Tucker's research on reincarnation.

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Tucker's research on reincarnation.

Postby Indrajala » Thu Nov 21, 2013 5:15 am

Daily Mail has an article about Tucker's book on cases of children who claim to remember past lives:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article ... nated.html

Tucker is based out of the U of Virginia's Division of Perceptual Studies, founded by Ian Stevenson who also researched reincarnation. They also study Near Death Experiences and other paranormal phenomena.

http://www.medicine.virginia.edu/clinic ... types-page
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Re: Tucker's research on reincarnation.

Postby jeeprs » Thu Nov 21, 2013 6:12 am

I discovered while reading about Ian Stevenson, that reactions to his research triggered a big debate between two eminent US philosophers.

Wikipedia wrote:The philosopher Paul Edwards, editor-in-chief of MacMillan's Encyclopedia of Philosophy, became Stevenson's chief critic. From 1986 onwards, he devoted several articles to Stevenson's work, and discussed Stevenson in his Reincarnation: A Critical Examination(1996). 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."


However another professor, by the name of Robert F Almeder, came to Stevenson's defense, offering a detailed critique of Edwards' work, arguing that Edwards didn't actually refute Stevenson's very carefully-gathered research, but rather engaged in ridicule and hyperbole on the basis that any such beliefs are clearly unscientific and nonsensical.

It's a real hot button topic in the West, I think you would have to have the hide of an elephant to pursue that line of research in the current climate.
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Re: Tucker's research on reincarnation.

Postby Indrajala » Thu Nov 21, 2013 6:16 am

Yes, in the academy it is often thought, at least amongst more mainstream types associated with or favorable towards commonly practiced science, that reincarnation is not possible because it does not fit in with prevailing theories about mind, body and reality. You cannot even just recognize that children with what seems to be past life memories exist and leave the explanations for such a phenomenon for another discussion. You must reject the whole idea as unscientific and impossible because it is contrary to the prevailing theories.
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Re: Tucker's research on reincarnation.

Postby jeeprs » Thu Nov 21, 2013 6:58 am

I have always felt that uncanny talents seem to be inherited like musical prodigies who can learn piano sonatas at pre-school age. I don't see how that kind of thing can be accounted for by genetics alone.

I think it will be found eventually that nature has some capacity which is similar to memory through which such things may be passed from generation to generation. That actually is not too dissimilar to some of the ideas associated with Yogacara and the alaya-vijnana, the 'store-house consciousness'.
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Re: Tucker's research on reincarnation.

Postby Paul » Thu Nov 21, 2013 9:58 am

jeeprs wrote:I have always felt that uncanny talents seem to be inherited like musical prodigies who can learn piano sonatas at pre-school age. I don't see how that kind of thing can be accounted for by genetics alone.

I think it will be found eventually that nature has some capacity which is similar to memory through which such things may be passed from generation to generation. That actually is not too dissimilar to some of the ideas associated with Yogacara and the alaya-vijnana, the 'store-house consciousness'.


Sounds similar to the genetic memories in the Dune series of books.
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Re: Tucker's research on reincarnation.

Postby daverupa » Thu Nov 21, 2013 4:32 pm

Indrajala wrote:Yes, in the academy... You must reject the whole idea as unscientific and impossible because it is contrary to the prevailing theories.


Incorrect. You can simply refrain from assertions either way while awaiting evidence, and then that evidence can be assessed on its own merits vis-a-vis theoretical underpinnings, necessary assumptions, the presence of 'black boxes' in the explanatory structure, and so forth.
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Re: Tucker's research on reincarnation.

Postby jeeprs » Thu Nov 21, 2013 11:00 pm

That is not really fair with regards to Ian Stephenson. His work was generally ignored or belittled by the academic community. The skeptics will say that no matter how rigourous your methodology, such things as past-life memory research must always be regarded as pseudo-science purely because of the subject matter.
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Re: Tucker's research on reincarnation.

Postby dzogchungpa » Thu Nov 21, 2013 11:12 pm

jeeprs wrote:
Wikipedia wrote:The philosopher Paul Edwards, editor-in-chief of MacMillan's Encyclopedia of Philosophy, became Stevenson's chief critic. From 1986 onwards, he devoted several articles to Stevenson's work, and discussed Stevenson in his Reincarnation: A Critical Examination(1996). 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."

Is that the Edwards who was a staunch Reichian?
ཨོཾ་མ་ཧཱ་ཤུནྱ་ཏཱ་ཛྙཱ་ན་བཛྲ་སྭཱ་བྷཱ་བ་ཨཱཏྨ་ཀོ་྅ཧཾ༔

The thousands of lines of the Prajnaparamita can be summed up in the following two sentences:
1) One should become a Bodhisattva (or, Buddha-to-be), i.e. one who is content with nothing less than all-knowledge attained through the perfection of wisdom for the sake of all beings.
2) There is no such thing as a Bodhisattva, or as all-knowledge, or as a ‘being’, or as the perfection of wisdom, or as an attainment.
To accept both these contradictory facts is to be perfect.
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Re: Tucker's research on reincarnation.

Postby jeeprs » Thu Nov 21, 2013 11:31 pm

I'm not sure, I only read about it whilst perusing the Wikipedia entry on Stevenson. I would be surprised, this 'Edwards' sounds a real straight-arrow type.
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Re: Tucker's research on reincarnation.

Postby dzogchungpa » Fri Nov 22, 2013 12:40 am

ཨོཾ་མ་ཧཱ་ཤུནྱ་ཏཱ་ཛྙཱ་ན་བཛྲ་སྭཱ་བྷཱ་བ་ཨཱཏྨ་ཀོ་྅ཧཾ༔

The thousands of lines of the Prajnaparamita can be summed up in the following two sentences:
1) One should become a Bodhisattva (or, Buddha-to-be), i.e. one who is content with nothing less than all-knowledge attained through the perfection of wisdom for the sake of all beings.
2) There is no such thing as a Bodhisattva, or as all-knowledge, or as a ‘being’, or as the perfection of wisdom, or as an attainment.
To accept both these contradictory facts is to be perfect.
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Re: Tucker's research on reincarnation.

Postby jeeprs » Fri Nov 22, 2013 3:10 am

Yes that's him. Why he thinks Stevenson is a crackpot but Reich was not, is a whole other can of worms. One of those kali-yuga types of things, I guess.
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Re: Tucker's research on reincarnation.

Postby Indrajala » Fri Nov 22, 2013 5:27 am

daverupa wrote:
Indrajala wrote:Yes, in the academy... You must reject the whole idea as unscientific and impossible because it is contrary to the prevailing theories.


Incorrect. You can simply refrain from assertions either way while awaiting evidence, and then that evidence can be assessed on its own merits vis-a-vis theoretical underpinnings, necessary assumptions, the presence of 'black boxes' in the explanatory structure, and so forth.


That's not how it actually works in practice however.

Look at how alienated Rupert Sheldrake is from the scientific community. He has evidence for his hypothesis and his whole projects are discarded as pseudo-science because the community will not accept the content of such work.
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Re: Tucker's research on reincarnation.

Postby jeeprs » Fri Nov 22, 2013 6:25 am

There was a big controversy early this year because Sheldrake was invited to give a TED talk ('Ideas that Matter'). He gave a 10 minute talk on some of his key points from his recent book (published in some places as The Science Delusion and in others as Science Set Free.) There were protests, which lead TED to move the video off their main website, which then triggered a heated flame war on various forums and in the media. Here is Jerry Coyne's description of Sheldrake (Coyne is an 'ultra-darwinist'):

Rupert Sheldrake is a pseudoscientist who has made his name promoting various kinds of woo, including telepathy (including in dogs!), immaterial minds, and his crazy idea of “morphic resonance,” a Jung-ian theory in which all of nature participates in some giant collective memory. (He was once a real scientist, trained in biochemistry and cell biology at Cambridge, but somewhere went off the rails.)


In actual fact, as is well-attested, Sheldrake remains a 'real scientist' although obviously his interest in what is generally considered 'paranormal' has resulted in him virtually becoming a pariah in the mainstream community. It's a shame, because he is modest, reasonable, urbane, and very well-educated and he puts up with an enormous amount of scorn and derision.

Furthermore his idea of morphic resonance is perfectly natural, in my opinion. I was amazed by this article a couple of years back about migratory eels that trek from parklands in the middle of Sydney to a deep-ocean trench near New Caledonia to breed. This involves traversing man-made obstacles including places where they have to slither across grass. But the most amazing thing of all is that the juveniles, after a few months, find their way back to the pond in the middle of the park, even though they have obviously never been there before. 'Instinct', it is called. But it seems a lot like a kind of collective memory - and Sheldrake's theory accounts for that.
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Re: Tucker's research on reincarnation.

Postby Indrajala » Fri Nov 22, 2013 6:52 am

I think Sheldrake has some good theories, too, and as a proper scientist he backs up his claims with evidence.

Attributing inexplicable activities to "instinct" without any kind of causal or observable mechanism is unscientific. Sheldrake at least gives a theory.

In other fields as well like archaeology there are anomalies that are filtered out because they fail to fall into the "known" chronology.

Here's one example:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hueyatlaco
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Re: Tucker's research on reincarnation.

Postby Alfredo » Fri Nov 22, 2013 7:12 am

Indrajala:
Yes, in the academy it is often thought, at least amongst more mainstream types associated with or favorable towards commonly practiced science, that reincarnation is not possible because it does not fit in with prevailing theories about mind, body and reality.


While there are well-founded philosophical objections to the concept of reincarnation--some of them raised by early Buddhism, you'll recall--the reason why reincarnation research is not accepted by the mainstream is not out of resistance to the concept itself, but for lack of what most scientists would consider good evidence. Stevenson basically collected a bunch of anecdotes. There are no "prevailing" theories of the mind/body relationship, but much debate (among philosophers, neuroscientists, and AI theorists who tend to be quite open-minded). I am not sure what is meant here by "reality," but the term cries out to be translated into a well-formed scientific utterance.

jeeprs:

That is not really fair with regards to Ian Stephenson. His work was generally ignored or belittled by the academic community. The skeptics will say that no matter how rigourous your methodology, such things as past-life memory research must always be regarded as pseudo-science purely because of the subject matter.


"Belittled" is loaded language. I found Edwards' objections to be fair. Remember--besides reincarnation studies, there are also people researching prayer, ESP, NDE's, OOBE's, ghosts, and alternative medicine, and their methodologies come under just as much scrutiny. While many people do tune out because of the subject matter (pity the poor inventor who succeeds in creating a genuine perpetual-motion machine), truly compelling evidence would catch attention and command respect, even in the case of subjects formerly considered to be pseudo-science.

It is always possible to believe in reincarnation as a matter of religious faith, while admitting the evidence to be inconclusive.
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Re: Tucker's research on reincarnation.

Postby jeeprs » Fri Nov 22, 2013 7:37 am

Stevenson was belittled by many critics who thought that he was misguided to even undertake such a study. Edwards was scathing and said that belief in re-incarnation was not only false, but a sign of 'moral turpitude'. He equates believers in re-incarnation with religious sects or occultists. Besides, Stevenson's evidence was 'truly compelling' - he was very meticulous and many of his most ardent critics had to admit that it was very hard to explain away. (Also it is interesting that Edwards was a fan of William Reich. I think his 'orgone energy devices' and theories of human sexuality make Ian Stevenson look conservative by comparison. It's obviously a matter of what you believe constitutes 'normality' or, more likely, a basic clash of worldviews.)

As regards the question itself, I have an open mind, although I do lean towards it. However I think that last sentence is actually rather condescending, that 'religious faith' provides a get-out-of-jail free card for particular beliefs. I wouldn't like to think like that. It is more that I don't think there are any particularly scientific reasons to rule it out, or rather, that the hostility towards it is more ideological than scientific.

As regards early Buddhist views on re-birth, Thanissaro Bikkhu has compiled a pretty comprehensive overview of the issues in his The Truth of Rebirth and Why it Matters for Buddhist Practice.
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Re: Tucker's research on reincarnation.

Postby muni » Fri Nov 22, 2013 7:53 am

In general, whether pro or contra:

"First of all, it’s important to understand that what’s called reincarnation in Buddhism has nothing to do with the transmigration of some “entity” like an autonomous "self". It’s not a process of metempsychosis. As long as one thinks in terms of entities rather than function and continuity of experience, it’s impossible to understand the Buddhist concept of rebirth. As it’s said, “There is no thread passing through the beads of the necklace of rebirths.” Over successive rebirths, what is maintained is not the identity of a “person,” but the conditioning of a stream of consciousness".
http://www.matthieuricard.org/en/articl ... -of-a-self

Then it is not just an idea, a projection... :smile:
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Re: Tucker's research on reincarnation.

Postby daverupa » Fri Nov 22, 2013 5:35 pm

Indrajala wrote:
daverupa wrote:
Indrajala wrote:Yes, in the academy... You must reject the whole idea as unscientific and impossible because it is contrary to the prevailing theories.


Incorrect. You can simply refrain from assertions either way while awaiting evidence, and then that evidence can be assessed on its own merits vis-a-vis theoretical underpinnings, necessary assumptions, the presence of 'black boxes' in the explanatory structure, and so forth.


That's not how it actually works in practice however.

Look at how alienated Rupert Sheldrake is from the scientific community. He has evidence for his hypothesis and his whole projects are discarded as pseudo-science because the community will not accept the content of such work.


Well, related to Sheldrake we have this article and another one which goes over this interface between science and pseudoscience. A summary of the context for these:

Earlier this month, The New Republic republished a highly critical blogpost about author Rupert Sheldrake. Jerry Coyne, a University of Chicago professor and the author of Why Evolution is True referred to Sheldrake as a "pseudoscientist" and lampooned the allegation that Sheldrake was being persecuted by "militant skeptics." Coyne's piece also derided Deepak Chopra, the physician and alternative medicine figure who has been one of Sheldrake's defenders. Chopra responded with this letter to the editor—and Coyne, in turn responds to the letter...


:thinking:

Alfredo wrote:the reason why reincarnation research is not accepted by the mainstream is not out of resistance to the concept itself, but for lack of what most scientists would consider good evidence. Stevenson basically collected a bunch of anecdotes. There are no "prevailing" theories of the mind/body relationship, but much debate (among philosophers, neuroscientists, and AI theorists who tend to be quite open-minded). I am not sure what is meant here by "reality," but the term cries out to be translated into a well-formed scientific utterance.


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    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Tucker's research on reincarnation.

Postby justsit » Fri Nov 22, 2013 6:27 pm

muni wrote:In general, whether pro or contra:

"First of all, it’s important to understand that what’s called reincarnation in Buddhism has nothing to do with the transmigration of some “entity” like an autonomous "self". It’s not a process of metempsychosis. As long as one thinks in terms of entities rather than function and continuity of experience, it’s impossible to understand the Buddhist concept of rebirth. As it’s said, “There is no thread passing through the beads of the necklace of rebirths.” Over successive rebirths, what is maintained is not the identity of a “person,” but the conditioning of a stream of consciousness".
http://www.matthieuricard.org/en/articl ... -of-a-self

Then it is not just an idea, a projection... :smile:


Exactly. This distinction is usually lost in rebirth/reincarnation discussions.
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Re: Tucker's research on reincarnation.

Postby Will » Fri Nov 22, 2013 11:02 pm

daverupa: Incorrect. You can simply refrain from assertions either way while awaiting evidence...


They can refrain, but many do not. Look at the reaction of many scientists to Plasma Cosmology or Intelligent Design - contempt, ridicule & abuse is the basic approach.
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