Ian Stevenson

From RationalWiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Putting the psycho in
Icon psychic.svg
Men who stare at goats
By the powers of tinfoil

Ian Stevenson (1918-2007) was an American psychiatrist,[1] parapsychologist, and fringe science proponent most notable for publications in support of reincarnation.[2] Stevenson thought the best evidence for reincarnation was parents' anecdotal stories concerning their children's stories concerning a past life, and he avidly collected such stories. 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. Gopala has some sort of birthmark on or close to his head. Crime records for Delhi then, indeed, show that someone named Vasudha was killed in a robbery by being stabbed in the head.

In this methodology, it is not possible to rule out cryptomnesiaWikipedia on the part of the child, that the parents embroider the story they are transmitting, or they are entirely fraudulent. Stevenson initially concentrated his attention on accounts from individuals residing in countries such as India, Thailand, and Burma (now Myanmar), where reincarnation is a central element of the dominant local beliefs such as Hinduism and Buddhism, which may lead children to actively look for possible examples of who they might have been in a past life. Aware of this shortcoming, Stevenson later sought out stories from Europe and North America. However, the subjects he found were typically predisposed to supernatural beliefs, such as members of a Native American tribe in Alaska or a Welsh psychic who had recorded his dreams about a past life.[citation needed]

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, most scientists simply ignored his research, and his detractors saw him as "earnest, dogged but ultimately misguided, led astray by gullibility, wishful thinking and a tendency to see science where others saw superstition."[3]

Child psychiatrist Jim TuckerWikipedia (not to be confused with the crank Bilderberg reporter of the same nameWikipedia), a disciple of Stevenson, carries on the research as the medical director of the University of Virginia Child & Family Psychiatry Clinic.[4]


  • (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.


  1. [1] Ian Stevenson's Obituary by Emily Williams Kelly
  2. Ian Stevenson (1918-2007) The Skeptic's Dictionary
  3. Ian Stevenson Dies at 88; Studied Claims of Past Lives by Margalit Fox (February 18, 2007). The New York Times.]
  4. 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.