Old Souls

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This article is about the book Old Souls. For the Los Angeles band, see Old Souls (band).
Old Souls: The Scientific Search for Proof of Past Lives
Cover
Author Tom Shroder
Cover artist Julie Metz
Country United States
Language English
Genre Investigative Journalism
Publisher Simon & Schuster
Publication date
1999
Media type Print (Hardback)
Pages 256
ISBN ISBN 0-684-85192-X
OCLC 42273755
133.9/01/35 21
LC Class BL515 .S46 1999

Old Souls: The Scientific Search for Proof of Past Lives is a non-fiction book by journalist Tom Shroder. An editor at The Washington Post, Shroder traveled extensively with psychiatrist Ian Stevenson of the University of Virginia, who conducted past life and reincarnation research in Lebanon, India and the American South.[1]

Stevenson's informants were 3000[2] children spontaneously remembering recent ordinary lives, as opposed to adults remembering under hypnosis romantic or heroic lives in the distant past.[3] In addition, birthmarks that occur at the sites of injury in the previous life constitute an important part of Stevenson's evidence.[4]

Stevenson's methodology involved listening to stories, comparing and contrasting variants of stories, verification or falsification of empirical claims, and constructing long, detailed narratives that attempt to "capture" the complex experience of his informants, who claim to remember incidents from past lives. In this sense Stevenson's work is similar to that of ethnographers and cultural anthropologists.[4]

While Stevenson wrote extensively on his reincarnation studies, his work earned limited circulation outside academia. At the outset, Shroder sees his role not only as observer, but also as skeptic. But as his journey with Stevenson progresses, Shroder finds it increasingly difficult to reject the possibility of past lives.[5]

Reception[edit]

Jack Coulehan writing for the New York University of Medicine said, "This book provides a good introduction to the work of Ian Stevenson, a man who qualifies for this database because he has devoted his professional life to the study of narrative. Stevenson's methodology involves listening to stories, comparing and contrasting variants of stories, and constructing long, detailed narratives that attempt to "capture" the complex experience of his informants, who claim to remember incidents from past lives. In this sense Stevenson's work is similar to that of ethnographers, cultural anthropologists, and folklorists".[4]

David Wallis writing for the New York Times has said, "After years of mockery from colleagues, Dr. Ian Stevenson, Director of the Department of Personality Studies at the University of Virginia, is finally getting respect".[6]

More critically, the philosopher and skeptic Robert Todd Carroll wrote that "Old Souls is an interesting read but the author is not very critical in his observations. He takes a lot at face value and seems not to understand the dangers of confirmation bias."[7]

Old Souls received considerable media attention following publication, in the Los Angeles Times,[8] Chicago Tribune,[9] and other sources.[10][11][12][13]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Searching out Old Souls", by Karen R. Long, Sarasota Herald-Tribune, August 19, 1999, page 5E. Online at Google News. Retrieved June 15, 2010.
  2. ^ Professor Ian Stevenson // The Daily Telegraph, February 12, 2007.
  3. ^ "Time and Again", by Claire Douglas, The Washington Post, Oct 17, 1999, page X.06. Retrieved June 15, 2010.
  4. ^ a b c Coulehan, Jack (2006-11-30). "Old Souls: The Scientific Search for Proof of Past Lives". New York University. p. 1. Retrieved 14 June 2010. 
  5. ^ Kenny, Thane (January 10, 2000). "Little Johnny Just Isn't Himself Today". Weekly Wire. 
  6. ^ Wallis, David (September 26, 1999). "Conversations/Dr. Ian Stevenson; You May Be Reading This In Some Future Past Life". New York Times (The New York Times Company). p. 1. Retrieved 14 June 2010. 
  7. ^ Carroll, Robert Todd. (2013). "Ian Stevenson (1918-2007)". The Skeptic's Dictionary. Retrieved 2014-10-11.
  8. ^ Mary Rourke. Book Review; Connected by Forces Beyond Our Grasp Los Angeles Times, August 10, 1999.
  9. ^ Peg Gould. No Quick Answers to Question of Reincarnation Chicago Tribune, September 13, 1999.
  10. ^ Soulful: Psychiatrist States Case for Reincarnation Winston-Salem Journal, August 14, 1999.
  11. ^ Alan Cabal. How Old Is Your Soul? New York Press, September 1, 1999.
  12. ^ B. John Tanasychuk. Who Were You? Sun Sentinel, August 19, 1999.
  13. ^ Karen R. Long. Old Souls Saratosa Herald Tribune, August 19, 1999.

External links[edit]