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If the parents have deceived themselves it is that they state a spirit is controlling their son’s memory. From what I read the parents were trying their best to disprove reincarnation and not find evidence of reincarnation.

It is surprising to me that spirits that come through mediums appear to know very little about reincarnation.

Ira Stevenson’s birthmark research suggests reincarnation more that spirit control when people remember past lives.

It would be very good if scientists like Jim Tucker or Jurgen Keil could make videotapes of the interviews, and more psychological tests.

Carrol write an article about some problems with Stevenson's research:

"I see no way to move forward using his methods or his data, so I see his work as a colossal waste of time."

These are the words of an ultra skeptic Carroll. First he discredits Stevenson as a person who used drugs when young and then suggests cold reading was done to obtain the results. Typical skeptic approach to protect their beliefs in materialism.

Remains me of randi stating that all research into crop circles is a waste of time and the researchers should be collecting stamps.

Ultra skeptics and fundamentalist religion two sides of the same coin. Out to state their beliefs in spite of the evidence.

His report on the Bridey Murphy case was a sham and suggests he did little research on this case. All the evidence in the world video tapes and all will not alter the opinion of an ultra skeptic on reincarnation just like all the evidence in the world would not alter the belief of a Christian that Jesus had to die for their sins to appease an angry god. Here I go again paradigm paralysis is alive and well in the human mind.

Our beliefs become our reality and the thought of doing research into phenomena that might prove our beliefs are lacking in substance is a colossal waste of time to the religious and the materialists. Guarantee you both the materialist and the religious think they understand the purpose of science and the scientific method.

If you want to know how much a skeptical organization like CSI knows about conducting a design of experiments check out the only two experiments they conducted. They were both a sham and got caught lying on the first one that made it a sham and the second one with the Russian girl was so poorly designed how can they possibly pass judgment on anyone else’s research.

Michael, have you read Lifecycles by Christopher Bache? It's an overview of reincarnation that's beautifully written, deeply insightful, and just plain inspiring. One of my top ten spiritual books.


I think Carroll did some good points about xenoglossy and other good points, like:

a) even if it [the records] takes place within a few months of the written record being made, we must take it on faith that the father is being honest.

[That's why we only can trust in records by the investigator!]

b)the translator would be "typically imbued with the cultural expectations that past-life recall is a valid phenomenon" (Mills and Lynn: 303). Stevenson, being non-fluent in the language and the culture, was in no position to assess the reliability of the questioning by the translator.

[That's why a videotape of the interviews are so important! This would eliminate the criticisms!]

Best wishes.

Skeptics of Reincarnation, like a number of Spiritualism Mediums I've met, seem to ignore or severely downplay the Birthmark Evidence (which destroyed the "they were channeling a spirit" hypothesis, since these marks appeared from birth) and the Inbetween Lives Memories where the child veridically remembers the time between lives, including NDE elements and wandering around their next family before birth as a spirit, and even *Choosing Their Next Family*, sometimes the mother has a dream visitation of the person wanting to be reborn as their child, and some children even recall going down a tunnel to be reborn. One child said God gave him a ticket to be reborn, and he fell down a tunnel (like the NDE Tunnel) to his next life. There are also cases of people with chronic illnesses and lifelong phobias having them vanish once they recall them from a past life, like THEY conquered THEIR OWN problem, not some vampiric magical leeching spirit hypothesis, which reeks of dogmatic belief copout to me.

So I gather the skeptical explaination for this case would be those now-infamous "lucky guesses?"

Hi Michael,
Here's a TV show with the Leininger case.
Part 1:
Part 2:

Here's another - a British TV show on another case, little Cameron who remembered another life on a remote island. Another case included.

Robert Snow, author of the evidential "looking for Carroll Beckwith" is interviewed for TV here:

Lots of interviews of reincarnation researchers and experiencers here:

Happy viewing ;-)


Leonard Angel did very good criticisms about birthmarks in his article "Reincarnation All Over Again: Evidence for Reincarnation Rests on Backward Reasoning (2002)"Skeptic Magazine. vol. 9, No.3

He says:

One of Stevenson's strongest claims is that the 33 "verified" cases in which a child had two birthmarks corresponding to an important site in a remembered past life cannot be easily explained on the basis of coincidence or chance. Since this is the central claim in support of his reincarnation thesis, and so we will focus on it in detail.

Stevenson begins by misleading the reader through grossly inaccurate summary tabulations. Stevenson states on page 1014 that he won't count a birthmark site as matching the relevant past life wound site, scar or other mark, unless it would fall within a 10 cm2 if projected onto an adult body, and he further claims that "many" of his cases satisfy a tighter 5 cm2 match criterion. That is, in many of his cases if the child's birthmark and the past life's wound were projected onto an adult body, they would fall within a single 5 cm2 area.

In his table 15.1 Stevenson lists 33 cases in which there appears to be a double match—two birthmarks on a child that match two sites from an identified past life. But only one case is given as an example of the claim that there are double matches that
satisfy the stringent 5 cm2 box for each match. This is Stevenson's showcase example, so we can expect the accuracy of the matches to be as good as it gets. The showcase example is the Chanai Choomalaiwong
case. The subject had two birthmarks presented in four photographs. These two birthmarks are supposed to correspond in location to the fatal entry and exit bullet wounds of the identified past life. Stevenson reviews the evidence and writes: "We can conclude that the bullet entered [the past life] Bua Kai's head at the back and exited his forehead close to his left eye."

However, the birthmark corresponding to the exit wound, on an average sized adult, would be about 12-16 cm from the the exit wound as Stevenson infers its location. There is contradictory information about whether the birthmark migrated from lower down.

There is explicit denial by the mother of the child that the birthmark migrated, and no clear evidence about where it migrated from, assuming it did migrate. Thus, there is neither textual argument nor evidence that there was a 5 cm2 match for the exit wound and the birthmark supposedly corresponding.

Similarly, all we know of the location of the entry wound is that it was "at the back of the head." The back of the head on an average adult is obviously large enough for there to be a pair of spots that do not fit within a 5 cm square.

So much for this showcase example. It should be added that there is an 800-page gap between the detailed presentation and the summary assertion. Further, there is no page reference given in the tabulated summary and there is no listing of the
cases by name in the Table of Contents. The only way the diligent reader can check the tabulated assertions is by going to the Case Index at the end of volume 2. There the reader will find 33 different locations indexed under this case name.

Stevenson makes it decidedly difficult to check his tabulations for accuracy. Clearly we see blatant misrepresentation of primary evidence and faulty summarization.

I have studied Stevenson's two key tabulations of double match cases in tables 12-1 and 15-1, and have found them to be chock full of similar problems. In the Maung Tin Win case, (page 323), for example, Stevenson's basic 10 cm2 match criterion is quite obviously not met. The only information on the entry wound is "lower abdomen." The birthmark supposedly
corresponding to it is on the right side
and above the horizontal line of the
umbilicus, and so might have been 20
cm. away or more, as projected onto
the average adult body!
The case fails the minimal match
criterion on the second mark, too,
since nothing is known about the
location of the exit wound except
what can be inferred from the statement
that it entered the lower
abdomen or thigh. Thus, its failure to
match according to the criterion is
egregious. Yet Stevenson suggests
that a mark on the back of the subject
corresponds to this unknown
location. He writes, "This birthmark
presumably corresponded to the bullet
wound of exit on U Thet Tin."
Why make that assumption? No reason
is offered. And so we see
Stevenson's technique at work: When
his data are insufficient for his purposes
he assumes what he pleases.
But in the tabulation of the data, he
gives no indication of his having
filled in the data blanks!
Next, the Ma Tin Aung case is listed
as a verified case in summary tabulation
in table 15-1, but on page 868
we find it to be nothing but a 51-word
report with no evidence on which to
base a correspondence claim at all.
The notation in 15-1—"Both birthmarks
were experimental"—gives no
hint that no investigation was reported
for this case.
In the Frank Dudley case, page
882, the only evidence at hand is that
someone was shot from below. That's
supposed to establish that the shot
entered the throat. Why? Apparently,
because the birthmark was on the
throat. Once again Stevenson allows
himself to rely on backward reasoning.
When the evidence is unavailable
he allows the data blank to be filled
with a claim favorable to the theory.
Then, hundreds of pages later, he
tabulates this evidence and gives the
reader the impression that this evidence
can be used to support his

Stevenson's Backward Reasoning

In the Tali Sowaid case, the subject
had two "hyperpigmented macules,"
one on his left cheek and one on
his right. These are supposed to correspond
to a bullet entry and exit
wound through the right and left
cheek of the identified person in a
past life, who died after the shooting.
However, Stevenson admits on
page 380 that "the birthmarks were
not noticed at his birth." Now,
hyperpigmented macules typically
develop during the course of a person's
life. The average adult has
about 15 of them,6 and Stevenson
recognizes this. Few are born with
them. Yet he states that he accepts
that in Tali Sowaid's case these were
indeed birthmarks and not later
developments. On what basis does
Stevenson accept that they were visible
at birth? On page 932, he
acknowledges that in the case of
"Tali Sowaid I have reasoned backward
from birthmarks to wounds."
In particular, he did a double
backwards reasoning. He reasoned
backwards to the conclusion that the
marks were present at birth. And he
admittedly reasoned from the fact that
the birthmark on the cheek corresponding
to the entry wound was smaller
than the birthmark on the cheek corresponding
to the exit wound, to the
conclusion that the entry wound itself
was smaller than the exit wound.
Yet Stevenson tabulates the difference
in the sizes of the birthmarks as
extra evidence of something paranormal,
namely the tendency for comparative
birthmark sizes to correspond to
comparative entry/exit wound sizes! In
fact, he didn't have any primary evidence
as to the difference in sizes of
entry and exit wounds in this case. If
Stevenson's backward reasoning
method of discovering evidence were
to be accepted as legitimate, then any
thesis could be readily proved!
The important point to note is that
there is not the slightest indication in
table 15-1 that backward reasoning
was used. The fact that Stevenson
relies on backward reasoning, twice in
this case, and elsewhere too by his
admission (as well as others not
admitted, as we've seen) provides a
good hypothesis as to why there is so
much faulty tabulation. Stevenson is so
accustomed to reasoning backwards
that he keeps confusing data he has hypothesized to be true with data he
has established to be true by primary

The Probability Problem

What if some of Stevenson's cases as
tabulated are accurate? Would that be
good evidence of reincarnation? How
improbable would it be for a child in
a village of, say, 10,000 people to be
born with two birthmarks, one on one
side of the neck, and one on the other
side of the neck, and for there to be
in that village someone who had been
shot and killed by a bullet that went
through the neck in roughly the locations
of those birthmarks? If correspondences
such as this are to be
expected through independently
observed distribution of birthmarks
and causes of death, then there is
nothing significant in the matter. On
the other hand, if this sort of correspondence is not to be expected, then
perhaps a case can be made for reincarnation.
Stevenson states that "the probability
that a person will have a single
birthmark corresponding in location to
a wound [or other mark] is only Vl60."
Stevenson obtains this figure by dividing
the average adult body's surface
skin area into a fixed grid of 160
squares, each 10 cm2 (Figure 3). As
we've seen, he uses the 10 cm2 as the
minimum size square within which
the two projections must fall for a correspondence to count as a hit. Then
the chance that a given birthmark
would fall into the same square as
another mark is Vl60. And, he writes:
"The probability of his or her having
two such birthmarks" corresponding
to two such sites on the identified past
life, "would be Vl60 x Vl60, or 1 in
25,600." Further, he says that in "many
of the cases" higher correspondence
standards are met: the two marks, if
projected onto an adult body, would
fit into a 5 cm square, making a figure
of roughly V645 for the single correspondence, and V416,025 for a case
with a double correspondence. He shows that his cases occur frequently within families, or within neighborhoods or villages or towns, and this implies that mere chance does not account for them.
At first, these probability figures
sound reasonable. However,
Stevenson has made significant errors.
The division of the body into fixed
grids does not actually make sense.
Obviously, there is no such fixed grid
on the body. Imagine a projection
onto a body with such a grid imposed
in which two marks are very close but
a line of the grid comes between
them. According to Stevenson they
would not count as a match. Yet they
would be within a 10 cm2 proximity.
So they must count as a match using
his criterion properly. Thus, Stevenson
has misapplied his own criterion.
Instead of dividing the body into
fixed squares, you have to think of an
appropriate length radiating out from
a single mark, which would allow for
the two marks to fall within a single
square if both are projected onto an
average adult body. And that appropriate
length, taking Stevenson strictly
at his word about the 10 cm square, is
the diagonal of the square being used.
This reduces the probability estimate
from Vl60 to roughly V26 for the single
102 single match, and it reduces
V25.600 to V676 for the double match.
The 5 cm2 criterion single and double
match are reduced enormously as
well—VlO,000 is a better estimate than
Stevenson's V4l6,025 for the 5 cm.
double match.
These adjustments radically affect
the overall probability results, especially
when other factors are taken into
account. For example, Stevenson uses
an unstated assumption that the randomly
selected candidate's past life
has exactly one site with which a
mark might be matched when we cite
Vl60 (or the corrected figure of V26),
as the probability of a single match.
Yet that assumption is not appropriate
for a realistic appraisal of the likelihood
of matches being found.
Stevenson allows for matches of
the following (nonexclusive) types: A
child's birthmark may match—(1) a
site of trauma or wound on a
deceased person, e.g., the place a
bullet entered or exited; (2) a site of
surgery, whether or not the surgery
resulted in the death of the past life; (3) a prominent scar on the past life;
(4) an "experimental mark" (a
smudge of ash or soot deliberately
made on a corpse prior to interment
for ease of identification of reincarnations
of the deceased by birthmark
location on a later newborn); (5) a
prominent birthmark or skin mark in
the past life; (6) a bodily defect, e.g.,
missing fingers or toes as a result of
injury, or a congenital defect; (7) the
location of an animal bite, e.g., a
snake bite; (8) a tattoo in the putative
past life; (9) a bullet lodged inside
the body of the past life.
Now in order to make an interesting or worthwhile probability statement on the likelihood of finding, for example, 33 double matches (as per the seeming claim of table 15.1), one needs to create an appropriate assumption about how many such
marks or sites a typical deceased person
has. By failing to consider the
multiplicity of such sites on a typical
deceased person, Stevenson has fallen
into an elementary statistical fallacy similar to the "birthday fallacy."7
(People commonly underestimate the
likelihood that two people in a group
of 35 will have the same birthday.)
Stevenson notices, say, that a birthmark
corresponds to a wound mark, but fails to recognize that if the birthmark had been elsewhere it might have corresponded to some other scar, mark, birthmark, birth defect, tattoo, or
experimental mark. This is the classic
set-up for a statistical blunder and
Stevenson has fallen right into it.
Additional errors abound.
Stevenson discounts the fact that birthmarks
do not occur with equal frequency
in different parts of the body.
He ambiguously words his descriptions
of the frequency of birthmarks,
twice suggesting that birthmarks occur
in only about 2 to 3% of newborns. In
fact, Stevenson's source reference,
Pratt, noticed that 48% of the 879
white newborn babies and 39% of the
217 black newborn babies studied had
at least one minor naevus flammeus
mark.8 In the Child Health
Encyclopedia we find that "Very many,
perhaps most, babies are born with a
birthmark or nevus."9 And in Robert
McCall's Skin Disorders Sourcebook he
notes: "More than 90% of black and
Asian infants have [Mongolian
Finally, Stevenson ignores the size
of the birthmark. Many birthmarks are
large, and this increases the probability
of a match between the birthmark and
the location of a wound site or other
mark on the alleged past life.
Based on all or even some of
these corrected factors, even if
Stevenson's tabulations were correct
there still wouldn't be any difficulty
explaining the correspondences on
the basis of statistical coincidence. To
illustrate, where x is the number of ancestors, y=26 (the number of body areas properly using the 10 cm2 criterion
for matches), z = the number of
children, and n =the number of marks per person, the probability that one birthmark on one specified child matches one specified mark on one specified ancestor=l/y. The probability that n birthmarks on a child match n marks on an ancestor with n marks =l/yn. Then the probability that there is no n-ary match is l-l/yn. The probability that there is no n-ary match for x ancestors and z children =
(l-l/yn)xz; the probability that there
is an n-ary match for x ancestors and
z children =1 - ((1 - 1/y n)xz).
Now consider a town in which
we have 5 ancestors, each of whom has two special sites, the entry and exit (or bullet lodging) sites, and there are, say, 2,500 children under the age of five of whom 170 have two birthmarks. It turns out that there is a 71% chance of a double
match. Why then should we be at all surprised at the existence of double
matches gathered over a 30-year period
from all over the globe? Stevenson
has shown not the slightest evidence
that the sorts of correspondences allegedly found between birthmarks and past lives' trauma sites are improbable or difficult to explain by coincidence, even if he really found the evidence he claims to have found.
What about the children's alleged knowledge of facts about the past lives? Stevenson, of course, might claim that the identification of past lives based on children's memories should alter the probability calculations. But there is not a single case of the 33 double match cases of Table 15-1 that meets minimal standards
as to separation of information sources in regard to the memory claims. Of the vaunted 33 cases, 26 are admitted by Stevenson to be
cases in which the subject's family members were acquainted with the facts about the identified past life. In these, the past life identification can be made by the adult family members based on the match of birthmarks to past life marks. Then, the identification having being made, the facts about the past life of the child are available to the child for fantasy role playing.

Of the remaining seven, one (#18) was only a preliminary investigation and no memory claims were investigated. Two (#26, and #32) were identified as not being Ian Stevenson cases, and no details are given. And three (#27, #31, and #33) are mentioned in the two tables, 12-1 and 15-1, but are indexed to the tables only and appear to be nowhere in the text. This leaves exactly one case, that of Necip Unlutaskiran, page 430, about which Stevenson claims that the relationship between the subject and the identified past life was that of "strangers." However, the subject's stepgrandmother lived in the same district as the identified past life, and knew all the relevant facts about the identified
past life. There are many other problematic
features of the case as well. For example, the child's identity card lists him as being born in 1947, and the past life died on May 7, 1951. Stevenson gives good reason to disbelieve the date on the identity card, but no evidence whatever that the birth was after May 7, 1951! The backward reasoning continues, allowing us to safely dismiss this latest claim of scientific evidence for the reality of reincarnation.

The comments from Kurtz and Carroll only serve to highlight the fact that skeptics have nothing of value to offer in the search for understanding regarding these cases. The concept of reincarnation carries its own credibility problems in parts of the world where the dominant regional religions do not recognize the possibility (note the difficulties confronting Leininger's parents as they attempt to reconcile veridical evidence of their son's apparent previous life with their Christian faith), and it is clear that no one is helped when responses of prejudicial transparency and intellectual laziness are offered. The struggles of all those immediately involved serves to underline the need for cogent and effective research to continue in the areas of post-mortem survival of consciousness, NDEs and reincarnation. If the Leininger family is one of many contending with life experiences which clash with their preconceived beliefs, the same can be said of skeptics. It is unfortunate that existence fails to accommodate the comfortable prejudices of people in such matters, and while my heart goes out to the Leiningers on their trip around the metaphysical learning curve, I have no such regard for those whose ego needs masquerade as truth-seeking or guardians of "reality". This is not a case of charlatan faith-healers or bogus mediums fleecing the credulous and the gullible, two instances where a cautious "caveat emptor" would be obviously prerequisite; James Leininger's apparent recollections came of their own accord, and deserve the same careful consideration as should be given to the voluminous collection of data compiled by Dr. Ian Stevenson. Dismissal of such data by skeptics like Kurtz and Carroll should ITSELF be dismissed as indefensible and inconsistant with the goals of scientific learning, especially in lieu of Popper's ideas on falsifiability. I can't help wondering what the history of knowledge will read like in a century's time, and what the judgement of that history will be on the intellectual fossils of the present who struggle vainly to be considered relevant while failing to recognize their own ossification. They are rather like the frog in the pot of water soon to be boiling, except they lack the life.

"Reincarnation" is just a label that we assign to some strange and weird quantum holographic experience and we've made up this complicated story about something that we really and truly don't understand. I have a feeling that it's something very different than what the standard interpretation is. According to Dr. Pimm Van Lommel our brains work like recievers and transmitters of information. Children, who haven't yet developed a strong sense of "self" yet, may be tuning into information or memories from someone else's life. When children start to develop their own sense of "self" they oftentimes "tune out" the memories that they had been tuning into. Those memories fade as the sense of "self" grows stronger.
More than one child at a time have claimed to be the same person. Just like more than one radio is able to tune into the same station. In the Akashic records all information is stored, accessible to those on the other side, and some folks in the physical universe who are adept at accessing it. As far as Dr. Brian Weiss and hypnotized adults, I think their own sense of "self" is turned off under hypnosis and they sometimes access information which is not their own. Physical manifestations? Wart's, moles, scars, birthmarks, etc.? Perhaps examples of thoughts being things and consciousness creating reality. Matter being an epiphenomena of consciousness. Similar to people who manifest stigmata, bleeding from the hands, feet, and head, etc. I think everyone's a little bit psychic. About halfway through Dr. Fred Alan Wolf's book "The Spiritual Universe" he makes the statement, "thoughts are things and consciousness creates reality." Those so called "birthmarks" might be conjured up memories. I think that Marineboy (from the NDERF message board) said it best:
"I suspect that it is a time-based misreading of "interconnection". Also, when people say they felt that "I" had all these past lives, I think the I is not the I they think it is, but the I of interconnection, the I of universal presence incarnating in myraid forms everywhere. Because there are no absolute boundaries to this "I" it seems in an nde as if it is THEY personally."

Art: although one must be open to all possibilities I lean in the direction of reincarnation for a variety of reasons.

One: some people do claim to be able to remember at least one or more of their past lives.

Two: past life hypnosis is claiming to be able to take someone into a past life although much more research is needed. I know of several people being healed from going into a past life. One such person had a pain in her stomach for years and no doctor could help her. One past life hypnosis and they pulled out a knife from her stomach that she was experiencing under hypnosis that she had died from in a past life and she never had that pain again.

Three: spirits coming through mediums in a variety of ways from direct voice to automatic writing are telling us reincarnation is a reality. The odd thing some spirits don’t seem to know a thing about reincarnation.

Four: these spirits appear to retain much of their original persona from their human existence.

Five: as I believe at this time there is an evolution of consciousness raising our consciousness through multiple dimensions maybe even gods in the making to pure awareness.

It makes sense to me that an evolution of consciousness means more than one trip needed as a human to advance our awareness and the love and divine intelligence possible as a human then maybe off to a higher dimension or planet for further refinement. UFO time?

Surely more that one incarnation is needed as we humans learn very little in one life. We hang on to our cherished beliefs in spite of the evidence.

Also nature may be one big soul making process. Maybe those Hindus were on to something although my research does not indicate we go back to an animal except in rare cases. Intelligent horse, etc.

Reincarnation is not a pleasant thought but those that have mystical experiences tell us all the suffering was worth it for the bliss they experience in this state of mind. I think/hope they are giving us a window into the bliss that lies ahead for us as we progress on this journey of life. I think most NDE’s also give us a brief glimpse of this bliss.

About birthmarks and birth defects, take a look at this paper of Dr.Ian Stevenson:

There is a similar case about a guy named Carl Eden. It illustrates just how enigmatic and uncertain these cases can be. The name and aircraft type that Carl mentioned doesn't match with the suspected previous personality but there are still some strange coincidences:


the article that you cited -
- has a lot of problems. A lot.

Why is that Vitor?

Aside of the reincarnation debate - here's an extraordinary example of what visions believed to be from a past life and lifelong committment can create;

One: some people do claim to be able to remember at least one or more of their past lives. - william

More than one child has claimed to be the same person. Perhaps like more than one TV tuned in to the same station. It's a holographic universe. - Art


there are many reasons.

01."The train severed the girl's right leg first, before running over the trunk"

The girl was born only with the left leg. But she should be born without the 2 legs, because the train severed the two legs! This would not be what the reincarnation's hyphotesis predict, so Stevenson uses an ad-hoc and says the train severed the girl's right leg FIRST.

Ian Stevenson determined the probability of this happening by chance as 1/160, but he made an error during his assessment, as was demonstrated by Leonard Angel in his recent article published in the Skeptical Magazine [5], showing that the correct chance is 1/25 (Angel considered 1/26, probably because he had used only 2 significative algorithms, as can be seen below.)

Basically, Stevenson states that the surface (area) of the skin of an adult man is approximately 1.6 m2 (this would mean a square with sides of 1.264911 m). Then, Stevenson decided to divide this square into smaller squares with sides of 10 cm. He calculates that the big square could contain 160 smaller squares, which is correct. What then would be the odds against chance that a birthmark on any person and the pattern of a deadly wound on a deceased person are both located within one and the same hypothetical square? Answer: 1/160. If we encountered two such coincidences, then the probability would be 1/160 x 1/160, which equals 1/25.600.

What is wrong with this calculation? Apart from the difference in size between the surface of the skin of an adult and that of a child, and from the problem of the non-uniform distribution of birthmarks (as stated by Stevenson himself ), there is a much more serious question, of a statistical-mathematical nature, and this makes us wonder how Stevenson is really using the data he possesses. Stevenson wants us to believe that for his calculation he considers any two marks (mark 1 being the deadly wound of the ‘previous personality’ and mark 2 being the birthmark of the ‘reincarnation of the previous personality’) that are located within such a square of 10 by 10 cm.

In other words, even if one mark were at a distance of 14.14 cm of the other one, Stevenson would still consider the two of them as being within the same square, because the diagonal of the square of 10 by 10 cm would equal 14.14 cm. The problem is that Stevenson does not in each case of the article provide us clearly with the distance between the deadly wound and the birthmark.

Which means that we need to consider, based on his account, that even marks at a distance of 14.14 cm from each other would be regarded as ‘in the same hypothetical square’. The key issue of this question amounting to: the distance between the two marks that Stevenson wants us to consider is no less than 14.14 cm!

How then should we anatomically treat such a distance of 14.14 cm for statistical objectives?
Doubtlessly we should not use the hypotetical square of Stevenson, as these do not exist in the body. Let us imagine that the body would really be divided into smaller squares. Well, in this case we could even use Stevenson’s criterium, but he would imply that if one mark existed, let us say really close to the other one (for instance 3 cm), this would perhaps not count as a hit, as they could be marks in different squares. But the body is not divided into smal squares, and Stevenson has not divided it so either. The only way to use the distance suggested by Stevenson in an statistically-anatomically correct way consists of taking 14.14 cm as the radius of a circle, and not as the diagonal of a square. What we then really have to do is to consider such a distance of 14.14 cm as the radius of a circle and calculate what the area of the circle is, and use that area to define the probability that two marks are located in the same area. Then, the formula of the area of the circle is pi x (the squared radius). If the radius is 14.14 cm, its square equals 199.93, and this multiplied by pi (3.14) equals 628 cm2 of surface. If the total surface considered is 1.6 m2, then 628 cm equals 1/2 of this total (16.000 divided by 628) and this is the real probability for a pair of (death and birth)marks to be located at the distance that Stevenson used (or that he wanted us to believe he used), of 14.14 cm. Angel probably used a radius of 14 cm, which squared equals 196, and this multiplied by pi equals 615 cm2. If we divide this number by 16.000 cm2, we reach the fraction used by Angel (1/26).

Yet another way to tackle these numbers is working with calculating the root. Rather than using diagonal of the square of 14,14 we could use 10√2, which squared would result in 200. Multiplying this number by pi and dividing the result by 16.000 we would find, after rounding, 1/25.

The odds against chance of a mark (both deathmark and birthmark) coinciding with an area suggested by Stevenson would then be 1/25, and not 1/160. Two coinciding birthmarks would then yield 1/625 (or according to Angel, 1/676) and not 1/25.600! The fact is that this rather serious error went unnoticed during the initial publication of this work in the Journal of Scientific Exploration in 1993, that it went unnoticed during the publication of both Stevenson’s books about the topic in 1997, and that it went unnoticed in the review of these books, also published in the Journal of Scientific Exploration, by Erlendur Haraldsson, psychologist at the University of Iceland who also investigates the phenomenon of claims of past lives.

In any case, it is necessary to note that 1/25 is itself a ‘statistically significant’ number, as it equals p<.05! (it gives p=.04, in other words, a probability of 4%).

Arthur: as I was just out playing golf I thought about one more reason reincarnation might be a reality.

Some one dies when they are very young. What opportunity did they have to live and learn as a human? Between lives hypnosis teaches that children often know they will die young as lessons to parents.

Oh the mysteries just keep on coming. God must love a good mystery drama because the universe is certainty one great big universe full of mysteries.

I think there is a lot of resistance to accepting reincarnation as reality. When I first began to realize reincarnation was a reality it was very upsetting to me.

I went into meditation and lived with Buddhists monks, then some Hindu monks, and a so-called enlightened master from India now living in the United States and some Catholic priests for short periods of time. As I was living alone at the time I did long periods of meditation at home hoping to become enlightened enough not to have to come back to earth.

Even considered going to India to live in a cave in the mountains but learned from some that had to stay home for a variety of reasons. To say that my enlightenment effort was a failure is the understatement of the year.

William, why did you find reincarnation upsetting?

Vitor needs to look up the meaning of the word "brevity".Such overly-strenuous argumentation betrays his fundamentalism.

Leonard Angel is known by his criticism of Dr.Stevenson's work. However, Angel's work is open to many criticisms too due to his omissions and doble standards, some of them pointed out by Dr.Stevenson:

(Note: Stevenson's full reply to Angel's criticism was only partially published in the Skeptical Inquirer. Are you surprised?)

Also see:

However, I agree with Vitor in something: I think some of Stevenson's cases cited in the specific article I refered to may have some "problems". Some of his examples are open to different interpretations or controversy, and methodological criticism.

Some of Stevenson's birthmark/birth-defect cases hard to explain as chance coincidence. In one case a boy in India remembered a specific past life. The deceased person (also a child) had lost the fingers of his right hand in an industrial accident. The boy with the past-life memories was born with the fingers of the same hand undeveloped. This birth defect is exceedingly rare.

See figure 9 and accompanying brief discussion here.

The case is discussed in Stevenson's book Where Reincarnation and Biology Intersect; the relevant chapter is here.

It could be argued that the boy's parents convinced him of a past-life connection after learning about the dead child's injury, but the boy reportedly knew some details that only the dead child would have known, and he is said to have begun talking about a past life before his parents were even aware of the deceased child.

I think there is a lot of resistance to accepting reincarnation as reality. When I first began to realize reincarnation was a reality it was very upsetting to me. - William

I think the evidence is real enough; I just believe humankind has made up a story to go with the evidence that may not be exactly right. I believe our interpretation of the evidence is off the mark. If there is no time or space in Heaven then our understanding of "reincarnation" may be either incomplete or off the mark. - Art

"William, why did you find reincarnation upsetting?"

At that particular time in my life coming back and starting over was not a pleasant thought. To be honest it is still not a always comfortable thought but then when I think of the things I am interested in doing I see a need to reincarnate.

Human life can be and is often for most people a very difficult struggle. Now I see that there are many things yet that I want to do and be and accomplish. I suspect it is these desires that bring us back to human life.

Example: I have some ideas in using light and vibrational technology that I would like to experiment with that could be used for healing purposes. I believe we are only in the very early stages of human development in understanding the nature of healing of both mental and physical disorders.

Art: it appears to me at this time that when we cross over time and space are different but it is more of a mental world than the restrictions we experience in this physical world. It appears there is not one world but many worlds we can inhabit depending on our level of consciousness. Like attracts like in these worlds.

I suspect but don’t know that that 95% of matter that we don’t see or cannot measure might be these worlds all around us. All ghosts may not just be earth bound spirits but these other dimensions coming through in brief glimpses.


01. Note: Stevenson's full reply to Angel's criticism was only partially published in the Skeptical Inquirer. Are you surprised?)

No, I am not surprised. Angel's criticism was also only partially published.

02. Also see:

This article didn't answer the criticisms of the article "Reincarnation All Over Again: Evidence for Reincarnation Rests on Backward Reasoning"

To see last link:

You need to add ".html" after "revisited".

It's the brazilian/english website (critical of skepticism and other issues) of Julio Siquiera:

"I believe our interpretation of the evidence is off the mark"

Arthur, many times our interpretation is off the mark. The interpretation depends, many times, in the previous theoretical framework that we are using. The same fact may be may be "explained" or understood from different theoretical approaches.

It's known as underdetermination or indeterminacy of data to theory.

Some use that theory to support epistemic relativism. But many non-relativist philosophers also accept that theory of underdetermination of data to theory.

It have been discussed by philosophers for years.


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