Ian Stevenson

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Putting the psycho in
Parapsychology
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Men who stare at goats
By the powers of tinfoil

Ian Stevenson (1918-2007) was an American parapsychologist and pseudoscience proponent most notable for publications in support of reincarnation.[1]

Research[edit]

Stevenson thought the best evidence for reincarnation was a parent's anecdotal stories concerning a child's anecdotal remarks. For example, a father says that his five-year old son Gopala told him he used to be a shop clerk named Vasudha who lived in Delhi and was stabbed in the head and killed during a robbery. Crime records for Delhi indeed show that someone named Vasudha was killed in a robbery by being stabbed in the head. And wow, look, Gopala has some sort of birthmark on or close to his head.

It all sounds totally convincing, until you consider that it's impossible to ascertain if the father is telling the truth about what Gopala said or embroidering the story to make it more believable. The sequence of events may not be accurate, and the robbery story may have been something the boy could have picked up from friends or relatives. And if reincarnation is one of the dominant local religious beliefs, the boy may have been actively looking for possible examples of who he might have been in a past life.

Stevenson was an avid collector of such anecdotal stories, and primarily concentrated his attention on stories from people residing in countries like India where belief in reincarnation is common. Aware of this criticism, Stevenson later sought out stories from Europe and North America, but the subjects he found were typically predisposed to supernatural beliefs, such as a Native American tribe in Alaska or a Welsh psychic who had recorded his dreams about a past life.

As former head of the department of Psychiatry at the University of Virginia, Stevenson's early reputation as a careful researcher caused his later reincarnation writings to be given some attention in academic circles. Despite this early interest, the vast majority of scientists came to see him as "earnest, dogged but ultimately misguided, led astray by gullibility, wishful thinking and a tendency to see science where others saw superstition."[2]

Son of pseudoscience[edit]

Not to be confused with the crank Bilderberg reporter of the same name.Wikipedia's W.svg

Jim Tucker,Wikipedia's W.svg a disciple of Stevenson, continues to carry on the "research" as the medical director of the University of Virginia Child & Family Psychiatry Clinic.[3]

Publications[edit]

  • (1974). Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation (second revised and enlarged edition). University of Virginia Press. ISBN 0813908728.
  • (1974). Xenoglossy: A Review and Report of A Case. University of Virginia Press. ISBN 0813904439.
  • (1975). Cases of the Reincarnation Type, Vol. I: Ten Cases in India. University of Virginia Press. ISBN 0813906024.
  • (1978). Cases of the Reincarnation Type, Vol. II: Ten Cases in Sri Lanka. University of Virginia Press. ISBN 0813906245.
  • (1980). Cases of the Reincarnation Type, Vol. III: Twelve Cases in Lebanon and Turkey. University of Virginia Press. ISBN 0813908167.
  • (1983). Cases of the Reincarnation Type, Vol. IV: Twelve Cases in Thailand and Burma. University of Virginia Press. ISBN 0813909600.
  • (2003). Europeans Cases of the Reincarnation Type. McFarland & Co. ISBN 0786414588.

References[edit]

  1. Ian Stevenson (1918-2007) The Skeptic's Dictionary
  2. Ian Stevenson Dies at 88; Studied Claims of Past Lives by Margalit Fox (February 18, 2007). The New York Times.]
  3. Reincarnation Expert Dr. Jim Tucker Talks ‘Spiritual’ Research in Scientific America by Tara MacIsaac (December 11, 2014 AT 5:49 PM Last Updated: August 1, 2015 7:06 am) Epoch Times.