OK, I have to confess that, like Sam Harris, I have a somewhat open mind on the subject of reincarnation. I accept absolutely that there is little, if any, evidence for it and I also accept that there are excellent alternative scientific and neurological explanations for what many people have described as 'near death' or 'past life' experiences. I guess, on these subjects I am more agnostic than atheist.

That said, I just watched a show on Oprah in which a supposedly 'eminent' psychologist, Dr Brian Weiss, was explaining why he had gone from skeptic to believer because of his experience with past life regressions.

To cut a long story short, they showed film of Dr Weiss regressing a man. I was horrified! Unfortunately, I can't locate an actual transcription of the episode, so you will have to bear with a transcript from my memory - it will give you the gist of the session, if not the actual words.

Dr Weiss: Now let's go back into your past lives. What do you see?
Patient: I see a plane.
Dr W: What kind of a plane?
P: An old plane.
Dr W: A fighter plane?
P: Yes.
Dr W: And who else is with you in this plane.
P: Just me and him.
Dr W: And what are you doing? Are you the gunner?
P: Yes. But I don't want to shoot?
Dr W: You don't want to shoot?
P: No. Sometimes I shoot, but sometimes I don't want to, so I don't.
Dr W: And are there other planes around you?
P: Yes.
Dr W: And is that why your plane got shot down, because you didn't shoot?
P: Yes.
Dr W: And you were killed, weren't you?
P: Yes.

Talk about leading the bloody patient!!!!!

As I said, I'm prepared to keep somewhat of an open mind on this subject but this was absolutely scandalous! I still have steam coming out of my ears!

Tags: Brian Weiss, Oprah, near death experiences, past lives, regression

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The human mind is an amazing thing, and religions exploit it's weaknesses as much as possible. From the way preachers talk to the chants, singing, wailing, etc., all have similar effects as hypnosis. Add childhood indoctrination to the mix, and it becomes almost impossible to break your mind free from the delusion of religion.
I'm still trying to find the quotation on Dr Ian Stevenson's work on reincarnation in "The End of Faith". If I find it later, I'll post it. However, I did find this note from Sam Harris referring to the views he expressed on reincarnation and Stevenson in particular:

My views on the paranormal - ESP, reincarnation, etc.:
"My position on the paranormal is this: While there have been many frauds in the history of parapsychology, I believe that this field of study has been unfairly stigmatized. If some experimental psychologists want to spend their days studying telepathy, or the effects of prayer, I will be interested to know what they find out. And if it is true that toddlers occasionally start speaking in ancient languages (as Ian Stevenson alleges), I would like to know about it. However, I have not spent any time attempting to authenticate the data put forward in books like Dean Radin's "The Conscious Universe" or Ian Stevenson's "20 Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation". The fact that I have not spent any time on this should suggest how worthy of my time I think such a project would be. Still, I found these books interesting, and I cannot categorically dismiss their contents in the way that I can dismiss the claims of religious dogmatists." [My emphasis]

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