Proponents say: It's statistically improbable that the birthmarks are coincidences, given their location and patterns; in addition, in some cases Stevenson has identified two separate birthmarks on one person, corresponding to two different traumas undergone by the deceased person. Stevenson documented the case of Necip Ünlütaskiran of Turkey, who had seven birthmarks, six of which corresponded to wounds described in a medical report. Necip also claimed that he had stabbed his wife of a previous life in the leg; her scar was verified when she was identified.

Skeptics say: The location and pattern of birthmarks is simply a matter of chance.

More about Birthmark Studies

  • The Most Unusual Birthmarks
  • Review of Stevenson's "Where Reincarnation and Biology Intersect"
  • 3. Past Life Regression by Adults
    Some believe that memories which surface during hypnotherapy sessions offer evidence of a person's past life. While hypnotized, adults have related details about past lives as Middle Eastern warriors, European peasants, and more.

    Sample case: In one famous but oft-disputed case, a Colorado woman was hypnotized and subsequently remembered the life of Bridey Murphy, a 19th-century woman from Cork, Ireland. While under hypnosis, she talked in an Irish brogue, sang Irish songs, and remembered being held as she bent to kiss the Blarney Stone. Recordings of the hypnotic sessions were made and translated into more than a dozen languages.

    In a more recent case, previously skeptical psychiatrist Dr. Brian Weiss had been treating a young woman with traditional "talk therapy" for over a year. Failing to identify the source of her chronic fears, he decided to use hypnotherapy. While under hypnosis, his patient recalled her life in the year 1863 B.C.E., when she was a 25-year-old named Aronda.

    Proponents say: Some psychiatrists have found the level of detail and plausibility in their patients' accounts very persuasive. In Dr. Weiss' case, his patient had visited him for eighteen months before recalling the past life. Weiss argues that if the patient had simply wanted to make the memories up, she would not have waited so long to do so.

    Skeptics say: One skeptics' study states that a belief in reincarnation is the greatest predictor of whether a subject has a past-life memory while undergoing hypnotherapy, and that therefore a subject's memories are most likely self-fulfilling prophecies. Dr. Jim Tucker, who has continued Dr. Stevenson's work at the University of Virginia, says: "In general, past-life regression work has lacked the scientific rigor of Dr. Stevenson's work. A subject may describe a life in ancient times with great emotion, but since the statements cannot be verified as accurate for a particular individual who actually lived, the evidenciary value of such a case is very limited at best."

    More on Past-Life Regression:

  • Website of Dr. Brian Weiss (pro-PLR)
  • The Case of Jenny Cockell (skeptics' website)
  • Debunking Bridey Murphy