The existence of paranormal research suggests that even the most hardened of skeptics want to believe that "there are more things on heaven and earth that are dreamt of in their philosophies," to paraphrase Shakespeare. However, accredited scientific research into the paranormal remains controversial. Even comprehensive and evidence-heavy studies are often still considered "pseudo science" by doubters, and it's difficult to know where the burden of proof actually lies.
Still, scientists ... at least open-minded ones of the Einsteinian variety ... continue to be fascinated by the unknown. Some specialists focus on children who claim to dream about and even actively remember their past lives; others test the supposed abilities of mediums and other potentially gifted individuals. The more mainstream scientific community may scoff at these avenues of research, but certain academics and scientists continue to press onwards in their studies of parapsychology. Ready to be convinced? Below are a handful of case studies that are worth considering.
Dr. Jim Tucker is a child psychologist and Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Sciences at the University of Virginia School of Medicine. He has worked with many children who have inexplicably recounted "memories that are not their own, that are often linked to real-life individuals who lived decades in the past, and thousands of miles away.” One of his most convincing cases concerned a boy named James Leininger, who, at age 2, began having “terrible nightmares of violent plane crashes." According to this article, Leininger was able to recount vivid details about World War II military operations; he also ... and inexplicably ... knew a great deal about fighter jets.
Most significantly, however, Leininger was able to recall the name of a real aircraft carrier and a real soldier (one James Huston) who had actually died near Iwo Jima. Every detail the boy put forth has since been verified. There's no way of "proving" the story in the linear sense, but, as Tucker pointed out to NPR in a 2014 interview, “it seems absolutely impossible that [Leininger] could have somehow gained this information as a 2-year-old through some sort of normal means."
A few years ago, Dr. Jim Tucker of the University of Virginia made headlines when he began investigating a young boy named Ryan Hammond. According to reports, Hammond had had vivid nightmares from a very early age ... ones that almost invariably concluded with him “waking up in the middle of the night screaming and clutching his chest, saying he dreamed his heart exploded when he was in Hollywood.” One night, while the boy was still in preschool, he told his mother that he suspected he'd once been "someone else.”
Hammond's mother visited the local library and took out some books on old Hollywood, hoping that their photographs would somehow help to pacify her son. To her surprise, the child immediately gravitated toward a still from a 1930s film called Night After Night. He identified himself as one Marty Martyn, who turned out to have been a Hollywood agent who had died of a heart attack. Hammond also accurately described Martyn's family, and the home he had lived in back in the '40s.
In 2001, the UK-based medical journal The Lancet published a study on NDEs (near death experiences) in hospitals. The 13 year trial was conducted by Dr. Pim van Lommel, a prominent researcher in the field of near death studies.
Van Lommel's trials, which were conducted in 10 different Dutch medical facilities, involved 344 patients who had actually “died” for a significant number of minutes. Eventual findings revealed that “18% of the patients had some memory from their period of unconsciousness, and 12% (1 out of every 8) had what the physicians called a 'core' or 'deep' NDE.” Their NDE experiences included “out-of-body perception, moving through a tunnel, communication with light, blissful feelings, observation of a celestial landscape, meeting with deceased persons, life review, and presence of a border.”
Moreover, when said patients were interviewed years later, their stories were still completely consistent.
In 1978, the CIA launched The Stargate Project, a top-secret experiment in "remote viewing," which has been defined as the ability to "see," or sense, events from a distance. Designed to explore potential in espionage, the study yielded many remarkable findings before it was suspended in the late 1980s.
In 1995, the CIA finally declassified the project's files. According to sources, one of the project's co-founders, Russell Tarq, reportedly carried out an "10,000-mile remote viewing experiment between Moscow and San Francisco" with Djuna Davitashvili, a prominent Russian healer. Davitashvili successfully described the whereabouts of an individual, even though he was thousands of miles away. In another experiment, a retired police officer apparently described a secret Soviet weapons lab after being given its geographical coordinates.
Skeptics may scoff, but the powers that be did not: the study's results were apparently convincing enough to warrant "a formal congressional investigation to determine if there had been a breach in National Security."