This post is going to be short. It is about a single issue, concerning the following report:
“Acquisition of Donor Traits by Heart Transplant Recipients,” by Paul Pearsall, Gary E R Schwartz, & Linda G S Russek, Anti-Matters.org (an Open Access e-Journal), No. 1, Vol. 1, 2007, pp. 107–114
The above report is available as a PDF file from the Web site of Anti-Matters.org. (Note the plural form in the name.) The URL to directly access the above report is the following: http://anti-matters.org/ojs/index.php?journal=am&page=article&op=view&path=7&path=7.
Although anti-matters.org is supposed to be a journal (described as “an open access e-journal,” it even has an ISSN), the above report is not written in the typical style/format of a scientific article in the usual kind of a scientific journal.
This, by itself, need not diminish the value of a report. But then, the contents of this article are somewhat surprising. The tone of the writing seems to be pretty OK, but the facts themselves are rather different in nature.
In short, this collection of fact tells one story: In heart transplant operations, recipients sometimes acquires certain mental characteristics of the donor, and, if the reported facts are right, even some parts of memory of the donor in some vague sense. (Note, the donor, here, is a dead person—this is a heart transplant operation we are talking about—not the kidney transplant.)
The findings are surprising because surgery has been such a common practice for so many decades/centuries by now. (BJP’s claims state that surgeries were a routine practice in ancient India.) Even if transplantation of hearts is a relatively recent development, people have been receiving other organs for a much longer time. Yet, one has never heard of even wild stories of this nature (call them old wives’ tales if you wish) … Why did it take so long for such things to surface? That is one of the questions to strike someone brought up in India.
I noticed this report many months back (possibly more than a year or so back), but, somehow, the matter kept on slipping off my mind.
Let me now raise two specific questions via this post:
(i) Has anyone (apart from the authors and publishers of the report) cross-checked the veracity of the facts stated in the above mentioned report? the accuracy of those facts?
(ii) Do you know of any refutation of this particular report coming from the skeptical quarters?
Let me also add that ever since I came across Stevenson’s book on reincarnation, many such things have ceased to surprise me. So, in that sense, even this report would not surprise me much either—assuming that no one finds any flaws with the reported facts as such. (I came across a couple of Stevenson’s books way back in the first quarter of 1993, while generally browsing the shelves in the library of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, in the USA. I had then noted (perhaps in those two books), and subsequently had also came across, some news articles and stories etc. concerning the researches of one of his students/collaborators, one Ms. Satwant Pasricha in India. (If I recall it correctly when Ms. Pasricha did her Stevenson-style reincarnation-related research, she was working with the University of Rajasthan. Later on, she probably moved to some psychology institute of “national importance” in Bangalore.)) In short, I am pretty well-prepared if the matters stated in the above report turn out to be factually true.
Yet, taking something on the face value is not what one does habitually. And, one never does that in science. One always cross-checks.
Also, a collection of “facts,” by itself, hardly amounts to anything. One must also have proper philosophic premises and concepts, and at least some conceptual hypotheses if not fully developed theories to explain all those data. For example, even while narrating in a rather journalistic or naturalistic manner all his mass of concrete data, Stevenson does ponder in his book about the theoretical clues suggested by those data. He pauses to consider some specific hypotheses which neither involve fraud/forgery but which do not directly substantiate all ideas concerning the specific hypothesis of reincarnation either. He does that with an unmistakable honesty. I recall all about Stevenson’s research in a vague way and from memory alone—this matter is now 16 years old matter (I hardly read up anything on the matter again), and it always has been, decidedly, a side reading for me. I mention it only to point out why the above report need not be surprising and how some minimum hypothetical/theoretical clues must exist.
The important point here is that nothing on the theoretical lines can be found in this report. Indeed, if you do an Internet search, you don’t readily find any followup study for this report either…
Hence this post.
Drop me a line if you know of any URLs concerning the abovementioned two questions that I have raised. Also, any theoretical clues as to how this might be happening (assuming it does!)—clues that are serious and which refrain from being wild speculations alone. Finally, although I do not consider myself to be a skeptic, I would still like to know if you can readily spot any weaknesses in the above mentioned report right in its present form. (I found nothing, not at least on my very first reading.) In other words, this post also is something in the nature of a request for (well thought-out and relevant) comments. Thanks in advance.
And, of course, you know that Microsoft apparently happily sponsors things like “Women in Science;” obviously benefited from my contribution towards its moral defense; and yet doesn’t give me a job. Yet another company that keeps me jobless. (And you should already know the terms in which I would describe them—or anyone else with this kind of a moral behavior—in my private conversations.)