Ian Stevenson vs. Champe Ransom

#1
After all the buzz over Sheldrake's Wikipedia page, I took a look at other psychical articles on the site. Ian Stevenson's page has been revised over the past year as well. Among the most significant additions is this section:

Champe Ransom, a lawyer Stevenson hired as an assistant in the 1970s, wrote an unpublished report about Stevenson's work, which is cited by Edwards in his Immortality (1992) and Reincarnation (1996). According to Ransom, Stevenson asked the children leading questions, filled in gaps in the narrative, did not spend enough time interviewing them, and left too long a period between the claimed recall and the interview; it was often years after the first mention of a recall that Stevenson learned about it. In only 11 of the 1,111 cases Ransom looked at had there been no contact between the families of the deceased and of the child before the interview; in addition, according to Ransom, seven of those 11 cases were seriously flawed. He also wrote that there were problems with the way Stevenson presented the cases, in that he would report his witnesses' conclusions, rather than the data upon which the conclusions rested. Weaknesses in cases would be reported in a separate part of his books, instead of during the discussion of the cases themselves. Ransom concluded that it all amounted to anecdotal evidence of the weakest kind.
The only reference for this passage is a list of page numbers from the books of Paul Edwards - books that I haven't read, do not wish to buy, and cannot find at the local library.

I haven't heard of Ransom before, and I'd be interested in learning about any responses to the charges he makes, if anyone could point me in the right direction to find some. I know that other psychologists - skeptical ones at that - didn't consider Stevenson's questions to the children "leading questions," but they weren't responding to Ransom or anyone else in particular.

(NOTE: I'd rather this thread not get into more talk about the inadequacies of Wikipedia or the presence of skeptics in editorial; I really just want to focus on Stevenson and Ransom.)
 
#2
I found this brief exchange between Ian Stevenson and Scott Rogo in the JSPR (vol 53) discussing a book that Rogo had written in which he’d referenced Ransom’s report.

First, Ian Stevenson (p 273)

Rogo's suggestion that I tried to stop Champe Ransom from circulating his criticisms is fiction. I have a note and a letter in my files that prove, on the contrary, that I encouraged Ransom to show his criticisms to other persons. I did ask him also to show (with his critique) some comments I had made on them, and Ransom readily agreed to this reasonable request. Rogo, although admitting he has never seen a copy of Ransom's critique but only talked with someone who had read it, nevertheless offers his readers an account of what Ransom said. This account is wrong and once more shows Rogo's imagination in play.

And then the reply from Scott Rogo (p 470)

Before concluding, I would like to address a few comments to the more personal charges Dr. Stevenson levies. The first of these deals with the Champe Ransom matter. I was able to speak (eventually) with two researchers—both members of the P. A.—who had read Ransom's report. Both of them considered it devastating, and both agreed on its scope and content. This is why I feel my presentation in my book is correct, although I fully advise my readers that I was not able to read it for myself. One of these researchers (who requested that he not be identified) told me that he was not allowed to see this report by Dr. Stevenson unless he signed a statement to the effect that he would not make a copy of it for himself. (I do not know if this requirement was made directly by Dr. Stevenson or through Mr. Ransom.) This researcher's wife kindly verified this statement for me when I sought to independently verify it.
 
#3
Stevenson has been blamed for being religiously biased because his mother was a Theosophist. What religious background was his father?

He was meticulous in his written notations and he clearly went to enormous lengths to honestly represent his material. His books are abounding with details on how he acquired information, gobs of interview records, qualifications and explorations of alternative accounts and the outcome of those explorations. What else is expected of him?

Ransom's report, I can't find it anywhere and Rogo admits he never read it - so we are dealing with innuendo at the best.
 
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#5
Thanks for the replies. Who was Scott Rogo? I don't know the name.
Will, D. Scott Rogo was the popular author of numerous books, magazine articles and journal papers on mostly psi-related topics. He was also a regular contributor to Fate Magazine. In 1990 he was tragically murdered in his home in Los Angeles. His books and articles introduced a generation to the scientific study of anomalous phenomena.

You can read more about him on the SurvivalAfterDeath website:

D. Scott Rogo

The site also has a listing of several of his articles related to mediumship and survival (scroll down to find his name in the list):

http://www.survivalafterdeath.info/articles.htm

Doug
 
#6
I found this brief exchange between Ian Stevenson and Scott Rogo in the JSPR (vol 53) discussing a book that Rogo had written in which he’d referenced Ransom’s report.
The book in question must be "The Search for Yesterday. A Critical Examination of the Evidence for Reincarnation.". I read it a number of years ago and was very impressed with it. The book has a non-dogmatic, open-minded sceptical approach. Througout the book the emphasis is on the nature and strength of the data and what conclusions can derived from the data regardless of any preconcieved notions.

Champe Ransom is mentioned in chapter 4 "In Search of Past Lives II, Culture, Bias, and Reincarnation" in the following three paragraphs:

So why would Dr. Stevenson be coming up with so many impressive case, while other researchers come up with so few? Could this again be indicating a highly pervasive bias in his investigations? This is a possibility even his own co-workers have raised. Before hiring Dr. Barker to work with him, Dr. Stevenson employed a lawyer to help analyze his reincarnation cases. Champe Ransom worked on these cases for quite some time before he became dissatisfied with the way his employer was conducting his investigations. He wrote a detailed report of his objections, which Stevenson asked him not to circulate or publish. (I spent some time trying to obtain a copy of this report but was unable to locate one. But in 1973 I was able to talk with a colleague who had read it.)

The basic approach Ransom took to the study of Stevenson's cases was quite simple. He believed that the best way to examine each individual incident was by grouping all the statements the child had made into two categories. The first included those containing information the child could normally have learned about; the second would contain the statements purportedly containing paranormally derived information. Ransom found that the witnesses to a specific case usually or often agreed among themselves about the claims placed in the first category. But when it came to analyzing those statements that implied paranormal cognition on the part of the child, the witnesses were often confused about what was said and when it was communicated. Eventually this led Ransom to become sceptical of the cases and about extracerebral memory in general.

Ransom's analytical technique was also employed by Dr. Barker during his field investigations. It was this procedure, he later told me, that served as the basis for his own scepticism. It is also interesting that Emily Williams Cook specifically recommended this method during her 1983 presentation in Durham.


Scott Rogo goes on to discuss some specific cases to illucidate these points and then sums the discussion up in way that is telling for the tone of the entire book:

So while Dr. Stevenson's research can be seriously challenged in general, some of his best cases tend to hold up well. But we must once again ask whether we are dealing with reincarnation, genetic memory, telepathically triggered fantasies, or what? This is the one question Dr. Stevenson's research has not been able to answer. It appears that a paranormal incluence sometimes pervades reports of extracerebral memory, but this does not necessarily mean that we have to accept the reincarnation doctrine by virtue of the fact.


The book is highly recomended :)
 
#7
The book in question must be "The Search for Yesterday. A Critical Examination of the Evidence for Reincarnation.". I read it a number of years ago and was very impressed with it. The book has a non-dogmatic, open-minded sceptical approach. Througout the book the emphasis is on the nature and strength of the data and what conclusions can derived from the data regardless of any preconcieved notions.
Give me a break.

Rogo admits he never read the Champe Ransom material, never seen a copy of it, this is "open minded skepticism" in practice which "emphasizes data"?

It's malarkey and Rogo is full to the mouth with it.
 
#8
Give me a break.

Rogo admits he never read the Champe Ransom material, never seen a copy of it, this is "open minded skepticism" in practice which "emphasizes data"?

It's malarkey and Rogo is full to the mouth with it.
What about Ransom's agreeing to the summary of his criticism in chapter 26 of "The Myth of an Afterlife? It appears the original critique isn't being published because there was an agreement to not publish it without Stevenson's comments, which his successors did not provide, therefore Ransom agreed to the summary in chapter 26.
 
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Sciborg_S_Patel

#9
Give me a break.

Rogo admits he never read the Champe Ransom material, never seen a copy of it, this is "open minded skepticism" in practice which "emphasizes data"?

It's malarkey and Rogo is full to the mouth with it.
Yeah in encountering this issue in the past I had the same conclusion.

It felt odd to me that "skeptics" would accept evidence so tenuous when if the tables were flipped they'd be howling. But I guess Rogo's criticism fits in well with their materialist faith...
 
#10
Yeah in encountering this issue in the past I had the same conclusion.

It felt odd to me that "skeptics" would accept evidence so tenuous when if the tables were flipped they'd be howling. But I guess Rogo's criticism fits in well with their materialist faith...
Check out my post above. Ransom did write a summary of his criticism that's published in the work I referenced.
 
S

Sciborg_S_Patel

#11
Check out my post above. Ransom did write a summary of his criticism that's published in the work I referenced.
I don't get what you're saying - Does that change the fact Rogo never read the criticism?

Myth of an Afterlife is hardly an unbiased look - seems like more materialist propaganda so I'm skeptical of its value.
 
#12
I don't get what you're saying - Does that change the fact Rogo never read the criticism?

Myth of an Afterlife is hardly an unbiased look - seems like more materialist propaganda so I'm skeptical of its value.
No, they're apples and oranges. Rogo has nothing to do with the reference I used. The criticism of Rogo is that he didn't have Ransom's actual critique. In the work I referenced there is more than that, i.e., we have Ransom's own writing, so the Rogo criticism is moot.
 
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Sciborg_S_Patel

#13
No, they're apples and oranges. Rogo has nothing to do with the reference I used. The criticism of Rogo is that he didn't have Ransom's actual critique. In the work I referenced there is more than that, i.e., we have Ransom's own writing, so the Rogo criticism is moot.
Without Stevenson's notes - supposedly not given by the estate according to the authors of Myth... - hard to say what to make of Ransom's criticism (or perhaps they're just grudges).
 
#15
My understanding is that Stevenson looked into about two thousand case's. Twenty five of which he found very strong. If he was cooking the books one would think the second figure would be a bit higher
I don't think anyone would accuse Dr. Stevenson of "cooking the books," including Champe Ransom. He was universally well-respected for his intention to conduct his investigations with as much objective rigor as possible.
 
#16
But I guess Rogo's criticism fits in well with their materialist faith...
Hey Sci!

D Scott Rogo was of the materialist faith??! :eek:

I've read many of his books, they're highly recommended from my side - certainly not of the materialist faith if you ask me! ;)

I read Stevenson's book many years ago - if someone like Rogo writes a criticism, I think it should be considered seriously.

It's not always about "faith", be it a materialist one or in life after death and reincarnation etc. Sometimes people are just trying to find a "truth" they are comfortable with, that makes sense to them.
 
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