« Last post by kcrady on August 25, 2016, 10:09:35 PM »
There's also a significant Locating the Hypothesis issue here. Even if we grant that sometimes people experience "memories" of experiences had by other people in the past, reincarnation does not necessarily follow; it's only one possible explanation. For example, instead of the hypothesis that there's a "soul"/"spirit" that "incarnates" sequentially in different bodies over time, what if consciousness or experiences is/are non-local and/or stored in some as-yet unknown manner, and that people sometimes tap into the cosmic hard drive and get a download? This wouldn't even require anything supernatural--it's entirely compatible with the Nick Bostrom's Simulation Hypothesis (basically, that we're probably living in a Matrix, because if a culture can make Matrices, there'll be lots of those and only one "real" reality, so the odds favor this being a Matrix).
Or, it could be something akin to remote viewing, but across time as well as space, and perhaps using a person in that time as a locus, because it's easier to see through someone's eyes than to "see" without eyes.
Either hypothesis would explain "past life experiences" just as well as reincarnation, without reincarnation's problems. A hundred people could access the same experience from one person in the past, so population problem: not an issue. Experiences of people who made a "bigger dent" in the Akashic Record (or whatever) might be "louder" or easier to access in some way. So, people might access the experiences of "important" people and remarkable events more often than unimportant people and unremarkable events for much the same reason we read more about "important" people and events in the history books. Personal compatibility could make certain experiences easier to access. So, Charlie Manson might have past-life experiences of being Hitler, but the nice little lady down the street who practices Reiki would be more attuned to experiences from a gentle Shinto priestess from 500 years ago.
Those things (multiple people can "access" experiences from the same life, some experiences are "louder" than others, personal compatibility matters) are secondary hypotheses in their own right, and reduce the probability of the main hypothesis in Bayesian terms. However, reincarnation has its own secondary hypotheses (e.g. the existence of the immortal "soul" doing the reincarnating, that there's such thing as "karma," it's administered somehow, it's accumulated and cleared with in various ways, and so on).
Unlike the downloaded experiences hypothesis and the temporal remote-viewing hypothesis, reincarnation requires an additional ad hoc hypothesis to explain why most people don't remember any past lives, and even those with "past life experiences" generally (AFAIK) don't remember the whole life, much less a whole stream of lives.
The end result is, there's no operational difference between "you reincarnate" and "you just die." If I die and "reincarnate" as a girl in sub-Saharan Africa, her knowledge and personality will grow from a completely different set of experiences and knowledge-set than mine, and there's no discernible continuity between her and me that requires reincarnation as an explanation. When I die, "I" am still gone, even if my bit of spirit-Play-Doh gets re-molded into little Ndota Inkasha.
So, apart from compelling evidence in favor of reincarnation specifically, what's the point of believing in it? BTW, in Asia where the reincarnation hypothesis originated, it is viewed as a trap to escape (into Nirvana, which means "snuffing out" or "being extinguished" in Sanskrit--sounds like plain ol' death to me!) via the proper spiritual practices and behaviors, instead of "Yay! A hereafter!"