Reincarnation as a Plausible Explanation

One of the things that surprised me most about attending the Parapsychological Association conference in Durham, North Carolina this year was how areas of science that receive the most criticism for being ‘pseudo-scientific’ are, in some cases, areas where the very basic elements, the most elegant elements, of the scientific method can be explored.

Dr. Robert Almeder, Georgia State University, wrote the introduction to Chris Carter’s new book Science and the Afterlife Experience, from Inner Traditions/Bear & Co., and he speaks here of the Dr. Ian Stevensen’s research at the Univ. of Virginia on cases in which the data seems to point to reincarnation as a plausible explanation. Rather than scoffing and dismissing this outright, Dr. Almeder presents a provocative argument for why such investigations fit very soundly within the scientific milieu.

52 Comments on "Reincarnation as a Plausible Explanation"

  1. TapMeYouFascists | Sep 16, 2012 at 3:44 pm |

    Show peer reviewed literature or it didn’t happen. Just sayin’.

  2. Nothing wrong with wondering what all this is about, as long as we don’t start killing and treading on people for the supposed answers.  

  3. Liam_McGonagle | Sep 16, 2012 at 4:18 pm |


    You’re telling me most Americans have had the benefit of at least 2 lifetimes of experience and are STILL this f*cking stupid?

    Good bye and good luck.  You’ll need it.

    • in the most popular view of reincarnation
      Americans would normally reincarnate as pigs or sheep if they were lucky
      though I’m pretty sure Americans like Bush & Cheney come back as cockroaches
      but the same theory suggests that those oppressed by Americans
      would come back as Americans
      but if that’s true
      than simply being an American is the problem

      • Matt Staggs | Sep 17, 2012 at 9:24 am |

        all your hands are bloody
        western world
        handcuffs on your wrists
        you cannot claim
        are not as shriven 
        as the American spirit 
        at which you toss the guilty darts 
        of your own culpability
        better they fly from your hand
        through smokey air
        choking with the hypocrisy
        of war of colonialism 
        of guilty conscience
        than remain to prick
        further blood 
        from your Lilly white palms
        sleep well and know that 
        the bull’s eye
        has room for you all

        • careful
          you could reincarnate as a Buzz

          • Matt Staggs | Sep 17, 2012 at 9:36 am |

            nestled snugly in
            the belly of the beast
            a beneficiary
            of all the blood spill
            better a “they”
            than a we?

          • nestled snugly in the belly of the system
            a beneficiary of all the blood-oil sipped by that system
            be it better there’s a “they” than a wee?

            wee are they and they are wee

            the machine-heads have shat in our meager benefit
            polluted it with ill-gotten gains
            and consolidated the spoils to the elites
            and enslaved wee to material goods made by machines

            so know yer not snuggled
            you just think you are
            unless snuggled means bamboozled in NewSpeak

  4. Liquidself | Sep 16, 2012 at 4:34 pm |

    He makes a lot of good points.

    • He claims that he makes alot of good points, but I didn’t hear any. Until I hear a plausible explanation of how reincarnation could be POSSIBLE, including proof of some kind of immortal soul, then I think confirmation bias & witness unreliability is a far more plausible explanation than reincarnation. Lacking that, this is an exercise in delusion.

      • By this mindset gravity would never have come about as the math for it was WELL after the actual concept of “things fall” on the newton level. After watching a few of the videos from the man who this man references (Ian Stevensen) the proof lies in things like memories and birth defects/marks on the reincarnated from the people they used to be. I’m not saying this is good or bad proof, but just stating that is one of many points of proof used. Look up Ian Stevensens lectures and judge for yourself instead of hypothetically ranting about the mans work whom this man is referencing… BTW; Did you actually watch anything OTHER then the first video above? If not then you are literally saying proof or it didn’t happen without actually looking INTO the person this person IS citing :p

        • bobbiethejean | Sep 16, 2012 at 7:21 pm |

           By this mindset gravity would never have come about as the math for it
          was WELL after the actual concept of “things fall” on the newton level

          That is a very poor analogy. We understand gravity, insofar as we are able. We can predict gravity, we can predict its effects, we can measure it, we can observe its effects on matter and energy, we know it exists. No such thing can be said about the soul or reincarnation and no, coincidentally similar birthmarks is not proof, not when there are a MASSIVE number of genetic and statistical explanations for such things. The day reincarnation becomes a reasonable plausibility is the day we quantify, qualify, observe, document, and base predictive models on the soul. Until then, you people are just making shit up.

        • David Howe | Sep 16, 2012 at 7:31 pm |

           it’s simply not possible for memories to travel from one brain to another….unless the dead person wrote down their memories and then the “reincarnated” person read them.  Then I guess it’s possible to believe that those memories are from the person you used to be….if you’re an idiot.

          birth defects and “marks” are commonplace and coincidence is a great deal more plausible than reincarnation.  Further….where are the records of such things have happened?

          as artor said, confirmation bias and witness unreliability are fare more plausible explanations.  It should be simply to apply the scientific method to such matters….and yet they never are….wonder why?  lol

          • Oh My Goodness | Sep 17, 2012 at 12:54 am |

             And since when did you become the authority of higher being intelligence and universal law?

            you can take a show and broadcast it on different TV’s because well the show isnt coming from the TV>.

            yet another brilliant mind of our times right up there!!

          • that makes not sense.  no surprise there.

          • Whaa? Were you trying to make a point there? You lost me.

        • Oh My Goodness | Sep 17, 2012 at 12:53 am |

           There has been alot of research done on this. most people choose to believe what they want, and claim that they know it all .Because they cant understand something they automatically assume its not real.

          to alot of people it makes total sense (and yes with proof to show it) but if your only playing with 1/3 of a deck how do you expect to compete with someone with a full deck

          im so happy my species can think for themselves..wait..nevermind

          •  you fail to understand science.  let’s move on.

          • There has been alot of research on this, but it is all either inconclusive or false. I don’t assume something isn’t real because I don’t understand it, but I don’t assume something IS real if there’s no evidence to suggest that it is. I think it would be really cool to reincarnate, to manifest ESP, or to perform physical-law-defying magic. But I don’t see any reason to believe any of that is possible, so why should I give the ideas any credibility? Because I want them to be true? Bad reason.

            I like your card deck analogy, but I don’t think it applies in the direction you intended.

  5. bobbiethejean | Sep 16, 2012 at 7:17 pm |

    It’s nonsense. Utter nonsense. Anyone can make up stupid bullshit and this is the epitome of stupid bullshit.

    What is the soul made of? What is it’s mass? What would its wave function look like? How does it interact with the world around it? Where does it reside? What tethers it to a body? Is it affected by gravity and electromagnetism? What functions can it perform? What happens to souls when we die? Is there any way to kill a soul? How does it interact with consciousness? Why hasn’t the soul been quantified, qualified, or observed, ever? What would happen if a soul got sucked into a black hole? What happens if two souls collide? How many times can a soul be reincarnated?

    Let the made-up bullshit-scapades begin!

  6. reincarnation isn’t the only theory that fits the data sets
    Sheldrake’s Morphic Resonance Theory also fits the data
    even Jung’s theory of personality types would work with a little jiggling

    Buddhism kept the Hindu doctrine of reincarnation
    but Buddhism got rid of the soul/self
    so in ancient Buddhism
    only tendencies reincarnated into more tendencies
    bad to worse & good to better
    until we understand where we were before we were born
    we will not figure out where we go when we die
    only death will settle that question

    • Calypso_1 | Sep 16, 2012 at 9:39 pm |

      Morphic Resonance has always struck a chord with me.

      • MadHierophant | Sep 17, 2012 at 10:16 am |

        If you are any kind of gamer at all, play Nine Hours Nine Persons Nine Doors. Spoilers of any kind ruin what is possibly the greatest story in a video game I’ve ever experienced. Just know that Morphic Resonance is involved and the premise is more or less Saw meets Professor Layton. 

        If you don’t play games, then by all means, spoil the hell out of the story for yourself, but I’m sure you’ll love it either way. 

  7. Lord, save me from the science fundamentalists, every bit as arrogant and hectoring as their religious counterparts….

    • Let’s pray together. 
      Lord, save me from the neoclassical economists, every bit as arrogant and hectoring as their religious counterparts, neoliberals. 

    • that shit logic does not work on rational minds.  you’re accusing those of us who are correct of “arrogance”?  well, so be it.  It’s hard to be humble when you know that you’re right.

      • …and have evidence & logic to back it up, so you know with certainty that you’re not deluding yourself. It’s hard to not be condescending to people who have no idea how the world they live in works.

    • bobbiethejean | Sep 18, 2012 at 10:19 am |

       There is no such thing as a science fundamentalist…. unless there are a bunch of people who rigorously adhere to the scientific method. What…. do they show up at your door and try to convert you to biology? 

  8. Recently IT  made possible Cloud technology. Who knows that soul is a part of large Cloud and our body is simply a PC which holds that part of Cloud during life. At birth we download soul from Cloud and after death upload it to the Cloud to save life info. Through our lives we are in constant contact with Cloud, via thoughts, dreams, subconsciousness. May be our brain is just sender-receiver. 
    May be people with special abilities can connect to the Cloud and read its info.  May be we our brain filters or secures connections to Cloud. May be mental diseases are just hacked connections or broken sender-receiver or filter. 

    •  your grasp of science is pretty lousy.  You seem to think that fantasy speculations is a contribution to the conversation.  it’s not.  you can’t just make up some crazy shit.

      • Are you talking about neoclassical economists?
        Their grasp of economics as a social science is pretty lousy.  
        They think that fantasy speculations is a contribution to the conversation.

  9. Thedizzycat | Sep 17, 2012 at 4:59 am |

    mumbo jumbo… “some people reincarnate” – “not unreasonable to believe” – as much actual empirical evidence as resurrection, choose your poisonous meme?

  10. Thedizzycat | Sep 17, 2012 at 5:03 am |

    Let’s deal with “what is” – these fairy tales just create a useless brain fog, we have enough shit in people’s heads already, these characters step forward and appear credible and use the language of science to confuse. Graham Hancock is the same to me… I like listening to him, but he is a snake oil salesman. Stick to the actual science!!

  11. Monkey See Monkey Do | Sep 17, 2012 at 6:24 am |

    Atheists are so quick to assume that the brain produces consciousness instead of recieving it.

    As ‘oh my goodness’ stated, the show doesn’t necessarily come from the TV.

  12. Gregory Wyrdmaven | Sep 17, 2012 at 8:52 am |

    Reincarnation actually explains a lot, including why the world is so fucked right now…let me splain.  Consciousness has to be energy, right?  Otherwise the atheists are right and we’re only meat on sticks that think that we have thoughts and we should all just walk out in front of a bus right now.  Well, energy cannot be created or destroyed. 

    Well, what if consciousness is energy that can have information imprinted upon it?  This is what I think esoterics mean when we talk about “The Higher Self.”  Assume the Big Bang Theory is what happened.  Well, in the impossibly dense point where all energy is contained, that point would contain the energy that created matter…but also the energy that created the mind, the consciousness, the spirit.  But, this isn’t a simplistic, dualistic set up…consciousness is in matter, matter is in consciousness, which is what any Aborigine will tell you is a fact because they haven’t been addled by materialism or books or things like math and etc.  Indigenous people know this for a fact, that all matter contains spirit and vice versa.  Saying that there isn’t any spirit because we have science now is like saying pizza didn’t exist until 1958 when Pizza Hut was created.  It is materalism that has separated us from this simple truth and we see only the curtain, not the guy behind it pulling the levers.

    Getting back to energy cannot be created or destroyed…so consciousness spreads throughout creation and is energy intrinsically linked with the same energy that condenses to make stuff.  (See, science is here to show us the divine, not to be used as a tool to deny it.)  Consciousness as energy that has information imprinted upon it means that in time, experience creates sentience.  In the beginning, in that point, this consciousness is going DUHHHHHH.  Because there is only it, and the vacuum.  Any given planet is then a nursery, where the limited amount of consciousness that is connected to the stuff of that planet slowly (sometimes swiftly) creates diversity because it wants to experience things, in order to be more.  Conflict creates character.  And the more diverse, the more experience.  So Life, in order to be self-aware, actually creates the life that gives it experience.  Life is like a child that has blocks that are just shapes and creates a castle or a plane, etc. 

    Then there comes a time when an expression of consciousness, a self, grows up.  It reaches a point in which it has an understanding of its own nature and is ready to leave the nursery, which is when the Self can leave the Karmic Wheel.  During each incarnation, information about the previous lives is retained enough, that like a lint roller, sooner or later the roll is full of hair and isnt sticky anymore and can leave the roll.  If this Self has gained wisdom, understanding…enlightenment, it leaves the planet (and most likely the millstone of corporeality) behind.  Well, what happens to a planet when enough good consciousness leaves it? 

    The sentient beings on it start to decline and a hush begins to fall upon the planet in terms of the voices of consciousness on it.  Spiritual Incompetence begins and a rise to “understand” the stuff of the planet rather than to be enlightened about what this is all really about begins and people begin to take the watch apart to see how it works, except now you don’t know what time it is.  We on this planet are now scraping the bottom of the consciousness barrel.  The result of this was the Industrial Revolution, the creation of the internal combustionn engine, development of electricity, etc.  All things that are now ruining the planet and creating a world of materialists and the indentured servants who work for them.

    Now the irony is, science which many purport to be the antidote for all that ancient wisdom, which the “rationalists” call folly, is actually what can make the rest of the planet grow up and learn to walk out of the sand box.  Because instead of one Aborigine group going along just fine without any need to complicate the world, now with science, information can be shared globally and science has now found out that the stuff of the world is just energy and that it really shouldn’t have mass and that the physical universe may just be a hologram and this earth has as much reality as a stage and its props.  This earth, this Malkuth, is where the consciousness drips down to condense to be mixed with matter.  And then, when we can walk, we can climb back up to the source of the divine, which is pure consciousness, which is *G*O*D*.  Which we are all a part of.  We are the deity that created the world so we could be aware.  We are the deity that tore itself apart and puts itself back together again.  And the complete sea change the world has experienced in just the last few centuries is our conscious/unconscious attempt to go to Plan B since most all the other smart souls have gone elsewhere and this planet is full of Honey Boo Boos and Idiots and Fools who still have a chance to put down all the distracting toys, get out of the sandbox and see what’s in the neighbor’s yard.  And then…

    Our revels now are ended. These our actors,As I foretold you, were all
    spirits, andAre melted into air, into thin air:And like the baseless
    fabric of this vision,The cloud-capp’d tow’rs, the gorgeous palaces,The
    solemn temples, the great globe itself,Yea, all which it inherit, shall
    dissolve,And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,Leave not a rack
    behind. We are such stuffAs dreams are made on; and our little lifeIs
    rounded with a sleep.The Tempest Act 4, scene
    1, 148–158

    Fiat lux

    • Monkey See Monkey Do | Sep 17, 2012 at 9:14 am |

      I’m interested in the reality tunnel you just expressed, it contains much of the hindu mystic understanding of consciousness. The buddhists came to a realization that only the most ‘good consciousness’ as you alluded to, will come back into human form as that is the supreme expression of compassion and empathy, enlightened beings became tired of eternal bliss so decided to break themselves back down and reincarnate into human form and help others achieve it. Not through preaching but through teaching and leaving little paper trails, all the while the grand oversoul plays hide and seek for eternity only to realize it self every once in awhile and maybe never again.

      • Monkey See Monkey Do | Sep 17, 2012 at 10:49 am |

        Eternal bliss in a dualistic world per se, brings about a willingness to unite. The mentality of we all go or none of us do.

    • “Consciousness has to be energy, right?”
      Here’s the point at which your argument falls apart. Consciousness is not energy, it’s a very particular, ever-changing PATTERN of energy. The electrons zipping through your brain aren’t going to be destroyed, but without a functioning brain to hold them in a coherent pattern, your consciousness is as gone as the library of pics on the hard drive I just formatted.

      The funny thing is that I followed your exact same train of thought once while tripping during college. Then the LSD wore off and I realized it was bullshit.

      • Calypso_1 | Sep 17, 2012 at 3:09 pm |

        This paper contains some interesting postulates on the primacy of information in consciousness.
        If it was to ever be determined (and there are theories along these lines) that one aspect of consciousness is manifested in quantum entangled states within an entity, than the information in one sense can never be destroyed. 

  13. Nirvanasteve | Sep 17, 2012 at 9:14 pm |

    Those who experience, know. Those who don’t, well… One day.

  14. Out of everyone lurking; How many of you actually watched Ian Stevensen’s videos and not just the video from Robert Almeder shown above? Just curious.

  15. You need more than just observation .. correlation does not mean causation. You also need a theory .. a basis on how reincarnation works ..

  16. Victoriaspicer | Sep 20, 2012 at 6:06 am |

    I like how all these people are claiming to know the deep mysteries behind life, I will freely admit that I really don’t know but there is nothing wrong with making a guess 

  17. Victoriaspicer | Sep 20, 2012 at 6:06 am |

    I like how all these people are claiming to know the deep mysteries behind life, I will freely admit that I really don’t know but there is nothing wrong with making a guess 

  18. William Piotrowski | Sep 20, 2012 at 8:39 am |

    If he was a “fundamentalist scientist” (whatever that means) why did he say this theory could be refuted. 

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