As someone who’s studied reincarnation a hell of a lot longer than anyone in Tristero’s comments section, I have to say this really pissed me off. (I put this in the same category as the reviewers who attacked Liz Gilbert’s book — without having actually read it. Nice “scientific method,” there!)
One of the guys the Times reporter interviewed is Brian Weiss M.D., who I know something about because my best friend took me to one of his workshops last year. You know what? It was pretty damned interesting. Because he said in order to accept the concept of reincarnation, you first have to understand that there is a non-material force that connects everything. So he had everyone in the workshop trade random items with the people sitting near them, and guided them through a meditation.
There were a lot of interesting results, but two in particular I remember: One in which a teen-aged girl sitting next to a stranger held the woman’s ring and gave her a message. She told her that Mary (not her real name) was watching over her, that she’d died in a violent accident and wanted the woman with the ring to tell her mother that she was okay.
Turned out the ring had belonged to the daughter of her best friend, who died in a car crash. The girl’s mother had given the ring to her friend, telling her she wanted her daughter to watch over her. There were some other details that escape me now, but it was pretty compelling — and the woman who owned the ring was just astounded.
Another I vividly remember is that of a woman who’d held the bracelet of the man sitting near her. She picked up something about a motorcycle, being stranded in the desert and being really scared, and something about “taking people with no legs” on a plane.
The bracelet’s owner said about back in the 60s, he decided to ride his motorcycle from his rural college to the nearest town to enlist in the service. The bike broke down in the desert, where he had to spend the night — and yes, he was really scared. And that after he enlisted, he served as an Army flight nurse, who evacuated numerous amputees from the battle fields in Vietnam.
There were also a couple of messages for the parents of very young children who had died, pretty detailed.
Now, you can convince yourself that the entire room was stacked with plants and that the audience was a bunch of stooges, but I don’t think so. I have a pretty good bullshit detector, and I’ve seen more than my share of New Age scam artists. Weiss wasn’t one of them.
But people will, as always, believe what they want to believe, and I’m not going to waste my breath on them. What I will do is call people out on their bullshit when they presume to know about things they’ve never even bothered to investigate.