Believe it, or not, I think there's an afterlife. There's some compelling anecdotal evidence in favor of there being validity to NDE's. Although, I don't buy into the ones claimed to have been discovered through hypnosis.
The world's leading researcher of NDE's is Dr. Jeffery Long of the Near Death Experience Research Foundation. After studying over a thousand cases he wrote a book about them. Some of the compelling arguments are these:
1. The experiences are ordered and sensible, unlike typical drug induced or schizophrenic hallucinations.
2. Those who experience these see friends or loved ones who have previously died, as opposed to seeing people that are alive.
3. 360 degree panoramic vision.
4. The ability to accurately explain what was going on as this consciousness floated above their bodies.
Those are just a few.
If these are genuine experiences of an afterlife, this won't sit well with certain faiths, such as Christianity, as many NDE's contradict their view of salvation, heaven, and the afterlife. The British Journal of Psychiatry released a study done on 400 Americans and 400 people of India. Of those who saw religious figures, the Americans saw Jesus, whereas the Easterners saw a Bodhisattva, or Yama, or another figure of their faith. This is another anecdotal indication that NDE's are subject to the person's beliefs.
The Upanishads from 1000 BC give their take on this, saying, "When a man dies, his consciousness enters into the Light of Brahman, which is pure Consciousness. Like salt dissolving into water, and becoming one with the water, so the individual consciousness merges into Brahman. And there (in the afterlife) he perceives things according to the past impressions and deeds of his life."
Hinduism teaches the ultimate reality is Pure Consciousness, so the deeds and memories of one's life makes impressions on a subtle astral plane of consciousness, which goes on after death. This accumulation of information will influence how the afterlife is perceived. The Buddhist Tibetan Book of the Dead also speaks of the Light, and floating above one's body, as is common in NDE's.
The AWARE Study
Dr. Sam Parnia of Weill Cornell Medical College has been running a five year study of NDE's. Twenty-five medical centers of North America and Europe have installed shelves, with pictures on them, in cardiac arrest units. NDE's are most common in cardiac arrest patients, who often report floating at the top of the room and observing the events taking place.
The results are supposed to come later this year, 2012, or early 2013. If people are able to identify these pictures it will shake up our view of the nature of consciousness itself. I look forward to the results. I won't be surprised if they produce positive results.
With all this said, I don't expect anyone to accept anecdotal claims, unless the tests have been repeated and found to bear positive results.