Today I bought a little book on reincarnation from Barnes & Noble. The book was in the bargain section – yea, in the clearance section of the bargain section, and Lo! even the clearance price had been marked down. It’s actually a decent little book on different theories about reincarnation, what major world religions say about the subject, and both evidence for reincarnation and arguments against it.

For anyone who doesn’t know, I believe in re-incarnation. I think Kim is agnostic on the subject, so I bought the book for her to read as a question-prompter.

As I was reading through the book today to find out what it said before I gave it to Kim, I had an idea.

A lot of universities spend millions of dollars on archaeological expeditions intended to cast even just a little bit of light on ancient cultures, practices, and history. (Actually, the expeditions are also and perhaps more so conducted for the glory of the university and its professors, but that’s another topic.) Many of these same universities have less-well known programs researching extrasensory phenomena, including hypnosis and past-life regression.

Many famous cases of past-life regression go back hundreds or thousands of years, definitely into the periods that fascinated archaeologists, anthropologists, and historians. Several well-documented cases of past-life memories portrayed the person with the memories recalling details that were otherwise publicly unknown and only corroborated after the memories were investigated.

I think it would be terribly instructive if a university (or perhaps just a well-funded freelancer) conducted wide-cast interviews to regress a large number of people (perhaps college students) to find subjects who have memories of interesting historical periods. I haven’t done any research to find out what percentage of people regressed can remember past lives, much less lives more than 100 years ago. Nor have I done enough research to find out what kind of details are provided – usually the hypnotists seem interested in names and events that may be causing imbalances today, rather than seeking general information about their subjects’ past life environs.

I don’t expect many legitimate scholars would take date from past-life regressions seriously. Some of them may even be upset by the idea for whatever silly reason. But if a sufficiently detailed and robust body of memories could be produced, I bet at least a few scholars would go out of their way to try to disprove it, and if they couldn’t… Or even more provoking, if it filled in gabs in knowledge….

That would be interesting.