Top 5 ''Facts'' About the Afterlife

Script written by Sean Harris

What if this really isn’t all there is… Welcome to WatchMojo's Top 5 Facts. In this installment, we're counting down the top 5 facts about the afterlife. But wait a second! How can you have “facts” about something that probably isn’t even real? Good question. For this list, we’re looking at interesting theories, mythologies, and even some pseudo science about what may or may not transpire once we expire.

Special thanks to our users Christo for submitting the idea using our interactive suggestion tool at WatchMojo.comsuggest

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Script written by Sean Harris

Top 5 Facts About The Afterlife


What if this really isn’t all there is… Welcome to WatchMojo's Top 5 Facts. In this installment, we're counting down the top 5 facts about the afterlife. But wait a second! How can you have “facts” about something that probably isn’t even real? Good question. For this list, we’re looking at interesting theories, mythologies, and even some pseudo science about what may or may not transpire once we expire.

#5: The Numbers Tell Us It's a Busy Place

If there is an afterlife then expect at least a small lineup at the door! Since mankind first appeared on Earth, estimates say around 108 billion people have ever lived. 7 billion of us are alive today, meaning that the current population accounts for around 6.5% of history’s total figure, and that there are 100 billion dead people on ‘the other side’ already. Roughly 55 million people die every year, which is 151,000 a day, 105 a minute and an average of nearly two people per second. How long has this video been playing for now? We’ll let you do the math. And what if there are animals in the great unknown? There are 8.7 million identified species alive today – add to that the extinct and those still unknown to science, multiply by the history of the world, and you have yourself a very big number! It’s often said that ‘death doesn’t discriminate’ – we just hope he’s got enough space to host everyone!

#4: Almost All Religions Embrace the Afterlife

As the ultimate unexplainable thing, death and the afterlife features strongly in almost every faith and religion worldwide. Christians tend to believe in the idea of heaven and hell – spiritual worlds which reward the good and punish the bad. In Islam, death is seen as a passage between two worlds made easier through charity, knowledge and prayer. Reincarnation is a major belief in Hinduism, where death is seen as a natural moment in the existence of an ongoing soul. And Buddhists also look to a version of reincarnation, in which a person’s rebirth is determined by their karma. Though exact details differ, the concept of judgement, reward and punishment appears in many faiths, encouraging followers to live upstanding and commendable lives on Earth. Zoroastrianism formerly one of the most-followed religions, believed in the Chinvat Bridge, which is easily navigable for good people, but littered with traps for sinners. Notably, Satanism rejects the concept of the afterlife, preferring instead to reaffirm the importance of the current moment.

#3: Near Death Experiences Provide Intriguing, but Inconclusive Information

Near death experiences, or NDEs, form the basis of many of mankind’s more passionate beliefs about ‘what happens next’. The so-called ‘classic’ NDE usually involves an out-of-body view, a sense of peace and acceptance, and often the stereotypical dark tunnel and white light. Naysayers point to increased stress on the brain when death is near as reason for these visions, but science isn’t entirely dismissive of the phenomena. One study published in the medical journal Resuscitation analysed reports given by heart attack survivors. While it did not provide definitive evidence for true out-of-body experiences, it did find that, oddly, some people retain memories of things that happened while they were being resuscitated. Sometimes, a near death experiencer reports coming into contact with someone else who has recently died, even if they were previously unaware of the other person’s death. In fact, studies reveal that the majority of NDE visions involve seeing dead people, rather than those still alive. In the end though, an NDE is a good thing – and not just because you didn’t die. The vast majority of experiencers report an increased lust for life post-NDE, and a lesser fear of death.

#2: That Whole 21 Grams Thing is Probably False.

Of course, whatever the afterlife is, it’s highly improbable that we’d rock up wearing our bodies as they are now. According to many beliefs, it’s the soul which passes over, and humanity has often sought scientific proof of its existence. In 1907, Dr. Duncan MacDougall appeared to have done just that. Using a specially-built scale bed, MacDougall measured the weight of six terminally ill patients before, during and after death. His results concluded that an unaccounted for weight did leave the body and that the ‘soul’ equated to 21 grams. However, MacDougall’s experiment has since been described as flawed, as a combination of selective reporting, crude measurements and a small sample size has cast the findings under significant doubt. MacDougall also carried a similar test out on dogs, which found no such evidence of weight loss. Modern scientists have linked this to a dog’s lack of sweat glands and inability to lose weight through sweating, but MacDougall suggested his experiment showed that dogs don’t have a soul. But I thought all dogs went to heaven!  

#1: Some Children Supposedly Remember Past Lives


In searching for the afterlife, science has often analysed early life. Dr Ian Stevenson was a leading advocate for the study of reincarnation, and he thought that children held the answer to what happens to us when we die. Beginning in the 1960s, Stevenson wrote around 300 papers and 14 books on reincarnation. He recorded over 3,000 cases around the world where children under the age of five claimed to remember past lives, with knowledge of people, places and even past deaths. Amongst Stevenson’s cases: a group of Burmese children who claimed to be Japanese soldiers from World War II; and a Sri Lankan toddler with an incredibly specific knowledge of a town she’d never been to. Even though much of his work was published in prestigious peer-reviewed journals, Stevenson had his critics over the years, some of whom were respected academics themselves with very good objections to his methods and conclusions.

So, what do you think? Were some of these children really remembering their past lives? Have you ever had a near-death experience? For more immortal Top 10s and back-from-the-dead Top 5s, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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