First Sight
Psychic Prophecies

Children Who Remember on TV

I’ve been contacted by a US television company making films about children who remember a past life. The series is called The Ghost Inside My Child. Three episodes aired on the Bio Channel last autumn, and now they’re looking for more families to interview. If anyone out there has a story to tell, and would like to take part, the address to contact is 

American readers may be familiar with this series. I didn’t know about it, and I don’t think it has aired in the UK. Come to think of it, I haven’t seen anything of the kind on television, although I rarely watch paranormal shows anyway. But it seems absolutely the kind of thing that could become more common.

I watched one of the episodes which follows the stories of two families. A young boy from a white family remembered being ‘Pam’, who fell to her death in a Chicago hotel fire. An eighteen year old girl had traumatic memories of an ‘orphan train’. The other episodes, which I don’t think are available online, include children killed in 9/11 and the Oklahoma City bombing.

The film was slick, and squeezed a lot of drama out of few details. There was little in the way of actual investigation. The 18-year-old girl was delighted to learn one day in school that there really were such things as ‘orphan trains’ – in which orphans from the East Coast were shipped off to live with families in other parts of the country. It reassured her that her weird obsession had some basis in fact. When the film-makers caught up with her she was embarking on research of her own.

The mother of the small boy did an Internet search and found a record of a major hotel fire in Chicago in which a black woman named Pamela jumped to her death. She then casually asked him what colour his skin had been when he was ‘Pam’ . He answered ‘black’. On camera he correctly identified a picture of the woman.

Coincidentally I’ve been re-reading Stevenson’s books: first Twenty Cases and now Twelve Cases in Thailand and Burma (the last of a 4-volume series). They offer an incredible amount of detail, which was sometimes hard to follow for me, given the large extended families with unfamiliar names (eg. Samnuan Wongsombat, Mae Chee Chan Suthipat, Daw Aye Tin, etc). But one gets a real sense of depth, with a conscientious researcher determined to leave no stone unturned and every aspect closely scrutinised. There’s also the fact that most of the cases are ‘resolved’, as Stevenson says, with the (deceased) previous personality having been identified and his/her family being convinced the claim is true.

This is right at the other end of the spectrum, bare bones cases with little or no actual resolution. The films will have shocked viewers who have never heard of the phenomenon but hardly add to the academic literature. I can imagine serious researchers being sniffy about them. I myself wasn’t particularly convinced by the discovery of the previous ‘Pamela’.

That doesn’t mean the cases weren’t genuine, and I actually thought the film had real value. Reading Stevenson’s work one constantly feels the lack of ordinary emotion in his accounts. One knows, in a general way, that having a child suddenly announce she used to be your sister, or constantly begs to be allowed to visit her ‘other mother’ must be shocking for a parent, but that hardly comes through a narrative made up of dry facts. One has to sort of add it in for oneself.

This film filled the gap. For me, it wasn’t about the children, it was about the parents, and how they deal with an extraordinary event. The emotion was intense. The gender thing was extremely striking. The mothers were unsettled, but since it was their child making these statements were bound to be open-minded. The fathers were clearly struggling. One, even after having fifteen years to get used to it, was still obviously conflicted. The younger one, having to deal with it in real time, so to speak, was left agitated and speechless.

This says so much. It’s the stark difference between a Buddhist society like Thailand where everyone pretty much accepts that rebirth happens (although they mostly don’t like it when it does), and a Christian or post-Christian secular society like the US or Europe, which has had little serious exposure to the notion. If you don’t have a framework for understanding something that happens to you, how do you make sense of it?

But then on the other hand, how do you explain it away? My impression is that the sceptical literature is quite thin. Ian Wilson, a British historian, suggested that Stevenson had been taken in by greedy Asian villagers telling tall tales, a manifestly silly approach to anyone who has actually read his work. I’ve seen some more serious efforts to undermine Stevenson’s credibility by finding fault with his methods and judgements, and while I think they land some blows they fall far short of a complete demolition. Nobody claims he’s perfect, and anyway, he’s far from being the only authority on the subject.

What little sceptical response I could find to this series was along the lines of, it’s just greedy television people making stuff up for the sake of ratings. I somehow doubt that will fly with agnostic viewers. One can tell when people are being sincere about their experiences, and it would be beyond cynical for programme-makers to hire actors to put on a show. There are no mediums involved here, so no one to demonise.

So I see this documentary film-making as a promising development. The public is starting to grasp that Westerners have these experiences as well as Asians. And if they start coming forward with their stories, then who knows, perhaps it will eventually change people's ideas about what is and is not possible.


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When my son was about two or three (and he was not an early talker) he became concerned once during a storm. He said something about a tree blowing down at his other house. Later, he talked about his brothers (he has only ever had a sister, two years older) and he talked about how they kept guns in the attic (our house had neither an attic nor guns, even play guns). He very casually talked about "in my other life," or "when I lived before." Believe me, this child had never heard about any such things, and the way he phrased these thoughts reminded me very much of the little boy Luke in the video - speaking casually and matter-of-factly about these memories. One time, we were driving though the country in a local town when, driving past a very old farm house, my son, sitting in his car seat in the back, suddenly shouted, "That's where I used to live!" He never mentioned it again.

Many years later when he was an adult (he is now 30) we decided it would be fun to drive past that house and see what he thought. It turned out that the farm now sold its own wheat, so we used that as an excuse to drive up into the dooryard. A caretaker was there, and to our utter amazement, when we said how beautiful the house was (it had been bought and renovated by a wealthy person) he actually offered to take us, total strangers to him, though the house! We said yes to the tour, and my son was eager to see if anything was familiar, but it was not. Still, the fact that we were offered the opportunity to go inside was pretty amazing.
My point is, we are a totally ordinary family, and my son is a wonderful (hey, I'm his mother) and normal person - but he did speak of these unusual memories, and we listened. It is hardly front page news, but if it happened in our family, my guess is that it happens in other families.

This is not a 'comment' on this column, just a general observation; I LOVE your optimism, and genuinely positive outlook...I really do. Being of the opposite default setting, I tend to be a bit disdainful of optimism, and all the 'positive thinking', and "it's all good" stuff I am innundated with daily; but I never have that reaction with your column...and I really loved " Randi's Prize"....a Fine Book! , which was my introduction to your writing; ( and optimism) It's so....well, ' Genuine' which, I think, makes it rare, and refreshing. Anyway, glad you're out there, writing! I look forward to your columns and reccomendations; even if I don't always agree..(being a crotchety old crank!

Hey, kind words, thanks.

'if it happened in our family, my guess is that it happens in other families'

Yes indeed. Interesting story.

"Reading Stevenson’s work one constantly feels the lack of ordinary emotion in his accounts."

Robert, do you know who Carol Bowman is? She's my favorite author on children's past lives because she documents some rather compelling evidence, while also exploring what these people (kids and parents) are thinking and feeling. Her writing is both intelligent and warm.

I enjoyed both of her books, but am particularly fond of Return from Heaven, which focuses on the phenomenon of children reincarnating within the same family.

Do you know of her?

Yes I was reading that book just a few weeks ago, as it happens. It was what prompted me to get Stevenson's books out of the library.

You're right, she's a good writer/investigator. I would like to see some of those American stories done in a more rigorous way, though, and published in scientific journals.

"I would like to see some of those American stories done in a more rigorous way"

Yes. The Leininger case in particular deserved a much better book than it got.

Then too, Bowman often says that Stevenson has already done that sort of evidentiary work as well as can be done, so she's felt free to focus on the meaning of the events, rather than merely proving their validity.

And the fact is, in discussing the healing these children experience as they process pain they carry from other lives, she provides another kind of proof that something real and important is going on in these cases. That's an area Stevenson never touches.

Glad to hear you like Bowman's work! I think she should be better known.

Great write-up Robert! I really appreciate the time and thought you put into this topic and our show. Our show's main goal is to document the testimonies of these families, and portray what their children went through when recalling their past lives. We are so happy that the show is spreading the concept of reincarnation to the public consciousness. This season we have extended our search to families in Europe- specifically the UK, so we are looking forward to some fascinating cases! Email me at

Sandra Alvarez
Supervising Producer
"Ghost Inside My Child"

The mainstream left-leaning American magazine "The Atlantic" has just published a positive story on reincarnation research!
I was getting upset after similar websites Slate and Salon had both published anti-parapsychology screeds within the last couple of weeks.

The show is not bad. What I like about it and a handful of others is that they allow people to tell their stories. Yes there are some recreations, etc., but the weight of the story is usually borne by the people who had the experience and you can make your own assessment of their creditability.

Robert you are right there isn't much skeptical material on reincarnation.

One skeptical book that dismissed reincarnation and did criticise Stevenson is Terence Hine's book Pseudoscience and the Paranormal. Here's what he wrote:

"Stevenson’s work has been widely criticized, even in parapsychological circles (see Edwards 1996, for a fuller discussion). The major problem with Stevenson’s work is that the methods he used to investigate alleged cases of reincarnation are inadequate to rule out simple, imaginative storytelling on the part of the children claiming to be reincarnations of dead individuals. In the seemingly most impressive cases Stevenson (1975, 1977) has reported, the children claiming to be reincarnated knew friends and relatives of the dead individual. The children’s knowledge of facts about these individuals is, then, somewhat less than conclusive evidence for reincarnation."

"Thomason (1984, 1986–87) also comments on an earlier analysis by Ian Stevenson (1974) of a woman known as “TE” who was supposed to be able to speak Swedish, learned in a past life. Thomason (1984) comments that “Stevenson is… unsophisticated about language, and TE’s ‘Swedish’ is as unconvincing as” the Bulgarian, Gaelic, and Apache in the other cases she examined (p. 347).

Descriptions of other impressive-sounding evidence for reincarnation that disappeared upon close examination can be found in Harris (1986) and Wilson (1996). Edwards (1986) comments on Wilson’s (1982) book, saying that in it “all the most famous reincarnation cases are minutely examined and on the basis of meticulous research all of them are found wanting” (p. 34). For more philosophical criticisms of reincarnation theory, the reader is referred to Edwards (1996)."


Harris, M. (1986). “Are ‘Past-Life’ Regressions Evidence of Reincarnation?” Free Inquiry 6(4):18–23.

Terence Hines. (2003) Pseudoscience and the Paranormal.

Thomason, S. (1984) “Do You Remember Your Previous Life’s Language in Your Present Incarnation?” American Speech 59:540–50.

Thomason, S. (1986–87). “Past Tongues Remembered?” Skeptical Inquirer 11:367–75.

Wilson, I. (1982). All in the Mind. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday.

I have not read Wilson's book but the most famous case the Bridey Murphy has been debunked, it was very early on criticised by Martin Gardner in his book Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science. I am sure even proponents of reincarnation agree on that as they no longer cite that case.

BTW Wilson was a believer in the afterlife and a proponent of the NDE, if I can remember correctly he later converted to Christianity, he even claimed the Shroud of Turin was genuine. If anyone else knows any other good skeptical or pro books on reincarnation please let me know.

I have been told the book "The Search for Yesterday: A Critical Examination of the Evidence for Reincarnation" by D. Scott Rogo is a good book. Apparently Rogo develops his own hypothesis to the usually heard explanation to reincarnation.

On the last page of the book he has written:

"So, in conclusion, do I 'believe' in reincarnation? Based on the evidence, I suppose that I should say that I do: but not in the reincarnation of the soul, but in the fact that certain apparently vanished memories and traits of personality CAN actually be born again"

He seems to be saying memories or traits of personality survive but not an actual soul.

If I can remember correctly Dr. Gardner Murphy published a paper called "Caringtonian Approach to Ian Stevenson's Twenty cases suggestive of reincarnation" in which he takes Whately Carington's concept of a group mind or to explain reincarnation phenomena... this is a rare view that we don't usually hear of. It's sort of been pushed aside by the dogmatic debunking or the usual over-hyped explanation for reincarnation.

Here's Robert Todd Carroll's take on Stevenson

Jamie, these are useful refs, thanks. I'm familiar with some of them.

Hines knows nothing - he just skims comments from other sceptics. The claim that Stevenson's methods are inadequate to rule out imaginative storytelling is transparent nonsense, as he'd know he'd bothered to read any of it.

Todd Caroll is usually superficial, but on this he's quite detailed. It's a good hatchet job, with all the usual clever tricks and tropes to discredit Stevenson, but avoids tackling the body of his work. 'Few critics will be willing to spend much time poring over his detailed anecdotes and tedious reports.' No, then they'd have real challenges to address. Better just to cavil and snipe.

It's true that Wilson did a good debunking job on a few cases. It's a long while since I read his book, but the ones I remember best weren't Stevenson's but highly publicised cases like Pollard's and the Bridey Murphy regression case.

I read Angel's debunking of the Imad Elawar some years ago. It was the most convincing I'd come across, although I wasn't familiar with the original at the time. I will reread it shortly, as I have been doing a study of this case.

From the extract quoted by Todd Carroll I can see problems straight away. Angel writes: 'For example, Imad Elawar claimed that he was Mahmoud Bouhamzy, a truck driver who died of tuberculosis 25 years earlier and who had a wife called Jamilah', and complains that Stevenson actually finds a quite different candidate for the memories, but neglects to justify that. He implies that Stevenson is playing fast and loose with the data. But in his analysis Stevenson clearly explains that Imad had made no such claim. His parents had simply constructed a scenario based on a few utterances by Imad, which turned out, when the case was investigated, to have a different meaning to the one they thought. His reasoning is absolutely clear and moreover justified by the facts.

It can't be said too often, if people want to understand these subjects they have to read the original research. The sceptical literature just doesn't connect with it.

I'll check out the others.

I've come across an interesting spat between Ian Stevenson and David Scott Rogo, it's in the SPR Journal 53 of 1985-6. I haven't read The Search For Yesterday, but I did read some of Scott Rogo's other books and I thought they were quite good, as popularisations.

In this subject Scott Rogo seems to be acting as a sceptic. He was quite combatative and opinionated, and obviously had a go at Stevenson in this book. Stevenson replied quite forcefully. This is a sample passage:

'I am far from claiming that my research has been flawless or my reports free from influence by my biases. Rogo has correctly pointed to some weak places in my work and publications, and I cannot object to that. However, at times he seems to hint at deliberate wrongdoing on my part, and such allegations, if he is making them, are completely false. There is some reassurance that since Rogo has obviously been reading my publications — although often carelessly — with a view to detecting any peccadillo, he has found so little with which to find fault. I am sure I have made worse mistakes than any he has mentioned; but it is also comforting that the information for his valid criticisms comes from what I myself have printed in my reports.'

He offers quick and clear rebuttals of SR's criticisms of individual cases, and concludes:

'The foregoing comments do not offer a full correction of all Rogo's false and misleading statements. I have discussed only the ones that seem more mischievous; I have not refuted others, partly to avoid unnecessarily involving third parties and partly to limit the extent of these comments. Moreover, I have not even touched on the numerous less important errors of fact in Rogo's book. He begins with three mistakes in the eleven lines of his first paragraph, but later he does not sustain this frequency, and the average comes to about one or two a page—in his handling of the case material known to me. I refer to errors of names, dates, geography, aspects of the cultures in which the cases occur, and other features of the cases themselves. These would be less vexatious if Rogo did not present himself as having magisterial control of all such little details. However, to catalog his mistakes would require a booklet, and I must close these comments.'

Scott Rogo responds with an emotional diatribe. It seems he was miffed in the first place by Stevenson's refusal to collaborate with a mere journalist. This is typical sceptic behaviour - to put the boot in and then burst into tears when the target kicks back. I have to say, he comes across as a bit of a prima donna.

Robert great research, thanks for this. I am utterly confused about Rogo. It seems in his later years he turned on many in the parapsychological community and of course his death itself is a mystery, he was pretty much a lone researcher. He's written negative reviews of not just Stevenson but Brian Inglis also concluding he was a charlatan.

I always saw Rogo as a "fortean" writer or collector of "anomalies" rather than a typical parapsychologist himself. He's written like 100 books, I find many of them fascinating.

He's written a book called the "Haunted Universe", it's an odd book that concludes practically all paranormal/occult phenomena such as UFOS, Bigfoot, poltergeists and even miracles etc is actually in the subjects mind "psychically" projected (PK) into the everyday world. He talks about the possibility of some psychic portal or gateways to different dimensions but he seems to conclude it's based around the subject's mind. It's hard to make sense of what he believed was "real" and "unreal".

There's a critical review of the book on amazon the reviewer seems to conclude that Rogo wanted to debunk all psychic phenomena but not like a skeptic saying it is fraud but by saying it is all in their mind projected by psychokinesis... He talks about evil being able to take on physical form from subject's minds and making "negative" zones... it really is a weird book! He seems to draw from John Keel.

I have not read his reincarnation book but he is probably linking his psychic projection hypothesis to it by claiming memories can leave the mind and enter there way into other peoples mind's or something to this effect. There's another paranormal researcher Hilary Evans who advocated a similar view in the 1980s he seemed to conclude absolutely all psychic phenomena including UFOs and sightings of monsters or ghosts was all in the subjects mind but they could take on some sort of paranormal component themselves and become "real". Weird stuff. Obviously this kind of thinking won't please the typical paranormal believer or the skeptic.

I noticed on your website there is a book list for reincarnation:

On that list is Chari, C.T.K. PARAMNESIA AND REINCARNATION, Proceedings 53, 1960-62, pp. 264-86.

If I can remember correctly Chari was one of Stevenson's main critics but the odd thing Chari was a believer in reincarnation himself but believed there was no scientific evidence for it? He also developed a hypothesis of paramnesia... which probably wouldn't please the skeptics because I think somewhere he was saying precognition could explain Stevenson's data, "paramnesia" was of course itself paranormal. I have not read his papers.

Other than Whately Carington's views on the group mind or "psychon" system to explain Stevenson's data "Caringtonian Approach to Ian Stevenson's Twenty cases suggestive of reincarnation" published in the SPR by Gardner Murphy I can't find any other alternative paranormal hypotheses. The skeptics say it is all fraud, delusion or cryptomnesia but IMO this does fit some cases but not all. I'm not a believer in the traditional soul view for reincarnation either. There seems to be only limited people who have this past life memories, if the soul hypothesis was really going on I think more people would be remembering.

I think the hypothesis of "paramnesia" or Carington's hypothesis is worth looking into. Some info can be found here about Carington and his psychon hypothesis
though the psychical researcher douglas strokes heavily criticised it, for his hypothesis carington invented a form of neutral monism.. confusing philosophy I won't go into it lol. If I can remember correctly c. d. broad or h. h price published Carington's last book because he died before it was completed, it's called Matter, Mind and Meaning, it's a full attack on materialism. Carington also wrote another interesting book A Theory of the Mechanism of Survival which concluded survival after death might be possible in a fourth dimension. The book is free online.

Regarding Carroll and his skeptics dictionary I find it's only good for shooting down religious creationism, hoaxes or obvious medical frauds, conspiracy theories etc but when it comes to psychic stuff like you say he is doing hatchet jobs, he just has simply not read material on the topic. He's only citing a handful of skeptic books and nothing else. Have a look at his Leonora Piper article

It is the worst job I have seen lol, he mentions Martin Gardner and literally nothing else... Eleanor Sidgwick, Frank Podmore, Richard Hodgson, James Hyslop, Thomson Jay Hudson etc have written pages and pages, volumes even on piper yet Carroll mentions none of it. He did the same to Rudi Schneider and other mediums. He doesn't give scepticism a good name. I know people have accused Richard Wiseman of being a pseudoskeptic but he appears more well read than some of these other "skeptics", his book paranormality has two chapters actually appreciating the work of several SPR members.

I’m not very familiar with Rogo’s work. But, from what has been said here, his ideas don’t seem a million miles away from the early SPR researchers’ (Gurney and Myers) theories of apparitions as telepathic ‘hallucinations’. I think it’s important to emphasise that ‘hallucinations’, here, was not being used in the pejorative sense. The idea was later modified by G.N.M. Tyrell in his classic work ‘Apparitions’.

As for the reincarnation business: I always thought it rather curious re Spiritualism (in the UK, at least) that, despite the fact that most teachings from alleged ‘higher’ guides (Silver Birch, White Eagle, Red Cloud etc.) state that there is reincarnation, many Spiritualists reject the idea with a fair amount of hostility. The only sensible explanation for mental phenomena suggestive of reincarnation that I ever heard from a ‘discarnate’ source was from ‘Magnus’ – control of Colin Fry (when he was still aka ‘Lincoln’). Magnus put it all down to what he termed ‘attachment’ i.e. incarnates picking up on the memories of discarnates – either those to whom they have a close spiritual connection (e.g. ‘Guides’), or any discarnate who just happens to develop an attachment to the former. I seem to remember that Magnus also emphasised that, in the discarnate state, the borders between individual personalities become progressively blurred to an extent that varies from case to case. Of course, that idea has been part of Spiritualism and Spiritism for a very long time.

Again, this is not too far from what Rogo appears to be suggesting.

About Chari, as I recall - but it's a long while since I read his stuff - he argues against reincarnation from a Christian perspective, ie, he can't accept reincarnation but is OK with alternative paranormal explanations.

The disbelief in reincarnation by nineteenth century, mainly British and American, Spiritualists is puzzling if you think that discarnates have total knowledge of what's going on, but less so if one supposes that they really haven't. They might have to 'progress' some way before they accept the need for it.

Also, if minds survive death it makes sense to suppose that cultural differences survive with them. It might be wrong to think of mechanisms such as reincarnation in biological terms, ie that happen in exactly the same way to all humans. Rather, they might be subject to cultural variations. That might be why Asian cases are relatively easy to 'solve' - because Asians expect to reincarnate and have no psychological blocks about it, so may do so relatively quickly, while Christianised societies like Europe and America, which have no such expectation, do so much more slowly and (perhaps) reluctantly.

All deeply speculative of course. What I don't go along with, at least not very far, is that idea that alternative non-mmaterialis solutions can be mobilised to explain it away, like the rebirth of memories or tendencies, or children being temporarily 'possessed' by discarnates.

If minds survive death, and those minds tell us that reincarnation occurs, and that's what it overwhelmingly looks like, then why not just accept it?

I think it comes to personal belief Robert and this is why many spiritualists have rejected reincarnation. Reincarnation is like termination of a personality or it merging into someone else's to be mostly forgotten about. A spirit world is much more nicer. You keep your own personality etc. Most would prefer a spirit world I guess.

Reincarnation is as much a "termination of personality" as passing through the stages of life is. The old man is fundamentally different from the young boy he once was, might have lost mental anilities he possessed as a young man but he senses a strong sense of continuity. We change from one moment to the other without losing our sense of self.

Indeed Rob/Jamie, the rejection of reincarnation by some Spiritualists is a curious thing. We even have Silver Birch preaching it, despite the fact that his medium, journalist and long time Editor of ‘Psychic News’, Maurice Barbanell, rejected the idea.

It always seemed to me that many were hostile to the idea because UK Spiritualist author Arthur Findlay rejected reincarnation. Yet if you look at Findlay’s apparent reasons for his attitude, they appear to amount to little more than recently deceased communicators via John C. Sloane saying that they knew nothing about the subject, although I can’t remember off the top of my head which of Findlay’s books that is contained in.

I must have another listen to the recording I have of Magnus’ discourse on the subject. I remember, at the time, feeling rather frustrated that nobody challenged him with some rather obvious questions. He said that he knew thousands of people on his side, some of whom had passed many centuries before, and that not one of them knew of anyone who had reincarnated. I would have asked him why all of those other ‘teachers’ had claimed that reincarnation was a reality? Were they all their mediums charlatans, or deluded?

The Kardec communicators claimed that it is perfectly possible for someone to be ‘dead’ for an inordinately long period of time, and still be locked into their own idioms of belief, and that people tend to be hostile towards the idea of reincarnation because of a mixture of pride and fear.

Personally, I found the arguments of Spiritualists/Survivalists on both sides of the debate to be rather illogical in many respects. A great deal more could be said about this.

Steve you might find this interesting:

It's a description of the spirit world by early mediums and spiritualists. There's talk about everything from animals, to houses, schools, clothes, food, music etc. The thing that doesn't make sense to me about the spirit world is that apparently people communicate only with telepathy, and they create what is around them by thought. There's flaws in this when you sit down and really think about it. If people create their own buildings, clothes etc by thought alone then it's hard to see how a joint spirit world would work. What happens to murderers or people with mental illness wouldn't they be creating havoc? In the above link there's talk about people creating their own houses and communities and schools of people but how does it work if everything is just creating it by thought? When spirits stop thinking does all the stuff just disappear then? Lol you get the point.

In the early 20th century there were a few philosophers who opposed the idea of spirit world but equally discussed the possibility of a mental or dream world after death where the subject would live in his or her memories and ideas etc. The problem with this is that's it's basically a form of solipsism. But to get round this the philosopher H. H. Price proposed the possibility of dream telepathy and that maybe people could enter other peoples minds or "realities". It's all speculation of course. I don't know what the make of it. The whole idea of a mental afterlife is puzzling and riddles with questions, doubts and contradictions.

As for reincarnation you are right there's a lot of contradiction on this view from spiritualists. Carl Wickland, Paul Beard, James McKenzie, James Hyslop and other early spiritualist writers all denied it but others embraced it.

I definitely want an afterlife but what's currently on offer kind of sucks. I'm scared of any spirit world due to the contradictions and inconsistencies I described above, reincarnation is not what I want either, I want to keep a full blown personality and not lose any of myself. Religion kind of sucks as well. If Christianity is true I probably won't be in heaven lol. Of course there's other ideas about an afterlife like ghosts and "stay behinds" but that doesn't really float my boat either. But last but not least there's annihilation i.e. no afterlife at all and that is probably the worst possibility.

Jamie, thanks for the link, I'll give it a proper look later.

I think if there is a spirit world, then the contradictions are probably more apparent than real - especially once you're in it. Don't forget that all accounts of it come through PEOPLE, supposedly, from PEOPLE ;). The best accounts I've read (and heard - via alleged direct voice) make it quite clear that the only things that any individual has to worry about is the way that they've treated other living things. Oh, and themselves, I suppose. That's a bit simplistic, but it's the best I'm capable of right now - double ;)

Robert going back to your original post about motivation to cheat, there's a skeptic article here that mentions a motive:

"Stevenson dismissed the possibility of fraud because he saw no motive for it. Ian Wilson points out that many children claimed to have belonged to a higher caste, thus a motivation for better living conditions is obvious (Edwards, "Introduction" 12). In one case a boy wanted a third of his "past-life father's" land (12). Stevenson hired David Barker, who was doing research for an anthropology dissertation in India, to help analyze some of his cases and Barker found that there was not a single case of convincing evidence of any paranormal factor (12)."

Steve I am not sure what to make of direct voice mediumship. Apart from Sloan I can't seem to find any of these mediums. Do you remember slate writing or table tipping? It has to be admitted spiritualism has had some odd fads that died out quickly. Why are such methods not used anymore? I find it hard to believe it's because the spirits wanted to change methods over the years. Direct voice is rare I have not heard anything recent about it.

If people create their own buildings, clothes etc by thought alone then it's hard to see how a joint spirit world would work. What happens to murderers or people with mental illness wouldn't they be creating havoc?

According to the evidence of mediumship, people gather in the afterlife for their affinities, so psychopaths will have their own separate universe from the rest, the most spiritually advanced people will share another universe, etc.

When spirits stop thinking does all the stuff just disappear then?

Not necessarily, because the maintenance of things can be delegated to the unconscious, so people in afterlife do not have to consciously think about it all the time.

As for reincarnation you are right there's a lot of contradiction on this view from spiritualists.

I think that there are no contradictions. Evidence indicates that people remain more or less the same beliefs after death: no contradiction between "I have not met someone reincarnated" and "reincarnation occurs," or between "I have not mentioned reincarnation" and "reincarnation occurs."

Well if that is the case it sounds all too good to be true Juan, but I hope it does exist... We will only know when we get there I guess. All this is just speculation. The problem I have with mediumship is a lot of it has been fraud and hoaxes, I have no doubt there's some genuine phenomena going on but's it's hard to separate it all from the nonsense and there's no solid proof the communications have actually come from the departed. It's not as clear cut as some of the spiritualists would like to believe. This is why I was attracted to some of the ideas of D. Scott Rogo but they remain unpopular in the parapsychology community.

The problem I have with mediumship is a lot of it has been fraud and hoaxes, I have no doubt there's some genuine phenomena going on but's it's hard to separate it all from the nonsense and there's no solid proof the communications have actually come from the departed. It's not as clear cut as some of the spiritualists would like to believe. This is why I was attracted to some of the ideas of D. Scott Rogo but they remain unpopular in the parapsychology community.

I agree that mediumship is not as clear as some spiritualists believe, so it is necessary to critically analyze spiritualism as have writers like Stephen Braude, Curt John Ducasse, Alan Gauld and Hornett Hart, but even so, the most likely is that there is a personal afterlife, because the most plausible interpretation of some cases of mediumship is postmortem communication, plus there are other lines of evidence on an afterlife: the near death experiences, visions of deathbed, apparitions and people who seem to remember previous lives, so we have converging evidence to the existence of a personal afterlife. About the ideas of Scott Rogo, I would say paranormal but non-survivalist interpretations of Stevenson cases are too gimmicky and survivalist interpretation is the most direct interpretation of the data.

I agree. There are lots of evidences either direct or indirect when you weigh it up for some kind of survival. But I am agnostic about what the afterlife would be like. I would like to read Ducasse's book "A Critical Examination of the Belief in a Life after Death" but have not been able to obtain it. It's out of print. There's also "Paranormal Experience and Survival of Death" by the philosopher Carl Becker that you may enjoy.

There's also a skeptical book "Is There Life After Death? An Examination of the Empirical Evidence" by David Lester which is also good. I have just ordered the book The Case for Life After Death: "Parapsychologists Look at Survival Evidence" by Elizabeth E. McAdams and Raymond Bayless.

Bayless co-authored a book with Rogo on phone calls from the dead. A very strange phenomena that has been laughed at but I think it's more than a hoax. I don't think it should be dismissed so quickly.

There's a chapter here from Rogo's book "Life After Death. The Case for Survival of Bodily Death":

He ends by saying "The case for survival is impressive but not yet proven."

But I am agnostic about what the afterlife would be like.

Well, there are some reports of NDEs and mediumship which seem quite robust to describe how is the realm of the afterlife.

I would like to read Ducasse's book "A Critical Examination of the Belief in a Life after Death" but have not been able to obtain it.

I have that book on my computer and I upload it on this link:

He ends by saying "The case for survival is impressive but not yet proven."

I agree with Rogo, but this issue does not seem to accept a definitive proof, but an abductive conclusion.

But I am agnostic about what the afterlife would be like.

Well, there are some reports of NDEs and mediumship which seem quite robust to describe how is the realm of the afterlife.

I would like to read Ducasse's book "A Critical Examination of the Belief in a Life after Death" but have not been able to obtain it.

I have that book on my computer and I upload it on this link:

He ends by saying "The case for survival is impressive but not yet proven."

I agree with Rogo, but this issue does not seem to accept a definitive proof, but an abductive conclusion.

'Barker found that there was not a single case of convincing evidence of any paranormal factor (12).' No sitting on the fence there! I love the utter certainty.

But I'm intrigued. How did he make the paranormality vanish? The reference seems to be missing from the online version of the article, and I shall have to wait until I get to the library to find out. If long experience is any guide it will be like a magic trick - fascinating until you know how it's done, and then a let down.

[We seem to be talking in itals now]

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