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«JOURNAL OF SCIENTIFIC EXPLORATION A Publication of the Society for Scienti¢c Exploration Volume 22, Number 1 2008 Page Editorial 1 Editorial Peter ...»

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A Publication of the Society for Scienti¢c Exploration

Volume 22, Number 1 2008



1 Editorial Peter A. Sturrock

5 Theme and Variations: The Life and Work of Ian Stevenson Emily Williams Kelly

Carlos S. Alvarado


11 Ian Stevenson: Recollections Kerr L. White 18 Reflections on the Life and Work of Ian Stevenson Alan Gauld 36 Ian Stevenson and Cases of the Reincarnation Type Jim B. Tucker 44 Ian Stevenson and the Modern Study of Spontaneous ESP Carlos S. Alvarado Experiences Nancy L. Zingrone 54 Ian Stevenson’s Contributions to Near-Death Studies Bruce Greyson 64 Ian Stevenson’s Contributions to the Study of Mediumship Erlendur Haraldsson 73 Where Science and Religion Intersect: The Work of Ian Edward F. Kelly Stevenson Emily Williams Kelly In Remembrance 81 The Gentle American Doctor Majd Muakkasah Abu-Izzeddin 83 Professor Ian Stevenson – Some Personal Reminiscences Mary Rose Barrington 85 Ian Stevenson: A Recollection and Tribute Stephen E. Braude 87 Ian Stevenson and His Impact on Foreign Shores Bernard Carr 93 Ian Stevenson: Gentleman and Scholar Lisette Coly 95 The Quest for Acceptance Stuart J. Edelstein 100 Ian Stevenson: Founder of the Scientific Investigation of Doris Kuhlmann- Human Reincarnation Wilsdorf 102 Remembering My Teacher L. David Leiter 104 Comments on Ian Stevenson, M.D., Director of the Division of Antonia Mills Personality Studies and Pioneer of Reincarnation Research 107 Ian Stevenson: Reminiscences and Observations John Palmer 110 Dr. Ian Stevenson: A Multifaceted Personality Satwant K. Pasricha 115 A Good Question Tom Shroder 117 The Fight for the Truth John Smythies 120 Ian Stevenson: A Man from Whom We Should Learn Rex Stanford 125 Ian Stevenson and the Society for Scientific Exploration Peter A. Sturrock 128 Ian Stevenson’s Early Years in Charlottesville Ruth B. Weeks

–  –  –

141 Erratum 142 SSE News


3 Ian Stevenson (1918–2007) 7 At the University of Virginia 8 In Burma (1980) 9 Traveling by bullock cart in Burma (1984) 9 Photographing a birth defect 10 Interviewing in India 10 Lecturing at SSE Conference, Charlottesville, VA (1996) Journal of Scientific Exploration, Vol. 22, No. 1, pp. 1–1, 2008 0892-3310/08


Henry Bauer is a very hard act to follow. So hard, that I shall not even try. It will take a team of editors to reproduce what Henry could achieve single-handedly.

At my urging, and responding to the entreaties of several other officers, Henry graciously agreed to take on the job of Editor in the year 2000. As I recall, he agreed to take it on for only one year, but we have been able to prevail upon him to serve much longer than that. He has served as editor with energy, efficiency, good judgment, and good nature. I shall miss reading his entertaining and enlightening editorials in each issue of the Journal. Thank you, Henry, for your extraordinary service to the Society. I now look forward to receiving from you articles, essays, and perhaps an occasional Letter to the Editor.

There is no way that I could undertake to serve as editor a la mode de Henry ` Bauer! I can serve only as the first among equals. I am fortunate that seven capable scholars have agreed to serve as Associate Editors, including SSE Members Stephen Braude, York Dobyns, Bernard Haisch, Roger Nelson, Dean Radin, and Mark Rodeghier. I am particularly grateful that Bernie is willing to serve an Associate Editor, since he brings with him his eleven years of experience (from 1989 to 2000) as Editor-in-Chief. I saw the need for an Associate Editor from the medical profession, and I owe it to Wayne Jonas that he steered me in the direction of John Ives, who has kindly agreed to serve as an Associate Editor.

In order to make the job of Editor-in-Chief manageable to someone who does not have Henry’s abilities and stamina, the editorial duties are being shared among us all. Our policy is that each submission is assigned to an Associate Editor, who retains responsibility for the submission until it is either rejected or accepted.

(Thank you all, Associate Editors.) We are all fortunate that David Moncrief has agreed to continue his invaluable service as Book Review Editor. The book review section is a greatly appreciated part of the journal. (Thank you, David.) Members and Subscribers should know and appreciate that the fine and timely production of this journal is possible due only to the skilled, efficient, and courteous service of the Allen Press staff–in particular of the Managing Editor Joy Richmond and the former Assistant Managing Editor Lindsey Buscher.

(Thank you, Joy and Lindsey.) As you will see, Volume 22, Issue 1, is a very special event. The entire issue is dedicated to the memory of Ian Stevenson, who was a member of the SSE family before there was even a society, and well before it was finally named. Ian was a member of the Founding Committee, which also included our long-time Secretary Laurence Fredrick, our long-time Treasurer and President Charlie Tolbert, and our long-serving Vice President Bob Jahn. The compilation of this issue has been in the hands of Emily Williams Kelly and Carlos S. Alvarado, to whom I am most grateful.

Serving as Editor of JSE is a big responsibility, of which I am keenly aware.

It would be hard to improve on what Henry has done. But if you see ways to improve on what I am doing, please let me know.

–  –  –

Shortly after Ian Stevenson died on February 8, 2007, Henry Bauer asked us to guest-edit an issue of this Journal to be devoted to him – our mentor, colleague, and friend. Most readers of the Journal will probably agree that no one deserves such an honor more than Ian. He was a founding member of the Society for Scientific Exploration, but more importantly he exemplified the kind of scientist that the SSE was founded to encourage. For example, in 1957 he challenged a central tenet of psychoanalysis, then the predominant ideology in psychiatry, by publishing a paper in the American Journal of Psychiatry entitled ‘‘Is the Human Personality More Plastic in Infancy and Childhood?’’ He later said that, after this paper came out, a colleague in psychiatry asked him whether he could walk the streets unarmed (Stevenson, 1990, p. 8). Throughout his career he similarly challenged entrenched assumptions, not only in his extraordinarily well-reasoned and well-written publications but also in his painstaking investigations of empirical phenomena suggesting the need for a more comprehensive understanding of personality and consciousness, particularly the spontaneous phenomena of psychical research and, more specifically, phenomena related to the question of survival after death.

We are not at all certain that Ian himself would have welcomed the suggestion that an issue of this Journal be devoted to him. When he retired as Carlson Professor of Psychiatry and Director of the Division of Personality (now Perceptual) Studies at the University of Virginia, some of us told him that we

wanted to hold a party to honor his nearly 50 years at the University. Ian’s reply:

‘‘Well, you can have a party if you’d like, but I won’t be there.’’ Regardless of whether Ian would have approved of an entire issue devoted to him – even in a journal that he helped found – we went ahead and gathered contributions from among his many students, colleagues, and friends. We begin with some longer pieces that focus on some (although by no means all) of the many aspects of Ian’s life and work. Among these is a piece by Kerr White, Ian’s older brother. The brothers clearly came from a remarkable family because, like Ian, Dr. White is a physician and prolific writer who tackled important issues that few others had the courage to take on – in his case, health services research, or the objective evaluation of medical treatments, a field that he was

56 Editorial

instrumental in establishing. These longer pieces are followed by shorter reminiscences and comments from many people who worked with Ian during various periods of his career. At the end, we have reprinted an essay that Ian published 50 years ago in Harper’s Magazine entitled ‘‘Scientists with HalfClosed Minds.’’ Probably not many readers of this Journal will have encountered this essay before, but they will surely find it of great interest because – regrettably – it is as pertinent today as it was 50 years ago.

Readers will see that the contributions to this issue are all variations on a theme – that an extraordinary human being put all his immense capacities and energies to work on the most important question a person can ask: Who and what are we? We hope that, just as Ian personally inspired so many of us, this tribute to him might also inspire others to study his work and continue where he had to leave off. Because the number of his publications is so enormous, we have not included his bibliography here, but much of it is available at http://www.pflyceum.org/167.html

–  –  –

Barrington, M. R., Stevenson, I., & Weaver, Z. (2005). A World in a Grain of Sand. Jefferson, NC:


Shroder, T. (1999). Old Souls: The ScientiÞc Evidence for Past Lives. Simon & Schuster.

Journal of Scientific Exploration, Vol. 22, No. 1, pp. 85–86, 2008 0892-3310/08

–  –  –

I had the pleasure of debating the issues concerning survival with Ian Stevenson over many years, both in person and in print. And there were quite a few issues on which we didn’t see eye to eye. But what made those disagreements possible, and what allowed them to be as focused and substantive as they were, was the indispensable and monumental body of work that Ian had already produced and continued to produce.

Our debates tended to center around the interpretation of the survival evidence. The vast majority of modern cases were investigated and discussed either by Ian or by those who adopted his protocols, his terminology, and many of his philosophical and methodological assumptions. As in any area of empirical inquiry, all those matters are open to scrutiny and possible revision or abandonment. Ian understood that, and in our discussions he always displayed a commendable willingness to reflect critically on his own approach (and of course on mine as well, about which he had plenty of thoughtful things to say).

Quite apart from our disagreements about how best to interpret the survival data, we were in complete accord over the importance to parapsychology of spontaneous cases. Indeed, Ian’s clear-headed and sensible advocacy of nonexperimental evidence impressed and influenced me greatly during my early years in parapsychology. In fact, I found his 1968 essay ‘‘The Substantiality of Spontaneous Cases’’ (Stevenson, 1971) to be especially helpful. Moreover, since Ian and I were both members of an academic establishment in which intellectual freedom is often trumpeted but seldom practiced, I understood first-hand the sorts of pressures and criticisms that Ian had been confronting for many years.

And I have no doubt that he handled them, not simply tenaciously, but with more grace and dignity than I’d ever been able to muster.

I should add that my talks with Ian were not confined to the topic of survival, or even to parapsychology. I first met Ian when he and Jule Eisenbud came to hear me give a piano recital at the 1978 PA conference in St. Louis, and in our conversations thereafter we usually found time to discuss some mutual interests about music and the arts. On those matters, incidentally, our opinions were likely to converge. And I was usually glad we could end our discussions by setting

8586 S. E. Braude

aside our differences over the survival evidence to share our similar assessments of, say, Schubert and Brahms.

With Ian’s passing, parapsychology has lost one of its most important and inspiring figures. Fortunately, he has left behind a formidable legacy of theoretical and empirical studies whose riches, although already appreciated, are far from exhausted. In fact, just as the work of F. W. H. Myers (whom Ian admired greatly) is appreciated more now than during Myers’s life, I expect that Ian’s research will also grow in stature for many years. And I sincerely hope that it will eventually be recognized as essential reading not simply in parapsychology, but in an increasingly mature and well-rounded behavioral science.

Reference Stevenson, I. (1971). The substantiality of spontaneous cases [1968 Presidential Address].

Proceedings of the Parapsychological Association, 5, 91–128.

Journal of Scientific Exploration, Vol. 22, No. 1, pp. 87–92, 2008 0892-3310/08

–  –  –

This will be a very personal contribution. Although I am a great admirer of Ian’s work, I am not a professional parapsychologist, so other people can write with greater authority about his scientific contributions. However, Ian’s achievements lay not only in the corpus of his written works but also in the influence he had on colleagues whom he exhorted to take an interest in the subject from other fields.

So while his supreme scientific accomplishment was to pioneer and set the standards for an entirely new type of scientific methodology and to establish a school which now continues this line, he also made a vital contribution by his interactions with individuals beyond the shores of parapsychology itself. The effects of this may be harder to assess because they are indirect, but I believe they are also an important part of his legacy.

Another of Ian’s characteristics was his strong connection with the U.K. He studied at St. Andrews in Scotland, he spent much time, including several sabbatical periods, at Darwin College in Cambridge, and he had close links with–and made an important contribution to–the Society for Psychical Research (SPR) in London. He therefore had many friends on these (literally) foreign shores. The title of this contribution may therefore be understood in two different ways. Several of his U.K. friends have contributed to this volume, and I am proud to be among them.

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