"I firmly believe that people experience these events."
Because they are, in a sense. There is a level of 'experiencing something' at which the brain does not differentiate between real and imaginary/dream state. It's one of the reasons people really and truly believe they're talking to god(s).
""Why are so many people dreaming the same thing? How can so many people, and there's hundreds of thousands of people who have experienced this, how can we all be dreaming the same thing and describe the exact same thing?"
Why do so many people dream they can fly? Or show up at school/work naked? Because we're really experiencing these things? Or because these are common ways for the brain to process certain themes?
NDEs are indeed fascinating and the fact that most of them are so similar is part of the fascination. We all 'go to the same place' because that's how the human brain is hard-wired to process near-death. Hell, every few days at least my dreams involve conversations with dead relatives. I'd be shocked if the brain didn't go there when the dream-state is brought on by near-death trauma.