Reglion Many Lives, Many Masters - A Case For Reincarnation?

Discussion in 'Book Reviews & Editorials' started by Aman Singh, Jun 6, 2016.

  1. Aman Singh

    Aman Singh Admin SPNer

    Jun 1, 2004
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    I am sure many learned members would have read this book, many quote this book in support for the concept of rebirth/transmigration/reincarnation... The following is a complete review of the book from a critical eye of Jon Danzig. Makes for an interesting reading. Any comments in support or to the contrary from our learned members would be appreciated.

    Book Review: Many Lives, Many Masters: The True Story of a Prominent Psychiatrist, His Young Patient, and the Past-Life Therapy That Changed Both Their Lives by Brian L., Wiess, M.D.
    In the words of the reviewer Jon Danzig: My review only challenged the 'scientific' claims and 'facts' made in Dr Weiss's book, since he states he is a scientist and his book purported to provide "evidence" of reincarnation. This the book doesn't do, as I hope I have demonstrated. Whether reincarnation actually happens or not is a different matter. You are right, faith is the belief in something that cannot be proven. If Dr Weiss's book had really proven reincarnation, faith would not be needed.


    This is one of the worst books I've ever read - parading as a scientific analysis when it is nothing of the sort.

    Dr Weiss has conducted his research without scientific protocols or peer review, yet as a "scientist", Dr Weiss should have the skills and resources necessary to have conducted his "investigation" properly and scientifically. The fact that he chose not to has, I believe, discredited his book as a work of fairy tale-like fiction.

    Rather than a conventional review, I will go through some of the claims made in the book, page by page, and show how it's full of nonsense.

    Page 27-28– In regressing under hypnosis an anonymous patient called Catherine to a “past life”, Dr Weiss claims that Catherine can “vividly” see that, “The year is 1863 BC”. Yet this date could not have existed at that time, so how could Catherine possibly have seen it? In later hypnosis sessions, Catherine was only able to reveal the date of her past life if she could “see or hear” it: so it makes a complete nonsense of history to be able to “see” a date that didn’t exist contemporaneously.

    Page 28– In another hypnosis session, Catherine claimed that her daughter from 1863 BC, called Cleastra, was her niece in the present time called Rachel. Why didn’t Dr Weiss question Catherine more closely about this astonishing claim? It could simply have been the result of Catherine’s vivid imagination. How precisely did she know? No details, scientific basis or substance are provided; it was just presented by Dr Weiss as a fact.

    Page 29– Catherine states now that she is in the year AD 1756 and her name is Louisa. Why no surname mentioned? With a surname in more modern time such as the 18th Century, the existence of such a person could be verified. Throughout the book, Catherine never states and is never asked for a surname. Neither is any specific address given or asked, which could be factually verified.

    Page 30– Dr Weiss asks Catherine if he appeared in her past life. Yes, she replies, Dr Weiss was her teacher in the year 1568 BC. Again, no questioning on how Catherine could presume that. It is accepted and presented as fact by Dr Weiss, without challenge. Again, a contemporaneously non-existent date is presented, when dates of more modern times could not be revealed as Catherine claimed she could not “see” them.

    Page 36– Dr Weiss claims that reincarnation was mentioned in the Bible, but it had been deleted early on. Where is the source? For a doctor who claims to have written many scientific journals, this is one book written in a most unscientific way. Dr Weiss does not provide a list of sources or references to support any of the claims he makes in this book.

    Page 42– Now Catherine claims that the man who killed her in 1473 was her current boyfriend, called Stuart. Again, no questioning by Dr Weiss on exactly how she came to this conclusion. Also, Dr Weiss did not give Catherine’s verbatim account, even though Dr Weiss claimed to have written down or recorded her words. This was a critical commentary by Catherine, and Dr Weiss should have quoted her directly.

    Page 43– Catherine claims that her mother in a previous, undated life is the same mother she has now. Again, no precise details are provided. No mention of when or where this happened. It’s all skipped over. No clear description of the mother then and her mother now. It’s all accepted without question. This amazing revelation is all over in one paragraph and not mentioned again. Where is the close questioning by the scientist that Dr Weiss is supposed to be?

    Page 43– Dr Weiss states, “According to most writers, groups of souls tend to reincarnate again and again...” Most writers? Maybe Dr Weiss could claim that most writers who write about reincarnation, but surely not most writers generally? It’s this type of imprecise writing that makes Dr Weiss’s book not one of scientific scrutiny and discovery, but a book of imprecise narration. Again, no source to back up his claim about “most writers...”

    Page 43- Dr Weiss states, “I felt the need to apply the scientific method, which I had rigorously used over the past fifteen years in my research, to evaluate this most unusual material emerging from Catherine’s lips.” Good idea. Yet, nowhere in the book does Dr Weiss apply any scientific methods to evaluate the claims made by his patient, Catherine. He only ever makes lip service to scientific methods.

    Page 44– Dr Weiss wrote that, following the hypnosis sessions, Catherine gained “psychic powers”. However, Catherine’s father (in her present life!) expressed doubt about Catherine’s new powers. Dr Weiss wrote, “To prove to him that it was true, she took him to the race track. There, before his eyes, she proceeded to pick the winner of every race.....she took all the money that she had won and gave it to the first poor street person she met on the way out of the track.” Where is the source and independent verification for this story? If true, it should have been easy to check and prove the truthfulness of this account. By not doing so, by not even explaining why he could not do so, Dr Weiss has demeaned the intelligence of every one of his readers.

    Page 44– Dr Weiss states, “This was tangible proof.... I could not deny her psychic abilities.” Dr Weiss calls this one, unverified account of winning at the races as “tangible proof” of psychic abilities. Whatever happened to Dr Weiss’s scientific training? This was not proof at all.

    Page 46– Under hypnosis, Catherine is “regressed” to an unknown date in history to a town she thinks is called “Brennington”. Dr Weiss states, “Here she (Catherine) said some words I could not identify. Whether they were Gaelic or not, I have no idea.” Dr Weiss had no idea? He had recorded the sessions. Surely it would have been easy for him to identify whether the words spoken by Catherine were Gaelic or not, and if he could not, to explain precisely why. The lack of precision, detail, or questioning in Dr Weiss’s writings undermine his title of Doctor.

    Page 47– Dr Weiss wrote of Catherine, “She had never heard of the Tibetan Book of the Dead. Yet she was relating similar experiences to those described in these writings. This was a proof of sorts.” A proof of sorts? This was not proof of anything. How could Dr Weiss ascertain that Catherine had never heard of the Tibetan Book of the Dead? His scientific training should have taught him that it is impossible to prove a negative. To put forward this as proof, again makes a mockery of true scientific discovery.

    Page 54– Dr Weiss states that, under hypnosis, Catherine tells him things about his own father and his son, that could not possibly have been known by Catherine. This might be impressive if it was independently verified.

    There is no way of telling whether the entire book is a complete work of fiction, and if it is, then of course it would be easy for Dr Weiss to make up anything to try and impress the gullible reader. After all, the existence of Catherine is not proven. She could be a person made up. We don’t know her full name. Why has she not come forward to confirm what Dr Weiss has written about her? This book has made a lot of money. Who knows what was the true motive of Dr Weiss to write it?

    Page 57– Dr Weiss refers to “thousands of cases recorded in the scientific literature” of children miraculously being able to speak foreign languages “to which they had never been exposed.” Again, no source for Dr Weiss’s claims. Not even one book is sourced to show that there has been any scientific study, let alone thousands, about children who speak languages that they have not been taught. I challenge Dr Weiss to provide the so called scientific studies to which he so casually refers.

    Page 66– another hypnosis session in which Catherine is regressed to a town in Wales called something like “Hamstead” when Catherine was a man called “Christian” – again, no surname ever stated. Dr Weiss says, “She could not see a year.” How was it that she could not see a year? It seems that Catherine was only able to tell the year if she could see it written down, but that was impossible for the times she could date from BC. This seems so nonsensical. Then Dr Weiss quotes Catherine as saying, “It’s a port, a seaport in Wales. They’re talking British.” British? There was, and is, no such language as British. Perhaps the people around her were talking Welsh or English, but not British. Why didn’t Dr Weiss question this?

    Page 82– Under hypnosis Catherine described a wedding in a past life. Dr Weiss asks her if there was anything in the newspaper about the wedding, because if there was, he could have looked up the date. “No,” replies Catherine, “I don’t believe they have newspapers there.” Dr Weiss writes, “Documentation was proving difficult to come by in this lifetime”.

    This was a nonsensical statement for Dr Weiss to write, as if giving credence to the idea that there was documentary evidence to support any of the other past lives described by Catherine. In fact, Dr Weiss did not provide any documentary evidence at all in his book to support any of the pasts lives described by Catherine.

    Page 88– Dr Weiss writes that he was “driven to pursue the experience with Catherine in a careful, scientific manner” and to look at the information “objectively”. In the book, Dr Weiss makes several references for the need to explore everything in a scientific manner and with objectivity, but nowhere did he do this. This is an old trick. By mentioning the need for scientific scrutiny and repeating often that he is a scientist, to the vulnerable reader, this could seem the same as conducting peer reviewed, empirical, repeatable scientific experiments. But Dr Weiss did no such thing, he just wrote about its importance, without doing it. Dr Weiss did not follow any scientific principles in his study of Catherine.

    Page 106– Dr Weiss simply states that he knows Catherine’s information to be true “intuitively” and “my bones also knew”. This is the best he has to offer. It’s not the same as scientific evidence.

    Page 116-117– Under hypnosis, Catherine describes herself as a 35-year-old German pilot in the Second World War shot down in France. Again, no specific detail is garnered by the questioning of Dr Weiss that could have proved beyond doubt whether such a pilot actually existed; such as what was the pilot’s full name and rank and squadron? This hardly seems the work of a true scientist.

    Page 117–118– Dr Weiss writes, “During this entire process with Catherine, I had been reluctant to discuss her revelations with other professionals. .. I had not shared this remarkable information with others at all.” A true scientist would insist on sharing his data with other professionals to discuss and verify. By not allowing the data to be independently scrutinised, we only have Dr Weiss’s word for what happened between him and “Catherine” and we only have his interpretations of the results. This is simply not good enough. No drug testing, no murder trial, not even a newspaper story, should ever rely upon one unverified source as evidence.

    Page 129– Dr Weiss lists a number of people who had “psychic experiences” without naming them or providing any verification or proof. A chairman of a hospital department whose dead father protects him; a professor whose dreams provide the answers to his research experiments; a “well-known doctor” who knows who is phoning him before he picks up the phone (yeah, isn’t that ‘Caller Display’?!), a woman who’d never been to Rome before but, when she visited, knew every street as if she had previously lived there. This is all gossip; the fact that Dr Weiss is prepared to quote such examples without providing any substance means that he does not adhere to scientific principles at all. This is the case throughout the book, only lip service is made to science, as if that is good enough to make the book scientific, which of course it is not.

    Page 159– during the hypnosis sessions, Dr Weiss states that Catherine speaks the voice of “masters”, sort of gods who control the spirit world and are the well of all wisdom. Of course, Dr Weiss accepts this without question. One master, named by Dr Weiss as the “poet Master”, provided a summary of all wisdom as follows, “Everything must be balanced. Nature is balanced. The beasts live in harmony. Humans have not learned to do that. They continue to destroy themselves. There is no harmony, no plan to what they do. It’s so different in nature. Nature is balanced. Nature is energy and life..and restoration. And humans just destroy. They destroy nature. They destroy other humans. They will eventually destroy themselves.”

    This is all just reactionary, doom laden nonsense aimed to appeal to the least sophisticated of human thinking. “The beasts live in harmony”? The animal world is vicious, involving wanton and brutal killing for food, sex, territory and power... animals destroy each other and can often be very damaging to the rest of nature. Look at the damage caused by locusts, for example, or ants, or foxes. Humans are animals too, so we cannot be expected to be any different or, actually, any better. Yet... how many animals have invented courts and parliaments to resolve differences, create laws and govern ourselves in a civilised manner? How many animals stop at traffic lights?

    What animals make plans for industry, transport, schools, hospitals and libraries? The standard of living of the average ant hasn’t ever improved..yet humans have made huge strides to improve their way of life. If describing humans as being worse than animals is wisdom that Dr Weiss believes truly comes from “masters” of the universe, then it doesn’t seem so wise or enlightened to me.

    Page 199– Dr Weiss describes how Catherine had gone to see a psychic astrologer called Iris Saltzman. According to Dr Weiss, Saltzman confirmed all of what Catherine had revealed under hypnosis. This is hardly scientific validation. How does Weiss know what really happened at that session with Saltzman? How does he even know it even happened at all?

    Page 203– Dr Weiss describes how progress is going to be made in proving past-life memories. He writes, “The important strides that are going to be made in this field will be made using scientific methodology. In science, a hypothesis, which is a preliminary assumption made about a series of observations, is initially created to explain a phenomenon. From there, the hypothesis must be tested under controlled conditions. The results of these tests must be proved and replicated before a theory can be formed. Once the scientists have what they think is a sound theory, it must be tested again and again by other researchers, and the results should be the same.” I say, hear hear! But throughout his book, Dr Weiss has not used any of the scientific methods he claims to subscribe to.

    In fact, his methods were so unscientific, that the so called “evidence” he has presented to the world would have to be excluded from any scientific report, as being a complete sham and the opposite to true scientific discovery.

    Page 203– Dr Weiss quoted several scientists who had published “detailed, scientifically acceptable studies” to support reincarnation. For example, the work of Dr Joseph Banks Rhine, a pioneer of parapsychology. Yet, despite the requirement agreed by Dr Weiss for experiments to be “repeatable”, Dr Rhine’s results could never be duplicated and several of his assistants were accused of fraud. Dr Weiss named Dr Ian Stevenson as another scientist who had proved reincarnation. Yet Dr Stevenson was on record as recognising a “glaring flaw” in his researches: “the absence of any evidence of a physical process by which a personality could survive death and travel to another body”.

    Page 217-218- Dr Weiss explains that after Catherine he has regressed under hypnosis 12 other patients. He recounts a Jewish housewife who ran a 19th Century brothel in New Orleans (surely verifiable, but no substance provided) and who has “even more of a facility for accurately predicting future events”. Dr Weiss claims, “I am still the scientist. All of her material must be scrutinized, evaluated and validated”. Yet, so far, Dr Weiss has failed to do that with any of the material he has presented. At least at the beginning of his book, on page 10, Dr Weiss admits, “I do not have a scientific explanation for what happened.”

    In reading “Many Lives, Many Masters”, I had an open mind and was prepared to consider any evidence provided. I am disappointed that a doctor should write an account in such an unscientific manner and without any evidence to offer, when much could have been offered to either validate or disprove what happened.

    For example, why not release the recordings of the sessions with the patient? Or at least, prove that the patient really existed? How are we to know that this wasn’t simply a work of fiction? It’s impossible to tell from what has been written. It could have all been made up, only first names have been used. Dr Weiss made no attempts to verify the astounding claims made by his patient, Catherine.

    Dr Weiss,on page 11,argues that, “throughout history, humankind has been resistant to change and to the acceptance of new ideas. Historical lore is replete with examples. When Galileo discovered the moons of Jupiter, the astronomers of that time refused to accept or even look at the satellites...So it is now with psychiatrists and other therapists, who refuse to examine and evaluate the considerable evidence being gathered about survival after bodily death and about past-life memories. Their eyes stay tightly shut.”

    It is disingenuous of Dr Weiss to compare his discoveries with that of Galileo or to claim that there is “considerable evidence” to prove life after death. Galileo’s discoveries were proved by real evidence. So far, there is no similar scientifically validated or accepted evidence to prove life after death or past-life memories. To try to suggest that such “evidence” equates with the discoveries of Galileo is simply quasi-science aimed to hoodwink unquestioning and unscientific members of the public.

    Just because “Catherine” spoke her words under hypnosis, why should they be considered any more valid or believable than if she had simply told a story whilst wide awake? Her stories seemed imaginative fiction to me; I could not tell them apart from many other made-up stories I have read or heard, but it doesn’t make them true. People have been telling stories ever since we could talk. There was nothing truly special in the stories of Catherine. All her historical references, which were quite vague anyway, could have been remembered from school lessons or documentaries or other books she had read, or simply from her imagination.

    Dr Weiss only claimed to know Catherine in the privacy of his consulting room, he didn’t really know her personally or in the “outside” world. How could Dr Weiss know if she had hidden or even open talents as a story teller? Also, I’ve been hypnotised many times, there’s nothing really that special about it, I knew exactly what I was saying during hypnosis and could remember it all afterwards.

    As I wrote at the beginning of my review: Dr Weiss has conducted his research without scientific protocols or peer review, yet as a "scientist", Dr Weiss should have the skills and resources necessary to have conducted his "investigation" properly and scientifically. The fact that he chose not to has, I believe, discredited his book as a work of fairy tale-like fiction.

    Review Copyright 2012 Jon Danzig
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