Reincarnation Essay, Research Paper
A weird idea of much interest is that of reincarnation. What is
reincarnation? Some say it’s the fact that a person’s soul lives without a body
and throughout the years possesses different bodies. Is this true or is
reincarnation the result of a mentally unstable person’s vivid imagination or
even the result of cryptomnesia, when a person takes something they have heard
or seen, forgets about ever hearing or seeing it and then remembers the event(s)
as happening in another life. These three hypothesizes each seem plausible in
there own right. With the help of the SEARCH method it will be shown which
hypothesis fits best.
Hypothesis 1: When a person dies the soul undergoes a process called
reincarnation, in which the soul lives another life in the future.
The evidence I have to back up this particular claim is that of a story
I read in People magazine awhile back. In this story a woman, who goes by the
name of Jenny Cockell, claims to have experienced reincarnation. She claims she
was once a woman, who went by the name of Marry Sutton, who died 21 years before
Jenny’s own birth. Jenny believes this because of dreams she has had since the
age of three. These dreams were unlike ordinary dreams in how vivid and real
they seemed. In the dreams Jenny saw herself in another time and place. She
saw herself as a young mother living in a small cottage somewhere in Ireland.
In one dream particularly Jenny saw herself with a terrible fever on her own
deathbed, terrified of what was to become of her children. One day Jenny
decided to find out what had become of these children. So Jenny went to Ireland
and while looking at a map of Ireland she sensed that Mary had lived in the
small town of Malahide. Then she checked local church records for any mothers
of eight named Mary that had gone there. Since from her dreams Jenny recalled
there being eight children and the only name she could remember from the dreams
was Mary. Sure enough Jenny found a Mary Sutton had lived and died in Malahide.
Mary’s children had been scattered among family members and orphanages. Then
through much search and hard work to find these children Jenny eventually found
all of Mary’s children. Before Jenny met with any of the children she and the
children both agreed to allow a BBC researcher to test Jenny’s memories of Mary
and Mary’s children The tests resulted in a 98 percent agreement. Jenny knew
what pictures were on the walls of the Sutton home, other objects in the house,
and even how the house was built. This evidence further backed up the fact of
Mary Sutton being reincarnated through Jenny Cockell. As of today there has
been no new evidence found to discredit the fact that Jenny has experienced
The hypothesis will be examined using the five criteria of adequacy.
(1)Testability. This hypothesis is testable. As in the case about Jenny
Cockell. Jenny was tested to see if what she ?remembered? matched that of Mary
Sutton’s life. (2)Fruitfulness. This hypothesis is fruitful. It can be
observed that a person who has experienced reincarnation can tell truthful
information of the person they once were. (3)Scope. The hypothesis has a small
scope, in that it only pertains to the person relaying information about their
past life. (4)Simplicity. This hypothesis is not simple. A person has to
presume that the soul lives without the body and can live for an immeasurable
time. (5)Conservation. The hypothesis is not consistent with well-founded
beliefs. Many people believe that the soul goes to heaven or hell after death
and many believe that the soul ends along with the body at death.
Hypothesis 2: Some people think they have experienced reincarnation,
but in fact these such people are mentally insane.
The evidence used to back this hypothesis is the common knowledge that
insane people create elaborate stories. Some of these stories are that of the
insane person in question having lived a previous life. Insane people have the
tendency to think they lived a past life of some famous personality. These
facts are taken from various books, magazines, and movies.
This hypothesis will also be evaluated using the five criteria of
adequacy. (1)Testability. This hypothesis is testable by means of testing the
individual in question with various test of sanity. (2)Fruitfulness. The
hypothesis is fruitful. It can be observed if the person in question is insane
or not. (3)Scope. This hypothesis has a large scope. If a person is mentally
insane other lies are usually told and many other things can be observed.
(4)Simplicity. The hypothesis is simple in the fact that some people are known
to be mentally insane and create stories of having past lives. (5)Conservation.
The hypothesis is consistent with well-founded beliefs. As said before it is
known people are mentally insane and that they create stories of past lives.
Hypothesis 3: Some people think they have experienced reincarnation,
but in fact they are experiencing cryptomnesia.
Cryptomnesia is the result of thoughts or ideas seeming new to memory
when in fact they are memories that have been forgotten. The evidence for this
hypothesis is taken from the book, ?How to Think About Weird Things?. This book
contains a story of a woman from Chicago, who goes by the name of Virginia Tighe,
who claims have experienced reincarnation. She clams to be the reincarnation of
a woman from Ireland, who went by the name of Bridey Murphy. William J. Barker,
a newsman for the Denver Post, investigated Virginia’s claim. He found no
correlation between what Virginia claimed and the truth. Then the truth of this
?reincarnation? was found. As a teenager Virginia’s one neighbor, an Irish
woman named Mrs. Anthony Corkell, used to tell Virginia tales of the old country.
Bridie Murphy was Mrs. Corkell’s maiden name. In addition to this, Virginia
had memorized several Irish monologues as part of being in high school drama
club. Lastly, Virginia had more than likely heard stories about the 1893
World’s Columbian Exposition from her neighbors and friends. In this exposition
a life-size Irish Village was constructed in Chicago , Virginia’s home town.
All these things Virginia experienced but had forgotten. Then at some point she
recalled some of the information and interpreted it as being from a past life, a
classic case of cryptomnesia.
To see how good this particular hypothesis is it will be evaluated using
the five criteria of adequacy. (1)Testability. This hypothesis is testable.
In the story of Virginia Tighe a newsman tested Virginia’s claim of
reincarnation and found it false. Then Virginia’s background was checked and
the truth of her ?reincarnation? was found. (2)Fruitfulness The hypothesis is
fruitful. Cryptomnesia is observable in that many people claiming to have
experienced reincarnation are wrong in many of the facts they relay. (3)Scope.
The hypothesis has a small scope. Cryptomnesia only explains that what was
thought was reincarnation was really just forgotten facts. (4)Simplicity. The
hypothesis is simple in the fact that it is known that some people experience
cryptomnesia and claim they have experienced reincarnation. (5)Conservation.
The hypothesis is consistent with well-founded beliefs. As previously said
people are known to experience cryptomnesia and claim they have experienced
Of the three hypothesizes the third and final one seems the best. This
conclusion also takes into account that almost every case of reincarnation has
been proven to be the work of cryptomnesia. It is also true that insane people
may think they were reincarnated, but these cases represent a small part of
those that claim to have experienced reincarnation. There is also that case of
Jenny Cockell which seems to prove that reincarnation exists. That may be true
but these cases are too small to warrant the conclusion. I am not trying to say
any of these hypothesizes are right and the others wrong. I am only stating
from my research and the available data that my hypothesis on cryptomnesia seems