In an earlier post, I argued against the idea that the mind could survive the death of the brain. One thing I didn't do was discuss the empirical evidence that supposedly supports the reality of life after death. This evidence comes from a wide range of reported paranormal phenomena, including out-of-body experiences (OOBEs), near-death experiences (NDEs), ghost sightings, mediums conversing with the dead, and recollections of past lives. These phenomena, if they really are what they seem to be, would provide a strong reason to believe that we survive death (although they wouldn't imply that we necessarily survive forever). So, how good is the evidence that these phenomena really are real?
The short answer is: not great. To begin with, much of the putative evidence for life after death is easily explained in purely naturalistic terms. For example, although there's no reason to doubt that people have OOBEs and NDEs, these experiences are plausibly explained in physiological or psychological terms. Similarly, memories of past lives may be false memories, and ghost sightings may be hallucinations or misinterpretations of ambiguous stimuli. These alternative explanations do not in themselves prove that there's nothing supernatural going on. However, wherever there is a plausible alternative explanation for a phenomenon, we must concede at the very least that we have no strong reason to accept the supernatural interpretation. In addition, there is some evidence that actively undermines the credibility of such interpretations. An amusing example: Some mediums have "successfully" made contact with people who, unbeknownst to them, were actually fictional or still alive.