This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," February 12, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: In the "Personal Story" segment tonight: Most Americans believe in life after death, according to polls on the subject. And now there is a new book called "Evidence of the Afterlife." It's written by an oncologist, Dr. Jeffrey Long, who studied a number of near-death experiences. And Dr. Long joins us now.
Doctor, I'm a Catholic. I'm a believer. I think it's worthy to believe in the afterlife. But when I read your book, I came across stuff that I had read before in other books, and I'm going, you know, this is anecdotal. There's really no smoking gun to prove there's an afterlife. But you're not a religious man, right?
DR. JEFFREY LONG, AUTHOR, "EVIDENCE OF THE AFTERLIFE": No.
O'REILLY: No. But you are convinced that there is…
LONG: I'm convinced based on the evidence from my study.
O'REILLY: Give me your best shot. Give me your — the big piece of evidence that convinced you there is an afterlife.
LONG: Studied over 1,300 near-death experiences. The largest scholarly study of near-death experiences ever. And I'm finding what all other near-death experiences researchers find, and that being that there's consistency in near-death experience. And we're finding that people are having these organized, lucid experiences at a time they're unconscious or clinically dead.
O'REILLY: But couldn't that be copycat stuff, kind of like UFO stuff, that one person hears a story or reads a books, because there are a lots of books about the afterlife. And then they say, "Oh yes, that happened to me, too.
LONG: Well, when people share with our Web site their near-death experiences, we post them back on the Web site where thousands and thousands of people will ultimately read those accounts.
LONG: If there's any copycat account, if there's any plagiarized account, we would expect to hear about that.
O'REILLY: But it's power — is it not power of suggestion, you know, that, yes, we've read these books? They're best-selling books. We've watched Oprah. People like yourself have been on there. And they're going, "Yes, yes, I had that, too." See, I'm bringing a dose of skepticism in here, all right? Because when — as I said, I'm a believer, but just from reading your book, that wouldn't have convinced me there's an afterlife.
LONG: Well, there's been other studies that followed people that shared their near-death experience, and they listened to their narrative shortly after its occurrence, too, and eight years later. In these prospective studies, the near-death experience that was shared was absolutely verbatim, even eight years later. These experiences are not embellished. They're not diminished over a period.
O'REILLY: So people's story doesn't change? It's embedded in their mind that I saw — there's always — not always, there's a bathing light. They feel peaceful. They feel euphoric. They see relatives deceased, and they actually have conversations with them. And then some commanding authority orders them back into their body. Would you say that those are the four things that almost all of your near-death people have?
LONG: Well, no two near-death experiences are identical, but in the 1,300 that I've studied, we see those elements a lot. Certainly, no one of those elements occurs nearly all the time, but certainly, a lot of those elements occur in a significant percentage of near-death experience.
O'REILLY: Have you ever — have you been able to glean whether everybody has this nice experience? What about Adolf Hitler? Does he see the nice bathing light and all of that? You know, mass murderers, do they get this kind of thing?
LONG: We found that, when you study people that have led what we call good lives or not-so-good lives, they still seem to have the same near-death experience.
O'REILLY: Real, real terrible people have the same kind of peaceful experience?
LONG: Well, it's hard to really know for sure, because I haven't really heard from what I would call a really terrible person. But we know that people that are either pro-social or antisocial seem to have the same content of the near-death experience.
O'REILLY: All right. So you're not able to judge their characters when you assess what their experiences have been?
LONG: Very often people will share their life prior to the near-death experience and how their life changed after the near-death experience. We can get a pretty good idea that we've heard from some people that have had some pretty awful lives prior to their — prior to sharing their near-death experience.
O'REILLY: Done awful things or just had awful lives by circumstance?
LONG: It could be both. They could have bad circumstances.
O'REILLY: Because that's always — in the Catholic religion that's the struggle. You know, the good vs. evil. And if you're good, you're rewarded. If you're evil, you know, you're in trouble.
Final question is, you know, 1,300 people. That's a lot of people to research. And you've done the research, and that's what's different about your book, is that it is a kind of a scientific deal. But it's still anecdotal. I mean, you still have to trust what these people are saying is true. There's no way to prove it. You don't do lie detector tests or anything like that, right?
LONG: No, we sure don't.
LONG: But we do corroborate it with scores of prior scholarly studies.
O'REILLY: OK, here is my question for you. If there is an afterlife run by an authority, a universal authority, why wouldn't you be on your knees every day going, "Thank you, God. I want to be, you know, a worshipper and I'm" — you know, you see what I'm talking about?
LONG: Well, I think if you understand that there's an afterlife, one of the consistent themes I see in the near-death experiences is that there is, in the afterlife, a benevolent and loving God, a compassionate God.
LONG: A wonderful afterlife for all of us. And so I guess I feel...
O'REILLY: That's the rub here, for all of us? You know, for even the real bad people? I'm not sure. I'm not sure.
LONG: Well, that's — it's part of the mystery of near-death experience.
O'REILLY: It is.
LONG: We won't really know what happens after the really bad people permanently die.
O'REILLY: If God is all just, there has to be justice. Very fascinating book, Doctor. Thank you very much for coming in and discussing it.
LONG: Thank you.
O'REILLY: Appreciate it.
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