Bigelow Contest Essays Now Online

The winning essays of the recent contest sponsored by the Bigelow Institute for Consciousness Studies are now available online in PDF format. All of the essays address the question “What is the best evidence for the survival of human consciousness after permanent bodily death?”

I haven’t read even half of the essays yet (there are 29 of them, including all the runners-up and honorable mentions, and most of them are close to 25,000 words!), but I will say that my favorite so far is the one written by Michael Nahm, a German biologist working at the Institut für Grenzgebiete der Psychologie und Psychohygiene in Freiburg.

Nahm spends the first third of his essay reviewing the various categories of survival evidence and rating their relative evidential quality. This is not something I’ve seen done before, and certainly not so systematically and with this level of detail. I feel it’s a great summary of where survival research currently stands and where the best prospects for future research lie. Nahm’s conclusion is that reincarnation research–particularly, investigation of children’s memories of past lives–is the clear standout, receiving a score of 4 out of 4 on all 5 factors he considered: investigability, repeatability, quantitative strength, qualitative strength, and relevance (to the question of survival).

The latter two-thirds of Nahm’s essay is an extremely well-written and informative overview of the research that has been done to date of cases of the reincarnation type (CORTs). He mentions, as well, the large number of new cases that continue to arrive in the inboxes of CORT researchers. There is great potential for taking what is already very strong evidence for the survival of consciousness and making it even stronger by the continued investigation of an expanding number of cases.

Those who are interested in seeing how many of these new cases are flooding in may want to join the Facebook group Signs of Reincarnation, run by researchers James G. Matlock and K. M. Wehrstein. Joining this group, which currently has over 40,000 members, will give you a real-time look at how many new cases suggestive of reincarnation get mentioned every day in that forum–and how great the need is for both researchers and funding to carry out the meticulous investigations capable of turning anecdotes into rigorous evidence.

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