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Ian Stevenson

Ian Stevenson
Born (1918-10-31)October 31, 1918
Montreal, Canada
Died February 8, 2007(2007-02-08) (aged 88)
Charlottesville, Virginia, United States
Cause of death Pneumonia
Citizenship Canadian by birth; American, naturalized 1949
Education University of St. Andrews (1937–1939)
BSc (McGill University, 1942)
MD (McGill University School of Medicine, 1943)
Occupation Psychiatrist, director of the Division of Perceptual Studies at the University of Virginia School of Medicine
Known for Reincarnation research
Spouse(s) Octavia Reynolds (m. 1947)
Margaret Pertzoff (m. 1985)
Parent(s) Ian and Ruth Stevenson

Ian Pretyman Stevenson (October 31, 1918 – February 8, 2007) was a Canadian-born U.S. psychiatrist. He worked for the University of Virginia School of Medicine for fifty years, as chair of the department of psychiatry from 1957 to 1967, Carlson Professor of Psychiatry from 1967 to 2001, and Research Professor of Psychiatry from 2002 until his death.[1]

As founder and director of the university's Division of Perceptual Studies, which investigates the paranormal, Stevenson became known internationally for his research into reincarnation, the idea that emotions, memories, and even physical injuries in the form of birth-marks, can be transferred from one life to another.[2] He traveled extensively over a period of forty years, investigating three thousand cases of children around the world who claimed to remember past lives.[3] His position was that certain phobias, philias, unusual abilities and illnesses could not be explained by heredity or the environment. He believed that soul transfer, commonly referred to as reincarnation, provided a third type of explanation.[4][5]

Stevenson helped to found the Society for Scientific Exploration in 1982, and was the author of around three hundred papers and fourteen books on reincarnation, including Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation (1966) and European Cases of the Reincarnation Type (2003). His major work was the 2,268-page, two-volume Reincarnation and Biology: A Contribution to the Etiology of Birthmarks and Birth Defects (1997). This reported two hundred cases of birth-marks that, he believed, corresponded with a wound on the deceased person whose life the child recalled. He wrote a shorter version of the same research for the general reader, Where Reincarnation and Biology Intersect (1997).[6]

Reaction to his work was mixed. In his New York Times obituary, Margalit Fox wrote that Stevenson's supporters saw him as a misunderstood genius, but that most scientists had simply ignored his research, regarding him as earnest but gullible.[7] His life and work became the subject of two supportive books, Old Souls (1999) by Tom Shroder, a Washington Post journalist, and Life Before Life (2005) by Jim B. Tucker, a psychiatrist and colleague at the University of Virginia. Critics, particularly the philosophers C.T.K. Chari (1909–1993) and Paul Edwards (1923–2004), raised a number of issues, including that the children or parents interviewed by Stevenson had deceived him, that he had asked them leading questions, that he had often worked through translators who believed what the interviewees were saying, and that his conclusions were undermined by confirmation bias, where cases not supportive of his hypothesis were not presented as counting against it.[8]


  • Background 1
    • Personal life and education 1.1
    • Early career 1.2
  • Reincarnation research 2
    • Early interest 2.1
  • Case studies 3
    • Overview 3.1
    • Case of Corliss Chotkin 3.2
    • Case of Edward Ryall 3.3
    • Reception 3.4
  • Retirement, death and experiment 4
  • Works 5
  • See also 6
  • Notes 7
  • References 8
  • Further reading 9


Personal life and education

Stevenson was born in Montreal and raised in Ottawa, one of three children.[7] His father, John Stevenson, was a Scottish lawyer who was working in Ottawa as the Canadian correspondent for The Times of London or The New York Times.[9] His mother, Ruth, had an interest in theosophy and an extensive library on the subject, to which Stevenson attributed his own early interest in the paranormal. As a child he was often bedridden with bronchitis, a condition that continued into adulthood and engendered in him a lifelong love of books.[10] According to Emily Williams Kelly, a colleague of his at the University of Virginia, he maintained a list of the books he had read, which numbered 3,535 between 1935 and 2003.[1]

He studied medicine at St. Andrews University from 1937 to 1939, but had to complete his studies in Canada because of the outbreak of the Second World War.[11] He graduated from McGill University with a B.S.c. in 1942 and an M.D. in 1943. He was married to Octavia Reynolds from 1947 until her death in 1983.[1] In 1985, he married Dr. Margaret Pertzoff (1926–2009), professor of history at Randolph-Macon Woman's College. She did not share his views on the paranormal, but tolerated them with what Stevenson called "benevolent silences."[12]

Early career

Stevenson met Aldous Huxley (above) in the 1950s and tried L.S.D., which he said made him feel that he could never be angry again.[1]

After graduating, Stevenson conducted research in biochemistry. His first residency was at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Montreal (1944–1945), but his lung condition continued to bother him, and one of his professors at McGill advised him to move to Arizona for his health.[10] He took up a residency at St. Joseph's Hospital in Phoenix, Arizona (1945–1946). After that, he held a fellowship in internal medicine at the Alton Ochsner Medical Foundation in New Orleans, became a Denis Fellow in Biochemistry at Tulane University School of Medicine (1946–1947), and a Commonwealth Fund Fellow in Medicine at Cornell University Medical College and New York Hospital (1947–1949).[1] He became a U.S. citizen in 1949.[13]

Kelly writes that Stevenson became dissatisfied with the reductionism he encountered in biochemistry, and wanted to study the whole person.[1] He became interested in psychosomatic medicine, psychiatry and psychoanalysis, and in the late 1940s, worked at New York Hospital exploring psychosomatic illness and the effects of stress, and in particular why one person's response to stress might be asthma and another's high blood pressure.[14]

He taught at Louisiana State University School of Medicine from 1949 to 1957 as assistant, then associate, professor of psychiatry. In the 1950s, he met the English writer Aldous Huxley (1894–1963), known for his advocacy of psychedelic drugs, and studied the effects of L.S.D. and mescaline, one of the first academics to do so. Kelly writes that he tried L.S.D. himself, describing three days of "perfect serenity." He wrote that at the time he felt he could "never be angry again," but added, "As it happens that didn't work out, but the memory of it persisted as something to hope for."[1]

From 1951, he studied psychoanalysis at the New Orleans Psychoanalytic Institute and the Washington Psychoanalytic Institute, graduating from the latter in 1958, a year after being appointed head of the department of psychiatry at the University of Virginia.[1] He argued against the orthodoxy within psychiatry and psychoanalysis at the time that the personality is more plastic in the early years; his paper on the subject, "Is the human personality more plastic in infancy and childhood?" (American Journal of Psychiatry, 1957), was not received well by his colleagues.[15] He wrote that their response prepared him for the rejection he experienced over his work on the paranormal.[10]

Reincarnation research

Early interest

Stevenson described as the leitmotif of his career his interest in why one person would develop one disease, and another something different.[14] He came to believe that neither environment nor heredity could account for certain fears, illnesses and special abilities, and that some form of personality or memory transfer might provide a third type of explanation. He was never able to suggest how personality traits might survive death, much less be carried from one body to another, and was careful not to commit himself fully to the position that reincarnation occurs.[16] He argued only that his case studies could not, in his view, be explained by environment or heredity, and that "reincarnation is the best – even though not the only – explanation for the stronger cases we have investigated."[17] His position was not a religious one, but represented what Robert Almeder, professor emeritus of philosophy at Georgia State University, calls the minimalistic reincarnation hypothesis:

There is something essential to some human personalities ... which we cannot plausibly construe solely in terms of either brain states, or properties of brain states ... and, further, after biological death this non-reducible essential trait sometimes persists for some time, in some way, in some place, and for some reason or other, existing independently of the person's former brain and body. Moreover, after some time, some of these irreducible essential traits of human personality, for some reason or other, and by some mechanism or other, come to reside in other human bodies either some time during the gestation period, at birth, or shortly after birth.[18]

In 1958 and 1959, Stevenson contributed several articles and books reviews to Harper's about American Society for Psychical Research, in honor of the philosopher William James (1842–1910). The prize was for the best essay on "paranormal mental phenomena and their relationship to the problem of survival of the human personality after bodily death." Stevenson's essay, "The Evidence for Survival from Claimed Memories of Former Incarnations" (1960), reviewed forty-four published cases of people, mostly children, who claimed to remember past lives. It caught the attention of Eileen J. Garrett (1893–1970), the founder of the Parapsychology Foundation, who gave Stevenson a grant to travel to India to interview a child who was claiming to have past-life memories. According to Jim Tucker, Stevenson found twenty-five other cases in just four weeks in India, and was able to publish his first book on the subject in 1966, Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation.[19]

Chester Carlson (1906–1968), the inventor of xerography, offered further financial help. Tucker writes that this allowed Stevenson to step down as chair of the psychiatry department and set up a separate division within the department, which he called the Division of Personality Studies, later renamed the Division of Perceptual Studies.[20] When Carlson died in 1968, he left $1,000,000 to the University of Virginia to continue Stevenson's work. The bequest caused controversy within the university because of the nature of the research, but the donation was accepted and Stevenson became the first Carlson Professor of Psychiatry.[21]

Case studies


The bequest allowed Stevenson to travel extensively, sometimes as much as 55,000 miles a year, collecting around three thousand case studies based on interviews with children from Africa to Alaska.[1] Stevenson wrote that sixty-one per cent of the children claimed to recall lives that had ended violently. According to Christopher Bache, the rest had died young (under the age of twelve years), or suddenly after a brief illness, or with a sense of unfinished business.[22]

Remi Cadoret wrote in the American Journal of Psychiatry that the typical age for the children to start talking about past-life memories (and often violent deaths) was two to four years, and generally they had stopped talking about them by the age of eight years. The descriptions would be accompanied by unusual behavior such as specific fears, and the children might have a birth-mark the same shape as wounds on the body of the deceased person whose life was purportedly being recalled.[23] The people claiming to have lived before might exhibit special skills, such as playing an instrument or speaking a language they appeared not to have learned.[24]

Stevenson's Reincarnation and Biology: A Contribution to the Etiology of Birthmarks and Birth Defects (1997), examined two hundred cases of birth defects or birth-marks on children claiming past-life memories. These included children with malformed or missing fingers who said they recalled the lives of people who had lost fingers; a boy with birth-marks resembling entrance and exit wounds, who said he recalled the life of someone who had been shot; and a child with a scar around her skull three centimetres wide, who said she recalled the life of a man who had had skull surgery. In many of the cases, in Stevenson's view, the witness testimony or autopsy reports appeared to support the existence of the injuries on the deceased's body.[19]

In the case of the boy who said he recalled the life of someone who had been shot, the sister of the deceased told Stevenson that her brother had shot himself in the throat. The boy had shown Stevenson a birth-mark on his throat. Stevenson suggested that he might also have a birth-mark on the top of his head, representing the exit wound, and found one there underneath the boy's hair.[25]

Case of Corliss Chotkin

The philosopher Paul Edwards, editor-in-chief of MacMillan's Encyclopedia of Philosophy, became Stevenson's chief critic.[26] From 1986 onwards, he devoted several articles to Stevenson's work, and discussed Stevenson in his Reincarnation: A Critical Examination (1996).[27] He argued that Stevenson's views were "absurd nonsense," and that when examined in detail his case studies had "big holes ... that do not even begin to add up to a significant counterweight to the initial presumption against reincarnation."[28] He cited the case of Corliss Chotkin in Angoon, Alaska, who Stevenson described in his Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation (1966), as an example that relied entirely on the word of one woman, the niece of Victor Vincent, a fisherman.[29] In defense of Stevenson, Robert Almeder wrote in 1997 that the Chotkin case was one of Stevenson's weaker ones.[30]

The Chotkin family were members of the Tlingit people, who are apparently strong believers in reincarnation. According to the niece, Vincent had told her he would be reborn as her son; Stevenson reported her as recalling Victor Vincent's words, "I hope I don't stutter then as much as I do now. Your son will have these scars." She said Vincent showed her two surgical scars, one near the bridge of his nose and one on his back with holes from the stitches still visible. He died in 1946, and 18 months later the niece gave birth to a boy, Corliss Chotkin. She said the boy had birth-marks in the same places as Vincent's scars.[31]

Stevenson heard of the case fourteen years later, and interviewed the family in Alaska several times between 1962 and 1972. He examined the birth-marks on the boy's back and nose; he wrote that the mark on the back was surrounded by smaller marks suggestive of stitches.[32] According to the niece, both Vincent and the boy had a stutter, were left-handed, combed their hair in the same way, liked boats and were religious.[33] On several occasions when he was two and three years old – again, according to the niece – the boy had recognized Vincent's son, stepdaughter and wife; Stevenson was told that, when the boy saw these people, he had said, "There is William, my son," "There's my Susie," and of the wife, "There's Rose," and "That's the old lady," which was how Vincent had reportedly referred to his wife.[34]

The niece also said the boy had repeated details of two events in Vincent's life that he could not otherwise have known. She offered as additional evidence a dream of her aunt's, in which Vincent had apparently said he was coming to live in the niece's home; the niece was sure she had not told the aunt about Vincent's prediction that he would return. By the time Stevenson interviewed the family, the aunt was ninety years old and could not remember having had any such dream, and the boy himself was adolescent and had no memory of the issues his mother had raised.[31]

Edwards wrote that, among the many weaknesses in the case, the family were religious believers in reincarnation, Stevenson had not seen Vincent's scars, and all the significant details relied on the niece. Stevenson offered no information about her, except that several people told him she had a tendency, as Stevenson put it, to embellish or invent stories. Edwards wrote that similar weaknesses could be found in all Stevenson's case studies.[31]

Case of Edward Ryall

Edward Ryall was an English child believed to have lived a previous life which included viewing Halley's Comet in 1682. Ryall later claimed he had lived as John Fletcher born in 1645 in Taunton, England who died forty years later near his home in Westonzoyland, Somerset. Ryall published the book Second Time Round (1975) outlining his alleged past-life experiences, which included an introduction by Stevenson.[35][36]

Stevenson investigated the case and discovered that some of the historical features from Ryall's book were accurate, such as the name of the vicar of the local church in 1685 and names of landowning families in the area. Stevenson declared the case genuine, writing "I think it most probable that he has memories of a real previous life and that he is indeed John Fletcher reborn, as he believes himself to be".[36] In 1976, John Taylor investigated the case by visiting the Westonzoyland church with the permission of the Reverend to investigate all available historical records. Taylor discovered there were no entries for births, marriages or deaths in the register for the name Fletcher during 1645-1685. As no trace of the name could be found from church records, he came to the conclusion no man called John Fletcher described by Ryall actually existed and it was a fantasy he had developed over the years. Taylor also found a booklet from the church published in 1929 which contained information about church records during 1685, which he suspected Ryall may have read.[36] Paul Edwards wrote "Ryall was eventually exposed as either a hoaxer or the victim of delusions, or, very possibly, a combination of the two."[37]

In his book European Cases of the Reincarnation Type, Stevenson altered his opinion about the case by writing "I can no longer believe that all of Edward Ryall's apparent memories derive from a previous life, because some of his details are clearly wrong", but still insisted Ryall acquired some information about 17th century Somerset by paranormal means.[38]


Edwards writes that Stevenson became the world's foremost champion of reincarnation, hailed by believers and taken seriously even by some scientists. The Journal of the American Medical Association referred to his Cases of the Reincarnation Type (1975) a "painstaking and unemotional" collection of cases that were "difficult to explain on any assumption other than reincarnation."[39] In September 1977, the Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease devoted most of one issue to Stevenson's research.[40] Writing in the journal, the psychiatrist Harold Lief described Stevenson as a methodical investigator, and added, "Either he is making a colossal mistake, or he will be known (I have said as much to him) as 'the Galileo of the 20th century'."[41] The issue proved popular: the journal's editor, the psychiatrist Eugene Brody, said he had received 300–400 requests for reprints.[39]

Despite this early interest, most scientists ignored Stevenson's work. According to his New York Times obituary, 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."[7] Critics suggested that the children or their parents had deceived him, that he was too willing to believe them, and that he had asked them leading questions. In addition, the results were subject to confirmation bias, in that cases not supportive of the hypothesis were not presented as counting against it.[8] Leonard Angel, a philosopher of religion, told The New York Times that Stevenson did not follow proper standards. "[B]ut you do have to look carefully to see it; that's why he's been very persuasive to many people."[7] Skeptics have written that Stevenson's evidence was anecdotal and by applying Occam's razor there are prosaic explanations for the cases without invoking the paranormal.[42] Science writer Terence Hines has written:

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.[43]

David Barker, who worked with Satwant Pasricha in the investigation of 59 alleged reincarnation cases "could not find a single case in which there was convincing evidence of the presence of paranormal process."[44] The linguist Sarah Thomason has commented on an analysis by Stevenson on a lady known as "TE" who claimed to be able to speak Swedish, learned in a past life. According to Thomason "Stevenson is... unsophisticated about language" and TE’s Swedish is unconvincing as the other cases she examined.[45][46] Thomason concluded "the linguistic evidence is too weak to provide support for the claims of xenoglossy."[47] The psychologist David Lester has written Stevenson's subjects made grammatical mistakes, mispronounced words and did not show a wide vocabulary of words in foreign language; thus cannot be considered evidence for xenoglossy.[48]

William J. Samarin, a linguist from the University of Toronto has written that Stevenson had chosen to correspond with linguists in a selective and unprofessional manner. He noted that Stevenson corresponded with one linguist in a period of six years "without raising any discussion about the kinds of thing that linguists would need to know." He also wrote that most of Stevenson's collaborators were "fellow believers" in the paranormal, starting with a preconceived notion.[49]

Prof. William Frawley in a review for Stevenson's Unlearned Language: New Studies in Xenoglossy (1984) wrote that was he too uncritically accepting of a paranormal interpretation of the cases. In one case a female subject could only answer yes or no questions in German which Frawley found unimpressive. In another, the female subject could speak Bengali with a poor pronunciation. Frawley noted that she was raised on the language of Marathi (related to Bengali), had studied Sanskrit from which both Marathi and Bengali derive and was living in a town with thousands of Bengalis. He concluded "Stevenson does not consider enough linguistic evidence in these cases to warrant his metaphysics."[50]

Ian Wilson argued that a large number of Stevenson’s cases consisted of poor children remembering wealthy lives or belonging to a higher caste. He speculated that such cases may represent a scheme to obtain money from the family of the alleged former incarnation.[51] The philosopher Keith Augustine has written "the vast majority of Stevenson's cases come from countries where a religious belief in reincarnation is strong, and rarely elsewhere, seems to indicate that cultural conditioning (rather than reincarnation) generates claims of spontaneous past-life memories."[52] According to the research of Robert Baker many of the alleged past-life experiences investigated by Stevenson and other parapsychologists can be explained in terms of known psychological factors. Baker has written the recalling of past lives is a mixture of cryptomnesia and confabulation.[53]

The philosopher C. T. K. Chari of Madras Christian College in Chennai, a specialist in parapsychology, argued that Stevenson was naive and that the case studies were undermined by his lack of local knowledge. Chari wrote that many of the cases had come from societies, such as that of India, where people believed in reincarnation, and that the stories were simply cultural artifacts; he argued that, for children in many Asian countries, the recall of a past life is the equivalent of an imaginary playmate. He also argued that Stevenson's lack of familiarity with the local languages, and his consequent reliance on translators, had undermined the objectivity of his research.[54] Edwards wrote that one of the translators in India, H.N. Banerjee, was a past-life regressionist, and another was Dr. Jamuna Prasad, who believed that life after death was an "absolute certainty."[55] Stevenson argued in response that it was precisely those societies that listened to children's claims about past lives, which in Europe or North America would normally be dismissed without investigation.[56] To address the cultural concern, he wrote European Cases of the Reincarnation Type (2003), which presented forty cases he had examined in Europe.[57]

Champe Ransom, a lawyer Stevenson hired as an assistant in the 1970s, wrote an unpublished report about Stevenson's work, which is cited by Edwards in his Immortality (1992) and Reincarnation (1996). According to Ransom, Stevenson asked the children leading questions, filled in gaps in the narrative, did not spend enough time interviewing them, and left too long a period between the claimed recall and the interview; it was often years after the first mention of a recall that Stevenson learned about it. In only eleven of the 1,111 cases Ransom looked at had there been no contact between the families of the deceased and of the child before the interview; in addition, according to Ransom, seven of those eleven cases were seriously flawed. He also wrote that there were problems with the way Stevenson presented the cases, in that he would report his witnesses' conclusions, rather than the data upon which the conclusions rested. Weaknesses in cases would be reported in a separate part of his books, rather than during the discussion of the cases themselves. Ransom concluded that it all amounted to anecdotal evidence of the weakest kind.[58]

Edwards argued that Stevenson referred to himself as a scientist, but did not act like one. According to Edwards, he failed to respond to, or even mention, significant objections; the large bibliography in Stevenson's Children Who Remember Previous Lives (1987) does not include one paper or book from his opponents.[59] In support of Stevenson, Almeder argued in Death and Personal Survival (1992) that Edwards had begged the question by stating in advance that the idea of consciousness existing without the brain in the interval between lives was incredible, and that Edwards' "dogmatic materialism" had forced him to the view that Stevenson's case studies must be examples of fraud or delusional thinking. Almeder also notes that Ransom was false in stating that there were only 11 cases with no prior contact. According to Almeder there were 23 cases where there was no prior contact between families and that the possibility of fraud was indeed investigated in the cases mentioned by Edwards.[60]

Retirement, death and experiment

Child psychiatrist Jim Tucker continues Stevenson's work.[61]

Stevenson stepped down as director of the Division of Perceptual Studies in 2002, although he continued to work as Research Professor of Psychiatry.[20] Bruce Greyson, editor of the Journal of Near-Death Studies, became director of the division. Jim Tucker, the department's associate professor of psychiatry and neurobehavioral sciences, continued Stevenson's research with children, examined in Tucker's book, Life Before Life: A Scientific Investigation of Children's Memories of Previous Lives (2005).[61] Stevenson died of pneumonia in February 2007 at his retirement home in Charlottesville, Virginia.[62]

In the 1960s, Stevenson set a combination lock using a secret word or phrase, and placed it in a filing cabinet in the department, telling his colleagues he would try to pass the code to them after his death. Emily Williams Kelly told The New York Times: "Presumably, if someone had a vivid dream about him, in which there seemed to be a word or a phrase that kept being repeated—I don't quite know how it would work—if it seemed promising enough, we would try to open it using the combination suggested." The Times reported that, as of February 2007, the lock remains unopened.[7]


  • (1960). Medical History-Taking. Paul B. Hoeber.
  • (1966). Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation. University of Virginia Press.
  • (1969). The Psychiatric Examination. Little, Brown.
  • (1970). Telepathic Impressions: A Review and Report of 35 New Cases. University Press of Virginia.
  • (1971). The Diagnostic Interview (2nd revised edition of Medical History-Taking). Harper & Row.
  • (1974). Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation (second revised and enlarged edition). University of Virginia Press.
  • (1974). Xenoglossy: A Review and Report of A Case. University of Virginia Press.
  • (1975). Cases of the Reincarnation Type, Vol. I: Ten Cases in India. University of Virginia Press.
  • (1978). Cases of the Reincarnation Type, Vol. II: Ten Cases in Sri Lanka. University of Virginia Press.
  • (1980). Cases of the Reincarnation Type, Vol. III: Twelve Cases in Lebanon and Turkey. University of Virginia Press.
  • (1983). Cases of the Reincarnation Type, Vol. IV: Twelve Cases in Thailand and Burma. University of Virginia Press.
  • (1984). Unlearned Language: New Studies in Xenoglossy. University of Virginia Press.
  • (1997). Reincarnation and Biology: A Contribution to the Etiology of Birthmarks and Birth Defects. Volume 1: Birthmarks. Volume 2: Birth Defects and Other Anomalies. Praeger Publishers.
  • (1997). Where Reincarnation and Biology Intersect. Praeger Publishers (a short, non-technical version of Reincarnation and Biology).
  • (2000). Children Who Remember Previous Lives: A Question of Reincarnation (revised edition).
  • (2003). European Cases of the Reincarnation Type. McFarland & Company.
Selected articles
  • (1949). "Why medicine is not a science", Harper's, April.
  • (1952). "Illness from the inside", Harper's, March.
  • (1952). "Why people change", Harper's, December.
  • (1954). "Psychosomatic medicine, Part I", Harper's, July.
  • (1954). "Psychosomatic medicine, Part II", Harper's, August.
  • (1957). "Tranquilizers and the mind", Harper's, July.
  • (1957). "Schizophrenia", Harper's, August.
  • (1957). "Is the human personality more plastic in infancy and childhood?", American Journal of Psychiatry, 114(2), pp. 152–161.
  • (1958). "Scientists with half-closed minds" Harper's, November.
  • (1959). "A Proposal for Studying Rapport which Increases Extrasensory Perception," Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 53, pp. 66–68.
  • (1959). "The Uncomfortable Facts about Extrasensory Perception", Harper's, July.
  • (1960). "The Evidence for Survival from Claimed Memories of Former Incarnations," Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 54, pp. 51–71.
  • (1960). "The Evidence for Survival from Claimed Memories of Former Incarnations": Part II. Analysis of the Data and Suggestions for Further Investigations, Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 54, pp. 95–117.
  • (1961). "An Example Illustrating the Criteria and Characteristics of Precognitive Dreams," Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 55, pp. 98–103.
  • (1964). "The Blue Orchid of Table Mountain," Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, 42, pp. 401–409.
  • (1968). "The Combination Lock Test for Survival," Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 62, pp. 246–254.
  • (1970). "Characteristics of Cases of the Reincarnation Type in Turkey and their Comparison with Cases in Two other Cultures," International Journal of Comparative Sociology, 11, pp. 1–17.
  • (1970). "A Communicator Unknown to Medium and Sitters," Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 64, pp. 53–65.
  • (1970). "Precognition of Disasters," Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 64, pp. 187–210.
  • (1971). "The Substantiability of Spontaneous cases," Proceedings of the Parapsychological Association, No. 5, pp. 91–128.
  • (1972). "Are Poltergeists Living or Are They Dead?," Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 66, pp. 233–252.
  • (1977).
  • (1983).
  • (1986).
  • (1993).
  • with Emily Williams Cook and Bruce Greyson (1998).
  • (1999).
  • (2000).
  • (2000).
  • (2001).
  • with Satwant K. Pasricha; Jürgen Keil; and Jim B. Tucker (2005).
  • (2005). Foreword and afterword in Mary Rose Barrington and Zofia Weaver. A World in a Grain of Sand: The Clairvoyance of Stefan Ossowiecki. McFarland Press.

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Kelly 2007.
    • "Ian Stevenson, MD" at the Wayback Machine (archived May 14, 2008), University of Virginia School of Medicine.
  2. ^ )British Medical JournalHopkins Tanne (, April 2, 2007.
  3. ^ Woodhouse 1996, pp. 143–144.
    • Bache 2000, p. 34ff.
    • Also see The Daily Telegraph at the Wayback Machine (archived March 31, 2007), February 12, 2007.
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ For his having been on the founding committee of the Society for Scientific Exploration, see Stevenson 2006 at the Wayback Machine (archived May 14, 2008), p. 19.
  7. ^ a b c d e )The New York TimesFox (, February 18, 2007.
  8. ^ a b Carroll 2009.
  9. ^ For the London Times, see )The New York TimesFox (, February 18, 2007.
    • For the New York Times, see )British Medical JournalPandarakalam (, April 2, 2007.
  10. ^ a b c Stevenson 2006 at the Wayback Machine (archived May 14, 2008), pp. 13–14.
  11. ^ )British Medical JournalPandarakalam (, April 2, 2007.
  12. ^ Stevenson 2006 at the Wayback Machine (archived May 14, 2008), p. 20.
  13. ^ World Who's in Science 1968, p. 1609.
  14. ^ a b Stevenson 1989 at the Wayback Machine (archived July 20, 2011).
  15. ^ For the paper, see Stevenson 1957, pp. 152–161.
  16. ^ For his failure to suggest a mechanism, see Shroder, February 11, 2007.
    • That he did not fully commit himself to one position, see Almeder 1992, pp. 58–61.
  17. ^ Tucker 2005, p. 211.
  18. ^ Almeder 1997, p. 502.
    • Also see Almeder 1992, p. 35, discussing Paul Edwards's criticism of Stevenson that the idea of an "astral body" existing in the interval between lives is incredible: "[W]e cannot, without begging the question against the case studies, argue that we know consciousness cannot exist with a brain. We know nothing of the sort. ... Moreover, the argument for reincarnation implies nothing specific about the nature of an 'astral body,' where it goes during the period between incarnations, how the astral body reincarnates, why it reincarnates, how frequently it reincarnates, whether everybody reincarnates, and what the point of it all is. As a matter of fact, given the cases involved, one need never mention the expression astral body. The argument implies only that some core elements of human personality occasionally survive bodily corruption (and hence cannot be identified with the physical body) and reincarnate."
  19. ^ a b For Stevenon's work in Harper's, see Stevenson 2006 at the Wayback Machine (archived May 14, 2008), p. 13; "Ian Stevenson", Harper's.
    • For the competition, see Tucker 2007, pp. 543–552.
  20. ^ a b "History and description", Division of Perceptual Studies, University of Virginia.
  21. ^ Stevenson 2006 at the Wayback Machine (archived May 14, 2008), pp. 17–18.
  22. ^ Bache 2000, p. 43.
  23. ^ Cadoret 2005, pp. 823–824.
    • For birth-marks, see Stevenson, June 11–13, 1992.
  24. ^ Almeder 1992, p. 4.
  25. ^
  26. ^ That Edwards was Stevenson's "most formidable critic," see Bache 2000, p. 35.
  27. ^ Paul Edwards (1986), "The Case Against Reincarnation: Part 1," Free Inquiry, 6, Fall, pp. 24–34.
    • ____________ (1986/7), "The Case Against Reincarnation: Part 2," Free Inquiry, 7, Winter, pp. 38–43.
    • ____________ (1987a), "The Case Against Reincarnation: Part 3," Free Inquiry, 7, Spring, pp. 38–49.
    • ____________ (1987b), "The Case Against Reincarnation: Part 4," Free Inquiry, 7, Summer, pp. 46–53.
    • ____________ (ed.) (1992), "Introduction," Immortality. MacMillan.
    • ____________ (1996), Reincarnation: A Critical Examination. Prometheus Books.
  28. ^ Edwards 1996, pp. 140, 256 (see chapter 16, pp. 253–278).
  29. ^ Stevenson 1966, p. 259ff.
  30. ^ Almeder 1997, pp. 510, 519.
    • Also see Woodhouse 1996, p. 144: "[The paradigm war over reincarnation] has pitted Robert Almeder, a nationally distinguished philosopher of science, against Paul Edwards, general editor of the Encyclopedia of Philosophy."
  31. ^ a b c Edwards 1996, pp. 136–138; Stevenson 1966, pp. 259–269.
  32. ^ Stevenson 1966, p. 266.
  33. ^ Edwards 1996, p. 137.
  34. ^ Stevenson 1966, p. 261ff.
  35. ^ Ian Stevenson. (1974). Introduction in Edward Ryall. Second Time Round. Neville Spearman. pp. 9–31
  36. ^ a b c John Taylor. (1980). Science and the Supernatural: An Investigation of Paranormal Phenomena Including Psychic Healing, Clairvoyance, Telepathy, and Precognition by a Distinguished Physicist and Mathematician. Temple Smith. pp. 127-130. ISBN 0-85117-191-5
  37. ^ Edwards 1996, p. 103.
  38. ^ Ian Stevenson. (2003). European Cases of the Reincarnation Type. McFarland. pp. 230-231. ISBN 978-0-7864-4249-2
  39. ^ a b Edwards 1996, p. 253.
  40. ^ Brody, September 1977.
  41. ^ Lief, September 1977.
  42. ^ Rockley, Richard. (2002). "Book Review: Children who Remember Previous Lives". SkepticReport. Retrieved 2014-10-11.
  43. ^ Hines 2003, p. 109.
  44. ^ Edwards 1992, p. 13.
  45. ^ Sarah Thomason. (1984). Do You Remember Your Previous Life’s Language in Your Present Incarnation?. American Speech 59: 340-350.
  46. ^ Sarah Thomason. (1986-87). Past Tongues Remembered?. Skeptical Inquirer 11: 367-75.
  47. ^ Sarah Thomason. Xenoglossy in Gordon Stein. (1996). The Encyclopedia of the Paranormal. Prometheus Books. ISBN 1-57392-021-5
  48. ^ Lester 2005, pp. 123-131.
  49. ^
  50. ^
  51. ^ Ian Wilson. (1981). Mind Out of Time: Reincarnation Investigated. Gollancz. ISBN 0-575-02968-4
  52. ^ Keith Augustine. (1997). The Case Against Immortality. Skeptic Magazine. Volume 5. Number 2.
  53. ^ Robert Baker. (1996). Hidden Memories: Voices and Visions from Within. Prometheus Books. ISBN 0-87975-576-8
  54. ^ C.T.K. Chari, "Reincarnation Research: Method and Interpretation," cited in Edwards 1996, p. 261.
    • Also see Ian Stevenson (1986), "Reply to C.T.K. Chari," Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, 53, pp. 474–475.
  55. ^ Edwards 1996, p. 261.
  56. ^ , February 12, 2007The Daily Telegraph at the Wayback Machine (archived March 31, 2007).
  57. ^ Cadoret 2005.
  58. ^ Edwards 1992, pp. 13–14; Edwards 1996, p. 275; McClelland 2010, p. 144.
  59. ^ Edwards 1992, p. 11.
  60. ^ Almeder 1992, pp. 34ff, 60.
  61. ^ a b "Division Staff" at the Wayback Machine (archived May 14, 2008), Division of Perceptual Studies, University of Virginia.
  62. ^ Shroder, February 11, 2007.


  • Almeder, Robert (1992). Death and Personal Survival: The Evidence for Life After Death. Rowman and Littlefield.
  • Bache, Christopher (2000). Dark Night, Early Dawn: Steps to a Deep Ecology of Mind. State University of New York Press.
  • Brody, Eugene B. (1977). "Research in Reincarnation and Editorial Responsibility: An Editorial", The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 165(3), September.
  • Cadoret, Remi J. (2005). "Review of European Cases of the Reincarnation Type", American Journal of Psychiatry, 162(4), April.
  • Carroll, Robert T. (July 7, 2009). "Ian Stevenson (1918-2007)", The Skeptic's Dictionary.
  • The Daily Telegraph (February 12, 2007). "Professor Ian Stevenson" at the Wayback Machine (archived March 31, 2007) (obituary).
  • Debus, Allen G. (1968). World Who's in Science. Marquis-Who's Who.
  • Edwards, Paul (1992). "Introduction" and "The Dependence of Consciousness on the Brain," in Paul Edwards (ed.). Immortality. Prometheus Books.
  • Edwards, Paul (1996). Reincarnation: A Critical Examination. Prometheus Books.
  • Fox, Margalit (February 18, 2007). "Ian Stevenson Dies at 88; Studied Claims of Past Lives", The New York Times.
  • Hines Terence (2003). Pseudoscience and the Paranormal. Prometheus Books. ISBN 1-57392-979-4
  • Hopkins Tanne, Janice (April 2, 2007). "Obituaries: Ian Pretyman Stevenson", British Medical Journal.
  • Kelly, Emily Williams (2007). "Ian P. Stevenson", University of Virginia School of Medicine, February (obituary).
  • Kelly, Edward F. and Kelly, Emily Williams (2007). Irreducible Mind: Toward a Psychology for the 21st Century. Rowman & Littlefield.
  • Lester, David (2005). Is There Life After Death? An Examination of the Empirical Evidence. McFarland. ISBN 978-0786421169
  • Lief, Harold (1977). "Commentary on Ian Stevenson’s 'The Evidence of Man’s Survival After Death'", The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 165(3), September.
  • McClelland, Norman C. (2010). Encyclopedia of Reincarnation and Karma. McFarland.
  • Pandarakalam, James Paul (April 2, 2007). "Professor Ian Stevenson, an emperor in parapsychology", British Medical Journal (obituary).
  • Shroder, Tom (February 11, 2007). "Ian Stevenson; Sought To Document Memories Of Past Lives in Children", The Washington Post (obituary).
  • Stevenson, Ian (1966). Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation. University of Virginia Press.
  • Stevenson, Ian (1989). "Some of my journeys in medicine" at the Wayback Machine (archived July 20, 2011), The Flora Levy Lecture in the Humanities.
  • Stevenson, Ian (1992). "Birthmarks and Birth Defects Corresponding to Wounds on Deceased Persons", paper presented at the Eleventh Annual Meeting of the Society for Scientific Exploration, Princeton University, June 11–13.
  • Stevenson, Ian (2006). "Half A Career With the Paranormal" at the Wayback Machine (archived May 14, 2008), Journal of Scientific Exploration, 20(1).
  • Tucker, Jim B. (2005). Life Before Life: A Scientific Investigation of Children's Memories of Previous Lives. St. Martin's Press.
  • University of Virginia (undated). "Ian Stevenson, MD" at the Wayback Machine (archived May 14, 2008), School of Medicine.
  • University of Virginia (undated). "Division Staff" at the Wayback Machine (archived May 14, 2008), Division of Perceptual Studies, School of Medicine.
  • University of Virginia (undated). "History and description", Division of Perceptual Studies, School of Medicine.
  • Woodhouse, Mark (1996). Paradigm Wars: Worldviews for a New Age. Frog Books.

Further reading

Ian Stevenson/reincarnation
  • Almeder, Robert (2000). "Reincarnation Evidence: Stevenson's Research" on YouTube, interview with Robert Almeder, professor of philosophy at Georgia State University (video).
  • Moallem, Ehsan (2014). "Spirituality Scientific Evidence - Reincarnation (Part 4) (6 of 6)" on YouTube, presentation of Ian Stevenson's work by Ehsan Moallem (video)
  • Almeder, Robert (1988). "Response to 'Past Tongues Remembered'," Skeptical Inquirer, 12, Spring.
  • Almeder, Robert (1987). Beyond Death. Charles C. Thomas.
  • Alvarado, Carlos S. "Ian Stevenson, Selected Bibliography", Parapsychological Association.
  • Edwards, Paul (1986). "The Case Against Reincarnation: Part 1," Free Inquiry, 6, Fall, pp. 24–34.
  • Edwards, Paul (1986/7). "The Case Against Reincarnation: Part 2," Free Inquiry, 7, Winter, pp. 38–43.
  • Edwards, Paul (1987a). "The Case Against Reincarnation: Part 3," Free Inquiry, 7, Spring, pp. 38–49.
  • Edwards, Paul (1987b). "The Case Against Reincarnation: Part 4," Free Inquiry, 7, Summer, pp. 46–53.
  • Griffin, David Ray (1997). Parapsychology, Philosophy, and Spirituality: A Postmodern Exploration. SUNY Press (particularly chapter 6, "Evidence from Cases of the Reincarnation Type").
  • Almeder, Robert (2001). "On reincarnation: A reply to Hales", Philosophia.
  • Hales, Steven (2001b). "Reincarnation redux," Philosophia, 28(1–4): 359–367.
  • Irwin, Harvey J. (2004). An Introduction to Parapsychology. McFarland.
  • Martin, Raymond (1994). "Survival of Bodily Death: A Question of Values", in John Donnelly (ed.) Language, Metaphysics, and Death. Fordham University Press.
  • Rockley, Richard (1 November 2002). , Ian Stevenson"Children who remember previous lives, A question of reincarnation"Book Review: , Skeptic Report.
  • Spence, Lewis (2003). "Stevenson, Ian", Encyclopedia of Occultism and Parapsychology. Kessinger Publishing.
  • Wilson, Ian (1981). Mind Out of Time?: Reincarnation Claims Investigated. Orion Books Limited.
  • Almeder, Robert (2011). "The Major Objections from Reductive Materialism Against Belief in the Existence of Cartesian Mind-Body Dualism", in Alexander Moreira-Almeida and Franklin Santana Santos, Exploring Frontiers of the Mind-Brain Relationship, Springer, pp. 16–33
  • Levine, Joseph (2001). Purple Haze: The Puzzle of Consciousness. Oxford University Press.
  • Penrose, Roger (1994). Shadows of the Mind: A Search for the Missing Science of Consciousness. Oxford University Press.
  • Velman, Max and Schneider, Susan (2007). The Blackwell Companion to Consciousness. University of Oxford Press.
  • Zelazo, Philip David; Moscovitch, Morris; and Thompson, Evan (eds.) (2007). The Cambridge Handbook of Consciousness. University of Cambridge Press.
  • Almeder, Robert (1998). Harmless naturalism: The limits of science and the nature of philosophy. Open Court Publishers.
  • Schumacher, Bernard N. (2005). Death and Mortality in Contemporary Philosophy. Cambridge University Press.
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