The nightmares began when Ryan Hammons was 4 years old. He would wake up clutching his chest, telling his mother Cyndi that he couldn’t breathe and that his heart had exploded in Hollywood. But they didn’t live in Los Angeles; Hammons’s family resided in Oklahoma.
A few months prior, in early 2009, Ryan had started talking about going home to Hollywood and pleaded with Cyndi to take him to see his other family. He would yell, “Action!” and pretend to direct films when he played with friends; he knew scenes from a cowboy movie he had never watched; and said a cafe reminded him of Paris, where he had never been. He talked about his child, worldly travels, and his job at an agency where people changed their names. Cyndi didn’t think much of it until the nightmares set in and Ryan started describing death.
Not long before the pandemic rendered this activity potentially lethal, I was sitting in a bar with a friend when he mentioned that he’d just read a book about reincarnation by a scientist at the University of Virginia. I was immediately intrigued.
Over a year later, I’ve finally had the opportunity to look into exactly how UVA’s medical school came to house a Division of Perceptual Studies where psychiatrists have been researching children with past-life memories for decades. The result is my latest feature story for VICE in which I dive deep into the world of parapsychology—the study of mental abilities that seem to go against or be outside of the known laws of nature and science—and speak to the scientists trying to turn reincarnation studies into a respected academic discipline.
My editor says she may now believe in reincarnation, so read at your own risk.
The Hard Science of Reincarnation. VICE. March 31, 2021.
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