Yesterday I shared what will probably be the last of the "little proofs" for awhile--a cross-correspondence between Mathew Franklin Whittier's location while writing a lecture review (which, when he was acting in his capacity as a reporter, were unsigned), with his travelogue entry for another paper, under a different pseudonym. Both have been established by in-depth research as his work; and even though the travelogue writer was just passing through, he happened to be in the same city as the lecture review reporter. Actually, I didn't go fully into the background. He was separated from his second wife, but he maintained them in a house in that city. This was the Christmas season, and no-doubt he was there for his children.
This brings up the point I want to focus on, this morning--the cryptomnesia objection. I'll define it, shortly. But here, the readily-available historical information on Mathew--and when I say "readily-available," I mean that I still had to order an unpublished 1941 master's thesis through interlibrary loan, to obtain Mathew's only full biography--tells us that Mathew "abandoned" this second family. When I read that, I knew it couldn't be correct. I knew it emotionally and intuitively. This was more than me just rooting for my chosen past-life personality. I knew he wasn't that kind of a person, and I knew that's not what he did.
Deep research revealed a very different picture. This was an arranged marriage, which Mathew was guilted and tricked into, at the one-year mark. They were never close, had nothing in common, and, in fact, she spent a great deal of it taking the children to stay with her family in her native St. John, while he traveled. Even at home, he had a place on an island; but after eight years of "marriage" like this--where Mathew loved his children, but really could build no strong attachment to his wife--they separated, but he continued to support them while he traveled for his work.
So the historians were (maliciously) wrong, and I was right. But how did I know?
Here are the standard skeptical objections, when faced with any piece of evidence which threatens a skeptic's denial:
1) Chance, i.e., a lucky guess.
2) Magical thinking, drawing false and unsupported conclusions from the evidence--adding 2 + 2 and getting 5.
3) Working it backwards, or, already knowing the information, and then pretending to find it.
4) Deliberate fraud.
6) Cryptomnesia, i.e., false memory.
I had studied the best reincarnation proof cases in the world before I launched upon my own study. I knew these objections very well; and I knew what researchers--including people who researched their own cases, as well as people in academia--had done to account for them. I applied my knowledge to my own case. If you think I am a wild-eyed fanatic who plowed willy-nilly into a jumbled, naive study of his own chosen past-life self, you are way off the mark.
I was keenly aware of all of these objections throughout my entire study, while I was writing and evaluating the evidence. Given that I was forced, through lack of funding and support, to be my own subject and researcher simultaneously, still, I did my best to defeat all of these objections.
Chance is easy to eliminate, if the person skeptically evaluating the case doesn't simply chant it like a slogan, unthinkingly. There are any number of objections which can just be thrown out there, like name-calling, without any real thought being put into them. People try to explain past-life memory with genetics, but there is a serious--and obvious--logical flaw in that argument. You do know that people have had past-life memories after they had children. Or, there are people who remember being someone who never had children. How, exactly, are these past-life persons supposed to have passed on their genes in the first place?
I heard a wild one the other day--all molecules have memory (this, from Quantum Theory)--so one of Cleopatra's molecules ends up in a contemporary woman's body, and stimulates for her a memory of being Cleopatra. This person was serious, but he wasn't thinking.
"Super ESP" is used in a similarly fanciful way. "Super ESP" is used as a skeptical objection against the possibility that people survive death, and in particular, to explain mediumistic evidence. The medium wasn't contacting a conscious person on the other side--they were using their "Super ESP." You can't fight such people. They are in a world of their own.
Of all the skeptical arguments, "cryptomnesia" has been the most powerful, and the most difficult to defeat. Cyptomnesia, or false memory, occurs when a person has seen something in a movie, television series or a book, and forgotten all about it. Say, in my case, a movie about the Romantic writers in the 19th century. Then, I undergo hypnosis (which I did, though this only accounts for a portion of my memories), and I remember an event from my past life.
The skeptics cite certain examples, in which the subject finds the entire sequence of supposedly-remembered events, in a film which he or she had seen many years ago and forgotten. It seems clear to them, that the correct interpretation is that the subject was reporting, under hypnosis, what he had forgotten from the film, while feeling, subjectively, that he had experienced it, himself.
And there very well may be such cases. But this explanation doesn't cover all examples. There are serious flaws with it, just as there are with the genetic memory explanation.
There are two ways for a reincarnation researcher to approach this skeptical objection. The first is to glean such idiosyncratic, specific and detailed memories from the subject, that when they are subsequently confirmed, there is no way they could have come from forgotten literature or media. And, the skeptical objection of "chance" must also be convincingly defeated at the same time.
Now, I should interject here, that unfair skeptics love the "straw man" technique. In "straw man," you selectively choose the worst examples of your opponent's argument, and emphasize them as though that's all your opponent's got. Very simple. But some of these simple arguments seem to satisfy them, especially when they are all talking amongst themselves and reinforcing their own views. This stuff doesn't fly with me, however.
If I want to evaluate a person's claim to past-life memories, I want to see everything he or she has, and consider it as a whole.
So, researchers like Australian psychologist Dr. Peter Ramster chose this first method. He hypnotized people in Australia, who remembered a life in France, for example, and then took the subject to France to see her reactions, and to see if the details she described were still there. In Europe, you can find things that are a few hundred years old. Not so here in America. I had a hard enough time finding any physical artifacts left over from someone who lived in the 19th century, no less the 16th century. But in Europe, you can do it. And Dr. Ramster did it.
The second method of defeating the cryptomnesia objection is even more powerful. Dr. Ian Stevenson just lopped off the whole thing, so that this pesky annoyance became irrelevant. He did it by studying children, many of them so young that they were just beginning to talk. These children, most of whom grew up in a rural setting, in small villages, had never been exposed to these media sources in the first place. So when they remembered idiosyncratic details of a past life, the cryptomnesia objection was off the table.
Dr. Stevenson's method defeats all of the skeptical objections, except perhaps the stupid ones, like Molecular Quantum Theory, and genetics (the latter defeating itself). I would say he proved reincarnation, using the word "prove" in its common meaning. I know that I am sitting on my ass right now, in my desk chair. But I can't see it. Neither could you see it, if you were here. If I had a transparent plastic chair, I could take a photograph of it, and that would be indirect proof. If you were here (and you were so-inclined), and I was seated on a plastic chair, you could get down and look up, and prove it for yourself. But if you wanted to prove it to anybody else, you would have to take a photograph of it, and that would be indirect proof, to everyone else--who could, perhaps, accuse you of using Photoshop.
Dr. Stevenson proved reincarnation to just about the same extent. The same absurdist logic has to be brought to bear against it, if anybody wants to deny it. And they do.
But in the course of my study, I accidentally stumbled upon a third method of defeating cryptomnesia. This is a unique circumstance, which may never come around again. I have tried to make this point many times, and it seems to be lightly brushed off by everybody who reads it (because if it wasn't, they would rush to buy my book, and nobody does). I'm going to try to explain it, again, for anybody who has read down this far.
Mathew Franklin Whittier was very secretive and reclusive. The first psychic I used said as much, that he became this way as a result of his first wife's death. Turns out there is another reason--he was acting as a liaison for William Lloyd Garrison, the radical abolitionist who advocated disunion: "No union with slaveholders" was his motto. Mathew wrote ultra-liberal material in disguise, even for conservative editors, all the while carrying on these contacts, presumably for Garrison. What he was doing was quite dangerous (this is in the 1850's), so he covered his tracks very carefully. At times, not carefully enough; and once his name became associated with one of his characters, it appears that he was blacklisted. But that's another story.
When I first started researching Mathew's life around year 2009, I had no idea.* I knew, from his student-biographer, that he had written this one character, an Archie Bunker prototype named "Ethan Spike." Pretty soon it occurred to me to look up the meaning of the name "Ethan," and I found that it means "firm, or hard." Right away I knew something that nobody else had ever figured out--that this was code, and that his character was a prick. It went like this for eight years, with me seemingly knowing things that nobody else had ever figured out. I could feel the back-story of all of his work. And I could prove it.
Do you seriously think it's a coincidence that the name "Ethan" means "firm, or hard"? You wouldn't, if you saw all the other risque puns that Mathew employed in his humorous sketches (like "heavingly bodies" for heavenly bodies). But no editor would have dared to print it, if they had ever figured it out--and he worked for some pretty astute editors.
What was really interesting, is that after eight years of research, I learned that Mathew was publishing like crazy out there, under slews of pseudonyms. I did my homework--I'm not guessing about this. I was careful, and I proved it. It took me eight years to prove it. I know this was Mathew's own work.
And he embedded a great deal of his personal life, and his personal history--especially with his first wife, his soul-mate, Abby--into this work. We are talking poems, essays, travelogues, reports, humorous sketches, the works. Over 650 published pieces at last count, and I'm still finding them. I found one, a lecture review, just yesterday.
I'm sure you can see that the cryptomnesia objection is crushed in this instance, just as thoroughly as it was surgically removed by Dr. Stevenson's method. Because there is no possible way that I could have ever read these obscure published pieces before recording my past-life impressions. These impressions range from feelings and preferences, all the way to very specific memories. Some few of them are as detailed and idiosyncratic as those reported by Dr. Stevenson's subjects. All told, I have listed and evaluated, in the Appendix, over 90 of them.
Furthermore, I didn't make mistakes. Where I was in error, it was from speculating after-the-fact; after I had the core impression. But I didn't generate "memories" that turned out to be impossible for the period. You will see, in hypnosis cases, that skeptics gleefully pounce on such things. The person remembers wearing a certain kind of battle helmet in the 16th century, and that kind of helmet was only used in another country, two centuries later. I didn't do that.
So this is a very strong study. I did my very best to play the skeptic, myself. And I have a skeptic lurking within me, so I didn't have to pretend. I tried to shoot down every past-life impression, every theory. I did my best, partly because I would guess this book will burst upon the public imagination after I'm gone, when I won't be there to defend it. I don't want skeptics of that time discovering some piece of evidence which they try to use to discredit the entire study. So I've been thorough. They will have a very, very hard time discrediting my work honestly. They will have to use skullduggery; and you can only defend yourself just so much from skullduggery. If people want to try to shoot down this case dishonestly, no-one can stop them. But eventually that makes the work stronger, because truth will out; and when it does, the dishonest critics will themelves go down in history as rogues.
It is my understanding, from Abby, that going down in history as a rogue is extremely painful when you are on the other side. There, they are aware when people think of them; and if millions of people are thinking of them as a crook, that is pretty unpleasant for them. The scene in Woody Allen's film, "Sleeper," comes to mind--from memory, the scientists of the future, who have unfrozen him, are showing him a picture of Richard Nixon. They tell him, "We think he was a president of the United States, but he did something awful, and all record of him has been erased."
Right now, I am flying almost entirely under the radar. Nobody takes this study seriously, because it superficially looks like just another kook who thinks he knows who he was in a past life. Go ahead and think that. Go ahead and miss the opportunity to recognize a significant accomplishment. That doesn't sit so well on the other side, either. "I had a chance to recognize this work, but I blew it off, instead."
Anyway, enough of my editorializing. This study defeats the cryptomnesia objection in a way, and to a degree, which may never come around again. You'd have to find someone who accomplished as much as Mathew accomplished, who left as many clues as he did, but who covered them up as successfully as he did. It's a gold-mine for reincarnation studies. I know, in my article--which is getting a lot of hits, lately--that I have emphasized that this is a method which "anyone can use." And it is--but this particular study has unique features which render it especially valuable. I am simply biding my time. Once again, I know what I've accomplished, and I know what this is.
Stephen Sakellarios, M.S.
*I first got the feeling that Mathew worked under cover, when I saw his name printed in Garrison's paper, "The Liberator," in a list of people attending his upcoming conference in Cleveland; and then, found a letter from Garrison to Samuel May, indicating that the lead figures would not be attending because of the poor economy, but that his "agents" would make good speeches there. At that moment, I got the feeling that Mathew may have been one of his agents. This was subsequently borne out to a reasonable degree of certainty, by further evidence. Similarly, I had the feeling, during the course of my study, that Mathew interviewed slaves, before I discovered the evidence confirming that he had done so.
Music opening this page: "The Great Historical Bum"
performed by the Chad Mitchell Trio, from the album, "At the Bitter End"