Canadian Neuroscientist, Dr. Michael Persinger developed a laboratory experiment which delivered electromagnetic fields to the brains of test subjects. This was to mimic the many kinds so-called "intrusive" or "non-self," out-of-body, past-life and "alien abduction"-type of experiences that are reported all over the world.
His aim was to refute the claims of past life researchers and an untold number of individuals with strong memories or dreams that are not related their physical experiences in their current lives. Dr. Persingers believes that those with increased electromagnetic activity in their brains are more likely to report out-of-body, past-life experiences, etc.
Still, there is no shortage of people from many different cultural backgrounds whose stories appear to have astonishing confirming details, as in the accounts filmed here.
Belief in reincarnation is not part of the Abrahamic religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam but it is a cornerstone of the Eastern faiths of Hinduism and Buddhism.
In the mostly Buddhist country of Sri Lanka, the memories of a small girl are seen by the adult members of one family to be evidence of the reincarnation of their mother who was tragically killed in a street accident at the age of 35. Another young boy's memories of his previous death in the Sri Lankan military find corroboration among the parents of his previous self.
Another Canadian doctor, Leonard Angel seeks to disprove the "wow factor" of the kinds of information that is being corroborated in these cases.
This is an interesting documentary, no matter what your beliefs.
Michael Persinger's "God Helmet"
During the 1980s, Dr. Persinger stimulated people's temporal lobes artificially with a weak magnetic field to see if he could induce a religious state (see God helmet). He claimed that the field could produce the sensation of "an ethereal presence in the room". This research has received wide coverage in the media, with high profile visitors to Persinger's lab Susan Blackmore and Richard Dawkins reporting positive and negative results respectively. Dawkins [perhaps the most prominent Atheist in the world] reported a range of minor effects (relaxation, sensations in his limbs, etc.), while Blackmore [a paranormal investigator] reported "One of the most extraordinary experiences" she had ever had.
The only published attempt to replicate Dr. Persinger's findings, by a research group in Sweden failed to do so and concluded that subjects' reports correlated with their personality characteristics and suggestibility. They also criticized Persinger for insufficient double-blinding. Persinger responded that the Swedish group had an incorrect computer setup, a claim that the Swedish group dispute, and that many of his previous experiments were indeed carried out double-blind, although the Swedish group have also disputed this [!!!].
Tectonic Strain Theory
Persinger has also come to public attention due to his 1975 Tectonic Strain Theory (TST) of how geophysical variables may correlate with sightings of unidentified flying objects (UFOs) or Marian apparitions. Persinger argued that strain within the Earth's crust near seismic faults produces intense electromagnetic (EM) fields, creating bodies of light that some interpret as glowing UFOs or The Virgin Mary. Alternatively, he argued that the EM fields generate hallucinations in the temporal lobe, based on images from popular culture, of alien craft, beings, communications, or creatures.
In the UK, Paul Devereux advocates a variant geophysical theory similar to TST, the Earthlights theory. However, unlike Persinger, Devereaux generally restricts such effects to the immediate vicinity of a fault line. Devereux's approach also differs from Persinger's in holding triboluminescence rather than piezoelectricity as the "more likely candidate" for the production of naturally occurring UFOs. Devereux doesn't advocate, as in Persinger's TST, that the phenomenon might create hallucinations of UFO encounters in people, instead proposing an even more radical hypothesis: that earthlights may possess intelligence and even have the ability to read witness' thoughts.
UFO researchers and theologians critical of TST admit that, while, observations of diffuse lights during (and sometimes before and after) very severe earthquakes may give some weak support to some parts of TST and Earthlights theory (see Earthquake lights), they question the ability of fault lines to generate luminous effects and hallucinatory experiences under much less severe conditions. Nonetheless, even TST critics such as Rutowski think such theories may hold some promise for explaining a small percentage of UFO phenomena, although they doubt that they can ever offer a comprehensive explanation for the vast majority of unexplained UFO cases. Other UFO researchers believe this very limited interpretation of the TST is brought into question by the clustering of UFO reports within areas prone to faulting - such as the Pennine region of northern Britain. While acknowledging the drawbacks of Persinger's theory, they feel that amended versions of it may account for a significant proportion of "True UFO" reports.
Persinger's claims regarding the effects of environmental geomagnetic activity on paranormal experiences have not been independently replicated and, like his findings regarding the God helmet, may simply be explained by the suggestibility of participants.