Michael Sudduth's critique of the Leininger case as reincarnation or psi evidence

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Anyone have thoughts on Michael Sudduth's attempted debunking of the Leininger reincarnation case that was just published? https://www.scientificexploration.org/do...udduth.pdf.

Breaking from his usual pattern he doesn't argue for a living-agent psi interpretation but instead argues that there's no evidence of paranormality in the case at all. If he's succeeded I'd consider that pretty bad for reincarnation proponents insofar as the Leininger case is frequently held up as one of the best CORTs (cases of the reincarnation type). It also might reflect poorly on the Division of Perceptual Studies in general insofar as it'd imply that one of their key people, Jim Tucker, isn't very reliable in conducting case studies into the paranormal, which is his bread and butter.

Here's what Stephen Braude says about the paper in his editorial for the issue of JSE that it appears in:

>Michael Sudduth’s essay is a forensic tour de force (as befits an admirer of the TV detective Columbo)—an unprecedently detailed critique of the James Leininger case of ostensible reincarnation. That case is both complicated and messy, and it illustrates a general problem with CORT investigations that I’ve dubbed the Problem of Investigative Intricacy.

>All CORT cases are messy. Investigators must interview the subject, family members, and (when possible) crucial figures in the life of the previous personality. In fact, it typically requires considerable detective and interpretive work merely to identify the previous personality from the often vague or ambiguous behaviors and statements of the subject. And then, investigators must still obtain testimony from the remaining living persons (if any) who knew the apparent previous personality, simply to establish that the subject’s apparent recollections about the previous personality are reliable. Moreover, the interview process can be muddied by the fallibility of memory, and by conscious or subconscious motives either to please (or frustrate) the interlocutor or simply to confirm a deep wish for the case to be a genuine instance of reincarnation. And of course, many cases also require the services of translators whose own biases, inadequacies, and needs might influence the direction or accuracy of the testimony obtained. So a great deal of work is required to obtain clear and reliable early-bird testimony (i.e., gathered before the apparent previous personality was identified), establish a strong link between that testimony (or the subject’s behavior) and a previous personality, and to ensure the accuracy of the information obtained from interviews. In short, CORT investigations require a great deal of work simply to establish the reliable and relevant facts of the case.

>However, other bodies of evidence don’t require such a complex process either to identify the deceased or to establish a clear link between the living and the deceased. For example, in the case of the medium Mrs. Piper, we have many interactions between the medium and sitters who knew the deceased well. So when Mrs. Piper channeled a message having intimate relevance to the sitter (e.g., an affectionate and private nickname), we know immediately who the deceased seems to be. And arguably, transplant cases provide even clearer connections to the apparent deceased.


>Sudduth’s examination of the Leininger case is a breathtaking illustration of how difficult it is to properly evaluate evidence suggesting reincarnation. I imagine few of us have the fortitude or investigative skill for such a task. Indeed, I don’t believe any ostensible survival case has ever been subjected to such a thorough examination. I should also note that Sudduth and Jim Tucker will have more to say about the Leininger case in the Spring issue.


https://www.scientificexploration.org/do...torial.pdf
I don't have the time to read Sudduth's critique in detail, nor would I want to, either. He tends to examine elephants under a microscope to prove a point. Why he does that, only he knows. I'm not at all impressed with any of the attempted debunking of this case, personally I accept it as most likely to be a genuine case of reincarnation.

However, it is possible that it isn't, of course. But the evidence for reincarnation is wide and vast and doesn't depend on just this case or any case, it is the totality of it that is so impressive. Thanks for posting it, anyway !
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(2022-01-24, 01:55 PM)tim Wrote: I don't have the time to read Sudduth's critique in detail, nor would I want to, either. He tends to examine elephants under a microscope to prove a point. Why he does that, only he knows. I'm not at all impressed with any of the attempted debunking of this case, personally I accept it as most likely to be a genuine case of reincarnation.

However, it is possible that it isn't, of course. But the evidence for reincarnation is wide and vast and doesn't depend on just this case or any case, it is the totality of it that is so impressive. Thanks for posting it, anyway !

I do plan on reading it...but Sudduth has made a fool of himself enough times, coming off completely unhinged, I'm a bit surprised to see Braude jumping the gun here.

I mean has Tucker even had a chance to respond? Or will that have to wait until the Spring?
'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell


(This post was last modified: 2022-01-25, 02:31 AM by Sciborg_S_Patel. Edited 2 times in total.)
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  • tim
(2022-01-25, 01:55 AM)Sciborg_S_Patel Wrote: I do plan on reading it...but Sudduth has made a fool of himself enough times, coming off completely unhinged, I'm a bit surprised to see Braude jumping the gun here.

I mean has Tucker even had a chance to respond? Or will that have to wait until the Spring?

"I do plan on reading it"

Well if you do, please let us know what you think. I've read the case through in detail several times and I have Leslie Kean's book. I don't just accept her word on it, though, I make up my own mind. 

"but Sudduth has made a fool of himself enough times, coming off completely unhinged"

I get the feeling his ego has got out of control and that he likes himself and values his own jurisdiction a little too much. I'm not sure why he thinks that his opinion is so important and trumps everyone else's? 

I'm not bothered whether he thinks the evidence for survival stands up; I doubt if he has ever spoken to anyone that has died and come back (He'd probably say they didn't actually die). As for reincarnation, I know it's true because I've got the memories myself. However, to academics like Sudduth, that is merely hearsay. 

As to if or when Tucker will respond, I'm not sure, Sci.
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(2022-01-25, 11:37 AM)tim Wrote: I doubt if he has ever spoken to anyone that has died and come back (He'd probably say they didn't actually die). As for reincarnation, I know it's true because I've got the memories myself. However, to academics like Sudduth, that is merely hearsay.

He's a pretty big proponent of Living Agent Psi I believe. He got into it with Titus Rivas and Kastrup (and to an extent Michael Prescott). As Kastrup notes, Sudduth came off like a clown desperate for (social media?) attention. Rivas also wrote about varied errors he felt occurred in Sudduth's writings.

But for the record, here are Sudduth's thoughts on Survival. In short he believes Super Psi is the better explanation.
'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell


(This post was last modified: 2022-01-25, 08:24 PM by Sciborg_S_Patel. Edited 1 time in total.)
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  • tim
(2022-01-25, 11:37 AM)tim Wrote:  As for reincarnation, I know it's true because I've got the memories myself. However, to academics like Sudduth, that is merely hearsay.

Some people have memories that cause them to believe in the Mandela Effect.  Does that mean reality is changing?  I have had an incredible experience that proved to me the Gospel is real, the same Gospel that makes it crystal clear there cannot be any reincarnation.  Your reality and mine conflict and to somebody outside of our realities, there are all sorts of better explanations that don't require supernatural thinking at all.  We can't all be right.
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(2022-01-25, 08:37 PM)Brian Wrote:  I have had an incredible experience that proved to me the Gospel is real
Would you be interested in sharing that? I'll completely respect if you prefer not to.
(2022-01-25, 08:37 PM)Brian Wrote: Some people have memories that cause them to believe in the Mandela Effect.  Does that mean reality is changing?  I have had an incredible experience that proved to me the Gospel is real, the same Gospel that makes it crystal clear there cannot be any reincarnation.  Your reality and mine conflict and to somebody outside of our realities, there are all sorts of better explanations that don't require supernatural thinking at all.  We can't all be right.

I feel like I am in danger of making enemies every time I answer a post but I have some "hot buttons" that keep getting pressed and it is difficult to avoid adding my two cents (or 2 penneth, to stay faithful to my roots).

When you say "Gospel" - what do you mean? The four canonical gospels that the Catholic church decided upon hundreds of years after the time of Christ? If so, do you accept them in their entirety or just the bits that you can rationalise to your own satisfaction? Do you, for example, accept the Virgin Birth, or the seven loaves and fishes, or the other miracles? 

I asked the same questions of my local vicar when I was about 12 years old. To that point I had been an entusiastic follower of my Sunday School lessons and studied after hours for Scripture Exams. Then the questions started in my own mind so I asked and was told that I don't have enough faith and should just accept. I asked him whether he accepted and he dodged the answer which all but ended my interest in religion for the rest of my life. You see I really liked and respected that vicar. He was a kind and caring man - just as Jesus would have expected of one of his followers. But by the age of 12, blind faith was not enough and never would be again. So to reject evidence such as that for reincarnation because you deem it disagrees with some dogma that you have faith in, just does not make sense to me. Reject that evidence by disproving it if you can but not because it doesn't fit with your faith.

Perhaps you might want to answer in a new thread - sorry for distracting from the OP.
I do not make any clear distinction between mind and God. God is what mind becomes when it has passed beyond the scale of our comprehension.
Freeman Dyson
(This post was last modified: 2022-01-25, 10:42 PM by Kamarling. Edited 1 time in total.)
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(2022-01-25, 09:50 PM)Ninshub Wrote: Would you be interested in sharing that? I'll completely respect if you prefer not to.
I too would like to read Brian's story, if that counts for anything.


(2022-01-25, 10:40 PM)Kamarling Wrote: I feel like I am in danger of making enemies every time I answer a post but I have some "hot buttons" that keep getting pressed and it is difficult to avoid adding my two cents (or 2 penneth, to stay faithful to my roots).

When you say "Gospel" - what do you mean? The four canonical gospels that the Catholic church decided upon hundreds of years after the time of Christ? If so, do you accept them in their entirety or just the bits that you can rationalise to your own satisfaction? Do you, for example, accept the Virgin Birth, or the seven loaves and fishes, or the other miracles? 

I asked the same questions of my local vicar when I was about 12 years old. To that point I had been an entusiastic follower of my Sunday School lessons and studied after hours for Scripture Exams. Then the questions started in my own mind so I asked and was told that I don't have enough faith and should just accept. I asked him whether he accepted and he dodged the answer which all but ended my interest in religion for the rest of my life. You see I really liked and respected that vicar. He was a kind and caring man - just as Jesus would have expected of one of his followers. But by the age of 12, blind faith was not enough and never would be again. So to reject evidence such as that for reincarnation because you deem it disagrees with some dogma that you have faith in, just does not make sense to me. Reject that evidence by disproving it if you can but not because it doesn't fit with your faith.

Perhaps you might want to answer in a new thread - sorry for distracting from the OP.
I also hate to be derailing things. And I really don't want to get into a debate about Christianity. But I do feel compelled to make one point, and I hope we can leave this there, as I'm not really trying to argue, but instead want to make an observation that I hope will not seem unreasonable or controversial. The idea that Christian faith can only operate on the basis of blind, unthinking belief is incorrect. I used to think that. But it's become clear to me that Christianity is like anything else: there are people who defend it with a high degree of intelligence and sophistication and others who fall far short of accomplishing that despite their best efforts. I've found that this is true of just about every worldview I've considered seriously: physicalist atheism, Spiritualism, Hinduism, etc. Most clergy are not particularly knowledgeable about Bible scholarship, philosophy, or theology, so it doesn't surprise me that the vicar you knew was pretty useless when it came to addressing searching questions effectively. By the same token, I've found that most people who make a great show of their atheism are embarrassingly incompetent about the theological and philosophical matters that they hold forth on with great confidence. It's ultimately irrelevant because as with Christians, some atheists are very brilliant and informed, and accordingly can make an impressive case for their worldview. Nowadays I try to ignore the masses of low-quality non-thought and find the best arguments for whatever position I'm considering, so I don't end up misled about the real advantages some idea may or may not have.

If you want some Christians who deal with problems related to the Bible's historicity in a serious way, rather than brushing off challenges and demanding that people just believe, I'd recommend Craig Blomberg and Lydia and Tim McGrew. Blomberg's _The Historical Reliability of the New Testament_ might be a good place to start if you're interested.

Now back to the topic of this thread:

A first point to make is that I have no interest in personally supporting or detracting from Sudduth's argument against the Leininger case. I know very little about CORTs, it might be the paranormal phenomenon about which I am least knowledgeable. So I don't feel I have much of a stake in which way this turns out. Whatever the outcome of this I've gotten more curious about CORTs and want to understand the best arguments for and against them as evidence of reincarnation.

That said, something to highlight about Sudduth's argument is that as far as I can tell, he isn't only giving a new interpretation of the Leininger case, considering in a new way the facts that have been put forward in a bunch of different books, papers, shows, whatever, about the Leininger case over the years. Instead it seems he went much further and attempted his own re-investigation of the case. And he alleges that the results of that re-investigation show that a lot of alleged key facts in the case either aren't facts at all or haven't been and maybe can't be established as facts. There's a lot going on in the paper and I don't want to mangle it by trying to summarize everything I've read so far and inadvertently misrepresenting content. But it seems to me that the re-investigation is the most potentially damaging stuff in the paper with respect to the Leininger case.

This appears to come out clearly where Sudduth compares the fit of claims of James Leininger with facts from the life of James Huston as presented by Jim Tucker against the fit of the Leininger claims and Huston facts in the context of Sudduth's re-investigation. By the way I tried to embed the images at the following links in this post but I couldn't get it to work.

The Tucker presentation of the case, as summed up by Sudduth in Table 2 of his paper:

https://imgur.com/a/HII63zO

The Sudduth presentation of the case:

https://imgur.com/a/XMlXUwL

https://imgur.com/a/GCmXEVo

Again without aiming to support or detract from Sudduth's argument I will just say that IF the FACTS are actually such that Table 3 is accurate and Table 2 isn't, then that would seem to be a big problem for interpretations of the Leininger case as paranormal in nature. This is really the only reason I posted this thread. If Sudduth had only made another armchair debunking effort with no on-the-ground work, no new investigations, just strained efforts to explain old facts, I doubt it would've gotten my attention. But the possibility that what have long been said to be important facts about the case aren't actually facts as revealed by further investigation could be a big deal.
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(2022-01-26, 01:16 AM)RViewer88 Wrote: Again without aiming to support or detract from Sudduth's argument I will just say that IF the FACTS are actually such that Table 3 is accurate and Table 2 isn't, then that would seem to be a big problem for interpretations of the Leininger case as paranormal in nature. This is really the only reason I posted this thread. If Sudduth had only made another armchair debunking effort with no on-the-ground work, no new investigations, just strained efforts to explain old facts, I doubt it would've gotten my attention. But the possibility that what have long been said to be important facts about the case aren't actually facts as revealed by further investigation could be a big deal.

Honestly I will probably wait for Tucker's response after skimming the paper.

It *might* be a good enough reason to discount the case, it might not, but Sudduth has been making the rounds against Survival in such an embarrassing manner it makes the regular skeptics seem more reasonable.
'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell


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