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How can people understand near-death experiences (NDEs)? Are they biochemical responses to extreme physical stress? Or interrupted transitions to a new state of being? What do people make of the obvious cultural filters through which they often appear, the various religious projects to which they are put to work, and, perhaps most interesting of all, those cases which do not fit the cultural or religious context in which they occur? This lecture will explore the history of the study of NDEs and their relationship to "out-of-body experiences" (OBEs), trauma, traditional doctrines of the soul, and various kinds of paranormal phenomena. Take a close look at two detailed accounts of these experiences, and we will hear from a medical professional (Debbie James) who has extensive experience with NDEs, particularly with military veterans. This lecture will look at "cases of the reincarnation type" (CORTs) and explore some of the issues related to comparing these two types of very different but related phenomena. Jeffrey J. Kripal, PhD is the J. Newton Rayzor Professor of Religious Studies and Chair of the Department of Religious Studies at Rice University. He is the author of six books, including Authors of the Impossible: The Paranormal and the Sacred andEsalen: America and the Religion of No Religion.