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Lions Roar : May 2018
➢ Positive attributes can also carry over, seemingly. In almost one in ten cases, parents report that their child has an unusual skill related to the previous life. Some of those cases involve “xenoglossy,” the ability to speak or write a language one couldn’t have learned by normal means. A two-year-old boy named Hunter remembered verifiable details from a past life as a famous pro golfer. Hunter took toy golf clubs everywhere he went. He started golf lessons three years ahead of the minimum age, and his instructors called him a prodigy. By age seven, he had competed in fifty junior tourna- ments, winning forty-one. In many cases, the child is born with marks or birth defects that seem connected to wounds on the PP’s body. Ian Stevenson reported two hundred such cases in his monograph Reincarnation and Biology, including several in which a child who remembered having been shot had a small, round birthmark (matching a bullet entrance wound) and, on the other side of their body, a larger, irregularly-shaped birthmark (matching a bullet exit wound). Patrick, born in the Midwest in 1992, had several notable birth- marks. His older half-brother, Kevin, had died of cancer twelve years before Patrick was born. Kevin was in good health until he was sixteen months old, when he developed a limp, caused by can- cer. He was admitted to the hospital, and doctors saw that he had a swelling above his right ear, also caused by the disease. His left eye was protruding and bleeding slightly, and he eventually went blind in that eye. The doctors gave him fluid through an IV inserted in the right side of his neck. He died within a few months. Soon after Patrick’s birth, his mother noticed a dark line on his neck, exactly where Kevin’s IV had been; an opacity in his left eye, where Kevin’s eye had protruded; and a bump above his right ear, where Kevin had swelling. When he began to walk, Patrick had a limp, like his brother. At age four, he began recall- ing memories from Kevin’s life and saying he had been Kevin. Tucker says there is no perfect case, but, collectively, the research becomes hard to rationalize with normal explanations. Research has demonstrated that children in past-life memory cases are no more prone to fantasies, suggestions, or dissociation than other children. Regarding coincidence, statisticians have declined to do statistical analyses because the cases involve too many complex factors, but one statistician commented, “phrases like ‘highly improbable’ and ‘extremely rare’ come to mind.” For the stronger cases, the most feasible explanation is elaborate fraud, but it’s hard to see any reason why a family would make up such a story. Often, reincarnation actually violates their belief system, and many families remain anonymous, anyway. “This is not like what you might see on TV, where someone says they were Cleopatra,” says Tucker. “These kids are typically talking about being an ordinary person. The child has numer- ous memories of a nondescript life.” Tucker quotes the late astronomer and science writer Carl Sagan, whose last book was The Demon Haunted World, a repu- diation of pseudoscience and a classic work on skepticism. In it, Sagan wrote that there were three paranormal phenomena he believed deserve serious study, the third being “that young children sometimes report details of a previous life, which upon checking turn out to be accurate and which they could not have known about in any other way than reincarnation.” Sagan didn’t say he believed in reincarnation, but he felt the research had yielded enough evidence that it deserved further study. Until an idea is disproven, Sagan said, it’s critical that we engage with the idea with openness and ruthless scrutiny. “This,” he wrote, “is how deep truths are winnowed from deep nonsense.” ♦ Ryan, a boy from Oklahoma (left, with his mother and Jim Tucker) remembered many details about a life as a Hollywood movie extra and agent. After investigation, the details matched the life of a man named Marty Martyn (below), who died in 1964. LION’S ROAR | MAY 2018 49