international contest to award authors submitting essays supporting the survival of human consciousness after death.


The first prize was $500,000 and the second prize USD 300,000, so this contest was sure to attract widespread interest amongst researchers in this field.

In a recent paper (The evidence of after-death survival of human consciousness according to the winners of the Bigelow contest: a scientific examination) Patrizio Tressoldi et al critically appraised the strength of scientific evidence behind the 29 winning essays.

The authors independently assessed each essay analysing it against agreed scientific criteria including:

  • Study material source
  • Strength of scientific evidence (see table)
  • Reproducibility (can the findings be independently reproduced?)
  • Replicability.
STRONGSystematic reviews and meta-analysis
Experimental studies
Observational studies
Single or multiple single cases
WEAKExpert opinion.
hierarchy of evidence strength

As stated in the introduction, the aim of this study was not to dispute the criteria adopted by the judges of the Bigelow contest, but only to examine the scientific strength of the 29 essays. As expected, our scientific criteria yielded different ranking scores to the 29 essays with respect to those assigned by the six judges of the Bigelow contest who adopted different criteria.”

Top 10 essays:

So here is the jump to the entire essay rankings.
To make it easier, I have pulled out the links for the top 10 (they are all pdf files).
There is some really interesting reading amongst this lot. Take your time.

  1. Beyond reasonable: scientific evidence for survival
  2. Advancing the Evidence for Survival of Consciousness
  3. Evidence for Survival of Consciousness in Near-Death Experiences: Decades of Science and New Insights
  4. What is the Best Available Evidence for the Survival of Human Consciousness After Permanent Bodily Death?
  5. A Critical Evaluation of the Best Evidence for the Survival of Human Consciousness after Permanent Bodily Death
  6. The continuity of Consciousness – A concept based on scientific research on near-death experiences during cardiac arrest
  7. To Be And Not To Be. This is The Answer: Consciousness Survives
  8. A rational, empirical case for postmortem survival based solely on mainstream science
  9. Experiences of the Dying: Evidence of Survival of Human Consciousness
  10. What would have to be true about the world? On evidence for the possibility of consciousness surviving death

Oh, and you can access all the winning essays in the judges original order here.


Photo by Chris Buckwald

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