Yesterday I did, in fact, finish re-reading the evidence chapters of my book, comprising just under 1,600 pages, including the Epilogue. You may ask, "What kind of a nut would turn everyone off from ever buying his book in the first sentence?" An honest one. But this is a problematic explanation, because if I am that honest, I must be honest about everything in the book, and not just its length. And I say I have proven reincarnation (as well as making a few other interesting claims). That leaves self-delusion--but if you got to know me, you'd know I wasn't. If I'm not self-deluded, then, given what I'm claiming, 1,600 pages is well worth reading. People read 1,600 pages of crap and nonsense all the time.
Since I tried to read my book as though seeing it for the first time (and since no-one else reads it, currently, and thus there are no reviews and no feedback), what I thought I'd do this morning is to give my impressions, while the experience is still fresh, of what a reader might take away from it, when he or she closes the back cover (that is, if it had a back cover).
It is, of course, difficult to get oneself out of the way. Immediately, I see that it depends very much on what a priori assumptions the reader brings to the table--and just how willing he or she is to modify them. Everybody has to start with assumptions--if not, we would just be a mental blob of jelly. You have to have a starting point. But how tenaciously one holds onto that real estate, is another matter. I can see right off that a die-hard skeptic would get nothing out of this book. Such an exalted figure as Dr. Jim Tucker, successor to Dr. Ian Stevenson at the University of Virginia, refused to read it, pleading lack of time; but against my better judgment, I shared three of the most strongly-proven past-life memories. (There were a number of others I could have drawn upon, so I wasn't limited to three, but just for the sake of brevity, since he was so busy.) He blithely dismissed two, and grudgingly admitted a third might have more weight. But having been at this for many years, I understand the skeptical mind, and skeptical sophistry, very well. I can detect it, decode it, and confront it if necessary. The first memory was simply that in an online interview, in year 2003, I said that I felt I had been a minor figure on the periphery of the Romantic poets in the 19th century. This is a Catch-22, as proof, because you would have to read the entire book with an open mind, in order to see that I proved this flat-out. And Dr. Tucker didn't want to read the book; so he couldn't prove, to himself, that this statement was correct. It is strong, as evidence, because I had not yet discovered my past-life personality, Mathew Franklin Whittier; and because that interview was preserved, as it was originally printed online, by Archive.org's "Wayback Machine." That means I could not possibly have modified it. Meanwhile, it is hardly generic. Of all the things one might claim off the top of one's head, for a past life, this one wouldn't occur to most people.
Dr. Tucker simply dismissed it as irrelevant (I don't remember his exact term--I have the correspondence archived and could look it up).
The second involved several memories of attending a unique but obscure historical event, which I remembered under hypnosis. Taking a hard line on Dr. Stevenson's distrust of hypnosis for past-life research, Dr. Tucker was, perhaps, loath to admit that it ever works for that purpose. Therefore, he dismissed this second memory as being generic. It isn't. But when he fed it back to me, in e-mail conversation, he conveniently omitted one or two of the memories, out of five or six (I'd have to go back and see, exactly). I immediately recognized this as a form of sophistry called "straw man," where you deliberately under-represent the opponent's argument, and then defeat that weakened version. I told him, "This is right out of the skeptic's playbook"; but another method out of the same playbook is to simply ignore good points that your opponent makes, so that it is as if he or she had never made them. He used that one, too, ignoring my comment. Note that a rigorous scientific mind is trained to cite evidence completely and in meticulous detail. That he failed to do so with my evidence, as he would have with his own, had to be intentional.*
So I didn't mean to get into all that--just to say, that if the illustrious Dr. Tucker could go into denial and not get anything out of my study, the rank-and-file skeptic could obviously do the same, even reading every word of my book. This means absolutely nothing regarding the book's merit; and people should remember this, when a professional skeptic makes a negative pronouncement on paranormal evidence. They are using sophistry, which means they are lying, and their opinion has zero value intellectually.
As to just how angry one gets at such a person, well, I've softened my tone about lying skeptics just a bit. They are cooking their own goose. Given that there is the astral world in which to regret one's behavior at leisure, and then there are subsequent lifetimes to pay it back, I simply pity them. Truth is not so easily mocked.
So let's skip the skeptic. He will be privately shaken, if he reads the entire book (which he would only do with incentive)--and if there is nobody watching him, he will skim it, anyway. But publicly, he will bring out every old saw of sophistry that he knows. Let's leave him to his dirty-work.
I think the most likely kind of reader is the one who thinks he or she knows about reincarnation, having absorbed one or more of the fanciful ideas that are floating around out there, like multiple incarnations at one time, incarnations all happening at the same time, retrograde "transmigration" into animal bodies, a material explanation based on genetics or quantum mechanics, and so-on. Or, perhaps the most pernicious, a "damage-control" concept from our friends, the Spiritualists, the idea that after death, all the souls just go into a huge, amorphous "vat-of-souls," only to be extruded as individuals in the next incarnation. This last is flatly disproven by my study. There is no question that I am the personal and individual reincarnation of Mathew Franklin Whittier. I basically am Mathew, a century and a half down the line, just as you are your childhood or teenage self, some 20 or 30 or 40 years down the line. It's definitely personal.
But I am getting far afield of what I set out to do here, intially. The problem is, as I attempt to give "every reader's" impressions, I realize that there is no such thing. What someone brings to the table is overwhelmingly important--so much so, that I am not sure I can accomplish my original objective.
Let's take someone who has heard about reincarnation, admits he or she doesn't know much about it, and is open-minded on the subject. This is the elusive reader whom I keep hoping will discover and purchase my book. I can try to give some idea of what this mythical being would feel upon closing the final page.
I think the first lasting impression is about Mathew as a historical figure. The reader will know this person well. I have delved more deeply into Mathew's character, and his inner life, than most biographers have done for their subjects. This is because Mathew reveals himself deeply, in code, in his anonymously-published works--and I have over 800 of them. It is also because I am he--especially his emotional/intuitive self. My personality is different, but I find that my emotional self, and my higher intellect, is unchanged. Thus, where someone might read his works and simply be entertained, I understood them at a profound depth. And all this is revealed in the narration of my book.
Mathew was a deep, complex, fascinating character. This is difficult to say without sounding like I'm bragging on myself, but it's true, and more importantly, it's manifestly true as he is gradually revealed in my book, and through his writings. So this might be the first lingering impression.
Secondly, there is the fact that Mathew is revealed, for the first time, as a major, albeit hidden, force in 19th century American literature. Depending on how important American literature is to the reader--or how important it has become to him or her, while immersed in my book--this could be anything from interesting, to earth-shaking. A scholar of Charles Dickens, for example, or John Greenleaf Whittier, is going to be devastated (if he or she doesn't go into denial). Likewise a scholar of Edgar Allan Poe. And a scholar of Samuel Clemens will be taken aback. Scholars who think they know the authors of dozens of works which impacted the literary scene, will be nonplussed when they realize that it was Mathew who actually wrote them. For these academicians--the ones who don't go into denial, and respond with sophistry--it will be as though a new planet has been discovered.
I think this fair-minded reader, if he or she has a sense of humor, will come away feeling warmly satisfied with the many examples of Mathew's humor. His work speaks for itself, and once the reader has immersed himself in the book, he will pick up any period references, and a sense of the 19th century in general, so that it will be entirely intelligible. There was much of Mathew's humor which was timeless and readily understood; certain references I had to look up; and some of them I never was able to decipher. But overall, it isn't dated or quaint, but rather, it is all quite fresh. Mathew was far ahead of his time, and in fact, in many respects he would be ahead of his time, today. (This shouldn't surprise you, given that I am the same.)
But what about reincarnation? What is not said, says it all. Which is to say, the answer emerges from the study as a whole. Nonetheless, in the Appendix I have a results tabulation, what I familiarly call the "Scorecard summary." There, I take each past-life impression, as found in the first 10 chapters of my book, and rate it roughly on two scales: 1) how plausible that memory/impression was to have been actual, based on the historical record, and 2) how likely it is that I could have previously seen that information by normal means (i.e., "cryptomnesia"). There are over 90 impressions (I could have cited many more), and they are all (as I recall, now) at least plausible. This, in itself, is an achievement. You can do an experiment which will show you just how unusual this is, if you aren't a student of history. Take a figure from the 19th century, whom you know little about, and generate 90 imaginary "impressions" about him. Now, see if you can confirm just the mere plausibility of each impression. What I think you will find, is that you "remembered" things that are impossible for the 19th century. Suppose you remembered something about being interviewed by a female reporter in the 1850's. But that's extremely unlikely, because almost all reporters were male at that time.
Now let's suppose you "remembered" that your character was anti-slavery, and that he met with Daniel Webster, whom he greatly admired, in 1855. Later, after the Civil War, he met with William Lloyd Garrison, who expressed deep admiration for the fact that Lincoln emancipated the slaves and saved the Union. His only complaint about Lincoln was that he was so skeptical about Spiritualism. Again, he met with firebrand Abolitionist Theodore Parker, who told him privately that he nightly prayed for God to perform a miracle to free the slaves, as He did, through Moses, to free the Isralites.
But Webster was instrumental in the passing of the Compromise of 1850, and was no friend of the slave; while Garrison's motto was "No Union with Slaveholders," being a "dissunionst." Lincoln, meanwhile, freed the slaves only reluctantly, under pressure, something Garrison would have been only too aware of. Lincoln, on the other hand, participated in seances and is said to have emancipated the slaves on the advice of spirits, given through a medium. Meanwhile, Parker, being a Unitarian, questioned whether the Biblical accounts of miracles were genuine. So your "memories" would have been disproven as impossible on all counts.
There are other mistakes I could easily have made about Mathew's personal history. For example, the first piece of historical data I studied, was the "Life and Letters of John Greenleaf Whittier," only a month or so (as I recall, now) after I first discovered him. In the introduction, is a brief description of John Greenleaf's childhood (and hence, Mathew's). There, it describes the boys' relationship to the family's two oxen--they were practically pets, and one of them actually saved one of the boys. My immediate emotional reaction was, "There is deep resentment that the family sold the oxen to someone who might butcher them." I had absolutely nothing on which to base this emotional impression, but today, I could drag out several pieces of evidence which suggest it is very plausible, indeed. I know when the oxen were sold at auction (meaning they went to the highest bidder); I know Mathew, as a young man, was out of town. I know he had a very soft spot for animals and disliked cruelty to them, despite that it was seen as being "sissy" in that day and age. I know that, contrary to mainstream Christianity at the time, he believed that animals had souls, even as a young man; and I know that in middle age, he became a vegetarian. I also know that when he bought a horse for a long trip, he bonded closely with it, and when he sold it at the end of the journey, he made sure to sell it to someone he knew, personally, who would give it a good life. There is, in fact, so much circumstantial evidence around this impression, that you might as well say it was proven.
Keep in mind that not only had I not seen this additional evidence, but I could not possibly have seen it before I experienced this impression. Furthermore, the evidence could just as easily have disproved it. All I would need is a record of Mathew being in charge of the auction, himself, or of selling the oxen to a friend, for use on his farm. Lucky guess? You can't make over 90 lucky guesses, with no mistakes. (If you do, the statisticians--at least, the honest ones--go beserk.)
I rarely made mistakes, despite bravely sticking my neck out time after time. But remember that you might have to dig a little into the historical record to get at the truth. On a few occasions, I did report reactions which seemed, at first, to be mistaken. However, further investigation showed that my emotional reaction was correct, but my interpretation was skewed by preconceptions. I have given examples of this in previous Updates. In two of the most glaring errors, I failed to correctly identify portraits--but it turned out, as more information emerged, that my emotional reaction (or in one case, lack of reaction), was actually appropriate. There were other instances when I failed, at first, to recognize Mathew's writing, where one would think I would do so; but it has been one of the findings of my study, that such recognition is sometimes blocked, sometimes gradual, and sometimes almost instantaneous. Further research would be required to ferret out the underlying dynamics of these findings, and to see whether this same mix holds across other studied cases.
So far we have only been speaking of plausibility. It gets better. Quite a number of these 90 impressions are much more solidly proven by a deep examination of the historical record. And a handful of them are very strong indeed (Dr. Tucker's reaction notwithstanding). In that 2003 interview, I gave only four or five examples of what I felt might have been my past lives, responding to a question in that regard. What are the chances that I would prove one of them correct?
I always try to take the skeptic's part; here, a skeptic will say that I went looking for what I had predicted. It's simply not true, and I can verify it. When I interviewed Dr. Marge Rieder about her "Millboro" study, I asked her, point-blank, whether her subjects discussed the case, and their memories, amongst themselves, so as to appear to agree with each other. She had not documented her research process to the extent that I have--but her answer was, "It simply didn't happen."** My impression of Marge was that she was strictly honest and sincere, even if her methods weren't as precise as I would have liked to see. She was like an amateur archeologist, who goes in with a shovel and a pail and starts digging, without laying out a grid, or taking a series of photographs to document each layer, etc. etc. But she honestly reported what she had in her pail, and she didn't cheat by throwing things in there that she'd bought at a musueum (to continue the analogy). Here, we have to take Marge's word for it (and I think her word is good). But in my case, I can prove it.
I think that the objective reader would feel stunned, after closing the last page, as regards this question of reincarnation. Because I have hit him, or her, with proof after proof after proof, of varying degrees, for about 2,000 pages. I would also like to think that he or she would feel admiration for the detective work which went into this study. But that would be bragging, as this part is my own contribution. Perhaps we should wait until posterity weighs in. Personally, I think I did a pretty good job in this department, though if there is no murder, I'm not so sure the public appreciates detective logic.
Finally, I really do believe that the reader who is not digging in his or her heels, trying to "bat away" this barrage of evidence, will feel sad to come to the end of it, as one does when finishing a beloved novel. Whereas the skeptic will feel that it is like pulling teeth even to skim such nonsense, the open-minded reader will feel that he or she has lost a friend; or rather, that they have gained a friend, whom few understood or appreciated in his lifetime.
Stephen Sakellarios, M.S.
*Perhaps the best interpretation one could put on it, is that he was so far from taking me seriously, that he didn't feel he owed it to me to approach my evidence scientifically, as he might his own.
**A portion of my interview with Dr. Rieder, originally intended to be included in my documentary, "In Another Life," can be found in the Interviews section of this website.
Music opening this page, "Mediocre," by David Seville and his Chipmunks