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Bering in Mind


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Ian Stevenson’s Case for the Afterlife: Are We ‘Skeptics’ Really Just Cynics?

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.


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If you’re anything like me, with eyes that roll over to the back of your head whenever you hear words like “reincarnation” or “parapsychology,” if you suffer great paroxysms of despair for human intelligence whenever you catch a glimpse of that dandelion-colored cover of Heaven Is For Real or other such books, and become angry when hearing about an overly Botoxed charlatan telling a poor grieving mother how her daughter’s spirit is standing behind her, then keep reading, because you’re precisely the type of person who should be aware of the late Professor Ian Stevenson’s research on children’s memories of previous lives.

Stevenson, who died in 2007, was a psychiatrist by training—and a prominent one at that. In 1957, at the still academically tender age of 38, he’d been named Chair of psychiatry at the University of Virginia. After arriving in Charlottesville, however, his hobbyhorse in the paranormal began turning into a full-grown steed. As you can imagine, investigating apparitions and reincarnation is not something the college administrators were expecting of the head of their mental health program. But in 1968, Chester Carlson, the wealthy inventor of the Xerox copying process who’d been introduced to Stevenson’s interests in reincarnation by his spiritualist wife, dropped dead of a heart attack in a Manhattan movie theatre, leaving a million dollars to UVA on the condition it be used to fund Stevenson’s paranormal investigations. That money enabled Stevenson to devote himself full-time to studying the minds of the dead, and over the next four decades, Stevenson’s discoveries as a parapsychologist served to sway more than a few skeptics and to lead his blushing acolytes to compare him to the likes of Darwin and Galileo.

Stevenson’s main claim to fame was his meticulous studies of children’s memories of previous lives. Here’s one of thousands of cases. In Sri Lanka, a toddler one day overheard her mother mentioning the name of an obscure town (“Kataragama”) that the girl had never been to. The girl informed the mother that she drowned there when her “dumb” (mentally challenged) brother pushed her in the river, that she had a bald father named “Herath” who sold flowers in a market near the Buddhist stupa, that she lived in a house that had a glass window in the roof (a skylight), dogs in the backyard that were tied up and fed meat, that the house was next door to a big Hindu temple, outside of which people smashed coconuts on the ground. Stevenson was able to confirm that there was, indeed, a flower vendor in Kataragama who ran a stall near the Buddhist stupa whose two-year-old daughter had drowned in the river while the girl played with her mentally challenged brother. The man lived in a house where the neighbors threw meat to dogs tied up in their backyard, and it was adjacent to the main temple where devotees practiced a religious ritual of smashing coconuts on the ground. The little girl did get a few items wrong, however. For instance, the dead girl’s dad wasn’t bald (but her grandfather and uncle were) and his name wasn’t “Herath”—that was the name, rather, of the dead girl’s cousin. Otherwise, 27 of the 30 idiosyncratic, verifiable statements she made panned out. The two families never met, nor did they have any friends, coworkers, or other acquaintances in common, so if you take it all at face value, the details couldn’t have been acquired in any obvious way.

This Sri Lankan case is one of Stevenson’s approximately 3000 such “past life” case reports from all over the world, and these accounts are in an entirely different kind of parapsychological ballpark than tales featuring a middle-aged divorcée in a tie-dyed tunic who claims to be the reincarnation of Pocahantas. More often than not, Stevenson could identify an actual figure that once lived based solely on the statements given by the child. Some cases were much stronger than others, but I must say, when you actually read them firsthand, many are exceedingly difficult to explain away by rational, non-paranormal means. Much of this is due to Stevenson’s own exhaustive efforts to disconfirm the paranormal account. “We can strive toward objectivity by exposing as fully as possible all observations that tend to weaken our preferred interpretation of the data,” he wrote. “If adversaries fire at us, let them use ammunition that we have given them.” And if truth be told, he excelled at debunking the debunkers.

I’d be happy to say it’s all complete and utter nonsense—a moldering cesspool of irredeemable, anti-scientific drivel. The trouble is, it’s not entirely apparent to me that it is. So why aren’t scientists taking Stevenson’s data more seriously? The data don’t “fit” our working model of materialistic brain science, surely. But does our refusal to even look at his findings, let alone to debate them, come down to our fear of being wrong? “The wish not to believe,” Stevenson once said, “can influence as strongly as the wish to believe.”

Stevenson’s magnum opus, published in 1997, was a 2,268-page, two-volume work called Reincarnation and Biology. Many of his subjects had unusual birthmarks and birth defects, such as finger deformities, underdeveloped ears, or being born without a lower leg. There were scar-like, hypopigmented birthmarks and port-wine stains, and some awfully strange-looking moles in areas where you almost never find moles, like on the soles of the feet. Reincarnation and Biology contained 225 case reports of children who remembered previous lives and who also had physical anomalies that matched those previous lives, details that could in some cases be confirmed by the dead person’s autopsy record and photos.

A Turkish boy whose face was congenitally underdeveloped on the right side said he remembered the life of a man who died from a shotgun blast at point-blank range. A Burmese girl born without her lower right leg had talked about the life of a girl run over by a train. On the back of the head of a little boy in Thailand was a small, round puckered birthmark, and at the front was a larger, irregular birthmark, resembling the entry and exit wounds of a bullet; Stevenson had already confirmed the details of the boy’s statements about the life of a man who’d been shot in the head from behind with a rifle, so that seemed to fit. And a child in India who said he remembered the life of boy who’d lost the fingers of his right hand in a fodder-chopping machine mishap was born with boneless stubs for fingers on his right hand only. This type of “unilateral brachydactyly” is so rare, Stevenson pointed out, that he couldn’t find a single medical publication of another case.

The psychiatrist found several patterns in his work on children’s memories of previous lives. First, he was convinced that there is only a brief window of time—between the ages of about two and five—in which some children retain these reminiscences of an earlier self. Importantly, their statements are, in principle at least, empirically falsifiable. If adults don’t automatically dismiss young children’s utterances as gibberish, any spontaneous comments suggestive of a past life can be carefully recorded, so researchers like Stevenson might later confirm or disconfirm their accounts. Also, as with the Sri Lankan girl, memories of previous lives tend to occur only when something in the child’s current life jars the recollections awake (in cognitive science terms, a form of recognition memory). In other words, it’s mostly useless to “interview” a child about his or her past life, since—like remembering one’s dream from the night before only while lying in bed tonight—recall can’t be forced on the spot. Stevenson also believed that although past lives may be common, only a small percentage of children retained any memories of  their previous existence. Even in India, where nearly everyone believes in reincarnation and it’s nothing special, only about one in every 500 children fit the bill.

Stevenson, an expert on psychosomatic medicine, suspected strong emotions are (somehow) related to a child’s retention of past-life memories. Traumatic deaths, he thought, leave an emotional imprint. Indeed, most of the children he studied claimed that they had met a violent end previously. There was also a gap of a few years between lives; reincarnation is never immediate. And for the most part, souls seemed to stay local. That’s to say, the “previous personality” often lived in a distant village, but not quite so far away as to require a passport. Oftentimes, Stevenson observed, the child had habits and fears linked to the nature of death. Those who said they’d drowned in a previous life had an unusually intense fear of water; those who were stabbed displayed a crippling knife phobia, and so on. There were even three cases of children who’d reacted violently when they’d unexpectedly crossed paths with their own “murderers.” It’s bizarre to picture preschoolers lunging for the throats of adult strangers. Nonetheless, it made sense to Stevenson, since in his view, the children were attacking those who’d gotten away with their murders.

Interestingly, and contrary to most religious notions of reincarnation, there was zero evidence of karma. On the whole, it appeared to be a fairly mechanical soul-rebirthing process, not a moralistic one. What those mechanisms involve, exactly, is anyone’s guess—even Stevenson’s. But he didn’t see grandiose theorizing as part of his job. His job, rather, was simply to gather all the anomalous data, investigate them carefully, and rule out, using every possible method available to him, the rational explanations. And to many, he was successful at doing just that. Towards the end of her own storied life, the physicist Doris Kuhlmann-Wilsdorf—whose groundbreaking theories on surface physics earned her the prestigious Heyn Medal from the German Society for Material Sciences, surmised that Stevenson’s work had established that “the statistical probability that reincarnation does in fact occur is so overwhelming … that cumulatively the evidence is not inferior to that for most if not all branches of science.” Stevenson himself was convinced that, once the precise mechanisms underlying his observations were known, it would bring about “a conceptual revolution that will make the Copernican revolution seem trivial in comparison.” It’s hard to argue with that, assuming it ever does happen.

The mind is what the brain does,” I wrote in The Belief Instinct. “It’s more a verb than it is a noun. Why do we wonder where our mind goes when the body is dead? Shouldn’t it be obvious that the mind is dead too?” Perhaps it’s not so obvious at all. I’m not quite ready to say that I’ve changed my mind about the afterlife. But I can say that a fair assessment and a careful reading of Stevenson’s work has, rather miraculously, managed to pry it open. Well, a tad, anyway.

[You can read more about Ian Stevenson's legacy to the field of parapsychology, as well as follow research currently underway by his former colleagues, including that of his protégé, Jim Tucker, by visiting the website for the (still very much alive) Division of Perceptual Studies.]

Jesse Bering About the Author: Jesse Bering is Associate Professor of Science Communication at the University of Otago in New Zealand. He is the author of The Belief Instinct (2011), Why Is the Penis Shaped Like That? (2012) and Perv (2013). To learn more about Jesse's work, visit www.jessebering.com or add him on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/jesse.bering). Follow on Twitter @JesseBering.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.





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  1. 1. James Brink 3:01 pm 11/2/2013

    Given the mind bogglingly large number of possible human perceptions and experiences and that the nature of the mind is to perceive correlations whether causal or not, it is not surprising that there are fair number of quite surprising coincidences. The mistake is to leap to a causal relationship for phenomena of chance.

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  2. 2. cabrialab 7:11 pm 11/2/2013

    Ha.
    If you look hard and long enough you’ll find correlations between anything. The reason why science doesn’t take any of Stevenson’s claims seriously is the same reason outrageous faith healing claims can’t be taken seriously either – because at the end of the day they are anecdotes and anecdotes do not equal empirical evidence. If these claims to the paranormal were true I’d imagine they would be spot on the money, not this 27 out of 30 criteria found. Moreoever there’s 7 billion people in the world , the majority of which (unfortunately) are uneducated. I’m sure if you look hard and long enough you can cherry pick a sample size large enough to make any outrageous claim.

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  3. 3. Ian Wardell 9:05 pm 11/2/2013

    Hmmm, it’s especially educated people who view such beliefs with a great deal of cynicism. A lot of it has to do with the obvious apparent dependency of consciousness on states of the brain.

    But it’s also due to the prevailing weltanschauung — i.e the way we view the world with our essentially mechanistic conception of reality which places constraints on that which is possible.

    And the fact our friends, colleagues and acquaintances think reincarnation, or indeed any form of “life after death”, to be absurd.

    And it’s the reluctance to admit belief in such things for the possible negative impact on our careers, or even the worry the people we associate with will think less highly of us (what sort of nincompoop believes in such nonsense!?).

    And of course the fact that some believers seem to believe in any sort of transparent nonsense.

    So all these reasons are at play, and perhaps more I haven’t thought of, or even am aware of.

    But I’m afraid the evidence for for at least reincarnation is extremely strong.

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  4. 4. mindbound 10:18 pm 11/2/2013

    Apophenia is quite a thing, is it not.

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  5. 5. mindbound 10:38 pm 11/2/2013

    Especially apophenia coupled with leading questions, a priori assumptions, cherry-picking and just poor scientific approach – for details, see the four-part report The Case Against Reincarnation by P. Edwards in Free Inquiry #6 and #7, or the book Reincarnation: A Critical Examination by same.

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  6. 6. Javed1972 11:59 pm 11/2/2013

    After reading the above comments, I am forced to conclude, that inspire of literacy and a well cultivated intellect, we might still discard natural phenomena as absurd. That’s partly due to our definitions of Intelligence and Literacy which have always been doubtful…

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  7. 7. Voltige 4:55 am 11/3/2013

    I marvel at the ease with which people who have clearly not actually studied Stevenson’s research can glibly dismiss it from the comfort of their armchair.
    As for the blanket dismissal of Stevenson’s work by ‘scientists’, in fact scientists with less closed minds, or who actually know anything about the subjects surrounding his research tend to regard his work with great respect.

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  8. 8. David Cummings 6:52 am 11/3/2013

    “A Turkish boy whose face was congenitally underdeveloped on the right side said he remembered the life of a man who died from a shotgun blast at point-blank range.”

    Well that seals it right there. How can this NOT be true!

    C’mon!

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  9. 9. David Cummings 6:59 am 11/3/2013

    Voltige, how many books on Creationism have you read from YOUR armchair?

    There are surely thousands of them and I haven’t read a single one and I’m not interested in ever reading a single one. And yet I have a very strong opinion about what Creationism is (as do most of the defenders of Stevenson, I’m sure… double-standard, to be sure).

    So no, I’m not going to read this book of Stevenson’s and yet I feel quite comfortable putting it in the same category as Creationism: drivel (to use the blog-author’s own word).

    It’s interesting that Creationism will never get a sympathetic look in the blogspace of SA but reincarnation does.

    Why? Simple. Creationists are on the wrong side of the political fence.

    To be clear: I am an atheist, a network engineer and an amateur lover of science reading, in diverse fields from astronomy to biology. I am not defending Creationism. I am simply pointing out the hypocrisy of those who are so quick to defend Stevenson and yet (I am guessing) are also quick to denounce Creationism.

    Voltige, again, how many of the THOUSANDS of books on Creationism have you “studied”?

    Here’s a short list for those who want to write an SA blog defending Creationism (I know, when pigs fly):

    http://www.amazon.com/My-favourite-books-on-creationism/lm/R2JWTK4TYRNATU

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  10. 10. David Cummings 7:01 am 11/3/2013

    My question to you, Jesse Bering, is:

    What is the mechanism?

    Please provide any theory, speculation, hypothesis, conjecture or simple gut-guess as to the scientific mechanism of the transfer of memories from one dead body to a newly born child.

    I would LOVE to read THAT.

    I’m not going to wade through an ocean of expertly contrived anecdotes… but I would read THAT.

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  11. 11. David Cummings 7:06 am 11/3/2013

    mindbound, thank you for the word Apophenia. I did not know that word. It’s a beautiful word.

    But I think something deeper is going on here: simple fear of death.

    Personal fear of death has led to the invention of every religion on planet earth. In many cases those inventions are filled with an amazing amount of beautifully-contrived supporting detail. (Wow! The rock on front of the cave was rolled away EXACTLY THREE DAYS after Jesus died! And wow! The Shroud of Turin!, etc, etc, etc)

    Personal fear of death is the strong motivation behind Stevenson’s work. Of that I am sure.

    Stevenson himself NEEDS to believe in reincarnation and has made it his life’s goal to support that need. Kind of like a heroin addiction.

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  12. 12. ttice84 7:36 am 11/3/2013

    A lot of ill-informed opinions in these comments. Paul Edward’s criticisms have been countered by Stevenson and others. The criticisms of Leonard Angel in Skeptical Inquirer have also been exposed for their sloppiness.
    References are available in Jim Tucker’s book. Stevenson’s rebuttal to Angel can be obtained by writing to the Division of Perceptual Studies.

    Also, Stevenson never expressed a belief in reincarnation, only that the evidence suggests it.

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  13. 13. David Cummings 8:08 am 11/3/2013

    “Stevenson never expressed a belief in reincarnation, only that the evidence suggests it.”

    That’s part of his schtick. To appear scientific. Creationists do the exact same thing.

    I’m only suggesting that you take the same rigorous skepticism you reflexively (and rightfully) apply to Creationism and apply it to the “Science of Reincarnation”.

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  14. 14. jshuey 8:28 am 11/3/2013

    Apparently some otherwise highly-educated folks have never heard of the law (or fallacy) of large numbers.

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  15. 15. Jim Dominic 8:33 am 11/3/2013

    I find it rather discouraging that otherwise brilliant scientists routinely invoke informal logical fallacies. Unfortunately, this article is fundamentally an expression of the appeal to ignorance fallacy.

    The correlation of Stevenson’s anecdotal evidence to hypotheses of reincarnation and manifestation of physical deformities because of alleged trauma in the life of a dead person cannot be falsified. One can always devise an argument to correlate one thing with another. “Ruling out” rational explanations does not mean that any given remaining explanation is correct, or even that an unknown correct explanation must exist; it is quite possible that the scientist has made an error and has “ruled out” a rational explanation.

    Stevenson’s anecdotal evidence is not testable, because it relies solely on the interpretation and conclusions of the reader; in short, it depends upon subjective opinions. It may have value in sociological studies of culture, not as evidence for reincarnation.

    There is also the quaint belief system one must entertain if one is to believe that trauma to a person may result in physical deformities in a future life. This is akin to the belief in “karma,” which is not an isolated belief, but one which is connected to a much wider and complex belief system. As with many seemingly simplistic explanations that are not “rational” explanations, this one requires abandonment of the laws of physics as we understand them in exchange for something much more complicated, with special rules.

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  16. 16. Ian Wardell 8:43 am 11/3/2013

    David Cummings
    “Please provide any theory, speculation, hypothesis, conjecture or simple gut-guess as to the scientific mechanism of the transfer of memories from one dead body to a newly born child”.

    I would assume that memories are an intrinsic property of the self. Your question appears to presuppose the truth of some materialist metaphysic. Hence it effectively begs the question.

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  17. 17. David Cummings 9:08 am 11/3/2013

    No, Ian, I’m simply asking: how is this done?

    Any kind of rational explanation. That’s all. I just want to read about a mechanism of some kind.

    I can even make one up for you, on the spur of the moment, to show you what I mean (and I’m doing this, literally, as I type it):

    Memories do not reside soley in the brain but also in an extra dimension (so far undetected) that is connected via quantum tunneling through gap junctions between neurons to a accretion of personal memory spaces in the Memory Dimension. In most cases, these memory spaces remain isolated and unreachable after death but in some few cases a baby is born with extremely sensitive gap junctions that tap into the personal memory space of a dead person (or even, in some ultra-rare cases, a live individual) allowing those memories to quantum-leak into the new babies brain.

    Viola! An explanation! Prove me wrong!

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  18. 18. David Cummings 9:09 am 11/3/2013

    typo: new babies brain = new baby’s brain

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  19. 19. David Cummings 9:10 am 11/3/2013

    (However, my explanation is not able to account for the shotgun blast resulting in a future deformity. I’m not going to even try to tackle that one.)

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  20. 20. Ian Wardell 9:19 am 11/3/2013

    David Cummings, as I said someone who advocates that we survive the death of our bodies would most probably regard memories as an intrinsic aspect of the self. If this is so then your question is simply not applicable.

    You can ask about the process whereby the self comes to “occupy” a body. But a failure to know the answer to this question in no way entails it doesn’t happen. Indeed we do know it happens since we do currently “occupy” physical bodies!

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  21. 21. Paul C. Anagnostopoulos 10:13 am 11/3/2013

    How is David’s question not applicable? Let’s say my memories are an intrinsic aspect of my self. Why does that let you off the hook for an explanation of how the self works?

    ~~ Paul

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  22. 22. Heyzeus7 10:40 am 11/3/2013

    James Brink

    “Given the mind bogglingly large number of possible human perceptions and experiences and that the nature of the mind is to perceive correlations whether causal or not, it is not surprising that there are fair number of quite surprising coincidences.”

    A cop-out. Cases like the ones described in this post cannot simply be dismissed as unlikely but still completely random correlations. A young girl in a remote village doesn’t just spontaneously conjure up a life story in an actually existing town she’d never been to. There is additional explanatory work to be done.

    “Please provide any theory, speculation, hypothesis, conjecture or simple gut-guess as to the scientific mechanism of the transfer of memories from one dead body to a newly born child. I would LOVE to read THAT. I’m not going to wade through an ocean of expertly contrived anecdotes… but I would read THAT.”

    It is not necessary to be able to explain HOW something happens in order to acknowledge THAT something happens. In fact, acknowledging that it happens and committing to further study is the best way to get the answer to the first question. And what do you mean by ‘expertly contrived anecdote’? Are you suggesting that Stevenson crafted them out of thin air?

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  23. 23. David Cummings 10:49 am 11/3/2013

    “It is not necessary to be able to explain HOW something happens in order to acknowledge THAT something happens.”

    I understand that, which is why I addressed my question to the blog author, not to Stevenson. It’s beyond the scope of Stevenson’s work to come up with a mechanism, but anyone who is pushing reincarnation on SA should at least have some passing acquaintance with something that at least resembles an explanation. I’m sure there are a lot of explanations out there… I’d just like to read one or two that interest the original blog author, that’s all.

    As for “Are you suggesting that Stevenson crafted them out of thin air?”…

    NO, ABSOLUTELY NOT. Not by Stevenson. But by somebody. A whole lot of somebodies.

    Reincarnation has been around far longer than crying statues of Mother Mary and there are a whole lot of claims about how the tears of Mother Mary statues have cured believers. Can we say “are they all made up”? You betcha. We can.

    I suspect Stevenson is willingly suspending disbelieve and allowing an army of charlatans (and on this subject, believe me, the army has a long, centuries-long, millenia-long history).

    Basically Stevenson WANTED to find these anecdotes and he is not interested in the separate underlying truth in each case.

    Abuductions by Aliens
    The Tears of Mother Mary statues
    Millions who claim a PERSONAL relationship with a LIVING Jesus
    Hundreds of thousands of “documented” reincarnation stories

    It’s all caused by the same thing: fear of death.

    It’s all promoted by the same thing: people who make up stories that other people are literally dying to believe.

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  24. 24. David Cummings 10:51 am 11/3/2013

    Correcting my own quickly-typed, poorly worded paragraph:

    I suspect Stevenson is willingly suspending disbelief and allowing an army of charlatans (and on this subject, believe me, the army has a long, centuries-long, millenia-long history) to pass through his non-existing truth detectors.

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  25. 25. Ian Wardell 11:19 am 11/3/2013

    Paul C. Anagnostopoulos

    “Why does that let you off the hook for an explanation of how the self works”?

    If the self is non-reducible then the question regarding how the self works is not applicable. It is applicable only to entities that have parts. It would also make no sense to ask how electrons work. They simply exist and no further analysis is possible.

    OK at this juncture I’m bowing out of the discussion. I am interested in arguments against reincarnation, but it seems to me that no-one is advancing any of any merit.

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  26. 26. MitchVansen0 12:17 pm 11/3/2013

    I make $82h while I’m traveling the world. Last week I worked by my laptop in Rome, Monti Carlo and finally Paris…This week I’m back in the USA. All I do are easy tasks from this one cool site. check it out, Cloud200.c*o*m

    Link to this
  27. 27. jayjacobus 12:37 pm 11/3/2013

    The mind comes from the brain. But are there other sources so far unknown? We cannot observe another person’s mind. Nor can we observe sound, images, odors, tastes and feelings. We know about these five senses because we experience them. But we can’t experience another person’s senses. The sources of the senses are measurable but that actual experiences are not.

    Perhaps there are are many intangible properties which explain universal constants, life forces and scientific unknowns. If they are intangible, how can I observe them?

    I am skeptical about reincarnation but that is because I assume the mind dies with the brain. I could be wrong.

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  28. 28. Voltige 12:54 pm 11/3/2013

    How did Voltaire put it?

    Something like “”It is not more surprising to be born twice than once.”
    He was in good company, with others such as Socrates, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Goethe, William Jones, Henry David Thoreau, Walt Whitman,Jack London, Isaac Bashevis Singer,Herman Hesse,Count Leo Tolstoy,Ben Franklin,Arthur Schopenhauer, Giordano Bruno,Jalalu ‘D-Din Rumi, Charles Dickens, Henry Ford, James Joyce, Carl Jung, Thomas Huxley…..to name a few.

    Doubtless all these were simply motivated by a common morbid fear of death.

    Of course someone who believes that mind is simply epiphenomena of brain activity will have difficulty with the concept of reincarnation!

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  29. 29. David Cummings 1:25 pm 11/3/2013

    “Of course someone who believes that mind is simply epiphenomena of brain activity will have difficulty with the concept of reincarnation!”

    Actually, in my case, it’s more like:

    As someone who believes strongly in the Theory of Evolution as it currently exists, I have difficulty in any spiritualist concept.

    And I admit that in my case it is a “belief in evolution” since I am not an evolutionary biologist, but I have read many of them and do considered it settled science. If the Theory of Evolution is correct, I don’t see any place for Spiritualism of any kind.

    Creationism, reincarnationism… different sides of the same anti-evolution coin.

    And after all, this is SCIENTIFIC American, not the National Spiritualist Advisor.

    WTF? Over.

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  30. 30. jessebering 2:00 pm 11/3/2013

    Science has an obvious history of putting the cart of empirical observation before the horse of theory, as the field of epidemiology can clearly attest with regard to the precise mechanisms of viral bacteriology, or Darwinian evolutionary biologists can surely sympathize with respect to formal genetics. The documentation of anomalous data, including a feverish attention to ruling out mechanisms currently known to science, is no more and no less than evidence of the inexplicable. Such inexplicable data, in my opinion, Stevenson established surely enough. In fact, it’s not just my opinion. In The Demon-Haunted World, Carl Sagan, no less, identified Stevenson’s research program on children’s memories of previous lives as deserving of serious scientific scrutiny. (Sam Harris also alluded to these data as being so worthy in his book, The End of Faith.) Now, perhaps you’re a better scientist than Carl Sagan, David Cummings, but the fact that the man who penned the well-trod atheistic credo of “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence,” which you clearly subscribe to as an atheist, saw Stevenson’s work as fit to analyze in close detail suggests, to me, that it’s not a collection of “mere anecdotal data” and a far cry from Creationism. As for the cognitive construct of apophenia, I’m more than familiar with the concept and wrote about it at some length in The Belief Instinct, especially its symptomology in schizophrenia and the tendency to promiscuously attribute causal links where none exist. But having read many (in fact, most) of Stevenson’s case reports closely, I see no evidence whatever of this being a satisfactory explanation for his observations. And as a general note, it’s rather easy to dismiss an entirety of a work on the basis of a broad theory (of “apophenia,” “anecdotes,” “fear of death,” “confirmation bias,” and so on), but should you ever wish to actually engage in the work itself, rather than simply comment on second-hand accounts such as this one, I assure you that you would find it considerably more difficult to wave off individual case reports as breezily as you’ve attempted to do here. Almost none can be easily brushed aside with stock from the skeptic’s go-to barrel: fraud, cryptoamnesia, apophenia, chance, distorted memories, parents’ reincarnation beliefs, culture, leading questions, conflating conversations, and so on. He was aware of them all. (Earlier in his career, he’d written *the* textbook on psychiatric interviewing techniques, don’t forget, so he was impressively well-versed on these issues). And that’s the rub for you … when the occasional rebellious, stubborn data refuse to fit your preferred theoretical model, it’s rather annoying, isn’t it? None of this is to say, alas, that I personally believe in reincarnation. I don’t, at this stage in my thinking. But neither am I afraid to engage meaningfully in the possibility, however remote, that I’m dead wrong. What is the mechanism? I’ve no idea. Stevenson had no idea, either, and he admitted as much. Would you rather he invented or concocted some explanation simply to satisfy your demand for answers? He could only surmise that his data suggested the brain and mind were orthogonal. “Certainly the mind expresses itself through the brain,” Stevenson once wrote. “Anyone can prove this to himself with an ounce or two of whiskey. [This] does not, however, prove the identity of mind and brain. When we squeeze a sponge, water runs out, but this does not make water a product of the sponge.” In the tradition of Victorian parapsychology, Stevenson saw the brain as, essentially, a kind of lens or prism through which the mind, as “energy” (and he hated that word just as much as I do, but he knew there was just no way to properly describe such a hypothetical entity) is filtered. An individual’s consciousness is canalized by his or her brain, in this sense, rather than created by it. Or to use yet another metaphor, the brain is like a radio receiver, with the airwaves existing whether or not there’s a device around to receive and transmit these signals. Reincarnation, he stressed, only complements rather than contradicts what we already know about evolution and genetics, helping to fill in some of the (big) gaps about embryology and an individual’s personality that modern science presently allocates to “chance” alone. In short, I’ve as healthy a disrespect for shoddy work as the next scientist and have earned my atheistic credentials, but I’m also willing to educate myself on opposing claims by reading firsthand accounts rather than another skeptic’s dubious take.

    Link to this
  31. 31. David Cummings 6:00 pm 11/3/2013

    jessebering, reincarnation is certainly older than Christianity and possibly triple the age of Christianity.

    It’s at least as old as astrology, maybe older.

    And yet still no hint of a theory of mechanism?

    Well, that’s spiritualism, pure and simple. And as a long time reader of SA, both in print and on the web, I have a hard time accepting the promulgation of spiritualism.

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  32. 32. David Cummings 6:14 pm 11/3/2013

    What’s the difference between L Ron Hubbard and Ian Stevenson?

    Hubbard figured out how to make the promulgation of spiritualism really pay big returns to the promulgator.

    And you know, there are many more “documented” cases in the Church of Scientology than in the works of Stevenson. And for those who say, “yes, but Scientology’s cases aren’t scientifically documented”… well, please, someone invite a Scientologist to this discussion while I go out for some popcorn.

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  33. 33. jaytudu 12:18 am 11/4/2013

    I have read about some of the cases collected and examined by Prof. Stevenson. I am interested in this area. I donot know how to do research here. Trying out from neuro science direction.

    But the collection of phenomena by Prof Steve is really astounding and scientific commnunity must pursue. People fear to pursue this because they have some kind of fear that if this will be proven than GOD win over the science. But I feel we should open to learn the nature.

    Link to this
  34. 34. ttheobald 5:56 am 11/4/2013

    I can’t say I’d put Stevenson on par with obvious frauds such as faith healers. However, I also won’t elevate his claims to being worthy of anything more than passing interest. If his final work identified a mechanistic means of reincarnation, fine – someone can research what that mechanism is.

    Taking the view of “what if”, then I’d be forced to ask: “So what?” If a personality could be transmitted this way, what would the implication be on an ethical side? Do newborns or children have an obligation to remember such a thing, or do they have a right to live their own lives? Are they the same person, or are they a separate entity with no connection?

    This is all curious from a science-fictiony stance, but until someone can demonstrate the mechanism, that’s where it’ll stay.

    @jaytudu – get back on your meds. No one is “afraid” of pursuing this (because if it were true and they proved it, they’d win a huge number of accolades, start a completely new branch of science, and probably be comfortably rich for life), what they’re “afraid” of is wasting their time and career pursuing something that they consider more than 99% likely to be wrong.

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  35. 35. LukasB 8:15 am 11/4/2013

    I don’t know if its here for the second time because I posted here a message but I cannot see it on my notebook but I can see it on my home computer which is odd. So if its a double post please delete it. So here goes:

    Good Day

    I have read your article and see some problems with it. Some things were good but some other things were just bad:

    1. Stevenson, who died in 2007, was a psychiatrist by training—and a prominent one at that.

    My looks:

    He had a paranormal background:

    His mother, Ruth, had an interest in theosophy and an extensive library on the subject, to which Stevenson attributed his own early interest in the paranormal.

    Taken from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ian_Stevenson

    2. He worked on other case besides reincarnation:

    Psychokinesis:

    ^ Pratt, J. G.; Stevenson, Ian (Vol. 70, January 1976). An Instance of Possible Metal-Bending Indirectly Related to Uri Geller. The Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research. “As far as I can say, no one in the apartment that night would take credit for being the responsible PK agent.”

    Taken from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychokinesis

    Or Near Death Experiences:

    Articles and Book Reviews
    (1971). Cardiac Arrest Remembered. Canadian Medical Association Journal, 105, 689.

    Taken from: http://www.pflyceum.org/167.html

    Survival of bodily death:

    (1965). Some Psychological Principles Relevant to Research in Survival. Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 59, 318–337.

    Taken from: http://www.pflyceum.org/167.html

    Spontaneous Cases: Conceptual and Methodological:

    (1963). Review of Hidden Channels of the Mind, by L. E. Rhine. Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 57, 111–113.

    Taken from: http://www.pflyceum.org/167.html

    Spontaneous ESP Research:

    (1963). A Postcognitive Dream Illustrating Some Aspects of the Pictographic Process. Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 57, 182–202.

    (1964). (first author, with R. Heywood). A Study of Spontaneous Cases of the Impression Type. Journal of Parapsychology, 28, 282–283. (Abstract)

    (1970). Precognition of Disasters. Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 64, 187–210.

    Taken from: http://www.pflyceum.org/167.html

    Apparitions:

    (1982). The Contribution of Apparitions to the Evidence for Survival. Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 76, 341–358.

    Taken from: http://www.pflyceum.org/167.html

    Mental Mediumship:

    (1965). New Evidence on an Important Detail in the Case of Abraham Florentine. Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 59, 47–55.

    (1970). A Communicator Unknown to Medium and Sitters. Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 64, 53-–65.

    Taken from: http://www.pflyceum.org/167.html

    Xenoglossy:

    Books
    (1974). Xenoglossy: A Review and Report of a Case. Charlottesville, VA: University Press of Virginia. (Also published in Proceedings of the American Society for Psychical Research, 31, 1974)

    Taken from: http://www.pflyceum.org/167.html

    Psychic Photography:

    Articles
    (1968). (first author, with J.G. Pratt). Exploratory Investigations of the Psychic Photography of Ted Serios. Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 62, 103–129.

    (1969). (first author, with J. G. Pratt). Further Investigations of the Psychic Photography of Ted Serios. Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 63, 352–364.

    (1971). (second author, with L. Barcus, and J. G. Pratt). Inferences about Processes Derived from Unusual Occurrences during “Psychic Photography.” Journal of Parapsychology, 35, 317–318. (Abstract)

    Taken from: http://www.pflyceum.org/167.html

    ESP:

    (1969). (second author, with J. G. Pratt). Identification of Concealed Randomized Objects. Nature, 221, 586.

    Taken from: http://www.pflyceum.org/167.html

    Poltergeist:

    Articles
    (1972). Are Poltergeists Living or Are They Dead? Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 66, 233–252.

    (1985). The Kern City Poltergeist: Comments on the Critique by Hövelmann and Zorab. Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, 53, 96–99.

    Taken from: http://www.pflyceum.org/167.html

    Or here:

    Ian Stevenson in his paper ‘Are Poltergeists Living or are they Dead?’ (1972) presents three cases to show that sometimes poltergeists are caused by spirits..

    Taken from: http://www.victorzammit.com/evidence/poltergeists.htm

    Also psychic surgery:

    Psychic Surgery

    Articles
    (1966). Preliminary Observations of “Psychic Surgeons” in the Philippines. Journal of Parapsychology, 30, 279. (Abstract)

    (1987). (second author, with N. Azuma). Difficulties Confronting Investigators of “Psychic Surgery” in the Philippines. Parapsychology Review, 18(2), 6–8.

    Taken from: http://www.pflyceum.org/167.html

    3. In Sri Lanka, a toddler one day overheard her mother mentioning the name of an obscure town (“Kataragama”) that the girl had never been to.

    Its not a obscure town:

    Also its not a obscure town on the contrary:

    Kataragama (Sinhala: කතරගම (katharagama), Tamil: கதிர்காமம் (katirkāmam)) is a pilgrimage town sacred to Buddhist, Hindu and indigenous Vedda people of Sri Lanka. People from South India also come there to worship. The town has the Ruhunu Maha Kataragama devalaya, a shrine dedicated to Skanda-Murukan also known as Kataragamadevio. Kataragama is in the Monaragala District of Uva province, Sri Lanka. It is 228 km ESE of Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka. Although Kataragama was a small village in medieval times, today it is a fast-developing township surrounded by jungle in the southeastern region of Sri Lanka.

    Taken from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kataragama

    4. Traumatic deaths, he thought, leave an emotional imprint. Indeed, most of the children he studied claimed that they had met a violent end previously. There was also a gap of a few years between lives; reincarnation is never immediate. And for the most part, souls seemed to stay local. That’s to say, the “previous personality” often lived in a distant village, but not quite so far away as to require a passport. Oftentimes, Stevenson observed, the child had habits and fears linked to the nature of death. Those who said they’d drowned in a previous life had an unusually intense fear of water; those who were stabbed displayed a crippling knife phobia, and so on.

    This does not make sense. What about phobia of hair. Were the people killed by hair or other phobias like the phobia to fail? There is a giant list of phobias which does have nothing to do with killing or dying..

    Chaetophobia – fear of hair
    Atychiphobia – fear of failure

    Taken from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_phobias

    5. This type of “unilateral brachydactyly” is so rare, Stevenson pointed out, that he couldn’t find a single medical publication of another case.

    According to this page Brachydactyly is rare in itself but there are other cases:

    Clinical description

    Ray and Haldane [51] described short fourth metatarsi resulting in unilateral or bilateral short fourth toes in 206 persons in Northeastern India with no instance of short metacarpals, distinguishing this form from BDE. The authors concluded that the trait is autosomal dominant with approximately 27% penetrance.

    Taken from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2441618/

    So we have around 206 persons with unilateral brachydactyly..

    Or here:

    Brachydactyly (“short digits”) is a general term that refers to disproportionately short fingers and toes, and forms part of the group of limb malformations characterized by bone dysostosis. The various types of isolated brachydactyly are rare, except for types A3 and D.

    Taken from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2441618/

    This is what I have to add. I think its premature to think about reincarnation. Also look on the Chotkin case in wikipedia:

    The philosopher Paul Edwards, editor-in-chief of MacMillan’s Encyclopedia of Philosophy, became Stevenson’s chief critic.[25] From 1986 onwards he devoted several articles to Stevenson’s work, and discussed Stevenson in his Reincarnation: A Critical Examination (1996).[26] He argued that Stevenson’s views were “absurd nonsense,” and that when examined in detail his case studies had “big holes … that do not even begin to add up to a significant counterweight to the initial presumption against reincarnation.”[27] He cited the case of Corliss Chotkin in Angoon, Alaska – which Stevenson described in his Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation (1966) – as an example that relied entirely on the word of one woman, the niece of Victor Vincent, a fisherman.[28] In defense of Stevenson, Robert Almeder wrote in 1997 that the Chotkin case was one of Stevenson’s weaker ones.[29]

    Taken from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ian_Stevenson

    I think Stevenson has his share and his experiments were looked at but to this day we have nothing to conclude that reincarnation is taking place. I also don’t believe in Stevenson because I have read his books and they don’t stand up. Many of his stories have holes. Those who seem solid when looked at more in depth have holes.

    I hope this criticism helps. If you want to believe then believe. I am just posting my opinion on this..

    I am sorry if this is a double post but if is please delete it because I don’t know what is wrong with my notebook. Sorry for the confusion if it happened..

    Link to this
  36. 36. OgreMk5 12:59 pm 11/4/2013

    The plural of anecdote is not data.

    These are stories. That’s all. There are as many (if not more) stories of alien abductions (with physical traces to support them). There are as many (if not more) stories of faith healers curing everything from leprosy to cancer (with physical traces to support them).

    Ask yourself if there is absolutely no other explanation than reincarnation for these stories to happen the way that they do. If there is no other possible explanation (and several have been mentioned here) then we could provisionally accept reincarnation. But there are possible explanations.

    Does anyone remember the Dogon, Nommo, and Sirius? (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dogon_people)

    These anecdotes are not reproducible, they are not predictable, they are not (apparently) falsifiable. Give me a prediction or a testable mechanism and we’ll talk.

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  37. 37. jayjacobus 2:03 pm 11/4/2013

    If there is no known mechanism to consciousness or the mind or idealism, that does not mean they can be dismissed. One might note that the beginning of the understanding of evolution came through observations, not though understanding biological mechanisms which came later.

    It is not necessary to understand the mechanism for color to know that apples are red and it is not necessary to understand reincarnation to live life.

    Still the search for explanations of scientifically strange events may lead to useful discoveries.

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  38. 38. Damien2112 2:25 pm 11/4/2013

    That’s the same Ian Stevenson as this nut bag right?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ian_Stevenson

    Link to this
  39. 39. OgreMk5 3:14 pm 11/4/2013

    Jay,

    But there is a mechanism, even if we don’t understand it. It is consistent, it is repeatable. And it’s even testable (are other red things red because of the same mechanism)?

    Reincarnation isn’t.

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  40. 40. SamsaPDX 3:22 pm 11/4/2013

    It’s interesting that Stevenson’s “brief window of time–between the ages of two and five” coincides with the time when children’s testimony is least reliable and most easily coerced? It’s disturbing to think just how much “exhaustive effort” these toddlers were subjected to. One is reminded of the Little Rascals trial.

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  41. 41. Momus 6:14 pm 11/4/2013

    “…why aren’t scientists taking Stevenson’s data more seriously? …”

    Because improbable claims which contradict well established knowledge would require a much better documentation than Stevenson’s BS.
    And there is so little time..

    @Jesse Bering > “If you’re anything like me, with eyes that roll over..”

    Nope, nothing like you.

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  42. 42. jayjacobus 7:32 pm 11/4/2013

    Except that evolution is not consistent, repeatable and was only testable after its mechanism was understood.

    One cannot test idealism with a neurologically based point of view. It is accepted or rejected by choice.

    I admit that red is red and, if the reincarnated person agrees, does that indicate consistency in past lives?

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  43. 43. natgeo 12:42 am 11/5/2013

    Thanks for this analysis Jesse. It is refreshing to see your willingness to question your own fundamental beliefs, as difficult as it can be to do that.

    A couple of years ago I would have scoffed at the idea of reincarnation, too, but after reading some of Stevenson’s accounts, I too believe that he might be on to something.

    For those irrational and angry folks on this thread who continue to deny out-of-hand Stevenson’s work, you should know that many, many highly regarded scientists are coming around to the realization that consciousness might in fact be the fundamental or primary “building block” of reality, rather than matter. And if consciousness is “the thing that exists” fundamentally, it certainly wouldn’t rule out the transfer of consciousness to another physical body.

    If this is so, advanced physics should predict this. And in essence, quantum mechanics does just that. Every major theory of QM reduces to consciousness at its fundamental level, with the possible exception of the parallel universes theory. Recent experiments have even proved that nonlocality — which for years scientists assumed only worked at the subatomic level — have been shown to work with objects that can be seen with the naked eye. In other words, objects you can see have been shown to exist in more than one place at a time — in a superposition state.

    Getting back to Stevenson’s research, you should understand that it was never intended to answer all the questions that came to the forefront during his studies. It was merely intended — as with most scientific theories — to test one small and specific aspect of our experience in a controlled and detailed manner. And it certainly did that with a great deal of clarity and success, and now our scientific theories must account for it.

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  44. 44. LukasB 1:56 am 11/5/2013

    @natgeo: What are you preaching here is Quantum Woo:

    http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Quantum_woo
    http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Quantum_consciousness

    This is all pseudoscience. The is some non-locality but it does not prove a Quantum Consciousness. This is what you are telling is pseudoscience..

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  45. 45. LukasB 1:59 am 11/5/2013

    @natgeo:

    A Chopra quote:

    “In the Chopra-brand, everything is in some vague superposition, Schroedinger’s cat style, until it is observed. Therefore, the universe requires an observer. Therefore, one or more god(s) exists.

    According to Chopra, “consciousness is nonlocal” and consciousness is “a field, a superposition of possibilities.”[3] It is a bit hard to see what Chopra means by this, it seems that a whole lot of different, perhaps incompatible possibilities (like the possibility that Schrödinger’s cat is alive and the simultaneous possibility that the cat is dead) form a field and by some unexplained mechanism consciousness derives from this field of possibilities.

    Other New Age nonsense often attempts to tie this in to idealism and other wishful thinking akin to The Secret.”

    Taken from: http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Quantum_consciousness

    Link to this
  46. 46. Voltige 12:54 pm 11/5/2013

    Good post, Natgeo.

    While a critical attitude to research is fully acceptable and indeed a valued part of the scientific method, the arrogant dismissal of research by people who admit never having familiarised themselves with it, and are thus opining from a position of ignorance, is not.

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  47. 47. natgeo 1:41 pm 11/5/2013

    @LukasB:

    With respect, I don’t recall mentioning Deepak Chopra in my original post. Whether or not Chopra is correct about some of his postulations, I am not personally familiar enough with them to make any kind of rational comment about their merit.

    However, I do know that some parts of Wikipedia have been overrun by the most dubious sorts of skeptics in an attempt to present information about certain scientists and their theories in as negative a light as possible. There is plenty of evidence to suggest that Wikipedia is the last place a person should look for a balanced view about science — particularly in areas of research that skeptics refer to as “fringe science.”

    If you’re interested in recent research into quantum mechanics, here’s the article in Nature that I referenced:

    http://www.nature.com/news/2010/100317/full/news.2010.130.html

    I just find it funny that for decades scientists assumed that the weird and wacky world of QM only happened at the subatomic level, and moreover, that QM would likely be disproven at some point.

    Well, wrong and wrong.

    Apparently several labs have replicated versions of the experiment published in Nature — so in the early going it appears the weird properties of quantum mechanics probably do function beyond the subatomic level.

    Moreover, quantum mechanics has never been disproven and almost every major theory does appear to reduce to consciousness at its basic level. Of course, physicists are still debating what all of this all means. But for those diehard materialists in the audience, the facts of QM continue to challenge some basic and widely-held views about how the universe works. That cannot be denied.

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  48. 48. LukasB 1:53 pm 11/5/2013

    @natgeo:

    First you did not mentioned Chopra but you claim the same things and assume that Consciousness is also non-local and things like that.

    Second thing. This is preached by Chopra also:

    However, I do know that some parts of Wikipedia have been overrun by the most dubious sorts of skeptics in an attempt to present information about certain scientists and their theories in as negative a light as possible. There is plenty of evidence to suggest that Wikipedia is the last place a person should look for a balanced view about science — particularly in areas of research that skeptics refer to as “fringe science.”

    “Chopra finally gets to the specifics of his current boogeyman:

    A distressing example has been occurring at Wikipedia, where a band of committed skeptics have focused their efforts to discredit anyone whom they judge an enemy.”

    Taken from: http://theness.com/neurologicablog/index.php/chopra-shoots-at-skepticism-and-misses/

    There is more.

    Also I knew that about the Nature article. Its nothing new really. However it is premature to presume that something like a Quantum mind is taking place. We have no evidence and Hameroff and Penrose pet project about Quantum mind has not passed through.

    Also I think that you are not a Quantum physicist or are you??

    Also the link I quoted was rationalwiki and not wikipedia.

    But thanks for posting that about the wikipedia I now know where the wind is blowing..

    Thanks for your reply and I wish you a nice day..

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  49. 49. LukasB 2:00 pm 11/5/2013

    @Voltige:

    I have studied Stevenson and all his books are in my bookshelf. When you look more in depth they have holes and big ones. In one case even Stevenson attributed a strange behavior of a girl to reincarnation and not sexual development and that should be a proof of the paranormal? If you want to take a look go the the skeptic society forum there is a discussion about several of these things where I also took some notes and looks. The skeptics also make good arguments why people are not wasting time with these things.

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  50. 50. LukasB 12:56 am 11/6/2013

    @natgeo:

    I took the time to look into the nature article. I read it back in 2010 when it was released and have fuzzy memory about it. So lets see what we have:

    “A team of scientists has succeeded in putting an object large enough to be visible to the naked eye into a mixed quantum state of moving and not moving.”

    This is in the article. The scientists put the drum into a superposition and not in the way that the drum was originally and on itself in a superposition.

    Second problem:

    “Andrew Cleland at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and his team cooled a tiny metal paddle until it reached its quantum mechanical ‘ground state’ — the lowest-energy state permitted by quantum mechanics. They then used the weird rules of quantum mechanics to simultaneously set the paddle moving while leaving it standing still. The experiment shows that the principles of quantum mechanics can apply to everyday objects as well as as atomic-scale particles.”

    They have cooled down the object that it finally reached the superposition that means it cooled down into that position. If we cool down the brain it dies along with the mind. So again even when quantum mechanics can be applied to everyday objects we still don’t have any evidence that this is taking place in the brain or that reincarnation is possible..

    Here in your article it is described:

    “Cleland and his team took a more direct measure of quantum weirdness at the large scale. They began with a a tiny mechanical paddle, or ‘quantum drum’, around 30 micrometres long that vibrates when set in motion at a particular range of frequencies. Next they connected the paddle to a superconducting electrical circuit that obeyed the laws of quantum mechanics. They then cooled the system down to temperatures below one-tenth of a kelvin.

    At this temperature, the paddle slipped into its quantum mechanical ground state. Using the quantum circuit, Cleland and his team verified that the paddle had no vibrational energy whatsoever. They then used the circuit to give the paddle a push and saw it wiggle at a very specific energy.

    Next, the researchers put the quantum circuit into a superposition of ‘push’ and ‘don’t push’, and connected it to the paddle. Through a series of careful measurements, they were able to show that the paddle was both vibrating and not vibrating simultaneously.”

    Also there is criticism why does not QM work on buses:

    “So if trillions of atoms can be put into a quantum state, why don’t we see double-decker buses simultaneously stopping and going? Cleland says he believes size does matter: the larger an object, the easier it is for outside forces to disrupt its quantum state.

    “The environment is this huge, complex thing,” says Cleland. “It’s that interaction with this incredibly complex system that makes the quantum coherence vanish.”

    Still, he says, there’s plenty of reasons to keep trying to get large objects into quantum states. Large quantum states could tell researchers more about the relationship between quantum mechanics and gravity — something that is not well understood. And quantum resonators could be useful for something, although Cleland admits he’s not entirely sure what. “There might be some interesting application,” he says. “But frankly, I don’t have one now.”"

    All quotes taken from: http://www.nature.com/news/2010/100317/full/news.2010.130.html

    So the environment does matter and it does make Quantum Coherence vanish. So again its premature to think about reincarnation, Quantum minds etc..when we have zero evidence that the mind is a Quantum thing. Quantum Mechanics have been to many times misused for woo. Just take a look here:

    http://theness.com/neurologicablog/index.php/quantum-medicine/

    Also Jim Tucker is saying the same that QM is the answer to reincarnation and that it has the mechanism for which he received a criticism from a QM physicist:

    “Although critics have argued there is no physical explanation for the survival of personality, Tucker suggests that quantum mechanics may offer a mechanism by which memories and emotions could carry over from one life to another.[8][9] He argues that since the act of observation collapses wave equations, consciousness may not be merely a by-product of the physical brain but rather a separate entity in the universe that impinges on the physical. Tucker argues that viewing consciousness as a fundamental, non-physical, part of the universe makes it possible to conceive of it continuing to exist after the death of the physical brain.[26] He provides the analogy of a television set and the television transmission; the television is required to decode the signal, but it does not create the signal. In a similar way the brain may be required for consciousness to express itself, but may not be the source of consciousness. [27] On the other hand Susan Huelga, a lecturer in quantum mechanics at the University of Hertfordshire, notes that brain dynamics are highly complex, and she finds that there is no more evidence that quantum mechanics is relevant in this field than that it is relevant regarding whether or not God exists.[28]”

    Taken from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jim_B._Tucker#Reincarnation_research

    So even Tucker got criticized for using QM in a irrelevant way..

    Nothing more to add..

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  51. 51. Jim Dominic 7:12 am 11/6/2013

    That we find some phenomena to be currently inexplicable does not mean we are required to accept explanations that excuse us from having to do the work of testing our hypotheses. Frustration with rigid thinking is understandable, however, that frustration is not a good reason for abandoning scientific methods in favor of fallacious reasoning, however eloquent, detailed, or scientific-sounding that reasoning may be expressed. We cannot really check Stevenson’s work. We cannot really test his hypotheses–and they remain hypotheses, not theory–because this is all anecdotal and after-the-fact evidence, filtered through the collector and subject to his bias, no matter how objective he tried to be. Special pleading will not change this situation. Appeals to authority will not change this, nor will appeals to ignorance or appeals to metaphysics.

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  52. 52. jacob76049 10:42 am 11/7/2013

    I’m curious to know if all the cases for claimed reincarnation that he studied came from only those regions that believed in reincarnation (or in families that believed in it) or was the distribution globally random, independent of belief systems, which one would expect if this is a true phenomenon. Anybody know the answer to this?

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  53. 53. LukasB 11:27 am 11/7/2013

    @jacob76049:

    According to Skeptic dictionary:

    Stevenson collected stories not only from India and Sri Lanka, but from the tribal peoples of northwest North America, Lebanon, Brazil, Turkey, Thailand, Burma, and West Africa. He also investigated cases in Europe and in South America. As noted above, Stevenson focused on children’s stories. He believe that the stories of two- or three-year-olds were the best stories because he felt that he could “reach reasonably satisfactory conclusions concerning the information to which the child might have been normally exposed.” This would allow him to eliminate alternative explanations such as the subject having heard or read stories about the person he was supposed to have been in a past life.

    Taken from: http://www.skepdic.com/stevenson.html

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  54. 54. jacob76049 3:17 pm 11/7/2013

    First, I’m not taking a stance here, just exercising curiosity. And, I have read none of his books, so forgive my ignorance of the details of his work.

    If reincarnation happens what does that say about evolution? What was that which reincarnates look like say, several million years ago? Does it imply that this entity also had to evolve?

    Also, there are more people living today than have ever lived in the past (I may not be absolutely right on this, but you get the idea). Where did all the extra “minds”, “souls”, “reincarnators”, come from. And when our population doubles again?

    We could, in principle, test one of it’s possible propositions (I say possible, because I don‘t know for sure if he made this claim): that reincarnation is universal. We could form the null hypothesis that it is not correlated with any set of physical or culture/social attributes. If we than ran a series of statistical analysis (difference of means, regression, etc) on those children compared to the general population we should find no significant mean differences or correlations. If however we do find a statistically significantly correlation with one or more attributes, e.g, parents educational level, parents religiosity, gender, socio-economic class, IQ, etc, then we could legitimately suspect that something else is going on. Again, this is probably more a thought experiment, since I doubt if the data is available to do such an analysis.

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  55. 55. LukasB 4:14 am 11/8/2013

    @jacob76049:

    If you want to see the data and some skeptical analysis go here:

    http://www.skepticforum.com/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=21849

    Here you should go also on the 2nd page of the thread. The skeptic there linked it to the page and is discussing unilateral brachydactyly.

    The same skeptic did his job and looked on some of his papers:

    http://www.skepticforum.com/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=21864

    Not all of the skeptics(Shen1986) arguments are completely correct but some of them make you skeptical of the whole work. At least for me it did. The person also welcomes criticism but normal criticism. So if you want you can get a look there and even on the papers.

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  56. 56. thlej 11:28 am 11/8/2013

    Clearly, it would be unscientific to say nobody should investigate these matters based on an assumption we can be 100% certain non-material entities don’t exist. [It may be less clear whether there is good reason to advise against such research based on expecting more practical benefits from other research. Since the article says there seems to be no moral logic to reported reincarnation stories, moral considerations don't seem to be a potential benefit from such research.]

    I started writing down all the questions this raised which make it difficult to find any internal consistency to reincarnation. But it was clearly too long to put here.

    I will ask: Can we distinguish between children being able to describe other people they seem to have no material way of knowing being based on: (a) the child knew those people in a past life, or (b) the child has learned of those people based on some other means outside mainstream science (reading minds at a distance or such) ? [I'm not saying that is more likely, but have we excluded all alternative explanations than past lives?]

    The article expresses doubts about a past quote from the author:
    “Why do we wonder where our mind goes when the body is dead? Shouldn’t it be obvious that the mind is dead too?”
    What is meant by “mind”? Surely, medical science has shown injuries (or birth defects or disease) to specific areas of the brain have consequences to particular mental functions dependent on the area of injury. There’s a clear physical link to mental function. Any soul that might be linked to a physical body is not “the mind” – we don’t all remember all the past lives that soul supposedly knows about. This doesn’t prove there is no soul or that the soul can’t receive information from a physical brain and later give that information to a physical brain. But that essentially describes a separate Entity X which carries information from Mind A to Mind B. At best, data doesn’t die with the physical body, but “the mind” does. Stevenson doesn’t seem to make a case for each incarnation carrying forward lessons learned in all past lives – that would be closer to “the mind” surviving. We see each child must struggle learning things as basic as crawling and object permanence.

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  57. 57. LakenormanJackatgmaildotocm 3:50 pm 11/8/2013

    Anybody remember “Bridey Murphy”?

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  58. 58. GreenMind 7:24 pm 11/8/2013

    OgreMk5:

    “These anecdotes are not reproducible, they are not predictable, they are not (apparently) falsifiable. Give me a prediction or a testable mechanism and we’ll talk.”

    What this discussion really comes down to is whether consciousness can exist independently of the brain. That is the big objection to reincarnation, the soul, the afterlife, etc.

    There is a very well known, reproducible, testable, and falsifiable mechanism by which consciousness can be independent of the brain. Lucid dreaming is a technique in which a sleeping person practices becoming aware of being in a dream, and then takes over control of the dream. The person can then intentionally direct the dream to visit other people who are also dreaming and have conversations, and also to look at things they cannot otherwise see.

    Lucid dreaming is hard to do, but for most people it would just take practice. But then all research is hard to do.

    I suspect that the mechanism by which reincarnation happens is closely related to dreaming. I have also had predictive dreams, so I would not be at all surprised if reincarnation exists.

    Also, this does not contradict evolution, but it could have implications for evolution if members of an evolving species could remember things in between lives.

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  59. 59. GreenMind 7:37 pm 11/8/2013

    David Cummings, 31:

    “jessebering, reincarnation is certainly older than Christianity and possibly triple the age of Christianity.”

    “It’s at least as old as astrology, maybe older.”

    “And yet still no hint of a theory of mechanism?”

    “Well, that’s spiritualism, pure and simple. And as a long time reader of SA, both in print and on the web, I have a hard time accepting the promulgation of spiritualism.”

    I don’t understand this logic. Until atomic fusion was discovered, there was no hint of a mechanism of how the sun was so hot, for as long as human beings existed. That does not mean that the sun was not hot, and it does not mean that believing the Hot Sun Theory is spiritualism.

    If people over thousands of years observed that some children remember past lives, the absence of a mechanism would not prevent them from believing in reincarnation. However, you may want to investigate Tibetan Buddhism, because their monks claim to visit the place where souls go after death.

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  60. 60. LukasB 2:23 am 11/9/2013

    @GreenMind:

    “There is a very well known, reproducible, testable, and falsifiable mechanism by which consciousness can be independent of the brain. Lucid dreaming is a technique in which a sleeping person practices becoming aware of being in a dream, and then takes over control of the dream. The person can then intentionally direct the dream to visit other people who are also dreaming and have conversations, and also to look at things they cannot otherwise see.

    Lucid dreaming is hard to do, but for most people it would just take practice. But then all research is hard to do.

    I suspect that the mechanism by which reincarnation happens is closely related to dreaming. I have also had predictive dreams, so I would not be at all surprised if reincarnation exists.”

    There is nothing paranormal about Lucid dreaming so this is again woo:

    “In conclusion, the data and analysis presented here argue that out-of-body experiences are mental events that arise out of the same physiological conditions as wake initiated lucid dreams. Both involve transitions waking to dreaming, and are accompanied by similar phenomenology such as vibrations, unusual auditory hallucinations, sleep paralysis, and a sensation of floating out of body. Using the proposed model for understanding metachoric experiences reveals that the difference between OBEs and lucid dreams lies solely in the semantic frameworks used. In the end, we suggest that in approaching the study of consciousness, the most fruitful approach may require us to abandon arbitrary distinctions between states and to recognize that all conscious experience derives from the activity of the brain.”

    Taken from: http://www.lucidity.com/REMOBE.pdf

    Or look here:

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120727095555.htm

    It all happens in the brain. You are not leaving your body. For the sake of argument people just look more into neuroscience and normal people what they are saying and not Deepak Chopra and his woo men.

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  61. 61. MDobbins 8:18 am 11/9/2013

    Jesse Bering should be commended for being a true free thinker who won’t ignore evidence simply to protect his atheist faith. I thank him and Scientific American for this article that is very worthy of the magazine. Only those who haven’t done the proper research would think otherwise. As a reader of Stevenson’s work and the creator of the website TheCaseAgainstAtheism.com, I think its important for outsiders to know that it is much more than just MEMORY and BIRTH MARKS a child has. Here is a list of some addition qualities usually found in a past life case that I have on my website:

    - Details of the previous life children recount do not change over time, as one would expect if it were a fantasy.

    - Many first words and sentences are often related to a previous life.

    - The deceased individual the children claim to be had ordinary, average lives of common working folk.

    - Children spontaneously claim the name and/or identity of a deceased person. Not living people, dead ones.

    - Children remember family member names and identify the town where they lived. They recall a family and a town they have never seen or been to before.

    - Children use possessive words such as ‘My other family’ or ‘I have a wife’ or ‘I am a doctor’.

    - Children use dissociate phrases such as ‘You’re not my mother’ or ‘This isn’t my house’ or ‘This isn’t my village’ which, as many of us have experienced, are usually reserved for the teenage years.

    - Children recognize family, friends, places, and objects of the deceased identity they claim. They are identifying the roles people and places played in the deceased person’s identity they claim. People and places they have never seen.

    - Children have strong emotional connections to the family of the deceased. They will cry and plea, over a period of months or years, to be taken to the deceased person’s family. They have done so even in the face of threats and physical punishment from their parents.

    – Children have behaviors and tastes associated with the deceased identity they claim. Phobias associated with how the deceased identity died. Conducting play that corresponds to the profession the deceased identify had. Demanding food be prepared a certain way, fitting with the tastes of the deceased identify. Children have tastes and behaviors beyond their experience.

    - Children make observations of people and places they’ve never seen before, noticing changes that have taken place. For example, when the child observes the old house of the deceased identify they claim, they notice changes that have been made to the house or inside the house since the time the deceased identity lived there. Children have knowledge beyond their experience.

    Thank you again to Jesse and SA. I do believe reincarnation will be the undoing of the radical New Atheists and Materialism.

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  62. 62. denisosu 9:10 am 11/9/2013

    It is disappointing to read so many commentators making the same logical fallacy again and again.

    The fact that we do not understand how something is possible does not make it impossible. 200 years ago people would have said flying was impossible. 50 years ago people would have said controlling a wheelchair via thoughts was impossible. 500 years ago the Church did not understand how the Earth could revolve around the sun, and so they denied the evidence of Galileo – look what that did for their credibility!

    If there is a way to discredit the data, by all means do so, but that requires actually examining the data using statistical analysis and validating the individual data-points, rather than making glib comments about one person’s short summary of the data.

    Otherwise, there is only one appropriate response when you see data which are not explained by any current theory, and that is to say: “we do not know how to explain these data with current theories”.

    At that point, each of us can follow our own biases and choose which side to believe, but don’t confuse this last part with science! Personally, I don’t believe in reincarnation, but I’m conscious that I cannot prove my point of view to someone who does.

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  63. 63. DNPBC0 9:21 am 11/9/2013

    This is a prime example of the mind-boggling crap to which New Scientist now subscribes. The only thing which keeps me from unsubscribing right now is my curiosity about how far this magazine will sink into the quagmire of journalistic bullshit.

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  64. 64. tonyr 2:04 pm 11/12/2013

    I think many fear the thought of an afterlife because of what they have done and are afraid of God and His judgment.

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  65. 65. GreenMind 10:57 pm 11/13/2013

    tonyr, that may be. However, scientifically, the existence of an afterlife does not prove the existence of God. That would require separate proof, though that may be more readily available in the afterlife.

    There are many ways to have an afterlife. This could just be an elaborate simulation game, and we wake up when mom calls us for dinner. Or this could be a “small” protected universe where we are laid like eggs to develop until we are mature enough to live on our own. Then we hatch into the “real” world which is rife with predators and danger. Or aliens on a distant planet could be beaming their consciousnesses into our bio brains, in order to guide us so that we don’t destroy ourselves. None of these scenarios requires a God.

    On the other hand I do happen to believe in God and an afterlife, because of my own personal experiences. Can’t prove it though.

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  66. 66. deometer 3:30 pm 11/24/2013

    Another book worth checking out:

    Extraordinary Knowing: Science, Skepticism, and the Inexplicable Powers of the Human Mind
    http://www.amazon.com/Extraordinary-Knowing-Science-Skepticism-Inexplicable/dp/0553382233
    by Elizabeth Lloyd Mayer, Ph. D

    She was a psychoanalyst and clinical professor at UC Berkeley (received the Distinguished Analyst Award from the American Psychoanalytic Association, also held a fellowship at Princeton) who came into researching the field unintentionally and as a strict skeptic. And it’s not that she ever lost her skepticism, she just stopped to using it as an excuse to offhandedly dismiss things she couldn’t explain. Particularly “anomalous mental phenomenon.” While I don’t recall if it deals a lot with reincarnation, I believe she does mentions Dr. Stevenson.

    Also, Stevenson’s protégé Jim Tucker apparently has a book coming out soon. There was a recent article in Daily Mail discussing his work and some more specific cases:

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2509769/New-book-reveals-children-believe-reincarnated.html

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  67. 67. tonyr 8:53 pm 11/24/2013

    Science and life should never be viewed from a single viewpoint whether Atheist or Agnostic or otherwise. Scientific American should respect all the various aspects. To think that natural means of experiment can affirm the absence of the supernatural is absurd. The Supernatural is just that, above and beyond what is natural. Atheists seem to have an unreasonable anger at a God that they cannot understand or comprehend, they are maybe too smart for their own good, too smart to believe, yet can accept hypothesis such as a many worlds view without hardly a wimper, if it would disprove the existence of a God.

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  68. 68. tonyr 8:58 pm 11/24/2013

    Sorry Atheists, there is a God, this I know from personal experience, so straighten up He isn’t the mean guy you refuse to believe in.

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  69. 69. Roy Sprowl 1:42 am 11/28/2013

    Mr. Bering, what you’ve done here is say, “Here’s some stuff that I know for certain is hokum but which has seduced even my highly trained mind.” The teaching opportunity here is for you to discover and explain how this stuff fooled you, thereby inoculating your readers against the same, presumably universal human, error. That you failed to so do is a betrayal of your position under the SciAm masthead.

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  70. 70. GreenMind 9:00 pm 12/2/2013

    tonyr, I agree that Scientific American should respect all the various aspects, and I also agree that natural means of experiment cannot affirm the absence of the supernatural. However, it can indeed affirm the PRESENCE of the supernatural. Not hard at all to test experimentally. People who are trained in using lucid dreaming can see things in the physical world while they sleep. That can be experimentally verified. The fact that not everyone can do that is a limitation, but the fact that some people are blind does not prove that sight does not exist.

    People are too quick to dismiss anecdotes about the supernatural. Many (Most? All?) scientific discoveries start as anecdotes. Any discovery starts out as something someone saw, before they measured it and showed that it is replicable. Meteors are not replicable, but it is easy to prove they exist.

    “Atheists seem to have an unreasonable anger at a God that they cannot understand or comprehend, they are maybe too smart for their own good, too smart to believe, yet can accept hypothesis such as a many worlds view without hardly a wimper, if it would disprove the existence of a God.”

    I sympathize with them. I started out that way, angry at the Catholic Church, and mistaking it for God. But I never went to the extreme of Atheism, because it is not scientifically provable. I spent 20 years as an agnostic before I had enough actual personal evidence to make belief in God compelling.

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  71. 71. Lex 12:59 pm 12/22/2013

    Reincarnation and afterlife are part of humanity’s mythology that has evolved over tens of thousands of years.

    The “memories” of prior lives could simply have been data that was passed on to a developing fetus’ memory banks while in its mother’s womb. That seems to me to be a more logical hypothesis.

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  72. 72. Easterman 2:48 pm 12/22/2013

    As an academic in a non-science discipline, despite a lifetime’s commitment to scientific method, I am regularly shocked by the propensity of most scientists to dismiss anecdotal evidence as inherently flawed. I can assure you that many disciplines (history, for example) have to rely heavily on anecdotal material as the basis for their work. What matters isn’t that our evidence is naturally anecdotal, but that what we do with it is demanding, rigorous, intellectually challenging in ways scientists can’t begin to understand. Scientists learn their trade from textbooks that set out the truth. We don’t use textbooks, but we teach students how to think, how to weigh evidence, how to move towards paradigm shifts, how to draw serious conclusions from what may seem to be weak material.

    Of course, a lot of anecdote is next to useless. The trick is to identify which of it has to be ignored, which given heavy weighting. Dismissing all anecdotal evidence as inadequate is intellectually unsound, since plenty of anecdotes turn out to be based on solid evidence. We use anecdotal material most of the time in courts of law. Witnesses tell anecdotes to prove innocence or guilt. It’s not perfect, but there’s no way to avoid it. It’s for the jury or magistrates to debate this and do their best to reach the right conclusion. In America, a man’s or woman’s life may depend on the correct interpretation of anecdote.

    Many scientists make a fetish of their skepticism (and believe me, I have a reputation for skepticism) to the point where they make fools of themselves. Some years ago, at a national science conference in Keele University (UK), it was put to a couple of scientists that one of the stronger pieces of evidence for homeopathic medicine was that homeopathic vets can, among other things, cure mastitis in herds of dairy cows, on a routine basis (saving a lot of money for the farmers). Their answer was to laugh and say it was just a Clever Hans trick (after the German horse trained to ‘count’). That was just spitting in the face of what science is about (how do you train dozens of herds of dairy cows to feel better and recover from mastitis by putting a remedy into their drinking trough?). I remain angry about that, because they really had no right to call themselves scientists when taking that approach.

    I am an atheist and not at all convinced about reincarnation. But researchers like Stevenson are making an effort to do scientific work in a difficult area. It may be the case that reincarnation is false; but if something else is going on (and there seems to be), I don’t like lightweight skeptics getting in the way of an increase of human knowledge.

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  73. 73. FlexibleArrangement 4:03 pm 03/15/2014

    It is illuminating to see how passionately people respond to events they think call their belief systems into question.

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  74. 74. tandewy 11:15 pm 05/30/2014

    Im very fascinated in reincarnation, I am not religious in anyway, and I do not claim to be psychic, however whether I like it or not I have a very special gift. Ever since I could walk I would talk to a voice called god, I fell out of a car when I was one and an angel wrapped their hands around me and placed me softly on the road, not on scratch, bruise nothing. In fact when I was little I was terrified of my gift. It has only been the last few years I have come to terms with it.
    I couldn’t understand as a child how I could for tell the future and everything came true. No one could understand how it happened too. I would and still can make a wish or think of something and it just happens. Weird things happen to my kids as well, like my son can turn a light globe on and it hasnt worked for years, or my children will be walking and money is always in front of them at their feet.
    I have had no choice but to do a bit of research myself, and now have a better understanding of the universe. I started to dream about reincarnation, and again I am not religious, and had no idea really what is was all about. However my husband and I was planning to have little girl, and I couldnt get pregnant. I starting dreaming of a little girl around 7 she said Im not reading to come into the world yet, and she was around a heap of cars. She wore a white night gown and had a brown teddy with her and long blond hair. To be honest, it really freaked me out as she would come and visit me in my dreams often. I kept telling my husband what was happening and how she said she is going to be our daughter. Anyway what got more freaky is that I was talking to my mum on the phone and told her of this little girl, my mother nearly fainted and said it is her best friends daughter who died in a car accident at the age of seven, she wasn’t wearing a seat belt and the car rolled on her and killed her. I described down to the t apparently. Anyway we now have a daughter she is 5 now and we named her Kiara, the girl who I dreamed of apparently her name was Kira, I had no idea, and the freaky thing is too my daughter has this major phobia of not wearing a seat belt, she has to wear a seat no matter what, or she goes into a melt down. I wanted to share this story as Im really not trying to prove anything I just stating what has happened. I cannot explain it or maybe I can but its not up to me to push my beliefs on to others. All I know now is I have the ability to tap into the universe and make magic, I now enjoy it, and it can now give me the ability to better my life and others.

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  75. 75. juliosiqueira 12:54 pm 06/16/2014

    Sadly enough, only today was I made aware of this writing by Mr. Jesse Bering, and the following storm of comments. It is always bad to be a late comer to a debate. Anyway, let’s hope my maybe-not-so-humble comments will be of some use to any of the interested parties…

    First of all, I’d like to state my bias on this matter. After having studied and thought it out for so long, it is not easy to declare clear cut what my position is. In this perspective, I think the wisest thing is to declare my emotional stand: I am highly inclined to believing in reincarnation (plus God, afterlife, spirits, and a few other oddities). It is fair to say that I am a believer in these things.

    Secondly, I must state my “experience” (knowledge and etc) on this matter. I have studied it a lot (!), especially during the years ranging from 2002 to 2006. I bought and read many books on the subject. I chased and purchased many articles published on scientific journals. I deeply and meticulously analyzed the data and the articles. I engaged in endless and fierce debates with skeptics on the internet (facing isolated skeptics or in packs). I wrote many in-depth book reviews for relevant materials. I contacted and confronted the original authors in question, many times. All this I did regarding some topics that could be labeled as “parapsychology.” And one topic that I devoted very special attention to was the kind of research that Ian Stevenson and peers did regarding the “reincarnation” cases (which Stevenson and colleagues came to refer to as Cases of the Reincarnation Type, or CORT for an acronym). I even contacted Stevenson’s group personally through email, and got a reply from Stevenson himself once (sadly, not a “good” reply…). Yes. I, I, I. Me, Me, Me. Well, enough for I, and time for “what”…

    So, “what” is there in all this research area? What about Stevenson? What about his opponents? What about our dear and candid Jesse Bering? And most importantly: what about reincarnation itself?

    First, a few links of possible interest:
    - Someone mentioned pseudo-thinker Paul Edwards. Below, my review of his pseudoscientific book against reincarnation:
    http://www.amazon.com/review/R1ZF06YJV3PWH4/ref=cm_cr_rdp_perm
    Hope, from now on, no one else ever cites him again on this discussion thread…
    - Regarding the actual analyses of cases like those studied by Stevenson, I humbly recommend the link below (especially to Jesse Bering…). It is my own re-analysis of the Imad Elwar case, perhaps the strongest reincarnation case reported by Stevenson in his early work on the matter, Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation (first published in 1966, and then updated in 1974). After this, stronger cases did turn up. But this re-analysis is important for those willing either to support Stevenson (like Jesse…) or to dismiss him.
    http://www.criticandokardec.com.br/imad_elawar_revisited.html
    - One of the most important works dealing with these issues in general (including CORT and other phenomena) is the book Irreducible Mind. Below, some links where I analyzed this very important material:
    http://www.amazon.com/review/R151B9V3LM4JEJ/ref=cm_cr_rdp_perm
    http://www.criticandokardec.com.br/irreducible_mind.htm
    http://www.criticandokardec.com.br/irreducible_skepticism.htm
    http://www.criticandokardec.com.br/dieguez_vs_jime.htm
    - And a link where I take a look at the book Immortal Remains:
    http://www.amazon.com/review/R372RHTUVZY41O/ref=cm_cr_rdp_perm

    So, very very briefly. What about Stevenson himself? Stevenson’s work is highly flawed in many regards. It is surprising that it is so. And I dare say: it is shocking really that it is so. That his supporters do not spot this, and do not heavily criticize this, is something highly deplorable in itself. I guess I can safely include Mr. Jesse Bering in this group. But I will leave for later the criticism against Bering himself… The area where Stevenson is most clumsy is in statistics. He exhibits less than a toddler’s expertise in this… Yet, very seldom is he criticized for it. The only instance that I am aware of where a rather deep criticism against Stevenson’s statistics was presented came from avowed skeptic Leonard Angel (a man filled with numerous and varied flaws in himself, as a debunker of reincarnation case studies…). Neither Stevenson nor his colleagues ever acknowledged their mistakes (to my knowledge). And sometimes, at least, the flawed statistics remained there, untouched… (despite the rightful debunking). Last but not least, Stevenson himself denied me access to his data (he emailed me on that!). In that, he impeded my deep analysis of some of his strongest cases, where I intended to use the same standards that I used in my re-evaluation of Imad Elawar case. Stevenson did have virtues, as pointed out by so many people. Indeed, his works are highly worthy of serious and meticulous reading by the scientific community worldwide, and it is sad that it does not get what it really deserves. But while I concede that the result of this “not-yet-given deserved-attention” would inevitably be respect towards him and towards his work, I must declare that in no way do I believe that the result would be acceptance… Rather, what I would expect was fierce and correctly-directed criticism.

    And what about Stevenson’s opponents? Most of the time, lame debunkers. Perhaps the best criticism came from within the parapsychological community itself. Skeptic Leonard Angel did advance interesting critiques.

    What about Jesse Bering? Well…, just a few thoughts. I do not think Jesse read Stevenson well. Let me put this in a more correct way: Jesse surely did not read Stevenson well. Period. And in that, he acted like so many other Stevenson’s readers (both pro and con). That is very sad. Especially given the importance of this subject (and given the importance of this forum, Scientific American Blog). Jesse cites the book Reincarnation and Biology (1997, by Stevenson). Candid question: Jesse, did you really ever read this book? Did you ever, at the very least, have this book on your hands? Sorry to be issuing statements prior to your answer but… I greatly doubt that you have. Waiting the answer, anyway. Whatever the answer is (and I apologize beforehand for my smug tone if you indeed at least ever had this book on your hands), I must say that this book is, like so many Stevenson’s works, filled with errors (I myself did not ever have this book on my hands; I bought and have the astronomically abridged version, “Where Reincarnation and Biology Intersect,” 1997). Before this book was published, Stevenson published an article where he presented the cases in general, and drew some statistical “conclusions” (Birthmarks and Birth Defects Corresponding to Wounds on Deceased Persons. Ian Stevenson. Journal of Scientific Exploration, Vol 7, No.4, pp403-410, 1993). I remember debating a Brazilian skeptic on this (Daniel Sottomaior), back in 2002. He did point out to me the very same statistical mistakes that later on I came to see published by Leonard Angel regarding position of bullet marks on the surface of human skin and etc (Angel’s statistics were better than the Brazilian skeptic’s: Reincarnation All Over Again: Evidence for Reincarnation Rests on Backward Reasoning. A review of Ian Stevenson’s “Reincarnation and Biology”, Praeger Publishers, 1997. Vol 1 and 2, 2,228 pp. Author of the book review: Leonard Angel. Skeptic Magazine. vol. 9, No.3, 2002). I was a much fiercer believer back in 2002. Yet, even though I did debunk many of the Brazilian skeptic’s pieces of criticism towards this one article by Stevenson, I ended up putting forward my own piece of criticism against this article by Stevenson, one piece of criticism that I consider far more robust than any presented by my fellow Brazilian skeptic (fellow Brazilian, not fellow skeptic). And it has to do with one case cited by Jesse Bering… It is the one of the girl that was born without one leg. And that is why I ask: did you read the cases, Jesse? What supposedly happened to the previous incarnation of the girl that was born with only one leg? How come, then, she was born without one leg?! (True. The previous incarnation was run over by a train. But… How exactly was the accident, as reported by Stevenson himself? And so?…). Jesse also cited Carl Sagan (by the way, I recently came across the name of a demon that closely resembles Sagan’s name…). He cited Sagan not in the article of this page, but in the one message that he sent to commentators. It is true that Sagan stated the worthiness of past life case studies. Yet, the very fact that Sagan placed it side by side with far stronger parapsychological issues (micro psycho kinesis and telepathy) shows, to me, an incredible weakness in Sagan’s capability of assessing the varying strengths of anomalous research. Indeed, in my view: Weak Science from the part of Sagan. Jesse also said in his article: “More often than not, Stevenson could identify an actual figure that once lived based solely on the statements given by the child.” And I ask: Are You Kidding, Jesse? Either you did not read the cases or you got it all wrong (maybe, as an alternative, what you meant to write was: “More often than not, Stevenson could NOT identify an actual figure that once lived based solely on the statements given by the child.” If that is the case, then I humbly apologize). Jesse also said: “Interestingly, and contrary to most religious notions of reincarnation, there was zero evidence of karma.” Surprisingly enough, Jesse, this, too, is not so straight-forward as it should be… Stevenson did say conflicting things regarding this… (it would be hard for me to get it back after all these years, but I might be able to, in case you are really interested in this). Regarding the statement from Wilsdorf that “the statistical probability that reincarnation does in fact occur is so overwhelming … that cumulatively the evidence is not inferior to that for most if not all branches of science,” I dare say that, with all due respect, this is, at the very best, delusional (and most likely absent minded…). Definitely, it is incorrect information (no matter coming from Wilsdorf or from anyone else).

    And what about the cases themselves? They are touching. They are highly worthy of study. Especially when we look at them from a sociological perspective, or from a psychological or anthropological one. In terms of evidence for the reincarnation of the human mind, they are interesting; and they are food for thought regarding this. That in itself is so very very much, that I am inclined to consider it secondary to take these cases as anything further than that.

    Sadly, I greatly doubt that this area of research will ever get what it really deserves in terms of attention and analysis. And this, both from the disbelievers and from the believers alike…

    Julio Siqueira
    Juliocbsiqueira2012@gmail.com
    http://www.criticandokardec.com.br/criticizingskepticism.htm

    Link to this
  76. 76. juliosiqueira 12:33 pm 06/17/2014

    [This message is an attempt to post again a message that I sent and that did not appear except to me. I will be splitting the previous message, so as to enable it to appear now]

    Sadly enough, only today was I made aware of this writing by Mr. Jesse Bering, and the following storm of comments. It is always bad to be a late comer to a debate. Anyway, let’s hope my maybe-not-so-humble comments will be of some use to any of the interested parties…

    First of all, I’d like to state my bias on this matter. After having studied and thought it out for so long, it is not easy to declare clear cut what my position is. In this perspective, I think the wisest thing is to declare my emotional stand: I am highly inclined to believing in reincarnation (plus God, afterlife, spirits, and a few other oddities). It is fair to say that I am a believer in these things.

    [to be continued]

    Link to this
  77. 77. juliosiqueira 12:35 pm 06/17/2014

    Well, it seems that once I managed to get the message 76 to appear, my previous and complete message (75) appeared too automatically. So, it is message 75 that is the one that is complete.

    Link to this
  78. 78. juliosiqueira 12:38 pm 06/17/2014

    [Sorry. My bad. Actually my first full message is not appearing. So, I continue with the messages splitting. Now it is part 2]

    Secondly, I must state my “experience” (knowledge and etc) on this matter. I have studied it a lot (!), especially during the years ranging from 2002 to 2006. I bought and read many books on the subject. I chased and purchased many articles published on scientific journals. I deeply and meticulously analyzed the data and the articles. I engaged in endless and fierce debates with skeptics on the internet (facing isolated skeptics or in packs). I wrote many in-depth book reviews for relevant materials. I contacted and confronted the original authors in question, many times. All this I did regarding some topics that could be labeled as “parapsychology.” And one topic that I devoted very special attention to was the kind of research that Ian Stevenson and peers did regarding the “reincarnation” cases (which Stevenson and colleagues came to refer to as Cases of the Reincarnation Type, or CORT for an acronym). I even contacted Stevenson’s group personally through email, and got a reply from Stevenson himself once (sadly, not a “good” reply…). Yes. I, I, I. Me, Me, Me. Well, enough for I, and time for “what”…

    So, “what” is there in all this research area? What about Stevenson? What about his opponents? What about our dear and candid Jesse Bering? And most importantly: what about reincarnation itself?

    [to be continued]

    Link to this
  79. 79. juliosiqueira 12:39 pm 06/17/2014

    [part 3]

    First, a few links of possible interest:
    - Someone mentioned pseudo-thinker Paul Edwards. Below, my review of his pseudoscientific book against reincarnation:
    http://www.amazon.com/review/R1ZF06YJV3PWH4/ref=cm_cr_rdp_perm
    Hope, from now on, no one else ever cites him again on this discussion thread…
    - Regarding the actual analyses of cases like those studied by Stevenson, I humbly recommend the link below (especially to Jesse Bering…). It is my own re-analysis of the Imad Elwar case, perhaps the strongest reincarnation case reported by Stevenson in his early work on the matter, Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation (first published in 1966, and then updated in 1974). After this, stronger cases did turn up. But this re-analysis is important for those willing either to support Stevenson (like Jesse…) or to dismiss him.
    http://www.criticandokardec.com.br/imad_elawar_revisited.html
    - One of the most important works dealing with these issues in general (including CORT and other phenomena) is the book Irreducible Mind. Below, some links where I analyzed this very important material:
    http://www.amazon.com/review/R151B9V3LM4JEJ/ref=cm_cr_rdp_perm
    http://www.criticandokardec.com.br/irreducible_mind.htm
    http://www.criticandokardec.com.br/irreducible_skepticism.htm
    http://www.criticandokardec.com.br/dieguez_vs_jime.htm
    - And a link where I take a look at the book Immortal Remains:
    http://www.amazon.com/review/R372RHTUVZY41O/ref=cm_cr_rdp_perm

    [to be continued]

    Link to this
  80. 80. juliosiqueira 12:41 pm 06/17/2014

    [ressending again part 3 - don't know if it is the url links that are getting things wrong...]

    First, a few links of possible interest:
    - Someone mentioned pseudo-thinker Paul Edwards. Below, my review of his pseudoscientific book against reincarnation:
    http://www.amazon.com/review/R1ZF06YJV3PWH4/ref=cm_cr_rdp_perm

    [to be continued]

    Link to this
  81. 81. juliosiqueira 12:43 pm 06/17/2014

    [part 4]

    Hope, from now on, no one else ever cites him again on this discussion thread…
    - Regarding the actual analyses of cases like those studied by Stevenson, I humbly recommend the link below (especially to Jesse Bering…). It is my own re-analysis of the Imad Elwar case, perhaps the strongest reincarnation case reported by Stevenson in his early work on the matter, Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation (first published in 1966, and then updated in 1974). After this, stronger cases did turn up. But this re-analysis is important for those willing either to support Stevenson (like Jesse…) or to dismiss him.
    http://www.criticandokardec.com.br/imad_elawar_revisited.html
    - One of the most important works dealing with these issues in general (including CORT and other phenomena) is the book Irreducible Mind. Below, some links where I analyzed this very important material:
    http://www.amazon.com/review/R151B9V3LM4JEJ/ref=cm_cr_rdp_perm
    http://www.criticandokardec.com.br/irreducible_mind.htm

    [to be continued]

    Link to this
  82. 82. juliosiqueira 12:44 pm 06/17/2014

    [re sending part 4...]

    Hope, from now on, no one else ever cites him again on this discussion thread…
    - Regarding the actual analyses of cases like those studied by Stevenson, I humbly recommend the link below (especially to Jesse Bering…). It is my own re-analysis of the Imad Elwar case, perhaps the strongest reincarnation case reported by Stevenson in his early work on the matter, Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation (first published in 1966, and then updated in 1974). After this, stronger cases did turn up. But this re-analysis is important for those willing either to support Stevenson (like Jesse…) or to dismiss him.
    http://www.criticandokardec.com.br/imad_elawar_revisited.html

    [to be continued]

    Link to this
  83. 83. juliosiqueira 12:46 pm 06/17/2014

    [part 5 - I guess i can only post one link per message...]

    - One of the most important works dealing with these issues in general (including CORT and other phenomena) is the book Irreducible Mind. Below, some links where I analyzed this very important material:
    http://www.amazon.com/review/R151B9V3LM4JEJ/ref=cm_cr_rdp_perm

    Link to this
  84. 84. juliosiqueira 12:48 pm 06/17/2014

    [part 6]

    second link discussing Irreducible Mind
    http://www.criticandokardec.com.br/irreducible_mind.htm

    Link to this
  85. 85. juliosiqueira 12:49 pm 06/17/2014

    [part 7]

    Third link discussing Irreducible Mind.
    http://www.criticandokardec.com.br/irreducible_skepticism.htm

    Link to this
  86. 86. juliosiqueira 12:50 pm 06/17/2014

    [part 8]

    Fourth link discussing the book Irreducible Mind:
    http://www.criticandokardec.com.br/dieguez_vs_jime.htm

    Link to this
  87. 87. juliosiqueira 12:52 pm 06/17/2014

    [part 9]

    - And a link where I take a look at the book Immortal Remains:
    http://www.amazon.com/review/R372RHTUVZY41O/ref=cm_cr_rdp_perm

    So, very very briefly. What about Stevenson himself? Stevenson’s work is highly flawed in many regards. It is surprising that it is so. And I dare say: it is shocking really that it is so. That his supporters do not spot this, and do not heavily criticize this, is something highly deplorable in itself. I guess I can safely include Mr. Jesse Bering in this group. But I will leave for later the criticism against Bering himself… The area where Stevenson is most clumsy is in statistics. He exhibits less than a toddler’s expertise in this… Yet, very seldom is he criticized for it. The only instance that I am aware of where a rather deep criticism against Stevenson’s statistics was presented came from avowed skeptic Leonard Angel (a man filled with numerous and varied flaws in himself, as a debunker of reincarnation case studies…). Neither Stevenson nor his colleagues ever acknowledged their mistakes (to my knowledge). And sometimes, at least, the flawed statistics remained there, untouched… (despite the rightful debunking). Last but not least, Stevenson himself denied me access to his data (he emailed me on that!). In that, he impeded my deep analysis of some of his strongest cases, where I intended to use the same standards that I used in my re-evaluation of Imad Elawar case. Stevenson did have virtues, as pointed out by so many people. Indeed, his works are highly worthy of serious and meticulous reading by the scientific community worldwide, and it is sad that it does not get what it really deserves. But while I concede that the result of this “not-yet-given deserved-attention” would inevitably be respect towards him and towards his work, I must declare that in no way do I believe that the result would be acceptance… Rather, what I would expect was fierce and correctly-directed criticism.

    Link to this
  88. 88. juliosiqueira 12:53 pm 06/17/2014

    [part 10]

    And what about Stevenson’s opponents? Most of the time, lame debunkers. Perhaps the best criticism came from within the parapsychological community itself. Skeptic Leonard Angel did advance interesting critiques.

    What about Jesse Bering? Well…, just a few thoughts. I do not think Jesse read Stevenson well. Let me put this in a more correct way: Jesse surely did not read Stevenson well. Period. And in that, he acted like so many other Stevenson’s readers (both pro and con). That is very sad. Especially given the importance of this subject (and given the importance of this forum, Scientific American Blog). Jesse cites the book Reincarnation and Biology (1997, by Stevenson). Candid question: Jesse, did you really ever read this book? Did you ever, at the very least, have this book on your hands? Sorry to be issuing statements prior to your answer but… I greatly doubt that you have. Waiting the answer, anyway. Whatever the answer is (and I apologize beforehand for my smug tone if you indeed at least ever had this book on your hands), I must say that this book is, like so many Stevenson’s works, filled with errors (I myself did not ever have this book on my hands; I bought and have the astronomically abridged version, “Where Reincarnation and Biology Intersect,” 1997). Before this book was published, Stevenson published an article where he presented the cases in general, and drew some statistical “conclusions” (Birthmarks and Birth Defects Corresponding to Wounds on Deceased Persons. Ian Stevenson. Journal of Scientific Exploration, Vol 7, No.4, pp403-410, 1993). I remember debating a Brazilian skeptic on this (Daniel Sottomaior), back in 2002. He did point out to me the very same statistical mistakes that later on I came to see published by Leonard Angel regarding position of bullet marks on the surface of human skin and etc (Angel’s statistics were better than the Brazilian skeptic’s: Reincarnation All Over Again: Evidence for Reincarnation Rests on Backward Reasoning. A review of Ian Stevenson’s “Reincarnation and Biology”, Praeger Publishers, 1997. Vol 1 and 2, 2,228 pp. Author of the book review: Leonard Angel. Skeptic Magazine. vol. 9, No.3, 2002). I was a much fiercer believer back in 2002. Yet, even though I did debunk many of the Brazilian skeptic’s pieces of criticism towards this one article by Stevenson, I ended up putting forward my own piece of criticism against this article by Stevenson, one piece of criticism that I consider far more robust than any presented by my fellow Brazilian skeptic (fellow Brazilian, not fellow skeptic). And it has to do with one case cited by Jesse Bering… It is the one of the girl that was born without one leg. And that is why I ask: did you read the cases, Jesse? What supposedly happened to the previous incarnation of the girl that was born with only one leg? How come, then, she was born without one leg?! (True. The previous incarnation was run over by a train. But… How exactly was the accident, as reported by Stevenson himself? And so?…). Jesse also cited Carl Sagan (by the way, I recently came across the name of a demon that closely resembles Sagan’s name…). He cited Sagan not in the article of this page, but in the one message that he sent to commentators. It is true that Sagan stated the worthiness of past life case studies. Yet, the very fact that Sagan placed it side by side with far stronger parapsychological issues (micro psycho kinesis and telepathy) shows, to me, an incredible weakness in Sagan’s capability of assessing the varying strengths of anomalous research. Indeed, in my view: Weak Science from the part of Sagan. Jesse also said in his article: “More often than not, Stevenson could identify an actual figure that once lived based solely on the statements given by the child.” And I ask: Are You Kidding, Jesse? Either you did not read the cases or you got it all wrong (maybe, as an alternative, what you meant to write was: “More often than not, Stevenson could NOT identify an actual figure that once lived based solely on the statements given by the child.” If that is the case, then I humbly apologize). Jesse also said: “Interestingly, and contrary to most religious notions of reincarnation, there was zero evidence of karma.” Surprisingly enough, Jesse, this, too, is not so straight-forward as it should be… Stevenson did say conflicting things regarding this… (it would be hard for me to get it back after all these years, but I might be able to, in case you are really interested in this). Regarding the statement from Wilsdorf that “the statistical probability that reincarnation does in fact occur is so overwhelming … that cumulatively the evidence is not inferior to that for most if not all branches of science,” I dare say that, with all due respect, this is, at the very best, delusional (and most likely absent minded…). Definitely, it is incorrect information (no matter coming from Wilsdorf or from anyone else).

    Link to this
  89. 89. juliosiqueira 12:54 pm 06/17/2014

    [part - last part ]

    And what about the cases themselves? They are touching. They are highly worthy of study. Especially when we look at them from a sociological perspective, or from a psychological or anthropological one. In terms of evidence for the reincarnation of the human mind, they are interesting; and they are food for thought regarding this. That in itself is so very very much, that I am inclined to consider it secondary to take these cases as anything further than that.

    Sadly, I greatly doubt that this area of research will ever get what it really deserves in terms of attention and analysis. And this, both from the disbelievers and from the believers alike…

    Julio Siqueira
    Juliocbsiqueira2012 at gmail dot com
    http://www.criticandokardec.com.br/criticizingskepticism.htm

    Link to this
  90. 90. juliosiqueira 1:02 pm 06/17/2014

    It seems that all my messages are now appearing ok. The messages should be read as one whole, messages 75 through 86 (except for message 76, which is just an acknowledment of a mistake).

    Link to this
  91. 91. juliosiqueira 2:01 pm 07/1/2014

    Well, unfortunately Bering did not come out of his cave to make any further comments. I must say that it is so very common, both from supporters and from non supporters of controversial topics. People, like Bering, merely seem to stick to their statements, regardless of having been shown to be in error or not. “I stand corrected” is a phrase that they will not learn…

    I sent a pesonal message to Bering through his website. So, either he is studying all that I have said, or he is brushing this all under the carpet. Anyway, I will comment on some of the things he said on his message here on this thread.

    “Science has an obvious history of putting the cart of empirical observation before the horse of theory”

    This is a very innacurate description of how “science” works and behaves. Anyway, many times things do happen the way Bering described above. Especially when the results are of obvious pragmatical value.

    “Such inexplicable data, in my opinion, Stevenson established surely enough.”

    Very far from it indeed. Yet, he did present data immensely worthy of respect and of meticulous re-study.

    “the man (Carl Sagan) who penned the well-trod atheistic credo of “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence,” which you clearly subscribe to as an atheist, ”

    True, Sagan often penned it. Its most likely “authorship”, though, belongs to Marcello Truzzi.

    “it’s not a collection of “mere anecdotal data””

    That is indeed a very important, and fully correct, piece of thought. A considerable percentage of Stevenson’s stories are indeed at least somewhat robust case reports. In science, “anecdotes” vary, on the one hand, from the likely lie whose author is simply no where to be found, to, on the other hand, the very robust case report that is at the threshold of impeccable objective (and reproducible) observation. Unwary-naive “skeptics” tend to take the word “anecdote” merely as its unworthy extreme version. That is silly. Stevenson’s work tend indeed to be much closer to the opposite extreme (the highy worthy one).

    “But having read many (in fact, most) of Stevenson’s case reports closely, I see no evidence whatever of this being a satisfactory explanation for his observations.”

    With all due respect, but this reminded me of a cartoon about a boy made of wood and etc, etc… In the year 1990, Matlock referred to Stevenson’s data base this way:

    “By the time he published his first collection of case reports (Stevenson, 1966b), he had records of over 600 cases in his files. As of 1988 (see Stevenson & Samararatne, 1988), he had around 2,500.”
    [Past Life Memory Case Studies. James G. Matlock. In S. Krippner (editors.), Advances in Parapsychological Research. Mcfarland. Jefferson, N.C. , 1990. pp. 184-267.]

    I must say that I am not inclined to believe that you, Bering, has read 301 case reports on this matter, let alone 1,251… (that would qualify for “having read most cases”). But, I may be wrong. Most importantly though, you do seem to have read them much too acritically. IMHO.

    “None of this is to say, alas, that I personally believe in reincarnation. I don’t, at this stage in my thinking.”

    Granted. But, humbly, you do seem to believe in things far more “dangerous.” That is: believing in reincarnation or not believing in it is not necessarily wrong or bad. What is wrong and bad is THE WAY that we take to get to this non-believing position or to this believing position.

    Best Regards,
    Julio

    Link to this

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